In the months prior to finding my lump I had been in the excited throes of organising a six week adventure with Kate, Abbey and Tessa, visiting the UK and France. Unfortunately Mike was not joining us. Running his own business meant that any time not in the clients’ office was time with no income being generated. Ever the fiscally responsible member of our partnership, he had therefore decided this was going to need to be a girls-only trip.
This was to be the first overseas trip for Tessa, our youngest. The older two had travelled to Canada as youngsters but had little recollection of the journey. We often recount to our middle KAT, Abbey that as an almost three year old she became so overwrought by the distance we travelled to get to Toronto that she lost the ability to string a sentence together for the duration. She developed a stutter which required speech therapy when we returned home to cure her of. Taking it in her stride? Clearly not.
As a result, our imminent departure was a matter for high excitement. New bags had been purchased and the required ’notification of absence’ forms had been submitted to the respective schools. Justifying their absence from class with a two page letter detailing the educational value of the trip was met with suitable amusement from the principal at the primary school. She told me with a smile that a couple of sentences would have sufficed. Similarly, the private high school was in awe of the effort I went to as they are used to the type of parent that thinks nothing of removing their offspring from school for extended periods for overseas holidays at a moments notice. No sense of entitlement on our part.
We were to be metaphorical fireflies, flitting joyfully from one location to the other and basking in our collective glow.
Sadly it was not to be. By the end of that week of discovery I had been told by my surgeon that delaying treatment to allow us to continue with our holiday plans would result in a very poor prognosis. Six weeks delay could mean a dramatic difference in treatment outcome. During the course of the next week I embarked on the process of cancelling our bookings and beginning the process of making claims against the travel insurance which I had sensibly taken out. To be taking this action before undergoing any actual treatment was surreal and hard to comprehend. It felt like a cruel joke being played not just on me but on my gorgeous girls. They were obviously conflicted, scared and apprehensive about my situation and what this meant for them and crushed and dejected that this trip they had so excitedly awaited was to be no more. Trying to reassure them on both fronts, that I was in good hands and that our trip could be rescheduled was draining and I know I was not altogether convincing. Many tears were shed over the loss of this holiday. Not for the first time in my life did I feel that the universe was against me. That I wasn’t one of the shiny people that good things happened to. I was devastated. As one who often felt like an observer of the fireflies, to actually have the chance to be one and for it to be taken from me so cruelly was terrible.
In the time since my treatment we have had other holidays as a family and I am grateful for those times together. As I had suspected though, our family adventure to the UK and France hasn’t been rescheduled. Navigating Treatment Highway and Recovery Highway was an expensive trip and overseas holidays for the entire family haven’t been an option. This year I turn fifty though and I am fortunate enough to be embarking on what I have termed the #festivalof50.
It’s bittersweet because I’m doing it solo and wish that wasn’t the case but at the same time I’m getting to spend time with family overseas and my oldest daughter who is now finished high school and doing a ‘Gap Year’ working in the UK. I’m also celebrating being on Survivor Highway and reaching fifty at all. There were points I didn’t think I’d see my half century. If breast cancer didn’t kill me, the fallout from it would. But I have survived and so have my precious girls and Mike. We are fireflies and we are shining brightly.