Doug, cancer and me

Another person I love had their world rocked by cancer recently.

Sometimes this kind of news makes me feel sad, other times it sends me in to a whirl of what ifs and fear for my own little family. You know those days that the tears just keep coming? A kind of melancholy for myself and my husband Doug, and sadness for knowing that people I love are experiencing pain and heartache and it’s so shitting unfair.

Every weeping session has to end sometime. Then I’ve been left wondering what to do to help and feeling a bit useless that there isn’t much I can do. I’ve wanted to write about my experience of cancer, but didn’t want it to be another story of pain and heartache. Cancer gives us too many of those. I don’t know how it feels to have cancer. I do know how it feels to sit next to someone as they’re diagnosed with it. I know who and what helped when we felt desperately sad and scared. I guess I’m hoping that by writing about what helped us through a pretty dark time, something could be comforting or helpful to someone else.

I was fourteen weeks pregnant with our first baby when my husband was diagnosed with Stage 3 Medullary Thyroid Cancer. I almost didn’t go to the appointment – he’d been playing it down, we’d just told everyone I was pregnant so I was riding on a high of that and blissfully ignorant of much else going on except how clever and precious I was. On the day he was going, I mentioned the appointment to my boss who said perhaps I should go along, so I did; I thought we’d have lunch out and a little skive afterwards, that would be nice. Anyway, he couldn’t have cancer, he was 30, in excellent health (when we met he was a professional rugby player in Italy, no less), and we were about to have a baby for goodness sake. Except he did and as we sat opposite the consultant, I had the wind well and truly knocked out of my sails. I got through an entire box of tissues that the consultant handed me. My husband asked pertinent questions about what happens next while I sniffled unhelpfully next to him.

Diagnosis is exhausting; going over and over the details, especially as they change on a daily basis; the initial diagnosis, the results of tests, the surgeon’s thoughts on surgery, the plans for radiotherapy, more tests – each day presented brand new information, and in a language that was completely foreign. Reliving that to update people and then dealing with their reaction and grief is exhausting. A few weeks later Doug had aggressive surgery to remove the tumour and surrounding lymph nodes. It was a terrifying time and at this point we nominated a friend that passed information on to others, so they knew who to ask. It sounds like a bit of a formal set up, but dealing with all that well-meant emotion from other people was too much as we tried to get our own heads around it.

Something else that helped was learning to stay in the present; the consultant was brilliant at managing information – not making predictions or what happens if this bit doesn’t work, or what has happened to other people. I didn’t look up Doug’s cancer diagnosis online once. I still haven’t. Other people did and they tried to reassure me. Even if the stats are that 80% of people survive this type of cancer, that means 20 in 100 people don’t. Twenty dead people. One of which could be my handsome, strong, loyal, infuriatingly optimistic, drives-me-nuts husband. I knew I wouldn’t find those kind of stats at all reassuring. I’ve been told since that the stats were far less in his favour than that.

Some people say really daft things. I had one conversation when someone compared her boyfriend’s family dog dying to my husband being treated for cancer.

I do understand that not everyone is good in these situations and some people just freak a little. Other people assume that they can’t talk about anything else in front of you. They’ll start up about someone at work being a dick and then say ‘oh, that’s not really important when you’re going through so much’. For the love of god, I NEEDED something to cheer me up. Tell me about the latest pictures of Kim Kardashian’s big arse, or Bieber’s latest ‘gaff’ (he really is a twat). It’s all relative – I didn’t feel like other people weren’t allowed to be a bit miserable. I just didn’t want to hear how someone’s sister’s housemate’s cousin had the same cancer and is all fine now.

Vintage men's pyjamas

I noticed a 3 day coping-cycle. I’d be quite perky, focused on practical things like sorting washing and buying Doug pyjamas. He was diagnosed at 30 and didn’t own pyjamas. It was one of the first things my mum asked about when we got the date for his operation; ‘you don’t want him roaming the ward flashing other patients’. Lord love mums for that kind of practical thinking. I didn’t feel hard done by for the most part. Then on the third day I’d crash and be overcome with sadness and morbid thoughts. My imagination would take me somewhere I didn’t want to be, picturing my husband’s funeral, wanting to stand up and tell everyone what a wonderful person he was but unable to without falling apart. Those were the days that I had to turn to someone else for help.

