I’ve never really been a fan of rollercoasters. Perhaps it is the anticipatory fear, the lack of control, the jolts. Sometimes when you ride a rollercoaster there is section where the ride flattens out and you coast along collecting your wits and stabilising breath – but in the back of your mind you know that there will be a descent to the finish.
On reflection there were four main stages on our journey on the Brain Cancer Rollercoaster. An ascent, a flat stage, a descent and a slow finish.
The first stage started with the diagnosis when we first boarded the rollercoaster. Then it was a sharp climb to the top passing hurdle after hurdle:
- radiation and chemotherapy
- the birth of our daughter
- scan after scan to check if the cancer had abated or if there were any suspicious spots.
After about a year it felt like we had moved into the second stage, coasting along the top. It was a chance to live “normally” yet each joyful moment felt bittersweet. We had enough confidence to take a holiday and venture away from home for a short break. I returned to work three days a week. My husband commenced a rehabilitation program to correct his balance and gain certification that he could drive again. The chemotherapy and the scans to check the status of the cancer continued. We had hope – but with a shadow.
I could feel the shadow looming. I felt unsettled and then sadly a scan confirmed about a year later that the cancer was present again and growing. We had entered the third stage. The descent. More surgery was required and treatment options became limited. Hope started to fade and the rollercoaster started to descend towards what felt like a long slow finish. Hope began to fade.
The last month and final stage was the hardest as all hope was lost. The rollercoaster ever so slowly pulled into the finish as we all waited to disembark. My husband stepped off the rollercoaster and departed from our world. And the kids and I, our family and friends stepped off and went onto the next chapter of our lives. For me – I stepped into a labyrinth of grief.
In that last month when our home became a place of palliative care, it also became a place of great love. It was an unforgettable incredible lesson in love as our parents, our friends, our family and our community rallied together. As we slowly started to pull into the finish we started to see real life rainbows including an enormous double rainbow one day over our house reminding us that there is beauty and joy even when all one can see and feel is grey weather.
The rainbows were amazing. We saw many more rainbows in the weeks, months and years to come. There will be more posts about real life rainbows later.🌈❤️🌈❤️