Thursday, March 29, 2012

Out of surgery

It's Anna again. These are my daughter's toes. The polish is a little worse for wear at the moment - a bit like Annie feels this morning.

The surgery went well. They took her breast and lymph nodes and she will be in hospital for a while as more tests have to be done. But she is in good spirits and is delighted with the rainbow toed encouragement from around the world. (She mentioned that the $2 colours in Target at the moment are really shiny and opaque - get thee to Target!)

She painted her sister's toes while she was waiting yesterday, and even though she had to remove her polish for surgery, that same sister will be repainting them for her today. She thinks they look sad without the colour. I think she's right. And it feels good to do something.

I will be printing out your messages to show her asap.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Today's the day

Hi. It's Anna here.

Annie asked me to come on today and post the video below. It's a song she heard on the radio on the way to the hospital the other day. I don't even think she knows that the video is of a flashmob dancing to the song. But how appropriate is that?!!! I know she has been so touched by all of your lovely comments, and I'm now picturing us as part of a supportive 'blogmob' that is holding her close. Perhaps not in bikini tops though.

She received her results yesterday and will be going to the hospital today to have a full mastectomy of her left breast this afternoon. It has been an overwhelming fortnight and she knows this is just the beginning.

Thanks again for all the kind words and prayers you have sent her way. Do keep sending them. I'm sure Annie will be back here as soon as she can (even at the hospital yesterday she said so many funny things happened that she can't wait to blog about!) and I'll keep you in touch in the meantime.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

It's been a surreal and whirlwind blitz of a few days. I do feel like I've stepped through the looking glass into some weird narnia-esque cancer world. It makes you do the strangest things.

The other day I found an old manky Barby under the house and washed her up for Shorty. The hair was a tad tangled...
so I cropped it....
then I shaved it. Just wanted to see what that felt like. Hopefully I won't have her open pore problem. Shorty has put her with the hairy Barby and seems to have accepted the bald one.
Anna came bearing hankies. She figured it is a three hanky event and has supplied me accordingly. Other beautiful friends have come with lasagnes, curries, cakes, pizza, silky eye pillows, dangly birds and vast quantities of love and hugs and tears. The emergency remedy has arrived addressed to Mrs Smiley! and is firmly ensconced in my bag. I am appreciating some new realisations about how lucky I am. Really!
There has been a steady stream of family and friends keeping me occupied and chatting and distracted over the week end before another round of biopsies and an MRI yesterday. We all agree it SUCKS!
So we have found other things to occupy our time in between the visitors.
Shorty is still singing the Rainbow Song. It makes us happy and has been a sign of hope for us since her rainbow birthday dress arrived. We did this to cheer myself and our visitors up,
to remind my girls how much I love them every time they look at their toes through the day,
to give us hope and colours in a bleak place,
and to irritate the hospital staff who don't want nail polish on toenails. Just let me have this one little rebellion.
The manual is beside the bed as is my (appropriately pink) document bag.
The lucky necklaces have had a good workout dangling beside Lefty in the a desperate bid for some magic or at least comfort. The ceramic dove was from another girlfriend last night. I'll take it to hospital on Thursday....

with my toenails and crocheting....
and I'll see you all at the other end of the tunnel. Thanks again all....
Love, Annie x

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Crying Game

This morning I woke up crying. Really. I don't cry much and haven't cried a lot yet. It crept up on me.
Cry #1. In the office of Doctor Misnamer but that was just wet eyes and a quick recovery.

Cry#2. At the reception desk of Dr Misnamer and all up his corridor and treatment room. It nearly got away then I pulled the leash in on it.

Cry#3 and #4. Trying to pick up the kids that day and having little bits of cry almost overflow before being contained again.

Cry#5. The fainty, dizzy one in Dr Hug-me's office after she said the 'm' word. It was a little whiny one that trickled out when she went to find my pathology. It seems my pathology likes to hide out in fax machines and be elusive.

