A brave teenager has turned his grief for the mother he lost to cancer into a message of hope for others.
Jamie McIntosh’s mum Monica died after a battle with breast cancer which began even before he was born. Now 15-year-old Jamie has penned a poignant and at times even funny tribute to the loving mother he always knew he was destined to lose far too soon.
Written in teenage diary style and illustrated with quirky cartoons – similar to bestselling series Diary of a Wimpy Kid – the book is aimed at helping young people cope with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with watching a loved one in the fight of their life.
Jamie’s poignant stories include heart-warming anecdotes and cheerful memories of Monica, aimed at reminding youngsters that amid all the grief, tears and pain are reasons to smile. Incredibly, fourth-year pupil Jamie began writing it within weeks of Monica losing her 17-year fight in November 2013, aged just 47. Her family believe her love for Jamie – the son doctors had warned she might never have – and determination to stay with him as long as possible, kept her fighting tooth and nail for so long.
The book, entitled My Mum Monica, was launched last week after Jamie won a Young Scot Award for his remarkable effort. Already he has received orders from around the world and scores of messages of support.
“I just wanted to try to share our story so other people might get some help from it,” he said. “I really didn’t expect it to take off the way it has.
“It was difficult at times to write because a lot of it goes into good times and difficult times that we had. But writing it all down has helped me too.”
In the book Jamie recalls his heartache for his mum after a girl at his primary school questioned her about her hair loss, the result of chemotherapy, and also a memorable moment when he mixed up lyrics of Scots singer Sandi Thom’s 2005 hit song, I Wish I was a Punk Rocker and sang instead “I wish I was a prawn cracker”.
“My dad and I will laugh about it for the rest of our lives,” writes Jamie. “Although there were many times to forget there are also many priceless memories you need to remember.”
Brave Monica and husband Iain, of Corstorphine, knew she faced an uphill struggle when breast cancer was confirmed soon after her 30th birthday and that it could destroy their hopes of ever having a family.
Monica, who worked as a hairdresser and air stewardess, turned down chemotherapy which could have affected her fertility, and opted for radiotherapy.
To the couple’s delight Jamie was born three years later, and the proud mum set about defying her illness to give her son the best possible start.
Among his most vivid memories is a holiday in France aged seven when, although having received devastating news that cancer was in her lymph nodes, liver, hip, skull and spine, his mum was the life and soul of the trip.
Jamie was inspired to write the book after meeting Emma Sutherland, 15, the Edinburgh teenager whose book Eek! My Mummy has Breast Cancer about her mum Rosie’s illness, received massive acclaim. The pair met on a trip to Lapland organised by Capital charity FACE to give children who have suffered illness or loss a special treat. Jamie has pledged proceeds from the book will go to the charity.
For more details about the book go to www.mymummonica.com