Sometimes in life bad things happen, often these are out of our control, but what we do have control over is how we react to these situations.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about this or include it in my blog. But it’s something which has & will affect our mental wellbeing, I touched on it briefly in my last blog post & it may come up in future posts; plus it’s something which happens to so many people. I’ve always strived to be as honest as I can and am a believer that by talking about difficult times helps others. So, maybe by writing about this will help someone else.
Things have been tough for my family over the past few years, Maternal Mental illness, two miscarriages, my husband then struggling with depression, we lost family members to illness – and then, and most recently, out of the blue my husband was diagnosed with cancer.
At first I was numb, shocked. Then scared, and then really angry. Why us? After everything we’ve been through? We don’t deserve this – no one does. We are good people, we work hard and try to help others, and we have a beautiful, young family – why us??
But as with mental illness, cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care who you are, what you do, what you have or don’t have or even whether you’re a parent or a child.
It was a couple of months ago I noticed a large mole on my husbands back. I don’t know why it made me do a double take but it did. He has lots of moles anyway but this just didn’t look ‘right’. Of the ‘ABCDE’ skin cancer check list this ticked every box. Cue lots of nagging from me and eventually he booked to see his doctor who referred him to a specialist. We weren’t too concerned, and naively I thought ‘if it’s skin cancer they can cut it out and it will be fine’ which is often true, but what I didn’t realise at the time was there’s different types of skin cancer, some like Melanoma which can be quite aggressive.
He saw a specialist consultant and the head consultant who both said they were 99% sure from looking at it, that it was in fact Melanoma. A quick read of the MacMillan website and I felt nervous but hoped that the consultants had got it wrong and it would be benign, or at least it would have been caught early. We were both worried, but decided that until we had the biopsy results back worrying wouldn’t help. So we kept ourselves distracted, tried to stay positive and two weeks later he had a call from the hospital. He was asked to go back to see the consultant to discuss the results.
I think we both knew that this meant they had found something. The day of the appointment came and I felt sick all day. John seemed pretty calm, but as the day went on he became more irritable, and in the car on the way there was clearly, and understandably, frustrated. An agonising two hour wait in the waiting room and we finally saw the doctor, who confirmed our worse fears. Malignant Melanoma. Cancer. They advised us he would need more surgery and a procedure to see if it had spread.
While they were talking, time seemed to slow down, almost stop. We expected this news but actually hearing the words felt so surreal. Talking with the cancer nurse, who was lovely, felt so strange. Her sympathetic and kind nature was reassuring. My husband has been very open previously about his own battle with depression last year and still takes his medication. The nurse said “Stay on your medication, we need you to stay strong” these words have echoed in my head since. We need to stay strong.
So, that’s what we will do. We will stay strong and we will stay positive. We don’t know what is coming next, but we will be ready and we will face it together. We will hope that the next results come back clear, but if they don’t we will get through it. Staying positive may not change the outcome but hopefully it will make the wait less agonising.
You can read tips on how I find coping with stressful news/situations while struggling with mental illness here