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3 little words


October 29, 2013 by hallyd

‘Grandad has cancer’

Three little words that I knew I would have to say since I found out at the end of the Summer term.  I can remember clearly when my dad confirmed that yes he had advanced melanoma and that yes he had 12 months. Time did stand still. There were lots of questions but not a lot of answers to begin with, however there was a glimmer of hope to hold on to, there was a trial operating out of Swansea that dad may  be eligible for – no other treatments would cure this or hold it of. So we held on to the trial – in America 25% of those who had been on the trial had lived for another 5 years – am not great with taking odds normally but these I could go with.

Before we knew if he would be accepted onto the trial came a summer of waiting as Dad underwent a series of tests, waited for results and was told to have more tests.  Throughout it all the NHS have been brilliant as have family and friends.  At times like this you appreciate them even more, he belonged to a huge network for all his working life – The British Army – he is not a man of many words and I knew that he wouldn’t want to be telling people over and over again. So I began spreading the word and he has appreciated the many phone calls he has had as well as messages on FB.

Then came the news – he and been accepted on the trial – it would still be a tough time ahead but there was hope.  Then there was the question – do I tell the kids? Both my husbands parents passed away within a year of each other – four years ago and so to them Grandad is the one constant presence in their lives – most holidays will find one of us driving up or down the M4. Did I want the kids to know? Honestly no – I wanted to protect them within a bubble for as long as I could – but with P being nearly 12 and fairly astute and Tom 8 there wasn’t going to be any hiding them from it for long, also with the trial it is likely that dad will get worse before he gets better.

But when?

When do you tell your children news like this and how? Being with children professionally for the last 17 years I have been part of a school community where we lost first our Head Teacher and then our SENCO – really tough times but again the sense of community came through. For me the time was difficult P finished primary school this summer and began a new adventure at ‘big’ school – I wanted her to enjoy this time without any worry and to build up memories for herself not associated with illness or treatment.

So we came to the end of the first half term, it has been a real roller coaster – for me Acting Deputy Head, OFSTED and then interview for Deputy – my interview came on the day Dad had his final tests ready to begin treatment – when we spoke on the phone that night you could sense the nerves.  I wanted it to have all gone well at the hospital and he just wanted me to tell me the news – the joy on both sides was evident, and nice to share bits of good news. However, I knew that the time for those 3 words was coming nearer.

What can I say – I said them and they reacted brilliantly there was a pause and then questions, but they did what children always do they carried on – subsequently there have been the odd question but they are upbeat – he is having treatment – it’s Grandad it will all be ok.

So tomorrow the treatment starts – 5 hours of intravenous drip – thankfully my aunty and uncle are there and have been amazing, to take him to the hospital and for him to stay with until he is ok to drive. He is gutted at the timing as tomorrow should have been the day he drove down to London for the half term – so instead if it all goes ok and he is feeling up to it – the Bones will be going down the M4.

This summer has made me realise a lot of things – time is precious, we really do not know what lies around the corner, memories are waiting to be made, family and friends are the ones who keep you smiling – enjoy life!



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  1. 10kmk42 says:

    I really feel for you and your family at this time and I am really pleased that your dad has the chance of this trial. Good luck to you all tomorrow and I can’t wait to read that the trial has worked. Just remember that you need to share your feelings, as you have done here. This is something I didn’t do whilst going through a similar experience and really regret the fact that I didn’t.

  2. Dughall says:

    Dawn, tough times. My heart goes out to you. So difficult when there are those miles between you. Everything crossed for your Dad and warm thoughts your way. I reckon kids generally know when stuff is going on and appreciate information shared in a sensitive way – which I know P & T will have had.

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