On October 1st 2013 fourteen days after my two week referral I walked into the gynecological ward of Crowley hospital. It was a strange place, quiet, with empty rooms and abandoned equipment either side of the corridor, almost like it had been deserted many months ago. I found a lady sitting at a desk and asked if I was in the right place, I was. She took me through to the waiting room and after a while I was called in for an ultrasound. Out of all the producers I had this is the only one where you can see the screen. I peered at it trying to work out what I was looking at, in reality I had no idea. The technician pointed bits out and I nodded and smiled, non of it looked like the traditional illustrations of female anatomy that appear in biology textbooks. Once that was over I sat back down again and waited to be called by the consultant. I can’t remember his name but he was a tall, skinny man and old. We talked about my symptoms and then he asked if he could examine me. As he did this I remember the atmosphere changing and there was a new pace to the conversation. He asked again about the symptoms this time listening that little bit more intently. Could I remember exactly when this all started, two months, six months, longer? He almost seemed annoyed and quickly fired more questions at me about what I’d been experiencing. The only thing I hadn’t mentioned before, mainly because I hadn’t thought it too important, was that I’d had some really heavy periods maybe eight or nine months earlier. I’d put it down to coming off the pill, I’d been on and off so many times in the previous ten years and there’d been so many side effects it hadn’t seemed important. The consultant thought otherwise. He took a biopsy and told me it needed to be removed straight away. He marched me downstairs to another counter where after an intense conversation with the lady on the desk ensued. In the end, although he wanted it sooner a booking was made for me to come in for minor surgery in just under a weeks time.
I was moved along to yet can another room and waited to be assessed for the operation. My blood pressure was very low, the nurse tested it again, it had been right the first time. I told her I felt a little faint and we chatted about what had happened. Yes the consultant had seemed worried but I’d got the impression he still thought it was a polyp, just a big one that needed removing, quickly. The nurse reassured me it was unlikely to be anything else if that’s what the consultant was saying and this seemed to put my mind at rest. The following day I went back into work as normal and got on with daily life.
The weekend before the operation we went to Hampton, it was a beautiful crisp autumn day and as we walked along the river we talked about nothing and everything. We stopped to drink coffee and eat cake and I put the thought of hospitals to the back of my mind. It was the last time my life was free of cancer and all the baggage that brings. I recently searched my phone to find the last photo on there of me before that operation. It was the end of September and me and aunty Sophie went to QPR vs Middlesbrough, we missed the first goal and lost 2-0 but had a fun day out evidenced by the quality of photos, mainly selfies of us pulling silly, smiling faces. I sometimes look at these and compare them to those taken afterwards, is there a difference? Is the light behind the eyes that little bit dimmer? Is the smile still real? Am I desperately trying to be the girl I was before, the girl I left behind? They say time is a healer and I understand that now, more than I ever did before. You see I always thought when people said time would heal they meant days and weeks, not months and years. And it doesn’t happen all at once, it happens gradually, you don’t wake up one morning and it’s better, each day you just think about it that little bit less. I know it sounds cliche but love also heals. From the moment I knew you were on the way, when I look back at those photos of myself, that smile is unmistakably real again. It was you that reignited the light that had faded behind my eyes, you that gave me a hope for the future that was able to melt away the fears of the past and you that brought me back from the torment of my own thoughts to let me feel peace once more. You’re both so little now and far too young to understand what you have done for me but I want you to know you saved me and for that I owe you everything.
All my love mum x