I’m not sure how we ended up on a train platform. I don’t remember catching the tube, but suddenly we were standing at Vauxhall or Clapham. The trains were messed up. This was the first moment I had to pick up the phone. I didn’t want to, but made the calls to my parents and sister. I told my sister her feeling had been wrong. It wasn’t all O.K. I had eye cancer. You share all of the same emotions, the shock, disbelief. Running over exactly what I had been told just in case someone notices a lifeline in the story. Hoping perhaps I had misheard or not fully understood. But when everything is repeated all that is left is silence. The confirmation from loved ones that yes you were right. It is bad news.
My dad arrived at Twickenham to scoop us up and drive us home. Not knowing what to say but just wanting to be there. What was next? How were they going to get rid of it? Because they could treat it, it was so small, I was being told. I kept repeating that the next step was a liver MRI. No one understood what the liver had to do with the eye. I didn’t understand what the liver had to do with the eye. Bloody hell I didn’t even know you could get eye cancer up until two weeks previously. Even my nursing friends kept saying “liver? Whats that got to do with anything? And liver cancer can be treated Ruth, granted it’s not the best cancer to get, maybe bowel would have been better, but it can be treated.” Not this type. Treated for a time yes. But just a time.
I told only a handful of people at this stage. I needed everything on lock down as it was imperative my children didn’t find out. Not yet. My middle child was about to go on a school trip to France and I needed her to go off and enjoy herself. I didn’t want her to get even a sniff that something was amiss. My eldest was away on her first year at uni. I didn’t want to worry her. I wanted her to be carefree and have fun. Not be worrying about her mum. The youngest would be the only one at home, I would need to think carefully about what I would tell her.
I felt my head was about to explode. I needed to do so much reading and finding out and reaching out to eye cancer groups and question everything but I was in a fog. My friends asked what they could do for me and this is where I started asking for obscure things. I was panicking and thinking there was something I didn’t know about. A cure I hadn’t heard of. I called a friend and told her I had a 50-50 chance. That wasn’t good enough, I needed her to find me better odds! I mean talk about pressure. I look back and think the poor thing, was she crapping herself thinking how she was going tto call me and say “Ruth 50-50 is the best we’ve got.” I told someone else to find survivors that were old. That had lived to 100. She scrabbled around and within hours a full list had come through of people who had had choroidal melanomas. She hadn’t read to the end, where it said that each and everyone had since passed away. I sent her a brief text “they’re all dead!”
That’s when my humour came back. And I needed it as I was about to have my first liver MRI scan.