Tag Archives: cancer

Back to the beginning – part 3

This is Back to the beginning – part 3 in the series, if you’ve missed the earlier posts, you can find them both here and here.

As you might have imagined, these were tough times, I had witnessed Nick becoming such a changed man, almost overnight from his diagnosis. I like to break him into two parts during this time, sick Nick and well Nick, because there was such a difference in the characters of the two. I guess you’d call it perspective, he knew he wasn’t going to be around forever, and with that, he became a softer version of himself.

He went from never saying ‘I love you’ to repeating it 100 times a day! He forgave anyone he had previous grudges with, he apologised to anyone he could remember giving a hard time too, because well Nick, could be very difficult, he was headstrong and this sometimes rubbed people the wrong way. But, sick Nick was a dream to be around, so sweet and sensitive. You could say Fatherhood helped this change along, but I’ll always believe it was because he was living on borrowed time.

We were together 24/7, we had a role reversal in our relationship, suddenly he needed me, I took over his role of being the ‘lead’, because I could see him slipping, and one of us had to be on top of everything. I got him his medication, made sure all his scripts were up to date, co-ordinated his appointments and chemo times, along with his scans etc. , talked to all his Doctors and went with him daily to the hospital, (he wouldn’t let me drive him there, that was one thing he held strong on!). We had become a tight little team, plus add a baby to the mix and breastfeeding and I was literally on the go, all the time! I would never had believed, that I could step up and be the person I was becoming, but I had no other choice.

Another reason why we were never apart, was a deal that we made with his oncologist that he would never stay overnight in hospital. Nick had a fear that if he ever stayed, he would never come out. And so, this is why we had such long hours at the hospital, trying to fit everything in. He was especially germ phobic during this time, knowing that any sign of infection would see him admitted overnight. We just became very used to the 45 minute commute in the morning, to start what he liked to call his ‘work day’.

One day, I actually let Nick go to his chemo appointment with one of his best mates, knowing there were no Doctor appointments and nothing too important to miss, I let his friend step in, so I could enjoy a rare day at home with the baby.

He came home from chemo all excited to tell me he had stumbled (yeah, right, bet he looked it up the night before!) across an AMAZING apartment in the heart of the city, that he thought would be perfect for us to live in. He had already spoken to the agent and she’d meet us the next day, to go over the details. Like most couples, we had discussed where we’d like to retire one day, (is that normal??) we had always agreed on settling in the city and living it up, with all that Melbourne had to offer. Nick had said, seeing as we couldn’t grow old together to do this, he wanted to make it our reality now. How could I not agree with him, plus the travel time to the hospital would only be 15 minutes tops, I was SOLD!

That one time I let someone else take him to the hospital, he bought an apartment on the way there! I couldn’t believe he’d even had the thought to buy a property, but real estate excited him, it was a sign of well Nick.

It was a brand new, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment and the settlement time was super quick, before I knew it we were living there. We loved it, being so close to the hospital meant we got to spend more time at our new place. Nick was so much more relaxed being there. We had awesome views of the city and of a night we would just sit and watch the city lights and action down below. If he couldn’t sleep, he’d walk the city streets alone at 3 or 4am, watching people stumble out of clubs and bars. He’d bring us back breakfast and tell me all about the crazy people he’d met. (Mostly, strippers paying their way through university and mates having brawls on the streets after a few too many!)  I think living in the city, with the constant noise and action suited him, it didn’t give him much time to be alone with his thoughts.

On the upside, we were also more in control of visitors. When we were living in the ‘burbs, we had a constant stream of people wanting to visit, but once we were in our city apartment, only the people he wanted to see got an invite, by special request only. It was his haven, away from the constant demands of a house and garden, the apartment never needed anything done, it was sick Nick’s ideal life!

Then Nick came up with this crazy idea to have a first and last family holiday with our daughter overseas. We had travelled extensively before his diagnosis and he just wanted to have one last trip. We had the discussion with our oncologist, who advised against us going, but after much pleading, he finally signed Nick off for 2 weeks from treatment. We were going away, something we both desperately needed.

