UK terminally ill mom Rowena Darby makes a lifetime of Bday & Xmas cards for son

Updated: 02 Aug 2013
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Rowena Darby
Fighting on: Rowena, right, pictured with son Freddie, centre, and husband Phil, left, wants to keep living for as long as possible for her son
Rowena Darby
Creating memories: Mrs Darby has made a range of birthday cards for her son and even written a graduation and wedding day card
A terminally ill mother is spending her final months making a lifetime of birthday and Christmas cards for her three-year-old son to help him remember her when he grows up.

Rowena Darby, 33, who has been told by doctors that she has less than two years to live, has even written graduation and wedding day cards for Freddie in a bid to create a lifetime of memories for him.

Mrs Darby, who lives with her son and husband Phil in Bolton, Greater Manchester, said that she is not interested in creating a bucket list of things to do before she dies, and just wants to be a normal mother for as long as she can to Freddie.

She says that she is grateful to have been given time to prepare for her death.

'I’m privileged that I can prepare for my death - if I was in a car crash there would be none of these memories for Freddie,' she said.

'When I die it’s going to be awful for my family but at least they know it’s going to happen and because of this we’ve had the best quality time together beforehand.

'I know a lot of people in my situation create a bucket list but I just want to be a mum and do normal stuff with my son.

'There is nowhere I want to go - I just want to have a normal life with no regrets.'

She added: 'I’d love more than anything to see Freddie’s first day at school in September next year. The longer I’m here, the more likely he’ll remember me.

'Freddie knows that I get treatment and go to hospital but he doesn’t know anything else because he’s too young.

'I have a permanent colostomy bag now and he knows that mummy goes for her medicine.

'I’ve always have more good days than I have bad days from the treatment which is good. I feel a bit groggy some days but you’ve just got to get on with it.

'I don’t care what they do to me, anything to keep me going as long as possible.

As well as writing cards for her son, Mrs Darby plans to create an album of emails she has written to her son.

Actuary Mrs Darby has also started making bracelets while she undergoes treatment in hospital and set up a business, Roda Handmade, to sell them for £10 each and raise money to take her son on holidays.

She said: 'I started making bracelets after going to a craft fair with my mum. I was bored in hospital when having my treatment.

I took this kit in and made all these bracelets in under an hour and I worked out that I could sell them for £10 each.

'I got all the material for it and made a website and set it into a little business, Roda Handmade, and I use the money to take Freddie on holidays.'

Mrs Darby began showing symptoms of rectal cancer in 2010 when she was pregnant with Freddie.

She began getting constant pain in her abdomen and doctors performed a colonoscopy which found nothing before secondary tests in May 2011 found a tumour.

She said: 'I wasn’t losing any weight or anything - I felt fine in myself apart from the pains. I had another colonoscopy in May and they found it.

'I knew before then that there was very little else it could have been. They told me it was so big it had grown through the bowel wall and my lymph nodes were inflamed. It could have been in there for years.'

Mrs Darby underwent five weeks of radiotherapy to shrink the tumour and a subsequent operation to remove it along with part of her bowel and some of her lymph nodes in October 2011.

As she began preventative chemotherapy in January 2012, doctors found a growth on one of her ovaries and she underwent a further operation to remove her bowels, the lining of her abdomen and had a hysterectomy.

But the cancer continued to spread and Mrs Darby was told that her illness was terminal a year ago.

Mrs Darby has also had alternative mistletoe therapy in Aberdeen, where she had injections in her stomach to induce a fever to prevent the cancer from growing.

She said: 'Diet and lifestyle are really important. I believe my current diet, which is recognised as effective for children with epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, is slowing the cancer down.'


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