Category: Optimistic

It’s a sin

Pride

Oh my. This has taken quite a beating. There’s the blindingly obvious loss of femininity that underpins this whole experience. Of course there is. I’ve not explored that topic in depth in this blog as it feels too lazy, although clearly I reserve the right to clutch at the low hanging fruit at a future date. But the loss of fitness? That is something I’ve harped on about as it really hurt me in every which way. It took a great big pair of bollocks to go back to yoga post operatively not once, but twice, and to have to return to the beginner’s class, too, when I had been going to the advanced ones was its own form of humiliation. But ironically, I was incredibly proud of myself for fronting up to those classes, especially when the gremlins were saying “Why bother?” I knew it’d be hard and confronting, but still went anyway. There’s pride right there.

Envy

I’ve noticed people feel awkward sharing their woes with me and if they do it’s often prefaced by ‘it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through’ but I can honestly say I’ve very rarely wanted to respond with a ‘you’re right, that is nothing, I wish that’s all I had to worry about.’ I don’t envy other’s health, rather I am nostalgic for mine. I’ve been envious of all the natural cleavages I’ve seen this summer but again, don’t begrudge others. I just hope they appreciate them.

Lust

In my experience, the human libido is a remarkably robust thing. And because I know my brothers and in laws are reading, I’m going to leave that there.

Wrath

Yeah, been there done that, I was mad as a cut snake for a long time. Once I’d adjusted to my reality, this dissipated. I’ve come to believe anger is fuelled by resistance to reality. Perhaps all those years of mum saying “Life’s not fair.” have helped as has the fact I am a pragmatist and optimist. I feel flashes of anger now but they can be seen off by a good sleep and/or a good laugh. Life’s not fair. But it’s still good.

Sloth

I was suffering with inertia before my diagnosis, however cancer saw that on its merry way. I’ve gone a bit manic, if anything. There isn’t a moment to lose! Which means I’ve become quite good at saying no, even when it’s uncomfortable. Hello boundaries! Where have you been all my life?

Greed & gluttony

I thought I was a relatively healthy person before my diagnosis, and in the wake of it I’ve found it confronting to consider where lifestyle changes ought to be made. Should I become a vegan? Eat only organic food? Give up alcohol and caffeine? I don’t want to do any of these things. Enter intermittent fasting, which is supposed to have long term health benefits. Here’s what Dr. Google says:

Between 2008 and 2013 there have been a number of research studies suggesting fasting can have significant beneficial effects with people trying to beat cancer, halting cancer progression, improving survival, reducing the side-effects of drugs and radiotherapy and even causing tumours to disappear.

Those are quite some claims, huh? So for the last two months, one day a week I eat 500 calories of protein-rich food, and then for the rest of the week I return to my normal diet. It’s not a highlight of the week, but it’s entirely doable, and ticks the Lifestyle change box. Ted does it with me, bless his heart, although he spends the day moping around like a teenager. Here are some other facts about fasting:

Average number of arguments per week: 3 Percentage of arguments that occur on fast day: 250% Kilograms lost collectively: 5

How long this will go on for? Who knows, although publicly declaring you’ve lost weight is a big call. You know when they say pride comes, right?

Switcheroo

A routine check up at the plastic surgeon’s this week, where I received some great news. The good doctor says my skin has recovered sufficiently from radiotherapy to proceed with what’s known in the game as ‘the exchange’. That’s to say the switch from the saline-filled implants – the tortoise shells – to the gel-based ones – the squishies. I am booked in for the operation next Wednesday.

Most surgeons flat out refuse to work on radiated skin, fortunately Dr. Moko is in the minority. I had prepared myself for months of waiting, however she is confident there’s no need to delay. On the day of my upcoming surgery, it will have been just eight weeks since my last radiotherapy treatment. Apparently my skin has shown remarkable resilience. I’ll never know what element of the care regime helped most – the Miaderm cream, the hyperbaric oxygen, the vitamin E oil (that made me stink like a docker, by the way) – but in combination, they’ve done the trick. And while problems could present themselves on the irradiated side at a later date, here and now I’ve plenty to be encouraged by.

It’s a far simpler procedure this time around, and while I’ll be under general anaesthetic I’ll be in and out in about an hour and can go home the same day. There will be no drains to manage, no complex pain relief regime and few restrictions to my mobility. I will have to look after the stitches, though, which I didn’t do very well last time, but I’ve learnt my lesson and will take it a bit easier.

