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I bet that cancer is one of the words people fear most in this world. We are afraid of getting cancer as much as we are afraid that someone we love, might get cancer. I've seen a few family members die of cancer and I know it's not a pretty thing. It destroys lives, ending people's lives prematurely and it leaves loved ones struggling to live a normal life again.
Every night I pray over my kids for health but when life gets so busy as a parent, hubby and I often fall asleep ourselves while putting the kids to sleep, which means we often go to bed without praying for each other.
My husband is a really funny person, but even I must admit that he sometimes makes inappropriate jokes. I've learned to take certain things he says with a pinch of salt. Other times I know he is joking so I play along to see how far he will take it.
When he called me to tell me the specialist he had seen in Albania had diagnosed him with cancer, I thought he was joking. I didn't exactly expect him to make a joke that was this inappropriate, but he said it without any emotion, so I just didn't believe him. He got annoyed and hung up on me. That's when I thought: 'What if he's serious?' I called back and there was more emotion from him this time - he was just in shock.
Shock can make you do strange things. I've never been one to cry while I'm in shock. The moment I realised he was serious, I thought of the practical things like: 'What now?' The more the day progressed, the more it sunk in and with that, came fear.
'What if the worst thing happened? I was 25 weeks pregnant and we have two very young boys. I had to stop myself from going down that negative spiral of being driven by fear, and instead, be led by faith.
Every time my husband called, the kids seemed to be hitting each other, crying or demanding something from me while I desperately tried to hear what he was saying on the other side of the line. They are such clever little wonders. They pick up on the smallest of things. It's so hard to follow one of the most important conversations of your life while you have two kids making a massive noise. It's hard to stay calm in that moment too. I didn't. I told them very loudly to stop their nonsense immediately or I would put them each in a separate room. They did stop, and I was able to follow the conversation but I felt awful for not staying calm in that moment. Our lives were about to take a very unknown route and they needed me to be someone they can count on.
When other people get cancer, I never really know what to say other than: 'I'm sorry.' Suddenly, I felt that whenever I have said that to someone, it must have been so insufficient. What you really want to hear is: 'I'm here for you.' Actually, that's not even true. What you really want to hear is: 'There was some mistake.' or 'Everything is going to be alright.' But no one can say that because no one really knows that.
It isn't me with the cancer, but for a moment I desperately wished I could take it away from my husband. It's not me with the cancer, but it is our problem together and I will not let him feel alone or afraid during this. In sickness and health right? When you love someone, it's not a choice you need to make, it comes naturally to want to be there with them and for them.
We messaged friends and family while we were still in shock, trying to share the bad news before it might be too difficult to say it. Immediately the messages start flowing in. People from all over the world offer help and support in whichever way they can; people letting us know they are there for us. The messages that bring the most comfort are the messages of people saying that they will pray for us; for him. This is what brings him the most comfort.
We get a message from a friend who works in cancer research putting us in touch with a specialist. The practical things really help too. She is on it and knowing we have got her support is really comforting, especially to my husband. She knows what she is talking about and she has contacts that she is using to help him. It makes us so thankful that we have people we can rely on, people who care and people who know us so well.
I contact a friend who is an absolute prayer warrior. She is incredible! Immediately she starts by saying, 'I'm sorry to hear, but this cancer is not staying. If a thief breaks into your house and comes and bashes things around in your house, you don't offer it a cup of tea. You tell it to leave! This cancer is not staying and we are telling it to leave.' When I realise how true her words are, I want to laugh. I want to tell myself off for even having scared moments. I call my husband to tell him what she said. He is amazing. He is always so strong and positive and full of faith that he really puts me to shame sometimes.
When he comes home we just hold each other. We just hold each other and instinctively we both apologise for any hurtful thing that we might ever have said to each other. It's like it was playing on our minds. Neither of us want anything to be between us because we need to be the team we always promised each other we would be. We need to be there for our lovely boys and our unborn baby. We need to stay calm and positive for these little people who depend on us.
We soon learn that there will be natural ups and downs, highs and lows. Having to wait to see the specialist and having the surgery mess up the referral twice, lead to frustration, knowing that not everything is in our control and it's the unknown that can be the biggest curve balls. But, we refuse to become negative.
Then a series of nosebleeds have us really worried. Before he looked fine and in moments, we even forgot about the cancer. But when something like the nosebleeds happen, it makes matters very real and it's in these times that I find it hard to stay calm. So when I want to cry, I leave the house and call a family member or a friend. I try to cry it all out so that when I get home, I can be there with a smile and a hug and a helping hand.
My son asked me: 'Mummy, why are you talking sad?' when I asked him what he meant he said: 'You are talking slowly, mummy, so I know you're sad. Talk fast like me so that I know you're not sad.'
But we can't shelter our little ones from the truth either. There's a fine balance to manage here. We need to be honest with them but also not make them fearful and only communicate in a way that is age appropriate to them. So I tell him that daddy is really ill, but that we believe he is going to be alright. I say to him that sometimes I may need his help a little more than I used to. I tell him that he has to listen to daddy a bit better and that daddy might get upset but it's because he's upset with being sick and not because he's mad at any of us. He seems to understand. He is such an amazing kid.
We are on this journey together and together as a family we will fight this cancer. And we are telling it to leave. And I know people mean so well when they say that they are sorry, but we are not because we refuse to house it. This isn't my husband's fight, this is our fight as a family and we know we have an army of people to support us. They are amazing. And now that people have offered to cook for us, help us look after the kids so that we can get some time together, pray for my husband and just be there for whatever we need, we know, this cancer has no chance.
Thank you for all of your messages, your support and most of all, your prayers.