Saturday, 3 May 2014

Beauty for ashes

Well it is hard to believe that it is almost 2 years since my last post.
I have a very special friend who has recently started writing a blog herself - it is beautifully written and you feel the need to keep checking for the next instalment.
Anyway we were chatting and she challenged me to start on mine again - we had a laugh about it - what would I write after all this time.
She promised to hound me until I wrote something so here I am haha!!

On rereading my last post - to me I felt there was a sense of sadness and tiredness in it.
Truthfully the days since my last post have been filled with a medley of ups and downs. I found the time after my chemotherapy and radiotherapy ended to be one of the most challenging. I had been told that this could be a difficult time but I was certainly not prepared for the many dark days that were to follow. I soldiered through for quite some time until at last I realised that the daily medication I was taking may have been contributing to my low mood , aching bones and struggling brain. To cut a long story short I have come off that tablet and changed to another. I cannot express to you how different I felt - I have gone from strength to strength.
We have had many changes over this time . My hair is long and curly haha - a far cry now from the perm and set look I was sporting for quite a while after it started to grow back after chemotherapy. Both  the girls are at a new school. A very caring and nuturing place and I have had the joy of connecting in with some wonderful new friends there, as have they.
We are at a new church filled with welcoming, vibrant and supportive people - such an encouragement to me.
The overseas holiday that we had to cancel due to my diagnosis was rebooked and thoroughly enjoyed by all four of us.
I became involved with a very special cancer charity that is run by the most amazing group of people and through that connection I have had the opportunity to go on a retreat, join a writers workshop, hear a multitude of speakers share their knowledge about many topics  and attend art workshops.
We have finally started renovating our home earlier last year and although not yet quite complete - it is great to see things moving forward after a very long time.

Overall this last year I have felt a shift from just surviving to being on the road towards thriving!!!!
I am so thankful for my relationship with God which has sustained me through the ups and downs , to know He is there no matter what and that He never leaves me.
Recently I read a quote that said "The art of life is to surrender your brush and canvas to the Master artist."
This has stuck with me . How beautiful is the life that is filled with the Fathers love, His plans, His purpose and his prescence. How wonderful is it to see the Masters brushstrokes unfold across each of our lives as we draw closer to Him. To see colour added , hope renewed, broken hearts restored and dreams awakened.

How amazing will it be one day to see the unveiling of his completed work in each of us as we surrender to an all powerful and loving God. Oh how he loves us !!!!

I am not sure of the whys of this road with its twists and turns but I am sure of The One who holds us in His hands through it all. I am sure that even if we want to give up on God at times He will never give up on us!!!!!



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Sea remains the Sea .........

Well it has been a couple of weeks since my last blog and I am sensing that this may be my last for a while.
I am now a seasoned traveller on this breast cancer rollercoaster - some seasons have been sweet and some sour.
My mum returned home over a week ago now and it goes without saying that I miss her !



These last months have been a whirlwind of happenings , breast cancer diagnosis, tests, hospital appts, mastectomy, chemotherapy , radiotherapy, specialist exams , visa applications to name a few.
It is been my desire to be as positive as I can be through each step of this road.
On the whole I have been managed to see humour at points along this road - thanks goodness for laughter.

There have of course been tears too - more recently as the pace has slowed down with treatments - I have found there have been more of those. I have found these last weeks a particular challenge.
I guess its part of the process - there has been loss.
Loss of hair , loss of breast , loss of health etc.
It has been an unexpected road with unexpected highs and lows with it.

The highs of endless meals arriving for my family , surprise packages arriving at just the right time in the post, encouraging cybermessages and love of friends and family.
Our lives will never be the same - and as I enter the next chapter of this treatment I know that this will be with me for the rest of my life.
One of the biggest effects of this has been on my beautiful daughters - they have had to deal with so much at such a young age .
Each one has 'handled' it in their own way - I am so thankful that we have been able to keep chatting and cuddling all the way through.
My youngest who has just turned 10 has had such a struggle this year and it has broken my heart to see her pain .
Sadly her school life has contributed to this and I know she is not without fault as she struggled to deal with the thought of me dying but you would find it hard to believe what has been said to her from her 'friends' and 'adults' in her world.
Anyway it is not to dwell on these things - we have to hold each other close and keep moving forward.
I have been amazed to see the strength of character she has shown for someone so young and how she continues to tenderly love me.
The head she was she worried to see without hair - she has been giving a daily kiss.



