The life of a young widowed father with the will to help others with advice and positivity.

Category: Cancer

Everybody has a choice

 

Everybody has a choice.

While Helen was alive and certainly more so since she passed away I have had many people say how bad my story is and how hard it must be. Some would also go on to mention about troubles in their lives and how hard it was/is but also making it obvious that there was no comparison between my troubles and theirs. Well, of course what has happened to me and my family is tragic but I would always be sure to explain to these people that we all have problems in life and they are all relative to us.

When I mean problems though I mean real problems. Not that you have less parking at work so have to walk further or that your fridge has packed up and all the food is ruined. I mean real problems that effect people in their everyday lives. I personally wouldn’t say what has happened to me is worse than someone losing a grandparent. Again, that’s not to say my story isn’t bad but it’s because I don’t think there should be a comparison. Everyone will perceive their own problems in their own way based on their own experiences, emotions and background.

This got me thinking more about the fact that everybody has a choice in life.

I think I need to be clear here when I say everybody has a choice. Their are very extreme circumstances where people don’t have a choice… Kidnapping, murder.. things out of our control. So here I am talking about life for the majority of people living in the world who live their lives in I suppose what is perceived in a normal way.

So everyone has a choice of how to react to the problems they face. A choice to be miserable or happy. I have said before that no one can be happy 100% of the time. I am ever the optimist but life can still get me down. It’s how you choose to deal with those negative emotions. It’s easy to wallow in negativity rather that looking for joy in your life. It’s all so easy to take for granted what we have. I also see people dwelling on things that are out of their control which can lead to some very difficult dark places where you don’t need to be.

As an example I can look at the treatment Helen had for her cancer and dwell on the fact that it didn’t work for her. I could dwell on the fact that we as a human race don’t know enough about Cancer to help people get better. So many what if’s flying around my thoughts. But actually when I play the last 4 years through in my head I think we made all the right decisions based on the information we had at the time. We followed the advice from the people who we trusted and from the information we gathered. I can’t dwell on these what if’s as it will get me no where. I simply have to put it down to bad bloody luck. One day maybe we will find out the reason why people get cancer and will answer some of my questions. I would love to see that day come but I am also sure that when that day comes there will be some other disease that we have to start battling with.

I think the below sums it all up perfectly.

An extract from Dr. R Joseph

In considering the multitude of forces that act on human beings—selective pressures over the course of evolution, heredity, genetics, biochemical fluctuations, how our parents raised us, and the cultural biases that we are all subject to—it may well seem that all our behaviour is determined by causal factors set in motion so long ago that we are helpless to alter their course. Certainly order exists in the universe, we are affected by our environment, and forces such as fate, God, or even our astrological sign (if we wish to believe in such things) may exert some influences on our behaviour. Nevertheless, we are not completely at the mercy of forces over which we have absolutely no control. We are still capable of making choices.

its-your-choice

 

6 Months Has Passed

 

6 Months has passed since Helen left us and I honestly do not know where that time has gone although it both feels like yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

I remember my early emotions and thoughts after Helen passed were of me reliving the last few days of her life. It was horrible but in some ways comforting. Maybe this is the start of the grief process to help imprint the events in your memory however painful they may be. I still do this now but it’s more on my terms rather than it being forced on me. I am also able to focus on the times during those last few days when Helen was making us laugh.. Yes you read that right….. Helen was dying with only hours to live and she was still making us laugh. Amazing woman and I know she always had a hope for another tomorrow which kept her going.

WowHelenMikeWedding

 

As the 6 months have passed I can tell that my memories seem to be finding their places in my brain; I guess filling themselves away as life moves on. Certain memories though I can still see as clear as day. That initial diagnosis when the doctor said that C word, the time when Helen and I met with the head paediatrician and were basically told the pregnancy would not work with the treatment. Also the time when the midwife came to check the babies heart beat after Helen’s surgery (my heart stopped as I waited for her response) and the phone call I took from the professor from London to tell me the worst news I have ever heard. And then obviously the hardship of a brand new baby, a toddler and a wife on chemo and certainly the hardship of the last 10 months.