We very quickly learned who would help us cope with the next months of surgery and treatment. The people that knew just what to say. I wanted to surround us with those people and shut everyone else out. I can remember calling a best friend of mine in Ireland, and as soon as she answered the phone I kind of squeaked and she knew it was me and exactly what to say. Another friend sent me a ‘healing’ necklace and it came with a message about finding strength. I wore that piece of tat around my neck for months, to every appointment and hospital visit, until it went green. It was the gesture that someone recognised that I would find it all exhausting at times, and from afar that was all my friend could do, and I loved her for thinking of me. A mate of Doug’s came and sat next to him in the hospital while he drifted in and out of sleep. They didn’t speak – the surgery was in his throat so he couldn’t – but his friend was just there. It makes him cry to talk about it. These were our friends that know us best, who could see us at our most raw and know what to do. I feel very proud when I think of them because I know they were struggling too. We didn’t need to see their fear or sadness – we needed their strength.

Cancer doesn’t end with death or an all-clear. Once it’s intruded on your life it will rear its head when you least expect it; through fear of it returning, or someone else getting it, or a delayed reaction to it. Even though death is inevitable for all of us, watching someone you love stare it in the face is life-changing, let alone actually going through it. Doug hasn’t been given the all-clear; he still has some cancer in his neck and for now it’s under control. This week he had his annual tests and the cancer has not grown. Some of the cells have actually died – the six weeks of radiotherapy he had nearly four years ago, finishing the night before I went in to labour with our first child (what are the chances?!) did it’s job. Due to some bad planning, rather than celebrating I was babysitting at a neighbour’s house the night Doug got the results and he was building flat pack furniture. How’s that for #7daysofreality? Perhaps it’s a reflection that we don’t want to make this the centre of our lives anymore.

So far each year we’ve had good news and he’s not needed further treatment yet. After any tests – however positive – we both crash with exhaustion and realise we’ve been running on adrenalin trying not to fear the worst while waiting for results. Our families hold their breath for a few days. It feels like something other people went through, until we have a reminder of how absolutely real it was and is.

It’s probably fairly obvious, but surrounding ourselves with loved ones that knew what to say, that didn’t feel awkward if someone was wailing and then laughing and making inappropriate jokes, and that didn’t judge when there were moments of anger or intense fear got us through. These are the ones that will remember the anniversaries, the tests coming up, the anxieties creeping in. They’ll somehow contact you just when you’re feeling yourself crash, even four years later. They’ll know when you need distraction, when you want to talk about it, when something else might trigger sad memories, or when you want one of those hugs that goes on for as long as you need it to.

Although I hate cancer, I’ve learned about the most important people in my life. I can draw on it when I need perspective and I know that life really is too short for some of the shit we worry about. Not always – if we all had perspective all the time, we’d all be walking around like we’re in a musical; if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know this isn’t the case! Life goes on, my husband continues to leave his shoes in the middle of the kitchen and cannot smell that the goddamn bin needs changing. But it has shown me that the person I married six years ago has more strength, compassion and selfless kindness than anyone I know. Today I have perspective.

Thank you for reading. I’d love any comments, your own experiences, or thoughts on how you find your perspective if you want to share.

Pictures: Doug with a newborn Buster; Vintagefashionguild.org; flickr

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66 thoughts on “Doug, cancer and me

  1. Dee Matthews says:

    Steph,
    I really don’t know how it has taken me so long to discover this post. I sat and read it at my little girl’s bedside which probably makes it all the more poignant for me. As you know, myself & my husband have been through a very similar experience and I truly understood every single word. It is so important to write about it, to help others understand and to also raise awareness. Sending you & your little family lots of love, Dee x

  2. Julia says:

    Hi Steph, this blog particularly resonated my husband was diagnosed in 2008 with stage 3 non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma . We had. A daughter of 18 and son of 14 at the time. Your whole life flashes before your eyes but you find a personal strength you never knew you had and find out who your friends are. Numerous treatments later and a stem cell transplant 4 years ago and he’s still going strong and our lives returned to that crazy kind of normal it was before our cancer journey began. Love to you and your husband and lively children.

