We arrived at the royal to unsympathetic chaos. If you want to see the NHS crisis in action take a walk round The Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, you will see lots of nurses rushed off their feet who could never be paid enough for their devoted care and endless list of duties.
We were told Nathanael URGENTLY needed a biopsy and scans to confirm what the mass was and what it was made up of.
“But we can’t do anything for you today I’m afraid with the bank holiday we don’t have the teams we need to look at after your child. You will be our priority on Tuesday as soon as we can get everyone together.”
It was only Friday so they discharged us and we got to go home. Great I thought, they will realise they have made a MASSIVE mistake and this will all be over before Tuesday.
Truly I think this was the first stage of denial, looking back now I was in a state of panic and downright denying what was going on.
How many times have we all heard terrible news and thought ‘that’s awful, I’m so lucky to have my health and my family’, and in that statement, we are so ignorant to the fact that cancer is never going to discriminate against you. It doesn’t care how happy your family is it will just invade your life and change it forever.
Ignorance at its best is when we went home feeling stupidly relieved, selfishly thinking thank goodness we didn’t have to stay. How naïve we had been, as the weekend progressed and reality started to set in I began to realise that Nathanael’s stomach was getting bigger. It started to hit us that whatever this was inside him was growing at a rapid speed. We would later find out on our return to the hospital that over the space of those 3 days Nathanael’s weight had increased dramatically. His clothes grew tighter and the tighter they grew the harder I felt someone was twisting every organ in my body and silently stealing my sanity.
I also started to realise we had been fobbed off because of a bank holiday. I’m still angry thinking back on it that my child’s health was put on hold because it was the New Year. The word urgently had evidently been used so loosely, your child urgently needs our help but you can wait because we are on our holidays.
That weekend seemed like an eternity, I spent a lot of it crying and worrying while Paul held me upon those strong shoulders I never thought I would ever have to lean so heavily on. My cry was a new cry I had never felt before it wasn’t a cry of hurt or pain, we hadn’t got to that stage it was of pure fear. Fear of the unknown. The word tumour kept rolling around my head, what did it even mean?
Dr Google gave me two scenarios one was benign and the other cancer. I clung to this it HAD to be BENIGN, children can’t get cancer. He hadn’t lived his life yet, it couldn’t be blamed on a bad lifestyle, or was it? Had I fed him something wrong? Did our house have something in it? Was it me?
A few professionals we had spoken to had referred to a type of tumour called Wilms. Every time I typed it into google it popped up on websites like McMillan Cancer or some other form of Cancer fact sheets. Each time it was like Dr Google was holding a knife and bearing it down heavily into my chest so hard, threatening those words no parent ever wants to hear. Did my baby have cancer?
I clung to the hope of a benign tumour, looking back it’s what got us through that weekend, it’s what stopped me from having the mental breakdown that I feared my head and heart was sending me into.
I should also add at this stage Nathanael otherwise in my eyes was ‘happy and healthy’, he ate, slept, smiled and played like any other 9month old. ‘Nothing’ had changed but yet everything was changing.