Today I bring you a post all about my experiences with cancer and the journey I am currently on. If I had been writing this post in 2015, I would have nothing really to say about cancer other than it has affected me through the deaths of grandparents and family friends, to which I was too young to truly understand. However, in 2016 my mother was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioma which is most commonly known as a terminal brain tumour and now I feel like I have enough reason to talk about cancer and my experiences in case any of you out there are looking to not feel alone within this journey.
Firstly, all cancer experiences are different. There are countless types of cancers and treatments that work depending on the person diagnosed. For my family, there were no signs or indication that my mother had a brain tumour, other than having a seizure which was followed by a CT scan that uncovered swelling in the brain caused by an anomaly. Before this, my mother was in great health and complained only of mild headaches once in a blue moon.
Hearing this news was devastating. I cried endlessly for weeks and found it difficult to process what was really happening. We had a number of appointments with surgeons and specialists, my mother underwent a biopsy to certify what type of cancer we were dealing with and the grade. Unfortunately, the results were that they were unable to operate due to the placement of the tumour and they could only offer other means of treatments in the hope to prolong my mothers life. Obviously, this was another blow and I clearly remember sat thinking in the surgeons office after he had given us the news, that I was only 20 years old and I NEEDED my mother, this had to be some sort of horrid dream.
However, I feel like I also matured very quickly, becoming a support system for not only my mother but my father who was equally as worried and heartbroken. We met with another specialist and she explained that they could offer my mother radiotherapy and chemotherapy to shrink and stem the growth of the tumour, if the desired effect co-operated with her body. Being the strong and determined woman my mother is, she immediately accepted any help she could get.
Radiotherapy was what my mother lose most of her hair but other than that she had basically no side effects of the treatment which was a blessing as I had heard and read horror stories about what can possibly happen.
Chemotherapy, however, is what I was most worried about after seeing it depicted in films and tv shows. I was petrified incase my mother became extremely unwell and for the treatment to not work as we had all hoped. Thankfully, she responded amazingly to the chemotherapy and once again we were very lucky as she was barely affected by it, in terms of general health and sickness at all.
As of December 2017, the tumour has been shrank by the treatments and so far has been stemmed from growing, which is the best possible result we can hope for. From now on we take each day as it comes and are thankful for all the time together we get to spend. I can’t thank the NHS enough for everything they’re doing and continue to do for my mother and others like her.
Cancer is terrifying. There is no doubt about that and nothing can prepare you for dealing with it. It’s more of a “keep going, keep positive and keep hoping” mentality that you have to take on and if you need to talk to anyone about getting help then there are some amazing charities such as Macmillan, who help with everything from financial issues to fundraising. If you are looking for advice on brain tumours specifically, The Brain Tumour Charity are extremely helpful.
There is a good chance I’ll be writing more about my experiences and how I dealt/deal with them in the hope that someone who really needs the advice finds my posts and feels a little less lost and alone.
Thank you for reading,