My Breast Cancer Journey/Blog

March 16, 2020 (Happy Birthday – in hospital)

Why does it ALWAYS happen on my birthday. Yes, I was in hospital again for my birthday. Seriously! Can you believe it! Please see my…

update re my hospital visit & coronavirus

Friday 13th September, 2019 – losing my vision

Of COURSE I would have to find out on Fri 13th, lol.  I found out I had breast cancer on my birthday, so why not?  As I told you all on my social media pages – I had suddenly lost vision in my right eye sight after surgery.  After about a million tests – we’ve found my eyes can’t co-ordinate due to a serious muscle problem called PSP.   Gotta say – it does hurt.  But, thank God for Australian medicine – I can see a specialist that can help & support!

One day at a time…

October 20, 2020 – Beloved Uncle Peter passes

Uncle Peter Kelly was basically my Dad. He replaced the violent alcoholic father that I had all my life with love, kindness, support – and oh my goodness many years of fun. It was just him and I in the end. His family didn’t even visit him at Christmas, and for YEARS it was just him and I every Christmas. I took him on cruises. I took him to Stradbroke Island for a week. I took him to Kingscliffe beach for a week. We had lunch twice a week for years when he was in the nursing home. I am devastated at losing him. As my last close relative, he’s the “last one”, and I am now the “endling” of my family. One of the saddest days of my life.

16 March, 2019 – My Birthday & Breast Cancer Anniversary

It’s six years today I’ve been battling this mess.  Lost my cousin, lost both my Grandparents that lived with us, lost my mother, then lost my only sibling – my sister Shauna.  My entire family’s now gone, and so today is my birthday, and all I can remember today is the phone call, 6 years ago today, from the doctor “Yess Colleen – it’s breast cancer”.

And, of all things, it’s not really the cancer that caused most of my problems, it was the treatment!  I was allergic to the MRI dye, and got hyper-thyroidism, which caused angina, high blood pressure, and lots of days in bed. 

But…who cares about the liver, today, a glass of champagne never hurt anyone on their birthday!  Happy birthday me!

Christmas Day 2018

What a lovely Christmas – again with my Uncle Peter Kelly.  It’s just the two of us left up here now of the family.  I’ve lost all my immediate family now, but it was a wonderful day full of lovely food, and of course a glass of champagne! Breast cancer hasn’t got me yet!!!

October 11, 2018 – Pneumonia

Was home for a couple of days, then back in with pneumonia, and they’re keeping me in this time.  I really appreciate your prayers and visits, and especially for the flowers and messages of support.  In God’s hands.

September 20, 2018 – Pneumonia

Message from Colleen:

“Hi everyone, on Wednesday, after the surgery, I could not stop coughing up massive blood clots – only to find I have pneumonia.  I want to let you know that I am comfortable, I’m not in too much pain, and I am OK – but your prayers are ALWAYS welcome”

March 16, 2018 – Happy Birthday – liver disease!

ERGH!  Seriously!  On my birthday – AGAIN!

It was four years ago TODAY (on my birthday) I got the first phone call telling me I had breast cancer….and now, four years later, on the very same day I find I have NAFLD – liver disease.  I knew something was terribly wrong.  So much pain and nausea all the time.  Feeling absolutely TERRIBLE. 

THANK GOD I researched it and coffee is good for the liver – I might be saved, lol.

Yes, it is sad, and ironic that my father was a long-term alcoholic, bit it’s ME who gets the liver disease, and I barely drink these days. But, if I can survive everything I have talked about below…this shouldn’t be that hard.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

January 11, 2018 – tinnitus making me deaf

Medicines save lives – but sometimes side-effects are hideous. Sadly my hearing that got screwed up from the thyroid toxicosis has gone from “severe” to “profound”.  My ears hurt so badly…who would have thought that being allergic to the MRI dye would call so many problems.  At least I can’t hear politicians and people complaining lol!!! Always a silver lining.

15 October, 2017 – Dad Passed Away Today

Vale: Frank Kelly

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my last family member, my father, early this morning, just after midnight in Robina Hospital.  He was very peaceful in the end, and after a long history with cancer and battles with alcohol. We had total forgiving long beautiful discussions in the end. He is now in heaven, with all of my family, and no longer in the pain of his very tormented life.

