Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Our friend lives in a house that backs onto a golf course. The girls spent a little time foraging for golf balls in the 'rough'.They warned us to watch out for ticks but even after a bathe, a hair rinse and a cuddle with hair stroking at bed time this bad boy got through the lines. He was in a bit deep for my tick extraction experience and he was on her head which made me nervous.

So I called the ambo! I thought they would extract it and be on their merry way but they said they couldn't do it and would have to take her to the childrens' hospital. It was a while before the local doctor would be open and she wanted it out, STAT! so ...

There was no fear or nerves but quite a bit of excitement. She had a bed and pillow and real seatbelt instead of the baby harness type that we endure in the car seat. The ambulance people were women who had the same doctor toys that Shorty has in her room- somewhere. 

The doctor wore pink, they gave her a pink ice block and she had a pink chart. In Shorty currency thee are all point scorers. BUT WAIT- for no extra cost you get this- YES! Your own tick to take home and wave in the nannas' faces or anyone else who might drop in. 

"Wanna see my tick?"

Strangely all of this happened the first morning of the first week that I did not have to go near a hospital.

Then the same day as the tick episode we had the ankle issue...

then on Wednesday, the wrist situation...

They told me to stand behind the door so I didn't receive any radiation. 
Murphy and his spooky old Law! It must be a Halloween thing.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Sometimes when they take photos they foolishly leave evidence not only of who was messing with my phone but what other wickedness was afoot. That would be my pristine bedding in the background!
Lala was caught red (and green) handed this time, identifying bangles sealing her guilt!

Shorty gazed into the cup of destiny (previously known as the vase of geraniums) but failed to see the next 24 hours of excitement ahead.

A freckle cake arrived on Sunday from a wonderful mother of seven who has only her last two still at home. They are the same age as my oldest two. I may be the moistest chocolate cake I have ever eaten and the icing is divine. She has promised me a recipe. I promise to share. The little beasties demolished it before I could get a pristine photo of it.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a birthday party and met Bron who was wearing a necklace similar to mine. I received my big blue heart from a dear friend on my birthday the week before and the same friend had also given me the ceramic dove I wore throughout my hospital stay in March.

ornaments and fridge magnets

When I described them Bron told me that she was the artist who had made them and invited me to come to her mum's for afternoon tea and see more of her work the following week. 

Happy pendant

                            Of course, I took my friend who may be Bron's keenest collector.

wall plaque

Bron's mother is a bit of a collector too, it seems. She rescues dolls from op shops and gives them a new home in her doll community. There was even an original Shirley Temple doll there! Shorty and "the doll nanna" got on like a house on fire. 

"The doll nanna" had a few other treasures in her home too! 

We all had a delightful time running our fingers through the ceramic lovelies, drinking tea, walking the dog and feeding dolls. It is lovely to find such creative and generous people in your own neighbourhood and interesting what a small world it is that links us all together.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sugar and Spice and mostly all things nice

We had some plans to celebrate the night I finished treatment. The Big Fella brought home some beautiful flowers. He has excelled with the flowers of late. He was going to make our favourite curry but we must have used the curry paste up and we had champagne on ice but I fell asleep with the self bedder and woke up two hours later to find him asleep on the couch. Perhaps we'll take a rain check. 
My Spice girl, she of thoughtfulness and sophistication beyond her nine years, remembered that it was a special day too and dropped a note beside me when I was sleeping perchance to skip champagne.

 Then she actually came through with the goods if not the spelling. Fifteen minutes, each side!! 

Then there is the Sugar. We found the self bedder had self bedded again but had changed into her posh  frock to  do so. I KNOW she was in a nighty after her bath. It would seem she is self bedding perchance to go to the ball with the Care Bear of her dreams.
Fair enough!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dr Jenny's Office

There is not a lot I'll miss about the hospital. There was the occasional happy surprise when a new piece of art appeared in a corridor...

Art or "eczema"

or when Dr Jenny had her new glossy monthly house magazines dropped off.
With the advent of smart phones there is no longer a need to cough and surreptitiously tear out a recipe or paint colour or fascinating article on Lucien Freud! Yes, I do read the articles.

"Sub dermal mass"

However there is something about those colourful gleaming houses that is a bit intoxicating. You know their owners are either obsessive compulsive or out of the country most of the year.

 "Cells Getting Reddy"

It's just nice to fantasise. See below- the boy with the pie-pod is on a most attractive Ikea covered box thing. I like that fabric and hadn't seen it on my last Ikea run. Possibly due to the fog of drugs I was floating on that day. Ikea on chemo drugs is pretty spectaculous!

