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A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely letter from a lady called Nicky, who'd included in this letter a short story called 'Silver Linings'. I found the story such a positive and optimistic read that I had to share it with the Online Community. Nicky shares with us her story from an initial diagnosis, to present day where she's 3 years on from surgery. What struck me was how Nicky was able stay so positive both during and after treatment, and keep living and enjoying life. I hope you all like the story as much as I did.
"It may be rubbish or it might help one other lady see beyond her treatment. To see the 'Silver Linings' during and afterwards. To keep her going." (Nicky)
"No" she shouted in her head, as Chris, the Macmillan nurse went through everything the surgeon had told her. Like a rabbit in headlights, she heard the diagnosis but not taking in the understanding of the change to her body, life, career, finances, and friendships. Back in 2015, who would have guessed that in 2018, she'd have a new career, appreciate what she had, not what she'd lost and be partying towards Christmas.
Nicky, was 52, double divorced, never been ill, not seriously ill before and new to the area, having only moved there 3 months earlier. Sheld seen a change in her breast but was too busy moving and starting "the change" to see a doctor, before her flu jab appointment. Within 5 minutes, Nurse Claire had confirmed a lump and was sending the paperwork out that evening to the specialist. The appointment came the following fortnight. 2hrs later and a few tests later and "Confirmed". It had to be surgery and it had to be quick.
Work went on hold, for the next 9 months, whilst she went through surgery recovery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and strength recovery. The time went slowly at the time but quickly looking back. Her time was taken up with hospital visits, district nurse visits and rubbish days. Not every day was rubbish, she could get out for a week in 3 weeks — food shopping first day, washing day the next, a trip to see the sea was essential for the soul and a visit from the in laws and then back to the chemo. Radiotherapy was much easier — daily but she could drive herself there and back, then rest again. The weekends were hers.
Friends were amazing — different ones for different events — anything from driving 3 miles to hand over a pint of milk at the door and leave to avoid catching a cold at the most lowest points, to being there when she rang the ship bell on her final chemo treatment, to being at the end of the phone day or night, to taking her out to another garden centre, to get her walking again or a fun trip to London. A hundred and one things but there every time with a smile, hiding the concern. Just what she needed, when she needed it. The rest of the time was spent alone in her new home, unable to do much bar watch Christmas films, to the point where she could write the scripts herself and look out to the new garden and plan what she would do with it once she was better. So much thinking time and yet also achieving the final year of her degree, remotely. 6 weeks of lessons before it all started and 6 weeks at the end of the course. The rest by books, in the lounge, no library visits — too risky to catch germs and no energy to go out anyway. It kept the mind going even if the body was being poisoned from head to toe.
Flew to France that year to see old friends, usually she would drive happily for 12 hrs door to door but the body just wasn't strong enough. They picked her up at their nearest railway station and didn't recognise her with the wig and loss of 2 stone in weight (sadly back on again 3 years later but fun for a while).
Graduation day was miraculous — a Degree at 53, some hair beneath the cap, Sister and Aunt by her side and the grand Cathedral venue. She was the only one to get a hug from both tutors, in front of everyone, as she collected her certificate and a "love the shoes" off the Mayoress, as they shook hands- grey, sparkly and high heeled, underneath the uniform of the cap and gown, that everyone was wearing. £12 online well spent! Still unable to visit shops but she was there. Drinks with all her workmates afterwards and then fall asleep, exhausted but elated, by 7pm.
A month later and back to work. That was strange, none of the passwords worked on her laptop, her job was kind of redundant so she had to grab any role that was going and there was the commute. 110 miles each way had seemed like a good idea when she was well, live in a new house, in the city she loved, visit the office 2 days a week, see the in laws much more but now it was exhausting. The motorway roadworks were increasing and the dark nights made the journey feel longer.
A new role came up — combining her past career in hospitality and tourism and her current career of Highways and it needed a degree to apply — she had that now, she could apply. It would mean more technical learning but she was up for that She got it. It was a closed, angry team that she joined but she kept her head down, learnt the technical parts of the job, pushed herself to the limits to gain their respect and concentrated hard to not make too many mistakes. 2 years later and she still loves the role and has gained the respect of the team. Just as well, as the role is going to change again with the budget cuts. Never mind, only 12 years before she can retire! The career can change route again by then.
Then of course there was the wedding, not the royal weddings but the best wedding ever, her best friend from junior school had found the love of her life and best friend and was marrying him in a stunning mansion of a hotel. More than anything else, the Bride wanted her there, wig and all. A hen night to remember, with male strippers, in London, a full day of glorious emotions and sunshine on the day, a "close family only" meal after the day and the brides bouquet. One of the many silver linings of getting through her cancer.
The first anniversary was spent with "Team Nicky" in Birmingham, seeing the Viennese horses, after a good curry, to say thank you to them all, for being there and to celebrate me being there a year on. Then trips to Barcelona, London, Vienna, Oxford and Bleinham Palace, with various members of the "Team Nicky" team, during the next 2 years, just because we could.
3 years on, from the surgery day and the dream home is sold and the new adventure is about to happen, in an old house, under an hour away from the office, with a huge garden, ready for a puppy. Not just any puppy but a Wire Haired Fox Terrier puppy. The sort her grandfather had bred for Crufts in the 60's and 70's. The sort her previous puppy had been. Other dogs were lovely but these melted her heart. Name? "Whiston" of course after the hospital that saved her life and gave her the chance to have this adventure.
Everything has a Silver Lining, though you may not see it at the time.
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