Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Mother’s Story – Virna Baillie

I have 3 amazing boys Oliver Max and Jordan. Big strapping lads full of fun and life, girls, gym and lots of mess.  Jordan my youngest was my brightest star. I love all my boys, but somehow with Jordan we just connected more. He made me laugh; he was the master of charm; good-looking and mischievous.

For some deep down reason which I can’t really explain, I always worried more about Jordan. Not because he gave me reason to, but I had an overwhelming fear of loss where he was concerned.

In December 2014 I looked at Jordan and panicked “What's wrong with my boy, something was wrong. His face looked puffy and his eyes heavy.  But hey, this was a busy 18 year old, with an amazing zest for life. Late nights and early mornings; a new college course just started and a healthy social life.

But it was more than that! I sent a picture of Jordan to my friend Trish and asked her "Does my Jordan look ok to you?"  She answered "Yes maybe a bit tired and he has just had a cold". She was right and Christmas was soon upon us.  Jordan loved his food. He ate like a giant.  However, that Christmas Jordan never finished his dinner. "I’m full Mum". I felt sick with panic. 

However, Christmas came and went. Then on 30 January 2015, my brother’s birthday, Jordan complained about a pain in his ribs. He was still able to mess around with his friends and his appetite seemed fine but I thought it best to get it checked so booked a Doctor’s appointment. The doctor’s initial prognosis was a floating hernia.  Jordan did a lot of sport: running, boxing and spent a lot of time at the gym. She suggested booking an ultrasound scan.

Meanwhile, his pain was getting worse and when he came home from college barely able to walk, I took him straight to the Royal Free hospital.  I felt physically sick and just wanted to know what was wrong with my boy.   He was seen by two surgeons and had a number of blood tests and was then given the all clear to go home. Bloods were all normal and his swollen spleen was put down to a sore throat he had just after Christmas.

I didn't buy it. I don't know why I had this ingrained fear.  Was there a major heartache and trouble ahead? I was so fearful for him.

Jordan’s scan appointment arrived and I had to wait outside as he didn’t want me to come in with him. I felt frozen sitting waiting and when the nurse suggested I call the Doctor the next day for the scan results, every alarm bell went off in my head, in my gut – ‘Why on earth would she say that?’ ‘Why so quick?’

I called the GP early the next morning but was told the results were not yet there. I felt relieved – if there was something wrong, the urgency would surely mean the results would be ready.  I slid into a selfish denial which now I beat myself up about continuously.

My relief was short lived – until that Thursday in March.

I came home from shopping and went to my bedroom, took a deep breath and called the surgery, but still no results.  This was nearly 2 weeks now since his scan.  This was ridiculous and so frustrating.  So I took the bull by the horns and called the scan company myself.  They told me that they had faxed my GP the results the following morning as an urgent next day referral. 

My head buzzed, my vision blurred and panic consumed every inch of my being.  My mouth so dry I could barely talk, I called my GP asking where the scan results were.  She informed me that she would call me back within 5 minutes. I paced the floor, the seconds dragged on like hours and I felt sick. The phone rang.

Before she could speak I asked; "is everything ok?"

Her words back to me: "Not really"

"What's the problem"? I asked

“Jordan has either a really serious stomach infection or cancer.  I'll make Jordan a referral to the cancer center at the UCH.” I put the phone down unable to hear anything other than the word ‘cancer’.

I called my Mum, his Dad, anyone who could calm my mind. I was hysterical.  I was in bits:

 “Not my boy, not my beautiful Jordan, come on God not this.  I can't, I can't face this” the mounting fear suffocating me.

“How on earth would I tell Jordan?  How would I put one foot in front of the other, or learn to be brave?  How can that word ‘cancer’ have so much power?  How can cancer come into our lives and rip my son’s life apart - steal his carefree spirt, 18 years old and just starting out; a young man about to be robbed  by this disgusting disease.

              My heart and soul felt broken. How can a parent manage this journey with their child?  

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