Goodness me, is it Monday again already! How are you all? It’s been a funny old week. One minute it’s just too hot to sit outdoors and the next it’s windy enough to send the garden parasol flying and pouring down with rain.

Like the weather, my mood has been swinging all over the place this week which has been hard for me and poor Mr R to cope with. Normally I’m a very ‘half full’ sort of person. Not prone to anxiety or feeling low, but both have been hitting me in waves all week. One minute I’m fine and the next I’m close to tears and being paranoid and needy. It must be down to the fact that I haven’t worked since March and I miss having a purpose, a role and the close knit and friendly community that is my school. People may say…what have you to complain about? You are being paid to do nothing….and I get it, really I do, that I am very lucky to have an income and a job to go back to eventually and maybe I have no rights to moan, but you can’t control the impact of a change in long term normality can have on your mental health. It’s not helped either that for a few days a week I am on my own as Mr R does essential work that means he has to work away from home. When I’m working this isn’t a problem but it’s hard right now especially in the evenings.Thank goodness that we can now at least meet up outside with my dear friends at a social distance and I have had Zoom meetings with the lovely ladies at my WI or else I think that I would sink even further into the gloom.

I needed something to look forward to and bless my wonderful friend who has been incredibly supportive, to come up with the suggestion that we have a girlie break together once school has broken up for the holidays. So we are off to Penzance for a few days staying in a pretty Airbnb cottage to enjoy some sea air, plenty of wine and gin and have a change of scenery. A restorative break is just what’s needed right now.

There have been times this week when I’ve thought about deleting all of my writing and stop kidding myself that I can write a book. Ha.. self doubt has reared its ugly head big time. Don’t worry, I haven’t, but I’ve been sorely tempted. Writing though has been theraputic. I enjoy getting lost in Maggie and Gordon’s world although much of last week was spent researching. Well, you’ve got to get your facts right haven’t you! I can’t possibly give up on my two heroes that have come to be part of me and am incredibly fond of. I’m now 70,000 words in which is such an achievment for someone who was used to having work returned at school with You need to write more written in red across it.The end is in sight now and I’m already thinking about the tweaks that I’m going to make and the need to find people to read it and give constructive comments.

Well that’s enough of my waffling and off loading. If you’ve got this far, then thank you for listening.

Here now is part 19 of Maggie and Gordon’s story. I need to start thinking about a book title. Easier said than done!

Remember it’s unedited so sorry for typos and grammatical errors! Please excuse the lines of dots. I haven’t been able to work out how to get rid of them!

Until next time

Brigitte xx

Maggie Thornden, where are you?

Part 19

Maggie arrived at the hospital not long after nine o’clock and headed for the A&E department. The waiting area was quiet with only a couple of people sat on the hard plastic chairs waiting to be seen. A man sat nursing his hand wrapped in what looked like a blood soaked tea towel. Next to him sat a woman in her dressing gown and a pair of boots. Maggie wondered if he’d sliced his hand whilst cutting a loaf of bread to make toast. She could imagine an abandoned kitchen with cold tea in abandoned mugs and smears of blood on the work surface.

At the reception area Maggie read notices about how the hospital staff would not tolerate abusive language or behaviour and something to do with Norovirus whilst the woman sat behind the desk talked to someone on the phone. The conversation seemed to be taking ages but finally the call ended and the woman smiled at Maggie.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting. How can I help you?”

“My husband was brought in last night and I’ve only just been able to get here. Can I go and see him please?”

If the woman was curious as to why someone’s wife didn’t appear until hours after her husband was admitted she didn’t show it.

“Can you give me his full name and date of birth and I’ll find him for you.”

“Gordon James Thornden. 10th March 1963” Maggie waited whilst the receptionist tapped away on her keyboard.

“Ah found him. He was discharged from the department at two o’clock this morning.”

“He was sent home in the middle of the night? That doesn’t seem right. He told me that they were keeping him in.” An alarmed Maggie had visions of her poor husband standing outside of the hospital waiting for a taxi to take him home.

The receptionist carried on tapping at the keyboard. “He wasn’t sent home, he was admitted onto Whittington ward.”

Relieved, Maggie asked for directions to the ward and was told to follow the red line on the floor which would get her to the east wing of the hospital where she would find the ward.

