It’s my Birthday in May and it’s right around Mother’s Day. I don’t get all sentimental around Mother’s Day because well I had a shit mother and I’ve got a birthday to celebrate so Mother’s Day always feels like I’m being a bit greedy. A couple of years ago Mother’s Day changed forever.
It changed because I got freakin cancer, let me tell you celebrating your birthday in the chemo chair is only softened by cupcakes and a TV crew. Yes that was my birthday 2 years ago!
I was smart though and organised loads of cupcakes for the nurses and other patients and wouldn’t you know it channel 7 were doing a story on nurses so they chose me as the poster girl for the story LOL. A few days later I was all set to walk in the Mother’s Day Classic.
You know, the ‘pink walk’ where thousands of crazy people turn up early morning in a city or town near you to pound the pavement and raise funds. There’s usually rain and wind chill factor involved because it’s winter but it doesn’t stop the people registering and participating.
For us we registered as a family and my bestie and her hubby joined our team too. We decked ourselves out in pink and the teenage sons tried hard to smile, thank god for some Allens snakes! We wrote tribute cards and turned up to walk. And then it hit me.
Turning up to the walk and taking in the sea of people was overwhelming and heartbreaking and uplifting all at once.
I had just done round 16 of 18 rounds of chemo, my body was stuffed and I was bloated and barely able to move thanks to neuropathy in my feet. My hips were seized up, every joint felt like they had been smashed but the day was filled with powerful emotions. Those powerful emotions…that’s what got me through.
Before the walk started we took a walk around the precinct and checked out the display tents. Everywhere I looked there were people with their tribute cards pinned to their backs. People missing their mums, sisters, aunties, daughters, nans and friends. Teenage sons wrote sad messages to their mums who were taken too early by breast cancer. Yeah, because breast cancer kills!
Then there were the victory messages and people walking around who had survived cancer. THESE were the messages that gave me hope, gave my family hope. Even the sad messages gave me hope that if I didn’t survive at least my sons would have a place to come to feel supported and they could hi 5 me in heaven as they crossed the finish line. See cancer forces you to think thoughts you never ever thought you would.
My cousin had her own team in Brisbane and she texted pics through to me that made me feel far away from her but close all at the same time.
Then a friend sent a message, a pic of her and her daughter walking for their Aunty Brenda who had passed from breast cancer and for me…I immediately burst into tears when I opened this message. Because they were walking for me and the realisation of how fragile life (my life) really is hit home…again.
So there I was holding my banana and blubbering away in my fairy wings when strangers came up to say hi, because they recognised me from Facebook…it was overwhelming. The whole walk was overwhelming because there was me with my bald head (clearly going through treatment) and as I passed walkers I got the nods, smiles and pity looks. I struggled to breathe and was in a shitstorm of pain and at times I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, feet I couldn’t even feel.
We rejoiced at every marker that signified another kilometre was done and when we crossed the finish line I cried again.
Last year we did the walk again, the sons stayed in bed but we were joined by more friends and one made tutus for us all. This time I was healthier but only 6 weeks post the first of my reconstruction surgeries. I didn’t let it stop me though. When I crossed the line it was smiles and hi fives all around especially for Michelle who was going through her own cancer journey. Last year I was a community ambassador and did some radio and newspaper interviews and found a voice…the voice of a survivor.
It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when having treatment because for some there is none and you just don’t know if that’s going to be you or not. The further I get from treatment the more I like my chances but honestly life is one big gamble…cancer diagnosis or not.
This year we are doing the walk again, it’s important for my mister and I and we feel part of a very special community when we line up with all the other runners and walkers touched by breast cancer…each with their own deeply personal story.
We’re doing it to raise funds, to remember those no longer here, those who are survivors and those who are going through treatment. It’s our nod to the tireless efforts of researchers, doctors, surgeons, nurses and fundraising groups. Without them our odds would be slimmer and journeys harder.
Mothers Day for me is different these days, I’ll take it though. If I get to wake up and hug my boys on mothers Day it means I’m drawing breath and for that I’m forever grateful.
Maybe I’ll see you on the day? Come say hi…even if I’m crying.