Breaking the news, breaking hearts and breaking down

Friday 25th August 2017

Earlier in the day we had the appointment with the skin care nurse who had just given us the news on the extent of the cancer where it had spread and that it was Stage 4. My mum and dad were due to come home with the kids so we invited them round for tea that evening to yet again break the news (they’ve declined my offers for tea lately they probably think there’s an ulterior motive to every invite). I knew we had to tell them but part of me just wanted to keep it to ourselves. See no-one likes to see someone they love and care about upset. What makes it worse is when the news you are telling them is making them upset because of you and how much they love and care about you (I’m actually crying whilst typing this).

This time over tea we were slightly more experienced about breaking the news, we decided to get the news over and done with then we could enjoy our tea later (Ste may try and correct me here and say dinner but I’m Northern and we’re not posh so for ease of reference it’s dinner and tea, not lunch and dinner). This time I was the one who told my parents and my sister the news. They were all heart broken and it was really upsetting, I remember how broken and upset my mum looked which is something that sticks in my mind. I managed to keep it together and didn’t cry. I gave them all a hug (something we all seem to do more of since the news, see we were never a hugging family but now we are). I told my mum to be really positive and that getting all upset wouldn’t help us fight this.

We had tea and every now and then my mum or dad or sister would go in the downstairs toilet and have a cry. Something which does bring a sense of guilt but I knew I had to be strong and show them that this would not defeat me by any means. My parents left so did my sister and nephew.  We hadn’t told the kids yet that would take a bit more planning. Later on myself and Ste were sitting down watching TV he said that we should tell our friends. I told him that I didn’t want to and we should just keep the news to ourselves for the time being until we had a better idea of what treatment I could have and what the plan was going forward. Plus it was all pretty new so I needed to get my head round it myself first.

I did agree that Ste should tell his family, unfortunately as we live so far apart he had to do this over the phone. Something that couldn’t have been easy but I think it made him feel better. They were also devastated and wanted to come up and see us. For me early on the less people new about this the better although I think for those close around you it helps if they have someone to talk to about it that isn’t the one that’s ill. Later on that evening Ste continued to proceed with the wine and rum he then at some point text his close friend saying we had some news about me and would like to tell them in person. This really annoyed me as telling someone that late at night on a weekend knowing they will have had a drink is never a good idea. Surely enough my phone then proceeded to ring with my friends wife (and one of my best friends) asking what was wrong and begging me to tell them shortly afterwards another best friend was texting asking if I was alright. I don’t know if this was mean and slightly selfish but I refused to tell them. To me I wanted to tell people in my own way and my own time and I thought that this sort or news was better face to face and I felt Ste had ruined that.

I went to bed and in the morning our best friends had asked if they could come round and see us. Something I felt even worse for as they were away for the weekend at their caravan (Ste didn’t know this when he messaged them). So they came round with the kids and we broke the news. Both were extremely upset and said they understood why we wanted to tell them in person.  We then all went for a walk together with a little visit to the pub. This was the start of sharing this journey with not just my family but close friends who are here to support me.

Later on that evening we invited a few more friends and kids round, something that’s not uncommon for us as it means we can still socialise but don’t have to be reliant on babysitters all the time. Generally all the adults get drunk in the kitchen eating and the kids run riot upstairs pulling toys out that our children have usually forgotten they have. Every so often we go and check up on them to make sure nothing has been set on fire or that we haven’t lost any children in Narnia. As I was the one who wasn’t drinking I did this a little more than the others that night so they could get on with the important job of getting drunk and putting the worlds to rights.  Ste told our friends the news sat at the kitchen table it was hard listening to yourself being talked about in the third person and seeing your friends cry. There were plenty of hugs and tears and although deep down it really upset me and I was scared. I did my best not to cry in front of them.

Over the next couple of weeks we continued to tell close friends around us. Each time it didn’t get easier but it sort of felt like like more of a play that we had rehearsed several times previously but the audience were watching it for the first time so their reaction was new and real. Ste had a few weekends of late nights, drinking and music something which I had to mention in the end as it began to feel too much. It was nice that people cared about me however I was suddenly a bit overwhelmed and tired by the constant texts, phone calls, catch ups and late nights. I just wanted time to myself, Ste and the kids to take it all in and be ‘normal’ (well as normal as I ever was!). I also felt I wanted to protect the kids from finding out the news by accident from anyone else.

See the sharing of the news wasn’t my idea, had I been on my own I may not have told anyone. In my mind the less people knew the better. If you have cancer then it’s purely up to you how, who or when you want to share that news with. Despite the initial element of feeling overwhelmed and slightly out of control for the first couple of weeks I’m glad that my family and close friends knew.  These people have made these last few months that much easier especially when I was admitted to hospital. See I am one of those people that has a bit of pride. I don’t like to admit I’m weak or probably don’t ask for help very often. When I was in hospital I didn’t have much choice help came in the form of food, books, magazines, childcare, visits and texts. Outside it’s come in the form of offers for walks, phone calls and trips out just being me from those that mattered the most and I’m glad they did.

 

 

 

 

 

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