Wear Sunscreen

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t” Mary Schmich

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of ’97”

October 2020

I heard that song on the radio the other day for the first time in a long time. It was released in the summer of 1997, the start of my GCSE year. I was a big fan then and I still am now. You should take a listen if you haven’t before, there’s a lot of good advice. Unsurprisingly at 38 there are a few lyrics that resonate a lot more now than they did when I was 15. As I listened again, lines that I hadn’t understood at all before, now made perfect sense.

“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.”

As a teenager this completely washed over me. I had never been blindsided by anything until that rainy Friday, in October, when I was given the news that would make any other worries I’d ever had pale in comparison. Worries that are still there, despite the fact we’re now seven years down the line.

I had another CT scan a few weeks ago. I’ve been having weird pains in my pelvic area since June. They’re a bit like period cramps but as I don’t have a uterus anymore this has been a little disconcerting. The fact I’d had a clear MRI in February meant your dad and the consultant thought it might be musculoskeletal but until the results were back the worries were still there. As usual I tried to push the thoughts to the back of my mind but they always have a habit of resurfacing, especially when I stupidly read an article about someone who thought they’d pulled a muscle in their stomach until they found out it was a tumor. Maybe Mr Lurman could add in another lyric for cancer survivors, ‘avoid cancer reoccurrence stories, they will only increase your paranoia’.

Feb 2014

Some parts of the last seven years I remember as if they were yesterday. The exact details of what happened, what was said, how I felt. I can replay it all, over and over like a film reel flickering through my mind. Other parts are hazy. In particular, the two weeks before the egg collection I have very little recollection of. It should have been a big deal but instead it blurred into the rest of the treatment. Just more injections and another thing to get done before the next operation. I do remember that I managed to administer these on my own and thankfully they didn’t hurt as much as the anticoagulant ones, I recall having to mix the little viles together and the little yellow sharps bin but not much more.

The two weeks were largely uneventful and I was pleased to not suffer any of the common side effects. I had chosen to do the injections at around 7pm so it wouldn’t interfere with work but as luck would have it, another parents evening fell conveniently, right in the middle of that two week window. I had a packed night, back to back appointments from 5pm till 8pm but as it was really important to do the injections at exactly the same time each day I couldn’t leave it until I got home. I explained the situation to ‘the powers that be’ and they kindly opened up a 5 minute window, so that I could leave the hall and find an empty class room in which to administer the drugs. I know I shouldn’t have, but I felt dirty sneaking away to do it between appointments. Although it was highly unlikely that someone might walk in and see me injecting myself I did worry, I really didn’t want to have to explain what I was doing in the middle of parents evening. Your dad suggested I go to a toilet cubicle but that would have made me feel even more like I was doing something I shouldn’t, mixing the drugs and injecting them from a toilet seat wasn’t exactly the preferred method. When the break came I scurried quickly out of the door and found a dark room as far from the hall as possible. I took everything I needed from my bag, lined it up, filled the syringe, pulled up my top and injected the mix into my tummy. Within minutes I was done and after quickly clearing away and discarding the dirty needle, I returned to my desk to pretend the biggest thing in my world right now wasn’t being in the midst of fertility saving treatment but little Jonny’s latest physics test.

During those two weeks we also had a number of check up appointments to see how things were progressing. To be honest though at the start of each scan my main concern was if anything suspicious had appeared in and around my ovaries in the last few days. Of course it hadn’t and it seems silly now that I’d even worry about it, but I did. I’d study the nurses face as she scanned my pelvis and stare at the screen although I didn’t really have a clue what I was staring at. Once I’d convinced myself there was nothing new that shouldn’t be there my thoughts turned to what should have been happening in my ovaries. Things were going well. My body was responding exactly how it should do and a number of perfect little follicles were appearing in both ovaries. The science behind IVF still amazes me to this day, to think that in those tiny, fluid filled sacs sat two precious eggs that held both your genetic material is nothing short of a miracle. In those moments, I saw for the first time on that screen nothing suspicious, but instead, what I saw, was the first traces of what would eventually become you.

October 2020

After two weeks of waiting I rang the hospital to ask about the results of the scan. The results hadn’t been verified but the consultants PA said she’d seen enough of them to know I shouldn’t be worried. The consensus was it was in fact muscular and possibly to do with the HRT. Isn’t everything. In the time since it’s got a lot better and it’s definitely brought on by lifting you two up and down or moving furniture around. I’m not sure in the last seven years whether I’ve even gone a few months before I’ve been worried about another ache or pain that’s appeared. But, I guess it’s all part of the trade off. Having cancer led me along a path that I hadn’t expected to follow but as well as the heartache there are so many things I have now that without it wouldn’t be here and for that I am truly grateful. It goes without saying you two and the relationships we made with the Kinson’s and through the surrogacy community are things I could never do without. But, I also would never have written this, I hated writing at school and never thought I was any good at it. Turns out, it’s just I never had anything to write about that I truly cared for. Having my own podcast is amazing and although that has taken a bit of a backseat at the moment we have such exciting plans for it in the future. And finally, the enjoyment I get from the house renovation, the DIY and the friends with a shared passion I’ve made along the way.

When I started teaching, there wasn’t much more in my life in terms of extra curricular activities. When i went for jobs and I was asked about hobbies, other than the standard cooking, traveling and watching movies I didn’t really have anything else I was that interested in. Now I have so much I want to do, I find it difficult to fit everything in, I’m tired but I’m excited about the future. It seems Baz really did have some good advice when he said

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”

I’m pretty sure my 15 year old self would have thought when she got to 40 she would have everything figured out. Turns out she knew nothing. So heres to dancing the funky chicken on our 75th wedding anniversary.

Forever and always,

Mum x

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