So you carry on because there is no other way, and a rare weekend comes along where nothing is planned just a few precious days with your family.
I randomly search ‘things to do on a bank holiday’ and find that it is the anniversary of the Railway Children on a well known Steam Train route near us. I suggest it to my husband as a nice day out for the kids and he raises an eyebrow (I suspect thwarting his plans to watch the football later on) but he agrees so we pack a bag, sort the kids out and head off.
We tell the kids that we are going on surprise day out to try to build the excitement and they guess all the way there (cute). Once there we buy tickets & some treats to keep them occupied for the trip – real train whistles (in hindsight this was a mistake, as there were actual train spotters there who were clearly not used to rowdy children) and also notebooks, pencils and little flags for them to wave on the platforms.
The kids were so excited they couldn’t sit down, they loved riding the steam train and looking out the window to see the Railway Children actors waving their hankies on the platform as we chuffed passed.
We stopped at each station waiting for the next train to come along for us to catch and we took part in all the little activities along the way. It even started raining and it didn’t matter – not one bit, because British weather never stops good fun. Even my husband learned something new that day about a classic English story book. A small miracle in itself!
Although it may not seem much to other people, this small day of fun, a little bit of ‘normal’ and excitement means the world to you when you are trying to forget about the ‘C Word’.
You see, you start to crave the times where you don’t think about cancer from the moment you wake up to the moment you close your eyes at night – just hoping that it won’t take over your whole day.
Then the wobble came – out of nowhere really on the way home…
As we all piled back into the car, the news on the radio told of a celebrity’s wife losing her battle to breast cancer. She was only 34, leaving her three beautiful children behind. My heart sank.
We didn’t speak in the car on the way home, but when we got home my husband could tell that I was visibly shaken. He went to hug me, and I flinched as he caught the bruising on my ribs. ‘Best get that checked’ he noted, ‘Don’t want you leaving me’. ‘What to look after our little monsters?!’ I joked, as the wails from the playroom indicated it was teatime once again.
There it was – my husband had said exactly what I was too scared to say out loud, he said what I was already thinking. The very real threat of secondary breast cancer (breast cancer cells reoccurring).
The second wobble came later & as it turns out less upsetting. It was the viewing of a new drama called the ‘C Word’. Still shaky from earlier I declined my husband’s suggestion to watch the programme straight away – although we did record it. I had to think long and hard as to whether I felt too raw mid treatment, to watch Lisa Lynch’s personal battle with the breast cancer she aptly describes as ‘bullshit’.
When I did finally watch it, I watched it on my own at first. I cried – I can’t pretend I didn’t, but that brave girl was inspirational and at times funny in telling her personal battle with breast cancer. So inspirational in fact that she finally gave me the nudge I needed to write some of my own thoughts down, mainly because I agreed with most of the things she said.
So yes, I have realised that I probably will always have the worries of secondary breast cancer, and yes it will probably always hang over my shoulder. Yet after reading Lisa’s heartfelt story I found it again, my spirit and my last little bit of courage to share my story too.