Thursday, 15 March 2018

I can't even think of a title...

Okay, so this has been a really difficult post to even consider writing. I have been trying to work myself up for weeks, months even, to at least attempt to write it up but it's been so tough. I'm typing this now and I'm not even sure if I am going to post it in the end. But here goes! If you are a regular reader of my blog or you follow me on social media, you'll have either read that I've been going through some tough times so far this year, or that I have been struggling to maintain regular activity online. I have only managed to post 10 times over these last few months and in some of these posts, I mentioned that I've been dealing with 'family problems', and I know that this has been really vague. It was much easier to 'round up' the things that I've been going through as family problems: 1) because they are relating to my family members and I don't feel like it would be fair to talk about their personal lives on my blog without their permission, & 2) because for something's, it has been too much of a challenge to write them down. By doing so, I would be triggering myself and bringing up emotions/feelings that I was already constantly struggling with, which was the opposite of what I wanted to do when I was blogging or online in general. I wanted the internet to be my escape, my respite from what was going on in my everyday life. So I avoided talking about what was going on.

However, I feel like now might be a good time to open up about the thing that has caused me the most heartache and stress, because I feel like I am finally mentally ready to talk about it. I know that there are lots of people out there who have gone through similar things and also others who like me might have been keeping their feelings and emotions bottled up or hidden in some way, so me writing about it could be helpful to them. I'm hoping it will be helpful for my own wellbeing to write it down too. I don't have any idea how the rest of this post is going to pan out, but I feel like now would be an appropriate time to include a content warning, just in case the subject is going to be triggering to some of those reading it. In the rest of today's post, I am going to be talking about cancer, and about my personal experiences of dealing with someone I love going through it. 

At the beginning of December 2017, my mom sat me, my dad and some of my siblings down and told us she had to tell us something. I wasn't sure what to expect but I really wasn't prepared for what she did tell us. My mom has been poorly for a long time, she is a fellow spoonie and has several chronic health conditions, but on top of those, for quite some time she had been experiencing other symptoms that were causing her a lot of pain and discomfort. In the second half of last year, she had finally gone to see a doctor about these symptoms and had to undergo various tests to find out why she was suffering from them. After having an endoscopy test, which involves a long, thin tube with a camera on the end being inserted down your throat and into your stomach, it was discovered that my mom had stomach ulcers as well as the presence of telangiectasia (also known as spider veins). It is a routine procedure that whenever you have an endoscopy test, like when I had my colonoscopy tests when I was being diagnosed with IBS,  that they take biopsies of whatever area they are examining. So my mom had biopsies (basically taking a small sample of tissue from your body) done and at the end of November, we were waiting on the results to come back on these tissue samples. 

And so it was a very hard time for us all when these test results came back to reveal that cancerous cells had been found in my mom's stomach. I couldn't quite believe what I had been told, the words seemed to blur in my mind. I couldn't process them for quite a few days and I essentially experienced a state of dissociation for a while. It wasn't until I spoke to one of my best friends about it around five days later that it really became real for me. Then like I do with most things, I coped with it by looking at what I'd been told in a scientific way. I already had a good knowledge of cancer from my studies at university and I am very interested in medical science so I had read quite a bit on the subject. And even though it may seem like I was detaching myself from the situation by thinking about it in this matter-of-fact kind of way, it was actually really helpful for me and it is how I coped with what was happening. This is also the way I cope with my own mental and physical health conditions too. It didn't mean that it was any less hard for me to deal with, but it just made me feel less panicky when I got upset about everything. 

After we were first told about the presence of cancerous cells, we discovered from further tests that my mom had stage 3 cancer, which means she had a tumour in her stomach and that cancerous cells were also present in the surrounding lymph nodes. These are glands around your body that make up the lymphatic system, which is a very important part of your immune system. For example, we have lymph glands in our throat which swell when we are ill with a cold. Very soon after we learnt this, my mom had to start chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy is a very tough treatment to watch a loved one go through. It is a very strong medication that's job is to kill the cancer cells, but at the same time it destroys other cells in your body that are healthy and this can cause all sorts of symptoms for the patient. This is why the majority of people having chemotherapy treatment lose their hair and also experience painful skin conditions. Your immune system is very much affected by chemo too so you can get seriously ill from something like a flu or stomach bug. There are several types of chemotherapy, the most common involves the medication being given to the patient via an intravenous infusion (a tube called a cannula, which is connected to a vein in your hand, neck or chest), or through tablets. My mom's treatment included a mixture of the two types of chemotherapy. 

After several months of being on chemotherapy, my mom became very sick and had to be taken to hospital. She had gastroenteritis and also her chemotherapy has having an adverse effect on her body, and so she had to be treated in hospital for a few days. It was decided that my mom would be taken off the chemo early and be put forward immediately for her operation. We found out that the chemotherapy had still actually helped so that was wonderful news! 

Yesterday, my mom was admitted into hospital in preparation for her surgery, which is happening today. It is a very major surgery, because it involves removing almost her entire stomach (around two thirds) and all of the local lymph nodes. She will be in hospital for at least the next two weeks and it can take up to whole year to recover completely. I don't really know what else to say, other than I am feeling very stressed waiting to hear news from the hospital. I just wanted to get out everything that I've been holding in for the last four months. I hope this post is helpful to anyone who is going through the same thing right now. Thankyou to everyone who has still been reading my blog and chatting to me on social media, even though I've been very distant and haven't been spending much time online. It means so much to me, more than words can say ♥ 



  1. I'm sending you all the love in the world, I've unfortunately had family and friends go through the same and it's awful just remember to try to take care of yourself to during these stressful times to and if you need a distraction I'm always here to chat xoxo

    1. Thankyou so much lovely <3 I'm sorry to hear that you've been through the same *hugggs* That means a lot to me, thanks! x

  2. Sending you so much love. Cancer is an awful thing to have to deal with and I'm so glad your mum had her family and that you are all able to support each other. Here if you need me for anything xx

    1. Thankyou ♥ It has been a really hard last few months, but I'm getting there now. My mom is recovering well from her gastrectomy (the surgeon decided to remove her whole stomach, instead of part of it) and she will start her first post-op chemo soon. Thanks, that means so much to me lovely x


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