"I remember and will remember this year forever, at the age of 13 me and Karla had to push our mum around in a wheelchair. Something I never expected to be doing at the peak of learning who I was."
So I guess this is something I have wanted to write about for a while now, however I know this is something that will always be pretty raw for me so it's about being brave and taking the plunge I guess. "Where it all began" to me is now a part of my life that I have to live through every single day.
The way I see it is, everyone has their own story and I guess this can be a personal story regarding you, or a story about someone else that is close enough for it to effect you and basically become your story to. Some people decide to go ahead and talk about it, whereas others may decide to keep it to themselves. I think I personally feel ready to write about the thing in my life that has effected me for 10 years. (I'm going to write this in a diary style as for me it makes more sense)
Jodie's 22nd birthday; August 2007
We decided as a family to go for a meal to celebrate my oldest sister's birthday at Lucky Star (a chinese buffet). We all got ready to go, everything seemed fine, the mood was good and we had a lovely meal. We must have left the meal around early evening, to carry on the celebrations as though we thought.
I remember this day as if it was yesterday, my sister then was the age I am now -22, so at the time I would have been 13. We got home from our family meal and around an hour of us being at home, my mum suddenly out of the blue had horrendous stomach pains that bought her to tears - my mum would never ever cry and this could well be the first time I ever did see her cry. Her stomach pains seemed to go on forever so soon enough my dad took charge, rushing her to A&E. Leaving my older sister and brother with me and karla at home. I don't remember much but my mum and dad never returned home that evening and I guess I fell asleep.
I woke up the next day to be informed my mum had been told she had Gall Bladder Stones, that needed to be removed by surgery. -Which would take some time to be arranged.
13th February 2007
My mums surgery was finally arranged to remove her stones - a pretty simple procedure, however she was to be the last patient to go down for surgery. She went down for the surgery as normal and we were told after a few hours she would return. Everything as far as we knew at this point was fine, but the procedure gave the surgeon a surprise. Mum was the last patient of the night and the surgeon became a little nosey during the surgery and realised her liver looked slightly funny. He decided as he had the time, he would do a biopsy on her liver.
However at this point we were unaware the biopsy had been done and we presumed everything was fine, as she soon arrived back onto the ward. After around 2-3 weeks she soon arrived home.
19th March 2007
Between this date and my mums surgery, our world was torn apart. The biopsy had come back and comfirmed it was indeed liver cancer. Today they planned her surgery needed to remove over 70% of her liver. From this we thought that would be the end, however really it was just the begining.
One month after having 70% of her liver removed we were then told the cancer had spread to her left ovary, which also got removed. 5 months prior to that the right was then removed also due to cancer. I remember and will remember this year forever, at the age of 13 me and Karla had to push our mum around in a wheelchair.
2011 (not sure on exact month)
My mum at this point had now been clear from cancer for roughly 4 years just from having those organs removed and no other treatment. However when most people have cancer once, they are then closely monitered for 4-5 years later by scans etc. So mum went off for her regular checks.
Unfortunetly when I returned home from college I was told the cancer yet again had spread, but this time to her stomach lining. From 2012/13 my mum was told they would give her chemotherapy to try and keep things under control. My mum rarely ever actually got to have the chemo needed because her white blood cells and platelets were always too low for the chemo to go ahead and she was always unwell. Ovbiously because her immune system found it hard to fight illness, if ever anyone came down with anything we were never allowed anywhere near mum, as the simplest illness could have been fatal for her.
We were now told mums chemo was making her ill rather than better and her body simply wasn't able to cope with the chemotherapy, so it was eventually stopped. She had another scan to check if the chemo had at all been effective and she was due back in October.
This day changed my families life forever in so many ways. Mum had gone for her latest results and was told her cancer had now become terminal. They no longer wanted to give treatment or scans and we were told she would only have 11months or less to live. To be completly honest when I was eventually told the news by my parents, it completely broke me.
At this point in my life I was working extremely hard, as a graphic designer and I loved my job. But after being told the fact that most people with my mums type of cancer (Biliary track cancer) barely ever survived up to 11 months. I simply could not handle this news in any way shape or form, I became severley depressed. I no longer cared for my job because I was too broken at the thought of loosing my mum. At the age of 19 it had all become too much. I soon lost my job because of this, but deep down I did not care.
That year my whole family really pulled our broken hearts together in making her 'last year' her best -full of happy memories and things we would look back on for years to come. I do not in anyway want to offend anyone by saying this but for me, it feels like I am waiting for the cancer will take my mums life. Every birthday or special day in my head became the last.
Somehow deep down I always kept tabs on what number month out of the 11 we were on. I thought in my head, she would be gone in September 2014 (11 months time). My mum throughout that whole year became so strong, so positive and so inspirational to me, because soon she had passed September 2014 -something I never imagined to happen.
