Day 24 : The cancer has spread…

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……

 

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Day 23: Undeniably cancer…telling my Daughters their Nan has cancer.

You will again note….. a gap, I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted to write this and each time don’t continue. This is ridiculous as I started this blog to get it off my chest and find some answers, or did I ? In truth did I  selfishly start this blog thinking that my life was untouchable from the C word with the aim of just getting other stories with happy endings to make myself feel better? Perhaps then it serves me right to be writing this after a horrific 24 hours.

Telling the children : First mistake…. I completely bottled it yesterday. I should have come home and shared the news as soon as it was confirmed for several reasons.

1. Macmillan say so, and therefore it must be true, I think the aim is to let people share their feelings together. (Still not sure mine were suitable for this yesterday).

2. That my Mom is telling what feels like millions of people as they have been waiting to know whats going on and therefore with social media and the joys of FB, my older 4 Daughters are at risk of finding out their Nan has Cancer on Facebook.

No 3. (Of course it always comes back to me and my selfish self) I have spent all night tossing and turning, dozing in and out of consciousness having nightmare scenarios both awake and asleep about how my Daughters will respond. How I am about to shatter their world. Convincing myself that they will not cope and will be the moment in our family when everything went wrong.

I know I have shared before that we are a close family. All girls have spend countless times and weekends at my parents house. As I work, the youngest three have actually spent almost every school holiday and most weekends in their “own bedrooms” at their grandparents which leaves the boundaries in our family slightly blurred.  This has never bothered me before, the fact that my 9 year old takes herself off to Moms house on a Friday after school to return as late as possible on Sunday has often been celebrated as my husband and I have taken ourselves off to the pub. Sadly this closenessI I fear may work against them now.

The first problem, rather than emotional is practical. My girls are close, but they are …SISTERS and therefore I am painfully aware that once this sinks in, the first thing they will all ask later is, who was told first? As the older two no longer live at home and one  is on holiday in Croatia (and Mom doesn’t want her to be told on holiday for fear of ruining her week) this was never going to be simple. I tackled it as best I can.

I wont bore you with the individual details as they will be repetitive, following the guidelines from Macmillan I tell each girl as positively as I can that …its is Cancer, that Nan needs chemo and we will get her through it together. Their reactions vary as you would expect and reflect their differing personalities. The practical oldest takes it in with god grace and asks “who is going to be there for Nan as Grandad is useless“, the dramatic one takes to social media to seek comfort and a little extra attention from her friends. The quietest (and arguably closest to my Mom) takes it in but does not want to talk about it at all and insists that she doesn’t need to as “Nan will be fine”. This one worries me.

What strikes me most as I tell each girl, is that it is no where near as bad as I expected.  I am aware that this news shatters the core of their family support system and I know from how I felt that this news that it is devastating but there are no hysterics, in fact rather than ask a million questions about it, they seem not to want to discuss it at depth at all. Is this normal? I’m not sure? What it does show is how resilient children (and adults) are and how silly I was to think that this would some-how end their existence. We are still a family, life still goes on, we just have an extra and unwanted element to it.

I know from speaking with Mom that the next thing each of them does, and I am tremendously proud of them although not surprised,  is contact her to tell her they love her, to be brave and that she will beat this.

In summary “cancer” is now well and truly the despised and unwanted 9th member of our inner family circle with little we can do at present to boot it out. I could finish by sharing my worry that I still have not told our Daughter on holiday and how she will feel about this but instead will share the response of our youngest Daughter (age 9). I keep details to a minimum but tell her as Macmillan advise what will be happening with Mom. The “c word” was ignored by her, I am unsure if she had even heard of it which surprised me. Her focus instead was on where the treatment would target, as rather than say “womb cancer” my words were very English and  were “down there“. Her response “so people are going to mess with Nan down there, gross” there followed a silence which I take to mean she is processing the information, I steel myself for what will follow….and then “is there such a thing as a pedophile for old people?”

Rightly or wrongly in addition to highlighting that she has perhaps missed the point, it did give Mom and I our first “post cancer” giggle which I can tell you felt reassuringly pleasant after a crappy few days.

Day 22 : FECUK-Treating to cure

The  clue is in the title, as they say as I begin to write up my day. My mom does not have cervical cancer…….. she has endometrial cancer….should I change the site title? Im not sure!

