The house phone rang, I didn’t want to answer it, but I did . You see, I was expecting a call from the hospital. I had been waiting for my results from a biopsy that I had two weeks previously. I had also had a MRI and CT scan, within the two weeks.
I had found a lump and although my doctor had treated the lump as hemorrhoids, the lump hadn’t gone in fact I think it had actually grown.
I was a little worried and I had done the googling my symptoms, as you do, I wasn’t sure what I was thinking but as the words popped up onto my screen and I read over them, I knew. I knew deep down that I had cancer.
The big C word.
The word that scares the shit out of everyone.
The Nurse on the other end of the phone asked me to come in to the hospital the following day. She asked me if I was going to be accompanied by anyone. I took that as a negative. I didn’t sleep that night, too many things going over in my head.
The next day I went into work as normal and left at lunch time to get to the hospital. As I waited with my Mum, Sister and partner, I tried to clear my head, to be positive. We were all called into a room. Three chairs were laid out in a row facing one other chair. The doctor sat down with a file in his hand. He explained the biopsy procedure and then the words came out “The tumour is cancer”
No tears came.
I remember holding onto my Mum’s hand and squeezing it. I just kept thinking what is going through my Mum’s head, how hard it must be for her to listen to a doctor telling her daughter that she has cancer.
Still, No tears came.
We asked questions, like how big the tumour is and what the next step was.
I was told that i would need 6 weeks of radiotherapy followed by a short burst of chemotherapy and then a bowel removal surgery. Having my bowel removed doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I just want the lump to be deceased from my body as soon as possible.
No tears came.
I felt numb. I remember feeling like it was happening to someone else, it wasn’t me he was talking to. I remember hearing my voice and thinking “Why am I answering”
We drove home in silence. We couldn’t talk much at home as the boys had just got in from school. They played in the garden whilst we tried to come to turns with what had just been thrown into our life.
I remember a sharp pain in my chest, not being able to breathe. It felt like I was having a outerbody experience, like I was watching this happen to someone else. My throat was dry but I still couldn’t cry.
The tears came the next day. I tried so hard not to let the boys see me upset.
I had two weeks to wait before treatment started, within those two weeks I had a colonoscopy and a CT scan on my glands in my groin. Each result came back negative, no more tumours.
The waiting was the worse. I cried. I sobbed. I didn’t sleep. I googled everything. I cried more. I was angry. I was fuming. I hated my body. I hated everyone around me living a normal healthy life. I couldn’t understand why my life had become a standstill and everyone else was getting on with theirs.
I was measured up for radiotherapy, received my tattoo for life, my little present from cancer. Three little dots were placed around my pelvis area, one on either hip and one above my pelvis. I was given a start date. My first session was to be half way through half term. At last i felt like something was happening, something to help me beat this.
I was told that I would not be able to have any more children as the treatment would bring on an early menopause. I was offered to store some of my eggs but how could I possibly have another child with this horrible disease hanging over my head.
I didn’t know what to expect from my radiotherapy sessions nor from the chemo tablets that i was to take. I just took every day as it came. I was told that I may become sick, tired, fatigued, suffer from blisters in the mouth, sore throat and that my skin would become sore.
I tried to carry on as normal. Shopping. School. Housework. Children.
The first week went by with no side effects. The radiotherapy sessions seemed to take forever. I had to drink 500ml of water 45 minutes prior to going in the machine. I’ve always thought that I had a strong bladder but I haven’t. I struggled every day to hold it in for so long. As a pelvis patient you are advised to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. I only drank mineral water of a ph level above 7.
The second week was pretty much the same, although I was becoming a little tired.
The third week, we had been booked onto competing in a mile race around St Pauls Cathedral, The City Mile. I wasn’t going to let the C stop me from running alongside my boys. It was a lovely day out and the sun was shining. The third week was also when some of the side effects came. I suffered from diarrhea and fatigue. My skin was becoming a little sore.
The fourth week we had a weekend booked in Wales so that we could go up Mount Snowdon. I had booked it before the diagnosis and the boys were looking forward to hiking up the mountain. I managed to walk a quarter of the way and had to come back down as I was getting tired. The rest of the family carried on without me, I waited in the car for them to come back down. By now the skin was really sore and beginning to peel.
I used to talk to the machine as It went around my pelvis zapping my body. The screen looked like it was a monster. I used to tell it not to miss anything.
The fifth week saw my skin that sore that I couldn’t sit down on my bottom, I had to sit with my legs to one side. I became very tired. I was a pretty awful mother as i couldn’t take care of my boys, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was too sore to stand and walk. I was given some cream to apply to the skin. I was told to expect it to get worse.
By the time my treatment had finished, the skin was cracking, bleeding and weeped. I couldn’t even pass urine without crying in pain. I lost weight and became weak.
I spent the week after my treatment finished in my bed, only getting up to go to the toilet.
My eldest son was my rock. He had grown into a gentleman within the last couple of months. Looking after his brothers. Cooking dinners. Cleaning. He didn’t argue he just did it. I ordered Gousto boxes for him to use. He followed the recipes and cooked up meals that you would pay good money for. He looked after me, making sure that I was comfortable, bringing me water to drink and food to eat. He sat on my bed and talked to me about his day at school or about his swimming. He is a true gent. He knows what is happening but he doesn’t talk to me about it. It’s hard for the children to understand what is happening, although I have tried to explain so that they will understand what is going to happen. But they see that Mummy is at home and don’t see the seriousness of it all. They know that I will be having an operation
I am now 1 month after my last chemo and radio session and I am much stronger. The skin has heeled, although I still feel sore inside. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve changed my diet, juicing daily and cutting out red meat and dairy products. We were already cutting out sugar as a family before the diagnosis but now we check the sugar content on packaged food. I eat fresh vegetables and fruit and only drink water.
It’s hard staying positive when all I’m doing is waiting around. It feels like nothing is happening. Like I’ve been left to deal with it by myself. I have no idea if the cancer has gone. I have no idea if the tumour is shrinking, not until my next scan which is in 5 months time. I’m feeling strong, I am not ill, never was! I just have a pesky lump that wants my body but I WILL NOT allow it to take over.