A Christmas Carol

I have been invited to create a Christmas themed story by the “live better with cancer” group.

The theme is to tell a real story of Christmas with cancer…

Christmas and cancer are not strictly friends, in fact they are complete opposite, Christmas is for giving, but cancer only takes.

I have a unique story which I hope to tell loosely around one of my favourite Christmas stories, a story of knowing who you are, who you was, and what you are going to be:

A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol – Plot summary

A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens about Ebenezer Scrooge, an old man, who is well-known for his miserly ways.

On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts, starting with his old business partner, Jacob Marley. The three spirits which follow, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come, show Scrooge how his mean behaviour has affected those around him. At the end of the story he is relieved to discover that there is still time for him to change and we see him transformed into a generous and kind-hearted human being.

(No ghosts are used in creating this story.)

Ghost of Christmas past.

I could start my story at any Christmas Eve because every Christmas before 2012 was like any other, always magical and always fantastic.

From a child peering into the night sky hoping for a glimpse of Father Christmas, to an adult preparing the turkey for the family banquet. The magic of Christmas is loved by all, but some take exception, here is my story…

Christmas Eve 2011.

The clock strikes 12.. it is officially Christmas Day! The next 24 hours will become a blur but a few more hours of sleep are needed before the chaos.

Does Christmas Day start at 5 am for you too?

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time for family, children, feasting on turkey and fun! Oh, and for some it is also (shock! Horror!) their birthday..

“Happy Christmas Daniel! Oh and Happy birthday!”

There is a curse of Christmas if your birthday happens to land on December the 25th.

I am one of the “special ones”….the Christmas Day baby.

Bah, humbug.

You have to wait all year for a present, and that didn’t always mean you got double!

Your birthday cake is also the Christmas cake and the party hats came out of the crackers.

As you get older your friends are always too busy to go and celebrate your birthday, because of Christmas  … and that is the general excuse throughout all of December.

Don’t get me wrong, I always have a great time at Christmas, but a Christmas Day baby will always have a moan before they admit Christmas really is kind of cool too…

Anyway, now I have got that off my chest, let’s get back to the story…

Ghost of Christmas present

The year 2012 should be one to look forward to, 2011 had been a bit of a frustrating year work wise. Sue and I had been together for a couple of years and were talking about moving in with each other. I was to start a new job in the new year, finally a job which had future prospects, maybe we could go on holiday this year? I can’t remember the last time I had a holiday! It had been financially tough with the recession, but finally everything was coming together.

We would be able to afford coal for the fire, and maybe even a turkey for Christmas this year!

I just wished this stupid eye would stop watering. It’s been months and the doctors keep prescribing antibiotics, but it doesn’t go away, it’s really sore now, it looks like I have a black eye!

3 months later.

“The doctor will see you now”

Bloody doctors. How inconvenient! They called me this morning, I had a job interview, and I really need this job. The last one ended as the company was in financial difficulties.

I wanted to rearrange but the hospital said they needed to see me today! Honestly, what’s the rush?

A couple of weeks before, the consultant I had been referred to arranged a scan of my eye to see what the watery eye problem was.. everyone knows it’s a blocked tear duct! I googled the symptoms, and it had already been suggested by a previous doctor.

The next minute was the exact point the life I once had ended. The reality of my life was put in front of me. The Christmas present if you will…

“There is a large tumour growing in your face, We won’t know until a biopsy so I can’t speculate, it could just be a large polyp”

He showed me his monitor, the scan was brutally obvious… it was huge!

WHAT? That’s was no polyp. It can only be cancer!!

How do you tell someone that you have cancer? But facial cancer? At that point I had no idea what it would mean, cancer was and is the most horrific word anyone has to face.

“Don’t freak out Sue, I have bad news, I think I have cancer…..”

Sues face went from joy to terror.

Christmases yet to come….

“You can’t have cancer, I’m pregnant.” She shrieked.

The reality of cancer swept us away… I learned shortly after that the type of cancer I had was very aggressive and would be met with equally aggressive treatment. I would lose my eye, and be disfigured for life.

This was our future now, but we could only ever look towards the next appointment, the next operation. There could be nothing beyond that.

Every stage left you brutally exhausted, mentally and physically.

Radiotherapy sucked.

Chemotherapy sucked.

Reconstruction sucked.

Hospitals sucked.

Cancer sucked. The end.

I was turned from a full of life vibrant man to a withered and deformed shadow of my former self.

All through this Sue carried our child, it should have been a time to look forward, but there was only fear. We were powerless to to prevent anything.

I wasn’t visited by a ghost who would show me the the future, a future worth living for, as was the original Christmas carol story.

I was getting better though, the effects of radiotherapy were getting much better, I was getting my face rebuilt by a prosthetics expert. I could dare to foresee a new year with hope and greater ambitions than ever before…

but what we couldn’t have foreseen is how much we would all enjoy our turkey this year!

Christmas 2012 would be a Christmas to remember. Our baby was due on the 14th of December. What a wonderful Christmas it will be.

but the ghosts of Christmas were not done with us yet.

As the clock struck midnight it became the 25th of December, the magic of Christmas started to happen.

Sue shook me awake… it can’t be 5am already!! What is it with these early starts on Christmas Day!?

This time I wasn’t woken up to unwrap presents…

“I need to get to the hospital, he’s coming!” Sue said.

Sue laboured through the night, and through Christmas morning,

“What about the turkey dinner?” We asked the nurse! We were in luck, Christmas dinner was on the menu!

Later that day I would be delivered my best birthday present ever!

Our beautiful son Harry was born early evening on Christmas Day. What a Christmas present! What a birthday present!

However, Unlike the Dickens story we didn’t get to feast on a turkey dinner this Christmas after all. Funnily enough we missed it while Sue was giving birth, but we were not left completely disappointed, the nurses found us a turkey sandwich to share. Maybe I should have called this the story of a baby and a half a turkey sandwich?

There is a magic of Christmas.

The year for me always starts and ends with Christmas Day. It is the marker and milestone.

This Christmas ended my year of cancer, but it also set into motion every Christmas to come…

A Christmas Day baby will always have a moan before they admit Christmas really is kind of cool… But the magic of Christmas is real, it had made magic and fantasy come together.

In 2012 my birthday disappeared and by a miracle it is now my son Harry’s! Pick that one out!

Read more stories at Live better with cancer.

Happy Christmas! Happy birthday Harry xxx

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