Bald Barren And Boobless

An honest and comical reflection of my journey through breast cancer

Tag: family

More Questions Than Answers

faith quote
This morning I was optimistic, I babysat my baby niece Eliza.  It was lovely to spend some time with her.  Thank goodness she’s not running around just yet so I can keep up.  After Eliza went home I had lunch with my sister.  It was a lovely catch up but I need a Nanna nap.

I saw my gynaecologist today and was told that I can’t have my ovaries removed at the same time as my breast surgery.  This really throws a spanner in the works as I really don’t want has too many general anaesthetics.  I need some direction from my doctors.  I refuse to panic. I’ve come too far to let panic take over now.  So Lord I give this to you and I know that you have it in your hands.

I’m really tired now and seek out my mattress to rest.  I wasn’t lying down too long before the kids came home from school.  Then the afternoon ritual begins, it’s not a huge amount but when you are operating on empty, sometimes even breathing seems too hard.  It’s about checking how the kid’s days were, considering what I will cook for dinner, working out what washing needs to be done and encouraging home work to be done.

By bedtime I am so achy and tired.  I’m so desperate to sleep that my good friends – Endone and Valium will be necessary.  So many decisions, so little energy to make them, some days everything seems too hard. I’m sure things will feel brighter in the morning.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

exhausted pup
I had a good sleep with some pharmaceutical help.   After such a lovely day yesterday I was looking forward to another great day today.  I’m greedy aren’t I?

Another excellent church service, they always speak to me in a way that I need to hear which is such a gift.  I come home after church and need to sleep as I’m exhausted.  Denmark wakes me at 5 o’clock.  I’m so exhausted.  I can’t believe more than five hours has passed and I really don’t want to get out of bed.

But it’s our Sunday night family dinner so I need to get up.  My sister-in-law comes to dinner with her beautiful girl Eliza.  Alison, beautiful girl, does my ironing, what an absolute blessing.  At first I really struggled with her helping like this, but then as the exhaustion set in, over time I stopped fighting.  I literally didn’t have the energy.

After dinner my entire body is aching, I’m sore, can’t think straight, blinking is hard, and all I can think about is bed.  I really can’t explain to you just how tired I feel.  It is like a beast I’ve never experienced before.

I feel some guilt as I struggle to spend quality time with my family.  This was always something that was so important to me yet being so exhausted I can’t keep my eyes open.  I’m not even listening when people speak to me because I’m so preoccupied with the pain I feel.  How on earth am I meant to live like this?

So I crawl into bed praying that tomorrow is a better day.  It’s my man’s birthday tomorrow, I pray that he is blessed and feels loved as much as we really love him.

Remembering What’s Really Important

Happy family having roast chicken dinner at tableIt’s Sunday, so today I went to church.  There was great message from Robert Ferguson.  I’m thankful for all I learn each time I’m in the house.  I’m sore and really tired, but so glad to get home.

I spend some special time just lying with Marc, it’s so lovely just to lie next to him.  Tonight we have our usual Sunday dinner, it’s family night.  Do you have traditions like this?

We find it so important to put time aside just for the family.  If we don’t do this, the week can slip by and we haven’t really connected.  So, on Sunday night we get together, have a yummy meal and spend some quality time together.

It was only a few years ago that family night was every night.  How fast things change.  Within the blink of an eye you look around you and don’t recognise anything.  As your kids grow they spend less time with you so you need to grab whatever time you can.  One thing this cancer journey has helped me do is to get clarity on how important my relationships are.

When you’re faced with the potential of having less time on this planet, it’s very clear, very quickly what’s important.  The to do list goes out the door, all those unimportant things you stressed yourself out with over the years are forgotten, and what really matters is the people in your world.

So I challenge you, if your wheels are spinning, your world is full, and you don’t know which way is up, stop and take a breath.  Take stock of what’s really important because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Monday December 23rdlife is short quote

It’s funny how a cancer diagnosis can change your perspective. We are madly getting ready for Christmas getting the last few pressies for people. As you all know the shops are nuts at this time, people push and shove and I am super tender. Still going bra-less mostly so it helps sometimes to make some people back away and give way to me.

Marc and I are trying to working out what we will cook, it is only going to be small but I still want it to be special. Although I really need to manage my expectations around Christmas and my birthday, my lovely mum spoiled my sisters and I so much. So much so that many have paled in comparison. Like I don’t want much but to feel special. That may be with a thoughtful card or a little something that you know I would love.

