Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The dreaded “C” Word cont… (part 4)

 

cancer

The Dreaded C Word

The dreaded “C” word cont….

The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)

 

As I said before I am a very practical person.  My method of parenting was also very practical.  I had much to do, minimum amount of disruption was vital.  “Mum he started it” was dealt with “I don’t care who started it, I can finish it” punishment was for both of them, my theory was one of them escaped the dreaded wooden spoon one time or another, so it was all even at the end of a long week.  I wish I had a similar method for my mum and husband. Their relationship was straining.  In turn, it was affecting me as well.  I usually keep my peace with mum; as when she erupts it’s a few days of misery.  But after continuous prodding by the GP and the Gyno, my stomach was in all sorts.  Pain was in its absolute peak.  Unfortunately my mum was not privy to any of this information.  So she kept pushing everyone’s buttons.  I made a slip. So the day I went for the first of the scans, I was not entirely thinking about the scan or the dreaded tumour marker.  Hubby and I were mostly discussing the eruption we had the night before.  It was a very good distraction.

My reasoning for bringing this part of the laundry into the lime light is not to discredit my mum, my husband, father in law or anyone else.  This is to point out, that just because you are going through cancer, the rest of world doesn’t stop to lay you that red carpet, not always anyway. Life goes on as normal for the rest of the world.  Your closest and dearest are forced to change their routine a little bit, the bit where they were reliant on you, is now on them to carry on, on their own.  It’s not like when you have the flu, where the inconvenience is just for a week, but with something like cancer, it’s a long road.  A long bumpy road, with many potholes. The driver is going to try and avoid those potholes and the passenger hopes the same.  But unfortunately the wheels are going to hit those darn potholes once in a while anyway.  Pain is experienced by all.  You have to just keep driving.  Driver fatigue is very possible in this journey as well.  It’s important that you involve the passenger to take on the wheel at times.

Friends became co-drivers in terms of school drop offs.  We headed to the doctors for an 8.30 AM appointment.  This Gynaecologist was recommended by a nurse friend of mine. She told me he was thorough. This man takes thoroughness to another level. What we learnt later is that this blood test that flagged the tumour marker, is not usually a test that Gyno’s worry about.  It’s not a conclusive test, it’s something used as an indicator on advanced cancer patients to see if the cancer was returning, rising etc.  Not sure of his thinking why he asked me to have it done.  Anyway, that inconclusive test is the main reason why I am still around to tell my story.

Dr. Munday went on to explain that the tumour marker count on a normal person should be around 0-10, and mine was around 175.  Quite high I guess.  But at the same time this is an indicator, in laymen’s term, (this is how I convinced myself that it was not that serious) it’s like saying if you have a headache it could mean you have brain tumour, or it could even mean that you just have a migraine.  He had already looked at the results of the tests performed the day before.  Lungs were clear.  The liver had some white masses, so he had discussed it with the liver specialist before my arrival and the opinion was that it is rather a normal feature in women of my age.  The intestines/ oesophagus had a small area that they wanted to have another closer look at.  So he had already made an appointment for me with a Gastroenterologist. Dr Munday went on to explain that until we explore the possibility of the cancer and if I had cancer that had to be dealt with first before the hysterectomy.  Three days later I was going for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy.  Fasting, jelly and the rest of the glory began.  Mum thought that was all part of the hysterectomy. I didn’t see a reason to correct her.  I needed support and strength, someone who would say and feel it was going to be okay. Not the other way around.  I didn’t have the energy to console my mum.  It would be hard for any parent to not fall apart.  Let alone for one who has lost her husband and this was her only child.  Not telling my mum the whole story meant she didn’t see a reason to let go of the fight that started 3 days ago.  Hubby may be domestically challenged but when it came to the mental strength that I needed, he was like a rock for me.

I had taken on a new client. This meant their books were an utter mess and years behind in reconciliation. The Tax department was breathing down their neck and so were the creditors. The added trips to the doctors and specialists meant I was behind in my work.  So, before going in for the scopes the next day I promised that I will have all reports emailed to them that night.  I was working till midnight with the jelly and toilet trips.  I was like a woman before labour.  Nesting instincts had clicked in.  I was doing it all, cleaning, ironing uniforms, helping with homework and profit and loss statements all tackled.

Scopes were done and the results drew blank. So Dr. Munday decided to go ahead with the surgery. The cancer cloud had not completely cleared.  The possibility that the endometriosis was giving an elevated reading was talked about. Still no real answers to why it was high. Dr. Munday was going to have an oncologist on site, so if he saw anything untoward, then they will stop the surgery, close me up for that day, take actions for the cancer and so forth.

With all the tests and doctor’s appointments completed until September for the surgery, life was back to the same old.  Reality was starting to sink in. I could have cancer.  I talked to a selected few of my friends and to one of my cousins who lived in Adelaide.  Other than that we didn’t want to alarm any one before we knew the exact story ourselves.

