As endurance tests go, 2015 has certainly made its mark.
Back in 2014, after a year which had seen Amanda go through aggressive chemo and radiotherapy for her breast cancer and, right at the end - on December 20th to be precise - my dad fell over at home and broke his hip. We thought then what a particularly unwelcome year 2014 had been.
Amanda's own journey throughout the year has already been well documented on this blog, and for the time being, she is as well as can be expected (see her latest blog update here from 21st December 2015: http://ukbreastcancertips.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/its-christmas-time.html )
Dad has been in and out of hospital three times throughout 2015. There were huge problems with his post operation recovery - a particularly nasty infection didn't help things leading him needing to have a replacement half-hip. Dad's issues have been compounded along the way with his Parkinson's Disease. In fact...and get this...in August, he had to have the ball joint at the top of his hip removed. This was because his Parkinson's Disease was causing his ball joint to vibrate so violently against the ball socket. The ball joint has been cemented to the hip bone, causing his right leg to be three inches shorter than the left. Dad came out of hospital in September and is very slowly recuperating. He's had two special shoes made with a platform sole (just like the ones he used to wear in the 1970s no doubt) which stabilises him. He can shuffle around downstairs in mum and dad's semi-detached with the aid of a walking frame and we're hoping that the recent introduction of a stairlift will give him a little more independence to get around the house and partake in crazy high speeds stunts upstairs too.
My mum visited dad every single day he was in hospital throughout the year, however this took its toll in an incredibly difficult to understand manner. A month after dad's discharge, mum started to feel the pace, she found it increasingly difficult to help with the day to day looking after of my dad at home, despite the daily visits from our local social services care team. Mum's started to get breathless slightly more (controlled and..as it turns out...masking some conditions...by an inhaler). In November, we noted quite a considerable weight loss in a short period of time. It's not good news for my mum unfortunately. We've learned she now has advanced lung cancer which has spread to the liver and bones. She started chemo treatment very quickly (December 15, 2015). Despite three relatively good days post-chemo, she's since been admitted into the Cancer Centre suffering from a high temperature and infection. My sister is struggling right now as she has a pretty bad cold which means she can't get to visit either mum or dad due to the risk of infection - as mum's blood count is low due to chemo, she's far more susceptible to catching colds and the like and my sister cannot risk visiting.
Dad was in hospital on for a while on Christmas Day 2014, and although we're hoping for the best, there's a good chance mum may well be there too this coming Christmas Day. ((Update 22nd December 5.03pm Confirmed that mum will be in hospital for Christmas Day)
Mum (76) and dad (78), until fairly recently, have enjoyed healthy lives, and as most sons and daughters who have been lucky enough to have had their parents around for this amount of time as we have, will testify that they like to see their parents as the most loving, strong people you could ever have in your lives. Things won't ever be the same again.
Amanda mentions on her blog about the whole 'brave' issue when referring to cancer. I came across this story very early today when prepping for this blog update and Heather's words put the whole "cancer" thing to bed quite nicely. "And don’t say I lost to cancer. Because cancer may have taken almost everything from me, but it never took my love or my hope or my joy. It wasn’t a “battle” it was just life, which is often brutally random and unfair, and that’s simply how it goes sometimes. I didn’t lose, dammit. The way I lived for years with cancer is something I consider a pretty big victory."
As a sidenote, mum has been referred to the same palliative care team at our local hospice that Amanda has been referred to. Cancer - it just keeps giving, doesn't it?
Christmas 2015 for me? Bah humbug.
Update - I mentioned in a previous blog entry ( http://ukbreastcancertips.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/ebay-auction-of-collectable-shoegaze.html) that an auction was taking place to raise funds for our local hospice that is providing support to Amanda (and now my mother). I genuinely didn't know how much the auction would raise. £50? perhaps even if we were really lucky £100?
Through extensive sharing on Facebook & Twitter, Richard - the auction host - was able to get over £250 for the auction, which in my eyes is pretty stunning work. The winner even paid an extra £50 to the auction, so with Gift Aid factored in, that's £382.50 raised for Douglas MacMillan. I've never met Richard, but hope to do so next year when some of our musical heroes meet up for their first gig for 20 years, but I can't thank him enough for what he has done in helping raise money for our local hospice.