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Life with cancer


Things can be going along great then all of a sudden you have to stand back and change the road you are on.

In November I caught a nasty throats infection. I was unable to see my regular doctor and took an appointment with another at the practice so I could get help and not have to wait. During the consultation she mentioned that Pap smears were changing so if I wanted too it might be an idea to have one once I was well. A week later I turned up for that appointment and asked her to do a breast check as well. I don’t know why I got her to do that I hadn’t been to concerned although I had felt a bit of itchiness a few months before. This was during the time I was packing and cleaning. I had put it down to that.

When  Natalia found the lump she immediately organised for me to have a biopsy about 280km away in Port Augusta. So within a week I was on my way. Mamagrams and a very painful biopsy took place. I screamed in pain as the fine needle penetrated my poor boob. They had to give me an extra local antiseptic to continue the bruise from that stayed with me.

Less than a week later I was called into the surgery to be told the results came back clear but the speacilist from Port Augusta was still concerned So the decision was made to send me to Adelaide Royal Hospital for more extensive biopsys.

The 3 core biopsies I had next in Royal Adelaide Hospital confirmed the cancer and the hospital informed me by phone within a few days. Next trip to Adelaide was for a Carbon tracking procedure  that didn’t take place but I met my breast care nurse and filled out forms that prepped me for surgery. Christmas and the new year was upon us so I had to sit this out till I could head to Adelaide again for surgery.
In the mean time I was sent a lot of information for both my husband and I to read. I decided to not look at it without overwhelming myself so didn’t read anything till after the new year. There was nothing I could do and stressing both of us out seemed silly.
My breast care bra also arrived and the my journey kit.
Accomodation is provided once diagnosis is confirmed by the cancer council it is fairly cheap accomodation and can be supported by pats if long stays are needed. This I was greatful for as the trips to Adelaide were already breaking the bank for me and I was concerned about how I would be able to afford it.

To go through this you need a strategy in your mind to ward off  any panic that occasionally wells up. Mine is to only learn about it at each stage and not be scared to share information with others.  It’s my coping mechanism. It also doesn’t fill my head with too much information that will scare me. I have always been someone that over thinks things so I’m a bit shocked that I am was so calm. Talking to speacilist as I travel this road agree that my strategy is the best way to go forward.

The only regret I have had so far is being the tech head I am I joined a breast cancer forum and regretted it immediately. Everyone’s journey is different and not everyone has a happy story to tell. The fear was in full view so I just asked some practical questions received my answers and stood back from it. At least it is there if I need it.

Pre admission the day before my surgery consisted of being injected with a radio active substance that allowed my lymp nodes to show so their path could be pinpointed and they could be removed.  I also saw the anethisist had an ECG and spoke to a doctor and a care nurse. It was interesting to see one of the Asian doctors bow to me and wish me luck. It felt sincere and I appreciated the gesture.

The day of the surgery arrived with me heading to admissions early morning and going through the processes pre surgery.  They make sure they have your name and give you a code number that is used to identify you all day. My number was 245028800 so everything connected to me was given my name and this number. No procedure or any medication is given to you before they have identified you by name date of birth and code number. It was very reassuring knowing that this process was in place.

Once I had changed into a gown and taken into the pre op room. Each of my surgeons nurses and anethiasts came to visit me and introduce themselves.

It impressed me that all except one nurse were female who asked me did I have any questions. I said to all of them I did not and felt I was in good hands with so much girl power looking after me. As a women that has always had female managers and bosses and a strong believer in women in power being competent. I was also pleased that all the women were a young team and I had every confidence in them.

As I was wheeled in I was set up with ECG equipment they put on compression socks and slowly put in drips ready for me to be knocked out.  I had a giggle when the anethiast said on 3 occasions vein shame each time she missed the vain. It was something she was not used to doing she said and each ti e a bit of shame came with it. I remember thinking how clean the room was compared to the rest of the old hospital  as I fell asleep smiling comfortable in knowing I was in good hands.

