I’m trying to be understanding and not throw something. This is how I started a post last week but never shared. I also didn’t throw anything. I just let it go. I know love is shared in a multitude of different ways and I know the terrain of cancer or any disease is not one easily traversed by those on the sidelines. And I understand how we all view the world is sculpted by our own experience and reality. But really. If you know me you know exactly who I am and what I think. Because fortunately or unfortunately there is nothing I do not share. I’m outspoken, I swear, I’m hardcore, I’m soft, I’m firm, I’m flexible, I’m insecure, I’m bold, I’m cautious, I’m controlling, I’m fallible, I’m scared, I’m brave but what I’m really really not is judgemental. Even the things I share about how not to speak to a person with cancer should be read in the tone in which they are intended. If that makes you fearful of how to be with me then its obvious to me you really don’t know me. Just tell me how you feel. Just rock up on my doorstep. Leave a note in my letterbox. Just send me a message. Call me. Just be there. Without your presence needing to be acknowledged because believe you me it is. No one is invited in. In to what? It just happens. But whatever you do, know I will not respond well to judgement of any kind. Especially not judgement and self pity masquerading as love and concern. I want to bold that last line, but I don’t like bold fonts. This fucking world is tough enough for many of us at times and when we are blindsided by more crap all we need from our friends is fuck I love you , I’ve got you. I’ve got your back. And don’t tell me you are concerned for me or fearful of the choices I make. How insulting to me and my life thus far. I’m an educated aware woman. If what I feel I need is a long lunch with copious amounts of pinot gris then believe you me that is exactly what I need.And if that makes you worry about me, hah, how sweet of you but really find someone else to worry about. I’m sorted. I never asked you to. Life is a beautiful wonderful and yes, sometimes fucked up gift and I’m determined to make the most of every little moment without worrying about what you might think. And if you are thinking about me please let it be with regret and kindness because I promise you that’s what I’m doing for you. Because really really, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I will be pleasantly surprised apparently at how fast my eyebrows go back. So said my oncologist and actually I am. She was also a tad non plussed that they fell out a couple of months post treatment but then again it does happen. And they are growing back, all just looks a bit smudgy now. I’m less pleasantly surprised that my eyelashes were also not done with falling out. But the little stubby bits also seem to be getting a tad feistier. I’m a little done with this all.This letting the dust settle is not as easy as it seems. At least before I felt like I was busy in treatment as unpleasant as it was. I was actively doing something. Something more than popping a horrendous pill that just makes me feel old. I’m finding it rather hard to settle back down to being me. Because I don’t feel like me. But I’ll find me. Just like my eyelashes, I’m feeling a tad feistier everyday.
I wrote an earlier post which I deleted because I was angry when I wrote it. I guess the only message I really wanted to convey (but it was lost in the rant), is be kind. This again. Think before you speak. Especially to young women whose mothers have just been diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. Don’t be ignorant. And don’t assume I am. Or they are. It’s truly unfortunate that they aren’t. But it’s condescending to assume they are.
But. This post is a good news one. Goodish. Preliminary PETscan (I’ll write it in capitals because I don’t mind it having power today) results show no areas of concern elsewhere in my body. But. There is now evidence of what appears to be an ‘internal mammary lymph node mestasteses’ in my right breast. Whaaaat? Anyway, now I have to have another fine needle biopsy and CT scan early next week to check it out. Then armed with all this fucking knowledge, the medical oncologist will decide what next. With me of course. But right now, it’s mostly good news. Just with a damn but.
I’m not a fool. And I know no-one thinks I am. And I am so filled with love at the courage it takes for people to reach out and be present and try fix things. You can’t. I can’t. It’s not to be fixed. It’s to be held, accepted and faced. And responded to. And that I have done and will continue to do. Please be confident in the knowledge that I have researched the hell out of this. I have pursued alternative therapies, I have eaten raw food only, I gave up sugar, juiced myself and my family until we all threw up a little in our mouths at the thought (love you for this my friend). I too have the internet and can google and be swayed by those who feed on the fear we all have within us. I get it. I really do. And I so applaud you for your chosen path. It’s just not mine. I am too conscious of the untold stories, the swept away stories of those who didn’t survive by simply healing themselves. And sadly their slavish followers. I have not chosen my approach lightly. But with wisdom and compassion and peace. It is holistic but it also encourages scientific scrutiny. And for those who feel if I had done something else maybe we wouldn’t be here right now, or that I chose this, I hear your fear. But you can keep it. And your judgement. But I’ll take your love.
