Monday 20th November….. results day. Did I have cancer or was this all going to be a massive mistake and I was going to be fine? Some days my thoughts were “the drs couldn’t get it this wrong, it has to be cancer” other days my thoughts were more like “no way is this cancer I’m a fit and healthy 26 year old. This wouldn’t happen to me.” Today was going to stop the wondering and give me answers whether I wanted to know or not.
My name is called by a nurse and she gives me a look, a look that I have got nearly every day since. I knew then that she knew I had cancer I just needed to hear it from the drs mouth. We walk into the room and to greet us is the dr and a Macmillan cancer nurse, again this should kind of say it all. I sit holding my husbands hand and the dr prints of my results he reads out a few lines of jargon which neither of us understands then looks up and says, so unfortunately the results did show cancer of the cervix. Everything that was said after this point was a blur every voice was an echo and nothing seemed real. I nodded when appropriate and left the hospital with a “life with cancer welcome pack” to read. Neither of us could speak as we walked to the car, we were on auto pilot. We started driving to my mother in laws house as she was minding our daughter. Just before we reached her house I told my husband to stop the car. I needed a minute before I seen them. I wanted to talk about it with my husband before I spoke about it with anyone else. It dawned on me that my mum, dad and other family members all knew why I was going to hospital today I was going to have to tell them, I couldn’t even say the words to my husband and he knew, how was I going to get the words to tell my mum? I asked Paul to ring her for me…..she cried, Paul cried and I cried.
The rest of the day continued much the same. I wanted to get it over with fast like pulling of a plaster so Paul called everyone and told them the news. Every time I over heard the conversation a new wave of emotions just filled me, I couldn’t believe I was causing everyone this pain, it was my fault my whole family was sad. I was scared my granny who lives on her own with a bad heart wouldn’t take the shock well, we drove to her house to tell her in person. The second she opened the door she knew and she cried….. through her tears all I could hear was “oh no, oh no it can’t be cancer.
As the shock settled in and the questions started coming I realised that I knew very little other than the fact I had cancer. How bad was it? Had it spread? Was it an aggressive type of cancer? What were my odds of beating this? The next step was an MRI scan to determine the stage, this would tell me what my chances were. Would I be completely cured and start counting my years in remission or would I be counting the weeks or months I had left with my family.
1st February 2017. We are in Dublin airport about to board a plane to Dubai.
The adventure really began nineteen months ago with a cup of tea and a chocolate bar but up until now we had no idea how far the journey would take us. Boarding the plane to Dubai I was filled with excitement of what could be but also fear, I was about to complete an eight hour flight with a 22 month old boisterous little Madame who had to sit on my knee! Thankfully the flight was 10.30pm and I was banking on her sleeping for most of the journey. Six hours later she is lying across both my arms which are completely numb, I can’t feel my legs and I’m being fed my inflight meal by my husband. As you can see nothing is worth risking wakening her up for so I sit patiently waiting for the flight to end. We arrive in Dubai their morning time and there are no words to describe how tired I am. We check in and as soon as we get to the room I collapse into bed. The kids having slept on the plane play around the room having pillow flights and my husband watches the tv. It won’t be long before we board our final flight and reach our destination …. Australia.
The next day after some sleep, a shower and room service we leave for Dubai airport to board are final plane to Australia. This flight would take fourteen hours nearly double of the last one. The planes for long haul flights are thankfully much better than the smaller ones. You have your own personal tv screen, a menu for inflight meals and complimentary refreshments the entire journey. You also get a wash bag with the travel essentials included and the children on board get a blanket and bag with colours and toys. This all makes the 14 hours a little more bearable. Landing in Australia I could barely contain myself long enough to get our luggage, I knew waiting just outside the doors would be my Aunt and uncle.
Before my aunt lived in Australia she lived just round the corner from me and even though I was young when she left for oz I still have many found memories of her. I loved having sleep overs at hers and when she came round to mine at bedtime just to read me a bed time story. When I say read me a story it was more like she told me a story from the depths of her imagination, and believe me these were the best stories ever! Most of which included actions, songs and teddy bears coming to life. No one told a bed time story like this lady. She was and still is amazing.