    • Steph says:

      Oh thank you Julia – I’m so pleased you’re all doing well! And completely agree about the life flashing and knowing who your friends are. Thanks so much for reading and love right back to you all xx

  3. Hess Sawyer says:

    Beautiful, honest, educational and inspiring article… Thank you so much for sharing. You are a stunning lady with a gorgeous family.. May your sunny days always outweigh the dark ones x x x

  4. Libby Price says:

    My friend’s 10 year old son is going through treatment for a malignant brain tumour at the moment – reading this has been so helpful in being a supportive friend. I bloody love your style of writing too. So pleased to have stumbled across you (not quite literally – that would be weird!) x

    • Steph says:

      Thank you so much, and I can’t even begin to imagine how someone ‘copes’ with a child being diagnosed, but having a friend’s support would be pretty essential I imagine. Sending love x

  5. Richard Frank says:

    Steph – just stumbled across your blog – wonderful down-to-earth and compelling writing. Had no idea what you and Doug had/have been through: you’re remarkable people and I’m so glad things are good thus far.
    Looking forward to reading more.
    Richard

  6. Maddie Sinclair says:

    Hi Steph, Lovely to meet you at BML and I’m so pleased I’ve found your beautifully written and honest post. My dad was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer about a month ago and it’s really knocked me for six – particularly seeing as I live in the UK and my parents are in Australia. We are just embarking on the journey you’ve been on for a while now and it’s going to be hideous, but as you say, it’s all about perspective, making every moment count and learning not to ‘sweat the small stuff’. Take care and keep in touch. Maddie from Gammon & Chips xoxo

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Steph,

    Such a wonderfully written post which resonated with me immensely. I had a very similar situation. My hubby was diagnosed with blood cancer when I was around 34 weeks pregnant. It was a crazy time and so much of what you have said is true. Well done for putting it down into words. I keep putting it off – not quite brave enough yet to revisit all those emotions. I will though. At the time, we just went along with it and it’s only later that I have really begun evaluate what has happened. Thanks for sharing your story. xx

    • Steph says:

      Hey – I can’t believe how many people have been through something similar. We should probably get together and have a large drink/weep?! xxx

  8. Zakia says:

    Like many who have already responded, I feel like I can relate to your situation. It’s so easy to think you’re in your own little hellish world wondering when the next nightmare will come. You’ve told your story so eloquently and with such calm. I’ve not managed that yet – it’s been 7 years for me. To go back to that time takes me to such a dark place.

    I’ll keep it simple, I was told one Friday morning (11.04am – I wrote it in my baby journal) I was called by my doctors surgery to confirm I was pregnant with my second child. Cue floating on air! …by 5.30pm that same day my husband was diagnosed with CML – chronic myloid leukaemia.

    Life goes on. We get on. The survival instinct kicks in. Thanks to some pretty clever brained chaps we still have Daddy/husband/Son/brother. You’re right though, it never leaves you. He’ll be on his drug regime for the rest of his life but we still have him. We are blessed.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I feel less alone after reading your post and all the wonderful responses you’ve had. Amazing.

    Z xxx

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Zakia, the comments are overwhelming. And unbelieveable that you had that news all in one day – that would take some serious processing so I can totally relate that it’s such a dark time. Sending love to you and your family – your comment has made me cry (again)! x

  9. Loving life with little ones says:

    Thank You for sharing your story, I don’t really have the words to say what I need to but here goes. You both are amazing to not let this get to you and carry on without giving up, you are both so brave and I have a huge lump in my throat as I read this and watch my children playing beside me. having only recently started blogging and reading other peoples blogs I have come across many posts that have made me think, re-evaluate my life and the important things to me and give my family an extra big hug that day. My strength goes out to you and I wish you an eternity of ‘positive results’ x

  10. older mum in a muddle says:

    Cancer has no rules does it? What an unbelievably stressful time for you both; pregnancy and the big C. I am so glad that the treatment worked, and pray that it doesn’t come back. And I loved what you did in having a ‘spokesperson’ to relay information – that must have given you both more space and energy to focus on his healing (and your growing baby).

