I just recently past the one year milestone since being diagnosed. I am unsure whether this is something to celebrate or not. Most people are able to take living for 12 months for granted. But when you are told that you only have 18 months to live, reaching 12 months is a rather scary prospect. If the doctors are correct, I have six months left. What the hell does one do in six months. But here’s the weird part…..I feel fine. Sure, I get a bit tired here and there and chemo knocks me around for a week, but once the chemo drugs have subsided, I feel good. Shouldn’t I be getting sicker?? I don’t really feel that much different to what I did 12 months ago. I often wonder whether I will get sick slowly or whether it will hit me hard and fast. Will I be fine one day and in hospital the next? Will my liver just decide one sunny afternoon to stop functioning or will it give me a little warning before hand?
So, what does one do when they ‘supposedly’ have six months left? Well, for me, I want to cram as much in as possible. With a new 4×4 and camper trailer in the driveway, there will be plenty of getaways. Trips into the heart of Australia are being planned as I speak. A ride in a hot air balloon, rally car driving and swimming with dolphins and seals have also been organised. A March wedding is planned and of course, spending valuable time with friends and family.
Looking back I am happy with how I have handled the past 12 months. I always wanted to be as open and honest about my disease as possible and I feel I have achieved this. I also wanted to try and remain optimistic, yet realistic at the same time. Again, I feel I have done this to the best of my ability. Sure, some days are harder than others, but you have to just keep on pushing. These 12 months have allowed an insight into an inner strength that I didn’t know I had and with the help of family and friends I was able to raise $1,000.00 for Camp 4 Cancer and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
The past 12 months have also shown me the strength, generosity, kindness and pure awesomeness of other people. Initially I was worried that my partner may not have coped well with my diagnosis. But boy was I wrong. Not only is she dealing with it, she is also organising our wedding, renovating the house, working full time and doing the bulk of the house hold duties. She has been my absolute solid rock from the beginning and I would be completely lost without her. The love and support shown to both of us from family, friends and work colleagues has completely blown me away. The past year would have been a lot harder without these people.
So what has the past year taught me??
- Never get angry, upset or stressed about the small stuff. For example, we had an incident in which my car got scratched. Normally I would have been a bit angry and upset. But at the end of the day it’s only a bit of paint and only a car. Honestly, not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, who cares!!
- Savour each moment with your loved ones. Takes the time to just sit back, watch and listen to each person. Pay attention to the small details. How does each person’s laugh differ, the colours of each person’s eyes, how does their mouth transform when they smile.
- Take the time to notice the small things. Take a walk through the garden and notice the colours, textures and smalls of plants and trees, listen for local birds and simply feel the air on your skin. Is it cold, warm, humid, chilly?? This is one of my favourite things to do now and it brings about a sense of calming and peace.
- Try new things. When someone suggests doing something that you wouldn’t normally do……DO IT!!! If there is something that you think might be fun, but maybe your a little unsure……DO IT!!! You will be surprised just how much doing these things teaches you about yourself.
- Say YES more. This one I struggled with a bit and still do. I find it hard to say yes people offer help, but I am getting better at it. It’s human nature to want to assist someone who is going through a rough patch. Let them help.
- Never stop living just because you’re told you are dying. Keep making plans for the future and don’t limit these plans based on the prognosis. Always having something to plan for and look forward to has helped me stay positive and motivated during treatment.
- People deal with their emotions in different ways. Everyone is different and they handle each situation in their own way. Sometimes people know the exact right thing to say or do, somethings they don’t. Being patient and understanding that they too are trying to deal in the best way they know how has ensured that no bridge have been burnt and all has remain peaceful. With cancer, some people automatically come to the aid of the cancer patient, others shy away. This upset me at the start. But now I understand that people need to process the situation in their own way.
I’m sure there is more that I have learnt, but these are the ones that stand out.
So, here’s to another 12 months!!