It began with an early phone call from Mom who had had her own call last night  (immediately following discussion) from the hospital asking that she come in today to discuss her tests. Whilst I yet again marvel at the speed of the NHS, to be called in less than 24 hours after the team meeting was in no way a good omen. It seemed pointless to disagree with Mom who had come to the same conclusion and it is fair if a little uncouth to say that my positive outlook changed as fast as my bowel movements following this news.

2pm was the time to be there, in less than 5 hours we would know what was going on. For the first time, I wished that the NHS was slower, that the calmness that we had enjoyed over the last 2 weeks could continue. The Dr that we were meeting was no longer Moms gynie Dr W but a new consultant I shall call him Dr M who’s specialties were gynaecological oncology. I think the early clue is again in his area of expertise.

The lack of objection from Mom when I insisted I was coming with her followed by the fact that as I went to collect her my hospital phobic Dad was ready to come too made it all very real that as per my earlier post, my Mom was most likely not a liar!

The car journey was tense, full of bravado and “lets not jump to conclusions” from Dad and I counteracted by Mom who was very much of the opinion, I have cancer, I know it, they know it, lets get it sorted.

The beautiful sunshine that it so unusual for September in the UK seemed to be mocking us as we stepped out of the car and into the doom filled hospital. The waiting room as is typical in the UK was packed full with mainly ladies, many with the bald heads, tell tale scarves and hats on and I am ashamed to say that I was in denial. This isn’ t happening to us..my mom wont look like that… What an awful way to think.

Mr M called us into a small, blank room that even in its dullness will be forever etched in my memory. He shared the room with a nurse and if there is such a way to say it delivered the devastating news in the most empathetic and caring way that it actually did take the sting from the actual words.  He showed Mom the very large  mass in her womb, along with the smaller masses in the vagina and vulva. My moms first and only question was “will I be dead this time next year?” . Mr M’s response was marvellous “even if you do nothing, I have no reason to think you will not be here next year“. Whether true or not (and I believe it to be true) it was the kindest and most supportive thing he could have said. He explained that he could see the MRI and CT scan but that at the time of the meeting they had not been “read” although from his examination it looked as though the Cancer had not spread elsewhere which gave further hope to us all. My brain when it came back to its senses fired off question after question. Is it curable? What do we do next? How likely is it to respond to treatment? What is the treatment? Can you cut it out (gross) Dr M with saintly patience answered them all in a fashion that reminded me of our politicians, he answered what he could but was very careful not to commit to anything. He left us by saying we would hear from the oncologist “shortly”as they would be working together to treat the cancer with radiotherapy and chemotherapy and to remember that they were “treating to cure“. These were to be my favourite 3 words of the day, ones that I would hold on to to keep me from panicking. My mom ended the meeting (which lasted 10 mins start to finish) by thanking him profusely and telling him how lucky she was that she had had no ill health up to this point.

I cannot tell you how we are clinging to these words as we all entered the most beautiful sunshine in blackest of moods.  My Dad was in tears, no small thing in itself. He is a child of the war, I have seen him lose both of his parents, and face life or death operations and have NEVER seen him cry. My moms concern was for him straight away and not for herself as usual. We go home in an eeiree silence.

I of course make Mom a cup of tea, give her the hugest of hugs and tell her that I love her and that  we will get through this together. She tells me that she is relieved as she has spent the last 2 weeks, (unlike me who has been thinking everything will be great) certain that the cancerous cretin has spread throughout her  entire body and is everywhere. For her the news that the cancer hasn’t spread was the best she could have hoped for and that she is determined to fight and beat it. I drive to fetch the children and can tell you on here that I wasn’t very brave at all. I am sadder than I have ever been in my life and I am inexplicably angry. Is this normal? Am I normal? I am in fact furious! Of all the people, the rotten horrible people in the world t, how has it come to pass that my mom has been given this disease? Its not fair (and I am almost 40 I know that life isn’t) but this is really really unfair.

I must tell the children, I know this, I have shared it with my Husband and my Sister before I am off the motorway but I now must tell the children. I know this, but I also know that I cannot tell them today. Macmillan tell me to be matter of fact, honest and to show emotion if I am sad, they do not tell me to be angry and hysterical which is close to what I am bordering on.

As I write this in bed and after more than one glass of wine I have yet to tell the children although it is all I have on my to do list for tomorrow. As my stomach churns angrily I still cannot believe My moms response to the news, how can it be that she feels lucky and how could she be so gracious? Which just highlights yet again how amazing she is….when in contrast I wanted to throw something through the  windows of the office…and in this case how and why is it that this beautiful, kind and caring lady has this disgusting disease???

