I have often heard people talk about the moment they are told they or someone close to them has the C word. Cancer. They describe the moment – but specifically the word it’s self – feeling like everything you know and love has come to an end. Cancer. Its a full stop. Not a diagnosis.
Admittedly, in recent years, Cancer for a lot of people isn’t a full stop, its a bump in the road. Something that, whist terrifying at the time, becomes part of your continuing journey.
The word, like the bogeyman of our childhood dreams, still brings fear and grief even though our rational brains know that it doesn’t carry the same threat as it once did.
My personal experience of Cancer is probably not the most typical. But probably more typical than I realise. When I was quite small my mum was diagnosed with Cancer. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know exactly when. Partially I suspect this is because the full details were hidden from me or I didn’t comprehend what I was told at the time. I think I must only have been 7 or 8. Anyway Mum got diagnosed with Cancer when I was very young. But, for my mum, the C word wasn’t a full stop. It was a bump in the road. It became part of her continuing journey. In turn it became another part of the jigsaw puzzle that got put together over the following years to create the unique, shorts wearing, individual that is me.
For me, in my immediate families life experience, the C word, isn’t a full stop. It isn’t the end of all I know and love. It is a bump in the road. Part of an ongoing process.
So a few weeks ago when my dad had a mole removed from his face and got sent off for testing I was worried. But not waiting for a full stop. Especially after he was barely a couple of weeks into recovering from his unanticipated heart attack.
Out of the blue I got a text from my dad saying the results were in.
He had Cancer.
I honestly didn’t see that coming. It really knocked me sideways. It was more the shock of the news than the actual news it’s self. It was a real kick. But it still wasn’t a full stop.
Call it ignorance. Call it Stupidity. Call it a logical extrapolation of the outcome based on the information presented to me and my life experience of the C word. Call it faith … If fact call it whatever you want. I didn’t spend the last few weeks thinking this was a full stop for my Dad.
The last few weeks have been very tough for our family and friends. All for different reasons. We all have a different result to the simple equation C+Dad= ?.
“I just want to go play trains with my dad ….”
This last weekend I have had a fantastic time with my Mum and Dad at their home in west Wales. My girls went off to visit the “Beanstick” Granparents. I battled Cardiff Bus/Town Centre/The train network to arrive in west Wales, intact and more importantly with my telescope!
What followed was a lovely relaxing weekend of food, family, stargazing and more importantly … train set building ! I think we spent about 10 hours over the weekend setting up, cleaning and tweaking my childhood train-set. By the end of the weekend we have got a nice set-up that will run reliably enough. ie it will go for a few minutes all by itself – but then it will occasionally have a crash of some sort! Satisfying AND Fun! Of course its all under the guise of “setting it up for the kids to play with when they visit …. ”
Anyway today it was all back to “normal” with a bit of a thud. Work was … well …. work. and life was once again the muddy, complicated thing that it inevitably seems to become when you “grow up”.
But then I got another text from my Dad. He had been in for a scan to see if the cancer they had found in the mole they removed had spread.
The text carried with it another single word that carries so much meaning. A word that I think is second only to Cancer in its ability to change so much of what life has become. A word that brings emotion swelling up from deep within. A word that brings light to places that have sat in darkness without you possibly even realising. A word that brings hope. A word that begins with C.