A light in the darkness

That day we went to Titsey Place and walked a path totally new to us. We hadn’t been there before and haven’t been there since. Your grandma took a photo of me and your dad and still to this day I find it difficult to look at. The smiles aren’t real, instead I see two frightened people just about holding it together, trying to process the curve ball life has just thrown them.

After the walk we went to Costa, it was the first time I’d been in a public place since my diagnosis and I searched peoples faces for any sign that the fact my world was falling down around me was impacting them. Nothing. Their worlds were turning the way they always had, they were ok, it was just a run of the mill Saturday and the biggest problems they had in their lives consisted of whether to have a bit of cake with their coffees. I wanted to scream. I wanted to tell them to stop, to look at me, to feel my pain. Of course this wasn’t true, it was a perception I now understand more than ever was all in my head. People wear masks everyday, they hide pain, fear, loneliness and anxieties. One of the biggest lessons cancer taught me was to remember this always and be kind. A smile can go a long way and when you ask people how they are, care about the answer, listen to them, really listen. Sometimes they won’t want to talk but make sure you give them the chance because if they do, you never know the difference you can make.

Grandpa broke the news to uncle Nathan and auntie Sophie, they were conversations I couldn’t bear having. Sophie took it hard and it wasn’t made any easier by the fact that when she left the flat she bumped into a random guy in the lift grinning from ear to ear because he’d just been given a new job. To be honest I had no idea how to tell anybody but wanted them to know. I ended up sending the same text to everyone.

Got some rubbish news yesterday. Had a growth removed from my cervix this week and found out that the cells are cancerous. Don’t know any more than that at the moment, I’m seeing a specialist on Tuesday xxx

It’s so weird being able to go back into my phone history and see that. A lot of the detail I’m getting when I write this comes from these archives and it’s both a blessing and a curse to be able to do this. I didn’t get my first phone until I was eighteen and going off to uni and they were a little different to what you’ll be using by the time you read this. It was a Nokia 3210 and only stored ten text messages so only my favourites made the cut, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have been one of them. It’s been invaluable when needing to fill in gaps in my knowledge but doing it has also taken me right back there and it still makes me feel sick.

The rest of the weekend is all a bit of a blur, I would slip in and out of conversations and I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I just kept going round and round all that had happened in the past week. Grandma left on Sunday, she was exhausted, we all were. Then came Monday, it was the last week of school before half term but I couldn’t go in that day. Without any further knowledge I couldn’t cope with hundreds of questions I had no idea how to answer but I didn’t want to be home alone either, I needed the distraction so we decided I might try once I’d seen the specialist.

It seemed to take forever to get there but eventually we got to Tuesday and me and your dad travelled to East Surrey Hospital to see Mr Townsend. He made me feel at ease straightaway and although he had no more information about the cancer, the experience was totally different to the one I’d had the previous week with the GP. There was a plan. The first step was to carry out a series of scans starting with a CT scan straight after the appointment. The next would be an MRI that evening and then an PET scan. The results of these would be discussed on Friday with a team of specialists and they would determine what combination of surgery, chemo and/or radiotherapy would be needed. Before we left, the discussion briefly turned to the subject of children. Mr Townsend explained that if we wanted, there may be a possibility of freezing some embryos, surrogacy was an option but it wasn’t commonplace and perhaps if we got to that stage adoption would be an easier avenue to pursue. He spoke warmly of a girl he was still in touch with who had, many years ago been in a very similar place to where I was right now. She had gone on to adopt three children and was now living a very happy, normal life. For the first time in what seemed like forever I really believed that cancer didn’t have to mean death.

We left the meeting and walked down the corridor to the place where I would have my first scan. I finally felt like there was a glimmer of light in the darkness. As I sat waiting I hoped that one day this would all be over, I prayed that the dreams, that last week had been smashed into a million pieces could still become a reality and that one day maybe I could be the girl that gave someone else the hope they so desperately needed.

All my love,