There's an awful lot to this story....go grab yourself a cuppa and maybe some tissues!
I fear I'm not really ready to share this but time is something we don't have much of so I'm going to try. I've managed up until now by detaching myself emotionally and sort of pretending it's not really all happening to my sister, I try to be quite matter of fact about it all, it seems to make it a little easier.
Let me introduce you to my beautiful brave big sister Emma.
Emma has spent the last 18 months "Dancing with the Big C"
On December 23rd 2014 the first diagnosis totally out of the blue was of Breast Cancer Stage 3. A 5cm lump was found in the left breast.
January 16th 2015, after further investigation we were told the Breast Cancer was in fact now Stage 4 and had spread to her Lymph, Liver and Lungs.
Chemotherapy was started immediately, everything was pretty much a blur. Doctors whispered she had 3 years at best, nurses looked at us all with sad eyes. She suffered hideous side effects to the trial chemo she was blasted with, was on palliative care straight away...3 years suddenly looked impossible. Her hair fell out after the first blast of chemo, her body began to waver but she refused point blank to die and decided three lots of chemo was all she could take!
TIME FOR CHANGE
Emma and her two young children Emily then 9 and Thomas 4 were living in Burton, panic hit me and I knew I needed to get her home...she wasnt dying hundreds of miles away from the place I knew she loved! I asked Em if she wanted to return to Plymouth, when she said yes we didn't waste a moment. My younger sister Terri and I found a house on the same street I live on, returned to Burton and began to pack up Emma's and the children's things.
March 21st Emma, Emily, Thomas and our Mum returned to Plymouth, they came home!
Since Emma's diagnosis I don't think my mum had slept. She threw herself into research: natural, homeopathic, alternative remedies and nutrition. If there was a way to get her baby better she was going to find it, and find it she did...
A huge diet change and strict daily routine of 2 kilos of freshly juiced organic carrots, essiac tea, NO SUGAR, NO DAIRY, NO PROSESSED FOODS and Emma's health took on a different direction.
Just eight months and three scans later and the cancer was literally gone.
Everything seemed to be going ok. Emma was the healthiest she'd ever been, she spent time enjoying her children, meeting friends and being independent.
Then in December things got a little scary, her eyesight was playing up and she was complaining of migraine type headaches. A trip to the optician's showed her eyesight had actually improved but to be on the safe side she was referred to the Royal Eye Infirmary at Derriford.
February 9th 2016, 12 hours and an emergency MRI gave us the worst news yet. Emma's cancer had not returned in her body but it had now spread to her brain and there was a lot of it. My mum and Emma remained in hospital over night and I returned home to the children with my heart in shattered pieces not really knowing how I got back or how I found myself back at Em's bedside the following day to listen to her Oncologist give us the full prognosis.
Emma asked how long he thought she may have.....4 to 8 weeks at best without any treatment.......WHAT?
He also said "I believe the chemotherapy you received in Burton is responsible for your cancer having moved to your brain"......WHATTTTTT???
"Would you like us to organise radiotherapy and chemotherapy for you asap".........Erm let me think about that....HELL NO!!!!
Within seconds of receiving this news my ballsy sister had made up her mind. NO further treatment was required and she would not be spending a minute longer inside a hospital, she wanted to go home and be with her babies. She told us we weren't allowed to cry any more tears because she still wasn't ready to die.....
LEARNING A NEW DANCE STEP
My mum had stayed up all that night watching Emma and researching. Going over and over again trying to find something she may have missed. What went wrong? Why was the cancer all gone from the body but now in the brain?
Turns out its a whole new ball game with a totally different set of rules when its in the head.
So with a new diet, new attitude and much more determination Emma started a new dance routine.....this time learning to move through the blood brain barrier, hand in hand with the Budwig Diet and my mum choreographing.
These new moves have proved to be really bloody hard!
