After Mum had been through her radiotherapy, the oncology team took multiple scans, and at the beginning of October 2017, she got the assurance that she wouldn’t need to be seen by her oncologists until July 2018! Everything was on the up!
She had meetings with her seniors at work, worked out a phased return with thoughtful and reasonable changes in place – like working in a private office with a window rather than air con to minimise risk of infection. Mum was going to return slowly and work two days for the first couple of months, then three days a week, hoping to eventually make her way back into full time by summer. At the end of October, I took some time off work and spent a week away with Sam. The day I left to visit him, my Mum asked if I would take her shopping for some new work clothes when I got back from Brighton. Of course I said yes, and I asked Sam to come along too.
Sam and I visited my brother and his girlfriend in Liverpool for two days, we went to Thorpe Park, carved pumpkins, went to the cinema, and a firework display. During that week, I barely heard from my Mum. It was weird because she and I chatted all the time. I messaged her and rang her multiple times but had no response. On the day we came home, I made sure to tell my Mum that we were leaving and would be ready to take her shopping as soon as we got back. She replied this time, apologising for not being very talkative, and to tell me that we wouldn’t be going shopping as she was in hospital. She told me her ward details and I drove straight there.
When we got to the hospital, Mum asked me to come into the family room with her. She told me she’d been having really awful back pain and that she hadn’t been talking to me over the past few days because she’d been in and out of the doctors and the hospital trying to get to the source of the pain. Mum had scans during the week and the doctors had discovered some sinister developments. She’d been in so much pain because the cancer had metastasized into her bones and affected her spine. It had caused seventeen mini fractures in her spine – seventeen! No wonder she was in pain!
I will never, ever be able to forget the look on her face and the conviction in her voice when she said “They can’t cure it”.
She told me that the doctors were sorry to say that there was nothing that they could do and that she was going to die. They couldn’t put a definitive timeframe on it, Mum said that it wasn’t imminent death, but she didn’t have more than a year left.
I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t think of anything. I couldn’t feel anything.
Looking back on it now, I was in complete shock. I went back to the ward and hugged Sam as tight as I could. That one sentence changed my life. I can’t remember anything else about that day.