Archive for the ‘chemotherapy’ Category

It’s been a good start to the year. Health wise, I’m ok but like all cancer warriors I touch wood when I say that. I’m feeling much better than I was at this time last year however it’s been a long road back, rehabilitating my immune system following chemo and radiation, and also building strength and overcoming physical setbacks. That is cancer for you…the gift that keeps on giving.

I have my last CT scan coming up in the next few months; part of the surveillance oncologists implement following cancer treatment. It will be three years since diagnosis. After the CT scan, providing it’s clear, I will be handed over to my GP for six monthly blood tests, and that’s it. So getting on with things beyond cancer, and working within any limitations treatment has left me with, is a priority for me this year.

Cancer leaves many legacies – good and bad. One of these is an inbuilt ‘I don’t muck around anymore’ mantra. Dysfunction, things that aren’t working out, and old patterns that aren’t in my best interests, are dealt with swiftly and decisively. You learn there simply isn’t the time ‘to much around anymore’. Which brings me to my fight with the sulfur crested cockatoos that visit my home every year, to feast on my pear and apple trees. I love pears. They are soft, full of good stuff, and I eat them every morning. I’ve been waiting for them to ripen, conscious of the cockatoos’ arrival. They came again this year, but I was determined to get them out of my pear trees.

For years I’ve been talking to the birds that nest in the many trees surrounding my home. Call me what you will but I enjoy communicating with them, and they’ve become friends. I have a group of magpies that stand guard around my house, two crows who go walking with me, plenty of parrots who fly close by me, and the cranky plovers who grudgingly accept my presence near their nest because I faced them one day when they were swooping and angrily shook my fist at them. (Sure I might look like a crazy bird person to outsiders, but I don’t really care!).

I decided to try a bit of attitude on the thieving cockatoos, so I looked them in the eye and yelled at them to get off my tree. My partner and sons laughed…the ‘mum’s being random again’ thought crossed their minds. I was undeterred. Next I got a riding crop and waved it in the air at them, making a whooshing sound, and telling them to stay off the pear trees. The cockatoos flew off screeching back at me. For the next two days, it was back and forth until only a solitary bird would land in the tree. I would stare the bird down until it flew off.

Then the cockatoos thought I was a potential friend and began appearing in the gum tree outside my window every morning cawing, not screeching; kind of like saying ‘good morning’. And so my ‘friendship’ with them developed. The pear trees? They by and large left them alone, however I haven’t dropped my guard because they will have another go at trying to get what they want, and I’ll have to try and keep what I have. It’s just the way it works, but they do make me smile.

Anyway, enough mucking around with the cockatoos. It’s time to finish the many writing projects I have outstanding now. That, and a bit of exploring…wherever that may take me this year.

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At the beginning of this year I was diagnosed with early stage Bowel Cancer.

It sent me into shock for months and I told very few people. I wanted privacy and time to deal with my own emotions rather than worrying about what other people were feeling. The other reason for privacy was my fear of my looming, major bowel surgery.

I was right to be fearful. It was a huge and dreadful surgery that my surgeon likened to open heart surgery in its invasive-ness. What a relief I felt when it was over, even though the road to rehabilitation was long and hard with a post operative wound infection and other complications.

For the first time in my life, I experienced total and utter physical helplessness. I could hardly move, except to go from the bed to the chair. The pain levels were acute, and I have a reasonably high pain threshold.

It was a good milestone to get out of the road. Then as soon as I was feeling a little bit better, it was time to get back on the chemotherapy treadmill (I had 5.5 weeks of radiation and chemo in March/April).

Cancer teaches you many things. It has been the single, most defining moment in my life – aside from bringing children into this world. It has changed me beyond what I thought would be possible. It has changed me for the better.

That’s shocked you hasn’t it. How could getting cancer change you for the better? It’s hard to explain but I’ll try because it’s hard to understand for people who have lived without a serious disease or illness that could take their lives.

The easiest way to describe it is that I no longer live my life on some sort of invisible auto pilot. I now make the most of each and every day and I am joyful to see a sunrise. I take great pleasure in downloadthe smallest things, in living a simple life – in a sunny day dotted with yellow daisies and brilliant green earth and trees that are responding to the Spring, right before my eyes.

I have a heightened sense of awareness now, perhaps because I live in the moment; in the now.

I have a strengthened belief in God or Buddha or the Divine Presence…whatever it is that you want to call divinity. Names don’t matter much really.

It sounds cliched but I see the sheer power of love to change everything in the universe. At the end of the day, it is all that matters.

If something or someone bothers me now, I simply turn away. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste it on people or situations that are not doing me any good. I value happiness and that simple joy I feel most days.

That ability to decide and act in my own best interests has finally lifted my self esteem which has been a lifelong struggle. It feels good to be free.

I was lucky. I had early stage bowel cancer and for most people, if it is caught early, it is curable. I hope I’m cured.

So tonight, I finished Round 2 of chemo. That’s 2 down and 4 to go. I’m whittling it away and looking forward to the day when I don’t have to poison my body any more and cope with the resultant side effects.

I would urge anyone with any symptoms no matter how slight, to get them checked out. Don’t ignore what your body might be trying to tell you.

Yes s**t does happen in life but it’s entirely possible to recover and emerge stronger and better than before.

Namaste.