Sunday, March 16, 2008

The 'C' Word

It hit me last week that I had been diagnosed with cancer.
Gone through surgery for cancer.
Radiology and chemotherapy for cancer.
Offered counselling services and makeover sessions all becasue I had cancer without actually digesting the fact that it was me who all this cancer was happening to.

I had seen Kylie with cancer, friends from home with cancer, the chick from Sass and Bide with cancer (who I secretly wanted to wear my headscarf like when all my hair fell out. Which it didn't. So I just had to put up with sparse eyebrows and my hair being a bit thicker on one side of my head than the other but certainly nowhere near being headscarf appropriate - just my luck!)

Blame it on my current HRT drugs, but this freaks me out!! (the late realisation, not the lack of headscarf action!)

So what made me finally realise?? Someone else's case of foot in mouth - which is so memorable simply because it wasn't me with verbal diahorrea for a change.

The Scene......
I was talking to a person in my office about a certain pain in the ar*e (don't ANYONE EVER ask me who either was - my lips are sealed). The other person was about to describe PIA (Pain In Ar*e) as the office cancer when they stopped, stumbled and used the word cataract instead!!
Internally, I p*ssed myself laughing!

Does that mean that everyone is now scared to use the 'c' word around me, just in case I take it personally??

I chimed in and referred to PIA as the office cancer as that's what they are. And not the glamour, 'on-trend' breast cancer that is the disease du jour (even Sam Newman has jumped on the bandwagon). No no! Office PIA is more like erectile dysfunction with a cancer thrown in for good measure!

I guess my point is to ask you, 2 things for me:

1. don't let on that the City to Surf will just about kill me. I think I know that but just refuse to believe it. I read NOTHING about having babies before I did it. I read NOTHING about cancer treatment before I did it (seeing a trend here??) so figure that flying blind is a very good way for me to go.
and 2. never feel that I am too precious to just say what you want to say. Don't ever censor your thoughts, conversations or opinions around me.
I couldn't bear a homogonised life!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Personal Training 101

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you knew you were f*cked?
Not just in a bit of strife, but completely and overwhelmingly rooted beyond what you can ever handle?
You might like to invest in a personal trainer then. After one short sharp session, you will surely know what this feeling is like!
So here's me, confident as Jack the Lad that just by sheer determination and a few good iPod songs in my ears that I can run for 14 km. Uphill. With 1000's of other people around me. And a TV crew at the end.
What a wanker!
Rob the friendly, smiling Kiwi trainer that Paul uses and who already knows I am a retarded runner because I think I'm Cathy Freeman says all the right things.
'You look athletic, what sport do you do?'
'It won't take much to get you back to the fitness level you had when you were younger.'
'I just want to take it easy with you and gradually build up your strength.'
What I didn't realise is that New-Zealandish is a foreign language because what he really meant was:
'Even though it looks easy you'll feel like throwing up and won't be able to walk for 3 days. Oh, and did I mention I can't count for shit. Just 5 more squats for me.'.....4........3........2.....3 more and we're done.

The Worse I Feel The Better I Am

Becasue there is no such thing as an original thought anymore, I have flogged this one from Lance Armstrong! It's true - the worse I feel, the better I get.
Going through chemo, I was so focussed on what was happening that day.
Tomorrow didn't matter as it was too far away.
I was too sick to try and make any plans so my only strategy was to focus on getting through my treatment for that day. At the end of each radiology treatment, I would congratulate myself on getting one step closer to 'the end' (of my treatment).
Even though it was so hard to get out of bed toward the end of chemo, it meant that I was getting to the end of it - this is what drove me to function each day, regardless of how crap I felt or that my brain kept telling me to stop, I knew that feeling this shit was a good thing. It meant I was near the end of it all.
My mindset was that once I had finished my treatment, I could then switch off that part of my life and seamlessly slip back into where I had left off.
You can all stop pissing yourselves laughing now!! I realise this is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever thought (and this from a woman who has spent her life perfecting 'The Next Stupid Thing'!!!)
As soon as I felt like the effects of chemo and radiology had worn off (3 weeks later), I shoved myself back into work. I still felt crap, was so knackered I couldn't talk properly and was the shittiest woman on the planet. My kids wore it. My husband wore it. I felt like I was sliding very quickly down the slope towards barking lunacy.
I couldn't figure it out.
I was OK now, I was cured. I was armed with a decent supply of HRT to cover over the cracks of menopause so why did I feel like shouting at random teenagers walking past about their dress sense and getting a haircut???I had no idea of how to process everything that had happened.
I was still stuck in a 'get thru today' mindset. I was shoving myself through the motions of a life and hoping that it would just click in and become automatic.I was fed up with the 'you're an inspiration' speech because I knew the reality.
So I started to run.
It hurt and I looked like a baby elephant finding its feet. In my body, I was running to lose all of the weight I had put on in chemo. In my mind I was running to get as far away from cancer as I could. If I got some distance between me and it, my mind would be a better place.
In my ears, I had Kanye West telling me that 'that that don't kill you can only make me stronger. Jarvis Cocker telling me that he wanted to live like common people and Sneaky Sound System going on about not wanting to be lonely. I ran further. I ran faster. I still looked like a small elephant. I still wished my arse didn't move as much.
And then the click came. I need to do something that makes me lift my head up and look further than today. The fact that it happened to be an invitation to run 14km from the city out to Bondi is a bit of a shit but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I will not live to regret this decision and I am determined to run every step of the way.

Running From Cancer - The Reason

One of the great philosophers of our time, Kanye West, once said,
'and that that that that don't kill you can only make me stronger'.

Today marks 4 months since my last chemo session.

In 6 months time I am going to run in the City to Surf and intend to take all of you along for the ride!

You are all a part of the next stage of my therapy, seeing as I don't really do counselling, group therapy or bark munching so if you'd like to join in, sign up here!

You are not required to contribute anything in the way of answers, cures or money. You just need to believe that I will make 14km (including Heartbreak Hill) and that getting across the line in Bondi will mark my next great milestone.

If I can do this, it will mean that 2008 will be defined by how well I can do, not by when my next scan or check up is, not by how many days I am 'in remision' or the time since my treatment ended.

Strap all starts here........