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)!