I write this post a little bit numb. My girlfriend and I are facing some pretty hard times.
Becki is incredibly close to her family. We make a point to head down to Wales once every three weeks or so, because she feels that she needs to make contact with the clan… especially her mother. Her relationship to her mother is very important to her.
So, two weeks ago, when her mother was in the hospital with suspected gallstones, Becki was understandably worried. I told her that gallstones aren’t life threatening, that there are ways to break the stones up or remove them with surgery, so her mother would be back to normal in no time at all. All they needed to do was run a few tests and confirm the diagnosis before they put her through some routine, painless treatment.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t gallstones. It was pancreatic cancer.
I won’t go into details about the diagnosis, save to underline the fact that it is a very serious one. Pancreatic cancer is rare, and it is especially dangerous because it displays no symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage, which is what happened here. It was all incredibly sudden. A month ago, she was her usual self. All of a sudden, she has cancer at an advanced stage. It’s terrifying.
This is all sort of unprecedented for me. I’m fond of her – not just because she’s a good person, but also because she’s so important to my one-and-only. I see a lot of her in Becki, and I’m frightened for her. I’m frightened for her whole family. I don’t know what to do or how to respond, and I feel certain that this tragedy will come to define the next several months, even if everything goes as well as can be expected.
It’s inspiring to see everyone pull together to get behind her for this. The phone over there has been ringing off the hook with well-wishers, and we have enough Welsh Cakes to feed an American family for like forty minutes. People are over constantly to see how she’s doing and keep her company. Becki, her brothers, and all of their partners – numbering six in total, including myself – have all teamed up to take care of the cooking, the washing up, and other various household chores. Everyone’s come together to help keep things normal and fight this thing.
It’s hard to watch. It’s difficult to see Becki go through it, and it’s almost too strange to accept as real. I’ve never experienced anything like this myself and can’t even imagine what it’s like for her. It’s not the sort of thing that you can make better with enough comforting words and cuddles. I feel pretty much rudderless and have no idea what to do. There isn’t really anything I can do but hold her and not let go.
It’s only going to get worse – even if all goes well, and they can shrink the tumor with chemo, it’s going to be an immense challenge for all of us over the next several months.
I mentioned earlier that it’s hard to accept as real. It’s like that for all of us, not just me – most days, Becki and I just go about our usual business. I practice drawing, write, go to work. She exercises and tries to manage her own insane workload. We laugh, tell jokes, and do all of the things that we ordinarily do. Then, often in the evenings, she’ll remember. She’ll cry and I’ll hold her, and it’s awful.
It’s also difficult to accept that there’s little we can do. We can do some cooking and cleaning for the family and keep her mother company. We can try to keep her spirits high. We can be there for support. But the hard battle is something she’ll have to go through on her own.
I’m in Gloucester, now, working as usual. So is Becki. I can’t help but feel like we should be down there, and I know Becki feels the same. Yet we can’t just abandon our lives, and the time off we have to spare is limited. Our employers are understanding, but it wouldn’t be fair of us to take a solid month off and still expect money. Besides, there’s little we can do right now. We’re still spending as much time as possible in Wales with her family, yet I often wonder if it’s enough. I feel real pangs of guilt over this. I almost feel like we should just drop everything and be there for the next several weeks, even though the reality is that it won’t solve anything. I feel like if we don’t, we’ll regret it.
I feel a lot of things. Above all, though, I feel fear. It is a general sense of foreboding that waxes and wanes, but never vanishes.
The worst part is that Becki’s mother is fairly young at just over 50. She had no risk factors – she doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, no drugs, nothing like that. This came out of nowhere.
Ask your parents to get themselves checked out. I did. I’d hate for this to happen to anyone else.