After a few phone calls that I made to Mum during the course of a couple of days, she and the family kept us updated how she was feeling. They drove her to their local hospital to not only get a second opinion, but also because my cousin was a nurse who worked there – she could perhaps look into it more clearly. I tried not to ring but the anxiety was starting to get the better of me. I was so scared.
‘Kate, stop fretting! Your mum just needs to rest’ , my aunt said abruptly . I sighed and ended the call. I tried to take my mind off things by tidying up around the flat and some cleaning -waiting for the phone to ring. Max was working and I didn’t start work til the late shift which was 2pm til 10pm (such a killer shift). I came home that evening and was exhausted. I looked at my phone but I didn’t get a missed call or anything. I checked the landline but there was no messages. ‘Hmm.. strange’, I thought. I sat on the sofa and switched on the remote. Half an hour or so later…
‘RIING!!’ I jumped out of my skin and ran to the phone. ‘Hello?’ I said slightly breathless. It was Mum. She explained that they weren’t allowed to carry out any tests as she was an outpatient and wasn’t a resident in the area. ‘You’re joking! I said angrily. That is bang out of order! This could be really serious mum’. Tears were starting to well up in my eyes but I tried to suppress it. ‘Kate, don’t worry. Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it. I’ll be coming back tomorrow and Frances will be staying over until I feel a bit better’. ‘Okay, see you soon’, I replied with relief.
I told Max the latest news and we waited at home for her to come back. The next day, she finally arrived with Frances early morning and we let them in and made them a cup of tea. ‘Aw, thanks love’, as I placed the mug down next to her. We all had a discussion about these last stressful couple of days and tried to figure out other options. She called the doctors and booked for another blood test but this time, she really pushed for it. ‘They better bloody find out something!’ Frances muttered.
We all made a dinner which mum really enjoyed, even though she was still struggling to eat it. She doubled up on painkillers as advised by Yvonne and we all headed to bed early. Mum was lucky to be able to get a blood test appointment the next day in the afternoon and it was a non-fasting one. After the test, she returned home and had a lie down. Frances sat in the living room and asked us to switch on the news (which is all he watches).
The next day, Mum was relaxing at home. She told Frances that she would be fine and that he could go home. ‘Very well, Tree but I still think it’s best I stay. Just in case’, he said with concern. ‘Honestly Frank. It’s fine, go’. He sighed but smiled and kissed her on the cheek goodbye and made his way out the door. A little while later, while mum went to do some tidying up when the phone rang. I was in the kitchen making a coffee while I heard her rush to answer.
There was a pause for a moment.
It was the doctors. They had the results come through which was surprisingly quick.
‘My CA125, what?’ She asked in a confused tone. Then I heard her say, ‘High? I don’t understand…is it urgent?’ I listened carefully feeling slightly anxious. ‘Okay..I’ll come over’, she put the phone down.
‘What was that about?’ I asked with worry. ‘The doctors said they want me to come as they found high levels of protein. The CA125 measures tumour markers’, she said.
My heart was in my mouth. My heart started to race. ‘Mum, what’s going on? is…is it serious?’ My voice started trembling. ‘Kate I don’t know! She snapped. I just need a lie down. I don’t want to know right now’. My face fell. She sighed. ‘Sorry love..I just don’t want to do anything at the moment. I’ve got awful pain’.
That evening, I went to bed early and in the middle of the night I heard a crying sound. I turned on my light and wandered into the hallway. It was mum. ‘Mum, what’s the matter?’ I went over to hug her. ‘I’m in so much pain and I had this weird dream with Tim’. She was sat up clutching a hot water bottle. I listened on. ‘I saw him and he said that I must get better for the kids. But I told him I can’t, I can’t. The pain is too much!’ She started sobbing. I think maybe this was dad trying to contact her but it might have been her subconscious. We’ll never know. ‘Mum, you have to go to the doctors’. I said firmly. ‘This isn’t right at all. The hospital couldn’t find anything about the bleeding…it could be serious..like c..’I refused to say the word. ‘I’ll call Frank to come back down’.
I heard her get up and moan in agony. Max rushed to her side . ‘Mum, are you okay?’ Poor guy didn’t know what to do to comfort her and just rubbed her back to try and ease her pain.
Within a couple of hours, Frank arrived and dashed to the front door. ‘Theresa, c’mon, you’re coming with me’. I could sense he was getting extremely concerned about her. She rushed to the bathroom sink and vomited.
‘Oh God, no!’ She burst into tears and dropped to the floor. The unforgettable moment of horror happened again.
The blood. Only this time it had gone a horrible coffee grain- looking texture. ‘That’s it! Kate, call the ambulance right now!’ Frank shouted out. Max and Frank helped her up and within 10 minutes or so, the paramedics arrived. I followed them out and watched them carry her to the ambulance. We got into Frank’s car and drove ever so fast to the hospital. Frank turned very sharp on the roads which was putting me on edge but I knew he wanted to get there as soon as possible.
They rushed her in and left her with us to get the nurses. She started vomiting again. It was starting to really distress me. Frank grabbed a bowl and put it in front of her. She was retching uncontrollably and the sounds she was making made it unbearable for me to listen. ‘Help! Please!’ she cried out’. They were taking too long to come and by this point, she was vomiting everywhere! Constant, dark congealed blood. I couldn’t face it. I had to get out but I couldn’t leave her. ‘Someone help her, For God’s sake, What is wrong with you lot!’ Max shouted out. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I called the family to get here quickly.
Finally, they got her a bed and gently lifted her on and wheeled her in the resuscitation room. We sat down by the exit waiting anxiously for a doctor or nurse to arrive. Some time later, a doctor had walked over to us and told us to listen carefully. ‘We can see Theresa is very poorly and is suffering with extreme internal bleeding, which we believe is coming from the gastrointestinal area. We’ll do some CT scans and we’ll let you know what the results are’. ‘Is it bad?’ Frank asked tearfully. Max started sobbing and so did I. ‘I know it’s not good news, she feels she just wants to die now’, he started to hyperventilate.
Frank went outside to take a breather and Max and I continued to wait for more news. I called James but he wasn’t picking up so I left a long voicemail. ‘He’d better hurry the hell up’, I thought.
The doctor came back and told us they were going to move her to the Gastroenterology department to have a scan. We let Frank know and made our way to the lifts. We walked into the corridor and there she was. She looked so fragile and lifeless. She turned her head and looked at us. She started crying. We didn’t know how to comfort her but we sat down next to her and held her hands tightly. ‘You’ll be okay’, I whispered.
The porters took her down to the scan and when they returned with her an hour later, we quietly waited. I took deep breaths as I felt a panic attack happening. Frank returned back and forth with coffee and passed the messages on to the family.
Suddenly a doctor came into the room with a clip board and two other junior doctors. ‘Can we speak to your mother please in private?’ I started to panic and we walked outside. ‘This isn’t good. What’s happening?Why aren’t they saying anything?’ Max started pacing up and down rubbing the back of his head. We were all extremely worried.
Then, not long after, the doctor opened the door and asked us to follow him. He led Max and I to a small utilities room and asked us to sit down.
‘Your mother isn’t very well. The tests showed a mass on her pancreas. ‘Please, just tell us what’s wrong’, I pleaded. My hands were shaking.
‘I’m so sorry…she’s been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer’.
I froze. Max froze. My whole body shook and then I wailed at the top of my lungs. ‘NOO!’