A man of few words is how I would describe my husband but those he delivers are worth more than their weight in gold, hence why he is so good at his job and almost certainly why I fell in love with him all those years ago across a meeting room table as I listened to his smooth narrative. It’s so easy to forget those small details but he has a habit of reminding me of this even if not intentionally. A man of few words maybe, but they always count and today on World Cancer Day he deserves a high five for his endless support and picking his moment with the right words.
January is a month we all hate but me more than any other. For me it marks the anniversary of the day I was delivered the words that no-one wants to hear “You have cancer” from a man who had spent the best part of many days examining me more closely than I thought ever possible and reassuring me I was fine, but when he was proved wrong just couldn’t meet my eye.
That night is etched so clearly in my memory. I left alone for my meeting knowing the worst and telling my husband I wanted to do this alone. Of course being the man he is, he ignored me and was waiting outside when I emerged into the icy January air and stood and swallowed my anger as I screamed that I had told him not to come and why wasn’t he at home cooking dinner for the kids as we had agreed.
Normality at that point was so important to me. Being the bitch witch I found myself to be in that moment, I drove off to sit in a park and contemplate the reality of what was to happen going forward, leaving him to make his own way home.
Fast forward two years and after some dear friends’ 50th birthday celebrations recently, we stood in the garden sharing a much loved but rare glass of whiskey and listening to the garbage of snap shot conversations from our various neighbours.
His words simple but effective. “Jo this is the day I thought I had lost you.”
I thought he didn’t recollect dates, how wrong I was.
Illness of any guise has a way of knocking you sideways and if you are the one dealing with the barrow loads of shitty reality that come with it, you easily forget those close to you and how it might affect them.
After my diagnosis, I like all on the cancer gravy train had to endure endless tests and scans. Looking back through my diary of that time two years ago January is littered with dates of the kind that I quite frankly don’t want to remember, but out of some kind sick curiosity drags me to the diary box to see what I what I was doing this time two years ago.
The morbid reality of the Royal Marsden unit in South London littered with sick and dying people and their desperate family and friends, is very much there in my conscience but it is not a memory I allow into my here and now, because I know it will drag me down.
My lasting memory of being there is having a PET scan – injected with all the liquids needed to display what was happening in my body I lay in a room for an hour, abiding by the instruction to keep still and not move as this might disperse the liquid in the wrong direction. It was a closed room, a cancer prison cell, no-one there, just me and my thoughts. Counting sheep didn’t cut it. Enough said.
So what are your thoughts in this scenario apart from bad?
Personally, for me my thoughts were all about my family, my son and more so my daughter as she was and is the youngest and she is a woman and ridiculously maybe I worried about how she would cope without me.
To be honest that is a stupid thought, firstly she has the most marvellous relationship with her dad and secondly she is a fighter, sure of herself in many more ways than my eldest.
Death is inevitable to us all but when the possibility of being cut off at your knees earlier than expected stares you in the face you do panic momentarily and slip into a morbid mindset.
The discussions/arguments we have had as a couple and as a family on this roller coaster are indescribable and quite simply wouldn’t and don’t make any sense to those on the outside and Emma at Island Living 365 reminded me of just so hard that can be.
Forgive my brutal language but the shit aside, one thing you do come to realise in those moments is that your family and dear friends count. I have loved and hated the last two years in equal measure. I have kept my diagnosis to a close group, after all it’s not a phone call conversation. “Hey guess what I have cancer” doesn’t quite fit.
Bizarrely I have lost or maybe even disposed of a lot of friends through this process not though their choice but mine. I decided early on who I wanted in my inner circle and those I didn’t. That sounds harsh I know but cancer acts as a filter. Then there are the friends online who have listened and responded to my deepest and unfettered thoughts and fears and responded with superior kindness.
So where am I now? Well Anxious for sure. I haven’t followed the cancer green guide to well-being, I have continued to live my life on the surface with those I love, trust and adore as I always have ie to the fullest for the want of just being me and not wanting the cancer curse to dictate the way I live my life.
Beneath that, however, are the murky waters of “if only” and “maybe I should I have done it differently” and it’s those thoughts that at this milestone moment as I wait for the results of my landmark two year MRI that cause the rows, the doubts and certainly keep me awake. It’s too late, however and there is no room for regrets. I have lived my life over the last two years as someone without cancer, as otherwise in my head at least, I would have gone nuts. Now, what will be, will be but I will be eternally grateful to the man who has been my rock throughout, taken the rough with the smooth and always delivered his words of support wisely, with love and most importantly when they count. Cheers – dear husband and thank you. x
Editor’s Note : It’s World Cancer Day spare a thought for those you know that have been there, maybe have been lucky enough to come out the other side as well as for those that maybe facing that harsh reality right now. The stats are scary but the research is making a difference, lend your support whenever you can, it really does count.