In November 2012, whilst pregnant with Emma (Flump at the time) I got a call from my aunt saying that my grandfather had been admitted to hospital. They thought he was having a stroke. I left work, went straight to the hospital and straight into resus, to find my grandmother very distressed and my grandfather in a pretty bad way. He was admitted that evening.
For a week I travelled to and from my home in Feltham to the hospital in Woolwich, via my job in London. 6 months pregnant, it was exhausting and stressful and distressing. Eventually my doctor signed me off and demanded I rest.
You see, my grandfather had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a fair number of years beforehand. He delayed treatment (for reasons that still make me seethe in anger, silly gold digging fake wife) and it spread to his bones; a further diagnosis of secondary bone cancer. He started treatment, and it was all going well. Then it wasn’t. Then the hospital admission.
Scans showed that he hadn’t had a stroke, but the Cancer had spread into his skull and was putting pressure on to his brain, which is why his symptoms were similar to a stroke. His liver was enlarged and the doctors couldn’t do anything else. They made him as comfortable as they could. There was talk of a hospice, however, they then decided that it wasn’t the best option. Just after midday on November 25th 2012, my grandfather passed away.
In the few days before he died, I sat at the hospital with him, with my aunt, cousins, siblings, grandmother and his carer. I only ever left to get sleep, shower and food.
On the day he died, my aunt had said that she was going home to make her youngest son some lunch, her exact words were “I’ll be back later dad, I’ve got a pork chop to cook for Jaades lunch”
I don’t think my grandfather was impressed. Within a few minutes later his breathing changed. His blood pressure dropped, his heart rate slowed. The nurse checked him over and asked if we needed the priest called.
The priest came, gave my grandfather his last rites, and prayed for him.
I sat next to him as he took his final breath.
He was surrounded by family.
He was 73.
That was the first time Id ever sat with someone as they died.
I was sad. I was upset. I was angry. Raging in fact. Cancer. Hideous disease.
2 years later (practically) I found myself in the same situation.
I remember the day clearly. We’d gone to the pub to celebrate my husbands birthday in 2011. In she came, very matter of fact, “I might have Cancer”
And we were all, “………”
Treatment started, it was going well. Then it wasn’t. They moved on to the next treatment. I lost count of how many treatments she had. They moved to experimental treatments and she joked that she was probably worth a lot of money now, due to the amount of platinum (I think?) that was probably in her body.
We discovered we were having a baby, and there was talk of stem cell treatment. Id recently lost my grand father. I looked into cord banking, but only a few hospitals do it. I offered up mine/Flumps cord stem cells.
I lost count of how many times she was in hospital, how many times we wanted to visit but it wasn’t a good idea as she was in isolation due to being immunocompromised.
Sadly nothing worked, and each set of treatment failed.
She was due to celebrate her 30th birthday. However she was in hospital. So we went to visit her.
My mum looked after Emma. Daniel met me in London. We got burritos for lunch. Then jumped on the Tube to the hospital.
She was in the ICU, on a ventilator. She’d been moved into a private room since we’d last saw her. It was her birthday. There were party hats and cards on the wall.
There were a lot of machines.
About 4pm, the doctors wanted to speak to her mother and husband. We were about to leave, but as they came out her mother was very distressed. There wasn’t anything else they could do.
Immediately I was transported back in time, 2 years previously.
My husband and I set about to call friends. Handholding, fetching drinks.
Visiting numbers to the room were relaxed, as were visiting hours.
Friends arrived. Family arrived.
Her dad arrived. He drove from the North, getting there in 4 hours. In laws arrived, driving 2 hours from the South.
We talked to her, held her hand, joked with her and each other. Her vitals improved when people spoke to her, when they touched her. She occasionally opened her eyes. She knew we were there.
We said our goodbyes, and on her 30th birthday she passed away. From Cancer.
I remembered how much I despised this disease. My friend was now a widower. At 30. It was unfair. They’d been married less than a year.
I think about her and my grandfather every day. Every. Single. Day.
They are why I’m doing Race For Life this year. If I can raise just a small amount of money which will go towards Cancer research, so that, hopefully, one day, this awful disease will be treatable, and people won’t lose their loved ones to it, then why not. Why the hell not.
I’ll admit it’s not something I was going to do, but then they got in touch with me as a blogger and I wasn’t sure still. I definitely wasn’t running it. I don’t DO running. But I can walk it.
So this summer, I’m doing the Race For Life. With Emma. A 5k walk.
We will be wearing matching tutus, that I’m going to make using the colours of the Cancer awareness ribbons for the types of Cancer that my grandfather and friend had.
So over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more information about Race for Life, as well as tutorials for making the tutus, and posting the details for my fundraising page. Plus there will be other stuff, offers for those wanting to take part and I’ll be sharing on my Facebook page and Twitter account.
Thank you Race for Life for asking me to work with you. I’m looking forward to it.
Best start getting prepared!