Updated: Feb 16
Back in 2011, when I was 23 years old my Mum was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer. I remember the moment she was diagnosed vividly. I had driven two hours to pick her up from the hospital after her colonoscopy appointment. She had been on the waiting list for months, after having long-term ongoing gut issues that her doctor thought were related to inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or Celiac (even though she had all the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer).
When I arrived to the hospital and let them know that I was there to pick up my Mum, someone came straight out from the back and asked me to follow them, and instantly in my gut knew something wasn’t right. As we navigated through the hospital, me following right behind one of the hospital staff, my mind was ticking over on all the things that could be about to happen, and I knew this wasn’t going to be good.
We arrived shortly to a little recovery room and Mum was in the bed really groggy from the anaesthetic still. She wasn’t really with it and I was a bit confused what was going on. There was a man in the room who introduced himself as the physician who performed the procedure, and then he proceeded to tell me that my Mum has cancer and it was very serious. I remember collapsing onto the floor and crying. My Mum put her arm down and said something like ‘it’s ok lovey’.
I don’t think she really understood at the particular point in time what was going on. He had found a very large tumour low down in her sigmoid colon/rectum that he thought was around 10cm.
How could he drop a bomb onto me like this? What was happening? I had just arrived from this long drive to pick her up and bring her home from a routine procedure, but was told that she was going to be immediately transported to another hospital as she required urgent treatment? It was a whirlwind, and before I knew it she was in the Ambulance being taken.
I jumped into my car, went to her house and got some of her things and then continued on to the next Hospital. While all this was happening I had to inform my sister who was at work, and also called my partner of 4 years to let him know what was going on. My sister got straight in the car and did the two hour drive to meet us at the Hospital. By this time, we were finally able to get some information and located where they had put her in the Hospital. She had been allocated a room and we found her there. Some doctors came and put the fear of god into us about the seriousness of the situation saying that it was so urgent she start chemo and radiation straight away or she would only live for another 6 months at best. Stage IV they said.
If you’ve been there, whether personally or beside someone you love, you’ll know how I felt in these moments.
I think that my Mum already instinctively knew she had cancer. And she had already made the decision that she was not going to do chemo or radiation. She got up out of the hospital bed and walked out, proclaiming that it was her body and she was going to do things her way. And she did. She had her personal reasons and she knew conventional treatments weren’t right for her.
To be continued…