15 January. My final grateful, gotta love a leap year. I am grateful for a final contemplative moment. For a weak wireless signal, so I found myself on the balcony desperately seeking connection. To no avail. But an imperfectly perfect end to my 366 gratefuls. I am grateful for real time and real connections. They are all that matter. And for them I will never ever stop being grateful. For love. And for this glorious imperfect life.
14 January. My mother-in-law is an inspiration to me, and to anyone who meets her. At 85 she has more energy, a sharper wit, a better handle on a manual vehicle, a keener mind, is better read and more informed than many her junior. In fact, that’s all got nothing to do with her age. She simply is a woman to behold. And be loved. I am grateful she is in my world, to inspire me daily, to guide me and to give me hope. And always a new perspective.
13 January. My friend Leigh. I am grateful for my friend Leigh. For my pioneering friend Leigh. She is a teacher, a sage, a leader, an inspiration. I am grateful for her honesty, her bravery, her sharing, her ear and her forever friendship. She has lived through some serious shit, and that smile is always there. She has taught me there is always a way. To fok maar voort. With style. And grace. And dignity.
5 December. Courteney caught a train from Brisbane to Cooroy to help us with our packing. And just to be with us. The train never made it to Cooroy, it was terminated at Nambour. Shock and horror. I loved the reprieve from packing the journey to Nambour gave me, even though I had no idea where I was going and I knew an angel was waiting for me to rescue her. I was so grateful for the sight of her familiar blue green eyes, especially when I saw the flash of relief as she recognised the jeep. I remain amazed at how much our girls have grown here, in independence, but I also love how young they still are too.
Yesterday was a good day. A day filled with much laughter, far too many margheritas and good honest fun with lovely and at times delightfully mad friends. But a day that also left me quietly deflated. I saw so many sad women looking for happiness, in what was obvious to all but themselves, the wrong places. Beautiful successful women sadly clearly not realising quite how innately beautiful they are by selling themselves short. Women so desperately and so sadly needing reassurance they’ll take it no matter where it comes from. You all know how much I love women, how much respect I have for our inner strength, how deeply capable I believe we all are. How much I know we all care. But you also know how sad it makes me when women let each other down. And that I believe it’s usually due to fear, fear of not being good enough, fear of being left out, fear of being ignored, fear of being alone, fear of not being loved. But what makes me the saddest of all, is seeing women letting themselves down. I wish every woman could know her worth. And know that it’s not to be found in a bottle or with someone else’s husband or by accepting dismissive or disrespectful treatment by others. I wish all women the respect they so dearly deserve, the only respect that really matters. Their self respect.
I rushed in to do a quick grocery shop today and found myself mesmerised by this wonderful older couple. They chatted and discussed every little purchase with much intensity and care. I overheard as she told him she’d found some of his favourite mints which she thought he’d enjoy on the journey home. He thanked her. He wandered off on instruction to return a packet of fresh beans to the grocery section. I must admit I was loath to leave their sweet presence but I had to make my selection and move on. I was down the next aisle when I noticed the gentleman shuffling past heading in the opposite direction looking down all the aisles for his wife. I went back to where she was and told her he had gone past looking for her and should I get him for her. She sweetly told me not to worry and headed off after him. Next I saw them it was whilst unpacking their trolley at the checkout and I had to capture them. I didn’t want to intrude by asking for their photograph. Hence my slightly voyeuristic shot. But it was more my observation of them that I was grateful for today. For a little flash of hopefully how B and I will be one day. They were so caring of each other, it genuinely brought tears to my eyes. On leaving the centre I spotted them again, in a little sedan with the elderly gentleman in the driving seat, as he very cautiously backed out of his parking with his precious cargo. Too cautiously for the lady in her 4×4, who rushed past, hooting at him. This threw him a little. I wish everyone would realise that they too will be elderly one day and hopefully somebody will treat them with care, patience, tolerance and respect. I am so grateful to this wonderful pair for unknowingly sharing a bit of their lives with me today. I will hold it dear.
I realised the other night to be taken seriously, in a networking context, you need a business card. Never mind how bad. It was hilarious as we all stood around with our glass or glasses of champagne the gap in the conversation when my friend and I didn’t whip out our business cards. And seriously it really doesn’t matter what it says, there were some doozies, but you’re nobody without a card. It was such a fabulous moment as my friend and I exchanged glances, fuck, what can we hand over so we’re not left out? I’m joking of course, we really couldn’t care but it was very funny. She offered her visa card but it was not accepted despite being of the most value. And I don’t mean only financial. Anyway, I’ve already started designing mine. Seriously can’t wait for our next event so I can hand mine out. It’s going to be a doozy.