A Personal Story – Part 3

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My wife Sharon has now had her radioactive iodine treatment and is safe at home reading whilst i type this blog post.  This post may shoot about a bit and i make no apologies for this.

The past 2/3 weeks has been an emotional roller coaster and one which i feel has taught me many lessons about life, love, family, friends and journeys.

Sharon went in to hospital to receive her treatment on Tuesday 2nd September at midday. We all went in to hospital including Ewan and Finley to make sure they were happy about what was happening. She came out on Saturday 13th at 3pm, about 9 days earlier than expected.

Ok, so what happened and how did we get on and what did we tell the kids and how did they manage during this difficult and emotional time?

Firstly, we decided to tell the kids everything, we decided to be open and honest about what was happening and what Sharon had – this was not our original plan but we went to a local cancer charity called “FORCE” which was amazing and humbling. It was after this we decided that the truth was the best way to go with the one exception “Mummy was staying in hospital the whole time” which in fact was not true as she only stayed in for 2 days the rest of the time she stayed at my mothers house and pretended to be at the hospital.  Sharon stayed at my mothers because of the increased levels of radiation she would have and she was not allowed near children during this period of time, hence she stayed at my mums.

We also decided to take Ewan and Finley into hospital the day before Sharon was due to go in so they could see where she was going to stay and meet the doctors and nurses who would be looking after her.  This proved to be a very good thing as it gave our eldest Ewan a visual understanding of where “mummy” was staying for the time she was not at home.

We also decided to tell Ewan that “mummy” had cancer and that it was to be removed and “chopped away” by the special drink, we did this because after reading a very good booklet, it suggested that should you tell a child that mummy has a sore neck, then it may cause them to think that the treatment she receives is what happens for sore necks, which may make them feel very anxious about that in the future, so the truth was best but told in a way that a 4 year old could understand – This also proved to be a very good thing to do.

We also spoke to the nursery head teacher about what was happening to ask for some additional support for Ewan and to help with distractions should we need it when i drop him off in the mornings, this also proved to be a great thing and we really appreciated the extra effort the whole nursery team put in to support, not just Ewan but me during the 11 days that Sharon was eventually away.

What i learnt…..

So many things, it is hard to explain and to really convey the emotional journey i found myself on, it brought back feelings i had when i was a child and doubts i have had about being a “good Dad” for my children. It also enabled me to reflect a huge amount of what is really important in life and who is important for me and my family to help us on our journey.

The doubts i had came from not feeling that my dad was really there for me and not really knowing or seeing what being a Dad was all about, I feel very let down around this but understand that my parents generation were very different and the world was a different place, however i am also aware that many of my friends growing up had “great Dad’s” and i envied what they had and tried to understand what i thought “being a great Dad was all about”. These doubts stayed with me and have held me back since becoming a father myself. The thoughts and concerns i had before sharon went in made me feel very scared about looking after the kids on my own for what was originally thought to be 3 weeks.  Now if anyone ever tells you that being a stay at home parent is not a job then they have obviously never done it. It was a very demanding job and one which i found challenging but very rewarding. The joys a 4 year old and a 2 year old can bring is unrivaled and i thank them from the bottom of my heart for helping me get through this time, as it was there funny jokes or silly dances that kept the smile on my face during the day.  I am such a proud Dad and i feel so humble to have such wonderful children, they are just pure inspiration. If only we could all keep that as adults, i am sure the world would be a different place.

The whole experience proved to me that i am a good dad, in fact i am happy to say a great dad,  although the reflections only came once sharon had come home and we were both trying to understand what we had learnt through this experience.

There were times when i would sit in the front room after putting the kids to bed and i would just cry, some of it was because i missed sharon so much some of it was because of what the boys had said during the day. Ewan would often come up to me and tell me “Daddy you are fantastic and i love you very very very very much”. It was so heart warming and it would get to me at the end of the day.

Another thing we decided to do which helped was that sharon had a phone in hospital so she phoned us up and i would put her on loudspeaker every tea time. The kids found this very funny to begin with, but after the first week Ewan got a bit tired of it and started to refuse to talk as he wanted mummy to come home. We both understood and we didn’t force him to talk, but sharon would still speak to him.  i just remembered another great thing that sharon thought of, before she went into hospital she bought the kids some books and some activity stuff and she wrapped them up and stuck old stamps on them. When sharon phoned up, she would tell them that she had asked a nurse to send the presents she had bought in the hospital shop that they saw when we went in.  This was excellent as they thought it was so cool receiving things from mummy in the post.

