Archive for June 19th, 2010

I have spent the last two weeks in Oncology ,there are two beds to a room ,we share a bathroom and small TV.

The moments I spent with this very small lady, weighing just 40 Kilos, thanks to the ravages of cancer will never leave me.

I wish to write about Amparo not because I may forget her or because she is still fresh in my mind. I want to talk of her strength and the amazing love she has for everyone and everything around her.

No one more surprised than I by lunchtime last Monday 7th June attending an appointment as an out patient would be admitted back into a Cancer ward.

I was already in the room and wearing pale blue pyjamas when Amparo entered, wheeled in by I was later to discover her son. Amparo had returned from having a scan and wore around her head a scarf in multi colours we both said ‘Hola’.

Stephan had taken my paperwork to the front desk and signed me in to the ward … news travels fast there and nurses were saying Danis here…Dani? Dani who?….Dani…DANI….

A very tall good looking male nurse called Jose came in apologising…’I am sorry, I am sorry’ he said…I had a hard time understanding what he was sorry about. I then remembered the year before he had promised to call us and we would go for a meal together. He had not made that call,he had been busy and now said he felt bad.

I told him not to be so silly, we all say we will call people and never do, he sat on my bed and we started chatting about whats been happening. Jose is a fantastic nurse and speaks English better than I.

By this time Mariola and another nurse came in, and I now , in floods of tears, first to see them and remember their kindness but most of all ,shock ,for being once again in Oncology.

Stephan had returned and I looked across at Amparo who had removed her scarf and had three inch strands of hair sprouting from her bald head. GOOD I thought ,thats defiance for you, Amporals hair or at least some of it would not give in to chemo.

The day passed quickly and it was time for Stephan to say good-bye, odd how quickly we slipped in to the old routine as though the last nine months had never happened. ‘I will ring you when I get home’ and he was gone.

Not many words were spoken during the course of the evening .I did notice the tender care Amporas son had for his mother and also the tenderness of which she spoke of and about him.

Juan Carlos did not leave his mothers side and slept in the visitors chair at night . Forgive me, he did leave the room, to smoke…we laughed a lot about that.

Love and devotion between a mother and son. I would like to explain but you have to be with them to understand.

The following day Ampora started her eighth and what would be her last cycle of chemo. We lay in our beds and chatted as the chemo was fed into her very frail body.

We started to discuss skincare and she asked to borrow my mirror as she had not seen her face in months. Ampora had spent nine months in a hospital bed. I cannot remember her first words when she saw for the first time her wrinkled face, massive weight loss had removed the fat from under her skin, she was truly shocked. I explained when she was well again and could once more eat ,weight gain would soon fill out her cheeks and the lines, or most of them would disappear.

I also told her a face with lines showed character and personality ‘But I don’t want personality’ she laughed I want a skin like yours.

The following morning the Dr. had been and told me the worst, I had fluid where fluid should not be and also two small implants had been found…we were talking possible surgery, cancer and chemo….I confess by the afternoon I had my breakdown…how I could have been so selfish when the woman next door to me was having her treatment is beyond me but I did, I cried and cried and cried. Sarah ,a wonderful woman and brilliant nurse asked me what was wrong I told her what the doctor had told me that morning…she tried to calm me by telling me last time I had had a lot of complications, but I said I did not feel I could go through this again.

Ampora pulled back the thin curtain that divided us for privacy ,while being fed chemo, sat on the edge of her bed, her skinny legs hung down, just bones and I guess my well known expression ‘Kicked ass’ boy did she kick my ass….not only that, I learned of her cancer, a sick liver, she was waiting for a donor, time went by and there was a match….only to find out nine months later she now had liver cancer from her donor, what are the chances of hearing such bad luck? Was Ampora phased? not in the least….

Her son, four years earlier had had seven tumours in his esophagus removed ,followed by 76 sessions of radiotherapy.

This young man did not tell his family, he went through it alone as he did not want to worry them… so you can see the kind of stock they come from…

I guess you can imagine how I felt and soon realised self pity helps no one…soon we were laughing about something I can no longer remember.

Yesterday, for the first time in nine months Ampora took her first steps and by whose side did she walk? her devoted son…I cannot honestly say who looked happier, just that my own heart burst with pride.

This afternoon when I left, Ampora was asleep and I did not like to wake her to say good-bye, her son also not there, I would imagine having a few quick puffs of his favourite brand outside.

However ,tomorrow I think I will give them a ring just to say ‘Hello’

I have chosen a song for Amparo by a singer named SORAYA, Soraya died from breast cancer but her music lives on.

I have spent the last two weeks with someone even if our paths never cross again I will always remember her as an amazing woman who tried to comfort me with her kindness when all I had time for was myself.

Thank-you Maria….my name for her…

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To the kindest people I have been fortunate enough to meet.

Neither will ever know the true depth of my feelings for them and how they helped when waking at 3 am in a cold sweat, in a silent hospital ward with not even a ticking clock for company ,only machines bleeping in the night feeding very sick people through gastric tubes.

.. hoping…’Please let this not be happening again’….

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