Goose bumps and Rachel Platten

There are moments in life that are goose bump moments.  I’m sure you know the ones that I mean: you listen to a song, or a story, or read a quote 🙂 or even watch a movie and in that particular moment of your life, it appears that those words were meant just for you.

Well, Friday morning culminated in a string of goose bump moments for me.

But like all good goose bump moments, there is a back story.  And this back story started a month or so ago when I was contacted by a manager of one of our city’s Malls.  She wanted to host a breast cancer survivor’s breakfast during the month of October and needed help getting in touch with a few survivors, around 30 in fact!  Well, our little group of volunteers put our heads together and started contacting a number of patients we had visited in hospital over the last year or two in order to invite them to a free breakfast, just to celebrate being a survivor 🙂

So on Friday morning we arrived at the designated coffee shop and thus began the most incredible morning of goose bump moments for me.  As the ladies started walking through the door I soon began to realise that this little gathering was not something particularly “little” for many of these women.  I had been so busy arranging, phoning and confirming numbers that I hadn’t actually stopped to consider the significance of a morning like this.  One lady confessed that this was her first public acknowledgement of her diagnosis , five years after her surgery and treatment!  And I figured out quite quickly that apparently I was not the only one who has a fear of acknowledging my survivorship for fear of “jinxing the whole thing” – a fact that felt particularly good to share and even giggle (nervously) about!

So over the next two hours personal testimonies were shared over cups of coffee and yummy breakfasts. What struck me was the particular dynamics of those 30 + survivors: all representatives of various cultures, ages, professions and social standing.  And the differences didn’t stop there, there were ladies at various stages of treatment too – some only a few months post surgery, some still having chemo, some still completing radiation, some many years down the line, and one starting the whole process again after another diagnosis.  But of far more importance were the similarities they shared: these were mothers, wives, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and girlfriends who realised that they were most certainly not alone and that they each had a unique story to tell.

Looking around that room I recognised many faces.  Women I had personally visited in hospital, (and despite the initial recognition), I was completely astounded by their transformation.  When I had last seen these women, a day or two post surgery, they were facing some of their most dark and vulnerable days.  Still trying to catch up with the reality and enormity of the situation they found themselves in – waiting fearfully for test results and treatment plans.  However, in this room, in this particular place in time, most of these very same women were laughing, sharing stories, showing off eyebrow tattoos and the like, and dispensing advice to the “new recruits”.  And I can almost guarantee that a lot more healing was done, all in the most humbling and empowering way.

Real goose bump stuff!

So while driving home, listening to the radio and reflecting on the morning…….another goose bump moment (and my only quote for today), thanks to Rachel Platten……..

“Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars—show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you’re hurting, but so am I
And, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you

Yeah, you’re all I never knew I needed
And the heart—sometimes it’s unclear why it’s beating
And, love, if your wings are broken
We can brave through those emotions, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Oh, truth—I guess truth is what you believe in
And faith—I think faith is having a reason
And I know now, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you

I’ll be your eyes ’til yours can shine
And I’ll be your arms, I’ll be your steady satellite
And when you can’t rise, well, I’ll crawl with you on hands and knees
‘Cause I… I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through, come on
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Love, you’re not alone
Oh, I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, heaven, heaven
Yeah, I’m gonna stand by you”


Simply Grateful

So yesterday I was officially declared “cancer free” for the 3rd year in a row by the Dent Doctor.  ***smiley face, smiley face, smiley face, and then some more smiley faces***

And just like that, I have another significant cancerversary under my (ever increasing!) belt.

I have been inundated over the last two months with Facebook memories – aren’t they a wonderful invention – a big round of applause to the Facebook developers – some fun and not so fun trips down the memory highway!

Well, September and October brought a string of pics and posts about surgeries and chemo starts, and for most part they were quite a shock.  And not for the reasons you may think. I actually wasn’t (that) traumatised by the memories they invoked.  Nope.  Mostly, I was completely shocked by the fact that both Pete and I, had by some strange turn of events, forgotten the actual second, minute and even more bizarrely, the day of each one of those events.  Something I had previously assumed would be burnt into our psyches FOREVER!

