More than background info…

 Whilst this story is intended for anyone who has any experience with cancer, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a crucial element that diverts from my own personal experience. This is in no way just my story, it is my friend’s and family’s as well. I think it is crucial to remember that always.

Approximately 6 months, before I was diagnosed with cancer, my grandpa, my mum’s dad, Malcolm Peters, died of a brain tumor very suddenly. He was just 75, and despite having lived a full and vibrant life, we have all felt that we were robbed of 10 years.

We loved him very much, as did his entire community. His funeral service was crowded with people who respected, admired and loved him.

I remember him as best I can, often supplanting memories with photos, and what I know is the same as most everyone who knew him. Grandpa was, as put so well by the Leamington Society, “kind and considerate; above all a man of judgment and integrity, as befits the very best of business economists”. Without a doubt he was the patriarch of the Peters family, and even today big events beg the question “What would Dad have thought?”.

I believe that coping with a loved one with cancer is infinitely more difficult than taking it on yourself. My mum has a kind of strength I will never understand. I try to imagine what it must have been like, after losing your dad, to attempt to cope with your eldest daughter being diagnosed with the same illness. For her to have to call Grannie and tell her that her eldest grandchild has cancer. I do not envy the helplessness they must have felt. The great unfairness of it all, my mum and God were not on speaking terms.

This is perhaps the least light-hearted of my posts but I do not feel it is a subject to be taken lightly. Whilst I do not advocate putting your own needs and feelings aside, if you have cancer yourself, I would strongly suggest sparing a thought for your loved ones. There is a pain, and fear, and sadness that we don’t experience. We are the fighters on the frontline; they are the ones at home waiting for news.

Without giving too many ‘spoilers’, Grandpa was a great source of strength for me throughout, but he was crucial when I had to undergo surgery in St. Petersburg away from my family. Whilst on the phone to my mum, before going under, she told me “Grandpa will be with you”. I am an awkward British-American hybrid and sharing this with you feels both necessary and overly emotional. I mention this rather painful exchange because at that time, when the situation was quite desperate, hearing that sentiment from my mum brought home both the severity of the situation and gave me the stones to go through it alone. 

*(Not quite alone…pity the poor/incredible Russian teacher standing next to me translating medical Russian).

Anyway, this is him at my Auntie’s wedding in 1988

Susannah TemkoComment