Just over 2 years ago, I woke up to bright lights, loud beeping machines, Doctors and Nurses running around frantically and my then partner and Mum were in tears. I was in the Emergency department and had just regained consciousness.
Rewind an hour and I was on my bedroom floor, tears running down my face and my body was contorted in unimaginable or indescribable pain. Paramedic's were called, I was cannulated in my bedroom and I was administered morphine, carried out to the ambulance and was continually fed morphine, still no relief, more morphine, still no relief, more morphine and this continued until my arrival at hospital, where the same process continued. One minute I was rolling around in exponential pain and the next my loved ones were screaming to doctors that my eyes had rolled into the back of my head.
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep,all over red rover, kaput, game over, St Peter had my wings on express order, beep beep beep beep, hang on, bloody hell, she's done it again! I was revived!
Yep, I literally came back to life, I was admitted to the Cancer ward at Gosford Hospital and the pain continued, bladder stopped working from my pelvic tumours, left foot was paralysed from a tumour causing nerve damage and the nausea, Oh My God, the nausea. You get nausea from the copious amount of pain relief you're being administered, so in between the pain, your vomiting relentlessly. I was so drugged up that I wasn't able to communicate properly. Family and friends had gathered from all over the state and all I remember in between rambling and hallucinating was repeatedly asking "am I dying?", why else would people be visiting at 3am in the morning, I was obviously dying!
I asked my mum "am I dying?" And she responded, only I could determine that. At this point Mum was in that place that people often talk about, when a loved one is in so much pain that there's nothing you can do and every painful scream is like a dagger to your heart , she was actually praying for it all to end, please just take her, no more pain, please God just take her! Dad was in QLD and a nurse had rung him and told him to get in the car NOW, because there's a good chance Lisa's not going to be alive if you leave it any longer. Dad, Steven, Marianne and Ava did that 10 hour drive in what I can only imagine would have been in a cloud of disbelief, the whole trip was probably a blur, they got there though and I held on.
Doctors crying in the hallway telling my loved ones that there was no more they could do, "Lisa won't make it through the weekend, take this time to tell her you love her, tell her the things you never got the chance too, even though she may not understand, still take the time to do it". My local priest came in and I questioned his presence, he was there to give the last rites. Now I don't know about you, but that's pretty confronting!
I made it through the weekend again and thankfully the wonderful doctor's at Gosford hospital decided to put me in for radiation to stop my tumour bleed that had caused all of this pain. After the radiation I started a new tablet chemo, but it immediately made me violently ill, I couldn't eat and I had no appetite, which wasn't good as I was only 30 something kilos already. The doctors ceased the chemo as it affected me so badly.
Then came my favourite part, the talk, palliative nurses come into your room and they have a sweet but sad look on their face. They introduce themselves and then come the words, the words that have been hanging in the air like a stale fart that just won't disappear, the words that you knew would eventually be said, but you never want to hear. "Lisa, you're dying, we know you know you're terminal, but we need to discuss community nursing and palliative visits, things are bad and they're not going to get any better". My response "how long do you think I'll have?" This question is such a stupid one, no one can accurately predict your death timeline, but it's an immediate reaction, as soon as you hear this, that's your first thought. It doesn't matter that you've already been told you're terminal, that you're dying, when you're told it's days or weeks away, it's fucking scary, it's worse than your worst nightmare, no words can truly describe the feeling of being told it's only down hill from here. No matter how many times I've been told you won't make it through the night, you won't live a week, it NEVER gets easier, you never really accept it.
So in that one hospital stay I was told I wouldn't make it through the night, then the weekend and the response from palliative nurses to my question "How long?"......."You won't make it to Christmas" and here we are two years later, we are still going, still gripping on to life by the skin of my teeth, hanging on the edge of my cancer cliff by one hand and each finger is slowly slipping.
Cancer isn't just a bitch, it's a hateful mofo with a huge chip on its shoulder and it's only purpose is to cause death and destruction. It rips through family's like an unannounced tornado and the souls that it destroys in its path are left to clean up and repair the irreparable. Cancer is one scary opponent, we are all light weights fighting in a heavyweight division.
I'm no fool, I know one day the Grim Reaper will tap me on the shoulder and probably say some smart ass comment about borrowed time, but as long as my weakening body will allow me, I will keep running, dipping and dodging the dealer of death until I can run no more.
Stay fabulous Rockstars ❤️🤘🏼
So many people ask me "how does it feel going through Cancer alone?" to which I usually reply with a contorted face, "what do you mean alone? I have my family, my friends and my new terminally fabulous family. What they mean is how do you do it without a boyfriend/girlfriend or a husband/wife?
