Grief Never Forgets…

JaniceBrooks-410.pngI didn’t expect to be caught of by today’s anniversary, but I have, the build up has been bad and the day has knocked me for six…

I still love you, miss you, need you, the pain of losing you grows intensely, our future plans gone, stolen from me, we were meant to spend our lives together, instead you spent yours with me, the absurdity of life is so cruel and unfair.  Others won’t understand this kind of loss, and nor would I want them too, knowing the pain and anguish that awaits everyones future in a happy relationship.

I’ve had various comments from now ex-friends to every day people, who think grief has a time limit, grief can not be solved with some pills, it’s not a disease, but it is very real.  I was told I should be over it at 9 months, the reality is any one suffering will know we don’t get over it, we just try and absorb it, but the grief and loss will follow us until we meet again.

This time two years ago is when our lives would change forever. A week earlier I’d accompanied Janice to the hospital for an appointment to investigate a lump. This appointment was different to the others we’d previously attended over the years. Normally she would be at the breast clinic for an hour or so, and then sent on her way, eventually a letter would be received saying there’s nothing to worry about (Fibroids again)… But this was different… After the mammogram, she was sent for a needle biopsy, blood and other tests were thrown at her that day, waiting on professionals to look, and request other tests.

The needle biopsy clearly hurt her, it wasn’t often she complained of pain and discomfort. Poor girl was in tears. After several hours we were told that results would be available in about a week’s time and an appointment would be made, but don’t worry….

Janice received a phone call the next day, and a follow up date for a clinic appointment was made for a week later. I was worried, but Janice brushed it off and said there’s nothing to worry about it, the outcome will be no different than the times before. That week I was working in Slovakia (Bratislava) and wasn’t able to change the meeting dates with the client, (work wasn’t too happy about that).

I asked Janice to contact her sister or friend to accompany her to the hospital for the test results, but she was adamant she will be fine and nothing to worry about etc. etc. I knew when to stop pushing Janice a long time ago…

JaniceBrooks-412.pngWe’d facetime during the week I was away, but Thursday was different… No facetime, just an audio call… I wasn’t surprised as WiFi was pretty rubbish at the hotel I was staying in. She asked about my day, and carried on as usual, as though nothing happened, she let me prattle on (I assumed everythings ok because she didn’t say anything about her appointment), and … then she said those words that changed our worlds forever…

“I have Cancer” …

Possibly one of the most power statements anyone can make, and hearing those words, shocked me to the very core, my legs buckled beneath me, I fell to the bedroom floor unable to stand, dizzy, numb, shocked, disbelief. I felt cold, my eyes filled with tears, shaking and just wanted to be at home with her, to wrap my arms around her and just be there for her, but I was 1,000 miles away.

Janice was calm, I stuttered my words, my throat felt like it was being squeezed tightly, I was the opposite of calm asked how she felt and what did they say?

She explained, that entering the consultants room, there was a Macmillan nurse and other people present who explained their findings. Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Very Rare and quite large at 6.5cm and that they will be acting quickly on a treatment plan.

Janice talked about the experience, I was still on the floor sobbing, shaking and trying to take it in and shouting No, No, No…. Why Janice? Why her? She said “Why not me?”, My gorgeous wife was calm, I was a wreck, we spoke for another hour and when I calmed down enough I was looking for earlier flights home.

I asked her if she had anyone with her that evening, usually it was quiz night at the local pub, she said no. She’d gone to the appointment on her own.

I can’t imagine what went through her mind when she was given the news. I still feel guilty I wasn’t with her at that appointment, something hindsight will haunt me to the end of days. I felt guilty I wasn’t with her to receive such awful news, that’s what husbands do isn’t it?

I said call your sister, she said no, she had to tell her mum first but she was away on holiday. I said call your friend Theresa (Theresa was coming up to 5 years clear of her Breast Cancer), Janice said, she’s probably busy. I said explain I’m sure she will find time for you but take a taxi and I’ll pay.

Janice went over to Theresa’s that night so thankfully she wasn’t alone, the rest of the evening I remained in shock, tears, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, wanted to scream and tell the whole world, but Janice was a private person. It was a bad night as I was worried, scared, feeling helpless, a thousand miles away and no earlier flight than my BA flight the next day at lunchtime.

In the morning, I showered, already packed, couldn’t face breakfast (not good for a diabetic), my driver picked me up from the hotel and talked as he had done all week, I tried holding back the tears since I didn’t want news to travel within the office. I arrive at Vienna airport, still shocked, spoke to Janice when WiFi was working, boarded my flight and was picked up by my driver at Heathrow and headed home.

JaniceBrooks-315.pngJanice always GPS tracked me on my phone and knew when I was arriving home, she was waiting at the doorstep as the car pulled up. She had a nervous sile on her face. I gathered my cases and walked up to the front door, waited until we were inside, dropped everything and gave a big long hug, whilst we were both in tears.

I made drinks, we sat on the sofa as she explained what happened in the last 24 hours. Janice is one of the bravest people I know, she’d gone through a lot, and processed a lot of information in that 24hours. I couldn’t say the ‘C’ word, but Janice made me, she insisted I called the illness by its name. I didn’t want to acknowledge it, I couldn’t believe this would happen to her, one of the kindest and considerate people I’ve known.

Janice said, you must promise me you won’t research this, google it or give me statistics or treatment information. She knew me well enough that I couldn’t keep such a promise, it’s my nature to research…. I’d already looked up breast cancer. For her age, statistically treatments were 92% effective and you’d have to be pretty unlucky to be in the 8%. So I was feeling optimistic for her future, knowing it was going to be tough (understatement) but they will treat her and she will be well.

I felt as optimistic as Janice was, and various appointments started that Monday morning to attend. I attended every appointment bar 3 with her, the first I missed being in Slovakia, the other two at her request.

We had to wait until the Sunday before travelling up north to her parents to break the news. Janice was so scared, she didn’t know how they would take the news, how they would react. I’ve never seen Janice scared of anything until this, the act of telling her family.

To be continued…

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