Sometimes in life something demands that you sit up and pay attention. For me it was going with my wife to our local hospital and being told that she had a tumour, most likely cancerous. It was 29th January this year, she was 34.
As the news we had just been given sank in the realisation of the impact it would have on our lives slowly began to sink in. The initial news was like being hit by a truck, the implications were far more slow to arrive but equally impactful.
The signs that something was not right had first appeared just before Christmas, but initial blood tests lead us to believe that cancer was an unlikely diagnosis. The first response when hearing the shock news was how do we tell our sons, aged three and six at the time. After some research on dealing with similar situations it was decided that the best response was to be straight with them, after all they had no preconceptions of what the word cancer could mean.
We sat down one Saturday morning in early February. Nicki cooked pancakes, the boys favourite. After some time of the usual family breakfast chat the moment we had been dreading arrived.
“So. You know that mummy and daddy have been going to the hospital recently, well, mummy has been told that she isn’t very well. She has got something called cancer. The doctors have told us she is going to get better, but it is going to take a long time, maybe even a year or more. But she will get better.” Then, glad it had been said, “Do you have any questions?”
“Can I have some more syrup?” came the response. The kids couldn’t have seemed less concerned. Looking back, this is kind of reassuring. They had no idea how tough life can be – exactly how it should be for children of their age.
After the initial diagnosis, we had decided that for our own sanity that the extent of what we were dealing with had to be ascertained. The very next day after the tumour had been found Nicki’s father kindly paid for an MRI and CAT scan. The peace of mind that finding out that there was no indication that the tumour had spread was with its weight in gold.
Several further hospital appoints confirmed the our fears. The tumour was indeed cancerous. It was graded to give an idea of the current extent and what the likely necessary treatment would be. We were told from the outset that we were looking at at least 12 very tough months. The initial treatment was five days of intensive radio therapy, followed by 7-10 days in hospital for surgery, then six months of chemo.
As it turned out the 7-10 days after the surgery turned into a month in hospital after complications and a second extensive surgical intervention. I was just thankful to the amazing staff of the NHS for their continuous care and dedication. Since then it has been a long and tough road back to recovery.
We are still very early on in the chemo treatment and although it is not easy things are thankfully looking positive.
The whole experience has been traumatic, draining, suffocating. And yet we have been lucky, the outlook is positive, many people are not so fortunate. I remember reading a double page article in a national newspaper while sitting in one of the many hospital waiting rooms. It was about how many young people are diagnosed each year with bowel cancer. It is a disease that is actually – and sadly – more common than is publicised, and yet one that can be faster to progress and harder to treat than many others.
The reason I am writing about all this is simple. I want your money. There you go, honesty. The article I read that day directed me to the website of Bowel Cancer UK a charity doing amazing work supporting those with cancer and their families and raising awareness around the illness in the hope that it will help to save lives.
Last year Playgroup organised a sponsored bike ride for charity, we called it Tour de Playgroup. We did amazingly well, cycling from our studio in London to the New Forest, and raising lots of money along the way for charity. This year we are hoping to do even better, and in doing so we all have the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives, because cancer doesn’t care. Old or young, race or sex, it isn’t picky. It could be any one of us, or the ones we love the most.
Please give what you can. Thank you.
Please give whatever you can on our JustGiving page.
More info on the Bowel Cancer UK Never Too Young campaign.