I have discovered that children are better than medicine.
Having children on a normal day is a tough gig. Don’t get me wrong my kids are bright, energetic and happy (most of the time). But I find keeping up with them hard work!
Now I struggle like most mums, even on a normal day – the manic mornings, the school/ nursery run, doing my own hair/ cleaning my teeth in the car (or once I get to work). The endless laundry that never seems to make it back where it should be & then all over again, school run, tea time, bath time story time – you get the general gist.
Yet, on the day I was diagnosed – on that day, I had managed all the normal morning stuff. A full speed nursery run, school run… and then everything began to slow down – almost like everything was getting stuck in slow motion.
After the school run I waited in the reception of the Breast Care Unit, trying to enjoy the moments of peace (actually having time to read a magazine about random celebrities that I had never heard of) – but I was shaking. Even though I knew the answer before I was told, I was still shaking.
The lady I later learned was my breast care nurse came to greet me and asked how I was. In the room my consultant sat there, on her day off, and looked me straight in the eye and delivered her diagnosis.
The next few hours were a bit of a blur, but I remember a few things.
On the way home I got stuck in typical Christmas shopping traffic, and then being late to pick my little boy up from school (which is not an option for school age kids). When I finally arrived at school he was in floods of tears, all on his own. I’d let him down (he’s a sensitive little thing) and I just wanted to sit and cry with him but I didn’t, I shook myself off ‘got a grip’ and headed to pick up my little girl from nursery.
On that day though, all the little things became much more important and all the stressful things became, well, insignificant.
From that day I knew that every single kiss good night or cuddle or game might become a memory – and memories are important when children are growing up, they make you into the person you become.
So I had made my little boy’s first Nativity and my little girl’s first Christmas show and instead of crying I enjoyed every last second of it – being a normal, proud mum trying to take not very well focused pictures with my phone and trying to do thumbs up whenever they caught my eye.
You see the thing I found about my diagnosis was that I could handle the facts, in part because I already knew that ‘it’ was there I think. But the offer of the books to read to my children explaining cancer were a step too far for me at that time. I would tell my children in my own time and in my own way, but the hardest thing about all of it was the realisation that I may not be there to see them grow up – and that, for any mum is the real kicker.
But you know what? After one of the most difficult days of my life – seeing my husband broken and me wandering round like my legs were stuck in treacle. I still managed the school pick up and I still managed the tea time/ bedtime saga, adamant in my mind that the children’s routine would stay the same no matter what, adamant that they wouldn’t pick up even a slight hint of upset or fear.
You see that is the amazing thing about having children, and it is the thing that has kept me going in a way. They don’t stop, they go on and on, their energy and enthusiasm has no end. Children still have all their everyday needs regardless – and when you are broken and on your knees they always oblige with a smile and a cuddle.