As I write this, it is exactly eighteen months to the day since my life fell apart. Since then, I have had to pick up the pieces, rebuild my life and that of my daughter, and try to do what the world expects of me.
What happened to bring about these awful changes? Eighteen months ago my wife died of complications following a surgical procedure. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just six weeks before. There had been nothing to prepare us for it. For about a month before the cancer was found, my wife had been feeling ill. It was nothing serious at first. The initial tests showed some abnormalities in her liver and gallbladder. This was followed by a bout of jaundice. An ultrasound revealed a lump pressing against her bile duct. The doctors decided to carry out an endoscopy and take a sample.
Two weeks after that, we got the bad news. The lump was malignant – it contained cancer cells. My wife and I were shocked. But, there was a hope! The doctors believed that the cancer was only at Stage 2. They could go in there, operate on the cancer to remove it, and then it would just be a case of deciding whether chemotherapy or radiation therapy would be the way forward. The procedure would be drastic, though. The Whipple Resection, as the procedure was called, would involve the removal of the pancreas and the rerouting of the intestine around the affected area. It would take eight hours of intensive surgery.
I was at home on the day of the operation. The surgeons told me that they would call me when the operation was over and let me know how it had gone. I reckon that my wife had only been in the operating theatre for four hours when the hospital called. Not only was there cancer in my wife’s pancreas, it had spread to her liver. The surgical team had stopped the operation and withdrawn. There was nothing more they could do.
Over the next two weeks, my wife’s condition deteriorated. While in the hospital she contracted an infection that developed into pneumonia. The antibiotic she was given did not work. I spent her last night beside her, trying to comfort her, to stop her raving and keep her from pulling out the drips that were dulling the pain. At six o’clock on the morning of Monday, 24th October 2016, I stepped out of her room. She had fallen asleep, and I had not eaten or drank in twelve hours. I needed a cup of tea. I needed some fresh air. I needed a break. My last words to her were, “I won’t be long.”
When I came back, my wife was dead.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to support the OMP. I am doing this not just for my wife, but for all the people who are struggling to cope with cancer, for all those people who may have to face it in the future – either suffering from it or supporting those who are. I do not want anyone to go through what I went through.
Thank you for reading.
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #ONeMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.