Beach Walks and Friendship

Felicity, Annette and Connie

Me (left-hand side), Annette (centre) and Connie (right-hand side).

The three of us met one another through Western Health where we received our treatment. We were asked to participate as models in a fashion parade and fundraiser as part of the Breast West annual Gala ‘night of nights.’ On the night, alongside 8 survivors each of us were paired up with our very own AFL Western Bulldog player. The experience of being made to feel like a celebrity is still one of the best nights of my life, with memories and new friendships that will certainly stand the test of time.

Annette, Connie and I are out on a weekly walk at Altona Beach where we join a Breast Cancer survivors walking group that meets every Tuesday morning. We have no issues with finding commonality and strength in solidarity. Our walk includes a half way stop at a Pier street cafe for a chat and coffee.

 

Healthy mindset tips

Fake it till you make it –

My neighbour Danica who has also become one of my closest friends often says this to me. ‘Fake it till you make it!’ it’s so true, when you are having a low vibe day and everything is mounting up or multiple problems are starting to get you down. Whatever the reason, and let’s face it there can be many….Tell yourself that things aren’t too bad, put on your favourite clothes and splash some makeup on and walk out your front door. Doesn’t matter if you are only going to the shops to buy milk, picking your kids up after school or turning up to work even though it’s the last place you want to be. Just smile, act cool, calm and collected. The goal is to trick your mind into believing that everything is great, and pretty soon you might just catch yourself feeling amazing.

It’s ok not to be ok –

Practice self-love and be your own best friend. You know when your friends or family need cheering up and reminding how awesome they are, this is what you need to do for yourself too. You are only human and sometimes you just need to stop, take a break and allow yourself time and space to FEEL. Let it out it’s so healthy. Cry, scream, talk to your pet, vent your anguish and release the pressure as much as you can. There is no point hanging on or bottling it up, it will just build up and come out at a latter date and a well meaning friend may bear the brunt of it. Just remember that tomorrow is another day, and sometimes just going to bed and putting the day behind you allows a reset.

Surround yourself with inspirational people –

Find your tribe, clan or the people that just get you…The world has millions of people in it, you will meet plenty of them that want to bring you down. Forget them and stick with the ones that inspire you to be the best version of yourself. The ones that listen, understand and offer you their attention and support. You often get a feeling or know instinctively who you want to be around at certain times in your life. Particularly when you have been fighting battles with your health, that is draining in itself, so the best thing for you is to find the people that uplift your spirits and leave you better than when they found you. There are many people that inspire me, some I tell and some I don’t but each one offers something unique and special and something to be admired for.

Never give up –

One of my favourite sayings I use when there doesn’t seem to be any solutions to the problems is; ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’ (apologies to those feline lovers out there….People that know me well already know how I feel about cats…). No matter how bad you are feeling about something know that all things are temporary and eventually it will pass…So just Keep going. Resilience is a great attribute to have, and something that shows your strength in character. Going through a Breast Cancer diagnosis and treatment its tough, it tests your reserves and forces you to dig deeply to find your inner strength. When you have found it and look back on those hard times you realise how far you have come and just how tough you were to make it through. ‘You never know how strong you are until your only option is to be strong.’

Focus on living healthy and the best version of you –

Take time to slowdown and work on yourself. Now is the best time to take note of what foods you are eating, and how they are effecting your state of mind. It is commonly known through media and other sources that a diet that is well balanced with fresh fruit and vegetables, and one that contains less red meat is preferable to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Balancing this with exercise has been recommended as part of the treatment for Breast Cancer survivors. It helps to strengthen you up after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as helping the bodies Lymphatic system drain of the toxins. Do as much as you can comfortably to start with, and build upon that. The benefits of eating well and exercising have an enormous effect on your mental health and wellbeing. By staying positive you are more likely to stay on top of things as well as regaining a sense of equilibrium back into your life.

376 days post Mastectomy

25/10/2018

Today I attended Sunshine Hospital for a Nurse-Led appointment with breast care nurses Mel and Lisa. The aim of the visit was to have a discussion about the last twelve months, how things were going and find out if there was an area that the Breast Care nurses could help me with.

It has been a rough twelve months with many changes in my personal life, which compounded with the recovery from Breast Cancer. The highs and lows have taken a toll, however, it seems like I am on the up again.

Unless you have had the first-hand experience of being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease such as cancer, it is very difficult to imagine the position that the person has been put into. Life is turned upside down, inside out and back to front in every way imaginable. It feels like a threat and an attack on your world, the uncertainty is frightening.

So far I think of myself as being fortunate, always one to find the cloud with the silver lining ! the cloud was having a right mastectomy, and the silver lining was not needing chemo or radiotherapy. The ongoing treatment known as Endocrine treatment includes 10 years of a daily dose of Tamoxifen and monthly Zoladex injections to ‘turn off the ovaries’ and hence stop the hormone oestrogen and progesterone from circulating in my body. My team of oncologist and doctors found through pathology results that the only type of cancer I tested positive to was hormone positive. So cut out hormones and stop the chance of Cancer ‘setting up shop’ again somewhere else.

Where am I 12 months down the road? I am doing well, fit and healthy physically and mentally.

As soon as I had recovered enough from the mastectomy I threw myself back into work and study, for me this was the signal I wanted to send to myself that I was ok, alive and ready to continue on with life. Almost like a way of ‘faking it till I was making it’ in many ways it worked, in other ways I had not given myself enough time to deal with the fallout of cancer and the true effect that a chronic illness has on you. I didn’t want to be unwell, and I was frustrated by the thoughts of a re-occurrence and the way that people would give you a pity glance if you talked about it. In the beginning, it stirred at my emotions, and my fear of its return was still raw and sickening. So I tried to block it out as much as I could, only choosing to talk to my close circle about the details and kept it to myself, to begin with. Even now, there are some places I go and don’t wish to disclose, I just want to be Flick, just me without that bad dream attached to my reality.

Commonly said is the fact that you are never completely cured of cancer but you learn to live with it; this is certainly true. I think that in life generally, we are presented with many series’ of choices and it is up to us how we respond to those choices. You could choose to live in fear, or you choose to just get on with it.

For me I think of this as my plan b journey, my ticket to go and live life. It has given me a whole new perspective around making the most of every day, as well as limiting my patience when it comes to drama and negativity. I have zero time to be kept down by those low energies. Another way to put it is I have become more mindful and try to live in the present moment as much as I can. This feels right, and something I wish I had been doing earlier.

I hope that you find my blog interesting and welcoming enough to tell me about your journey of being a Breast Cancer survivor. I look forward to hearing from you.

Flick