There is no way to introduce this personal post rather than to just dive straight into it…
In late April of 2013, I received a text from my Dad (I should probably say here that I was out with a friend and saying life changing things to my face don’t go well for me). My Mum had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. There was a lump in her right breast and behind that lump, there was another. As a family, we kept it to ourselves – we told the people who we are closest to and the support came flooding in.
Just before my Mum’s birthday at the beginning of May, my Dad came home from work rather early and I thought the worst. Something was wrong with my Mum despite her being sat at the kitchen table next to me. But no, the bad news continued: He had been made redundant, the family firm his cousin ran has gone bust and my Nan who was a resident in the firms house, had been given until June/July to find herself a new home. The Cancer, the job and home loss all happened within two weeks.
I’m trying to type this post as honest as possible in the hope that someone in the world reading it will find light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you think you have a lump, or you have Cancer or someone very close to you does – life is going to be ok. Everyone says that at the worst possible timing, right? You think it’s all going to go terribly wrong and that there’s no way it’ll ever be ok. But it will be. The doctors these days are incredible and I can’t thank them for enough for saving my Mum.
The treatment was tough. Before her 49th birthday, she had the two lumps removed and a week later, she had another operation to double-check it had all gone and it had. She was bedridden and thank you to the wonderful world of technology (my laptop and wi-fi) she could watch anything she liked in order to take her mind off it all. The road to recovery hadn’t even begun at that point. She had chemotherapy and man, oh man, that was a real bitch. It made her arms swell, her fingers go all tingly and she lost feeling in her toes. The part of chemo which affected us all the most was the hair loss. Some women are incredibly lucky as they have treatment which means their hair will be ok and despite it being able to grow back, it is a horrible part to witness and I can’t even think about how it would have felt for my Mum. She used to stand over the kitchen sink and pull hers out. After a day or two of seeing this, it had to be stopped. Not because it’s unhygienic but because I’d witnessed my Nan (Mum’s Mum) doing the exact same thing. The wonderful people at the hospital have a hairdresser there all the time. She went in one afternoon and had it all shaved off.
With my Dad off work, it was easier to care for her. I was at University studying my Masters and I was only there Monday and Wednesday evenings. Studying and writing essays meant I could be sat in bed with her, keeping her company while she slept.
When my Mum had regular visits to the hospital, I didn’t go. Not once. They’re not for me and she understands that completely. Say what you will about that but it’s a strong fear I’ve had. My Mum is person who tries her best to understand yet at the time, being new to my antidepressants meant I was sleeping badly and my own hormones were all over the place. I wish that if I could go back in time, I would because it’s pathetic. I know I should have gone but it’s a choice I made due to my own personal fear.
Dealing with Cancer is tough. This post isn’t sugar-coated one bit. Some people are lucky and they catch it straight away and others aren’t. Breast Cancer is found in 2 of 3 people. The statistics have gone up.
Once the chemo was finished, the radiotherapy began. Six sessions were scheduled and if all of them had gone ahead, my Mum wouldn’t be here. Due to the high amount of medicine in her body, the final one would have killed her. Don’t ask me how – I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t wish to know because it’s only important that the doctor stopped it in time. The visits to the hospital happened every single day in order for the radiotherapy to work. You have so many weeks and then it comes to an end.
I have had three people in my life suffer with Cancer. My Grandad (Dad’s Dad) had Asbestos and that hit me hard. I’d never dealt with death before so I didn’t know how to feel. I cried an awful lot like anyone would and in all honest, it felt strange when he passed away. I ached for my Dad because not only he is my best friend but because I could feel his pain. I lost a lot of weight when my Grandad passed away. I was already 7 stone and it was falling off me left, right and centre. When I spoke to the Doctor about it, I was told that it was grief yet I was eating like a pig.
When my Nan (Mum’s Mum) was told she had Breast Cancer, she was also told that there was nothing they could do. We think my Nan knew it was there and from the way she acted, she wanted to go. She didn’t put up a fight and that is the part which hurts the most. I’ve never told anybody that – nobody. When she died, I went into a ball. I didn’t speak to anyone for weeks on end and I was sure my voice had disappeared. I dealt with my Nan’s death differently to my Grandads. I wasn’t myself and all my friends around me didn’t know what to do so one by one, they dropped away and I didn’t care.
I’m pleased to end this post with the news that two years after receiving the worst news, my Mum is 100% okay. She does a lot of work for Breast Cancer – wether it’s selling books, doing raffles, getting signed rugby shirts – you name it, she’ll do it in order to help others.
I poured my heart and soul out in this post and I seriously hope that if you’re reading it, that it has helped you. If you know someone who has Cancer – send them this post and tell them that all kinds of help is available. Coppafeel are a fantastic organisation who express the important fact that you need to touch your breasts and give them a feel – you never know, it might save your life.
Thank you for reading this rather long and very personal post. I hope it’s helped someone.