Made In Chelsea star Alex Mytton tragically lost his mum to brain cancer earlier this year. Here, in an exclusive interview, he reveals how he plans to spend his first Christmas without her - and why he couldn't have coped without the support of friends, family and therapy
Interview by Olivia Adams
‘This Christmas will mark eight months since my mum died of brain cancer. Really random moments remind me of her; seeing her favourite dish listed on a restaurant menu will make me well up. I keep taking my phone out of my pocket to send her a text or to call her, and then I realise I’ll never speak to her again. At night, when I’m trying to get to sleep, she’s in my dreams and I’ll wake up crying. I can’t control my emotions.
‘Mum’s health problems started four years ago, she was being tested for epilepsy because she often felt tired and she’d become quite sensitive to light. Instead of epilepsy, the medical tests picked up a tiny growth on the cortex in her brain. Her doctors didn’t seem concerned that it would develop into anything serious and decided to monitor the growth with annual tests.
‘But when Mum was involved in a minor car crash in October, 2018, she went into hospital and the latest test flagged up that the growth of cells had suddenly formed a large tumour – and it wasn’t looking positive. To be honest, it was a huge shock. Mum’s quality of life began to deteriorate quite quickly – her body swelled up and she lost the ability to communicate with me. Sometimes she didn’t even know who I was. When she passed away in April, 2019, she was a very different person to the mum I knew and loved, which was obviously hard to deal with.
‘I’ll admit, I was ignorant to how hard our healthcare services work. Not just in terms of extra, unpaid hours, but also on an emotional level. Macmillan [the Cancer Support charity and its nurses] were incredible, and truly went above and beyond any duty of care. My advice to anyone who is now experiencing what I had to go through is spend as much time with your loved one as possible. It sounds obvious, but time can’t be retrieved.
‘The day I had to say goodbye to Mum was undoubtedly one of the hardest days of my life. It was impossible to try and communicate a lifetime’s worth of thoughts and feelings towards her. I also didn’t want to, because then it was accepting she was going to die. I’m working hard trying not to feel any resentment towards what happened, as that won’t help me with anything. It’s a fact of life that these diseases act with such random viciousness.
‘Christmas is nearly here and, to be completely honest, I’m dreading it. My parents split when I was two and I’ll be spending the holiday with my dad in London, rather than at my mum’s house in the countryside. I know it will be tough and I’ll be remembering all the Christmas mornings I had with Mum. We’d open presents together, eat salmon blinis and, when I was old enough, get quite pissed together. Mum always looked after me and spoiled me every single year.
‘As well as my dad and my sister Izzy, who’s 22, who are both so supportive, my girlfriend Georgina [Howard] has been amazing. We’ve been going out for two years, but Mum’s illness happened fairly early on in our relationship. I really didn’t know we’d have to deal with something as big as that. Jamie [Laing] has been great as well. He has such a positive energy. Both of them have looked after me and it would have been a hell of a lot harder without them. In November, 2019, Jamie suggested I should have therapy to stop trying to be a “tough guy”. I’ve had three sessions and it’s really helped me manage my emotions of grief, frustration, anger and helplessness.
‘For weeks, I debated whether to post on Instagram addressing my mum’s passing. I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to gain sympathy, but I also wanted to tell everyone what an amazing woman she was. Because she was genuinely the kindest, most caring, beautiful all-round woman and undoubtedly the biggest force for good in my life. When I made the decision to join Made In Chelsea in 2013, Mum was hesitant and joked that it wasn’t a “proper job”. But she’d watch the show occasionally to see what I’d been getting up to. She had plenty of quips to make about my behaviour.
‘After she died, the show’s producers asked me if I would be open to talking about it. I’m not normally involved with personal relationship situations on the show (any more!) but I said yes because I hoped talking about Mum would help others going through a similar situation. I received hundreds of messages thanking me for covering such a raw and personal experience. Doing that definitely made me feel less isolated.
‘I’m not one for resolutions, but in 2020 I’ve decided I’m going to quit booze for six months. As well as the obvious health benefits, I’m hoping it will help me be level-headed, stable, and a bit more positive. I’m also going to be more decisive and say yes to any opportunities that come my way.
‘Mum, thank you for shaping me to be the man I am today. Although there is still a lot I wanted you to see, I will never forget the memories we made. I’ll always be a mummy’s boy and proud of it.’
* If you or someone you know is affected by cancer, Macmillan provides physical, financial and emotional support. For more information see macmillan.org.uk or call free, 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, on 0808 808 00 00