When Life gives you lemons...

Hey, This is quite a different post to what I would normally write about but I feel like it's something that I want to talk about as not many people do. Be warned this is a long post, and It gets pretty real, so you may tea and biscuits and a seat.. just saying 

What I'm about to say may come as a shock to a lot of people, there are even a few friends and family members that have no idea what I'm about to write and I apologize for not keeping you in the loop but it's difficult to just bring up in a conversation..  so for all of this makes sense i'll give you a little insight to what has happened .. 

Martin found out (around February time) that he had a Tumor in his head. In a salivary gland to be precise. He had to under go an operation on the 12th May 2016 to have the Tumor removed, the operation was successful and it was all removed, he was only in hospital for 3 days which is fairly impressive considering he was in theater for 5 hours and for 2 of those days he had tubes coming out of him at all angles, the worst was the tube he had coming from the back of his head which there to drain any fluids ( not gonna lie this was gross), I had never seen him so vulnerable or weak. Up until this point we had no idea weather the tumor was cancerous or not. After the operation we had to wait a few weeks to find any information about the tumor. When the doctors got back to us with the results Martin was much more prepared for the word "Cancer" than I was. I had been convinced that when the tumor was removed that everything would be back to normal. And OK.  But I was wrong, in that moment the whole world stopped. I didn't know what to do, what to say, how to act. Throughout this whole time period I have done my best to keep my head held high and my thoughts positive, but I had never found that more difficult than at this moment in time.

So lets go back to the beginning..for as long as I can remember he'd been suffering with headaches so badly he had to take paracetamol everyday.. just over a year ago  (march 2015) Martin had started suffering from a lot of pain in jaw which spread up and over his head and down his neck, but he was able to reduce the pain with paracetamol but never fully got rid of it. Exactly where the pain was coming from he had a small lump located just bellow and behind his right ear lobe. He would quite often complain about ringing in his ears like he'd been in a night club all night ( he hadn't)  He started to lose a lot of sleep because of the pain, waking up early going to bed late and working crazy long days were all making him exhausted. But he powered through it, as he does. He would never show that he's not OK, not even to me, but I can read him. I know when hes not OK. When you live with someone you get to know each other on level that no one else could really know. No matter how much the pain bothered him he straight up refused to go the doctors about it, and believe me I nagged him to go. A lot!!

Martin finally had enough of the pain and went to see our GP, who told him that he had a condition  called TMJ disorder (aka Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which is a dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw) which was caused by stress. This was fairly believable as his job was very stressful and still can be. The doctor recommended that he do some exercise for his jaw, to help loosen it up, help him stop grinding his teeth in his sleep (which he didn't even know he was doing) and help it to stop locking his jaw out of place. Martin had been doing these exercises for around 2 weeks when he started to get server shooting pains in the right side of his head and face and the size of the lump had doubled if not tripled in size!! On a normal day Martin has a very defined jaw line, with this lump being the size that it was you couldn't even tell where his jaw started or ended. As the pain got worse he went back to the doctor who couldn't really understand why this had happened. Eventually The pain one day got so bad that Martin felt the need to call 999... They  explained that they couldn't do anything as it wasn't life threatening.. He called shropdoc... He called our GP hoping to get an appointment later on that day they said "no, sorry we are fully booked!. Which I understand they are very busy but Martin had been crying out in agony at them.  Wasn't until the second time he called them that they then booked him for a emergency appointment leaving him to wait an hour till he could be seen.  I was at work at the time he was going through this, I had never felt so helpless in all my life. It's not nice seeing / knowing someone you love sooo so much in soo much pain. The doctor gave him a type of morphine to help with the pain, he could take it along side paracetamol and ibuprofen. For the next day or 2 I had a boyfriend who was so drugged up he couldn't move or do anything. I just about got him to eat noodles and soup. But that was about all he could manage as this lump was causing so much swelling and pain that he could barely open his mouth.  In the space of a few weeks maybe even days this "lump" had gone from the size of a malteaser to the size of a ping pong ball. At which point he took yet another trip to the doctors.

