There’s no place like HOME!

My little Fairy dressed as Dorothy.
“There’s no place like home.”

Well 6 rounds of chemo done for the year! I started in summer time and now it’s spring, good ‘hair growing weather’ I guess.

So after about 26 rounds of chemo to date, so much surgery that only when I see a scar on my body, I vaguely remember what it was for. And of course the most exciting, ‘soon to be’ third new hairstyle. Who knows what will grow back. All I know is that, I just can’t wait to be ‘one of the crowd again’!

This last round has been really tiring even though my head wants to do so many things, my body is just not ready to party yet.
Celebrating the last chemo with latex glove balloons.

Celebrations for the last chemo were a quiet affair. My patient and loyal Brave Man was there as usual, along with some of my troops who came for a visit.  My Fairy was excited that her mum had finally finished treatment and celebrated by blowing up some latex gloves as balloons and decorated my hospital room with them.

My Health Stylist has booked me in for my scan for October 10th. Needless to say, I’m nervous as all hell but will be hopeful that the results will show I’m cancer free and we can talk about a ‘maintenance plan’. We’ll see……
If there’s ever a Google Olympics, sign me up!

So I’ll stay, vigilant with any symptoms, and will slowly work on getting my body stronger again. Lack of exercise over the last months, has not been good for my body. How I wish ‘googling’ was a sport, if it was, I’d be a fitness machine!

Even though I’ve finished chemo, there’s still going to be a ‘bumpy road ahead’. I think it always will be.

It’s hard though, with any little pain or ache, you think “it’s back”! You can become quite paranoid, the other day for instance, I had an ache in my stomach and for a split second it crossed my mind that it was prostate cancer…. See what I mean.
My Fairy proudly shows me how she’s been practising on the monkey bars.

Aside from fatigue, the last few weeks haven’t been too bad as I have been recovering from my last and final chemo. Apart from spending a lot of time in bed, I’ve also been able to get out to do some ‘mum things’, which makes me so happy not to mention my little Fairy. Last week she had her cross country at school, my lovely Troop friend picked me up and took me so I wouldn’t miss out. Sienna, who is one of the smallest in her class, was so determined to do well, that when they called “ready, set, go”, she put her little head down and ran flat out like a cute little hamster on its wheel. Her little legs were going so fast I thought she was about to take off. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on seeing that.
Being able to take my Fairy and her little troops to the
playground for the first time in months, was a highlight!  

The Brave Man flew off to New York for 10 days for work. He’d been out the door for only 10 minutes and I already missed him like crazy. He calls me twice a day and that makes things easier.

Oh and just as I was ‘turning the corner’, feeling brighter and building enough energy to get out and even do a little ‘retail therapy’…. I just want to thank ‘that person’, whoever you are in the world! For stealing my credit card details, buying $5,500 worth of Malaysian airline tickets. Suffice to say, start unpacking your bags because the only holiday you’re going on is into the slammer!!!!!

I’m telling you, whoever you are, you don’t want to get a short, fat bald woman grumpy, I’m sending the big ‘C’ your way….calma that is!

Lots of new things have been happening, including teeth.

On a happy note, my Fairy has lost her 3 top teeth and 2 bottom ones all at the same time. We must look like something out of Oliver Twist, her with no teeth and me with no hair and a ’gloved hand’, no wonder people stare at us with much sympathy.
I know what your thinking… no it’s not my wig!

My Fairy also had her Book Week dress up day at school. She thought she was the ‘bees knees’ because she was wearing shoes with heels on them. Unfortunately she walked in them like she had just come from a long day at the races during the Melbourne Cup. But she had a grin from ear to ear. She went as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I even got her a basket with Toto the dog, although he looked like he had rabies, and had a look on his face that he was desperate to be euthanized. She loved him nonetheless.
My Fairy with her little troop friends.

I went along to my Fairy’s parade at her school assembly.  So I didn’t have to climb the stairs, I was kindly given the privilege of sitting with the teachers. All the kids were dressed up along with the teachers, everyone was having a lot of fun.

