This is the story of one of my closest and dearest friends.
Paula Moore and I have known each other since we were babies and had the pleasure of growing up together in Cromwell – a small country town in the middle of Central Otago, New Zealand.
Paula is an incredible woman and mum to 4-year old twins Grace and Sophia and little firecracker Beau. This time last year the Moore's family took a dramatic turn that would change their way of life forever. Paula has been a true inspiration to me this last year and I am so honoured she felt ready to share her story with us.
This time last year on Mothers Day, Paula and her family were waiting to be airlifted to Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland (NZ) - Three year Grace had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
On the 11th of May 2017, my world came to a standstill when my daughter Grace, who was 3 at the time, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, with an initially very poor diagnosis. In an instant, everything that wasn’t important (which is most things we worry about!) was stripped away. Those first few days were stuff nightmares are made of for any parent. Shock, uncontrollable tears that came without warning, all the time. Disbelief, confusion, deep sadness and crippling fear.
After an initial warning prior to biopsy results that they were not expecting good news and we should expect the same, we were ecstatic to receive the news that Graces tumour was benign. Because of the location (the brain stem), growth of the tumour however, was a huge danger to her. We have spent the last 12 months undergoing chemotherapy to attempt to shrink the tumour. Thankfully, her body is incredibly sensitive to the chemo and it is shrinking more than we could have hoped. Take that dirty tumour!
The last year has been filled with a lifetime of experiences, emotions, and lessons. My family of 5, including Graces twin Sophia and our wee man Beau (who was a little over 1 at the time) and my husband Alex, were about to embark on quite the adventure. We spent 2 weeks at Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, 5 months at Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch and various stints in Dunedin Hospital and some time at home. We have met incredible families who are going through the imaginable. We have been shown the most humbling levels of generosity and love from friends and family, and also strangers! Amongst the bad, has been so much good. I have changed for the better as a person, our family is stronger and we know this has altered the course of our lives forever. Grace now wants to be a doctor, my big passion and motivator is now learning about how to support my family and others with holistic health at home and helping my two favourite charities, Ronald McDonald House and Child Cancer Foundation, who have both done so much for us. Our focus has shifted significantly.
Being a mum means everything to me...
My kids teach me so much every day and I am grateful every morning when I wake up that I have children running in to wake me, that I have children to get up and cook breakfast for. I have found replacing the words have to, with the words get to, changes my whole outlook. I GET to wake up to my gorgeous kids, not I HAVE to. I get to do so much because my kids are healthy, and that they are here. We are so lucky and we should remind ourselves of it every day.
Mother’s Day means to me...
Something so special, as Grace was diagnosed 2 days before Mother’s Day last year and on Mother’s Day we were still waiting to be airlifted to Starship Hospital, and were in Dunedin Hospital sitting with this heavy new reality and Grace made me a mother’s day card in the playroom. If I were to believe what we had been prepared for, I could have looked at the little face in the photo and thought, this may well be the last Mother’s Day card I ever get from Grace. But I would never accept a reality like that, I kept my mind strong and only accepted visualisations of an extraordinary outcome. I needed her to look at me always and know we were going to win this fight. I will never forget standing there with that card. What it represented. It is a very special reminder of what we shouldn’t ever take for granted.
First thing I do when the kids go to bed
hmm if I’m not asleep in bed beside them (oops!), I try to make school lunches as that’s the worst job left to the morning! And after that, I might pour a glass of wine, settle into a podcast or a good session on Netflix with my hubby.
Thanks Alana for asking me to be a part of this, I think we as mums as just so important. We are the rock solid centre of the family and we do so much for the people we love. I have learnt how fiercely a mother can love, we should celebrate ourselves and each other, often. Being a mum is such a hard job, but so so rewarding. Thank you to all the incredible mums out there, you are doing an amazing job!