Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

On my walk to the office this morning, I counted eight delivery men delivering flowers, chocolates and presents for Valentine's Day. I recalled Valentine's Day a few years ago when was feeling a little bitter about all the girls walking through town with armed with presents and smug looks on their faces. It was at this point that I saw a homeless lady, who was pushing all her possessions around in a trolley. She was unwashed and wearing light coloured pants that she had soiled. It was at that point that I thought, there are people in the world worse off than me and I should be grateful for what I have and not lament over what I did not have. Later on that day, I was driving through the city and saw the homeless lady again; once again I was filled with the thought that I am lucky to have so much in my life. That was until she turned around and I spotted the huge bunch of flowers she was holding. It is now 4.30pm on Valentine's Day and I am currently sitting in the chemo clinic. Some girls get flowers, some girls get chocolates, some girls get gifts in duck egg blue boxes - I am getting chemo. Where is the justice???

However, I calculated that this is my fourth last treatment and I will be officially finished on April 18th!!!!!! Only 63 days left. And whilst 63 days might seem like a long count down, it doesn't feel that that long when I look back to when I started this in November 2009. By the time I finish, it will be 16 months of treatment done and dusted. I feel like I can tick 'Operation Kick Cancer's Ass' off my to-do list and move on to the next item. As the weeks progress, I am starting to feel more and more like myself. My bloods are slowly improving and I am getting more energy. My hair is starting to grow, in fact I was somewhat optimistic and plugged in my hair straightener the other week. However, in my attempt to straighten out the bev curls that are sprouting at the nape of my neck, I ended up burning the back of my neck, so the hair straightener has been once again packed away (but hopefully not for too long!).

I am also moving out of the family home next weekend. I feel that this is an important move to take a step further away from the past year. Whilst I will miss the luxuries of living at home with a very attentive and generous mother, I am looking forward to having my own space. I couldn't have coped with the past year without the support of my parents, but this is an important step to regaining my independence.

In some respects I feel like I have moved on with my life and have dealt with the cancer experience. However, things happen which make me feel like I am in the middle of everything. A good friend of mine asked me if I would loan my wig to her friend who has just started her treatment for breast cancer. Being the type of person who wants to help everyone, I said yes immediately and told my friend just to let me know when she would like to pick it up. My friend suggested that I go with her to visit her friend and we can deliver the wig together. Again, my initial reaction was to say 'yes' immediately, but then I thought about it. There are no photos of me when I was drowning in chemo and I avoided looking at reflective surfaces. I don't have a picture in my head of what I looked like when I was bald, grey and had dark circles under my eyes. I am not sure how I will cope seeing someone like that and thinking that is what I looked like also. One thing that I really want to do is to join the Cancer Council's Peer Support network, which I think would be incredibly helpful. I know how amazing it has been to have friends who are going through the same thing and know what it is like to have your life hijacked by cancer. I now understand why you have to be finished treatment before you can do this. Just when you think you are ok and your life is back on track, something will trigger you and you are right back in the middle of it. The other day I was talking to a good friend about losing my hair. It has been over a year since I was able to pull my hair out in clumps and it still makes me cry. Apart from having my parents tell me I was sick, losing my hair was the hardest part. I think that was the first time I realised that I was sick and going to get sicker.

That is all in the past and I am now all about the future. I have changed my picture on facebook. For those of you who know me, you will know that when all this started I had a picture of Kojack eating a chuppa chup. When my hair started to grow back, my picture was a Chia Pet. It is time to have a new picture of me. So once again, my face (and short hair) is on facebook. In the short term I am very much looking forward to Rugby Union season kicking off next weekend and being able to partake in a moderate and sensible amount of rum whilst enjoying the game. Go the Reds!

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