Cancer is a B*tch!
Cancer is a b*tch. I don’t think I need to say anymore, but I will.
Just over two years ago my Grandma was diagnosed with bowel cancer that had already spread to her liver and lungs. We were told she could have a matter of months, but they really didn’t know. She was brave, and strong, and had several rounds of chemo and radiotherapy, and so many tablets she would have rattled if you shook her, but you really couldn’t tell there was anything wrong with her, she was just the same old Grandma.
She set goals for herself to keep her going, things to aim for. Like making it to Summer so she could see her beautiful garden in full bloom, 80th birthdays, Christmas, 60th wedding anniversaries. She always had a goal to work towards.
When I phoned her after our first scan in the middle of October last year to tell her she had another goal to work towards now, as she would be a great-grandmother again in April, she had only seen the consultant a week earlier who told her she was doing great. She was feeling the best she had in years. But she’d just got back from the doctors as her leg had swollen up. From there on things seemed to go down hill.
By the time we saw her at Christmas, she had lost 2 stone in 2 months, and was really struggling to eat. I think it was a shock for us all to see her like that, as previously you wouldn’t have been able to tell anything was wrong with her, she always looked fine, never in any pain. She was still our Grandma. I think at Christmas we all realised it would probably be our last Christmas with her.
After Christmas she developed another blood clot, right by her pick line, and the decision was made to stop all treatment, and things seemed to go down hill very quickly from there.
Grandma lost her battle with cancer on 27th January 2016, at home, with Grandad next to her, exactly how she wanted it to be.
Dad phoned me a few days later and asked if I’d like to say something at her funeral. I knew there was no way I would be able to stand up in front of a room full of people and keep it together long enough to say anything – I’m practically in floods of tears writing this now nearly 2 months later! So instead I wrote down some of my favourite memories/things about Grandma, and both my brothers read them out for me. I’m so proud of how well they did.
So below is what I wrote, one Sunday morning at 5am (as a certain little lady had woken me up by trampolining on my bladder, and I couldn’t get back to sleep!)
Everyone always says their Grandma is the best cook in the world, but I think only we would be telling the truth. Who else makes Yorkshire pudding so well you can have it as it’s own course for dinner? Tim and Jamie will always happily tell people of the infamous Yorkshire pudding party of ’95 where each chip had to be counted out and the Yorkshire pudding had to be weighed to ensure no one had more than anyone else! There are photos to prove it! Also, as a tiramisu connoisseur myself, all I can say about Grandma’s is wow…and usually hic! Grandma also made a pretty fine golden syrup butty, much to Mum’s disgust when we were younger!
I don’t think anyone here can say they often saw Grandma sitting still doing nothing. She more often than not had a pair of knitting needles in her hands, clicking away, knitting something or other while having a full conversation without dropping a stitch. Obviously many years of practice as I can’t manage to knit a row in complete silence without making a mistake! Grandma has made us some wonderful things over the years, Tim and Jamie had spectacular He-man and Postman Pat jumpers in particular. She even spent a long while knitting bits and pieces for premature babies at the local hospital. Grandma was a dab hand with a sewing machine as well. She made so many of her blouses, and Kate and I have had a fair few dresses over the years when we were children. It wasn’t just clothes she was fantastic at making either, Kate and I both were given cushions one year for Christmas, probably 20+years ago, which I would take with me wherever I was staying for a long time. I loved it! In fact I’ve still got it to this day. Mum and Dad recently brought a bag of goodies when they came to stay with us, for my little girl who will hopefully be with us in just over 2 months time. Inside were a couple of things Grandma had made, one of which a knitted cardigan (of course!) The other was a wall hanging of a dolls house which Grandma had made me when I was a little girl. I love that I am able to pass this down to my daughter and tell her how wonderful and talented her Great-Grandma was.
Grandma also loved her garden. She could, and would, spend hours telling you what she and Grandad had been up to recently in the garden, and what they were growing. Their garden has always been something I have admired, no matter what time of year it was, it always looked spectacular. Grandma could grow practically anything – I love looking through my wedding photo album as there is a beautiful photo of me and Grandad talking about his button hole. It was a pink carnation, grown from a bunch of flowers Chris and I had bought Grandma when we stayed at theirs over 3 years previously! I struggle to keep the most hardy of plants alive so I was amazed that she could take cuttings from a bunch of supermarket flowers and they still look wonderful years later!
When Kate and I were really little and we would stay at Grandma and Grandad’s there would be times where we would be home sick, saying ‘I want my mummy’ Grandma’s staple response was to give us a cuddle and say ‘well you can’t have your mummy, so you’ll have to make do with your mummy’s mummy!’ She gave wonderful cuddles, and even at the age of 28 I would work my way in between Grandma and Grandad on the sofa (whether I fitted comfortably or not! ) just so I could have one of Grandma’s cuddles!
One thing that I didn’t mention in my ‘speech’ that always made me smile about Grandma was every time we saw her she would give us a ‘picture of the queen’ (a £5 note). It was a tradition her dad (my Great-Grandad) had started when we were little and she had carried on when he died nearly 20 years ago. Grandma would always go to the bank before we saw her and got a brand new crisp £5 note out for each of us. At her funeral there was a collection for Cancer UK at the end, and we all made a donation. My brother, Jamie, said something that made me cry even more than I already was – as we put our money in the collection he said “now it’s our turn to give Grandma a picture of the queen”
I’m so sad that Grandma won’t get to meet Blueberry when she is born. Grandad said she was so exited to. One of the things that had always upset me when I found out Grandma has been diagnosed, and we thought she may only have a few months to live, was that Blueberry would miss out on her knitting all the cute cardigans and jumpers she loved to knit. So mum mentioned it to her and she knitted a beautiful shawl, and towards the end she managed to knit a cardigan for her too. These are things that I will always treasure.
And so cancer, you are a b*tch. For stealing my Grandma, for stealing Blueberry’s Great-Grandma, my Mum’s Mum, and as my Grandad always described her ‘my love, my life, my everything’.
I love you Grandma, and miss you every day.
This post was originally published on 20th March 2016.