 

Day 21 : The moment of truth

You will note that there is a jump. It makes no numerical sense at all but in all honesty there was very little to write about without repeating the same thing every day. I can see when rereading my diary (I still cant seem to let the paper copy go) that very little has happened. Because although there were a few significant events like Moms CT scan on day 16 (which of course having been a scan professional now was fine)  not much has happened.

Because not much has happened, and Im not sure if this is common please let me know if you know, life has gone exactly back to normal. It doesn’t make sense…..The devastation of the first week has melted away.  In fact other than Mom still having the pain in her abdomen which has never actually been that bad. In fact paracetamol takes it away life goes on as normal. We work, relax and eat often together and whilst Moms new adventures are being discussed the fear seems to have gone. In fact Mom herself actually seems whilst not to have enjoyed the scans, I think (she will kill me for saying if she ever finds this blog, which I hope she does not) she is enjoying the extra attention. This is not as mean as it sounds, its just that for as long as I can remember we have all taken mom for granted.  Whilst I have spoken to her every day, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have asked “How are you?” as it seems is the case with the rest of the family.  Every call and conversation has been about the children, my Dad, us. The last few weeks have seen friends and family calling to see how she is, and the trips back and forth to the hospital have given her new stories to retell.

So much so have we all manage to ignore the C word hanging over our head that my natural (if somewhat deluded) massive positivity has allowed me to think “has mom got this wrong?”. Did the Dr tell her they were all but sure it was cancer? Or did Mom tell him that she thought it was as she did to the bewildered nurse before the biopsy? Could mom in her panic and certainty that she had this disease have mis-understood.  I am aware how silly this sounds, and that by my questioning I am making Mom sound like a liar, I will say however that if this is the case, if my Mom turns out to be the worlds worst exaggerator… I will give her the biggest hug and be grateful for such having a drama queen as my Mom because that means this whole awful event is over rather than beginning.

The moment will be soon as at the time of writing this (in my diary anyway my posts are not yet real time) the consultant team at the hospital are “discussing Moms case”. Here at this meeting, which happens after a full day of surgery (I don’t know how the Dr’s do it) they will look at Moms biopsy, her MRI and CT and decide what she has and what to do with her.  I have been told by the still pleasant and endlessly patient NHS secretary that we will then hear later in the week the results and be called in for a meeting. Even as I write I am confident that my Moms pessimism is wrong and that the 3 week wait is because there is a benign mass and not something more sinister. I am hopeful if apprehensive about what will happen this week.

Day 5: MRI Momma

She did it…… of course she did. No fuss, no melt down just 90 minutes in  the tube.

She came for tea afterwards and was beaming with pride as she relayed the experience to us.  In true Mom style she had made friends along the way in the waiting room and knew as much about their Cancer experience as her own.

I decided today though and this may seem silly, that I will not leave Mom to go without me again. Not because she can’t do it…she can she is superwoman, but for the entire afternoon, from the time I knew she would be arriving at hospital to the moment she called me afterwards I had a gnawing fear that she was alone and something was wrong. I have never had this experience before and cannot say that I like it, but I was a complete waste in the classroom and selfishly I felt far worse for not being with her.

Day 4 : “You wouldn’t get me in one of those, I’d rather die.”

Today there is hope… it is the day that Mom is firmly within the NHS system, she is on the computer,  and this gives me instant relief, I can feel my shoulders relax and a weight lifted from my chest.

This is silly really as nothing has changed, but to know that she is in line to be seen fills me with hope.

I should add that I  ignored the secretaries  request and also called yesterday in the hope that my Mom was “in the system” although was equally crushed to learn that she was not. Which is no ones fault but mine as I was told 2 days.

My Mom has a time for her MRI tomorrow (which is amazingly fast) but is waiting for a CT scan appointment.

