Thursday, 29 September 2011

My Friends Are So Legit

My friends. Wow. Oh Wow.

They are actually so amazing! I do not understand what I did to deserve these children! My friends Harriet and Kat have decided to go insane and shave their hair to match me. This is a really kind gesture and on top of this they have decided to raise money for the Malaghan Institute of medical research. If you want to donate they have set up online donations.

The reason I bother to mention this is I think cancer research is important because so many people are affected by this but because I cut my hair on Tuesday.

My hair is slowly coming out and I decided it was rather annoying having this long hair so I went and got it cut! It is now short. I will probably add in a photo later in this blog but the thing that is interesting is the way people look at you.

I didn't end up being able to go to the Scots ball which sucked. I made my boyfriend a complete loner. Poor child was MC of the ball and had to turn up dateless. How the child puts up with me, I truly have no idea.

So I decided that there was no way I could make my parents buy me this stunning Juliet Hogan dress and not wear it anywhere so I dressed up and hence these photos!!! Then I made Pan dress up in a suit and off we trotted to a restaurant called Ancestral.

It was soooo yummy! The food is actually delicious and I had great company but the thing I noticed were some of the other people in the restaurant looking at us a little oddly, almost questioning why two teenagers were dressed up so nicely and at a restaurant. However, I had a lovely night and it didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

It's interesting though because my new haircut, although for me its very practical, is very unusual for a girl who is interested in guys to have a short hair cut at this age. As my brother says, my hair screams lesbian and I think it's stupid.

People judge so much about a person on their looks. I guess thats why uniform is so good. I wonder if that judgement based on appearance will ever be redundant but I don't think so. People judge so much based on appearance which is odd as this is something we have very little control over.

The way we appear says a lot about us. There is a reason why goths dress in a particular way. Its because we feel we can convey meaning through what we look like but then we get pissed off when people assume inappropriately or incorrectly.

Life is soo odd.

Today I went up to Auckland and met with my surgeon and discussed my operation. I am going to have a bone graph on my knee and the surgeon is going to try and save my knee articular surface. In normal language, its the area where the Femur and Tibia meet.

This is going to be amazing because this means that ideally if this works I will not have to have a knee replacement at a later date!! However it is going to suck. BIG TIME. This is because when then the tumor is taken out, they will have to replace the bone with dead guy bone.

Now dead guy bone is great but it wont attach itself to my bone while I am on chemo. This means that my leg will not be able to have any weight on it for about nine months (if not longer) after surgery. How lame is that?

However, after this I did some great retail therapy and got a lovely maxi dress (to hide this brace I have to wear because apparently my knee is weak and prone to breaking and if it breaks there is high chance they have to amputate, so hello leg brace) and groovy orange belt and this to-die-for bag! Thank you mummy!!

I guess there are some upsides of cancer.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Every Day Is A Gift

The malting is slowly starting. The beginning of the bald phase of my life is just starting.

Its odd, the hair is not falling out in huge chunks, each individual strand is just slowly starting to come loose. I don't even feel it. I thought huge clumps would come out every time I ran my hand through my hair but its not. Its just one or two individual hairs.

I thought I would be so upset about watching my hair go. It sounds stupid but as a eighteen year old girl, my hair is important to me but I am strangely excited. I love my wig. Its actually nicer than my actual hair.

My hair over the years has been soooo abused by me. In the past three years it has been blonde to chocolate brown and back again. I have bleached, stripped, colored my hair about once every two months and consequently destroyed my mums wallet and my hair.

Thinking about it though, hair is such a pain. You have to wash it, brush it, maintain it. It takes soooo much effort and I am so lazy. The idea of just whipping on a wig and going out is actually rather appealing. I hope my head is not deformed or something. That could be awkward.

Now onto more important things. THAT TRY LAST NIGHT. So unimpressed with the French. If you didn't watch it (you should have) the ref was talking to the All Blacks and then the French decide to start playing and score a try.... and the ref gave it to them! Lucky the French are useless and lost anyway but soooo not cool.

I was talking to my mate who was watching it with me and he was right, it may have been a "legal" try but it wasn't very ethical. The French showed bad sportsmanship with that one. They were loosing and could have lost graciously but that was a bit of a low blow. It may have been legal but it left a bad feeling in the stomach.

Its interesting when something like this happens though because it puts things into perspective. The stupid girly fights = pointless. That perfect dress = mightly important still / not really but hey its pretty!!

