Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cool heads make wise decisions

Our February heat has been fairly unbearable - not only have we had temperatures in the mid to high 30's but the humidity has been hovering above 70%.

My head has been suffering - the loss of most of my hair and the effects of chemotherapy have left me fairly light on hair. Heat rashes, sore scalp and dripping perspiration resulted in me phoning my friend and hairdresser at 6pm last night to request her help - when she had a chance.  Her reply was come on over in 40 minutes - the children will be fed and I will have made their school lunches.

Matthew came with me - he wasn't letting me go by myself - the reason - I was about to go bald!

Hair dripping with perspiration

Ready, set. smile

Starting with a number two blade

A number two was not short enough so....

it was down to a number one!

I must admit looking in the mirror is still very confronting.

But .... When you have awesome friends like Hayley - I love this photo - the smiles say it all.

So here I am - the proud owner of a bald head.  I guess I now truly feel like a cancer survivor and a chemotherapy patient.   But..... it is really so lovely and cool!  So it was a wise decision!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Family News

My Dad had knee surgery on Wednesday and today I popped in to visit him - he is doing so well and looks amazing.  The surgery has been successful and he is already up and walking with crutches.  The pain is a bit intense after walking and physio - but otherwise more than bearable.

We live in a very blessed country - he has been on the waiting list for about 4 years, but this surgery has not cost him a single cent - it is all paid for under our Medicare system.  How can we complain.

My own health is good:  I am having a two week break from chemotherapy - this first week is to recover from the high levels of fatigue and then next week I am having another week off - to help our darling Sarah - who has been diagnosed with Asperger's.

After a number of years and many doctors - we finally appear to have a diagnosis that fits and that we can work with. Sarah has struggled for so long - feeling that it is her fault and to have someone finally say that this is just the way your brain processes things and you can learn to cope in a different way - has been a big relief.

We are still a long way away from getting her stable, but at last we have a team around her, that is supportive and helpful.  Sarah, my possum - we love you so much.

Next week we will help my 'other son' Patrick move out of our home into independence.  Since September Patrick has been living with us and growing in strength and amazing courage to become a strong, healthy and happy young man.  He is taking a big step as he moves into shared residence.  We will still be his support network and love and care for him, but it is a good step for him to be taking.

Elizabeth will be celebrating her birthday gift from Monday - Wednesday as she enjoys three days away in beautiful Montville - a relaxing and beautiful getaway for our girl.

So as this week draws to a close - I know that tomorrow the sun will rise and I will rise with it, confident that slowly we are getting things right.

 My beautiful Portulaca flowers outside my bedroom window
 And my lovely ladybug windmill keeping them company.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Feeling well

Last night Elizabeth and I caught up with good friends Sarah Gav and Laura.  Before hand we had a few minutes to spare, so wandered up to the local park for some evening air.  I took a few good photos and then we were off for a yummy dinner and a few really good laughs.

Elizabeth and a good climbing tree

Me - all dressed up for dinner with friends

Our yummy dinner - Strawberry Pancake stack

Our beautiful friend Sarah Gav - Pancakes, Macadamia nuts and Blueberries

Laura enjoying a starter of garlic bread.
Just having the energy and time to enjoy an evening out with friends is such a blessing in my life this week.  Thanks girls for a great evening.

Freedom and Debt

Yesterday - 12th February was a very big day:

Matthew bought his first car.  He has been researching for a few weeks now and had narrowed it down to a Holden Barina or the Hyundai Accent.  The Barina was a little cheaper, but with all the features he wanted, so that was the one we were probably going to choose.  A test drive of both however resulted in him spending a little more to get his new car - the Hyundai.

The Hyundai Accent is a very classy car.  His finance was approved last night and so now we just have to wait for a car to be available for delivery. 

The other great news is that he has finished his 100 hours required to sit his Driver's test.  Queensland has brought in this 'stupid' (in my opinion) requirement that young drivers have to complete 100 hours of practice.  It is expensive and time consuming and doesn't necessarily teach kids how to be good drivers.  Many parents just put their kids in the car and get them to drive an hour up the highway and an hour back.  It has been difficult for us, as everything is within 20 minutes of home, so to collate these hours has been frustrating.  But.... now he is ready to take his test in the next couple of weeks.  A couple more fine-tuning driving lessons with the Driving instructor will get him completely ready and then our boy will be on the road - I will post a big sign - so everyone else can stay off the road. Only joking Matthew!

