Return From Jacksonville

I wrote this post in Jacksonville and Charlotte airports, the day we returned home to England. I was saddened to leave, and in this post I will take you through my last minute thoughts about our departure.

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Some of my amazing team, who made every hospital visit feel, despite being all about cancer, distinctly cancer free.

The last week or so, time has been our own. I graduated from Florida Proton Institute on 21st January, and since then we have had no hospital appointments, no treatments, no check ups, nothing. And it has been glorious.

It has been over a year since all this started and it is hard to remember what it felt like to not be in pain or to not have the threat of hospital visits hanging over our heads. I may love the hospitals I am treated at, but I also love not having to base my life around them. This week has been the closest to normal I have felt in forever.

I would like to say this is our new normal, or that the coming months will take us back to a place where we feel exactly like our old normal, a normal, that although I new I was damned lucky to have, I took mostly for granted. Unfortunately, I know this is not the case – not least for now. The return to England means the return to my home, my bed (actually not as good as it sounds; I had a beast of a bed in Jacksonville, and I have a mere single at home!), my friends and my family. It also, however, means the return to regular hospital appointments.

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CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE. Let them eat cake, is the advice that all oncologists should give (if any of you are reading this, I’m serious)

I will soon begin chemo, and before that starts I will be having an egg harvest. This is fabulous news and I really am over the moon that I got funding approved for this (I will talk more about this in a later post), but for now it means even more hospital appointments. Appointments that begin Thursday, the day after we land, continue to Friday and pick up again Monday.

All in all, before chemo starts I will be having chest scans, potential MRIs, chemo appointments to discuss the treatment, fertility appointments to discuss the harvest, the actual egg harvest, including a procedure to remove them, bladder tests, nerve tests, Physiotherapy. I’m pretty sure there is some more that I am forgetting too. To sum it up, I will be spending a shitload of time in hospital rooms. And so it’s no surprise when I say I am finding it hard to see how there will be any time left over for me.

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THE GANG: Tony, my mum, me, Becca, Tracy and Cath. All absolutely excellent people (inc me), who I know will be friends for life.

I am also sad to be leaving people who understand this diagnosis and what it means in the way only those who have gone through it can. This is not meant to knock those who haven’t experienced it, because the support I have received from those people has been totally amazing and I feel unbelievably lucky to have such a fantastic support network of friends and family ready to help. All I am saying is that meeting and knowing people with cancer has been, despite my original resistance to getting involved in formal or informal support groups, one of the best things to come out of this diagnosis.

I could go on and on but I will not for two reasons. Firstly, the prospect of leaving all this behind is scary and saddening, having on more than one occasion brought me to tears. I think if I continue to think and write about this I will start crying again, which no one wants to see, thanks to my face going all blobby, blotchy and generally ugly when I do. Secondly, I do actually have a plane to catch. So I will finish and leave you with the status I put on my personal Facebook earlier


 

Yesterday was our last full day in Jacksonville, Florida. It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to the city and the people I have met here. Yes, this diagnosis has been impossibly and painfully difficult, terrifying and quite literally life threatening, but positives can be found in even the most terrible challenges that life presents us with.

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A few of the patients undergoing proton therapy at the centre.

And indeed so many have come out of a diagnosis that should have solely been overflowing with negatives. Although there have been so many hard, trying times and I feel as though I have lost so much, I have also found so much goodness. I have grown more as a person and found a sense of purpose and resolve that I never knew I had. I have met the most fantastic set of people here who I feel so strengthened and lifted up by. I have accomplished and produced things through this struggle that I would otherwise never have had the confidence to, and I feel proud of myself in a way that I never knew how to.

It feels wrong in every way to be leaving a place that has given me so much. This city, the centre and the people who I have met through this experience that I have bonded with have helped me in ways they will never know. A very special lady said to me that these goodbyes must be done in stages. Today I may have said farewell to the centre and to many of the people that I met there, but I know it cannot be goodbye for good. I am not ready to never see these people again, and although many of you may not understand how such a seemingly morbid thing in common can strengthen the bond two people can share, it does, and I feel I have known many of these people for years

Thank you to all of you for everything you have done for me. I look forward to seeing many of you again and until then, best of luck.

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Some of the lovely people I met at the Proton Centre during my stay. All of them made saying goodbye an, although necessary, hard step to take.

 

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

2 Comments

allison semikin

It truly was a wonderful place which meant it truly was a difficult goodbye. I will forever be grateful to the whole team there and the incredible friends we made along the way. Jacksonville is a wonderful city full of friendly and welcoming people. I too will miss everything there and I fully intend to return with you well and better to revisit the Proton Institute and say look at my Beth now, look what you helped to put back together. I most definitely have left a little piece of my heart back in Jax and will never ever forget what they have done for my family. The friends we made are friends for life and they all were so important in our incredible journey there. We will get through the next few months together, we are a family fighting this, you are not on your own Beth and there will most definitely be a lot of laughs along the way. Love you girlie xx

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tumourhasit@gmail.com

It really was and I already am looking forward to returning. It seems forever ago that we were there now that appointments have started again. Coming back to England and returning to the sarcoma lifestyle that UFPTI seemed to dispel so easily is overwhelming but we will be able to get back there some day! Love you lots and thanks for everything xxx

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