The Cloak of Calm and ostrich impersonations…

Did you know that tomorrow, July 1, 2014 is National ‘I Touch Myself’ Day in Australia?

Until this week, I didn’t either.

Did you know that 35 women are diagnosed in Australia every DAY with breast cancer?

I didn’t either.

Why do I bring this up here?

Amanda avatar

Because June 23, 2014 will go down as the day I was among those 35 women.

Yep. You read that right. A phone call last Monday from a lovely doctor sympathetically confirmed what I suspected, after biospies were taken from my left breast at an unscheduled mammogram the previous Friday.  I had a Grade 2* cancer.

It was found by a series of ‘pure chance‘ moments less than a fortnight ago – chance that a doctor I saw in Brisbane who decided to use his influence to squeeze me in for an unscheduled mammogram with just two days notice. Chance that I even saw that doctor at all – his referral had been bouncing around in my handbag for months. Chance that I mentioned to him that I felt ‘a bit weird’ on that side. Not pain, not even discomfort, just a bit weird.  A series of chances that saw a five-and-a-half hour stint at a mammogram centre (with my long-suffering kids who made multitudes of loom bands as we waited between scans and ultrasounds and doctors chats and biopsies).  And it was found. A ‘lesion’ that was quite undetectable by feel.

I kinda knew it would be a ‘bad’ one. I just knew.

Was I surprised? 

Not really.  My mother has had breast cancer, her aunt had breast cancer, my father’s mother had breast cancer.  To a degree, in my mind, it was always a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

When I got the call, confirming was an ‘invasive ductal carcenoma’, was I shocked or panicked or horrified?

No. Not at all.

Overwheming relief is what I felt.

Relief cushioned in a generous cloak of calmness.
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I cannot tell you why this was my reaction exactly – the calm that has surrounded me in the past week has been quite amazing.   My chief thought is that I feel is so VERY lucky.  I am incredibly aware that this could so easily NOT have been found for many months or years even… when it would have been so much harder to deal with.

It was surgically removed on Friday, along with several lymph nodes to see if has begun to spread to other parts of my body.  I wait now to see if I add chemotherapy to the radiation already on my treatment schedule.  And while I am not looking forward to either therapy, I count my blessings these treatments are available to me. If I lived a few decades ago, or in many other countries in the world, I would not have these options at all.  I would not have had access to the tests that found this so early.  How blessed I am that I live HERE and NOW.

You know what HAS been quite hard?  Really tricky and exhausting?

Telling people about it.  Dealing with their shock. Their horror. They don’t MEAN to be exhausting, of course. I know because I am pretty sure I was them, up until a week ago.  Being shocked and horrified if the ‘Big C’ touched anyone I loved or cared about. It’s a normal reaction and it means they care enough about me to feel strongly. But for me, the person dealing with it, and having to pass on the news, it can be bloody exhausting and draining.

I need people to understand that my calm does NOT mean I am unaware of the possible repercussions of this diagnosis.  I am not in shock or denial, and don’t need to be talked through what I face.  My specialists are taking care of keeping me informed. And those who I choose to ask about their own journey. This calm approach is my choice …for now.  I hope that it continues to be my choice for however long this takes.

I have been a bit naughty and have retreated into sharing my news via message, hoping that people can recover from their immediate (often very emotional) reactions first, before we talk.  So they can understand that I don’t need a pity party, or a woe-is-me session.  I just want them all to know my situation, to process their own feelings, to continue to stand beside me, and help me keep feeling good about life in general. I’m still me.  A glass-half-full, nature-loving, snap-happy kinda girl.

So many people have been amazing – lots of offers of ‘whatever you need’ have come in.  The kids have enjoyed diversions provided by loved ones post-surgery.  But I have to say I love having them near too – I am not remotely sick, just a little sore.  And they need to know that Mum is still Mum, and have their questions answered by us as they pop into their heads.

I have many amazing examples of women who have walked the same path I find myself on now: my mother (who beat this disease more than two decades ago and is a healthy 75 now), my friend Debby who chronicled her experiences on her blog as did my friend Jools, and then there is my childhood friend Kim, who hardly missed a beat as she continued to work throughout her chemo.  I will be inspired by them all.

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Me & my mate Debby.

Divinyl’s wild front woman, Chrissy Amphlett left a legacy after she lost her battle with breast cancer (untreatable because of her MS) last year, through her song ‘I Touch Myself’   It is an anthem of the sexual revolution which I remember well from my high school days.  It was an in-your-face song back then, and I love the injection of pure irreverence that it gives to such a serious subject as cancer, in this reworked version (below) to raise awareness for breast cancer detection.

It  features some amazing singers from Olivia Newton John to Deborah Conway and Kate Cebrano.

And it’s quite beautiful…

Am I sorry this thing has been found in me?

How could I be?  KNOWLEDGE is essential for CHANGE.  I know now, and with my amazing team onside, we are changing course for the better because of this knowledge.

What do I hope you will do with my news?

