It’s got to the point where I dislike the word ‘milestone’ almost as much as the word ‘journey’.
In my working life as a sports journalist milestones are mostly used to mark a significant achievement for a player – usually game tally milestones. The greater the number, 100, 150, 200 or more, the more lauded the milestone.
In my personal life, in particular when it comes to analysing my health, milestones seem to be used to reflect the next stage of your cancer ‘journey’ having come to an end or when you had to suffer through another part of this energy-sapping and emotionally-draining disease.
Two weeks ago a major ‘milestone’ was noted (not really celebrated cos that just didn’t feel right) when May 6, 2016 marked a year since my final chemo treatment. The fact that my chemo schedule took seven months from start to finish is almost forgotten as the focus goes on the end and not the bits in between!
Although it is a date that will always been tinged with sadness as it was the same day my husband’s mum, my much-loved mother-in-law passed away.
As I prepare for another round of surgery this week, another milestone is creeping up.
It’s nearly a year since my first operation. Nearly a year since I was first truly challenged to deal with the true physical assault this disease would have on me by removing my right breast.
Unless you have undergone a forced physical change of this magnitude it’s impossible to understand just what impact it has on your life – in every way!
Looking at yourself in the mirror and accepting the image being reflected is nothing short of heartache. And it’s there everyday. But it’s better than the alternative and not being given a chance to rid my body of this disease and continue to watch my children grow and learn and become gorgeous little humans.
Speaking of my babies, they both amaze me and surprise me often with the way they have dealt with what has been thrust into their reality at such young ages. The little man has just been recognised publicly by Breast Cancer Care WA in their latest Spirit Newsletter for his fundraising efforts. We were at a final last year between Fremantle and Hawthorn and he went out scrounging discarded AFL Records after the game as I enjoyed a glass of bubbles in the Media Room. He came back with about 10 and just as I was wondering what on earth we were going to do with them he said “I’m going to sell them to raise money for breast cancer.”
Needless to say I burst into tears and there weren’t many dry eyes in the room when I explained my water works.
They are very special my babies and while they are being exposed to the raw reality of having watching a parent go through this ‘journey’ they are learning amazing empathy and what it means to be a good, genuine person in this world!
So as the milestones continue to come and go – we will mark them appropriately and reflect on what they mean – how far we have come and how hard we have fought.
I’ve continued to be blessed and surrounded by amazing people and a few of us got together to celebrate life and raise much-needed money for the McGrath Foundation at the Curtin Uni Wesley Football Club’s Pink Tiger Day. It was seriously one of the best days I’ve had in a long time!
Surgery this week is to remove the air expanders that have turned my chest into a ridiculously uncomfortable, rock-hard wall, and insert permanent implants that will look a lot more like boobs and less like big, over-inflated air balloons stuck on the front of my body.
I’ll also have an oophorectomy (one of the new, favourite words I have picked up along the way) – which is the removal of my ovaries and tubes. That’s elective/preventative surgery we decided to go ahead with given my BRCA 2 genetic position.
Bring it on I say – it’ll drag me closer to my next ‘milestone’ and finally I’ll be able to buy some bras that actually fit (and not daggy old surgical bras either)!