Dear reader, perhaps surprisingly for someone who writes I don’t usually like to delve into anything too personal on my blog. But today I’ve had news that has been huge, and wonderful, for my family and I felt I just had to share it.
Over the past five months, my husband has been having chemotherapy for an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His diagnosis came as a shock to us, his only real symptom a sudden wheeziness back in April. Despite being a marathon runner, within a week or so he found himself unable to run further than a couple of hundred yards. Naturally I did the wifely thing and nagged him to go to the doctor in case it was a chest infection. Everything turned surreal from then on, a blur of hospital corridors and scans and worry.
Once we had a diagnosis, he was immediately started on the first of six rounds of chemo – one week in hospital followed by two weeks at home, and repeat. For each round, he was admitted to the same room in the same ward. We encountered a lot of people passing through room 8 over those months, most of whom walked out the door with the incredible medical teams’ help, one or two who tragically didn’t. We can barely bring ourselves to talk about them, reminders of how merciless this terrible illness can be.
While I tend to keep things to myself, Roger maintained his sanity by recording everything through Instagram posts, drawing cartoons and even sending out a very funny/poignant weekly newsletter to friends and family. He has used the waiting period of the past month to compile everything into an ebook. Throughout the whole frightening five months, he has been dignified and as cheerful as a person can be when every time they look in the mirror they see a hairless version of themselves, a constant reminder of what is hanging over them.
But today, all that changed again. Today Roger was given the all-clear – demonstrated by the oncologist showing the before-and-after PET scans in a sort of bizarre medical makeover. On one, a fire raged in his upper chest, on the other all was calm. We were so braced for further bad news that it took a while for it to sink in. This was done.
We are enormously grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way to recovery, the oncologist and doctors, the nursing staff at Cork University Hospital, the catering staff who snuck us extra treats wherever they could – on one occasion even providing an impromptu afternoon tea as we watched Harry & Meghan’s wedding on the central TV in the ward. People have been so kind and caring, often well beyond their job description. They are remarkable people who do an incredibly difficult job.
We’ve also been surrounded by much love and support from our friends and families, which we will never forget. It’s all pretty overwhelming, really.
So, onwards. We are now impatient for the return of Roger’s mighty beard and crazy hair, I am looking forward to hopefully having a clear head for writing again, and – despite our deep affection and admiration for the astonishing carers – we fervently hope never to see the inside of room 8 again.