Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On the journey...

Chris came home from hospital today. He went in last Monday afternoon and had surgery to remove the cancerous bowel, along with the surrounding lymph nodes. The first four days, all spent in Intensive Care, were difficult and he was in a lot of pain, but he's home now. Resting (as much as he will - he is, after all, the walking definition of perpetual motion) and healing and getting better. He isn't allowed to lift things or to drive for 8 weeks. It's going to be a very quiet Christmas. The shop down the road carries everything we need and they will deliver. The butcher is just across the road, and the local church has brought us some meals. The support of the community and our friends and family is amazing. We will get through this.

The surgeon who performed the bowel resection met with Chris this morning. While the details aren't yet available, he was able to relay to Chris what happens next. Not only was the cancer in the bowel fairly large, but the arteries and veins in the area were affected as well, as were the lymph nodes. The next step is an appointment with the oncologist. And the cardiac folks will be behind us as well as we move forward.

One of the most incredible support networks in the UK for people affected by cancer is the Macmillan Cancer Support group. This charity goes above and beyond the call of duty. Cancer patients are referred by their GPs, and Macmillan supports cancer patients and their families by providing a nurse who calls in every week. She is there to help with every aspect of support - medical, emotional, physical and psychological. Our Macmillan nurse is Mary Ann and I think the world of her. She came over yesterday to chat with me before Chris got home today. And our GPs are beside us, too. They called on Monday to schedule a flu shot for me since I needed to have one before Chris came home. In addition, we have the support of Maggie's Centre at the hospital. Founded by a cancer patient, the centre provides an oasis of calm, where you can get a cup of tea and slice a cake, attend a meditation session or just have a chat with one of their volunteers. It was a Maggie's Centre volunteer who helped us do the Power of Attorney and will help us with other forms we may need to complete while Chris is going through the process of fighting - and ultimately beating - this cancer. Where we can't or won't think of the things that must be considered, these wonderful people will fill in the gaps.

So, we take the next step on the journey. It will be a long one and will, from time to time, feel overwhelming. But with the support of friends and family on both sides of the pond, with the support of the local community and Macmillan and Maggie's Centre, and with the support of the excellent medical teams both here in Aultbea and at the hospital in Inverness, we will be okay. 

We are not alone. And that is the greatest blessing of all.