Weeeeelllll I did it with a partner for the first 2 years and it certainly didn't make my life any easier. What is it with the world that we so often think that a person needs a partner to be able to get through not only the big things in life, but the every day struggles that come with life as well? It's like the 'single parent' concern that people have. How is she ever going to do this on her own? Those kids are going to miss out on so much? As if it's not already hard enough on the poor woman, as if these thoughts have not already been spinning around this woman's head, I sometimes think half the battle is worrying about what everyone else is going to think about "your" divorce, yes "your" divorce, not your Mum's, not your sisters, not your nextdoor neighbours, "your" divorce. What the "judgey Judy's" have to say should not affect what I imagine is one of the most difficult time in person's life.
I've mentioned before that I had a relationship and it wasn't just a fly by relationship, it was 14 years of my life, I was 19 turning 20 when I met "the love of my life" and boy was it "interesting".
I would have married him in the first few years, but unfortunately he was more interested in trying to keep all of the women in his life happy, yep, we're not talking a mammas boy or his sisters, we're talking girlfriends, bits on the side, whatever you want to call them, they were most likely floating along blissfully unaware that he was making women fall in love with him in every port, just as I was.
Things came to a blow when one of his lovely ladies contacted me on my mobile, yep, she must have known about me to get my number from his phone, I mean he didn't have me listed as girlfriend on his contacts list, so she actively sought out my name to get my number. Let's call her "Kathy", Kathy called and told me a few home truths, this was a week before I went to the doctors and found out I had cancer. I immediately flew up to my Mum and Dads as I still lived in NSW and they lived in QLD, I didn't tell them what he had done, but I needed a bit of space and a lot of head space.
Basically when I found out about my cancer, the other issue got swept under the rug and he became my full-time carer. Let's call him Mike. Mike was always out somewhere, his phone never had any call records or messages saved, there were so many clues that I pretty much knew about, but I had the Big C to think about, I didn't have enough mental capacity to think about the Big C, let alone his Big D and where he was dipping it and "big" is an over exaggeration, let's say his Medium D. The more time I have to think about it, little things stand out to me that at the time didn't.
For all his faults Mike stood up and took charge when my disease became a full-time thing. He was the one who would run around at all hours of the night trying to find me whatever chemo food craving I was having, he wiped up my vomit and he was at every appointment and treatment that I had, sure enough we would always come out of the appointment with a completely different opinion of what the oncologist had said, which would lead to arguments and upset, but he was there.
My answer to those that ask if I feel scared or more alone facing terminal cancer now that I no longer have my partner would change from day to day or what my hormones are up to. Most of the time I feel totally fine with it, I have my Mum, my Dad, family and friends and they're so supportive that I don't even get a chance to even think about not having my boyfriend there and then there are some nights like last night that I cried at the thought of him not being in my life anymore. Basically it's the same as any normal break-up. You have your good days and you have your bad days, the cancer is just there, a break-up is a break-up.
I suppose the only downside in my situation to other people's break-ups, is the thought of dying alone or would a guy ever want to be with me knowing that there could be cans of soup in his pantry that have longer use by dates than me. Why would you want to date someone who has an uncertain expiry date?
Nobody wants to go through cancer alone and no-one should have to, but just like in life, I don't need a man to survive and I don't need a man to get me through my illness, my support network is more than enough.
Just remember at the end of the day if you're going through a break-up, whether you have cancer or you're moving on in life in general, you can have all the people in the world around you egging you on and offering hugs on demand, but the person who gets you through, is you. You are the person who will use your spirit and your inner strength to kick this break-up bitch in the ass, it's you who gets you through, no-one else. Just like an alcoholic or a smoker won't give up until they're ready, no matter how many people in their life are begging them to quit, until that person is in that place mentally to quit, they won't quit, just as in a break-up, you will get over it when you are ready and you're entitled to miss someone, even if they weren't necessarily the best thing for you, that's life.
I don't need no man to get through this shit fight, but it would be nice to have someone to spoon at night occasionally. Stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼
A few old pics, out with the old and in with the new ❤️
They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth or in my case the bloated stomach.
As you know I've been gifted the dream of a lifetime by Emirates to attend their Birdcage Marquee as a guest on Melbourne Cup Day.
I have been imagining my attendance at this event since I learnt what the Birdcage was. The picture I had in my head was of me with my pre cancer gloriously long shiny hair swishing side from side, with gorgeous headpiece meticulously perched atop. I was svelte and tanned, with my stunning designer dress and heels, I was so stunning that Jennifer Hawkins herself hid behind a posh porta loo so that she didn't have to be compared to my gloriousness in the social section of the papers the following day. So that was my idea.
A few years ago I was all set to attend the Cup, not as a birdcage guest, as a corporate guest and I bought this amazing dress. Unfortunately I didn't get to attend because of flight cancellations and logistics. This dress has been hanging in my wardrobe ever since and now that I have finally been given this amazing opportunity, that stunning dress? Well it is now four times too small for me.
