......My poor parents had an awful day that day. I had just been "put to sleep" for a while and operated on, oblivious of what we were going to be faced with in the next little while... but they came back to wait for me. I apparently didn't arrive.. not 2 and not even 3 hours after I was supposed to be out of theatre, so of course they were beside themselves. They really started to worry when nurses came and started fussing over them and tried giving them excuses as to why the surgery was taking this long. Mum said she really started to worry when one nurse in particular (a close family friend) came out to cuddle them with tear-stained eyes, and saying things like "we'll all have to pull together and be strong" etc... "ALARM BELLS".
We've heard since (because we had a couple of other very close family friends/nurses who were in theatre with me... and my pastors wife who was also a theatre nurse), that they found the tumour (that I'd felt) as soon as they opened me up, and that its position was a little difficult to get at. It was attached in a strange way to my aorta, and the doctor was going to just close me up and send me on to Whangarei, however he continued, and managed to remove it as best as he could without causing any further problems. He then had a poke and prod around to see that all was well in there, but he remembered that I'd asked him to "remove my appendix please", since I NEVER wanted to experience any abdominal pain like I had on presenting to the hospital this time!!!! He had warned me that if it looked "normal" etc, then he would be leaving it in place, as he didn't want to "mess with things" ... but he had promised to take a look!
When he looked further down to check my appendix, apparently he just said "Ohh shit"...... and that was when he discovered the primary tumour I had, and the cause of my acute (but not very "cute") pain. I had a huge ovarian tumour, which sent alarm bells ringing, and needed more delicate surgery to remove. It had gone undetected in the lead-up to this surgery, because all of the scans/investigations I had did not go lower than my navel .. since they had been focused on the secondary tumour!! So, he removed that tumour, and my ovary/fallopian tube, and then he was a great doctor, and removed my appendix as well!! ;)
......so back to the side room, and we were told that in a week, we'd get the results of the biopsies/tissue samples taken, and then we'd "make a plan" at that time!.
The day kinda just stopped at that point. Once the doctor left the room, I cried and cried, all sorts of thoughts going through my head.....I found some solice burying my face into my Dad, and feeling my Mum and Dad squeezing me tightly.
My brother took it really hard. He was angry...angry at the doctor, angry at God, angry at the whole situation.
I remember him yelling "why you...?? you haven't smoked, got drunk, done drugs or anything.... this isn't fair"
It was all so surreal.
I know it's really silly, but I tried really hard to be "brave" in front of my family... I said.. "alright, that's enough, I'm okay... we'll be okay... go home and get some rest, I'm gonna sleep this off" I wanted them to be feeling alright... and as soon as they left, I howled/bawled/had a real "sorry for myself" fest! One of our nursey friends came in and cried with me which was nice actually... oh, and she gave a great back massage!! ;)
My other friend who was in helping with my surgery (Pastors wife), shared how she was coming to visit me, and saw the most amazing HUGE angel parked outside my hospital door..........and she believed he was there to stand against negative thoughts/worries etc that might come with words from Medical staff etc... Woohoo... I remember saying "Thank you Lord" "Thanks for sending me that angel"................
And then the strangest thing happened... I was all cried out, and I just slept and slept without a care in the world!!
I convalesced that week in hospital, then went home for a few days of "semi-normality". On the day I left the hospital Mum and I went up town, and two of my friends were walking down the same side of the road, saw us, and quickly crossed over.....looking all upset... "Oh, they've heard... the news is out".... my heart sunk.
Thankfully, not everyone was like that! Some friends were very supportive and such a big help, others were far too scared to even talk about what I might HAVE...or that I might die... It was a bit upsetting. (but then I guess we were only teenagers...and sometimes they behave...well?? weirdly!..lol).
That week had its fair share of ups and downs... and soon we were back, waiting for a prognosis/diagnosis and a "plan".
I still laugh when I think of all the whanau who showed up to support me in that outpatients visit...and I love them to bits for even coming along....and IN the office.. There was me (obviously).. Mum, Dad, my bro Bob, My Nana and Papa Larkins, My Papa Liddy, Aunty Di, Uncle Ron, Aunty Ceri, and I think my Pastors..Barb and Mike, and we were all crowded into that little room waiting for the Doctor.
He came in and was taken aback by the numbers in the room... and we all knew, just by the look on his face, that he wasn't just "shy" because of all the people, but that he had bad news... I remember my Nan grabbing my knee tightly as he confirmed what we'd all been dreading... It was Cancer. It was advanced. The percentages for the prognosis weren't good.......by any stretch of the imagination, and they weren't even sure if Chemotherapy would work. BUT... did I want to try it?? I needed to go away and think about it. Make a decison FAST as, if I was to have Chemo, I needed to start immediately and they would make a place for me at Auckland hospital within the week...
Too much information too fast...........my head was spinning again.......... unreal.
But I do remember the love in that room........... the total consuming love, and I really remember God being with me....... God and my whanau.
At this time, I have to mention, my Papa Larkins. He was also fighting for his life at this stage. He had lung cancer, and because it was so advanced, they couldn't offer him any treatment. He was having Palliative cares, but no Chemo or radiation. To be honest with you, I didn't want to have the Chemotherapy if it wasn't going to really do me any good. If it was going to just be Palliative treatment. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life vomiting and bald and wishing for death..... (I had thought a lot about this in the week leading up to this day). It was my Grandfather though who talked sense into me. He said... "you have a chance. You've been given a lifeline, and a chance. You should take this chance and go for it with all you have" He meant it, and he had tears in his eyes, and that was that. I made my decision. So...Chemo it was in 4 days... in Auckland hospital...
We all went home. The phone just went and went and the same story my mum was having to spurt out.. "yes she's been diagnosed with Cancer, she starts Chemo in 4 days" I had to get out of the house......it was all too much at that stage... My aunty and I got in the car and just drove.... crying... we went to the beach. Cable Bay, and we sat on the beach and just watched the water, and cried, and talked until it got dark and was time for bed.
Roll on 4 days later... 12th December.... CHEMO DAY... Also, my 18th birthday. One I was going to always remember huh?