Funny – I was having treatment in the very same hospital at the same time.

1 October, 2017 – more treatment

Me and my big mouth.  One test hadn’t come back when I got all excited and only one month later here we are getting treatment again week after next.

Those of you who know my father Frank Kelly would be sad to hear that he is in a very bad state in Robina Hospital, same place I’m going as an outpatient.  Weird…same hospital.

Please keep us both in your prayers at this difficult time.

11 June, 2017 – Back in Aus – Thank God for Medicare for all!

I was so sad to have to leave America, but my father is elderly, and I need to come home to nurse him. Plus, there is no way I can fight cancer in America. I would be bankrupt – or dead. So, I had to come home. God bless the Australian system!OK guys, here I am back in Australia.  And, I’m having all my tests done.  Thank God for the Australian system.  I have already been offered free xrays, scans, tests, counselling, even a dietician/diet advice.

16 March 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday breast cancer…
You will not get me!

It’s  not the phone call you want on your birthday, but that’s what I got four years ago TODAY.  Yep!  On my birthday.  My birthdays are always a disaster, but that one was a classic “you have breast cancer” phone call! Sadly, I am selling beautiful Black Pearl Farm in Paris KY and returning to Australia, both for my treatment, but also to nurse my elderly father.

But I’m still here…Happy birthday.  Four years on.  F*ck You Cancer!

Christmas 2016 – A Christmas Miracle

I got a TRUE Christmas Miracle! My father called, and he has apologized for years of drinking and violence, and asked me to come home as he is getting frail and weak and needs my help.  So, I’m packing up and moving back to Australia folks.

I’m here, alone, at the farm, giving me time to really contemplate and think about life.  Sad day Christmas.  I guess it will always be a sad day from now on, but I’m alive, pushing through, and still here fighting.  Alone.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

Still alive!  Still single.  Still pushing on.  Still having a ball.  Boy how my life changed with breast cancer.  I’m now less tolerant of selfish people, more tolerant of people with problems in their lives. I’m a nicer person, more fun, and hopefully giving more back to the world now than ever.

Breast cancer wise…doing GREAT.  It’s just the stupid thyroid that they wrecked when they gave me 2 x MRI’s in a row with contrast dye, and I’m allergic to contrast dye.  I get horrendous hot and very cold flushes, massive headache nearly every afternoon and horrific restless legs and high blood pressure (sometimes up over 200).

MY TREATMENT: Because of the MRI dye reaction, I’m now on high blood pressure meds, and thyroid meds, cups of tea, occasional gin and tonic, honey bun donuts and lots and lots of Netflix…world’s best treatment plan, lol.

I never did have the reconstruction.  Not just because it’s another hideous operation and months off, but I wanted to make a stand…who the hell decided I was less of a person with no boobs?  How dare Society make me have an operation SOLELY for beauty.  There is no earthly reason for fake boobs.  At $30,000 that could sponsor five children through World Vision for the rest of their lives – vs- fake bubble boobs. Where’s our priorities? That choice was easy.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!  Thank you for your continued support.

16 March 2015 Happy Birthday to me!

Two years since the phone call – on my birthday – “you have breast cancer.

Yes this has been the worst two years of my life what being given the wrong operation, the horrible results of the scaring (the breast nurse saying it was the worst mastectomy she had ever seen)…and now on medicines for the rest of my life for the thyroid problems caused by the hospital’s mistake of having two MRI’s in a row.

So, although it’s the saddest birthday ever, alone on the other side of the world.  I’m tough.  I’m safe.  I have food.  I have a safe place to stay, and albeit my birthday is always the day from hell…I am grateful.

Christmas Day 2014 – Saddest day at Daytona Beach

I have cried most of the day today. I miss my father terribly on Christmas Day. Well, I miss the man he used to be. His alcoholism is out of control – he too has been in and out of hospital for his disease, and it is heart breaking to be on the other side of the world – on the other side of horrendous verbal violence on a day that should be a day of happiness and joy, but still this horrible sadness and loss of self esteem hangs over me like a big huge black cloud. Christmas Prayer: Please God…make it better.

