Monday, December 24, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
with John van der Ruit
"Thembi must be the most beautiful, enchanting young girl I have ever come across, she is 13 years old and has Muscular Dystrophy. When she was given a dream form to complete she listed eight dreams! Her reasoning being that she had never been asked such a question before and once she started she couldn't stop! We were amazed at her list, and formulated a plan to put her dream together. Among her dream list was a request for her very own box of chocolates that she didn't have to share with anyone - her joy when we handed over a large box of chocs was very infectious - at that stage she believed that we had just fulfilled her dream! Once we explained that there was more and handed over the air tickets - she was quite beside herself. The tickets covered the flights from East London to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and back to East London! Thembi loves reading and wishes to be a journalist and author.
Thembi and Ilze set off early on Monday morning, meeting with Janine Daniels of the Penguin Publishing group in Johannesburg - they met the staff and then had a wonderful time at the Cleo Magazine offices. They were hosted by the Penguin group for lunch and armed with a huge pile of magazines and books they returned to the airport for the flight to Cape Town. Having spent the night in Cape Town they then were taken to Table Mountain and Blouberg Strand where, with a view of Robben Island, Thembi received her precious copy of A Long walk to Freedom - another of her cherished dreams. Everyone was absolutely in awe of Thembi, with several people asking to have photos taken with her! She really just touches people wherever she goes! They then went to meet with Marguerite Black, a journalist living with a similar condition to Thembi, they spent some time together - it seems a magical time for both where they both seemed to really connect and give each other inspiration and energy.
Having gathered in some ardent fans in Cape Town they then traveled to Durban where they spent the night. Wednesday dawned to a full programme, meeting with Gcina Mhlope who gave Thembi her undivided attention - whom Thembi thought was "VERY cool" A short trip through Ushaka Marine World and then lunch with author, Marguerite Poland. It is the first time I have organized a dream where the hosts have phoned to thank me for the honour of meeting a dream child! Marguerite was totally enchanted with Thembi and found her a complete inspiration! The last author she met with was John van der Ruit, again a very successful, fun meeting.
Thembi has no idea what an inspiring person she is - one seldom finds a young person with such grace and maturity and yet a sense of fun and energy fitting a 13 year old. She astounded all the people she met by preparing a set of questions and gathering information about each person they visited via the internet! It has been an absolute pleasure being involved with this dream - it is difficult to merely say thank you to the sponsor of this dream as everyone involved has gained from it, especially Thembi who will has been able to take a step into her future and no matter what it holds for her, she will have memories of a wonderful trip that will keep reminding her of how special she is."
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday evening was a sleep deprived night again. I went to bed exhausted thinking I can get thru the night without the magic of sleeping tablets. Eventually at 4:30 I got up to take some myprodol and slept for 2 1/5 hours. The past week has been a nightmare again and Friday evening (and the night before) the aching joints really got to me. That got me thinking (therefore the perfect shaped head :) ) again… next chemo round I should start taking weed. This could be consumed in tea, muffin, biscuit - cigarette form would not be acceptable as this might just start me smoking again. I need to admit that I am the most naïve 46 year old in Cape Town – whilst I have physically seen weed I have never consumed it in any form... what a nerd I am! If weed is not the option I may need to convince Dr V that I need to be hospitalised for 6 days and they can keep me ‘morphined’ to the hilt – this may be the easier option for Alida the nerd.
Sunday lunchtime Ian and I met up with the work team and we had the most wonderful time. It was great seeing you all!!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Dear blog readers and shavathon supporters: Here is feedback on where our monies have been spent.
Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner, but I was waiting for a very special dream to come in!
I’m please to tell you that we are fulfilling a very special dream today for Thembi – Thembi is a 13 year old, who is suffering from Muscular Dystrophy, and who lives in East London. When we do our assessments to find out what the child’s dream is, we try and find out as much as possible about each child – their likes, their dislikes, and of course, what their dreams are. We also ask each child for 3 dreams, in case we can’t fulfill the first one for whatever reason.. Thembi’s first dream was for a bursary, as she wants to become an author one day, and thought a bursary would help her on this journey. Her second dream was for a trip anywhere, as she wanted to see what was outside of East London. Her third dream was for books, as her biggest hobby is reading.
