It's a strange kind of day for me today, because it's exactly a year to the day, and pretty much to the hour, since I was given my cancer diagnosis. I was told the news sympathetically, caringly and professionally by my consultant and Macmillan nurse, who must have given this news scores, hundreds of times and yet who still made it personal to me, not making me feel as if I were one more person on this conveyor belt of cancer patients.
I remember it was a beautifully sunny day. When we drove home, in shock I think, I was able to justify putting on my sunglasses to hide my weeping eyes. They're weeping now as I recall the shock, fear and then numbness I felt when I heard the words coming out of the consultant's mouth and saw the understanding in his eyes as he saw my face change.
Neil and I sat in the garden all afternoon, not really talking about it, each of us trying to process the news in our own ways and coming together for a hug and a few tears as we tried to make sense of this world, our new world that had tilted on its axis. How to tell the children was uppermost on our minds....our daughter was travelling in South America and communication was patchy and dependent on phone signals and internet cafes. How could we ruin her trip that she had worked so hard to achieve Our son was at work but would be home later - how could we tell him this news and tilt his world as well? In the end, we decided to wait until we had both assimilated the news and then tell each of them at a time we felt was ...not "right" - how could there ever be a "right time" to give this kind of news? - but a time when we felt we would be strong enough to cope with any reaction from them and when we knew a bit more about treatment and outcomes.
Since then - well, you all know what's happened if you've been reading my blog. I look out of the window today and it's raining (weather that, ironically, would have been much better suited to the news I got last year! The pathetic fallacy clearly isn't always alive and well....). Neil has gone to work, our son is off at uni, our daughter is back home from her travels and off at work. I'm here, alive, in remission, enjoying life and going for my monthly check-up tomorrow, which I hope and pray will continue to show no signs of cancer. I'm glad that today is so different, both in weather and in terms of who is at home, than last year. I don't want a re-run any more than I am already replaying it in my mind, although I did say to Neil that in a way, it would have been good to have him at home today and just be the two of us, but that might have ended up being a bit too introspective and brought us both down.
Instead, I shall celebrate the fact that a year ago, I thought my world was crashing down around my ears. Today, my world has been built back up again, on the firm foundation of family, friends, faith and the medical profession (couldn't find another word beginning with "f"!). It's a slightly different world, but it's a great world. Neil, Amy, Adam and I together have dealt with our family being diverted from its usual course and onto a different path. We're walking this new path together, arms linked, me the smallest as usual, leaving our shadows behind.