I have decided to share with you what would have been my first ever blog post on Dear Melanoma… but I chickened out! Here it is a year and one day on!
Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day, a day that has always been low-key in my family home, but still a day that never goes without some kind of token to celebrate or treat my mum. I want to write about some of my own feelings that have been with me for some months now. Feelings that I have not openly shared.
I have always thought that I was born to be a mum. When I was at school, especially in high school, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up; I never really had an answer. Most of my peers would list endless careers, but I couldn’t. I just knew I wanted to be a mum. My career would simply have to fit around me being a mum.
Amongst my high school friends, it was always considered that I would be the first to marry and have children (one of which came true in March). We are still waiting to see who will be first to have a child. When I moved to East Timor in 2012 for a year, I quickly worked out that I was a bit odd amongst my jet setting friends. The majority of them having chosen their next destination and adventure to follow their stint in East Timor. For many of them, I was somewhat of a younger sister at 22, but the crazy young woman that wanted to go home, find a man, get married and have some babies.
Almost six months ago this all changed for me. I was sitting, recently engaged, in a small room with my fiancé, mum and dad, and my oncologist. This was my first meeting with my oncologist after being told my Melanoma was no longer operable. The appointment was largely a blur. I was told in this appointment about the reality of Stage 4 Melanoma. A reality that wasn’t fantastic. A reality that was far from fantastic. I was to start treatment that on average would give someone a prognosis of 18 months. I knew that this meant that there were people at opposite ends of this average, and the positive side of me asked what would happen if I survived this. The oncologist once again highlighted the reality of my prognosis. But, I continued to ask questions. Questions about having children – Should I freeze my eggs? Will I ever be able to carry the pregnancy on my own? If not, could we use a surrogate? All these questions were answered, but once again, it was highlighted that it would be unlikely that I would survive, let alone be able to explore these avenues.
At this point, I would like to make it clear that everything my oncologist said was not with the intent to be pessimistic or not to hope. In my cancer journey, I have learnt that, for me, being realistic is the right way to handle the disease. I know there will be people that read this who would like to criticise how this was handled or tell me that there is hope and I could be cured. Yes, I could be one of those very lucky people that respond to treatment. But, only myself, my husband, Serge, my family and my doctors know the extent of my disease. So, I ask you please not criticise or suggest how I should be feeling about motherhood.
With Mother’s Day tomorrow, I feel that I can share what have been my moments of sorrow and the many tears I have shed behind closed doors or at night as I go to bed next to my husband. Tomorrow is a day that celebrates everything that I wanted to be and will be a reminder of what I won’t be.
I keep the sorrow I feel to myself because both my sister’s are living out the dream I wanted for myself. Ashlee has three children under four and Sarah has a baby boy due in June. I am not envious of my sisters and do not wish that they weren’t experiencing the joy of the motherhood. But to be honest, sometimes it is so hard to not be sad and it sucks big time!
I wish that I could be waddling around with a big fat beach ball of belly in front of me. I wish I could get away with wearing super tight clothes to not show off my not so flat tummy, but instead show off my beach ball of a belly. I wish I could go and buy all the cute clothes ready for bubbas arrival. I wish I could watch Serge’s face when he hold’s his baby for the first time. I wish I could watch them take their first steps. I wish I could take them to their first day of school. The list is endless.
I am lucky that I get to watch Ashlee’s children grow up and be part of their life. I know that when I am not here, they will be told about me and will always have part of their Emmy in their heart. For Sarah’s baby who I am so excited to be able to meet – something that three months ago I thought I might not able to do – Harry may not remember me, but I know that I will be spoken of. So, as hard as it is to know that I won’t be a mum, being Aunty to these children is definitely a close runner up!
I spend a lot of time thinking about this little baby that I hoped would be Serge and mine. One of the hardest things about knowing that I have terminal cancer is imagining life after I am not here. Serge and I have spoken about my wish for him to move on, marry and hopefully be a dad. Many tears have been lost to this, because even though I wish this for him, it is sad to think that we are not able to have this together. In the lead up to Mother’s Day, and as we talk about celebrating our mum’s and spoiling them, I know, and deep down hope, that one day Serge will be doing this for someone that is not me. A thought that is bittersweet.
Tomorrow I will be thinking about my Mum and sisters who are the best mums (or soon to be mums) in the world. Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet, but I will celebrate them and thank them for all they have done for me.