As I have mentioned before, this blog will not (hopefully) be about knocking the NHS, In fact now that she has the appointment (hypocritical I know)  I feel very lucky to be able to take advantage of the NHS system. From a Biopsy Monday to an MRI on Thursday is as fast, I know from google that this isn’t the case across the whole of the UK and I suspect that we could have not been seen any sooner had we won the lottery and paid for it ourselves. I hang up excitedly (I know this may seem perverse but I do feel overwhelmed to be getting somewhere. Is this normal?) and call Mom whom I can say is very less excited by this prospect!  Mom is claustrophobic, she does not like small spaces, she panics should she have the bed clothes over her head (no exaggeration). This could be a problem! Having never been ill, she has been lucky and complacent  enough to once have said “you wouldn’t get me in one of those, I would rather die!” which not only now seems quite cocky but also to have tempted fate!  Obviously now the situation is very real, Mom will have to rethink her position on MRI’s.

Google turns out not to be my Mom’s friend, I am not sure it is anyone’s when you are ill. She manages to watch the whole procedure of having an MRI on u-tube and decides that its every bit as bad as she had feared. Unbelievably to me she seems more distressed at the thought of having an MRI than having Cancer????? Is this normal? Her “brave face” slips a little and she tells me that of course she will have it “I have no choice”, which really is true but that she is going to close here eyes, which to me sounds fair.

I am due at work tomorrow (I am a Primary school teacher) and don’t feel happy about Dad taking Mom. Firstly because he is a man (sorry I know its sexist) but he wont make conversation and cheer her up as I will, secondly because my Dad hates hospitals and will undoubtedly spend the entire time moaning and judging the actions of literally everyone around him in a loud voice (he cant seem to help it) and finally because the Car park is Camera operated and between the two of them I am not convinced that they will be able to operate the machine and I have pictures of them in my head sleeping in the car on the car park as they cant get off.

Mom of course shoots down al of these fears and tells me in no uncertain terms that she is going, I am not and I must go to work. I let myself agree and Im not sure if its because deep down a little bit of me (or maybe a lot) is scared that mom will either have a huge panic attack and need manhandling into the machine or worse (and most likely) that she will be very brave but look very scared which very selfishly I don’t want to see.

The progress of having the MRI appointment makes me feel that there is a path forward and strangely this has stopped the tears, if not the feeling of having a huge weight pushing down on my chest. I do not struggle with telling the children that Nan is having an MRI for more tests following the Biopsy, I do not use the C word, I do not need to (yet), the older girls who are all able mathematicians of life can compute the sum  :

biopsy + mri = maybe cancer

but they are not saying this out loud. Perhaps they are as wary as I to discuss it. The youngest who is 9 responds “a machine to look at her vagina…..gross”. I decide not to say more and have no idea if that is the right or the wrong thing to do.

 

Day 3 : Waiting

Waiting……

I get the feeling that I will use this word a whole lot. Were I writing via text, my predictive text would type it in before I even think It!

Life continues as usual, work, children, family. Mom seems to be doing “well”. It seems very strange to say but following the biopsy she seems oddly less stressed than before.  Perhaps it is because we are not all telling her she is crazy? I repeatedly tell her that no “brave face is needed” but she insists that as she has known for some time, whilst relief is not the correct word to use, she is prepared and waiting to get this sorted. She talks about shopping, the children and my Father as she would usually do, throwing the “C word” in the mix with how many loo rolls she needs from Sainsburys. Confirming what I have always suspected… she is emotionally  tough “as old boots”. The only thing that is concerning her and has made her cry (once) is that my Dad is upset. Its something I cannot admonish him for. As for the 52 years they have been married (unimaginable as that is) she has NEVER been  very ill! Whilst she has supported him through a series of pretty nasty health issues and had the odd cold, she seems to have been (up to now) remarkably blessed with good health. In addition and such is the case in their generation, she does EVERYTHING for him! He lives the life of domesticated bliss that my Husband and this male generation could only dream of.  3 daily meals of his choice provided and served to him from the comfort of his chair, drinks served on tap, clothes chosen washed and pressed when needed and all from the comfort of his spotless, tidy and warm home.

I cannot judge my Dad though as despite going through the motions my Husband and I, every time there is a quiet moment, in the car, watching TV, walking around Asda (most embarrassingly) can without warning find ourself in tears. Her support network it seems is not “cut from the same cloth” as Mom. I find myself wanting a drink each night but knowing that it will lead to more tears that need not be shed!

I have also failed to tell the children. My excuse is that there is nothing concrete to tell them and that until then, there is no point in putting them through this hellish limbo of waiting and what if?  I know it is not the right thing, because  in my hours of googling Macmillan “Talking to Children about Cancer”  have told me so….. I should include them at all stages. Although as neither my husband and I can talk about it without crying, I am using this as my excuse.  Will it backfire on me? If you know please say as at the minute only time will tell?

