“In honor of Julia Prosser”
I start with the confession that this gutsy story is not really mine. But, since convention has it that marital (should that be martial?) goods are shared, I’m taking it upon myself to write this.
I was taken ill in about 2008, and my beautiful wife became my caretaker and my rock. In 2010, to please her, I started writing a chapter a night of a book, My Barsetshire Diary, which a friend insisted should be published. It was, with the following results: The cat, who made the odd appearance, got his own blog, and I started writing two further books, which kept Julia entertained and the cat in food.
In July 2011 Julia felt a tenderness in her stomach. We arranged a doctor’s appointment just before her father died. My wife was distraught when she went for tests the next week, then saw the doctor the day after her father’s funeral. From the little said at the hospital we anticipated bad news–but even so, the diagnosis of cancer hit hard.
An oncologist told us Julia had pancreatic cancer and that it was inoperable because it had grown around some major arteries. She was stoic about it, but even so you could see when the pain was bad and the drugs weren’t helping. We were given a prognosis of six to nine months, and I won’t try and describe how Julia, I or our daughter felt, as none of us could talk.
One bright spot emerged when an eminent surgeon at another hospital offered to perform a radical procedure to cut the nerves where the growth was sited in order to kill the pain. Brilliant, except it almost killed her. She was placed on an open ward to recover and was discharged the next day with a raging temperature and ill from every orifice. We all recovered.
In 2012 the pain started to reappear as the thing grew. Julia focused on raising money to build riding facilities for the disabled at a local stable. A keen horsewoman despite her arthritis, she knew the benefits of horse-related therapy and believed that having a stable in our area was important. I was happy to help. After a suggestion from me, Julia decided to try and write a book about cancer and how it did not define her as a person now. She called it Hello, My Name is Cancer. She self-published it through Lulu.com, and it’s available on Amazon sites. In September we celebrated our daughter Yvonne’s wedding, brought forward for Julia’s sake–though that was hotly denied.
In December we celebrated Christmas with Yvonne (hereinafter known as the party of the third part because despite what she says I’m sure she likes to party) and her new husband, Ugo. They presented us with a small box. When I opened it, I unfolded a tiny bib with the words “I love my Nanna and Pops.” I know the room was hot because my eyeballs sweated just then as I asked, “Honestly?” They confirmed that the baby is due in August, thus giving us a new target to aim for.
In January we celebrated the fact that we’d gone beyond the original prognosis and the pain was back under control with morphine (which apparently doesn’t qualify under the 50% each agreement- typical.). And Julia did a little riding, even winning a small dressage competition.
At the beginning of March we saw the oncologist because Julia’s stomach was very distended and I refused to be named the father. He told us it was the illness and asked if she’d go into a hospice for a week. She loved it there because she could see horses from the window and various wildlife (no, not me) came by her patio door. While there, we were told to think in terms of weeks, not months. Julia had always asked for honesty, but I just wanted to shout “Liar, liar, pants on fire” and stick my finger in someone’s eye, even my own. Yvonne cried. Our nieces rallied round as always, and our nephews came to see her. Always the same message: “I’m not ready to go yet, so don’t write me off.”
Since she came home we’ve visited our favorite cafes to say her goodbyes in case something happens. There have been some tears, usually mine, because I’m really going to miss those places. One team brought Julia a wonderful bouquet of flowers and two plates of their special spaghetti Bolognese that she loves. Another is raffling off a giant teddy bear to help raise money toward the stable. We even managed to visit the stable last week; building is under way and will be finished in about two weeks. Now we need to raise money for a scissor lift or hoist to get the riders up to the right level.
This week Julia went riding herself, putting an amazingly brave face on things. She even decided to enter another competition in two weeks’ time.
My wife is amazing.
David Prosser sent me his story on March 14th, and I’m sorry to announce that his beautiful wife, Julia, passed away on March 30th, 2013. Here is David’s beautiful post about Julia called, “The End of Days.”
David Prosser Bio: A retired ex Local Government Officer with a horse mad wife, a sadistic cat who acts as my alarm clock at the time he wants me to get up, and a daughter who must be wonderful because she thinks her dad is. I live in a small village in North Wales and became an author almost by accident when a friend liked a day’s diary I sent her in answer to a ‘How was your day”? query. Needless to say the day was a fiction from start to finish.
Here are links to David Prosser’s websites and his books:
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