To Nicole, thanks for caring…

I was literally thinking in my head f#ck Sydney. I stared down at the two ripped paper bags that once held my heavy groceries sprawled out on the pavement and the tomato can that was rolling hurriedly out onto the road into oncoming traffic. I had had enough, I was exhausted both mentally and physically from mostly people being dicks to me and having had the recent experience of the ghost from x’s past swirling around my head. I gave in threw my hands up in the air as people walked by and watched me as I mouthed f#ck my life quietly to myself. It’s funny how when everything seems to go wrong in one day, your mind fabulously brings up every issue from your past. Soon my thoughts were reminiscing 4 cancers, a few deaths, losses and just a struggle street life that was dragging me down even further or maybe that had been on repeat this whole week anyway.

I finally with much struggle, managed to scrunch up the torn bags and empty everything from the three bags into one and a tiny backpack. I carried the final bag tenderly trying not to spill the precious yet now dented cargo and proceeded to cross the street. I was done with Sydney, I was done with people that just take from me, I was just done and embarrassingly enough to say was even fantasising necking myself so I didn’t have to wake up for a following day of life’s bullsh#t. Just then as I totally had it all decided on, I see a figure in the dark walking towards me shaking a plastic bag around. At a second glance she was waving it right at me and smiling. She said she’d seen me and the epic bag failure and had run down to the dry cleaners to pick up a plastic bag for me. Omg tears welled in my eyes that I managed to fight back (at least in her presence), I was so stupidly grateful you just can’t even put it into words how grateful I was. Even though I was kind of back on my feet and moving, just the idea of someone, a complete stranger, caring enough to do this for me made me lose it and get all emotional. Her name was Nicole and I’m assuming lived in the Bondi area.

I just wanted to write this little snippet to say a massive thank you once again and to highlight the fact that you truly just never know what a small act of kindness could do for someone, something even deeper than the act itself would seemingly have the power of doing. She was a serious angel sent down in that moment, and I know it sounds over the top to say that and make such a big deal. But it literally saved me on a deeper level than just broken paper bags and groceries. Life is super strange. If you can, always always show compassion. We’re all in this together and kindness doesn’t cost a cent xoxox

Chatting to strangers…

I just met the most lovely woman while at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre. She was a carer and also had a son that was a carer. She was helping her friend through her session at the cancer centre who had no family to support her, and was told her friend will likely die in the next couple of weeks from an inoperable brain tumour. She said she wasn’t used to being around so many sick people all of the time. She was exhausted, stressed and was also worried about her son who is helping a friend who had become a quadriplegic in the last year. He has been refusing treatments and has become suicidal. She’s giving and giving, and worried about everyone else. I stopped and said to her “but what about you?” Although she didn’t fully acknowledge what I said, her eyes welled with tears as she stoically tried to smile through & laugh off the comment.

So many people in the world right now just have no concept of how good they have it. They have their health, they have the ability to use their limbs, to love and be loved, to choose whatever they wish to do with their day instead of being chained to a hospital waiting room for months on end. They have family who support them and never have to truly feel alone. Please choose wisely when you decide how to spend your day today. Fill it with love, not resentment or hatred. Be open and in doing so maybe make someone else’s day a little brighter. You truly never know the pain someone else is going through from a first glance. Even as I write this I have to remind myself of this thought & pull myself back up out of a depression & down week.

Keep rising xoxo

My Insight SBS article on youth cancer survival…my life stripped bare

For me, my cancer journey has been a life long ordeal. After losing my father to Leukaemia at age nine, a month later I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

I have always called it my “sympathy cancer”, as I believe it was the stress of losing my father that caused my initial illness. At the time I thought I wouldn’t survive, as the only experience I had ever had with cancer was through my father. All I knew of it was that it was unforgiving, made you so ill that you could barely stand and it eventually would take your life.

But I got through the treatment and after a year I was back at school and recovering quite well. I never thought I would get cancer again. But then at age 24 I heard those words once more. I was a singer, model and designer and again my world came to a screeching halt.

