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Newcastle, NSW, Australia
The big ‘C’ – cancer: it was always something that happened to someone else or someone else’s family, not me. That was until the 4th November 2009; the day I was told I had breast cancer. I remember being told by my GP and feeling disbelief. I am a 35 year old photographer with a beautiful husband and four gorgeous children: I am happy, I am healthy and have no history of breast cancer in my family. How could this happen to me? Since that day I have been on a very strange journey filled with weird, worrisome but also wonderful moments. I know many of you must be thinking ‘Wonderful? How can you have wonderful moments when you are fighting cancer?’ My answer is we all have options and choices and if we look for the good in people and life, we will always find it. I have created this blog to share my experiences with others, especially women who may be on their own breast cancer journey. Along my particular path, some beautiful women, who have beaten cancer themselves, have been very generous in sharing their stories with me, which has appeased some of my fears and worries. Maybe I can help others by sharing my own unique story… Love Mel xx

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Enjoying the little things...

My Dad has a saying, ‘What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting a different result’. I know that the chemotherapy is helping to rid my body of cancer, but coming into the hospital again to be dosed up with these toxic drugs that I know will make me feel like death for a while, I keep thinking about Dad’s old saying. It feels like insanity.

Today, I am sitting in my ‘injection chair’ at Lingard Private having my sixth and last hit of chemo drugs Taxotere and Carboplatin (I will keep having the Herceptin drug intravenously for the rest of the year). During the days leading to this one, family and friends in a show of positivity, love and support have commented how excited I must be that this is my last chemo treatment. I have tried to put a smile on my face in agreement. To be honest I’m not excited at all. Maybe I will be in a few weeks, but not today. I have the slippery slope of sickness coming.

Today I just keep thinking about how bad the side effects were from my last or fifth chemo cycle and so I’m dreading the coming weeks of sickness. I am so over it and I acknowledge that I don’t sound very positive. Maybe I should just take the rock band ‘Thirsty Mercs’ advice and ‘…build a bridge so I can get over myself…’. Many people have it worse than I do.

Round number five was pretty bad for me, though. For a week and half, my tongue felt burnt and tasted like a frequently used ashtray and my sense of smell became super-sensitive, and not in a good way. Food tasted terrible, my tongue was also ulcerated, and the shroud of nausea overwhelming.

One morning I was feeling particularly dreadful, so Craig took me for a drive to Warners Bay so I could sit by the lake for a while and enjoy the serenity. As we pulled up to park along the esplanade, I could smell bacon cooking and coffee brewing from a local café and that set off the retching. Ladies, if you have had an aversion to certain smells during morning sickness, you will know what I’m talking about.

When you feel overwhelmed with sickness, even little ventures seem like such an effort. After spending a few days in bed or on the lounge, my house starts to feel like a prison. Even making the effort to get outside for fresh air can feel like climbing a mountain. It’s in moments like these, when I desperately want to feel well again and enjoy normal activities like walking outside, that I realise how I must appreciate the importance of finding the joy in the little things. Having the energy to water the garden or the strength take a walk down around the lake, spending quality time with my children or enjoying my favourite food.

People often say to me when they see me that I look well. In the third, ‘good’ week of my cycle I do feel normal again and, man, have I learnt to love and cherish those good weeks. It was that wise woman Joni Mitchell who wrote and sang those famous lines, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…’. So true!

Having chemo again today, even though it is the last time I receive the two ‘heavy’ drugs (i.e. the drugs that cause the worst side effects), I know I am on the downward slide to that foul sickness again. I just have to appreciate every day the sickness finally subsides and take the time to find the joy in those little things: they are a gift.

In my pre-cancer life, I was always busy, busy, busy. I was such a worrier and lived off stress and adrenaline. I have a great job and a wonderful family, but didn’t take the time to stop and appreciate the joy these precious things gave me.

I urge everyone to take a moment everyday to stop and find the joy in whatever little things you are doing and as that famous book by Richard Carlson urges us to do …’Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff’. Because one day you might not know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone!

For your enjoyment, check out fab Joni Mitchell in action and enjoying the moment -

1 comment:

  1. Melissa. I discovered your link through kelli's facebook. You are a truly remarkable lady & I wish you and your beautiful family much happiness. Regards Naomi Lewis (Byrnes)