The ward when she arrived at it was a hive of activity. Nurses pushed trolleys piled high with neatly folded bed linen, a man wearing a mauve tunic manoeuvred his trolley loaded with needles, syringes and vials with different coloured stoppers. Housekeeping staff wiped surfaces and doctors with stethoscopes stuffed in trouser pockets milled around the main desk. Everyone was busy and nobody seemed to notice her. A woman at the desk finally asked if she could help. Maggie informed her that she was the wife of Mr Thornden who was admitted during the night and that she had come to see him.

“I’m really sorry but we don’t allow visitors at this time of the morning. Can you come back in an hour?”

Maggie was getting impatient. She’d been at the hospital for a while now and still she hadn’t got to her husband’s bed side.

“I appreciate that it’s not visiting time, but I was away when he was taken ill and I’ve only just got back to Gloucester. I’m obviously very worried about him and I need to see him.”

“I appreciate that you want to see your husband Mrs Thornden but the medical teams are doing their rounds at the moment and it’s not possible. They won’t be long. Why don’t you pop down to the coffee shop and come back in an hour.” At that point the telephone rang. The ward receptionist answered it and her attention was no longer focused on Maggie.

Frustrated, Maggie left the ward and followed the yellow line to the main concourse where she found a Costa. She joined the queue and ordered a latte and a round of toast. As she’d not had any breakfast she was aware that her stomach was rumbling. Maybe she should pick up some coffees before she returned to the ward. She could just imagine Gordon’s reaction when he took a mouthful of his hospital coffee. She took her coffee and went to sit down and wait for her toast to arrive. She took her phone out. There were several texts from Susan and one from James. She also noticed that there was one from Charles.

Hope all is well with Gordon and that he makes a speedy recovery. It was lovely seeing you this weekend. Thank you for coming. It meant a lot. Take care. Charles x

Maggie’s fingered hovered over the delate icon but she then decided against it and instead opened the texts from her children.

Gordon was sitting up in a chair next to his bed and reading a newspaper which surprised Maggie somewhat when she was eventually allowed to see him. She was expecting to see him tucked up in bed looking pale and poorly. He was wearing a hospital gown and his outdoor shoes. She noticed the tubing from the catheter connected to a half filled bag next to his bed.

“Hi darling. I’ve finally got here. How are you?” After kissing Gordon on his cheek, Maggie looked around for something to sit on. Was she allowed to sit on hospital beds? She had a feeling that it would be frowned on.

Gordon folded up his newspaper and put it on the bedside table. “There’s a stack of chairs next to the bathroom door. Go and grab one.”

Finally settled Maggie apologised profusely for not being there in his hour of need and how she had left Bristol as soon as she could.

“I’m sorry to have spoilt your weekend. I know that you were really looking forward to seeing your friends.”

“Don’t be daft; of course you didn’t spoil it.” Said Maggie “I’ve been worried sick about you. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was over the limit I’d have been here like a shot. Tell me what happened. Susan said that you were in a right state when she got to you.”

Gordon told Maggie about his predicament the previous day and that Susan had bundled him into the car and whisked him off to A&E.

“I tried phoning you Maggie but it kept saying that you were unavailable.”

Maggie hated having to lie “We must have been somewhere with a poor reception and then I ran out of charge.” Well in a way it wasn’t a lie, there hadn’t been any phone reception and she had run out of charge. That bit was true. It was the fact that the phone wasn’t where Gordon believed it to be, which was making Maggie feel guilty.

“It must have been a great relief when they catheterised you. Do they give you an aesthetic when they put it in?” Maggie inwardly cringed at the thought of the having to have a tube pushed into your urethra.

“They use a local and to be honest Maggie they could have sliced me open at that point. I just needed the pain to go away, which it did thank goodness.”

“So why did it happen? Did they say? I’ve always thought that you had a dodgy prostate from all the trips to the loo and the problem you have with going when you do wee.”

“Well they were definitely convinced that it’s my prostate from the history I gave and because of my age. They did a blood test too and they are just waiting for the results of that.”

“What’s the blood test for?” Asked Maggie

“Something to do with antigens and the prostate. It helps detect problems. I had to have a rectal examination too. That’s pretty embarrassing I can tell you now.”

Maggie laughed “Now you know what it’s like when we women have to go and have smear tests! So what happens now? Are they going to keep you in for a few days?”

“The nurse reckons that I’ll be going home later today.” answered Gordon.

“But what about the catheter? Will that come out first?”

“Apparently, according to the doctor this morning, I’ll go home with it still in. The nurses will attach it to a leg bag and show me how to care for it. I can go back to work on Monday If I feel up to it.”