I would really urge ALL WOMEN (and blokes too) to check themselves. Please…do it now. And even if you can’t feel a lump but  just have a vague ‘something doesn’t seem quite right’ feeling, a sensation that’s a bit different  – GET IT CHECKED!  After all, that’s all I had.  This goes for ANY health issues on your mind really.

You are in charge of your own health, your own journey. No-one knows you, better than YOU.

And for all those who love doing ‘ostrich impersonations’ when it comes to health checks (you know who you are) I pose this question:

What’s the worst that can happen?

You can only 1) get an ‘ALL CLEAR’ or 2) be on the way to TAKING BACK CONTROL of your health.

Pretty awesome options, really.

Signing off with much love, and great hope that the ‘ostriches’ among us are already making that doctor appointment.

JUST DO IT.

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*The terms ‘grade’ and ‘stage’ in cancer are two different things. I will find out this week which stage I am dealing with. And then we will go from there. :-)

** Please breathe through that shock before you comment… I am well. I am happy. I am very, very lucky!

95 Responses to “The Cloak of Calm and ostrich impersonations…”

  1. Will be holding you and your family in my prayers.

  2. Thank you for reminding me to book in for my first mammogram. I have the number in my purse and it’s still sitting there. I wish you all the best and look forward to more blogs of your life after cancer. Take care of yourself. xxx

  3. You are amazing and a bloody good inspiration.
    Ann Britton´s last blog post ..Guest Blogger Paul Cox

  4. Hugs to you Amanda, I’m a ‘once a year mamm girl’ thanks to some dodgy genetics on both sides of my family. I’m with you, have your check-ups regularly and take control of your life. Nx

  5. You are just freaking awesome even more so than before. So glad you are part of my life even if it is in a bloggy facebooky friend kinda way. Xxx

  6. Best of luck Amanda. And thank you for sharing that clip, it is amazing!

  7. All I have to say is you are incredible…. All the best to you and your loved ones and know that you are in many hearts and thoughts!!

  8. Best of luck to you Amanda. A positive attitude is always a good start. xx

  9. You really are an inspiration with your wordy words and an ability to tell it how it is to encourage others look at their own lives. Love you lots Amanda xxx

  10. You are one hell of a phenomenal woman Amanda.
    Your strength is inspirational…and I will book in for my 3yr overdue mamogram.
    Am sending buckets of good thoughts…you go girl…and kick its damn butt!

  11. All the best Amanda, you are winning already with your positive attitude. So pleased the Drs have been available when needed, put your faith in them and they’ll do their best. You are a winner.

  12. Love you’re attitude. All the best. Mandy
    Mandy´s last blog post ..Can Grazing Animals Save the World?

  13. All the best BB. We all love you. Sending healthy vibes your way. Trust in your doctors.

  14. Hugs to you. I started my blog seven years ago precisely because telling people was so hard – and dealing with their reactions that was even harder. If you read my blog from the beginning you will see what I went through. A great resource is http://www.breastcancer.org for good solid information without bias.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Caroline’s version of the future of breast cancer research

  15. Hugs around the world to you. I had my own “something’s not quite right” sensation, and though it wasn’t what I thought it was, it Was something in need of finding.

    • It always is, Gretchen. Even if the ‘something’ isn’t health threatening, the worry-factor being eliminated makes it well and truly worth it!
      :-)

  16. The thing that is best about you is that you take whatever you have at hand and use it to speak out. Your camera. Your words. And now yourself. I love that about you. Your spirit is indomitable.
    debby´s last blog post ..Character

  17. Hugging you with invisible arms. You will beat this bastard !~! Even while inspiring others to improve their self-care.
    Lynda M Otvos´s last blog post ..Sunny Cat-urday !~!

  18. P.S. I pinned the last photo on my Strong Women and Their Impact board. Thank you for allowing us that privilege.

  19. Your post was in my reader mid afternoon. I thought it was not important to read it immediately and left for this evening. Little did I know. I don’t have any wise words beyond, good luck.

  20. You can count on my prayers for you and your family. I appreciate this post and will schedule my appointment when I get my annual reminder shortly. ((Hugs))
    Kelly´s last blog post ..The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

  21. How like you to put your news to work to help others. Prayers are being said for you.
    Judy (Debby’s friend in PA)

  22. I am so glad they found it early.

    And I hear you on the relief front. My story doesn’t involve cancer, but knowing something is wrong and waiting to find out what it is, is so much harder than having something solid and tangible to deal with.

    Heal fast, and stock up on good moisturiser for post radiation days. xxx
    Veronica Foale´s last blog post ..Failures, catastrophes and starting a small business

    • Thanks Veronica – I hope the message doesn’t just stop at breast cancer. I hope everyone who is worrying about ANY little niggle, bump, whatever gets it CHECKED. Then they can STOP worrying, and if necessary, start DOING. Moisturiser on the list! :-)

      • Recommend unscented 100@ aloe vera, stored in the refrigerator. I spent a great deal of time flashing by the light of the refrigerator. Helped immensely.
        debby´s last blog post ..Bush Babe

  23. If I didn’t have an annual ‘boogie-squash’ every year, this would be the kick in the bum to get me doing it for sure
    No wise words or profound quotes to give you my friend, just love.
    BIG love
    <3
    x

