A Clearing in the Forest

We approached the doors of the hospital at a time before most of the doctors arrived for their day’s shift.  Upon signing in and getting comfortable, the gravity of the days tribulations fully dawned on me.  “This is it, we’re going to find out whether this treatment is working” I said to my wife, Caroline.

As with any hospital visit, the usual hurry up and wait attitude was there. Eventually blood was drawn from our beautiful daughter’s right thumb and sent for testing.  Whilst we awaited the results, we took our girl to have ab ultrasound scan on the primary tumour in her stomach.  We sat in the dark room, reminiscent of the progress scans that my then pregnant wife had the previous year, whilst the sonograpger did her thing. She advised us that the data would be forwarded to our consultant who would then interpret and I’ve us the result.  

We headed back to the waiting area for the second phase of the day’s tests, a bone marrow biopsy.

Rather than the general anaesthetic we expected, Evelyn was put to sleep with gas.  This was somewhat easier to watch as she drifted off into a deep sleep rather than flopping like a marionette whose strings had been snipped.  We left the room to allow the doctors to complete the task.

By chance, we bumped into our consultant (Dr G) whilst we waited.  He explained that the full result workup would not be ready until the following Monday.  He asked whether we wanted a partial result within a few hours but we thought it unwise as it may create unrealistic expectations, especially with an entire weekend of thought and contemplation ahead of us.  We opted to get all of the information at the same time. Dr G also let us know that he would not be in attendance the following Monday, a colleague of his named Dr B would be looking after us.

Evelyn came around and within an hour, we were discharged and sent on our way.

The following days were somewhat uneventful but my mind constantly raced. “If the tumour has shrank, even the slightest amount then we know the treatment is having an effect” was my mantra.  I kept my thoughts positive and it wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that a harrowing thought crept up on me.  

“What if the tumour has grown”? This thought kept me awake until past 3 a.m. Until then, I hadn’t even entertained the possibility of the previous months pain ans stress being ineffective. Eventually, luckily, exhaustion took over andI fell into a dreamless sleep.

The alarm klaxon awoke us both.  We washed and dressed in a weighted silence before waking Evelyn up and heading to the hospital.  We checked in as usual and began our wait.  Today was not only a day for results but also the start of our girl’s our throats round of chemotherapy.  The process is always the same with chemo: turn up, check in, have blood taken, await results.  If the results are satisfactory, the consultant meets with you for five minutes to discuss behaviours and health since the previous round of chemo.  If the results aren’t up to scratch, you’re sent home for a week.  Luckily, we’ve never been sent home.

We waited with bated breath for Evelyn’s name to be called into the consultation room.  When we eventually heard the three syllables that we wanted, we practically ran into the office.  Excitement and sheer terror driving us.  

Dr B is a friendly lady who had another lady present in the room.  Initially I hesitated; these medical folk usually have a second person available for support when the news is bad.  We sat down and awaited the news.  

“The results” said Dr B with an uncomfortable pause.  “The results show that there is no trace of the disease in Evelyn’s bones”.  Tears stung my eyes and within seconds, I was crying.  Looking to my wife, I could see the same tears of elation begin to silver the edge of her eyelids. I hid behind Evelyn, not wanting to be seen crying.  Dr B went on to tell us that the primary tumour has been reduced to less than 50% of its original size.  By now my tears were in free flow, days of fear wept away in an instant to be replaced with the warm glow of happiness. Dr B explained that the lack of cells in the bone marrow does not mean instant cure, it simply means that rather than a step in the right direction, Evelyn has taken a leap.

We thanked the Doctor at least seven times before making it to the door, feeling a huge weight lifted from our shoulders we headed to the ward to get started on the next round of treatment.

Of course, our friends and family have been incredibly happy to hear the news, to be lifted so high on a Monday has been amazing.

Tiredness is catching up with me so I’m going to head to bed shortly but I want to leave you with a snapshot of where I’m at.

It feels as if we have been walking through the darkest of forests, occasionally glimpsing light.  This light is provided by doctors and nurses but the light is short lived and soon, we are finding our own way in the dark again.  Today, we have broken through the trees into a huge clearing.  This clearing is bright and full wonderful things. Obviously, we cant stay in the clearing, we must push on into the darkness to find our way home but for now, just for a moment, we are going to enjoy being in the light.




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