In Sickness and In Health

off to work with dad
October 2011
You know you have taken a lot of medication when you watch your six year old daughter swallow a ‘tic-tac’ with a glass of water, and then do the quick head shake to make sure it’s gone down properly.

It’s been a little while since I have been here. Rounding off my last chemo with a lung infection and head cold, wasn’t the way I wanted to celebrate my “getting back to normal life”. But with a few tests and scans here and there and some heavy duty antibiotics, a few steroids and some caring friends, I’m feeling about as good as a one legged man in a tight rope walking competition.


A wedding anniversary

A farm house

A new hair do

A birthday party

And my mum began her journey on her own ‘medical travelator’.

IN SICKNESS & IN HEALTH                                                                                                         

……. did he know what he was in for when he casually made this promise?
October 18, 2003

The Brave Man and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. We were married on a beautiful October Spring day in Daylesford botanical gardens. A solo classical guitarist played the Cavatina as we exchanged our vows, making promises of being there, “In Sickness and in Health”. We should have suspected that our lovely life was going to be a bumpy ride, when it snowed the week before we got married, only to turn into a gloriously sunny and warm day, the day we were married. I think I believe in destiny now.      

We were never to truly understand the commitment of those five little words, “In sickness and in health”, until 2 short years into our marriage.
happy times
October 18, 2003

For our anniversary, I gave the Brave Man a bunch of peony roses, the flowers I had in my bouquet.  He gave me the same, along with a card with the most passionate and loving words from a Brave Man to his wife. I’m always in awe of the unwavering and patient love he has for me no matter what.

I could not want for anything and else…….

Ummm, Ohhh ok…., if you are ‘reeeally’ forcing me to think about it, maybe a little trip to a 6 star resort in the Maldives, more hair, the physique like one of those ‘long surnamed’ gorgeous tennis players and yes a cure!


I have enjoyed waking up each morning and looking in the mirror to see my fine carpet of new hair sprouting, it’s so exciting to see the progress.
hair it comes
October 2011

The white fluffy “mutton chops”, however, are not so exciting! I remember this happening the last couple of times my hair grew back. A fine waft of hair growing like big fluffy side burns on my face. So my thoughts are either, the ‘FFWO’ (full, face, wax, off) or I let it grow long enough that I am able to do the ‘Comb Over’. Mmmmm, both options seem painful.

So I’m cancer free, gee that sounds good!

A GAGGLE OF ‘OLOGISTS’….                                                                                                 

Not so for my poor mum. The last I told you was that, whilst my Health Stylist gave me an ‘elephant stamp’ for my good scan results, my mum had not so good news, being diagnosed with throat cancer.

So whilst it feels like our family have inadvertently walked under a ladder whilst tripping over a black cat crossing our path, only to break a mirror into ‘13’ pieces…. We know we have the strength to get through this.

Just to make sure, I will also be putting on my ‘wish list’ to Santa this year for a ‘Family Health Exorcism’. I’m sure Oprah or Dr Phil have these kind of gift vouchers available.

It’s strange being on the ‘other side’, the feeling of helplessness, just wanting to do anything to ease the pain and fear for my stoic parents. I’m only too familiar with the waiting, the fear of the unknown and the journey (I still hate that word) they are about to commence. I hold their hands and help them onto the ‘medical travelator’.

I make the first stop with them. A meeting with a panel of ‘ologists’. We had no idea of who was who, but they asked the standard questions of, symptoms, pain and how long had she been feeling unwell. It was kind of like a slow motion Spanish Inquisition; my poor parents looked so little. The gaggle of ‘ologists’ towering over them with their stethoscopes swinging from their necks in a hypnotic rhythm.
a gaggle of ologists
Dr Sienna 2007

No sooner had they swooped in, they swooped out again off to deliberate over the afternoon cases. Within an hour or so, they would come to their decisions of how they would save lives and about the subsequent treatments each patient would receive.

As the ‘medical travelator’ grinds to a halt at this stop, we wait and we wait. We pontificate over what their decision might be for mum’s treatment. The best case scenario would be radiotherapy and chemo. We fear the other option which is surgery. Removal of the voice box, part of the throat and the oesophagus.
Living life with a hole in her neck and learning to communicate this way would be the future, but is it really living life?
We are asked to sit in the waiting room, which is unbelievably confronting.  I keep my eyes on mum and don’t want her to look around at the people sitting there.

I didn’t want her to see what I saw. Holes in necks, grey looking faces, facial scars where things have obviously been cut out. But I couldn’t stop her from hearing the noises, the mechanical voices of some who no longer had voice boxes, the strange coughing and breathing that could not be avoided.

Finally we were called in and we sat down in the stuffy little meeting room.  A tall attractive lady walked in. I wished with all my might, that she would tell us she was a radiologist.

“Hi I’m Dr Kate, I’m an Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon.”

My Mum and Dad looked even smaller than before.

onboard the medical travelator
waiting for results
October 13, 2011

1 thought on “In Sickness and In Health”

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top