I can’t add more to the title which really should read the end of days, as this is what it feels like and I unbelievably find myself wishing we were still at day 22.
More fantastic NHS service, following Moms diagnosis she is called by her link nurse (a lovely lady “A” who will be the bridge between Mr M (Moms Gynie) and her oncologist who we are to meet today. “To discuss and plan treatment”.
I must say that after 2 days emotional turmoil we arrive at this appointment in good spirits, we have a problem and we now have a purpose, to solve said problem and get Mom better. The phrase to which we have all clung tighter than if it was the last life raft on the titanic was Dr M’s “we are treating to cure” and this gets us through the first daunting task of simply walking into the cancer centre. Its beautiful name taken from an iconic flower does nothing to mask what it is. I am ashamed to admit that prior to this invader into our family, I have rushed past the entrance not even wanting to look at it, such was my stupid and irrational fear of the C word and a ridiculous notion that if I didn’t look at it it simply didn’t exist.
With every person we talk to in the waiting room (as Mom and I do like a chat) bravely sharing their stories and in varying stages of fighting this crappy disease I am …still….secretly thinking “this won’t be my Mom” which of course is ludicrous as this is my Mom..she has cancer she is no different to any-one sitting here and neither am I.
We wait outside the radiotherapy room which I look at and dread unaware that this is an option that in just 20 minutes we will be wishing was available and are then introduced to one of the oncologist team, a young ( I am of that age where even the postman looks young) and polite gentleman Mr C in perhaps his early thirties. He starts as did Mr M “so what do you know?” I would really appreciate if anyone can tell me is this the norm? Are they checking up on their colleagues to see how much they are holding back? As Mom relayed the now familiar sorry story, he responded with one line that instantly filled my Dads eyes with tears (again, twice in one week) and made me want to vomit!
“Ahhh.. so you haven’t had the results of the CT scan”
You don’t need a mensa worthy IQ guess what follows this line. In short having Moms CT scan being read, the Cancer that has so savagely taken route in her womb has decided that she is such a wonderful host it has decided to see more of her and taken a vacation in her lungs. This apparently changes things we are told, and unlike the older Dr M, is a tell it straight kinda guy. Radiotherapy is now off the table (she doesn’t have time) and she needs to go straight to chemo for 6 sessions to start to try to remove the free transport for the cancer.
My shock fades as my mouth begins to work, for I am the question asker in our group… Whats the survival rate, what does this mean? Will the chemo work? What stage is it? I know as I ask that there will be no answers, they do not know. Mr C answers plainly that it is Stage 4 and because of this they are “unable to cure and are treating to control”. Whilst the room spins Mr C tells us that the oncologist in charge and planning Moms treatment is a lady (he is a member of her team) and he would like us to meet her. As he leaves the room Mom looks across and I see she whilst still reeling has the same thought as I….. A lady, this is a good thing. We think this as we gender stereotype that a lady will be easier to relate to and gentler….
We were wrong … In walks Mrs K. Shakes Mom’s hand and looks distastefully when Dad offers his and attempts what I think is a smile although it looks more like she broken wind (pardon me) . She asks whether we have been told the news to which Mom says yes, asks if she has the Macmillan nurses number, and finally do we have any questions? Had we any we were all a little to overawed to ask. She tells us she will leave us in her teams capable hands and she is gone. Leaving us all a little shell shocked and I amazed that a woman can have such little empathy.
The kindly nurse breezes back into the room (thank goodness) welcome as the summer wind and tells us she will call tomorrow with a chemo chair date to start the 3 weekly treatments and we amble out of the meeting. Moms brave exterior has gone and she looks somewhat like a balloon that has been deflated. I know (as does Dr K) that Macmillan cover all areas of help for people battling Cancer, but in Moms mind she associates (wrongly) them with palliative care and therefore no hope. This coupled with “uncurable” and “stage 4” seem to have knocked her fighting spirit right through her front teeth.
More tears, this time Moms and more tea and we are all trying to find the silver lining from today. We instead decide that we dont like Mrs K and find a million reasons why (to avoid facing what has been said). I leave Mom and Dad in tears together thankful not for the first time that they have eachother (however useless Dad is). Whilst I go to collect the children from their respective schools, knowing a night of google lies ahead to figure out exactly “cure not control means“, and wonder when I became the messenger of doom for my lovely Daughters.
Tomorrow can only be better……