Isn’t it strange how life throws you curve balls when you least expect it?
2014 was the year I would be celebrating my big “50th” birthday. I was so excited about the prospect, not knowing what to expect from my family in terms of celebration i.e. I’m the one always organising surprise parties and I wondered if one was going to be organised for me.
I started hinting about this a few months before Christmas (I like to be pro-active and be prepared in advance) and there was no indication from anyone that there would be a surprise party. I was on my own. If I wanted to have a party, I would have to organise one myself. Sigh!
October 2013 onward had me planning, adjusting the budget a million times to make the rands and cents work. I eventually settled on a plan. Instead of throwing away a whole lot of money on one big party, I would book mom and myself into a Spa for a day (the day of my actual birthday) for a spa treatment and we would “sleep it off” at the same hotel that night and leave the following day. I would also take the whole week off from work (as opposed to only taking the day of my birthday) and spend the rest of the week doing day trips in and around the city where I live. The Saturday following my birthday, we would have a High Tea for some close friends and family. By Christmas break, my plans were finalised and we were all set, waiting for the big day to arrive. The plans for my birthday were made based on mom having chemo treatment during the week of 27 January 2014.
Here’s where the first curve ball came: mom was scheduled for a CT Scan on 29 January 2014 to see whether her chemo treatment was working and, unbeknown to me, chemo treatment is not administered in the same week as a CT Scan. This meant that mom’s treatment was postponed to the week of 3 February (my birthday was on 4 February). Not a problem, I thought. There is enough time to make adjustments to my plans so instead of applying for one week’s leave, I would only apply for two days (seeing as mom would be sleeping most of the time after treatment, there was no point in being home if she could not join me). We would then still go for our Spa treatment and stay overnight at the hotel as planned.
Another curve ball: I was informed that with chemo treatment, it is not advisable to have a full body massage as the pressure of the massage could cause the cancer to spread. Not a problem I thought: I contacted the Spa and asked if they could change mom’s treatment to a Manicure and Pedicure only and I would still have my full body massage.
Next curve ball: The 3rd February arrives and I take mom in for her chemo treatment. We see the doctor first (as is usually the case on the first day of chemo) who informs us that mom’s chemo will be stopped immediately because it is not working and that the cancer has now spread to the liver, lungs and on the glands around the kidneys. The cancer is now at stage four (4). The emotional rollercoaster this put us on would not just disappear by tomorrow. This put a real damper on me even wanting to celebrate my birthday, however, plans were in place. There was no way I could cancel everything now. We arrived home at about midday, had lunch and started sending text messages to everyone we knew to let them know the bad news about mom. This, in a way, was therapeutic for both mom and myself as it seemed to have taken the sting out of what the doctor said. I, however, still have not had the time to deal with the emotional and Psychological effects of this blow and am still feeling very emotional about this whole ordeal as I write this blog.
The day of my birthday finally arrives and mom and I check in at the hotel, have lunch, have our Spa treatment and relax for the rest of the day. We try our best not to talk about the cancer issue – I’m too emotional about the whole thing and did not want to “spoil” my birthday by crying my eyes out the whole day. I also don’t want mom to see me cry because it will upset her because she is always wanting to “fix” things and this is something she is powerless to “fix”. Mom and I then agreed that, for the sake of granting me at least ONE day to enjoy my birthday, we would not talk about the cancer issue.
Back home the next day we went back to reality and everything went back to normal. Responding to friends and family phoning and texting us regarding our news . . .
The Saturday following my birthday, we had a High Tea at one of our local hotels (The Cape Grace Hotel at the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town). It was a small group of about 20 made up of friends and family. I was hoping to use the opportunity to thank those present for the role they played in my life but was not able to say as much as I wanted to because of the pent up emotions regarding my mom’s diagnosis, I almost burst into tears a few times. Nevertheless, we managed to have a good time in each others company so everything turned out well in the end.
There is a saying that goes
“when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”.
Did I do this? I think I did!
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.