Thursday, November 10, 2011

three months death sentence from my doctor wont stop me from marrying the man i love

Browsing on a wedding stationery website a few weeks ago, I was about to click ‘Purchase’ on some save-the-date cards when my fingers hesitated over the keyboard. Tears pricked my eyes as I stared at my computer, a thousand thoughts racing through my head.
My fiancé Tom and I have booked a rambling castle in North Yorkshire for our wedding venue. We have chosen a bright, summery colour scheme, and I know exactly the kind of vintage-style dress I will wear when I walk down the aisle.
But when it came to being one click away from confirming my wedding date in June 2012, I had a moment of hesitation because, according to my doctors, I might not live to see it.

Earlier this year, I was told the cancer I have been fighting for the past 18 months is terminal. I am 28 and, according to medical experts, I won’t live to see the new year, let alone next summer. So why plan getting married to the man I love on a date I may never see?
It was in spring last year that I first felt a small area of thickening on my left breast when I was in the shower one morning.
I wasn’t registered with a GP, so I visited a walk-in clinic where I was told it was ‘just a hormonal thing’. I wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis, so I registered with a GP, who referred me to a clinic three weeks later.

I had a biopsy and an ultrasound and was told I had breast cancer — all on the same day. Naturally, it was a dreadful shock and I was in tears. I had not expected the diagnosis at all. Tom, who had insisted on coming along to my appointment, was pale with shock, too.
We had been together for only a year at that stage. He’s a TV producer, and we’d met on a dating website when I was 26 and he was 32. He was clever, kind and funny, but it had been a slow-burn relationship. We liked each other, but there was so much going on in our lives that we hadn’t been able to spend much time together. He hadn’t even said ‘I love you’ yet.

But that day, as we were ushered into a private room to absorb the shock, he said those words and I’ll never forget them. It was a moment that cemented our relationship and prepared us for the future.
During the next eight months I underwent a mastectomy, six cycles of chemotherapy and, finally, daily sessions of radiotherapy.
Of course, it was traumatic and upsetting, but when it was all over I felt I’d done my stint as ‘cancer patient’ and was eager to rebuild my life; to go back to being an ITV news journalist, and most, importantly, to look forward to my future with Tom.
But in January I developed a pain in my lower back. It happened only when I was exercising, so I was certain it was nothing serious.
The fact that I’d been virtually bed-bound for five months, and was now up and running around, suggested I’d simply overdone it. I mentioned it to my consultant oncologist, who ordered a bone scan and found an area of some concern in my pelvis. She ordered an X-ray and, much to our relief, it was clear. The doctors told us there was no sign of cancer.
But the pain worsened. In early May, after I’d pushed to have an MRI scan, the results arrived back and the consultant called us in.
‘The scan shows there is cancer in the pelvis,’ she said.
I stayed calm. I knew the spread of breast cancer to the bone wasn’t an immediate death sentence: I’d read of women living for 20 years with this type of disease. I stared at Tom, who looked pale. He asked: ‘What’s Ellie’s prognosis?’
I wasn’t even thinking about how long I had left, until the consultant replied: ‘We don’t like to give time-scales.’
‘Well? Six months? Three months?’ I asked.
I had deliberately offered what I thought was a conservative estimate, expecting her to reply: ‘More like five years.’ Instead, she said: ‘More than three months.’
She couldn’t even give me six months, yet I felt oddly calm and stoic. I wanted to know what steps we could take next; all the consultant offered was that chemotherapy may delay the inevitable but would make me more ill. She was as good as suggesting we give up.
Feeling numb, Tom and I decided to go away for the weekend to Suffolk to gather our thoughts. But he couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep.
We’d be sitting in a restaurant, then we’d start to break down. We walked along the beautiful beaches and I made him promise he would be able to cope without me. I felt like such a disappointment to him.
Cancer wants to rob us both of a future and I love him so much that I can’t bear the thought of him not settling down, having a family and getting on with a life I can’t give him.
Did I consider breaking up with him so he could be free? No. I know he wouldn’t leave me anyway. Whenever I told him that he didn’t deserve this, he said: ‘More importantly, neither do you.’
We had to muster some kind of fighting spirit, so the next few weeks were a blur. We met an oncologist on Harley Street who waived his fee and advised me to start chemotherapy. He also informed us of several trials that were taking place in case the chemo didn’t work.

