26 September 1949 – 17 December 2012
BEGINNING OF MY JOURNEY
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer on 20th August 2001, three months after my partner died suddenly. I have three adult children; my 18yr old son was in his first year in University. It was a very challenging time for us all, especially my son as he had just lost his father and his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The irony of it all was that we were exercise and health freaks, and I still am. I don’t run any more but I get to the gym three times a week for Pilates, step and pump and walk lots during the week. The good news is that my son finished his university and is now an Aerospace Engineer in UK. And that gives his mother lots of opportunity to visit him. I have just returned from five weeks in UK, Portugal and Istanbul. I get on a plane when I am given the all clear by my doctors.
I also have another type of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. It started as cancer of the appendix years ago and morphed into a slow growing, quite benign growth in my abdominal cavity. I had some serious surgery to debulk most of the growth but the mass around my liver was left because of a time factor. However complications arose when spots on my liver were detected on the CT scan as Pseudomyxoma Peritonei cannot metastasize. A biopsy revealed that the spots were metastatic breast cancer of the liver. So one can deduce from my healthy lifestyle and lack of genetic history of any type of cancer that I drew the short straw. Even though my grandmother had a mastectomy and radium in the 60′s, she died at 92 of old age.
I worked with Logan BAT (Behaviour Advisory Team) for 13years which I loved and was based at Marsden SHS. I miss the professional contact and intellectual stimulation that accompanies researching and implementing ways to better engage disadvantaged youth in their preparation for adulthood. However, I do have social contact with my colleagues and they are a wonderful source of support.
After my visit to the x-ray clinic in 2009 to diagnose the Pseudomyxoma Peritonie, I haven’t been back to work. I sold my town house and invested in my daughter and son in law’s renovation and I now occupy the granny accommodation downstairs with my two little grandsons living upstairs. They are a constant source of joy and a distraction from the reality of my diagnosis.
I have had three bouts of chemo in my life, two in the last year. I have never been unwell because of my cancer. It is the reaction to chemo that causes one to head for the bed often. I try to do everything I used to. Even when I had my chemo pump attached to my port, I did pump and Pilates classes. Working on my core strength enables me the mobility and agility to just live as an active grandmother and traveller. My daughters ask me to climb the ladder to remove the grapefruit from the tree. That is so important to me, to be able to live to the physical standard I was used to when I was well. Exercise and a healthy diet enable me to do that.
However, I do experience some long term side effects of chemo and one that seems to be getting worse is neuropathy, the numbness of my feet. In the cold, it seems to gets worse.
I, like all of us, live with the uncertainty of advanced breast cancer. Saying goodbye to my son in the UK was very difficult even though I hope to get back again, But we don’t know do we. The unknown has become part of our mind set.