Mum told us to 'Keep The Faith' while she lived with cancer

Zoe Wilson wears K T F on her Ivy and Gold bracelet.

It stands for 'Keep The Faith' - which her mum, Veronica, adopted as a sort of slogan while she was living with cancer.

Sadly Veronica died in 2012, when Zoe was 22.

Zoe says her bracelet is a way to spark conversations about her mum, especially with her two sons - Harry And Charlie, who never got to meet their nanny.

Ivy & Gold bracelets Zoe Wilson with her mum and dad on graduation
"My mum was 49 when she was diagnosed, but things looked positive to begin with.

I was 19 and living in halls at the time and I distinctly remember coming home - as I often did at the weekend, usually to get my washing done - and when I was leaving to head back to halls I saw mum crying into my dad's shoulder.

I did think that was really strange, but she told me it was just because she was worried about me for my final exams, which were coming up that week.

Next thing I know mum and dad are in my university bedroom later that week breaking the news of the diagnosis.

My dad seemed almost positive and told me that the tumour was very small and that mum would have it removed, get a couple of rounds of chemo and be 'laughing' within a year.

Then, within a week, mum had a CT scan to check the rest of her body and sadly it wasn't the news any of us wanted to hear.

Ivy and Gold Zoe Armstrong and her mum Veronica

The cancer was already in her bones and her liver.

Anyone with any experience of cancer will know that once it starts to pop up in other parts of your body there is less of a focus on curing and more on palliative care, which was obviously an extremely difficult thing for my mum to come to terms with.

On top of that she had me, my younger brother Adam and my dad to think of.
I don't think initially I understood or really took it in.
I remember saying to her: 'OK so what are your chances of getting out of this?' and she just took a breath and said: 'Zero.' 

That was devastating.
 
But, mum being mum, she almost immediately rallied herself.

Ivy And Gold Zoe Armstrong as a child with her family

Anyone who knew her spoke about what great craic she was.

She was fun and bubbly all the time and she quickly got herself in the mindset of: 'Ok let's just carry on - until we can't.'

We had three really good years. Of course there were ups and downs, like when she lost her hair. 

My mum took a lot of pride in her appearance - so it was upsetting for her to have this outward display of her illness.

Mum carried on having parties. There was a really special one in 2011 when she and dad both turned 50 and celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. 

Ivy and Gold bracelets Veronica Wilson with her husband

All the way through her diagnosis and journey she would keep friends and family up-to-date on her Facebook page and she almost exclusively signed off her posts 'Keep The Faith,' which came from the Bon Jovi song that she loved.

In 2012 mum started to go downhill - although you wouldn't know it.


Ivy and Gold Veronica Armstrong Facebook post

All the consultants and nurses who cared for her said they couldn't believe she was as sick as she was, because she was always so well presented, polished and beautiful.

In the days leading up to her death we had friends and family round to sit with her and us and we would all say to each other: 'Keep The Faith' and we'd put it in any messages we sent to each other around that time too.

I was lucky and grateful to be able to hold mum's hand as she passed away on 24th July 2012 - it was a very peaceful ending.

My brother Adam has talked about getting a tattoo in mum's memory, but I am far too much of a wuss for that so my Ivy & Gold bracelet was the perfect was to have something on me all the time that reminded me of her.

Ivy and Gold bracelets personalised with Keep The Faith Zoe Wilson
I have KTF on it and it opens up so many more opportunities to talk about her if anyone asks about my bracelet.

My two sons, Harry and Charlie, are obsessed with my bracelet and I love when they touch it and ask about her. 

It's almost like a wee trigger for us to remember and talk about Nanny Armstrong, who they never got to meet."