From The Heart: The Sunny Days Project
In 2008, my heart was broken. My sister and her husband came round to babysit whilst my husband and I went to a meeting about our eldest starting primary school. When we returned Sis shared the news that a lump that she had seen the doctor about had turned out to be breast cancer.
Four weeks ago, my heart broke even more. Having managed to beat the breast cancer and be in remission for six years, my lovely sister gave me a hug and whispered ‘The cancer is back, and it’s spread to my bones.’ I really thought she had beaten it and it never occurred to me that it would come back. With over a week to get used to the news herself, she was remarkably calm. I was a wreck. My sister is 51 years old and we are separated by a 7 year gap. We shared a room growing up and when she married and had her own children I often spent time at her house, keeping her company whilst her husband worked away. I kept thinking to myself I can’t deal with this, I can’t see this happen.
I cried for the rest of the day and most of the following day. I was crying for me, but mainly I was crying for her. With a one year old grandson that she is absolutely besotted with, two loving kids and a new relationship, I couldn’t bear the unfairness of the fact that she would be taken away from them. I felt sad for my parents, who in their 80s shouldn’t have to be going through something like this. I googled my sister’s condition, as I’m the kind of person who has to have all the information to hand. I deliberately looked for positive tales of survivors. And you know what? I found so many positive stories out there. I shared some of these stories with my parents in an effort to give them some hope. When we had heard the diagnosis, we had all wondered what the prognosis would be, we’d assumed weeks or months. Looking on the internet, I found that years would be more likely than weeks or months. The cancer is in her pelvis and hips and I read that ‘bone mets’ are very common and that many people survive for years.
The Oncologist seems to be pretty calm about the whole situation, he’s put Sis back on her breast cancer meds and obviously the key is to keep the cancer at bay. I struggled with this the most to begin with. This time around, we couldn’t say ‘Right, we’re going to beat this!’ and I found that hard to bear. Now I have learnt that it probably can’t be beaten, but it can be managed. I’m hopeful that it can be managed for a very long time.
I read a really poignant comment from a US oncologist to a person who had been diagnosed with bone mets. She said’ I have a bear that has come out of his cave. We need to put him back in his cave, he will not go away, but he can hibernate, and when he decides to come out again we do what is needed to get him into hibernation once again.’ That analogy works for me and we are going to be working hard to ensure that the bear stays in hibernation for many years to come.
Two days after I got the news, I woke up in a different frame of mind. I’d spoken to family a lot those previous days and we’d all talked about how you have to live each day and just savour the moments. We became quite philosophical stating that the fact is none of us knew the minute our time would be up on this earth. In my head, I vowed not to take anything for granted again, although I acknowledged it’s human nature to ease back into not treasuring the little things
At times like this, it’s critical to stay positive and that’s where my idea for The Sunny Days Project came from. Initially I had a Pinterest board with the same title which can be found here Sunny Day Project Pinterest I filled it with as many positive things as I could find. I try and look at it each morning and each time I start to think negatively I will have a look at something uplifting. I need to keep myself strong to support my sister and the rest of the family. I’m going to write a few motivational posts on the blog too which I hope will inspire others who are going through tough times. With the busy lifestyle that we have now, it is so easy to rush around and not really take it all in. I know I’m guilty of it, I think we all are. So today just try and grab yourself five minutes, sit and enjoy the silence, savour that cup of coffee or appreciate how pretty the daffodils look. None of us know the minute.
Ps. Sis is doing ok at the moment, in spite of being in hospital with a fractured hip! She’s a strong lady and I’m very proud of her.