Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Hello to my dear Sparkfriends, thank you for your messages and good wishes, apologies for my lack of response.
It's been a tough few weeks. I went home to England mid June and spent a wonderful week with my parents before travelling to the south of England to join my husband, daughter and son for our family holiday. During the 3 weeks we were away, my mum fell ill. By the time we got home again, she had been admitted to hospital. There followed 2 weeks of daily visits to see her, some days she looked very poorly, other days she was almost her usual self. On 1st August, I called in to see her before catching the ferry back to Belgium. Her consultant called me into his office and explained that it was likely Mum had cancer, although they wouldn't be sure until they completed tests the next week.
I arrived back in Antwerp around lunchtime the next day. My husband got home from Madrid that evening to find me feeling quite emotional and tearful. "Do you need to go back? I'll drive you now if you want" was his immediate reaction when I explained. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I wasn't prepared for the phone call that came a couple of hours later, my Dad telling me that Mum had passed away that evening.
The death certificate stated cause of death as Colonic Cancer and Malignant Ascites - advanced colon cancer that had spread to other areas of the abdominal cavity. Until 4 weeks earlier, she had had no symptoms. She only went to the doctors then because her legs were painful. Unbelievable.
I said goodbye to my mum at her funeral on Monday and returned to Antwerp today. It still hasn't sunk in. Trying to find positives, I'm just so grateful for the week in June we spent together, when she was her normal, "healthy" self. I'm also pleased that her illness didn't drag on for weeks and months, and she only suffered for a short while.
It's scary that mum's illness could have become so serious before she knew anything about it. Colon cancer is not routinely screened for here until you reach 70. I've been researching it over the last few days - apparently nicknamed the Silent Cancer as it is often symptomless until quite advanced. I think I will be asking my GP for regular tests before my 70th birthday....