Monthly Archives: June 2016

N O R M A L

This week, I have mostly felt normal.  I never knew that it would be a celebration to feel normal, but there you go.*  Because I’ve been feeling normal I’ve been getting out and about.  There was an enjo party, countless walks, drinks with my (work) team at Elizabeth Quay and two trips to the cinema.  Two very different cinematic experiences.  Let me tell you about them.

Chasing_Asylum_1Last Sunday I went and saw Chasing Asylum.  A documentary by Eva Orner which gives an insight into the detention centres run by the Australian government on Manus Island and in Nauru.  I confess that over the years, I probably haven’t thought that critically about the ‘Turn back the boats’ policy (Policy) that has been employed to deter people from getting on boats to come to our shores and to break down the people smugglers businesses.  What Chasing Asylum highlights, particularly well, is the human face of the Policy.  The refugees and asylum seekers who are living in the dreadful detention centres, places that seem worse than prison.  Seems strange that we put people seeking asylum, a lawful human right, into these God awful places.  But then, as the pollies explain, it’s all in the name of deterrence.  I can understand the idea behind deterrence – make it so awful no one would ever consider getting on a boat to come to this country.  But, surely if watching a documentary about detention centres can move pretty much an entire cinema to tears, we must question the cost of the Policy.  Certainly Chasing Asylum has caused me to think about it.  Did you know:

  • Australia is the only country in the world to indefinitely detain children?
  • Australia took 12,000 Syrian refugees last year, Germany took 1 million.
  • Australia launched air strikes on Syria on the same day that it announced it would take 12,000 Syrian refugees.
  • It costs about $500,000 per year per asylum seeker/ refugee to keep people in detention in Nauru and Manus – that about $1.2 billion per year.
  • In comparison, to allow asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs about $12,000.
  • Detention centres are dirty, people self harm regularly, there have been reports of torture.

You get the picture. Well, if you don’t, I did.  But in the end, after trying to really think about how the Policy could be better, it’s been difficult to come up with much.  How do you deter people smugglers while humanely processing refugees?  Do/ should our questions even end there?  No.  Are we doing enough as a country?  There are more displaced people in the world than there were after world war 2.  And yet, our response as a nation is turn back the boats.  I wonder if in 50 or 100 years kids will be reading about this time in their history books and wondering how as a nation we could have done so little for those looking for safer shores… Chasing Asylum – it will certainly give you a few things to think about.  And if you’re like me, shed a tear or two. It also helps put things into perspective. This week I have been celebrating feeling normal again. But, for the people stuck on Nauru and Manus Island, I wonder if they will ever feel normal again? It’s not hard to imagine that the damage and harm being in detention is doing to these people will leave a life long impact. They may never feel normal again. I on the other hand will. So, I am grateful.  

Me_Before_You_(film)My second cinematic experience this week was watching Me Before You.  You will have seen the shorts for it.  It’s about a man, Will, who gets hit by a motorbike, ends up and quadriplegic, falls in love with his carer, Lou, and decides that he wants an assisted death because he just can’t live as a quadriplegic.  I actually found it quite a lovely movie.  I have read all the critical reviews about how the movie (and indeed the book on which the movie is based) perpetuates a number of negative stereotypes and glorifies what is, in effect, suicide and makes it seem like the only option for quadriplegics is to end things.  And there is something to them.  But as someone who has been slapped with sickness this year, it wasn’t the end of the movie that resonated with me, but rather little things throughout the film.  For example, at a particular point in the movie Will goes to a Beethoven concert and when the night ends, he tells Lou that he doesn’t want to go inside (to his house)  because for just a few moments he just wants to be the guy on a date with the girl in the red dress.  And that, I can completely understand.  No one wants to be defined by disability/ illness/ paraplegia.  And, if you happen to be sick in any way, there are always times when you want to shake it off and be normal, if only just for a moment.

I guess the theme of this weeks blog is ‘normality’. I never realised how important it would be to me to feel normal. To feel like just me. But, now that I do, I will never take it for granted again.

Happy Sunday to everyone.  I’ll be enjoying another glorious day before chemo # 5 next week.

Krissy xx

* Incidentally, when I was looking for a cover image for this post, a quick google of ‘normal’ quotes revealed that most quotes are about normal being boring and awful. Pfft.  The quote authors have obviously never had chemo, because normal is actually pretty amazing.

 

The excitement of turning the corner

After a round of chemo, I am always waiting to ‘turn the corner’.