November 16, 2014 – my sister’s anniversary

Three years ago today my dearest only sibling Shauna passed. In one way it’s a blessing – we both had the same breast cancer surgeon but Shauna died of ovarian cancer before the breast cancer got her, so she never had a mastectomy.  Shauna was a deeply private person that hated hospitals – and I am sure she would have never handled the BUTCHER of a surgeon that I had.

I have tinnitus from the medicine but Shauna had meniere’s disorder she suffered a million times more than me.  The constant screaming headaches..the thump thump thump of the heart in your ears is more than I can stand mentally sometimes. At least, in heaven, she is relieved of that horror. God how I miss her. Desperately sad today.

May 19, 2014 – Thyroid & Rotten Insurance Companies

My heart is thumping in my chest SO BAD. It’s from the dye in the MRI from my breast cancer sent me into thyroid-toxicosis (not to mention the stress caused by ROTTEN ROTTEN INSURANCE COMPANY New Era Life (Philadelphia American) who would not pay for my mastectomy!!!!

So with my heart THUMPING in my ears…I ring the emergency department here in London Canada ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS for a visit – and only accept CASH UP FRONT – that’s just to walk in the door before the blood tests, heart tests and x-rays, lady said probably about $5,000 for one visit…Just rang a 2nd walk in clinic. About the same price, but she said the heart test I needed more in the vicinity of $15K. Dear Lord, let my heart just keep beating until June when I can get to the doctor in Australia where they won’t let you die in the car park.

March 16, 2014.  Happy Birthday – 1 year breast cancer anniversary

One year ago I was told – over the phone – on my birthday – I had breast cancer.  I should be thrilled I’m alive. I should be partying on my birthday, but here I am, no presents, no going out, no party, no champagne…NOTHING.   I can’t believe that I have lost my self esteem like this…a YEAR later…I should be over it.  I should have gotten counselling…but with the medical costs in America…forget it.

Let’s just get through today. This horrible day will be over soon.

Sunday February 9, 2014 – I’m back on stage!

What a HUGE opening to the tour!. I’ve never EVER seen an opening that good, congratulations to everyone behind the scenes and all the fans for coming!

I’d really like to thank the retail staff, and the ground staff at the Lexington VA Tour Stop.  Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and I didn’t feel so bad about my “new body shape” after the double mastectomy.

It is truly hard some times – yes I cry – when I think So….I don’t think!!!

I cannot think AT ALL.  If I do, I cry…so as I said…I don’t think.  I must say the crowd were so lovely, standing ovation and the people that came to the trade-stand afterwards were so supportive, as was all the road crew and retail people…just the best bunch in the world!

Sunday Dec 22, 2013

You might wonder why, after the last entry, I am so open with you. The reason, as I said, earlier on, is that my sister died only 2 years ago of this same hideous disease. Same age, same disease, same family full of cancer sufferers, same city, same hospital, same doctors, even had the same (terrible) breast surgeon. But she kept silent. And that really hurt a lot of people with her silence.

Shauna Kelly www.shaunakelly.com died peacefully, on her own terms, in hospital, just as she had planned for a long time – alone.

But I won’t.  Stuff that. Before I go they’re going to have to drag me screaming and yelling down the road. And after that they’ll have to screw that lid on tight…just in case. No, I’m the huge “Irish wake” kinda girl (would you have guessed?).

Open and free and truthfully as can be. And if you’re reading the next entry…it’s actually WORSE than I make it sound…

Sat Dec 21, 2013 – I have been BUTCHERED by the surgeon.

In never thought I’d feel so low as the sudden “twig” when I realised I how bad things really are.

I cried and cried and cried today when it finally hit home…I cried so much I actually sat on the bathroom floor and threw up….The honest to God truth I am BUTCHERED. I have the worst scaring, with the Breast Nurse saying “this is the worst mastectomy ever”.  OMG REALLY!

There are two types of mastectomy – one where you end up flat with two simple scars, and you don’t have a reconstruction with fake boobs. The other is an operation where they hack you open, not caring what it looks like, because you’re going to have a second operation later to get the fake boobs in. There was NO WAY I was ever going to get fake boobs!

Can you believe it…they gave me the WRONG OPERATION! I have been BUTCHERED. Instead of the plain mastectomy with a straight incision, I have massive holes, poorly stitched together with weird flaps of skin everywhere. In other words, she left me looking like the elephant man.

