‘Cancer?..I don’t understand..’ I sniffled. ‘Why? And what the hell has caused this?’ There was a short pause and the look of empathy and sadness spread across his face. He lowered his head.
‘ A lot of different things may have caused this. We had a chat with your Mum and we all know that she has been smoking for a number of years which could be one of the factors. We reckon years of stress may have caused this too. You both lost your Dad, right?’
‘Yes…We did eight years ago.’ We both said quietly.
Then what came out were the words that Max and I will never forget.
‘I’m afraid the news isn’t good. You see, this type of cancer leaves a very poor prognosis. The cancer is very rare and very aggressive, and the chances of surviving this disease is only 5%. We found that this tumour has spread to your mum’s head and tail of the pancreas. Her liver is also affected. I’m so sorry…’
My mind was in a tangle of questions and felt like my head was going to burst. I couldn’t say anything. It was all too overwhelming to bear.
‘What happens now?’ Max asked in a shaky tone.
‘We could recommend chemotherapy but it’s very intense. Depending on how she feels and when she feels stronger, chemotherapy will slow down the progress of the tumour’.
‘What about surgery?’, I asked.
‘I’m afraid that’s not possible. We would usually recommend a procedure called the Whipple procedure but it’s very complex and unfortunately, the cancer is at such an advanced stage. The cancer has attached itself to the blood vessels so the chances of surviving this procedure is very slim. The important thing we can do now is to make your mum as comfortable as possible and improve her quality of life.
‘How long has she got?’ We both asked.
‘We’re not sure. Each person is different but I could probably say no more than six months’.
‘Oh, God!’ I buried my head in my hands and sobbed my heart out.
‘I know how hard this is for you’, the doctor said gently. ‘I’ll let you see your mum and give you some space’. He opened the door for us and walked us back to mum’s room.
After he left, we sat beside mum. There was silence. No words, just tears. I stepped outside to call James and the family to tell them the news. Nothing but devastation was all we felt. Our lives completely turned upside down.
I came back in the room. Max and I both went over and gently held mum’s hands.
I looked into her eyes and said, ‘It’s going to be alright, Mum. I promise’. I heard a knock. It was James. He walked into the room and stood very still. He gave Mum a gentle nod of reassurance and went to sit beside her.
This was going to be a big journey ahead for Mum. A huge battle. I knew she was very strong. But it was now our turn to be strong..