The things that are important truly are the people and doing what you love. Enjoying life. Not putting it on hold. Not doing physics at uni because it will give a good job rather doing archeology which you love. It just makes your choices simpler. It emphasizes live now because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

It also emphasizes not to dwell on what could of been, enjoy what is. Last night I could have had a fat cry about how unfair it was that I wasn't able to go to the Wellington Coll ball which I had been looking forward to for months but I had a lovely night eating fried rice and watching the rugby with a great mate.

Enjoy life, you never know what will happen.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Hobbits

 I am purely blown away! I don't know what to think except I am sooo lucky!! Is this not one of the most beautiful quilts you have ever seen???

I was actually almost in tears when the girls presented it to me!! Every girl in my year has created an amazing patch which have been sewn together. It sounds weird but this was soo perfect. 

We are all going to go out next year to the real world and many of my closest friends are going to the opposite side of the world in their amazing adventures but I am going to be here and that sucks.

I was meant to be going to going out with them. I was meant to be but I am not and thats hard. This was almost perfect though because now I have some of each of them to be with me even when they can't physically be there. I know that they are with me forever on this and the other journeys on my life. Sorry about the cheese but its true. I love you guys sooooooooo much!! I may have needed to grab a few tissues writing this but ahhhhh sooo amazing!! So much love. I am so lucky to be a Hobbit.

It was soo nice seeing everyone too even though I was really weak and couldn't stand up for very long, I managed to sit out on the lawn in one of the chairs. It made me sooo happy to be around everyone!

One thing that surprised me was people who were unsure on the topic of whether to visit or not. COME VISIT ME!!!!!!!! :) Seriously, anyone, anytime. Flick me a text or my parents and come! Your company is loved and adored. You don't have to stay for long or you can stay as long as you want! If I am too sick I will just say!

And bringing stuff! Do not feel you need to bring stuff! Just bring you, if you really want to bring something home baking is always a hit. My mother as much as i love her is no baker. but in all seriousness just bring yourself.

I hope that clears up the debate whether to come or not in your mind! :) and took your mind off my mushiness about how amazing the hobbits are!! 

The Question Of The Turd

Well... That sucked.

Walking the dog is sometimes not as pleasant as it sounds. It has been a rough week. It was strange though because when I first went into hospital I was fine, the chemo started and I was fine but I progressively got sicker and sicker.

I couldn't eat anything and I was having to be administered fluids through my hickman line for three days after my chemo had finished as I have to drink two litres of fluid at least a day, which means I am like a yoyo between bed and the toilet!!!

Those who visited me got very used to the frequent visits to the toilet and I must thank them for that. Visitors, whether they are young or old, close or not are great. I really appreciated everyone who came and saw me. Its a great distraction talking to people or in many cases listening to the conversation that surrounded me.

The other thing that has been awesome has been the amount of letters and cards and Facebook messages and texts of people constantly reminding me that they are there for me. It sounds weird but its easier doing this with people around you and being there for you.

Today, I went and got a wig from this amazing lady who lives in Northland. I went to her house and sat and chose my wig (and did some serious damage in the parental wallet) but what sort of struck me was how lucky I am.

Don't get me wrong I understand I have absolutely terrible luck to be the one person in the entire wellington region statistically to be diagnosed this year but I am lucky in the fact that I have amazing parents and friends and a support system which I would find hard to rival.

My mum has been allowed to take the rest of this year off to look after me. This is sooo fortunate. I am really lucky that we are able to do this. Thank you parents for not flunking out of uni and working hard!!

 This is really good for me because I have been relegated to a complete baby status this past week. In hospital I even had to have my mum help me have a shower. I was completely useless. I could not text, go on Facebook, read, even watch tv. I was a complete invalid.

I am really happy to be home and feeling better finally. I had to have a complete change of anti nausea drug regime from the first one I was on and it is now about a week since chemotherapy finished but I am feeling much better.

So now the question of the turd, I have gotten to the stage where I have to wonder whether I am actually still nauseous because of the chemo or nauseous because of the continuos drugs. Ten pills a day does not keep the doctor away.... unfortunately.

So the plan is to slowly ween myself off my drug habit. Today has now changed. You may observe this has now been written over two days so please excuse the disjointedness of some of it. New chains of thought and rah! Feeling nauseous is a good time to stop writing becasue the product is usually greatly sub par or as my kind boyfriend likes to say "its just obvious you are on something."

I am going into school for morning tea, to celebrate the valiant and determined swoting of my lovely hobbits for mocks this past week (and according to what we tell our parents months before that too...) I am really quite excited to see all of them.

