This week I have had the pleasure of spending time with some lovely people. First there was the wonderful lady who invited me to her home and showed me her boobs. Now that doesn't happen every day, but if you hold the C Card apparently it's a regular occurrence. I have to say they looked so fantastic - they made me cry. She then showed me last month's Sun newspaper where she and her hubby along with 2 other couples appeared topless in a centre spread. I found myself having to take a step back from embracing this lovely woman - who after all didn't know me, but had the good grace to allow me to tell her how fantastic I thought she was. When I left her house over two hours later, I realised this would not be my first encounter with a brave and beautiful woman, who'd overcome Breast Cancer.
Whenever you see pictures of woman and indeed men who have come through this terrible ordeal, or are in fact coming through it, it seems to me they all have one thing in common - a radiant smile.
Yesterday, I went over to see my father in law who's just finished his last course of radiotherapy. In the summer he had a large operation for Bowel Cancer, and this time the treatment was for prostate cancer. I was anxious to see him, as we hadn't seen either my Mother or Father in Law for a while as he hadn't been up to it. We knew that he would be weak, and we had joked that we would clear the way pretty quickly as he had the toilet 2 step - as we called it, and would continue to do so over the next three months because of his treatment. I had begged my husband not to tell them about my diagnosis, as apart from the fact that my husband's uncle - ( My father in law's brother ) has terminal cancer. I felt they didn't need me to add to the mix. Little did I know that my husband felt awful for lying to them. So in the end we agreed to tell them. I have spent quite a few phone calls where they are trying to be cheerful because of their situation, and I'm trying to be cheerful because of my situation - oh the bloody mindless things we do so as not to worry our nearest and dearest.
During our visit yesterday, after hugs and kisses we skirted round each other' s illnesses -so as to not upset anyone. Then finally after a cup of tea and a slice of cake, we decided to plunge right in. We compared notes and talked about wigs and the beeping of radiotherapy machines. Biopsies, and our aches and pains, and all through this there was one thing that stayed at the forefront of my mind. My Father in law told me that in the radiotherapy suite where he went everyday for his treatment, all the people who were having the same treatment, were always happy and smiling cracking jokes and nobody came away - least of all him - feeling sad.
The lady who showed me her boobs earlier in the week had told me the same thing. The unit where she'd received her therapy was a happy, tight knit place. She had told me that these people had become her friends.
All through our visit with my in laws all I saw was my Father in law's radiant smile. He laughed and joked even though it was obvious he was in discomfort, and as I looked at both of them I realised that they were overcome with worry about me, and I was overcome with worry about them.
As I sit here typing - an old clinch I know - but I can't help thinking that if this people can get through it, so can I, the grand dads, the Mother's the Sisters, Aunts and Brothers, and all the wonderful people that have battled this terrible illness.
Last week during Children in Need we sat - my husband and I over a glass of wine or two, and as I watched a mother with 3 young children prepare them and herself for her inevitable death, I turned to my husband and said, " Just to get one thing straight, I'll never get like that - I'll know if it comes to it when there is time to stop treatment and not have my body swell up like hers, enough is enough" but of course now I know that she never stopped fighting, and even though at the end she was swollen up. She was still their mum and all the time she was alive she carried on being mum. But thinking back now I realised that she - even though she had accepted the inevitable - still had this radiant smile on her face.
Hopefully my cancer, will never get to this stage as my nurse has told me the aim is to cure. But I aim to battle - yes I bloody well do, and like I told my son today when he was embarrassed to sit in McDonald's with me. "There will come a time when I am going to be very weak and have no hair, but I still might want to go out, how embarrassed are you going to be then?" - to which he replied " I'm not going to be embarrassed to go out with you if your bald mum, there's no shame in having cancer" I looked at him and realised that whatever happens I'm still his mum, I'm still a sister a daughter, a wife and an aunt - so I owe it to all these people including my friends to just bloody well get on with it. After all there are people out there that are worst off then me. They might not have cancer but some of them don't have a family and friends....... I know what I'd prefer!