Martha Giblin: ‘Two months after we adopted Sergei from Russia I lost my husband Kevin to cancer’
An Irish mother who lost her husband just two months after the couple adopted their second child from Russia revealed that her young children gave her strength at her darkest time.
Martha Giblin’s husband Kevin tragically lost his battle with cancer eight weeks after the family brought their son Sergei to Ireland, leaving her a single parent to two young boys in a matter of months.
The couple were in the process of adopting Sergei when Martha began to notice that Kevin wasn’t himself in Summer 2011.
“Kevin, Leo and I took a holiday in Spain and I noticed that Kevin wasn’t well at all. He was always a high energy type of a man with a high stamina and lots of enthusiasm. But he was quite unwell on the trip. He was a coeliac so we put it down to the food in the hotel being contaminated with gluten,” said Martha in TV3 documentary Adoption Stories.
“When we came home he was still quite unwell. He went into St. James’ then and they confirmed the shocking news that he had cancer. They removed as much as they could. The team thought the best thing would be to have preventative chemo to cover all bases,” she said.
Despite Kevin’s illness, Martha was determined to continue the adoption process and was fearful that the family’s situation might jeopardise the adoption.
“My concern throughout it all was to not jeopardise the adoption. I remember Kevin saying to me as he was lying in St James’ Hospital, really in bits, ‘Martha, you seem to be more interested in this adoption than in me.’
“I’m sure he thought I was being quite ruthless. That was my way of coping. That was my way on looking at things at that moment in time,” she said.
Although weak, Kevin was well enough to travel to Russia in August 2011 for the couple’s court date to finalise Sergei’s adoption and the couple brought their one-year-old home to Ireland in September.
“I could see that Kevin was quite tired and weak. Around the end of October Kevin was just so unwell and so sick he said he’d had enough of the chemo.
“He was admitted to hospital to his team who knew his case so well and they came back with very bad results for us. They told us that the cancer had spread and that he had two to three months to live,” she said.
Kevin died just three weeks after his oncologists gave him his terminal diagnosis.
Martha revealed although the months and years after Kevin’s death were unimaginably difficult, the children, Leo, now 8, and Sergei (4) gave her strength.
“At least when I had to collect the boys from the crèche or from school there was a reason to put on a bit of lipstick and put a hat on and get out the door and have some little bit of chit chat with other adults. Back at the time it was horrendous and I just thought I’m not able for this,” said Martha.
The mum-of-two believes that baby Sergei picked up on the family’s grief although they have all grown stronger because of it.
“I think he did pick up that there was an atmosphere of sadness and it might have just made him a little more reluctant to be spontaneous.
“Now he was so chatty and so happy and he wasn’t like that as much in the first year or so. He probably picked up this sadness and this energy. Everything was such a strain.”
“One of the good things now is that those subjects like death and tears and sadness and grief and feeling low wouldn’t be taboo,” she said.
‘Adoption Stories’ episode 2 airs this Thursday (18th June) at 8.30pm on TV3.