The End is Nigh (but in a good way)

OMG, it’s been way too long between posts.  I started this in July!  Oops… I wanted to make sure I put up a post before Christmas so here it is.  It’s a bit higgledy piggledy with bits written in July and August, then September and October and I’ve tacked on November to the end to bring it all up to date.  I know many of you are keen to keep up to date with what’s happening with my treatments and how I’m fairing so I’m sorry to keep you hanging.  Here goes…

Written in July and August:

Last time I wrote I’d had a lovely weekend visiting with my besties, Beck and Meals.  Life continues to be full and I’m constantly tired.  Some light exercise has helped in increasing my energy levels, now I just need to get myself to bed earlier and I’m sure they’ll pick up even more.  Do any other mothers out there stay up later than necessary just to have some good quality alone time?  It’s a really bad habit of mine, probably the hardest I’ve ever had to break.  Give up drinking?  No problems.  Eat healthier?  Easy peasy.  Stop watching crap TV?  Okay, why not.  Go to bed earlier?  Say what!?  Not a chance. Even if my eyes are popping out of my head, I’m staying up to enjoy my alone adult time, even though I know it’s bad for me.  Like smokers who know how bad smoking is for them.  Are there night owl support groups out there to help people like me?  Since starting menopause and the lovely symptoms that are associated with that, I find it even harder to get off to sleep and stay asleep.  Hello insomnia and hot flushes.  Goodbye good night sleeps for the rest of my life.  Staying up late is also a way to avoid just laying there in the dark, listening to Derek snoring, alone with my thoughts.  If I stay up really late and am super tired, I go to sleep much quicker.  I feel like shit the next day but then I feel like shit if I go to bed early and have a really restless night sleep.  If I take sleeping tablets I also feel like shit the next day so I can’t win really.  I know meditation would help but I’m not very good at doing it on a daily basis.  Yet another thing I know is good for me but can’t seem to include in my daily routine.  It’s frustrating but at the same time I’m pretty easy on myself.  Always telling me to go easy on me, I’ve been through a tough time and don’t need to be roused on by the likes of me, I’m doing the best I can.  There are so many things I’d love to include in my daily routine, or even my weekly routine.  I was going really well for months with a gratitude journal.  I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it.  I haven’t written in it for a while for some reason.  Note to self, start doing the gratitude journal again as the benefits were great. (September/October update: I’ve restarted the gratitude journal and am finding it very beneficial.  I just have a journal sitting out open so that when I walk past and have a spare moment I can recall the good things that have happened that day so far and jot them down, with a little smile on my face.  It’s a feel good thing to do. Also I’m sleeping a lot better and bed time is getting earlier although still needs some improvement.  I can definitely say that sleeping better stems from not eating sugar before I go to bed, more on that a bit later.)

Exercise is another biggie I’m grappling with at the mo.  I’ve started walking in preparation for The Walk to End Women’s Cancers in October.  It’s a bit sporadic and I really could be doing it more often, need to be ready for the 60kms.  So I go for a walk and it gives me more energy which is fantastic!  But then it seems to make my neuropathy worse which isn’t so fantastic.  Pins and needles hum around my toes, feet and even up my legs.  It’s a very disconcerting feeling and I’m concerned what will happen when I try to walk much longer distances.  I haven’t even managed to crack the 4km mark yet.  I’ll keep trying and hopefully build up to longer distances without too much discomfort.  It’s not only my feet that I’m having problems with, my neuropathy in general is getting worse and I’m having trouble with my fingers and hands.  It’s a bit of a mystery so they’re doing more tests today – B12 and folate to start with.  Hopefully it’s an easy fix because the thought of the neuropathy continuing to worsen or even stay as it is without any improvement really does worry me.  The clinical trial nurse even suggested a visit to a neurologist.  We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it I suppose.  (September update: B12 and folate were fine and neurologist is an overkill but recently found out that Podiatrists can do nerve testings on my lower limbs and keep a track of it to see if they’re getting worse or better or staying the same.  They should also be able to help with the discomfort I have in my toes when I go walking so this will be great before the big walk.  October update: Neuropathy is always present but I’m getting used to it.  Podiatrist did some tests and even though I’m having lots of pins and needles associated with my neuropathy, numbness doesn’t seem to be a problem because I did better in their tests than people without neuropathy! Go figure.  Luckily I have no pain with it so will just have to grin and bare the pins and needles.  More on the walk later in the post.)

