After a good Christmas, with a lot of family, and getting some nourishment into my wife, we started 2017 with a new plan. It was decided no more rounds of chemo, but because the treatment had worked, the tumours were small enough to tackle with the operation.

This wasn’t to be taken lightly. The operation would take 10-12 hours, and involved opening the stomach up, removing any organs with visible signs of disease, and scrapping the tumours away from the wall of the peritoneal. I was told it was like a thick almost waxy substance on there. And there was a 2% chance of death, and 10-20% chance of serious complications. By this, they meant if they had to remove any of the colon or intestine, then that could lead to a colostomy bag. There would also be a full hysterectomy, leading to the menopause, and obviously no more chance of further children. Following that, hot chemo would be placed directly on the area to do a final stage. Recovery would be a couple of weeks in intensive care, and then a few more weeks in hospital recovering.

And this was lucky – we had health insurance that would cover the cost, and because of the chemo, a chance to even have the op. But it is a big step – this is a gamble no one wishes to take, and has side effects that are forced on you. The choice taken away about children, the potential life changing damage.

We left the children with my parents, and drove down to the hospital, with my mother in law and brother in law. We had a place rented close by, and had no idea how long we would need it. It was an early start, and we stayed for her to be wheeled out of the room, and off to theatre. I have never seen someone be so brave – I could never do that without having a major breakdown. Cancer shows all sides of people, but brings out the inner strength.

We were in a blur the rest of the day – killing time before we would get some news. I wanted to be alone – it is the main way I cope with things. Going for a walk, sitting in the car, anything to be by myself.

Thankfully the call came through late that afternoon. The operation had been a success, and she was now in the ICU. It would be a while before she would recognise us, but the first hurdle was jumped.

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