Maggie squirmed at the thought of Gordon having to keep the catheter in. “Really? Rather you than me. How long will it stay in for? Days? weeks? “

“No idea. We will just have to wait and see what the doctor says later. Anyway, is one of those drinks you bought in for me?” Gordon pointed to the two disposable cups that Maggie had arrived on the ward with.

“Sorry, forgot all about those and I expect that t

He’ll be cold by now. Do you want me to go and get another one?”

“Yes please if you don’t mind and can you bring me a muffin as well. And whilst you’re at it, can you pick up a copy of the Sunday Times. The old chap across the way lent me his paper. Would you mind passing it over to him on your way out!”

The day dragged. Nurses popped by now and again to check Gordon’s temperature and blood pressure and to see if his catheter bag needed emptying. He was reminded to keep drinking which meant that Maggie had to make another trip to the hospital shop to pick up some squash as Gordon complained that the water in his jug tasted of chlorine. Lunch arrived which actually looked quite palatable. Roast chicken breast with all the trimmings and apple crumble with lots of custard. Maggie had to make do with a sandwich and a packet of crisps.

Susan rang Maggie to find out how her father was and suggested coming over. Gordon listening in to the conversation mouthed No whilst shaking his head. Maggie told her daughter that there was a good chance that her dad was going to be discharged any second so it could be a wasted trip.

The three other patients sharing Gordon’s room all had visitors in the afternoon. The man opposite had at least six around his bed which had Gordon grumbling about there being sick people in the room who needed peace and quiet and as the chap was more than capable of walking couldn’t they be considerate and go to the visitors room and make their row there!

It got to six o’clock. Maggie had spent a small fortune on parking tickets and neither of them had anything much to say to each other. Gordon fell asleep at one point leaving Maggie to twiddle her thumbs.

“Go and find out what’s happening Maggie. I’ve had enough of this hanging around. If I’m staying in then you may as well go home. This is getting ridiculous.”

“It’s Sunday Gordon. There’s probably only a few doctors here and their busy with sick patients. But you are right, it is pointless me staying if you’re not going to be discharged.” Maggie was about to get up when a young man made a beeline for Gordon and Maggie. He looked too young to be a doctor but the stethoscope and blue scrubs was a good indicator that he was.

The doctor shook their hands, introduced himself and apologised for keeping them waiting.

“Well Mr Thornden, the good news is that you can go home tonight. We do need you to come back though in a few days’ time.  We are a little concerned about one of your blood tests. The one that measures the antigens in your prostate. You might have heard it being called the PSA test. Well your levels are higher than what we would consider as normal and it’s something that we feel needs further investigation. It could be that there’s a problem with your prostate and we need to find out what it is. It’s obviously enlarged otherwise you wouldn’t have had the problem peeing, but we need to find out what that problem is.”

Gordon remained quiet for a moment. He needed to ask a question.

“Could it be cancer?”

Maggie could feel her heart racing and her stomach flipping.

“We won’t know what the problem is until we’ve done further tests but there is a possibility that it is cancer. But it could be something not related to cancer, we really don’t know at this point.”

“I see. So what sort of tests are we talking about?”

“We need to do a biopsy. This is a procedure is done under a local anaesthetic.” The young doctor then explained how the procedure was done.

“And then what happens?” asked Maggie.

“We will be in touch with an appointment to come back to the urology clinic. I’ve been able to sort out the biopsy and we’d like you to come in on Wednesday. The nurses will let you know when before you leave. Meanwhile we will keep the catheter in just to be safe. You don’t want a repeat of yesterday do you? Normally we say to go to your GP to get the nurse to remove it, but we will do that when you come back on Wednesday.”

“And what about work?”

“That’s entirely up to you. Maybe work from home if you can for the next two days especially as you have the catheter in. Right, do you have any more questions for me?”

Neither Gordon nor Maggie had. They both sat in stunned silence once the doctor had gone.

Eventually it was Gordon who spoke first.

“Well I’d better get dressed then.”

***********

If Gordon had been anxious about the biopsy, he hadn’t shown it. On the following day he had phoned work to say that he would be working from home and had a medical appointment on Wednesday that meant he needed the day off. He hoped to be back at his computer in the spare room the day after that but would let them know if he needed another day to recuperate. Maggie wondered how he could remain focused on work when he faced the possibility that there was something seriously wrong with him. Gordon’s way of thinking was that there was no point in worrying about something until there’s something to worry about and that the biopsy was just a procedure that he needed to have. Maggie on the other hand found it difficult to focus on anything. She tried hard to not show her anxiety at work, but reading to the major was like going through the motions and the words on the pages of the book had no meaning and she could not recall what she had just read. She had arranged with Sally to swap days so that she could go to the hospital with Gordon. Sally had asked if everything was ok, but Maggie not ready to go into details or talk about her fears just said that it was a minor procedure that meant Gordon couldn’t drive afterwards. At home she tried to act normally for Gordon’s sake but she was finding it difficult to sleep and she had no appetite for food. Black thoughts kept whirling around in her head and she felt that her life was on a pause button.