Reach For A Dream is unfortunately not able to award bursaries and so we had to go back to the drawing board and see what her second dream was. This dream child obviously touched the hearts of all involved in East London and they went all out to make this as special and memorable for her as possible. It was decided that they would do her second dream for a trip anywhere, but to embellish it and focus on her love for being an author and reading. The result is that our darling Thembi is doing a whirlwind tour of the country, visiting authors from around South Africa – thus getting to see different places and meet these people that will have a huge impact on her life and dreams. I believe that her first meet and greet is with the Author of Spud – John van der Ruit, in Natal…
I’ve attached a photo of Thembi and the volunteer (Margi) who is assisting Thembi on this journey of a lifetime and promise to send you a full feedback on Thursday once they have returned from this epic journey… I just thought you would like to know that right at the moment, a dreamer is having the time of her life, thanks to yourself and your generous friends. (There is also a local sponsor that is involved, but really, it couldn’t have been done without your contribution as well!)
All the best
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Colin and Flynn arrive from the UK this morning. I am expecting them around today. It will be a bit emotional as brother and sister see each other for the first time since we know about this illness. And then tonight we have Jen’s 40th birthday… yes, we do still know people who are turning 40… us old farts!! All in all, busy has been the call of the day.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I eventually phoned Dr V on Monday afternoon to get the results of the MRI scan. (I still have not heard from Dr L!!). He returned the call within 30 minutes with the news that there is no cancer in the bone. That is very good news!
I have had many hours to think in the past few weeks and what really touches me is how this illness has changed quite a few of my beliefs and practices in a positive manner, but also how it has had an positive impact on all the people who interact with me. Each and every person that has touched my life has also had a learning experience from this illness, be it that they have learnt that it is ok to chat about the illness directly and openly, to healing and growth happening for themselves at deeper levels. For example my dearest goddaughter who lost her mom to cancer nearly 9 years ago has now been given the opportunity to deal with cancer in a completely different manner and this has allowed so much emotional healing to occur. Another example is a lunch chat with Tertia (So Close) where I believe she got as much out of the discussion as I did. Everything happens for a reason & nothing is a co-incidence.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tuesday evening was the first evening I cooked dinner for the family since the operation 6 weeks ago. I am just so blessed to have people around me who provide for the little things. Things we all take for granted. Dinners are delivered and some dear friends even bring frozen home cooked meals for the difficult days still to come. I just love South Africans and the natural caring nature! I just love South Africa with all its warts.
For the past 6 to 7 weeks I have had a constant display of fresh flowers in the home. These range from beautiful bouquets, formal bunches to home grown flowers loving picked and dropped off with a hug and a kiss. How spoilt can a girl be! I have had roses, St Joseph Tiger and Inca lilies, carnations, happy sunflowers, daisies, you name the flower and it has stood proudly in my home brighten my every day. Thank-you!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday afternoon Dr L phoned me about my x-ray report!! She needs to view the x-rays and wants to discuss them with an expert. As I am mobile again (hip hip hooray!!), I have found my independence again after 6 weeks, I popped off to Dr L to drop off the x-rays. Tuesday afternoon, and I have not heard from Dr L !!!! Her receptionist phoned me around 16h00 and promised Dr L would phone me tomorrow. This illness is definitely teaching me about patience!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
- Denial: this is when we just cannot believe or accept the death or illness, there is a feeling f isolation or a need to be alone
- Anger: this is when we are angry with the whole world around us that this has happened to us
- Bargaining: Here we start to bargain with God by saying “if You do this for me, I will do that for you”
There is no predetermined timeframe in which the above steps occur. One person may go through steps one to five with in a matter of hours and another person may take years to get to the acceptance stage.