When I awoke I was very calm and still under the influence of some very relaxing drugs. I quietly said hello to the nurse standing over me as I come too in recovery.

There was a hullabaloo going on in the bed next to me with many nurses and doctors hanging around it. I heard them say to the women that they found she was allergic to some of the drugs they had just given her so we’re administration another drug to help her. It is not a nice thing to happen but I heard my head saying I’m glad that I woke up feeling so relaxed.

I didn’t stay in recovery long they took me to a lovely private room where I paid for a voucher for 24 hour TV internet and movies and settled in to recouperate.

The bed was comfortable it was the same one I woke up on in recovery they placed a speacial heat pad blanket on me which was light and kept me warm all night and next morning. After breakfast the doctors and there colleagues popped in to see me.


I seemed to see a sea of different people each time that filled me in on what was the next stage. I convinced them that a conference call about the results of the Tumour and type of cancer would be relayed to me would suit me better.  This is stage 2. Identifying the cancer.  I didn’t really want to have to fly to Adelaide to get the results and the locum that was visiting our town would be perfect for changing the dressing later next week. I would have to go to Adelaide when the radiation speacialist wanted to see me. Which was stage 3 of this journey.

I was pleased when they agreed to my request. I also spoke to my breast care nurse who suggested she follow up with Angel flights so that I am not over burdened financially and it could cut down on the costs I am incurring with the cost and infrequent flights back and forward. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful that there is even an airport close by and that BHP allow for a few community tickets and I am happy to adjust the times I can fly. My first trip had me stranded in Adelaide for 4 days but it was better than the two day drive and accomodation to get home.  Adjusting and being flexible has always played a part in my life.

I am surprised that I have been so calm about what is happening to me. Not sure if it’s just shock or whether the realisation that it is something I can’t just problem solve away.  So I don’t see freaking out and worrying of any benefit to my illness at all. There are many things I can do to keep my mind active. I can look after my diet and take living healthy to the extreme.



I had my phone consultation with the surgeon today.
I have grade 2 breast cancer. The tumour they removed was 35mm so it was a lot larger than the 2mm that showed up on the mammogram. No wonder I am still sore after surgery. It has not left any cancer deposits in the lymph nodes which is good. I do however have to have chemo and radiation therapy so it’s still a long road I have to travel. It’s not the news I was hoping for but it’s the journey I have to take.

Getting the wounds checked for infection was the next thing I had to do. We had a locum who was happy with the result and organised  for me to get my dressing changed. During this time I got a terrible toothache that sent me into despair for a couple weeks I finally got an appointment in Port Augusta and hopefully will get the tooth out.

it was good to get the stitches out and see the surgeons neat stitching work.

I am off to Adelaide on the 22nd of February to see radiologist to get ready to start radiotherapy. I will stay a Flinders Lodge for the period of time this takes place.

It was such a relief getting my two extractions and although still a bit sore the throbbing pain is gone so I feel a lot more prepared of what is to come which is Radiation.

Some nights it’s harder to sleep and silly things can keep you awake.

Last night my brain wouldn’t settle as I spent the time planning how things will pan out over the next few months as I prepare for my next two lots of extensive treatment.

I have to be rational about a lot of things and as many of you know my attribute is I’m a good trouble shooter. Some things that I never gave a thought to before for example my 3G expired on my dongle and my IPad with 15G left on the IPad and 25G on the dongle. It was the first time since I purchased my first IPad which was a gen 2 in 2011 that I actually got a years usage for my $150 yearly cost.

The reason for this is more places I worked at last year and the motels I stayed in now offer wifi where in years past they didn’t. This year I will have to delay renewing or just jockey of my hotspot and seek wifi where possible.

At least see how it works. If I feel lost without my iPad as my extension to my daily life. (It goes everywhere with me) I will rethink.

Funny to think that I have to consider that $150 is a lot of money now and I have to constantly count costs with my air flights accomodation and cancer treatment being the priority although there are minor concessions it’s a bloody expensive experience.

I spoke to a social worker 4 weeks ago who was going to see if I could get Angel flights but I never heard from her again.