The biopsy had been uncomfortable but not painful. The catheter had been removed beforehand and once the procedure had been done he had to wait at the hospital until he’d had a pee. Armed with a course of antibiotics, an information sheet about possible side effects and advised to rest for the rest of the day, Maggie and Gordon sat in the car before making their way home.

“Well Maggie, I have to say that I’m relieved that’s over. So now it’s a waiting game.” He put his hand over hers “Look, there’s no point in worrying until we have to is there. I’m sure it’s going to be fine and if it’s not, well we will just have to deal with it won’t we. Now let’s get home and put the kettle on.”

Maggie turned the key in the ignition and reversed out of the parking bay. She needed to keep it together for her husband’s sake. The last thing he needed right now was a nervous wreck for a wife.

The doctor at the hospital had said that the results of the biopsy would take around two weeks to come through and that they would be sent to Gordon’s GP. Two weeks seemed like an eternity. Maggie went through the motions each day but found it impossible to concentrate on anything for long. Susan had sent a message for her mum to phone her as soon as they got home. There wasn’t much to tell her apart from her dad being okay and that they just had to wait.

“But didn’t they give any indication of what might be the problem?”

“No darling, they were just doing the biopsy. The bit they took away had to go to the lab for analysis. There really wasn’t anything they could say today” Maggie tried to reassure her worried daughter “You wait and see Susie, everything will be fine. There’s no need to panic.”

But Maggie would never admit to her daughter that she was having to deal with the biggest panic of her life!

**********

Maggie was unloading the dishwasher when her phone rang. She saw from the caller ID that it was Gordon. It was rare for him to phone her during the day when he was at work unless it was really important.

She accepted the call “Hi”

“I’ve had a call from the health centre. I need to go in to discuss the results from the biopsy. They suggested that you come too.”

Maggie closed her eyes.

“Maggie, are you still there? Did you hear what I just said?”

She detected a hint on impatience in his voice. That was so like Gordon. It annoyed him if he thought that someone wasn’t listening. “Yes, I heard you. That doesn’t mean anything does it? It could just be that you have an enlarged prostate like lots of men your age has and you need an op. They just want me there in case you don’t remember what they say to you.”

“I’m sure that’s the case so no need to panic Mags. I’ve got an appointment for Monday. Can you take some time off work? It’s at 8.30 so you’ll only be a bit late going in.”

They had three and a half days before there was the possibility that they would hear news

that could pull the rug from under them and change life as they knew it.

***********

Maggie and Gordon sat side by side in the consulting room as the doctor read whatever it was that was displayed on the computer monitor in front of her. Gordon looked straight ahead expressionless but Maggie noticed that his leg was jigging up and down. Not much, but it was there. A sign that he was nervous. Maggie gently placed her hand on his thigh and the movement stopped. He turned to Maggie and mouthed silently “It’ll be ok”

The doctor swivelled her chair so that she was facing the Maggie and Gordon.

Mr Thornden, we’ve had the results back from your biopsy and I’m afraid to say that you do have Prostate cancer.”

Gordon grabbed Maggie’s hand tightly and pursed his lips….inhale

, exhale, inhale, exhale, trying to keep his emotions in check. Maggie watched her husband as he took stock of what the doctor had just told him. That carpet had well and truly been pulled from under her feet and she was finding it difficult to keep her world at that moment from tipping and shattering into a million pieces. But she needed to stay upright and strong for the man that she loved.

“Take your time Mr Thornden. It’s a big shock for you and your wife. Would you like some water?”

Gordon nodded and sipped at the cold liquid.

“Thank you” he said after gaining his composure and felt able to talk “So what happens now?”

“An appointment will come through to see the urology team at the hospital. They will have already discussed your case with a multi-disciplinary team to work out what treatment is best for you. Before that though you will need to go for a scan to check at what stage the cancer is at. The results of this will determine what treatment you will need.”

“He’s been complaining of back pain lately and has lost a bit of weight. Could this be caused by the cancer?” asked Maggie. Saying the C word brought a lump to her throat. How could a small six letter word be so difficult to say?

