As I said before I am a very practical person. My method of parenting was also very practical. I had much to do, minimum amount of disruption was vital. “Mum he started it” was dealt with “I don’t care who started it, I can finish it” punishment was for both of them, my theory was one of them escaped the dreaded wooden spoon one time or another, so it was all even at the end of a long week. I wish I had a similar method for my mum and husband. Their relationship was straining. In turn, it was affecting me as well. I usually keep my peace with mum; as when she erupts it’s a few days of misery. But after continuous prodding by the GP and the Gyno, my stomach was in all sorts. Pain was in its absolute peak. Unfortunately my mum was not privy to any of this information. So she kept pushing everyone’s buttons. I made a slip. So the day I went for the first of the scans, I was not entirely thinking about the scan or the dreaded tumour marker. Hubby and I were mostly discussing the eruption we had the night before. It was a very good distraction.
My reasoning for bringing this part of the laundry into the lime light is not to discredit my mum, my husband, father in law or anyone else. This is to point out, that just because you are going through cancer, the rest of world doesn’t stop to lay you that red carpet, not always anyway. Life goes on as normal for the rest of the world. Your closest and dearest are forced to change their routine a little bit, the bit where they were reliant on you, is now on them to carry on, on their own. It’s not like when you have the flu, where the inconvenience is just for a week, but with something like cancer, it’s a long road. A long bumpy road, with many potholes. The driver is going to try and avoid those potholes and the passenger hopes the same. But unfortunately the wheels are going to hit those darn potholes once in a while anyway. Pain is experienced by all. You have to just keep driving. Driver fatigue is very possible in this journey as well. It’s important that you involve the passenger to take on the wheel at times.
Friends became co-drivers in terms of school drop offs. We headed to the doctors for an 8.30 AM appointment. This Gynaecologist was recommended by a nurse friend of mine. She told me he was thorough. This man takes thoroughness to another level. What we learnt later is that this blood test that flagged the tumour marker, is not usually a test that Gyno’s worry about. It’s not a conclusive test, it’s something used as an indicator on advanced cancer patients to see if the cancer was returning, rising etc. Not sure of his thinking why he asked me to have it done. Anyway, that inconclusive test is the main reason why I am still around to tell my story.
Dr. Munday went on to explain that the tumour marker count on a normal person should be around 0-10, and mine was around 175. Quite high I guess. But at the same time this is an indicator, in laymen’s term, (this is how I convinced myself that it was not that serious) it’s like saying if you have a headache it could mean you have brain tumour, or it could even mean that you just have a migraine. He had already looked at the results of the tests performed the day before. Lungs were clear. The liver had some white masses, so he had discussed it with the liver specialist before my arrival and the opinion was that it is rather a normal feature in women of my age. The intestines/ oesophagus had a small area that they wanted to have another closer look at. So he had already made an appointment for me with a Gastroenterologist. Dr Munday went on to explain that until we explore the possibility of the cancer and if I had cancer that had to be dealt with first before the hysterectomy. Three days later I was going for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Fasting, jelly and the rest of the glory began. Mum thought that was all part of the hysterectomy. I didn’t see a reason to correct her. I needed support and strength, someone who would say and feel it was going to be okay. Not the other way around. I didn’t have the energy to console my mum. It would be hard for any parent to not fall apart. Let alone for one who has lost her husband and this was her only child. Not telling my mum the whole story meant she didn’t see a reason to let go of the fight that started 3 days ago. Hubby may be domestically challenged but when it came to the mental strength that I needed, he was like a rock for me.
I had taken on a new client. This meant their books were an utter mess and years behind in reconciliation. The Tax department was breathing down their neck and so were the creditors. The added trips to the doctors and specialists meant I was behind in my work. So, before going in for the scopes the next day I promised that I will have all reports emailed to them that night. I was working till midnight with the jelly and toilet trips. I was like a woman before labour. Nesting instincts had clicked in. I was doing it all, cleaning, ironing uniforms, helping with homework and profit and loss statements all tackled.
Scopes were done and the results drew blank. So Dr. Munday decided to go ahead with the surgery. The cancer cloud had not completely cleared. The possibility that the endometriosis was giving an elevated reading was talked about. Still no real answers to why it was high. Dr. Munday was going to have an oncologist on site, so if he saw anything untoward, then they will stop the surgery, close me up for that day, take actions for the cancer and so forth.
With all the tests and doctor’s appointments completed until September for the surgery, life was back to the same old. Reality was starting to sink in. I could have cancer. I talked to a selected few of my friends and to one of my cousins who lived in Adelaide. Other than that we didn’t want to alarm any one before we knew the exact story ourselves.
Moments of sadness crept in. I lost my dad at the age of 19. He was only 53. My life completely changed after his passing. I lost my whole identity. From a girl who was full confidence and conviction, I became withdrawn and almost very insecure. Not that I lost interest in my studies, but I was not firing with all cylinders. I knew it would be the same for my kids. They were much younger than I was when I lost my dad. Not that I had lacked confidence in Ganesh to be a good dad, but I knew, without me the house would turn into Capt. Von Trap and his two sons on two minute noodles.
Hari had just moved to high school and was slowly finding his feet. It always takes a bit of time for Hari to make friends and accept a new place. He already had his challenges with his hearing and the issues that brings on. I feel somehow responsible for his hearing loss and then on top of that to lose his mother at a young age would just make things worse. He had an amazing final year in his primary school, winning scholarships, chess tournaments, Maths Olympiad and South Australian Champ for Robotics. He showed so much promise. Arj was just blossoming as a young actor, orator and debater. He had Midsummer Night’s Dream under his belt. He was just nine years old and a star already. I was going to derail everything.