My year group is actually tiny (less than 65 girls!!) and we all share this amazing common room called Hobby (the coolest common room ever as it is actually a house!!) and we all pretty much live here. It means that everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone which is occasionally a pain but in the long run these girls have been my classmates for 7 years now and I am sooo lucky to have them!!

They are all completely insane in their own glorious way and I HAVEN'T SEEN THEM ALL IN OVER A WEEK. and life feels odd because they are my constant stable, so as you can see from my massive rant. I am very excited to be going to see the girls today even if I will have to just lie on the couch and be smothered/smothering others with hugs.

On this note, I must get ready! What used to take me five minutes now takes me about an hour!!! Definitely back to baby status.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Day 2
Feeling: Pretty Average
Wish: To have a new roommate (she wet the bed last night and pees in a bed pan, need I say more)
I have now received nearly all of the chemo and they are just keeping me in under observation. Hearing the possible side effects is not an experience I recommend for anybody. I like ignorance I think.

The way my body is feeling is odd. I don't feel sick exactly. I have waves of nausea come and go. They are not very nice, its usually when I am standing up and moving around. I don't feel like eating much at all. I am lucky I am able to receive anti-nausea medicine and lots of it!!

I have a weird tingly sensation in my toes and fingers, which i have been told is a common side effect. Its like a non painful pins and needles. Its strange as I can't really describe it. I am tired all the time but that was expected.

I had mates over yesterday after school and as my roommate kindly left a present in her bed, we went to this amazing canteen room which was sooo good. We played rounds of video games! It was actually so grand because I managed to forget that I was in hospital! It was such a fun afternoon. People coming to visit actually make this sooo much more bearable.

My mother, of course! She must be a subject at some point even though I can imagine her *gosh* sigh already. Yesterday when we were getting told the side effects. She decided she obviously couldn't take me being the patient anymore and leaned back so fast and quick she banged her head against the wall! She is the biggest clutz out!

But I do love her, she has been great. She has been so strong and I really admire her for it. This is one of those situations you never want to be in. Your child has cancer. This must be a fear that crosses all new and old parents minds. I am so sorry that you have had to go through this but I love your strength.

I think I might have to stop now, the room is starting to smell a bit funky again.

If I get that decrepit, please shoot me.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Glory Of Hospitals

Ok. This is nowhere near as frightening as I thought it would be. I feel fine. All I am doing is peeing like there is no tomorrow!!! But then again I have only just started.

The list they read us of the possible sideffects of chemo sounded rather dire though!! Not something I really want to think about.

I felt soo lovely when I walked into the ward and there were some lovely flowers waiting for me from good family friends. Support makes this soooo much easier.

I have been put in a room with some lovely old doddery woman called Dolorous who has promptly excreted into her bed, joyous right!

I do, however, have the lovely pleasure of having visitors and in a place like this, I love visitors. I always have really but here more so as the closest person to my age is worrying more about menopause and less about uni next year.

I wonder if I will feel different later as I have only actually been getting chemo for less than an hour and just bucketloads of fluids before that. Oh well, whatever happens. Onwards march!!!

Blastoff In T, 10... 9... 8.... ......

I feel like a can of worms, the nerves have slowly started setting in all day. I now realize that in less than 12 hours I am going to be starting chemotherapy. This is the beginning, the beginning of my new life. My old life was full of childlike fun, and occasionally some work. Usually not. Today, my new life will begin, it will be full of white sterile floors, tubes and worst of all fear. 

The fear is the thing that nobody wants to face. Up until now I can pretend it's not really happening. I feel fine. This cancer is almost an abstract idea. One that was true but not. But now I have no choice. I have to face the fact it's real and I am about to get really sick.

There is one thing that nobody ever mentions. I may not survive this. There is a 70% chance I will but that still leaves a 30% chance that I won't. I don't want to think about what will happen if I am in that 30% and that is why nobody wants to mention it because nobody knows what they will do. 

Emma is forever saying that "I should stop trying to please people as you can't please everyone" but you know what! For once this may be an actual advantage because I have no intention whatsoever of making people sad. I am going to fight this with everything I have. This is cliched but I really just think it can "eat my shorts!!!" I am going nowhere. 

But this is a massive mountain, tomorrow is going to be the beginning of it. The doctors are going to try to kill me as much as they can without actually killing me... not sure my body is going to be very pleased  with this idea. 

But not just for one month or a couple of weeks, but for over a year I am going to be pushed as far as I can go. I am going to be run over with tractors, lawnmowers, be dragged behind the ferry and thrown from twenty foot buildings in the attempt to make me well. 