Day 2: Cancer fast pass

You will note.. Day 2 is quite some time after Day 1.  Having had a rollercoaster ride over the last 3 weeks (imagine rickety old roller coaster with the rails missing) I resorted to my paper diary for no reason that I can name other than it felt better. That said my trusted pages wont give me access to any of the support or other peoples stories out there and so I will persevere with PC and am typing up my journal so far.

Day 2 is in fact a waiting day. No-ones favourite thing!  I am in a surreal mood. I feel a little like I have woken up on another planet. Home looks the same, the kids morning routine is exactly the same and off to work I go, just as any normal day. In fact had I been better at denial I could perhaps have ignored or “filed away” the fact that the Cancer word is all but confirmed, except for the fact that as I do religiously every morning I call my Mom.  The trouble is today that I don’t really want to.  Its not that I don’t know what to say, I have never (in my adult life anyway)  struggled for words with her. Its more, if I have to describe it, which is the whole point of this journal,  that I don’t want to talk to her about what comes next. I am not as pathetic as I sound and so call her as normal to find her quite calm.  In credit to her she has not said “I told you so” but she had, as I have mentioned before been really sure that she did have cancer. Apparently this is a common thing with people who do indeed have cancer, although even as I write this, the synical part of me thinks “every one fears the worst” and then some people are inevitably right.  She just wants to know dates for the next tests as despite the hospital having her mobile number because she is “of a certain age” waiting for the phone means sitting at home by it.  I agree that to avoid this, as I am aware that despite her saying the contrary, my Mom will move no further than  20 paces from the phone until it rings. That I will call and chase.

I dial the consultants secretary with a steely determination, convinced that the cancer confirmation has given her a “fast pass” not unlike Disney that , that it will fast track her to some secret speedy network of immediate appointments. After all, her world is in chaos, mine has changed and I am certain that the secretary’s primary concern will be processing my Moms next tests.   Except of course that as lovely as this secretary is, she is polite, understanding and kind, she had no “magic wand” as it soon becomes clear that she has a desk full of “my moms”. All in this awful position and it is her job to get them through the system as quickly as possible. Worse still, she has no paperwork at all as yet about my Mom (it has after all only been 16 hours since she was sent home). She reassures me that it will come through and will go straight to the relevant test waiting lists marked as “urgent” and rather than tell me to leave her in peace (which I am certain she must really think) she suggests I call her in 2 days to give the paperwork time to be processed.

I am polite, I thank her and I put down the phone and cry like a baby for quite some time. The trigger for this I think is the realisation that despite it being “life and death” to us. This beautiful lady, perfect Grandmother and the cement of our family is just one of many pieces of paper being processed in an overloaded NHS system. I would love to know how it works in other countries where you pay for private medical insurance, does this happen there?

I give myself a stiff talking to, I am after all British and we “keep calm and carry on”, I call my Mom to tell her that she wont hear today which I think helps her to relax a little, and I go to work.

Day 1

It isn’t really true to say day 1 but you have to start somewhere.  We are, like many millions, a chaotically functioning family.  My Husband and I  and our 5 Daughters. 1 still small, 2 teens and 2 grown. Like many more we have remained close to and relied upon our parents, in honesty initially as once we had moved out and they had stopped being “the enemy” they were invaluable babysitters from the beginning and gave us that amazing time WITHOUT our children. They are the A* Grandparent  type, who literally say yes to every favour of having ALL of the children any time, even booking their holidays around our babysitting needs and of course that alone is reason to love and stay close. If you have parents and children however you will know that as you raise a family you cement your own parental bonds without realising it. We have shared every milestone, birthday and achievement the girls have had and have shared the stress, worry and frustration that inevitably comes with the same. I have discussed daily with my Mom my worries, my fears and often just a complete load of moans and rubbish that has passed through my brain and she listens usually with good grace, laughs and cheers me up. This isn’t the Walton’s and of course we have also annoyed each other and disagreed. I cannot tell you there haven’t been family holidays where my husband and I haven’t snook off to a bar somewhere for a quiet drink and a discussion about how annoying they can be nor times when they have given “that look” that clearly tells me what they think about my parenting style.

