I often focus my blog posts and videos around mental health and removing the stigma surrounding it but there is another massive stigma that we never ever talk about. Cancer. In a study published in The British Journal of Cancer, it was shown that 1 in 2 people will get cancer at some point in their lives in the UK, that’s literally half the damn country and yet we try to ignore that it exists. Why?!
Of course there are the adverts on the sides of bins and on TV. I have always had a strong memory of a television advert that used to be on when I was a kid and it had a bride looking in the mirror on her wedding day in floods of tears saying “my Mum should be here”. All this aided in doing was my Mum having to deal with a sobbing toddler for the next two bloody weeks and a lightening fast dive for the remote control whenever it came on in the future! I still can’t listen to Fields of Gold without crying. But it didn’t explain what cancer was, what it really is – how it affects the people – both those suffering with it and those caring for them. That simply cannot be summed up in a two minute advert. It destroys everything. Completely.
Last year, my Grandad (who I call Dad as he raised me with my Mum and Nana), was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Initially he just couldn’t swallow things properly without being sick which he thought was his false teeth playing up, so after exhausting every other option he admitted defeat that it would cure itself and we finally managed to get him to go to the doctors. After an awful lot of tests and meetings we finally got the diagnosis that we were all dreading.
I’ll never forget that text message – I was at work with my friend and just broke down in tears in the basement when I had read it. Thankfully the girl I was on shift with was lovely which I’ll be forever grateful for, and she told me how a lot of her family had also suffered with cancer which helped to give me hope so I could continue my shift. It’s scary really, you talk to anyone and the chances are they have had someone close to them who has or is currently battling cancer.
I got through that shift and made it home but I still had so many questions. How could this happen to my Dad? He can get through anything! He has always been so healthy, it had become something of an ‘in’ joke within the family as every birthday or Christmas he would be bombarded with gifts of health food, nuts and honey etc to feed his addiction. For a man of 85 he is ridiculously well, despite the obvious we can now see.
My Dad is the strongest and bravest man I have ever met and I love him to pieces. He is so determined to beat this that he really does shame me into getting my arse into gear sometimes. When I’m lying in bed complaining I have to get up and go to work, I think about Dad and everything that he is going through and think well if that one can do it then so can I!
He has recently finished his chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is currently waiting for his scan at the end of January so that we can see if it has worked. He can’t swallow food so is being fed by a feeding tube, we like to joke and say it’s something different every day to keep him smiling “Sunday dinner today Dad, get it down you!”- after all, if you can’t smile then what can you do? I know I can make him laugh, so I damn well will.
All we can do currently is wait and hope for the best. It’s hard, devastatingly hard, to see the most important man in my life go through all of this knowing that I can do absolutely nothing to stop it. My family is everything to me and he is such a central part of that, I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. He’s my Dad, need I say more?
Thank you all for your kind words and lovely messages over these past few months, they have really helped to keep a smile on my face when all I want to do is cry. I promise I’ll keep you posted. Thanks guys.