This beautiful picture of me swanning around the birdcage with people like Bec Cartwright getting whiplash from staring at my fabulousness, is not what the actual reality is going to be. I now have a bullfrog chin/neck rather than my pre-cancer strong jaw line with not even the glimpse of a second chin, well my hair.....at least I have some and my biggest issue is my ever swelling, ever changing belly. I can put a skirt on in the morning and by 1pm the skirt will no longer zip up, due to steroidal swelling and ascites (tumour fluid), one morning I'll wake up looking like I'm 6 months pregnant and the next day I look like I'm only 3 months pregnant. So you see the dress issue is an actual issue, have you ever noticed any stylish dress that would be suitable for the cup, is either fitted or boned? So the chances of finding a stylish dress that allows for a changing body throughout the day, well the chances are slim, something I haven't been for a very long time.
I went dress shopping with my Mum the other day and it was like our own version of Freaky Friday all over. For years I've traipsed from shop to shop, change room to change room, trying to squeeze Mum into dresses that simply wouldn't go near her, it used to actually upset me that she had so much trouble finding a dress, now it's the other way round. I almost need to bring WD40 with me to get me into dresses in double digits sizing.....NOTHING and I mean NOTHING came close to my beautiful Melbourne Cup dress that hangs in my wardrobe, waiting to go to the ball or in my case the Cup. At one point I was wrestling with a dress, pulling it over my head desperately trying to not get my make-up on it, did I mention I also sweat like a whore in church? I don't know if it's my hormones or if it's the meds, but I sweat profusely all the time, I could have run a marathon before cancer and not had a drop of sweat escape from my pores, now it pours out of me if I walk from the loungeroom to the kitchen and no, I don't live in a mansion. So I was wrestling with this straight jacket of a dress and Mum comes to the change room door and asks my opinion of the dress she's wearing, yep, you guessed it, it's the exact same frigging dress and she looks absolutely stunning.......cue every possible emotion a daughter can feel when their Mum looks hotter than they do, I think a bit of The Divinyl's "I'm jealous" was literally on repeat in my mind.
I realise some of you out there will be thinking, you can't please this bloody girl, but believe me when I say that I am more than grateful for the generosity of so many of you out there, especially Emirates. I sort of liken it to getting married, for many of you beauties out there the thought of getting married has been with you since you knew what it was, drawing big meringue dresses, with tiaras and 10 foot long veils, 10 tier cake, oh and maybe throw a groom in the mix as well. Well that's sort of what it's like for me and my love affair with the Birdcage and Melbourne Cup, I used to draw fascinator's on the back of my exercise books at school and run to the library at school so I could see the race that stops the nation, even if it meant missing the first train home after school and hanging around a Train Station platform for another hour, I would not miss that race that stops the Nation for anybody, then of course I would eagerly wait for the evening news download on all of the fashions on the field and the Newspaper the next day, because back in my school days the Internet was still only in its early days, so we didn't have live streaming and fashion blogs. So imagine you suddenly balloon, have 2 or 3 chins, you are so bloated, that it is not only painful, it literally takes your breath away, (the tumours in my stomach sit high in my abdomen and push on my lungs, literally suffocating me) and your wedding is tomorrow. I'm sure when you were picturing your special big day, you didn't envisage a completely different looking person to yourself, well that's what it's like for me, my body and my face change shape and appearance from one day to the next and it's just sad that I'm not feeling my best physically or emotionally for my "special" day.
I know I should be screaming in joy from the rooftops, but I'm scared that the dress that I've bought will not zip up on the day and if it doesn't, I simply cannot go, because I literally have nothing else in my wardrobe that is Cup suitable and stretchy enough to allow for my ever expanding belly. I've also had the amazing offer from a fabulous milliner to make my head piece on the day and I'm scared that I'll get his piece and then change my dress at the last minute for comfort reasons.
Anyway, as I've said before, just because I have cancer, just because I am terminal, does not mean that my insecurities have just disappeared into thin air. So many people in my position begin to say things like appearance doesn't matter, there are so many more important things in life, like actually living, well I'm not one of them. I still have my insecurities and I always will, right up until the end I'll probably be checking my reflection in the doctor's stethoscope and if you unlock my phone you'll be greeted by your own face, because I'm constantly looking at myself on my camera in my phone.
Whatever happens, I just hope my face and stomach are on a less bloated day, I can do my zip up and breathe the whole day, if that happens I will be ecstatic. Thank-you fabulous rockstars for getting me into the magical land of unicorns, WAGS and the "beautiful" people and keep your fingers crossed that Megan Gale or Jen Hawkins don't rock up in the same dress as me, because that would just open up a whole other can of worms, that I just couldn't deal with on top of everything else, on the upside it would make a good blog!
Stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼🐎
Euthanasia, just saying the word or writing it in this case is often seen as controversial. It's the debate as old as time, should we be allowed to choose whether to live or die? I realise this blog could lose me some of you fabulous rockstars, but please know that this is only an opinion and to be honest my thoughts on this topic have changed regularly from supporting it to not supporting it, just as often as I dye my hair.
