Although a lot of living with cancer is crap, there are some good times to be had. Living with cancer is responsible for changing peoples thinking, re-prioritising what they want to spend their time doing. Last Wednesday I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend the home birth of my best friends third baby. As soon as I got the call (in true birth fashion, 5am!) I was in the car, slipping and sliding down to Bega from Canberra, a 3 hour trip, only to get a little surprise when I arrived. That the baby was born after only 2 hrs labour! The proud father and little fella greeted me at the door and what followed was two of the most loved filled days I think I've had in a while. Nothing compares to being around to bond with a new baby, help your friends out and enjoy precious family time. To top of my great few days I've spent two lazy days in the little coastal town my parents live in, bonding with my blood family, discussing the always just out of reach possibilites of moving there permanently. My funny father decided it would be a nice idea to take me round the town looking at rentals, vacant blocks and "affordable" houses for sale. Nothing beats my mum's cooking and I dare say tomorrow when I make the long trek back up the mountain, it's going to be very hard to rationalise that my little life of part time work, share housing for too much rent and trying to fit time in with busy working friends is a better place for me to be instead of the easy-peasy semi-retired lifestyle living down the coast offers. It's not always sensible to make decisions for quality of life (trust me, I've been doing that for a few years now) but it's so nice to think it will all work out when you dream of it.
If I didn't have cancer I dare say I wouldn't feel I have to right to just go do things and explain later. Society makes it very hard to put relationships above work as a priority, but it does recognise that when cancer is going to shorten a persons life, relationships and great experiences are among the most important things. I'll be poor for a little while but who cares! I GOT TO HUG A NEW BORN BABY, MY BEST FRIENDS AND MY MUM AND DAD. Yay!!
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Hi, my sister has recently been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. She is up to her 2nd cycle of chemo. I don't remember the name of the drugs she's on sorry, one of them is red though and its made her hair fall out really quickly. Whatever it is, if you've had it to I admire your bravery. She got really sick in her last cycle, to keep going for the whole seven months is crazy and very brave. She had surgery on the roughl 3cm tumour and the scan after her surgery showed no visible cancer anywhere. Despite this, her surgeon reccommended 6 cycles of chemo and then a high number of radiation treatments to increase the odds of no recurrence. They reckon that after all that gruelling, super hard treatment, the cancer is not likley to come back for at least 20 years.
It sounded to me like a juvenile criminal who gets a tough sentence to discourage them from re-offending. ;)
Getting a second opinion is a good idea if you are concerned about anything at all to do with cancer. Two heads are better than one, not every oncologist approaches things the same way, you may need to find one who has the same approach as you would like to have and at the very least you can sleep a bit better having chased it up.
Fear about finishing treatment and what happens after is very normal. Talk to you GP about how worried you are, maybe they know a counsellor who specialises in chronic illness you can chat to. The niggly thought about if the cancer will come back (if it's even gone away) and will treatment work in the future is a hard thing to live with, talking to someone about how to live a full and happy life in spite of that can really help keep it just a niggle and not an all consuming pain in the ass.
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Thanks for the comments and for reading my blatherings. You are very kind :)
So, today presented a new realisation by way of work. I have recently started a new job packing tea. Sounds menial but I am getting great joy from the pleasant work environment and the chances at physical and mental challenges that only come from repetitive, low stress tasks. eg: "I packed 4kg's of tea in 1 hr, lets try for 6 this time, if I do it, I'll shout myself a pie for lunch. Yay".
Anyway, I have a boss right, and thought that was the deal. Me, the worker, he, the boss. Yes, I spend the most time packing the tea, yes I am good at it, (perhaps better than the other team members who come out on a rostered day whereas I'm there everyday). But silly me, I was sort of unaware that I was in charge of the packing of the tea.
I don't feel comfortable "managing" other people. Preferring to labour under the title of Pleb, and only go for low responibility jobs where possible. And when put in charge I faff about, unsure of myself and try the good old democracy method, which although friendly, doesn't get much work done.
So imagine my dismay when it dawned on me that I was actually in the role of oversee'er of the other tea packers, and am responible for them doing a quality job correctly and efficiently!
After subtly confirming this "new" role with my lovely boss (not wanting him to cotton on that there was no oversee'ing being done up to this point, potentially increasing mistakes), it set off a flurry of internal dialogue. A chain of thought examining the reason I have this fear of being in charge at work.
