A little cloud

Monday, February 07, 2011

Girl offering candy floss to floating cloud

There is a little cloud that follows me around. Some days it's a fluffy white wisp of a thing that floats high in the sky; I can almost forget it's there. Some days it is oppressive and black and heavy and terrifying.

My mum, she of the recipe book, is ill. She has cancer. And not of the "oh they caught it early, she's a fighter, she'll be fine" variety. That's what we said eleven years ago, and for nine years, it was true. She was a Breast Cancer Survivor.

But nearly two years ago she was working in a chalet in the French Alps with my dad (oh, did I mention my parents are awesome?) and had a sore hip, for what turned out to be completely unrelated reasons. Her physio friend, for whom I am thankful every day, suggested an x-ray "just in case". Something funny showed up that the French doctor n'aimait pas. Scrambled flights back and forth and several scans later, and she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in her bones. BOOM.

cloud mobile on white wall

Secondary breast cancer is a funny beast. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed, sometimes for years. We don't talk about "battling cancer", we talk about "living with cancer". It's a cycle of drugs and scans and results and and more drugs and more scans and more results that goes on and on until they run out of drugs that work. Waiting for scan results is the worst. It even has a name: the dreaded Scanxiety.

Sometimes the scan results are bad, triggering a flurry of action. Tumours in the liver, chemo again, another trip to the wig shop. Sometimes they're good. The chemo is working, the tumours are shrinking. Then it's back to the waiting, and hoping. The cloud floats higher and higher until it's just a hovering presence at the edge of your vision. But it still casts a shadow, a subtle change in the light.

In some ways the future is more certain now. There is no cure. That is our reality. But it's the when, the how long, the horrible questions to which there are no answers. Ok, nobody knows when their time will come. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow, bla bla bla. But most of the time, you don't think about your own mortality. You don't walk around thinking, I wonder if I'll die this year, or maybe next year. I wonder if I'll see my son get married, or hold my grandchildren, or see Paris again.

Three positive prints on wall (Everything is gonna be alright)

But all we can do is keep positive. Such a cliché, but there's a reason for that. Think of life in manageable chunks, don't think about the long-term. Try not to let the weight of that cloud pull your life in a different direction - hold firm to your path. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but hey. All you can do is try. 

Last year, there was one day that broke through the clouds like a bright shaft of sunlight. We had a beautiful day on the beach with all of our family and friends. Drink was taken, dancing was sweaty and abandoned, and everywhere you looked were massive cheesy grins. Oh, and the Hubster and I got hitched, which was nice.

Your wedding is just one day. I get that. And it's not, contrary to what the WIC tells us, the Happiest Day Of Your Life (at least I hope not, I wasn't planning on peaking at 26!). But when the storm is raging, and the sky is black, I hold that day in my hand and my heart. And it helps.

Wedding group laughing on a beach, flowergirls playing in the background

So if I ever seem a little sad or sorry for myself, or overly-sentimental when I talk about the wedding, or my family, well. I hope you'll forgive me. I just didn't want to go any further with this blogging thing without explaining, because that little cloud will always be hanging around, casting its shadow over my thoughts and words.

But I'm my mother's daughter, so there will no doubt be plenty of irreverent nonsense on here too, and I'll try to keep the boring cancer chat to a minimum. I mean, if talking about the wedding ever gets tiring (I know, it's almost unimaginable, but you never know), then there's always shoes. And Rob Lowe. And pizza. All those things that make life worth living.

Images: 1. Michael Casker's Pet Cloud series 2. Cloud mobile from leptitpapillon on etsy 3. Print from evajuliet's beautiful etsy shop 4. Picture of happiness by Lillian and LeonardSee how the light shines through the clouds?



11 boats moored

  1. (hugs)

    You really do write beautifully.

  2. keep writing- love your blog

  3. I just found you via Cara.

    First, I am so sorry about this cloud. It hits really close to home, as something similar happened to my grandmother (breast cancer survivor, then 12 years later very advanced colon cancer was discovered; she died just before Christmas last year). So I'm sending you the biggest hugs ever.

    Second, I adored your wedding. It's one of my favourites ever from Cara and Nye. :)

  4. Cara, thank you so so much for your lovely comments and for sending so many of your lovely followers my way!

    Julie, if anyone knows how hard this is it's you - let's both keep going! Thinking of you.

    Kristy, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I wish so many families didn't have to go through this. Thanks so much for your hugs and kind words - right back at you.

    Oh, and it's one of my favourites ever too ;)

  5. Also via Cara. And wishing you and your mother nothing but the best.

  6. LPC, thank you so much for your kind wishes. I love your blog and am honoured to have you here!

  7. via Cara too!

    Best wishes to you and your mum.

  8. Thanks Aubergine! So sweet of Cara to send all you lovely people my way.

  9. my dear girl just know that your are not standing under that little cloud alone,all of us who love your mum(and there's many of us)are right there with you.how I wish I could jump out the bushes and scare it away as I did with the bullies of the Blanefield Brownie pack but alas not.on the days when the cloud gets bigger I just remember that she's the bravest person I know and can only stand back and marvel at her courage as she deals with the cancer and awful after effects of the treatment.
    I'm sure if she reads this she'll be convinced I've been at the wine but it's only 7am PST and I haven't even had a cup of tea!
    All being well the Uncle and I will be on the BA Big Bird two months from today...back in the homeland for a "guzzle and a greet"...nowhere like home Toto!
    Love you
    Iz xx

  10. Just came over from your other post. My absolute best wishes for your mom's well-being.

    Your writing (and awesome knack for choosing photos to go with!), is truly impressive. I lost my mom about 5 years ago, and have not even attempted to put it in words.

    That said, I absolutely love your take on your wedding. Sometimes in the stress that is being 5 months out, I wonder why we're bothering. But when you say it like this, I remember. Why wouldn't I take the chance to have such a wonderful highlight that always hold onto? Thanks. :)

  11. I came here from another post of yours (and before that the tattoo one..) I wish I'd found your blog earlier!! I love how you write (and I also have a tendency to hate on the apostrophe misuse) :) My mum was diagnosed with non hodgkin's lymphoma a few months back (oddly also when in France she had stomach pains and the amazing docs over there insisted on doing loads of scans then packing her back to the UK for more...) and I totally get the little cloud analogy. Anyway sorry to babble on. I'll be reading more of your old entries!


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