Monday, 12 November 2018

2013...The Year My Life Started To Crumble


I arrived home on the train from London, after a night staying at my flat. We were due to be heading out but my mum was always running late, so it's a little hectic in our house. I quickly made sure that our 3 little dogs have been in the garden for a last minute pee before we go, and could hear my mum moaning upstairs. I ran up to check and hurry her along to find her trying to pull her tights up and struggling. Apparently her back is hurting again, something she has been complaining about for a little while now.
I help her so that we can finally get moving, and then she asks for me to put some more product into her hair too. She likes it to look 'the wackier the better' and often panics if it looks too flat, dramatically throwing her head upside down in the middle of a shop so she can shake it up and add more volume, being a regular embarrassing occurrence.
The back pain has been playing on my mum's mind a little, however as this is someone who once broke her wrist by doing the can-can spontaneously in our kitchen, I just assume that she's been doing something equally as crazy and forgotten. Trust me, it's a regular thing!

It was probably about a week or so later that I headed back home from London again to take my mum to a hospital appointment. No stress or worry involved, you see, my mum actually had breast cancer back in 2010 but luckily it was caught super early at her 50 plus screening, so it was a full cure after a lumpectomy and a course of radiotherapy for good measure. The whole diagnosis and treatment was pretty straight forward and she was never 'ill' or 'sick' at any point.
So this appointment was just to have the yearly checkup. Mind you-they had forgotten to send an appointment date this time, so we were there due to some reminding and pushing.
Sitting in Worthing hospital I didn't have any fears and to be honest can't remember the amount of time that it took to get the results through. Times that seem pretty insignificant do have a tendency to just pass you by.

However I do remember clear as day standing in a staff corridor of Liberty of London, where I was working in a hair salon at the time, and speaking to my mum on the phone.

'I have cancer again Darling.'

The chills that that word sends down your spine is like nothing else. My heart sunk to the ground, my fingers trembling and a feeling of pure dread filled my whole being.
Of course I tried not to let this show through my voice.

Something I should probably let you know at this point is that my mum and I were incredibly close. We always had been like best friends whilst I was little and growing up, and still very much were. But unlike perhaps other close mother-daughter relationships, ours was different.
My parents had got divorced a few years before, and when the family house was sold, my mum and I moved into our own little girly house.
I have an older brother but he lived and still does, in Cambridge, so throughout the divorce and our move it was just mum and I. We had been through a difficult few years and after such a huge life change, we realised that we could get through things if we just had each other.
I have always been quite laid-back, so I was the relaxed, calm, practical head of the pair of us. So you can now understand why I couldn't let my mum hear that I was worried.

The walk back to Oxford Circus tube was a bizarre one. In one of the busiest streets in London, at one of the busiest times of day, I heard or saw nothing. Just a white noise ringing in my ears and a haze of shadows passing by.
We prepared for the likely hood of an operation within the next month and potentially chemotherapy or radiotherapy again. I managed to calm myself down after a while and remembered how plain sailing the first time round was, this was definitely something that we could tackle again together.

Even though we now knew that there was a breast tumour again, the specialists needed to check fast growing was it? Had it spread into the lymph nodes etc?
Another vivid memory of mine, that I honestly wish would disappear, was sitting in the consultants room that day. My mum had had a full body scan to determine what was going on and he popped this onto the light up box and continued to point to an area on her spine.
The one thing that you never want to hear started to drip from his tongue...

'The cancer has already spread into your spine, therefore it is now not curable, just treatable.'

The dread that I had felt before now seemed like nothing, compared to this feeling of unconsolable sadness. A real feeling as though my life was spiralling out of control before my eyes.
Sure, my mum has had some back pain but she looks fine, she's healthy. I was looking at someone I loved and I could not comprehend that what this man was telling me was true. Surely this was a bad dream. Bad things don't really happen. Why her? Why me? How we will cope? What about my job? Will I lose her?
A life altering moment that I would never wish on anyone.

This is the chapter of my life where the story begins. A moment where my path changed and certainty disappeared.


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