Moments of sadness crept in.  I lost my dad at the age of 19.  He was only 53.  My life completely changed after his passing.  I lost my whole identity.  From a girl who was full confidence and conviction, I became withdrawn and almost very insecure. Not that I lost interest in my studies, but I was not firing with all cylinders.  I knew it would be the same for my kids. They were much younger than I was when I lost my dad. Not that I had lacked confidence in Ganesh to be a good dad, but I knew, without me the house would turn into Capt. Von Trap  and his two sons on two minute noodles.

Hari had just moved to high school and was slowly finding his feet.  It always takes a bit of time for Hari to make friends and accept a new place.  He already had his challenges with his hearing and the issues that brings on.  I feel somehow responsible for his hearing loss and then on top of that to lose his mother at a young age would just make things worse.  He had an amazing final year in his primary school, winning scholarships, chess tournaments, Maths Olympiad and South Australian Champ for Robotics.  He showed so much promise. Arj was just blossoming as a young actor, orator and debater.  He had Midsummer Night’s Dream under his belt.  He was just nine years old and a star already.  I was going to derail everything.

Cont…

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)

 

 

cancer

 

 

The Dreaded C Word

The dreaded “C” word cont….

Read the above two before you tackle this …

My journey begins. For years, I suffered from endometriosis.  Medical explanation to this is a tissue that lines the inside of the uterus starts to grow out side.  I also had a few fibroids in my ovaries.   I just like growing things inside my body.  If I had done so much growing on the outside of my body I could be six feet tall instead of 5ft. This meant for years I had suffered from bleeding and severe stomach cramps.  Naprogesic (a pain killer) was my ever loving friend. I was anaemic at most times. It was unbearable pain and discomfort.  However as a working mother of two over energetic boys and a wife of a domestically under contributing husband, I had no choice but to soldier on.  The GP’s were shying away from a hysterectomy as I was under the age of 40.  Damn hormones, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

With a busy lifestyle my visits to the doctor was not that frequent.  I turned 40, but we also moved states and yes there was so much else happening.  So, no trips to the doctor, just trips to the chemist to get more Naprogesic.  I was 41, I could feel that things were getting really bad; a job got cancelled last minute.  That day was no different, I was in a lot of pain, I was already in the car when the client declined, so decided to drive to the doctors and get this pain sorted out once and for all.

My reasoning was that I had two kids, not planning on another, I had enough, I want the whole thing out.  Well, did I open the Pandora’s Box or what?  Ultra sound confirmed that I had plenty of rubbish in one of my ovaries, and the endometriosis was well cooked. Next stop, the Gynaecologist.  Met the Gyno, nice man, apparently his dad was a Gyno too, and his sister was a midwife.  Hope they were not talking shop at the dinner table.

Didn’t, realise that this would be the start of all tests.  At this stage, things were rather simple, decision was made to remove one of my ovaries, so that the other could produce enough hormones and we could avoid hormone replacement therapy.   This was around June/July. I was told that I will need two months minimum to recover.  I am a very practical person.  I thought well I will have to do it in one month.  We set the date for the surgery one week before the school holidays in September.  I had endured this for so long I couldn’t see the urgency.  I had so much to plan before the surgery.  Two months gave me enough time to cook and freeze food for the domestically challenged and his kids.  School holidays meant no school drops offs, and sports drop offs, no chess clubs and no debating.

I started cooking. My surgeon had given me scripts for a few more scans and blood tests to be done before the surgery to assist him with the surgery.  Blood test completed.  Two weeks went past and my life remained the same. I was still yelling at kids to get up in the morning, and the husband to get out of the toilet.

I was at work, it was 11: 30 am.  Just had a coffee and biscuits, too late to feel guilty about that chocolate bikky that I downed.  Yep, it’s Lyn, my surgeons’ nurse on the phone asking when I had something to eat.  I said just now, thinking “Christ I am only going for a hysterectomy not a lap band surgery”  She said politely, “Can you not drink or eat anything anymore and can you please come in for some scans at 4.00pm?” My blood test revealed that my CEA count was high.  That was a  Pauline Hanson moment – Please explain.  Carcinoembryonic Antigen.  She said “best if the doctor explains it, he will see you tomorrow after the tests”.  She said it’s a type of tumour marker. I am still in the dark. But I realised, that there were some alarm bells going off, at the doctors. I didn’t have much time to ponder if it was a false alarm or not as I had to organise school pick up and everything else.  It did stun me for a bit though.  Talked to the girls at work, they were nurses before they started their own business doing physio therapy, they had some idea but I was probably not in the right head space to take in all the information. Went outside to get some fresh air, and to call hubby, ask a friend to pick up the boys.  Time passed very quickly.  Had a CT scan of my lungs and a MRI of the stomach.