The doctor booked Martin in for a ultra sound scan at the hospital to try to figure out what this lump in his neck could be. Little did we know this scan was to be the first of many...  When we arrived to the hospital to have the ultra sound scan, we were told he was also having a biopsy done. For any one who doesn't know what that is, it's where there stick a needle into the affected area and take a sample so they can run tests on it, which should be able to give them a better idea of what is going on.

We waited, and waited and waited for the results back on the biopsy, when we finally got the results back they were inconclusive meaning they then wanted to do a MRI scan (aka magnetic resonance imaging, it uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body)  when we got the results back we both went to the hospital to find out what was going on. Now any time we have been to hospital I had just sat in the waiting room as there was never any need for me to go in with him, this time they called me in too.... Which automatically started ringing alarm bells for me, I don't know about Martin but I was already freaking out.  Inside the room there was the main doctor who had been dealing with Martins case, a nurse and a lady who we later found out was a cancer support nurse. She helps people who have just found they have " cancer" ( we still didn't know at this point) deal with anything and everything and she really was lovely. Anyway... In the the room with all these people the doctor starts talking us through all the ins and the outs of martins scan, showing us all the images of his brain ( which is pretty cool but freaky)  he finally gets to the point and tells us that Martin has a tumor... I could see straight away that this hit him pretty hard but he kept his game face on but I knew I had to step up my game and really listen to what the doctor was now saying as I was aware that Martin had kinda just spaced out. The doctor wasn't too sure about the type of tumor that Martin had whether it was benign or cancerous he gave us the opportunity to be referred to another hospital and another doctor but not just any doctor a professor who is a head and neck specialist. Given the news we had just received we were willing to hear another opinion on the scans.

The night before the operation 
When we arrived at Birmingham hospital, which was where we were transferred to we checked in and waited barely 5 mins before we were called through to see the professor.     (everything that we went through here felt like a state of emergency, we never waiting any longer 5 mins, like we were royalty or something, it turned that the Professor was very interested in Martins case and the type of tumor he had from what he had seen from the scans sent over from Shrewsbury)  He got straight down to the point and gathering all information he needed.  In order for him to be able to tell us what type of tumor Martin had growing inside his head, he wanted to do a few more scans. Martin then went on to have a CT scan, a MRI scan , a ultrasound biopsy. ( turns out the scans done Shrewsbury weren't as clear as what they needed to be) all these scans took place in about 2 weeks.  When the results came back from these scans the Professor still was unable to tell if the tumor was cancerous or not.

With all the endless scans and trips to the hospital the professor made the decision to go ahead with the operation, treating Martin as a emergency case as he didn't know weather the tumor was life threatening or not. Martin was booked in for an operation on the 12th of May ( if you follow me on social media or you know personally you may know that this was the date of our flight to New York, we were so gutted. there were no other available dates for the operation, it was either that date or wait 3 months and not knowing how sever the tumor was we wanted it out asap! )  The operation happened with out a glitch and Martins brothers came over to stay with us while he was in hospital which I am forever grateful for, I don't think I would have coped on my own. Martin was in and out of hospital within 3 days which is amazing seeing as the operation took just over 5 hours and he had tubes coming out at all angles. He's a very impatient person and just wanted to be at home, so I was happy to have him home quickly as he was. Although we had him home where we could look after him he was still suffering from a few side affects from the operation itself. When the incision was made, it was very close to a lot of the nerve endings that control the facial movements, if the professor had made any mistake or cut too deep or more to the left or right it could have damaged the nerves to the point of paralyzation. As part of the operation the Professor would need to move these nerves out of the way in order to be able to get to the tumor, this would lead to a lot of bruising all along his neck and jaw line. 

We spent hours on end in hospital waiting rooms
Martin was making an amazing recovery from the operation, even the doctors and nurses were surprised. Since the day of the operation Martin has suffered with paralysis on the right side of his face as the nerves had been bruised and weren't able to work as well as they needed to, we had been informed that this was a possible side affect but its not permanent.  A few week later the professor called us back in to talk about the results of the tests they had been running on the tumor they removed. When we were told the dreaded word "Cancer"  I had know idea that it would affect me the way it did, I just sat there and stared blankly at the professor while he spoke with martin who seemed to be taking it all in his stride.I  how ever felt like the whole world stopped in its tracks and all the oxygen left my body like I had just been punched in the stomach, so over whelmed that I wanted to do nothing but cry but I couldn't, I felt numb.

