A Wise Ol’ Owl Indeed

Maya Angelou, author and source of some of my most inspirational quotes over the years, died this week at the very respectable age of 86!

So in memory of her, I would like to share some of her very wise words…



“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
― Maya Angelou


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou


“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou


“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” Maya Angelou


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou


“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” Maya Angelou


False Start


So today I got the other call….

The radiation machines will be down for maintenance next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The radiation bunker administrator apologetically emphasized that having two days of radiation followed by 5 days of non radiation made no sense, so she would prefer that I only start my full 5 week treatment a week later.

My first reaction surprised me, I felt really disappointed (???!!!).

And really rather despondent. How could they do this, did they not understand what a battle this has been for me to find some sort of peace and resignation with this thing in just 3 days? I had already counted out the weeks on my calendar and highlighted the last day of treatment…..

But then I remembered the words from Brenda, a very special lady I met yesterday….

Surrender, Trust and Be Thankful

Surrender: there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about the workings and non-workings of the Radiation-Ray-Gun machine.

Trust: that this is happened for a (good) reason – To give me more time for my body to heal? To go and see Gillian for another session of physio and get the lymph more under control?

Be Thankful: Okay, I’m still working on this one 😉


“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” Eckhart Tolle


“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and  begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
C. JoyBell C.


“The pondering heart is a thankful heart.” Todd Stocker



The Scream


So yesterday I got the call.

And despite the fact that I had obviously been expecting it and trying really hard to be nonchalant about it all…. is it okay to say that my heart sunk into my toes (yip, even into the one with the missing toenail)?

I was calmly asked by the radiation bunker booking administrator ( with no ounce of impending mirth or sarcasm)if I could start my treatment today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today).

WHAT? (I had been politely waiting for her to gleefully add “hee hee GOTCHA”)!

So when THAT didn’t happen, I immediately responded rather forcefully, or rather more accurately I bumbled on about something to do with: checking-with-my-plastic-surgeon–it-was-not-six-weeks-since-surgery-I-thought-I-would-be-seeing-the-Oncologist-first-I-am-still-battling-with-post-op-lymphoedema-I-will-have-to-get-signed-permission-from-a-parent…….. (all obviously meaning – NO! NO! NO! I am not prepared at all!).

Luckily I was on my way to my physio appointment, and fortunately for me Gillian is ALWAYS able to calm me down to a milder state of panic….

Just as she did last week after my inking episode; she sat me down and stated: “oh dear what has you so spooked today?” Now I pride myself on the fact that I am a closed book and generally being an emotionally stable person I am able to keep my feelings pretty much to myself. BUT that was before I met Gillian. She knows ALL the tricks of the trade and it’s scary the things she knows without you having to open your mouth, or rather the things she knows despite the fact that you have opened your mouth! I suppose 9 months of seeing me at least every second week has given her some insight to how my body and my psyche react under stress. She calls it “my deer in the headlights look”.

She listened patiently as I verbalized my outrage at being phoned this morning and them just expecting me to drop everything and start TODAY, I mean I still have scabs for goodness sake, I have just this week removed the hyperfix dressings AND I have not been to see the Dent Doctor!

I expected her to be as outraged as I was and I must say I was somewhat deflated by her response……….

She completely agreed that I should chat to Dr B’s surgical nurse and see if they are happy that I begin treatment. But she also had a look at my nekked chest and said that I really had nothing to worry about, everything was healing so well and that in her opinion I could have started the next day. (I know, that she knows, just how I brood over these things). She also had other patients who had not seen their Oncologists before starting radiation…

Considering she has to deal with the aftereffects of my radiation and the resulting scar tissue adding to the lymphoedema and the movement of my arm – SHE didn’t seem to have “the deer in the headlight look” – which actually made me feel a whole lot calmer.

So after physio and a call to the surgical sister, I felt more resigned. I was advised to wait a few days for all the scabs to come off completely and ensure the wounds beneath were completely sealed. And considering next week is the 6week mark, I was given the go ahead.

So Monday the glowing begins….


“It is a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.” J.K. Rowling

“Hysteria is impossible without an audience. Panicking by yourself is the same as laughing alone in an empty room. You feel really silly.”  Chuck Palahniuk


“I’d love to tell you I had some deep revelation on my way down, that I came to terms with my own mortality, laughed in the face of death, et cetera.

The truth? My only thought was: Aaaaggghhhhh!”  Rick Riordan


“Could be. I’m a pretty dangerous dude when I’m cornered.”
“Yeah,” said the voice from under the table, “you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.”  Douglas Adams

Well Done Nerine

Well done Nerine –  Thank you for taking up the challenge and giving up your time for this incredible cause!  So proud of you – hope the legs are not too sore xxx

Nerine's Pink Ribbon Walk; Hampton CourtNerine Walk 2Nerine Walk 3Nerine Walk 4Nerine Walk 5Nerine Walk 6Nerine Walk 7

THANK YOU to everyone who donated on my JustGiving Page. I completed the 10 mile walk and had an amazing time – especially thinking about the very special Janine, as I made my way around the route! Thanks to all the donations, I have raised 469.32GBP for Breast Cancer Care! If anyone would still like to donate, donations will still be accepted until 17/08 at http://www.justgiving.com/Nerine-Swanepoel


Today at the tender age of 41 I got my first tattoos. Oh how lovely, I hear you say… A delicate butterfly on my ankle? A rose on my wrist? A daisy on my bum? “Love” and “hate” on my knuckles? Nipples???

