I would firstly like to start off by telling you how completely overwhelmed and humbled I am purely by the number of hits the last post got. Didn’t expect it to strike a chord with so many of you! This is partly why it has taken me so long to actually sit down and write the next part. So firstly, I have some blanks to fill in…
The surgeon said to my parents just as he came out of surgery that the operation went very, very well. This gave my mum and dad a glimmer of hope. All be it false hope. The word cancer was not mentioned at all in the whole week I was in hospital.
The tumours that the surgeon removed were a cancerous glioblastoma multi-forme grade 4 (about the size of a tennis ball) and a cyst the size of a golf ball. This caused a lot of pressure in my head and was the ultimate cause of my loss of vision and severe headaches.
I was finally let out of the hospital on the Sunday following on from the operation on Thursday. Cameron’s Britain eh. Brain surgery and then out of hospital 3 days later. I was happy about this because I was sick of the smelly, belchy, farty old men they kept putting me in wards with. What does one have to do to get one’s own room in a hospital these days?
Seriously though I was so happy to be home – well at my parents anyway.
I knew as soon as I got to my mum and dad’s house I would have to give up my flat. It wasn’t perfect – it had its flaws, not least the fact it was pretty much a tin shed on top of some other flats. But it was my home. I was devastated by the fact I would have to give it all up. I had to give my life up. My car, my flat, my job, my freedom all gone within a week. If I had been arrested for murder I don’t think they could have took it all away from me more quickly! Honestly I was devastated, a year after leaving university with the best grade I could and I get 1 year at being myself, a man, and *poof* its all gone.
I remember having my Sunday lunch at my mum’s and I ate the lot! I have never done that before (I know I’m a bit of a “chubber”, but it may surprise some of you to know I don’t actually eat that much). Hospital food is shit.
I knew I would get the results from the biopsy of the tumour to find out what had caused it to flare up, the following Thursday. All I knew at this point was that I was banned from driving for six months “because I had brain surgery” – this was soon to change. I was apprehensive to say the least at the prospect of being told what was actually wrong with me.
I had considered the fact that it may be cancer. The very worst I thought it could be was cancer. I was coming to terms with the fact it may be cancer. All I thought it could be was a few blasts of radiotherapy and some chemo and then after a year or so, back to normal. All ok. How wrong could I have been?
The floor tiles were dirty and arranged in perfect squares, the walls were an off shade of mint, and the ethernet cable coming out of the back of his computer was blue. I made a right cock of myself walking into his room. I went and sat at his desk in front of his computer as though I was going to fix it for him. He needed to fix me. The surgeon was a very blunt man, matter of fact, straight down the line, no bullshit. He asked me if I had seen the scan, and I hadn’t – I didn’t want to. So he started drawing what was on the scan – he might as well have just shown me the fucking thing.
“We grade cancers from 1 to 4 – 1 being the least aggressive kind and 4 the most aggressive kind” – “unfortunately yours is a grade 4 glioblastoma multi-forme” – “and it will come back – we just don’t know when”
All that was going through my mind at this stage was don’t tell me how long I have got left – PLEASE!
“it will kill you”
Smashing. I was just still and silent, I heard a faint wimper from my mum – who was sat next to me listening to a highly qualified man telling me I was going to die.
I didn’t cry. I needed a cig, badly.
The macmillan nurse gave my distraught mother an information pack – which might aswell have said “so you’ve found out you’re going to die” on the front of it. It contained vast quantities of bullshit. I want to make a better pack to give to people who are given devastating news – a pack of tissues. This was all we needed. I drank a cup of water, and contemplated the idea of death at 24. The first time ever in my life.
I got home and was numb. I sat on the reclining chair in the living room – un-reclined. The last thing I needed was comfort. The rest of the day was pretty much a blur. Except from a couple of instances that will remain with me for the rest of my life, however long or short it now has become.
I had already told Steph on the phone that it was cancer – the quote from Steph was “did they actually say the word cancer?” I think this was the despair speaking more than anything, one last hope – they did but I hadn’t told her the full story. I told her it was cancer but I “should” be ok, she needed to come home from work so we could talk more about it. I said not to panic but we really needed to talk about things. By this point I hadn’t been back to the flat and Steph was staying there alone, until we found out what was happening.
She walked in the house and we just hugged. I sat on the sofa across from her and said “it is going to kill me, they just don’t know when”. I had seen this look of utter despair before, it was the same heartbroken look I had seen just hours before from my mother, one I would have to get used to. It hurt me more to see me hurting the people I love heartbroken and utterly at a loss for words, empty. We had been together at this point about 3 and a half years, she is everything to me, and to see her so upset was dreadful. If I ever have to go through anything like that – I will give up. This was the worst thing about it all, I don’t mind the fact that I am dying, at the end of everything we are all one day closer to death each day, I just know how I am going to die, still not the worst thing the utterly, monumentally, catastrophically worst thing about everything was that I was going to have to watch my family and the ones I care about ever so much – watch me die. Seeing them upset kills me every single day. This is how I know I am dying, seeing my loved ones hurt. I wish I could deal with this alone.
My brother walked in from college fairly happy, I think he must have forgot the fact that I had gone for my results today. He was talking about college to me and my mum – who both had dull expressionless faces – he knew something wasn’t right. I asked him to come in to the living room as I needed to talk to him. This was the first of many loved ones I would have to tell that I will die – sooner than expected.
We didn’t sit, I stood in front of the TV and said to him “I got my results today” – he said “and” I just cried. We hugged for what seemed like 3 seconds. I didn’t want to let him go. It really fucking hurt. I am actually in tears writing this. I finally stopped crying enough to tell him the details – again what the fuck was a 17 year old boy going to cling onto about this. I was going to die, that’s all he cared about. I could see he was heartbroken. I was too. It would have been far worse for me to hear the news that he was going to die. He sucked it up, like the amazing person he is. Nobody at any age should have to be told their brother is going to die. It was at this moment I realised I loved my brother to pieces – I never really thought about it before, but he is amazing – and Danny – when I’m gone, remember how much of a shit I was with you, how much I tormented you and how much you hated me when I would randomly come into your room and throw your socks and toys around. More importantly, remember how much I love you. You will be an amazing man.
I cannot give up. For the sake of the people I love and I will not give up. Ever.
People say the more you say things, the easier they are to say. “Everybody lies”. It never gets easy and trust me on this one, because I have told hundreds even thousands of people, it never gets easy.
My family are optimistic people. Whilst I was in hospital they never expected anything like this. The surgeon said the operation couldn’t have gone any better, and they thought that was it after the op. “On the road to recovery” – was a quote my dad used – I remember this vividly and he still gets angry about it to this day.
I had huge ambitions for my life. I wanted a house, a car, a wife, my own children, and a good job where I could provide well for my own family – I was on my way to these ambitions. Ok so they are not huge ambitions – but normal ambitions, everybody dreams about having the perfect life, but I honestly think I could have achieved it. Maybe not now, but I intend to carry on living my life and not being depressed about the incredibly shitty news that I have had delivered. My life will never be the same but it will be a fucking good life. The rest of it anyway.