The doctor will re-excise the cut under my right, prophylactically-removed breast and make a new cut under the left, irradiated side (the existing scar runs along the middle). This is disappointing in that I’ll get another scar on the left side, however it’s a relief too because the existing scar has healed well and I was concerned whether it’d hold up if it was cut open again. I know it’ll look okay. I’ve come a long way since my first encounter with the new me back in August. I can recall my horrified reaction and the brutality of the physical response it evoked – self-loathing manifesting as nausea and breathlessness. Yuck.

As surgery approaches, I find there are many familiar elements but the way I feel about it is totally different. The other day, I sat with the surgeon, calmly discussing which implant to choose, round or anatomical ‘teardrop’ shape. She recommends teardrop: “It’s a more natural look, and better if you’re leaner.” Breastless I may be, but I am all woman and am delighted by the compliment. Physically holding them, weighing them up, I had the sense ‘this is surreal’ but this time I could see the humour. The last time I held one, my ears were ringing and I was going out of my mind with fear and repulsion.

Next on the bizarre-but-now-normal discussion agenda – nipple reconstruction options, which would require a third surgery followed by a session with a specialist tattoo artist who draws on an areola. But Ted and I have discussed it at length and kind of like how it looks currently, so have decided not to bother. “That’s not uncommon. Nor is changing your mind. It’s completely up to you and a very personal decision.”

That it is. I want to look normal from the outside whilst living with the no-nipple deformity (horrible but accurate word). I can completely understand how some people would hate to look down and be reminded every day of What Happened. I, however, feel need to acknowledge it.

Plus I can’t be fucked with the extra surgery, choosing an areola colour and all that shit, no thank you.

Anyhoo, I take the well-trodden path from the surgeon’s office into that of the account manager’s, where I sign the paperwork and pay the (less eye-watering, but still significant) bill. I got presented with the admission forms for the hospital, and the foil-wrapped surgical soap I’m to use pre-surgery. Then the fasting rules. So far, so familiar.

Next a new twist: I need to sign the breast register. There is, ladies and gents, a centralised database with all the world’s falsies registered on it, presumably so should they explode at altitude, spontaneously combust or melt, they can do a recall. Here’s another ‘did you know’- a hallmark of any boob job (post mastectomy or not) is a lack of cleavage –  there will always be a gap between the two implants. This fact ranks about 18th in the Why This Sucks charts, but hey.

Later, I say to the man I love over his birthday cake “We’ve gone teardrop, Ted. That’s okay isn’t it?”

“Yeah, natural over porno.” cheeky half smile “I suppose that’s a good thing.”

It is indeed.

As is the fact that the surgical journey will be over in a week. That, my friends, is a very, very, very good thing.

Let them eat cake

Talking so openly (brazenly?) about cancer has, I very much hope, made it a bit easier for others with it to feel understood and those without it to understand what it’s like. So I’m going to talk a bit about the way my relationships and interactions have changed in the last six months.

As you can imagine, I find it hard when I’m treated very differently because of my illness. I am still me and want to be recognised  as such although often I feel as if I’m observed exclusively through the prism of cancer. While it’s a part of my reality, I do not want to marinade in there 24/7, thanks. I remain interested in other topics, even if they’re trivial, hell, especially if they’re trivial. So rather than discussing my treatment, how I’m feeling and all that, let’s talk about the Ashes, the weather, The Bachelor or the kids. Let’s, please.

I do understand that no-one wants to let you down and that there is a lot of fear about speaking out of turn. A lot. Which is not surprising, as it’s an inherently difficult situation. But while I don’t want to bang on about it, an acknowledgement of my reality is something I always appreciate. My favourite response to my news was from my friend Hels who was on holiday when it all kicked off. She called and said “Bloody hell woman! I turn my back and what happens? Couldn’t you make what goes on when I’m gone a bit less dramatic?” I could hear she was a bit nervous still, but I was so grateful to be treated ‘normally’ when life was about as abnormal as could be. Making light of it was, for me, infinitely preferable to saying nothing. If you know what’s going on, and I know you know and you know I know you know please do us both a favour and mention the elephant in the room. “I don’t know what to say” is a totally acceptable start. I remember mum finding the deniars ultra hurtful, especially those she thought were good friends.