This is where the drainage tube was, this is after it had been removed for a few weeks. 

Martin was unable to move his properly for a good 2 months after. 

My ever so bruised boyfriend 

Well the next step from there was to treat the "cancer" , yes the tumor has been removed but this was a precautionary procedure to ensure all cancerous cells are removed. As you may know the most common treatment for cancer is chemo therapy, but Martin had Radio therapy which can have just as many side effects but it gets directed at a specific area. If this didn't work out our next move was chemo. Before we could start the radio therapy (I'm just going say RT from now on) Martin had to go through a few more scans and check ups, even had to see a dentist. As the RT is so close to his jaw and teeth they wanted to make sure that none of his teeth or bone in that area was weak or damaged as the RT can cause weak brittle bones. He's got the all clear from the dentist and could proceed with the treatment. He under went was a 6 week course of treatment meaning we had to drive to and from Birmingham (1 hour away, on a good day) 5 days a week, each day he would go into the room and lay down on a table and have his mask that had been made perfectly to fit his head and neck to ensure that he was in the same exact position every single time he went in. Throughout the treatment Martin started to loose his taste, his energy, his appetite, his hearing. He started to loose his hair but only a small patch which was local to the treatment.The skin on his neck and cheek became very tender and sore like server sun burn and he peeled.. a lot. I'm so so grateful to our family and friends for helping with all the travelling we couldn't have done it with out you. Every nurse and doctor we encountered was unbelievably nice, I guess they kinda have to be but thank you. 

Once we had finished the treatment on the 30th July 2016 we had to play yet another waiting game, for another 6 weeks. We had to wait for the swelling that had been caused by the treatment to go down in order to do anymore scans or tests to see weather the treatment had actually done its job, other wise they wouldn't get accurate results. 6 weeks has been and gone we had a check up and everything is look good and you can barely see where Martins scar is, it truly is amazing what can be done these days. The swelling still hasn't gone down enough to be able to do anymore test just yet. So yes we are still waiting, but we are expecting an appointment about mid January 2017, and we already have a appointment with the Professor  February 2017. Until then we wont actually know anything more, and now that I'm writing that makes me feel kinda angry and I just want to cry, but i'm keeping my thoughts positive and my head held high. That's all we really can do right now while wait.

This is the mask Martin had wear every time he went in for his treatment. 

No one can ever prepare you for you loved ones to fall ill, but all you need to know is that they need you in that moment to be strong and help them through it. Martin had no idea how I had felt about everything that has happened to him.  I have been angry, sad , heartbroken, happy, disappointed, you name it I've probably felt it at some point throughout this time in our lives. I hope he looks at in the same way that I do, that it's made us stronger.  I hope he now believes that he can open up to me and I won't be judgmental and I won't think less of him because he cried in front of me or because he just needed a cuddle. I know that this just one hurdle that we have over come, there will be many more to come because that's just life. That's the way it all works.  But he'll know for next time that he has me, holding his hand through what ever may be our next hurdle to jump over together.

I'm glad to have my boyfriend, my best friend on the mends and doing well. Fingers crossed we will go to New York next year, well we've already booked the hotel so tough shit CANCER we are going!! 

Back to being his weird self 

I understand that a lot people probable wont have read this all the way through and that's OK, But the people that have read this and your having a tough time at the moment, just know that it will be OK, it will work its self out and your not alone no matter how alone you may feel. Cancer is such an odd subject to talk about and most feel uncomfortable even at the mention of the word. Unfortunately it is every where, i think the odds are something like 1 in 5 people have cancer, we need to learn its good to talk.  And it's OK to talk about it. 

Thank you Martin for allowing me to write about all of this and use as many photos as I have.

So thanks for reading and until next time, keep your chin up. 


Stand Up To Cancer 

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P.S I'm sorry that the font is doing some weird stuff (big then small then big again) I've tried to fix it but I can't not with our re typing and that's not going to happen so you'll have to deal!! aha 



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