This is a blog I wrote last year on another site. I wanted to include it on this site as it is really important to me. This is our darling Ally a couple of months before she died. 8 years ago today. She was 15 and a half. She was diagnosed in March 2003 with HCC – adult liver cancer.
She had been feeling ill for a few months, and not finding anything by prodding and poking the doctors said she had Eosophagitus. Our doctor thought she was making a fuss bacause she was at bording school and didn’t like it – far from the truth as Ally tried to tell her when I left the room. She had grown very fond of her school friends and as school was only 10-15 mins form home I was able to pop in occasionally, doing the “tuck” run! Always a popular occurance for her and her friends as I would rock up in gardening clothes and her little bro in the car, and poss the dog! The school, Benenden, was fantastic right the way through from the day she got in to at least a year after she died, and she loved her time there.
I was in NY with my husband, her Dad, for a long weekend as he had been working there all week. We got a call from Ally to say her eyes had turned yellow and she was off to the doc: we spoke to Matron who said she’d keep us posted. then she calle dot say that Ally was going to the hospital for a scan and as it was the day we were returning we said we’d meet them there. During the ultra scan I joked with Ally that it looked like she had the Lock Ness Monster in her. Ever wanted to turn back time and kick yourself?
The consultant who told us what was wrong was the same man who came up with the Eosophagitus diagnosis.No, I didn’t yella t him – we were in too much shock. Ally had a tumour the size of a grapefruit in her liver. As we later found it was near the gall bladder (?) or the entrance to the liver and so was basically inoperable. It was so far advanced the cancer consultant at The Marsden in Surrey said nothing would cure her but something might give her some hope. We let her decide – she said the one that didn’t make her loose her hair was the one she’d go for. The Consultant was very good at not wiping out all hope but at the same time letting her know it was probably terminal.
I dont know when that word was first used, but both Richard and I immediately said we wanted her to have quality of life rather than quantity. In Kings at Denmark hill we had watched children who had been dragged half way round the world for radiation treatments on their livers, and we had seen the affect on the children and the parents. One lad said to Ally he was so tired of it all, he wished it would stop. So there was no discussion between us, we just looked at eachother and both said together “Quality”.
I still stand by that decision. Yes, we had the money and we could have dragged her to three Mile Island in the US for strange and experimental treatments, but the end woudl have been the same, and in the meantime we would have all been exhausted. This way we had 7 months of fun and love with Ally which we would never have had, even if she had been well! The hospital fixed her up with a pump and PICC line into her heart and gave me a lesson on changing packs and clearing lines of air bubbles. So with her special shoulder bag, and me with my first aid kit, we hit the shops, saw her friends, saw films…she fell asleep in Calender Girls ( slightly tackless but she chose it!).
As the summer went on she lost more and more weight as the tumour squuzed her insides into a smaller and smaller space. She had a fairwell party for her school friends,a nd gave them all a goodie bag to say thanks and good bye…our shrubbery saw many a tear shed by both mothers an fathers, including the wonderful caterers who had done our wedding and the childrens’ christenings.
Ally’s brother, Jamie, and his best friend went round taking photos, which we have today in a wonderful book. He was a fantastic chap that day and others, only 13, and putting everyone else first. He had done Common Entrance exams and got into his next school with all of this hanging over him. he had to grow up fast, especially as Ally had always looked after him, spoken for him, and stood up for him. They were 2years 10 days apart and really had never argued! Even the day she gave him his Harry Potter scar whilst chasing him round the house!
Eventually it was obvious there was nothing else we could do for her apart from pain relief. The Diana Nurses form Maidstone Hospital had been wonderful throughout the summer, and as September drew into October they came to be our life line. They were very good at telling me what to look out for as signes of the end coming… Ally didn’t want me to leave her on the Monday; she had a visit from the Vicar on the Tuesday. Then Wednesday night she started to halucinate…the cancer had spread to her brain. She tried spitting at the father, scratching me… so we were very grateful when the nurses came and started her on a morphine drip. She suddenly came back to us and was loving and smiling as she slowly slipped inot a sleep, and then inot unconciousness. The nurses sat up with her so we couls have a sleep, and then left us in the morning.
Strangely the weather was a warm sunny October week, like now. We took it in turns to sit with her, talk toher, and have our meals. Eventually I went off for a bike ride, and then let the boys go off whilst I sat with Ally. Her breathing slowed, occasionally stopped, and then changed to the gravelly occasional gasp. I told her how much I loved her and that it was ok to go, that Grandpa was probably waiting for her to show her round Heaven. Then I told her to hang on whilst I yelled for the boys – they had just come back. They rushed in, and we were all together, holding her hands as she eventually died.
It was very obvious when she left. The sun was shining in her bedroom window, and I opened it wide, as I feel she wanted to leave by the window. I called the doctor and the funeral service. The nurses came and helped me dress her in her fav PJs and made sure I had her funeral clothes ready – her red satin bridesmaid dress, diamond earings, and, of course, Teddy!
Empty, relieved, tired, pained.Drained. I am feeling it now. BUT, I know she wants life to be good for us, and the fact the sun is shining, then and now, and for her funeral means to me that it is ok to go on. “Life is for living, Love is Eternal” is on her headstone. It’s what she believed and so do we. Its getting easier to bare every year. There are some days I don’t think of her.doesn’t mean I have forgotten or love her any lass. It just means life is going on. I am so glad we had her! I adore my memories of her both as a baby and growing up. She was no angel, just a normal girl, and we had the occasional arguement about her room etc…who hasn’t! i am sure she sees us, and now with her grandparents has fun watching us muddle our way through our lives. A Week after she died she gave me a huge hug and cuddled me whilst I slept on the sofa. Her leaving woke me. I often want to feel that again, but know she is off having fun somewhere else, doing whatever we do after this life. ( She is hopefully preparing God for the Dressing Down I will give him if I ever meet him!)
So go on with your lives, live each day, be yourself, love yourself, and give thanks. And SMILE!!!!