  11. Verily Victoria Vocalises says:

    Wow! What a time to get diagnosed with cancer. Not that there is EVER a good time to get it. You two are so strong and have done brilliantly well. I remember almost falling apart when my Mum got diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. It bloody sucked!! She had to have a mastectomy and told me ‘it’s ok, I have another one!’ Well done for sharing your story and thank you so much for linking it to PoCoLo. So great to meet you last week xx

  12. Astrid says:

    Steph, you probably come across stronger than you feel, but I admire you. I cannot at all relate to your experience but I want you to know how much your love for Doug shines through as well as your appreciation for your friends. I was touched by your story. #PoCoLo

  13. Debbie says:

    Steph, you probably sound stronger in writing than you feel, but at least you have surrounded yourself with friends that know you and Doug and know how to support you.

    I was sat at a table last night with family friends who are out on holiday. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago and as last night was the first time in nine months that we have seen them.

    When he was first diagnosed he didn’t want to know anything about it, it was his wife who had to bear the weight of the knowledge. Last night he chatted quite upbeat about how things were for him and his family. He now has faced up to things and wants to know the details.

    He also said that having cancer has put the trivial things in life in perspective. He remains as active as he can and has surprised the Doctors at what he can still do.

    I hope that your story has a happy ending and that Dougs cancer cells continue to die off on their own. I also hope that you continue getting the love and support that you need from friends and family.

  14. Louise @ Birds and Lilies says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Just from reading the comments it shows how many people are going through something similar, and it is so shit. I have been affected by cancer many times (hasn’t everyone) but I can’t imagine what it must be like to have someone quite so close to you go through it, especially with a young baby. You write beautifully and I’m really glad to have found your blog and this post via #PoCoLo. Some things really AREN’T important; thanks for the reminder. Wishing you and your family the very very best. Louise xx

  15. Helen says:

    Wow your story struck a cord with me also. My partner was diagnosed with stage 4 non Hodgkin’s lymphoma when our third child was about 6 months. It was horrendous and they said he had a 50/50 chance of getting through. You know what he did and we had another baby last year. She is a wonderful surprise. He also set up a charity following being unwell. It is called Nelly Globe and it supports people undergoing cancer and other illnesses using creative projects. You can find us on fb and twitter. Please take care. I will follow your story xxx

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Helen, and that’s brilliant that your partner has done something so positive off the back of something so tough. I will take care – thank you x

  16. jaq says:

    Hi there this story is very close to my heart at the moment. In august last yr i got married 3 weeks later i found out i was expecting our 3rd child. Then in September we found out the my husband who is 28 years old had prostate cancer. He had an operation in the December to remove the tumor that they first said they had caught early. My baby was born at 33 weeks. And is now 13 weeks old. 3 weeks ago my husband had his 6 month check up for the cancer and he was told that its bk and they want to leave it for a year then hit him with chemo. It also turns out that the tumor my husband had removed had been there for 5 years. Everything just seems all up in the air, and i dunno what to do to help my husband at the moment apart from be there and support him. Good luck with everything with ur husband

    • Steph says:

      Hi Jackie
      I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and with a 13 week old – what a rollercoaster, and all in a year. Getting new information and how it all changes all the time is so tough and unsettling. If I can help in anyway – even just for a rant – please get in touch. Being there and supporting him is exactly what he needs so you will be helping, even if it feels like you’re not. I felt useless but Doug has since said I was the one person he needed and that said the right thing. Also I guess making sure you lean on and take help from others as this is huge for you too. Having a small baby is tough enough, without all the rest. Sending love, and support if you want it xxx

  17. katrina says:

    Steph, The way that you’ve been able to write about such a raw & shitty experience, in a wonderful positive light I’m sure will comfort those going through similar circumstances. I can’t imagine the emotions & distress this causes you, & continues to follow you, but i think you’re really rather amazing, & bloody brave for sharing your story, & your coping (or not as the case may be) mechanisms. I hope writing this gave you some time to reflect & helped you. So good to hear you have some great friends supporting you. Such a beautiful post, wishing you both the best & hope Doug continues to do well. Ps. Sorry for the essay comment 🙂 Love & hugs, Katrina xx

  18. Julia Rainbeaubelle says:

    I can relate to so much of this! My husband was admitted to intensive care when I was 7 months pregnant, he spent the next eight months in hospital and things have changed a lot. He was super fit and healthy beforehand too. Much love to you. It made me smile about the pyjamas, I had the exact same thing, he had no pjs until last May and now he has about ten pairs!! Stay strong! Xxx

