Halloween which I will never forget

non hodgkins lymphoma

While everybody is celebrating Halloween I think of my mum who died on this day 5 years ago of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. What on earth is non-Hodgkin lymphoma you may ask? Well, it’s a type of cancer which develops in the lymphatic system. It’s not a common type of cancer. In the UK more than 12,000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year. Comparing to breast cancer cases (around 100k) this number doesn’t look that big, but still… it’s cancer, it’s devastating, it changes lives so that they are never the same again.

My mum was 60 when she died. Not an old age really, is it? How old are you? Can you imagine yourself dying when you are 60? You would at least want to experience your first grandchildren before you die right? It didn’t happen for my mum. My sister was pregnant with her first child when my mum was dying. She was so excited about her future grandchild but at the end she didn’t get to see her. It’s really sad because she loved children.

The way everything started is when she discovered some lumps in her groin but lumps later appeared in her neck and armpits as well. She was fighting cancer for over a year. They told her in the beginning that the cancer was not curable. The only available treatment was chemotherapy which she was having over a course of many months.

Chemotherapy made her lose all her hair at the end. I wasn’t there when that happened but I saw a picture of her on her 60th birthday wearing a hat to cover her bald head. Chemotherapy was making her sick and her immune system was severely compromised because of it. At that time I spent lots of time researching on the subject of the immune system and how to improve it after chemotherapy. I discovered shiitake mushrooms then, so we made them regularly for her every week after that. I always hoped that somehow she would just get better but it just didn’t happen.

We researched alternative medicine options and there were many, however she didn’t want to hear about them. She had strong faith in conventional medicine. She trusted doctors more than anything else, but the truth is, chemotherapy was slowly killing her, it wasn’t the cure! Although it showed some positive results in the beginning, at the end it stopped working.

One day I had a call from my sisters telling me that my mum’s condition was rapidly deteriorating and that all the organs are slowly beginning to shut down. I booked the flight from England to Slovenia immediately that day but the earliest I was able to travel was in 2 day’s time. I was praying that she would wait for me and the whole of my journey to Slovenia I was doing just that – trying to connect with her in spirit and asking her to wait for me.

She waited and I made it to the hospital to say final goodbyes. She was still conscious then so we greeted each other and hugged and she was so happy to see me . She said to me that she was waiting for me. She knew that I was on my way and that I was thinking of her. 

It was the first time I saw her bold head, so it was a bit of shock for me but I kept a brave face on, just for her, although I had to leave the room very soon to calm myself down. We were all there for her, three sisters. But she didn’t want us to be there. She told us to go home. We knew that she was dying and we didn’t want her to die alone but she convinced us to leave. She didn’t want us to be there. I don’t think she wanted us to see her die. After a bit of conversation she just went to sleep. She was under strong medication and I don’t know whether it was the medication which sent her to sleep or the fact that her organs were shutting down. We left her there, ‘asleep’. A few hours later we got a call from the hospital letting us know that she passed away.

Both of my parents died of cancer and this is one reason why I am such a strong advocate of a healthy lifestyle and natural living. I did try to discover what causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma and there are certain factors which can increase your risk of developing this condition. However, my mum doesn’t really fit in any of those categories. Another thing I discovered was that non-Hodgkins lymphoma was more common among farmers. This makes more sense to me. My mum’s parents were farmers and my parents owned a few pieces of land where they grew vegetables for the whole family (and for selling). And what do farmers use? Herbicides, pesticides and toxic fertilizers! I strongly believe that this is what caused my mum’s cancer. She did lots of farming but never used any gloves to protect herself from harmful toxins. 

If you are reading this and you are a farmer or know somebody who is a farmer, please help me spread the message. If somebody can learn something useful from this and work towards improving their life to prevent cancer of this type I will be really happy. Nobody should go through this horrible disease, nobody, especially if there are ways of preventing it.

Have you heard of this type of cancer before? Do you have anybody in your family who’s been affected by cancer? 



  1. I’m so sorry for your loss 🙁 I’m glad you were able to make it on time to see her. Such a sad story 🙁 My mum had breast cancer almost 7 years ago, but they were able to get rid of it through radiotherapy. I’m constantly worried it will come back and I keep trying to encourage her to look after herself – eat better and exercise more but she just won’t take it seriously 🙁 Thanks for sharing your story and for spreading awareness! •hugs•

    1. Thanks for your lovely message and kind words Nadia. I hope your mum will be ok and I keep my fingers crossed for her to stay healthy as long as possible. You are right though, healthy lifestyle is important, especially if someone had already experienced cancer before.

  2. Thank you for sharing this brave post Petra and I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, lost both my parents to cancer and truly empathise with you. Although you can’t turn back the clock for your parents, the work you are doing to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle may help save others from this terrible disease. Much love and respect xxx

    1. Thank you Annie for your support and I am sorry to hear about your parents. I know you mentioned it on your blog a while ago. It’s never easy when both of your parents are gone and you know they could have lived much longer.
      I really hope my blog is helping other people to be healthier in order to prevent a whole lot of diseases. I don’t think I would have such a passion for a healthy lifestyle without my parents both gone from this world.

  3. Reading this gave me goosebumps. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost both of your parents to cancer. My mom is currently fighting cancer…which is what prompted me to start my blog. I am so with you about living a more healthier lifestyle and natural living.

    1. Oh no Natalie, I am really sorry to hear about your mum fighting cancer. I really hope she recovers fully. It’s just amazing how common cancer has become in this age. We really need to do everything we can to prevent it. 75% of it is because of the lifestyle.

  4. So very sorry for your loss Petra. I’m sure your parents would be proud that you’re doing something positive. I have actually heard of NHL as my mother had Stage 4 but miraculously is still here.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Lynda.. Wow, your mum had stage 4 NHL and she survived? That’s a true miracle and I wish your mum many more healthy years to come.