I watched a piece on TV on Sunday evening and I felt compelled to finally allow myself to post about it. I've felt it is simply too polarising to write about or too confronting and I haven't wanted to insult or upset people. I have had a blog about euthanasia sitting for months in my notes, every now and then I add or take opinions out, each time I hear it begging for me to copy, paste and post and each time as I select all and copy, I end up hitting close. Left unloved, unwanted and unpublished, just like in real life, euthanasia gets swept under the rug......again.
The euthanasia debate is like the legalising of drugs debate or the legalising of gay marriage debate, usually pulled out by some politician that's trying to distract the public from something else that's going on that they don't want you to notice, so hey, let's bring up the euthanasia debate again, that'll distract them!
There will be a vote later on this month in relation to the cross-party private members bill, deciding whether the voluntary euthanasia bill will be debated in the South Australian Parliament. There's something a little different about it this time, this time there has been a campaign with a real human being featured, putting a face to the pain and suffering. Kylie Monaghan, like myself has spent much of the last few years struggling to live, struggling to fight, struggling to beat Cancer. Sadly Kylie passed away on Saturday, so she will never get to see whether the campaign led to a debate that could potentially change the landscape of terminal illness and the right to die with dignity, the legacy she so greatly wanted to leave for people like me.
Like Kylie I understand why people want the right to choose whether to live or die and like Kylie I am or sadly in her case Kylie was, willing to fight right up until her last breath. I can't ever imagine myself having the strength to say I'm ready to go, never mind voluntarily euthanising myself, but until you've heard the words "there's no more we can do", until you've fought so hard through the deepest pits of pain, sickness and mental and physical exhaustion or watched a loved one do so, the truth is, you really don't have the pre-requisites required to make the decision for thousands of dying human beings, but sadly that is the way of the world. Major life changing decisions are made by only a chosen few, whilst the rest of us just have to swallow their decision.
I realise that people fear, like legalising marijuana for medicinal purposes, legalising euthanasia, would open Pandora's box, leaving it open to being abused or misappropriated, but with the right legislation and restrictions in place, you shouldn't be able to abuse it.
According to Palliative Care Australia, 4% of palliative patients pain cannot be eased or relieved, not all pain can be alleviated, believe me I know. I am on a pain driver 24 hours a day and I still need added pain relief, morning and night in tablet form, as well as injecting pain relief throughout the day. Despite having enough drugs going through my system to make a Colombian Drug Lord jealous, I still have pain, all day, everyday. Granted it's managed pain, but pain all the same, it's still there and if I didn't have this pain plan in place through my palliative doctor, I simply would not be able to function, breathe, walk, talk, you name it and pain affects it.
I've been at that point, I've been at the point where I was in so much pain that the doctor approached my Mum and told her, that with the amount of morphine I was being given and it still not helping my pain, that I would simply die from palliative sedation, this is the current practice for palliative care in Australia. Now I may not remember everything about that night, as I was as high as a kite, but I do remember the unrelenting pain, losing use of my left leg and bladder, rolling around in a hospital bed moaning and I know firsthand that palliative sedation simply does not cut it. It can take days/weeks for a person to finally die this way and the entire time their pain is right there with them. I know, I was drugged to the point that a man with the girth of Santa Claus would be rendered dead and still the pain was there along with the "pain relief" induced nausea, so in between slowly dying, in pain that cannot be eased, you are also vomiting endlessly, to the point you have nothing left to bring up, you're not eating and you're probably not getting many fluids, other than the IV, if they're still running the IV fluids.
Palliative sedation is basically giving a patient morphine over a period of time, until the person's body simply shuts down and they die. As I said, doctors and nurses so often say about a patients death in this manner that they died peacefully and in very little to no pain. As you all know I love my doctors and nurses, I believe they have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but how do they know that person is not in pain? Just because they are so drugged and drowsy and are continuously dropping in and out of consciousness, does not mean the patient is not feeling pain. They may well not be, but I know from my own experience that although I was dropping in and out of consciousness, I was still in horrendous pain, it's just that I could no longer communicate to the nurses and doctors that I was, so is this really a kind way to let a person die? I say no, I say it is a cruel and long drawn out process that involves, human beings being drugged to the point of numbness, they eventually stop eating and drinking and we sit and wait. As mentioned before, it could take days or weeks, everybody is different. Do we really want our loved ones to be suffering in such a way after what they've already endured throughout this bastard of a disease. Why would we want them to suffer anymore than they have to, when there is something we can do about it, Voluntary Euthanasia.
The truth is, restricted drugs like morphine or OxyContin are availed to people in my position very easily and we could, if we wanted, take ourselves out anytime and I'm sure it's happened time and time again, we would just like to be able to do it legally and without the stigma attached to it. A person gets to the point where they can no longer handle their child, parent, husband or friend having to wipe their ass for them, wash them, feed them and they don't want to drag it out any longer. Have you ever watched a person you love slowly die? Have you ever witnessed a person in your life go from a lively and spirited person to a shadow of themselves that no longer has the desire or the will to live? It is not a pleasant sight for the patient or the loved one, it is literally hell on earth, we don't watch a dog or a horse go through untreatable pain and just let nature take its course, we "put them to sleep". So why is an animal afforded that option (ok it's the owner that makes the decision, but you know what I mean) and human beings are not?
