When I look back that was a pretty hard time for me. The kids were still on their summer holidays so I was getting no time to myself to just think. And yes the decorator was still here! I tried desperately hard to concentrate on other stuff. My middle daughter was moving up to secondary school so there was great excitement for her there. Pencil cases and new pens needed getting, a cool new school bag, but my heart wasn’t in any of it. I felt so low for the first time since this had started. I had had my fair share of panic and anxiety but now I just felt flat. I had no enthusiasm for anything. I wanted to walk away from everyone and everything. I remember sitting in my car in traffic near to Hampton court Palace where we live, the kids were nattering away but it just seemed like background noise, as if I was listening through water. At that moment I am ashamed to say I wished I had never had them. They were causing me too much heartache. I loved them with such intensity I couldn’t bare the idea of not being there, and I couldn’t envisage the pain I would put them through if anything happened to me. I started to think if I didn’t have children surely this whole cancer thing would be easier? I had to stop myself just getting out of the car and walking away, away from all of it.
I called my husband, I was crying, he told me how well I was doing. I said through gritted teeth “I am not doing well! I can’t cope with this anymore!” We both look back at that time and are amazed we didn’t see it coming sooner. I was entertaining the kids every day, trying to keep them out of the house while the decorator just generally made a mess. My husband was back at work. And I had this enormous concern that my tumour was active. I didn’t want to go back into hospital, I didn’t want my eye removed but more importantly than that I was terrified that if my tumour hadn’t been eradicated by plaque brachytherapy than it was probably an aggressive bastard that was perhaps on its way to my liver. This was what kept going round and round in my head. I needed to do something, I couldn’t just sit there I needed to put my trainers on and run, but my consultant had told me not to run or do anything strenuous. I was going stir crazy. All the mad cancer thoughts started coming into my head. I wanted a different cancer, a cancer that could be treated. Why did I get lumbered with this crap one? I wanted treatment. Now. I didn’t want to wait for it to return to kill me, give me chemo, drugs anything. The feeling of drowning was immense, I would physically lift my neck to take a full gulp of air as my lungs weren’t full. No one could help me now. The blind panic had set in and I couldn’t listen to anyone or anything.
People try to say all sorts of things to make you feel better. Not usually that helpful, I actually just prefer it when people make me laugh. A good laugh that makes you cry solves all sorts of ailments. But it’s usually at times like this that someone turns up with that classic nugget of wisdom. Something they think will solve everything. Something they think you will never have heard before, but if you have you obviously didn’t listen properly so they better repeat it. They turn to you to you and say, “stay positive!” Aghhh!!! The one thing I have learned to NEVER say to someone with cancer is to ‘stay positive’ I can’t even explain what a complete red rag it is to a bull. A very close friend said I need to tell them that I also have two words of wisdom for them and the first one begins with “F!”
A visit to the GP was finally in order. “Ruth we can prescribe you something.” I didn’t want drugs. I needed the strength within myself to deal with this but my strength stores were running low. She asked me what it was I felt I needed. “I don’t want to feel scared anymore, that’s it. Please just take away the fear.” She listed all the things people try, yoga, running, counselling, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, “and if things don’t work, come back. Anyone at the surgery will prescribe you something at anytime you feel you need it.” So I had my list to work through, this in itself helped enormously. I had something practical to be getting on with. I wasn’t just sitting there waiting for the inevitable.
About ten days after my last appointment the flickering stopped. Just stopped. Suddenly. It seemed like it had just happened overnight. I kept closing my eye and checking. It had definitely gone. I called my husband in tears. “The flickering has stopped. It’s gone!” this had to mean that the fluid was gone and my tumour was no longer active. I could feel myself start to breathe again. Usually at times like this I then just feel totally exhausted. All the built up tension I’ve carried around with me starts to seep away and leaves me physically and mentally drained. I know I still had a few weeks to go, but if the flickering didn’t return perhaps finally the ‘naughty freckle’ was dead!