Mum is still here alive as well as she can be, fighting and battling through. However her cancer was pushing on her kidney and she had to have a stent inserted to avoid her kidney from bursting from the pressure. The surgery was done and mum had also been told they would try to give her more chemotherpy to shrink the cancer that was pushing on her kidney.
Mum was rushed to hospital as she caught sepsis (blood poisioning, from her kidney rejecting her stent) so she had to have the stent removed and from here she will have a new one every 6 months.
Ovbiously this is new, raw and painful. My mum yet again was due another bunch of results from yet another scan..
Only this time 3 years ago we were told 11 months would claim her life. Clearly that wasn't the case because it's the same month but 3 years later and still she's here. Anyway I never before had been with my mum to hear her results because I was always too scared. Even though everytime she seemed to go and come back not much really seemed to be dramatically changing, so I decided now at the age of 22, 3 years later I felt ready to go and support my mum as an adult.
I went along with mum, not really sure what to expect or know what happens in these appointments and the wait felt like a lifetime, before we were called through. I knew this was it - me being there beside my mum as an adult ready to hear her lastest results. The doctor sat there in front of us, was scrolling through what looked like a scan, in a deadly silence - I've never felt so scared in all my life. He then stopped turned around to face us and said in these exact words "we think we have found cancer cells in your pelvic bone, but we need to be sure, so in 2 weeks I want you back for a bone scan."
To be honest as soon as I heard the words cancer and bone I could no longer concentrate on the rest, my brain had gone into a complete meltdown and I more or less blanked the rest out. Before I knew it my mum had stood up ready to leave, so of course I stood up, unable to speak, process or even ask any questions and we left.
We travelled home on the bus together, making small talk but mainly in a dead silence. My mum later told the rest of my family and the enviroment went back to sadness and silence. But for me for some reason, being in that room to be told the news from the doctor meant I couldn't process what canver in the pelvic bone meant. I felt confused, stuck and like my heart was sinking. I later found myself on Google searching 'cancer spread to pelvic bone' the things I read went along the lines of from here it would most likely spread to her spine and then her ribs and this will more a less be the end, as secondary bone cancer can be fatal.
After this news I personally think something deep inside me has shut down, I feel like I have tried to be so strong, supportive and positive for 10 years that for some reason I don't know if I can any longer be those things. I find myself pushing the closest people away from md without meaning to and to be quite honest I prefere to lay in bed than face the day or contact friends.
1st December 2016
Today mum is going up the hospital for her first ever treatment of radiotheraphy. They have said she will have regular pain when she walks or sits and does the simple everyday activities. Any pain will get worse before better and there is no certainty this will stop the cancer, but it could slow it down from spreading elsewhere.
Right now on December 6th I would say I personally am not in a great place, I feel fearful, nervous and confused as to when or if this will be the end of my mums journey. To me it has felt like a never-ending nightmare. I know I have changed as a person and I even know that at the age of 13, I found this so unbearable I no longer had interest in making friends or soicalising.
On the 10th January 2017 we are due yet another group of results and I don't think I can rest until I know the outcome. Although I struggle so much with all of this I know if it wasn't for that surgeon back in February 2007 being nosey, my mum wouldn't be here with us today and for that I will forever be grateful that, he saved her life.
I also believe my mums amazing strength and positivity has helped her fight this horrible disease for nearly 10 whole years. I know many people do not unfortunatlet manage to fight for so long, but that doesn't make them any less amazing, to me it just shows how horrendously unpredictable cancer is.
I hate cancer and I know many others do to. For me this is my way of getting my own diary of my mums story out there and a way for me to reach out to anyone else going through this to, even if you're struggling like myself. I want you to know it doesn't make you weak, abnormal, a bad person or selfish. It's okay to struggle through such difficult experiences that may happen in your life, but please never allow it to eat you up the way it can - I have no way of explaining the feeling but you'll know if you know. Everyone is amazing in their own unique way, everyone copes differently something in life that may feel like it's breaking you now, will in the future be something you've overcome and may shape you into a better stronger person. I believe in acceptance, accept the facts if you're struggling, find that one person in your life who you can trust and open up to - even if that has to be a counciler it honestly truely helps. There is nothing worse than bottling things up and letting it consume you.
I know I have recently been pushing everyone close/around me away, I have stopped making the effort and I have in a way stopped fighting my own battle and that is why I have decided to write 'Where it all began' because it's raw, intense, heartbreaking and something I personally have struggled with for 10 years. But I also know how unfortunetly common cancer is and I hope to help anyone else who may struggle the same way as me to reaslise it's okay to struggle but one day you'll look back when it's all over and you should feel proud of yourself - the way I hope to.
"No two story is the same. Keep fighting, keep pushing, keep believing that one day your story will end. It's down to you to decide how you choose to shape yourself from unexpected events that life may throw at you."
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