Today was a very bad day! Carol was unwell when I returned home from China. She had been diagnosed with pneumonia, but unfortunately this turned out not to be the case.
My wonderful girl, Carol.
This is a letter I wrote to friends in August explaining the situation.
This is an e-mail that I thought I would never have to write. In 2008 my wife Carol was diagnosed with cervical cancer, it was a tough time for us, but we thought we had pulled it off. Only in July this year we were celebrating Carol's all clear from the hospital. This was at the three & half year stage. Just a week later, while on holiday in Prague with Rowan, Carol noticed she was getting short of breath. She went to a doctor & pneumonia was diagnosed. On her return to the UAE, she went for further tests. All these tests pointed to secondary cancer of the lung. In fact, it is the cervical cancer which has moved into the lung. We have had a second opinion, the diagnosis is correct. Carol starts chemo on Thursday in Al Ain. In 2008, she was an absolute star & she responded better than doctors predicted. Hopefully this will happen again.
Before all this came to light, we had organised a family reunion in Kenya, as our children are quite widely scattered across the globe. We decided to go ahead with the holiday & not tell the girls. I think it is fair to say it was a bit of a strain on us both, but they never suspected anything. It is Carol's 60th birthday on 2nd October, I brought it forward to the holiday in Kenya & as an excuse, used the pretext that we would not all be together in October, so this year, Carol will have two birthdays! I organised tribal dancers & we had a great party in the garden of the villa at Diana beach.
The next few weeks are going to be tough for Carol. She knows what lies ahead, as she has been through it before. She is a tough cookie, with a brave & positive attitude. She has lost a lot of weight in a week or so & she is going to loose her hair in the near future. For a woman, this is going to be very upsetting. Now, the reason I tell you this, is that I want you all to play your part. Two of the people in this e-mail actually work with Carol & she is going to try & carry on with work, (if she is able). It is our experience, that it is best to try & keep a routine going in these circumstances. We know you all wish her well, but when you meet her, please don't ask how she is! This is a natural reaction on your part, but has a cumulative negative effect on Carol. She doesn't need to be reminded several times a day from well wishers that she has cancer. She is not likely to forget! Instead, I want bright & breezy, positive people around her. Depending on how she feels, I plan to have the mother of all parties to celebrate her birthday in October. This will be a happy occasion to which you are all invited!
Please don't respond to this e-mail, there is no need. We know your thoughts are with us at this time.
Metastatic cancer is a death sentence, there is no cure! You just have a certain amount of time. Treatment can delay the inevitable, but it can’t stop it. My lovely, wonderful girl has between twelve and fifteen months to live! I really can’t believe it! I want to quit work and retire to spend our remaining time together. Carol, on the other hand, thinks of Rowan still at university, with bills to be paid and she decides to try and carry on as normal, for as long as possible.
The London Olympics are a welcome escape from reality. We even manage to spot Nicci and Peaches in the crowd watching the cycling road race! But when we turn the television off, dark reality crowds in on us. I don’t know how Carol copes. We pretend everything is normal but when we look into each others eyes, we know it isn't. When I am alone, I cry a little. I don’t know if Carol does the same.
We live each day as best we can, knowing that the next one will be that little bit worse for Carol and so it proves. I can see no light at all, only darkness.