Monthly Archives: June 2017

The anxiety of moving forward

2015 was, among other things, the year of the house hunt for me.  I had been diligently saving my hard earned lawyer pennies and looking for the perfect house to buy.  I had very specific requirements, for example, I wanted an old house which had:

  • wooden floor boards throughout;
  • high ceilings, preferably with some decorative detail;
  • at least two decent sized bedrooms with another room for a study;
  • a kitchen sink under a window (who likes to stare at a wall when they’re washing the dishes?);
  • good bones that could be spruced up, without any real structural renovations required; and
  • the right price tag, within 8km of the city.

I really wanted to buy in Wembley, but after months of searching and finding nothing in my price range, I gave up.  In fact, after about six months of endless scrolling through realestate.com I gave up altogether.   Then one day, after a scrolling hiatus of a few months, I was eating lunch at my desk at work when I jumped online just to have a look and see what was around.  Encouraged by an ultrasound of my (then) suspect lump which (allegedly) revealed I only had a cyst, I thought it was the right time to see what was out there.

Much to my surprise, there was a perfect little house, in Wembley.  BUT, the price was definitely not right.  About $80,000 more than what I was looking to spend.  Still, buoyed by the fact that the house had failed to sell at auction, something told me that I needed to see this house.  It was OFI the next evening.  I had a mediation the day of the OFI and around 4.30pm I was getting a bit antsy.  I told the partner that I really needed the mediation to wrap up because I had to go and see a house that evening.  He was most confused, largely because I never left work early but also because although I had been talking about buying a house for many months, I had never attended a home open during the week.

But, attend I did.  I loved it.  It needed some serious TLC and a whole new kitchen and bathroom, but that wouldn’t stop me.  I flew to Melbourne the next morning for an awards evening for work and on my return on Sunday, I made an offer.  I made that offer in November 2015.  The settlement of the house occurred in late January 2016.  And then I was diagnosed.  All my plans to renovate and move into said little house flew out the window.  The house got a bit of a facelift and then was to be rented.  Luckily, it rented easily and I am grateful that I have good tenants who love living in my house.

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Here’s the thing.  I was supposed to live there.  As much as I love my Mum and my sister, it was time to move out.  Well, here we are 16 months after diagnosis.  I’m still living at home and my little house is still rented.

So many things, including my income, have changed since I bought the house, but I still want to renovate and live there.  I made the decision that if my tenants were taking a holiday any time this year, I’d tackle the bathroom as a first small step toward realising that goal.  Planning the renovation required me, however, to go back to the house and measure the (little) bathroom and (even littler) powder room.  Well, cue the anxiety.  The thought of living there or renovating can sometimes overwhelm me.  I can’t even explain it.  But the house represents so much of what was lost in the midst of treatment and recovery and it also scares me a little to do anything with it, given the timing of events last year.  I don’t like to think of the what-if’s, but sometimes its inevitable that they creep into my thoughts.

But, there’s a little quote that always sticks in my mind, ‘forward is forward no matter the speed’.  So today, I’m going tile shopping.  The bathroom reno is happening in September.  Time to start moving forward.

Krissy xx

Foob* time

*Foob = fake boob

After many months of umming and arghing about whether to have a breast reconstruction, on 19 May, I bit the bullet and had my surgery.  I was so apprehensive about the surgery and really worried about the recovery, but as it, thankfully, turns out, I really had nothing to be worried about.

I put my ‘foobs’ (fake boobs) in the safe hands of Dr Mark Lee.  My prophylactic right breast mastectomy was in the safe surgical hands of my breast surgeon, Corinne Jones.  Corinne and Mark would work together to perform the surgery, which it was anticipated would take 3 to 4 hours.

I saw Mark the night before my surgery and he draw his surgical markings on me.  I then checked myself in to hospital to get ready for the surgery.  I was wheeled in to theatre at about 7.15am the next morning and about three hours later, I was in recovery.  In between, Corinne removed my right breast and Mark then performed a breast reconstruction using my lat dorsi muscle.  Once he had dissected that muscle and used it to form a shelf for my new foobs, tissue expanders were inserted and stage 1 of the reconstruction was complete.

An excellent pain pump (which pumped me with fentanyl) ensured that I really wasn’t in any pain for the first few days.  Nerve blockers and oral pain killers have taken care of me since then. As always, the care of the nurses at St John of God was wonderful.  And, I was lucky to have my family visiting and bringing me (edible) food.  They also filled my room with beautiful blooms, which brightened my abode right up.

I’m now two weeks post surgery and recovering well at home.  I’m still bruised on my left side (my radiated tissue and muscles didn’t play quite as nicely as everyone might have like during surgery), a little sore and I’ve got restricted movement. I still can’t drive, but I’ve just started going on walks again and I’m looking forward to these very foreign lumps on my chest starting to feel a little more normal.  In that regard, I must say, these reconstructed boobs (foobs) really do feel very strange.  It’s kind of like someone strapped two rocks into a very tight bra on my chest and told me to carry on as normal.  I have been told that after surgery 2 it’ll all feel softer and more normal.  In the meantime, I’m going to be expanding my foobs using a little remote control to get them to a desirable size… watch this space. I pick up the remote on Thursday.

Just before I was going to publish this post, I took a little insta break.  As I scrolled through my feed I saw a post by a friend I’ve made in the support group I attend at Breast Cancer Care WA (_justpeachey).  The post was about another one of the young women in the group, Jess.  Jess is 30 and has two kids. She always sticks in my mind because she bravely decided to have a double mastectomy without reconstruction.  And just at the end of last year she got a new job and felt like her life was back on track. Then, earlier this year her cancer returned. Metastasized to her brain.  I can tell you right now, it’s every breast cancer survivors biggest fear/ nightmare that the cancer will metastasize.  There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer.  My heart breaks for Jess and her family.  If you have a spare dollar or two, you can donate here (and read her story) to ease the financial strain on Jess’s family.  Please keep Jess and her family in your prayers, her oncologist has said she’s only got months to live.

I thought long and hard about whether to bring Jess’s story up in this post. But with the news of Olivia Newton John’s cancer metastasizing recently, I thought it was only right to do so.  Breast cancer is a shitty cancer. We can be positive, exercise, eat well, do all the right things and that may still not be enough.  This disease isn’t all pink ribbons and fake books. If it returns and metastasises, it is a killer.  And in my opinion the more research dollars we can pour into understanding how to cure metastastic breast cancer the better.  That way, we can have conversations about survival rates beyond five years and take this very real fear off the plate of breast cancer survivors.

It’s a long weekend here in Perth.  I’m planning to spend some time outside and soak up the sunshine. Bon weekend to you all.

Krissy x