"Boy with pie-pod"

I do love covering old Parker style TV chairs with new fabric too, except I went all Betty Beige during my last pregnancy and have yet to rectify the chairs. This one would suit nicely. Note again the accessory dog? That's where I'm going wrong in my styling. I have grubby childerbeasts on my furniture instead of nice, clean dogs.

"Dog with personal assistant"

We have this very stool bequeathed to us from elderly Bob, the best neighbour in the world, before he moved out. One of his boys made it at school and the eldest is now sixty. Mine is drab white and I'm liking this minty freshness very much.


Oh, for an enormous storage companion like this beasty. Where does one find a huge dresser like this to put all ones bits and bobs on in the kitchen? I know at least one of you has one of these. It has to be cheaper than another wall of built ins and we ARE living in a farmhouse of uncertain age. She prefers not to reveal her true age to us. We just know it was around the war years somewhere and leave it at that. Manners.
I could get the chairs too for when I move into my post- modern, post chillun house...when I'm eighty or Hell freezes over! Either way.

"Argh! My pumpkins are out of order!!!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn

Soon we will be starting on a clean slate, at least on the laundry door.  
I just can't quite rub it out yet. It gives me such pleasure!

This is what big kids do when they stay home from school sick- in the name of entertaining the three year old of course. 

I see no three year old in this construction. Nice that he's still not too old to do this and lie in it all day even though it was ridiculously hot again.

There are bush fires about again and they have made the sky all hazy and the sun glow in a very Zombie Apocolyptica kind of way. But it's pretty, right?

Now in tribute to all things burning, this song entered my head in the radiotherapy change room. They should have it on their musak  CDs instead of Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is the perfect  radiotherapy theme music. 

Since it was subliminally implanted thanks to my burnt shoulder bits, it has become what I think is known as a brain worm. Just can't get rid of it!

Behold those remarkable catsuits! Go on! You know you want to dance. 
I know I do!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

To sum up...

It's finished. At least the hard slog, daily time consuming, life consuming part is over. Now we can finally try to feel our way toward whatever the new normal is. There will be some tablets for the next five years, some regular check ups with doctors and weighing up the pros and cons of reconstruction or further preventative surgery. There will also be the unknown. Am I cured? Did it work? We'll just assume yes. What else can you do?

 Best of all I can concentrate on healing for the first time without the onslaught of the treatment to deal with. How did treatment for illness become so horrific? Hopefully one of our children will deviate from the generation that wants to be models and celebrities and find a kinder cure for this ghastly disease.

My sister went to a good bye party for the mother of a friend who was diagnosed six years ago and chose not to have treatment. I never understood how you could do that before I had the treatment myself. Now I feel differently and can see her point of view too. It may depend on what or who you want to live for. In my case it's mainly who.

I am off for my final radiation zap today. It has become less tolerable over the last two weeks and I am feeling very scorched. It will be a relief to stop doing it. There is the strangest feeling of walking the green mile when you passively walk into these rooms to have bits chopped or irradiated or poisoned. It is a bit like jumping off a cliff to bungy jump. Your brain tells you it's okay and you have to do it but every defensive instinct in your body is screaming," Nooo!"

Yet you smile and make small talk with the lovely technicians and doze off to the music while the machine goes about its merry way decapitating the DNA of any straggler cancer cells. Because in all of this, I am still a mother and lying down still for a few minutes inevitably warrants a nanna nap. (I have been known to nod off during a leg wax!) Ha! Hair removal! Remember that!

I remember somebody telling me it's like using a bomb to kill a  flea. I just hope they have bombed the right spot!

It has been quite the experience, a lot of which I haven't shared with you, but for the record, I am going to put some of it down here now for me and mine, should they ever be curious, to be able to refer to.

Ultrasound 1
Four core biopsies
Four fine needle biopsies (unanaesthetised and failed to get material)
Four more fine needle biopsies from another doctor (anaesthetised, thank you very much, and successful!)
MRI of breasts
Ultrasound 2
Radial mastectomy of the left breast and axillary nodes. (22)
Full body scan
CT scan
MRI of liver
needle aspiration of seroma  under healed wound site (the first of seventeen- so far)
Chemotherapy protocol, three weekly, six times on T.A.C. treatment.
Readmitted once with dehydration for IV fluids and IV maxalon
Ongoing physiotherapy for lymphodoema treatment and lymphatic drainage of seroma
Mapping for radiotherapy
Daily radiotherapy for six weeks for twenty five sessions. Fourteen beams per session to four areas.
Listening to instrumental Andrew Lloyd Webber musak whilst remaining immobile.

