It was a strange and difficult start. I never expected my daughter to be diagnosed with cancer – who does? As the communications between their mother and I are complicated, it was a tedious start to the whole process. Nicole’s mum texted me to say that she was worried about Nicole, and that I should step in and help. The first thing I wanted to do for Nicole, was book another doctors appointment with her GP – that was my first starting point. Although, I read the situation at first, as ‘just a teenager faze’: she was staying in her bedroom, feeling isolated from our world. Teenagers have a new world, that us oldies don’t really understand… Virtual gizmos, and a new network etc… Staying cooped up in her room is a normal activity these days for a teenager, but eventually it became apparent, it was more than just being isolated in her bedroom, it was a nagging and persistent cough. It’s time to make the GP appointment, as Nicole felt reluctant to make an appointment because previously her GP made her feel unwelcome in the clinic.
I only knew bits and bobs at first… I don’t see my children for very long; with work and living elsewhere. Eventually, the GP appointment came and went… nothing conclusive though, it could be this or that; no C word as of yet. They were still running blind. To cut a very long story short, after many cock-ups from the GP and the hospital, we finally knew what we were dealing with. In some ways, it was a relief that we finally knew what it was: cancer. And about time – Nicole was finding it harder to breathe as each day passed, this damn cancer collapsed her lung and the cancer was spreading fast.
From this point, it almost felt like a blur, things were moving fast and the hospitals were pulling out all the stops – Nicole’s life was really on the line. As a father, it’s our job to be strong and positive. I kept focused, as I could see the others around me, falling apart. I was trying to match Nicole’s courage and strength, giving her the boost she needs. We both had a strong bond. One has to put yourself in a zone, and almost carry on as normal. Things improved for Nicole, even before she had her first chemotherapy, they cleared her lung and she was finally able to breathe again… which is so important. I could see she looked better from this day. The worst was over, I thought. The chemotherapy would do its stuff… going by the statistics.
It was a real surprise that radiotherapy was not suitable for a young person, and it came as a real shock that she needed more treatment, but a relief that proton beam radiotherapy was an option, and that Florida was the destination she will be having it. Parris was the right person to chaperone her on that journey into the unknown. What stars! It was also warming to know that I would be in Florida at some point to meet up with them. It’s been a roller coaster, for all the family, only Nicole knows the truth of it all.
To summarise with my hand on my heart, I have been positive throughout that Nicole would come out the other side and whoop its ass! She is a changed person because of it, stronger. Although, it’s not quite over yet, but the sun is shinning once again. I am so proud of her. No one knows how we deal with things, until they happen. I’m delighted that for my own sanity, that I stayed positive. Yes, the worry is there, with some sleepless night, a few secret tears but you have to get on with it – you don’t have a choice. Don’t dwell for a moment, as the madness would set in. It was so frustrating at first, I wish we made the decision to dial an ambulance earlier – that’s the hardest part to deal with. No one was listening. Parents, siblings and professionals: ‘Listen for the calls’.