I was pleased we’d sought a second opinion, but just as things seemed to be looking up, we were told a scan showed the cancer had spread to my liver and lungs.
In June this year, I started taking an oral chemotherapy drug called Capecitabine, which I tolerated well. There were few side-effects, and I was particularly relieved that the medication wouldn’t make me lose my hair.
After nine weeks I had a scan to monitor the tumours in my liver and lungs, and the news was good. I was responding to the chemo and the tumours were shrinking.
Tom and I went to Greece for a week in August. I longed to swim in the sea and lie in the sunshine. No hospital appointments, no emails, just the two of us and sandy beaches.
The villa was stunning, the views of the beautiful turquoise sea breathtaking. On our second night, Tom and I returned to the villa after dinner and, as we looked out over our balcony towards the bay, Tom suggested we go to the swimming pool.
We wandered down to find the pool lights weren’t working: it was pitch-black. I looked up at the stars, shining in the ink-black sky, then looked back to find Tom was down on one knee. He was proffering a huge ring with a parrot on it which, he explained later, was just a joke ring until I could choose my own back home.
I laughed. We’d talked about marriage, but I hadn’t been expecting a proposal there in the pitch-black night — we could hardly see each other. I said yes, I would marry Tom, and I couldn’t stop crying with happiness.
It was one more sign that we would face the future together.
We phoned and texted our loved ones back home. For the first time in a while we had good news to share — we loved each other and we were getting married.
Back in London, we went to Hatton Garden and bought a beautiful white gold and diamond ring.

A lot of people in my situation might have rushed off to the nearest register office to get married, but Tom and I wanted to plan our wedding for June 2012. It was an act of defiance — we wanted something to aim for.
I was seeing a new oncologist by then, who told me he has known patients stay on the type of chemo I’m on for years. If that stops working, I can try another form of chemotherapy, and there are also ongoing trials of new drugs.
I know there is the possibility that I have only months to live, but a possibility is not a certainty.
Once breast cancer is secondary, it is incurable — but that’s not to say I can’t live with the disease for years to come. I pray I will live to see the day when cancer is much like diabetes; a chronic illness which can be managed and which is not necessarily fatal.
Planning the wedding has been a lovely distraction — visiting venues, choosing flowers, drawing up a guest list. Now friends are asking: ‘Have you found a dress?’ rather than: ‘When’s your next scan?’
Of course, always in the back of my mind is the worry that the cancer will accelerate, and the time I have left with Tom will be cruelly cut short.
I think of things I might miss out on. Last night, as Tom and I were kissing, I held his face in my hands and was lost in the moment. Then, suddenly, I wondered how many kisses we have left.
I fear for Tom. How will he cope if I die? I can’t be positive all the time, and sometimes I say: ‘I need you to tell me you’re going to be all right,’ but I realise that’s a ridiculous thing to ask of him when, clearly, he won’t be.
My most harrowing thought is of Tom having to come home to an empty flat and clear out my side of the wardrobe. I’ve begged my mother to do it instead, so he is spared that particular task.
We can’t be bogged down in gloomy thoughts, though. It’s important to have more to look forward to after the wedding, so we’re hoping to go to Africa on honeymoon, then move to a bigger house when we get back.
I have thought about writing final letters to Tom and to family and friends, telling them how much I love them, but at the moment I’m not prepared to think that far ahead. When I start drastically losing weight or looking ill, I’ll know it’s time to write those letters, but it’s not time yet.
My last scan results, in September, showed that the biggest tumour in my liver had shrunk by more than 50 per cent, so hopefully Tom and I have more time together than we thought.
We’ll get married, and we will have a happy future together. Any alternative is too unbearable to contemplate.
Eleanor’s blog can be found at

from megvitor we say All the best Elianor because you are such a brave woman, You're an inspiration,the two of you are very special people and we are wishing you a very very long and best time together, and we are also wishing the two of you all the luck in the world.
:) :( ;) :D ;;-) :-/ :x :P :-* =(( :-O X( :7 B-) :-S #:-S 7:) :(( :)) :| /:) =)) O:-) :-B =; :-c :)] ~X( :-h :-t 8-7 I-) 8-| L-) :-a :-$ [-( :O) 8- 2:-P (:| =P~ #-o =D7 :-SS @-) :^o :-w 7:P 2):) X_X :!! \m/ :-q :-bd ^#(^ :ar!

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