Today it hit me. She butchered me deliberately thinking I’d be so ugly I would HAVE to go to her friend for a reconstruction. Nope! I’m just going to have to stick to being the ugliest mastectomy ever. No-one will ever see it again, so it’s only me that has to live with the unbearable pain.

Wed Dec 11, 2013 – so much pain

Had lots of pain today. The double mastectomy site (from my side round my front to my side) isn’t nearly as painful as my armpits on fire. I’m pretty much covered, and I still haven’t really seen my wounds yet.

I was in so much pain, I went to my (lovely) GP who says it’s all infected. My GP was HORRIFIED at what the surgeon has done!!!!  

When I look in the mirror I see the shape of a horrible very old man.

Sat Dec 7, 2013 – a rough day

Well it hasn’t been easy I tell you. I wrote this the other night when life felt as grim as it could be, awake all night praying and singing to myself, rocking myself back and forth in pain, and then the first birds started still in the pitch black dark, so I wrote this poem: “The Bird’s Song” to have a record of how bad it’s been so that when the sun shines again, I can remember the bad times – to enjoy the good times.  Hope you read and share!

Wed Dec 3, 2013 – pathology back

One week since my mastectomy. I’ve been back to hospital twice – both by ambulance with some pretty nasty side effects.

I’m going to write some “tips for surviving mastectomy pain” later on – when I figure out how to survive myself! I’m still in horrendous pain, losing half your chest isn’t really recommended!  But it’s the armpits that hurt the most, they’re horrendous pain. Prayers please.

I have to tell you the truth, and I’m very upset that my chest is far more “sunken” than I thought and I look like my grandpa.  I hope it’s just swelling in my belly that makes it look so terrible.

Sunday Nov 24, 2014 – In hospital again

Never rains but it pours. We had to call the ambulance. Overnight in hospital with a BP of 60 and oxygen of 81. Not good. But today feeling good enough to type this at least, and then my buddie Dr. Fernanda Carmago sends me this link. You just HAVE to watch it…. http://youtu.be/b8VoUYtx0kw

Friday November 22, 2014 – Cancer worse than we thought.

I’m pretty sure this will be the last entry before the surgery. And, honestly…I’m scared. The surgeon said it is a bit worse than first thought. They will be removing both breasts and lymph nodes. Yep…sound hideous?  The surgery is at:  Epworth Hospital, 89 Bridge Road, Richmond Vic 3121 Australia.  And if you’d like to send me a card I’ll be admitted Tuesday 26th November for about a week. It sure would cheer me up! And, if I could ask another favor…keep me on your prayer list, it’s all I’ve got left right now.

Tuesday Nov 19 2014 – Argh Doctors

I’m not one to moan publicly but my goodness why are these doctors so RUDE and so MEAN.  I just got seven – repeat – SEVEN brochures on how to pay the doctor’s surgery bills, and ONE brochure on the details of the mastectomy. .

When they said you have to fight cancer, it isn’t the cancer you have to fight – it’s the system. And too bad if you don’t have the energy to fight any more!  This morning “well the cancer’s come back” is all she said.  

She INSISTED I go to her “friend” after the mastectomy for a reconstruction, but I will not have fake boobs. But she told me I’d be ugly, and I’d lose my femininity if I didn’t see her “friend” afterwards. SCREW HER! Doctors that won’t listen to patients do my freaking head in.

Fri November 15, 2013 – Core Biopsy

They want to do ANOTHER core biopsy again.

But…the weird thing….the doctor said I need a mastectomy, no matter what the result…so I don’t understand why the test – when it is so HORRIBLE and INVASIVE and HORRENDOUSLY PAINFUL.

When she said to my sister the same thing, she made her suffer and indure horrible pain…but now I wonder WHY?

a) if it’s benign they want to do a double mastectomy, but
b) if it’s positive, they want to do a double mastectomy

Is this double dipping on the medical system or what. Horrible going into a mastectomy having a bad feeling about your surgeon.

Thursday Nov 14, 2013 – Cancer is back!

Had my first round of appointments in Australia. I got the call today to say that the yes it is cancer and there is a tumor is in the LEFT breast, so it’s not “come back”, it’s BRAND NEW!  Ergh! So, if you can add me to your prayer list, that would be great, and come on medical people, let’s pull this together like last time!

