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’ 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

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.


Dear Cancer…

“Dear Cancer, You’re a selfish needy jerk. I already told you it’s over on 4 separate occasions so please can you seriously just bugger off, nobody likes you anyway. It’s been 24 years I think now since we first met, and I’ve got to say you’ve been a jerk since day one. You took my father from me, you made me ill and scared for my life, you made me lose my hair and made me lose weight until I was the weight of a small child. You even started taking my body parts. You’ve ruined relationships that I could have been successful in if it weren’t for you. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t do anything with you in my life. My friends hate you, I hate you, my cat even hates you. Shrivel up now and disappear for good. I can’t keep having to go to all this effort to get you out of my life every few years. I’m already scarred enough as it is. You’re not welcome back!!! Unaffectionately yours, your(trying to be) ex girlfriend, Jacqueline :b hah”

This is a little exert I posted on “I had” 
A site that is helping provide support and awareness for the young adult demographic who have gone or are going through cancer and for those caring for someone affected by this seriously shitty illness.

I figured cancer ends up being like a bit of a toxic relationship that you can’t get out of so why not talk about it as such. One thing I probably should add though is although my soon to be Ex has caused me so much drama, pain and disarray in my life, he has also taught me to be even more kind, even more empathetic and understanding.
I’m probably there more than I need to be for people sometimes and give far too many chances, but I understand the concept of finality and having your last moments with someone. I understand people make mistakes and half the time have no idea what they’re really even doing & most of us a scared sh#tless. I know that sometimes we don’t get to have a second chance with someone no matter how much we wish for it. Cancer can take and take until one day there is nothing left, and so is true for normal life’s struggles. I feel more comfortable giving more of myself each day to others than I do giving less to protect myself and one day discover that that moment I chose not to give back just happened to be my last day to every be with that person again. Life is so fleeting, we really don’t have time for such hatred and selfishness in our lives. Give love no matter what and watch the world change. Giving love can never truly end in disappointment if it’s genuine.
I’ve had to learn this all the hard way, through cancers aftermath and losing a dear friend to suicide. Just know we’re all way more vulnerable than people let on. The tough guy mentality is sometimes just a shield to protect him from his pain. Give love always x

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