‘I haven’t been put on this Earth to have an easy ride.’: Mom shares tear-jerking journey through toxic relationship, cancer

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Disclaimer: This story includes mentions of toxic relationships that may be triggering to some.

“What on Earth am I doing? I’m asking myself this after I wrote a really well-worded introduction to myself yesterday explaining my thinking behind my new blog… Then I had to stop writing to sort the little one for bed. Took the dog for a short walk around the block, fell over while out with the dog, came home, and found I’d lost what I was writing! I had to wonder if it was a sign maybe, this is a bad idea! Maybe it is!! But I’m still going ahead with my little personal blog!

I’ve thought about it, and the fact is I’ve been through some s**t! I’m really lucky in so many ways, and somehow I’ve managed to keep myself pushing forward. Sometimes, I’ve felt really alone. Sometimes, I’ve felt like I’m the only person in the world who is struggling to drag my a** through the day. I’ve learned a lot through my difficult times, though, and I’m a better person for them.

One of my best lessons has been that the energy I have used in trying to hide the horrible thoughts, feelings, and struggles is better spent elsewhere. People will either accept you as you are, or they won’t. And it is ok! Because in releasing yourself from the binds of pretense, you have more energy to heal and invest in even better friendships with the people who really matter.

My day-to-day life is full of love, I have 4 wonderful children, a handsome and loving husband, a loveable idiot rescue dog, and the most amazing soul family made up of friends of all ages who are just so precious to me! We have a roof over our heads and a home to feel safe in close to the sea. We are very lucky!

family at wedding
Courtesy of Jo Badgery Photography

I haven’t been put on this Earth to have an easy ride, though.

I survived a brain tumor at the age of 12.

At the age of 24, just 3 months after becoming a mom for the first time, I lost my Mom. She was the most wonderful woman and after having a distant real Dad and being dumped by my Step Dad, she was my one pillar of support and constant in my life. She was only 47, and although she had been ill for a few years, I never considered for one moment she could have been dying.

I’ve lived through a toxic relationship where the mental manipulation and abuse that came my way was often met with physical abuse from myself. This is something I still feel incredibly ashamed of. I have lashed out more than I care to remember in aggressive desperation. I wish I had managed myself better over this time in my life. I don’t condone the way I’ve behaved. All I would say is I have never once been aggressive for the sake of it.

There has never been any occasion where I woke up and thought, ‘I know, I’ll punch my husband today.’ I would be made to feel useless, stupid, embarrassing, ashamed, lazy and like nothing I could ever do was ever good enough. When this got too much and I felt trapped and desperate, I would react. I would then feel terrible, like I had let myself down and like I was the worst person in the world. This was a cycle I was trapped in for nearly 20 years.

In that time, I had really low self-esteem, I had many depressions, and at times, I was even suicidal. I had a lot of therapy and after trying to work my way through understanding the cycles of my mental health, I realized there was a clear voice telling me all the negative things were in my head. It was my husband. I tried to leave and was told I would have nothing, I wouldn’t be able to cope, I would lose access to my 3 children on account of my mental state. It was really frightening. I tried to be better and to try harder and make the best of things.

Black and white photo of nude woman
Courtesy of Amy Gordon

A chance meeting with my teenage sweetheart a couple of years later pressed a button that confirmed life could be so much better. He looked at me and I felt like I could be loved. I didn’t know what to do, and I tried even harder to make good of my marriage. After 2 more incidences where I was called names, was made to feel terrible, and cried, I had enough and had a newfound strength.

I took the children and the dog and I left. I moved into a caravan on a local site for 4 weeks until I eventually managed to get back into the family home without my ex in it. I reconnected with my first love, and we realized we had both lived unhappy lives since going our separate ways all those years earlier. We’ve been back together for just over 4 years, we got married 9 months ago and we have a 3-year-old daughter together. Making us a family of 6!

Being a new mom again at the age of 37 and with my last baby being 8 years old was a shock to the system!! Especially as our little bundle was born green and angry (like the incredible hulk) and had a set of lungs enabling her to scream like a banshee!!

When our daughter was 9 months old, I spotted a dimple in my boob. As I was breastfeeding, I figured it was most likely a blocked milk duct or something similar. But it was stage 2 breast cancer. After having my treatment messed around with on account of Covid, I went in for my surgery 10 months later to find the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues and I was stage 3.

Following my second surgery to remove the marginal tissue, I had a rough few weeks which included me having an infection, having Covid, putting my back out, and beginning to feel like I was actually 89 and not 39. I confided in my surgeon (who refused to take ‘fine’ as an answer when she asked how I felt) and she ordered some scans, just to be safe. I was told one week later I have stage 4 breast cancer with metastasis in my lung, liver, and bones. That was over a year ago.

people at a lake for a cancer swim
Courtesy of Amy Gordon

Since then I’ve had my ovaries removed to stop any estrogen production as it feeds the cancer, and I’ve been drop-kicked into a full-blown menopause. I’ve been put on a 2 pronged treatment to block any further estrogen from being made elsewhere and to damage the cells of the cancer to prevent it from growing further. So far all is well and my scans have remained stable. So like I said, I am very lucky!

Knowing this doesn’t make me feel any better though. When I’m struggling to get out of bed in the morning, cringing at the sound of my children coming into the room as I know they want something, I haven’t got the energy to give them or feeling like a complete failure as they are eating ‘if-it’s’ for tea for the third time this week. It doesn’t take away the impending sense of doom I have at the thought of trying to get through 6 weeks’ worth of summer holidays, and it doesn’t make me feel less guilty for feeling all of these things.
Of course, every day is not like this, I have good days and bad days.

‘Normal’ days and days where I’m crippled with pain or fatigue! When you have cancer, you are taught to feel grateful for every new day and I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have a day of just feeling like me. I’ve become lost somewhere in the rollercoaster of the last few years, and sometimes I find life really hard and the thought of running away really appealing. I’m sure if reading this you might say this is understandable…

And that’s why I’m writing it! Because I hope it will raise awareness in so many ways! I hope it will help others to realize it IS okay to not be okay, and it will remind me of this too! So if you’ve got this far down my post, well done!! It’s not exactly short and sweet!! And if you would like to follow me along this bumpy road of my life then welcome!

I won’t be writing on my blog every day, and I might not even write every week, but I will keep things real and honest, and if it helps anybody to get help or change their life or make a difference or see things from a different point of view then I feel I have done a good thing in putting myself out there!”

woman with glasses smiling
Courtesy of Amy Gordon

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Gordon of Newquay, Cornwall, UK. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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