It was cancer, a Wilm’s tumour. I knew it would be months of vomiting and being frail, marking off the days until treatment ended. Unfortunately it was much worse than I’d imagined and at my lowest weight I went down to a tiny 36kg from my initial 55kg. I fatigued walking only a few metres and would get weekly blood transfusions as the treatment started to take its toll. My heart would pound from exhaustion. I had had my kidney removed, started chemo and radiation all at once and ended up with blood clots in my lungs, lost all my hair and had other complications.

I felt completely isolated seeing only my boyfriend at the time,my mother and the hospital staff for many months on end. I needed help dressing, washing, cooking and cleaning. My independence was completely taken from me and eventually it would be the catalyst that would end my relationship.

It was the most trying time physically, emotionally and financially, yet it wasn’t until my final day of treatment came around that the depression and anxiety really began. Cancer is not like a cold or broken leg where you go through your recovery and think nothing more of it. This cancer took from me long after the signs were no longer visible to the outside world. I think while I was going through the hell of it all, I had a purpose and would try to help patients around me not doing so well. But when it finished I felt lost, depressed, alone and different – like an outsider in my own life, bare & exposed. It had caused social anxieties to develop and everything I once found easy had become more of a chore.

But again, now taking almost seven years to recover to an acceptable level, I did finally make it through but with a lot of effort. I was tired, but eventually glad I made it back to health.

I wasn’t as confident now in the thought that I would never get cancer again but I was 80% sure. Again my confidence was shaken and I received a diagnosis after eight years in the clear, I was 32. I had just finished a psychology degree that I chose to begin after my second cancer. I had wanted to help other cancer patients as much as I could after having experienced the unique issues young people go through with this awful illness.

This time it was thyroid cancer.After two surgeries and some radiation treatment,I thought I was in the clear again but unfortunately they hadn’t gotten everything. Within six months I was back in surgery and had all my lymph nodes on one side of my neck removed.

Today, I don’t know if I’ll ever get ill again, or if I’m 100% in the clear but what I do know is that life is so short and fleeting. We need to make the most of every moment we can. Sometimes we don’t get second chances. I’m so grateful to still be standing after all that I have been through.

I am now an advocate for ‘You Can’ a youth cancer organisation for 16-30 year-olds going through cancer and also support young people through an online platform called ‘I had cancer.com’ developed by ‘You can connect’.

It is so important to have someone to speak to and often in these times it can be hard or impossible to find others that truly understand. If anyone you know has been through or is going through cancer or is looking after someone who needs a little social support please suggest CanTeen or www.Ihadcancer.com

I hope one day cancer is a thing of the past, but until then we need to support each other and invest in research, not only for cures, but also for improving outcomes for long-term health complications after these aggressive treatments.

I will be a guest on Insight on Tuesday 20 February at 8.30pm on SBS, which explores how young people get on with life after cancer.

#InsightSBS

No assumptions…

I’m starting to believe that assumption can be found at the root of every relationship break down. I’ve had so many friends currently going through relationship issues and it seems when you really start exploring the common thread that shows up again and again it’s that some kind of assumption was made by one or both people before it started turning south. It’s our nature to do this as we think we’re saving time or understand something more fully than we really do. More often than not though, what we assume of someone else is nothing like the reality & we actually create disconnection & sometimes fall out with people for the wrong reasons (if only we knew at the time)

Good communication is such a necessary component to any relationship, be it friendship or romantic. We just need to learn how to be open, and to never assume anything until it’s actually directly said & clarified. It’s a very active way of existing and takes work but in the end I think this would save far more time than continuing on both seemingly together but in different head spaces. Both in a parallel but not truly connected fashion, always guessing away at the situations that arise.

We’ve seemed to have lost our ability to talk to one another these days & to be excited about actually getting to know how someone works. If they don’t match us exactly we run a mile. We don’t all have to be the same, it will never fully happen like that.

We just have to appreciate and accept how other people think and feel and consider this with our next interaction. We must also consider our biases and influences & how that feeds into these assumptions. I.e. If someone is attractive people sometimes assume they could be superficial or mean etc. Know that we will never be exactly the same as one another with how we experience and understand things. Falling in love though sometimes we just assume the other person is on the exact same page, it’s that feeling of oneness. Such an unhelpful & sometimes flawed thought to have, unless it’s genuinely true.

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