Real Life

‘I won’t see you grow up’

Auckland single mum Raylene Stuckey (38) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is bravely preparing her son James for life without her.

“Dear James, When I think of the days we spent wandering round the museum or feeding the ducks at the park, I feel like my heart will burst. The moments we’ve shared have brought me so much joy. Now I can’t do those things with you any more. I’m very ill and can’t be the mum I want to be, which makes me very sad.

“I know I’m not going to be with you for much longer. Every time I see your cheeky smile and those big brown eyes of yours light up, I’m filled with pride. I’m amazed by the maturity you’re showing at only eight years of age.

“You have known for nearly two years that I’m not well. My illness is called cancer. on two occasions, three years ago, I blacked out. The doctors ordered a scan that revealed I had a brain tumour. They gave me two years to live, so I gave up my job as a credit controller to spend as much time with you as I could.

“Sometimes I remember all the lovely times we had before I got sick. I look at your baby photos and think of the joy and inspiration you gave me when you were born. I cherish the memories of your first birthday, the first steps you took and our holidays together.

“Since being diagnosed, I’ve slowly changed. I look and feel different. I can’t walk without a stick any more, so I can’t go to the beach with you, but I’m humbled by your thoughtfulness when you head off and bring back shells and heart-shaped stones.

“You know about the hospice volunteers who come to help me shower in the morning and you know we stay with your auntie and uncle because I’m not well enough for us to live on our own. We also have your nana over as often as we can, to give you the stability you need.

“oy 39th birthday is coming up and I can’t wait to celebrate it with you. I’m angry that I will be cheated out of being your mum and I have to accept that I won’t see you grow into a young man. But I want you to know, that whatever you do, make sure you chase your dreams and live your life to the full.

“I have a chest full of mementos that I’ve collected over the years, from the video of the first scan when you were in my tummy, to your footprints at birth and scrapbooks from kindergarten. I’ve also started writing down my thoughts in a silver-encased book. They’re my memories and will be left for you to read when I’m no longer here.

“This is what fate has decreed. But I’m not ready to go yet because I’ve promised you a holiday in Fiji and a cruise, and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep that promise to you. Every day is a bonus and I want to make the most of every moment we have together.

“With all my love, oum” *Hospice New Zealand helps people like Raylene who have terminal illnesses. For more information see or

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