COURAEGOUS mum Melanie O'Neill, from Penketh, has been blogging for the Warrington Guardian website for the past six years after being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. 

Here's her latest incredible entry. 

I’ve left it far too long again. How am I going to inform you of all the happenings since I last wrote? Warning, it may be a long one.

After a traumatic December we decided to go and surprise Carl’s dad, Tommy, for his 70th birthday in Spain, where they live. My anxiety was through the roof and I was desperate for a break away with some celebrations and sunshine thrown in and a good night’s sleep was really needed as I was struggling to cope on only a few hours a night.

In the airport I was totally fine, having my usual glass of Sauvignon Blanc and sneakily buying M&Ms for me and the kids for the flight. Once on the flight I started to feel nauseous and rushed to the toilet, sick bag in hand, as there was no queue.

I continued to vomit until the day I came home. I had to come home early as a scan appointment had been arranged and being on a clinical trial, they couldn’t move it. So I was aware that I’d be coming home alone and that I’d miss my daughters 10th birthday but I was fully prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how awful I would feel and how my mini-break away, full of surprises and celebrations, would be ruined.

I was so bad June, Carl’s mum, booked a flight to bring me home, and thank god she did, as I required wheelchair assistance on and off the flight. I missed everything. Carl’s brother and his family showing up to surprise Tommy, some lovely meals out but mainly the fabulous meal we had arranged for his 70th with balloons and cake and a fully decorated table at our favourite restaurant.

Once home I stopped being sick but was so run down and lack of sleep I felt that someone had sucked the life out of me as June nursed me back to health with homemade cooking and wouldn’t allow me to lift a finger.

It took me almost 2 weeks to start feeling normal again but it was so nice and comforting to be the one who was being looked after instead of me looking after everyone else. (As any mum will tell you)

Exhausted, I started to randomly take sleeping tablets just so my body was getting some rest but was conscious of becoming addicted so June had lavender and chamomile burning at night to help calm me and assist in my sleeping whilst rosemary, sandalwood and grapefruit burned in the day to uplift me.

So my scan results day came around, along with my chemo and my blood count was too low so I was unable to have treatment but whilst there, I wasn’t sure if I’d misheard the doctors say that they may have mistaken a cancerous nodule in my chest for a mis-shaped rib I’d been born with.

I had a week to wait before I could enquire any further.

An amazing dance weekend in London was on the horizon but I didn’t know where I’d find the energy from to go. With a little bit of willpower and a dose of excitement, oh and a little help from the sleeping tablets I thoroughly enjoyed myself in my ‘dance’ element.

A week passed and it was now time to see if my blood count had increased enough to have the chemo. The doctor was about to leave the room when I asked about the nodule.

Bearing in mind, the nodule was the only measurable cancerous thing I had that would enable me to start on the clinical trial (the trial that had cleared up the inflammatory breast cancer in my skin and had prevented any further spread as the scans were clear apart from the nodule.)

“It appears we have misinterpreted the nodule for the bone in your chest that you say you’ve had since birth”

Even with a brain injury I will never forget those words for as long as I live.

“So without this so called ‘nodule’ I wouldn’t have been able to start on this trial?” I asked in utter shock. “No, probably not” he replied.

I went on to blurt out that they wouldn’t now take me off the trial as I didn’t have the one thing that was measureable. I was reassured that they keep me on it as I was responding to it so well.

Floods of tears followed, once the doctor had left the room, as I sat in complete bewilderment that this could have happened.

That although I will never be classed as cured (with IBC there’s always some cells lurking about) I had waited 6 years to feel like there is no more cancer and my elation was immeasurable.

It was my birthday the following day and what a birthday present that was but as I was hooked up to my chemo I received a devastating call.

Carl’s lifelong friend had passed away from cancer after being diagnosed only 5 weeks earlier. I immediately went from cloud 9 to rock bottom.

How could I now blog about my good news when my husband and all his close friends, as well as mine, were in such agonising pain including his wife and children.

Life has a funny way of dealing us elation with turmoil and all in the same hour.

So out of respect for his wife and children, his mum, dad and sister and close friends I have not blogged about my joy as I continue on the same path of having scan after scan, chemo after chemo etc.

Nothing’s changed for me in the day to day running of things but the knowledge that they can no longer find cancer that I’ve waited what seems like forever for yet their journey without him has just begun and everything has changed in their life.

I still get aches and pains from the side effects from the 6 years of treatment and have the odd blip, convinced the cancer is still there especially when I’m tired but my sleep is slowly correcting itself now as I continue to see a healer and Sandra my reflexologist and my wonderful friend Phil is a huge support to me mentally whilst giving me incredible massages.

Maybe I had to go to the depths of despair whilst on holiday to feel such elation? 

Maybe I should stop thinking about why but I will always know that someone up above is watching over me for this to have happened and to say I’m grateful is an understatement.

In a blog I wrote for The Christie, I ended it by saying my children have no memory of me without cancer.

Well now they do and no amount of words can express how I feel about that.

Dedicated to Mark Orford with love and sorrow. RIP