There’s something very human about acknowledging dates – it just feels right, and so it was inevitable that I would feel the need to mark twelve months since my brain tumour diagnosis.
Having written about that day before, I decided to get someone else’s perspective. I asked my very good friend (at short notice – sorry!) if she’d share her thoughts, and luckily she agreed.
Here's what Kate said about what she remembers most from the last year.... (contains *all* the feels... and literally the nicest of words... I promise I didn't pay her much).
On getting the news
The words brain tumour are scary, no doubt about it. When someone you love has their life change in such an intense way, your life will change too.
In the lead up to your appointment I was definitely convinced that the seizure that triggered it all was a one off anomaly, so when I got your text ‘It’s bad news’ I was not prepared for what was to come!
I remember clearly that you were like I will call you later, and me thinking no you will call me now bitch, I wasn’t waiting! I left work at lunch time and rang you and you told me you’d got a brain tumour. I was in absolute shock, but the conversation we had was so matter of fact.
I feel like we talked about you having a wax, and that you had gone for lunch and then we hung up and I burst into tears.
On finding the right words
The whole thing has been a tough experience obvs, but I felt a bit like the pre-surgery portion was like walking a tightrope. What was appropriate to say? We text each other basically every day, but I was struggling with should the texts be more brain tumour or bake off?!
You’ve always been a tough nut so I didn’t want to push a load of oh shit brain surgery chat, but then I wanted to make sure that you knew I hadn’t forgotten what was going on and that you were going in for brain surgery in December.
I’ve gone through all my old WhatsApp’s to look at things we discussed immediately pre-surgery and one of them was whether you should pack tinted lip balm to the hospital and that if you were asleep when I came to see you in the hospital I’d do you a full smoky eye and dramatic eyeliner flick so you didn’t have to worry about not being on your a-game on the ward!
On the day (of surgery)
The day before you went in the last thing you text me was ‘see you on the other side, we’re nearly there xxxxxxx’ and I spent all day at work when you were in surgery thinking what if I don’t see Sarah again?! I got no work done and I had no time for anyone in the office, I was too busy clutching my phone waiting for an update.
It felt like forever, but obviously it was longer for you, and then when I got an update off Han it was like a massive weight off that you’d made it through.
I definitely had a stomach full of butterflies when I was going to see you for the first time after surgery. I hate hospitals at the best of times but going to see your friend after surgery, not knowing what to expect or knowing whether we’d be able to have a conversation or whether you’d be really ill, meant that my head was in overdrive getting the tram to the hospital.
When I saw you in bed the first thing I thought was God what an amazingly attractive bandage! It was wrapped about double the thickness of your tiny head and you looked like an alien. A gorgeous alien obvs.
That first visit was tough because I selfishly wanted to have you to myself, and do the checks I wanted to do on you to make sure you were ok! We had a bit of a chat and I was feeling good that your brain hadn’t been frazzled, but then the physios came to give you an assessment and that was when the reality of the situation hit me harder.
It was a combo of laughing at your peachy bottom on full display as they were rolling you to your feet, and then wiping away tears when you struggled to stand.
On *weird* birthday celebrations
As I couldn't text I woke up to this AMAZE birthday picture message.
We’d already celebrated your 30th out and about Manchester with you carrying a massive orchid, but your actual birthday was spent in hospital. It’s times like that when I felt guilty, that you were living such a different life than I was, but you showed a massive amount of strength when I would have been bawling about being in hospital on my birthday. Especially seeing as we’ve spent nearly every birthday together since I was 14. Let’s not forget so smashed you were sick in your mum’s new turkey tray for Christmas!
Considering you had a head of staples and had had brain surgery days ago, you wouldn’t have known because you were always immaculately turned out. A strong lip, nails done and a misting spray at hand if you needed it.
On getting used to the 'Mitchell' look
Now I think you’d look weird to me if you had long flowing locks, but I remember the first time I saw your head in all its shiny glory it was a bit of a shocker.
We were going swimming and I came round and you were all turbaned up but then we got to the baths and you whipped it off and I was definitely internally going ‘oh my god where’s the hair gone’ for about 5 mins trying to be really casual.
But it was your attitude to it that normalised the baldness for me, you were there bold as brass in the changing room, moisturising your head (lol), giving no fucks. I don’t know whether you were thinking about it or worried about going full on bald but from that day I was in awe of how you just handled that in a matter of fact way.
Also, we have to be thankful you have a nice small good proportioned head, and that you weren’t hiding a weird shaped cone under that hair.
On the road to recovery
From that day in the hospital when it took two people to help you stand up, to where you are now is incredible. It’s not ideal of course, but you’ve gone from being wheeled about to a zimmer frame, to parading around in Insta photos with an array of glam walking sticks and box fresh orange trainers. It’s remembering where you were and where you are now when I think how much you’ve smashed it.
But worrying about surgery, treatment and the future has taken a back seat to a constant sense of amazement I have watching you succeed and overcome challenges at every turn. I don’t want to be too cheesy of course, no one needs that, but the sense of pride I have watching you adapt to your new life and smashing it at every turn is ridiculous, and I probably will never be able to sum it up properly.
Here’s to more laughs, more shrinkage of the inconvenient brain tumour, red lipstick, jumpsuits and a spa break soon!