Hope and Courage

Somehow I managed to get through the two and a half weeks between my neck ultrasound and the appointment with the surgeon! It was an upsetting two weeks. I started off feeling numb, then angry, then just plain upset. Over the last three years I have tried be positive. I’ve kept on a brave face and kept going – because in all honesty I thought that after my surgery that would be the end of it. Never in a million years did I expect to be told my Cancer had come back! I mean, the fact I had been diagnosed with Cancer in the first place was pretty shitty, so for it to come back just felt like a really, really, bad joke.

I know it sounds extreme, but I couldn’t help thinking ‘What if I died?’ and I still think that now. I feel like before my son was born, it would have been something I could deal with. Somehow I’d make it through. But now I have this precious heart to love and protect and I have the strongest urge to survive. I know the most important thing in my life is that child and I plan to be here to see him grow up and have a family of his own. I didn’t realise the strength I could find when I had to dig deeper. I thought I had used up everything I had, but your children fill you with a kind of resolve that can move mountains. I will be strong – for him.

So onto the good news – well, as good as it can be! The Cancer hasn’t been detected in my blood. So although the growth is there, the surgeon feels that for now it can be left to my immune system to fight it. Sounds good apart from the fact I have a shocking immune system and seem to catch everything going! But I trust this surgeon. He looked after me first time round and I know he has my best interests at heart. What this does mean though is that in 6 months, 9 months or maybe even a year, I could find myself in the position of having to have further surgery and possible Radiotherapy. Not ideal, but a far better option than learning it had spread.

So through it all, I have had massive support from my friends and family. The people who really matter show themselves in your time of need. I’m hoping that this is the end of bad news for me. I feel like two miscarriages and a Cancer recurrence should just about be my lot of bad luck, for the year at least- so watch this space – I plan on winning the lottery soon!!

This is me…now

So, I started blogging as a way to deal with what had happened to me. I say happened to me, because I feel like it was something totally out of my control. I didn’t want to get Cancer. I didn’t plan it. But that’s just life. It happens to you whilst you’re busy making other plans.

A few months after I had given birth to my boy I found myself forgetting. There were great big holes in my memory. I couldn’t remember certain details about my life since just after I had my boy. Now I remember his arrival as clear as if it were yesterday. But I don’t remember his first laugh – I only remember it from the photo I took. I don’t remember him rolling over for the first time – but I have a video of it. Until he was about 11 months old there are (still) massive blank spots, filled only by the marvel of technology, where I have been able to take photos and videos and document his growing up.

I found this memory loss terribly upsetting. I felt like I had let him down in some way. How would I be able to tell him tales of when he was young if I couldn’t even remember it myself! I sought out counselling and was told that this was more than likely anxiety caused amnesia. I wanted to get to the root of the problem and talking my worries through with someone really helped. With that I decided to start a blog.

I had been thinking about it for a while and then one of my oldest friends actually started her own sort of mum-advice blog, and this spurred me on to be brave and put everything out there for everyone to read. The thought behind it was that if I could re-live that year, then I would remember it. If talking to someone else was beneficial, then talking (writing) to myself would surely help!

And slowly but surely I waded through the photos (somehow I had taken over 11000 photos in less than a year!) and I watched all the videos (less than a hundred of those haha) and I tried to remember. I used these photos to remind myself of what had been. I started writing and I faced my fears. The more I wrote the more I remembered. Telling the story helped me to get it all out. It was cathartic. It helped me deal with the pain, the anger and frustration. It made me remember the good times too and the support I was lucky enough to have.

I had used my blog to deal with my negative feelings and emotions. I had dealt with them and felt like I could conquer the world! Then suddenly awful things were happening again and I withdrew into myself. I couldn’t bring myself to share these things. I kept them locked away and I stopped writing. I felt as if no one would want to keep reading such heartache and sorrow. It was depressing and I didn’t want to share it.

A couple of months ago, I found the courage to write about my miscarriage. I wanted to work through these feelings and I felt like they had weighed me down long enough. I was pregnant again and I felt like this was it! So much bad stuff had happened, surely now was our time! I felt confident that soon I would have lovely happy pregnancy stories to share!

