Not Too Young

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There have been so many anniversaries.  Mostly, as my husband so rightly says, they are the type of anniversaries that we would much rather forget.

And yet you can’t just forget, if only it was that simple.

A year since diagnosis.  A year since surgery.  A year since the end of active treatment and the beginning of ongoing treatment. The treatment that will go on for the rest of your life.

It means different things to different people.  Some feel it like a strike to the heart, another thud to remind them just how much it hurt.  Some ignore it in a hope that it never really happened.  Some prefer to be on their own, while others surround themselves with family and friends.

As it turns out I am a little bit of both.  My preference is to be on my own, to process and to digest and to somehow make sense of the emotions that come like waves.  And yet over the past year I have realised that if you surround yourself with those who care, the whole thing may just be a bit easier.. possibly.

The letter arrived one sunny morning from the hospital for my routine annual mammogram.  Just a glance at the letter face told me what it was.  So used to seeing the hospital stamp by now, and yet it never gets any easier.

Added to the calendar to prevent any forgetfulness, even though the date is immediately etched into my brain.  More a reminder to prepare for the date ahead.

I would like to be able to say that the days and hours leading up to that point just went on by, and that it all passed simply. It’s just that they didn’t.

Typically I got the date wrong. Even after calling to check once the letter had been mislaid. Even though it was written on the calendar (incorrectly I may add), even though there was doubt in my mind – I still went through the motions.

Not so easy when you mention the words hospital or doctors to your children for the umpteenth time.  They exercise caution asking, ‘why and for how long?’ And they let it be known that they don’t want you to go.  Even when reassured it is ‘only a check up’ they let it be known they would prefer if you didn’t go..

Nevertheless go I must.

Arriving on the wrong day (unbeknown to me) and directed by the wrong receptionist to the wrong area, the situation begins to deteriorate. It is the standard day for routine mammograms for ladies over age fifty.

I am told not once, but twice, that I am too young.

Already upset at this point I can feel the anger rising inside of me.  I wish I was too bloody young.  You can’t be too young, fact.  I try to control my voice unsuccessfully, and it falters as I explain why this is so.  Of course I am too young for the routine scans – that is what they meant to say, it’s just that is not what they said at all, on that day, at that moment.

I returned a few days later on the correct day, oddly much more calm a second time.

I had resigned myself to the process and indeed the results that may come to be.  I had given myself a ‘talking to’ because it is not a scan to be fearful of – it is one I should and will always be most grateful for.  I explained the whole situation to the lady who carried out my scan, she registered my worries and told me that she would’ve come and done me anyway if they had just let her know.  It still never fails me as to the empathy some medical staff have as they instantly read your eyes – they understand the gravity of the situation, and then the complete opposite from others.

And so that was that. It was over in a flash.

Uncomfortable but very necessary.

I drove away out of the hospital and straight back into my everyday life.  There was still the results to tackle, there will always be – but for the time being I went back to the things in my little world – the shopping, the everyday tasks and being a normal mum on the school run.

I made myself a cup of tea in my favourite mug upon returning home and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

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#NotTooYoung

A helpful place for young women diagnosed with breast cancer https://m.facebook.com/YoungerBreastCancerNetwork

 

 

 

 

 

I’m no expert- I wish I was

There comes a time in life when you realise that somethings just happen.

I won’t say they happen for a reason, although they probably do, but more that they just happen and it seems that there is nothing we can do to change it at all.

There are some who have lost dear friends.

Friends they have known their whole lives throughout childhood.  Friends who have been with them through thick & thin, through the very best of times and the very worst of times.  Friends who are not really friends, but somehow became family along the way.

There are some who have lost a family member.

And it doesn’t seem fair, and it doesn’t seem right, that the very special bond is torn apart by illness and life.  A mother or father, or sister or brother, who can never, and will never be forgotten.

There are some who have lost children, the most unspeakable thing of all.  The biggest injustice of all.  When a parent would gladly swap places with their child without hesitation.