Holden Barina

Hyundai Accent
Well Done Matthew - we are so proud of you.   You have saved really hard for a 20% deposit on your car and are a good driver.  Dad and I wish you safe driving and the freedom this brings to you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taking a break

It has been a very hectic three - four months.

My diagnosis in October last year led to a frenzy of living and I have loved every moment of it.  In between my treatments I have been determined to live the most active, normal life that I can and have succeeded.

Frustratingly, the week of each treatment has been getting more and more difficult - with the last treatment leaving in bed for six days.  I mostly sleep, watch a little TV, sleep, read - a little, sleep and sleep. 

After a very emotional week last week, my levels of fatigue and emotional exhaustion hit a low as I arrived at the Infusion clinic yesterday.  My lovely nurse Lauren, was not happy with the fact that I was so tired each session and contacted my oncologist - he told me to go home and have a rest week. I was so grateful and then so guilty - for failing, for being such a baby, for not just sucking it up.

If my blood tests had come back low or there had been a reason for the delay it would have been okay - but I immediately judged myself and began the internal yelling. Then I caught myself - it was okay not to be strong, to need just a little rest time, to take a week off and then come back prepared to complete the treatment.  It was okay to need help.

So after a few tears and a couple of hugs from my great team - Elizabeth and I left the hospital and headed off to a movie instead.  Now that was a great way to spend the morning.  This week is a week of rest - I am going to watch TV, do some reading, maybe even some writing and just have a good week.

Here is a photo of my team of Angels - my oncology nurses Nicole and Lauren - thank you to them both for their care their love and their support. 

Nicole, Me, Lauren at St Andrew's Hospital - Infusion Centre

Monday, February 3, 2014

When you stop talking - God answers your prayers?

Do you know that when you stop and listen to God - he answers your prayers?

Life has been really hard for the past few weeks - I have been so busy trying to fix everything, so busy praying for answers, so busy rushing around demanding that I function and be strong.

Then two days ago I realised that I need to stop - just stop. I got scared and I got tired and I gave up. I guess God was patientl...y waiting for me. He always is. I was just very busy doing his job for him, and not doing a very good one at that.

So when I listened he answered my prayers. I have a road ahead, but feel peaceful that I will have the strength to walk it. I don't know where we are heading but I am feeling that somehow, someway I will take each day and be guided.

Thank you to my family, to my friends - for your love, your support and your understanding. You inspire me with your love. Thank You.
This is a copy of a post that I placed on Facebook tonight - I cannot write the words and thoughts in any other way - so thought I would just share it here as well.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Is it meant to be so hard?

I have had a challenging week with my chemotherapy.  My energy levels have been so low that I have been unable to get out of bed.  Sleep has been about all I have been capable of, and the frustration of that has left me feeling very low.

The nausea wasn't too bad thank goodness, but even drinking water was an effort. 

Hoping now for a little pick-up as we start the week ahead.

Sarah begins her school year - with support from Westside Christian College. Her subjects will be English, Drama, Film & Television studies and Biology. Instead of the regular six subjects per semester, she will be doing four and complete her schooling over 3 years instead of 2.  The support from her school will be wonderful, allowing her to achieve the best grades possible. She also has the Joy of looking forward to her Drama group, which begins again this week.

Matthew began his university course last week and enjoyed the new challenge. A fairly structured Business course I think will appeal to him and will give him his Associate Degree in Business in just 18 months.

Elizabeth is well on track to begin her Masters degree in mid February, and is working so hard at supporting the family. I cannot even begin to thank her enough for her love and support.

Ivan is travelling again for work, with challenges ahead as the year progresses.

Medical challenges abound as Dad faces his knee reconstruction in the next few weeks and I will have my PET scan in mid-February. 

So with this update, I guess I have to ask again - Is it meant to be this hard? 

Happy Birthday Elizabeth

24 years ago today my dream of becoming a mother was fulfilled.  Ever since I could remember all I ever wanted was to be a Mum.  February 2nd, we were blessed with the gift of our baby girl. 

The past 24 years have been filled with love. Elizabeth you are an amazing woman and I am so proud of you.  You have challenged us and at times driven us crazy, but every step has been filled with JOY!

To watch those first few steps (at just 8 months old), listening to your first words as I read to you(Amen - from the Postman Pat book) and the incredible determination and strength you have always shown, inspire me.  I know you will overcome anything placed before you. You will thrive and conquer your world.

I love and admire you so much my Angel-girl.  Be Happy! Follow your dreams and have a wonderful year.