So as all the teachers went around the big hall, calling out to the kids and parents who they were dressed up as, it finally got to me, (clearly I didn’t dress up) but sometimes with a scarf and baggy clothes, I can be mistaken as a pirate. So as an awkward silence fell over the big hall and I did my uncomfortable crooked smile, the proceedings carried on. Needless to say, I had great empathy for Captain Hook as he walked the plank.

Blue Angel Nurse Mandy.
A beautiful lady a beautiful person.

And now I have about two weeks until I head down to the hospital for my scan. I’ll see Noel the Radiographer, he’ll ask me as usual “How are the kids,” and I’ll remind him I’ve only got one. He’ll have trouble as usual finding my veins and then tell me the story about how he was taught by an old friend, ‘a surgeon’. Then after a few attempts, he’ll call someone else in. Yes, it’s ‘cancer ground hog day’. 

Until then, like my little Fairy during book week, I click my heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home”, and there’s only one more sleep until the Brave Man comes home.

Five and a half years before……

So if you were not in the mood for reading another blog last time I wrote, you would have missed the start of ‘Where it all began’!

You missed, the Ken Donne kaftan that looked like it was designed for a pregnant Grandma, Kerry Packer’s Funeral, the half an hour wait that turned into the 4 hour nail biter……

Day 1

Friday February 17th 2006

Gary and I headed to my Doctor and she confirmed that the mammogram and ultrasound had found something abnormal. She mentioned that it could be what is known as DCIS, she went on to explain what that was. I think I zoned out at that stage and became fixated on the look of her toe nails that were poking through her sandals. They looked like they had been gnawed on by a hungry monkey, not to mention how hairy her legs were…. I really wanted to give her the number to Jim’s Mowing, but thought that would be inappropriate given our discussion.

It’s funny what you remember during those moments your life is about to be turned upside down. She organised for me to meet with a Breast Surgeon and to have further tests on Monday.

We spent the weekend doing our normal family things, I remember it being a beautiful sunny weekend and we spent most of it outside. Still not knowing what it could be, I just wanted to get through the next few days and get back to our normal life.

Day 4

Monday February 19th 2006

The main thing I remember about my biopsy was being asked to sign a form that basically said, “If we make a mistake, you won’t sue us”, (yes that made me feel full of confidence.) I remember the sound of the device they used to obtain the biopsy, a bit like a nail gun, yes so relaxing!

I focused on the ceiling above and hummed in my head Sienna’s favourite tune from one of her toys, now and again I felt the tears I was trying so hard to hold back, slide down my cheek.

I just wanted to rewind back to 5 days ago and wish this nightmare away.

(5 ½ years on, I can say that I’m learning to live with it, the anxiety is still there, but my enjoyment of life is far greater than it ever was and I’m grateful for that)

Day 5

Tuesday February 20th 2006

It was the day to get my results, because we weren’t seeing the Breast Surgeon until 5pm, Gary went off to work and I spent the day with my little fairy. Still it was all surreal, and I didn’t quite know how I should feel, anxious, upset or it’s ok, life will be back to normal soon. Little did I know……

My mum took care of Sienna as I headed off to meet Gary.  I remember Sienna crying so hard when I was leaving and I felt so heartbroken for her, she just didn’t want her mum to leave, and believe me I didn’t want to leave either. 

My breast surgeon, I was told, was the best in her field. A strong lady who’s manor was very straight to the point with no time for any ‘fluffy stuff’.

From the time we walked into her rooms, Gary and I never let go of each other’s hands, we didn’t say much to each other, but held on tight.

She put my scans up on a light box and pointed out a strange white area that she said was very “worrying”. I wasn’t sure what she meant so I asked her. She had an expression on her face as if I should know already and said, “Well it’s breast cancer.” I stared at the books on her bookshelf, I can’t remember the titles but I remember that they were very neatly filed. I didn’t quite hear what else she said other than, “have you got any questions”.
Remember this cute scene from Beaches.
Such a beautiful movie about true friendship.
Rated ‘BYEO’
Meaning ‘Bawl Your Eyes Out’

I had never heard of anyone having breast cancer, in fact I hadn’t really known anyone who has even had cancer apart from that woman in the movie Beaches which starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. And that sure wasn’t the “happily ever after” ending that I remember. The only thing I could think of asking was, “Am I going to die?”