  19. Becky Cowley says:

    What a beautifully written post about a really shitty subject! You show such strength in writing this! You’re right, real friends just get what you need when your backs are up against it, you really do find out who ‘gets’ you when times are really really tough. Thank you for writing xx

  20. Samantha says:

    Hi. I don’t usually comment on stuff but I felt compelled to. I’m a 31yr old single mum of a 5yr old girl. 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. I just wanted to say that it’s so nice to read someone else’s story and I totally relate. I’ve had good support off friend’s and I like the fact they have treated me just the same 🙂 I’m sure you remember that diagnosis like it was yesterday, I think it will stay with me forever! I’m awaiting surgery and also radioactive iodine treatment, i’ll also have yearly blood tests and I’m sure they’ll be nerve wracking! !. Good luck with everything xx

    • Steph says:

      Hi Samantha – thank you for reading, especially when it’s all so fresh for you. I hope the surgery and treatment goes well and quickly, lots of love xx

  21. allana says:

    Understood every word. My husband has just had the surgery for thyroid cancer at 46 his radioactive iodine therapy in next few weeks. We had two negative biopsies previous to his original surgery for a partial thyroidectomy to then have the call to say there was cancer within weeks he was readmitted for removal if the rest plus lymph removal. I think it has only just hit us that cancer has invaded our (up until now) healthy life. However we have discovered so many positives from this life journey so much optimism and an unknown bond as a couple. We love in the UK and cannot thank our wonderfull NHS for the care we received (after misdiagnosis! Hey they are only human!) Especially the nursing staff and oncology support workers.

    • Steph says:

      Completely agree that it takes a while to really hit you when you’re busy ‘coping’. And hell yeah – in sickness and in health! x

  22. Gaby says:

    I have absolutely no doubt this post will help many, many others Steph – whether that’s mates of people going through something similar, or people going through it themselves, or families, or partners, or people who have come out the other end, or people who have sadly not come out the other end…and the list can go on and on, can’t it?
    You approach this with an amazing empathy, understanding and openness that will resonate with so many different people – a true reflection of how wonderful you write, and an absolute talent.
    I admire your not wanting to make your story another one to add to the list (and it’s horrifying how many of them there are), as it’s often easier to give in to the demons than fight them, but you touch on it all in such a way that absolutely makes one point very clear – how utterly amazing, strong, fearless (even when they’re absolutely shitting their pants), practical, and bloody stubborn people are when they’re fighting this fucker. It may be one of the absolute WORST evils in our lives, and I’ve spent so, so many nights having given over to the dark side of the sadness, but the champions here are our Dougs, our dads, our mums, our pals…anyone who’s got it/had it/living with it/lost with it. Look at them go. They take strength from those people you mention around them, the ones who just ‘get’ it, and of course, the ones like you. A-bloody-men xx

  23. Noo says:

    Such a reflective and insightful post Stephie. It has given me a different and new perspective on how I can be of help to others who are experiencing the pain of cancer, as well as how I can be kinder to myself as I go through a very painful time following the recent death of my wonderful dad to this hideous disease. I hope that these posts makes it easier for people to talk about cancer more openly and honestly. Having family and friends there to offer support, a daily check-in text or call, a much appreciated food parcel or a truly heartfelt hug has been my lifeline.
    Having (another) toast to you, Doug and dad, and sending love to everyone out there who is having a shitty time right now. Here’s to you xxx

  24. Jude says:

    Steph, this is such a moving and powerful post. I know you’ve been thinking about it for awhile. Well done on finding a way to write about it positively. Hopefully others will take comfort from your lessons too. That said, so glad to hear this week’s news was positive. Phew and yay! Step away from the flatpack furniture and raise a glass people! xxxxx

  25. Michelle says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. So like my own story, my husband was diagnosed with cancer at 32. The tiredness, the strange comments, the need to do something practical. I had a eight month old baby and was just pregnant with my second. Sadly our story didn’t end positively and my husband passed away last year.

    I wish you every love and happiness. Remember to live x x x

    • Steph says:

      Michelle, I am so, so sorry. There aren’t any words for how horribly tragic that is. I hope you and your children are well and I send you so much love. I will remember exactly that x

  26. Nancy Phillips says:

    I can completely relate.