Thinking about it this was actually the reason why I was in Australia, because of her bedtime stories. My aunt longed to be a mum for as long as a I can remember her gentle caring fun nature was the perfect recipe for an amazing mum. She deserved to have a child of her own that she could tell these bed time stories too, that she could love and cherish. I wanted to fill that void in her heart. I wanted to be her surrogate. I wanted to carry the child she couldn’t. I wanted to make her Mum.
The next few days and weeks after being told I could have cancer were a challenge to say the least. I was waiting on my next appointment date (10th November 2017) which was for a larger biopsy to be taken of my cervix to be tested for cancer. This had to be done under a general anesthetic because of the high risk associated with bleeding during this procedure so soon after a pregnancy. Before this moment I had been a fit and healthy 26 year old, never been in hospital before and never had any health problems. In fact up to this moment the worst illness I had experienced was chicken pox when I was ten years old. Because of this the thought of being put to sleep for a medical procedure (no matter how small) filled me with fear. I had never been so anxious about anything in my life before. I was told that it was a day procedure and I wouldn’t have to stay in hospital at all in and out in one day that’s the best I could have hoped for. The day before the procedure I was advised it best that I come in that night for pre assessment and to guarantee my place on the surgery list the next day. This was not what I wanted to hear. Reluctantly I packed my overnight bag and headed for the hospital.
When I had answered all the medical questions and I was left alone to try and sleep for the night, the tears streamed down my face and there was nothing I could do to make them stop….. I couldn’t believe I was lying in a hospital bed, I couldn’t believe that the procedure the next day was potentially going to tell me I had cervical cancer. My thoughts were going round my head quicker than the revolving hospital doors. I lay down in an uncomfortable hospital bed, four weeks after a c section, feeling sore, alone and very afraid of what was to come. I put in my earphones,
and started to play some music to drown out the noise of the lady snoring in the next bed.
This is when I discovered my happy place. I started to play an album by Bob Marley and the memories came flooding back of Jamaica, our wedding and the day I had spent snorkelling of a little deserted island nicknamed cat island by the locals in the Caribbean ocean. This was the best day of my life, we sat alone on cat island with nothing other than a tin of Diet Coke (which was warm with the heat), our flippers, each other and the hope that the local I had paid to sail us over to cat island would actually return to get us. We had been married the day before and everything was perfect. I had married the man I loved and I had the Caribbean sun on my skin.
Without this memory my tears wouldn’t have stopped.
The next day was going to alter the path my life was going to take and I had absolutely no control of it.
I never realised until recently how many occasions in life that flowers are suitable for. Want to say thank you we buy flowers, want to say sorry we buy flowers, get well soon we buy flowers, getting married we buy flowers, someone dies we buy flowers. When I arrived home from hospital my house was filled with several vases of flowers, It took me a while to decide exactly why I was getting the flowers. I was home from having a baby, but I had also just been told that I could have cancer. Where these “well done you” flowers or “get better soon soon” flowers??
Cancer seeps into your life like a poison and touches everything, your memories, your family, your daily thoughts. It consumes you and leaves you feeling like a rug has just been pulled from under your feet. Standing in a busy room full of people yet your frozen and everything seems a blur around you. I felt detached from conversations and when I was enjoying being around family and friends it was bittersweet because I was thinking of all the wonderful people in my life I could be leaving behind. Putting my children to bed every night filled me with sadness, I am petrified of leaving them without a mummy to love them and protect them. Who would put my little girls hair in pigtails? Who would show her how to put on makeup? who would teach her about boys when she is older? Who would help my son with his homework’s? Who would encourage him with his hobbies and be his number one fan? Im angry at the thought of maybe not being here to watch them grow up and to know what amazing people they turn into, what jobs they will have. I never knew how much I wanted to be a granny until now. I was petrified.
It’s 2011 and I have survived the first two years of being a mum. To be honest my success was partly down to having a really great baby, he done exactly what it said on the tin…. eat sleep repeat. He slept all night from six weeks old and I really did get it easy compared to some. When James was two years old his dad and I decided that it was best we parted ways. I was now a single mum. I moved into a new house and got a job.