I can’t even recall her answer, but I guess it was no because I’m still here.

The next step was more tests, she said she just wanted to check if any of the cells had “wandered off into any other parts of my body.” She explained that because they had found infected lymph nodes, I would commence chemotherapy the following week or she would cut the lump out.

I remember her and her nurse commenting on how calm I was and all I could say to them was, “You’re telling me all this, but it feels like you’re telling me about another girl, not me.” I couldn’t cry, I was so convinced that they were mistaken.

Gary and I sat in the park opposite the hospital and tried to absorb what we had just been told. We were numb with shock and our hearts were breaking. I wanted so much to cry but tears wouldn’t come.

Day 7

Wednesday February 21st 2006

Today I went for my full body bone and cat scan. As I lay there for 45 minutes whilst the machine was an inch away from my body, slowly scanning all my bones, I again sing in my head, Sienna’s favourite little tune. My little mind voices are squabbling with each other, “I have cancer”, “No you don’t”, “I might die”, “No you won’t”, “Don’t say the ‘C’ word”, “Cancer, cancer, cancer”, “Stop it, it’s just a bad case of tonsillitis.” From then on, no one was to mention the ‘C’ word, it was just tonsillitis.

Finding my beautiful Gary having a quiet cry on his own tonight, broke my heart even more, I cried and things started to seem a bit more real.
It would be no suprise that this was my cat named Sylvester.
May his little whiskers rest in peace.

We still had another 24 hours to wait until we found out the full extent. I couldn’t pray to God, but I did send a special message, to my sister, grandparents three dead cats, Henry the dog and my twin fish Ernie and Bert, hoping that somehow they could hear me.  
Ernie and Bert look a like

That night I took a sleeping tablet, Gary found me asleep sitting upright on the couch, with the phone in one hand and Sienna’s baby monitor in the other, clearly I didn’t read the label, “take sleeping tablet and go straight to bed”! He put my pj’s on me and tucked me into bed.

We held hands all night and when I would wake crying, he’d hold me even tighter.   

Day 8

Thursday February 22nd  2006

In the morning I had one last test, an ultrasound of the stomach. How I wished so much this was all a dream, and the ultrasound was to look for a baby’s heartbeat.

I remember it being beautiful sunny day as we drove to my breast surgeon’s rooms, and I thought this was a good omen for good results. My little mind voices were playing absolute havoc with my mental state and my stomach was doing more back flips than a Cirque du Soleil dance troop. “It’s going to be ok”, “No it’s spread everywhere”, “Stop it you don’t know, it’s going to be ok”, “Well at least to a couple of organs”, “No it’s not my destiny”….

The first thing my breast surgeon said to me as she walked in was, “Good news”.

Henry our loyal Faily Dog.
I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time, kiss her, kiss Gary, kiss myself. Ten minutes before I was sitting in the waiting room crying, convinced that I was going to die. Positivity wasn’t my best trait at that point.

To know that there is hope after you have been told something very, very, dark could be about to happen was unbelievable. Although our ‘journey’ (intensely dislike that word) was just beginning, I really thought the ‘hardest part was over’.  

I was told surgery and then chemotherapy. The first thing that popped into my head was, imagine all the weight I’m going to lose and I’ll get to fit into my skinny jeans again!

Before I went to sleep that night, I quietly sent a message to the stars. Thank you Megan, Papa, Mang, Grandma, Grandpa, Mepsy, Pebbles, Sylvester, Henry the dog and Ernie and Bert, maybe they did have something to do with my good results? Who knows?
‘Last Supper’, March 2006.
Celebrating love and friendship with my troops, just before I commenced my first chemotherapy.

Next step, protecting my fertility!

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