When I look at my own personal experience in being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer Stage IIIB on Thursday 18 Oct 2007, I was left completed isolated and empty of all emotions for the first few hours. When Ian came into my hospital room around 8h30 (I think) I was still in denial stage as I just felt 100% empty and very teary… both of us in fact. Then Dr H (gynie oncologist) popped around to explain all the ins and outs of what this means and what treatments are to come. I felt a bit better but then I needed to get Ian to get a hold on himself. He was so shocked by the news that he wobbled like a big bird on a small tender twig. We did some deep breathing and basic meditation grounding to get a grip on ourselves. Post this we did the phone calls to the immediate family. I guess it was around midmorning by this stage. As it happened, my brother Colin texted me to find out how I was doing, so I decided that was the sign for him to hear the news first. After Colin I phoned my sis in law, Marietjie and asked her to share the news with my brother Leon, then I tried to get hold to Dick, got voicemail, so phoned sis in law, Malinda. I was left absolutely emotionally empty after the 3 phone calls, so I left the balance of the family to Ian. Each phone call was done with a shaking voice and tears welling up in our eyes. Ian phoned my folks, his family and my closest girlfriends. That afternoon, Marietjie popped around before visiting time to give lots of hugs and emotional support and Jen popped around during visiting hours with my wee dram for the evening. I even had to phone one work colleague who has asked the previous day if he could pop around, and shared the news and the fact that it was not a good day to visit. Every person who heard the news was struck by total disbelieve. I must admit, I also had a problem digesting the news and accepting it! My mom and Leon have gone more visibly through the anger stage where they really questioned why this has happened with loads of emotions.
Later that day I really questioned why this is happening to me. From a metaphysical point of view I fully understand that there is a greater meaning to this illness occurring within me. I would equate this stage to that of anger and a bit of bargaining as I questioned that the histology reports were indeed those of my innards.
By Sunday we had told the core circle of people around us. Monday was the day to share the news with work colleagues. This took about 10 phone calls and left me completely exhausted, including the fact that we had a few phone calls to agree how the team would operate without me for the next few weeks.
Depression lasted for at least 2 weeks as I had to accept that this illness is within me and that I have to step forward each day to fight the illness. The very first chemo session was really dreadful when the liquid started dripping into my veins. The emotions were just too much to bear. Since chemo round 1 I have had to prepare myself for the emotion of losing all my head hair. This caused a huge amount of depression with me and I sobbed for many hours on many evenings. I later convinced myself that my hair was dead therefore I would cut it short before it starts falling out. By the time I cut my hair, I had detached myself completed from all emotions.
Some 5 days after cutting my hair, it started falling out and within another 5 days I have been left with a bit of fluff on my head. Every time I look into a mirror I am reminded that I am chemo patient and I have to accept this fact. Chemo is no fun, it plays havoc with your body and your emotions. I am moody and irritable with all those who try to support me emotionally, I am nauseous, my skin is sensitive and irritated, my joints ache. All this for a week and then I have a week where my poor body is trying to rebuild itself to a normal functioning, only to start the chemo process all over again. I am finally in the acceptance stage (I can see myself in a mirror) but still question what the great message of this illness is for me and my family.
When dealing with sharing this illness with many people, one needs to be cognisant not to take the spoken words back personally as many people do not know how to react, so instead of saying ‘I don’t know what to say’ they end up saying things they don’t actually mean. The one example I have is where the individual told me that sometimes I am a bitch but I do have a nice side too!! (Bloody hell) Another lesson is that the majority of people actually do not know how to deal with a person that has been diagnosed with cancer (nor death). The best is to talk to them normally about the situation and through that the other person also learns how to deal with situations of this nature in future.
My whole family and closest friends have rallied up to from a core circle around me and I am truly blessed to have such a supportive network. I am in friends’ personal prayers, in prayer group meetings and in spiritual healing circles.
Where is all this leading to? What lessons are in this for me?
I am learning to be humble, I am learning to be grateful for all I always took for granted, I am learning to pen words, I am learning to have empathy.
I understand that grieving is a natural human process.
Please read my ‘sister’ posts on grieving – follow the LINKS on the right.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Yesterday I went for x-rays on my right hip. The hip has been bothering me for some months now and I attributed the discomfort to the cyst (now called tumour) causing pressure inside. The medical report is all in Afrikaans and contains words that even my well versed Afrikaans family cannot understand. I did scan and email the report to the Dr’s yesterday afternoon and phoned today to get feedback. But.. the stand in Dr has left the office for the day…. Uuuurrrrrrggghhhhhh!!!! Dr L is back on Monday so guess who will be on the phone to her Monday morning!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Saturday the weather was absolutely stunning! Definitely the kind of day that must be spent outdoors pottering around in the garden. Anet dropped in with a big bowl of left-over trifle for the men in the house (teenage men do know how to consume food!). Ian took me to the local shopping mall (first time out for me with a scarf on the head) as we needed to get some birthday gifts for nieces today and tomorrow. With both Ian and I coming from families of 4 children, there are many nieces and only a handful of nephews. I find that about 2% of people stare at me…. I am going to ask them what they staring at! Have they never seen a person with a ‘doek’ (Afrikaans for scarf) on the head!! At home I walk around with my bare head – I must admit, it is a well shaped skull that I have - must be all the years of mental work!
