Ella, Louis and Theo are thriving. Just turned five and quite possibly at the pinnacle of cuteness. They run into school each day smiling and happy and emerge a few hours later smiling and happy. They get home and they scream, they shout and it’s still utter mayhem but it’s our life and it’s all been okay, we’ve managed to stay on track in recent months without too much casting a shadow. In fact we've had the sunniest of spells in years.
So, about now, I should be high fiving myself for making it through. About now, I should be quietly celebrating my fifth of year of being cancer free.
Turns out that I wasn’t quite as free as I thought. And so, for the second time in my babies little lives I’m embarking on the joyous journey that is chemotherapy. I’m bracing myself for three little horrified faces when they see me without hair for the first time. I’m preparing myself for six months of stepping back into the very much unwanted identity of an ill person, for a freezer full of lasagnes and kind gestures and, heartbreakingly, for my children to inevitably look at me in a different way.
Jake, my big handsome boy is quietly shattered and struggling with the memories of last time, knowing what lies ahead. The little ones will simply be cross that very soon I won’t look like mummy. I know this because of their reaction to the odd photo they’ve seen of that challenging time. The bald me of four and a half years ago – clutching my beautiful babies and smiling at the camera, attempting to appear like everything is tickety boo when really it was just rubbish. Really rubbish.
'I don’t want that mummy.’ said Ella a while ago as she studied the one picture of that time I have displayed at home.
I don’t want to be that mummy either, darling. I’m so sorry, my angel. Do you know how much I love you?
Deep breath then and off we go. Another chapter for me and my four. And as usual, they’ll probably show me the way. They’ll teach me how to ‘be’- how to handle this latest set back. This was not part of the plan but I know there'll be some magic in it. There already has been. I know that we’ll emerge from this even stronger and more resilient, even more full of love and appreciation for what we have as a family. I’ll eventually accept that actually I look pretty damn good with a pixie cut and that when it comes down to it, nothing really matters other than the five of us being together with me being ‘mum’.
The thing I moan about, the thing I struggle with, the very thing that has felt so draining at times is now the very thing that will get me through, again. Being mum. The biggest motivator of all.
So come on then cancer. I’m really trying not to take this personally. Let’s make this latest visit of yours a quick one, okay? If that’s alright with you? You can come in but please don’t make yourself at home. There are five of us here with big, crazy plans and you’re kind of getting in the way.