A quick life update

Well, it’s been one hell of a week – and not in a good way.

It’s hard to believe that, this time last week, the sun was still shining, and we still had some hope that we’d get some good news from Terry’s mum’s latest medical tests. This week, the grey sky and Biblical-style rain has perfectly matched our moods, and added to that surreal feeling that’s totally infused everything right now: we’re still going through the motions of everyday life, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that everyday life has changed for us, and will never be the same again.

The good news – if there can be said to be “good” news right now – is that Terry’s mum herself is doing really well: she doesn’t have too many physical symptoms right now, and mentally – well, mentally the woman is a complete inspiration, who’s just powering on regardless.

I’d always known she was strong (This is a woman who was abandoned on an Athens doorstep as a baby, and whose childhood didn’t really get much better from there…), but seriously: the day after her diagnosis, she went to bingo as usual (Us: “Are you sure you want to go to bingo?” Terry’s mum: “Well, what else would I be doing on a Tuesday night?”), and the day after that, she cooked dinner for 7 people.

We did try to dissuade her from this, obviously, and offered to do the cooking for her from now on, but if you’ve ever met a Greek mother, you’ll know you aren’t getting out of her house until you’ve eaten at least your own bodyweight in home-cooked food, and if cancer thinks it’s going to stop my mother-in-law from feeding her family, well, cancer doesn’t know my mother-in-law, is all I’m saying.

(She did apologise for buying in cakes rather than making them from scratch. She says she’ll get to that next week.)

Anyway. Because Terry’s mum has been so brave, we’ve all been basically taking our cue from her, and doing our best to stay calm, even when we feel anything BUT. All of this is obviously much harder than I’m probably making it sound here, though: honestly, it’s hard not to feel very ‘WHY US?’ about it all right now, and I suspect that will be an ongoing battle. For now, though, we’re just taking it one day at a time, and trying to appreciate every good day we get: sometimes that’s all you can really do, isn’t it?

(Thanks again for all of your wonderful comments this week: I haven’t been able to reply to each one individually, and I know that sometimes it can feel like one more comment can’t possibly help, but trust me when I say that they really do, and that every single one has meant so much to us both – so thank you.)

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  • Alex Curtis

    June 30, 2017
  • Your mother in law sounds like a legend. Though it is okay to feel whatever emotions come up, wonder “why us?” and generally feel a range of different things. It’s only natural.

    Seriously, cancer fails to stop bingo. Woman is a legend!

    My Dad has Parkinson’s and recently it’s kind of upped the anti on him. Part of me wants to devastate the disease with all I have. Part of me hasn’t got a clue how best to respond to any of it. Another part of me is terrified out of my mind about it.

    Some of my relatives in the past had cancer and other stuff so whilst I can’t know what you and your husband experience specifically, I have spent much time in hospitals, doctors etc worried to my core about my loved ones.

    Sometimes life can just be shit. May you both be surrounded by the love and support you need at this difficult time.

    June 30, 2017
  • I know what you are going through… I just want to send my hugs to you and Terry and your family. And a bigger one to Terry’s mum.

    June 30, 2017
  • Wendy


    I remember all the times you used to talk about your mother in law back in the day when we LJed. About what an incredible tower of strength she has always been for her family, you included even before you were married.
    It is so very hard to deal with the diagnosis and so very hard not to think about what the future will bring. I know this – I lost my mother to inoperable cancer. No words will make it better. I will share some unsolicited advice that I was given, and which helped me, so I hope might help you, Terry and the rest of the family.
    Spend as much time with her as possible and always behave ” normally” ( i.e. as if there is no cancer diagnosis). Laugh, disagree, speak, don’t speak, whatever it is that you usually do. Let your mother in law lead whether you discuss anything to do with her illness – she will want to appear strong because that’s who she is, so she has to decide when she feels comfortable letting you into her fears.
    In a couple of weeks, when the new reality becomes actually real, you or Terry might want to have a coffee with her alone and then let her know she can open up and share with you if she wants to, whenever she wants to, and whatever she wants to. It’s really important that it’s just her and one of you when you start that conversation ( which will be one of the hardest you will ever have to have), and don’t be afraid to cry in front of her then either. Also be prepared if she cries too. At some point you have to let the pain and fear out and it’s best to do it this way. Then let her guide how you all handle it from that point.
    I feel so bloody awful for you, Terry and all the rest of the family.
    And if yo think it might help to talk by messenger ( or phone – though I know how much you love the phone) with someone who is not part of your circle of family and friends and who has gone through this then please just send me an IM.
    And make sure you take care of yourself too! Xx