Zoladex injections (July/August)

Since the last blog I’ve had another monthly Zoladex injection.  I can now confirm that I didn’t have appendicitis, it was in fact from the Zoladex injection.  Not the drug but the injection itself.  The reaction I had after my second Zoladex injection, which ended with me in hospital with suspected appendicitis, wasn’t as bad after my third injection but still quite painful and similar type of pain to the previous time.  It turns out I’m not fat enough (again).  The injection is a subcutaneous injection and needs to go into fat, not into muscle.  So 2 out of 3 times I’ve had it, the needle and small implant has gone into or quite near muscle and has also affected the peritennial wall (which flares up when the appendix are playing up and why my symptoms were confused with appendicitis).  On the plus side I’m not waiting around for another appendicitis attack, on the down side, I have to have this injection once a month and it’s excrutiatingly painful not just at the time of injection but for days afterwards.  Next time, which is next week, eek!, I need to find the fattiest part on my tummy (extremely difficult as I’ve lost weight recently) and really pull the fat away from my muscles so as not to risk having it injected into muscle again.

Now before you all start telling me to go eat McDonalds and fatten myself up by eating junk, just know that I’d never risk my internal health just to have a bit of belly fat to make the injections easier.  And I doubt that if I did start eating unhealthy, fattening foods, it would make a huge difference anyway.  It’s just the way I’m built and I’ve just got to deal with it.  Besides eating junk makes me feel terrible and that’s the last thing I need at the moment.  I’ll see what happens over the next few months and if we can’t find a good spot to give the injection then it may be time to consider having my ovaries removed.  Another decision for the future me to deal with.

September/October update re Zoladex and hormone blocking therapy

I’ve had a lot of anxiety around the Zoladex injections for the last few months.  I’ve lost 4kgs since starting the Zoladex which is unusual because normally hormone blocking therapy causes weight gain.  I’m wondering if the anxiety and stress associated with the Zoladex has contributed to my weight loss. Obviously this isn’t a good thing as I’m already underweight.  So first it was the anxiety around the injection and then as I became more stressed about it, I lost more weight and the injections became more difficult because the fat around my stomach was almost nonexistent.  In September I was advised that if I didn’t put on weight they’d have to put it into the fat in my thighs. What fat!?  The nurses told me it would be more painful than the abdomen. I became more anxious and stressed about it.  The pressure to put on weight didn’t help at all.  As most of you know, I’m a very healthy eater but I do eat large quantities of food and eat reguarly throughout the day and night.  I’ve been adding in extra protein for months and having extra full fat dairy where possible.  I don’t eat like a rabbit and try to keep eating once I’m full.  If I’m not eating food, I’m preparing it or thinking about my next meal.  Some things will never change 🙂 I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be the accumulation of stress and anxiety over the last year that has contributed to my weight loss, along with cutting out sugar (more on that below).  And no doubt that the huge amounts of cancer drugs have also played their part in my weight lose.  I started losing weight after starting the Zoladex and my stay in hospital for the suspected apendicitis.  I quit sugar in August but was already on the downward spiral by then. Cutting out sugar has probably contributed a little in my weight loss but I do feel that at the end of the day, the stress and anxiety I’ve been through over the last year has been the main contributor and all I can say is bring on next year!

