I just had my annual check-up with my Breast Surgeon and I’ve had my 4 year ‘all clear’. Fantastic.
The Surgeon said that my breast cancer had been aggressive and if it was going to come back, it would have done so by now. I still need to continue with annual mammograms and check-ups to guard against any future cancers.
The Specialist said that I looked the best that she’d seen me in 8 years. I do feel healthy!
She reaffirmed that it is often difficult to work full time and that many of her breast cancer patients go through a lot of change with relationships, finances and career during and after breast cancer.
She said that people going through cancer go through post-traumatic stress disorder from the repeated shocks and traumas. I agree with that term as there are so many separate events and diagnoses within cancer. I have been told by another Doctor that it really takes 5-10 years to recover from cancer and that is once the treatments end.
This check-up was humbling. I’d just visited a dear friend at Wellington Hospital. She is going through chemo and right in the middle of everything. She told me that my Chemo Diary had helped her and I felt heartened that I had made a difference. My heart goes to her and I wish her huge amounts of healing and peace in her life.
It is another reminder never to take the word survivor with too much pride. I am cancer free but I am no different from all those wonderful people out there experiencing cancer without any definite end in sight. I just have been blessed to have the outcome that I have.
Breaking the programming
My life has gone in the tumble dryer since Italy. In a good way but it’s not very traditional and I am learning how much social programming I have in not following a full time 9-5 life.
After going through two sets of cancer treatment and surgeries, my body and mind do not tolerate the idea of working a pressured full time role. I still struggle with fatigue and unfortunately I still get headaches and migraines, though not as many as before! I find if I push myself too much with pace or work deadlines, my body does not cope. I still find myself feeling apologetic about my health. But I shouldn’t be. It just is. I am not physically able to work full time.
I’ve found it hard to find good part time work doing policy, programme and project management. I find people want full time and more than full time really which is what a lot of my friends work.
My vision is working in a way which contributes creatively and makes a difference, pays and is nourishing for my health. I know everyone probably wants the same thing in a different way but I feel that I can’t compromise on it.
So I’ve been exploring models of writing for a living, working from home, short term contracts and part time roles. I find working at home is great as I can get a whole lot done with regular breaks. However it’s a bit isolating sometimes.
In the now
Right now I’m working on a few projects:
- National Advisory group. I’m working part time on a National cancer advisory group which aims to improve the cancer journey of all New Zealanders
- Kiribati Cancer Society. I’m exploring whether people can fund or assist with capacity building of the Kiribati Cancer Society
- Hello Italy Goodbye Treatment tour. I created this tour for people finishing cancer treatment to celebrate life. The brochure is nearly ready and I’m looking forward to a fab tour in April 2016
- Writing my memoir. I’m mid-way through writing this!
- The Joy Assignment was created in March 2015 to encompass my new direction and projects. One of my missions is living with as much joy and peace as possible during and after cancer
- Kickstarter campaign. I am launching a Kickstarter campaign in May/June which will focus on the publishing of my book Chemo and Back Again. I have partnered with an awesome company Luvly who are creating the campaign. It is fabulous to work with a wonderful creative team
Things that have been helpful for me
- Hyperbaric oxygen and PEMF mats. Since late last year, I’ve been doing hyperbaric oxygen and PEMF treatments at Health Evolution in Kapiti. I have had a lot of success in reversing nerve damage in my feet and radiation damage especially in my underarm area. I encourage you to keep up with the newest health technologies to complement your other treatments and give hyperbaric oxygen and PEMF mats a try
- Walking and doing yoga daily. I’m doing approx. 1.5 hours of exercise daily and I feel a lot better for it. I often do yoga classes from YouTube which is really motivating
- New projects. I’m starting a new project called The Joy Assignment and it’s vibrant, uplifting and positive energy for me
- Being flexible with how I work and live. Part time is best and learning gradually how to make a life on a part time income is an art
I’ll be in touch soon about the Kickstarter campaign.