Cry#5. This was the best one. I am still quite in awe of this cry. I won't ever forget it. Doctor Hug-me had let me go and I got the elevator down to the basement carpark and walked to the car with my hand over my mouth. I think I may have been shaking my head for while. Any how I got into the car and put my bag on the seat and before I could do another thing it got out! The Ugly Cry! It just bubbled up and out and hit the windscreen. Who knew I had that noise and face in me? It felt great to just howl at the glovebox and the steering wheel in the dark quiet of that dank carpark. There was quite a bit of howl in there to get out so I let it bounce around inside the cone of silence that is the car. Afterwards I had a deep breath, turned on the car and drove out into the rain. I love rain.

Cry#6. I haven't really had one since then till I woke up doing it this morning. It must have been pooling inside again. Yesterday my beautiful friend in Samoa rang for a long time. She may have spent a small house deposit on that call but it was great. I laughed and chatted and relaxed with somebody who has known me and my breasts for a goodly couple of decades.
It made the rest of the day so much better. The Best Little Mother in Law in the West-ern Suburbs came with lunch and cake and took laundry away. Nanna Lol-lol and Grandad came with bus passes for the boys to start commuting home next week. The big Fella kept way too busy yesterday and looked like he needed a good ugly cry. I must tell him about them.

Last night I took the boys and their friend to see the Hunger Games. I probably would have preferred to sneak next door to watch George Cloony but I had promised them we'd see Hunger Games when they read the book two years ago. It was the only chance I had to take them before all my stuff happens and they won't be getting that late birthday party at the park I had promised them next week end. I thoroughly recommend going to a movie if you have 'something nasty in your woodshed' as I only thought about cancer three times in the three hours we were in there.

Hunger Games is about a young woman who is chosen by lottery to undergo a gruelling battle to the death. She has a brief time to prepare before she is put on the fast train to the inevitable. Experts guide and prompt her through each stage and, unwilling as she is to participate, she just keeps moving through the preparation stages till she finds herself in the arena running hard just to survive. Does this sound familiar? I really got it.

Maybe that's why this morning when I woke up a little cry had slipped out onto my pillow. They hurt my chest when I keep them in so I'm going to let them be free from now on.

Forgive me but this crying song just makes me laugh hard so it's on here. (ignore the dying reference and check out the Ugly Crying!) This one is for the lasagne, Carmel! x

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby!

Here is one of my beautiful assistants providing distraction and laughter for the locals.He had his first rugby union match today and came home filthy, exhilarated and beaming.
Shorty shared the joy.
I thought she might share her lunch if he didn't stop.
When enough was enough there was the gratuitous humour in seeing a small child unable to stand up straight, (we're getting the laughs any way we can today.)
followed by a brief moment of uncertainty
and a rousing request to do it all again!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Random Observations on Day Three

Why is it whenever I get the youngest off for a few days and get freed up to work, something crops up? A pregnancy (bump), a cancer (lump), a bad hair cut (frump)...

What does one wear to meet your new doctor/ new best friend/ person who might cut off your breast? Is there an etiquette here? Frankly I'll be lucky to remember to wear shoes.

Damn! I'm getting a pimple!

I must finish Paula's painting.

Can you take paint into a hospital?

If you paraphrase the poem 'New Shoes' by Frida Wolfe, you can write an inspirational breast poem.

'New boobs, new boobs.
Small or big or round boobs.
Tell me which would you choose?
Like some? So would I!'

Lucky it's my left breast so I can keep using my right arm to make and do.

Why do husbands go into themselves and wives go outside themselves?

Has anyone fed the chooks lately?

I need to buy pies for the boarders' afternoon tea.

Who will I give my new bras to? Can I just stick a rolled up sock in one cup?

I have big breasts. If one is gone will I veer to the right like a wonky shopping trolly. ( They'll just think I've been tippling at pick up time.)

Why does Oreo icing stick to one biscuit only? Can Oreo's give you cancer? I have never eaten an Oreo.

By the age of thirty seven I realised I'd driven through Paris in a sportscar with the warm wind in my hair. (Okay it was a camper van but it was cool!)

For the first time since Paris in a camper the big fella is getting ringlets back in his hair. I like his hair longer. I like hair. Will mine grow back curly?

The original Hi 5 were better although Kelly couldn't sing for peanuts.

I don't want to go to the shops in case somebody hugs me and I start to cry again.

My head is no longer cold.

How much emergency bush remedy is too much?

If I am bald I might get my eyebrows shaped like my sister does. I have always wanted to try that.

