Category Archives: family


December 7, 2014

Such a gap… 3 years…

There’s been changes of course. Change of job. Moved house.

Both directly a result of the whole breast cancer experience.

The job change was needed – to move away from living and working with cancer. And now I sit in a children’s hospital research centre. Managing paediatric studies is pretty far from cancer. Particularly since this hospital has a separate oncology group and my centre oversees everything else. And yes. At this point it is “my” centre as I manage the centre and the staff and projects.

The house move? Well we moved from our big house to… A big apartment. And the kids all came too – which is why it had to be a big apartment!

Our lives have become simpler. Less tied to maintenance and upkeep. And for the first time ever I have a garden. Actually, three gardens on three balconies. Strawberries. Tomatoes. Hedges. Grapes. Lettuce. Herbs. Geraniums. Lots of geraniums. All red to remind us of our time in France earlier this year. The image here is of the balcony off our bedroom. Watching a summer storm rolling in.

And yes. Just a few days ago the third year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis past. No sign so far of it coming back – but my annual scans are due in January so an element of anxiety is setting in. Particularly in the early am when I’m lying awake (insomnia is a side effect of the drug I take daily to try and keep cancer from coming back).

Breast cancer does not dominate my life anymore and I rarely visit the support sites I used to. This is good – I think…

Whoever you are – I wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year this year.


Nelson’s perspective on mastectomy is not to be missed.

You may wonder what a male can contribute to this topic, but believe me, this is one valuable piece of writing!

Mastectomy – One Man's Perspective.

another year…

A year older today and thankful for it. This is a pic of the great present that my hubby got me – that made me cry this morning…

Despite the many challenges over the past year and the residual health fall-out from this past year, it has been filled with some great experiences. This is the year I found the lost family I had been searching for (half sisters and their children). The year when I loved catching up with the family I already knew. The year when circumstances brought me back in closer touch with quite a few friends who we had seen far too little of in recent times.

This year brought us to two weddings, both for young people that we watched grow up from their first years. It was wonderful of them to include us in their special days. We loved being able to watch them starting their married life together. Brought us so many memories of when we were as young as they, and just starting out.

To my wonderful children, and their partners: You have stepped up so far this past year and have helped make a difficult time much more bearable. I have loved my shopping expeditions with my girls. I have loved watching my son mature and move from his school years into university. And I have loved meeting and getting to know your partners (this applies to my almost children Becca and Matt as well!).

This year brought not only personal challenges for us, but also financial ones (that continue). My wonderful husband has not only had to cope with supporting me emotionally through all the breast cancer crap, but has also had to hold down his demanding full-time job and worry about how to pay all the bills, including the extra medical ones rolling in. His love has been unwavering. His levels of confidence in being able to keep us all afloat have been hit though. But, through all of this he has been my ROCK.

I have had many wonderful birthday messages and each one is appreciated, just as if everyone were here in our house sharing the day with us.

❤ Jenn

taking time for soul building…

My hubby and I have driven a thousand kilometres this week to spend Easter weekend with some good friends – roadtrip! Our kids have all stayed home without us and while it seems envigorating without them, at the same time it feels lonely. We have been enjoying just being able to do what we want, when we want to, but…

You know, I’ve discovered over the past few days, that I can travel a huge distance and still not get away from what troubles me. Despite the quaint B&B, the beautiful beaches, the good meals and the good company, I still found myself overcome with profound sadness last evening. The sort that sweeps over me and just makes me want to sob.

A counsellor and a psychiatrist have both determined that I’m not depressed so how do I deal with this?

I usually take myself off to the quiet of my room and give in to it, but even I’m getting tired of this. I WANT to get over this! I want to move on. I want to not worry about what “might happen” and get on with what “is happening”.

Breast cancer has stolen so much from me. According to the medical specialists, and even other patients, everything is “do-able”. Surgery was do-able. Chemo was supposedly do-able. Endocrine drugs are do-able.

So if this whole thing is so do-able why are so many of us coming out the other side (those of us lucky enough to not have metastatic disease or recurrance) so broken in spirit?

I know I’m not the only one. I’ve read other women’s words at and I’ve seen the look in the eyes of the women I met at the Moving On From Cancer session I went to recently. We are mostly all broken in spirit and searching for ways to make ourselves whole again.

I’m hoping that this road trip will leave me a little refreshed. I already love the fact that hubby and I were able to drive a thousand kilometres and are still talking to each other. I love the nail varnish I bought today and the beach walks we have enjoyed.