So therefore yesterday’s routine 6th month check up to the Dent Doc should equally have been handled with exactly the same attention to detail.   (After all there wasn’t anything I was particularly concerned about). And it was, for the most part.  Right up until I went for my bloods on Tuesday, and until I went to sleep on Wednesday night, and until I walked into the cancer centre, and until I waited while he took an emergency call regarding a patient receiving palliative care, or while I waited for him to announce the results of his examination and my blood tests.  Yes, up until then, I was good…

And it was all good!  ***smiley face, smiley face and then some more smiley faces***

So this morning I woke up with a renewed understanding of one simple word….grateful.


Bionic Boobs: The Advantages

So you would think that there are not many advantages to having bionic boobs, right?

Well, you would be wrong: No worrying about saggy boobs, even if I lived to be 100!  There’s also the fact that I can flex them like a professional muscle man… umm person, thanks to them lying directly underneath my pecs… and then there’s …..umm, well okay, that’s pretty much all I can think of right now…

So despite all these (two) cool benefits, the one thing I thought would really work for me  – seeing as at the moment  I wasn’t planning a professional muscle building career or perhaps living to see 100 – was the fact that 2 x bionic boobs meant NO mammograms…. for life… like never, ever!   A serious bonus all you ladies having your regular mammograms would attest to – am I right???

Weeeell apparently not, as I find myself booked in for… you guessed it… a mammogram next week!

The last time I saw the Dent Doc, he wanted me to have a CT scan to check that there were not tumours lurking in any organs.  And I can say, very happily, that block was ticked!  He also wanted me to have a specific scan concentrating only on my chest area to make sure that there were no signs of a recurrence of the cancer.  Now you may ask why on earth would I ever need to worry about that –I don’t have any “real” boobs after all.  Well, to get technical for a moment, apparently no matter how carefully my surgeon may have been at removing ALL of my breast tissue, there would still undoubtedly be remnants left somewhere, which in turn equals possible sites for a recurrence. He explained to me that all the research he had done indicated that yearly chest MRI scans were the best way of detecting this possibility.

So long story short:  My medical aid will not approve a chest MRI unless the results of a mammogram and ultra sound are inconclusive.   I actually laughed at the Medical aid rep who told me that.  Like duh lady…I have no boobs, so how would you propose I squash these bionic puppies flat in a mammogram thingy machine in order to possibly see anything of significance, without doing serious damage!

Well apparently the joke’s on me.

Dr B says that they will be absolutely fine, no chance of rupturing.  She said she’s been assured that you could drive over them and they would not spring a leak!  I’m a bit nervous of Pete finding that one out as I’m sure he would be tempted to try!

So another positive to add to the growing list of bionic boob advantages:  if the end of the world comes, apparently cockroaches would not be the only things to survive!

And now that I’ve been re-assured of not popping these suckers, I worry more about the discomfort level of having pec muscles squished in the mammogram thingy machine …oh yes, and from the sounds of it, being responsible for them actually damaging the mammogram thingy machine!


“My breasts are so low now I can have a mammogram and a pedicure at the same time”. Joan Rivers

“On a personal note: I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I intend to recover. I don’t need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done.” Molly Ivins


Mammograms 2mammogram 3.jpg

Mammogram 4.jpg

Familiar visits

So today I found myself in a familiar place, doing familiar things with familiar people. You would think that all that familiar-ness would bring some sort of comfort, a sense of security even. But some days there are exceptions. And today highlighted one of those exceptions.

But hang on, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Today’s trip actually had its beginnings last week with the first of my six monthly visits with the Dent Doctor.

I have always thought that “a visit” is such an odd term to describe any sojourn to a doctor’s office. After all, “a visit” to me conjures up visions of tea and scones, chats about holidays, curve T.V’s (it’s a long story!) and having good laughs with familiar people in familiar settings. Bizarrely enough, that WAS a pretty good description of last week’s visit with the Dent doctor! Ok, so maybe it was a shared cup of hot chocolate with Pete in the waiting room, and maybe there were no actual scones and just maybe it included me having to removing my shirt at one point… But the rest was particularly spot on – including the discussion about the curve TV (long story!) 🙂

So how was I doing six months after my last visit to the Cancer centre?

