‘It’s a tumour’. The words that no one wants to hear. Let alone when you are 25 and invincible. I had been in Australia for two years living with my siblings whilst my parents were in the UK, and I had been seeing this cute Kiwi guy for about six months (though fooling around for about a year).
He knew I was ‘the one’ when he first saw me. I took some convincing! He didn’t let up and in the February of 2004 we had just had a two-week trip round the south island of New Zealand and I was smitten. Caring, considerate and cute to boot. I had struck gold! I just didn’t realise at the time that my cache was much, much more.
After some symptoms and an MRI, I was given the crushing news that I had a large, benign (thank goodness), tumour at the base of my skull, outside of the brain but inside the skull. As good fortune would have it the world leading surgeon for this type of rare and complicated tumour was based in St Vincent’s and I credit the amazing team there with saving my body. However, the Kiwi saved my soul. He attended every appointment, held me when I cried, talked to my family, lost his job as he was taking care of me, moved me in with him, loved me, cherished me, and never ever let me feel sorry for myself.
When I received the news that the tumour was compromising my facial nerve I understood that it would be unlikely that I would ever properly smile again and all he said was ‘I never look at your face when you smile, I look in your eyes’. Swoooooooooooon.
After two months of reviews and medication and Doctor after Doctor, surgery was booked in and they were going for cure, so the operation would take as long as it would take. It turns out that these things do indeed take time and I was in theatre for 14 hours – and the whole time, the Kiwi was waiting for me outside. From there went to ICU and he only left my side to get the train home to Penrith to sleep occasionally. I was pretty sick. I probably looked a right picture too! Head the size of a water melon, wrapped up in a turban, facial palsy, blood, puke (I don’t do anaesthetic well) and morphine induced hallucinations. It would make a lesser man turn green. Not my Kiwi. He would bound in the room ‘morning gorgeous!’ give me a big kiss and cuddle and start telling me what had been happening in the rugby. He didn’t waiver or break his stride for a second. And he still hasn’t.
Ten years have passed. Married, two kids and one on the way and life is pretty sweet. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s day. We don’t need to. We celebrate our love every day. Because I know he loves me and I love him. It’s the type of love that doesn’t need to be spoken or even celebrated because he’s already proven that when the going gets tough, he steps up to the plate every time, especially the hard times. Love you my wonderful Kiwi xx