So I suppose when I think about it most of the difficult times will be imprinted at the forefront of my memories forever but in between all those bad times ( and I have said this many time before ) are hundreds of fantastic memories of Helen, me and the kids just having fun. Smiling and laughing. These happy memories outweigh the bad ones a million to 1.

Mike and Helen

 

What I have noticed though are how my thoughts, emotions and mindsets change as time passes. Initially all I could think about was Helen when she was ill. It wasn’t in a bad way but that was just the vision of her that was in my head and the one I missed the most. Now as time moves on I have started to reminisce about the times just Helen and I shared before we had children. I really miss that too and I just miss that woman…

The times where my feelings are always most prominent is when I am shutting up the house to go to bed; I just feel so stunned as to how my life has unfolded. There I am standing in the house with the two kids asleep upstairs and I am all alone. My wife is gone and the house is so quiet… I am no longer married… How did that happen? How did that happen to such a vibrant, happy, innocent woman… also I guess I think why me and why Helen?

I wonder where she has gone and how far away she is.. She always told me that when she died she would never be far away and will look after us all. I wonder if that is the case as I really struggle to feel close to her. It scares me to think how far away Helen feels now and I worry that she will only get further away. It also scares me how those 7 years with Helen feel like a different life. I know it isn’t but my life is now so different and I feel like a different man. The most important thing though is that I still can’t get my head around it and I don’t think I will ever get over it… I will just learn to live with it.

So 6 months have passed and how am I doing? Good question although I guess most of you know if you read these blog posts. It has however been a very lonely and hard process that I am still in the middle of. I say lonely because it has been lonely in terms of being alone but also in the sense that I personally don’t think anyone can help a grieving person.. only simply be there for them to help guide them in the right direction. Every single person has their own grieving process to follow and no one can change that process. It’s just a process you have to go through on your own and for me that is lonely.

Of course I still miss Helen and when I think about her dreadful loss and all she will miss out on I feel pure anger and sadness for her. I also feel tremendously for the kids because although I know they understand to their own level what has happened I know they don’t understand exactly what that will mean for them for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it all takes my breath away. The reality I am in is an awful place to be but I can honestly say that I am happy. I actually feel happy and OK about life. This is partly because I have always been very positive and optimistic but also because of that brave woman I was lucky enough to marry and spend 7 fantastic years with. She told me she just wanted happiness for us all and that is my mission for my family.

Me and the kids

 

Dear Hels…

We are doing ok my love.. We miss you so much but we are happy….

Love you Hels Bels x x x

 

 

 

How I lifted our mood at the hospital?

 

How I lifted our mood at the hospital?

Well after the last few less than happy blog posts I thought I would throw in an amusing one that may make you smile.

Helen and I spent a ridiculous amount of time in hospitals through our journey and we ended up being able to walk around the Bath Royal United Hospital without a worry about where we were going. We just knew where we were going as we had walked the corridors countless times before. In fact we could’ve easily taken a job at the front desk helping people find their way.

We also spent a lot of time just waiting in the waiting rooms for treatments, procedures, appointments and result so we had a lot of time to kill. Bearing in mind what we were there for we were sometimes both sat in silence, deep in thought and worried about what could happen, what was going to happen or what the results were going to be.

It was then that I would pull out my special hospital joke that would always lighten up the mood a bit. Even though after a while Helen knew the joke she would always laugh at me.. I don’t think you can ever beat someone just being silly.

So when you are next in a hospital and the mood is not so nice remember this joke that will be sure to lift up your mood.

Doctor, Grief, bereavement, cancer

 

Here goes… are you ready?

 

Who is the coolest guy in the hospital?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultrasound guy

And there you have it…. Enjoy!

Dedicated to Helen

Helen Adams

 

My first blog post can only be one thing. A dedication to the amazing, beautiful, strong, caring, loving and heroic woman Helen Adams.