There are some who have lost those from the older generation.  A most treasured member of the family.  The person who has always been there, always.

Life can be so cruel.  There is no rhyme nor reason I am finding more and more.

Of course I am no expert (I wish I was) and I don’t always know what to say in the right places, but I do know one thing – life is strange.

Taking the time to listen, taking the time to understand means more than you will ever know.

Once a heart is broken it can’t be fixed.

Time heals, slowly, but it does.

Appreciate every moment with those you love and smile at the precious memories of those who have gone.

Somethings in life just happen.

I am no expert.

I only wish I was.

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The Wonder Years

I look back fondly at my childhood, as the years were filled with laughter and smiles.  I like to think of them as the Wonder Years because we truly did not have a care in the world.

When I was a little girl we had virtually nothing, and yet money did not seem to be a problem.

Obviously I was just a child with no real concept of money, but myself & my sisters wanted for nothing.  We lived on a council estate, we only had a coal fire, we only had a black & white television but it never really mattered to us.

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We had a large garden to play in with rabbits as pets.  We had an abundance of friends as neighbours.  We played from morning until night, riding our bikes, climbing trees and playing ‘tig’ and ‘curby’ in the street until our hearts content.

There were just the four of us back then, and we managed just fine without a dad.  He left when my little sister was young and it was probably the best thing he ever did for us.  We never even noticed that he was missing.  There was just the four of us, and that is all we ever really needed.

Our mum worked hard to get her teaching degree and when she wasn’t working, she busied herself in making our childhood extra special.  On her days at home she would take us out for long walks and help us to build secret dens in all the best places.  On the occasion that we had little food in the cupboards, she would make up her infamous ‘Wild Man’s Grub’.  A magical broth made with stock and potatoes, vegetables and meat – and with it came a story of the old man who once lived in a cave, who knew how to make magical food.  Our absolute family favourite was a chicken, rice and gravy dish made from the leftovers of Sunday dinner.  As we got older we would enact our own radio show with a ‘made up’ audience where we would delight in explaining to them how we made it.

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When Christmas or birthdays came around, we always received the very thing that we had never dared to ask for.  One special year I received a Tiny Tears doll, I named her Gemma and she went everywhere with me like a best friend.  And yet, even more special than the new toys were the ‘hand me downs’ that we always watched our big sister play with.  The silver Raleigh bike, the doll with the worn down clothes, the giant space-hopper, the go-kart and the rainbow roller boots that we taught ourselves to use.

We always looked forward to the long Summer holidays because we knew that we would get to visit the seaside. 

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We took trains to visit Aunties, Uncles and cousins and it was all such an adventure.  We spent hours paddling in the freezing cold sea, rolling up trousers and jumping the waves.  We went for long walks along the beach and hunted for crabs in rock pools with our buckets and spades.  We got caught out by the tide and had to climb up the cliffs to safety.  We spent all day long running up and down the high school fields behind my Auntie’s house making up pretend games and never wanting to go home when teatime came around.  Our cousins were our best friends, and inevitably just like siblings, the arguments always flared up over who was winning at Monopoly or who wanted the chocolate French Fancy.

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We had birthday parties in our back garden, with blankets thrown on the lawn for a picnic tea. We invited everybody in the neighbourhood to join in the party games and watched in excitement as the homemade birthday cake was unveiled.  Inevitably, the cake was always a house made of chocolate fingers and chocolate buttons for the roof, or sometimes it was a Dolly cake with a Cindy doll placed in the middle.

imageWe had so little, and yet we had so much. 

We wanted for absolutely nothing.  If only children nowadays could be allowed to ‘play out’ until the sunset without fear or even enjoy the simple things like taking delight in inheriting second hand toys from siblings.

I hope my children remember the Summer holidays, the birthday cakes and the make-believe games.

I hope they know that their cousins will be their best friends no matter what life throws at them.

