So, the MRI: My scan shows that the tumour has grown slightly in one area. Because of the chemo shrinkages it's still smaller than it once was, but the fact that it's displaying growth and activity is far from promising. Now that's enough about me.
Just over a fortnight ago now we were awoken by a loud exclamation from downstairs. My mother, my brother and I rose from a slumber to find my father collapsed in the corridor, struggling for breath. One successful 999 call and one accidental dropped call later and two ambulances arrived, followed shortly by a police car for good measure. We were informed that he had suffered a thoracic aneurism which could not be treated in Wales and as a result he would be transferred to St George's Hospital in London for an operation.
After an apparently successful operation he continued to deteriorate and we were asked to return to London a few days later. I won't be going into detail about the visit to London as it was a private family moment, other than to thank those who helped us with lifts, train fares and somewhere to lay our heads during the most difficult of times.
We returned to Wales the following day, hollow and deflated. Each wondering where we go from here. We had lost a Husband and a Father who had spent more than two decades making our lives easier every day. Personally when I look back I think of the first full day after I was diagnosed, when I opened my front door in Exeter to a hug from him and his sincere wish that he could take the tumour for me; I think of sharing the car on the way to and from every scan, every clinic appointment and every single treatment where we worked our way through most of the trivia games on the app store; then I think about how he took me to football training in torrential rain for years despite knowing I was rubbish; after that how he let me go without him to my judo competitions because he knew I fought better without family there watching me, accepting that he'd miss any successes but glad that he'd contributed by his absence; finally I open my wallet and look inside. There, tucked in a pocket sits a letter. A letter I received shortly after moving to Exeter, a letter which has been with me ever since I was diagnosed and which has given me strength time and time again. A letter which lets me know he was proud of me, he loved me, and reminds me that one of my qualities he admired is that I never quit and that I should continue in that vain.
One small mercy is that I managed to avoid telling him that the tumour was growing again. I know, because he had told me a couple of years before, that he was happy with his life and was ready to go. Plus it was a comforting coincidence that the place where he spent most of his adult life and loved to be in and talk about (London) also happened to be the place where he spent his final days. At least this knowledge that he was happy with his life provides some small comfort in these first few days, although it does little to help me work out what I'll do without the man that was the single biggest influence on my life, shaping every aspect of who I am today, and for that I thank him.
As a final note I will reflect on a thought I had on the journey back from London while the cast of the Lion King repeatedly told me through my headphones: "He lives in you". Sat there trying not to break down in public I realised how accurate that is. In every aspect of my life from my name, to my jawline, to my annoying habit of correcting people's grammar, he does indeed, live in me.