“It could be, but then again it might just be a touch of lumbago and losing weight through being active. Let’s not speculate until we have the scan results. What I can say is that the

treatment is very good and lots of men go on to lead a long and cancer free life.”

“But some don’t.”

“No Mr Thornden, sadly some don’t, but the outlook these days is much, much better than previously because the advancements in treatments means a much higher success rate. It’s a lot to take in I know. I’ve got some literature here for you to read and on there is the website address for a very good prostate cancer organisation. It’s easy for me to say please don’t worry, because of course you will. Try and stay positive. You can beat this. Really you can.”

“Well, let’s hope so. The last few weeks have been really tough for all of us. The not knowing was hard. I always knew that there was a good chance that it was cancer, but it was still a shock to find out that it actually is. But now that we know, we can get on with sorting it out can’t we. There’s been a lot to take on board and I need to go home and digest all of this information. I ought to say thank you. Don’t you think doctor, that it’s a bit strange when people thank you for delivering bad news? Come on Maggie, we’ve taken up enough of the doctor’s time.”

Together, Maggie and Gordon left the room. Gordon walked ahead of Maggie taking long strides. The distance between them growing further and further apart.

The two of them sat at the kitchen table. Gordon was reading the leaflets that the doctor had given him. He’d said very little since the two of them arrived home. Yes, I would like a cup of tea. A biscuit would be lovely. Shouldn’t you be going to work?

“We need to tell the children.”

Gordon looked up “Sorry, what did you say?”

Maggie repeated what she’d said “We need to tell the children.”

“Yes, I suppose we do. I’m surprised that Susan hasn’t already phoned to find out whether a bloody great axe is hanging over her father’s head!”

“Please don’t talk like that Gordon. You heard what the doctor said. Lots of men get cured these days. We need to stay positive.” Maggie noticed that his leg was doing the jigging thing again.

“Do you know hard it is to be positive when you’ve just heard that you’ve got fucking cancer Maggie? Do you know what thoughts go round your head? I can tell you now that they aren’t fucking positive!”

He got up from the table.

“Where are you going? Please sit down Gordon, we need to talk.”

“I’m going to work. I said that I’d be in later this morning. I may as well work whilst I can.”

Maggie remained seated at the table as she heard the rattle of keys being picked up from hall table and the front door open and closing. As she heard their car pull away, she put her head in her hands and wept.

Gordon sat in his office and stared at the spreadsheet on the computer monitor. He’d been staring at but not actually seeing the same spreadsheet for well over an hour. The rest of the day passed in a blur. He answered people when they spoke to him, but couldn’t remember the conversation. Nothing registered. He was there in body but not in spirit. At five o’clock he shut down his computer, put on his coat and left.

Gordon returned home from work. He ate his supper of breaded chicken, potatoes and green beans. Maggie hadn’t gone to work. Susan hadn’t phoned. Maggie mentioned that she thought that Susan was most likely waiting for them to call. Gordon told her to go ahead and phone. He was going to watch the television. Maggie phoned Susan. She listened to her daughter cry down the phone. She tried not to cry. She tried to be strong for her daughter. She cried afterwards whilst wiping down the work surfaces. At 10.30 Gordon announced he was going to bed and switched off the TV. Maggie sat on the sofa and stayed there for an hour longer before going to bed. No more than a few sentences had been spoken between them all evening.

Maggie woke up with a start. The bad dream that she had been having started to blur until she could no longer recall it. The bed felt different; uneven. She stretched her arm across to where Gordon should have been lying but the space was empty and felt cold to the touch. She looked across to their ensuite bathroom but he wasn’t there.

Maggie got up and retrieved her dressing gown from the hook on the back of the bathroom door and padded in bare feet out on to the landing. A light was shining from under the spare room door. She pushed it open to see Gordon sitting at the desk looking at a photo album.

“Do you remember that camping holiday when the kids were little and we pitched the tent on a slope so that we all kept rolling into each other?”

Maggie walked over to her husband and peered over his shoulder whilst putting her arm around it. “The grass was so long and our pyjama bottoms got soaked walking over to the loo because we’d forgotten to take wellies.”

 “Look at Susan in this one. She looks so grumpy. I wondered why that was?”

Maggie smiled “Who knows, Susan spent half of her childhood looking permanently grumpy.”

Gordon lifted his hand from the page in the book and went to hold the hand that was resting on his shoulder “Like her dad then. She’s a chip off the old block. James takes after you, kind and sensitive.” He turned around and looked up to his wife. “Maggie?”

