In early 2016, after a period of progressively worse stomach pains, my wife was diagnosed with cancer in the peritoneum, mesothelioma to be precise. This is extremely rare, and unfortunately incurable. That year she underwent 6 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, which managed to shrink the tumours enough for her to have a 10 hour operation in May 2017. During this the surgeons removed many major organs, before leaving her in an induced coma for a week, and then ICU for a further couple of weeks. All while our children were still in school (our daughter was 11, our son 6).
Thankfully she made a full recovery (or as much as it can be), and we managed to enjoy some family time, all the while hoping that advancement would be made towards a cure.
Unfortunately the tumours came back much faster than had been hoped, and in 2018, she started immunotherapy, which would be less aggressive than chemo. Where chemo destroys everything, immunotherapy uses your bodies own defences to fight the cancer. However, after 5 rounds, her body decided it didn’t like this, and effectively shut everything down, from initially her lungs, and soon everything else. I can still picture sitting by her seat in the hospital after 6 hours of waiting and encouraging her to breath as the doctor told her they were going to put her in a coma to save her life. That wasnt the first, and certainly not the last time I cried whilst driving home to the children.
This time for three weeks, they kept her alive, pumping all sorts into her body to stop its own urges, before being able to bring her gradually back to consciousness. But this story has to have a twist, and in that instance it was a stroke that has caused the loss of eyesight on the left hand side, along with an extreme loss strength and mental ability.
Recovery from that event has been long and frustrating, but we have managed to keep going. In 2021 she had more chemo, and in 2022 she had radiotherapy, all designed to try and shrink the tumours, that have now started to spread to the liver and pelvis.
This year, 2023, we received the news that the cancer has spread further and there are more tumours on the liver, and bones. She has times when she is extremely frail, has lost alot of weight, and can struggle with many physical aspects of life.
She has lost a high flying corporate career, made redundant after a year of treatment, and now has no prospects for work in the future, due to her lack of adequate sight, strength, and likeliehood of needing further treatment.
But through all this, through all the knockbacks and long bouts of ill health, she has kept her capacity to help others, put people ahead of herself. She has never complained, and has taken all the hits on the chin, trying to keep a positive mental attitude to keep fighting.
She has helped our young children navigate through pivotal times in their lives, as my 17 year old daughter has become a young woman, and our 11 year old son has grown up with barely knowing anything but a sick mother.
She has tried to make our lives exciting and enriched, even when she cannot eat she will cook meals, and even when she has to sleep she has made other people comfy and happy first. She will always give to others ahead of herself, and has a selfless attitude, despite having the right to be totally selfish after what has happened. She isnt bitter despite what she has lost, and is still losing.
In a world where extremely mediocre people can rise to positions of power and influence, I think my wife should be seen as a beacon of what a woman should be, and as such I celebrate her on today, International Womens Day.
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