Its an odd concept as I don't feel sick, you see me and nothing seems wrong. I have tubes sticking out of me which are a bit sore and my knees not always happy with me. Apart from that I am a fit eighteen year old girl. All my tests say I am in good condition apart from one nasty dog bite.

That dog bite is going to go away. 

I am going to get better because this is my life and I intend to be here for a long time.  

Friday, 9 September 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is To Be Normal

The Hickman Line is a go! It is such a strange thing. I have had two cuts made. One is where the dangly bits come out. The suregon was actually awesome so there is no chance that it's going to be showing at either ball! I will like a look normal 18 year old. I really wish I was normal.... Though this means that I had a room of people looking at me topless for well over an hour...

The other slit is on the right side of my body and its just above the "clavicle." I was actually so impressed, my year 11 PE came in handy today!! I know what a clavicle is!!! I felt pretty smart when I didn't need him to explain what it was.

It's painful but strangely not where the dangly bits hang out but on the other side but its ok if i restrict movement of my upper body, so I was thinking mum and dad, its a bit too hard for me to do chores at the moment...

My family have actually been awesome throughout all of this. My brother is a little miffed still at how he only got one day of glory over the fact he tore his median nerve and tendon in my hand as I got told that it was likely I had cancer the next day... So sorry, better luck next time bro.

My mum was waiting for me after my surgery. Once I had come to back from the general (sort of) they wheeled me to see her, she was sooo happy to see me!! But then they had to start checking the incisions and all of a sudden she feels nauseated. So of course, being my mother she jumps onto my bed and is suddenly the patient. The nurse is fretting over her wanting to take her blood pressure.

That's the thing for me, I have to laugh at all this. I think I have developed a really black sort of humor but this is necessary because otherwise the only other thing I could do is cry because life is so unfair.

As soon as it was announced that the Rugby World Cup was going to be in New Zealand and I realized I was going to be 18, I have dreamed about it! When the tickets came out Dad brought 2 tickets to every game so my brother and I could go to about half each. I am a born and bred kiwi. I love my rugby. After the last rugby world cup I was soo disappointed I could not bring myself to watch another game for months. 

When I was watching the opening ceremony, originally I had planned on watching it with my friends in town. I had surgery today so I just watched it at home with my parents. As the opening ceremony was going on I realized I might not even be lucid enough to watch the final live on tv and I almost cried with the unfairness of it.

The thing you need to know about me is I don't cry. I have only cried twice because of this. Once was to my friend out of share frustration at the fact my parents would not tell me what was going on and the other time was to my dean.

My dean is one of the most amazing woman alive. She is strong and hilariously funny. All girls who have ever been in year 13 at QMC for the past years will understand. This woman is a living legend. She is wise, kind, understanding and listens to your point of view no matter what.

However, on the day I found out I decided to go back to school for the afternoon. As i was walking to Hobby (my common room) and I saw her and all the feelings racing round me resulted in tears leaking from my eyes without my permission. That was two weeks ago.

But I really hate this, I hate the fact I have to be strong. I hate that this is thrust on me. I have the unfairness of it.

So my wish list has now changed... I no longer wish for a perfect life. I wish for a normal one. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Fruitloop Situation

So tomorrow I am having my hickman line. I have to be at the hospital at 7am, now this is purely ridiculous. What sane teenager is out of bed before 10? Most don't even realize the sun is shinning before midday. I think someone should create a system so the older you are, the earlier your surgery and go backwards from there.

It's weird because I have thinking about what is going to be happen next year. My cancerous status has almost become old news to many. This treatment is going to take well over a year and I wonder those who will be with me at the end of it because a year is a long time. People change and move on. They will begin new lives next year and set off into the world.

I wonder how many will keep in contact. This is a serious issue as I am absolutely useless at texting back, facebooking or emailing back. Any sort of reply may take hours, months, years!! If you are unlucky it might not even happen at all... Now this is not because I don't love you. One of my best mates said to me tonight "I like it when you don't reply, it reinforces the fact that I'm talking to Harriet Rowland ."

But I do appreciate every email, text, call and visit as this is my contact with the human world. As my friends know I am just one fruitloop away from being called insane. My support crowd is what gives me some perspective on the real world... and gossip! :)

But in all seriousness, friends are things that keep you going, the messages remind you that you are not getting left behind. The texts remind you of how loved you are. Facebook reminds you of the power of procrastination. The calls and visits keep you sane.

I do not intend on becoming some odd child whose life is cancer. I intend to be me until the end and I thank my supporting friends and family for not passing me that last fruitloop.

Monday, 5 September 2011

I Wish I Was Pregnant...

