Wednesday, August 27, 2014




4am and peaceful slumber is broken by the booming voice of the Jackman.

"Muuuummmmyyyy...did you fowget to get da marshmawwows fwom da shops? Are you gedding dem fwom da shops today Muuuum?".

"Ahh...sure buddy..???".

Silence descends followed by the gentle snores of a little boy dreaming of marshmallows & Gruffalos.



Oh Jackman, you have hit three with such energy and sweetness, I want to savour every minute of it. How does such a giant personality fit into such a little body? When you're not stumping me with your endless questions about the world, you send me into a fit of the giggles with random statements like, "Da pink bits in your eyes, dats where da raindwops come out".




You have the determination of an Olympic athlete and the temper of a Tasmanian Devil. You are inquisitive, fearless and wickedly funny. I will never tire of the way you press your cheek against mine with your arms wrapped around my neck, whispering "I wuv you Muuum, you'we wuvewy". It melts my heart when you tell your big brother that he's your best friend. You make your Daddy's day complete when you rush to greet him as he walks in the door at night. Even when you drive us batty with your fussy eating and night wakings you manage to inevitably say or do something that makes us lose our composure and burst out laughing. You wear your heart on your sleeve and its magical to watch.




On a day like today, when my heart aches with the reality of cancer, you ask if we can play hide'n'seek and it reminds me to really live in the present and not get lost in the what ifs. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet when you're counting to ten while I'm hiding amongst Daddy's suits in the wardrobe, feeling like I'm five years old again, quiet as a mouse, waiting for you to come find me. You and your big brother remind me every day to enjoy and savour this life we have.



I will savour this time and look for the joy.



I love you to the moon and back Jackman.


xxx Mummy


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The first flourish of Spring


The first flourish of Spring.
Cherry blossoms, violas, marigolds, snowflakes and the emerald green of emerging bluebells.
We're a tad late in prepping the patch, time to harvest the last of the winter crop, dig over the vege beds and plant out spring seedlings. Our garden has been sadly neglected over winter, we'll be busy playing catch up over the next few weekends. Hopefully the chicken house will be fox proofed and ready for some new gorgeous clucky hens in the coming months. I've missed our girls terribly and can't wait to have freshly laid eggs again.
Hidden under the cabbages were unsuspecting contestants for an impromptu snail race.



It was a heart stopping thrills & spills event. Jackman's nag left the other in his slimy wake. Always something wonderful to do or discover in the vege patch. I love that the boys never tire of playing in our garden.


Happy Springy Saturday!

xx Em


Monday, August 18, 2014

If you can't take the heat...'ve been an ominous start to the week.

Another sad attempt at sleep last night left me at my wits end this morning.


I just can't get comfortable. I used to be a tummy sleeper, many moons ago, but expanding baby bellies during pregnancy trained me to sleep on my side. When I lost my right breast it ruled out sleeping on my right side and now the left side has been struck off too. Lying on my back is making sleep scarce. I long for the day when my chest feels 'normal' enough to sleep comfortably again but I fear that reality is years away. Added to that discomfort are the hideous hot flushes which wake me up a dozen times a night and plague me during the day. They tapered off for the first few months after starting Tamoxifen but have ramped right up again.


Menopause, to put it delicately, is the Universe's sadistic idea of a cruel joke. Why on earth do affected women not talk about it, or more to the point, violently rage against it more openly?


The hot flushes come on so fiercely. One minute I'm fine, then within seconds my entire body is on fire, my face is red and my forehead soaked in sweat. My natural instinct is to strip off layers until my body cools down. I find myself flinging the quilt on and off throughout the night in a futile attempt to get comfortable. I feel so self conscious and embarrassed when I burn up in public, people shoot me quizzical looks when I become bright red and sweaty during a conversation. I'll be honest, I HATE hot flushes but more than that, I think it's outrageously unfair to have to endure period pain and hot flushes simultaneously. Menopause when you're thirty seven is just plain wrong! In fact it is entirely fucked up!


So...Monday started off with me bursting into tears upon waking and progressed into a truly spectacular sobfest in my GPs office during my post surgical check up mid morning. It was ugly. I could barely speak, but my GP being the intelligent and intuitive woman that she is, very quickly summised that I was entirely overwhelmed with the cancer gig. Apparently it's fairly common to experience a kind of post traumatic stress response after battling cancer. Seems obvious. During treatment patients tend to focus all their energy on surviving the disease and when treatment is over the brain then gives permission to drop the defences and emotions take over. In her words, she had been wondering when I would crack. She thought I'd been far too upbeat during my diagnosis and treatment.


So...I've started on a low dose anti depressant which can (hopefully) kill two birds with one stone by stabilising my mood and reducing the severity of my hot flushes. I've got more painkillers to get me through the next couple of weeks and most importantly, a referral to start seeing a psychologist.


I've officially started the next chapter of cancer treatment...time to start cleaning up the emotional wreckage from my little horror show.


xx Em


Saturday, August 16, 2014

The brain drain.