So because of the weight loss and stress due to the Zoladex Dr N, my Onc, and I have decided to stop the injections.  They were something extra she thought would be good for me to have seeing as I was pre-menopausal when finishing radiation therapy.  We made the decison several weeks ago and I am so bloody relieved that the big scary needle won’t be coming anywhere near me anymore.  Even the nurses cringe at the size of it and really dislike giving it to patients. It really is a nasty one.  So I’ve now started Tamoxifen, which was always going to happen.  This is also hormone blocking therapy and is one tablet every day for 5 years, with the research now looking more effective for 10 years.  (From Wikipedia: Some breast cancer cells require estrogen to grow. Estrogen binds to and activates the estrogen receptor in these cells. Tamoxifen is metabolized into compounds that also bind to the estrogen receptor but do not activate it. Because of this competitive antagonism, tamoxifen acts like a key broken off in the lock that prevents any other key from being inserted, preventing estrogen from binding to its receptor. Hence breast cancer cell growth is blocked.) Dr N was just waiting to see how I went on the Zoladex before hitting me with too much hormone blocking therapy at once.  She’s also suggested another possibility to replace the Zoladex.  It’s a nasal spray called Syneral used twice daily and has the same effect on my body as the Zoladex, shutting my ovaries down.  The only problem is it isn’t covered under the PBS for breast cancer, only for endometriosis.  This means instead of costing me $36 a month (like the Zoladex) it will be $126 a month because the goverment don’t subsidise it for breast cancer treatment.  Bugger.  Getting cancer is expensive!  Even with private health cover.

If I was only to take Tamoxifen there’s still oestrogen running through my body and it’s likely my periods will return.  What?! Periods and menopause symptoms – that’s f*@king cruel.  Sorry for the swearing but seriously, why should I have to put up with period pain and menopause at the same time at the tender age of 35.  Life sucks in some ways.  Ovaries may still come out but still not in the right mental state to make that decision just yet.  Maybe next year I’ll be able to consider it but not now.  I have come to the conclusion all on my own that there’s no way I could handle three children.  Not sure if I would have come to the same decision without having had cancer but even if I could have more children without putting my health at risk, I doubt I’d be able to handle three little ones in my current mental state.  I’d go cuckoo I reckon!  Half way there already.  I’m sure a lot of you healthy mothers of three or more feel cuckoo on a regular basis (in good ways too 🙂  What I need now is a simple life with minimal stress and a third child wouldn’t be conducive to the type of lifestyle I aspire to have. Plus I’m not sure Rosie and Polly would be happy sharing me with another child.  They’re both very much mummy’s girls at the moment which is lovely but extremely draining at the same time.

Speaking of my mental state, it’s been a bit of a slippery slope this year, the type with the little ledges where you plateau slightly before being whoshed down again.  Here I picture myself plummetting downwards, screaming, hands in the air with a terrified look on my face, the hands of family and friends trying their best to help slow me down.  I do slow for a bit and have a breather on the plateau before being sent spiralling down again, all on my own.  Cancer can be extremely lonely, even with the ongoing love and support from well meaning family and friends.  I do feel I’ve handled this whole cancer experience quite well for the most part, taken a great deal in my stride.  Over the last couple of months it’s getting harder and harder for me to deal with “stuff”.  You know, life stuff. Things keep on knocking me down and I keep getting up again but I’m slowly running out of puff. And it’s not just things knocking me down, it’s a busy life along with the hard stuff.  In this way I feel like I’m climbing a mountain with many peaks.  I know, I was just comparing my mental state to slippery slopes but when it comes to cancer treatment and life as a whole, it’s more of a mountain.  Just when I think I’m over the worst of it and on my way down the other side of the mountain, it turns out it’s just another peak and I haven’t actually reached the top yet.  I’m really hoping the top is the end of IV treatment, which is either 2 January 2014 or 12 December 2013, and that next year is a smooth, easy ride down the other side with a long flat straight at the bottom.  Pretty please!