In our family growing up Christmas was always huge, with the entire family and friends. It was noisy, fun, we all pitched in, it was full on. There would be upwards from 20 people, some we hadn’t seen in ages. My family is all very close and we would all slip back in where we left off even if it had been ages. I have 3 sisters who have all had 3 kids of there own and one who has 2 step children. All of which are part of the family! I now have one child and 2 stepchildren now and the family feels the same toward them. We have a “WELCOME ALL” policy that I love. I know it is a bit weird for the newbies for a while but mostly they come around.

I also LOVE giving presents and try so hard to get people what they really want and for it to be a surprise – not too many expectations hey. However, since both my parents went to heaven, we rarely all get together at Christmas. With growing families and the pressure of life, we don’t do it any more. Some of us have stepfamilies and ex husbands that grows the family tree and adds to the complexity of meeting every ones needs at such times. For some reason, when Mum and Dad were alive we all trekked across the country to be together, now we don’t and this makes me sad. However, I am a part of this problem too, life becomes overwhelming.

So I have my new family, (since marrying the wonderful Marc) which is much smaller than what I am used to at Christmas. There is always Marc and I, Alison and now Eliza and a varying number of kids. My step kids usually spend Christmas with their mum or if not they fly out that afternoon or the next day. Gran dad (Marc’s Dad) comes for lunch but is so elderly and in bad health that this is really hard to manage. This year my son Sam is with his Dad for Christmas, so it is very small. Moni will be here before she goes to her Mum’s then there is Marc, Alison, Gran dad Eliza and I. It will feel so quiet compared to the Christmases of my past.

I am trying to manage my expectations of the day, I want it to be special but I am also not up for much either, such a strange place to be. It’s funny how when life gets potentially ripped from you, the importance of such days seems to grow. There is a big lesson in this for me. I want to live each day like we may not have it again, without regrets and without holding back. I want appreciate all I have been blessed with whole-heartedly every day.

Life begins to move on

road w quote

After the Oncologist, my big sister arrives for a bit over a week. Her and her Husband fly in from interstate. This trip was planned before the diagnosis; we don’t get to see each other often so I did not wish to change it.

My big sister has many health problems of her own, she has been to hell and back and this continues on a daily basis. She is resilient and takes each day as it comes. Her husband is an amazing support and they have the most wonderful relationship. They have been married and divorced before and finally found each other. It is so lovely to see how they do married life together.

It is hard for all of my sisters having me diagnosed with breast cancer I don’t think anyone expected the youngest sister to be diagnosed. It brings up all of the questions around genetics and family history. It makes each of them think, “will it happen to me, when will my body defy me?” We don’t have great genes honestly. Cancer, heart disease, weird blood disorders. But in our favour we are strong and resilient.

We spend lots of time sitting about talking and reminiscing. My sister closest in age to me stays for the week to see her big sister too, and to help out me after surgery. So we laugh, we cry, we talk, we disagree, it is a big week.

It has been an interesting journey for my big sister as her illness is obvious as she is on oxygen 24 hours per day. She also needs to use a walker or wheel chair to be mobile as she is so weak and is so much pain. She cannot avoid but explain what is going on with her health.

However, for the moment I have blessed anonymity, which I am treasuring. Soon enough I will be ‘bald, barren and boobless’ and obviously look like something is not right so I will have ‘the looks’, the inevitable questions. So for now I am not keen to even bring up my health with people outside the inner circle.

As we catch up with some distant family members over the week, my sister talks about her health and is quite puzzled when I don’t bring mine up. Again it’s me making the most of this window of opportunity when my health does not need to be the foremost topic of conversation.

Particularly when you don’t know how different people respond. Some are supportive and encouraging (excellent!), while others can be fear mongering, can blame you and then of course there’s those who open with “oh yeah I knew someone who died from that last month.” That’s always a helpful conversation. No I don’t have enough of my own fear and doubts that I wrestle with every moment, please give me more!  Once I explain to my big sister why I don’t wish to tell people she understands, again different people different journey.

It’s a full week, my second oldest sister visits from the Hunter Valley, which is lovely. I haven’t seen her since the mastectomy. She is my sister who has also had Breast cancer, so I feel like she understands so much more. She’s been there, she knows the “what if’s” the mind games we play, the pain, the body image issues, the grieving for normality, the realisation of ones own mortality.

So it has been a big week, I am slowly recovering, the pain is lessening, I still cannot wear a bra with my soft form prosthesis for long. It’s just too painful. If we go out in public and I feel the need to wear a bra, I almost rip my bra off when I get home. Oh the sweet relief when I do that.

It makes me angry that I feel the need to conform and wear my prosthesis in public. But then again without it I get the looks and questions. I don’t want to have to deal with that, I am still coming to terms with what this means for me. I am sure it will all become easier in time.