This Sunday 13 May is a big day.
This Sunday is special because it is Mother’s Day and I am blessed to still have my Mum after coming so close to that not being the case 5.5 years ago.
This Sunday is also my 37th birthday – I am looking forward to it. Though, apparently women experience the most life dissatisfaction at 37… last week I believed that could be true given recent struggles for me, but that is perhaps another post for another time beause that navel-gazing-where-is-my-life-heading internal stuff seems like total bullshit as I sit down to get my current thoughts on to ‘paper’!
This Sunday is also the Mother’s Day Classic Fun Run in Brisbane, and the first time I will enter it. Last year though fit enough, I could not face it. Prior to that I was sedentary & severely obese… would not have even walked it.
All of that pales into insignificance compared to the main reason that this Sunday 13 May is special.
This Sunday 13 May marks 1 year to the day that my Aunty Vicki had surgery for 3 very aggressive breast cancers. Vicki is not just any old Aunt (I was blessed with 6 amazing Aunties) but my childhood “Party Aunt” (The title in our family reserved for the young, cool Aunts! Hehe) as she was just 13 when I was born. The Big Sister I never had who became one of my closest friends as I grew up and that age gap between us seemed to close. We’ve never gone too long without seeing one another – even lived across the road from her for years as an adult and growing up she virtually lived with us as my Mum and she are the closest you could imagine sisters ever to be.
1 year & 1 week ago we were with her when the diagnosis was given. It happened within a matter of hours from the visit to the GP through to the results from the biopsy being in.
1 year ago this weekend I celebrated my birthday in a fairly sombre fashion with her 3 children, husband and the rest of our family at my parents place while Vicki lay in the Mater Hospital recovering from surgery. The kids baked me a cake and we played Cluedo ’til late. We were working so hard to keep things as normal as possible for the children but f**k – there’s nothing normal about what happens to an indivdual and their family when cancer is diagnosed and the outcome looks grim.
We were scared – terrified. We were sad – it just did not seem fair. It was off the back of some really rough years for our extended family, in the face of still dealing with some grief and incredibly stressful happenings. We were angry… exhausted. And just so very sad… for Vicki, for her children, her husband and for all of us. When you are as close as we with lives so closely intertwined then when something like this that rocks the family to the core has such a far reaching affect. In a word, we were shattered.
1 year on after aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, Vicki is doing incredible well. Cancer free and very quickly has found herself with the most awesome, curly and healthy head of hair! The hormone therapy and follow up will continue for some time yet but it’s a bonus that the tumour type she had will respond to those therapies.
So… this Sunday is a really special and significant day. There’s been a lot of tears in the last 12 months - we have cried a lot as a family. Last year the amazing Kath Jones dedicated her Mother’s Day Classic run in part to Vicki and posted about it here (The excerpt Kath wrote about the km she dedicated to Vicki and our family is pasted at the end of those post). It was all too raw for me last year. I knew I could not keep it together and do the fun run. Plus, as a family we were focussed fully on giving all the practical as well as emoitonal support to Vicki and everyone involved.
This Sunday is a day of celebration.
This Sunday is a day of thankfulness and appreciation.
This Sunday I plan to wake up and forgo a birthday sleep in. I will put on my running shoes. I will get ridiculously dressed up in an over the top hot pink tutu, tiara and whatever other crazy gear I can find and I will head to Southbank to join all of the amazing 12WBT Queensland Crew who will be running / walking (in tutus & tiaras!). I will not be sad. I will be celebrating how this last 12 months has turned out. I will be thinking of the future. I will be doing my bit to Kick Cancer’s Arse.
Then I’ll head off to celebrate Mother’s Day and my birthday with one side of the family for brunch and the other side of the family for dinner. At brunch I’ll be thankful to have my Grandma here for another Mother’s Day and grateful that she rallied and beat the odds a few months ago. At dinner I will see my immediate family plus Vicki and her husband and the kids. We’ll no doubt just look at one another and go “Can you believe what a difference 12 months makes? Did you think we would get to this point?“. We’ve been saying that a fair bit lately given the 1 year anniversary of the diagnosis was last week.
Vicki has recounted to me that after the diagnosis she sat outside the hospital and said to her husband “How are we going to get through this? HOW?!” To which he replied “We will. We can do anything.” And they have. We all have this last 12 months.
Apart from having Vicki with us, cancer free and healthy as a horse, we have watched 3 of the most mature and resilient little children deal with this with grace and maturity you would not see in many adults. That’s testament to our family’s strength and spirit. I look at those children and know that just like their parents & other members of my incredibly strong family, they can do anything.
Holding on. Pulling together. Knowing that one way or another you will find the way through. Sometimes that is all you have… and it is definitely all you need.