From Dad

Cancer. It means different things to different people. My parents are in their 90s and for the majority of their lives it was a killer. As I was growing up that was what it meant to me too. If people got “a diagnosis” teeth were sucked and long faces pulled.

As I got older I knew that things were changing but it wasn’t important other than in an intellectual and abstract sense because until July of this year Cancer only affected other people.

Then things changed..

Our extended family have been touched before but we had been lucky I suppose – but then Cancer cheated. It all became VERY personal VERY quickly. It hit the wrong generation – it had 4 to choose from and it picked the third. That’s not supposed to happen. Ill health is supposed to affect our parents or us – that we can manage – but one of our “little girls” No!!

The scheme of things suggests that the oldest generation gets stuff and uses their lifetime of wisdom and strength to deal with it, supported by the middle generation who in turn have the life experience to deal with it while the younger generations continue their life untouched and are left uninhibited to enjoy themselves.

Each member of the older generations of this family would happily stand in for Alice and deal with “The Nonsense” instead. But we can’t. And that is very, very tough.

All we can do is stand about, and spectate while the NHS does it’s amazing stuff (don’t believe what anyone tells you, the NHS really IS amazing), and help ineffectually when and where we can.

And there is another problem. I don’t think any of us oldies would deal with it quite as well as Alice. We have sagacity, toughness bourn of knocking about in this life for years, and the stubborn resilience that age brings – and I suppose a certain amount of courage. But could we have done it better – no way. I can’t talk for other family members but I’m pretty sure I’d have tried to be tough like Alice – and I’d probably have succeeded but what I wouldn’t have done was shared.

I’d have crept into my (substantially sized) shell and dealt with “the nonsense” with my immediate family only – I’d have told as few people as possible and got on with it. (Let’s face it hair loss would not be a give away for me). However, there is, apparently, another way – a way to turn this life changing event into something that might help other people – and Alice has chosen that path. Which is amazing and which fills me with pride.

I can’t speak for her (she wouldn’t let me and the grammar wouldn’t be good enough) and I have little comprehension of what she is going through, but if you are a parent with a child in a similar situation I think I might understand a bit about where you are. Helpless – strangely guilty and ……. Worried. And knowing much more than I am comfortable with about my daughter’s boobs.

But sometimes it takes something like this for us to see how strong, and amazing our children really are – and I use the plural here very carefully – “the nonsense” has shown me things in both of my children that I never knew was there.

So what should us Parents and Grandparents do? No idea. We try to be supportive – an ear when required and a gentle nudge in what we deem to be the right direction if asked – and sometimes when we’re not – and we’ll try to iron out the rough spots (my turn to get a song title in) when they arise.

But all we can really do is watch, and wait, and hope,

And marvel.

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