Back to the beginning - part 3
Nick on holiday with his baby girl

We had previously spent a couple of nights in the small town where my Father is from in Italy and Nick always wanted to return. He thought this would be the perfect place to get some time out, so he roped my parents in with us and we took a two week holiday stopping in London for a couple of days, then the beautiful quaint town in Italy and then a few more days in Rome, before returning home. (He even had a friend and his son meet us for the last leg in Rome, Nick really appreciate this too!)

The most relaxing time was staying with my Father’s relatives, they left Nick and I alone, no pressure to do or see anybody. Nick spent much of the time sitting under an apple tree, reading the Lance Armstrong biographies. (He never did get to hear about Lance’s doping allegations and fall from grace, what would Nick have thought then??) And while he was unwell and couldn’t eat much, he never let it ruin his time away. He was so happy to be away from the grind of it all. Plus he got to spend quality time with our daughter, walking down to the piazza every morning for coffee and pastries. Nick used the Italian he knew, to befriend the locals, pretending this all never happened, that cancer was still a word he knew nothing about. That holiday was the best thing we ever did!

Back to the beginning - part 3
Nick enjoying a coffee at the piazza

I’m a firm believer that sick Nick had such a positive outlook on life, because he  was fulfilling whatever he wanted. Sure, when we returned from our holiday, his scan showed that his cancer had grown another 2cms, (because of the pause in chemo) but Nick didn’t care, he’d been able to live a couple of weeks, like he was almost normal again and for that, it was worth it!

Back to the beginning - part 3
Nick waiting while I shopped

That’s all for now, please stayed tuned this Sunday 16th March for an extra special post, if you knew Nick you might have an idea what this is, but I won’t give anything away just yet!

Til next time, Michela x

Back to the beginning

Today i’d like to take you back to the beginning, back to the diagnosis, that
ultimately lead to my late husband’s death. Many of you reading, may not know our story, so thought i’d give you a glimpse into this moment in time.

We had a picture perfect life, together for 10 years, married for 6, (I was a young 24 year old bride!!), we had a home we loved, we were financially sound, busy social lives, loved our families, were both enjoying success in our careers and had just had a beautiful baby girl. Plus thanks to my husband, we also had a 10 year plan for the next stage of our lives, but cancer was not something he had factored in.

In January 2010, Nick began experiencing chest pains. Being the avid gym junkie that he was, he first put it down to lifting too much and straining muscles etc, but when massages and sticking to cardio only, didnt alleviate the problem, he began to look into other reasons. He’d describe it as a burning and pulling sensation, most of the time it was manageable, but annoying. So, he started to live off Gaviscon, I still can’t look at those blue bottles now, without cringing. Thinking he had really bad reflux, he always had two bottles going at a time, swigging from them, like an alcoholic minus the brown paper bag. But nothing was making this pain go away, now leading to sleepless nights and a loss of appetite.

So, we started the doctor appointments, including hospital emergency rooms waits, but still no answers, they all thought it must be reflux or a burnt stomach lining, he was so fit and healthy and tests showed up clear. More medication followed, and he only got worse. Though, you wouldn’t know it, he hid his pain well, never taking a day off work.

By now it was June 2010, when it all came to a head. He was interstate in Tasmania on a 2 night stay and I was home with our baby, who was only about 6 months at the time, when he called to say he was coming home early, the pain was really starting to get to him and he just wanted to get a good night rest at home, if he could. I was slightly worried, as it was so out of character for him, he loved his interstate jaunts, nights out eating, drinking and socialising, it’s what he did well!

Once he was home that Thursday night, he told me the pain was getting so bad, he was going to the Epworth emergency department and was not leaving til he had some answers. He refused to let me come with him, not wanting us to both have to sit there all night. I always remember that time, him pulling out the driveway, my daughter in my arms as we waved Daddy goodbye, never realising it was the last time we would ever be the same again.

Nick told the story that once he arrived at Epworth Hospital, he ranted and raved til someone saw him, he was so over not getting answers, being polite was not helping his cause. That night, the Doctor in charge saw Nick quickly. He told me later, that Nick was making such a scene, he just wanted to shut him up. Those who knew Nick, i’m sure would believe this, he always got his way! This Doctor was the only one who really listened, after going through all his recent medical history, he uttered the words to Nick, ‘I hope i’m wrong, but I think you have cancer’.

