21th September 02

As if Duffy doesn't have enough to cope with already, today we discovered that her mother, Kate has terminal cancer. She was brought in after suffering what appeared at first glance to be an epileptic fit but our new SHO, Heather Lincoln, diagnosed the real reason after spotting a breast tumour so advanced that it had broken through the skin. A CT scan confirmed that the cancer had spread to Kate's brain, causing the fit, only the diagnosis is of little good at this stage. There's no treatment available that can fight such a developed case. No one has said it aloud but we all know the score. Kate's life expectancy is now in the order of days rather than weeks, and there's nothing any of us can do.

I've just read that paragraph back and I'm amazed by how detached it sounds, because that's not how I feel. I feel sick. That's how I feel. The kind of sick you feel when things are sliding out of your control and you're forced to stand by and watch, that sinking feeling as though your stomach is filled with cold, liquid lead, but worse than that I feel ashamed of myself because it wasn't all out of my control. I could have told Duffy, prepared her perhaps for Kate's prognosis, given her some extra time to come to terms with the idea that her mother was ill before she found out that Kate's dying.

Kate didn't want Duffy to know of course. Kate must have known about that tumour for months, and I don't believe anyone in this day and age is ignorant enough not to think 'cancer' if they feel a lump, but she was scared. I've seen it before, people who are so frightened that cancer automatically means death that they convince themselves that it isn't happening, and as long as it's never officially diagnosed they can pretend that nothing's wrong. That sort of self delusion makes me so angry - if she'd gone to her GP's a few months back she could be well on her way to recovery by now!

But perhaps she is not the only person suffering from a bit of self delusion around here. I've been telling myself all day that I couldn't tell Duffy because that would be breaking pateint confidentiality but if I'm honest that's not all of it.

I nearly told her; in the middle of admin, I went to Duffy, held her shoulders... She's not stupid, it must have been written all over my face that there was something serious needing to be said. She gave me that same look, the one she gave me not much more than a year ago when I told her about Andrew's death: wide eyed, scared, confused. I looked at her and in that second I was back in the staff room trying to find the words to explain that we couldn't save Andrew. Only this time I bottled out. I didn't want to be the one breaking the bad news again and I managed to convince myself that I had a good reason to keep quiet. Duffy got called to resus and I let her go. I was doing the right, or at least the professional, thing, but for the wrong reason.

I can't tell her that though. It sounds so feeble. Here she is preparing to go through her second bereavement in as many years and I'm being a coward about telling her about it?! I'm her friend, I should be helping, being strong for her, but I've been useless. She's said as much. I tried to comfort her and she snapped at me that I was her boss, and that we should keep things professional. She told me she couldn't trust me.

Her words felt like a slap in the face, but maybe I deserved them. If I was a better friend I would have put her first, ahead of the department and ahead of my own cowardice. I've thought about calling her, or going back up to the hospital to see her but I don't think I'd be welcome. She's made it quite clear she doesn't want me around and the last thing I want to do is make the situation worse. I hope she knows that I'm still here for her if she needs me though.

Elsewhere in the department it was mercifully quiet today though. Kate's illness was probably not the best initiation for Heather, her tactless comments to Duffy before she knew who Kate was have certainly made sure that she's not Duffy's favourite person, but then I can hardly comment on that given the circumstances.

Heather is here as Lara's replacement while the trial goes on. Today was the first day and in an ideal world I would have liked to have been there but that just wasn't possible. The Evening Gazette has a small article about it, it seems the prosecution are using the line that as a doctor Lara must have known that her actions could kill and so therefore it's pre meditated and not self defence.

Oh God, Duffy's due to take the stand soon. She's been called by the defence to give evidence about Melanie Collier's injuries after she was raped by the late DCI, her husband. Melanie is denying her husband was anything other than a saint from what the Gazette says. I was worried before about how Duffy would cope trying to convince the jury of a rape given her own experience all those years ago, but what with Kate's illness as well I don't know how she'll cope...

Anyway, what else notable happened today? Well, a baby was abandoned in the department and later the baby's mother as brought in too. It seemed to strike a chord with Roxy. Being a young single mum herself, she couldn't understand how anyone could abandon their own kid. I suppose she's forgotten how hard she was finding it at first. Colette came and spoke to me about Roxy's interference in the case but it's difficult to judge what happened as I know Colette is also rather biased on the subject. I could really do without Roxy causing trouble right now though.

But it's not all doom, we had word through that Nikki has been cited for a bravery medal. It's nice to have something to celebrate, but it can't quite quash the feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better.

Right, time to phone Louis I think. I've really got to try harder to keep our relationship alive. Today I got a taste of what it'd feel like to be completely alone - I don't want to feel like that, and I don't want Louis to either.



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