Over drinks at the disco in our Spanish holiday resort, Andrew admits that watching Yasmin enjoying the sensations of the sun and the water took him straight back to hospital. Images flashed through his mind, like photographs. Yasmin, passed out in pain, her long curls matted to her sweaty head, hours after we got the leukaemia diagnosis. Her hair straggly and her body fat and swollen like a Michelin man after five weeks of steroids. Her face pale and gaunt, looking close to death, as the most intense chemotherapy took hold.
It is our first family summer holiday abroad in three years. The first since Isaac was born and Yasmin got sick. We have booked for two weeks, knowing it will take us almost a week to even start to relax after three years of cancer treatment – three summers filled with horror and emergency hospital dashes.
In the months since Yasmin had her port removed, I have noticed that those moments of release when something horrendous ends, do not come at the expected times. There was no great relief at the final dose of chemotherapy or after the port was removed – which felt anti-climactic. Instead of one huge release, the feelings of relief are coming out in gasps and splutters.
|On stage at the disco|
|Yasmin with her holiday hair|
|Like father, like son|
Yasmin’s highlight is her hair being long enough to be swept back into twelve tiny plaits just like all the other little girls at our holiday resort. I cannot stop staring at my beautiful daughter. Smiling, she says she doesn’t like having scraggy hair and she wants to keep it like this. I am reminded how much the hair loss has bothered her and played a large part in her loss of confidence.
|View from the balcony|
The best day of the holiday is the day before we leave. We take the children to a water park. There are no arguments and the kids spend the day splashing in the pools, waterfalls and a pirate ship, getting more confident in the water. Andrew and I later realise that this magical day is the three year anniversary of the worst day of our lives – being told that Yasmin had cancer.
On the last day, looking out from our balcony at the magnificent view of the sea and blue skies, I realise that three years ago this day Yasmin was having her first chemotherapy. Immediately I am in tears. I have to hide in the bathroom so that the children don’t see me sob it all out. I think about how much I longed for a family holiday such as this one over these past awful summers. These memories will never leave me. They are a part of me now and a part of who we all are as a family. But the holiday has been everything I could have imagined. I feel, in some small way, healed. I am starting to believe that the horror is really over.