“He who must not be named”, the Dark Lord, the villain in the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, where the very utterance of his name could bring about a deadly curse.
I’ll say it again… Voldemort… Voldemort. VOLDEMORT !
Voldemort, it’s so much easier to say, so much easier to think of than an all too familiar word in life in the real world….
The “C” word, the big “C”. Call it what you want, but hide from it you can’t.
The time used to be when the word was not to be used, except in hushed whispers with a hand shielding the mouth from onlookers for fear the lips be read. To have the disease was to be given an almost certain death sentence and so it wasn’t spoken of, or in many cases, even looked for until it was too late.
Now, statistically you are just as likely to survive cancer as you are to die from it and still the research goes on to tip the balance even further in our favour.
At this very moment I have two friends who have recently lost loved ones to cancer, my thoughts go out to them both, but I also know of five friends battling their own demon as well as one who is well on his way to the all important five-year cancer free target, as close as these friends are, the world of cancer still seemed far away, as if it was something that would always happen to somebody else. That is until these last four months brought it home, literally. Mum-in Law was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Let me take you back to the beginning of May, to Middle Daughter’s wedding. Everything in the garden was rosey, we all had a wonderful day and everyone enjoyed a lovely happy family event. Then, about two weeks later, Hubby dropped in on Mum-in-Law unexpectedly and found her on her way out to the doctors with an annoying lump in her throat. Now Mum-in-Law is old school, there has to be something seriously wrong with her before she will even consider a trip to the doctors so just the fact that she had arranged the appointment was a little worrying. Although from the next gereration up to me, Mum-in-law is a very healthy lady, far healthier than me, and she has a healthy appetite, I don’t know how she stays so dainty but thank goodness she loves her food. If the lump in the back of her throat had not been interfering with her swallowing I believe it would have gone unchecked for much longer, as it was, the very next day after her doctor’s appointment she was admitted to hospital for a biopsy.
The biopsy went well, I’m guessing they took away more of the lump than they needed as swallowing became a little easier. Over the next few weeks we all waited for scans and tests to be done and discussed, the results seemingly such a long time in coming finally arrived. Everyone was already fearing the worst, although I clung onto a phrase I had heard in a film, “The Best Marigold Hotel”, “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end”.
Call it optomism, call it denial, call it whatever you want, but in my mind Mum-in-law was going to be ok because I couldn’t see her any other way than ok.
Everyone was relieved when the results came through and Mum-in-law was told her cancer hadn’t spread and they would be able to cut it out. An opperation is a scary thought, but a lot less scary than the thought of leaving the cancer to grow unchecked. I really felt for Mum-in-law, if I could have gone down for the opperation for her I would have, being unwell is not a state she has had to deal with very often where as I’m often quite sickly and have had my share (possibly more than my share) of hospital visits and whereas I quite often just sit back and “go with the flow” Mum-in-law values her indepence fiercly. However, to come out the other side of the opperation there are not many people who I would trust to heal so well, Mum-in-law heals amazingly quickly, a gift she has passed onto both Hubby and Middle Daughter. Unfortunately Eldest and Youngest Daughters heal at the same ridiculous slow pace as me, but that’s another story.
The day of the opperation turned out to be nerve wracking for everyone. Mum-in-law eventually went down to theatre a lot later than expected, and stayed there for a lot longer than expected too, it was so good to see her finally back on the ward, looking rather bedraggled, but back, and safe.
It turned out that the cancer had grown even more during the few weeks waiting for the opperation and so the surgeon had to take away a lot more of Mum-in-law’s throat than originally planned, including a small portion of the back of her tongue, the second part of the opperation which had been planned for the same time the removal of the lymph glands, was re-scheduled for a later date and Mum-in-law was left feeding through a tube while her tongue healed and she practiced her swallow with it.
A long and boring two weeks followed for Mum-in-law as she waited for her throat to heal and her swallowing ability to improve, there are only so many newspapers and magazines you can absorbe while hooked up to needles and tubes and practicing to become a pin-cushion. “Hospital visiting” broke the boredom a little, and on the bright side, (yes, you can evern find a bright side here if you look hard enough for it), on the bright side, the doctors decided to do the second part of the opperation sooner rather than later as Mum-in-law was still available and already prepped.
The second part of the opperation went a lot smoother than the first, and thanks to Mum-in-law’s healing powers the staples on the cut on her neck were taken out at least one day earlier than expected.
Hubby has never understood the phrase “tears of joy ” and was concerned to turn up for a morning visit and find his Mum crying… because she was allowed to go home.
She visited the hospital again last week, this time as an out-patient, she was finally given the minor details and results of the last few tests…
ALL CLEAR !!!
The cancer is gone and there is no follow-up treatment needed.
Before Mum-in-law was invaded by the cancer, we used to breakfast regularly on a “Friday morning” on cream cakes or other such bakery delicasies. A while back I bought her a pack of serviettes which made me smile. Until her tongue again learns to do as it’s told, she’s a on a puree diet, all of the taste but none of the texture, she’s a fiesty lady with a rather wide stubborn streak at times so I’ll just hang onto them for her until we can again eat cake for breakfast.
Just one more thought, if you’re the type of person who avoids doctors until it’s absolutely necessary, or you put off your smear test or mammogram screening for as long as possible, you might want to consider thinking again, it might one day save your life..