And for sure Helen was exactly all those things. I have no doubt that if you spoke to the many people who knew her they would say the same thing. I know I personally was very lucky to have met Helen and to of had her love and would truly live those exact 7 years all over again if I could no matter how hard it was for us.

Although Helen had a relatively short life she achieved many things that some people will never have achieved no matter how long they live. The main thing being that She (and I) found true love. We both met that someone who would do anything for each other, be there whatever happened, a best friend and a soul mate. Also she was lucky enough to get married and have that perfect day most girls dream of. She was able to give birth to healthy, beautiful, perfect human beings and see them start their lives and watch as their personalities grew. She had a loving family around her who loved her so so much. She had a nice house to live in. She had good friends and some great memories of her childhood and past.

Helen was 34 when she passed away which is terribly young but when you look at all the things she achieved she was also very lucky to have had what she did. It’s still not fair and so very cruel because even though she had done all those things she will now miss out on her children growing up, more happy times with me, family holidays, first boyfriends/girlfriends, shopping with her daughter, watching her son play football… the list is endless.

The caring Helen: In her late teens Helen moved to London to train to be a nurse. The perfect job for such a caring loving woman however she was in love with the caring side of the job and found it hard when she couldn’t spend more time with the patients due to work load. That frustrated her so she ended up leaving. However all she really ever wanted was to be a mummy and what a mummy she was. She was born to be a mum and taught me so much along the way.  When she was well or had the energy nothing was too much for her and would do anything for the kids.

Helen was one of the most caring compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Even through her dark days she would always reach out to others when they needed it. She befriended two other woman who I knew and were going through their own cancer battles and just gave her time to them. She had never met them but no matter how bad her own situation was she would offer advice and positive words to help them through.

The strong Helen: Through Helen’s treatment she never showed many people how she was really feeling. People never knew how bad it was because Helen had this amazing strength to try and be normal when people were around. I saw it so many times. A morning of helping her get ready when she was in pain or tired and when friends came around somehow all that was gone and she was Helen again.

Probably other than me only her mum Chris had that insight of how bad things were. Helen and I spent many long evenings/nights ( sometimes all night long) talking about life, her illness, what she had achieved/experienced what she wanted to achieved/experience. The paragraph above about her achievements was one I recited to her so very often. She had achieved so much and I know she was grateful for that.

For someone having to face what she was going through she was just remarkable. She was in immense pain physically and mentally but there were truly only a handful of times where Helen was scared, worried, helpless and desperate because of her situation. Those were the times where I would talk to her about life and death and what it all actually meat. After all… We all have to die at some point so why be afraid. Easy to say I know but I tried to get her to embrace it rather than fear it.

I generally had the job of receiving the results or diagnoses following scans etc and in most of the occasions when I was telling Helen she just laughed or smiled at what I was telling her. Most people I suppose would freak out or go crazy if their husband or wife was telling them that their Cancer had spread to bones, liver, brain and lungs. I remember it to this day… Helen just sat on the floor of the bedroom while drying her hair and just gave out a little laugh as I reeled off that diagnosis.  I don’t know if it was disbelief or her pure strength but she kept strong  and was straight away asking what the options were and what she needed to do to sort it. Just so courageous.

So unfortunately for Helen she somehow got very unlucky with a diagnosis that was never in her favour. I watched that disease slowly take bits of her away and finally nothing was left but the memories. Unfortunately for her she will now miss out on so much of what life has to offer us all. Something more painful for Helen and I is that the kids will never ever have a proper mummy. That simple yet most important word “mummy” will forever mean something so different to them. I don’t think I will ever be able to accept that. Olivia and Marley to me are the most amazing children and never deserved to have this inflicted on them. However I know the sheer fact that they are so special will give them the strength to somehow over come that loss and become stronger people themselves.

Life isn’t fair, I have accepted that one.

Helen will forever hold a very special place in my heart and in my memories. I will never forget and my love for her will go on until I one day pass away. Unless of course she is waiting for me in the next life if indeed there is one.