Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Fighter till the end - Joe Aswat

It was like any other day when I walked my daughter through the school gates. But I could tell something was different. Some of the girls that walked in were in tears. The parents were hugging each other. As the teachers came out of the classrooms onto the playground, their eyes were red and cheeks tear stained.

On one side there were parents like me blissfully unaware observing the other set, who were clearly in mourning. It was apparent soon enough. Joe Aswat - a mum who had her three girls in the school had died of cancer last night. I remembered her thin frame and had seen her running along the road many times. I thought she was a fitness freak, obsessed with a fit body but never in my wildest dreams did I guess the reason.

It left me shocked.I knew she was unwell but cancer? I had no idea.

photo courtesy: leicester mercury

She was a school governor, who had stepped down last year and pretty much a regular figure at the school gates. I remember her walking her black pup to school and chaining it to the gates before walking in to wait for her kids. Ever ready to lend a helping hand, she would be helping out at the school coffee meetings. Once, I felt a slight tap on the shoulder and there she was smiling away while handing over Aadi. She had seen him heading for trouble while I was talking to the class teacher.

I did not see her for a while during the autumn term and Cheeky came home saying that her friend's mum was in hospital. I had heard vague remarks about some surgery. Then after witnessing such an outpouring of grief that day, I wanted to learn more about it.

An online search took me to her "Just giving" page and I was awestruck by what she had been going through.

She had posted her experiences and what a well written piece it was, conveying a grim story with such humour!

Joe apparently had been fighting the dreaded disease for many years. But grit and determination saw her bounce back each time. At the time of writing the post she had decided to run for the London Marathon in April 2015, She had done well and the local newspaper called her a superhero for her accomplishments.

 My heart went out to the kids, the youngest being only 7.  I thought about Cheeky and shuddered at the thought. They must have had it hard for a long time but even then this must be so difficult. The entire school rallied around them, offering them solace and support in anyway they could.

It was heartening to see the community feeling amid such a big loss for the family. Despite the sadness, my heart swelled with pride at having known such an admirable woman.

R.I.P Joe. You were a fighter till the end.

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