No guts, no glory.

In the end, the hardest decision of my life was not so hard after all. On Friday, I am going to walk into my surgeons office, and ask him to perform an operation that leaves me with a 50% chance of never leaving the hospital again. For a brief period, maybe 24 hours, I considered a slow and sickly walk to the finish line.  To take the time that was on offer, to know the end would still come, but not know when.  To be afraid ALL THE TIME.

And then I thought of the mouse. A couple of years ago we came home from holidays, and while we had been away and the house had been quiet, a bit of a mouse plague had started up.  We had laid some baits for them, but there was still quite a bit of activity. As I sat on the couch that night, I watched a mouse make a slow march across the loungeroom floor.  He had eaten some poison, and this little mouse was struggling.  But still, he tried to have a go, he was a brave little rodent.  He walked what must have felt like a country mile, maybe buoyed by hope, but probably always knowing that the grim reaper could catch him any moment he chose, and eventually he definitely would grab him by his wriggling tail, and stare him in the face, after toying with him as long as he chose, and then it would be all over.  But still, the mouse dragged his paralysed legs behind him, because what other choice did he have?

In a way, I am that mouse.  Except he didn’t have any chance.  As soon as he greedily gobbled the poison, it was all over for him.  It may not, however, be all over for me.  If I go the other way, I’ll need nothing short of a miracle, but if I put one foot in front of the other, gather all my courage, and let them wheel me into that operating theatre in a couple of weeks I will not need a miracle, just a massive amount of luck.  50/50.  One in two.  As a fellow cancer patient friend said yesterday – all my money on red.

I know a lot of people will be astounded by this decision.  Surely time is everything, when I have four children and a partner I adore.  Surely I should give them every day I can, a chance to make more memories.  Because the time I have now that I am guaranteed to be able to make memories just shrank to approximately 10 days.  It is unfathomable, impossible to prepare for, but somehow, I know it must be done.

I’ve lived a little larger in the last 13 months.  I’ve shone a little brighter, been a little braver, loved a little harder.  All of this because I have had hope.  If I say “no, thanks all the same” on Friday and go and park myself back in the chemo chair, I’ll already be a little dead.  And bit by bit, the light will dim, until it goes out.  I don’t want my children, my partner, my friends, or frankly anyone to remember me like that.  If my fate is already sealed, and this operation cannot save me, then let it go out while it’s still bright.

And think of the other side, if all goes well.  A 50% chance I will leave the hospital cancer free.  The surgeon is fairly certain he can remove all the cancer from my liver, or he would not have offered me the surgery.  He does have grave doubts about how long my liver will stay tumour free, but he does think he can take it all.  The question mark only hangs over whether my liver will be able to recover from having 72% of it’s volume removed.  If anyone knows anything that helps livers to regenerate, please let me know!

You know that saying “Imagine what you could do if you were not afraid?”  I’m not going to say that now, because I am absolutely terrified.  But if I make it through this, I doubt I will ever fear anything again, after all, I would have already stared Joe Black directly in the face.  And then, imagine what I could do?  I want to live big, and bright, and loud and authentic, and most of all…..brave. And i don’t want to be that mouse.  Sure, it had courage, but it was, in the end, doomed.

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33 Comments on “No guts, no glory.

  1. When I read your last blog .. I wondered … Mmmm .. I think I know which way you will go.. And all though I really only know you via Gary ..And a little by seeing your beautiful girls when they have come to visit at the hospital .. And a short stint in Chemo when we sat together waiting … For entirely different treatment .. I feel I know you very well …if this had not happened to you , would you have been such a good writer of your journey …. Because I have to say .. Even though I’m sad this is happening to you .. I’ve enjoyed your writings like I was reading a book about someone else … Your an amazing woman and an inspiration to many that …if you went to print with this story and someone in your position read this they would be helped with the blood sweat and tears journey that you have endured … I know I have and I’m not in the position you are in …but I have grown to love you very much … A woman with GUTS .. PRIDE .. And LOVE for your family .. I kneel I know you have made the right decision … Love to you .. And love to you all …Patti …xxxx

  2. Hello,
    After reading your previous blog I have thought about the situation you are in on at least 4 occasions. Having 2 young children of my own at a later stage in life I can’t imagine not being around for them as they grow up so can’t possibly imagine the strength you have had to find from finding out initially to getting through everything up to now, not only for yourself but also your family to. In any event I thought I would write and suggest The Liver Cleansing Diet by Dr Sandra Cabot. I have read the book and thought it was worth a try! I wasn’t going to bother you but a friend and I were talking the other day and this book just popped up in our conversation so thought perhaps I was meant to write to you. I didnt really want this published but didn’t know how else to contact you. I look forward to your next blog after your successful operation. xxx

  3. Jules, you have guts, and determination and courage on your side…in bucket-loads. Just this morning, over brunch and a cuppa with a friend, I was saying how often the quality of life is overlooked in favour of quantity. Your mouse story illustrates that beautifully. You are now my poster chick for how to do life bravely, as a full human being, unapologetically. Love that you have made your choice. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know. As the writer of “Children of Men’ (an amazing dystopic futuristic film) suggests, without hope what do we, as humans, have? We have awesome relationships which change as we change, morph as we morph, but most of all we have a future to look forward to. You’re opting for hope too. Why shouldn’t you be the successful whatever percent? Patients astound their doctors all the time. I wish that for you and hope that it happens.
    Just remember your secret weapon…absolute unabashed awesomeness. And you don’t know it’s depths till you test it. xxx

  4. Not astounded at all. Just deeply respectful of the difficult decision you are making, and hopeful that the gamble pays off for you.