I don't often and may never have, I can't actually remember, bring up my religion. In my opinion your religion is your business and your beliefs are your beliefs, I'm not here to judge you, I believe we should respect each other's beliefs. In my religion, something like euthanasia would be seen as a sin, just as abortion and same sex relationships would be. I truly believe that we should have the right to choose to die with dignity and in as minimal pain as possible. I followed a story of a woman who moved to another State in the USA, simply so she could be afforded the right to choose when to die. This lady was suffering from debilitating seizures from her brain cancer, she would literally bite her tongue off and with each seizure came more brain damage and this would impair her ability to communicate, imagine having these violent seizures, imagine watching your loved one going through that. Eventually the young woman decided on a date and she had her nearest and dearest around her bedside, as she took the Euthanasia meds over a short period of time. They went around each person in the bedroom and spoke of their favourite stories about her and she did the same in return. Her husband says, although painful and nobody wants to lose their wife, she went out on her own conditions. No major seizure that took her out, no more pain, she died on her own terms. Doesn't that sound a lot nicer than a palliative sedation.
I hope this blog is taken the way it was intended, an opinion from a person who stares death in the eye everyday I wake up. As previously mentioned, I don't believe I could actually do it myself, but I would never say never. I don't know if my body or my mind for that matter, could cope with another bout of untreatable pain. Your body and your spirit can only take so much, I just don't know if I could ever have the strength to legally voluntarily take my own life, but I believe the option should be out there. I do not like the idea, much like the medical marijuana situation, of self administering drugs that have not been properly prescribed. I know that there are poor families out there that risk being arrested because they are buying marijuana oil for their epileptic 3 year old child, because it's the only thing that reduces or even eradicates their child's violent seizures. My problem with this is that it has not been properly prescribed, dosage could be wrong and we don't actually know what this oil contains, yes they say it's pure and bla bla bla, but until there are proper rules and guidelines in place, how do we know that we are not going to overdose our child or ourselves? Euthanasia is the same, it needs to be legalised and regulated so that we can ensure that people die in the correct manner and not get to the point where they decide to just overdose themselves on their own pain medication.
I know this topic is confronting and scary, but for people like me or people who have other terminally debilitating diseases, so is the thought of having imminent death upon us, so why not afford us the decency to choose how and when to die? As we've already lost so much.
Stay fabulous rockstars and I hope this blog does not scare you away ❤️🤘🏼
We often hear cancer patients waxing lyrical about what cancer cannot take from them and I'll admit I'm one of them, although in my position if I'm honest with myself, like so much of this disease, I say and do things to make others feel better, to make others feel more comfortable with my illness. Just as you do in everyday life, like when the Macca's chick asks you at the drive thru "how's your day been so far?", your response "greeaat", you know the long dragged out great, because you're actually lying to the minimally payed teen who in reality couldn't give a flying pickle how your day has been, it's just something you're told to say in training and she'd much rather be at the beach with her friends, than doing this so called "character building" job.
Just as the Macca's chick lied to you about caring about your day and you lied to her that your day had been great, when in reality you lost your engagement ring somewhere in between the pedicure massage chair and the uv lamp drying station, just as you have lied to each other, we cancer patients often lie to you. So here's the actual truth about what Cancer "takes" from us. Cancer takes a lot from us, it takes waaaaay more than it gives and when it is giving it's usually something unpleasant.
Here's what cancer takes from us, firstly the obvious, it takes our health, you can go from a perfectly healthy person who accidentally felt a lump when she was trying to squeeze her boobs into a bra two sizes too small, to a nauseated, pain riddled fragile shadow of the human being you once were within weeks, I must stress I do not have breast cancer, this is strictly for blogging purposes.
It's takes your looks, well technically it's not necessarily the cancer that takes your looks, more often the treatment, but if it weren't for having the bastard of a disease you wouldn't need the chemotherapy that takes your hair, bloats your face and body, burns your skin, gives you painful rashes and remember those boobs that you were trying to squeeze into that bra, yeah well Cancer's taken those from you too, in place of your once glorious orbs of fun are either scars or new boobs that rarely come out as good as a proper boob job does, yeah I didn't know that either. I just thought you lose your boobs, you get a new set, but apparently it's not as simple as that. I don't claim to be an expert on breast cancer as I don't have it. I've just been told of the pitfalls by other breast cancer survivors I've spoken to who have had a mastectomy or double mastectomy, the boob reconstruction is not as pretty as a normal boob job and it's a bloody lengthy process, years sometimes. You see it's not like Angelina Jolie, where she had healthy breasts that had no prior surgery, so her reconstruction was immediate, boobs came off, new boobs went on. For those that have had cancer in their breasts removed and lymph nodes removed, followed by chemo and or radiation, the reconstruction isn't as simple as the Jolie op. Your body needs to recover from other treatments firstly to reduce risk of infection, many don't have nipples unless your plastic surgeon constructs them, you most often have no feeling in your new breasts, then there is the scarring.....anyway I could go on all day, but as I'm not a breast cancer patient I can't claim to be an expert, I'm only relaying the stories I've been told by patients.