I received the medical details from the very nice lady who phoned me during the week. Once you get into the detail, there are many surprises in terms of the medical costs and how they are processed / what is not covered by the medical aid and what is processed as normal day to day expenses rather then related to oncology. The recommendation is that I change schemes, which will more that double my monthly contributions. I will phone her later next week when I feel a bit better as I have a few questions on some costs not covered.
The next post will be published once I feel a bit better after chemo.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I have a very close friend who put up her first born for adoption about 19 years ago. About 5 weeks ago she met her daughter for the very first time. Since then the daughter has met her husband, son, grandfather, etc. Tonight my friend has invited her closest friends to pop around to meet her daughter – I am sure there are going to be quite a few tears!
We managed to collect ZAR14,000 for terminally ill children (charity fund Reach for a Dream). THANK YOU for your generous contributions. I transferred the money this morning. See the email below: As I get updates from the organisation, I will publish them.
From: Judith Muirhead [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 15 November 2007 10:09To: 'Alida'Subject: RE: Donation
Wow – I just saw the notification come through to let us know about the donation, and I’m sitting here with a very big smile on my face! Thank you for your very generous donation – we will certainly use these funds for some very special treats – I’ll keep you updated at all times with the dreams that we are able to fulfill with these funds…. It might take a few weeks until I get back to you with feedback, but I will certainly send it through as soon as the dreams have been fulfilled – we’ve got some very special ones coming in at the moment.
Thanks again for helping us make a real difference in a child’s life – these dreams really do last a lifetime and truly help these very special and brave children fight and beat their illnesses.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Today was quiet with only my aunt (Hennie) and chauffeur (Anet) popping in to see how things are going. No afternoon nap so I can sleep tonight. Mom is not doing too well. She is stressing about the situation at home with the hubby. He had two stokes earlier this year and has some brain damage and loss of movement, and struggling to cope – only 11 days for her to go and said to her that once you past the halfway mark, time seems to go quicker. Despite all this, Mom is keeping to her promise to cook meals for the freezer.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Today I had an air conditioner installed in our bedroom. This is preparing for the very hot Cape Town summer days and nights where I will be confined to the bedroom. Quite a number of friends dropped by for tea/coffee today and are very excited that they can spend time in the air conditioned bedroom with me in the coming months. They are even willing to bring their camping mattresses so we can all have a cool night of rest together! I think the support circle are getting far too familar wanting to share the bedroom with Ian and I :)
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
And THANK YOU to all who participated in this fund raiser for terminally ill children.
love you all
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I am feeling much better today on the emotional level, though I do have a sore hip. It is the same discomfort I had before the operation which I put down to the tumour. It is a little concern that I need to chat to Dr L about. I have had a very steady flow of visitors yesterday and today, and we are starting to apply boundaries in the afternoon for me to have my siestas.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
This morning was quite hectic with a steady stream of visitors and phone calls. Dr L has completed the medical reports for my employer and these are being delivered to me tomorrow.
Dylan and Sean were both home today on ‘study’ day. It is hectic with them both home and it is reminding me of the 7 weeks that start 30 Nov.
I am feeling good but get tired very quickly. It is now 3 weeks since the hysterectomy and I can start walking to build up my fitness levels.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
On Tuesday morning as Dylan was saying good-bye to go to school, I was really weepy and asked “What if all this chemo is all for nothing? What if it all does not work”? Well, was I in for a surprise – Dylan did not offer any hugs or sympathy, just became really assertive “What have you always taught us… you must think positive… how would I pass my exams if I went into them thinking that I am going to fail. YOU KNOW this disease is all about your emotional thinking”!!! How was that – I got a kick in the arse from my own son !! (I am actually quite proud of him – all the years of moulding have paid off).
Have I ever mentioned that I am stubborn – ha ha ha ha. Dr L provided a medicine script on Thursday last week for all my side effects, which also covered a 5 days cortisone course. Well, I have not been taking the cortisone for my rash and Ian has been looking all over to Camomile essential oil. He eventually found it today and guess what – it is working miracles on the rash (which is now all over my body). Marietjie popped around yesterday with a goody bag from the health shop and I will continue to take the products to increase my body alkaline levels. I hope all these natural products reduce the side effects in Chemo round 2.