Who is this person? I NEVER listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It feels like the end of a long, arduous path. Now there is a wide open place in front of me and the opportunity to step through and find the rest of what life has to offer.

I still had to go see the honkologist again yesterday. It's a bit later than I should have because it took me eight weeks to summon the resolve to walk back into that bloody chemo unit again and make the appointment. It still gives me a very bad feeling passing those doors, even that floor on the elevator.

Then there is the bone density test, a bit more drainage, five years of Tamoxifen tablets, instant menopause, burn healing, visits every few months, annual scans, check ups,  yada, yada... It will hopefully wind down into a new easier life with a different viewpoint and priorities. I just want to get back to being the same person I used to be but don't know if that will ever happen.

There are so many ways to describe all this- journey, experience, battle, ordeal, passage, illness, enlightenment. For now I will just call it 2012, my annus horribilis, and try to move on to resume life beyond the 'C' word.

Thank you all so much for your support and ongoing kindness throughout.
See you in the great beyond.

Squaring Up

Today after a long session at radioactive world, I had a final visit with the honkologist and raced to meet my sister and mum for coffee in her favourite Paddo bookshop. 
How appropriate to have this book poster hanging over our table. I do love a magpie and red but mostly my mates, related and otherwise, who have been so fundamental to surviving all this.

 Anticipating that I'll be too excited tomorrow to remember, I got a photo of the entrance to my radiation chamber which is called "the Outback". There are also a rainforest and a coral reef room, both of which I have lived near but the Outback was where I was born and spent some early years. I have colourful and fond memories of it. It was ironic and comforting to lie in there each day getting "sunburnt." These murals were painted by prisoners from Boggo Road back when it was a jail and not a tourist attraction.

Interestingly a couple of you savvy individuals mentioned the similarity between the blackboard countdown and a granny patchwork quilt. It was quite unintentional but I did start making squares when I finished the bag last week and hadn't drawn the connection. So this one will henceforth be known as the Radioactive Rug following the Chemo Quilt and Biopsy Blanket. They are stacked like pancakes bedside at the moment and now have a poetic purpose!

You know there has to be just a little excitement (or is it just relief) at attending the last of the eight month regime treatments.
Roll on 11 o'clock, Thursday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hot Vanilla Teeth

After they finished swimming yesterday I hosed them off.

This may well be illegal here at the moment.  I no longer follow the water usage laws as I have just rediscovered the hose. 

Running around under the hose seems to still be as much fun as it was back in the olden days,

back when a tarpaulin wading pool filled with hot bore water had to cool down so we didn't scald ourselves. That was ironically out in the desert town of Cunnamulla. Yup! Julia Creek and Cunnamulla. The origin of the species is revealing itself.

My clearest recollection about that pool was pouring white enamel paint into it and watching the lovely marbling effects on the water's surface before climbing in with the little brothers to coat ourselves.  I learnt that I like how paint behaves and that turpentine hurts when rubbed hard on the skin by exasperated parents who resemble the Kennedys in looks if not in assets!

These two felt the same way about water as we did, rolling and skipping and splashing in it.

The concrete driveway has many more uses than we could ever have anticipated.

They slept very well- inside the house.

Now to my latest epicurian discovery. It's probably been around a while but I've been in food exile and only saw it on Jamie Oliver's Thirty Minute Meals. (Thirty minutes with no interruptions and ten assistants and the best stocked pantry in Eurocentral and maybe a slightly hyperactive cook...)

This stuff is just plain pretty as well as tasting amazing. Look how it swirls into fluffy white cream for the ubiquitous afterschool pikelets. The Philistines asked why there was dirt on their food! Just eat it!
There should be a T-shirt with the Nike logo printed on it and the words, "Just Eat It!" emblazoned underneath.

Or in the case of the mother who wasn't paying attention when her short one asked if she could have this glass of water, "Just drink it!" Shorty obediently obliged then added as an aside, "I finished but I didn't drink Fin's teeth mum." Thank goodness because we threw the last tooth out. The tooth fairy will have to sell a kidney soon.

But even better than playing under the hose in 33 degree heat or thick vanilla syrup or tooth fairies with bank loans is this....


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