We were off. On our holidays as a family.
But we also had to tell my best friend. We usually see them every year and the cub is bang in the middle age wise between her two. We met at Uni, living together as strangers, and leaving as a quirky friendship that has weathered distance, time and life changes. We always make our way back to each other, but I can’t think I’ve dreaded telling her anything more. It kind of felt like it was going to be worse than telling the parentals.
We arrived in the wilds of Scotland, pitched the tent in my home of birth, and set about enjoying ourselves while resolutely ignoring anything that might be going on in the real world. The downfall of that was the phone call the first day in, to say that the MRI had flagged up some ‘sensitive’ areas that would need another ultrasound! Well of course it bloody did. I could have written that chapter. I would have to wait until I got home for the letters to confirm when this would happen and when I possibly might then have surgery. More waiting.
The next sticking point was the meet up with the most beautiful girl in the wold and tell her horrible news. I managed to do it in the rain, in the woods, while the children ran feral. I mean you can’t really choose a good location to drop that bomb shell! So that set a tone for the whole holiday every time we met as it just hung over every conversation – what did I need to do next, when would that happen. And I just couldn’t get away from the situation anymore that this was really happening to me.
I’m not going to lie, I had a couple of dark days on holiday. I was a bit ratty (that does happen in a tent over two weeks usually anyway! But this was a level up!), I was convinced the skin was different in the area of the lump, I was also convinced it was bigger. But campsite communal showers aren’t really conducive for having a good inspection in good light. Neither is a tent, while a child runs about wondering why you’re flashing boobs at her daddy! We aren’t that weird!!
However, I was determined that for the majority of the time, I would make the most of being away from home. We stayed up late, we slept in late. We had lazy days where we went to the beach, park, back to the beach. We went for a lot of strolls in gorgeous woodland. We visited a treetop adventure park which was an amazing day. And while we didn’t experience the hot weather that we had previously had in the summer (I mean that is just our luck – have I explained our luck already, its hilarious!), we didn’t get soaking wet (always a bonus in a tent) and we laughed. As always, we laughed and laughed a lot. Its what we do. And it felt good. Really good.
The long journey home was hard. We had gone to sleep in a gale and woke up in not much better conditions. Getting a car packed, tent down and keeping a five year old from losing it was somewhat of a challenge. And then the kicker… as we all went to get a shower I decided to take the car up to the shower block. The battery was dead!! You couldn’t make it up – the previous year the exact same thing had happened, on the exact same campsite at the exact point in our journey to go home. And we had blamed the child for it! Thinking she had faffed with too many buttons and caused it to go flat, that year we had ran round like lunatics trying to find jump leads. This time, we had been prepared (although they were packed quite far down in the boot!), but a quick chat to some friendly camping neighbours and we had an engine running while we took turns to sit keeping it running while the other showered. That ended the holiday with more laughter!
It was then a long journey home. Seven hours where we persevered with seventy billion versions of I Spy until I did hand my phone over for the last hour. Thank goodness for data!! We were all exhausted on the arrival back home.
And there they were – the letters. A further ultrasound appointment on the 22 August, and another week later the consultant, eight and a half weeks since I had first found a lump, six weeks since they had confirmed it was cancer. And all the while I had to live with cancer in my body. And I could feel it eating my soul a little now. I wanted it out. I really just wanted it out, and to deal with the next part of the journey.
I had this. I had too.