I didn’t quite know when that would be this round because docetaxel had such different side effects to FEC.  Tuesday was the day though.  After having to cancel all my long weekend plans (another long weekend lost to chemo) and spending the best part of Saturday, Sunday and Monday resting/ comatose on the couch with aching bones, I woke up on Tuesday feeling so much better.  I managed to leave the house for the first time and get back into the kitchen, which is always a sure fire sign that I’m feeling better.

Once I’ve turned the corner, there are still things that linger to remind me that I’ve just had a fair dose of toxic chemicals injected into me.  This time around those reminders are things like a super dry mouth and throat, terribly interrupted sleep at night, the ever persistent hot flushes (particularly at night), super dry skin and some general tiredness and crankiness.  Definitely no picnic, but tolerable.  I have little things I do to help overcome all the problems of chemo, but I rarely share tips, so I thought I’d give you a few:

  • to fix a dry mouth – I brush my teeth at least three times a day and rinse with Oral 7, which was recommended by my dentist;
  • to try and get a better nights sleep – I try and exercise, mostly just a walk, most days to make myself physically tired and having a herbal tea before bed is always a good idea;
  • to combat the hot flushes – well to be honest not much helps, but layering and taking vitamin e supplements goes some way to making things cooler;
  • to keep dry skin at bay – moisturise, moisturise, moisturise using a heavy, scent free moisturiser like a vitamin e cream available at pharmacies;
  • to feel less nauseous – the only thing that really works for me is carbohydrates like toast and hot chips (I often compare myself to a pregnant woman that is having cravings!); and
  • to fix everything else – just walk and keep on walking! It’s good for bones, general fitness and to help with the ever dreaded nausea and fatigue.

For me, in addition to all the little things I do, a big part of feeling ‘normal’ is making my face and head look ‘normal’.  People are always absolutely gob smacked when they meet me to find out that I’m currently having treatment.  People often tell me that I don’t look sick at all.  And while that really is quite the compliment, there’s a lot that goes in to looking ‘normal’ everyday.

First of all, I’m lucky to have a fabulous wig.  It fools so many who think I’ve just had a nice blow dry.  The wig is a big part of looking normal.  But when I’m not in my wig, I usually wear a yankees cap (to compliment my ‘activewear’ look) or one of a number of turbans/ beanies I’ve collected.  Here’s me from no make-up no hair to ‘normal’.

And, here I am in a selection of other ‘looks’.

With the head covered, lets talk about make up.  For me, my hourglass eyebrow pencil is the ultimate in face pick me ups.  My eyebrows are not all lost, but I have far, far less eyebrows than before.  The hourglass eye pencil fills in my brows and frames my face.  It even fooled my surgeon who told me I could have a job as a makeup artist in my next life.  Unlikely, but thanks Corinne.  Add eyeliner, powder, bronzer and blush and I go from pale to golden glow in no time.  Here are some of the products I love to use.

Finally, a big part of turning the corner is the ability to get back to exercising.  I know I bang on about its benefits quite a bit, but if you watched that episode of Catalyst which explored the current trial being conducted in Perth into how targeted exercise can help fight cancer, you would understand.  Didn’t see that episode?  You can watch it here.  Anyway, after my last blog post one of my cousins suggested I see an exercise physiologist.  So, off I went to the Functional Rehabilitation Clinic in Shenton Park.  I’d like to tell you that the exercise physiologist told me something I didn’t already know, but it was more a confirmation of what I already know.  Weight bearing exercise is best, particularly walking.  Things like netball and basketball are good too.  After a quick chat we got stuck in to some exercise – mostly legs for the first session, but I’m back on Tuesday so I’ll be sure to share any other pearls of wisdom with you all.  I’m going to build a program of targeted exercises to add to my walking.  Should be fun.

Somehow it’s Friday again, so wishing everyone a fab weekend.

Krissy xx

 

 

 

 

Doceblahxel

I knew that switching from FEC to docetaxel would mean a different reaction to this round of chemo.  And, different it has been.

I am not usually one to complain, but I don’t really like docetaxel.

I feel exhausted, like really exhausted.  And achy.  Every bone in my body is aching.  There is no relief.  Shower, doesn’t help.  Drugs, don’t help.  Eating, doesn’t help. BLAH.

I am also, as always, emotional and a bit agitated.  Just call me waterworks.

So, here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day.  To less exhaustion, less aches and less general pains.  To feeling like myself again…

Hoping that everyone is having a much lovelier Saturday evening than me!  And, if you’re not, plan something nice for Sunday (or Monday if you’re in WA and enjoying the long weekend).

Krissy xx