It was just after my sixty-seventh birthday when I was diagnosed with “mieloma multiple”. This is a blood cancer, which apparently was advanced in my case and “terminal” according to one consultant. I had been suffering from severe pains in my body as well as my ribs. Some of my vertebrae showed signs of deterioration as well. My general practitioner had sent me to hospital for tests where I stayed until the diagnosis was made.
As both my parents had died from cancer I was not unduly surprised at this result although my mother had eventually suffered from brain cancer and my father from prostate cancer.
The first thing I did was to contact my family. It is essential to have support emotionally at such times as well as the practical care, which they provided. My church friends also provided practical help such as shopping and doing housework. Other dear friends gave me psychological strength through comforting letters, physical affection and lending me books.
I then had to face the reality of my illness myself. I accepted the facts of the mieloma and that the treatment for this was chemotherapy. This would prolong my life although I would have to be less active. I did not know what chemotherapy involved but it was not as terrifying as I had imagined. After blood tests the chemicals were passed into my body through a vein in my arm. This was either done by injections or by a fine tube attached to bottles containing the treatment. None of this was very painful and all the time caring nursing staff surrounded me. As I live in Spain all the medical staff were Spanish. Their natural warmth, affection and friendliness helped to lighten the atmosphere. Nothing was too much trouble. Any questions would be answered and practical care was available at all times.
My consultant also replied kindly to any queries I had. She even allowed my visiting younger sister into the consulting room who had come from England to see me. There were also volunteers in the day clinic who would provide friendship as well as refreshments. I never felt lonely or uncared for.
Of course I had the great blessing of a loving daughter-in-law who, as a qualified nurse, knew from experience how to care for cancer patients. She made sure that I rested sufficiently, took my medication correctly and accompanied me regularly to hospital.
It is important not to feel isolated because of cancer. Everyone we meet is going to die one day and although cancer may be our particular terminal illness it does not remove our humanity.
At hospital I have met many people with the same disease in different forms. We could support each other, explain procedures to new patients and understand each other’s problems.
As a Christian I had the comfort of knowing that God was taking care of me. I turned to Him for support and comfort during the months of treatment. The bi-weekly hospital visits; the continuous tiredness and occasional nausea were par for the course. Family and friends prayed for me and with me. They asked the Lord Jesus if I could be healed if it was His will. I asked Him for daily strengths.
One weekend in January I was thinking how hard it was going to be to say goodbye to my family and grandchildren. The following Tuesday during a routine visit, my consultant announced that there was no sign of the cancer in my blood at all! I was really shocked and couldn’t absorb this information completely. I had been facing the prospect of dying when suddenly I had been given more time to live. Prayers had been answered and other people encouraged.
I know that God does not always answer prayers in this way but I do know that He helped me all through the time that I was ill. I could not have faced it without His peace and the love supporting me. He truly gives great blessings to those who know Him in this world and hope for an eternity to come.