I have been so touched also at how God has met me in my lowest moments - it is at those times that a gift would arrive in the post , a friend would send a message.
Just this last week when I was feeling particularily low - a lovely friend from overseas sent me a text - it said - I was thinking of you this morning and felt to send this .
The Lord your God is with you
He is mighty to save
He will take great delight in you
He will quiet you with his love
He will rejoice over you with singing

I cannot tell you what an impact that had on me to receive that on that day - needless to say there were more tears.
Just yesterday another friend told me of a picture she had for me and how I was to nestle into my heavenly Father and let Him carry me.
Just such an encouragement - I am not very good at resting but I know that I can't do this on my own.
I am so thankful that I have my faith so when I am faced with my own weakness and vulnerability I can be sure that He is strong!!
Now more than ever I am so aware of the power of love.
A kind word or gesture can have far reaching impact.
I am so thankful to all who have been reminded me of this and to have drawn my focus back onto God who is Love itself.
The same friend who sent me the above message sent me this which I think says it all.
I will leave you with this - although the future may remain uncertain and I have decisions to make - ONE remains certain.
I want to hold on to HIM tighter than ever before...................



 Henri JM Nouwen writes

Dear Lord
Today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh.
'Is it true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea?'

Lord you are the sea.
Although I may experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts in my inner life - You remain the same......
There are days of sadness and days of joy, there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude, there are moments of failure and moments of success , but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.
My only real temptation is to doubt your love.....
To remove myself from the healing radiance of your love.....
To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

O Lord sea of love and goodness.
Let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life - and let me know that there is ebb and flow ....... but the sea remains the sea.

Love Came Down ( click here to hear a song)

Thanks for joining me on this journey via this blog - til next time xx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

It is finished .... bye bye radiation bye bye !!!!!

Well after 5 and half weeks - it is done. Today was my last radiation. yippee !!!!
It is quite amazing to think that 28 treatments have come to an end - it is going to be strange not driving daily for my zapping!!!

I have had a very spoily day. A lovely friend took a days leave to go with me and spend some celebratory time together. Thank you N.
It was such a treat as we haven't had time together for quite some time - well we made up for it today.
Started the day with my usual zapping !! At the radiotherapy place there is a wall covered with colourful handprints and today I found out that those prints are from patients after they complete their radiotherapy!!

Today was my day to make my mark - I had my hand covered with green paint and a photo was taken of me making my print on the wall!
What a wonderful idea !
So I was done - a quick visit into the radiooncologist on my way out and I was done.
I had had some bloods taken last week as I  have been having tenderness over my ribs - thankfully all was good and nothing of concern. Just a reaction to radiotherapy possibly and nothing more sinister so the scene was set for a celebratory day.
So I through my delightful striped gown in the washbin and we were off!!



Our first step was brekkie at a beachside cafe - I just love seeing the sea - the day was a bit overcast but wonderful to see the waves never the less!!
We had a very relaxing time and my friend was given the most enormous muffin I have ever seen - I kid you not I have never seen such a huge muffin. It was the size of the plate it was sitting on.


Next stop was a bit of retail therapy - and then back to the beach for more relaxing and watching the waves!!
Such a wonderful way to spend a day - we headed home in time to pick the girls up from school - we got there a bit early so there was just time for another cuppa at my friends as she lives nearby.
Definitely the way to spend a day - and still I feel pooped!
I had another lovely surprise tonight - we heard a knock at the door and there was a friends husband standing with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the end of my radiotherapy road!! Our farm gate was closed but they had thought it was locked so my friend had stayed in the car while her hubby had walked all the way up our rather long drive to bring us the bubbly. How thoughtful.
Sadly cancer can be a very isolating illness so I felt very spoilt today !

I have my IV herceptin again tomorrow ( still about 6mths of that to go )and then an appt with the oncologist in the next week or so to look at starting tabs to block the oestrogen. Before that I have to go to the dentist and have a thorough checkup as per the oncologists instruction before starting bone strengthening meds that accompany the hormone inhibitors!!
So the rollercoaster continues but some major twists have come to an end!!
I am pleased to report that my hair is beginning to sprout - it is still sparse but present and I am so looking forward to ditching the head gear and going au natural - a bit more growth on the patchy bits and I'll be there.
I can't wait............

Friday, 14 October 2011

Hey , hey, hey its FRIDAY ....

Woohoo its Friday.
The end of the week has taken on a new meaning since starting radiation - I love fridays.
2 days and no radiation !!! Thankfully next week will be my last week - as I said before the staff there are lovely but I will be glad to leave this chapter behind!!!

Well it has been a week of ups and downs - it started in tears and ended in laughter.
At least thats the best way round!!
I found myself quite emotional and teary at the beginning of the week - I think it was just an accumulation of things amidst the ongoing treatment.
I had a coffee with some friends at the start of the week and found myself in tears when I was asked about how I was.
I had been feeling tenderhearted for a day or so before - I thought I could hold myself together to share a cuppa - but no there I was crying in the coffee shop.
I managed to regain my composure but have to be honest I had a good sob when I got back home again !

