Jillian Flaherty was 20 years old when her mother, Brenda Villa, lost her battle with cancer.

After surgically removing 35 percent of her left lung in 2011, Jillian's mother was glowing. But her battle with cancer was not over. By the summer of 2012, doctors came to the conclusion that her cancer spread from her lung to her nervous system and her liver. In November of 2013, at age 52, Jillian's mother passed away. 

"Her sense of humor was incredible, even when she was fighting cancer," Jillian told me a few weeks before Mother's Day.

This Mother's Day will be the third year without Brenda here to celebrate with her daughter. But Jillian will still be celebrating her mother's warmth and genuine love for everyone in her life.

By Jillian Flaherty, as told to Tara Moore

Jillian Flaherty

One thing about my mom…She loved to paint and draw. It was easy to tell if any note, list, or paper in the house was hers because it would have doodles and faces drawn all over. I miss finding those notes.

My strongest memory…Her laugh was contagious and her hugs were strong. She was a ray of sunshine and willing to be anyone's friend. I miss her strong hugs and I especially miss her beautiful smile.

My last Mother's Day…Before my mom passed away we went out to dinner at Alma Nové in Hingham Shipyard. Prior to that, all the women in my family would celebrate at my great aunt's house. I've also spent a few Mother's Day on the Cape with my aunts and cousins that are women where I'll be returning this year. 

I am lucky to have those memories with my family and mom. I am grateful to have had an amazing mother for 20 years of my life, I just wish I had 50 more. This Mother's Day, I'll be thinking of her as I am on the Cape with my family. Being near the beach and sunshine will remind of my mom and make me smile.

I hope everyone will hug their mom this Mother's Day and every chance you get and tell her you love her. 

I also remember my mom by sharing my voice for LUNG FORCE to help to make lung cancer a public health priority.

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