After the first week i had a great phone call with Sharon in the evening as i would phone her once the kids were in bed and just talk about stuff, however on one occasion i got very emotional and sharon said such wonderful things and reassured me i was doing a good job, this helped me so much and i thank her for the support she gave me whilst she was recovering.

Once sharon came home, and it was such a great feeling not just for me but for the kids to see mummy again. Sharon read me her diary and we both found that to be a very emotional experience but one which was very rewarding. Sharon is continuing her diary and she has yet to decide whether or not she will put this online or whether to write a reflective experience afterwards (more to come on this i suspect).   We spent the first 2 nights talking and trying to make sense of the whole thing and to try and give meaning to why this had happened. We always look for the positives in every situation, but it is often hard to do this whilst you are still in the process.

My lessons were unexpected in this process but we soon realised that we had both overcome the last remaining hurdles holding us back, spiritually and emotionally. We now both feel reinvigorated and we both have a huge hunger to learn and grow. We have also started to see our children as fellow explorers on lifes journey as we can learn just as much from them as we continue to grow.

The biggest thing i realised was that whilst i was going through this i didn’t feel any urge to learn, share knowledge or even speak to many people, it was almost like i went into an emotional cocoon, to emerge stronger and refreshed.

The only thing we didn’t expect to happen was our dog charm sat by the front doot for the first 4 days waiting for sharon to come back.  After all she is part of the family.

Some final thoughts in this post.

The journey has not yet ended, sharon has another scan in 3 months where we will find out if this treatment worked, but between now and then, we feel stronger, closer and ready to face anything that comes our way.

I am very proud of my family, i am very proud of my wife sharon who has been an inspiration since she found out she had Cancer and i am so happy that she is now seeing herself as i see her.

I am excited about what lays ahead, but am reminded on a saying that Master Oggway in Kung Fu Panda says. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that is why they call it the present”. I am reminded to live each day as it comes and everyday brings something new to learn and share with people.

This will not be the last post on this subject but it will be the last looking back.

Thank you for reading this and as previously mentioned i do not expect any replies or comments on this post.

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8 thoughts on “A Personal Story – Part 3

  1. Carl,
    you say that you’re proud of your family, you’re proud of your wife and kids. Well, I bet they are proud of you too.

    With having a 4-year old and a 2-year old boy myself I can imagine how they would have been feeling — ours get upset sometimes if Mammy dares leave the room, never mind go to hospital, and I remember how they felt — and how I felt when my wife was in hospital with pneumonia last year, so I’ve got to say that while it might not be easy, it sounds like you two are being damn good parents…

  2. Lisha Sterling

    I know you said that you don’t expect comments on this post, but I hope that you don’t mind one. I just wanted to express how grateful I am that you shared this experience with all of us. I’m going through some major growth right now (isn’t everyone?) and your personal story here was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment. Thank you so much.

  3. sarah evans

    I walked into work today because the sun was shining and it gave me thinking time and I thought about how you and I have been working together for years and it’s going to end soon and I started to choke up.
    You and Sharon are generous people.
    You are generous because you are honest, open, trustworthy and genuinely want to nurture those around you.
    The strength that you and Sharon have with your beloved family is the most precious thing anyone could ever have and what is really great is that you and Sharon recognise and embrace it.
    xx

  4. Hello from Jordan, Carl and Sharon! Thanks to this bizarre connection of the web, I have been able to read about your experiences with Sharon’s thyroid cancer treatment! Your blog popped up on mine as a link, and I am thankful. I am recovering from my surgery, and will have the RAI in a month or so. I wondered if Sharon has decided to post her diary? I’m wondering, in particular what was her fatigue level just before the RAI, as we have 4 kids and I want to plan how to handle it all.

    I’ll add you to my prayers, if you don’t mind 🙂

  5. Carl,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and just felt I should comment having read this post.

    Thanks for your honest account of this difficult time. As someone with 4 and 1yr old boys also, I can’t imagine how challenging this time is for you all.

    I wish you and the family all the best at this difficult time, and hope all works out for you in the end.

    se

  6. carlhaggerty

    No problem on passing over the comments to Sharon. i read your blog post, only point to make is i am english and not australian! yet anyway

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