Monday 21 June 2010

the longest day

This time last year, we had just told our children, his mum and brother that Steve had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and we were preparing to meet the radiotherapist and oncologist to discuss his treatment.  We didn't have the faintest idea of what the future would bring, only that it would be challenging (to use a hackneyed phrase) and that we would try very hard to be positive.  

A year on and, so far, doing something positive seems to working. The longest day of the year dawned bright and sunny this morning and we decided to do something we haven't done for a very long time.  We went for a run in the park together. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal.  I confess, it wasn't a marathon or sprint, more of a gentle jog for about a third of a mile.  But we did it and Steve didn't collapse, or cough, or seize up (and neither did I).  

If you had said to me 12 months ago that we would jog a circuit of the park to celebrate the 2010 solstice, I doubt if I would have taken you seriously, even at my most optimistic. But now I think our attitude has shifted somewhat. The sword of mesothelioma still hangs precariously above our heads, but we try to look forward more than we look up at that time tomb hanging over us, and we celebrate the little things which make life special, not just the big occasions.  

We are not the only people celebrating today.  Happy birthday to Chris in Wells and thank you for a wonderful garden party yesterday!

Not forgetting the Portugal football team who managed to score 7 goals in today's match against North Korea. They'll be enjoying themselves tonight, I bet :-)

Getting back down to earth, I have just read some poignant words written by Ray, whose wife Mavis has mesothelioma. You can find a link to her blog top right.  The words are about how he deals with Mavis's condition. They were written in response to a request on the Macmillan Forum from a lady whose husband has the same disease.  She is finding it hard to cope, especially as her husband won't talk about his mesothelioma.  

In many ways, Ray's words echo my own feelings about living with Steve's mesothelioma. I can't read them without the tears welling up and a lump forming in my throat. You will probably find the same.

"Hello.  Mavis said maybe I should talk to you. 

How do I feel? It's been a year since diagnosis. Over 365 days of fear, pain, and disbelief.  I wake each day and am thankful that we have another day together. I dread the scans and the oncologist visits.  We sit in the waiting room waiting our turn not saying much, but secretly praying for good news.

But we have a life a good life and we try to get as much done as we can.  We don’t sit and dwell or mope.  Together we don’t talk about it, well to each other.  But it's always there, when I drop off to sleep and when I wake up.  

Every day is a bonus. What the future holds or how long that future will last I do not know.  I do know that when that day does show itself, for me life will cease. For 53 years Mavis has been my life, my breath, my best friend, my everything, and I cannot imagine life without her.  It's her courage that keeps me going.  She is so up front and brave, it helps me to cope. I feel that if she wasn’t so courageous in the way she deals with it, then I would probably be in tears every day.  

It's a case really of taking what we have and making the best of it. I say to you chin up;  support your husband because he is in pain too. Support each other, and be there for him.  For me, whatever she wants that’s what she gets.  I don’t care what it takes.  If I can do it, then it's done. 

I hope this in some small way helps you. There are lots of us out there. 

Try not to think of yourself, but of your partner.


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