Professional golfer, Chris Gane, gives a heartfelt tribute to his Mum Jenny on Mother’s Day a month after she passed away from IPF
On 24 February 2017 – just a month before Mother’s Day – I took the worst phone call of my life from my father; “Chris, your mum has passed away in hospital. I am so sorry.” I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the exact whereabouts on the M25 I took the phone call and think about it every time I now pass it.
My wonderful mum, Jenny, had been admitted to hospital ten days prior to that tragic day with another ‘flare up’. She’d been in a bad place since her admission, poor sats on exertion, needing 15 litres of O2, IV steroids – you name it, they gave it to her. Mum had fought so hard. She was improving and was scheduled to be discharged on the Monday. She had her lunch that Friday and told the doctor how good she was feeling. Then she drifted quietly and peacefully away. I still can’t believe it now if I’m being honest.
Mum was diagnosed with IPF in 2009, after nearly two years of various tests. She was very fit and active throughout her life which made this diagnosis so hard to fathom. She was a wife, a mum and a grandma. Needless to say, she was rocked her to her core.
It is only since mum passed away that we’ve come to realise just how incredibly she dealt with her IPF. She chose not to tell the family the full extent of the disease straight away. She told dad, and in time, myself and my sister Penny found out.
A question I will now never get an answer to is whether she wanted us to find out more and do more to support her? Or did she make a conscious decision to keep us away from the true horror of her condition for fear of looking at her differently? It hurts me that I’ll never know this.
I do think that, knowing what a wonderful person mum was, that she chose to deal with this alone and shoulder the huge burden herself. She remained happy, upbeat and embraced life to the full from the moment she was diagnosed to the day she died, she was adamant this disease wasn’t going to beat her – it was a truly incredible fight she put up and we’re so, so proud of her.
It is only after her death that I began to delve deeper into the world of IPF. I couldn’t believe some of the statistics I was reading. I was shocked at the huge funding disparities between this disease and others, the amount of people diagnosed, the amount of people potentially with the disease and the fact that there’s no specific cause that triggers IPF. All these things I found truly incredible and baffling.
I sat there reading and thought about how much mum had given of her precious time in later life to help others. She took part in drug trials, she attended support groups and many rehab sessions, in the faint hope it could help her but knowing that it could help others.
I now want to try and help raise awareness of this condition as best I can. I still play in many high profile golf tournaments and will carry the Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis logos on my bag. If anyone asks, I’ll happily tell them my mum’s story, it fills me with huge pride talking about her strength and courage in the face of such adversity.