“When someone has Cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” - Terri Clark
My parents knew that I had a hospital appointment to get my results about this curious cyst. It was the middle of the night back in Australia and they were eagerly waiting up to hear the news. Straight after my appointment, I had to face telling them that one of their worst nightmares had come true. No parent deserves to hear that his or her youngest child has been diagnosed with Cancer, let alone from half way across the world. Rather than staying in the gloomy and depressing hospital room, for comfort, my sister and I decided to go to my favourite London location, the pier by Tower Bridge.
Armed with some Starbucks to help keep us warm, we sat shivering by the river Thames (with tears that could easily fill it) and video-called our parents. As much as they tried to stay strong, I could feel their shock, their sadness and most of all their fear. With no treatment plan in place yet and still waiting on further results to determine the severity and spread, so many questions were flying back and forth. We decided not to make any rash decisions on the spot and wait for my next appointment later in the week. With an “I love you and goodnight”, we ended the phone call, full well knowing that they would hardly get to sleep that night. Dad would be devastated, but would go into practical mode, spending hours researching so that he could have answers in such a helpless situation. Mum would be left emotionally shattered and have a dreadful time with her thoughts in overload.
After composing ourselves, we then headed to my “English family”, my amazing co-workers. One of my main reasons for moving to London was to further my HR career and what better way than to gain overseas work experience. I had landed the perfect job at the start of 2013 and had worked tirelessly throughout the year. The meeting room where we usually discussed my workload, ideas and goals suddenly was used to discuss the same things in a totally different manner. Would I be staying in the UK or heading back to Australia for treatment? Would I be able to work at all? What about everything I’d spent the entire year working so hard for? Would the company support me during this time?
Feeling so overwhelmed by the days events and the realisation of how much my future could change and just how quickly, I was physically sick. Yes, I vomited my entire Starbucks venti mocha in England’s youngest heritage listed building… Luckily it was into a bin and with only the small audience of a few worried co-workers. Then armed with some “in case of emergency” plastic bags, we figured it was best to head home.
Sitting in our London flat, I realised just how far we were from home. I thought of all my friends back in Australia and pictured their reactions to my diagnosis. As hard as it was to hold it in, I decided it was for the best not to share my news just yet. I was struggling so much and with the added heartfelt reactions of my family and co-workers who I’d already told, I couldn’t face breaking the news to anyone else.
It’s safe to say that it was the most emotionally draining day, made worse by the uncertainty of my future. I would not have any answers until later that week when I would meet my new oncology team who would explain my diagnosis and treatment. All I could do until then was to “Keep Calm and Carry On” and for goodness sake not to Google Ovarian Cancer.