Blogging Begins at Eighty
I’ve never been one to make a thing of celebrating birthdays except perhaps for 21sts,but I was looking forward in 2012 to my birthday when the whole family was to get together, but the best laid plans and all that!
Throughout June I was concerned about the rather odd emails I was receiving from my eldest daughter, Brenda, who was on holiday in Crete with her partner,Ray, but tried to tell myself I was imagining things.
I had gone to Bridge as usual on Thursday morning, 28th June. It was when I arrived home that I got the phone call from my middle daughter, Dorothy. Brenda had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and I had to go to Cairo ( where both Brenda and Ray worked) immediately because I was next of kin and would have to give permission if an operation was required.
One of my grandsons booked the flight. The first one he could get was via Dubai. I dashed around packing and making phone calls and was on my way to the airport in a taxi by early evening. When I arrived in Dubai, the Cairo flight, according to the notice board would leave from gate 146. When I asked one of the airport staff where the gate was, he told me it didn’t exist! I pointed to the departure notice and he then said it was about two miles to walk, so he accompanied me most of the way. Exhausted, I clambered onto the plane. I was the only white person on board.
Both flights had been uneventful and I suppose I remained calm because the situation seemed surreal. I arrived at Cairo airport mid morning and Ray was there to meet me. He brought me up to date with all that had happened while we had a quick lunch.
Brenda’s condition had been deteriorating towards the end of the holiday. She had very severe headaches and was so lacking in energy that she could barely lift a spoon. Once back in Cairo, Ray took her to the doctor who said the severe headaches were stress and the lethargy was depression. He told her this was nonsense and she told him to take Brenda to hospital if he wasn’t satisfied with her diagnosis. He did that and as soon as she arrived she was given an MRI scan and Ray was told she had a malignant brain tumour. The surgeon said he would operate on the Saturday.
When Ray and I arrived at the private hospital, Brenda was sitting up in bed looking the picture of health – the steroids had kicked in and she was no longer in pain and she seemed quite cheerful. There was quite a spectacular view across the Nile from her room which was basic. The private bathroom was quite grubby and the shower tray was filthy.
Eventually the surgeon decided he would not operate and advised us to take her home. He had trained in Oxford and was keen for us to go there. So on my 80th birthday we flew home to Heathrow. Brenda was able to walk on to the plane and, I am sure, no one looking at her would have realised how ill she was. I was given a very heavy folder with all her scans and medical information.
Dorothy met us at Heathrow and drove us straight to Oxford where she had made an appointment with a surgeon who decided to operate next day. After the operation he said the tumour had come out cleanly and my spirits rose because I knew that trouble usually arose because the whole of the tumour could not be removed, but when we saw him the following week the news was grim. It was even worse when she saw the oncologist who told her the tumour was the highest level of malignancy. If she had no treatment she would probably die in 4-6 months – with treatment 15-18 months. She debated what she would do and I said I would support her in whatever decision she made. She decided to have the treatment and is still undergoing treatment. The cancer has spread and part of it is pressing on the optic nerve, so she has lost the sight of half of her right eye. Her weight has increased considerably, but she is still cheerful and making the best of her life. It is a birthday I shall never forget, but I am sure you all know what the best present would she would probably die in 4-6 months – with treatment 15-18 months. She debated what she would do and I said I would support her in whatever decision she made. She decided to have the treatment and is still undergoing treatment. The cancer has spread and part of it is pressing on the optic nerve, so she has lost the sight of half of her right eye. Her weight has increased considerably, but she is still cheerful and making the best of her life. It is a birthday I shall never forget, but I am sure you all know what the best present would be!