Dad and husband: Pete's Story

March 2024

My name is Pete Wallroth, and I am the CEO and Founder……. wait hang on. That is not who I am most importantly at all.

I will start again. My name is Pete, and I am an incredibly lucky and proud Dad to three amazing children: Martha, Merlin and Flynn and husband to Nicola.

My journey and what brought me into what I do now as CEO/Founder of the charity Mummy’s Star, began back in mid-2012 when my wife Mair and I learnt that we were to become parents again. At the time we had Martha approaching three and soon found out that we were expecting a little brother.

Around 19 weeks, she had felt an ache in her breast and a midwife subsequently referred us to the breast clinic and from there a large part of our world began to collapse...

Following a medical examination, a tumour in her left breast was confirmed on 18 June 2012. She immediately began chemotherapy, and her progress was very good.​ Merlin was born safe and well in September. 

Mair continued chemotherapy postnatally and had begun to suffer from migraines for the first time.

Following her seventh chemotherapy session, Mair became very unwell and was admitted to the hospital in November with severe migraines, dehydration, sickness, and blurred vision. Upon investigation, it was discovered that cancer had spread to the meninges lining of the brain and was untreatable given its accelerated growth and her poor state of health. She had metastatic breast cancer.

She died in the surroundings of Willow Wood Hospice on 6 December 2012 barely 5 months on from her diagnosis aged 41. At the time Merlin was just 10 weeks.


And so that was me, suddenly a single parent, caring for a 3yo and a newborn baby,. I felt lost at the speed and rarity of what had unfolded.

"Cancer and pregnancy at the same time just does not happen…. yet it had, and taken my children’s Mum and my wife from us."​

Transitioning from worrying about her health to responding to her death was in some ways not as much of an upheaval as one may expect but this is because of how little she was able to do when she was having treatment. I was already in a daily routine with Martha and Merlin prior to losing her so that routine continued. They had to get up, be fed, Merlin changed, winded and put down for naps, Martha taken to nursery, read to, taken to play in the park... All usual parts of parenting. 

It was night time mostly when the darker moments came, when I had time to myself to try and somehow reflect on what had happened. 

You start to measure yourself up against the impossible because I was never going to be able to be Mair… but then in a moment of reflection, I realised if it was me who was gone, Mair would not be able to be me either. The best person I can be to them is myself and ensure that they are reminded of their Mum.

I would have conversations with Mair while washing dishes at night after the kids had gone to bed trying to work out the best way of going about something. Sometimes I'd do it the way I think she would have preferred, sometimes my way, but ultimately what was best for the kids there and then.

Helping others

I became aware of WAY through a friend of Mair’s who had lost her husband very suddenly a couple of years beforehand and went to a meal in Manchester to get together with others who had been widowed young. From that I stayed in touch with a few members and became good friends.

Ever since Mair was diagnosed the question had been asked 'Why isn’t there something for us?'

For all the amazing support out there in the cancer sector, why had Mair felt so alone when she was diagnosed? I was determined to change that and had an idea how...

The only thing that had reduced how isolated Mair felt was when she met someone else who had juggled cancer treatment and a newborn. I floated the idea with that amazing friend, Nicolette Peel (who cofounded the charity and sadly died in 2023), as to what difference a specific organisation would have made, and the answer was resoundingly positive.

We set up the charity Mummy's Star to be able to offer emotional and peer support with one to one calls, emails and regular check ins. We provide non means tested small grants to try and take the edge off some of the financial burden. We also provide cancer and pregnancy training nationwide for students and professionals to be better placed to know all they can about supporting a family like ours. 

Just as Nicolette said when I asked her, the charity would have helped Mair feel seen and would have provided a deep sense of validation. I think she would be astounded by what has been achieved.

"My proudest achievement is that I believed in myself, that I trusted in my ability as a parent..."

And believing in myself that I deserved to feel happy again. When I met Nicola, first as a friend, and then later when we got together, I felt that love, safety and security for me and the children. We welcomed our son Flynn to the family in 2018 and the three of them together are just a wonderful combination and support each other so much too.

"Flynn is a very intuitive little boy and is very aware even at 5 that Martha and Merlin’s Mum died and takes real interest in knowing what she looked like."

Through the work of the charity, I have met and supported a number of guys over the last few years whose situations resonate with mine, and others with quite different timelines, but it is the shared experience of loss that joins us.

We walk, we talk, we share what works and what doesn’t but it is the freedom to express yourself in the company of someone else who has walked that path that feels the biggest help to others. There is pain every time I recall what happened to us, but that is overshadowed by the benefit doing so brings.

Mother’s Day in our house and the approach our school have taken has never been of hushed tones or let us do something else, so they do not get upset. We embrace memory and loss and we let the tears flow if they need. Sometimes we do not cry when you would expect us to and then other days we may cry at the sight of a floating leaf.

This year my son Merlin will be completing a yearlong challenge on Mother’s Day weekend which has been try to ‘bag’ the 88 trig points or pillars located around the Peak District National Park which he started on 16 March 2023.

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