The Dr looked confused, I started again and explained that he should have received some information from the hospital about a biopsy I’d had earlier in the week. He turned back to his computer and flicked through a number of pages on the screen. He stopped and was quiet for a while as he found the report he was looking for and read through it. He turned back to face us and relayed the small amount of information included in the report. The cells were cancerous but there was no staging or information about whether they’d gone elsewhere. They’d found one at the opening of a blood vessel but it could have just been pushed in there while the rest were being removed. And that was it. It didn’t feel real, I was living a nightmare and I was petrified. Cancer to me meant death.
A thick fog began to fill my mind and my legs disappeared beneath me as the rug was pulled out from under my life. The words that came from the doctors mouth after that were muffled, as if there was a veil between his world and mine. This couldn’t be it, a few weeks ago we were trying to start a family and now all I wanted was to live.
The rest of that day is a blur and this week I asked your dad and grandma what they remembered about it because I have nothing. Your dad remembers walking out into the waiting room and the look on our faces being all the confirmation grandma needed that our worst fear was now a reality. He says she kept it together and nodded in recognition. She’s always battled with anxiety and finds it difficult not to catastrophise so many situations but she told me years later she never ever let her mind take her to a place where I didn’t recover. She just couldn’t.
We somehow made it home, I guess we ate something and rang grandpa and told him but I can’t visualise any of that. I was there but I wasn’t, the control I had over my life had gone and I felt like I was now sat on the sidelines as it all happened to me.
That night I fell asleep with my head on your dads shoulder and his arms around me. Our second wedding anniversary was less than two weeks away and all I could think about was whether I’d be around for the third. The future I’d envisaged raced through my mind. The birth of our children, watching them grow, taking them to school and reading them their favourite books. Enjoying movie nights together snuggled on the sofa, the holidays we’d go on and life events we hadn’t yet attended. I desperately wanted to grow old with your dad but now it felt like all of it was slipping away. Eventually through sheer exhaustion I fell asleep.
I woke the next morning and for a fraction of a second the memories of the previous day were absent from my mind. They floored me once again as everything came flooding back. Then came the tears. I sat on the bed and cried. Grandma held me tight rocking us back and forward. Until I became a mother I couldn’t imagine the pain she must have been in and how helpless she must have felt. The first time I ever held you in my arms the feeling I had towards you both was one of overwhelming protection, almost primal in its ferocity. As a parent I would do anything to keep you safe and well and to not be able to do that, from the minute I heard those tiny heartbeats, became my biggest worry. But she never let me see this, she always stayed positive and guided me back to reality when I went to places in my mind based only on fear and not the facts we had to hand. I was a mess but like she’d done many times before she spoke words that broke the spiral of negativity and let me focus on the present. We didn’t know what the future held, on Tuesday we were seeing the consultant again, hopefully we’d know more then and we’d face it together.
I once read a quote that said “you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. This resonated so much with me as there are so many strong people I’ve been fortunate to know but really they’ve only had to be that way because of the curve balls life has thrown them. Your grandma is one of the strongest of all. She is my rock, she always has been and always will be. I have a hell of a lot to live up to as a mother but I promise you now I will always do my upmost and I am truly blessed to have learnt from one of life’s best.
All my love