Back to where it all began

In a weeks’ time, it will be all over. Six  rounds of chemo over the last 5 months all done and dusted! I’m told no more than six treatments otherwise my heart will explode out of my chest, or something along those lines. Even though my ‘Health Stylist’ (oncologist) mentioned the words “may be”, last time I saw him, I’m still going with the 6 round option!

I think I can, I think I can!

So as my little body trudges up the hill of cycle six, like The Little Red Caboose that kept saying, “I think I can I think I can”, I find myself saying thank you to this little body of mine. It has weathered such a difficult storm for so many years. Rather than curse it for making me so sick, sad and so dreadfully unattractive, like I have done so many times before. I have to say thank you for keeping me going. You’ve been a faithful and brave little engine!
Me and my brother
Actually, I’ve come a long way over the last five years, in fact, we all have….. the Brave Man, my little fairy, my family and my troops.
Mother’s Day Classic
Team ‘Go West’

So it got me thinking…. where did it all begin……. When did Gary become the Brave Man? When did my friends become the Troops? When did I become the person who “didn’t sweat the small stuff?”

A Happy Bride and the Troops To Be

December  2005

Gary and I hadn’t long celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and our first year of being parents to Sienna.

Gary and I
A Life Before

What a ride being new parents! Like some of  my girlfriends, I tried diligently to follow the Gina Ford “method” with her ‘Contented Baby’ book, only to find by the time I had successfully got ‘routine one’ down pat, I was about four routines behind schedule.

A working Dad

And whilst my girlfriends were off down the street having their first skinny latte with baby contently asleep in the Bugaboo which was parked neatly beside them, I was still trying to work out the controlled crying routine. Only to realise an hour later and many tears shed, that the controlled crying is done on the baby, not the mother.  For me, the ‘Contented Baby’ became the ‘Demented Baby’.

I drove myself and Gary crazy with the routine madness. In the height of the madness, it would take five hours to get Sienna to bed at night. By the time I put the aroma therapy candles on, the calming music, the baby massage and hummed six different versions of ‘Mumma’s going to buy you a Mocking Bird’, it would be time to get her up for her next feed. I was making ‘One who Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ look like a love story.

But, I loved it, I loved being a mum, I loved having this little bundle of sweet smelling baby to cuddle and nurture.
The sweet baby smell

“Is there a Doctor in the House?”

We had such a beautiful Christmas day in 2005. Spending the morning preparing a banquet of food, sipping on the traditional family Bloody Marys, whilst Sienna played happily at our feet with enough toys to keep a small third world country of children happy for many decades.

Our theme that Christmas was happiness, health and positive thinking in 2006. The day was pretty uneventful until mum choked on a piece of pork crackling and had the ‘Heimlich manoeuvre’ performed on her by one of our guests, who fortunately was a doctor. Not only did this fill us with a bit of excitement, it also thankfully removed the crackling.

A Happy Christmas

In hindsight, maybe this was setting the scene for what was going to be the year ahead……..
Life’s little road bump…..

2006 brought much planning, I turned 36 and Gary was 39, we had been quietly thinking about a little companion for Sienna. It was exciting times, planning for our growing family. I would neatly pack away all the clothes Sienna didn’t fit into anymore, in the hope to use them again someday for our next baby. I ‘journaled’ her every move to an inch of her life, so as I would never forget a thing, yes I know a little ‘obsessive compulsive’, but I loved her, just loved her so much and I wanted to be the best mum I could be.

Sienna 1 month old
Loving her to bits!

It was the end of January 2006, I was in the shower day-dreaming about the excitement of having another child, wondering what the “Gina Ford” schedule would be with two on the go. Maybe a sedative?
Would the next one be a girl or a boy, what names would we think of, Charlie? Angus? Laura? Lucy? Lump? Lump? Lump??????? And that’s when I felt it……. a lump. “Mmm, this is strange, I’m not sure if it’s meant to be here.”

All of sudden, I’m out of the shower and sitting two weeks later in a waiting room with  women 20 years my senior, watching  Kerry Packer’s funeral on the television.  As I watched the funeral guests sing C’mon Aussie C’mon in honour of Mr Packer, I made a mental note to myself, …..Don’t’ go to mammogram on your own in future…. Don’t watch a funeral while waiting to be called……. and for god’s sake….. Don’t let bogons choose your music for your own funeral!

As I was contemplating all this, I heard my name called, I wasn’t that nervous, more annoyed that this was taking time and I wanted to be back home with my baby. I was asked to put on a very unglamorous kaftan looking dress, which resembled something that Ken Donne had designed on magic mushrooms in a size that would comfortably fit three Pavarotti’s. I know, I know that sounds vain, but I always like to look good when I’m going for my ‘maiden’ mammogram.
As time ticked away, what was becoming annoying, suddenly became a worrying ache in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t call Gary because I had to wait in a little cubicle about the size of a broom cupboard with a sign that said “Switch off Mobile Phones”.  I would come in and out every so often as the nurse kept calling me back to repeat the mammogram.

Finally I was able to get changed and go back into the main waiting room. By then there was just me and another lady. John Howard was giving ‘sad face’ to the cameras at Packer’s funeral. There I waited again, to be called for the ultrasound. What was supposed to be a half an hour procedure, was turning into a four hour ‘worry fest’.
As I was having the ultrasound, I remember thinking to myself, this isn’t right, the ultrasound should be on my tummy looking for a little heartbeat, not on my chest looking for a lump. I closed my eyes and imagined that they were looking for a baby.
The room was quiet and all I could hear were the clicks of the machine as the sonographer took her measurements of what she could see on the screen. She called in a doctor for his opinion. His focus was fixed intently and without blinking, he asked me, “Do you know what this could be?” Stunned I just lay there and thought, “this is why she asked you in here Mr Brainy, not only that, would I have just spent 4 hours sitting here in an ugly supersized 1970’S kaftan if I knew what this was?” He said the image he could see appeared to be ‘suspicious’ and advised me to go straight to my GP and he would forward on the report. Still to this day, I’m not sure why he asked me, if I knew what it was.
Walking out of the hospital to go home with the words “suspicious, suspicious, suspicious” ringing in my ears, I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest.

As I drove home, the only thing I knew right then, was I needed to be home, I needed to be with Gary and Sienna where things were safe.

What I didn’t know, was that my life, Gary’s and Sienna’s life was about to be changed forever………..

Self Portrait
The Three of Us

To be continued…….

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