Even though Emma wasn't ready to give up and neither were we, we thought it would be nice to get away for a few days, make a few nice memories in amongst all the shit. Emma expressed a desire to travel to Scotland, to be amongst nature, water and trees... that wasn't a doable journey due to her health but with the help, kindness and donations of family, friends and even strangers we took a little trip to Deer Park and stayed in a beautiful cabin on the lake. It was our first ever family holiday, mum, us three girls, our husbands and children. Some beautiful memories were made.
I say holiday but it was pretty full on. My mum didn't rest for a minute, Emma's daily routine was non stop and she was still getting used to the changes in the new diet. Although Emma had said no to chemo and radiotherapy she had agreed to take steroids to relieve the pressure and swelling in her head, the side effects were horrible. Her body ballooned, she literally looked like she could pop, her poor skin was stretched as far as it could go and she was in constant pain the entire break away but she still didn't complain once.
Thanks to Louise (my lovely friend who's super power is to capture moments in time) we have some beautiful pictures to help us remember our little escape to the forest. The children had a wonderful time and little Thomas will always remember his extra special birthday spent in a cabin and hunting for the gruffalo in the woods.
TIME CONTINUED TO MOVE...
We returned home and settled back in to the new routine. Life continued, the predictions of four and eight weeks life expectancy from the oncologist came and went. It was difficult to tell for sure if the new diet was helping, was the cancer shrinking like last time or not? We contacted the hospital to ask for a scan but Emma's oncologist refused to provide one unless she had changed her mind about receiving treatment.....outraged we contacted our family doctor who said she would request one but that she was doubtful one would be given!
April was rough!
Emma's new neighbours were renovating and the noise was just torture for her, every bang and scrape had her cowering in pain and tears. Both mum and Emma needed to get away for a few days whilst the noise was so bad. A lovely lady called Oshi had put a post on Facebook about wanting to gift a weekend away for a deserving couple in one of her holiday lets in Wales. After hearing about our situation she very generously offered a week away at Felin Fields. What should have been a wonderful chance to enjoy some peace and quiet turned in to a nightmare. Emma's symptoms got worse while they were away and half way through my mum called me scared and panicked...Emma had suffered some type of seizure which had left her in a bad way. That was the longest four hour drive of my life, I was so scared by what I may find when i arrived and petrified that I wouldn't make it in time. I knew from my mums voice that this could be it! Thankfully I had the company of my little earth angel Louise, she kept me occupied and calmed me on the journey.
It was late when we arrived, the sun was just setting. It was so beautiful and peaceful, I took a few seconds to compose myself before entering the pretty little cottage. My mum looked like she'd aged years in the couple of days we'd been apart, my heart felt so heavy. We hugged and she quickly explained how Emma had been severely sick for hours and that she had vacant moments where she was incomprehensible. I gathered myself together, put a smile on my face and went upstairs to see my sister.
"What took you so long?" those eyes of hers looked at me as if she'd not seen me in forever. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of my sails. I told her I'd got there as fast as I could and I was there to take her home, back to her babies, she managed the smallest smile and said ok. She really was in a bad way, exhausted from being continuesly sick and having had no sleep. I lay with her for a while, explained that she needed to get some rest as the journey back in the morning would be a long one. No one got much sleep, I think we were all silently lay there listening to every sound she made.
The drive home took the best part of the day....but I was thankful to be making that journey with my sister sat in the van and not without her.
IT JUST KEPT GETTING WORSE
Now at this point I know I can't go in to detail, I'm not ready to dig deeper just yet because I'm still living this every day. This is still so raw, watching Emma go through these next few weeks will prove to be the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my life. Watching my beautiful big sister suffer more than I've ever seen anyone suffer, cry in excruciating pain, disappearing in front of me....you get the gist, this is hard to write!
That Friday everything just got so much worse. Emma was starting to lose control of her body and her head hurt so bad she was begging for it to stop. I spent several hours cradling Emma, holding her head tight to my chest and wrapping my legs with hers to stop them shaking uncontrolably whilst she was fitting. We didn't know what to do, there's no rule book with "The 10 Steps to Brain Cancer Care", we were literally doing this with our eyes closed and hands tied behind our backs!