    June 30, 2017
  • Anna


    I have spent the last year going through cancer diagnosis, treatment, cure, getting back to a new me and can totally understand Terry’s mum wanting to carry on. I was the same, it was essential to keep a sense of normality and control in a situation where you feel you don’t have control. It is very difficult for family to know how to react in this situation because you naturally want to cocoon the sick person in love and care, and to look after them in an extra special way. Terry’s mum may not know how to handle this and feel a bit suffocated by it all, and react in a way that may be hurtful to you and Terry. Please understand that she doesn’t mean to hurt you, she is probably as frightened as you are and doesn’t know what to do either. Sending great big hugs to you all.

    June 30, 2017
  • She sounds like such a strong brave lady! I really hope her treatment will go well. There’s been a lot of cancer in my family so I’m well aware of how awful it all is (unfortunately). Thinking of you all.

    June 30, 2017
  • Janine


    Hey lovely,
    I haven’t commented in a while but I always read. What a bittersweet ball of emotions these last few posts have been to read though…. I can’t imagine what you’re going through at all….

    One the one hand I’m so so happy and excited for the baby news. As a woman the same age as me who so far hasn’t been blessed with children (like me) I always related to you closely in that way. And I still do now. I am wishing and hoping for a beautiful stress free pregnancy for you and imagine what amazing happiness and adventures lie ahead for you all. Beautiful.

    I’m so deeply saddened to hear about your mother in law. She sounds like a real inspiration. As a person who deals with chronic illness (multiple sclerosis) I feel her need to keep on business as usual. Its what keeps you sane in the days when your mind can’t even make sense of the smallest thoughts. Looking after others also helps you from allowing your mind to go to the dark places it will naturally try take you in these times. All I can say is she sounds amazing and she’s lucky to have such a loving wonderful family around her allowing her to still be herself and still nurture you all. As that is what makes her her. And in times like this she’ll want to fight for anything that maintains a sense of who she is. Not a person with cancer… but herself as she was the day before she was told she had cancer. She’s still the same ballsy amazing person and staying herself is her fighting this.
    Sorry if that’s all garbled. I’m feeling very emotional for you all. High and low emotions. Xxx

    June 30, 2017
  • Patricia Lucy


    This really touched me. My wonderful husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and after patiently enduring drugs, treatments and pain passed away in 2014, aged 63. I recently found a diary that he kept in 2013, and most of the entries were items like “jazz trio at the pub”, “family dinner”, etc. He was determined that cancer would not rob him of what life he had left. The most helpful friends were those who could carry on regardless. I know this can be tough, and believe me, I thought Why US ? almost every day.
    Your mother in law sounds wonderful!

    June 30, 2017
  • Myra Boyle


    What a wonderful family Terry’s is (I know yours is) filled with love and care. You will all look after her and give her enough happy memories for a lifetime. Sounds like a typical Greek mama, feeding her family will give her great pleasure and having you all there will be a blessing for her. There is nothing more you can do, just show your love.
    Thinking of baby whosit too, just fill yourself with love

    June 30, 2017
  • Marilyn


    “. . . abandoned on an Athens doorstep as a baby, and whose childhood didn’t really get much better from there…” – unbelievable. I’m wishing her all the very best, that woman is a true hero, in my book. Sending all good wishes to all of you. x

    June 30, 2017
  • I’m so sorry. She sounds like an amazing woman. x

    June 30, 2017
  • D. Johnson


    To have come from such difficult beginnings and end up cooking for, and loving, her own large family is miraculous. Of course she wants bingo and normalcy! I wish all of you strength and peace as you face this.

    July 1, 2017
  • Stephanie


    She sounds like an amazing rock of a woman. I can see how continuing to take care of those she loves gives her a sense of normalcy. There is so much love in your families!

    July 1, 2017
  • Kelly Glen


    Your mother in law sounds like such a remarkable woman, even going through something as terrible as this she wants to carry on caring for those around her and continue to lead her life in a way that takes such bravery and courage. We are all thinking of you and Terry right now and please tell your mother in law to keep fighting.

    July 2, 2017