Should I repaint my toenails for the doctor so she doesn't think me scruffy?

It's hard to put nail polish on when your hands are shaking.

What time am I on the election stall at school tomorrow?

When the doctor asks, 'Are you allergic to anything?' I want to answer, 'Just cancer.'

The breast clinic just rang. I forgot to cancel my routine annual breast screen and they were chasing me up for the mammogram I should be at now. She said I could come back to them if I get the all clear in FIVE YEARS. WHAT?! This is going to go on for 5 years. Anyway I only have to go back if I have breasts. So there's an up side to mastectomy- no more mammograms. Not that there's anything wrong with mammograms.

I appear to be rambling.


7.15 a.m. Send thirteen year old boys to school with euphonium and trombone for some calmin' tootin'.

7 a.m. Drive 11 year old son to school to pick up USB to finish his powerpoint. Be chided by secretary for using teacher carpark.

7.45 a.m. Drive 9 year old daughter to school for choir practice. Notice how beautiful she is as she walks from car. Tell her you love her and ignore her eye rolling.

8.15 a.m. Drop 3 year old daughter at kindy and leave with a clean day stretched in front of you.

8.30 a.m. Eat brekky, clean up carnage from offspring and shower. Wash hair. Do laundry even though it is raining and the bruises are hurting on Lefty when you hang the washing. Who knew?

9.15 a.m. Ring doctor. They still have no results but will ring back when they arrive.

9.30 a.m. Get a haircut because you feel the need to spend money on your hair to prove that you will not lose it and because yesterday was Shave for a Cure day. There is irony here somewhere.

10.30 a.m. Go to elderly parents' house and insist on helping them move heavy furniture around their family room. Busy, busy, busy.

11 a.m. Ring doctor and ask why the hell they haven't rung with the results. They book you an appointment for 1p.m. Chat with parents and drink many teas.

12.45 p.m. Lie to parents and say you are going to Aldi but go directly to doctor.

1p.m. Wait for doctor. Read about Jennifer Aniston. Tear out knitting pattern for cupcakes hoping it will make them notice you are there. Jump up when doctor calls for Mary-anne. It's Anne-marie, you todger!

1.15p.m. Remain polite and calm while doctor tries to get results. Answer mobile to have son 2 ask for forgotten football boots. Results are still in the fax machine. Answer mobile to tell husband I am talking to doctor. The QML lady won't read the results out on the speaker phone. Thank you, QML lady. Answer mobile to tell mother in law I am still with the doctor. Be chided by doctor for asking too many questions.

1.30 p.m. Walk out calmly smiling saying something vacuous like 'See you next time.' Think, 'I won't be seeing you again, mate!' Go to pay bill and start crying when the receptionist says,'So you're right then.' NO I'M NOT, ACTUALLY!!!

1.32 p.m. Walk briskly down corridor till you hit a treatment room and run into a dead end and start crying more. Young, handsome doctor (I'm still observant) comes in to see if I am stealing drugs but rethinks and guides me to his room to let me sit and breathe fast and ring my husband. Scare the shit out of poor, dear husband on the phone. Sorry, husband. Thank you, young handsome doctor.

1.45 p.m. Go to counter, politely apologise and try to pay. Be waved away by sweet sad faced receptionist telling me there is no charge. Fair enough. Who wants to pay for that news?

2.05 p.m. Find yourself holding a football boot in each hand with a cold head and light as air body in front of large bronze Madonna (the holier one). How did I get here? Have no recollection of the drive across three suburbs. Chat vacuously to school staff at the boys' school where I leave the shoes. Be grateful boys are at school till 5 p.m.

2.50 p.m. Pick up Shorty from kindy. Start to get wet eyes when she runs to hug you. Blurt it all out to the lovely kindy lady who has known and taught all your kids for ten years.

3.30p.m. Go home, you crazy woman, and hug son 3. Make sixteen pikelets because that's what you do. Watch eleven year old eat twelve pikelets. Say nothing.

4.45 p.m. Put daughter in (shallow) bath with eleven year old and go to get other daughter from swimming . See friends at swimming and talk vacuously about class numbers. Head is still cold. Wonder if they all think you are stoned.

5 p.m. Hug one friend at the car for a very long time. Remember children at home. Hurry home.

