This piece was originally published on my blog herpursuitofsubstance.com and I have gotten some lovely feedback and wanted to share here! :)
Its taken me three weeks to write this, I think the main reason being is I planned to share it with my close friends before posting it on my blog so in mind it had to be perfect lol.
The last few months have been hectic and i've been reluctant to share all with friends, family and blog followers due to privacy but I was reminded of something my pastor said a few weeks back.
"God puts us through things to be a testimony to someone else down the line, to provide us with the empathy needed to help someone through a difficult time"
I met a girl called Linda at work a few weeks ago who was struggling with something I could whole heartedly empathise with, as her eyes watered I wanted to share my experience and tell her I understood but fear held me back. So today, i'm going to diminish all fear and share something in the hope that it touches someone.
A few months ago my mum was diagnosed with bladder cancer, now the big c is not something thats new to my family. My mum has had breast cancer a few times in the past so it wasn't a painful shot to my ears. Don't get me wrong, I was just as heartbroken and angry but I am prayerful and as long as my mum was fine, I was fine......I was going to pretend to be fine.
She started her chemotherapy and before I knew it is was finished, not without its share of complications, a few overnight stays, intensive care, special care unit a whirlwind but we reached a milestone and it was finished. The next steps were the waiting game. The time between the end of chemo and the appointment where doctors confirm or deny the success of the last few weeks.
I wish I knew what I did in this space of time, I do know I didn't write...I kind of just kept still. Obviously I went out, work ect but my life was still. I didn't laugh much, or smile. I just....kept still & quiet. You know that phrase "Silence is deafening" - I've never understood this more than during this time. The silence made me tired. My silence made me tired.
A few weeks went by and the conversations were "Lets make sure mum enjoys Christmas" - nobody said it but I think we all knew we were saying this just incase it was her last. I remember I bought her an air fryer.."she'll love it"...but this thought was always followed by the gnawing in my stomach that she wouldn't use it for long. I bought her perfume too and made sure to get the largest, again,"She'll love this, it has to be the largest"......but...what if she doesn't finish it....
It's so weird the things you think about or research when someone close to you is not well. I researched funerals a lot, "How much would it cost to...." I thought about her favourite songs, foods.....her favourite outfit. I thought about where I would live...I thought about how I would breathe. Breathing became hard...in fact, life became hard. "How's mum..." became one of the most difficult questions to answer. I hated that question...so much so that I avoiding conversations. I figured if I talk to no one, I'd feel better because I wouldn't have to lie. It worked....but it was also lonely. My decision so who could I blame.
Weeks passed and I remained prayerful, and then I was hit again. My mum now had cancer in her chest, one lung and adrenal gland. My sister told me via text - I know. I remember sitting at work listening to my heart beat in my head, it was loud and fast.....and it hurt. I tried to figure out how I was going to lead this presentation and hold together my world. I don't know how but I did it. I finished the day, I went home, I walked into my mums room and I cried....again.
"Theres no room for ignorance when Google is free" I used to say this to people all the time, I googled everything....Did you know I would have to call banks, subscriptions....and actually verbalise my world had crashed. I thought about that a lot. I tried to figure out the best way to put it into a nice short sentence. I practiced that some nights.
"Theres a trial..." - I don't know about you but theres nothing comforting about the words "Clinical Trial"- it sounds like a more official experiment so when I heard those words my heart sunk...but my face smiled. I started to get good at that actually, having two conflicting emotions at once and managing to mask each one. Its quite impressive...painful to my chest, nevertheless..impressive. I'd come home from work with jaw aches, and it took me awhile to put realise it was due to clinching my jaw together to stop myself from crying.
"So we're going to see if you're eligible for the trial"...."its not available on NHS"...."Results have been promising"...."You have to keep a diary". I think my thing was, I'd watched this woman go through so much I just didn't want her to go through anything else. I remember quizzing her on how long she would be on the trial....she said "Indefinitely"...like forever?. "I can't do chemo again Mik" - This made me angry, because I thought if this is your only option.....then...why not? It took me awhile to realise chemo must be horrific if you would choose to opt out.
Chapter blur. I kind of just breathed, I don't remember living..I think I just...sort of breathed and waited. I don't really know what I was waiting for. Appointments all blurred into one.."Monday I have a blood test, Tuesday I have a body scan...."- Have you heard of the governments "Tell us once" service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go...."Most" - I thought about the others....u know the ones that were not in the service. I did wonder why....but not for long.
New normal. I wasn't excited about much, i'm turning 25 this year and people wanted to talk about that but I didn't care. It seemed so trivial, I wanted to talk about life...and breathing....and managing two emotions at once. I wanted to talk about stuff that mattered. I wanted silence. I didn't want to talk at all.
I prayed a lot, I mean I prayed everyday beforehand..tried to. But I prayed a lot more. That made me feel better. I cried more than I prayed, that also made me feel better.
Wednesday 27th of January.....
It started like any other appointment day, I went to work and over thought myself through the morning. Today was "Does she qualify for the trial day".....I thought about what would happen if she didn't? What would they do.....? I decided I wasn't going to contact mum until the evening, then at 1:52pm she called me..
"Mik, I couldn't wait until this evening"
You know when you think your heart stops beating, your chest hurts and your stomach knots up. It kind of feels like agony. You want to throw up, you become deaf and your palms....they leak. This is what happened....
"My bladder is clear....The tumour in my lung and gland has gone, they said it'll take awhile to come to terms with it, but I should go home and spend time with my family. The tumour in my lung remains, but we're winning"
I thanked God & cried a different type of tear, it wasn't painful, it was kind of like freedom. I knew we still had a way to go but I knew things were happening. I breathed. I breathed and felt it in my chest. I called my boyfriend & I called my best friend. I went from not wanting to talk to wanting to TALK about it all. Level 6 Room 11. This is where I sat and prayed.
Mon 22nd Feb. We have a way to go, we're not at the finish line yet but we've got God and each other. I also have amazing friends who first and foremost treat me normally, but support and love me. Friends have helped me to breathe again. & Smile. & Laugh. Linda said, "Whats your advice to the people who experience this".....
I thought about this for awhile, looking for the perfect one liner, but I soon realised in situations like this, there isn't a perfect answer so I would say, Don't go through it alone, believe it or not your friends have your back and you have an army of people that would welcome the chance to be there.
My mum is a fighter, everyone thinks i'm a daddy's girl but my mum inspires me to be great. She taught me about strength, and perseverance. She taught me about faith in fear. She taught me about Love. She taught me about growth. She taught me about forgiveness. She taught me that its okay to need help & rely on friends.
All in All...
I want to be like her when I grow up.