The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.
Whether it had been due to shock, or whether it had been due to courage, it was not until the end of April, four months after the initial diagnosis, that I began to lose control of the situation. The diary entries I wrote became much less coherent and much more emotional.
The actual day of the diagnosis played over and over and over again in my head. Every time I thought about it I would begin to cry. I was fighting back tears every few hours: at home, with friends, on public transport.
Below is my entry from the 27th April 2013. I had become fixated on my inability to “stay strong” when the Doctor had said the word ‘cancer’. I was convinced that I was pathetic and that I was turning this whole thing in to something about me. Which, in many ways, I was, because I was becoming very, very ill:
“27.04.2014, Mum’s Diagnosis.
When I think back to that day- that moment- when Mum received her diagnosis, well… I can’t think back. Not really. Not fully.
I see the nurses pity as I ask where my Mum is. She should have been out an hour ago. Everyone else has gone home. We are the last. “Just wait here,” the Nurse says. I feel my whole body go suddenly warm. Heavy breaths through the nose. Don’t think the worst.
The Nurse walks down the corridor to a Doctor. They whisper and point over to me. My eyes begin to sting.
“No,” I tell myself. “This is not happening.”
I can feel the anger seeping in. Then Mum comes through the door behind the whispering two. She is so small and gentle. She smiles sweetly at me, expecting nothing; not knowing the whispers are about her.
I hug her. Ask her how it went. She’s happy. It was better than she thought. “Coldplay was playing in there,” she said, “I like Coldplay.” The drugs had not worn off. They made her no less conscious but very calm.
I ask, “what’s next?” She’s been told the Doctor will speak to us before she goes home. This is procedure. I feel calmer. It was all in my head.
Then the Nurse comes through the door with another juniour Nurse and a man in a suit. I don’t recognize him. He’s been called here especially. The three usher us in to a side room. Mum and I enter.
Five of us crammed into a Doctor’s office. Cramped. All four walls covered in leaflets, pinned on top of leaflets. ‘We’re here to help,’ ‘What next?’, “How to deal with…’.
“Mrs. Novell, we’ve done the test and we’ve found something.”
Nothing. I feel nothing. Not suspense, not heat, not sadness. Nothing. I feel and say nothing. I need the next sentence to come from his mouth.
“We believe it’s cancer.”
I look to Mum. She is still, calm, unmoved.
And then all the breath leaves my body through my nose and my eyes overflow with water. I feel winded. I hide my face away. Want to be strong. Don’t want to cry.
Not real. This isn’t real . These moments are for T.V.. Not until this moment did I fully believe in cancer but now it had me by the throat.
Stifling my tears. Gasping for air. The junior Nurse with tears in her eyes as she watched me break. The whole focus on me. Mum still calm, collected, worried about me.
I feared her reaction. Her reaction was nothing like I would ever have expected. She handled it perfectly.
The pain’s too much. I step outside to collect myself for a moment. The hospital corridor is empty. I take my phone, frozen in my hands. My partner had told him to tell him how it had gone. I can’t call. How do I put that in a text. Three words. Send. I turn off my phone, take a deep breath and walk back in.