I’ve still an hour to wait for Savannah. She’s daughter number 2, aged 26 with a four-year-old daughter and two step-kids. She found a lump in her armpit a couple of weeks ago. Cancer. Hodgkin lymphoma to be precise. She’s having a PET scan and should know how much of it is in her body after this. I don’t even know how long she has to wait for the results…
We’ve had to come to the Cobalt Imaging Centre in Cheltenham. It’s a forty-minute drive from where we live. The building is nice though, and the staff all seem friendly and generous with their communication. I can’t go in the area she’s having the stuff injected; something to do with it being a radioactive area. I wasn’t going to venture off-site but needed to eat and there’s a place within a ten-minute walk from here.
My brain wasn’t engaged when I initially read the ‘lido’ bit on Google and was surprised to find the cafe on the site of an outdoor swimming pool with immaculate lawns. The cafe building was behind the pool; walking past the swimmers I figured it had to be one of those places which sold well-crafted sarnies and organic cake. No such luck. The place had a few tacky-as-fuck tables which could blow away given a strong wind coming through the door and there really wasn’t anything notable about the decor. They were advertising their freshly-baked bread buns so I ordered bacon and a coffee. The coffee was handed over in a takeout cup and it was then I noticed there were no mugs in sight. The bread bun was most definitely fresh, but they microwaved the fucking bacon. After all the drama of being greeted by an old cast iron turnstile and the centrally located fountain and manicured lawns, I felt like I’d been conned. But the coffee was good.
Anyway, the walk there and back was an interesting one – I passed Cheltenham college; a private school for those who probably never eat reheated bacon. The building itself is a sprawling 19th-century affair and comes complete with its own chapel.
I saw other old houses, a couple of which really stood out but there was a modern, probably 1960’s style, block of flats smack in the middle which looked out of place and lowered the tone somewhat – much like the bacon I ate. Why the fuck would anyone put such a godawful building among so many which carry heavy architectural merit?
I’m wondering if today will make it all seem a little bit more real. Savannah’s been upbeat and assertive til now. She had a minor wobble when she first got the news but quickly snapped into ‘let’s get the fuck on with this mode’. It’s been stressed this is a very treatable cancer even if it’s spread. Although I still hope she’s a stage 2 at worst because it’s less chemo for her. She was pragmatic over the weekend “well, you’ve had six kids so one of us was bound to get it [cancer]”. But, I dunno, she’s had a shit year. The step-kids moving in just after Easter, then the landlord wanting his house back in July. Having to move in with us and then moving out once they found somewhere late August. To find out she had cancer in September… I remind myself again, the likelihood of responding to treatment is very high. My ex-partner and her oncologist have both said “If you’re going to get cancer, this is the one you want to get”. We’re all hopeful but remain anxious and I’m sure it’ll be a battle and a half to not wish the next six months away to the place it’ll all be [hopefully] over.
Anchoring to a point in the future is a common escape from a none-too-pleasant present and the escapist in me is more than happy to engage in soul-destroying behaviour. But, the most nurturing part of myself points out I’ve spent more than enough time in my life wishing the days away and reminds me how I promised I’d choose to live in the present.
We’ll see how it goes…