Little did I realise that this was the beginning of radiology cocktails.  Most of them were white, some of them had slight pink tinge, some pale yellow. It didn’t’ matter what colour it was, they had one common component.  They all tasted rotten.  Anyway, I was asked to come the next day to meet the Doc.

cont …. Continue reading “The dreaded “C” word cont…. (3rd lot)”

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The dreaded “C” word cont….

 

cancer

For me, I took a lot of strength from some of the famous cancer survivors, their determination and their outlook in life.  To name a few Olivia Newton John, Glenn McGrath’s wife Jane and Lance Armstrong (obviously, this was before he was found out).  But more than anyone, who gave me most strength was my neighbour Nick.  Nick was an Old Italian man.  Every year on x’mas day our street has a tradition.  We all visit each other, with gifts and have port, wine, baileys, black coffee, food, all the good stuff.  It is really great living in an Italian neighbourhood.  You are drunk by 10.00 am.  Anyway, coming back to Nick, the previous year Nick had bowel cancer.  So the next X’mas when we were there, as usual his wife was trying to feed us with everything she could find.  I passed the tray to Nick, and he explained that he can’t eat all that, I guess the Doc’s had a field day snipping his intestines.  So I asked, “so how are you now Nick?” (With concern and a sombre voice) and he goes “I am fantastic, I will live another 100 years”.  He is (I know he is no longer with us and I should use he was, but his spirit and his cheerful cheeky face is still fresh and alive in my mind) a breath of fresh air.  This is the man when we first moved in, we were still unpacking, moving furniture, cleaning, we were ready to drop, looks at us and says apparently his dad told him that “it is only the first 100 years of your life that is hard, after that it is a piece of cake” and he chuckles.  I could write a separate book about Nick. So Nick was no celebrity, not even an academic, he was not a motivational speaker, he was just an ordinary man. He is not someone who could quote Nietzsche or Shakespeare, he just quotes his dad.  For some reason he made a massive impact on the way I looked at life.

Do I really have it, I don’t think so, so what’s this stupid tumour marker, I don’t know, just do the darn tests, test after test for nearly two and half years.  MRI’S, CT Scan’s, PET Scans, Endoscopy, Colonoscopy, Cystoscopy, every type of scan and every type of scope that there is, my body has endured it, over and over again.

cont…

If you havent read the first blog, it would make more sense if you read that first  The Dreaded C Word

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The Dreaded C Word

cancer

A friend of mine asked me to write my story, my journey through cancer, struggle and survival. Initially I thought, I am no hero, me being alive is due to my luck and my fate.  I really had nothing to do with getting the cancer or getting rid of cancer. Many others have had a much harder battle than mine, with much harsher outcomes. In my case cancer was not the biggest battle, trying to find the cancer was the bigger battle.

Anyway after much thought and consultation with my husband, decided why not.  My case is still being studied and researched at the Adelaide hospital, what I had was a very rare type of cancer.  If the medics can learn from my case, so can the rest of society, I guess.

One of the things I learnt living in Australia, among the white men, is that they deal with these things in a much more open manner. Part of it has to do with educating the rest of the mass.  I remember as a young kid, I was not allowed to say I had asthma in public, my uncle didn’t have diabetes, he was just being careful.  Or you had the opposite, where you get a barrage of advice, of which ninety percent of it is incorrect.  The sentence starts with “they say apparently if you do this it will just clear in two days”. If you eat ladies finger three times a day, looking at the sun, winking with one eye, while standing on one leg and your cancer will disappear.  I am not denying the benefits of ladies finger or any other vegetable for that matter, but you simply cannot cure serious illnesses such as cancer with a vegetable. If it were possible, someone in the USA would have patented it by now and would be making a fortune.  We, the Sri Lankans, thrive on misinformation.  I guess it was the same in the West in the Elizabethan era, but the people have changed, they now demand knowledge, the doctors don’t tell you anymore, now they discuss with you, they explain it to you. So I say to anyone, who is struck with a serious illness, arm yourself with knowledge, ask questions, read and read about your condition, and with the information you have, ask more questions.

The Aussies are a tough lot.  If you look at history, their journey to Australia was an arduous one, the weak and the meek died at sea, the ones who made it here, wondered why. They were envious of those who perished at sea. The terrain they landed was terrible.  If life was so hard in the lush English soil that they had to steal that bread and hence their journey to this land, now how were they going to survive in this barren land?  Now this barren land is a major exporter of farming products. This lot didn’t make it this far to perish of starvation.  They were going to make it against all odds.  This is the reason, when this lot go out to play sports in the international arena; they get branded as being too rough. TOO ROUGH!! You should see the local games to see how rough they can be. They will continue to play with broken jaws and fingers.  Yes, you have to soldier on with pain and agony to see the end result.  When you get cancer, there is no prize for second best.  Runner up isn’t going to cut it

to be cont…..