Hello and I’m back for blog number two and I hope you enjoyed number one.
However you received your diagnosis of cancer it is a moment which no one forgets no matter how hard you try. Where, when and how. The day. The place. The time of year. The clothes you were wearing. The words spoken. The stunned silence. The tears. The fears. The life before as it melts away. Your dreams, hopes and plans now uncertain.
My first diagnosis of cancer is still vivid in my mind and took place when I was 37 years old and was 30 weeks pregnant with my second daughter on a dull cool breezy day back in August 2003.
My naivety that 37 year old pregnant women had anything dodgy happen to them protected me from the horror of what was now only hour’s away from taking place. The life changing moment I was unknowingly heading towards. The moment when the thickening I had felt in my breast some eight months earlier was going to be identified. It wouldn’t be anything my mind kept saying. I somehow thought the joy, happiness and hope contained in my belly would divert the unpleasant end of the spectrum of life away from me.
That life changing moment for me was at 17:51 on Tuesday 19th August 2003. At that moment with a swift and well-rehearsed manoeuvre the consultant turned his lap top to face me revealing the results of a biopsy taken earlier in the day. I read the word malignant. The noise of the room, the hospital and life fell away and was replaced with a motionless and erry silence as if time had stopped around me. Fear, shock and disbelief swirled in my mind. I felt like a toddler who had lost her mum in the park as my life receded at speed into the horizon and I was now abandoned alone in an unfamiliar land.
Sometime later I was cuddled out of the room by a lovely breast care nurse and guided to another room further along the corridor to try and make sense of what had just happened. But I couldn’t, it was too powerful and enormous. I was numb to this life changing moment and the impact it had on me. I was given an appointment to come back in two days’ time to meet an oncologist whatever one of them was.
I had begun the day full of hope and focus for the contents of my belly, my role in life was defined as being a carefree mum. I would end the day as a lonely, terrified and isolated cancer patient, severed from my life that was. I was now living with life and death within my body. I felt contaminated and invaded. I wanted death out and carefree back. I felt powerless and helpless against something which was so much more powerful than I could hope to ever be. I wasn’t going to be able to talk, joke or smile my way out of this one.
I slept badly that night and when I woke for a few gorgeous moments I had forgotten the events of yesterday and then whoosh they flooded through my mind and I curled up as small as my baby belly would allow scared and frightened as if trying to hide from my thoughts and feelings and what lay ahead.
The moment life changes can haunt us for years afterwards. When the parts of our life become separated by life changing events. The before and after. The impact is so huge we cannot process it at the time. We survive moment by moment.