Thursday 7 Nov 2013 – in Australia for surgery

Just had the first of many appointments to come I guess.  This is so weird, my sister Shauna and I HAVE THE SAME BREAST SURGEON.  She’s pretty rude, with the world’s MESSIEST office.  World’s stupidest high heels that she has to take off constantly because she can’t walk in them….Hope her rudeness is a sign of a “brilliant mind”. This…my friends…is where prayer comes in, and I hope in reading this you’ll think of me, and add me tonight in your prayers!

Sun 3rd Nov 2013 – Coming home for surgery

Nothing like changing things quickly – I’m hopping a flight to Australia tomorrow because, honestly, I love America, but I can’t trust the American medical system.  Only one little thing would have to go wrong with the surgery, and we could be bankrupt.  As it is the insurance history is terrible.  $6,000 costs for an injury last year, they paid $700.  I finally figured out the USA medical system – it’s to keep black and brown people uneducated, sick, and preferably – dead. The racism that my African-American assistant receives here is HORRENDOUS – and it’s ingrained in their medical system – who can’t afford insurance – minorities. Dog whistle (and deadly) racism based health system.

A country can be judged by the way they treat their lowest member” (Ghandi)

Fri 11 October – Cancer back again

One of the bad things about touring is trying to get your mail.  So, my buddie brings me my mail about 10 minutes before rehearsal, and there’s the letter from Mercy Hospital Durango. “Suspicious” isn’t the word I like when I see results, but at any rate, sounds like we’re in trouble. Back to doctor soon. Should know more hopefully soon.

September 6, 2013 – Durango Colorado

I’ve been excused from part of the rehearsals for the Summit Show, and I’m on the way back from Mercy Hospital Durango CO.  Just had a mammogram.  They couldn’t do an ultrasound (some paperwork or something hitch).  Pray God I get the results before the next show.

May 1, 2013 – We’re in the USA

After a four stays in hospital, I’ve had 2 week’s recovery and I’m back in the USA, ready to work on Friday for the CA Tour Stop. Yes, I’m going to “take it easy” whenever I can, but that isn’t easy at all!  The house looked lovely when we were finished. My sister would have been very proud of her new place, what a pity she never lived to see it so nice! Thank God for Australian free medical – or I would be bankrupt- or dead.

April 18 – Selling my sister’s house

It’s so so sad to have finally finished repairing my late sister’s home, ready for sale. I was in hospital only yesterday, and today getting house ready for real estate agents to take a look. The agent was very impressed, he said I’d styled it beautifully. Oh how I miss my sister, Shauna. She would have been STUNNED at how beautiful it is. Very tired now and sleep the rest of the day.

April 16 – Hospital Again – allergic to contrast dye

Like a roundabaout….I try to get back, and I’m sick again and I try to get back and I’m sick again (wonder what Louise Hay would think of this?) At any rate…this time it was only short, and I’ll be out soon.  It was my thyroid again, my leg shakes were so bad I could barely walk at one stage. Cancelled 3 clinics. Breaks my heart, all those people I let down.

April 9, 2013 – In hospital again – 3rd time

Well, here I am again, needles, poking, more needles, more tests. A bit weepy I must say. Off to exploratory surgery this morning. Not too invasive I hope, but really need this done. Sadly had to cancel a bunch of clinics and lectures.  Prayers please. Oh boy do I need them.

March 26 – Some good news in hospital

The pancreatitis is a little bit better today, blood testing every 5 mins I swear! But better news…they scanned my breast (again!) and it’s fluid not blood, and although big and painful, it won’t need to be drained we hope. They’re keeping an eye on it, but it’s better news than yesterday. Went for a couple of little walks today.

All this because the hospital made a mistake (not to mention the wrong operation!) giving me two MRI’s in a row, and too much contrast dye.

March 27, 2013 – Back in hospital

Sadly, back in hospital again!  Can you believe it…now I have too high (by a LOT!) thyroid, and pretty bad pancreatitis. They’re also thinking they need to do my surgery on my breast to drain blood clots…oh boy. I must admit I feel crap (sorry my USA friends about my language…on well!). Prayers please.

