Cancer - Your Story : The Big C

Editors Note: It's been a while since I posted any "Cancer - Your Story" guest posts.  The facility is always there in the background if anyone wants to use it.  Recently, Sharon contacted me and asked if I could reproduce an up-to-date version of her own story about her Dad along with information about what she has done to raise awareness and charity funds.   This blog post originally appeared on Sharon's blog, "I Heart Motherhood" and you can find her on Twitter as @iheartmuthahood

Last year I took part in 2 events to raise funds for Cancer research and care; Swimathon, raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and Race for Life, run by Cancer Research UK.

I was happily bumbling away in my 1st pregnancy bubble when I found out my Dad had cancer.

April 2009, I was 6 months along and my Dad was having back trouble. This is all we thought it was and he'd been to and fro to the doctors, been given pain killers, but nothing satisfactory had been done to make him better. He was getting worse until finally during a trip to the doctors he got stuck between some lift doors and he was in agony. An ambulance was called and he was admitted to hospital. From that point onwards his diagnosis came quickly.

I remember the day the consultants told him he had Cancer; they came to my Dad’s ward, closed the curtain around his bed and told us in a matter of fact way that he had Myeloma. I didn't know exactly what this was but I knew it was cancer and from that point on, I think I only heard random words that were being said. I felt like I was underwater and my ears were blocked. The only other word I heard was 'incurable'. I also felt like this wasn't really happening to our family, I wanted them to take it back, it seemed wrong that we were in a ward surrounded with other patients and a flimsy curtain was being used to shield others from the worst news I'd ever heard.

Myeloma is such a cruel cancer and in my Dad’s case he now has lasting damage from it. It affects the bones that are dense in bone marrow and for my Dad this has meant damage to his spine. He has fractured vertebrae where the Cancer cells have broken down the bone and as a result he has lost about 4 – 5 inches from his height. The result is that his diaphragm is scrunched up and it causes difficulty with breathing not to mention the effect that it has on his self-esteem, going from being a man of about 6 ft to 5 ft 8.

From the point of diagnosis he started on immediate treatment, oral chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell transplant, further chemotherapy. It was a long slog for my Dad, and my Mum was holding everything together while he spent a long while in the hospital. I got quite acquainted with the place, as apart from visiting Dad I was having my ante-natal checks there too. Quite often I'd couple a midwife appointment with a trip up the stairs to see Dad.

I found it really hard to keep my feelings in check all the time, I was heavily pregnant, getting extremely tired, working full time and wishing all the time that this wasn't happening. I couldn't believe that life could deal such a cruel blow when we were meant to be having the best year, with not just one grand-daughter on the way but another one too, as my sister was expecting as well. My mood swings were terrible, one minute crying uncontrollably, the next happy and I didn't want to crack in front of people (I saved this for my poor husband). I would feel guilty and selfish for feeling sorry for myself as after all it wasn't me that was ill, was it!

Since those first really awful months in 2009, we've obviously had our baby, my sister has had her baby and my Dad has his illness under control according the specialists, so life is good and looking so much more positive. The babies in the family have really helped to lighten everyone up, especially my Dad, he loves to see them and I love to see him with them too. He inspired me to fundraise last year and I feel proud that in total I raised £850 with my combined swimming and running efforts. It's so important to support these charities as Cancer affects most of us at some point in our lives.

Once I have our second baby this year I intend to do another activity to raise money as they fight never stops! For more information on the topic and charities I have mentioned please see the following links: