Part 3. #KnightsArmy
Blimey, my birthday has been amazing this year. Cards, 5 lots of beautiful fresh flowers, gifts galore (bit confused by the well-being theme), and shit loads of attention. Someone is bound to be planning a surprise party! Hang on, it’s February, my birthday is in August. We’re not celebrating, everyone’s collectively freaking out, swooping in, and shouting ‘fuck cancer’ loudly. I’m surrounded by a family even bigger than my already sizeable one who are showing love and practically helping in a variety of ways. As well as beautiful, mood lifting flowers I have been blindsided by acts of kindness and thought.
Within a day of diagnosis my mum and dad made sure I had new, plush towels (I’m embarrassed at how old mine were), two sets of gorgeous pyjamas (going to be in them a little more than usual perhaps), a new cuddly robe and dad baked me 2 loaves of beautiful bread. My dad (I have 2 dads!) and stepmum had a juicer and a nutripro in my kitchen before I could blink, as well as green powder to add to everything for all the nutrition and have organised for all my toiletries to be replaced with natural and chemo-needs stuff.
My mates got straight in there with help ranging from key-cutting to tickets for events to look forward to; a shoulder massage with beautiful oil; a wonder woman t-shirt (now chemo uniform) and a portrait of me wearing said t-shirt plus a sweary necklace I wore for my 40th birthday; chauffeuring to an MRI appointment, subsequent lunch and the best cross stitch gift ever, done by my mate’s 82 year old mum Sylv who’s not averse to the f-bomb (see pic)! There will be food, homemade and delivered from Seaford, Lewes and Brighton. There will be a list, administered by the most organised person I know, Kristy, of #KnightsArmy soldiers who have pledged this ongoing support.
On Wednesday, a week on from diagnosis, my friend and colleague Ant put a litre of coconut water on my desk, assuring me there’s lots more where it came from. I LOVE coconut water, Ant really doesn’t but she loves to gift it to me from time to time. From here on it turns out she’ll be my supplier. She then put an envelope in my bag with clear verbal and written instruction not to open until I was home. I confess that school pick up/dinner/domestic-mothering-heaven made me forget about the envelope until about 7.30 when I was laying on the couch with N watching the Simpsons.
Inside was a card doctored to make the message of friendship about coconut water, with a personal message that wet my eyes. Enclosed in the card a folded print out of a picture that captured a blur of Ant, Sarah (another work friend) and me laughing hysterically fairly recently. On the back of the pic Ant had written more words, this time of her support for me and to tell me to make use of the financial gift she had wrapped in that photo. I sat on the sofa, Simpsons shouting in the corner and N intermittently giggling, gobsmacked. I associate cash gifts with birthdays, parents, grandparents and aunties. I wasn’t offended in any way, but I was shocked, and then instantly touched to the point of tears. The following day I gave Ant an enormous cuddle which was swiftly followed by her and our colleague ‘C’ producing a crate of coconut water to stash under my desk!
Another friend from work, Georgie, took it upon herself to box up health related kit including a hand-held smoothie mixer – for the executive cancer patient on the go like me! As well as vits, a little unicorn light because unicorns are the way to go, and a note which also spoke of true friendship, support and a desire to really add to getting me through this ‘journey’. I have to write ‘journey’ because every time I say that word now I lengthen it, emphasis on the ‘joooouuuur’ and always air quotes. Anyway, I can’t wait to spend a day of relaxation with Georgie.
I had homemade brownies left on my doorstep by baking whizz of a friend Georgia. My friend Tan knocked on the door unannounced (true Tan style) with the 5th bunch of flowers at 7pm last night wearing an evening dress and a massive coat you’d wear for a muddy winter walk. What she was wearing is irrelevant but she looked brilliant so I had to mention. And I now have a wig team – providers of and personal stylist! Di, the hair queen and owner of sweary Sylv the cross stitching mum, is coming to chop my actual hair this morning so there’s less of it to lose and will then style wigs so they don’t look too wigish.
Finally there’s the messages. Too many to mention and all so uplifting and loving. Wonderfully varied in their tone, from the gentle and calm to the rude and sweary, they have all lifted me. They have driven home the fact that although I am the only one who can do this, I really do have an eclectic and powerful army surrounding me. I will have to lead from the front (wanky metaphor time), but there are people right with me, literally in it, and this is something I am never going to forget. Ever. People’s kindness has been overwhelming. The words I have been privy to have been so extraordinary that at times I’ve considered just cutting and pasting them in to this blog, but that would be plagiarism or breach of privacy or something. They’re just so stunning and make clear my family and friend’s understanding of what I must be thinking and feeling, of who I am, my likely attitude to this, and of what I am going to need.
I am an incredibly lucky woman.