My drain is out. Freedom!

You would think, having played the original mastectomy game just 19 months ago that I would be well schooled in drain etiquette. No. Oh goodness no!

Having a metre long tube emerging from under my ribs with a blood filled bag attached to the end wasn't obvious enough to remind my brain about the 'for gods sake don't walk off without it' rule.

I blame chemo brain.



For the eight days that it was part of me, I managed to snag myself on average about half a dozen times a day. The bag was tucked inside a pretty rainbow polka dot fabric tote that I'd made. I would hang the tote on the back of the chair or by the side of my bed and inevitably get up and walk off only to lurch back after a couple of steps with a burning pain in my ribs.


Ow bloody ow!!!

Of course, now that it is no longer attached to my body, I stop to collect it before getting up from my chair only to remember that it's not there. Oh how very amusing my chemo addled grey matter is these days! Time to get cracking on the brain gym program and start reconnecting some neurons.



Anyway, to celebrate my escape from tangled tubes, we went out for a family dinner last night at Grill'd in Manuka. It felt really great to feel well enough to go out. Grill'd is the perfect place for dinner with my boys. I love the interiors and the casual atmosphere. I love their tokens for local charities program.

And the food...



I went for the triple sliders with chicken, wasabi and pomegranate; beef, mustard & pickle and; chicken & asian slaw. So good, so so good!



Made better with a side of sweet potato fries & sweet chilli sauce.



We bumped into some friends we hadn't seen for a while on our way out, then the boys danced their way around the block on the walk back to the car. The weather is warming up, am looking forward to Spring and all the gorgeous outdoor adventures that come with it.


Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

xx Em







Thursday, August 14, 2014

Perspective and Gratitude



It's been a week since surgery and I'm in a much better frame of mind.


Being home in my own safe, comforting space for the last few days has made a big difference. My boys have been lavishing me with such gentle cuddles and Husband has been doing a stellar job taking care of me. My body may still be fragile and sore but my head & heart are in a much better place. Time, rest and nurturing have allowed perspective to creep back in again and with perspective comes gratitude and a deep appreciation for what I do have.


I'm grateful that my cancer was picked up relatively early and that my surgeon was able to do nipple sparing mastectomies with immediate reconstructions. I'm very mindful that for a lot of women its not an option. I'm grateful that my surgeon did such a beautiful job reconstructing my breasts so that they look almost normal, even if they feel far from it.


I'm grateful for every nurse who took care of me during my time at Calvary. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the work that they do. I was never left waiting for pain relief no matter how busy they were. They were always so gentle when administering my Hepron injections or checking my wound and didn't make me feel bad for falling into a teary heap.


I'm incredibly grateful for friends in high places who arranged for me to stay in a single room for the duration of my stay this time. I desperately needed the privacy and peace of my own space so that I could mourn my loss. I'm grateful that I had such wonderful people on the ward looking out for me during a time when I was broken and vulnerable and weak. I'm grateful for little things that made a big difference during my stay at Calvary. A decent coffee delivered with a hug from a very dear friend. A view of the Brindabellas at sunset. Hospital food that was surprisingly fresh, healthy and delicious. A Bosom Buddy volunteer who took the time to sit and share her experience and left a beautiful gift bag donated by a local church.


I'm grateful for a warm, cosy house to come home to. I appreciate having a Husband who could take a couple of weeks carers leave. He's been incredibly supportive during this recovery and is a rockstar 'Mr Mom'. I'm grateful for the family & friends who haven't given in to compassion fatigue during this drawn out journey. I'm grateful for an incredible online cancer support group that I'm privileged to have just become part of. The timing is serendipitous and the strength and humour that eminates from these amazing women is so uplifting. Being able to talk to others who truly appreciate every aspect of the fight is gold!



I am grateful for all the emails, comments and messages of support from my online community. For the phone calls, visits, flowers, gifts and cards that have brightened my days from family & friends.


I am very much aware of what is good in my life.

Cancer may have stretched my resilience to breaking point, but it can't steal away my gratitude.


xx Em



Monday, August 11, 2014

Pandora's Box

I'm home from hospital now.

My second mastectomy was a success. I'm doing ok and glad to be back in my own bed again.


I wanted to share the below post that I wrote two days after my surgery. I was in a very dark place. I think that I have a fair bit of work ahead of me in coming to terms with the emotional fallout that comes after battling cancer.

Also, heads up...this is a post about mastectomies. Squeeze your eyes shut if the sight of my reconstructed boob is not your cup of tea, or, you know, harden up and deal with it. It's just another boob.




Friday, August 8th

It's done.



The tears began to trickle from the moment I walked through the hospital doors and haven't stopped.

I wiped them away so that the nurses wouldn't notice in surgical admissions.

I wiped them away as I lay for hours in the room next to the theatre, waiting for my turn.

