Libby Lowe sits with her Abel, 2, around the time she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.
The removal of a cancerous brain tumour will claim a young mother’s voice and much of her strength for weeks – but her spirit remains undaunted.
The surgery, successfully carried out in Wellington this week, will not save Libby Lowe’s life. But it will give her time, precious days and months, to dedicate to her son.
Lowe, 26, thought she had put the disease behind her after going into remission from breast cancer during the coronavirus lockdown.
But the cancer had spread, manifesting into a 23mm mass within the right side of her brain, affecting her balance and reflexes.
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While she recovers in Wellington Hospital, her two-year-old son Abel Mitchell is home in Levin with his father, unaware of how grave his mum’s plight has become.
“He knows I’m sick and says I have a sore head and have to go to the doctor’s now,” Lowe told Stuff on the day before she underwent surgery.
”It’s pretty awful … Just seems like it’s never ending.”
The family had celebrated Abel’s second birthday a few days before Lowe was diagnosed with breast cancer in October last year.
After six rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and a lumpectomy she went into remission, but began struggling with headaches over the past two weeks.
A CT scan revealed the cancer has spread into her brain, and is expected to manifest in other areas of her body. The diagnosis is jolting; cancer will kill her.
“I have so much fear of not being here with my son, even the smallest things like bathing him and packing his kindy bag.
“I was so driven by having a good image, working full-time to provide for my son, to give us nice things and a good life, but now it’s like none of that matters at all.
“It is so important to prioritise your life, put your children and those that love you first, because you never know when your time with them might be compromised.”
It’s plainly apparent Abel is the force fuelling Lowe’s fight; her motivation and attitude.
“My love for Abel and his well-being will always see me through.”
Lowe’s cousin Cara McBrier has watched her step up to the challenge and take on each day the best that she can.
“There’s been a few times when she’d got upset about what would happen to Abel if something happens to her. Thinking about that has her almost not being able to breath.
“She definitely has been super strong. She doesn’t lose her personality and get into a rut over it.”
McBrief has set up a Givealittle page for donations to support Lowe through her recovery.