One brave mum has beaten the odds to stay alive, overcoming a devastating illness which doctors said could kill her. Her family could think of only one way to tell her how thankful they are she is with them this Mothering Sunday - through The Chronicle. WENDY CUBBON, this is for you...
ONLY last month Wendy Cubbon's life hung in the balance after a dangerous brain haemorrhage.
Now Len, Alison and Neil Cubbon want to send a special message to their wife and mother who has made a miraculous recovery.
'Mum doesn't realise just how strong she has been,' said Alison, 23, a nursery nurse at University College Chester.
'She is already going around acting as though everything is normal. We just want something to happen that will make her sit up and think 'hang on, look what I have achieved'.
'She doesn't know about this article, but when she sees it, I think she will be over the moon and will realise how special she is to us.'
Wendy, 55, who lives on Lydden Road, Ellesmere Port, with Len, 57, a grounds technician, and Neil, 27, a postman, first became ill in 1994.
Doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital found that she had a leaking heart-valve and septicaemia, but Wendy beat the odds and survived. During the next five years, she had a number of operations to fit a metal valve into her heart and was put on medication for life to control the thickness of her blood.
Following the stress of her illness, Wendy became depressed and was admitted to the Picton Psychiatric Ward at West Cheshire Hospital. After initially being discharged, she suffered a relapse and was readmitted but finally, in 2000, Wendy recovered.
Alison, who lives on Mill Lane, Great Sutton, said: 'This was very hard for all of us. I was only 13 when it began and my brother was 15.
'Depression is such a difficult thing to understand but eventually she got through it. From 2000 she was herself again.'
But last year, Wendy began to suffer with severe headaches, which lasted for days at a time and were not aided by painkillers.
In November 2003, the headaches became so unbearable, she was admitted to the Countess of Chester Hospital to have a brain scan.
Much to the family's relief, doctors gave her the all clear and she returned home, but the headaches persisted.
Wendy was prescribed with painkillers for severe migraines but when her condition did not improve she was sent for a second scan in January this year.
Two weeks later, the family were told the devastating news that Wendy had suffered a brain haemorrhage.
But even worse, was that doctors could not operate to drain the blood surrounding her brain because the metal valve in her heart meant surgery would kill her.
Alison said: 'We had to hope and pray that the blood surrounding the brain was going to evaporate. She spent the next three weeks in hospital. My father was devastated. We all were.'
'During this time, she visited Walton Hospital to see the neurologist who explained to us how dangerous the situation was.
'The next few weeks were the most difficult of our lives, visiting her everyday seeing her in pain and crying out in pain as the headaches had become so bad.'
Wendy was prescribed strong painkillers, but otherwise the only thing that doctors could do was to try and reduce her INR (International Normalised Ratio) levels, which is the time it takes the patient's blood to clot.
Wendy was told that her levels would have to be reduced to 2.5 for it to be safe in her brain.
'It was very up and down and the level of Warfarin she was administered was constantly changed to try to bring the INR down,' said Alison.
'And then when it eventually came down, the doctors said she should go home because there was nothing more that they could do. This was the time for us all to panic as we knew there was no chance of an operation to drain the blood. It was a case of just fingers crossed and waiting for her scan results again.'
Thankfully, a scan in February gave Wendy the all-clear. The blood around her brain had evaporated.
Alison added: 'It was fantastic. We were all so happy. Mum is now going about her day to day life, although she is taking things a lot easier now. She used to volunteer in charity shops, but she is not able to do that now. Whenever we ask if she is all right she always says she is fine.
'We were all supposed to be going out for a meal to celebrate her recovery, but we never got round to it. But I want her to realise how lucky she has been to overcome such awful, life threatening illnesses.
'With Mother's Day on Sunday I want her to be recognised for the wonderful, special, loving, caring and strong person she really is.'