    You’ll be in my thoughts. :)

  5. Trying to write this through the tears :( we will all will you through this operation only positive vibes , Deanna has spoken of you to me often, a beautiful, courageous needed woman love and prayers to you all xxxxxoooxx

  6. my mum passed away in October from Liver cancer. She was offered this surgery (well what seems to be the same surgery). She debated it long and hard. I am an only child, I am 41, and she was 68. Yes I have two kids, whom she adored beyond words. But she decided not to have it, because after fighting this horrible illness, it had taken it’s toll. She did not have a 50/50 chance, her was slightly less, due to her age and a few other linked issues. Professor Gow thought he could do something, but said the result after, even if she did survive may not be great. She decided she wanted to go with the no surgery route, and as upsetting as that was for her and for us, we respected her choice. She had her reasons and with other issues involved, it seemed to be the best choice for her. As I said to her, it was her body, she was the one taking the risk. No one should have to make a choice like this nor should anyone feel bad for picking whichever choice they make. If nothing else, mum felt either way, she would have some control over how things went. I honestly hope Julia, that you are one of the lucky ones. You are clearly a very brave woman. I wish you all the best with the surgery.

  7. Do not go gently..,..Huge respect for your decision. If you can, please keep writing. The light you are shining for us will reflected back to you. Am not religious but am praying for you.

  8. One part of the liver does regenerate but not sure which side . Don’t give up . Sounds as though you’re a real fighter . Don’t be the mouse , but be the Phoenix .

  9. Awesome. So logical to the end.
    I hope it is not the end
    I hope it is the fairytale and not the abyss ahead.
    You are really brave. And totally awesome.

  10. Not astounded – this is the choice I would make too (although maybe ask for more than 13 days to prepare?). Of course I wouldn’t be able to write about it so eloquently. You are amazing and inspiring.
    Rachel (Nicole S’s sister).

    • I haven’t got much time, my cancer is progressing, so it has to be done quickly, or it will progress too much for anything to be done.

  11. Having just lost my mum from cancer 3 months ago and living through the last 18 months of diagnosis to her death, I cannot say I have been in your position but can say I have been close to a person who has fought for her life and that one more day. I know my mum would have taken any chance she could even if it gave a 5% chance of survival. I think you owe it to yourself and to your kids to take the 50/50 chance and see where it leads you. I think you are super brave and have the best attitude towards the situation. The kind of attitude I have not seen in many cancer patients besides my mum. I admire your strength and believe you will come out of this alive and happy. Best of luck.

  12. I don’t know if this might help but Kris Carr has done a documentary and written several books on how she’s keeping her cancer in check with diet. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare and incurable Stage IV cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma affecting her liver and her lungs. She’s been alive and well for over 10 years. Hope this helps somehow. Blessings & Grace to you.

  13. Jules, you are a fighter and a beacon of light for many people in this world. I have shared your blog on both Twitter and FB as I know it will inspire other as it has done me. Good luck in your fight. I hope whatever you decide that you keep a smile on your face. Your kids have a lucky mother for sure

  14. Julia,
    Your stories touch my heart, and I need you to now that in life you are teaching ME to live Big, Bright, Loud, Authentic and BRAVE. You won’t be alone that day that you place all bets on red, everyone that’s ever met you, read your stories, or knows your beatiful family will be their in mind and spirit, just to give you exactly what it is you will need…. call us lady luck, keeping the odds in your favor, X

  15. What a strong and courageous woman you are! I know you have been through a lot and you have probably looked at many options. I wasn’t really sure whether to write this or not because some people are very much set on going down the official route when it comes to cancer treatment. I do understand this and have personally supported several people through various stages of cancer treatment. I have never pushed anyone to going into any particular direction because it is such a personal chioce. However I do always try to present to people the alternatives to radio & chemo therapy because I believe that we can treat cancer very effectively with “alternative” methods. There has been a tremendous amount of evidence that these forms of treatment are very effective. I would love to share some of them with you if you would like. One simple way of reducing the spread of cancer can be to create more of an alkaline environment in your body as cancer thrives in the slightly acidic internal environment that most of us have. An easy way to do this is to have green vegetable juices. If you go for this operation then I wish you the best of luck. There definitely are many things that you can do that will help you heal faster afterwards and also lessen the risk of the cancer coming back. Please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to share some of my knowledge and experience of supporting others through their cancer journey.

