Here we are, the first of many a blog post. Excuse the informality but you are most likely here because we have one pretty shoddy thing in common or you’re my dad; so, either way, thought I’d skip the futility of being prim and proper.
So coming to write this, I sat staring at the blankness of my screen which aptly matched my brain. I have so much to say without a clue as to where to start, while also resisting the urge to narrate what I’m saying in my head as I’m typing as if I’m in some cringy coming of age film.
Anyways, I am known to waffle, so apologies in advance for the inevitability of a bit of a lengthy post (I’ll work on it). Here we go, I hope you’re mentally prepared for my chaotic-ness – buckle your seatbelts people:
I remember so vividly being told that my mum was ill. I say ill, I mean riddled with metastatic disease. Anywho, I’d gotten in from school on a Friday, fuming to the sight of a maccies paper bag on the dining room table. Mum and Dad had been without me. The absolute cheek of it. In my entitled-ness I made a sly comment to my Mum about the audacity of the entire situation. I looked up at her into her glassy eyes and she just gave a little chuckle. At this point I’m confused and a bit worried, but mostly in a deep depression about missing out on a big mac.
My beautiful mum was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on 31st January 2014. Not to get the violins out but I’m fairly certain that’s when my childhood ended.
Complete honesty, I’ve always been an annoying, overbearing (person) older sister to my little brother and daughter to my mum and dad. I have to give my annoying little self credit where credit is due.
But, with mum’s diagnosis, I felt an overwhelming sense of duty. I think this was mostly a want to protect my little brother, who was only 9 at the time. My just about 13 year old self felt obligated to enter this adult world of trying to be a crutch to my (genuinely amazing) dad (fan girl post incoming) and to the rest of my family. It is something that no child should have to go though, however it has made me the person I am today and has massively shaped pretty much every aspect of my life. All of that malarkey for another time though.
Aside from the initial shock of the situation, and I know a lot was obscured from my view in an effort to protect me, but aside from the chemo and radiotherapy leading to my mum’s mastectomy, life was fairly normal. Of course there was always underlying worry, but my parents did an amazing job at making that as quiet as possible amongst the extreme volume of the severity of the situation. Now I’ve typed that into black and white I understand how completely ridiculous that may seem, but honestly that is pure credit to my parents – it was our normal, and that was okay.
Due to the malignant nature of mum’s breast cancer, that it had spread to her sternum and liver, her prognosis was never great realistically. Rightly or wrongly I never really knew or came to terms with this until my first year of uni, and I’m not gonna lie – I’m not mad that this was the case. So time went on, mum didn’t go into remission, but her cancer was managed, and we were all pretty satisfied with that. Beginning of 2018, a few months after my Grandad’s passing, it came to light that mum’s cancer had metastasised to the brain. This entire situation was cruel, but thats a lengthy story for another time. Mum had brain surgery, the resected segment the size of an egg, and she had more radiotherapy. Things seemed to be stabilise and she continued her regular treatment, her trusty Herceptin – as mum called it: magic medicine. Things went pear shaped when mum stopped responding to Herceptin, and instead switched to Kadcyla. Things were okay for a little while, but in the meantime my mum lost a second parent and the family dog passed. It did seem like one thing was constantly happening after the other.
March 2020. Need I say more? Everyone’s lives had changed there is no getting away from that. My family’s however, was already changed beyond my comprehension – and I only realised this when it had already happened, I don’t know whether this was the better or the worse eventuality honestly. My dad said he had noticed significant changes in my mum and her manner starting around December 2019. When I say that I returned home to a different person, I wish I was being my usual overly dramatic self. With this I entered what I now understand as anticipatory grief, and it is fair to say that March to September of 2020 was the worst 6 months of my life. Unless we are hit my another pandemic (me: isn’t superstitious – *still touches wood*), I know I will never experience that extent of turmoil and emotional pain again. I feel angry that I could say at age 19 that I knew that was the worst my life would ever get. I hate to tempt fate but how I lived in that period of time was my version of a hell. Personally, watching one of the people I love the most become someone I could barely recognise, leading to their death is something that will always stick with me. I would never wish that on my worst enemy.
No word of a lie, 2 weeks after my mum’s funeral our dog died. She was old bless her… like she was past her sell by date kind of old… but the timing was impeccable.
That was that. By this point I had already technically started my second year of medical school… that decision was an interesting one which we will cover another time.
Okay – sob story over, violins can be put away and I’ll have my golden buzzer now please. Jokes aside, thats me – that part of my life even. Everyone who has a story like this knows theres so much more to them, but whether I accept it or not this is a big, significant part of who I am. I spent so long worrying about people knowing about this part of me and it being some big deal. People have their own stuff going on to worry about unfortunately, life can be so cruel. I wanted to tell my story and share advice because, honestly, I really needed it and the resources just weren’t there.
If you’ve got this far, you deserve a medal… and thank you 🙂