Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Au revoir Chemo....... forever!

What lies behind us and what lies before us are just tiny matters compared 
to what lies within us

What a momentous few weeks it has been!  I am over the moon to report that I completed my very last Chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday 16th November at The Mount Hospital.  Chemotherapy was by far the worst experience I have had to endure in my life, so I  am sure you can imagine the relief of reaching this milestone.  Unfortunately, similar to my last round of Chemo I am taking longer to recover from the treatment (which I have been told is normal due to the accumulative effect it has on the body) with a few side effects still hanging around a week later.  Hopefully these will go prior to starting Radiation therapy in a couple of weeks time, but in the meantime, it is time to celebrate!

A few weeks prior to my last Chemo session I shed a few tears to Ryan about my appearance.  I was feeling a bit down and out - having one breast is one thing, putting on a few kgs is another, but having no hair takes the cake!  How can anyone find me attractive when I struggle with the way I look and feel.  Of course he said all the right things and made me feel a whole lot better.  Little did I know that in just a matter of days he was about to surprise me with a wonderful day out with my work girlfriends.  He had been planning (for a couple of months!) a shopping spree in the city which involved booking a personal stylist in Myer for a few hours and lunch with the girls afterwards.  He gave me $1,000 spending money and told me not to bring home any change! I still don't know how he coerced me into the city on a Saturday morning (when we should have been at Challenge Stadium for the girls swimming lessons!) to pull off the surprise.  I was completely blown away.... in fact when I first saw all the girls waiting at the cafe, I thought they had all gone out for morning tea and I wasn't invited - awkward!! ha ha.  We all had a great time and it was just what I needed!  

My second big surprise came just over a week later.  I was up in the Chemo ward with Ryan and Dad and we were chatting away.  My Mum, Lizzy and my little niece Jess arrived not long afterwards which was a nice surprise as I thought Lizzy was working that day.  They brought balloons, cakes, muffins and biscuits and we shared them with the other patients, to celebrate my last chemo treatment.  We were having a nice time when all of a sudden it got a whole lot better....... in walked the one and only MARK LECRAS (AFL player for West Coast Eagles)!!!!!!!!!!!  For those that don't already know, I would have to be Mark's biggest fan - not only is he extremely good looking, he is a great player and, as I got to find out in person, a really nice guy.  What is there not to like!  I didn't click at first and thought oh wow that is so nice of him to visit the Chemo ward (apparently a few of them make surprise visits throughout the year) but when I saw Liz motioning to him to come over, I realised he was here to see ME!!!!!!  He gave me a signed West Coast Eagles jumper ("Dear Emma, Best Wishes! Mark LeCras"), stayed and chatted for about 45 minutes and had numerous photos with us.  It was the most fantastic surprise and I have to make special mention of my friends Vicki and Darren Cobby who kindly arranged this for me all the way from Broome.  I can't thank you both enough!!  

I also have to mention of a special friend at this time who has come into my life through this crazy journey.  My friend Jenny who was diagnosed with breast cancer whilst 23 weeks pregnant, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Tatum Lee last week (one month early) - what an amazing and inspiring woman!  She has a wonderful husband and 2 gorgeous boys and little Tatum is one very special little girl like her Mummy.  Jenny's story is very similar to mine and whilst it makes me sad we are both having to face the same challenges I am so happy she has come into my life - a definite positive to come out of this experience.

I am still deeply touched by the kindness of family, friends, even strangers!  Yesterday was another example - a beautiful friend in Melbourne sent over a gift boxed bottle of rose Moet to celebrate my end of Chemo treatment.  It was such a lovely surprise and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face all afternoon!  So very lucky to have such wonderful caring family and friends in my life.     

On another note, I have been blown away with the response I have received about my blog.  I have just clicked over 10,500 hits in a matter of months which is beyond my wildest expectations!  I initially wrote my blog to keep family and friends up to date with my treatment / progress and to express my feelings on paper (so to speak).  I now see it as an avenue to create awareness, give hope and offer advice to those who are also battling this disease or has someone close to them fighting it.  If I can help just one other person, then I have served the main purpose of this blog.  I want everyone to realise that cancer can leave us with physical scars and temporarily take our hair away but we should never allow it to take our spirit or positive energy as they have the power to overcome anything.  

Battling cancer is something that no individual would ever want to nor should experience, and although this has been the most physically, emotionally & mentally challenging time of my life, I am so very grateful for everyone's love and support.   I still have the occasional cry, but mostly my days are good.  

So as I sign off from this blog I am reminded of a young lady sitting next to me in the Chemo ward last week with her sister.  After enjoying one of the cupcakes my family handed around, she kindly asked 'is this your last session today?'  I said 'yes' and as a matter of courtesy I asked her how far into her treatment she was.  She proceeded to tell me that she had been battling cancer for 6 years and unfortunately it was now throughout her entire body so this (Chemo) is something she just does each week to buy more time.  She is only 39 years of age.  

'Lets appreciate LIFE.  Lets show more heart and compassion to one another because 
there is always someone, somewhere, fighting a harder battle and there is no price 
on simple human kindness'.

Being surprised by my work girlfriends!

Ha ha - trying on the many gorgeous dresses with my beautiful friends Renee and Brooke
(a big thanks also to Ton, Lorn, Hayles and Nic for joining me on the day)

My very last Chemo - Round 6!

Last Chemo - Em and Mark LeCras