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At the heart of Mother’s Day
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At the heart of Mother’s Day

Three people living with heart disease share how their Mums helped them face their health challenges.

Mother’s Day 2020 is unlike any other we have celebrated. Australia is still experiencing COVID-19 lockdowns, and many of us will be catching up with our mums on Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom.

Here are the stories of three people living with heart disease or a heart condition. Read more to discover how their mums helped them face their health challenges, and what it's like to be apart on Mother's Day.

Mum is at the heart of it all.

Claude Lam, 42


As Mother’s Day approaches, and we continue to live through COVID-19, the day takes on extra special meaning for me.

I’ve been “socially distancing” from my mum and dad for over more than two and a half months; they are in their 80s. Now we video chat more often than before, but I miss them dearly. I’m looking forward to plenty of future hugs!

After my heart operation, next to my wife, my mum was my biggest supporter. The operation had taken a big physical and mental toll on me. After two days, I found myself calling my mum for help. That same day, she was at my doorstep, ready to help and support in any way possible.

Mum ended up moving in and living with us for the next five to six weeks; that definitely wasn’t planned! I’d say my recovery was such a success because of my mum: without her I don’t know how long my road to recovery would have taken.

Mums just have that innate, instinctual ability to make you feel loved; they always know what comforts you and builds you up.

My mum took care of the basics, like food and housework. My fondest memories are of mum tending to my wounds and helping me to put clothes on, especially on days when I was drained of energy.

I’m so grateful for my mum! God bless her and all mums on this special day. There will lots of virtual Mother's Day celebrations this year; I look forward to catching up on the lost time together when life returns to some normality!

Marcus Ashford, 38



Mother's Day 2019 was such a special day for me! On that day, I had my mother, and she had me.

The day was only a month after my open-heart surgery, and two months since my heart attack. Having a heart attack was the biggest shock of my life; I was only 36 years old when it happened. While recovering, I was living back at home. I felt like a child again, getting all the extra care from my mother.

Mum was first to come into the hospital after my initial heart attack; when I first saw my mum, I burst into tears. She did too. What an emotional day!

Months into my recovery, I knew that I wouldn't have been able to get through it all without my mum; I realised how lucky I am to have her. All her home cooking took me back to my childhood.

I don’t have a partner, I needed all the help I could get; it was a struggle getting out of bed, cooking dinner, showering.

Thanks for all your help mum! I love you so much and wish you so many happy Mother’s Days to come.

And, yes, it’s true: my whites have never been whiter.

Melanie Annette, 34


My mum has been a great support my whole life; she still is to this day. Mum is always there, helping to look after my 18-month-old son or cooking a delicious family dinner. She’s always there for her four children.

In 2012 I had open heart surgery. Less than a year earlier, I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. As you can imagine, this was a big shock; I was in my mid-twenties and had no history of heart disease. The news was hard on my mum, but she was my pillar of strength through it all; she was with me at all my appointments, MRIs, echocardiograms. If I had a cardiac test, she was there by my side.

Mum knew that I was scared of what was ahead, and she was there for me when I needed it most. I will never forget the love and strength she gave me on the day of my open-heart surgery; she was positive and supportive, even though I know she was just as terrified herself.

After my surgery, I had a tough recovery. I woke up in intensive care with severe pleuritic pain (sudden sharp and intense chest pain when breathing), which I have continued to have on and off for the last eight years.

In recovery, my mum and husband were my greatest strength. Mum would spend all day in the hospital with me, getting there at 7:00 am and leaving around 10:00 pm. She brought home-cooked meals, took me for walks around the cardiac ward and told me that everything was going to be okay.
Recovering from heart surgery is not only physical, it takes a toll on your emotional health too. I had my days where I felt down and overwhelmed; I burst into tears. I’m so grateful that my mum was there to give me a hug, to talk to me and reassure me that I would be feeling much better soon.

Mum moved into our house and helped to take the pressure off; she helped by doing housework and cooking hearty meals. Her cooking felt so comforting and was exactly what I needed. Mum helped to change my dressings, and she reminded me to take my medications.

My mum has given me so much over the years. I can’t thank her enough for all her love and support. As I am in the vulnerable group with COVID-19, mum has continued to help me, bringing me shopping and essentials.

This Mother’s Day I hope all the mums out there have a happy day; even though it may feel a little different this year with lots of virtual catch-ups, I hope you feel very loved and special. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Happy Mother’s Day, mum! Thank you for being you.

Claude, Marcus and Mel are all members of our Supporting Young Hearts program which works with younger people, aged 18 to 40 years, who are living with a heart condition or recovering from heart surgery​.

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