The trip of a life time, warm turquoise waters of The Indian Ocean lined with red cliffs and pure white sands. The view alone from the aeroplane would have been enough for me to have felt that my dream was being fulfilled, but luckily for my parents and I the plane landed in Broome. We were welcomed by the warm evening air and the warm heart of a fabulous rockstar who had left a wheelchair from her pharmacy in our apartment along with a basket filled with all the necessities one would need when arriving late to a sleepy beachside town.
The photos are beautiful, as are the memories, no one looking from the outside in would ever be able to tell the fear and the pain that lies behind our holiday grins. I'm not saying that we didn't enjoy the trip, far from it, we enjoyed every minute - from floating in the warm waters of Cable Beach to walking through a caravan park in Roebuck Bay to Town Beach and saying to my Dad "Did you hear that sound coming from the grass?" It sounded like something big was slithering beneath and I certainly wasn't going to be rummaging through the weeds to find out what it was. We walked over the beautiful red rocks and collected shells for my Mum's next soon to be started but never completed craftwork for Ava. Anyone who knows my Mum can attest to this statement, you just have to have a look at the sewing machine and table gathering dust in the garage, the half-finished scarf in the cabinet or the adult colouring in book she got and has maybe two or three completed pictures. My beautifully creative Mum has the best of intentions and fabulous ideas, it's just finding the time to actually make that entire summer wardrobe she was going to knock up on the sewing machine, even though she has never sewed a day in her life, also if she ever asks to cut your hair and tells you she worked in a hairdressers when she was younger, politely decline her good willed offer, as I don't believe sweeping up hair and a few goes at the sink washing someone's hair does not a hairdresser make, she once told a hairdresser that I got snip happy to my own fringe after she had in fact cut my fringe herself and when I piped up denying that the follicle fiasco was my fault and was actually Mum's, she just gave the hairdresser that 'you know what kids are like look''. Anyway Dad and I got to Town Beach and upon our return we noticed a sign in front of where we had previously walked and heard the slithering "Do not enter, reptile breeding habitat", oops, well we had to get back to the car, so with thongs or flip flops, whatever you like to call them on our feet we braved the walk back, yeah you read it right, we braved a horny snake pit the other day, now I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure a snake getting lucky wouldn't appreciate being interrupted mid root in the grassroots, but we made it through to the other side unscathed.
Crazy snake orgy's aside, we spent hours lazing on the beach, reading magazines and books, things that you never get the time to do when you're home. We visited Chinatown which is basically Broome's town centre, went and had a look at the charming outdoor cinema, strolled through Johnny Chi Lane, visited the Taste of Broome which showcases the local musical talent, film making talent and the satay skewers that are a Broome breakfast staple, it's actually called the Broome breakfast.....satay chicken for breakfast, count me in and don't skimp on the rice!
Oh the Sunsets, OMFG THE SUNSETS!!!!! Sitting sipping on a glass of champagne at the Sunset Bar and Grill right opposite Cable Beach, watching the sun descending into the horizon and slowly dipping its feet in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean and when you don't think it could get much better than this, once the sun has completely disappeared into the ocean, the burning oranges and raging reds envelop the sky with grey clouds floating above, the next thing to overpower the senses, is the line of camels that are escorted along the beach, in fact if I'm really honest and not being all poetic about it, the smell of the camels hits you in the face way before the camels come into sight, but still an amazing sight all the same, smell not so great though, let's just say it lingers a little.
As I sit here reminiscing about our dream come true, the reality is I'm in so much pain, my liver tumour has just not let up since Sunday evening. I'm glad the bastard gave us three full days of just average pain, but shit am I paying for it now. I cannot take a full breath in, the last time I looked at the clock last night was actually 5.30 this morning and waking every 20 minutes or so to this indescribable pain radiating from my lower right abdomen to my lower back. Nothing I can do, no position I lie in, no pain meds I take, no increase in the dreaded dexamethasone, the drug that I've called the Devils drug before, nothing I seem to have done in the last few days has even nibbled at my pain levels and they just keep hanging around, not bad enough that I'd take up a bed in A&E and not weak enough to be able to just ignore it. It's a frigging horrible pain, not unbearable, but not quite bearable. What do you do when you're in this position?
I have radiation on Thursday, so I just keep thinking, please hold off, if you're a slow bleed or if you're necrosis or another tumour has popped, please just be bad pain that I can put up with until Thursday. I'm heartbroken and frightened. I know you fabulous rockstars have a decent idea of what our daily struggle is like, but as honest as I am about it, I don't tell you every time I have an ache or a pain, because if I did, I would be forever writing about it and who really wants to read about that shit all the time? No-one, so I really only write about it when I feel it's relevant and tonight it's relevant.
I know I've made it 3 years, pretty much 3 years longer than any specialist thought I would have to live upon initial diagnosis of my metastatic gastric/pelvic sarcoma cancer, but we haven't made it this far drinking wine and staring at sunsets, those days are fabulous, but the days in between those are not always so fabulous.the Chemo's, the immunotherapies, the radiation, the surgeries, the countless emergency department visits and hospital stays.
Some days I hobble around the house like a woman with arthritic knees, I regurgitate everything I eat or drink, I'm so nauseated that I crouch in the foetal position, my body spasms and cramps into a twisted pretzel, I haven't driven my own car in months because I fall asleep from the pain meds every few minutes, I can't play with my niece on the floor or pick her up when her head and the wall have had a fight and the wall has come out on top, falling asleep on the toilet after waiting 20 minutes at a time trying to squeeze a pee out of a bladder that has a couple of golf ball sized tumours acting as road blocks from freeing my imprisoned piss, only to be gifted in the end with a stop and start dribble, the many tumour bleeds I've had that are all possibly fatal, but the worst pain of all is the "unknown" the one that hangs around for days and just won't let up. I can barely sit, barely walk, barely breath and every simple movement is planned in my head beforehand with military precision, the simple act of getting up out of your seat becomes an expedition, which sometimes feels like it requires food provisions it takes so long to get up and the mental anguish, let's write a whole other blog on that one another day!
Today is one of those days, with every hit of pain I push the lump in my throat further down, occasionally feeling an escapee tear rolling down my cheek. I'm afraid of that unknown factor, what if I fall asleep tonight and I bleed out? What if I collapse in pain and can't get to hospital in time to treat it? What if I accidentally overdose from giving myself too many pain meds? Even though I'm sitting here in what most would class as 10 out of 10 pain, I'm still convincing my pain that it doesn't need an ambulance, we don't need to rush to the hospital. I'll just sit here and write about it instead, hanging on a hope and a prayer that the pain will dissipate over night and I can reminisce about my dream trip to Broome again without tumour pain muddying my turquoise blue waters of my mind.
I'm sure I will get lots of blog mileage out of this holiday, as memories resurface from time to time, like the fact that a fabulous Queen took time out of a very busy book distribution to visit me at an airport departure gate or my beautiful friend/family Sharon, Fran and Jeff did the same, Sharon did it twice for Gods sake, missing out on part of her own son's athletic carnival, just to walk around airport stores and watch me get my sickness shot in the ass in the airport toilets! Pain or no pain, the last few days have been beyond perfection and will forever remain at the forefront of our minds as one of the most kick ass experiences of our lives, all thanks to the generosity of an amazing charity called Dreams2live4.
Here I am sun kissed, relaxed and in pain, but just like we all think we look better with a tan, it's the same with pain, pain feels better when you've got a tan.
Stay fabulous rockstars and thanks to all those Broome rockstars that reached out while we were there, it was great getting to meet some of you in person ❤️🤘🏼
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.