It often takes a large chunk of your mental health, meaning that people going through Cancer often become depressed, anxious, paranoid and even suicidal. For some people the thought of having cancer is so scary to them that they would rather take their own life than face up to Chemo's, surgeries and radiation. Even after "cure" we often still focus on our cancer, we are scared at every cough, ache or headache, we often become reclusive, in our minds we don't want to burden people with our problems, so we avoid phone calls, door bells and text messages, we also become hermits, firstly if we are receiving chemo we get tired of sanitising everything in sight and every cough or sneeze we hear is like a sickness sniper seeking to take us out and we get tired of ducking behind clothes racks so we don't have to burden you with our hideousness. Yes we become so embarrassed by our appearance that box sets and chocolates seem way more appealing than having to try and draw eyebrows on, apply fake eyelashes to lashless lids and then last but not least try and make a wig look like hair and not a wig. God I hated those days, firstly wigs are uncomfortable, they're itchy and sweaty, they knot really easily and I would spend the entire time I was wearing a wig in public thinking everyone was looking at me thinking, she's got a wig on, I got a couple of compliments from staff in shops about my hair and I would immediately ask were they saying that because they could tell it was a wig, to which they'd say no and I'd still not believe them. Yep give me Netflix and track pants any day of the week.
It often takes your womanhood, well it has mine. I've been in and out of menopause more times than Paris Hilton has earned royalties on sex tapes. I'm currently "in menopause", I don't think Aunty Flo is going to visit again either, I'm pretty sure she's gone to a great big tampon heaven in the sky somewhere. Sex drive? Sorry what was that? I said Sex Drive? Once again I ask what was that? I'm meant to be in my sexual prime at my age, but once again Cancer, you sneaky son of a bitch, you've managed to steal one of the only free forms of entertainment I enjoyed.
Babies, yes it often steals babies, from both men and women. Men don't always get the right advice about what to do with their swimmers before radiation or Chemo and don't reserve some, treatment then renders them infertile. Women, well depending on the cancer we are often warned against having babies for a number of years if at all after treatment, some cancers are hormone reactive and pregnancy puts the woman at a high risk of recurrence. Me, well I was basically scare mongered by different specialists and fertility centres into not going through the process of freezing my eggs or making embryos, because we are so unsure about my cancer and what triggers it that they didn't think it was wise to go through all the hormonal treatments required. I was just not destined to be a mother, I was destined to be a kick ass Aunty, which is more than fine with me. Can you imagine having a baby and going through this shit show at the same time? No thanks and then there's the psychological repercussions, but it for you, your baby daddy and baby, waaaaaay too much head fucking. It's hard enough looking after myself, never mind a baby.
Confidence as I briefly mentioned earlier, I used to strut my stuff down Pitt Street Mall, petite with a tiny waist, big boobs and long dark shiny hair swooshing from side to side, men would give you the side eye and that was just part of everyday life, weeeelllll not anymore! I couldn't tell you the last time a man took a second look at me, not that I need a guys attention to make me confident, but let's admit it girls, feminist or not, it gives you slight pleasure when someone gives you a bit of attention, a little ego boost for the day. I am so embarrassed by my body now that I find myself explaining to every Tom, Dick and Harry why I look the way I do. I know I know, I wish I was better than that, but I'm not, I'm sorry to all of you out there who love yourselves the way you are and you are saddened by my dissatisfaction with my own body, but at least I'm honest about it. I could sit hear and preach about self love and you can only love someone else when you love yourself and all that bullshit, but that's what it would be, bullshit and I owe you more than that.
It's taken my independence, my freedom, my adult status, I have been reverted to my childhood state, "Mum, can you drive me here? Mum, can you make my bed? Mum, can you go to the shops for me?". It's never ending and it's sad and demeaning. I have lived out of home since days after turning 20, I've ran my own household since then, earned my own money and drove my own car and now here I am sitting in my room hoping that Mum and Dad have their TV on because they're actually watching TV and not having parent sex whilst I sit in the bedroom down the hall.....it's just not something I want to think about. I mean good on them if they still go at it, it's just there's a very high likelihood that I'll be somewhere in the house when they're doing it-insert Mr Burns shudder here. Dads building a shed, oh shit, is that going to be their shag shed?
