Tuesday, 29 May 2012

a monster moved in next door

I knew that my elderly neighbour had been in hospital, but I kept neglecting to sort out a visit. For two solid weeks at various points, we all had a stomach virus and I really didn't want to pass anything along. I finally saw my neighbour's husband today and I asked how she was doing. "She has bowel cancer", he said. "She has a long recovery ahead of her."

It was a complete shock to everyone; she went in with stomach complaints and was diagnosed with a twisted bowel. Upon further investigation, they found the cancer. Just like that.

The husband was a stocky man with a booming voice, shouting greetings at me from his driveway (mostly because he's hard of hearing). Today he looked so old, so tired, so small. He looked like he hadn't slept well in a while and had a fretful, confused look in his eyes. When he told me the news, I didn't know what to say except that I was so very sorry and that he could call on us to help however we could. I wanted to ask what the prognosis was, but didn't feel like it was the right thing to say.

My neighbour treats my kids like they're her own grandkids (of which she has several). We speak regularly over the fence; she fills me in on her family and she fills them in on us. I've only met her daughter a couple of times, but she greets me like an old friend and knows everything about my children.

My neighbour was one of the first people to learn that I'd miscarried and held me tight while I sobbed in her arms. She whispered in my ear that she went through the same thing. She looked after Jack while I was in hospital without a second thought. I will always, always remember this and hold it dear in my heart.

I will take over some food and repeat my offer of help, but really, what else can I do?

Fuck cancer. Fuck it.

4 comments:

Helen said...

Cancer is indeed horrible. I found out at the weekend that a lady I know from home- probably no more than five years older than you although she had her children young so she seemed a bit older- died of breast cancer. She'd been ill before, and recovered, and in fact was a work colleague of mine in the window remission years. Very nice lady. Was the first person to tell me (discretely, at Sunday school of all places) that the word 'tart' didn't just mean something to do with fruit. (this was a kindness on her part!) She was far, far too young.

For what it's worth, you were entirely right not to go to hospital when you'd been around tummy bugs. People can receive letters in hospital so even if you can't make it in on their visiting hours, perhaps something written would give her some solace? I never cease to be amazed by the patients who are happy to let me practice asking questions or doing examinations- it seems like such a waste of their time when there's little benefit for them- but I think it's because so many of them are bored rigid in hospital.

hope things go well for her.

Lisa Durbin said...

Oh, that's so terribly sad. I'm very sorry to hear that. Thank you, but she's home now - just came back this afternoon. I'll wait a little bit and go over for a visit. xx

Lisa Durbin said...

(I dropped a card through earlier today, too.)

Emma said...

Yep. Exactly. And I'm sorry.