    After four years of trying for a baby. We got our dream little family. Now just when life should be all about fun with an eight month old, enjoying maternity leave. I’ve got colon cancer. The tumour has been removed and I’ve just had session one of twelve chemo sessions.

    You are so right, the friends that have come and visited, doing six hour round trips to spend the day making you laugh. Bringing food, clearing up. It all means so much. The ones on the other side of the world that wait up all night to hear your tests results.

    It’s is the hardest thing ever, to see your husband, parents, siblings so upset. To play with your baby not knowing what your life expectancy will be.

    Your right, puts so much in perspective.

    Xx

    • Sarah says:

      Nancy, I offer you my support and sisterhood, should you want it. I think I probably understand better than most how you feel- I’m there too x

      • Nancy Phillips says:

        Sarah,

        I read your post and yes! All of it resonates so much with me.

        You sound incredibly strong. Great you have done five sessions already.

        I’m thinking I’ll be the same- health obsessed nutter terrified of the check ups.

        Keep going- you’ll be in my thoughts.

        Xxx

  27. Katie says:

    Ahh Steph i didn’t know any of this – truly, truly shit. I am so sorry for everything you all went through.
    One of my best friends husbands was diagnosed with cancer two weeks after their second child was born and both our kids are very similar ages so it really brought it home. I went to spain with her for a few days recently as she still has hardly had a break well over a year later.
    A beautiful post, i hope Doug continues to do well xxxxx

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Katie – I bet she needed that break! I think my reaction to it all was delayed until after our second baby as I properly crashed then. Maybe I couldn’t before that. I’m sure your friend appreciates having you – having time to get her head around it all (and get away from it). Sending love xx

  28. Complicated Gorgeousness says:

    I am so glad you wrote this. It will help so many going through the same awful time. You will feel like taking it down on bright sunny days. Don’t. Well done to you. You sound like an amazing little family – good luck with your next steps. Know you have big plans xxx

  29. Hannah P says:

    Hi there Steph – love that pic of your husband and baby.

    Cancer is an evil illness and one of the worst words one can hear in one’s life if it refers to you or a loved one.

    My sister died after a long illness – not cancer. I think you find out who your friends are when you are coping with a serious illness or a death. Some people didn’t know what to say or they avoided me. Someone in my own family (he should have known better) declared that, after sis died, my family should feel ‘relieved’ as she was a ‘burden’. I could have hit him. He also said he hoped he wouldn’t have to go to the funeral as he was too busy. Git.

    On the other hand, I found kindness in unexpected places – the tears and flowers from a neighbour I barely knew; the friend who made me come out sledging with her and the kids when I just wanted to stay indoors and weep.

    I’m glad your husband’s cancer is not progressing and that some of the cells have actually died. You’re right, though, once cancer is in your life it is there for good – the fear about scans and test results, the worry about the future and so on. No one’s life remains the same after cancer.

  30. Californian Mum in London says:

    I remember being so shocked when you told me that your husband has cancer. It is not something any of us imagine dealing with, especially in our 30s. And to have to initially come to grips with it when you are pregnant. But I see how such a thing really does put things into perspective. My father passed away five years ago from a rare cancer and my mom is battling bladder cancer now (stupid shitting cancer!). But when cancer hangs over your head you do try and focus on what matters, though that can be tough when you’re tripping over a pair of shoes. 🙂 xx

  31. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) says:

    This is a very very good piece to read. My husband’s Dad died of it. Its a shadow that we are scared of. My husband is having a yearly check up cuz of it. And i have fear for my son cuz he’s got a disease thats connected to his Grandfather’s cancer. Not directly. Same area. Same parts. A lot of nights I would look at my son and I would just look and savor his face. I have fear but I dont think about it 24/7 of course. But they come to you at night when you are trying to find your muse to sleep. I am sorry that I am not making any sense nor any connectiion to your post. I just really thought of that after reading your post.

  32. Sarah says:

    My family and I are living through this at the moment. At the grand old age of 28 I was diagnosed with stage 1 Hodgkin Lymphoma. In the few days between diagnosis and seeing the consultant who is overseeing my care my partner and I were convinced- although we didn’t dare to tell each other- that I was going to die and leave my two children (10 and 1) without a mum. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was tell my son the night before my chemotherapy started that I had cancer.

