The date on the calendar gave me a gentle tug. It had significance. Then it struck me that it was my 21st Anniversary. Twenty one years since my last conversation with Dr Rosy Dee.
I was living at the time in a village in Italy, in an old farmhouse which we’d bought three years before. I’d studied Italian at University and enjoyed speaking the language and getting to know my neighbours. Maurice was working in the nearby town and I stayed at home, determined to be the perfect mother and make life magic for my children. When my son was six he went to the local school but my demanding younger twin daughters were at home all day. Looking after their needs in the summer heat sapped my energy. I was tired but happy. Maurice loved me and the sun shone.
Things became darker in the autumn. I’d been active helping in the school ‘festa’, working in the garden and re-painting my son’s bedroom. I began to feel drained and had to push myself to get meals done and play games with the children. My exhaustion became apparent to my neighbour, Liliana, who persuaded me to go to Doctor Uboldi, a tall man with sad eyes. I underwent various tests, fully expecting to regain my energy and bounce back.
I was horrified to discover I had cancer. I was angry, announced I didn’t have time to deal with a life-threatening illness and went into denial. Maurice forced me to face up to it, have the operation and undergo treatment. He hired someone to help with house and children and lovingly persuaded me to lay aside all my plans to focus on my health.
A month later I had a major operation and was told my lymph system was affected. With a beloved husband and three small children, I desperately wanted to live. I agreed to radiotherapy and was driven daily to hospital an hour away where the ‘bad’ cells were irradiated. I felt drained of energy and hope. Dr Uboldi told me not to mention my illness to others in the village as it would embarrass them. Isolated by extreme tiredness and paralysing fear, I had a desperate need for information and reassurance that I wasn’t going to die.
A friend in England contacted a Cancer Care Centre who kindly arranged for me to have a regular telephone appointment with a Dr Rosy Dee. I remember her calm voice and affirming words whilst she answered my tearful questions – and I was comforted. After two months the doctor made me belief in myself and my own ability to get better. She empowered me and pulled me back to life. She convinced me I had a future.
I recovered and live a more peaceful life. Our children are now in their twenties and one is married.
Together Maurice and I are still a part of their lives and I’ve Dr Rosy, whom I’ve never met, to thank for that.