At the other end of the spectrum, news like this can make others incredibly chatty. I’ve been on the receiving end of more opinions and speculation than ever before, apart from perhaps when I was pregnant. Have you tried intravenous Vitamin C/the alkaline diet/green juice? Again, I understand why – it’s a big deal and a major talking point but in the early days, particularly, these kinds of conversations would shake me up some. Afterwards I’d imagine the other person going about their day, deciding what’s for dinner perhaps, while the decisions I was stuck with were not so trivial (nor did the ‘what’s for dinner’ style decisions abate any, I might add). At the time, I didn’t want to be ‘fixed’ or encouraged but this seemed to be the nature of talk that came my way. I wanted to be allowed to be sad, angry and in shock. I heard lots of ‘I’m sure you’ll be ok’ and ‘be strong’ but it’s hard to listen to pseudo-positivity without feeling as if you’re being misunderstood. Mind you, I appreciated this far more than comments like ‘isn’t radiotherapy carcinogenic?’ or ‘you look terrible but it isn’t surprising.’

I used to love conversations and being the centre of attention, then I lost my appetite for all that. I found myself in many a conversational dead end because talking, really, can only take you so far. Also it’s hard to hear when your ears are ringing from the reverberating shock. I think in days gone by when communities were closer, interaction was less verbal and more physical. Perhaps your friend would let themselves in to your home and make a cup of tea and simply sit beside you. (Alan Bennett used to do this with Alec Guinness, after Guinness was widowed). Near silence, respect and presence really fit the bill in truly solemn times but our current ‘get well soon’ culture denies that some times are just hard on a (sometimes extremely) protracted basis and there’s an impatience for things to return to normal (i.e. a non-threatening reality). An impatience I shared at times.

I came across this graph which illustrates the cancer patient’s emotional journey and it is a fairly accurate reflection of how I’ve felt, with the red ‘x’ indicating roughly where I reckon I am now.

 Google Chrome

Nowadays I am able to reflect with a full heart on how incredibly lucky I’ve been to be on the receiving end of numerous gestures which speak volumes. Helen’s husband Joe made me a mix CD to listen to en route to radiotherapy treatment. Looking at the track list, I lost it when I saw Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up on there. One friend set up a virtual bedside vigil on the night of my operation and played along via Facebook chat while I was ripped to my non-existent tits on opiates. Back home, friends and neighbours including Marissa, Amy and Michelle dropped around meals. This was always deeply appreciated because it was a true solution to the aforementioned small problems that coexist with the big.

Also, food is love.

Meredith baked me a cake a week throughout my six weeks of treatment. Ginger fluff cake one week, lemon and rosemary the next, followed by Armenian nut cake, coffee & walnut and chocolate & Earl Grey. She’d leave it at the front door and text me with its name and ingredients. This was genuinely healing, not to mention practically useful as it’d end up in the kids’ lunchboxes. This says in a very clear but not obtrusive way ‘I love you and am thinking of you.’ Sue sent me a quote a day – I came to expect and appreciate the cakes and the quotes… which were little pin pricks of light and stability amongst the dark days.

I also liked it when friends kind of forced themselves on me. So instead of ‘let me know if there’s anything you need’ they’d say ‘We’re going to the beach. Would your girls like to join us?’ I think I did reject this at first – this whole receiving thing has been a massive learning curve for me – but they were gently persistent and I got the message that they were determined to offer practical help.

In fact of all 2013’s lessons, perhaps the most emphatic has been how wonderful people around me are. Even when tongues are tied and faux-pas committed, the love and support I’ve received has been … well, you know. Thank you all for bearing with me and lightening the load by reading my warts and all account of this bitch of a disease. And take my hand, old toad, as we face the 2014 road. While it’s fine to hope for warmer climes it is perhaps more realistic to recognise that bang ups and hang ups may happen but because I had the little c and wrote about it, and you read what I wrote, both of us may be that bit more adept at dancing in any rain we may encounter.

Discomfort blanket

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article Job titles: Who do you think you are?, which provoked more commentary from Flying Solo’s audience than any other piece I’ve written.

It described how tricky it can be to define exactly what you do professionally. Descriptors have authority, but also come laden with assumptions. When I describe Flying Solo as a community of independent business owners, it’s often assumed I mean entrepreneurs, when very few are, in fact, entrepreneurs. And what’s more, most are not even entrepreneurial, which is just as well, because if they were they wouldn’t need the support and advice we provide.

People defy labels and their attending prejudices all the time. There are mothers who aren’t maternal, successful people who aren’t happy and psychotherapists who are in terrible mental health.

Then there are people with cancer who are in pretty good shape.

Often, I don’t think I behave as a ‘real’ cancer person is expected to. For instance I cycled into town on the weekend, where I bumped into a dad from school. He clutched at his chest “What are you doing on a bike!!” It was as if I’d escaped from an asylum. He went on “It’s brilliant! You’re out! It’s so good too see!”

