What do you get if you cross a Headteacher with a science background with a English/Drama teacher with a history one? A girl with a Physics Masters who is desperate to know how everything works but would often prefer to watch Love Island than find out why. (Not that I’m suggesting for an instant that’s all English/Drama/History teachers watch, it’s just they’re generally more interested in people and their relationships than scientists are).
I love the mixed bag of personality traits that I inherited from your grandparents. From your grandpa I got his logical mind, his perseverance, interest in science and accute sense of fairness. From grandma, her wonderful creativity, her empathy and understanding of others and her fascination with stories. This juxtaposition of characteristics has, in the past, led to a number of situations seemingly at odds with each other, for example, walking to a lecture on Quatum Physics and then spending the day expecting something bad to happen because I’d seen a lone magpie on the way. Actually, this particular senario didn’t happen very often as I quickly realised there were an awful lot of magpies around campus and to avoid said magpie related sorrow required more public saluting than I was comfortable with.
As I write a little robin is sitting on the fence just outside the window and I smile. Just after my diagnosis a robin appeared in our front garden that I’d never noticed before. I was and still am convinced that it was a sign. There’s an old mythology that the robin is a spirit animal and although totally at odds with my logical, scientific brain my soul has faith. Sometimes the smallest things can give us the greatest comfort and faith by definition has or needs no explanation.
Monday 7th October 2013.
On the morning of the operation your dad took me to the hospital before heading off to work. He arranged to pick me up afterwards and we said goodbye. To be honest, my memories of that day are hazy and there are only a few parts that I can recall. Other than for some very minor surgery when I was three I hadn’t spent any time in hospital before and the experience was all very new to me. As I was wheeled through to the anesthetic room I remember being worried that I was still wearing the nail polish on my toes that I wasn’t supposed to have on, although I’m still not sure why. The anesthetist talked to me about cocktails and I remember thinking why was it taking so long for me to go to sleep before, nothing.
I woke up to Bob Marleys Three Little Birds playing in my head. Whether this had been on the radio on the way in to hospital, in the waiting room, the operating theatre or had just popped into my head, I don’t know. At the time it wasn’t significant but over the last five years it has become a constant reminder for me to try not to worry so much. I still love randomly hearing it, playing in a shop, a busker on the tube, an advert on the tele, as stupid as it might sound it reassures me, especially when I least expect it and need it the most.
When I came round fully the surgeon came into the room where I was still lying on the bed. They had removed the growth but it wasn’t a polyp. Instead, it was suspicious. I was confused, I didn’t know what that meant. It didn’t definitely mean anything she said but it wasn’t looking good. I rang your dad. He didn’t answer. I rang Andy who he worked with at the time, he didn’t answer either so I sent a message, I really needed to find him and he needed to get to the hospital as quick as he could. He was out on the field coaching and eventually I got a message to him to come and get me. My normally low blood pressure was dropping off the scale, my head felt light, I tried to stand but I had nothing in me. The nurses kept giving me glasses of water and eventually when your dad arrived I managed to get out of the bed and make my way to the car. We drove back home and I rang grandma. Immediately she suggested coming down and when I stupidly said that she didn’t need to your dad overruled and they decided between them that it was happening straight away.
Grandma arrived the following day. It felt like forever. Every moment felt like an hour. Waiting. I had no idea how long these things took, how would I find out, would someone ring, would it be a letter? I didn’t go back to work that week and me and Grandma spent the days walking, we walked along streets I lived next to for years and had never gone down, round and round. Each night around five or six I would relax a little telling myself no one from the hospital would call after that, I wouldn’t be getting any news good or bad that day. As the week went on I started to think that maybe the news couldn’t be the unimaginable, surely if it was they would have told me straight away. By the Friday I decided to ring the hospital. I spoke with the consultants PA. He was away on holiday but some results had arrived. They had been there since Wednesday but she couldn’t tell me what they were, I’d have to wait. But I couldn’t wait, I pleaded with her to tell me. Put me out of my misery. I was sure if it was good news she would just let me know over the phone. She couldn’t answer that. I couldn’t wait another day. In the end, despite it being against her better judgement she agreed to send the results over to the GP’s surgery. I hung up and rang the surgery. I spoke to the receptionist and carefully explained the situation, I wanted her to make absolutely sure the GP had looked at the results before seeing me.
It was pouring with rain when we arrived at the surgery. It was early evening and I must have been one of the last appointments of the day as I don’t recall there being anyone else there. Grandma sat down in the waiting area and your dad and I made our way through to the doctor. It was his practice and his was the name I’d always put on any paperwork that asked for a GP but I’d never seen him before now. He turned around in his chair and asked what could he do for me today. Straight away I could see in his face he had no idea why I was there. No one had got the message to him. I felt sorry for him as I replied “I think your going to tell me I’ve got Cancer”