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Why I decided to do this…

So why did I, an allegedly sane person, decide to write a blog that will no doubt be lost in the electronic ether among all the other millions of blogs?

The simple answer is that I hope that my random scribblings can help someone in the future who is in the same place my son and I are in.

Cancer always seemed to me to happen to other people, other families. I never thought it would pick my family.

I’m an early ’70s child and met my photographer wife, Cat, in 2002. Our son, Nathaniel, was born in 2005. So far, so normal. We’d planned to marry in late 2008 – a winter wedding but this changed when Cat was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of May. We were married six days after the diagnosis just in case there were any complications during surgery.

After the operation, a mastectomy and full lymph node clearance, the pathology reports told us the bad news that the cancer was already stage 3c (21 of 24 nodes were cancerous). In other words it was almost certain that cancer cells had drifted off via the lymph network to somewhere else in the body. Cat underwent Radiotherapy (30 cycles), Chemotherapy (FEC-T in 3 and 3 cycles) and Herceptin hormone therapy (can’t remember how many cycles but it seemed to go on forever). At the end of the treatment all the scans and tests came back clear but we were aware that this was probably just the eye of the storm.

In 2010 Cat began to feel some discomfort and being the eternal optimist I thought it would be Gall stones – which it did in fact turn out to be. Fate, being a real bitch at times, chose the same ultrasound to wave her hand to point at two large tumours in Cat’s liver.  Cat started a regime of Capecitabine and Lapatinib (thanks to funding from the central government pot of cash) and this worked – the tumours disappeared. Early 2011 saw the first signs of the tumours reappearing so Cat changed to Vinorelbine which lasted about a week before she went back to the other two.

In September 2011, the news came that the drugs had stopped working completely and we were running out of time. Cat accepted a last chance option of double-barrelled Chemotherapy with all the usual side-effects but it would give us around 6 more months. Before she was able to start the new drugs, Cat was admitted to hospital for a routine op to drain off the excess fluid around the liver due to the pain it was causing her. The drain worked and she wasn’t on any pain medication but her body was unable to take the strain. The liver failed which knocked out the kidneys and five days later she just stopped working.

Unexpected – no, not really. Unfair? Yes. But then life isn’t fair.

So, it’s just me and Nathaniel now coping with life without Cat there to guide us.

These are our thoughts.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 15 December 2011 12:03 am

    James, this is amazing. I am astonished and pleased that you are able to do this. I know that you want to help other people in your situation but I really hope that in some way this helps you and Nathaniel in coping and remembering Cat. I will follow your journey in memory of Cat and with love for James and Nathaniel. I know it won’t be easy to read because selfishly I try to put cancer behind me but I will always be a Lardie and Cat was a very special Lardie and to stop and think in the busyness of life is something I am running around trying to avoid. The funeral was amazing and I will always think of Cat in that place and that celebration of her life. Cancer stinks! xx

  2. 17 December 2011 6:50 pm

    James, wow, I have just read through all your posts and “Our Story” it is all so incredible. I truly hope that this can help you and Nathaniel as much as I’m sure it will help so many others. “Putting things into perspective” is so true. I have quite often picked up the phone but put it back down and am ashamed at myself for doing this. I would love to bring Dalton over sometime but has just come out of hospital and unable to drive or do much for quite some time. I will follow your posts and story. You may not feel strong but only a strong person could do what you are doing. Cat will be so touched and proud of you. As you say, you are “soul mates” and that never ends.

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