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Triumph over adversity

YOUNG AUTHOR: Romeo Bremmer

ANYONE WANTING to understand how children feel when a close relative falls seriously ill, will learn a lot from the debut book by seven-year-old Romeo Bremmer called Life Without My Mummy.

It is a fascinating read as the young author outlines exactly how he coped when his mother was diagnosed with heart disease and underwent quadruple heart by-pass surgery.

His mother, Juliet Coley, is well-known within the church community. This former marketing manager for The Voice, co-presented legendary gospel show People Get Ready with Bishop John Francis and has gone on to enjoy a successful career as a deputy head of Gladesmore Community School in Tottenham, north London. She has even won a Wise Women Award for her community work.

Juliet’s faith in God, the support of her family and friends, and church, the New Testament Assembly in Tooting, helped her overcome one of the most challenging times of her life, and in turn, helped her to help her son.

The book Life Without My Mummy partly arose from therapy sessions Romeo undertook to help him get through his mother’s illness. Juliet, 49, explained: “Because he was struggling with dealing with my health condition, I spoke to the GP about some kind of play therapy for him.

“I felt he needed someone outside the family to talk about his emotions and feelings. They signed him up for eight sessions, and he’d go in and talk about his family just so that he could get things off his chest.”


WRITING DEBUT: Romeo outlines exactly how he coped when his mother was diagnosed with heart disease and underwent quadruple heart by-pass surgery

Juliet recalled Romeo would leave the sessions feeling positive and write down his thoughts. The book evolved from there and Romeo is keen that the book helps other children.

As you can imagine, being diagnosed with heart disease last May initially proved traumatic. Up until the age of 41, Juliet had hardly been ill.

But when pregnant with her third child, Romeo, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, followed by Crohns Disease.
She recalled: “Being sick, being unable to do things, and being restricted, was a shock to my system because I’m a get up and go person.

“I remember when being sick with Crohns, being hospitalised and looking out the window thinking ‘will I ever be the same again? Is this my life, and then thinking no, I’m not claiming this for myself.’

“There’s lots of things I haven’t done yet, and there’s lots of things I need to do and refused to have the sickness placed on me.”

She developed this same attitude following the diagnosis, which she confesses was an illness she’d associated with middle-aged English men, not vibrant black women.

“My grandmother died at 70 of cancer and I remember before she died she called me into her room and told me ‘My work is done’ and I was in floods of tears.

“When they initially told me that I had had a heart attack and I needed surgery, I thought to myself ‘My work ain’t done’, so as far as I was concerned my diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence. Even though physically my body was out of sorts, mentally I felt that this was not going to defeat me. The best is yet to come.”

Whilst Romeo is set to inspire many with his book, his mother is doing so with her approach to life following her successful operation.


UNITED: Romeo with his mum Juliet

Last New Year’s eve she uploaded a video of her health journey, to show her school pupils and wider public that you can triumph over adversity.

The video proved to be cathartic for Juliet and has inspired many. She received numerous messages from individuals battling illnesses, including someone Juliet hadn’t seen for 30 years. She had cancer and was deeply encouraged by the video.

Eternally positive, Juliet believes that only good will come out of her experience. “I realise this sickness is for a purpose and a reason so I’m not going to complain about it. And if that reason is to help others, show God’s glory and goodness then so be it. I don’t see my illness as a hindrance.

“I’m treating it as something that’s happened, that I can get through it, and whatever others are going through, they can get through it too.”

Juliet plans to send copies of the book to the Heart Foundation and since her operation, has embarked on a fitness routine and is enjoying life. She plans to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday in Dubai.

And her son has so enjoyed writing his book, he is working on another one; this time about a much lighter subject - architecture.

The Bible says all things work together for good to them that love God and this is a prime example of that.

Life Without My Mummy is £9.99 (e-books are £4.99) and is available from www.romeobremmer.com. Watch Juliet’s video at http://bit.ly/julietheartjourney

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