I'm Not Dead Yet!

Mary Maycock's War on Cancer

I'm Not Dead Yet - The Book

........this is a WORK IN PROGRESS

First Days

My memory of the first days after I was diagnosed is incredibly painful. It hurts to remember...

But there have been many times when I have been exquisitely privileged to see how marvellous human nature can be in difficult situations.

As one goes up each floor in the hospital, I see the wards have been given appropriate names. Flowers and trees on the lower floors, followed by animals, then birds, etc. But at the top of the hospital, after you’ve worked your way up through the lower “grounded” floors, the wards are named after heavenly bodies. Needless to say, my feeling of panic was palpable on the way up to “Saturn” ward, and turned to near hysteria when I saw how frail and elderly most of the patients were and when I recognised how seriously ill WE all were! Being a lung ward, most had oxygen by their beds to aid their breathing, and some were using it in earnest.

It was the evening of my terminal diagnosis and my boys were determined to see me to check I was ok. I was just as determined that they shouldn’t because I did not want them traumatised by what they might see. They were due to go abroad on a school trip to Spain the next day and I was frantic not to allow them to discover the gravity of my situation before they left or they, most likely, would refuse to go. I felt strongly that it was only right to allow them this last holiday before trauma wrenched their beautiful childhoods away.

I managed to convince one not to come, but the other was so MUCH more determined! I was desperate, but eventually convinced him just to stay for a very few minutes. Being communicative and social by nature, I shared my anxieties with the other ladies in my ward who were all as concerned as I not to have him alarmed by anything before his holiday.

When he arrived I was sitting up in bed looking as perky as I could. As he entered looking anxious I noticed how the other ladies hurriedly hid their oxygen masks beside them or under their covers. For those few minutes of his visit, the ladies in my ward all deprived themselves of their vital oxygen, sitting up in their beds and smiling, in order to appear as healthy as possible throughout his visit. Immediately as he left, those fabulously generous spirited women dove beside their beds for their oxygen again.

I was amazed then at their generosity and I am eternally grateful for their consideration towards my scared and precious youngster. I look back on those few moments when those big-hearted souls were slowly turning blue for my sake and I laugh and smile at how miraculously brilliant people’s lights shine in the darkness of despair. I know each one of those souls has a blessed star because they helped me to preserve my sons’ childhoods for a week or two.

Distressing moments: “I’m sorry to have to tell you Mrs Maycock that the scans show that you have cancer throughout your lungs and liver already and that it appears to have spread from a primary tumour in your breast”

The words were not meant for me. They could not be!

Hope can be found in the unlikliest of places

Over time I have found many things to cling on to that contradict the hopeless and helplessness of my first few months with cancer.

At the start of my journey I was convinced that my life was pointless. That remained so for some many weeks after my diagnosis. I stopped looking when I crossed the road, stopped being careful with my precious life because it seemed so futile.

One sunny day I had to nip to the cash point in town. As I was standing with my back to the road receiving my balance, I heard a young child running. He came from the alleyway beside the bank; I could hear his little feet echo under the archway. Out he popped and ran happily my way. Suddenly he stopped and looked around him. I can remember it all in such tremendous detail because time appeared to stand still for a few moments. My instinct was suddenly alert. I could not see his mother; she must be some way behind. But he also had lost sight of her. At the same time I heard the motor of a car on its way towards us, its engine was revving high as it exited the roundabout. It came whistling up the road behind me towards us. I saw the child’s face suddenly turn from carefree happiness to concern that his mother wasn’t there with him. As I looked round at him I caught his glance fleeting across the road. I saw immediately that he thought she had crossed without him (when in fact she was in the alleyway following; I could hear her now). Without a second glance he dashed straight out between two parked cars into the path of the speeding car I heard coming a moment before.

It was so lucky I was there.

It was so lucky I am a mother and I am instinctively switched on to the sound of little feet.

So lucky that I was aware of the speeding car.

As the child darted out time stood still. My entire focus shifted in that split second to the thought that he was certainly going to be run over by the car that seemed to be so deafening so suddenly! I remember taking a dive for the child; not a pathetic shift in weight, but a proper goalkeeper’s dive. (When I was a youngster my brothers used to model a proper goalies dive all the time and I used to be so impressed that I spent time practising it when nobody was looking. And at last it found its use!)

I grabbed the child just as he reached the edge of the car’s bumper furthest into the road and the car sped past. I never imagined I could move so fast nor have such a long reach. As far as I know, nobody else witnessed anything. Before I knew it the mother had appeared from the alleyway and I had some explaining to do about how I was roughly holding her crying toddler.I explained as best I could, retrieved my card from the cash point machine, and went home.

The mother had thanked me and left quickly. I think she must have been either embarrassed at her mistake (we all make mistakes) or bothered that I had grabbed her child when she wasn’t there. I’ll never know what her thoughts were, but that made no difference to me at all. From that moment I knew that I had saved a little life. I had actually used myself to save someone else. That little boy is alive and well today because of something I did! Even if I do have cancer I am STILL ABLE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

I went home in shock. But alongside the shock came the realisation that life was really worth living! If I’d given up and died that little boy may well be dead now too.So life IS truly worth living. We can make a difference to others with everything we say and do. Just a smile or a precious comment can make the difference to someone who is struggling.

With that realisation came hope. And a promise for the future.

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