This whole treatment road has had challenged so many areas of life.
My health , the daily comings and goings of everyday life , relationships , planning for the future etc.
I think that with that and the car accident, poor Gus dying and my mum in hospital -not too mention our ongoing business to stay - it all came bubbling over!
I feel a lot better after clearing my tear ducts - sometimes we just have to let go and let it all out!!
I have been going to radiotherapy by myself this last week or so but mum came with me the day after my tearathon and we went to sit and look at the sea after.
It is so incredibly therapeutic just watching the waves roll in on the sand. It was a glorious day and just so refreshing !!



 This was our view from the bench we were sitting on - not bad !!!!!

So today was a bit of a giggle as the radiotherapy place I go to was having a pinkoktober morning tea to raise funds for a local breast cancer charity.
The staff were all decked out in bright pink and the place was decorated with balloons etc.
All very festive.
Well when I went in the lady technician that called me had bright pink glasses and tshirt and looked great. We had a laugh going in and she was telling me about all the pink dressup bits and pieces that they had at their disposal!!
The other guy was wearing a pink top but heard us chatting about the dreesup bits and pieces and said wait I'll show you what we mean.
I settled myself on the bed and then he returned with a luminescent bright pink curly wig and pink garland around his neck.
Needless to say I burst out laughing - had tears running and of course all this giggling wasn't good when you are supposed to be lying still to have your tattoos and position lined up!!!
I told him it was pretty hard to take him seriously - some lippy and earrings and there we have it Priscilla queen of the desert!!!

So there you are - a fun day today. A rollarcoaster of emotions in a matter of days.
This is a ride with ups and downs for sure - I am holding on tight.....
Carpe Diem ...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Its all about love ......

Well hello all!

I am sitting here with my trusty laptop typing away - I can hear poor Gemma calling outside.
She is so heartbroken at the loss of Gus. Every day since his death she calls for him. They did everything together - each night as dusk was settling in they would walk down to the dam together and have a swim before settling for the night. Quite romantic!
Since we lost Gus , Gemma avoided going to the dam for the first few days and now she goes and each time she is there she calls for him.
I have had a number of sleep disturbed nights as she calls periodically for him in the wee small hours.
Each time she sees me when I come home from radiotherapy she waddles over calling - as much to say have you found him!!!
She is quite lost without him - he was always there her great white protector!!
It really tugs at my heart!

I have been thinking a lot about love and acceptance this weekend - I watched a dvd on the weekend which was about a young attractive guy who was all about appearances and success . A modern day tale a bit like beauty and the beast. His life is turned upside down when he loses his looks and the only way he can change back is to find someone to love him as he is.
His life has been all about himself and he had little regard for anyone elses feelings!
Needless to say it is a lovestory where he learns about himself and what is really important and in the end he gets the girl and finds real love.
Just seeing the extraordinary connection between 2 geese and watching this movie just brought to mind again the power of love and connection.

In a world that at times is pretty disconnected - how beautiful to believe in and see the power of love.
It is something we all need.
As in the movie love is not something that we can demand but rather is something that we can give and hopefully receive as another gives.
In life we may at times have relationships that break down , at times we may be misunderstood , at times we may be hurt and at times we may hurt others. Yet each of us has our own story , each of us has our own road with twists and turns. I remember years ago reading that old proverb that says 'Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins!" I just love that !
We may not really know anothers journey but we can love them along the way.
There is a beautiful exchange in the movie where the main character says to the girl. "When I am with you I don't feel ugly anymore"
How wonderful to feel so free and loved that the very thing that seemed to big in his life lost its hold.

I was just struck that that is how it is with our heavenly Father and His love for us.
He welcomes us with open arms no matter what!
He wants to love us no matter what!
He wants to be our safe place!
He wants that connection with us!

One thing about having breast cancer is that all the top dressing is taken away.
You are stripped to what lies beneath - what ever that may be.
Love is indeed refreshment to the soul.

So I guess I am reminded that we should always try to show our love freely, reach out to someone and tell them you care.
I know when our own tanks are low this can at times be a challenge - but if we run into the arms of Love itself - we too can receive and be strengthened!

Evelyn Mandel said

" Love allows us to live , and through living we grow in loving !!"

Friday, 7 October 2011

After the rain .....



