The year of living

What to say about that last blog? Was it real? Yes indeedy, the realest. Am I so fatigued from fronting up at that fucking hospital that I feel like vomiting every time I smell that antiseptic smell? Oh yeah baby. Do I feel like punching perfectly nice people in the face every time they come near me with another cannula, with that dreaded chest needle? Well, I’m not a violent person, so not really, but kinda. The chemo unit, rather than becoming something I am used to, is a different evil each time, the resentment I feel at having to keep going back there grows ever stronger. But, I wrote the last blog in a state of near hysteria, right after the event, and if I had not, I doubt I would have shared those things, because it was hysteria. I won’t know for sure whether the port is fine until Tuesday when I front up in hell again, but it was a pretty simple “fix”, I went back to radiology on Friday and it was all twisted and moved out of position. Another chest needle, another puncture hole in the groin, more wire, and hey presto, it’s looking good on the x-ray. Flat on my back for a few hours so the artery didn’t bleed out, and I was up and back to my life. Calm the farm Jules. My friend Bekkii came with me, both on Tuesday to chemo and Friday to the port fix, and she even managed to convince them to let her into the operating suite in radiology while I had the procedure. I try to bear a lot of this alone, I don’t want to be a burden on others and I like to think I am strong enough, but when Bekkii told me on Friday that I was never again darkening the doorstep of the Frankston Hospital alone, the time for that shit was over, I was relieved. I will try to share the fun around my many beautiful friends, but I do think she is right. No woman is an island and all that shizz.

A few days ago, I finally met a friend who I have known on line for many years, from a parenting forum that I used to frequent. She has a 10 year old daughter with Down syndrome, so we bonded over our girls, and now years later we are bonded closer by the desire to stay with them as long as we can, as my friend also has stage 4 cancer. We chatted for hours about what cancer has taken from us, what chemo has done to our bodies, the mental fatigue of knowing that it will never be over…until it’s over. She is an amazing woman though, she is like me, she just gets on with living (with the occasional meltdown I am sure). She has had stage 4 breast cancer for FIVE YEARS (go you good thing!) I said “I don’t know how you have done this for five years”, all the while knowing that I hope desperately that I will be doing it for five years too. Be careful what you wish for, team. I reckon I’ve got it in me.

On Monday night I went down to the city to stay the night at an apartment with my friend Carly and her mum, as Carly surprised me last year with the news that she had got me a ticket to a breakfast with Nigella Lawson at Crown. I love Nigella, so it was very exciting. We stayed in town the night before as we had to get up at the arse crack of dawn for the breakfast, so we made a mini holiday of it. We went out for dinner and then came back and got in our pj’s and sat around and chatted and drank wine and coffee (the coffee was mine, bloody boring I’ve got in my dotage!) It was a lovely night, and I decided right then and there that there must be more of it. I have an extroverted personality, but I am introverted by nature, a real cave dweller, and I have become more so since my diagnosis. I find it very hard to sleep away from Gaz, and this night was no exception. I had a lovely room to myself in this apartment, nice crisp sheets and a telly, but I pined, hour after hour for my fella. My arm kept reaching for him, but he wasn’t there, and as a result I didn’t sleep all night, and yawned through most of the awesome breakfast with Nigella. We lined up to get our cookbooks signed, and I mustered up all my courage and asked her if I could give her a copy of Breakfast, School Run, Chemo, which she graciously accepted. I don’t really expect her to read it, but who knows, eh? She has lost a lot of family to cancer, so if she actually takes a look at it and what it’s about, she might well delve in. It’s a fun thought, anyway 😛

And so, my friends, this will be the year of living fully. Nigella was a great way to kick it off, and this year I want to see all of you. I want to talk shit about anything BUT cancer. I want to drink wine, and have long lunches while the kids are at school, and go shopping, and just BE A FRIEND again. No Julia the cancer person, the dying person, Julia the REALLY LIVING PERSON. Let’s get together, ok? Just like old times….I want nothing more. I believe a certain group of girls are coming over this weekend, ones that hate a drink and good food, and a chat (as IF!) Can’t wait. Just don’t ask me to sleep anywhere else, unless you can provide a life size Gaz blow up doll 😛

OH GUESS WHAT!? My Kitchen Rules starts in a couple of weeks! Indi, Tana and my early weeknights revolve around this high drama during the season :) Soon, the girls will be planning the snacks we will eat in bed (and Gaz will come in later and say “there are crumbs all over the fucking bed, I told you not to eat in here!” And then he will let us eat in there again the next night, rinse, repeat). There will be cries of “yuk, who would eat THAT!” and “why on earth would you cook that when you have never cooked it before”, and “they really blew that mum”, and “they’re just playing the game”. There will be snuggles and giggles, and fights over who gets to be next to mum, and memories made forever. I remember writing just over a year ago that if I didn’t try the liver resection, that year would be my last My Kitchen Rules with the girls. BUT IT’S NOT!!! We get another year! It seems silly to be excited over a television show, but it’s much more than that. For us, it’s the simple pleasure of being together. You know that meme that keeps floating around about enjoying the little things, because one day you will look back and realise they were the big things. Cliche, but true. I wish it had not taken me so long to learn that, while I spent years chasing after what I thought were the big things. Go find your little big things today, and take simple pleasure in them. You’ll be awfully glad you did.

Carly and I at Nigella:

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7 Comments on “The year of living

  1. Loved your book and can completely identify with your aversion to the antiseptic smell. When the nurses dab around my port it makes me also feel angry. Just fuck off and leave me alone and that Pearce in the chest always hurts even with the cream. Thank you for your honesty and humour as it has helped me be more real about my cancer.

  2. Back to McClelland Gallery ASAP!! See you next Thursday for another milestone.
    Lots of love to you all xx

  3. I bloody love that line you wrote!
    “Go and find your little big things”
    Thank you once again for letting us into your world and reminding us all to find the joy in life – no matter what gets thrown at you.
    Hope I get to meet you in person one day, I have enjoyed your inspiring words and your darker moments that you share. I made my hubby buy me your book for Christmas!
    Thank you.
    Catriona

  4. I love your posts. I love your triumphs and weep for you in your pain. I don’t have a clue what you are going through, even though I have had family taken by cancer. The observer can’t possibly know what it is like for the sufferer.
    I just think you are freaking amazing and I do hope that this year is a great year for you and yours.
    I do have a suggestion for you to save the bed. I’m with Gaz on bed eating : Have a sheet handy that the girls n you can spread over the one you sleep on and you can party as hard as you like, and when it is time to sleep, you can carefully remove the picnic sheet and harmony is restored in the boudoir. :) XX

  5. Port Stephens is a beautiful place…. come! We’ll go whale watching! You can even bring your beloved 😀

  6. Thank you, so much, for your book.
    My mum passed away when I was 18 from bowel cancer and your writing feels like all of the things I could never understand then, and what she internalised, I am beginning to understand now. It’s as if your writing is her. Yesterday was the six year anniversary of her passing and your book has bought a level of closure I could never have imagined getting.
    Thank you for the laughs, the many tears and for helping me remember things I’ve been blocking out for so long.
    You are such a strong woman, it’s inspiring. Xxx

  7. Hi Julia, I have just finished reading your book.. I was inspired by seeing you on sixty minutes and just had to know more. Your words are so inspirational. I can’t relate to the cancer journey at all, but I have taken so much from your pages into my heart. I wish you every bit of love and happiness and strength for the journey ahead ❤️ Ps. Your love of the f bomb also won me over 😉

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