I wiped them away when the anaesthetist finally got the cannula into a vein, on the fifth excruciating try.

I wiped them away as they put me on the operating table and placed the mask over my face.

I wiped them away as I 'came to' in Recovery.

I wiped them away each time the nurses came into my room to do obs and give painkillers.

I wiped them away as my surgeon came in to check on me the morning after my mastectomy.




And then I stopped wiping the tears away.



The nurses came in bright and bubbly to give me my meds Friday morning and I burst into tears. Not the delicate kind. The great big hiccuping kind. The kind where speech is wiped out by uncontrollable sobs. They looked a bit scared, asked me what was wrong and when I couldn't respond they left me to cry it out in the privacy of my room.


I wanted to scream that I'd just had my breast removed, I wanted everyone to stop treating me like I'd just had my appendix out. I felt devastated. I felt entirely overwhelmed with the sense of loss. I wasn't alright. I wasn't the least bit alright. All of the sadness and stress that I'd managed to lock away during my treatments last year began bubbling up to the surface. This surgery was the last hurdle and I felt so completely broken by it. I felt like I'd slipped into a big black hole.


And so I cried, and cried and cried some more.


My breast care nurse came in and gave me the hug that I'd craved. She said everything that I needed to hear. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I felt understood. She 'got' the kind of loss that I felt. The tears didn't stop but I didn't feel the need to hide them anymore.



Last year I was in survival mode, jumping from one hideous treatment to the next with no time to really process my feelings. I became very good at telling myself to keep going. I had to keep it together for my boys and I couldn't lose control. I was quietly terrified of facing my Pandora's Box of emotions so I tucked that box away.


Well...the lid has now been opened...and its messy...and it feels endless.



Physically I'm sore and bruised and fragile.



Emotionally I'm raw and weak and worn.


I want the tears to stop. I want to recover and just get on with my life. This surgery was the final step and now it's done. It's done.


I want to focus on recovering, I want to be positive about my future. I am grateful that my treatment has given me a second crack at life. I don't want to take that for granted.


But for now, the tears keep coming and the sadness feels immense.


xx Em



Friday, August 1, 2014

Winter Wonderland

We snuck away last weekend for a family holiday in the Snowy Mountains,

celebrating the Jackman's 3rd Birthday.



The last time we were at the snow I was 32wks pregnant with this little guy so it was really sweet to watch him playing in the snow, all grown up.


Sunday morning was a perfectly glorious day for a roadtrip. We took our time driving down, stopping at Gundagai for lunch and a play in the park.



Our base was Ribbonwood Cottages at Tumut. It was the perfect setup for a family with small kids like ours. A sweet, super comfortable, self contained cottage set on a 100 acre working farm.


No sooner had we set our bags down then we were tramping across the paddocks to explore the river.

And traipsing along cow trails.
After an early dinner we rugged up and headed back across the paddocks to light a campfire. A lot of fond childhood memories came flooding back as we searched for the perfect stick to toast marshmallows. We lit sparklers and tracked satellites across the night sky.


Monday morning was an early start with a drive to Selwyn snowfields first thing. The birthday boy and his big brother may or may not have been just a tad excited.


So lucky that its been a brilliant season with a really decent snowfall. The boys were booked into Snow World for the morning so we snuck off for a child free coffee before coming back to see them both rocking it in their ski lessons.
The boys were so proud of themselves and we were a little bit amazed at how quickly they'd picked it up. During lunch I realised that my credit card had fallen out of my pocket. Eeek!!! Was a tad stressed but thankfully some lovely person eventually handed it in so...crisis averted.
The afternoon was filled with snow tube rides, tobogganing, snowball fights (mostly Husband firing at us as we were being towed up the snow tube hill, yes, you're right...he's evil) and making snowmen and snow angels.
It was brilliant fun.
Can't wait to come back next year for a longer stay so we can all hit the slopes on our skis.
The boys conked out on the drive back to Tumut.
At sunset Jack opened his presents and after dinner we had cake.
He was so thrilled to have us sing Happy Birthday to him. He gave me a huge hug after he'd blown out the candle exclaiming, "Oh THANK YOU Mum for gedding me my ca-ake, oh THANK YOU!! So stinkin cute!
Tuesday morning started with a lazy sleep in, one last meander about the farm and a play at the river.
None of us really wanted to go home. Harry in particular was quite attached to the cottage, I had to giggle when he exclaimed with great passion, "I just LOVE this little cottage, it's just so ADORABLE, I never want to leave it!".
It took some convincing to get the boys into the car, with the promise that we'd come back next Autumn to see Tumut in all its splendour during the Fall Festival. We stopped for a late lunch in Yass, took a stroll about town and fell in love with a gorgeous 1920s kitchen dresser in the antique store. Long story short, it's being delivered to its new home, aka our dining room, next week.
The perfect end to our mini holiday.


Happy 3rd Birthday Jackman. You wonderful, energetic, vibrant little boy.

We love you to the moon and back.


xx Em