Fast forward 18 months and I decide to give online dating a go. I had zero expectations and entered with extreme caution. The site I joined was called plenty of fish, the main reason behind joining this one…..lets be honest was because it was free. I didn’t want to have to pay to meet weirdos when I could do it for free. Anyone who is familiar with online dating will know that during the process of creating your profile you can select what age range of people you’d like to meet. I have always preferred the “older man” and had set my age range to fifteen plus years older than me. When your browsing through the profiles of potential sugar daddies you have the option to add a person to your favourites, this means that they get notified that someone likes them. Me being a typical woman refused to make initial conversation with anyone, they had to make the first move. This was until I seen the picture of a silver fox who made my heart beat a little faster and reading his profile made my smile a little bigger. “let the treasure see the chest” was his chat up line and I just couldn’t sit and wait on this one making the first move I had to at least add him to my favourites.
I had convinced myself that this wasn’t making the first move because I wasn’t actually initiating a conversation. Within minutes of me clicking the button he started a conversation online and this progressed to text message then to actual phone calls. We arranged to meet and I was terrified, for all I knew he was a serial killer or some strange man ten years older than me that liked to collect stamps. A few Bacardi and Diet Cokes helped to calm my nerves before I walked into the bar to meet him. Typical me I was on time and there first, he was late. We started talking and in what seemed like only minutes, hours had passed and the bar was starting to empty. I have spent every day with him since.
They always say you can never plan child birth, the whole idea of a “birth plan” acts more like a guide to how you’d like things to be in a perfect world. That didn’t stop me from having a plan, a plan that any sergeant major would be proud of. “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” was my motto.
Arriving at the hospital on Friday 13th wasn’t part of the plan, he was coming three weeks early and no amount of planning was going to change that.
Some people are superstitious and believe that Friday 13th is a terribly unlucky day. I’m not superstitious and certainly don’t believe a certain date or number can bring bad luck but this Friday 13th turned out to be a particularly bad day for me. Panicked by my waters breaking I arrived at the hospital slightly stressed to say the least. The midwifes were calm and cheerful and didn’t seem to be bothered at all that I was in labour three weeks early. I fed of their energy and slowly returned to a calm collected state….. though this was to be short lived.
An examination to confirm I was in labour was to change the course of my birth plan even further. Instantly the midwife shouts to her colleague to call someone and organise a scan she starts getting my bed ready to move whilst asking me all sorts of questions and telling me to lie on my side. I knew something wasn’t right and I could tell that whatever was happening was enough to panic the midwife too. When we reached the next room a scan was done along with another examination, “it’s bone we can feel, we think the baby has his arm around the top of his head, he won’t be able to come out in this position” a Cesarean section was recommended urgently and I knew there was nothing I could do to change it.
What did my plan matter now…….
Seven weeks and three days ago, I gave birth to my cousin. (I’ll give you a few seconds to try and make sense of that sentence) yes I gave birth to my cousin. A little boy, he arrived three weeks early and with little warning. He was a healthy 6lbs 8oz
It was an ordinary Thursday night my husband Paul had came home from football (he plays for fun with the men from our church, unfortunately I’m not a footballers wife) we had went to bed late and by 2am I was still only in a light sleep. I felt a slight trickle of moisture between my legs and immediately dismissed it as being too warm and sweaty. I moved my leg to kick the blankets of me and to my horror there was a much larger gush of fluid, panicked I went to the bathroom and when I realised it wasn’t me or my husband having bladder problems I began to panic.
Little did I know that this was my last few moments of “normal”
Rewind to December 2007
I had left school that June with no GCSEs, I was living with my boyfriend above his mums garage and I was Studying one day a week while working in a children’s nursery. I was just starting out, had no idea what I wanted to do where I wanted to be or who I wanted to be with. I had no big dreams or ambitions at 16 I was just floating through seeing where life would take me. Then life give me a big, huge, life changing wake up call……. I was going to be a mum. I was 16 living in one room above a garage and I was going to be a mum.
This was the year I learned about determination. Within 9 months I had a home and everything I needed for my first child. I had left my job and stopped studying, I wanted to raise my baby my way. I didn’t want to rely on parents babysitting while I worked, I didn’t want to send him to a nursery while I minded other kids, it didn’t seem logical to me. Everyone told me I’d never cope, that having this baby would mean the ruin of my life. I was determined to prove them wrong and I did. Having James gave me a purpose. I no longer floated through life, this was the beginning of me becoming the person I am today.