5.15 p.m. Find bath children dry and dressed- not drowned. Hug husband for very long time. Ignore him when he says to lie down. Fold large pile of towels because that's what you do. Play cards and memory with daughters. Crochet.

7p.m. Fall into a deep and dreamless sleep with toddler.

10 p.m. Wake up and make tea. Crochet. Watch 'About Schmidt'. Look at at sleeping children. Get into bed with toddler. Inhale baby hair smell from her neck nook. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Tough day at the office.

photo by Lala

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


What to tell you?
Not what I expected.
I did think I'd feel a bit of a nancy going on about myself this way when it all turned out to be nothing.

But it's not nothing.
My head feels cold and my heart is racing.

Thank you for all the kind sweet words of encouragement and sisterhood.
When I stop shaking I'll resume normal transmission.

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Yesterday was a busy day of biopsies, birthdays and, yes, bumps. This was on the side of the road on the way back from Nanna Freddo's. Is it just me or does that look a lot like Lefty staring at the ceiling of the biopsy room. The only way is up, Lefty. There were more signs.Having had quite enough of the 'Keep Kate' PR in our local Ashgrove elections, this sign rang a truer note for me. Keeping Lefty is a higher priority today.
Another sign that all will be well was seeing these two bonny boys turning thirteen yesterday. They have grown into such funny, life loving, vigorous people and I love being around them.
They were even kind enough to accept the humble offering of a single birthday cake baked by their eleven year old brother. The offspring ate every crumb of that e-numbered up delicacy.
I came home from needle city to find sisterly love and support and friendship, child minding and cheerful people.
They all had the restraint and kindness not to 'talk about the war' as my Mum says because, frankly, I was over it. We drank tea and laughed and opened gifts.
These sweet people are a sign that all will be fine in our corner of the world.
So I watched my big boys...... being the loveable, affectionate energetic teenagers they are.
They chose to go to their favourite epicurean palace for dinner. Big Fella took this photo on his phone. He likes it because of the salt and pepper in the foreground. It's like them- completely opposite in some ways but perfect together. It's a sign!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hope and the Rainbows

On the way home from the mammogram and ultrasound, I hung a lefty (no pun intended) and found myself at a couple of funny places. One was my Grandma's where she lived in the 70's. I couldn't tell you where she lived without a street directory right now but Thursday I ended up at the end of her street accidentally. My sister says Grandma is sending me a hopeful message. She and I were very close. She taught me to knit.So I popped into Spotlight not much further from there and bought a big bundle of rainbow coloured wool. Shorty is into the Rainbow Song so a rainbow bed spread will be dandy. I also feel a yen to crochet so I don't bite my nails to the bone over the next week. Then I swerved by Ron and Brian's. I had decided not to buy more of these a while back but having just been to Grandma's and Spotlight, I reversed that decision. I love knitting on somebody else's old needles! It feels connected and calm and solid. They are rather pretty too.
There happened to be a bedhead at Ron and Brian's for $10 so I bought it for Shorty who is on a mattress as we haven't had time to switch the beds around.
It is line up Heaven. What colour, if any, do you think it should be painted?

Lala had to remake her bed as she had visitors in her hair again. This Laura Ashley fairy quilt set was $4 from the oppy. She tolerates it but it will soon be moved away from her to Shorty's room. The three year old is far more appreciative of fairies than the 9 year old, dark one. The Art Park yellow one is also from the oppy. It was used as Shorty's bassinette mattress cover so I love it even more.
At cricket this afternoon, Shorty met a little girl called Hope. A sign? I'm choosing to read it that way. Later while she slept in the car and the cricket got wetter, I worked on her rainbow blanket. I may need to make a travel bag for the crochet for the times when I am waiting in the car.

I relish miserable rainy days like this. It was perfect to sit and crochet and stare at the cloud wrapped mountain. These fat coloured crochet hooks are so much more cheerful than the grey metallic ones. Rain means never having to say your sorry when the chillun veg in front of a screen and want spag bol for tea. They WANT it Anna, really!
So now I'll fill you in on the other stuff. Friday was a bit of a dud as they wanted to do a lymphatic biopsy too. The doctor didn't like the machine. After lying there propped on pillows with Lefty pointed at the ceiling like St Peter's Basillica, they postponed it all till Monday. S'okay though. I figure between Grandma's intervention, the rainbow connection and meeting Hope in person, things are looking pretty good here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lumpy Lefty

I probably won't post this. Is is too personal? Sometimes it is easier to say things to you lot than to people I have to see every day. There is an understanding or maybe a commonality that gives a sense of sisterhood without the strings. To the few of you I have known for years, this is easier than repeating a phone call. To the new friends, bear with me.

