Pre warning: this blog talks about cancer and may be upsetting for some people.
I am 28 years old. In those 28 years I have experienced a lot. Unfortunately not all good experiences, but hey who can say their life has been perfect. This week I went through an experience that reminded how those bad experiences have shaped who I am today. I know this sounds very cliché but it is true.
This week my mama bear was called in for a hospital appointment. After having cancer 3 times my mama is always in hospital for one appointment or another so I didn’t really think anything of it, nor did she. That was until at 9pm the night before she actually read the appointment letter properly. The appointment was for a breast tomosynthesis. She wasn’t sure why she had been sent for this, after some googling by me we discovered it was similar to a mammogram. It was like the super duper advanced version of a mammogram that created a 3d image. I assured my mama the invite must of been extended to her as she has had breast cancer in the past, so their just being extra safe. I didn’t think that really, I lay awake most of the night thinking there must of been something wrong on her last check up. It turned out , despite my reassurances earlier in the evening, she stayed awake thinking much the same thing.
She went in for the procedure alone, the first thing she did was ask, “why have I been invited for this”.
They told her quite matter of factly there was a suspicious area on her mammogram which was being investigated as a cause for concern. Imagine being told that with no warning. Now imagine being told that with no warning less than a year since you got the all clear from your third fight against cancer.
When she came back into the waiting room my heart sank. Her eyes were glassy and unfocused. She had gone quiet, uttering a couple of words every so often about how she was’ fine’. I grabbed her hand and squeezed it, it lay limp and clammy in my palm.
At this point all I could think was I’m 28, I have had to manage the thought of losing my mum 3 times maybe about to be 4 and I’m only 28. I know this sounds horribly selfish, I know some people lose their mamas even younger, but that’s just how I felt. I was angry that she was having to sit in a waiting room, feeling this dread again. Suddenly I noticed everything screamed cancer.
A lady walked in wearing a headscarf, clearly having chemo, there was a huge Macmillan display, there was a lady saying how frightened she was about her diagnosis. My mum was staring at the window oblivious to anything around her, but I still felt like I needed to shield her from these glaring reminders of the big C.
A nurse came out and called her name. She jumped up and practically ran after her, I turned to watch her go and I will never forget her eyes. They were filled with fear and the scars of what her body had already had to fight. I smiled at her every second until the door shut, then I cried. I sat in a waiting room with other people with tears rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t care if anyone saw.
I realised I wasn’t upset that she might be sick, I was upset that such a beautiful person was getting kicked by the universe again. I was angry that we had to see her go through this again.
The 5 minutes she was in there felt like forever. Each time I heard footsteps I looked for her. All the memories of the first time she had cancer came flooding back. I remembered being 11 years old just home from school. I knew my mum had been at hospital but I didn’t know why. When she came in I could see she had been crying. Her and my dad went straight into the garden without saying anything, I ran upstairs and ease dropped from the bedroom window. My mum was sobbing and I heard the words breast cancer. My world had crashed down then and I was terrified it was going to do the same now.
Finally her door opened. She was smiling, crying, but smiling.
The universe wasn’t kicking her for the 4th time. I didn’t have to face losing my mum for the 4th time. We didn’t have to see her go through this for the 4th time. The suspicious area was scar tissue from past surgery.
I can’t explain the feelings we experienced from then. We were elated. It was as if she had just been given the all clear from something she hadn’t actually had. We got in the car, put the radio on, held hands and cried with relief.
My mama has shown me to fight. All 3 times she has fought cancer she has took the diagnosis and stood strong. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Even when her treatment has worn her down she always held it together in front of me. Always told me she is going to beat this fucking disease.
Mama bear, I love you. Xx
Sidenote - I can never thank the NHS enough. They made a mistake by not telling her beforehand why she was there, but they more than made up for it with their handling of the situation afterwards.