My gran’s gift to me

2017-10-24 06:01

My grandmother lost her battle with cancer 17 years ago. But boy, did she put up a fight.

Gran would have turned 93 on Sunday – the very day that I (and other members of the People’s Post team) will be taking part in our very first Shades of Pink shavathon and sprayathon as part of our #WeKPost October campaign.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in its early stages and undergoing a hysterectomy, Gran spent seven years in remission before the cancer returned.

After a few years, many rounds of radiation treatment and a wig or two later, her time with us came to an end, but not without leaving me with life-long memories of what “a tough cookie” really looks like.

As a child, I don’t ever remember Gran as being sick. She always bore herself with strength and grace that made it seem like nothing could bow her down. The many friends at her funeral insisted that she was never too sick to serve tea at the senior citizens’ centre and even in her last days she still had strong opinions as to what the Proteas were doing wrong (and wouldn’t have minded telling them!).

Widowed in her thirties, Gran raised two daughters as a single parent working a full-time job – something almost unheard of in the 1950s and ’60s.

Hers is a strength that I’d like to believe is a family trait, along with an unusual sense of ­humour.

It’s probably this humour that I remember most during her illness – she even insisted she much preferred wearing a wig, after losing all her natural hair to her treatment, because she could simply toss it in the washing machine instead of wasting hours washing, rolling and setting her hair.

As a tribute to my grandmother, and all those who have lost their fight, I’ll be cutting off my locks to donate them to Cansa to be made into a wig for someone fighting his own battle with cancer. It’s my hope, that with even just a quarter of Gran’s strength, my small gift will give someone the strength to beat their illness.

Nicole McCain


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