Dear Papa

Papa and I: It all changed when (Part I)

7th November 2019

As a child, my biggest fear had always been something bad happening to the people I love.

As an adult, this fear remained. So much so, I would struggle to sleep some nights with the crushing thought of you falling ill. I would push myself to tears with those thoughts. It probably wasn’t healthy. In fact, I know it wasn’t. But, that fear is what led to me being very expressive in my love towards you, Papa.

The reality that I could lose you meant I was taking no chances.

So, of course, you can imagine my devastation when your scan results confirmed you had lung cancer. In fact, devastated isn’t the word. My entire world crumbled as Mama broke the news.

Through tearful eyes, I googled ‘SCLC’ and within minutes I knew. It was happening. My worst fear was coming true.

The best-case scenario: ‘5 years’ overall survival.

From the information I had so far, your condition was far from best case, meaning time was of the essence.

I cried so much Papa.
I felt defeated.

And despite Mama’s efforts to reassure me that treatment was an option, I knew that the available treatment for this kind of lung cancer was merely a feeble plaster. At least at that time anyway.

I rang ‘L’ and through sobs begged him to come home.

I don’t remember what happened in the couple of hours it took for him to travel back from work.

Luckily, my sister in law was over as the reality sunk in. It was the hardest news I had ever received, and she had dealt with it remarkably. There’s no manual on how you’re meant to react in such situations, but she kept it together.

Eventually, L arrived and we made our way to you, Papa.

I did nothing but sob on that journey.
I cried and cried.
My eyes stung and my chest shook.
L held my hand, not saying a word, just letting me cry my feelings out.

My only thought: I was going to lose you, Papa.
A countdown had begun.

And no matter what anyone tried to say to me, whatever hope they tried to give me, I knew.
I just knew deep in my heart that every moment from that point on was precious.

You don’t know this, but as we had pulled up outside your house, I sat outside for 15 more minutes, pulling out the rest of my cries.

You had been my back bone my entire life, Papa. And with that in mind, I took a deep breath and told myself that it was time I was yours.

So, pulling out my make-up bag, I wiped my face, moisturised, concealed the redness around my eyes and my heartbreak with it.

I know you.
And I know the last thing you needed was to see was my heartbreak.
That’s not what you needed from me, I knew that, Papa.    

I remember, when I walked through the door you took me straight into your arms. For the first time in my 26 years, I felt YOUR body shake. It broke my heart. And, despite my greatest efforts, my eyes filled with tears once again.

It took every single ounce of energy to violently blink them away.

You pulled back a little to look down at me. And I gave you a shaky smile. Do you remember what I said?

“We got this, Papa.”

You choked back a sob and pulled me into your arms again.

The way you squeezed me.
You didn’t need to say it, Papa.
You needed us to be strong.
You had carried us throughout our entire life with certainty and direction.
It was time we carried you with the same strength.

The journey ahead was going to be hard,
but we did our best,
together. 

*****

See a GP if:

  • you’ve had a cough for more than 3 weeks (persistent cough)
  • your cough is very bad or quickly gets worse – for example, you have a hacking cough or cannot stop coughing
  • you feel very unwell
  • you have chest pain
  • you’re losing weight for no reason
  • the side of your neck feels swollen and painful (swollen glands)
  • you find it hard to breathe
  • you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or diabetes

Source: NHS

I recently took part in Race for Life to raise money to beat cancer. You can still donate if you are able to, here. Thank you so much for your support ❤

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