I realised today that throughout my little life I have been told again and again that I have leadership potential and this was the case when I was in school and a young adult, directing community theatre and captaining sports teams and the like. Then something changed somewhere. Perhaps, in spite of this perception other had of me, I have avoided being in charge of things as a grownup. Perhaps it was the severe beating my self esteem took in high school or I've picked up along the way some deep resentment of being told what to do that only manifests itself when the shoe is on the other foot.
Perhaps its all these things, but I realised that it's also something else..
I am afraid that if I am given a role of responibility at work, it will be so much harder to go to my boss and tell them that I can't work or have to quit due to more surgery, more treament or just plain needing more time to spend with family and friends and experience life because I have cancer. When people depend on you, it's so upsetting to have to let them down, that's why I avoid being in a position where that may happen, like being in charge of a team at work. In relationships too I guess, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.
The more indispensible I am, the more I want to run so that cancer doesn't ruin things for my workmates, especially the people who are kind enough to give me a job in the first place. Leaving a small role only leaves a small hole, right?
I know that I'm being silly, having to leave a job, even one where nothing depends on you, is annoying for employers anyway. I've just had to leave so many, and really good ones too, because of cancer that it makes me dread having to do it again. And I really like this one! I have had quite a few jobs since being diagnosed, all had to end due to cancer. I feel like I've had to start again so many, many times and often wonder what my life would be like if my body allowed me to keep a job longer that a year. (No doubt not sitting in a shabby old house, huddled under 5 blankets because the heating is too expensive to run, after a nourishingly cheap dinner of instant noodles, tinned tuna and steamed broccoli, he he)
To sum up, I'm facing my fear and grasping onto this new level of responsibility, and will ask my boss to help me work on my management skills. It's time I was a proper grownup and utilised my potential, improved myself. I can't be afraid of what will happen sooner or later. I have a good job, an understanding boss and the confidence that I will know my physical limits. And if I have to start again, so be it.
A little advice to round off - Try not to base decisions on what might happen, base them on what is happening now and where you would like to be tomorrow. Often the direction we chose makes things happen anyway. Might is a very silly word!
Goodnight, hope you all have a good day at work tomorrow - I believe I will. xxxooo
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I'm planning to use this as my little diary and will endeavour to be as routine as I can when adding entries.
Let's start with yesterday, good a place as any. Live in the now I always say.. And it was a big day. Wish it was May, then I could rhyme my way, hey :)
My older sister got married yesterday. To a very nice fella. I was a bridesmaid and looked totally fabulous. She was beautiful and wore a pretty blond wig as she shaved her head because she started chemo 4 weeks ago for breast cancer. What are the odds of two sisters getting 2 different types of cancer with seemingly no genetic red flags??
Anyway, it was a beautiful wedding. Today I crashed big time emotionally however, having worked really hard at work and also with the preparations for the big day for the last few weeks, as well as helping her through her first treatment cycle.
Hmm, crashed big time. As in pulling over and crying in the car on the way home, eating a whole packet of maltesers and seriously sizing up the liquor cabinet. (ended up selecting a cup of tea instead!)
Spending time with relatives is what tipped me over the edge I think. I'm usually quite composed despite the dark cancer cloud always following me around. It's those pitying, inquisitive looks. The talk of marriage, children, future, floating past my painted on smile all night. As well as the subtle tone of surprise when they say "you're looking so well!" On a big night like that, what do they expect? That I won't hide the dark eyes and pale skin, that I'll pop pills every half hr to keep myself pain free??
No, on a special occasion I'll ensure that I'm a normal, cancer-free member of society thanks. Just for one night at least I can try and forget what I'm living with.
It was nice to see everyone anyhow. They're a great bunch my family. Lots of laughter all round. It felt good. I am glad I have a long time to go so I can catch up with them more. I feel they think I'm pretty special. That feels good too.
Changing the topic, I've been wondering lately if there is anyone else out there in the same boat as me? I have had ovarian cancer for five and a half years now. I was diagnosed when I was 23 with stage III. I've had a full hysterectomy and a bowel resection. My cancer is slow growing and I am still pretty healthy all told. I'm very lucky it seems as the more people I talk to the more I hear that women don't live with ovarian cancer very long, they're either cured or they die within five years. If you read this and can tell me any different, I'd love to hear from you.
Well good night. I'll write again soon.Good things mostly I hope. xoxo
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.