As we approach a milestone with Mum’s treatment (as I’m writing there are just two further radiotherapy treatments remaining) I can’t help but feel torn; on one hand the end of the radiotherapy signifies the end of a trying and emotional year, on the other there is the realisation that it is not a final moment, it will not be able to be put in a box and locked away.
Yes, my Mum has done amazingly well in beating this and hopefully within the next few weeks she will be given the news that she is clear of active signs of Cancer. But this is not like shrugging off a cold and forgetting about it, it is part of your life story and it would be foolish to think you can just forget it all in the blink of an eye.
I can recall the night in April when Mum and Dad ‘popped over’, the request to visit the kitten was strange but I had no reason to think there was anything behind it at the time. We sat and chatted as you normally would for some time until a pause in the conversation allowed Mum to utter the news that was really behind the visit. The expression ‘having the wind knocked out of you’ or ‘the rug pulled from under your feet’ never really made sense till that moment. I had nothing to say for the rest of the visit, my brain was trying to digest what had been said.
Everyone is aware of Cancer, just the word has the power to strike fear into your heart, but you don’t ever think it will come into your life in this way, it’s something that happens in other people’s lives and you feel so bad for them that it does.
During the time since that fateful April visit the family has been tested in many ways and become stronger because of it. You either let it consume you or you band together and fight and that is definitely what we have done. It has also really shown how great my friends around me are. Close friends are there to listen (and to let me feel sorry for myself!) even though it’s not me at the heart of the situation. There are new friends that I’ve met simply by owning the same car and participating in the same groups who have open their hearts and shared their own experiences in life with me, letting me know other people have been through this journey and come out the other end.
Unfortunately at times it has also shown the other side of human nature; we’re not asking for everyone to put their own lives on hold for Mum, but a simple sign of understanding and compassion can go a very long way and when people are not there it truly shows how some people cannot see past their own nose. That’s a life lesson I suppose.
For me though the strangest part of this time has been the realisation that life carries on. You hear stories of people with Cancer changing their lives, living it to the full as if each day is their last, but the truth is that you have to strike a sensible balance. There are still bills to pay, cleaning to be done and other parts of daily life that you must attend too. However, that’s not to say that adjustments can’t be made, you learn to take the most from the moments in life and when you do have the opportunity to maybe do something that you wouldn’t have, you at least give it a second thought this time.
This life adjusting change was best demonstrated by Mum on a recent trip back from Radiotherapy in Oxford during one of my turns to drive her there. Pre cancer Mum was an absolute stickler for not littering and recycling to the upmost degree, but no not this time. As we drove down the country roads and she finished the last bite of an apple she had been eating she asked if anyone was behind us. I said there was not and no sooner had I said that the window had been lowered and the core of the apple had been ejected to the country side. I gasped and said that if that was the other way round I would have got a telling off. Mum’s reply was simple, ‘Well yeah you would but I have Cancer so I can do it’ (with a satirical attitude). My reply was simple:
“Cancer has changed you!!”
I hope you don’t misinterpret this and read it as a sob story from the son. Please see this just as an insight into my Mum’s world, through the eyes of another.
Thank you to everyone who has been there and supported my Mum, I don’t think you will ever know the true power of how you have helped keep her going, especially when Dad and I resort to poor taste banter to get through it all (which incidently drives her mad!).
Aged 30 and a half