    I’ve now had 5 of my 12 sessions of chemo. I’m trying my best to continue as normal but it’s hard. Like you, I have some amazing friends who are helping to make this journey easier. What scares me is what will happen once treatment is over. Am I going to spend the rest of my life wondering if and when the cancer will return? Will I become a complete health nut? Will I pass an obsession with health and well being on to my children?

    I suppose that those worries will have to wait. For now I have to concentrate on getting better!

    • Steph says:

      Oh Sarah. Firstly, I’m sorry you are going through this shit. It is so very shit and unfair. I can’t speak for Doug and I don’t know how it feels to have cancer, but I know that we used to talk about it all the time. Every day. It was so consuming and terrifying. At some point after some time had passed from diagnosis/treatment, we started talking about it and realised we’d not mentioned it for a while. It’s a thing that is ongoing, but it isn’t in our every thought any more. Life does carry on, we do row about the most ridiculous things, and it almost feels unreal that we’ve been through this. Hence babysitting and building flatpacks on the evening he got his latest results!

      I think ‘living with’ cancer is a whole other ball game, and not something I had any idea of until Doug was diagnosed. If there is anything I or we can do, I would love to help. Much as I joke about what a plonker Doug is in most posts, he’s incredibly strong and has found a way of getting his head around this for the most part, so if it might help to talk to him – at some point, whenever – of course get in touch. He always says that everyone’s experience of cancer is deeply personal to them, but there are also some common fears and thoughts I’m sure.

      Sending so much love to you and your family, and wishing/praying/begging that the drugs and treatments continue to improve at a pace that helps us all xxx

  33. Blunderbussme says:

    You really are astonishingly clever. And completely right – good friends just get it (even ones that you mostly know from this strange online world which is 90% porn, a smidgen of trolling and then some awesome strong female voices talking nothing but sense). Go Sisterhood!

  34. Stephs Two Girls says:

    It must still be so difficult, ongoing, and I’ve no great words of comfort or wisdom I’m afraid. Just wanted to say your post was written beautifully, in a way that other people can understand and learn from – that we never know what is going on in other people’s lives unless they are our closest friends. Hoping all continues to improve x

  35. hannah says:

    This has currently left me in a blubbering mess but just reminds me what great couple/people/parents you both are and how I would not swap you for anything….ever x

  36. Sarah MumofThree World says:

    No advice or experience to share, but I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful and moving post this was. I’m so glad that you are strong as a couple and that you have such caring family and friends around you who can understand what you’re going through.

  37. Natalie says:

    Moving, thought provoking and a very hard read but thankyou for sharing this. Today I have perspective too. Love you Stephie xxxxx

  38. suzanne3childrenandit says:

    This made me cry Steph (and very little does that, trust me!). What a journey you’ve been on but what a fabulous couple you clearly are – ‘in sickness and in health’ huh? I imagine it’s brought you much closer, despite the obviously horrible, horrible times. An honest and very moving post. Thank you for sharing your story x x

  39. PottyMouthedMummy says:

    Wow this is a wonderfully moving post Steph. I’m glad your husband is getting healthier and better. I really can’t imagine something like this. I know I’d be useless! Thank you for sharing something so powerful. Xxx ps glad you guys have such an amazing support network. Pps – Bieber really is a twat xxx

  40. Nicole says:

    An honest and I’m sure very helpful blog for those who will unfortunately be in the same position. Cancer happens to the patient and their loved ones.

  41. Lucy Enever says:

    Steph, I had to write and say how beautiful, funny, moving, thought provoking (the list goes on) your posts are. So many of the subjects you write about are very close to my own heart, as I am sure they are to others. You have a brilliant talent.

    • Steph says:

      Would you mind if I print this and stick it all over my house, and possibly on my kids?! Loveliest comment ever – thank you x

  42. headinbook says:

    Oh Steph, what a powerful, honest post. I’ve seen cancer come too close to people around me (and I’ve known the inane comments too). Beautifully written x

  43. brummymummyof2 says:

    Oh bab. I’m sorry. I’m glad your very (handsome!) husband is doing OK. I can’t even imagine going through that tis horrific. Lots of Love and I like the friend giving you the healing necklace. That was lovely xxxxxxx