Tracey’s story

Purple Hope is also about your personal experiences involving pancreatic cancer. Sometimes, that experience can be one that remains hard to digest. Please welcome Tracey. Tracey lives in the United Kingdom and would like to share her story – in her own words – with you all:

Hi my name is Tracey.

I’ve been divorced for 8 years and I have two girls, 11 and 15. I joined a dating site, and I met Bob – he is separated with three boys. We both work; I’m a registered child minder, also a companionship for the elderly. Bob is a paramedic. We’ve been chatting for a while, and decided to meet up face to face. Seeing him for the first time was special to me, as well as to him. We decided to take our relationship further, but not introduce each other to our children. We just wanted to get to know each other and not share it. As we are both middle-aged, it was lovely to have someone to look forward to seeing.

I started seeing Bob in February of 2013. We meet in Staines one afternoon. Had a meal in the Harvester, went for a walk and coffee in Costa, followed by going to the Cinema watching “I Give It A Year.” We both loved talking about our children. He was complaining about his back at the time and just had a lumbar puncture. He’d also been having some real bad headaches.

Just before Easter 2013, his sister and niece were killed in a car crash, and he had to identify the bodies. He went quiet on me. I was upset and spoke to a friend about it. She said that he probably needed space. Eventually he got back to me and said he was in a bad place at the time and just wanted to be on his own, but said he was sorry. Anyway, our relationship was back on track again.

During the school summer holidays, he took his boys away and rented a cottage in the UK. Bob fell ill with gastroenteritis and his back was still playing up. The boys made their own way home. Bob stayed in the cottage on his own, and packed up when he had to leave. When he got home, he started to get better. Then he went back to work.

He was only back at work for less the two weeks when he went into hospital with an inflamed gallbladder. They kept him in, doing loads of test. Then they had to unblock his bile duct. He was in hospital for a week, but he kept in touch with me and his best mate David. When he came out of hospital, he stayed with David as he wanted to talk about his illness. Bob said to me that he was scared because they had found lumps on his pancreas, which could be an issue. He was offered chemo, 3 times a week for six weeks, at the Royal Free Hospital.

Bob was given more or less a week’s notice to start his treatment. He went to see his son in university to spend the day with him, then his other sons, living with mum. Then he went to Royal Free to start his treatment on a Monday. He kept in touch with David and me all the way through the week’s treatment. I dealt with all the emotions he was going through; still only me and David knew what he dealt with (we only talked about his illness when he mentioned it as I supported him all I could). By Friday, he came out of hospital and said he’d been arguing with consultants.

I did all I could to cheer him up, as I knew his mind was cluttered with a lot of worries and feeling scared. We did have this conversation: Bob saying if he can’t pull this off, he wanted me to find another bloke; he wanted me to make sure he was a nice bloke. I said not in his time, as I wanted to be with him till the end.

Over the weekend, he spent time with his sons and the rest of the time on his own; Bob was like that, he said it’s a man thing! He was due to go back to Royal Free on Monday to have his result from his blood test and to start the second week of chemo. He was rather quiet Monday. It was that day, the beginning of October half term, that he used the word cancer – pancreatic cancer.

He said that he’d made a choice. He’d be having End Of Life Care and was waiting for a nurse to go through the care package. Bob, being a medic himself, would rather have the quality of life. At that point, I had to be brave; of course, I cried and let out all my emotions, but not in front of Bob. Bob kind of went into business mode, and wanted to sort all his financial affairs.

Over the next two weeks, Bob sorted out his financial affairs. He was still only in contact with just David and me. Bob started to get bored and went back to work; he was on Clinical Desk duties. He was beginning to be his normal self. He wanted to make the most of his time and have fun. Before his illness had been diagnosed, he wanted the two of us to go away, a cottage somewhere in the UK. He already booked a skiing holiday in Austria for himself and his boys February half term (in my mind, I knew he was not going to make that). He got in touch with his holiday insurance and got it all sorted.

Bob talked about his illness to me, but I believed he talked to his mate David more in-depth. I believe he didn’t want to scare me. He said his time was limited – he would be seeing his last Christmas and, if he made it, to his birthday, 18th of March. He would be 51 years old then. He was planning to tell his boys after Christmas. He was back at work for a week, then went down with a infection and had to go into hospital to have IV antibiotics and a blood transfusion. From then on, he started to experience more pain. He was in hospital for a week. Then he had a week at home. Reality started to kick in for both of us, I believe. I just found all this was moving too fast.

Bob went back to work again. He was really trying to get his life back to some normality, and again he went down with infection, back into hospital for more blood transfusions. He was told his lumps had increased. They changed his medication as he was having problems with the pain. By this time we were in December, and he so wanted to see me. I saw him on 14th of December. I have to say, he had lost weight and was different, from his looks to his mannerism, and he looked tired. He decided he was going fight this illness, but admitted he was a rubbish patient – I think that due to being medic himself. It was great seeing him. We talked and he wanted to know what my plans were. He wanted me to start looking ahead for myself. I told him that I’d booked to see a show in March, and the holidays I’d booked for me and my girls. I’d also probably go on a walking holiday too. He said he was planning to spend Christmas with David and family. He also said he wished he’d met me a few years before.

When Bob walked out of my front door, he turned and blew kisses at me. He’d never done that before. A few days later, Bob was back in hospital, due to the pain he was having. The lump had increased again. He said again that he was going to fight this as he has this ‘Lady’ to take away. It brought a smile to my face. But due to his pain, he was going to spend a week in a hospice, for care. He told me not to worry. Of course I worried. All I wanted was to be with him, but I couldn’t.

Christmas Eve, he got in touch, saying he wanted me to have a lovely time tomorrow, and David was with him. He also said he was bed bound. He said he loved and cared about me. I was so upset to hear this. For the first of the New Year, I emailed David, just a few words, saying I was pleased he was with Bob and told him Bob was important to me, and wishing him peace.

A few days after, Bob just dropped me…just saying he had no choice and love and cares about me.

I was so shocked…I was so angry. I texted him that night, 20 times…200 times…I was heartbroken. I was in a state; I loved him, and the cancer had changed him. I just couldn’t shake the anger off me. I did a lot of crying, I was so confused. I got in touch with Cancer Research and MacMillian and had a rant with them; it helped. They tried to reassure me it’s not Bob, it’s the cancer. I’ve sent Bob cards to his address, as well David’s address, and a small letter to him with my details. From there I sent the odd text to Bob.

Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from Bob again.

~ Tracey


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