Pre­cious time

Suzanne Davies, 40, from Aberdeen, wasn’t will­ing to ac­cept that she was go­ing to die.

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Talk­ing with my hus­band Owen one day, I sud­denly couldn’t un­der­stand a word he was say­ing. It was the strangest sen­sa­tion. I could hear he was speak­ing, I just couldn’t make out the words.

Less than a minute later, I was back to nor­mal.

‘Are you OK?’ Owen, 45, asked, con­cerned. ‘Fine,’ I stam­mered. But this wasn’t the first time it had hap­pened.

I’d been hav­ing these strange ab­sent mo­ments for a few months now. They’d started in early 2014.

Dur­ing the episodes, I’d lose my speech, too. I thought I was talk­ing nor­mally, but it was ac­tu­ally to­tal gib­ber­ish.

That wasn’t the only wor­ry­ing symp­tom.

I’d send text mes­sages to my friends and they didn’t make any sense. And I couldn’t un­der­stand the ones sent back to me. That’s so

strange, I thought. I was a mum to my son, Max, then seven, and Lau­ren, four.

I worked as a trea­sury as­sis­tant and was al­ways on the go, so I put it down to stress.

But by that April, I was suf­fer­ing with painful mi­graines.

I was also wak­ing up at night, un­able to breathe.

My GP re­ferred me to Aberdeen Royal In­fir­mary, where I had an MRI scan. Lay­ing still

in the daunt­ing ma­chine, it oc­curred to me that this could be se­ri­ous. And it was. ‘We’ve found a mass on your brain,’ the doc­tor said.

Owen, a graphic de­signer, com­pletely broke down. My heart started pound­ing. ‘OK,’ I stam­mered, un­able to fig­ure out what else to say. What if it was can­cer?

Doc­tors wanted to per­form an op­er­a­tion so they could get a closer look at the mass.

Given the choice, I de­cided to stay awake for the pro­ce­dure to give it a bet­ter chance of suc­cess.

It was sur­real to be look­ing around theatre as sur­geons op­er­ated on my brain.

Af­ter the surgery, the con­sul­tant didn’t have good news for us. He ex­plained I had a type of

high-grade brain tu­mour called glioblas­toma. The grade-four tu­mour was the size of a golf ball on the left side of my brain. It was sit­ting on the part of the brain that con­trols speech, which ex­plained my strug­gles to talk and my ab­sent mo­ments. Though sur­geons man­aged to re­move 95 per cent of it, they couldn’t reach the rest, and it was ex­tremely ag­gres­sive.

‘I’m so sorry, but you may have just a year to live,’ the con­sul­tant said, qui­etly.

‘With treat­ment you may have eight weeks longer than that.’

Owen scooped me up into his arms in tears, but I was numb. How was this hap­pen­ing? I was only 35. The feel­ing of time running out was suf­fo­cat­ing.

Then I thought about Max and Lau­ren.

If I did only have a year left with them, I was go­ing to jam-pack it with enough mem­o­ries to last a life­time.

And de­spite my grim prog­no­sis, I was de­ter­mined to fight for them.

‘I want to see my chil­dren grow up,’ I said to Owen. Mums don’t just give up. We have a strength in­side us that de­fies any odds.

The good news was that the surgery put an end to my ab­sent mo­ments, so I could speak and hear just fine.

And the aw­ful headaches were gone, too, so I could con­cen­trate on stay­ing strong. Chemo and ra­dio­ther­apy were gru­elling and I lost my shoul­der-length blonde hair.

I know it shouldn’t mat­ter, but it’s like los­ing a part of your iden­tity – sud­denly look­ing ‘ill’ when you catch your re­flec­tion.

Try­ing to stay pos­i­tive, I ex­per­i­mented with wigs and had plenty of laughs as well as tears.

I was put in touch with CLAN Can­cer Sup­port, a lo­cal can­cer char­ity sup­port­ing can­cer pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. They were amaz­ing. They ar­ranged coun­selling ses­sions for the kids at school. They also of­fered ther­a­peu­tic treat­ments for me, such as Swedish massage and reiki.

Chemo and ra­dio­ther­apy suc­ceeded in sta­bil­is­ing my tu­mour, but it wasn’t easy.

The treat­ments trig­gered early menopause, dis­in­te­gra­tion of my pi­tu­itary gland, low im­mu­nity lev­els and a thy­roid con­di­tion.

There were days when I couldn’t even get out of bed, let alone take part in sports that I used to love. It was a long, dif­fi­cult journey, but, four years af­ter my grim prog­no­sis, I’m still here!

I’ve just cel­e­brated my 40th birth­day which was such a huge mile­stone for me.

I used the oc­ca­sion to raise more money for CLAN Can­cer Sup­port.

I felt I needed to give some­thing back af­ter all they did for me and my fam­ily through such a dif­fi­cult time.

The tu­mour will never fully go away, but my doc­tors say that it is at least sta­ble.

I’m still hav­ing fun and mak­ing beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries with my fam­ily.

They have been amaz­ing and I’m so proud of my brave kids, Max, now 11 and Lau­ren, now eight.

I have scans ev­ery six months and I strug­gle with short-term mem­ory and fa­tigue.

But none of that is go­ing to hold me back from be­ing a mum or stop me from be­ing pos­i­tive.

Not when I have so many in­cred­i­ble peo­ple to live for.

I’m fight­ing for all the ex­tra time I can have with my fam­ily, and there’s no stronger force to beat this. Suzanne is rais­ing money for CLAN Can­cer Sup­port. To do­nate, visit just­giv­ crowd­fund­ing/clan­suze.

I wasn't giv­ing up

Owen was heart­bro­ken I'm fight­ing for my fam­ily

Mak­ing special mem­o­ries

The tu­mour will al­ways be there

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