I hope my children laugh and smile as much as we did.

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If only we could have bottled those Wonder Years to give to the next generation.

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A Little Bit of You – A Little Bit of Me

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I wish it could have all panned out a little differently.  I wish in some ways I could take it all back, but what’s done is done now.

This afternoon we did all of the usual things.  I picked you up from school and for once I actually remembered the ‘after school snack’ (first meltdown averted).  I picked your sister up from nursery too, and after a little cajoling I even managed to get her to say goodbye to her favourite nursery school teacher.  So far so good.

In the car on the way home you ask what we were to have for tea?  I knew the question was coming, and I answered proudly that we would be having your favourite – sausage and mash.  I had somehow miraculously managed in the midst of the morning rush to think ahead eight hours and take the sausages from the freezer.  As always, this answer was met with satisfaction as your tummy is already rumbling.

My first mistake is to take a slight detour to the shops.

Any mum will know that the time between school and teatime can be a dramatic time. Tired and hungry children mixed with a tired mum who rushed straight from work, can be a cocktail of emotions.  We manage it though, I grab the things that I need to and we head for home.

Once home you announce that you are starving and then you reel off the snack that you would like.  I hurriedly turn the oven on and cut all the items of fruit that you asked for and let you share the plate with your sister as you watch television.

My second mistake is to ask you to pop down the street with me to the Post Office. 

I know that it could be a mistake, and yet it is only down the street – it won’t take too long.  What could possibly go wrong?  We wrap up warm and wander down the street, me holding some parcels and you helping.  A nice bit of fresh air before dinner.  We arrive at the Post office and I place the parcels on the desk.  The events that happen after this point I am not proud of.

As the man behind the desk begins to ask me various questions, the noise behind me builds and builds.  I am usually quite good at blocking out any silliness because really and truly you need to choose your battles.  If I could just manage to get the parcels posted and paid for, before it gets out of hand. Of course I can’t.  As the noise builds your sister gets more and more silly – of which you find hilarious, and you chase and run around, and eventually a man walks in and your sister makes a rude comment.

I have been a mother for six years now and I have never openly ‘lost my cool’ in public, but today I did.  I did because I really cannot tolerate rudeness at all.

So I grabbed your sister as she ran past me and she hurt herself as a result and began wailing, all above the man behind the desk asking me if I wanted first or second class.  I was so embarrassed, which probably fuelled my anger – there was really no point in making your sister apologise to the man, the situation had gone passed that.

So I paid for my parcels and we walked out of there.

I had lost my cool, and I was ashamed of myself for reacting the way that I did.  I was also ashamed of your behaviour because your behaviour directly reflects back onto me as a parent.  On the walk home I told you both so, and I did the one thing that I always said I would never do as a parent, I threatened to tell your daddy when he got home.

The ultimate loss of control.

At this point the ‘well meaning’ parcels, and the favourite dinner had all been lost in that one awful moment.  I knew it was me.  I could have reacted a little better, but it was also a little bit of you.  Daddy did call on his way home from work and he could tell by my faltering voice that all was not well.

You both enjoyed your dinner and your drinks, and then your sister learned to error of her ways with an early bath and bedtime.  Whilst bathing I explained to her why she was going to bed and why I was upset.  When learning of the loss of pudding there were some more tears, but I snuggled her in a warm towel, dried her hair and gently put her pyjamas on.  Once in bed she chose a story and I read it with the same care that I always do.  She explained to me that if she was not to be allowed pudding then she would never be my best friend ever again, but I stood firm – my heart breaking.

There are so many ways I would change what happened, but I can’t go back now.  It was a little bit of me, my tiredness, my loss of control – but it was also a little bit of you and the bad behaviour.

What’s done is done, tomorrow is a new day, slate wiped clean for both sides, and hopefully we have learned some tough lessons.

Being a mum is hard, maybe I am not cut out for it but I am giving it my best shot – I just want you to know that.

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