Life is Not a Race to be First Finished

I never realised when I started this blogging thing 2007 where it would lead. I called it Life is Not a Race to be First Finished cos kids in my class always seemed to be in a rush to be first wherever they went and it annoyed me. It went against my philosophy of ‘together we will get there bringing everyone with us’.

On this day, 31 January, in 2016 the title of this blog came into perspective and my life changed. Life was not indeed a race to be first finished.

I was working in Blenheim that day and saw that I had had four missed calls from a hidden caller ID. Alarm bells rang when eventually they got through. It was Nelson Anniversary Monday and they had rung me and asked for an urgent call back from my regular mammogram.

I cried in the car all the way home as fear set in. I had to pull over a couple of times as it got too much to bare. My sister had passed away from breast cancer sixteen years ago and her journey is always with me. It couldn’t be happening again could it???

What followed was further mammograms, MRI, biopsies, scans and specialist visits. There was talk of a double mastectomy and poisoned lymph nodes and long words that had little meaning. I tried to be strong but there was lots of tears especially telling the ones that I love most.

I had the mastectomy on March 16 followed by six cycles of aggressive chemotherapy here in Nelson, and then five weeks of daily radiation in Christchurch. My family and friends both in Nelson and scattered about New Zealand and the world helped me get to where I am now and I am indebted to them- their support, their love and sometimes just silence as I cried with pain and fear at what was happening to me.

Through all this there are a number of things that I am most grateful for…

  • my family, in particular Danny and Amy, who left their work and lives and came to be with me when I needed them most
  • my Nelson friends who came to visit with companionship, food and lawn mowing!
  • my scattered kiwi friends who supported me with moral support and driving when I needed it
  • my work friends who kept an eye on me from afar and gave me the support I needed.

I am thankful for…

  • not living in Syria and being displaced. I have my own place to live in that I know is safe
  • Nelson surgeons, oncology doctors and nurses- who can help me find laughter when sometimes it is burrowed deep
  • being able to work virtually with schools so I still got paid when I was having radiation in Christchurch
  • access to Daffodil House in Christchurch- I stayed there for free for the five weeks- it is wonderful- your donations are being well spent and are much needed
  • access to modern medicines- I am still on Herceptin- which costs quizillion dollars but is government funded
  • still being alive one year later- there were times that that wasn’t guaranteed and I was scared.

365 days later and things are OK. I have had a bone scan and MRI and they can’t see any more tumours. I am having some trouble in believing that I might have survived it and I suppose only time will tell but in the meantime….

‘My best medicine is to try and live without fear, have fun, live a balanced life, have check ups and just get on with it.’

My big message is have regular mammograms as without it it never would have been picked up- even the breast surgeon couldn’t feel a lump and it was 5cm big. And try and get what you need and enjoy every single day as you don’t know when it might all disintegrate. Life is not a race to be first finished.

8 thoughts on “Life is Not a Race to be First Finished

  1. Hey Allanah, This a very powerful post! It’s a wonderful insight into what you’ve been through during the last year, the impact, and how you felt. Although I’ve been following, (with sympathy), all your medical events and their aftermath via social media, I didn’t make a real connection until I read this post. How overwhelming and frightening its been for you … and how strong you are! Best wishes.

  2. You go girl. Yes you have made it a year on and Ed and I are so proud of you. You need to walk in your shoes or similar to understand. xx Sue

  3. Hate knowing you were on your own when you got the recall but great that you have so many friends and family around to support you. Keep on keeping on.👍

  4. I have admired your strength and humour all through this journey. People who race to the end forget that it is the side roads, the unexpected encounters and friendships that make the whole journey worth savouring. You have been an inspiration to me and many others before and after this difficult time. And it continues to amaze me how friendships can be forged between people who have never met except online.

  5. As the ‘recipient’ of an unexpected heart attack – I understand how intrusive ill health can be to what we think we are going to be doing. And you’re spot on it can be scary. Clearly you’ll take a challenge when presented with one and even more clearly you’ll take it on to win.
    I just wanted to send you a well wish from Oz and I expect this is 365 days of many many many more.

    • Thank you Chris I changed my Skype mood message to ‘Doing the best that I can. One day at a time’. I think it needs to stay there. Take care my friend and I trust that you are well on the way to putting your health scare behind you too.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, Allannah. It is an honest and moving account and I admire your courage. Puts lots of things in perspective. All best wishes and aroha for the future

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *