I got the same nurse Lyn Lee at CCU. She was rather surprised to see me again. But this time around the vomiting was very minimal. The doctor explained that they removed the rest of the thyroid, parathyroid and few lymph nodes and has been sent to the pathology for testing. I was recovering quite well. It was day four. The doctor walked in looking chuffed. He was very happy. The results were back and the cancer thankfully had not spread anywhere. So, I think we got to it before it spread anywhere. I am one lucky girl.
This was the best outcome we could have had. Still I had to go through more tests to make sure that it was not popping up anywhere else. But for the moment it was GREAT news.
We had a chat to the boys and mum and explained what has been happening for the last couple of years. And that I am now cancer free. Mum was over the moon. Hari was quiet for a moment and then he said, “mum is only 5ft tall but she is tough, she will be fine”. Arj went quiet. Afterwards, he said almost tearful “mum, some say that they have got rid of cancer, but it comes back after five years or so, will that come back for you too, what if it comes back?” I explained that yes it could come back. Once you get cancer, there is no guarantee that it won’t come back again.
I went on to explain further, yes, I have escaped cancer now, but I could get hit by a car around the corner and die too. In life there are no guarantees. But just because there are uncertainties in life we don’t stop living. If I get the cancer again, I just have to pick up where I left off the first time and this time I have some experience. Arj was happy with that answer.
I had to go for monthly tests and then they became less frequent, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and now only annually. I still had to go for the annual endoscopy and colonoscopy because of a little inflammation/cyst of some sort near in the intestines. Once again my fitness level had dipped. So I met Damien my personal trainer again. He was excellent. For me it’s not just about losing weight to look pretty. It is more to do with being able to move my body and use my body effectively. To feel fit and healthy. And that is exactly what Damien is all about. Especially when you are after an injury or surgery, it is paramount that you are careful and that you don’t make things worse.
Hari got selected to enter University of NSW. I was so proud of him. He worked damn hard to get there. From a very young age he was determined to become a Robotics Engineer and now he is at the door steps of his dream. We were looking for accommodation etc for him in Sydney. I decided that I will accompany him to show him the ropes and help him settle in. For the rest of the world he is an adult. But for me the mother he is still my baby. I am going to miss my baby, but I am going to hide those tears so he can achieve his dreams.
We were busy buying and organising things for his new apartment when I received a call from my Gastrointestinal Surgeon. He wanted to see me when I returned to Adelaide. I had a feeling that this was for another surgery. He wouldn’t be calling to say that I’ve won a million dollars now would he, it’s more like “I am running low on cash, can I open you up?” Yep, the small inflammation/cyst thing had suddenly grown into a massive lump. This was sitting on the junction of the intestine/ oesophagus. Being on that junction it was like on the corner of an S bend, was going to be a tricky operation. And essentially Dr. Bessell was trying to avoid opening me up fully as that would be a rather big surgery. His team of doctors believed they could do a laparoscopic surgery. This would mean easier recovery etc. He explained that they will try their hardest to do it that way, but sometimes they might have to change course and open me up.
My friend Sally worked in this hospital as a nurse and she came to see me before I was wheeled in. Wish she was there to see my reaction, when I woke up. I woke up to find that I was opened from top to toe. I stroked my stomach area to see where the laparoscopic holes were. But I felt my whole chest feel really heavy and then yes, a big cut from the top of the rib cage up to the belly button. They’ve cut me up like I was a piece of fish, gutted and filleted, okay maybe not filleted.
This was by far the worst of the surgeries. As the oesophagus is in the back (inside the rib cage) behind heart and other organs. So it’s similar to a bypass surgery where they have to open the rib cage up to get to this spot. The lump was benign after all that. But I guess considering the size of the lump and my history they couldn’t take a chance and leave it there.
Recovery was slow, but steady. I was in a lot of pain though. By this time we had a new addition to the family. Galileo our little pugalier pup. We called him Leo for short. Leo was a major part of my recovery. Once everyone is off to school and work, it was just me, Leo and the TV. He knew, he could sense it, that I was in a lot of pain. He followed me everywhere and slept on the edge of my foot. Keeping watch and keeping company.
In time I was now back to normal. However, with these repeated surgeries, my body had taken beating. Also a few months after this surgery I also managed to break my ribs a couple of times. I felt like an old woman. Walk was very slow. My back hurt, my shoulder hurt and I had gained weight. I was still my positive self, happy and chirpy. Everyone around me was happy to give the excuse that I have been through a lot and carrying a bit weight was the least of my worries. They were not wrong, and I was happy to accept the same.
However, I was now convinced that I had to meet Damien again. If I am going to live, I am going to live well I thought. I wanted to be able to everything I did when I was 21. I had cancelled my gym membership by this stage as the gym was not willing to put a stop on the payments when I go in for the surgeries. I had whole heap gym equipment at home. But I was worried again, if I was safe to use them. Damien had left the gym. But I managed to track him down. He had opened his own gym. A small boutique gym. I started with him just on single personal lessons. Back to Square one, or more like go backwards after each surgery. One step forward and two steps backwards I thought. Still I was prepared for the hard work. Slowly I got the confidence to join his group class. First class was just pure murder. But slowly I could feel my fitness improve, lose weight and feel great. I am probably still one of the weakest members, in the group. But it doesn’t matter. I am not holding the gauge against the others, this gauge is a personal gauge. The race is mine, and I am still winning the race.
18th September 2015. With Damien’s encouragement I decided to take part in the City to Bay fun run. As the day grew closer I felt very emotional. Just an year ago I couldn’t walk 1k, now I am preparing to run 6k. I wasn’t sure if I could really do it. But I was going to try. I was going to give it a real go.
I was very emotional that day. When I saw the finish line, I realised this was really a start line or could say restart line. My life starts again.