Timelines and Air Miles

When I found out I had terminal cancer, I never wanted to know how long I had. I never wanted to work to a timeline, but I knew that if I had one, part of me always would. However, I never got a chance to ask not to hear this information – too late, it was given. As little as three months if the chemo didn’t work at all (not particularly uncommon given the advanced state of my cancer), maybe 2 years at the most, if chemo worked really, really well.

The very first thing I did was think about where I would be in two years. I worked out almost immediately that it would be around the time of my first childs graduation from grade 6. I was so sad, I wanted so badly to be there, but I figured even if I was lucky enough, I would be really ill at the time. I pictured myself there, in a wheelchair, bald, crying….not because my baby was graduating from primary school (I’m the sentimental type, it was a given that I would cry at that, I cry when OTHER peoples children graduate from primary school), but because it was the last thing that I would ever get to see.

Over the last 23 months there have been other “dates” that have stuck in my head that would be very close to that two years. In March, when I was nominated for the Kidspot bloggers top 100 (top 25 in my category), I found out that the blogging program attached ran for the better part of the year, ending in a gala night in Sydney at the end of November. Ahh, that was that then. Sadly I knew that was something that I would never see through to the end.

Last night, I walked into that gala night. Here I am:

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None too shabby. Where’s the wheelchair? Who in the blue fuck owns all that HAIR?

It was a fabulous night, though they could have tried harder with the venue 😛

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Perhaps a celebrity host would not have gone astray. Oh…

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What about a night in a snazzy five star hotel, with your best friend, who came along as your plus one :) How about breakfast in The Rocks and a wander around the market?

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Yes, it was a fabulous and heady 24 or so hours, but the biggest thing of all, of course, was that I was there. That I was there at all.

I’m not the same person who used to run around like a cut cat and still have energy to burn, before all this shit started. I’ll never be her again. The afternoon, before the night that was, Kez and I decided to wander a kilometre down George St, so I could get some stockings to wear with my dress. I stopped several times in that kilometre, I was breathless, I had no energy, buckets of sweat were pouring out of my head, I would imagine a combination of the humidity, the chemo, and some bullshit I heard about people with advanced cancer struggling to control their body temperature. I was a mess by the time we walked the kilometre back, and frustrated to boot. A 44 year old woman who can no longer walk a couple of k’s….yeah, you bet I was pissed off. But after a quick rest, and a shower, I was feeling as right as rain, and we were on our way. I met lots of people who I had known as online presences for years, I talked and schmoozed and stayed in the game until midnight, when Kez and I collapsed between the trillion thread count sheets of our lovely five star hotel.

I returned this afternoon, to my Gaz, to my children. Tired but, do you know, happy? Sometimes I feel like someone I knew really well moved out and left me with this….stranger. I don’t know this person who sleeps for several hours during the day now in the early part of her chemo cycle. I don’t know the woman who no longer has the quick brain and mixes the smallest of things up (Annie Love, darling, if you are reading this, I am sorry I kept saying “so lovely to meet you”, I do actually know you were at my Brisbane book launch and I have met you before…put it down to chemo brain…please sweetheart). But I am getting to know her, and although I will never like her, I have learned to appreciate her. The life she provides me, it’s different, in some ways it’s less, but it’s still a life, and one that is well and truly worth living. Give me ALL the drugs, and when we are done with them, find me some more. I’ll keep on taking them, keep on sleeping more than I have ever slept in my fucking life, but I will get up again, and I will apply my now slow brain to my writing ideas, then I’ll sit down and write them. Then I’ll make dinner for my children, before I hit the sack again.

In two weeks time, I will watch my daughter graduate from primary school. No wheelchair, shitloads of hair. I’ll take her to her first day of high school at the end of January too, and I was told I would NEVER have that.

If you have been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and been given a timeline, I can’t tell you that that little pearl of information will ever leave your head, it won’t. Acknowledge it, but don’t unpack and live there. It might not happen – it hasn’t for me. And, this I promise you. You will be amazed that a life, even much changed, can be very much worth living, if that’s the only choice you have.

14 Comments on “Timelines and Air Miles

  1. I’m so glad you had a lovely night. You have many people cheering you on. Go girl 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for your book – I finished it last week after laughing and crying my way through it. I am a huge fan of the velveteen rabbit – I read the “real” passage at my daughters wedding – what a priviledge…but the words you speak about “becoming real” have so resonated with me… from the little girl sitting on the step at school to the 55 year old grannie to 3 beautiful grandaughters and a blended family of 5 in a fab second marriage. There have been so many bumps and bruises along the way – all making me more real….Thank you for your courage and your fight and your love…I may jusrt get that tattoo afterall.

  3. Once again you have beautifully articulated what I’ve been ruminating on. Will message you re a catch up. Big love xx

  4. It was awesome to meet you last night. I hope you enjoyed the sheets and I’m really happy that you’ll get to take your eldest to highschool. I hope it’s one of many more “firsts” to come! xx

  5. What a beautiful, heartwarming post. I’m so happy for you. Sounds like it was a wonderful, well-deserved experience :)

  6. My love! I’m sure you’ve heard every miracle cure,, every step you take is filled with good will! Hash oil, meditation, no chemo, chemo, NO chemo, MORE chemo BUT I know someone ( and many others) who are on a self paying trial drug called Keytuda! My friend had stage 4 bladder cancer with it moving to his bones, he was a walking dead man ghost UNTIL Keytryda!! Four infusions later ( only 5 months ago he started these immunotherapy drugs) and a very skeptical friend and I waited for his latest PET scan! All 18 tumors had evaporated!
    Gone!
    A miracle!!
    Google Ron Walker love as he was terribly sick but he tried Keytruda and he’s cancer free also!!
    INCREDIBLE drug love but if you’d like to know more email me Love! Love Alannah xxx

  7. Congratulations on such a wonderful experience. And well done you for pushing through.
    Make sure you take someone with you to do photos of the graduation. You want to be in them, not taking them. :)
    Our friend has been told that if this chemo cycle works, they might be able to give him three years. He’s after five. Knowing him as we do, he’ll make it.
    I so want you to make it too. :)
    XXXXXXX

  8. Well just look at you, “amazed” is what comes to mind Julia. Sometimes doctors giving people a time line is the worst thing they can possibly do, you have made it this far, so you go girl, keep proving them wrong. Have a lovely Xmas with your Fairies and your Fella Julia xx

  9. Hooray for you! Such a fabulous night for a strong and courageous lady. Timeline pfft! Keep defying it all and enjoy each moment with your special family. This was just what I needed to read at the moment as I have a family member recently diagnosed and devastated by a cancer diagnosis. Thank you xx

  10. I’m so pleased you had a lovely time it was nice to meet you. I had no idea of your blog or your story when I met you – ‘five fairies and a fella’ – I thought oh she might write about crystals and rainbows. Truth is I’m a horribly sporadic blogger and was there for the free beer. But it was lovely to meet both you and Annie that night and have discovered two new great reads. Crystals anyone?

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