A phone call to Emma's nurse at St Luke's, a heated conversation with a rude doctor's receptionist, an unhelpful doctor and a 999 call later before Emma finally started to get some help. The house was like Piccadilly Station with doctors, nurses, paramedics and a crisis team coming and going. Friday was a blur! When things settled for five minutes my mum told me that the medical team had informed her Emma wouldn't make it past the weekend, we were looking at only days left with my sister. We all started to panic...how do we say goodbye? What do we tell the children? What do we do about a funeral.....these questions rattled around all weekend. Friends and family visited, everyone wanted to see Emma before it was too late. I lay there on her bedroom floor at home next to her hospital bed holding her hand for days.....sometimes she was aware of it sometimes she wasn't.
"Stop crying, I'm not going anywhere yet"....
My big sister is the most stubborn person I know and if she says she's not going to do something then she won't!
Medication began to calm the sickness, headaches and fitting down a little but like with anything there needed a bit of adjusting. There were some awful side effects from the mixture of drugs she was having pumped into her. After 48 hours of hallucinations, being too scared to close her eyes because of seeing scary things or having her eyes open because she could see black maggots covering her was too much for all of us. Emma agreed to a small stay in St Luke's just to get her medication under control, after a week she returned home. Everyone at the Hospice was really nice and nothing was too much trouble.
Whilst Emma was in St Lukes we found a Homeopathic Consultant who believed he could help us. You see we never stopped looking for other ways in which to help Emma, something to stop the cancer spreading, to find a cure, anything that may take away the pain. So we ordered the first lot of remedies and began the treatment.
Everything costs money, especially when it comes to alternative cancer treatments.
These remedies and supplements are going to cost roughly £200 a week for anything up to 12 months. Obviously Emma being a single mum of two, doesn't have a stash of money hidden away, or any life insurance to cash in on. Emma's worked full time in the care world since she left school at 16, she was even working all over the Christmas period after she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She's a carer, always has been! So like I find it extremely difficult to ask for help she finds its just as hard to accept being cared for.
Emma has no choice now but to let us care for her....
We have a choice whether to help her or not....
I choose to ask for help.....
MY FRIENDS CAME RUNNING
I mentioned my wonderful Wedding Creatives group at the beginning of this post but what I didn't say was that I genuinely with all my heart love them!
They really are some of the most generous and wonderful people i have had the pleasure of meeting or working with...and some still after several years as social media friends we are still yet to meet!
When I asked for help these amazing people came running to my aid in the best way they know how.....they offered their talents, products and services for FREE in order to raise money to help my sister continue her treatment.
Now we need your help to shout about what we are putting together.
On Friday 29th July 2016 we will be holding a very special event at Ocean Studios to auction off a once in a lifetime Wedding Package!
The Wedding Creatives have all come together to donate EVERYTHING you would need to have the perfect wedding and more! We have received so many donations that we will also be auctioning off several other large individual lots and with all the other extras there will be an awesome raffle.
We're talking a breathtakingly picturesque venue, a wedding dress from a beautiful boutique, award winning stationery, flowers, cakes, photographers, videographer, food, drink, entertainment, transport, celebrants, decor, jewellery, bridal accessories and more...
If you don't live locally or can't make the event we will also have an online auction facility running alongside!
So, if you know someone who works for a radio station, newspapers, magazines or bloggers then pass on our story. Or perhaps you know a couple who would like to have a chance at bidding for the wedding. We need people to hear about this so please please share it near and far!
My sister like most girls always dreamt of getting married one day and having her own perfect fairytale wedding......when she heard what my friends were doing she said she was happy that at least she was helping someone else's dream to come true.
THANK YOU FOR READING MY BLOG POST
LOVE D X
Who's donating and what....check out the blog post HERE for up to date details!
There is now an events page on our Facebook HERE
If you would like to know more about Emma's diet and treatments please check out my mum's blog.
If you would like to share our GoFundMe page then please click here.