Meet Alex

Alex is a passionate, bubbly and joyful woman from Rolleston, but life isn’t always easy, fun, and as planned. Losing her mum Janis to lung cancer has changed Alex in a way that might surprise you. Here’s her story:

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Mum had radiation treatment–this was palliative as it was not to cure {her} but to help manage symptoms. Mum cut out sugar and went to her herbalist. They made up her a tincture which contained lots of different things for inflammation, etc. I am sure this helped hugely with her quality of life.

It was all a bit of a blurr. I remember sitting in the room with my mum, brother, and 3 month old daughter. They told us she had stage 4 lung cancer, and she had 6-18months to live. I remember my ears ringing, and I felt like I was in a bad dream. That night Mum insisted on staying at her {own} place. It didn’t feel real. The next day I went around {to her place} and it was the first time I had ever seen Mum so scared. This made me really sad. We packed her a bag, and she moved in with us and never went back to her place. I remember feeling angry and confused but also thankful as Mum started talking about Jesus.

My family is a very close family. Nan went into shock, and everyone was devastated and heart broken. My uncle passed {away} a year before this {happened}. Mum’s brothers huddled around in love and support. Extended family came and called constantly. The church family wept with us. My pastor and his wife were here minutes after we arrived home from the hospital appointment.

Our whole lives were flipped upside down. In a way, we were consumed with cancer. There was always appointments. I don’t think there was ever a week we could just forget {about things}. It was the worst but best year of our lives. I’m sure it took a toll on our family as I still had a husband and children–but life changed as Mum’s needs were the highest and the {new} priority, in a way. My daughter learnt to sleep anywhere and everywhere. I found out I was pregnant with my third child not long after Mum was diagnosed. Towards the end of Mum’s life, the last two months, Mum was not able to walk. I carried her everywhere–this was quite hard on me physically. I constantly battled with my own thoughts and {with} trusting the Lord–with not being able to imagine my life here on earth without my mum. I wanted my mum to meet and know my son so badly but then….fearing how I was going to cope with being Mum’s full-time carer when my son was about to be born. I struggled to pray–not because I was mad at God but because I just didn’t know what to say. I would just cry and ask him to help me. And he did. God was so kind to us and gave us the strength and grace daily. He provided people constantly in all different ways.

Mum was diagnosed in June 2023 and passed away in April 2024

At the end of December 2023, we went to wake Mum up as she hadn’t come in {from her room} yet–which was not normal. It was her birthday and my brothers were here {at the house}. Mum had a very sore head and was super confused. She was acting like a little child. She couldn’t walk and was very forgetful. Mum still laughed and had good humour, but she was not well. Days leading up to this day she had done a few unusual things also. This day we found out she had brain cancer, and it was all over her brain. The swelling was severe. She went on steroids, and this bought the swelling down. This was an on-going medication to keep the swelling at bay as long as possible. The doctor said she had minimal weeks to live. She had a couple of good months, then she started to physically deteriorate. The more she physically struggled, the more deeply she fell in love with Jesus. Symptom wise she didn’t get any of what we were told–it was just her energy. She was on panadol until the day before she passed, but she was very tired. God was so kind and gracious to her, and she gave him all the glory. The more she suffered the more she trusted the Lord.

My husband was wonderful – my family – my church family: their constant love, prayers, and support.

I spent a lot of time in the Psalms and listening to worship music. {Also} mainly the faith and trust the Lord gave my Mum {was helpful}. Prior to cancer we had never really spoke much on the things of God, but every conversation was filled with her love for Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to die. Mum knew she was going home when her Father called her. This truth gave me so much comfort.

Mum ended up in respite the last week of her life. I wish I {had} stayed every night and sat with her. I’m thankful for the time and conversations we had, but now I’d give anything to have just one last conversation.

Pray for them, love them, and find out what is actually a help to them–not what you would find a help.

You are preparing to lose one person, {but} the person with cancer is grieving all their loved ones and all they know here on earth. Mum got so sick of cancer talk she loved hearing about others and life outside of cancer. Don’t let cancer consume you.

My view of God’s character has changed. I understood in the Bible {about} God’s care for his people and who he was, but it was made very evident through Mum’s cancer. {I also understood } the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus and the love of God through his people. I appreciate the small things more now too and {I appreciate} people {more now}.

Give them all your time. Lay down your life for them. You will never regret it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t try to control the situation. Be thankful for everyday, and appreciate the time you have with the person.

…what the Lord {has} done in my mum’s heart and her deep love for Jesus.

I’m so thankful my son got to see my mum die well. One of my brothers from church said to me that when his dad took his last breath he then opened his eyes to his saviour. This I am so thankful for–the work that the Lord {has} done in our family relationships.

Mum’s last 9 months were the worst but most wonderful months of our lives. We got the gift of time from the Lord. We had so many conversations about so many things. We laughed, we cried, and we laughed some more. To be there when a baby is born is an honour, and to be with someone when they die is also an honour. The last conversation with my mum I was crying, and she said to me, “It’s okay, Alex. I can suffer here for a little while Jesus suffered for my sin, and God is faithful.” It was the greatest honour to spend the last 9 months of my mum’s life serving her. A month after Mum’s passing, I gave birth to my little boy. As I went into labour, and during labour, I wept and wept as all I wanted was my mum. But when I held my son for the first time, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that I knew the author of life, and he had taken my mum home and he had also given me my son. Mum would say–who am I to try go against the Devine Will of God? The greatest pain chapter in history, of Jesus dying on the cross, is the most purposeful event in all of history. Our pain chapters have purpose, and we can rest assured that God is always working for our good and his glory even in our deepest pain when we truly know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

Alex, thank you so much for opening up and sharing about your mum. Your pain and loss was not purposeless. Janis was a truly caring woman, and I am grateful to have been able to have known her as well. I am thankful for your example of one who has suffered but who has sought the true source of Hope!

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