“She was told she had three to six months to live. She managed three.”
These are the words of Hannah Cunningham, of Brighton Road, Horsham, who is devastated after losing her mother to ovarian cancer last week and now wants to raise awareness of the ‘silent but deadly’ disease.
Terry Shaw, a mother of three and a grandmother of three, died last Monday (August 13) at the age of 64.
Hannah, 35, has explained that it was only in March this year that Terry first went to hospital.
“She discovered she had a lump on her breast,” explained Hannah. “She insisted on having a scan to check if the cancer had spread, it had she also had ovarian cancer.
“She was told she couldn’t have a mastectomy because she had a respiratory condition which made putting her to sleep very dangerous.
She couldn’t have any treatment for only pain relief as the cancer was aggressive.
That diagnosis was given in May.
“We hadn’t realised how quick it can appear. She was just too far gone, it was devastating.
“As a family we were grateful to know what was happening, thus enabling us to make it as joyful as possible for mum and spent every moment we could with her.”
Hannah took her mother for a trip with her husband and daughter; Leah, 13; and son Louie, nine, and her brother; Neil, 33.
“We went away for a long weekend to Somerset which was brilliant. She loved the time away always making us laugh.
“Mum was supposed to stay longer with my brother but her tummy hurt so much and she got so tired so easily she had to leave early.”
She was sent to St Catherine’s Hospice on July 19 for pain relief but never came home.
After being born in Gladstone Road, Horsham, Terry moved all over the country with parents and siblings as her farther was in the army, before moving back to Horsham and then living in Billingshurst towards the end of her life.
But she was known by many in the community as she would care for everyone.
“If you fell over she would put you back together again,” Hannah said. “She was a loving and caring mum and granny and was always there for us. We will miss her dearly.”
After working at Freeman Brothers in Horsham for more than 13 years, she built a strong connection with the staff. Abbi Pattenden, the manager, said:
“She was incredibly loyal. She treated all customers with the utmost care and genuinely wanted to help. She was sympathetic and caring and we are all going to miss her.”
Duty manager, Lee Walshe, added: “She had a terrific sense of humour and she was a very good friend willing to do anything for anybody and just a superb person.”
Hannah has used this opportunity to ask others to be aware of ovarian cancer and has sung the praises of the nurses at St Catherine’s Hospice who comforted her and her family, and provided a shoulder to cry on.
She said: “They were so supportive. When we stayed with mum overnight they’d bring us tea, coffee and breakfast. They made the whole experience more comfortable to handle.”