You know its funny this preparing to die thing. It feels a lot like normal life.
Each day is much like it was in the past. There are some very notable differences. I work less. I spend more time clearing up and clearing out my life – decluttering and simplifying things as much as possible. This often causes pain, as I move on things which I’ve been holding on too. I don’t need to leave my mess behind for my family. Literally death cleaning…
Fortunately, I’ve had help from friends and family with this to some extent, although the task does seem endless.
In the evenings as I fall to sleep, when my bra is off and I fold my arm into the space where my missing breast used to be, I feel incredulous that this has happened to me.
It seems ridiculous to be dying of (or is that living with) breast cancer at 44.
I do get angry. I get really angry. I do feel cheated. I hate not being able to dream of the future, and I cannot even think about my boys alone, or their future grief. It upsets me so very much to think how much this will hurt them. It seems bizarre. You can plan your life, do all the “right” things, you can dream of the future, but ultimately, when you die is out of your hands.
A friend and great mentor of mine spoke about how living each day for the day is just a continual exercise of mindfulness, and this is what has given me some comfort. I am not dying today; I am living today. So, I keep living… each day. I don’t plan for the future. I try not to think of it, or too far ahead. And I definitely don’t plan more than a few weeks.
Keeping on living
Recently I was invited to visit Australia Zoo to learn about koala medicine and disease, and exchange ideas from my own research. I spent time with a great inspiration of mine and many other wonderful colleagues. It was a fabulous week. I’ve also finally seen my paper published and been working extensively with the local veterinary community to improve our Veterinary Practices Act (boring but important). I hope to have some more input by working on some guidelines for rehabilitation practices for koalas in SA.
I continue to work two days a week as this gives me some structure and meaning to my time. And helps with finances.
I try to spend special time with my boys as much as possible. We are going to local events and special places and enjoying the Fringe.
I rale against the border closures due to Covid-19 whilst acknowledging their importance in keeping me safe. It is hard to organise time away from Adelaide when I must be here two out of every three Fridays.
I have had several interstate visits from close friends with their families, and my own family. This has been joyous. I hope soon we can venture interstate, with careful timing between treatments.
News on the treatment front has been good. My lymph nodes and pulmonary nodules are smaller on the scan on the 12th of February. I also do not have any more lesions in my brain.
We don’t know if this is due to the chemotherapy or the experimental drug (Keytruda). I am growing weary of the treatment; I have been doing chemo for 8 months now. My veins are becoming increasingly difficult to hit leading to many needles on Fridays as the nurses and phlebotomists try to hit them. I am also becoming more anaemic and have required two blood transfusions since January. The chemo itself is painful and is starting to cause a few more side effects – nausea, and possibly neuropathy in my legs. I don’t know what the plan is, but at some point, I think chemo will stop as the toxicity is cumulative. We have also reached the milestone of $60,000 spent on Keytruda. The company now will pay for further doses. I am intending on getting your money’s worth…
So, life continues… a few bumps but in general it’s good, isn’t it?