“Yes darling?”

“I’m scared.”

Maggie softly stroked Gordon’s cheek. “I know you are. I am too. Let’s go and have a cup of tea and talk.”

And talk they did until the daylight chased the night away. When unable to keep their eyes open no more, they took themselves to bed and lay in each other’s arms until they both fell asleep.

Maggie and Gordon sat in the small featureless consulting room at the hospital. They could hear the doctor dictating notes in the adjoining room. The nurse had told them that they wouldn’t have to wait long.

Eventually the doctor, a short, plump man with a kindly face and wearing half-moon glasses, bustled into the room together with a nurse with blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. She reminded Maggie of an older version of James’s girlfriend.

“Mr and Mrs Thorndon, how are you both? I’m Doctor Ian Taylor and this stunning young lady is Sister Claire Fisher, a specialist nurse who is here to keep me in check and to answer nurse related questions that I can’t. She’s far cleverer than me, but don’t tell her that I told you that! Right let’s get down to business with you and sort out this prostate of yours!”

Doctor Taylor looked through his notes.

“Now you’ve had your scan and from that we can see that you have what we call locally advanced prostate cancer. Now please don’t be alarmed by that. What it means is that the cancer has started to break out of the prostate.”

Gordon looked alarmed. “That doesn’t sound good. You mean that it’s spreading.”

“There is evidence that it’s spread to your lymph nodes near your prostate, but we can deal with that. We have ways and means, don’t we Claire, to get rid of these nuisance cells. So, having talked it through with my esteemed colleagues, this is the course of treatment that we think is best for you. We propose a combination of hormone treatments and radiotherapy.”

“Not surgery?” asked Gordon

“That is an option. If you choose to have a prostatectomy, that means taking away the prostate and it will be removed by key hole surgery. Like any surgery, there is always the risk of complications.”

Doctor Taylor spent the rest of the appointment talking about the treatment options available to Gordon. It was a lot to take in and Gordon had a lot of questions to ask but eventually it was decided that Gordon would stick with the course of treatment that had been originally proposed.

“Excellent. Right, let’s get the ball rolling shall we. The sooner we start the better. I’m going to leave you now in the capable hands of our Claire here, but I’ll see you again soon.” With that he shook Gordon and Maggie’s hands and left the room, no doubt to go and see his next patient who was probably waiting patiently in another consulting room.

“Right Gordon, Now that Ian has filled you with a lot of medical jargon” Claire laughed “Doctors have a habit of forgetting that most people haven’t spent six years at medical school so let’s go through things again at a slower pace and I’ll make some appointments for you.”

Maggie glanced over to her husband and noticed that there was no trace of any movement in his leg. The jigging had stopped.

*********

Gordon sat up in bed reading the paper. Maggie insisted on bringing him a cup of coffee in bed every morning which was very nice and much appreciated. He was more than capable of doing it himself but for the time being he was enjoying being waited on and wasn’t going to complain until being treated like an invalid wore a bit thin. He had phoned into work after his hospital appointment and filled them in with the current situation. His boss had insisted that he take some time off sick and for once Gordon didn’t argue that he was perfectly okay to work but had agreed without a fuss.

He had started the hormone treatment, a monthly injection that the nurse at the medical centre would be giving him from now on. Claire, the specialist nurse had told him that he might suffer from some side effects, but so far, so good. He felt fine, just a bit tired maybe, and a good reason to take things easy for a while and enjoy Maggie’s fussing. Susan had popped over on several occasions to check up on her dad and had bought along with her several books on living with prostate cancer that she had bought on Amazon. If Maggie was fussing over him with cups of tea and coffee and offering to cover his knees with a blanket, Susan was fussing about how to eat healthily and keeping active. She’d been looking up obscure diets that claim to help cope with hot flushes and had been to Holland and Barrett and spent a fortune on supplements. Gordon had thanked her and then put them in a drawer the moment after she had left.

It had been difficult to reach James and when they managed to the connection had been bad. James had offered to come home, but Gordon had insisted that he wasn’t on his death bed and there was no need for him to fly half way across the world only to discover his father watching Countdown and doing the crossword in The Telegraph.

After the shock of hearing Gordon’s diagnosis and what seemed like an interminable wait to see Dr Taylor, Gordon and Maggie felt more positive about the future. It was like a weight had been lifted from their shoulders and an acceptance of the situation. The only way now was forward. Gordon would get through this. They would get through this.

But for now, Gordon would just going to lap up all of the attention and maybe ask for a fig roll with his next cup of coffee!