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Finding Strength Through My Children

In Bella this week, Mike pays tribute to his beautiful late wife, who battled cancer while pregnant and was determined to win. Sadly, the cancer returned. Helen passed away in March 2013 and since then, Mike has been adjusting to life as a widower and dad to their two gorgeous kids. The story is heartbreaking, but Mike was determined to share what he’s been through so he could help other families learn to smile again.

Mike runs a fantastic blog,
and I highly recommend a visit. ON his blog, Mike explores positive thinking and how to bring up children in the wake of such a tragedy.
Mike’s story will soon appear in Pick Me Up too, and you can read more of the Bella version here>>>>
Helen was pregnant with her second child when they told her she had cancer. She was determined to beat it and have her baby. But the cancer came back. And it was then that Michael had to tell his kids the awful truth…
Michael, 35, explains:
Helen was three months pregnant with our second child when they told her she had cancer.
‘Chemo kills cancer cells, but pregnancy builds cancer cells,’ they explained. Under no uncertain terms, we were advised to abort.
But all Helen had ever wanted was children.
‘No,’ she said. ‘I will have chemo and the baby.’ As a nurse, she knew she could do it.
She had a mastectomy and four bouts of chemo – all while pregnant.
She lost weight and all her hair – with the baby taking the best nutrients, the chemo knocked her sideways.
But in December 2009, Marley was born and Helen was so happy.
After that, Helen needed another year of treatment. Then in early 2011, Helen completed her treatment. Her hair grew back.
After what we’d been through, we were so grateful to have a normal family life again. We took Marley and his big sister, Olivia, now five, on holiday, on bike rides, to the beach.
But then Helen found a lump.
It was April 2012. The doctor called me and I had to break it to my wife.
‘The cancer has spread to your brain, bones, lungs and liver,’ I mumbled. But Helen just hugged me. She was so brave. ‘What can be done?’ she asked.
She had radiotherapy and chemo.  Steroids made her gain weight and she lost her hair again. She didn’t have much energy but she always had time for a cuddle with the kids.
She was so positive around them – they only saw happy Mummy. She knew these might be their only memories of her.
Helen passed away in hospital in March this year.
I didn’t know how to tell the kids. Grief must have been written all over my face because Olivia had such sadness in her eyes. Tears streamed down mine.
‘Mummy’s gone to heaven,’ I managed to say.
And then Olivia reached out her hand to my face and stroked it gently.
‘It will be okay, Daddy,’ she said. She was four years old then.
It felt like Helen’s hand – it is exactly what Helen would have done.
Marley put on a silly voice and asked me why I was crying – at which Olivia and I had to laugh. He’d have made his mum proud in that moment – she always made us laugh at the bleakest of moments.
The life I knew and loved is gone. But a new life begins, one where I am a widow and the kids have no mum. It’s not the life I wanted but it’s the one I’ve been given.
We could spend the rest of our lives feeling angry and sad, but cancer already took my wife away, I won’t let it ruin my kids lives too.