I was lucky that when I volunteered my time at the local Christmas party the lovely woman I worked with owns the local travel agency. She has been a gem and was able to get me on my next flights at the community price even though there were none available.
The flights here have a 3 tier price range.

I’m just glad I am not paying a mortgage or rent and have no dept. My power, water,gas, petrol and even my phone are all prepaid now. Rates are only $400 a year I believe. So it’s only car rego and insurance that I’m billed. which I have already squirrelled away.

So we are just living on my hubby’s pension for our weekly needs.

My saving grace believe it or not is we have the best OP shop in the country.

I’m lucky that I can live close to the bone and happy with my lot. There will be no overseas holidays or luxury cruises or even fine dining anymore. But it won’t be missed.
I’m a very good cook enjoy the simple things in life and see beauty at every turn.

I have every confidence we will survive this glitch in our life. When all is done maybe we will try a bit of Opal noodling. Who knows what can happen 🌹


I think this may be my last full week at home for awhile. I’m off to Adelaide next week to see radiologist and expect they will start radiotherapy pretty quickly. They tend to wait 6 weeks after surgery. I’m thinking after this trip flying I will take my car seeing next time I may be way away over a month. It will give me a chance to get around during the weekends and sight see Adelaide. They say you get a bit tired as the weeks go by so driving home may take a few days. But I will prepare myself for that. Because Radiation only takes about 20 mins a day and I can get a mini bus each day back and forward from the cancer council which I will use.
I think I would get quite depressed unable to get around stuck in my motel room for the whole time. Constantly trying to battle the bus system to get around on a weekend. At least if I have my car I can go to a few restaurants, markets, and beach and also visit some of my online network folk..

I haven’t had the most positive week as I sit waiting to see the radiologist here at Royal Adelaide Hospital with 2 dozen others reflecting on it .

I think I have picked up an infection in the wound and my lymp nodes have started to swell. I will be relieved to see today’s speacilist to calm down my worrying.


Last night I had a shocking nights sleep the room next to me keeps their TV on all night and I was plagued with nightmares.  These are becoming regular and quite concerning.

My bad day got worse.

I almost missed my bus as the receptionist at the clinic forgot to add my name luckily I inquired to the fellow with the cancer van was he heading to my hospital which he was. Sometimes it’s good to be able to speak up when you think something may be not quite right.

I have had to cancel my dental appointments for next week as my appointments for tomorrow have been moved to next Monday. Where I will be seen by Chemo oncologist and get my radiation tattoo. No idea now which will come first in treatment. So I have to stay in Adelaide. May not be able to get a flight out Tuesday as they are full, so may even be here till next Wednesday. The travel agency will let me know in morning. One plane ticket to go in the bin as there is no cash in on community tickets. Next I have to try to get an extension on a room here till I can get a flight home either next Tuesday or Wednesday. Can’t do that till morning. If there are no rooms I will be in strife. I burst out crying waiting for the bus as I scrambled to get onto the Port Augusta dental imaging and the dentist and cancel Monday and Tuesdays appointments and try to get a new flight. What did we do before mobile phones. Thank goodness for technology. Tears are gone now can’t change things out of my control. At least the fringe festival is on and once I’m sorted I can visit that over weekend a bit of brightness in it all.