Tuesday March 19 – The hospital screwed up

I hate asking for help, but today I did, and I feel so much better. It was stupid, it’s all about culmination of so many things coming together at once. Firstly it’s the breast reduction/removal, then cancer, then feeling worse and worse every day, right now I’ve been in bed for TWO WEEKS, and everyone knows how energetic I am, and that’s just impossible. I’m even watching COOKING SHOWS on TV…oh dear!

The problem is my thyroid. I had TWO MRI’s in a row, and I was not meant to…that is very dangerous!!!  THE DOUBLE DOSE of the dye contrast sent me into thyroid toxicosis.  It’s an auto-immune problem where my body is attacking my thyroid, and it’s overworking. One test was meant to be less than 60, and mine is 1,300. I shake, I have these horrible shakes, and I can’t sleep, then I faint when I stand up, and my heart is THUMPING in my chest, and the ROARING in my ears from tinnitus is driving me insane.

But it all culminated in the tape on my surgery wounds. I was meant to change it last Saturday, now it’s Tuesday and I still haven’t done it, I’ve managed to get a little bit off, burst into weeping tears (very unlike me) and just stopped. So, I ring my surgeon today, which took so much courage to ask for help and I told her the situation. She was amazing. Answered the phone personally, and told me it will be OK, and she’ll do it Thursday. Sometimes asking for help does have a nice result at the end.

March 16, 2013 Happy Birthday – I’ve got breast cancer

Today my surgeon rang me with the news of the pathology.  Yes, it’s breast cancer.  But…good news is they got it all out in the surgery, and she thinks I might not need further treatment. Think positive! I find out next Wednesday when I meet with the oncology breast surgeon (also a woman – and also my sister Shauna’s old surgeon) if we need further treatment.

March 13 – Surgery went well

The surgery went well…my plastic surgeon Dr. Jane Patterson..WOW! Gorgeous offices, AMAZING treatment, truly a kind lady. And her receptionist even kinder!  I was a bit of a baby…they were SO NICE TO ME!!!!

March 6, 2013 – First Mastectomy (reduction)

So, I’m back in Australia again. Today’s the big day!

Instead of waiting around for more tests tests tests…I jumped the gun and I’m getting a breast reduction from a WONDERFUL plastic surgeon and at the same time get the metal clip removed that they put in during the core biopsy to “mark the spot” where the little cancer is.

29 January – Core biopsy – oh good Lord this should be illegal!

Core biopsy today. Here’s a tip…if you ever have to have a core biopsy…demand drugs. Needle biopsy isn’t horrible, but core biopsy is unbearable. My sister and my cousin Bev describe it as one of the worst experiences ever. Why can’t they give you some “lovely little pills” to help you through it. They’re arseholes. There is no reason to put someone through so much pain. It’s INSANE!

I bet if it was testicular cancer – they’d give men drugs for the procedure. Ergh! Doctors.

20 December 2012 – Last minute mammogram

After coming and going to the USA, I’m now on a 3 to 5 year plan to move permanently to the USA.

We’re packing ready to go…the Wridgeway Removalists are here packing all my things to move to America. And…while they were packing, I had to run off to Royal Women’s hospital for a mammogram to took months to get a booking.

The doctor rang and said scary words like “biopsy”.  Sounds HIDEOUS. Mammogram done. Scan done. But I have to get to America. I have contracts and bookings. No time for this.

16 Nov 2011 – My sister passed away today

Shauna Therese Kelly, passed away at 8.36am on Wednesday November 16 at the Royal Women’s Hospital. I was mean to have dinner with her Thursday, but on knowing I was coming home, and she REFUSED to let her little sister see her big buddie sick…she passed away “on her own terms” 3 or 4 hours before my plane landed to see her. That means I NEVER saw her sick in her entire lifetime…not one single day!

Shauna’s best friend from the Queensland Youth Orchestra, Helen Holt and her amazing husband Lennox Holt were at the airport to meet me with the bad news.  

All I could say was “what a bitch” (pardon language, but that’s what I said…sorry again my USA friends who hate my language). I guess that’s not the reaction her friends expected!

What I meant by saying that was I knew exactly what had happened. Euthanasia is, as in most countries, illegal. But it happens anyway. In palliative care, you’re “given the button” to control your own pain. She said to the nurse an hour prior “I can’t do this any more”, and left this earth on her terms, by her choice.

