Things slowed down

There’s another side to illness. The heightened thoughts and stand backness from the normal day runnings of life; observing without the fast rush of ‘get there’ adrenalin; the comings and goings are slowed down, so you notice where your feet fall.

Or, as Virginia Woolf said:

“Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual
change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go
down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what
wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to
view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little
rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are
uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of
death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and
wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of angels and the
harpers when we have a tooth out and come the surface in the
dentist’s arm-chair and confuse his “Rinse the mouth-rinse the
mouth” with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of
Heaven to welcome us – when we think of this, as we are so
frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness
has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the
prime themes of literature.”

(On Being Ill is an essay by Virginia Woolf  that appeared in T.S.Eliot’s New Criterion in January, 1926).

The Australian ‘I’m young, but breast check saved me’

September 8, 2009 article on Breast Cancer and BreastScreen Australia’s decision to restrict the age of free screens.

The Australian Article

The Australian Article2

Janine, from Choices, contacted me asking if I would not mind giving an interview about my experience of getting breast cancer young and my opinion on the decision to restrict free screening to women 45-75 years. I said, ‘Okay’, and the rest is written in this article. I’m not appalled as it says, rather, I think there should be a focus on women under 45years getting tested as well. I don’t want BreastScreen Australia buckling under the pressure of getting all the women on their waiting list tested. Just, younger women wanting to get checked should get a decent medicare rebate for doing so. My regular ultrasound check, plus a diagnostic mammogram and needle biopsy cost approx. $1000. After the medicare rebate I paid approx.$250-300 out of pocket.

Its funny how things roll. The day this article came out Peter Maher from 3AW wanted to interview me about my opinion. So, I did the interview. It was on September 8th at 4pm. I can’t find a podcast to put here – sorry. You can hear Felix in the background. Peter Maher made some comments about his strong voice being good for radio when he’s older (you know the kind of familiar, jokey tone radio presenter thing).

N.B//The white ladders in the photo are used for training beans and tomatoes up them. I’m very pleased with how lovely our garden looks. I’m wearing the illustrous ‘Tiana’.

If you want to read a more legible version of The Australian article follow this link:,25197,26041544-2702,00.html

Not the same

Not the same (Dorothy Porter)

When you climb

out of a black well

you are not the same


you come to

in the blue air

with a long sore scar

circling your chest

like the shoreline

of a deep new sea


your hands are webbed

inviting you

to trust yourself

in water stranger

and wilder

than you’ve ever known


your heart has a kick

your eyes have

a different bite

you have emerged

from some dark wonder

you can’t explain


you are not the same


A book length memoir could have the same weight as this poem; what more can I say? Porter captures my feelings precisely about this breast cancer experience.

Folks, what a ride it’s been. I thought it would go smoothly like last time. Alas, the last chemo week went rather awry. In summary: I was intensely nauseous with a bit of a virus for five days. Brett (partner) and Felix (son) got the Norovirus the day after my last chemotherapy session. They were really ill. Felix was hospitalised on the Tuesday for a few days.

Our friends from over the border Sara and Ian were with us for the four days after chemo. They did the night shift with Felix, so Brett and I could rest. But, by the time the virus really kicked in we were up like ghouls of the strange bumping around the house throughout the entire night. Brett was in the toilet, bent over. I tried to help him by getting some water; so I tiptoed into the kitchen to get a glass, as Sara was asleep in the dining room. I fumbled around in the cupboard; and smashed a champagne glass on the floor. Sara was up now. Then, Ian was up changing Felix’s diarrhoea nappies. So, of course Felix was up. He had a fever, was projectile vomiting like his father and crotchety. When Felix is tired or not happy he rubs at his eyes and the tape on his face (which holds his tube in); he pulled part of his tube out. So all four adults were up with the Felix settling him, putting his tube back down, fixing his tape and checking that both Brett and Felix weren’t getting worse. Later on when Sara and Ian returned home they too got the norovirus, Ian got the worst of it as he’d done a lot of the nappy changes. Pooh!