One of the positives over the last few months is that I quit sugar mid August.  And I don’t mean just standard cane sugar, I mean many forms of sugar including table sugar, honey, most syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates and even fruit for 4 weeks.  What I’ve stopped eating is fructose (except whole fruit which I did cut out for a month but then slowly reintroduced it again). Did you know you can get everything you get from fruit from vegetables?  I’m sure this probably all sounds quite extreme to many of you but it was something I really wanted to experience and experiment with.  Sugar is a highly addictive substance and if I can replace it with healthier options then more power to me I say.  I’m having a real love affair with food lately.  I’m really enjoying cooking and trying new things.  The girls love sharing a green smoothie with me in the morning and I love teaching them about healthy eating.  I followed the 8 week I Quit Sugar program which included meal plans, recipes and bulk cooking ideas.  I didn’t stick to the meal plan the whole 8 weeks but ate sugar free except for a few small slips that I don’t feel bad about, these things happen.  Derek and the girls have joined me for the most part.  I didn’t remove fruit from the girls diets but honey and jam are definitely off the menu in our house, as are museli bars and anything unhealthy and processed really.  I’m always trying to find good healthy food that interests them.  That can be hard sometimes when sugar is so heavily intrenched in our society.  Pick up a packaged item in the supermarket and chances are pretty high it will have some form of sugar in it, you know, to make it taste better and keep people coming back for more (because it is addictive).  The food companies know what they’re doing.  If anyone else is interested in joining me in this sugar free experiment just let me and I’d be more than happy to fill you up with some great resources on the hows and whys.  It’s been an extremely positive experience for me and I’d love to help others start their own sugar free experiment.  It’s easier than you might think but does take committment and also time to prepare good healthy food.  Fast and convenience food are called that for a very good reason, they’re fast and convenient (but terribly unhealthy).  Giving up the sugar is the easy bit, preparing good nutrious healthy meals without feeling like I’m chained to the kitchen is the hard bit.  Lucky I love cooking, being organised is key.

In the middle of all of this happening the owners of our rental decided they would be moving back into their house.  Our home.  Bad timing really as we would have liked to stay there until next year and then make some decisions about where our future lay.  We had already decided to stay in Brisbane but weren’t exactly sure where and if we could afford to buy.  We had to decide pretty quickly whether to rent again (and move twice) or just bite the bullet and buy a place of our own (more risk as we’re waiting on some land to sell in Yeppoon).  Derek and I decided it was finally time to buy our very first house.  We’ve been renting since returning from London in 2007 and I for one was over it.  We’ve purchased a fantastic house in Karana Downs which you could almost call Ipswich rather than Brisbane but it is in Brisbane City Council.  We can even see the lights from Ipswich at night from our huge back deck.  The house is on 5000sqm or 1.25 acres.  It takes me 20 mins to drive to Rosie to Montessori and about 30 to the hospital.  It takes Derek anywhere from 45 mins to 1 hour to get to work or home, depending on traffic.  This is much more than the 15 min trip he was used to but hey, that’s city living and there was no way we could afford to live close to his work and have a house we both loved.  Rosie will be going to school in 2015 at the Brisbane Independent School which is only 10 mins away.  Derek’s Aunty Annette lives at Chapel Hill which is only 20 mins away so at least we still have one family member close by.  I’ve moved further away from my family which is a real shame.  I do have some friends in the area though so that’s a positive and I’ve made friends with the lady next door who has a 2 year old and another on the way.  We love the new house which has great views from every window, even the toilet and especially my bath.  We have the best of both worlds, bush retreat with the city only 20 mins away.  I love driving out of Kenmore, where it’s crazy busy, into the wide open spaces with the most glorious gum trees.  It’s almost like I’ve been holding my breath and then I exhale when I turn the curve and see the first big gum, one of many guiding me home.  It’s lovely having a place to call our own, at long last.  It needs a lot of work to get the yard how we want it, but Derek will take great pleasure and pride in creating our own little oasis with help from our little people.  Chickens and veggie patches to come…

Written in November

So onto the subject I’m sure many of you are curious about.  Did I walk the whole 60km for the Walk to End Women’s Cancers?  Yes I did!  I am so proud of myself and my teammates.  Gosh, it was gruelling in parts but then so is having cancer and it was much easier to do that walk than everything I’ve had to endure over the last year.  1,345 walkers took part in the Brisbane walk and collectively we raised over $3.5m.  Personally I rasied $6,215 reaching number 20 in the top fundraisers and our team of 6 raised $17,841, also reaching the top 20 from memory.  Thank you to everyone who donated and supported me in my determination to help other women who will have to endure their own cancer experience in the future.  If you missed out on donating and would like to then it’s still possible!  Lucky you.  Here’s the link:

Donate Here!