Friday, Saturday and today we had a gentle flow of visitors which meant I did not get my afternoon siestas, but I did manage to sleep each evening without a sleeping tablet. My joints are feeling much better and the nausea has settled (for 2 weeks)!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
On the fundraiser:
I am posting this for Cape Town based people.
We will have a fun afternoon where you can have a haircut or hair colour. Funky bright colours. Donations will be given to Reach for a Dream.
When: Sat 10 Nov
Time: 15h00 – 19h00
Where: email me if you planning on coming and I will send address
What to bring: All your own stuff for picnic, chairs, glasses, spray hair colour, good attitude.
Provided: Venue has a swimming pool and a fire will be provided for those who wish to barbeque.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Saw my oncologist Dr L after the session and asked her a few more questions including asking for some paper work she needs to complete for certain work insurance policies. At home I am dizzy, really tired and all my joints aching. Had a very early dinner and was in bed by 2030.
Had a full 10 hours sleep and did not feel too bad today. I can feel the nausea brewing but the tablets keep it at bay. Just very tired with aching joints and had quite a few naps today.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I am shitting myself, I am stressing, I just want to cry, I am going mad with my mental visualisation working overtime and this after prayers, meditation and affirmations. I shudder to think what I would be like without my tools.
- I have the most supportive network of family and friends standing up to win this battle with me. I am so grateful for all of you, for your prayers, spiritual healing and candles lit. Words cannot express what I feel in my heart.
- For all the dinners that have been prepared and dropped at our home. Thank-you Anet and Caron. I feel really bad - as others are cooking, I am relaxing and have a little glass of wine.
- Medical expenses that are covered by insurances.
- My morning routine will be 30 minutes shorter as I don’t have to shampoo, condition, dry and style my hair
- No more underarm or leg shaving
- No bikini waxing
The week-end was quieter than anticipated, but it was most welcome.
Friday, October 26, 2007
A very empathetic lady phoned around 13h00 today to welcome me to the medical aid oncology ‘club’. All approved!!! Chemo round 1 set for Monday 29 Oct, 11h00.
Last week-end I had a chat to Leon and Dick (brothers). Emotionally I will not be able to handle my hair falling out in chunks, so I will be shaving my head before this occurs. “Alida wants to control the process J” From the discussions came the support that they will be shaving their heads with me and we open the challenge to other family members and friends. The idea is that we do some collection of money for charity (children with cancer) and a donation is given with each head that is shaved (we will allow No 1 and No 2 cuts – no longer than a No 2!). On Tuesday evening I bounced the idea off Alan Goodway, who popped in for a visit. Alan is based in Centurion (South Africa) and will be supporting the effort. People that wish to support the effort arrive at a venue (still to be agreed) with a picnic basket (all own suppliers – snacks, drinks, glasses), have a good time, shave a head and donate some money.
Will you support the fund raiser 10 November? Please complete the poll on the site. If positive results obtained, I will post the charity details, banking details, etc. We will need volunteers to arrange venues and haircutting tools – if available for this, please add a comment on this post. If poll negative, we will still do the family ‘shaving’.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This morning I was standing in the bathroom, naked and ready to jump into the shower. I had a real good look at my body. My tummy is fairly flat (which it has not been in months), still a bit of swelling from the surgery, my hips are slimmer than they have been in months, overall a good shaped body for my age. If you were to see my physically, you would not say that I had big surgery 10 days ago - I am moving around, look and feel good.
I cannot believe that my abdomen is full of cancer cells.
Today is a magic day in Cape Town weather wise - Anet came to fetch me and we had a stunning lunch at Hillcrest (a local wine and olive farm).
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday was emotionally draining and yesterday was hectic as a bomb of knowledge was released into the universe. I am most grateful for all the texts, emails, telephone calls, visits, gifts and post comments. Please remember to keep them going thru the ‘quiet dark’ weeks ahead.