The important part of the network


I met a group of social workers, volunteers and others going through the cancer journey it was very interesting but I feel may be the cause of the nightmares I endured. Like  a reality check I have been hiding from. Will this be me in a few months or even a decade down the track. Will I cope with the hair loss or suffer depression like most. It’s all in the hands of my fate now. The thing that freaked me out the most was I saw the effects that cancer can have on your life for many years. The depression women suffered from loosing their hair and the fear everyone has about the cancer coming back. Some had cancer in their twenty again in ther 40,s and now in their 60,s.  I sat and listened to how people were diagnosed and how they were coping. All of us have travelled far. Many as far as Darwin some from Broken Hill and different parts of SA.  All being pushed further into dept even though we have such a great support network to protect us.  I met one elderly couple who had spent $6000 on accomodation before they had found the Cancer Clinic with the cheaper rates and a bus service that takes you to the hospitals for free if you are within their time frame.  I have friended a lady Barb from aire penisula who has recently had a mastectomy. She is already having radiotherapy and has lymphoma which has caused her ankles to become very thick. They had given her about 6 months to live if she didn’t have the surgery. So she is having 6 weeks of intense radiation she is in her first week. We have been meeting of an evening and having dinner in the restaurant here. They serve $10 meals and $4 sweets for those staying her. Their are 64 rooms and often they are full. Sometimes Cancer patients come just for a respite. Each room has a double bed and often a single if you have a guest. It is a basic motel nice and comfortable. It will be my home away from home for a long time to come and is run mainly by volunteers who are x patients.

Radioligist appointment

I spend some time with Ross my radioligist who said I will have 3 weeks radiotherapy I am to be tattooed next Monday.  The meeting was bit fuzzy as I starting panicking.  He said the actual treatment will only take about 15 minutes a day and they will tattoo a dot on my breast. He said he doesn’t feel they don’t need another X-ray as the lymph nodes are clear and it will be easy to map out where to put the radiation. I do hope they have taken in account the extra size. These are the things you don’t think of at the time and should  asked.  I suppose I have to trust my specialists as they do this all the time. I will however bring this up with the nurses before they tattoo me.  I realise I must record these meetings in future and will use sound note so I can embed them onto this blog. It will help me understand everything better and I can share that information with my husband Rod. He is not sure which will come first the chemo or the radiology that will determine how I go with the chemo oncologist . More to come on this.

I left the Royal Adelaide Hospital feeling pretty down in the dumps wishing to say good bye to the day. Next Monday I see the Chemo oncologist so after that they will have a meeting and let me know the decision either way as nothing will happen for a couple weeks. So I will be home for my 63 birthday.

The experience is becoming real.

After the depressive day I had yesterday I woke early to organise another 4 days at Flinders Lodge. I spoke to the sweet morning lady paid my money and left feeling better. I don’t even have to change rooms. Also I have gotten a plane booking next Wednesday morning .

Being away from the heat of the outback I have noticed I am healing a lot faster. So the heat definitely slowed me down. It’s nice to actually escape the heat for a few days.  The cool weather should arrive in a couple weeks to the outback to the joy of everyone.

Adelaide a time to reflect

A weekend in Adelaide to think about my immediate future relax and and give my brain time to absorb the things I have not really thought about.

Things change in a day.

Today I had 4 dots tattooed on my chest to align my radiation therapy and an MRI. This afternoon I see the Chemo oncologist.

I now start Chemo next Wednesday and will be flying back here every fortnight for the next 2 months. Then every 3 weeks for 3 months. It will be intensive cold cap chemotherapy. The radiation will not happen till Chemo completed. Have organised my flights in and out next week and accomodation.

On Wednesday I will be sitting down with the travel agency and mapping out the next two months of flights. Then I can organise accomodation to suit.

I recorded the whole conversation today with Chemo oncologist. So Rod and I can listen together to get a better understanding of it all. This won’t change, I now know the risks and side effects.

Believe it or not they have found exercise to a full sweat is good for you when having Chemo. Let’s hope I don’t suffer with too many problems so far away from hospital. I will also be injecting myself one of the drugs I am destined to take.

Tomorrow I have a heart check and a genetic test because my sister passed away with cancer of the kidney and Lymph nodes when she was 41 and my son had a brain tumour at 10.

I will also be on hormone drugs for the next 5 years.

Phew what a day….

I lay in bed with tears of fear and sadness as I start to think of the months ahead. My road in life has been a tough one. A battle I have had to fight all the way. From the first time I was put in care as a baby at Berry street baby’s home because I had a fractured skull and underdeveloped lungs. But that is another story and not about this cancer experience. Because journey is not the right word it is an experience.

One day sadness the next fascination

Life is full of fascination when all of a sudden you are thrown into the arms of the medical professionals.