So, the walk.  Well, I did say to myself before starting that I wasn’t going to push myself to complete the whole 60km.  After the move and other difficult life “stuff”, I was feeling pretty drained in the lead up to the walk so the closer I got, the more I was preparing myself for just doing my best and not pushing myself to do it all if I didn’t feel I was able to.  Well, that mindset changed pretty quickly once the walk itself started.  I went from “be kind to yourself Cassie” to “you are doing this, no matter what”.  Lucky “no matter what” wasn’t anything too bad.  The worst “no matter what” I had to face was hardly being able to walk because of shin splints and major lactic acid build up in my quads.  Pretty easy to overcome with one of my besties, Beck, pushing and pulling me along.  No shortness of breath or light headedness or headaches or dehydration which are the type of things which probably would have sent signals off in my head.  I kept myself well hydrated and stopped for breaks when I needed them.  Pacing myself allowed me to actually finish and I want to thank Beck for sticking with me when she easily could have powered ahead.  We also visited a podiatrist on the Friday afternoon and had our feet strapped and prepared for blisters.  This helped immensely and we’ll be doing the same next year.  Yes, call us crazy, but during the last 10km on the Sunday we decided we’d definitely be lining up again next year.  Maybe in Sydney instead of Brisbane as it’s closer to Beck in Canberra.  Thinking back to the weekend here are some thoughts and feelings during each 10km:

Saturday

10km – exhilarated, proud, inclusive

20km – when’s lunch, my legs are sore, god it’s hot

30km – this last 10km feels like 20km, hills are evil, wine? thanks – why not, kind community, beer massage and stretching ahead.

Sunday

40km – this isn’t so bad, I feel pretty good, slow is the go

50km – OMG my legs are burning! OMG it hurts to stop and then move again, don’t stop moving legs, downhill is evil, very evil!  You’ll always meet someone from Rocky when having an adventure (the wife of a guy Derek went to school with, small world)

60km – where did this energy come from? how can I even walk at this point, let alone this fast (icing my legs was the trick), Star Wars (see pic below), inclusiveness, pride, exhiliration, overwhelming emotion, tears of joy, can’t believe I just walked 60km.  Wow

A big thanks to my teammates, Rebecca, Kelly, Sarah, Liz and Tracey.  And also to my Aunty Deb (in Brisbane) who organised a fashion parade morning tea to help fundraise for the cause.  It was a great event and I’ll be hiring you again for next year 😉  A big thank you also to my friends Brad and Che who held a sausage sizzle on my behalf and hounded their friends for donations for months.  Plenty willing obliged and it still touches my heart that so many people donated without even knowing me.

Back to August, which seems so very long ago now.  9 August 2013 was the one year anniversary of my diagnosis.  It was actually easier than expected on the day itself.  I had a few check up appointments in the lead up – scan of my chest and breast plus a visit to my surgeon.  I was meant to have a mammogram on my right side but couldn’t because of the trial.  I need to have one close to the end of my trial and the Wesley Breast Clinic won’t allow you to have two mammograms in a one year period.  So it was delayed and that will happen soon.  Not something I’m looking forward to as there’s not much there to squish into the machine.  Oh except my portacath, that’s there!  Not sure how they’ll manage it with the portacath positioned in such a bad spot.  I kept really busy during that week in August.  We were looking for a house to buy and ended up signing the contract for our house on 9 August, so it’s a bitter sweet day for me now.  That afternoon Derek and I went up to Mapleton for a relaxing weekend away while Mum watched the girls.  My Aunty Deb in WA had arranged a fundraiser for me and she wanted us to treat ourselves to a luxurious weekend away with the funds raised.  Okay Aunty Deb, you got it!  It was a lovely weekend away.  Relaxing, eating, walking, sightseeing.

A friend of mine, who was diagnosed after me, had a scare with some more lumps the following week and that’s when the gravity of my own situation hit me. It’s strange how I handled the week prior so well and then upon hearing about my friend’s scare I spiralled down for a bit.  She got the all clear thankfully.

It was a long time coming but in September I tapped back into my psychologist at the Cancer Council.  Looking back this is something I should have done much sooner.  The last time I talked to her was quite early in the year.  I need to stay connected with people who can help me heal both mentally and physically.  I’m seeing my breast care nurse at Choices at the Wesley Hospital this Saturday.  We’re having a long overdue catch up which I’m very much in need of at the moment.  We’ll talk about menopause, sexuality after cancer, reconstruction, mental health etc.  I’m excited about being able to tap back into Choices next year when Polly is in daycare on a Thursday.  They have free sessions of reiki and reflexology so I’ll be booking myself in for a weekly treatment hopefully plus a regular catch up with the ladies there.  I’ve also been having bowen therapy as there’s a therapist a few doors down from our house.  This is very convenient!  I haven’t had acupuncture since moving and will just stick with the bowen for the time being.  I also plan on starting pilates classes next year on a Tuesday and Thursday.  I’ll also try to find some time to just relax and regroup when the girls are at kindy.  In reality I’m probably use that time to clean and cook but hey 😉

An update on my hair seeing as that was a hot topic in previous blog posts.  I had my first haircut on my one year anniversary, 9 August and have had another since then.  I’m keeping it short for the time being to see how it goes as it continues to heal from the shock of the chemo.  It totally has a mind of its own which I am so not used to.  My hair was very well behaved before it feel out, now it’s very naughty and I’m not happy about it at all.  It’s wavy and kinky.  When it first started growing back it looked really light and grey.  Now it’s extremely dark and people keep asking me if I’ve died it, which I haven’t.  As mentioned above, I’ve lost some weight.  I’m certainly not happy about this and putting on weight will be a big focus for me next year.  Breast cancer certainly does bring about self image issues, ones I’ve never had to deal with in the past.  Of everything that’s changed about me over the last 15 months, losing weight is the one that’s effected me the most.  The hair wasn’t really a big deal.  I think I dealt with the loss of my breast quite well too.  My main issue with losing my breast has always been the physical discomfort rather than any emotional or mental concerns about it.  I’m not happy about it of course but it’s not something I’ve been hung up on surprisingly.  The weight loss gets me much deeper.  Maybe it’s because I was teased so much at school for being a stick.  Kids can be cruel and it doesn’t matter whether you’re fat or skinny, tall or short, smart or not so smart, everyone gets teased for something at some point.  My skin was thick though and I never let people see how much it actually bothered me.  So maybe that’s why I’ve got this hang up about my weight loss over the last 6 months.  Who knows?!  All I know is that it bothers me big time and I actually hope that the Tamoxifen helps to put some weight back on which is what happens to most women on it.  It annoys me how my clothes don’t fit properly.  I assume that everyone else is assuming that it must be great being skinny but it bloody well isn’t!  To assume makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me” though doesn’t it…  I need to get out of my head and focus my attention on eating good healthy fats plus add in some kind of muscle forming exercise.  There’s just so much to do to get healthy again and most days it’s just so overwhelming.  I was asked this question recently, “How do you eat an elephant?”… To which I replied immediately, “One bite at a time”, nodding my head.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  Make a list of everything I need and want to do to get myself healthy (including putting on some weight) and focus on one thing at a time to get me on my way.  This week I’m keeping a track of how much water I’m drinking using an app on my phone.  Today I easily drank over 3 litres.  Anyway, enough about my insecurities (we all have them don’t we?!) and onto more lovely things…

The Girls

So my girls are really growing up as you’ll see from the pics I’ll include below.  We celebrated Rosie’s 4th birthday in July with all her little friends from Kindy.  She had a great time and it was quite a nice calm little party.  Lots of arts and crafts to keep them busy.  Rosie has made some great friends at kindy and I’ve also made some good friends with some of the mums which is a bonus.

