On Monday the 15th of August, I received a phone-call that changed my life forever. That phone-call, that everyone fears, but we all hope and pray is never going to come. “Mr. Redding, Auckland Hospital here. It’s about your test results…”
This blog is my attempt to make sense of what’s happened to me since that call. And to deal with what’s probably going to happen to me in the future. I want to present an honest and unvarnished account of what it’s like to have cancer. What it feels like. What the treatment is like. What is means for my family and friends, and above all how it has changed me as a person. Some of it will be funny I hope, because believe it or not even cancer can be funny. And some of it will inevitably be grim. I’m not out to shock, but I won’t be pulling any punches either. All I can promise is that it will be the truth, as far as I can tell it.
I’m also writing all this down for my daughter Rebecca. She has so far refused to read any of this, and I understand her reasons. But I hope one day she will want to share my journey, and know what I now know, and see what I now see. Thirty years ago, when I was a little younger than Becca is now, I had to watch my father die of Pancrealic Cancer. He was a year younger than I am now. It was horrible of course. More horrible than words can adequately tell. But the true tragedy was the way my father and our family chose to deal with the situation. Or not to deal with it, to be more accurate. For some unaccountable reason, the decision was taken, that the true nature and seriousness of Dad’s illness was not to be openly talked about. Even with him. To this day I don’t know if that was his call, or someone else’s. It was another time, and a different generation. What I do know is that deceit, presumably contrived to protect myself and my younger brother, robbed us of the chance to talk to him about his ordeal, to share our love with him, and ultimately to be able to properly say good-bye. That pact of silence, taken all those years ago, has blighted my life ever since, and to this day I carry my father’s emaciated and ravaged body around with me, unable to ever let him go.
It appears that history is preparing to repeat itself, as it so often does. I am not surprised. I always suspected it would. But I am determined that the same mistakes will not be made again. Total honesty. Total disclosure. OK?
Linds Redding. Waiheke Island. September 2011