When the girls at my school found out something was wrong with me. They were usure as to what it was, many hypothesis as what aliment i suffered from flew around school. However, the most popular train of thought led the majority of girls to think I was probably pregnant. I wish that had been true...

Today has been soul shattering. I spent eight hours trawling around the hospital being prodded, pricked and even probed like some alien experiment. I had my blood taken four times, i became radioactive and got told I have have excellent hearing.

I wonder how these doctors and nurses look at me. Apart from almost fainting when they tried to rob my of my blood and a limp i show no obvious signs of being sick. I have no physical markers showing there is something insanely wrong with my body and I guess thats what is so odd. This was such a little thing. I thought I had tore a tendon. It never crossed my mind that I would have cancer.

Back to my train of thought, what would these doctors think when they see my chart? They must see millions of people going through the hospital everyday. Hospitals are strange things, the give you this false sense that the majority of people face life threatening illnesses.

I wonder if the people who live in the hospital feel like they are one of the privileged who are healthy. This would be an awesome way to view the world. This idea that everyone is facing these illnesses, however false, is often comforting to feel as if you are not alone. On the flip side, sometimes you feel more alone as you are no different to the multitude of people in this hospital.

But I am different. Many people try to be different with their alternative fashion statements or ideas. I am not different by choice, I am different because of this ridiculous thing growing inside of me. I never gave it permission to be there! I am in control of my body. I should decide what goes in and out. I want to believe I am in charge.

I am so unbelievably mad at cancer. I was doing well in school! I was getting above average marks. I had plans to go to Rhythm and Vines over summer and then go to Venture (a 10 day outdoor pursuit sort of camp in Tasmania), I was going to go to Otago next year and now.... my life is fighting this. I had no choice and that is the hardest part.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Dilema

It's a weird idea. I never thought my life would end up being like this but, strangely, in many ways i never could imagine my life after school. School is all i have ever known, it has been my life. Its such a large part of my life. I have been on this earth 18 years. I have attended school for the better two thirds of my life. The first third hardly counts because I was soo small!!! 

I remember last year there was this group on FaceBook that was "If the world ends in 2012, I've wasted my whole life in school... lovely..." At the time I had a chuckle but if my life was to end now I would have spent my entire life in school. I do not think this is fair. 

I have decided to live my life to the fullest (not that I already didn't! Ask anyone who took IB with me in year 12 and they shall tell you so). Things like this open your eyes to how much time you actually have on this earth and you need to appreciate the time you have and live in the present.

My dad would always tell me when I asked questions about what came next, "just live in the moment!" This used to frustrate me because I always wanted to know what I was doing!!! But, as usual, he was right! We should enjoy today and enjoy tomorrow when it comes. 

This is my roundabout way of explaining why I have not blogged for the past couple of days.

My leg is slowly coming right since the biopsy. I hope, by the time Scots ball comes around (in 11 days!!!) I should be back to how I was before the surgery. The balls are my escape. I am not the most girly of girls but I love balls. I love dressing up, whether it is as a cowboy or a pirate or a princess, I simply adore it.  I love the pretense, fantasy and magic around balls. This year I have gone two and I have another two to go. There is only one slight problem....

I am getting a Hickman line inserted on friday. This is for them to insert the chemotherapy through and any other injections, this is because it is important that the drugs go into the vein! When the doctors say they have antidote on hand... you really wonder whether they are just trying to kill you!! However, off topic as normal. The Hickman line. It's a central line that goes through my chest. How are you supposed to look good when you have a piece of plastic sticking out of your chest?!?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Welcome Home

Home is most certainly where the heart is and my heart is in Wellington. When the plane slowly descended onto this great city of ours, I could not suppress the smile that jumped to my face. This smile only widened as i got off the plane and saw three of my amazing friends awaiting me at the gate. They made me realize how lucky I was in so many ways to have such amazing friends as the stream of them came to see me as I arrived home this afternoon.

Things like this make you realize who your great friends are, and those who are not. Today I heard about a girl who had broken down crying saying "my best friend has cancer." I was slightly bewildered by this as this girl I would consider an acquaintance, i don't think even has my cell phone number is suddenly calling me her "best friend." 

At first I thought this was slightly degrading, however, I had a wee chuckle but as this passed I realized something. This is a big deal for so many people I know. Nearly everyone I know has been effected by cancer, an aunt, an uncle, a family friend has suffered from it. The difference from me though is that I am a mere 18 years old, I am still at school, my life has barely begun. This scares people as it breaks the idea that teenagers are indestructible, we are every bit human as everyone else and this scares us.