Charlie. That was what we planned to call our first born in honour and remembrance of Chris’s paternal Grandfather. But Charlie will always remain in our dreams and never become a reality. I will never have those precious new-born cuddles or experience the wonder of childbirth. I’m not bitter about this but I am sad; really sad. I can’t change it. I can’t erase that sorrow and have to carry the burden of it around everywhere I go. The cancer stole most of my fertility as it grew inside and destroyed my ovaries; the intensive chemotherapy finished off any hopes that we would ever have children.
I am at the age where I am surrounded by babies and pregnancy. My friends are all starting to settle down and start their own families. And I have to try so hard to be outwardly happy about this and share in the excitement of those closest to me. But inside I’m crying. I’m grieving for a life that will never be.
It sounds so utterly selfish but these feelings are sometimes so overwhelming I avoid children because I’m scared I will be unable to maintain my public composure. Sometimes I struggle to hold back the tears as I play with my nephews or cuddle my brand new niece.
So not only am I a menopausal woman at the age of 33 but the cancer and the treatment has also pilfered much of my sexuality. I don’t ever feel sexy these days. I have major body image issues. I find it hard to let Chris near me. My body has become this ‘thing’ that gets examined, scanned and poisoned; examined, scanned and poisoned. It’s almost like it’s no longer part of me. It’s scarred and disfigured. No matter how pretty the dress is I don’t feel pretty anymore.
Sex is not something they talk about when you are counselled for cancer treatment other than ‘don’t do it and make sure you don’t get pregnant’. My sexual identity seemed to slip gradually away during the early days after diagnosis and now it’s gone. I guess my hormonal profile isn’t helping the situation either.
In some ways I’m very grateful we didn’t have children when I see the pain that is caused by a parent dying from cancer. At least that will not happen to Chris and he will be able to concentrate on his own grief. But just because I’m dying of cancer I’m still a woman, I still have those maternal desires that most women have.
I would have liked to have met Charlie; to have held him; to have fed him; to have played with him; to have seen him grow up….