HOW CANCER BROUGHT ME LOVE‘That’s cancer isn’t it?’ I said to the Consultant as I stared down the camera lense and in to my colon. ‘Yes it is,’ he replied clearly. I wanted to laugh at the irony; it was perhaps, borderline hysteria.
After tragically losing my mum, nana, and great-grandma to ovarian cancer, I wondered when, rather than if, I’d be next. However, thanks to advances in research, I could be tested for the possibility of a faulty gene mutation; by now identified as BRCA1. Sadly, the result was positive which meant that I’d got an 85% chance of getting breast cancer and a 60% chance of getting ovarian cancer. Those odds were totally unacceptable to me. I’d got a little boy, Josh, to think about and a long full life that I wanted to live, and so I made the agonising choice to have perfectly healthy parts of my body amputated – the very parts that defined me as a woman. From that moment, certainly as far as I was concerned anyway, I wasn’t going to get cancer and I never gave it another thought. Now here I was looking the unimaginable right in the eye. Before I’d even had time to process the results, things moved fast and the surgery to remove the malignant tumour from my bowel was scheduled for Wednesday 12 April 2017.
I’d first met Matt in January 2016, introduced by my son at the gym where he trained, and the three of us did a workout together. I thought nothing of it, especially as Matt was living in Australia at the time and was home for a friend’s wedding; and if I’m being honest, I thought that he was a bit of a plonker. Fast forward to Christmas Day and when he walked in to the pub where Josh was working I just thought, wow. I don’t know what had changed in those months since I’d last seen him, maybe it was the two halves of Guinness! Whatever it was, he blew me away AND he was back in the UK for good. When we got back home, Josh said, ‘well he fancies you I can tell!’ Good, I thought, because I fancy him as well. We exchanged a few Facebook messages for a while, and then as I became more and more poorly, the communication between us petered out.
The day after I’d had surgery, Josh said, ‘Mum, someone’s bringing me to the hospital to visit you on Friday, and it’s a surprise.’ I was horrified. ‘Oh Josh please tell me that it’s not someone I don’t like.’ Feeling sore and exhausted after surgery, I really didn’t want to be putting on a front for the sake of it, especially in these circumstances. ‘Well at least give me some clues as to who it is please.’ But he would only give me a few hints. I tried to fathom who it was, surely not, I thought, could it really be Matt? I decided that I’d better make a herculean effort to put some make-up on and try to look my best despite the NHS nightie and white knee-length surgical stockings. I’d guessed correctly, it was Matt, and as he and Josh walked down the ward, the two of them took my breath away; they both looked so handsome. Matt sat down and handed me the aromatic pink lilies that he’d brought for me, along with a bag full of delicious food. We chatted and I had butterflies inside as his eyes seemed to look right in to my very soul. Oh my god, I thought, unless I’m very much mistaken, I’m sure that there’s a connection between us. After visiting time had ended, the nurses all gathered round my bed. ‘So Tracey, who’s the two good looking visitors then!’ I laughed. ‘Well ladies, one’s my son and the other one there’s a queue for, and I’m at the front of it.’
The next morning and to my enormous relief, the Consultant told me that I could go home. Once again, it was Matt who, along with Josh, came to pick me up from the hospital and he’d also kindly made us some soup and Cornish pasties; he’s a trained chef you see. When he dropped us off, he offered to take me to the supermarket when I was feeling up to it, and I promised that I’d take him up on that offer. Two weeks later we went shopping, and laughed and talked our way round the aisles. Afterwards, we went for a coffee, and that in turn led to another one, and I felt as though I’d always known him. We fell in love and have been together ever since.
So you see, cancer can and does bring many things. It’s brought me a brand new perspective and an extra hunger for life. I faced my worst nightmare head on, which in turn, opened up my mind and heart to new possibilities and opportunities. I set myself free and found love. I’ll be eternally grateful for all the blessings that it brought, and when a man comes in to your life when you’re at your very worst, then he’s a keeper…


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