Anyway I have to have a mammogram tomorrow. It's not the normal one I should have had at the end of the month. It is an urgent one to be followed by an ultrasound. There is something 'irregular' in my left breast. "Something nasty in the woodshed". Hopefully not too nasty.

I found it last week end preparing for the 3 year old's party. I had a shower and for some reason did a fleeting and half hearted breast exam. They have always been haphazard because I have got bigguns. D-cup delights. Harder to find things in. So then I went to the G.P. for a check. I asked about Shorty's tonsils and immunisation, then asked, almost casually, if she could check something odd in my left breast. She did. She chatted to Shorty as she felt around in a most meticulous manner. Then she rang the hospital to ask for an ultrasound and Mammogram. She refused the first appointment they offered and said it was urgent. I pretended I didn't hear that.

Apparently these breast lumps can be lots of things like cysts, hormonal changes, blah blah deposits but we all know what they CAN be. Remember the ABC office cluster, the cricket team wearing pink, other peoples' families.

I have five children. I have three on the cusp of puberty, one in the middle of primary and one just beginning her life. This can't be happening to me! But it is. It may be nothing but it may be something.

My first reaction was to just have them off- quickly! How simple. Being small breasted could be okay in fact. Just don't let it get between me and my children. Then I foolishly googled images of mastectomies. You should never google medical information. It is very disturbing.

My breasts have been many things: embarrassments, bikini fillers, wenches' accessories, pillows, sunburnt, scrubbed, baby feeders and snugglers. That was by far the best and most marvellous reason to have them. I loved breast feeding. I was lucky to find it easy. They've been good to me these breasts. What did I do to upset them? Have I let them down? Maybe I like them after all. They are like old friends- with me through thick and thin waists, I'm fond of them even with their foibles.

Meanwhile I've been starting Shorty at kindy, picking up kids, negotiating with the swimming coach, ringing after school care, tidying the boys' room, listening to a young peoples' literature evening at school, making stew, moving things around, cleaning the bathroom, moving things around again. Keep moving, be busy, don't stop.

It's probably nothing but, either way, I want to record what I felt so I would remember to be more loving, less cranky and let my babies know how splendid and funny and sweet they are. After all, things can change in more sudden ways than this. You just never think about it.

She tells me on Friday if I need a fine needle aspiration or not. I'll keep you posted, post.

P.S. Thursday: Having had the mammogram breast squisher do its thing, Breast and I are off for a core biopsy tomorrow. I am quite nervous. Have any of you been there, done this? Just the good stories, please!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Nest is Empty

Sadly, I had to send this tiny tyke off to the salt mines this morning. You will observe, she was inconsolable...
putting on a brave front as she miserably performed her ablutions.
That decorated lunch baggy has guilt written all over it.
Stangely, Shorty ran to the car so fast I couldn't get a photo of her.
She settled in quickly with her new 'famille de plastique'. Lucky they had 'people' so she felt right at home.
This is me having a coffee... in a cafe... without a bowl of chips or a milkshake or a bubbacino in sight. Alone... having a coffee. I couldn't bring myself to go home. I did a lot of out- of- the- house chores. I caved and rang the kindy.
"Sorry, Emma. I have to know. Is she okay?"
"She is singing and dancing on the mat, Annie."
"Point taken."
Alone again. Deja vu!
P.S. Note the remnants of phone numbers in the new diary. Being the stubborn luddite that I am, I like to handwrite those out every year just to savour and add and delete them. I also favour the fabulous erasable pen for filling out forms and phone numbers etc. However it turns out that if you leave documents written in erasable pen in your hot car for an hour or so, all the numbers turn invisible. Great for spies. Not so great for legally binding documents I guess. Just saying... because I have the time to muse on such things... now...

Popular Posts