Back to the medical aid approval process. After phoning Oncology yesterday and getting practically nowhere, I phoned Dr V’s (gynie) assistant, C. We are on first name terms and I don’t even need to mention my surname. C has undertaken to chase Oncology morning, afternoon and night. Thank-you C. This morning an Oncology social worker phoned me and she is also chasing the process. She phoned me again this afternoon – all documents have been submitted to the medical aid…. I will chase medical aid tomorrow. All this means chemo will maybe only start next Tuesday.
Chemo treatment facts:
I need 3 to 4 sessions 21 days apart
My hair will fallout about 3 weeks after first session due to my chemo cocktail (Ian is looking forward to the natural Brazilian)
Full abdominal surgery when CA 125 under control. Each organ and abdominal wall will be ‘eyeballed’ and omentum (a lattice layer of fat in the abdominal wall - Alida’s simple understanding) will be removed as my type of cancer loves this fatty layer
2 to 3 more sessions of Chemo depending on CA 125 and full histology of omentum
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
A hugely frustrating day….. after a few phone calls to the hospital I was told that the medical aid request is not submitted yet…. I am pulling out my hair (hehehehe only got hair for about another 4 weeks – I will explain the chemo plan in a future post). On the good side, Dr L (my oncologist) phoned me personally and told me all will be ok. I will get chemo next week. Got my CA125 (cancer count). It is 171. Unfortunately we don’t have a count before the tumour was removed – Dr L said it would have been more than double. Our target is to see it between 0-30.
Hennie, my moms sister, phoned me from Dubai this morning. After some chats, explanations and tears, she said something that resonated with me. My dear gran (my mom & Hennie’s mom) was diagnosed with ‘female organ’ cancer that has spread to the bladder some 40 years ago….. sound familiar ???? After quite some intensive treatment my gran lived into her nineties!!!!
Last week Tuesday while still in hospital, Dr V asks me politely if I have “passed wind yet”. I answer “No” fairly shyly. Later that evening Ian, Dylan and Sean are visiting during the permitted hour. I get up slowing and walk to the bathroom to relieve my bladder. I would not say I was walking…. More like floating with a carrot stuck deep into my behind. I relieve my bladder, and ‘gosh’ I pass wind. From my toilet seat I hear Dylan and Sean say “ Oh @#$, MOM IS BACK” (I think the whole E ward heard Alida has arrived). Fortunately I opted for a private room.
The mission for today was to share my news personally with close work colleagues. I have now done this... It was an emotionally exhausting day.
Dylan and Sean read the posts today - it was really good for them to understand the illness and all the emotions - well done boys!
Quite a few friends popped by during the day and evening (Ally, Anet, Caron, Sanche & Ets) and I must thank all friends for the sms's and the comments on the posts. You do not realise the impact you are having on me and my family. Thank-you x x
The Oncology clinic was meant to phone me today. By lunchtime I had phoned them 3 times and on the 3rd attempt a lovely patient lady told me that they will be phoning me but they are still waiting for medical aid approval for the treatment. I want to scream "dont worry, I will pay for it myself" - I lesson in patience for myself coming thru this. I have been assured that chemo will start Mon 29 Oct. We have to starting fighting the cancer.
I have started spoiling myself on a different level. Ian bought me a few really nice PJs from an upmarket shop ( the general shops seem to target PJ's for the teens - I certainly cannot see
my 46 year old body in them.... Ian says he has no problem visualising me in them, but I will leave it at that). Also buying a few new duvet covers and a siesta blanket. Need to make my future environment really nice to be in.
(my personal email : firstname.lastname@example.org ... for those who wish to mail )
Monday, October 22, 2007
Kevin and Karen popped in for tea where more emotions where shared. Then Jen (the sister-in-law which provide the whiskey - bless her soul) popped around for a supportive visit. I had a little afternoon siesta after which Wendy (another sister-in-law) popped around to offer her support. I must mention, I have a lot of sister-in-laws..... 5 of them - fortunately we all get along, or so I think.
Saturday evening was a big night for South Africa with the Rugby World Cup Final being played. We WON!!!! Leon (my boet) and Marietjie popped around to watch the game with us. Leon is really anger with the cancer and quite some emotion was shared when we saw each other for the first time Sat, since knowing of the illness.
I have made another change in my life. For years I have really enjoyed expensive brut bubbly but have only kept it for special occasions... bull dust with that idea, from now I will drink it when I want it.
