CRAZY LITTLE THINGS

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And there it is friends. I had to document this day. The day I finally got to wash my armpit after 6 weeks ha ha. Again so much excitement in my house. It was a family affair. Husband taking pictures, children standing over the shower watching me shower with comments of how I won’t smell like bad dog breath anymore and how I can give them cuddles without them blocking their noses, my sister checking in on me how it feels to get wet again. Yes, yes I know all a little weird but for those of you who know, you will get me 🙂

I stood under that shower for 20 mins enjoying the feeling of water washing over me. It was the best shower I had, had in my whole life. The small things in life we take for granted. Being able to stand under a shower with fresh cleaning running warm water. I have savored my showers ever since.

Every week at school my daughter Maria (6) has to write and share her weekend news. On the Monday following my shower; we were leaving school and she said “Mommy guess what I wrote for my weekend news?” So I thought we had started mini lifesavers that Sunday, so perhaps that is what she shared. Oh no not my little comedian of a child. She thought it was a great idea to share with the whole class and her teacher:

My mommy got to wash her boobie

Oh my hat I felt my cheeks got instantly hot and thought what on earth those children must be thinking and what the teacher must have thought about this being the most exciting news to share with everyone. But that is my Maria for you.

And so life has continued as normal. I’m back at work a few days a week, back to running around like mom’s taxi in the afternoon. Doing normal things that I was doing before. I also feel like there is this expectation of ok right thats it you are done with your treatment, you not sick anymore lets move along now.

I wont lie I still take strain and feel tired by mid day and could easily take a nap. I have to keep reminding myself of what my body has been through and how I need to take it easy, ease myself back into the normal routine of life but then there is the flip side that life has been in limbo for the last 10 months and I am chomping at the bit to get all the things I had been thinking about doing while lying sick in bed, I can do them now. I need to find a balance to it all.

The next 2 years is critical in my healing process. No more stressing, eating healthy, exercising and most importantly living in my truth.

All along I have been concerned about get Lympodema. Lymphedema is a disease process of the lymphatic system where abnormal accumulation of protein and water develop the interstitial tissue spaces of the body. Basically a swelling in the limbs, face or body. Because I had 21 lymph nodes taken out of my armpit this was very likely to happen.

I noticed the other morning while getting dressed that my arm looked a little bigger than the other, not hugely so but fatter. My sweet husband Vince said that because I had put on a little weight it was likely to look like that. But I knew that it was Lymphodema. So now I am walking around with a compression sock on my arm and verrrry verrrrry preeeeetty one. It even has a lace finish at the top. I’m not that fazed about it yet as it’s not really that bad just got to keep doing my drainage and exercises to keep it at bay.

There is an american company that does a tattooed looking arm sock. www.lymphedivas.com.  I think this is such a unique idea and really adds something fun to having to wear this all day.  
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I often wonder if I will find things to write about but this journey has brought me to some interesting cross roads and I have met some really wonderful people so I am sure there will be many stories to share still.

Looking forward to this new chapter.

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FAITH, LOVE & HOPE

And so I’m 34, I kissed that 33 year good bye and sent it off on its merry way. Goodbye I’m glad to see the back of you. Its the start of my new chapter, this new beginning. The green shoot breaking through the burnt crisp felt. Here I am the new me, the same but slightly altered, slightly different and somewhat damaged but here I am ready to tackle this new life.

My birthday came and went quite uneventfully but I got to spend the weekend with my person, my Vinnie away in the bush just him and I and a group of our closest mates. We both really needed it after the year we had endured. We had the best time, laughing our hearts out, just relaxing; cuddling on a sunlounger enjoying the afternoon sun with an ice cold beer in our hands – this was the life. If this was a glimps of my new life I could quite comfortably get used to this. Watching the sunrise over Lake St Lucia and on that very same day watching the sun set and being grateful to be able to enjoy natures beauty.

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Coming home after the weekend feeling refreshed and super excited about my last radiation and the fact that I could stand under a shower for as long as possible letting the water wash over me was the most exciting thing in my life right now. The small things ha ha.

The energy and excitement in my house on the morning of my last radiation was something else. I think Vince was the most excited. He has been giving me a count down on his fingers for the last 5 days. My kids were even doing last radiation happy dances. I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. There was such a euphoric energy around that morning.

The funny thing was I had felt so emotional over it all. I think while you are in the depths of turmoil you are merely trying to survive each day’s trouble. Taking 1 day at a time but when you start seeing the light of day, looking back those heavy emotions come flooding back.  My goodness if I look at what I have been through, what I have faced and how on earth did I actually manage to get through it all has amazed me. Yes I was strong and yes I was a warrior but there were definately days that I felt defeated, felt like I just couldn’t anymore. The thought of facing another chemo, just the thought alone would put me into a spin. And so I am facing these emotions now.

The morning of my radiation I gave Vince a hug and thanked him for his unconditional love and support. He never faultered in front of me. He was my rock, never ending smiling face and encouragement, he is my person. I thanked and hugged Carly my sister for her unconditional love, for the way she stepped up to fill the roll as “mother” when I was sick in bed, for never missing 1 single appointment or treatment. I hugged each of my girls for their unconditional love and for being the bravest little girls through this all.

