Sarah Gaffney is a cat loving, travel obsessed, smiley and all round fabulous human being… who happens to be inconvenienced by a bloody brain tumour. She shared her open letter to the T-Bomb, and brace yourselves guys, it’s a good one…
It was on plastic chairs in a faded consultation room that we were told of your existence.
Ten months ago now, the t-bomb had entered the building and that was that.
The consultant repeated the words “try not to worry”.
I have seen you many times – a white shape on MRI scans, but admit to underestimating what you were capable of.
Naïve as to quite how much you could change my life.
You’ve been prodded and poked with tools, my skull open whilst I chatted about fish fingers – the “safe” and beige tea I’d chosen to eat before a big operation. You said no thanks to surgery, being stubborn and awkward (in and around bits of me that really matter). Only microscopic amounts removed for diagnostic purposes.
Diffuse and inoperable you are tiresome, exasperating – your presence felt with seizures and clonus. Fears I once held are insignificant now and I am thankful for that.
Fears about identity away from the familiarity of work and my career – once my largest focus, on hold.
Independence – held tightly, the grip now loosened. I was weak and vulnerable, had no choice but to accept help and dynamics have been subtly changed.
I think of that meal in Melbourne, Australia. It was December 22nd 2015 and the couple at the table next to us were celebrating the end of her chemotherapy treatment. She wore a headscarf and their joy was palpable.
We took photographs of each other, capturing that moment in time. My birthday was like many others, only further away from home. Unable to grasp the prospect or weight I put that story from the other side of the world to the back of my mind.
I have celebrated too. In March after finishing 7 weeks of chemo radiotherapy, and later, when we were told you hadn’t grown. Now halfway through further rounds of chemotherapy maybe there is less of you there.
You have brought my family and friends together. Our stiff upper lips now delicately supple, the L-word casually dropped into chats and messages. Annual amounts of laughs and moist eye to eye contact squeezed into weeks and months.
My body and brain, once taken for granted are appreciated now. The one I had before – that could run, and dance. And now – slower, unsteady, rebuilding itself.
It means more.
Those that love me hate the uncertainty you bring. They are angry about the unfairness and although numbers have been mooted – plucked from the air, only “hypothetically speaking” – it is too soon to say with any conviction what you may do in the future.
To ask you would be to imagine it is all set in stone.
So of course, I won’t.
By Sarah Gaffney.
You can read more about the T Bomb on Sarah’s fantastic blog HERE.