Less than a month later I miscarried again. It was a shock. I felt like one had been bad enough, but two was just so unfair! I was so angry. I am still angry. It was a Friday and I had started bleeding a few days before. I just knew in my heart that this was exactly like last time. By the time the midwives got me in for a scan the baby was gone. It was like it had never been. I was gutted.

We spent the weekend licking our wounds and then I had to pick myself up and head of to the hospital for my annual check up on my neck. I had an ultrasound scan booked to check that everything was ok, but it turned out it wasn’t.

The Sonographer has found an abnormality with one of my lymph nodes and wanted to do a test on the node to try and draw fluid from it. This involved sticking a needle into my neck and then moving around to try and locate the node, all whilst pushing on my neck with the ultrasound handset. Not the most pleasant experience I have to say! I kept a brave face all through the appointment. In all honesty I felt numb. How could something else have happened to me? How the hell were we going to get through this again?

1 in 4

It’s been almost 4 months since my last blog and a lot has happened in those four months. Mostly good things. Happy things. But one very sad, unsettling and definitely-not-on-the-happy-scale thing.

So first things first…I am now a MRS! It has been the happiest (albeit stressful) experience! We had the most magical time and the day couldn’t have gone better! The months of planning were well worth it and it was fantastic to have our nearest and dearest around us to help celebrate our love.

The theme was peach, and funnily enough that was the same colour scheme my mother had at their wedding, which was rather serendipitous. I made my own bouquets, name cards and favours, wanting a personal touch to compliment the hotel wedding. I had found the most perfect dress and felt like a princess! And to top it all off I was clearly marrying the best man in the world! It really was the best day!

Rewind 12 weeks…after months of trying, we had just found out I was pregnant with our second child! We were absolutely over the moon! We couldn’t wait to tell our friends and family, and especially as one of my close friends was also pregnant with her second and we were going to be preggy buddies again!

So we dressed our little lad in a T-shirt saying ‘I’m going to be a big brother’ and the family took absolutely no notice of it so we ended up having to point it out! But when they realised, it was happiness all round! This time was so different from the first time where everything had been tainted by Cancer and it felt wrong to be happy. This time we could do everything right!

The only difficulty now was the fact that I was due to walk down the aisle in less than 3 months! I decided a corset dress was the way to go, as that would give me a bit of room for growth and we set about finding the perfect dress! I tried on tons of dresses and ended up going for a totally princessy one! Not at all what I had imagined myself in, but it was the dress that screamed ‘this is it’ to me, so that was the one I chose.

I remember the day I picked the perfect dress, as it was also the day I started to lose our baby. I had felt incredibly bloated that day and had thought to myself ‘well at least I know the dress will fit in a few weeks when I start to show.’ I started to spot and felt cramps starting, but by that evening the cramps had gone and I thought my tummy had just popped as I now looked pregnant! I even sent a photo to my best friend telling her I was starting to show.

Over the next week, I continued to spot until one afternoon I saw what I call real blood. It was like I had started my period. I rang the midwife and they said if I was still bleeding the next morning to come in. The bleeding then slowed that night and by morning it was very light. I called the midwife again and they asked me to come in for an early scan. I was optimistic that everything would be ok, but as I sat waiting to go into the scan room I couldn’t stop the tears starting to gather in my eyes.

The sonographer started the scan, explaining she would have a look first and then tell me what she sees. What she saw was a baby there, in my womb, but without a heartbeat. She said she would have to get a colleague to come and confirm what she saw and left me to my thoughts. I felt like I was suffocating. The second sonographer came in and performed the scan and confirmed that our baby was no more.

I hadn’t brought my fiancรฉ with me, as we never for a minute thought that this would be the outcome. I had to call him and tell him. I had to tell him that the precious little soul we had only just begun to love was never going to come into being. He was heartbroken. Two years before we had overcome my Cancer and gone through my pregnancy whilst fighting Cancer, and now when it was supposed to all be going right…it suddenly wasn’t.