Moving right along, there are so many more things cancer takes from us, my mind is constantly a blur (chemo brain) I often can't complete sentences when speaking, it takes your fitness, I used to take the stairs for actual fun, nowadays unless those stairs are electric, I just won't go upstairs (exaggeration there, I do take stairs, if there are no other options), it takes friendships and relationships, people often drift apart through sickness and there is so much more cancer takes from you, but I'd never stop writing.
My leaving note, people often say "Cancer can't take your personality or your spirit or hope", well it actually can, I'm a completely different person to what I was before cancer, in fact since starting regular pain meds, I'm a different Lisa from the Lisa 6 months ago and spirit and hope, well, I still have it, it just goes on vacation occasionally, but so far it has always come home. One thing Cancer has given me, well it's given me you! My beautiful, loyal, supportive fabulous rockstars and who knows? If it weren't for my cancer I may have never started blogging, I'm still not going to thank Cancer though, Cancer can still go do one, as far as I'm concerned. Stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼
2am and pain radiates throughout my abdomen down to my pelvis and around to my back, I'm lying here circling a recently found, rapidly growing tumour in my belly button with my index finger, every now and then pressing slightly too hard and making my body recoil in pain, lying here willing it to be a hernia, not another tumour, please not another tumour. When you're in my position you become a little self-examination obsessed, constantly feeling new lumps and bumps.
I know it's irrational, I have so many tumours we don't even count them at scans any more, we only discuss the larger ones, the ones that could cause a blockage, the ones that have had recent bleeds and the obviously new ones, but the little tiny pea sized ones that are scattered throughout my peritoneal cavity, the lining that separates the organs from the abdominal wall, they go unspoken about, ignored, they're insignificant in the larger scheme of things.
I on the other hand want to know about these little insignificant balls of cancer, they may not mean much to a specialist, but to me, they are little balls of impending death, sitting patiently in the background waiting to pounce, waiting to have a nice big growth spurt, so that they too can one day be spoken about like the other big tumours in the class, they want to be acknowledged as well.
It seems irrational to others I suppose because they probably think, "Well you know what your impending outcome will be, so why do you need to know about every single little tumour, millimetre by millimetre?". I need to know because that is me, just like I need to know every detail about the birth of your baby or how he proposed, I mean millions of births and marriage proposals have happened before yours, but that doesn't make yours any less important, so I WANT to know every detail, because it's YOU, not some random. I'm a nosy bitch who likes to know the insides of a ducks arse, I would like to sit down and discuss in-depth the total of visible tumours I have invading my body.
As I lay there still tracing the lump in my belly button, I am scared, again probably irrational, but when you can actually feel a tumour protruding from your body, it's an actual physical reminder that you're riddled with an army of lesions that are trained to attack their own home, their own body, your own body is slowly but surely killing you.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say this, but when a new tumour arises that I can physically feel or touch, I become somewhat obsessed with it for days on end, I'll be getting my Mum to feel it, my Dad, the next day I'll get them to feel it again "Do you think it's grown? I think it's grown overnight, well it's definitely bigger than what it was three days ago". I can't help myself and especially considering how I'm feeling at the moment after radiation and having the flu at the same time as radiation side effects, it's just one more thing to add to my shit list for the week.
The tumours that protrude from your skin can't go ignored, they're there poking out from you, taunting you every time you look in the mirror, unlike the intra abdominal tumours, these cannot be forgotten about, because they are right there, "remember me...na na na na na......I'm going to kill you and there's nothing you can do about it, keep getting radiation and paying for expensive drugs that make you feel sick, I don't care, you're not gonna get rid of me that easy ". I know this sounds morbid and depressing, but I can't, "we" can't always be the rock, we can't always be there to comfort you and tell you we're fine with our mortality, we can only play the cards we've been dealt, bla bla bla". We are human and humans get scared.
New tumours are scary, anyone who says they're not, I admire you for your bravery or I admire you for your ability to convince yourself or others you're accepting of this new soldier in your army, as I type this now my belly button "lump" (it still could be a hernia, you never know) is causing sharp shooting pain.
Today I have dictated this blog, in between micro sleeps, nausea and vomiting, all the while my Mum is going through the offers we've had for Melbourne Cup tickets, we're still holding out for the elusive and exclusive birdcage, just as Charlie did for his golden ticket. Making that public plea has gone against everything I've ever believed in, I mean don't get me wrong, I love receiving gifts of sentiment from people and I appreciate them so much, I just don't like to ask for them, but I don't work for a company that has a Marquee at the Cup and I don't know anyone else who does, so I just had to throw it out to the universe, as it's taken me this long to realise that as much as I love giving, I also deserve to receive every now and then.
The distraction of dress and shoe shopping and dreaming of the birdcage would give me something else to think about other than blood tests, port flushes, cat scans, palliative nurses, radiation, to be able to have some cancer thought free days would be amazing. We are incredibly grateful for all of you reaching out to your contacts to get something for a complete stranger. If any of you out there thought kindness was extinct, you just have to look at my Terminally Fabulous Facebook page to see that it still exists.