Before day 1:  Having listened to many days of Mom on the phone telling me she has a pain in her side and a bladder leak (gross indeed) and my telling her to go to her GP, which she NEVER does. The fact that she had blood down below  forced her to break this stalemate with her GP and visit to introduce herself or more importantly her lower regions to him. Following 2 courses of antibiotics for a water infection and no change he finally sent her to a specialist. Better still she got the VIP 14 day cancer fast track option She became intimately and embarrassingly acquainted with her specialist we shall call him Mr W who after in her words “losing his arm investigating her insides” named the prime suspect, the C word that shall not be spoken,  there was a mass on her cervix and he needed to carry out an urgent biopsy to investigate further.

I  admit to being one of those  fortunate people that have never been touched by the C word.  I lost Grandparents to old age (dementia) which was rotten in its own way but softened by the fact that they were old and had left us mentally long ago. I watch TV programmes with families dealing with cancer and felt sorry for them and shed a tear before moving on to my cancer free life moaning about silly things and making mountains out of mole hills from completely solvable problems.  We haven’t been totally spoiled, Dad has had 2 strokes (one major) which although sad and stressful, Mom dealt with,  and he is now fine if a little cantankerous. The Mom dealing with this is the key word as since having children decades ago she is NEVER ill.  She is the carer, the rock, “the Wall” like in Game of Thrones that keeps us all safe and sane. With one sentence Mr W, whom I have quickly decided I dislike, dropped the bomb and let the C word hit my “invincible” Mom like the blue eyed dragon hit the wall. He told us that we will hear about a biopsy date and it would be “fast”. My question was, which I could kick myself for not asking whilst at the hospital  “what is fast”. Is it Usain Bolt 100m fast? Would they call today? Or in days or weeks?

I am not a patient person, I don’t like queueing in Asda, I don’t have my nails painted or my hair cut in salons  for the very reason that I hate  waiting  and so waiting for a biopsy with the C word looming in the air was  torture and let me tell you that “NHS fast” is no 100m sprint! This site hopefully will not “knock” the NHS staff as they are underpaid and overworked but even with my calls to check on progress the “fast” was just under a 3 week wait for a biopsy and  I am told that we are lucky, that  some area’s are longer but I can tell you those 3 weeks were horrendous.

We handled it in different ways. I, always the optimist chose to use my friend google to convince myself that all would be ok and there were a million other, nicer causes of the problem. My Dad and Husband decided just to pretend it was not happening at all, after all, what man wants to talk about “problems down there”.  The girls all decided to join me on the positive train telling their Nan that she was ok, and most importantly my Mom decided that it WAS cancer and that she would not be here for Christmas! It seems the positive thinking is not hereditary! We were all quite cross with her in the end for her negative thoughts.

Finally : DAY 1. Today

I left Mom at 7am for the surgery. You are not allowed to wait with patients on the day ward apparently, perhaps we get in the way.  Having seen the lovely nurse for pre op last week we knew (or thought we knew) that we would not have results but would wait for 2 weeks for these and so imagine my surprise upon collecting Mom at 7pm when she told me that following the exploratory surgery the Jnr Dr had come in, taken her hand and explained that based on many similar “nether regions” they had seen, they had found a lump in her Vagina along with what they were pretty sure was cancer in her uterus and cervix. Having expected no news today I think she was in shock and after weeks of us all telling Mom to be positive and not negative, I am ashamed to say that upon hearing the news her support network  my Dad, my husband and I  all burst into tears in front of her. In fact the only person not to cry was Mom.  The nurse told us on the way out the door that she will have a CT scan “urgently” along with a MRI to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else before a team of Dr’s will discuss and “justify” a course of treatment. I am not sure what the justify is but intend to make that my mission to find out tomorrow. So here we are again and back to waiting. I’ve taken Mom home, made her a tea, we are British after all, and come home not really knowing what to do.

The person that I would usually moan to and share this with is my Mom and so for the first time in my 4 decades, and yes I know how lucky I have been, I am faced with a problem that cannot be solved or shared with my wonderful Mom. Because despite this self effacing mush, I will put her first, support her and fight this with her, and adding my own woes is not an option.

I am tired of google and finding handfuls of mis matched stories none of which can give us any answers as at present there are none, cowardly or not I can’t face telling my children tonight about the unknown fate of the central and most loving force in our family and for this reason here I am. I intend to share whatever comes next. I am hoping that my FCCUK (FxxK cervical cancer UK) will have a happy ending that I can share with you all or maybe even reach someone who has been there and can offer some miraculous advise to make this fight fair!