  16. My father had a large liver tumour that the surgeon embolised then removed. He was left with 25% of his liver, and 12 months later it has fully regrown. Happy to answer any more questions, but have faith it can be done. You’ve obviously got too much to live for.

  17. Beautiful read. Thank you for sharing your journey.
    I would love to offer you Reiki and emotional freedom Technique (eft)
    Before and after your operation. Free of charge. You can email me on sundayorganics@gmail.com if you are interested.
    Love & light
    Sunday x

  18. ‘When life hands you lemons..make lemonade’. Well, someone threw the whole tree perhaps, but start building that lemonade stand STAT! You can do this! I’m not sure if it helps to say ‘I would have made the same choice’ because it’s so vastly different being a spectator, but for what it’s worth.. I think I would do it too. Will someone update your blog and let us know how you are? As always, sending many good thoughts. X

  19. Jules, I am new to your blog but am absolutely in awe of your courage and fierceness. Such an inspiration & your writing is a joy & a privilege to read despite the tears it brings – I am thinking of you & your beautiful family as you tackle this challenge & may the days ahead be filled with love & sunshine xx

  20. Jules, I found your blog via Susan on facebook and your writing and courage really impressed me yesterday. I read all your blog and just wanted to give you as much encouragement and hope as i can. I am also a mum of one fairy and one toy soldier and had advanced bowel cancer with mets to the liver. I have had 2 liver resections now and both time been in remission afterwards, currently for 18 months and counting. And even more incredibly my friend had same disease, but larger liver tumour and had to have 75% of her liver removed after being told she was inoperable. She is alive, very well and still in remission 4 years afterwards! So please dont give up hope. I have no idea if my protocol helped alongside the surgery and chemo but if you want to check it out (it is very long!) it is under my protocol on my website http://www.bananagiraffes. The main ones which my nutritionist gave me were selenium, vit d, vitamin C for healing post surgery ( and apparently helps with phase 2 liver detox) and also something callled Liv52 by Verdic. I take 4 a day and is meant to be helpful in liver detoxification and supporting liver function. Also I had heard magnesium glycinate works. But i stress i am not a nutritionist and you would need to consult one for your own protocol if you thought it would help you as we are all different. I just tried everything Jules and like Susan try ( and fail everyday ) to keep to the anti cancer diet. I also had acupuncture. But that’s all down the line, focus on feeling mentally strong on friday and I will be thinking of you and willing you on. If it helps to contact me, please feel free. X

  21. You are an incredible and inspirational person that offers more to this world than words can ever express!
    My daughter when born was given 1%, the next day the percentage changed…No better but it kept changing… For months we were given 0.5% for this, 5% for that.. It kept coming at us but the one thing I remember from it all is faith. After a few days of thinking the worst before she entered the world I kept my head high. I never once doubted she could be that teeny tiny percentage to come through all the warnings they tried to break my ‘delusional positive attitude’ with… Someone had to be a miracle and it was going to be her!
    Walk in on Friday and know you are going to be the person that will beat the odds and you will win this fight. Know it in your head and know it in your heart. You have made the right choice and cannot wait to hear more updates of your journey of you living to a ripe old age. We are all praying for you as we follow this journey. You can do this!!!!! After all why should you not be the one that can win this? Someone has to and it is going to be you x

  22. You’re wonderfully brave. I lost my brother to cancer last July and we talked a lot about what he was going through. Before July of course he had many triumphant victories – healthwise – including being declared cancer free in July 2013. Such is life ! You are in my thoughts and I look forward to reading more posts written by you. Hugs!

  23. you brave glorious lady – may all the strong angels gather round you marvellously and carry you through this difficult time and back safely into this world on side of the living 50% –

  24. I see people would wish for more time to prepare, but there will never BE enough time to prepare for something like this.
    Because what can you do, except tell the people you love that you love them? Let them know they’re loved and that that’s why you’re doing this – to get more time to love them. This is the only thing that matters.

  25. I am touched by your story, and am cheering you on from here. Go get em, Godspeed.

  26. Pingback: All on Red | Boob in a Box

  27. That mouse was a pussy compared to you.

    I have “known” you for many years now (think EB), and you have never ceased to confront things with anything but sincerity.

    Thank you for sharing such intimate times with us. I feel honoured.

  28. You are an amazing writer and pray you will be able to pursue that in your future. (Someone posted your blog on FB). I have lived through 2 surgeries with a 5% chance of making it through the night. I have survived sepsis and 106.5 fevers. I am a believer in the power of Jesus because through prayer, not luck or odds, I am still here 28 years later. Jules, you are strong, but learn to lean on Him. I will pray with you that God brings you through this to be what He wants you to be. Blessings to you and your family in the time ahead. “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Blessings.

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