And I am sending out hugs through the wifi airwaves too all my family near and far for their love and support. More hugs to my bestie Alison, forrest without you keeping me sane I actually don’t know!!! Hugs to Pauline for the love and Moet ;). Hugs to each and everyone of my friends for the meals cooked, the visits, the messages of encouragement and of course unconditional love. Man oh man how does a person do it on their own because without all these special people in my life this road would have been so much more difficult to walk. I love you all and thank you from the deepest part of my fragile heart ❤

And so back to radiation……….. I got undressed and lay down on the radiation table for the very last time. The machine did its usual clicking and whirring and buzzing and boom it was over. IT WAS ALL OVER. How did I feel? I actually wasn’t sure to be honest. Over the moon it was over yet scared that I needed to carry on with life. Also the security blanket of seeing my oncologist every week wouldn’t be there. I only see him again in 6 weeks. What on earth was I going to do till then? Yes and so my overthinking brain did what it does best………..

These are the beautiful people that have seen me through the last 10 months of treatment. They were there as well when my mom was sick so I have gotten to know them better over the last year. The oncology nurses: Rene (right of me), Babitha (left of me), Linda (missing). The pharmacist who mixed up my cocktails: Jenny (far left), and last but not least Candice (far right) the lady that did my bloods every week. And then the radiation team: Esmaree (left), Kevashnie (right), Nigel (missing). These are my people that I have become very attached too. I have gotten to know them on a personal level, they are like my family. Thank you to them too for all the tenderness and care they showed throughout my treatment as well as my mom’s.

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I made myself a little collage of the last 10 months of each treatment and its damn scary what I have put my body through. The fact we have to make ourselves sick to make us better but I would do it again if it means saving my life

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I started this journey scared out of my wits and slowly through the processes have become calmer and calmer about the whole situation. I read something that another woman with cancer wrote and I found that is really resonated with me. It perfectly describes what I feel:

Greek philosophers called ataraxia, a suspended kind of calm in which you can find a surprising strength.

So I sat at my computer for a long while not really knowing what to write about this last little leg of my journey but here I am 1000 words down and I suppose once I got started there was no stopping me.

Can’t wait for that damn shower…………

OH BROWS AND LASHES WHERE ART THOU

I danced with the red devil and tango’ed with taxol and by some miracle managed to keep my eyelashes and eyebrows. I have been quite proud about this fact and often make sure I mention it when people ask me about hair falling out. It really funny how people ask actually “Um Cands did ALL your hair fall out EVERYWHERE” ha ha um well YES expect for my eyebrows and eyelashes of course.

But I wasn’t going to be the lucky one that got to keep her brows and lashes. As I started radiation I started feeling dangling lashes/brows and low and behold bit by bit these little buggars came out but the silver lining here is as they were falling out so they were growing back. So I now have 2 half brows and 3 or 4 long lashes left on each eye with little stumpy lashes pushing their way through. I went out to a party and tried to apply my mascara and there were little stubby eyelashes and I laughed myself silly as I was trying so desperately to make them long without poking the mascara brush into my eye but they were having non of it.

So all this hair loss including brows and lashes is quite challenging on a self confidence or self esteem level. It really pushes people to start really and truly loving themselves. No golden locks to straighten, or style, no eyebrows to tint, no lashes to make thicker or darker or longer just a bare face with straggly hair sticking out from your very white and bare skull and eyes that have no frame. To truly turn inwards and love yourself for who you are and not what you look like. Often during treatment and especially chemo you are so pale almost see through with dark rings under your eyes with no hair or brows and lashes and to look at yourself in the mirror is one of the hardest things to do. To see yourself like that it really does teach you to dig deep into that self esteem. And to drop judgement of your self and others.

I read something on another blog about eyebrows and I have to share this as it was so funny:  http://cancercans.com/2015/05/18/an-ode-to-eyebrows/

AN ODE TO EYEBROWS 

Oh, eyebrows!

You divinely clustered tresses,

Come back!

Forgive my past transgressions

With pointed tweezers and molten wax;

For every time I uprooted you so harshly.

Please,

Look beyond all my churlish cursing!

You were never too sparse, never too unruly.

You were beautiful!

Oh, eyebrows!

You sleek, sweeping curves,

Come back!

Forget about the times I queried your essentiality!

It is clear to see,

Of facial hairs, you reign supreme!

No beard, moustache or eyelash can compete

With your power to frame, to flatter

An otherwise pallid face.

I feel so bare,

I look so oddly undressed,

So alien.

Oh, eyebrows!

You graceful arches of expression,

Come back!

Without your delicate form,

I cannot truly convey

My feelings to the world!

You are the adjunct to my speech:

A slow lift for bewilderment,

A deep furrow for rage,

A soft angle for scepticism,

Subtle expressions of my unsaid thoughts.

Oh, eyebrows!

You delicate contours of thought,

Come back!

I would give anything to have you

Festoon the bony ridge

Atop my eyes once more.

You’ve left me alone,

Exposed to gawps and stares.

There is no way to belie my illness,

Or feign my way to health

Now that you have jumped ship!

Oh, eyebrows!

My bushy beauties!

Please,

Come back!

Here are a few wacky looking shots of celebs without eyebrows to make you giggle:

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Good for our souls to have a good old laugh and I found this so funny.

So the count down is on for radiation. I am halfway through and quite excited and scared about the end. I have requested that I have a final CT scan after all my treatment that when I have officially finished I know that as it stands that I am clear. I do really hope I am not that person that lives from follow up appointment to follow up appointment. I really do hope I can start living my “new normal” life and enjoying it all.