The longest day

Oct 23, 2013

A long day. I managed to get work done and felt strangely calm before heading off to the hospital for Julia's results. It was sunny when we left and I took it for a good omen. After waiting for over an hour at the hospital we were called through.

Julia immediately noticed we were seeing Mr rather than Dr and commented to the nurse, who gave a non committal reply. One quick examination then into a room with with two nurses and the consultant (this can’t be good news). It’s cancer and my fears of the last two weeks and last few months have been realised. We are told quickly and honestly that it will involve operations, chemo and a mastectomy.

I’m holding Julia’s hand and notice it’s shaking, I squeeze tight. Desperately listening, trying to ensure I take it all in, but the news is too big to fit my head and to comprehend fully. After, we are taken to a quiet room and given a moment. We hug and cry, it’s shit.

The nurse comes in, Julia says its a bit shit, the nurse replies almost whispering its crap. We get the information again and can, this time digest it more. We are given a library of books on cancer, I joke to Julia “you don’t have time to be ill as she has so much reading todo”. It’s not funny, but we’ll need our sense of humour in the coming months, so best start dusting it off now.

We leave, I cry in the car, I’m so angry, upset and worried. I’m a man and it’s hard having a months / years worth of feelings in 5 minutes. Crying, as always makes me feel better, but I feel bad doing it in front of Julia as if I’m off loading onto her - she has one job now and that’s to get better and needs me to be strong. I’m fully realising I need to create and use a support network to ensure I can get these feelings out and stay strong.

Driving home Julia starts phoning and telling her family. I’m amazed by her strength on those calls - I’m still digesting the news and the content of the calls feels surreal. We get the kids, I drop them all off at home and head to the supermarket for cancer drugs and beer.

I call Rich, he’s stunned and I seem to be broken with emotion. I can’t get my words out and repeatedly choke back tears. Richie is ace, says the right things. He says Julia is a tough Geordie and we will get through this. I think the nicest thing he says is that Julia and I “are love” as if we help define the word, I like the description. He offers to help out anyway he can and if we ever need him he’s only a couple of hours away.

Back home beers in hand. Felix reads a story to me, his reading is coming on and he’s starting to take pride in reading (when he’s not randomly guessing every other word). I phone my mum. It’s a hard call, she wasn’t expecting the news and is stunned. I somehow manage not to boo during this call, she asks lots of questions but I can tell she is stunned, quiet and I leave her crying.

Imogen senses things aren’t right, she’s been downstairs three times after bedtime. The third time she’s been told to get back to bed. Weirdly, she picks now to start crying and talk about her own world ended and dying. Not sure where that came from but it seems school and Boudicca are to blame ?!

We drink beers, watch telly and discuss what’s happening and the future. It’s a lot to handle but the journey has started and we know where we need to get to.