Today marks 1172 days since cancer came into our family. 1168 days since my husband and I walked through the doors of this hospital, hand in hand, for the very first time.
Those doors were the last thing my husband saw of the outside world, before being wheeled into an ambulance and brought home to die. He said, at that point, that a bag for life would probably be an unwise investment.
Today, 463 days since my husband died, and 343 days since my own diagnosis, I walk out of the same doors once again, on my own, to the outside world, for what we all hope will be the very last time. To freedom. To our children. To countless more days.
Here, they’ve given me the most precious gift – my life, wrapped up in a metaphorical box with a bow, when my husband couldn’t even begin to pick…
I spoke to a friend the other day. A friend who was deeply upset, because one of his friends had left it too late to check himself out… and now has a cancer which can’t be cured. We don’t yet know how long he has. It’s heartbreaking, and more so because it could have been avoided.
In the meantime, I’ve been receiving – for two bloody years – requests to put a heart on my wall, or an eight ball as my status, or to accept the challenge of posting a black and white picture, or a no make-up selfie, to raise awareness for cancer. Well, challenge accepted. Here’s my black and white, no make-up selfie, no hair selfie, no boob selfie, and no husband selfie. Our most recent portrait together, a few weeks ahead of our fifteenth wedding anniversary. ❤️
You don’t raise awareness of cancer by putting little…
I’ve found this most recent post from my daughter the hardest of all to read, because we’ve seen at first hand the boys’ anger and fear over their mother’s cancer. I doubt if I could have found it in me to reblog her thoughts if we hadn’t been in Bolton this last weekend.
We were there because Ellie wanted to be at her annual professional conference overnight. Voice overs work in the main alone, so theirs is less a conference more a knees-up and a chance to bond. Her colleagues have been unendingly supportive and helpful since Phil’s death, and she spent the weekend being hugged and loved.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the boys were doing their own thing. Twin Number One got invited for a sleepover. Twin Number Two wasn’t, but elected to come shopping and bake a cake with me instead. Then he too found himself off playing footie with his mates and being invited to spend the night at a friend’s house.
Suddenly, we were only babysitting the dog, who required a long, energetic and healthy walk on Sunday.
Perhaps it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Ellie was happy. She had a much needed break. The twins were happy. They had time away from each other, and they could see their mum was OK.
It’s chemotherapy again on Wednesday. But it’s the LAST ONE. However bad it might be, it’s THE LAST ONE. Then there’s radiotherapy, which will tire her out. But that’s the LAST TREATMENT. She’s booked a family holiday for August. Perhaps they can dare to hope that this is the year when cancer finally pushes off and leaves them alone.
My relentless positivity is waning. The dark thoughts are setting in, and becoming far harder to shake off than the last few eyelashes which have long been sobbed into a snotty tissue. I have two children who miss their father, but I miss him too, and if it weren’t for them, perhaps I wouldn’t have bothered to fight this at all. In fact, I think I resent the fact that I can’t just say fuck it and join him, wherever he is. Because I do have his beloved children, though, and no family nearby to bring them up, I don’t have a choice. But, Christ, it’s hard – especially when the two children you’re doing it for are not helping you to row upstream, but are standing on the riverbank, chucking rocks at you as you try to do it alone.
They’re eleven. Nearly twelve. And they’re about as much…
We’ll all remember 20th January 2017, the day Donald Trump took his oath as President of the United States. No comment.
The 20th January was special within our family too. It was the day my son Thomas celebrated his 40th birthday. Really? How did that happen? Is it forty years since my son kicked and chortled in his pram, his simple world revolving round milk, sleep, fluffy nappies (no disposables then) and besotted parents? Now he’s a besotted parent in his turn. And nobody much remembers that it’s forty years since Jimmy Carter became President of the United States.
Unexpectedly, 20th January turned out to be even more special for our family. It was the day that my daughter Elinor, having seen off her husband to cancer nine months ago; having been diagnosed as a cancer sufferer only four months after that; having had one operation that failed to dig it all out; and having had a mastectomy only the week before last was declared cancer free. She’s got preventative chemotherapy and radiotherapy to face still, and breast reconstruction. But she’ll be fine. And that was more than we dared to hope only a few weeks ago.
This makes 20th January a Red Letter Day for this family. Even Donald Trump can’t take that away from us.
Donald Trump was inaugurated in Washington DC. Thomas was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Elinor lives in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
A third Christmas with cancer as an unwelcome guest. Regular readers of my blog know my son-in-law died of cancer after living with it for two tough years. Regular readers also know that his widow, my daughter, got her own cancer diagnosis only weeks after his death. Regular readers have read some of her feisty, angry, witty pieces about this wretched disease. They know that her initial hopes : ‘Breast cancer is NO BIG DEAL’ vanished in the face of evidence of more and larger tumours. She faced more invasive tests and scans. Friday was results day.
A month ago, news that she will need a mastectomy, probably six months of chemotherapy, and perhaps radiotherapy as well would have pitched her, and all of us into a pit of helpless gloom. Now it’s a reprieve. Now we can face 2017 hopeful that after all this she will live, will see her twins grow up, will continue to be an important part of the lives of all her friends and family.
I don’t feel like glibly heading this post ‘Snapshot Sunday’ as I usually do. But this week’s theme, ‘New Horizon’ is relevant. My daughter – all of us – have a new horizon to work towards as her treatment seeks to return her to a cancer-free future.
I’m quietly proud of this photograph. It was taken on holiday when our boys were about four months old, and I’d asked my husband to get a picture for posterity. It’s never been in the family album, but not because I care if people are offended by a photo of my tits doing the job they were designed for (hell, I’d tandem feed anywhere – once, I even propped up the children against my nipples on the window ledge of an overhead walkway at a service station on the M6, having fed them earlier that day during church communion.) I didn’t give a shit as long as the boys were nourished, but I simply couldn’t bear for anyone to look at the photo and think I’d chosen the hideous fabric on that sofa.
I’ve blurred out my face – not because I’m embarrassed, but because the two little generic-looking blond…