Right now I can’t even see my typing for the tears. She was everything to me. She REFUSED to let me see her sick. She taught me everything. She was my protector in our tough violent childhood with our alcoholic father.  

Dad refuses to come to the funeral because she had a boyfriend (he’s a right wing racist homophobic Catholic). What an arsehole to do that. The fact I never saw her, the fact she “died on her terms”, and now this….I can’t bear it.

April 2011 – First operation – ovaries

With my sister having breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and my darling Irene Manual (Riley) already passed from cancer, and my other cousin, dear sweet Beverly having cancer as well. And, both my parents with cancer, the doctors have recommended ovary removal to prevent me getting breast and ovarian cancer. So – if in doubt “whip em out”.

Operation not that bad – I was back at work a week later (ok wasn’t meant to be, but need the money)

January 2010 – My sister has breast & ovarian cancer

I remember the first time I heard the term “paradigm shift” – in a Stephen Covey book….it went something like this:

A father and his children were on a train & the children were really naughty, making way too much noise, while the father just sat there, doing nothing about it.  Finally a passenger…got up and told the Dad to control his kids. The father replied: I’m sorry, I didn’t notice, I’m on the way home from my wife’s funeral”.

Paradigm shift – instant shift in beliefs. As Tony Robbins would say “what else could this mean?”

So, here’s my paradigm shift…I’m lecturing in the USA, and when I rang at Christmas, my sister was quite short, and cut me off. Pretty rude I thought.

Then: Paradigm shift. Finally she rings me to tell me that not only does she have both ovarian AND breast cancer with only a few years to live at best. But, she’s been having surgery and many rounds of chemo and not telling anyone! She wasn’t rude at Christmas – she was deathly sick.

And…she says that I probably have the same genes and that I need to get tested. I’ve never cried so much in my life on a phone call. I knew, statistically, when someone dies, within 2 years their partner also dies. Mum and Shauna were “partners”, they were best buddies. OMG please don’t let it be Shauna.

12 June 2008 – Mum passed away today

After being given 4 weeks to live, Dad’s cancer is finally declared “gone” only one week ago. Then today, I get a phone call from him saying “Mum’s had a brain bleed”, and they’re operating tomorrow.

I knew straight away, at Mum’s advanced years they wouldn’t be operating, it was merely a “delay ploy” to keep her alive until we were by her side to say goodbye. Mum passed away not knowing anything. No pain. Shauna holding one hand, me holding the other and Dad praying by her feet.

She was a devout Catholic, and got exactly what she had prayed for all those years, “…now and at the hour of our death”, she just went to sleep in the arms of God. What scares me the most is that statistically her closest friend or partner is meant to die within 2 years, and Dad has had such terrible cancer.

I’m not sure I can handle another one of us going so soon!  Prayers…

2007 Dad lymphoma cancer – 4 weeks to live

Mum were Dad are packed and ready to go to Africa and Dad thinks “I’ll just get this lump checked out”, and the Doctor gives him 4 weeks to live. Huge lymphoma cancer tumour. Dreaded chemo with a brand new experimental drug…and then, the big fight.

We’re from a big Irish Catholic family – and all the ones that didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, went to bed and never swore…they’re all dead.  And the two “party animals” (and they sure were…diving off the diving tower in our back yard into the pool in freezing winter at 3am) are still with us…Uncle Peter (always my favorite Uncle) and Dad. The two bad boys are still with us..living proof: only the good die young.  

Mmmm….I’m going to live till over 100 then!

Cousin Bev Johnston (nee Manuel) – Breast Cancer

During my sister’s VERY INTENSE study of the genetics of my family, we found that all my cousins have breast cancer, including darling Bev Johnston (Manual is my mother’s name). I often feel, out on the road, on the other side of the world, alone….but, there’s something positive and good in everything…and that is: this wretched damned disease has brought me closer to my cousins. They were always there, but now even more.

Darling Cousin Irene Riley Passes

Irene was always the darling of the family. She really was never in good health. She had a lot of complicated health issues, but one of them breast cancer. Poor darling really suffered trailing her oxygen tank with her everywhere. Ray Riley, her beloved husband, is one of my family’s stalwarts. He and cousin Ray Manuel and the two “patriachs” of my mother’s family.