BRAVE Mandy Short successfully battled breast cancer six years ago.
In February last year she braced herself for another fight when she was diagnosed with liver, lung and bone cancer – and the courageous mum was focused on beating the disease again.
But less than two weeks ago, at just 40 years old, Mandy was delivered a shattering blow when she was told the cancer had spread all over her brain.
Today, she visits hospital for her second day of treatment which at the very most will give her six months to live.
She cuddles her three young children, her pride and joy, who are facing the prospect of growing up without their mum.
But inspirational Mandy, continuing to smile as she says she has done all of her life, vowed: “I have told the children I will always be by their side.
“In my years of having the children I have achieved everything I wanted to with them and I can rest in peace knowing they are going to be fine.
“I have told them I will be there with them for every one of their achievements in the future.
“I don’t want them to be frightened, I want them to look at their mum and be happy like I have always been.”
Mandy and her “exceptionally talented” children have exciting plans for the coming weeks as the close family look to make the absolute most of every moment they have left together.
Mandy, whose maiden name was Emmerson, was born and brought up in Torquay Avenue, in Hartlepool, and now lives in Wolvison Court, Billingham.
She speaks with immense pride of her children’s achievements. Christie Short, 16, represented Great Britain in Sweden showing ponies when she was just nine and has performed at the Shetland Pony Grand National at the Olympia horse show.
Billy Short, 14, is captain of Billingham Rugby Club and Polly Scaife, just eight years old, is another promising rider.
And despite the diagnosis of the medics, Mandy says she hopes to still be alive in December to watch Polly perform at the Olympia horse show.
Mandy has been honest and open with the children since her very first diagnosis, and through the heartbreaking ordeal says they have all showed incredible strength.
Despite Mandy’s remarkable positive outlook, she admits the “difficulty” of having to cope with being diagnosed with cancer three times.
She underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy after being told she was suffering with breast cancer in September 2007, and had 13 lymph nodes removed, eight of which were cancerous.
Everything was fine for four and a half years until last February, in the year of her 40th birthday, when Mandy had to sit the children down again and tell them the cancer had returned, this time in her liver, lungs and bones.
The treatment started again but once again Mandy was focused on beating the cancer.
But heartbreakingly, on March 28, Mandy was told the cancer had spread all over her brain and the best she could hope for, with treatment which started yesterday, was just six months longer to live.
“I’m young, I know that and I’ve gone through every emotion possible and yes, I have felt bitterness,” admitted Mandy, a former student at Brierton Community School and hairdresser at various salons in the town.
“But I’m not going to go thinking I could have done this or I could have done that, I have appreciated every breath like everyone should.
“I feel like in my 40 years, I have lived 80.
“I have always been happy, smiling and confident - but more importantly for me I know the kids are happy.
“I’m so proud of what they have already achieved and what they are going to go on and achieve, and I will be alongside them for every step of the way.”