Today I had a very interesting procedure. I had blood removed from a port in my arm radiated and then put back in after a syringe of saline to track the flow and determine the strength of my heart and heart muscles.

The machine was called a gateway. It enables them to see how strong my heart is before I start chemo treatment.

It was weird to have both hands by my side with a weighted strap across my body so I would not move for the 20 minutes they were monitoring my heart flow.

Many of the doctors are so young,clever and very gentle. I feel I am in the best of hands.

The technology that drives all this is amazing and I trust it. Each experience blows my mind but because I don’t fear technology I see the wonderment of it all.
Just hope my body can keep up with the pace of intrusion. 🌹

Home for the week.


My rock is my husband Rodney and our Jassy boy. They help me hold it together and support me in every way. Rod has been reading about what to expect and I worry that it is too overwhelming for him.  Jassy boy just misses me when I go away.

Both of them put up with my sudden mood swings I am having where I am zapped of energy when I over think things.

Some nights are worse than others.

As I lay  eludes me as I lay here in an almost panicked state fearful of the months ahead and chemotherapy.

So many things are playing on my anxiety. How will I protect myself from infection when I travel? What side effects will I have to live with as there are the possibility of so many ? Will I cope with hair loss ? Do I really feel strong enough to cope or have I had enough of having to be the strong one that sometimes feels life constantly throws darts at. Will we cope with the financial burden. All these things add up to a restless night.

I will get up today and get on with being busy getting things ready to fly out tomorrow and a lot of this worry will disappear.

My plan is to head to Roxby this morning to get plenty of vitamin C some face masks for travel some cream for the mouth ulcers that generally happen. And of course get something so scrumptious for dinner tonight the flavour will tide me over till my taste buds return and won’t be so metallic. They tell me it’s bland food during Chemo. Which in it’s self for me is a cruel punishment considering one of my passions is to cook.

My saving grace Is the internet. To be able to blog, communicate,catch up with others, play games, express myself share my photography and continue research for my e-capability Facebook page. These things will be what keeps my sanity together.

Back to Adelaide and Cancer Council “Flinders Lodge.

My experience heads “Into the unknown”

One  more day to go and I will be having Chemo. I am very calm at this present time. When I mentioned at reception today that I was starting chemo tomorrow Anne at reception put it this way when she said “Into the unknown”. I thought that was appropriate

I purchased some data for my IPad so I can blog while having Chemo.

As I prepared mentally for my first chemo. Jo the social worker at Flinders Lodge rang me to go see her where we looked at a number of wigs. We found only one that suited me so although it is a bit of a mop. It may be handy for when I travel. Plus I was greatful it was given free of charge. My expenses are skyrocketing and it takes such a long time to get a bit of reimbursement from PATS.  We discussed how I was going paying my flight and then accomodation and all else I need. I told her it was one of my worries I had purchased our house with almost every cent I had and we were expecting to have a year of saving not spending on me being sick.  So she sent an email  to PATS to see if I can be bulk billed for my accomodation. Which is three nights every fortnight at this stage.  That would be very handy.  We should know in a few weeks.


As I have mentioned already one of the saving graces is that I can get at the cancer council mini bus free of charge that  takes us straight to the hospital doors every hour up till 4.30.  Jo also told me today that I can get a cab charge card if I am going to be later than the allotted time of the last bus.  That is great as in peak hour the taxi fares can be phenomenal. I met one fellow having a conniption about it costing him $80 in peak hour traffic. I know I have paid close to $50.  Its one of those hidden costs I always factor in.

Judy my breast care nurse was able to wrangle me a cab voucher to get to the airport  when I leave so I save another up to $50 fare. If only I had known all this when I first started flying in and out to Adelaide but it’s better late than never and takes off those hidden pressures.

So with the financial stresses shrinking and my greatfulness to our countries Medicare system which is amazing the cancer council and numerous foundations staff and volunteers I am ready to face chemo a little bit less stressed.   I am indeed in the Lucky country.

Chemo Lets GO!



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