My mom phoned late Saturday afternoon to tell me that she is coming to SA for a month, arriving 28 Oct. She lives in Holland and is finding the illness quite distressing and is adamant that she is driving me to chemo and that she is going to care for me. Bless her!
Sunday, my dad and his wife popped around and my youngest brother Dick and his wife Malinda. More emotions as the siblings and parents face me physically and need to talk to me about my illness.
Sunday nite.... crash with a sleeping tablet - I am starting to depend on the little buggers.
Jen (my alcoholic sister-in-law) smuggled a small cooler bag into the hospital for me yesterday and Ian and I had a few whiskeys to settle the emotions. I had big ones and Ian was only allowed to have little ones - my goodness, he can go home after visiting hour and have many more, besides which he still has to drive home !
After visiting hours the nursing trolley came past with the usual painkillers and sleeping tablets as options - I go full house - Need them all tonight! And from 2200 it is "Nil Per Mouth" as I need to go for full abdominal scan with a full bladder. Eventually at 0430 I get an injection, but still sleep evades me.
I get up at 7 to wash my face, brush teeth and shower. Have you ever tried to shower with a full bladder..... it is bloody awful. At 0800 the porter comes to fetch me and we take a trip to radiology, with plenty speedbumps to cross with my full bladder - urgh The hospital staff are all in a great mood, the foyer is decorated and all staff members are wearing their Springbok supporter jerseys, the folks are placing bets and everybody is joking around. South Africa is playing in the final on Saturday evening - Rugby World Cup fever has infected the whole nations.
The abdominal scan show that my lungs, speen, liver, kidneys are all clear of visible lesions - excellent news !!! That means that the cancer cells have not yet had time to adhere themselves and to grow into something that the human eye can see. (Dr V did mention that he removed a little growth, like a mole, from my bladder) .
Back to my ward to checkout as I want to go home now. My heart is heavy but I manage to smile. I forgot to mention, one of the nurses, Charlotte, was absolutely stunning with me yesterday and she popped around at the end of the day with a PS chocolate for me, with message "never give up". What more can I say.
I had a little afternoon nap at home and then Margie and Roza (two friends from work) came around to provide emotional support. It was wonderful drinking bubbly with the girls and to talk about non cancer stuff and to laugh, tho it hurts my tummy when I laugh, but what the heck.
We had a quiet family dinner, Dylan (16) went out and Sean (14) stayed home to watch the Rugby World Cup games for 3rd and 4th place. I went to bed around 2030 and just sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed, those raw emotional sobs.. .. all the questions 'why me?' I am just so so scared of the road ahead... and I am going to lose all my hair... I just cannot handle it all at the moment.
End July I went to see my gynie Dr V for my annual checkup. During this visit I explained the problems I had been having with intermitted bleedings.... probable cause being my age (46) and the onset of menopause. Dr V did the internal examine and found some things not being ok... so off we went to the scanning room where we found an ovarian cyst on my right ovary. It was about 7cm in diameter and looked quite normal with clear liquid. We agreed that I would go onto the teenage pill Yasmin for two months as ovarian cysts are fairly normal and they come and go naturally - the extra hormones would just assist this process.
About 5 weeks later I go see Dr V again. The cysts is still there and has now grown to about 8cm. Not much growth, but the content has become toxic and it was starting to make more ancilliary cysts. After discussion with Dr V we agreed that I needed surgery to remove the cyst. Surgery was planned around my working schedule for 6 weeks hence.
Monday 15 Oct 2007 I went to see Dr V again quickly before the planned surgery. The Cyst was still there and had grown into a healthy 13cm diameter presence. Monday evening Dr V said the surgery had gone very well, he removed the complete right ovary, my womb and quite a few smaller cysts from my left ovary. The left ovary looked very healthy and the balance of my internals looked great! (good stuff to know :) )
All the daily checkups with Dr V went well until Thursday morning. I was sitting in my hospital bed, quite happy after a lovely shower waiting for my 5 star breakfast to arrive. About 0745 Dr V phones me and asks if I am alone and can he come chat to me..... oh dear that means not good news!
And the news: Ovarian cancer Stage 3B This means the cancer has spread from the one ovary to the other but has also spread into the abdominal cavity where lesions smaller that 2cm can be found (technical description from wikipedia). I must get Chemo.
The balance of Thursday was a blur with various doctors visiting my bedside and all sorts of scans / x-rays and blood tests.