The "C" Word - Part 2: Numb

I've never particularly been a fan on hospitals, but then again, who is? However, I think this entire situation perhaps gave that fear and awkwardness I feel towards them a slight boost.

The day we heard the news was the first time I ever understood that whole white noise and staring into nothingness 'thing' people do in the movies when they've had their heart broken or something. Everything around me just ceased to exist; it was all gone. Numb. That would perhaps be the best way to describe it. I heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing. In that moment, I was just empty.

It started in the liver and spread to the lungs. Aggressive. It was not caught it in the early stages.

The words surrounded me as though they were just dangling in the air. At absolutely no point during the hour that I was sat there did the words sink in. It wasn't until later, when I found myself collapsing in the corridor in a puddle of tears that I realised what was happening. Suddenly the fear I had felt for years about this evil disease made perfect sense. My chest was tight, head swimming, heart pounding, hands shaking and stomach turning.

Over the next few weeks I began to come to terms with things. Well, if coming to terms with it means having your inner voice constantly tell you "this isn't real, this isn't real" and "these things don't happen to good people, so it'll be fine!".

The reality of what was happening to my family didn't feel real, because it simply didn't feel like it should be happening to us. My mother: the most amazing woman you could ever meet. My big brother: my inspirational best friend. My father: the strongest and most loving man. My mind blocked it off, I shut down, completely ignoring what was really going on. I stopped crying; I never cried about it after the first week. See, I was told to "be strong" for my family, and so I was. Of course, what was meant by this was "support them" and not "shut off completely so you don't get sad" - which, is exactly what I did.

Chemotherapy began.

Mood swings, that chemical smell that lingers for days as it's in the body, weight loss, sickness. So much sickness. I was terrified and I felt so helpless. All I could do was sit there, hold hands and wish for it all to be over. Wish to wake up in my bed with everything around me absolutely normal, how I had left it before shutting myself off. To have the pain my family was all feeling to just vanish. I can't remember what it was like before that pain.

Several ambulances were called over the months. Each one terrified me more than the last. The sirens, the big flashing lights, the medics, the uncertainty of what the outcome would be.

The chemotherapy stopped working.

My inner voice was still telling me to not believe it, that it was fine. This was not happening to us, it was "impossible" - apparently. "They'll find something else, and that'll work fine!"

Food wasn't much of an option and not a lot was eaten. Curry - the one thing I, at seventeen years old, was good at making and the first dish I ever really learnt, inspired by my curry-lover Daddy Dearest. One night I decided that I was going to set up a dinner, not a big portion, just a little in the hopes it would get eaten. Even a little food is better than nothing. I put two portions on a tray and a little candle in the middle. A little date set up, I was excited about it.

It tasted like nothing and cardboard. It didn't get eaten and I was really upset by it, which really is stupid because I don't quite know what I was expecting from it. I tried though, at least.

Even when we were visiting Katharine House Hospice I refused to believe what was happening. It wasn't happening, it just wasn't. I was fine, everything was fine, why didn't people get that it was all okay?! Looking back, it is so painful to realise how in denial I was. I wish I had accepted it and understood from day one what was actually happening.