Happy Easter everyone! May your souls be refreshed.

trying to regain inner peace…

I had my second last Herceptin infusion last week before travelling north into a storm for a week’s holiday at the beach.

I should probably explain up front that since my breast cancer diagnosis back in December 2011 I have not slept well. In fact, that’s an understatement since I can count on one hand (five fingers) how many times I have had a full night’s sleep in the past year!

Feel free to make suggestions, but really, I have tried every darned thing suggested to me to try and get some sleep!

– meditation tapes – yes
– relaxing music – yes
– lavender essential oil on my pillow – yes
– no coffee – yes
– no iPad – yes
– no tv – yes
– sleeping drugs – yes

Well, you get the idea… None of them worked. Not even the pharmaceutical products.

And the worst part in some ways was that I wasn’t waking up stressed or worrying or dwelling on my diagnosis. I was just awake.

This morning, a week after our holiday began, I woke at 6am. There had been NO WAKING IN THE NIGHT. Finally.

So what do I think allowed this to happen? Well, this week has been filled with family and fun. Some rain and some sun. Sitting watching waves break on shore. Listening to their breaking sounds at night in bed. A visit to the circus (Lennon Bros Circus). And, the BEST steak I’ve ever had just last night for dinner! (zebu bar and grill)

Was the steak the deal breaker? Was it the glass of french champagne that went with it? I think not…

It was a week surrounded by family and fun. And I can tell you, I don’t want to leave!

❤ Jenn

savouring each moment… even if it’s raining

Do you let life just “happen” to you? Do you savour each moment?

My family and I are away on holiday. We’re staying a week in an apartment overlooking a beach and we have all been looking forward to this first family holiday in over 3 years.

Well, we were the crazy people driving north towards our destination while everyone else on the road seemed to be heading south. In fact, there were long slow lines of traffic on the other side of the road. Why?

Well, it is the end of the Australian summer school holiday break this week, so many people are ending their break while we, with almost adult age children not worried about school terms, are just starting our break away. But really, there should have been more traffic travelling the direction we were heading, and there wasn’t…

You see, we were heading into a storm! Yes, our crazy family were driving north INTO the almost tropical cyclone conditions.

imageSometimes in life you need to face the storm in order to get to the sunshine on the other side. The storm may be rough. It’s important though, to savour the beauty that it holds. The rain, the sound of the wind, the crash of the waves. They all contain a beauty just as blue sky and white sand.

As I sit here listening to the sounds and seeing the sights of the storm raging outside our holiday apartment I have been thinking that the storm reflects so much of my emotional experience with breast cancer and its treatments over the past year. My experience will be almost over in a few weeks when I visit the chemo unit for my last Herceptin infusion and then schedule removal of the port-a-cath from my chest.

I am looking forward to the “blue sky days” that will follow.

Reflections of love…

February 2012 (Facebook) –
“This is all too challenging at the moment. Overwhelmed and sad. Trying to remember why I’m doing this to myself when the cancer I had is already gone. Chemo sucks. On the bright side – Tony is a good for hugs…”

I promised you that I would go back and pull some of my Fcebook and Twitter comments from last year here. I didn’t realise what a hard task this would be. You see, going back means revisiting not only my words but my emotions and experiences…

Above is my Facebook status from early February 2012. By that time I had lived through surgical port-a-cath insertion in my chest, two cycles of the chemo regimen FEC (3 drugs – 5FU, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide) and a bunch of invasive blood tests, scans and heart tests. And that is just the medical descriptions.

All of the above caused physical effects. My hair fell out. I had incisions that didn’t want to heal. I had bruises. I was nauseous. I ached. I was tired.

The important thing to notice from my message above though was the end bit. The bit about Tony.

Tony is my husband. At the time of my diagnosis we had been married 23 years, lived across two countries and had three teenage kids including one with special needs.

Tony has not only been good for hugs. He’s been good for so much more! He’s been there to hold me when I cried or when I was in pain. He’s been there beside me for every single darned appointment that I askedd him to be at. Appointments with oncologists, radiologists, psychologists, surgeons, chemo suite, nurses, inteventional radiologists. If I asked, he was there.

This man, that I first met at the age of 18 (we are both the same age) is amazing in his support.

He is not a great cook. He isn’t particularly social. He hates dancing. He doesn’t enjoy the same movies that I do. But none of that matters a jot and after all these years it is a blessing to be able to still see love in his eyes.

Love ya Tony…