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!

7 comments on “Not the same

  1. chrisbongers says:

    That poem is so true, but oh Josie, what a terrible week you have had. Everyone in our family, bar me, had the Noro in June. But we had no chemo and no drip feed to contend with at the same time. If there is anything I can do, let me know. Even if it’s just a visit or a chat, or to sit with Felix for an hour or two, so you can go out. Let me know. xx

  2. Julian Devery says:

    Dear Josie
    A long lost hello from the deep south…
    I caught up with Mo and Geoff L in nati a few months back and asked after you…I got the married, child and brisbane update…(nice going – congratulations x2)…but hearing about your misadventures with oncology was reserved for the Australian online just now…Had a quick squiz at your blog and I’m impressed – not about your difficulties of course, but by the poise with which you’ve gone about your business so far. Sounds rather like someone climbing out of a black well, and climbing in good style. And that’s the JD I remember….All the very best with the coming months…

    • Josie Dietrich's breast blog says:

      Dear Julian,

      It was lovely to hear your voice (via the ether). Brett and I aren’t married (but as good as), and our son is Felix (19 months) and yep we live in Brisbane (really like it). Thank you so much for your words last year – really nice to read. I had a double mastectomy immediate reconstruction on 1st February. So now I’m a bit swollen and sore, but doing well. My pathology came back cancer free (on tissue taken) – YES. And on I go …

      What of you and life? I remember you were well on your way to becoming a lawyer. Not sure if you still climb – assume you do if you caught up with Mo and Geoff. Would love to hear what you’ve been up to. Cheers, Josie .

    • Josie Dietrich's breast blog says:

      I was shouting at the TV when you appeared on who wants to be a millionaire? You were doing so well. I liked the sound of your plans for growing truffles. Josie.

  3. chrisbongers says:

    PS Good article in the Australian this morning. Well done, you. xx

  4. Angela says:

    josie- you’re such a courageous young woman! i know you’ll beat this thing. thinking of you all lots and lots- your fabulous sense of humour is heartwarming.

    we love you xxxxx

  5. Carly-Jay says:

    My god. No wonder you’ve been so quiet. What you’ve described sounds horrendous. Your poor little man (and poor big man, Brett) – he is such a little trouper and a massive cutie – just like his Mum. You really are dealng with your experience and journey in such a gracious and dignified way. You inspire me and make me want to be a better person. I concur with Chris, too – the article in the ‘Strayan was great. I can also do some Felix shifts when you want to have a rest. You know where I am. Know also that I love you xoxo

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