He was admitted to hospital that night. He didn’t tell me what he had discussed with the doctor, just a phone call, to say he was staying overnight to get some pain relief and some tests done in the morning. He said they thought it was nothing serious, maybe gallstones.

He told no one why he was admitted, he spent the night without me to comfort him. Later I received an onslaught of text messages from him, ‘i love you and my baby girl’ and ‘come as soon as she’s awake in the morning, even if its 5am‘ , that’s when I started to get suspicious…

I have decided to split this into two posts, so stay tuned for Part Two: the diagnosis, treatment and our handling of this situation.

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Til next time, Michela x

Us in late 2009, i'm 9 months pregnant with our daughter.
Us in late 2009, i’m 9 months pregnant with our daughter here, with no idea of how life changing the next year would be!

On the 3rd anniversary of his death

Today is the 5th February 2014, it’s the third anniversary of my husband Nick’s death to cancer. But instead of being sad, I prefer to look back on life and the person he was. I’ve thought this way since the day he died, refusing to let it define me and our daughter. As i’ve always said, ‘we aren’t special because this happened to us, it just did.’ I’ve learnt to look at the silver lining and how much our lives have changed since that day. On the up side, i have re-married, (3 weeks just past, thankyou very much!!) I have a wonderful husband, who adores my daughter, as much as he does me. He isn’t threatened by my past and the husband I talk so much about. Below is a photo of our wedding day:

My wedding 11th Jan 2014
My wedding 11th January, 2014

So, now i’ll have to separate the two into hubby 1. and hubby 2, so you can keep up!

But Nick, h1, was the most inspirational person I’ve ever known, and had the pleasure of sharing my life with. He saw potential in me, when I couldn’t, and pushed me out of my comfort zone, both mentally and physically. (The guy was gym crazy and would try and instill the same in me..but that one he didn’t get his way with!) He was a determined guy, when an injury at work led to 6 months recovery at home, he decided on his return, that he would try his luck in the office instead. And he did, crazily working up the corporate ladder, to be the youngest manager ever, but that was how he rolled with everything. (Always the overachiever!) And while he never got a university degree, he bought books and would sit up in bed reading all night, just so he could look intelligent and use big words in meetings. He was always the best at whatever he did, or at least, he gave you the impression he was. So, even when a massive nerve injury, could have had him on compensation the rest of his days, he instead turned his tragedy into a positive and I’ve done the same with his passing.

Us enjoying one of the perks of his job!
Us enjoying one of the perks of his job

I’m so grateful to have had him in my life, that I can’t see his passing as a bad thing, but just as something that had to happen. I have grown and learnt from this person, who was so wise beyond his years, his favourite pastime was telling everyone how they should live their lives. (This drove my girlfriends nuts at times, but somehow, they all accepted this was just him.) In fact, 3 years later, we still ask ourselves, ‘what would Nick say?’

The way he reacted when given the news he had terminal cancer and would die in 6 months, was a testament to his character. He didn’t let it faze him, instead he wrote lists of things I would need to do when he was gone and set about securing our funds and property, so I wouldn’t have to worry. Again, how grateful am I, for having a husband so organised, even when facing death head on! Some may say, it was his way of coping, but honestly, it was just his way, sick or not! The next day after we found out his news, he purchased a video camera, and would talk to our daughter on it, so she’d have something to remember him by. (Again, very annoying for others, but what a gift for her one day!) He told me to re-marry, and only return to work if it was to do something I love, because life is short and he only ever wanted us to be happy.

I could write all day about him and what he was like, but this is just a snap shot of the kind of guy he was, so again, how can I be sad about being able to live some of my life, with such an ambitious, determined, loving and sincere person. I can only live my life now, knowing I was lucky enough to have, at least, spent 10 years with him.

Our wedding 22nd January, 2005
Our wedding 22nd January, 2005

Do you feel this way about a partner that has passed?

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!