I'm hoping I will pick up soon, I have a cancer charity to attend on Saturday, so I need to get my shit together ASAP!
Love you all and stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼🐎
I can't do this anymore.......it's days like these when I sleep all day, feel nauseated all day, my head pounds like Dave Grohl is literally practicing for his next gig repeatedly inside my head, it's days like these that I break down and think would it really be so bad to go to sleep and not wake up? Aptly enough Foo Fighters 'Learn to Fly' is swimming through my thoughts, "looking for the sky to save me, looking for a sign of life, looking for something to help me burn out bright, looking for a complication, looking cause I'm tired of trying, make my way back home when I learn to fly, think I'm done nursing the patience", and that right there "done nursing the patience", that's where my mind, body and soul are at right now. They're tired and they just want to stop trying, they just want to make it back home, whether it be back to the old norm, fully cured or whether it be that great big "home" in the sky, whatever my "home" is, wherever it may be, right now at this very moment of lower than low sickness, I want to be there. No more worry, no more pain, no more burdening the ones I love, although I know they say it's never a burden, albeit sometimes through gritted teeth and with clenched fists......but still never a burden.
I'm broken, I've been here before, in the depths of chemo depression, I was able to get through it then, but can I get through it now?
I just don't think I can do this anymore....with every treatment I think a piece of me, a piece of my fight, a piece of my strength, a piece of my positivity is taken, my body is begging for a break. I am not the person I was when I began this shit fight and I don't believe anyone who has gone or is going through this or any other disease, whether curable or incurable would disagree with that statement. This sort of stuff does change you, some people say it's a good change, that they appreciate the smaller things in life now, others become radical religious types, some become exercising Paleo juicing fructose gluten lactose free Buddhists, others resent their disease and all that it has stolen from them for the remainder of their lives, I suppose a form of PTSD, others walk around fearing cancer at every itch, watery eye or new freckle.
Me? Where do I fit it? Most days I suppose I would take a bit from box number one, I appreciate life more and those who are in it, but at times like these I neglect those I love, I push them away, which I know is wrong, but there is only so many times you can tell someone the same symptoms over and over. I know you love me and I know you're concerned, but you know when you're really sick? I mean man flu x 50 plus a 3 day Oktoberfest binge size hangover, when your own thoughts give you a headache, that sick, the last thing you want to do is talk, or text or snapchat, Facebook, tweet and whatever the fuck else way you can communicate now a days. My lack of communique is not ignorance....well maybe just an incy wincy bit if ignorance, but more survival, in order for me to get through this without decapitating my dad and then force feeding him to my mum, I need "silence". My head hurts too much to reply for the third time that day to the "how are you feeling?" question, does my grey face, dragging of feet on the ground, sound of me gagging on my own bile all night, the fact I haven't left my bedroom for days (which I NEVER do) and basic appearance of death not speak volumes? Do those things combined not answer that question for you? Please I love you, but just let me wallow, one week......maybe two, that's all I ask for. I'm not much of a wallower by nature, so if my body needs a couple of weeks in bed, recuperating, please let me curl up in the foetal position in bed clutching onto my sick bag, gently rocking back and forth asking the Good Lord to take me, a week of wallowing without judgment, without trying to make me feel better, just let me have my self-pity party of one and I promise eventually I will venture back down stairs, I will reacquaint my body with the shower and even shampoo the rat's nest out of my hair, I promise I will reintroduce myself to the world of the living, but for now, just leave me be, I need this.
I often wonder about the poor man or woman who gets their treatment and then goes home to nobody, no one to bug the shit out of them about how they're feeling and for the most part I feel horrible for them. Imagine having to go through this alone? It's easy for me to say.....wouldn't it be nice!? But I'm sure it's far from nice, I imagine it would be a very lonely and scary place to have to face this day in day out by yourself, no one there to comfort you, to make you see there's better things ahead. Tripping over yourself trying to get to the toilet in time before you're sick all over yourself or not having the time, then having to change your bed sheets when you already feel like death barely warmed up. Having to make your own meals, when the slight thought of food makes you want to vomit, rolling in pain without someone to get your pain relief and the list goes on.
So when it comes down to it, I'd rather have my support network than not, just don't take it personally when I stomp around like a bear with a sore head, paw, ear, ass, you get the drift. Let me sulk and I promise, when we're on the other side looking back, I'll buy you a fully loaded ice cream cone, flake and all and maybe some sprinkles......if you're lucky 😉🍦
For those of you going through treatment at the moment, I feel your pain and for those of you supporting someone going through it right now, please cut them a little bit of slack, I promise they'll be back to their normal selves in no time.
Thank-you all for your ongoing love and support and stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼
My name is Lisa Magill and I have been navigating the minefield that is cancer since just months after turning 30, people have been saying to me for years that I should put my thoughts into writing and as time has progressed I thought I had left it too late, well here we are nearly 4 years in and for some unknown reason I've decided to start to write today.