Well it has been a rather interesting day today.
The sun is shining in more ways than one.
I did my usual trip to radiotherapy this morning after dropping the girls off - I was sitting having a coffee afterwards at a nearby bakery when I was approached by a trendy young mum holding her young daughter in her arms.
She asked me if I was having chemo - I am still wearing a headscarf even although there are beginnings of hair it is VERY sparse!
Before long we were chatting away - she had been through treatment last year while she was pregnant and just wanted to encourage me and let me know about a group that she went to and invited me to come along.
How amazing is that - that after my low ebb yesterday an absolute stranger should approach me with encouragement.
A coincidence !!! I don't think so.
I had been thinking about connecting in with some other women going through this journey but hadn't really done anything in the physical.
I have connected in in the cyber world but you know there is nothing like human contact!!!
I was just saying to mum that in a world that is so involved with cyber technology we often miss out on that face to face interaction. I know myself that sending a text is usually the first port of call rather than picking up the phone and speaking etc.
I have also however received a lot of encouragement across cyberspace and I am very appreciative of that too of course!!
Anyway I am now going to brave it and visit one of the coffee mornings and see how it goes!!


I did have a number of lovely messages last night and this morning - thank you.
One of my lovely overseas friends sent me a wonderful email and in it she had written the words of this song


 After the Rain - Aaron Jeoffrey lyrics are:
I cover my heart
Turn from the wind
Button my coat
Here comes the storm again
What can I do but to trust in Him

'Cause I know the deeper my faith runs
The stronger I become
And the thunder, it may shake me
But I always know that¡¦

CHORUS:
After the rain
You can look to the sky again
The clouds will give way
To the light of the sun
After the rain
You know that you've made it through
And you'll finally see the joy from the pain
After the rain

Everyone needs
Everyone hurts
Everyone feels
The weight of the world sometimes
But don't let the wind sweep your heart away

'Cause even the roughest waters cleanse
So when they come again
Let them serve as a reminder
You can always know that¡¦



Chorus ;
Can't you see the hand of Jesus 
Reaching out for you
You never have to face the storm alone.


If you would like to hear it please click the link below
www.youtube.com/watch?v=W717Cra83qg&feature=related


How wonderful are those words - they really touched me.
This same friend had posted me this wall sticker which I have put onto a canvas !!
As she said though , the rain always stops and the sun does come out again.


Thank you all near and far for helping me see the sun !!!!!




And for a bit of a giggle my dad just sent me this ....




=================== 
YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING IN 2011 when...

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave..

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3...

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you...

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses ..

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries..

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled backup to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.

AND NOW U R LAUGHING AT YOURSELF

Go on, forward this to your friends. You know you want to.




Thursday, 6 October 2011

Joy will come in the morning ......

It is a cloudy overcast day here today.
There is a weird stillness in the air - or perhaps that is just reflective of my mood!

We are all somewhat sad in our household today. Gus our male goose died in the night from a paralysis tick! His poor mate has been calling for him all day and now she has settled next to the spot where he died - it is too sad.
My youngest daughter and I hugged each other and cried together this morning when we found him.
It is a sad thing in itself but to be honest it is another thing in our long list of recent challenges!!
Mum came out of hospital yesterday and is at home recouperating - she is still having the headaches but we are trusting that they will resolve over time as she takes the meds etc.
It has been so disappointing that her last month here she has been suffering the effects after our accident.
I have spent the last week going to radiotherapy and then up to the hospital to see mum - certainly not what was on the cards.

It is Breast Cancer awareness month internationally - there are adverts about raising funds, awareness etc. I had hoped to hold a fundraiser myself but just really can't manage that at the moment. I guess for people who know me - they already have an awareness.
 Pinkoktober has really brought home to me what I have and am facing. We watched a program the other week about 7 ladies and their fight against cancer and just how it had affected and changed their lives.
There are times that I still cant believe this journey that I'm on - our lives have been irreversabily changed and challenged. There are times when I hate the colour pink!!
It is amazing to think that it is 7 months since I was diagnosed - sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight.
At times I wonder whether there will be a day where I don't have to face the discomfort under my arm and chest from the surgery.
I wonder whether there will be a day when surviving breast cancer won't be at the forefront of my mind.
I wonder what life will be like after - what will I be like?
I know that good has come from this too - and I know now more than ever the importance and value of my family.
I am thankful that I have one.
I am also thankful for all the mums from school and family friends who have continued to feed our family - it has been such a blessing and encouragement.
I am thankful for all the cyber support.

I am just feeling worn out now - someone said to me yesterday that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. Well I'm not sure I can handle anything more!!
My faith has sustained me this far and lifted me up from the darkness into the light, it has helped me fight the battlefield of the mind and it has given me hope.
I am praying now for a break - it is enough having to face one fight but they keep piling up!!
I am looking for the "joy to come in the morning"
A friend said they don't know how I have managed to keep a sense of humour in all of this - for me you have to see a funny side - but just now its not looking so funny.
Anyway I may have said it before but I know that although it is overcast and dull today - the sun has not moved away - it is still radiating behind the clouds with a warm and comforting glow.
I will keep my eyes searching for that sun so that I may feel the warmth on my face and the lightness in my spirit again.