The New Norm.

Just a short couple of weeks ago we learnt the devastating news that Phil has quite an extensive brain tumour. After some migraines in the summer and a few isolated incidents of quite extreme head pressure and nausea, Phil was referred for a MRI of his brain. This was merely precautionary and not in one moment did we believe it would be anything more than the suspected diagnosis of migraines. There was no other major symptoms and we put the headaches down to the fact that the last 18 months had been extremely stressful with three miscarriages and numerous rounds of IVF.

It was just a short 48 hours after learning of the tumour that we found ourselves up The Shard on a Friday evening sitting in front a Neurosurgeon. Not the typical Friday night date we had hoped for and once again we were not prepared for what we were to be told and in the space of a few short minutes our world came crashing down. The tumour was extensive and needed immediate surgery. It would not be possible to remove it all because of the size and location so the words Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy were spoken. A biopsy would also be needed to provide the prognosis. The surgery itself was scary and the risks were high, but the reality was we had no choice, without it the tumour would prove fatal.

It was such an out-of-body experience, an earth shattering moment where for a few short seconds I actually stopped breathing. All I could do was look at Phil and try to imagine what he was feeling and how I could possibly comfort him. The journey home through London Bridge was surreal and as we sat on the train neither of us could stop the tears from falling. We went straight to my parents who were looking after Austin as we just wanted to hold him.

Still in total shock we headed home and we put Austin to bed, both Phil and I completely emotionally drained. I tried to sleep but by 1am I found my mind fiercely alert and I decided to get up and come downstairs. I sat on one of our kitchen bar stools just looking out the window into the darkness. The tears started off slow just cascading gently down my face but before long I was crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. The enormity of what we had been told that evening hit me like a train and life as we knew it had changed forever. The next time I looked up I saw figures rapidly passing the kitchen window walking the short distance to the train station that resides at the bottom of our road. It was 6am.

Grief is such a complicated emotion and needs to be processed, when it hits it can manifest itself in so many different ways. Your mind takes all the uncertain information you have been told and then creates a story that isn’t always the truth. I struggled to eat and the constant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach made it hard to focus on anything else. I tried hard to comfort Phil and act normal in front of Austin. Phil continued to amaze me with how composed and brave he is. We cried together, individually and everything in between as we were comforted by our wonderful family and friends. The visitors poured in that weekend and it helped us so much, gave us so much strength.

I wondered how normal life could possibly continue, how we would function daily but I was surprised how we both started to process the information after the initial panic and devastation starts to slow down. You find a new focus, I found some days easier than others but I found waking up in the morning the hardest as for just 1 second when you open your eyes you believe all is ok. I longed for the sleepy kiss on my forehead from Phil at 6am as he headed into London for work. He is so strong and resilient I know that sleepy kiss will return before we know it.

Today, after enduring brain surgery on Monday evening to debulk as much of the tumour as possible my husband comes home. Ahead of schedule and once again proving how strong physically and mentally he is, and as a family we now learn to live with our new norm. Whatever the battle ahead, we face it together. It isn’t the battle I thought we would be fighting at this time in our lives but we’ve no choice but to continue to be positive and full of hope. After all, how can we not believe in miracles, when we have our very own Austin James?






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