As I get comfy into round 14 out of 17 immunotherapy session, I go into my usual relaxed mode and the feeling to nap overtakes me. I’m completely knocked out and wake up to the gentle tapping from a new nurse, “Carlene, all done.” I’m like a pro now, knowing the routine – collecting stats, blood … and for some reason always needing to pee in between. I love routines. For a control freak like me, I thrive on it so last year this time when routine was thrown out of the window, I had to relearn to let go.
2022 was suppose to be a busy year and a post covid life getting back to normal. Shows were going to get greenlit, us trying to make a difference with stories from our part of the world but the universe has other plans … as she always does when I get to certain of my own plans. As they say three strikes of the match, started with the cancer diagnosis in February, then losing my amazing boss in April as part of a corporate restructure and finally in August, the same restructure saw me losing my awesome teammate of our well oiled team. That pretty much sums up how my plans were thrown out of the window onto a busy road, ran over by a moped, car and then a monster truck! I had to let go of plans … mostly because I had no choice in the matter. I want to learn how to let go when you have a choice, maybe then I won’t have to relearn this lesson again. Advice anyone?
Hello from Perth! It has been a while since I was back and even longer since I last posted. A lot has happened and I’m coming back to my blog. It was set up, way back when to keep me accountable and in 2023, it is precisely why I’m back. To reflect on the last 12months and try to make sense of it.
One year today I was diagnosed with cancer. Stage 3C triple positive breast cancer. As bad as it sounds, ironically, it is a good thing. Simply because of the aggressive nature of it, made it one of the more researched cancers with many successful protocols that I was fortunate to have access to. Now I’m in one of my favorite cities reflecting on one of the most unique years of my life.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospitals. That’s where I learnt you want your intravenous drip on your non-dominant hand so that leaves your dominant arm free to do what it needs. Also why it didn’t faze me when doctors said I would need to be on chemo for a better part of the year, then surgery with another month of radiation as well as immunotherapy and anti hormone treatment. While I wasn’t fazed, I had previously thought to myself if I ever get cancer, I would NEVER do chemo and try alternatives first. This is my first lesson from cancer, never say never … especially NEVER. It’s like a funny way for daring the universe who always has a way of showing me that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
That’s what happened when I was first told it was cancer and possibly stage 1. I was all “ok, stage 1, what kind of alternative therapies are there?” Then it became more likely stage 2 and alternative therapies are still work-able. When it quickly became stage 3C and alternative treatments are no more alternatives, I had to swallow my “I’ll NEVER do chemo.”
There were plenty of emotions when I had this come to Jesus moment. It was quite a range if I remember correctly too. My Dad asked if I was angry which is my go to emotion. I was mostly a bunch of nerves and anxiety and in true me style, I went into crisis management mode. What does triple positive mean, what are different treatments, what are the side effects? Trying to get as informed as my lay medical self could possibly understand.
And came to the conclusion that we have to be as aggressive in treatment as this mofo aggressive triple positive cancer. I then imagined these cancer cells being of the Sith order and the chemo drugs are Jedis with numerous X-wings in a battle on the intergalactic system of Carlene. Settling myself into possibly the biggest fight my body has had to put up. As I embraced chemo, I knew at the back of my mind that this experience has to be an opportunity to learn and grow. What and how, I’m not exactly sure yet; hence this year of reflection. With some distance of time, I’m hoping for some clarity as I slowly recollect the lessons here on my blog. Not so much new lessons but at 47, cancer was more of a refresher course, crystallizing what the universe had tried to impress on me years before. So the next 52 weeks, to keep me honest, I’ll be blogging or vlogging about these lessons. Making sure they stick so the universe doesn’t have to send me on a another refresher course.