Dying mum leaves family loving legacy
HOW do you tell your children you love them when you are gone?
Sunshine Coast mum Leanne Weyer never imagined a small mole on her shoulder would mean she would be writing heartbreaking farewell letters and cards for every important occasion, telling her children and husband how much she loved them, to be read after her terminal cancer claimed her life.
Mrs Weyer, 49, who never sunbathed and tried to keep her fair skin out of the sun, noticed a spot on her right shoulder was changing.
"It had been rubbing on my bra strap. It looked like it was growing up, like a little mountain. I didn't think too much of it (but) it was the devil within," she said.
Mrs Weyer was diagnosed in March 2015. Despite operations to remove the melanoma, by September it had spread to her lymph nodes.
"Then I saw my head oncologist and he pretty much said it's not a matter of if it comes back but when it comes back and we need to be really vigilant with scans and blood tests," Mrs Weyer said. "Then two years later, in November, I got quite ill and we found it had metastasised.
"They said then it was terminal, there was no cure for what I have and that they would be giving me treatment to hopefully extend my life."
Dealing with the shock of the diagnosis, Mrs Weyer said she tried to figure out the best way to help husband Peter and children Emily, 21, and Joseph, 18, when she was gone.
"I went into overdrive mode where I thought 'I need to get everything organised for my husband and my children'," she said.
"I sat down and wrote a list of all the things I might miss out on if I did not respond well to the treatment and I thought 'I'll make the memory boxes for the children and one for my husband as well'."
Mrs Weyer gathered a mixture of little things from family keepsakes to pass on, to messages for the biggest days of their lives - getting married, having a baby.
"With the kids, it was their big birthdays, turning 18 and 21, them graduating from uni," she said.
"Little things too, but also like them having their first baby and buying their first home, their weddings and engagements, and then I also started adding things like favourite recipes and I found their trick-or-treat bags that they always used so I put them in their memory boxes and put little notes in there.
"Hopefully they will use them when they have their own children and have fun like we used to. I want them to always know that I was proud of them and that I love them."
Mrs Weyer's treatment is beginning to fail. Tomorrow she sees her oncologist, hoping a new treatment will extend her life.
"I've have a fairly good response but just at the moment it looks like that treatment is failing," she said. "It's a two-year trial and I'd like to last the whole two years."
Mrs Weyer said her cancer had changed her perspective.
"You look at things a lot differently. The little things that used to worry you don't any more," she said.
The family will join the Sunshine Coast Melanoma March on March 31. See melanomamarch.org.au.
- DAN KNOWLES