As I said above, both girls are very much mummy’s girls at the moment.  They’re both extremely demanding of my time and attention.  More than they were a few months ago and definitely since the move.  Polly’s gone from this very easy baby to a toddler who’s cheeky and can throw a tantrum to rival that of a 2 year old, or even a 4 year old.  She’s super cute though, lucky for her 🙂  She’s going to be the one to keep us up at night, I just know it.  Thankfully she started walking at around 16 months, same as Rosie.  But since then her favourite place to be is up on my hip.  Rosie can be challenging at times and it’s very possible, even probable, that she’s been affected more than I initially thought by what’s happened to me and our little family over the last 15 months.  When talking with my psychologist about Rosie and her demands on me it was decided that I’d give her more one on one time but the more I give her the more she wants.  She’s started getting upset when I take her to kindy and not just occasionally but every time.  I know she loves going there and has a great time while there.  When I collect her she wants to keep playing rather than come home.  Is this normal 4 year old behaviour?  Maybe it is and I’m just being oversensitive.  It’s like she’s jealous of Polly all over again and has reverted back to baby things in the way she talks and cries and wants me to do everything for her (apart from when she is screaming that she wants to do it herself!).  I can’t win…   Oh and to counteract the baby behaviour she has also started being really cheeky in a naughty way, including telling adults that they’re naughty when we’re not doing as she would like  (she’s very bossy, I suppose I’ll have to take responsibility for that seeing as Derek doesn’t have a bossy bone in his body!).  Any tips from parents of previous 4 year olds? 

Polly and I have been going to a parent lead playgroup at Rosie’s Kindy, Montessori.  It’s been great for us both.  I love watching her trying new things and exploring her new found abilities.  Polly’s also started going to daycare at Montessori just one day a week, on a Friday.  I needed this day so I could go to different regular appointments such as physio and exercise class without having to rely on family to watch Polly for me.  She seems to be enjoying the experience and it’s a good introduction as she’ll be going two days a week next year – Tuesday and Thursday.  Rosie will still be Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  My plan for next year is to get healthy and fit.  I’ve made a good start to this with an overhall of the way I eat but I really need to focus attention on the exercise side of things.  Having these two days will allow me to do this for myself and my family.  I’m also planning on doing a Uni degree to become a Nutritionist/Dietician.  I’ll start out very slowly (one subject at a time) because my focus for the first half of the year needs to be on getting me well again after cancer treatment, both mentally and physically.  I may even wait until July to enrol and go from there.

Back to the girls, when we moved we put them in the same room.  That didn’t go so well unfortunately and there’s been some changing and switching which has disrupted them.  I think they’re finally settled where they’ll stay for a while.  We may try them together again when Polly’s in a bed.  I do think they’ll enjoy the company when Polly’s a bit older.  They play well together most of the time and Polly loves following Rosie around the house, copying her and playing along side her.  It’s interesting how toddlers will play along side other kids, rather than with them but they learn to play with their siblings from a very young age.  Lovely to see.  They enjoy spending time outside even though inside I’m freaking out about snakes and spiders.  Derek is building them a cubby house for Christmas.  I’m very proud of him and can’t wait to see the end result.  Following that we’ll set up some veggie gardens and prepare an area for some chickens.  I’m sure the girls will love getting their hands dirty in the garden and cuddling the baby chicks.  I’m excited about watching them connect with mother nature some more.

We’re heading up to Central Qld to visit family and friends for two weeks before Christmas which I am looking forward to, now.  To be honest, initially I wasn’t looking forward to it as I’m quite content to stay at home in my little bubble plus I’ll be flying to Mackay alone with Rosie and Polly which was making me feel quite anxious.  Society and planes with children are something I’ll have to overcome though so bring it on.  I really had to talk myself around though.  I can’t let my anxieties get in my way of living.  If anyone wants to catch up while we’re up there (in Yeppoon), get in touch.  Derek is working but the girls and I will be looking for things to do and people to see.  (Update: Plane ride done and both girls were very well behaved.  Polly had one moment where she cracked it but she happily sat on my lap and didn’t try to get off which is what I was most concerned about.  At mum’s now relaxing, swimming, catching up on sleep, etc.  Bloody hot and humid up here though which saps the energy out of me, I forgot how much it did that.  It was actually here last July for Rosie’s birthday when I found the lump under my arm which turned out to be a cancerous lymph node).

We’re staying home for Christmas.  Our little family will have our very own Christmas Day together before visiting family later in the day.  Derek has two weeks off over Christmas so hopefully we can get things done around the house and maybe a day trip here and there.  I’m really looking forward to having Derek at home for this time.  He works away one or two nights a week and is off exercising 3 mornings a week so we don’t see as much of him as I’d like.