Very well apparently!

My bloods looked good and nothing sinister appeared to be lurking anywhere obvious. And despite appearing to be particularly brave about this visit, the audible expelling of a breath I hadn’t even realised I had been holding, totally gave me away!

So with everything looking good on the surface the Dent Doctor wanted to make sure things were looking just as good on the inside too.

Which brings this particular story back to today… Sitting in a familiar place, seeing familiar faces and tasting the familiar flavour of the pre-CT-scan orange “jungle juice”.

What was also pretty familiar was the all too familiar dread of having to wait for results.


I wanted to get that sense of peace and even boredom that comes with long familiarity. Debbie Reynolds
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
― H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature


“I don’t desire a change of scenery or exotic experiences. My heart yearns for familiarity, stability, the comfort of home — and my sanity depends on it.”
― Dean Koontz


“The world doesn’t change in front of your eyes, it changes behind your back.”
― Terry Hayes, I Am Pilgrim

Thigh rubs

So this morning I set off on my now VERY familiar walking trail, lamenting the whole way just how much I detest the way my thighs rub together when I move, and just how much I hate it that my tummy and bum jiggle with every step. Cursing my non-existent metabolism and just generally grumbling about all menopausal-body-related suckiness!!

I have been desperately trying to follow a healthy eating plan for two months (almost three!) now and all I seem to have lost in all that time is my will to live!

So there I was, me and my thighs, marching along and YIP – feeling pretty sorry for ourselves. Willing the fat to friction itself off to a timely death and drop from my legs with every step, actually picturing it sizzling behind me on the hot pavement – I’m all into visualisations at the moment! When about ¾ of the way home I saw an old gentleman walking very slowly towards me, back bowed and feet shuffling along the uneven concrete. I moved to the left to allow him to pass and traverse the path of least resistance (I tell you I know every nook and cranny of this route!). I smiled politely at him as I breezed past and almost stopped in my tracks when I heard his softly spoken words, they certainly shut up the self-loathing conversation going on in my head … “ah, to have those legs again, enjoy them my dear”.

So yes, THANK YOU Universe for the slap upside the head! #get over yourself # be grateful #enjoy every moment # rubbing thighs keep you warm in winter

Fat thighs

“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…” Cheri Huber,


“The way you think about yourself determines your reality. You are not being hurt by the way people think about you. Many of those people are a reflection of how you think about yourself.”
― Shannon L. Alder


“Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.

I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…

I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’

‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’

What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”
― J.K. Rowling

Fading Memories on New Year’s Eve

So a funny thing happens when you approach year three of being cancer free. Your memory starts to fade.

Now as Pete may tell you, my memory has been fading for a while now. And even I have to admit that some days the fading is more like sudden, unexpected Eskom induced load shedding as opposed to the slow gradual setting of the sun! But in this particular instance, it is rather the metaphorical aspect I am referring to.

Let me put it another way, as I am all about analogies at the moment!

Imagine your life as a car (you can insert any make and colour of vehicle you like) hurtling down the highway (your time on earth / or any other intergalactic world if you are a Star Wars fan!). You (Ego/Self), the slightly insecure but sensible kid, a tad more reckless since getting your license, but always still aware of possible dangers on the road, and the designated driver of three other family members inside your car.

Suddenly you hit a HUGE (and I’m talking Transkei sized) pot hole and your car veers across the road into oncoming traffic. Fortunately luck is on your side and you somehow narrowly manage to avoid a fatal accident. Shakily you pull your vehicle to a stop on the side of the road. Your Uncle, (Survival mode), the mechanic in the family, climbs out and frantically runs around changing tires, checking the chassis for damage, ensuring the sump is still intact and that all the important car pieces are where they should be. He patches up what he can and finally declares that you are all able to continue with your journey.