If I’m surprising folks for that reason, then I’m happy. It may seem disingenuous of me but I don’t feel comfortable being called a cancer survivor/fighter/victim. Obviously it’s not technically untrue, it’s just that most people’s assumptions about how dreadful it must be to have cancer fails to capture how I feel about the experience as a whole. And it is an ‘experience’ – it’s something that’s happened, it’s not who I am.

As a side note, I don’t see myself as brave either, because that implies a) I had a choice in the matter, which I didn’t given I want to parent and live, for a long, long time and b) that those who perish failed to be brave enough, which is clearly untrue.

As a word-lover I’ve been fascinated to observe how incredibly powerful that six-letter word is. ‘Cancer’ shocks and scares like no other word I’ve uttered. In the UK there was a campaign that aimed to disengage this stigma. It declared “Cancer: it’s a word, not a sentence.”  But many people assume, very wrongly, that you’re going to die. Just like many also assume, again, very wrongly, that depression isn’t a real illness, when in fact it can often be not only debilitating, but also life-threatening.

But the little c is part of my world now so I have to accept the power and responsibility that comes with that. And if I don’t want to be seen as a victim, which I really, really don’t, I can’t go beating people around the head with it.

For instance, the other day after my treatment I got pulled over by the cops for speeding in a school zone. I gave my explanation – that I was from New South Wales and didn’t realise I had crossed the border where the time was different – and could see he was in two minds about whether to issue a ticket. “Do you have anything else to say?” he asked.

I looked over at my branded bag containing my gown and lotion. “See that bag? That’s the logo of the Premion cancer facility. I’ve just finished a radiotherapy session and am on my way to my psychotherapist, who’s helping me make sense of this total and utter nightmare of a year, and he will ask me questions about my dead parents and my children and I will weep and weep. I will then head back home to my daughter and baby son, who are with their father.”

Is what I could have said. Instead I said “I’m sorry, it was a genuine mistake.” And he let me go with a warning. My powder was kept dry.

That bag. Honestly. It was as if it contained the Ring, or a light saber. I could have easily, easily pulled it out and got off for sure. Might I have been so principled if he’d written the ticket? I think so, although I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Brené Brown calls oversharing for attention ‘floodlighting’, because your conversation partner is dazzled and discomforted by your words.

At the psychotherapist later that morning, the receptionist told me in detail about her lousy day so far. It made my tongue bleed I was biting it so hard. The treatment. The run in with the law. “Your lousy day, huh?” I said. But again, only in my head.

Because how can I claim to not want to be identified with cancer, yet at the same time wrap myself in its protective tentacles?

A bit on the side

A previous post describing the microscopic margin between the tissue sample and the cancer was called ‘a hair’s breadth‘ but I’ve since learnt the gap of 0.02mm is actually about a third of the width of a hair. It’s for this reason that I’m proceeding with a course of radiotherapy. This will involve trips each weekday to Lismore, (about a 50 minute drive away) for up to five weeks. I’m hoping to get away with a shorter course, but will need to consult with the radiologist first (appointment pending).

While clearly this will be an administrative arse ache, I am encouraged to hear radiotherapy isn’t too taxing. Short term, lots of people get tired towards the end of their course, and the skin can take on a sunburned hue. But these effects fade with time. Longer term, the story is different. My reconstruction would almost certainly be compromised as the skin, while it appears recovered, is damaged on the surface and underneath. It’s inelastic, slow to heal and not easy to get a good cosmetic result from.

This is the side effect which concerns me the most. But not one to take likely outcomes lying down, I’ve searched long and hard to find ways to limit this damage and so improve my chance of a good outcome. My first search led me to Miaderm cream. Or more accurately Miaderm Cancer Radiation Treatment Skin Relief Lotion. The folks at Miaderm *really* want you to find them through Google. Which I did. It’s earned 54 five-star ratings on Amazon. “I had a consult with my radiation oncologist yesterday as I finish my last week of treatment, and he is amazed that the burns are as minimal as they are.” reads one of the dozens of testimonials. I’ll take a triple pack, please.

Around this time I journeyed down another rabbit hole which led me to learn more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT. The chamber deep sea divers go into to prevent them getting the bends is being touted as a medical miracle. HBOT involves a sealed chamber where 100% oxygen (about five times the amount that’s in normal air) gets pumped into it. Plus the pressure is raised to increase each cell’s ability to absorb the oxygen. This accelerates the body’s healing ability.

The machines are not readily accessible within Australia. Major hospitals, football clubs, the odd swanky urban health farm. And where else? You’ve guessed it: Mullumbimby. I walked the ten minute journey from my home to find out some more. “Hello.” said a young gentlewoman who had the serenity of someone who starts her days with green juices and salutes to the sun. “Excuse me while I finish my lunch.” I smiled amenably. “It’s raw sprouted bread” she said, in a very unserene  voice. It took ALL and I mean ALL my composure to keep my eye muscles from rolling. She proceeded to speak knowledgeably about the range of ailments HBOT treats. “Of all the treatment we offer, it’s the one that I swear by most.” I couldn’t help it, my mind replaced her words with the one that isn’t *complete* bullshit. To be fair she mounted a really compelling case and answered my numerous questions, but she started to lose me when she hinted that radiotherapy was carcinogenic whereas HBOT can cure cancer. I stopped the eye roll but gave her one of my trademark eyebrow arches each of you will have witnessed. She returned to safer ground of length of treatment, availability and cost.

Before discovering the local HBOT on offer, I read a dozen public domain medical studies about HBOT and there is not a single shred of evidence to support the cancer cure claim but there is quite a lot of evidence that it helps heal radiation injuries, particularly those sustained by bowel and throat cancers treated by radiotherapy. So on this basis, I’m going to go ahead and buy a 20 visit pass (thus keeping the staff in veritable mountains of raw sprouted bread) and go on the same days as the radiotherapy. For the first time ever, I’ll be taking leave from work. I’ll be less present at home AND less useful when I’m there. It’s very, very far from ideal.

But that’s cancer for you.

A very big motivation for the writing of this particular post is the hope it can end up helping others in my situation. SO excuse me while I do some good old fashioned keyword stuffing of my own. Effects of radiotherapy on reconstruction, radiation damage, oxygen therapy, HBOT, Miaderm, helpful, improve result.

There is a light (and it never goes out)

I had my first meeting with the psychologist and it was remarkable. Before going, I was open minded but cynical too. But he got the measure of me very quickly. He was genuinely engaging and interested and hooked me in by saying we’d analyse my situation together using critical reasoning. Well played, sir. Well played.

I was able to converse coherently although broke down when talking about Ted and his myriad kindnesses. He remarked “90% of people cry when they’re in here and I worry about the 10% who don’t.”

At the end he gave a summary of his impressions, that I was smart and psychologically switched on (preen, preen – he has correctly pegged me as a Narcissist) and that he thinks in our future sessions he’ll be able to help me chart my way through this major life challenge.

“Shovel the shit, you mean?”

“Quite.”

When saying goodbye I asked “Did I cry the right amount?” and I knew for sure he was the psych for me when he laughed out loud in response.

Given its dominance within my mental landscape we talked at length about the radiotherapy quandary. He observed that my head needs to be engaged as much as the heart in a decision like this and perhaps switching off for a while may help.

Funnily enough, the night before a friend responded to my last post’s crystal ball plea with the idea that I should, if possible, allow some time to pass before deciding.

I see synchronicities like this all the time, particularly nowadays.

Anyway together these suggestions had a profound effect on me. I was able to see the clear benefit of letting my emotions settle and allowing my head to get a look in before making any decision. There’s a three month window after surgery in which I can have extra treatment, so why not use the time?

On the way home, I gave myself the following lecture.

Here’s an idea. How about you exhale?
How about you stop acting as if there’s a loaded gun against your head that’ll go off at any second?
How about you honour the threat you’ve felt so keenly by being more present, instead of half listening to the kids because you are obsessed by stats?
But if you must think of stats, how about thinking about being in the 85% rather than the 15%?
How about calming down and letting go?
How about closing the tabs on breastcancer.org?
How about switching the station from Radio Pity to Absolute 80s?
How about having a beer with Ted, dancing to The Smiths and explaining what a double decker bus is to the kids?

So that’s what I did.

Perking up

Thankfully for me, and in no small measure for you too, no doubt, my funk has lifted and the world appears a bit brighter today. Theo is back to full health and I’ve another reason to be cheerful.

Here’s why.

There’s a dodgy sales tactic whereby you go to buy a widget and you think it’ll cost $100, the salesman says it costs $1,000 and you’re outraged, so he says ‘I’ll give it to you for $500’ and you feel relieved, even though it’s $400 more than you wanted to pay.

It’s a bit like that for me today.