  24. Rebecca Ann Sinn Reply July 1, 2014 at 10:45 am

    BB (Amanda) – Sounds like you have lots of experienced support. I will offer mine too although I don’t know you personally I have been reading your blog for a few months and am a big fan of your photo contributions on Facebook. I found my lump myself, get this Friday the 13th of June 2008. I was staged as a 2B Infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma Hercep Negative, Hormone Positive It was in 2 of the 16 lymph nodes taken.I was lucky one or two more lymph node and I would have been a stage 3. I had been having yearly mammos but it either was missed or not there yet the 9 or so months before. My worst day came when I had to tell my 14 and 16 year old boys. Even with all the prefaces and positive I had told my older boy leading up to the big C word being spoken – he first words were mom if you die I want to die too. Mind you I never thought of dying, I was ready to do battle! You sound like you too are ready to take it on and win! I am 5 years past treatments as of the end of Feb 2013 and am an official survivor!

  25. I love your attitude and that’s what will get you through this. I don’t love that you’ve got cancer though. That sucks. Hugs xoxo
    Jen´s last blog post ..OMG, there’s a teenager in the house

  26. I am so sorry to hear this and you and your family will be in my prayers. This will be a long hard journey but you are a tough gal and will win this fight. Hug those cute kids and than handsome man. Love and prayers.

  27. With you all the way. There is lots we have to do in this life. Much love and hugs
    little bb

  28. What a great message. Maybe the calmness comes from just knowing, knowing what was wrong and knowing what you are facing. Good luck with results and take care.

  29. You are exuding grace and dignity. Best of luck.

  30. You have a head start because of early detection and a positive attitude. Both will serve you well as you face this head on.

  31. That an inspiration you are. My thoughts are with you and your family!

  32. Wishing you all the Best!

  33. You already know I think you’re amazing.

  34. I can’t see to read this for tears… My mammograms and ultra sounds on both boobs is tomorrow 10:30am
    My heartfelt hugs and best wishes to you sweet lady xx

  35. I have never read a more positive announcement of such a diagnosis. I am so delighted that you have chosen this tack, to exude gratitude for the options you have, in this country, in this age.

    Bless you Amanda, honestly, bless you.

    I hope when / if I ever receive such a phone call, after being so SENSIBLE as you have been that I will be so practical too.

    All the best for the coming months x x x

  36. Margareta Osborn Reply July 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    With a grandmother, and two aunts diagnosed with breast cancer, your post comes as a timely reminder. Thankyou for having the guts to share your story. All the very best for the coming months. My thoughts are with you.

  37. Your positive attitude and calm inspiration is credit to you! Negativity is never a good choice…it only wastes precious ‘energy’.
    A good outcome comes from early detection and I feel strongly you will have this. Thank you for your sharing your journey…it takes a strong person to spill their innermost thoughts as you have.

  38. Wow. I haven’t been online much this week and I return to your news. I love your attitude. I love your words and your inspiration. Will make the appointment tomorrow. Hugs.

    • Well, I am usually a bit more ‘sunshine and pretty things’! So pleased that you are getting your check. ♥

  39. Love it and I too will go and get “boogie-squashed” as Jenny put it. The hardest thing is picking up the phone but that should be the easiest.

  40. So glad the beast has been found early. Love your positive attitude of hope and gratitude-it’ll stand you in good stead. Wishing you a quick and strightforward jouney through this. Got you in my prayers.
    Hugs xxx

  41. Shame on me I’ve been away for a few days and haven’t commented. Today I was encouraged to give you an encouraging word. So here I am with hangdog looks and a heart filled greeting of warmest thoughts that convey: be true – be strong – I’m thinking of you. By the way, I survived so I know that you can also.
    Positive thoughts for you – Bill

  42. Amanda, I’ve fallen off my blog reading in recent years, but checked in here at Debby’s prompting. You’re in my thoughts, and thank you for projecting such a positive outlook – I think your focus on gratitude can help others find an inner strength when dealing with C.
    Hal Johnson´s last blog post ..Couch by Couchwest 2014

  43. Janyne Dalle-Nogare Reply July 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Amanda, you are an amazing, strong, determined and positive lady, you do what ever it takes to stay strong in health as well as being full of fighting spirit. As I am sending you all the positive energies to assist in your full recovery, and the life filled with happiness and joys to come.
    YOU GO GIRL, show this damn Cancer who is the BOSS!!!!!!!
    Janyne

  44. I tried twice to post but I’m at the cottage and my internet connection is spotty at best. My message was along the lines of “bugger, bugger, bugger” and lucky you to have friends like Debby who can provide so much support and info.

    I like your attitude. You are awesome. You put everything in perspective.
    A Novel Woman´s last blog post ..On Today’s Walk in Montreal

  45. Wishing you all the best for your test results. Were I in the same situation, I would hope I was as positive as you Amanda.

  46. So sorry Amanda that you are having to deal with this. Hoping all is going well and wishing you only the best. Life sends some curve-balls doesn’t it.

  47. Best wishes, BB, and I hope the outcome is a good one – thinking of you.

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