Warily you start to climb back in your vehicle, still feeling rather wobbly after that awfully scary experience. Only to discover that your Great Aunt (Fear), has decided to take the wheel. After all she scowls, how could ANYONE trust YOUR driving again? For the next few kilometres all you hear is how badly you have driven your whole life. How irresponsible and reckless you have been since you were a child and how lucky you all are to be alive, along with the not so subtle insinuation that perhaps YOU should not have been so lucky! You and the rest of the family have always been able to shut out most of her tirades with rolling eyes and conspiratorial winks at one another. But today her words actually seem to make a whole lot of sense! You find yourself agreeing with her, questioning your driving skills, your choice of destination, your lifelong bad luck, even your poor choice of vehicle – finally coming to the conclusion that you should never be allowed to sit in the driver’s seat ever again! You settle quietly into the passenger seat, figuratively licking your wounds and happy to relinquish control to this seemingly safe albeit extremely slow driver.

And so as your car starts to slowly clock up the kilometres, your Great Aunt’s continuous rantings do start to fade into the background. And finally after realising she has perhaps lost her audience and after totally exhausting herself with her rantings, she pulls over.

Older brother (Perspective), comes to the rescue (again!) and offers to drive. Now, you have secretly been jealous of your older brother, you know the one I mean, the one who always sees the positives in EVERYTHING. The one who always makes you feel inferior and who you have secretly tried to emulate unsuccessfully your whole life. Although you would never actually admit that to him – mostly because his upbeat personality can also be SO darn annoying! But funnily enough he doesn’t make you feel like a bad driver. He praises you for handling the incident as well as you did and emphasizes that things could have been worse. He reminds everyone just how fortunate they are to be driving around in such an amazing car, how good the road is and that although there will always be potholes, they are actually pretty rare in the sum total of the entire journey.

So while you listen to his calm voice of reason, you find that the memory of that frightening experience starts to fade with the passing kilometres and your confidence starts to grow along with them. You actually begin to consider all the positive things he has reminded you about, and you have to agree with him – things certainly could be worse! You start feeling a lot happier about your journey and even take time to look out your window appreciating the beauty of the scenery surrounding you, all the things you have missed whilst spending all those years in the driver’s seat.

When he finally pulls over citing sciatica issues, you realise that not only are you the only one left to drive (Great Aunt Fear is snoring softly in the back seat and Uncle Survival Mode although a fab mechanic is not a great long haul driver!), you actually WANT to drive. The horror of your experience has now become a positive reminder of what you have overcome and the journey you still have to complete, thanks to Old Brother Perspective. You take hold of the steering wheel tentatively at first, but then realise the only real alternative is to stay stuck on the side of the road indefinitely. So you indicate, carefully maneuvering into the traffic once again, but with Perspective thankfully right next to you and Fear still visible in the review mirror. I find that you change places with these family members every so often, but no-one lets Great Aunt drive for any length of time!

Oh yes, so what was I talking about again before that very long, seemingly insignificant story? Something about something fading?
Oh yes, memory fading 😉

So as I start heading towards year 3, I find that certain memories of the last few years have indeed started to fade. Some of them I am happy to be rid of!

But I caught myself this morning making resolutions for the coming new year mainly consisting of exercise goals and wondering how to successfully go about losing 15kgs! All important health considerations I concur, but REALLY??

So after catching up with some posts on a young blogger I follow who is fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma and after reading words written by Fynn’s mom this morning.  I decided to let good old Big Brother take the wheel as 2015 comes to a close and share quotes from some real people giving great advice on perspective.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and perspective filled 2016.


“So when you are sitting there, wondering how life could be so bad for you, please realize that it could always be worse. And as long as you are physically able to live, you always have a chance to turn things around. I would give anything for more time”. Mary Buell


“There are families that are enduring their first festive season missing a family member, families that have just had bad news, war and tragedy all around. I have no wish to be negative, but I want us to try and be gentle with others. It is the old story of getting in someone’s shoes etc.
Let’s all be extra mindful of what we have now and of how valuable our normal is. Normal really is invaluable.” Sandra (Fynn’s Mom)

New Year 3