In the new year I’m looking at booking myself into a retreat for a detox/cleanse and some well deserved me time (if anyone can make any recommendations close to Brisbane that would be great).  We’re also planning a family holiday in February or March.  As much as I’d love to go to Fiji, it’s not really in the budget so Stradbroke or Fraser will have to do.  I’m desperate for a beach holiday during the warmer months and it will be a great way to celebrate the end of my treatment.  What a year it’s been.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but the darkness still surrounds me and this last stretch has been much more difficult than I could have anticipated.  I’ll be so happy to see the new year in on 31 December 2013.  Actually, my last treatment is 2 January and I’ll have my portacath removed soon after so I think I’ll celebrate new years a week or so later.  Once that last treatment has finished, I’ve had the portacath removed and the mammogram done, it’ll be a new year for me.  Don’t get me wrong, some great things have happened in 2013 but the bad stuff has definitely overshadowed the good stuff and I’ll just be happy to start afresh.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.  Thanks for your love and support throughout 2013.  So many of you helped in so many ways to make my life easier and more enjoyable.

Rosie’s 4th Birthday

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Rosie and Polly at the park

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Rosie and I on a cafe date

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Polly enjoying a green smoothie (I’m hooked and so are the girls!)

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Scrambled Legs 60km End Women’s Cancer Walk

Tracey, Sarah, Beck, me, Kelly, Liz

Scrambled Legs 60km walk

Beck and I with only 2km to go!

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Very emotional to cross the finish line

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Rosie striking a yoga pose (view from my bedroom)

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Rosie and Polly enjoying popcorn and a movie on a rainy day

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Keeping Polly close at the airport on Monday

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Polly feeding ducks at Ash’s house yesterday

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True dat…

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Loved this when I saw it so had to include it in this post because who knows how long until my next one.  Only two treatments to go, not long now…

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7 thoughts on “The End is Nigh (but in a good way)

  1. You are an inspiration to me Cassie! You always find the positive in everything. Tamoxifen made me pit on weight so hopefully it will do the same for you. My period has also returned so I have that as well as menopausal systems, yay! You are a wonderful, beautiful person & I am honoured to have you as a friend. Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Love always Sarah xo

  2. Great read Cas.
    I love the sense of achievement from the 60km and really hope we can pull it off again next year.
    I found I hit a dark place a couple of months after my treament finished. I put this down to finally having free time in my mind that wasn’t taken up with how crap I was feeling and how shit the situation was. I was so busy getting through each test, each appointment, each day of recovery that I hadn’t really processed what had happened to me. When my mind had the space to start that (which I felt like it did on it’s own) it didn’t like it and that slippery slope started. I wish I had of sort counselling but it was easy to say too busy, too…..whatever.
    I look forward to the day of witnessing you come clear of the fog. It will happen one day and you will be amazed at the empathy you have for others because of what you have been through.
    Love you lots and always
    xxx

  3. Beautifully written Cassie, your blogs always move me to tears! Glad the end of your treatment is nearly in sight you are truly inspirational xxx

  4. Hi Cassie, thank you for the update & pics, great to hear of your progress. Life surely has its twists and turns. It’s been a tough year for Steve and I in many ways too/ lost my dear dad in October/had several operations on my eyes/our daughter is finally in a safe place after much heart ache plus little other hick-ups along the way. Through it all I/we are are holding up as you know faith for us plays a major role. Certainly looking forward to a break in two weeks and longing to feel normal again . Whatever normal is. 🙂
    Fantastic effort with 60k walk and fundraising.
    Great to hear you are coming through and like you I am looking forward to 2014.
    All the very best for Christmas and the New year.
    Lv Cherril XO

    • Hi Cherril

      Thanks for your comment and I’m very sorry about your dad. It does sound like its been a tough year for you and your family. Bring on 2014. The year of good health.

      Cassie xo

  5. Merry xmas to you, Derek and the girls 🙂 All the best for your final treatment – yay! and have fun celebrating ‘your’ special new year in 2014.
    Lots of love Jo

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