A Guest Blog
The Big C by Sarah
1st January 2020.
Christmas is over, a New Year is ahead of us. Lots to look forward to… Concerts, Camping, a holiday in Cyprus, Celebrations to be shared with family and friends.
And then the Big C reared its ugly head into our lives in March and changed everything. It was time to get used to living with Covid.
Our family of five: myself, my husband and our three boys began to find a way to live our new normal.
Working from home, schoolwork around the kitchen table, exercising in the garden, relaxing the rules on when ‘gaming’ was allowed, letting the boys have late nights. Our routines changed and we were doing ok.
All this of course was helped by the beautiful weather that most of the UK was enjoying. We spent so much time outdoors. We’re lucky to have a pretty decent sized garden so hot days and warm evenings were spent in it. Eldest son and youngest son would often be with us. The youngest (10 years old) to play games and have fun; the eldest (17 years old) to share an evening beer (or two…) and chat.
Middle son (15 years old) would rather be indoors though, playing on the games console and chatting to his friends virtually, but that was OK. Over the years he’d been incredibly active playing rugby, football, cross country running. A few weeks of sitting around wouldn’t do him any harm.
Before we knew it, weeks of sunshine had passed and our outdoor life had given our skin a golden glow. Except for middle son. He was completely pale. We joked that he was turning into a vampire. ‘Too many late nights gaming with your friends and not seeing any sunshine’, we would say.
The school summer holidays came and with it the easing of lockdown. At last, middle son was happy to venture outside and he started playing a bit of golf with his friends. He seemed quite keen on it and we started discussing about him having some lessons. Then his arm started aching. ‘Well you’ve not done anything since March have you?’ we said. ‘You’re probably using muscles that have never been used before.’
Middle son’s football team started training again. They were all being encouraged to get their fitness levels back up. It seemed that it wasn’t only our 15 year old that hadn’t done much exercise since March! He had a couple of training sessions when we had to go and pick him up early. He was so out of breath and his skin was almost grey; maybe he was developing a touch of asthma. But some food and an early night seemed to perk him back up.
Then the pain in his chest and back started.
And the pain in his arm became worse.
We went away for a few days to Northumberland and we noticed that he was struggling to walk up anything with an incline. He was popping paracetamol and ibuprofen every few hours to ease the pain. What was happening to our boy? It was time for a trip to the GP.
Well that was easier said than done with the Big C around. First he had to have a Covid test, then we had to wait for the results, then it had to be decided which surgery he could be seen at and under what isolation conditions.
Whilst all of this was being arranged a strange lump, the size of a large satsuma, suddenly appeared on his neck. ‘Well you’d better bring him straight in then’ said the GP, ‘I probably need to see that’.
The GP prodded and poked and asked lots of questions, he took some bloods and told us to phone the surgery reception at lunchtime the following day for the results.
At 9am the following morning the GP himself called my mobile.
By 4pm that day, the Big C had reared its ugly head into our lives.
But this Big C wasn’t Covid.
It was Cancer, and we were getting ready to spend the night on the Teen Oncology Ward at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Our beautiful middle son had Lymphoma.
A whirlwind fortnight followed of scans, biopsies, blood tests, x-rays, multiple trips backwards and forwards to the hospital. His symptoms started escalating rapidly. Night sweats, sickness, more pain.
On 15th September our 15 year old was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma Stage 2BE, high grade. In both sides of his neck, his chest and his chest bone.
Fast forward two months and he has just completed his second cycle of intensive Chemotherapy and has four more cycles ahead of him. He is coping incredibly well, he is rocking the beanie hat look and is still managing to attend school when not in hospital.
The letter C has played a big part in our 2020. It’s been Crazy, it’s been Challenging, it’s been Crap. But it’s also been a time for Caring, for Camaraderie, for Community, for Crying and for Cuddles, for Compassion, for Closeness, for Calm, for Creativity, for Courage….
….and for Cake! I’ll take that C any day… and a good Cup of Coffee to go with it!
Sarah (46) lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire with her husband, their three boys and an old (smelly) black Labrador. She started doing a bit of writing during the first lockdown and rather enjoyed it. Sarah will put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) again to write about her son’s cancer journey when he has completed his treatment.
If you would like to write your own Guest Blog, on the theme of ‘Not only Lockdown but also… ‘ I’d love to hear from you! Click here to see what you need to do. It’s more important than ever that we hear each other. And if you’re reading this, and thinking ‘she doesn’t mean me‘ – you’d be wrong. Get writing!!
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