Firsts and Lasts

Cancer diaries always have a timeline, don’t they? Each post labelled week one, two etc. as the author plots their perilous journey through illness, treatment and recovery. But where to start? If the start of our ‘journey’ was the week we were told he had cancer, then this is week three. If the start was when The Cough first began, then this is probably month eight or nine. But if you measure our beginning from when we first met and kissed, then this is our twenty sixth year.

This has been a week of firsts. I went back to work for the first time since the diagnosis. Everyone in the office had been briefed not to mention it unless I did and so it was OK. I didn’t cry once, which gave me a false sense of security for the rest of the week as I told myself I was over the worst.

We visited the Chemotherapy Ward for the first time for a pre-assessment, spending a generous and unrushed hour with our funny and gentle nurse from Zimbabwe. But the visit to the ward made me weep in a way that work didn’t. So much kindness. Oh Lord, the kindness.

I went to parent’s evening for the first time by myself and struggled not to sob in the assembly hall as I realised that this may be my future. Slayed not by the thought of going by myself but potentially having no one to return to and report on what the teachers said. For who else will be as interested in our children’s progress and peculiarities as their father? Their history, their narrative is something we hold between us like a shared banner. I cannot imagine holding it alone.

It was also potentially a week of lasts. My partner is a massive football fan but because he has been so ill and his team is far away, he hasn’t seen his team play for months nor visited his mum. I didn’t want him to go – he really isn’t well – but he’s worried that he will be worse after chemotherapy and that this might be his last chance to see them. So after some ‘debate’ we agreed that he would go this weekend before Chemotherapy starts. He went yesterday with our 15yo son whilst I stayed home with our 12yo. And after a week of being fairly task driven and dry eyed, I Could Not Stop Crying.

This was my first Friday night without him since the diagnosis. Another first that I am terrified will become the norm. No one to share a bottle of wine with, to discuss the boys, work, my latest book idea, his thoughts on politics, our predictions for GBBO. The potential sinkhole that may open up in my life was exposed and for the first time I felt truly overwhelmed. I genuinely do not know how I am going to cope with what the future may bring. How am I supposed to keep putting one foot in front of the other for my boys and not fall to my knees in a tsunami of grief?

Tomorrow I will be fine. My partner will be home and we will focus on getting ready for his first chemotherapy session and enjoying the last days before it. I will remind him and myself of all the reasons to be hopeful and focus on all the many practical tasks I can do to make things easier. And I will mean it. I will feel it, because I am generally a resilient and optimistic person. I am not giving up. But I am also an honest person and right now I am just very upset and scared.



8 thoughts on “Firsts and Lasts

  1. Oh, Jo, this is hard, but as long as you can continue on this diary journey, we’ll be with you.

    Your post has touched nerves and sparked comparisons. It will be a struggle not to be kind. It will be a struggle not to think ‘there but…’ or ‘when we…’, or ‘life will…’ So, I’ll be bossy instead. You need cake, lots of cake. Wine helps too, but sharing cake, baking cake, giving cake… because it’s love and kindness and generosity, baked in an oven, and a little salt in the batter never hurts ;o)

    I’ve got a great brownie recipe if you want one…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, thanks Su. That made me laugh. Yes wine and cake are both good – particularly cake as we need to keep his calories up. And what a lovely thing to say about it being love and kindness baked in an oven. Fabulous. Thank you so much Jo xxxx


  3. Dear Jo, Thinking of you. This is what one imagines…and fears…but of course it is unimaginable. Except I suspect it might be worse for the person standing alongside, wanting to do something, anything, but perhaps feeling powerless. Rooting for you as you focus on the positive and the practical and thank you for your brave and honest blog.


    1. Thank you Jane for reading and commenting. I feel terrified, not brave. But it does help to write. And I hope your fears are never realised. All the very best Jo xxxx


  4. Oh, I so agree with the cake & wine… wishing you much of both and anything else that takes your fancy, if it all helps. I instinctively want to offer you help with the big things, the practical and dull things so you can spend your time enjoying the small things with your man and your boys… but difficult to do virtually so I hope those around you are coming up trumps. But please know if writing helps you have an avid audience reading and willing you on. Much love Jo xxx


    1. Thanks Poppy, you are so very kind. And your offer of help is much appreciated, even thought it is hard to enact because it is just further proof of how lovely everyone is and the sense that people are wishing us well. It does help to write (sometimes) oddly enough. Thanks again for your kindness. Joxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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