Cancer. The other ‘c word’ that is way more offensive than that other four-letter one. Cancer is a selfish whore and there is just no getting around it with delicate terminology or softer words. It invades people’s bodies – their hearts and minds – and often takes their lives. I reckon you’d struggle to meet someone who hasn’t been touched by cancer in one way or another and it bloody sucks.
So it is with utter admiration and awe to learn that there are people in this world staring cancer in the face and somehow finding the strength to still do something positive with the time they have left.
Lyndsey Clark in one such person.
Lyndsey is a mum, a wife and at 28, is also living and dying with Stage 4Breast Cancer. Those are her words, “living and dying” taken from her blog Lyndseyland where she’s been writing about all the stages of her cancer – the struggle of her diagnosis, her treatment, the decision to discharge herself from palliative care, her thoughts about death – all of it. It is as honest and it is heartbreaking. Throughout her blog are photos of Lyndsey with her husband Ben and their beautiful 6 year old daughter, Nyah.
“It is our personal journey, but also echoes the journey of others touched by cancer”
Lyndsey realised that whilst there were a few books around to help older children deal with the death of a parent, there were no such things available to help a little person navigate the tricky concept of life without mummy or daddy. And so with the help of a couple of her besties, Lyndsey started writing a book. Writing to help get through the chemo, and most importantly to her, writing as a way of helping her daughter deal with what was happening.
Lyndsey explains her main aim was; “helping children better understand the journey of terminal cancer. To give them the space to explore the emotions behind losing a loved one and the more abstract thoughts of heaven and love after death.
“As adults, having a conversation about death is something we all tiptoe around, avoid where possible and fear ever needing to confront. It doesn’t make the shiftulness of the reality any easier but at least we have the tools to understand what is happening. But for kids who can’t even distinguish between tomorrow and next week, how do you explain that their forever is about to change in the most devastating way?”
With the support of some talented friends, Lyndsey now has her own book called “My Mummy has Cancer”. Something she hopes will help her daughter now and after she’s gone. Lyndsey says that when she reads it to Nyah, it opens up a conversation about heaven and death and that it has helped Nyah voice some of her feelings and fears. “My words are simple, things that Nyah has said or experienced herself”
Lyndsey hadn’t really looked beyond making a book for her family and maybe the preschool where she worked. Yet she wanted to find a way to give back some support to other families. She’s been selling copies of her book through her blog, donating ALL the profits to OTIS Foundation – a Victorian / New South Wales based charity that provides no cost retreat escapes for families affected by breast cancer. And every donation is being made in Nyah’s name.
I can imagine no greater ambition for the 21st century than to find a cure for cancer. In the meantime, we should all do whatever we can to support those who are fighting cancer and offer their loved ones a whole lot of extra love and support.
You can buy a copy of “My Mummy Has Cancer” at Lyndsey’s blog and whilst you’re there, have a read of her story and shower her with some love for being such an inspiration