By Fole Fowowe
About Good Grief:
Good Grief was born out of my personal experience with grief and cancer. I have witnessed first hand the impact cancer has on those diagnosed, however that impact does not exist in a vacuum. Good Grief is a community space for family, friends and loved ones that have been affected by cancer to share their stories.
Currently stories are shared on our Instagram page and explore a wide range of themes. If you would like to know more or share your story you can get in touch @goodgrief.club on Instagram or email us @email@example.com. We welcome people at any point in their journey, whether you or someone you know has just been diagnosed, is receiving treatment, is in remission or you’re experiencing grief after a loved one passes, every experience is valid. We also honour grief as a journey and ongoing process, one that often begins before someone passes and stays with us long after.
Grief and cancer is embedded into every aspect of my life, down to my DNA. I first experienced grief after losing my Grandma to ovarian cancer as a child. I remember a deep sense of sadness but most of my emotions were clouded by an overwhelming sense of confusion. As a child I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of what had happened. My grandma lived abroad most of my childhood and although I loved her dearly her passing didn’t have much effect on my everyday reality. I can’t say the same of losing my mum to cancer less than a decade later.
My mum’s cancer was insidious. It started off as a cough, not immediately concerning but when it lingered and worsened it became clear something was wrong. They did tests that came back unclear, leading them down rabbit holes, looking for a diagnosis in the wrong place. I’m not sure what finally led doctors to pancreatic cancer but by the time they got there it was too late. 9 months after her diagnosis my mum passed away. I was only 16 at the time. Eventually, the initial shock was replaced by a deep, suffocating grief. One that lingered and evolved but never seemed to lessen.
From that point on grief coloured every aspect of my life. I was severely depressed throughout my first year of Uni. I struggled to process my grief and access the support I so desperately needed. After struggling through first and second year I finally started therapy. It was the first time I acknowledged how deeply grief had impacted me.
A few years later cancer and grief were unceremoniously thrust back to the forefront of my life. During a coil fitting nurses found an 18cm cyst on my ovary and I was immediately referred for testing. Thankfully the cyst wasn’t cancerous but the experience was traumatizing and resurfaced my grief. I knew I could potentially be at high risk of developing cancer so decided to get tested. Tests showed that I am a positive BRCA-2 carrier meaning my chances of developing breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer are significantly higher than the general population. Understanding the impact of a positive BRCA-2 test has been complicated. I’m currently exploring preventive surgery as an option but it’s been an overwhelming experience.
Throughout my journey, I’ve struggled to find the support I needed and I often felt isolated. I started Good Grief as a way of opening up the conversation and showing people that they’re not alone.
Artwork by Anna May