Monday, March 8, 2010

A fuller picture.

Ok so the dust has settled and my head is a bit clearer than it was on Friday, alcohol or no!

We had a two hour wait for our appointment and it wasn't because we were really early! Weston Park is one of those places that requires patience, people are going to the clinic not knowing what has happened to their world, other than it's a different way up to how it was a week ago or a month. It's a fascinating place to be though as cancer is a great leveler and sooner or later you get talking to the people next to you or opposite and tiny conversations start and then pass just as quickly.

Then the call comes, Nick Hart, the heart skips a beat and the legs go a bit odd. Sort of 5 pints odd, you're in control of them and you know they're your legs but they don't react as quickly as normal. The hands that have been slowly getting tighter around the curled up jacket start to become clammy. All that because someone shouted your name!

We were shown into a new consultation room and were asked to wait there. Five minutes later another nurse comes in and tells us we're in the wrong consultation room! So we go to another waiting area and then shortly after sitting down we're shown into one of the usual consultation rooms! My great Aunty Con calls these things anti irritants, the little annoyances take your mind off the enormity of the problem facing you. It certainly broke some of the tension for me!

The consultation that followed was a mixed bag. The PET scan has shown that I am in partial remission, which is good. The PET scan also showed that there is still an area of activity where the tumour was, which is odd. This activity could be the radiotherapy still having an effect, it could be the cancer still being alive or it could be that I had an infection on the day of the scan and it chose to show up there!

The problem with PET scans is that although they are very clever and very good at showing activity, they are so new that understanding the data and learning when to send a patient for a scan is all still being improved upon. To this end Linda, my consultant, wishes I'd not had the PET scan as it has left a level of uncertainty which we could have done without.

For me it did leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth. I wanted, in true Nick Hart fashion, a fat lady singing and cheerleaders with pompoms oh and a big plaque to put on the wall stating that the cancer is dead and done with. But as with so many things we don't always get what we want but for me I'll take the next best thing. They say I am in remission, they don't want to see me for three months and if the PET scan hadn't have been invented then there wouldn't be this uncertainty.

I now say I had cancer.

One word that makes such a difference, had, not have. It's a week later now that I'm writing this and it still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I had cancer.

So then starts the process of telling the world. Mum and dad were at our house as Wendy's dad was coming up and so they were going to let him in if we ran late. We walked in with very dead pan faces, not on purpose nor for any comedy value but just because we'd had incredible news and we couldn't process it. Because of the faces mum and dad didn't know what to expect, so almost came as more of a surprise when we told them it was good news.

As the kettle clicked Wendy jumped up and rushed out of the door, how he does it I don't know but Bill had arrived, I think he smells the tea bags from about fifty miles! It was what Wendy needed, a hug from her dad.

Then it got really busy, I was on the phone ringing my sister and work and friends, Wend was talking to her dad and her sister. Mum and dad and Bill and Bron were chatting. Wend then went to the florists with mum to get flowers for the girls teachers. They have been superb in keeping the girls busy and being flexible when either have been emotional or stressed. But it's a massive testament to our girls that they haven't had time off for any reason other than they've been poorly. The routine has stayed the same and they have got on with life, we're so proud of them.

We didn't half look funny walking up to school with five big bouquets. We told Bill and Bron to hide in the bikes sheds as the girls didn't know they were coming up, won't be the first time they've hidden in the bike sheds I'm sure! We walked into the yard where the infants come out to and waited, everyone looking at us stood there hardly able to see over the flowers.

The it started, Carys saw us and looked right into my soul as if looking for the answer to an unspoken question. Her little face was a picture, tears had obviously been flowing and yet the smile that lit up when we told her it was good news was magical. Mrs Telford, Carys' teacher, then started crying (again) as we presented her with her flowers. She'd had Carys on her knee that afternoon and it had been emotionally hard for both of them it seems.

We walked through to the juniors yard and so we got more funny looks, we'd get even more in a minute. We waited and waited and then we saw Georgia's class coming out, George is usually last out and this day was no different but her shoulders were down and her feet were dragging as though she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. As soon as Carys saw her she hurtled down to her to tell her the news. She nearly knocked George over but managed to stop just in time. We got there seconds later and then collapsed in a heap of tears and hugs and more tears and more hugs. The disbelief that we'd been lucky enough to get through it. Nothing else mattered, the gravel in my knees or the hundreds of people looking at us, me and my girls, my world.

Then Mrs Powell Georgia's teacher was in tears with her flowers and the news. Georgia told Wend later that she had made her mind up to be strong if it was bad news, hopefully she can be a little girl with little girls worries now.

We found a couple of other teachers from last year who had been very supportive when I was initially diagnosed and explained what today had brought and gave them their flowers too. Then we told the girls there was a surprise in the bike sheds for them. Carys got there first and stated that it was her best day ever, daddy's lump has gone and dan dan is here. What more could a five year old want?

So started a very surreal weekend. I felt shattered, not happy or giddy, my head was so full of mush. I slept Saturday afternoon, a deep thoughtless sleep, very unlike Thursday night! We went for Sunday lunch at the Grouse Inn at Frogatt, us, Bill and Bron, Mum and Dad, Viv and Dave and their girls. I was there in body but not in mind, I was tetchy and distant. I didn't want to be there, it was all too much. Too many sight and sounds and thoughts. It was nice to see everyone and the food was great but my head couldn't cope.

What on earth is wrong with me, I've had the best news ever and yet i'm not happy. But then it struck me, for the last ten months or so I haven't dared think about living. It has been surviving the treatment. Not living, living involves planning a future, needs and desire for the future. I haven't dared allow myself a future, just get through the now.

Today, one week on I feel amazing, I have ridden my bike and chilled and talked with Wend about our future. My head is clearing, slowly, I feel so unbelievably lucky I can't describe the feeling. I am just a very very lucky man.

Proper Cold

Bridge over non troubled waters!

My trusty steed.

I'm so happy to be me. Now I need to get on with life.


  1. Thank you for letting us into your world Nickle Arse - a privilege - Im glad youre u x

  2. I've only ever had a few short words with you at school (Winterhill), but I've been soooo.. rooting for you. You've had me blubbing and laughing with your blog- All the very best for your FUTURE!!!
    Gail x