I’ve found out that my right nipple can be spared without badly compromising the overall cosmetic appearance of my reconstruction. By the way does being reconstructed make me the bionic women? Maybe. Anyway they won’t be perfectly symmetrical, the scars won’t be in the same place, the nipples won’t look the same but it’s not oncologically dangerous and keeping Pinky in place is a crumb of comfort  I’ll take right about now.

Isn’t being miserable boring? I’m very conscious I’ve been spraying misery all over the place like some mad toxic sprinkler system. You back yourself into a corner and there’s nothing anyone can say. But of course my grief is legitimate and understandable but, let’s face it, more than a bit boring.

Another small mercy is today is the first day this week that hasn’t involved a long drive north to meet a specialist. This allows a sense of normalcy to pervade the day and I know, now, to cherish that.

Back up the coast tomorrow to meet my anaesthetist. The appointment was made on my behalf by my cancer surgeon Dr. Leong, who we met again yesterday. Dr. Leong will perform stage one of my op (sparing Pinky) and then the plastic surgeon Dr. Moko will take over. It was a full on meeting with talk of node biopsies, a description of the pathology of my breast tissue, the possibility that microinvasive cancers may be found  and a reiteration of the risks associated with my surgery. More of the yes doctor, no doctor business. More paperwork. More snorts of disappointment as I pay for the treatment.*

As we leave, Dr. Leong says “Try and rest over the weekend and I will see you Monday. My practice manager will tell you when she’s teed up the time for you to meet the anaesthetist, Dr. Crilly.”

Ted and I steal a quick glance at one another before biting our lips and looking away. We manage to keep it together til we get into the lift when we start hooting with laughter.

We call each other Ted after Father Ted… whose surname is Crilly. What are the odds?

*I am incandescent with (no doubt carcinogenic) rage at the inadequacies of my health fund’s contributions for this whole clusterfuck, but that’s another post.

News story

So the genie’s out of the bottle now and even though half of me still can’t believe I am talking about my faulty tits to my friends, colleagues, family and the internet, the other half is pleased I did because the reaction has been absolutely astounding.

I have been reassured by a number of people with great cancer-dodger stories. I’ve also heard more than one “I know someone who’s first screening showed advanced cancer” stories which make me thank God I got checked when I did. I’ve been told “I love you” more times and by more people than ever before in my life.  I’ve had a number of conversations that have acknowledged “It’s been too long since we spoke” recognising how easy it is for everyone to let busy-ness disconnect them from good friendships.  Of course when we do speak, we pick up from where we left off, even if that was years ago.

I’ve an ambivalent relationship with the Big Fella but I’ve had people who aren’t invoke me in their prayers, which warms me in a truly spiritual way. After yesterday’s suggestion of being thought of positively I’ve had people assure me not only that they will, but that they do.

I’ve had belly laughs courtesy of my friend Sue who’s taken to sending me an inspirational quote of the day:

“If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” ― David Sedaris, Barrel Fever

And Carol:

at least yours and mine is a respectable form of cancer. Imagine if you also had to go through the indignity of telling one and all you had cancer of the ANUS? Or a tumour on your LABIA? That really would be a conversation stopper.

I’ve also had my significant ego massaged more times than is seemly by people talking in very flattering terms about this blog.

By way of fairness, though, I’ve also had some people drive me potty with their response. One friend – who I still love, by the way –  sent me into caretaker mode (which I am very comfortable in) while she repeatedly questioned my optimism and told me she’d seen pictures of reconstructed breasts and they “Look pretty weird.” Thanks for that, love! She also said “Wow. That’s tough, with your kids so little. And a baby.” Her specialist subject? Saying out loud what everyone thinks but knows better than to verbalise.

I’ve tried poking the bruise of pain I’d feel on my kids’ behalf if anything happened to me, but I just wince every time. Of course, it’s my Kryptonite.

Then this morning , on the way to the school bus stop, Amy asked “Mum, where are you going to die?”

I swallowed hard “At home, in my sleep when I’m very, very, very old.”

Very, very, very fucking old.

Let it go

At this time of confrontation and indecision, I’ve found great solace in this marvellous poem by Danna Faulds. Thank you to Jeanette Darbyshire from Yogapad for sharing it with me.

Let It Go 

Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold, the holding of plans or dreams or expectations – Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide.

The choice to fight what is here before you now will only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts to flee from the very energy you long for.
Let go. Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes through your days whether you received it gently or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.

Take this on faith; the mind may never find the explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward nonetheless.
Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams or destinations.
Let it all go and find the place of rest and peace, and certain transformation.