Nah, nothing as ordinary as that for me! Rather, 3 permanent marks to ensure the radiation machines line up correctly.

I’ve been told they will just look like small blue freckles (they are covered with dressings at the moment so I can’t speak from my own perspective). And apparently I will eventually not even notice them…

So why in the shower this morning did I feel the overwhelming desire to just sob and never stop…..?

I had the tantrum on Friday arguing my point with the radiation planning staff, tattoos VS permanent marker. It didn’t go so well (for me). Somewhere during this conversation I was told I could always have them removed. Great – thanks – why didn’t I think of that? Oh yes, because this will not be paid for by my medical aid and they certainly are not offering to foot the bill! And with all the other scars to ever spend money on removing, I did not expect these to be on the list! Grumpy much, just a tad!

I cannot get my head around WHY I feel so angry about this. After all they will be 3 relatively little marks in the bigger scheme of having boobs removed and reconstructive surgery, drain scars, chemo and even the radiation itself?

Maybe because I feel so railroaded into it! NO choice, not even much of a discussion and certainly no warning by the Dent Doc or anyone else from my medical team. Just a conversation in a Watsapp chat with a friend asking when radiation started. I replied with the fact that I was waiting for my mapping scan, and she said, “oh yes I remember, that’s when you get your tattoos”.??!!!
Say what?

And maybe ‘cos I fought so hard against having the port. To go through all of that and now just be presented with another daily reminder…..A scarlet (Indigo) letter.

I’m having to make a concerted effort to keep things into perspective with a long list of reminders of all the things I should be grateful for, and I KNOW there are so many. I should be more concerned with worrying what the scan may pick up, and believe me I am!

But today as I lay bare chested on the MRI bed – I received my tattoos, one directly on my sternum between my new boobs, and another on the outside of each. I came to the profound conclusion that Cancer sucks!



“I cut an inch off of every straw I see, just to make the world suck a little less.
”  Jarod Kintz


“Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.” Madelein L’Engle


“You cannot hinder someone’s free will, that’s the first law of the Universe, no matter what the decision.” E.A. Bucchianeri


“Look,” he said, “the point is there’s no way to be a hundred percent sure about anyone or anything. So you’re left with a choice. Either hope for the best, or just expect the worst.”  If you expect the worst, you’re never disappointed,” I pointed out.
Yeah, but who lives like that?” Sarah Dessen


“Stubbornness” is knowing exactly what you want courageously living by free will; never to be judged or ridiculed.” Michelle Cruz-Rosado


“Never say yes to anything you can’t say no to.” Marty Rubin


“To be truly positive in the eyes of some, you have to risk appearing negative in the eyes of others.” Criss Jami


“Thoughts are like an open ocean, they can either move you forward within its waves, or sink you under deep into its abyss.” Anthony Liccione

8 More Sleeps Nerine

From Nerine Swanepoel’s JustGiving page:



I was shocked to find out that a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, last year. She has shown absolutely amazing courage and strength as she continues to fight this terrible disease.


So, in her honour, I’m walking 10 miles in the Hampton Court Palace, London Pink Ribbonwalk to fundraise for Breast Cancer Care on the 17th of May 2014.


Breast Cancer Care’s mission is to make sure that no-one has to face their breast cancer diagnosis alone. The money I raise will help to fund specialist clinical and emotional support to help thousands of people find a way to live with, through and beyond breast cancer.


Please donate what you can; your support will help me get round the route and will make a huge difference to people affected by breast cancer.

You can help Nerine raise money for this great cause by donating directly to their fundraising page – http://www.justgiving.com/Nerine-Swanepoel/?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Nerine-Swanepoel&utm_campaign=pfp-email.

JustGiving sends your donation straight to Breast Cancer Care and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more.

Thank you for your support!


“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”  Mary Anne Radmacher


“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”  Mother Teresa


“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
Jane Austen

Making a mark

This has been a week of making marks…

Yesterday I, and (hopefully) the rest of South Africa, stood in queues to cast our votes in our country’s general election. Significant for many reasons but mostly due to the fact that this marked the 20th year anniversary that I, and the majority of our population, became eligible to vote for the very first time. WHAT????? Did I just say that was 20 years ago? That cannot possibly be… **as I count on my fingers and toes**

I didn’t even have to pull the “I’m a Cancer patient” card to move up the queue 🙂 Pete and I arrived at our designated voting station just after 7am and were back home drinking tea by 7:30am!

Talking about making marks, I have also had a bit of a tummy bug this week. And I guess like most of people where cancer has touched their lives, it’s not ever simply a tummy bug, a pulled muscle, a cough… it’s always the fear that the cancer has come back. So I guess that makes a very real mark on your psyche (c’mon what kind of mark did you think I meant) ***tut tut***.

So Monday is my radiation plotting scan… I have been informed by people in the know that this will include permanent tattoo markings made on my chest so that the machines can be lined up correctly. Apparently despite any personal preferences, this is non negotiable! I mean REALLY, have they not heard of permanent markers? Especially the stuff the election officials use to mark your thumbs with when you go off to vote. I mean have you tried to get that stuff off? I think that’s what the majority of South Africans are doing right now, scrubbing….



“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” Barack Obama

“We only live once, but once is enough if we do it right. Live your life with class, dignity, and style so that an exclamation, rather than a question mark signifies it!” Gary Ryan Blair
“Each Warrior wants to leave the mark of his will, his signature, on important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute to the solution of the hardest problems, no matter how vexing!” Pat Riley
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving