‘Thanks to Tracey Emin, people are finally talking about the disease that killed my mother’

The treatment was over in December 2013, and in the new year, she had a few months of feeling like herself, albeit with her changed body. There were plenty of things to celebrate in early 2014, which kept her spirits up; my brother gave her her first grandchild, then in March it was her and Daddy’s 50th wedding anniversary, and I was pregnant too.

But then at a regular check-up, doctors noticed things weren’t going to plan. The cancer had spread again. She just totally refused to believe it, and went in for more chemotherapy, still believing that her life would be saved.

My daughter was born in August, and seeing her with her granny – her Yiayia, to our Greek family – was very distressing. Mummy was so weak she could only hold her for a few seconds at a time. I had always thought that when I had a family, she would be really involved. To see her like that, at what should have been such a happy time, was incredibly painful for us all.

At another appointment in November 2014, she was told that there was little else that could be done for her, and it would be a matter of weeks or months. At that point she simply seemed to give up, and very quickly deteriorated, and was moved into hospital. In the final weeks of her life I was in and out all the time visiting her, bringing my tiny newborn with me. It was such an intense time, seeing life and death colliding.

Even in the last weeks of her life, neither she nor Daddy could really accept it was happening. I think he believed there would be a miracle, so when she died on December 3 2014, at the age of 74, it was a huge shock.

It was almost three years since she had been to the doctor with the blood in her urine.

Mummy was open and honest about everything that she went through, no matter how embarrassing it was. I’m grateful to Tracey Emin for telling her story and hope that, by starting a conversation about bladder cancer, it will spare some families from going through what we did.

For more information, visit actionbladdercanceruk.org or cancerresearchuk.org

As told to Helen Chandler-Wilde


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