So it’s been a year now since a surgeon at the Alfred Hospital walked into my room and said you can go home we found tumours, Cancer, so we will be in touch. Obviously when I took myself to the hospital emergency room at 1am in an Uber, I did not think this was going to be the result, I probably would have preferred to have someone with me like family, when I was told.
Life changed very quickly from that 1 minute spent with that Surgeon, who changed my life forever, without giving it a second thought. From that first call from the hospital bed alone, after just going through a bad break up, at the age of 41, I made that call to my dad. Oh god my poor dad, the tears and the shock, in memory I think he was finding it harder to understand what ‘I have Cancer’ means more than me.
From there phone calls were made, friends gathered around to rally and rise up for our friend who has been diagnosed with Cancer. It at the time felt like slow motion, but now it all moved so fast. I never even liked getting blood tests before Cancer, and now I have needles in my arms, taking blood, putting fluid into me, in and out of big machines, hospital corridor after corridor, till I just accepted my fate, never really understanding what was happening.
With no family of my own. I had spent the last 20 years of my life travelling the world, working in fashion and lived in Melbourne, St Kilda, rocking out in red velvet pants and gold boots. I had literally just got off a plane from London 6 weeks earlier, where I was selling fashion brands to the best department stores in the world and hanging out drinking cocktails with some of my best friends who live in London. Drinking cocktails and living the dream and then boom it was gone.
I was lucky at the age of 41 and no family of my own that I had parents, my dad who swooped in and took charge of the Melbourne leg of the race and then my mother who relocated me to her house on the beautiful but very non city like, Sunshine Coast, when it was realised that I was going to need 6 weeks of daily Radiation and Chemotherapy.
This was going to leave me bed ridden for months, ulcers covering my throat and entire mouth, a constant nausea that was relentless and radiation that burned my insides till the outside of my skin was swollen, blistered and falling off in chunks. They were the hard days I thought at the time. I cried, I honestly had no idea how I was going to go on. Those nurses at the Sunshine University Hospital Adem Crosby Cancer Centre were angels, they were my world, the volunteers and the nurses some days just held me while I cried, sobbed actually wearing a nappy that was covered in blood, shit and pus (sorry graphic but that was my life)
So at my 1 year anniversary of ‘that day’ I have decided to write my story for the Bowel Cancer Australia’s Women kicking Cancers Ass program, to raise awareness for young women diagnosed with the many different types of Bowel Cancer. Me I had 2 tumours in my rectal passage, which did explain a lot of things, such as the blood in my stool and severe IBS symptoms.
Mind you I had always had problems with bloating, stress, foods, lots of things gave me a sore belly, I just got so use to it over the years. I lived a very full life and I smoked and would drink daily, I had an action packed lifestyle but I had my healthy green smoothies and ate as healthy as I could.
I did quit smoking when I was diagnosed and my GP told me to have a pain killer and pour yourself a wine, you have Cancer you deserve it! So I do occasionally. My Cousin was just up here to visit me, it was nice, I get lonely, I live with my dog in Noosa, worlds away from my life. I write this only 6 months after treatment finished, I am weak, very weak, I try to look good in photos because it’s fashion and I am vain but I struggle.
I’m constantly telling myself to pull up my big girl panties. Last night alone hugging my poor dog crying, I had a best friend in Sydney in bed late at night after a long day at work and a best friend at school in London studying fashion, both taking the time out of their busy lives, to calm my nerves.
That grief and fear I get stuck with sometimes, I don’t know how sick I feel, if it’s serious, sometimes on my own I get scared I will die. I mean I feel so weak, today I don’t know how I am going to walk my dog, but I will. My friends, like late last night will help me through the loneliness and anxiety, they have always calmed my nerves enough to at least get a couple of hours sleep, till I am back fighting fit kicking Cancers Ass!
So to you special people who check in on me constantly from far away and all over the world, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without you, if I didn’t have these friends and my mum and dad, I honestly don’t know if I would have found that strength needed to keep fighting. Thank you for not forgetting me, because this is a hard road, a lonely road.
Today I will take very small steps, drink water, eat food, take my dog for a small walk and try not to cry in public and maybe with each year that I participate in this campaign to raise awareness, I will grow a little stronger and inspire or give someone strength just a little bit more each year, but till then there are some days I just have to pull up my big girl panties!