I figured i should put Tom’s journey into my blog, but only just feel ready to do it,10 weeks and one day since he died.
I don’t want to forget anything, not a single moment.
This is Part 1. The run up to the terminal diagnosis.
As you all know, Tom and i met in July 2016. He was my gardener. The minute he swaggered up to the door, covered in mud, stinking of sweat, i knew he was the one for me!
As a sensible business man he took payment for the work before asking me out on a date, but i couldn’t have been happier that he asked, as i would never have thought he would look twice at me. Almost two years after Jason died and having dabbled in dating, it was well received that i had met such a nice guy.
For me, it was a leap of faith. Tom had cancer three times in his life at age 17 and 24. Now, at 31, it was another 7 years down the line, surely he couldn’t be so unlucky? His chances of relapse were 5%. He was worth that tiny risk!
Things went really well, despite our struggles at times to find a compromise between his bachelor lifestyle and my Widowed-Mother-of-three lifestyle.
In December 2016 Tom started experiencing stomach pain similar to when he last had cancer. My anxieties meant that i was insistent he was scanned ‘just to be sure’, after all, it was only that teeny 5% chance it was anything more than a massive fart.
It wasn’t a massive fart. A few days after New Year 2017, we got the news that the cancer had relapsed. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.
We were never going to let it beat us. It was never going to kill him.
Treatment started a couple of weeks later, with intensive chemo which required a few days at a time in hospital. Even though he felt awful, we had some amazing fun in hospital. The jokes about Tom’s allergies never got old…
Doctor/Nurse: “Do you have any allergies?”
We drank cuppas and played Cards Against Humanity.
No one could believe the laughter coming from him, but that was just Tom. He would not let cancer take his spirit.
Fast forward to May 2017. Tom needed an Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant, which required his Sister’s donated stem cells being transfused into his body. In the days before the transplant he had very high dose chemo to eradicate his immune system entirely, however, that didn’t stop him going on his bike on the Turbo-Trainer in his hospital room!
Everything went well, medically anyway.
After a month of isolation and treatment for Tom and a month of driving for hours a day to see him, plus juggling three children on my own, we were both drained. My mental well-being was seriously wiped out. Tom needed time to heal physically. I needed time to heal mentally.
We took some time apart.
In hindsight, we both would have done things differently, but neither of us knew which way was up at the time.
We stayed in contact. Wrote letters and sent texts. We cried and missed each other, but we both realised so much in our time apart.
In early November 2017 i got a text from Tom. He had the all clear! He said he could finally see a future and he didn’t want that future without me. I could finally stop being so scared that the man i loved would die, so i didn’t need to keep pushing him away in fear of being heartbroken by death all over again.
We met up and things were perfect.
He was everything i wanted and loved and needed. And i was that for him too.
He said we should give our notice of marriage and get married before Christmas. He looked into IVF and wanted me to be the mother of his baby. He wanted me and the boys as his future.
I insisted we waited until after Christmas to address it all. We should move in together in the New Year and should spend a few weeks falling in love again…And that we did!
I have never felt so consumed by love as i did in those weeks. What an amazingly beautiful soul.
Toward Christmas Tom started feeling ill. Due to treatment, his immune system wasn’t amazing, so we presumed it was a virus. He had antibiotics to treat potential infections and regular visits to his consultant. A few days before Christmas we got the most recent scan results and we were overjoyed to know he was still cancer free!
His blood tests showed his liver wasn’t behaving, but that wasn’t a huge concern.
My mellow yellow and i had a blissful time, even though he wasn’t getting any better, he was still hilarious and perfect in almost every way.
His last full meal at home was sausage and mash, followed later that evening by scones with his favourite jam and clotted cream. That man loved his food!
He insisted he stayed at home with me for Christmas, after all, the hospital couldn’t do much until after the bank holidays anyway!
He watched the kids open presents before going to bed for a few hours. He came down for food but could only manage a couple of things…We should have known the worst at that point, but two eternal optimists would never think the worst.
Boxing day he relented and called the hospital who admitted him that day.
They gave him steroids and antibiotics and tried desperately to convince him to eat. That day he managed an ice pop and some orange segments.
He just kept not getting better.
GVHD was diagnosed. Graft Versus Host Disease. Basically that is your donated cells fighting hour body. Mild cases are ok as they actually help build your immune system back up, but this was not a mild case.
In the liver and gut, it could be treated.
His oxygen levels kept dropping and the symptoms of the chest infection they thought he had continued to be present.
He was moved to the Critical Care Unit on the 4th Jan 2018. He was only going there so they could use different oxygen supplies which would help open up his chest to beat the ‘infection’.
Only it wasn’t an infection.
The GVHD had spread to his lungs.
It is not treatable when in the lungs.
On 6th Jan 2018 at around 1pm the doctors gave us the worst possible news.
Just that morning i had driven home to see the boys and promised Toby that Tom was going to be fine. But at that time i actually believed it would be the case. No one was prepared for what was coming.
He had just a couple of days to live.
The photo is our last proper selfie together…My Moon.