Monday, 22 December 2014

Two Weeks to Live

Continuing on from my last post, 'Mum has Cancer', here's the next excerpt from my diary...

"In the summer of 2000 I headed off to America to work at a children’s summer camp in Connecticut as part of BUNAC (British Universities North America Club). (As an aside - this was the most amazing experience and I'm so glad that I took part in the scheme - I'll try and post about this separately).  I had packed my rucksack, dad dropped me off at Glasgow airport and I was away.  It was the first time I had flown solo, and also my first time in America – and so I was slightly apprehensive, but looking forward to the experience.

From camp I received letters from mum updating me on the news from Aberdeen (I still have these letters and it's nice to have a copy of her handwriting), and I also managed to phone home frequently.  However, one phone call brought more bad news – mum was in hospital again and the cancer was back.  She had to undergo more chemotherapy and it was heartbreaking.  I took the day off and cried my heart out in the ‘hospital’ at the summer camp.  I immediately wanted to return home, but mum and dad told me to stay, and assured me that mum would be fine.  In the end I stayed, and did manage to enjoy the rest of my trip, and I also went travelling with my friend Jenn after camp up and down the East coast.

On my return, dad collected me at Glasgow airport and drove me home.  Indeed, mum was fine and she was back at work as usual. 

Second year of university was difficult – the subjects were harder and I needed to study more.  In addition to the stresses of university life, mum was also deteriorating.  Due to the chemotherapy regimen that mum had been on, which was part of a clinical trial, she was being monitored more frequently than she would have been otherwise.  She had her usual blood test at the hospital and it showed up something abnormal.  Mum was taken for scans, but Alison and I never were told the result.  I knew she had been taken for a scan, and I asked dad a few times – have you got the scan results yet? – but it was always a no in response.  I think looking back, mum and dad were trying to protect us from the prognosis.  Alison was in her final year of secondary school, and I was in second year of university and we both had exams looming.  I respect their decision to keep the results from us, but I think I may have preferred to have had all the knowledge that they did at that time.

Mum was taken into hospital in March 2001 (I’m not 100% sure of this date, but it was roughly this time) – the cancer had spread yet again.  On the outside, mum still appeared to be same old mum, but on the inside, this horrible disease was ruining her.  

I had arranged to visit Israel in May after my exams, and this had been paid for and booked in advance.  I think mum and dad were apprehensive about my trip because of the politics in Israel at the time, but I was to be staying with a university friend and her family, so off I went.  I was upset to be leaving mum, especially seeing as she was still in hospital, but it was only at this point, when I was leaving, that I realised the extent of her condition when dad warned me that I may need to come home early.

Dad was right – six days into my 10 day trip I received a phone call to say I should arrange flights to come home early.  Mum had been told she had two weeks to live.  I was upset, and began to panic that I wouldn’t get home in time.  My friend’s father took me to a local travel agent, and I couldn’t swap my flights – I had to pay for an additional ticket home.  But the flight wasn’t until the next day.  I went back to the house and packed my things.  I think I went into auto-pilot: I just wanted to get home."

My mum when she was a girl

My mum feeding me as a baby

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  1. Oh what an awful time for you, I cannot imagine what you felt being in a different country and just needing to get home. I will keep an eye out for the next diary entry. #Brillblogposts

  2. How horrendous, it must have been awful, thanks for sharing this time with #brilliantblogposts x

  3. What a horrid time for you... but it's so lovely that you still have her letters to you xxx

  4. aww how sad..Its nice to see you still have the letters. Im sure you'll hold onto them like treasure.


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