The importance of anniversaries

It’s a year today since my Dad was diagnosed with stage four (and incurable) cancer, with associated paraneoplastic phenomena. I’ve kept this off social media until now, only alluding to the illness of a close family member. But it has taken its toll this year.
At the time Dad was diagnosed, I didn’t realise it was International Women’s Day. But now that seems to bring added poignancy to the date. In the year that has followed his diagnosis, our family has been through really tough times.
As a daughter, I’ve seen someone I used to regard as a superhero turn frail, the man with whom I ran my first 26.2 miles engaged in another more taxing marathon. He’s still only 69 and that seems spectacularly cruel at such a young age. I’ve seen the person who walked me down the aisle struggle to walk to the kitchen – even if he still insists on making me a coffee any time I visit. I’ve sat next my father, who accompanied me to family court, when I was forced to fight for my own daughter, me holding his hand and reassuring him this time. I’ve seen the individual who encouraged me to chase my dreams, and to fly, have his dreams and flights cruelly stolen from him.
I have seen my Mum become his carer, my Mum face anxiety, learn new terms and treatments and practices she never knew, my Mum a former teacher, now a student of uncertainty. I’ve seen her dreams curtailed too, and I’ve been astounded by the way she has continued to support her family even as she has lacked the support that she needs from services meant to help her.
In this year, my parents have both shown humanity and love and fear and anxiety and vulnerability and strength like never before.
As a mother,I’ve been trying to parent my children too, my daughter aware of her grandfather’s illness, with all the pain that causes in her GCSE year, my son -aged seven- only aware Papa is poorly. Both of them, and my husband, picking up on the anticipatory grief I feel, and my desire to be there as much as I can for them all. As me, continuing the work I love, supporting my family, finding a way to navigate my pain. This week away writing a book on journalism and mental health has helped me with the space I needed.
Our family is in for a rocky ride, but this anniversary day of Dad’s diagnosis, here’s my tribute to a love that keeps us strong, to my parents who have believed in me no matter what, even when I’ve caused them pain and heart ache, who have allowed me to embrace my flaws and vulnerabilities, and have done the same, who brought into the world, allowed me to grow as a girl and become the person I am. There are tough times ahead but I love you and together we are stronger.

Published by Hannah Storm

I am a journalist, author and speaker. With more than two decades media experience, I am an expert communicator and media consultant with an extensive network, and someone who is committed to supporting news rooms and media leaders to create safe, successful spaces for a more effective and empathetic industry. I have co-authored various ground-breaking reports into the safety of women journalists, the kidnapping of journalists and moral injury and the media, as well as being involved in the development and delivery of curricula and courses on issues including gender-sensitive reporting and countering sexual harassment . My key areas of expertise include journalism safety, mental health, gender and ethics and I have written and spoken extensively on these subjects. I am widely respected for her skills in moderating and facilitating conversations on a range of subjects, have been published by some of world's leading media outlets and am comfortable speaking in front of large audiences. I am also an award-winning author of flash fiction, which has been published widely, and my debut collection is being launched in 2021. I have recently finished my first novel and am now working on a memoir, provisionally entitled 'Aftershocks.'

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