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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Abreast of A Competition

I didn't want to do it - even tangentially touch on the subject of 'breast cancer'.  But today I can't help it.

Because last night, an important package arrived, all the way from a German manufacturer via China (of course).

You may have heard of Soap-on-a-Rope?  Well me, I have Boobs-on-a-Bra.  In fact I am sitting in them as I speak.

Made of a soft silicone and pale pink in colour, the item was suggested by my sister Fiona who came across them in a routine haul through EBay.

It took me about five seconds to decide I wanted a set, but I was overcome with indecision when it came to picking the size.

B Cup?  D Cup?  HH Cup?

A brief survey of my breast cancer Facebook group, my husband and a couple of pals and the choice was made.  A B Cup.

But when the item arrived, I opened the box and was a little startled.  You wouldn't believe how big small fake boobs can look.

To work out how to put the device together took three sets of hands:  Me to hold up the chicken fillets, Ethel and Al to adjust the straps.

Yesterday evening, Al and I had decided to go to trivia so I thought I'd give my new boobs a bit of an outing.

The thing with these boobs is that they have nipples, so under my jersey dress, I really did look like I had emerged from the cold.

But Al seemed to think they looked real enough for the guys.  And he was right!

What a sensation they caused.  Garry gave them an appreciative squeeze.  Mike, the loveable Trivia Host (now almost like family), was momentarily taken aback.

I did have a few occasions when the fillets poked out, or snapped apart but all in all, my newest acquisition passed the test run.  They were a little sticky and uncomfortable on my scar line, but I put that down to the humid weather.  And Ethel points out, I'm so used to being braless now, it might take some getting used to.

While they are most likely to be stored in a shoe box and used infrequently, here is what they look like on.  (I apologise for the hideous site of scarring and excess flesh (left, just in case, I actually want a full reconstruction some-time-maybe-never).

When I think about it, they are really appropriate for me because guess what my name "Bronwyn" means?  That's right, it means "White Breast"

Lyndal has kindly offered to colour them brown to match.  I may take her up on that offer one day.

In the meantime, I am now in lather as I am not sure what I should call them?  Nicky and Paris are gone.  What shall I call this new even more plastic pair?

To help me out, I've decided to run a small competition.  Submit your best suggestion for a mammary moniker below, and I'll reward you with the first, hardback copy of my upcoming new memoir, signed even!

I'm afraid, as an out-of-work haus frau, that's the best I can offer.

That, or maybe a grope of my new boobies - but you'll have to ask nicely.

Competition closes when I can be shagged writing my next blog.  Yeh.  I'll decide then.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Christmas Letter

Good morning, Good afternoon and Good evening.

Wherever you are in the world I hope I find you well.

If you have been a regular follower of this blog you'll note a change in the look and feel of this publication.

That's because a New Year is but 26 days away and as I prepare to pack away a generally uninspiring 2013, it's now all about a fresh start and a fresh perspective.

In 10 days time I'll mark the two year anniversary of Chemo Number Three: I was half way through part two of the saga, part one, if you'll recall being the whole sorry business about the physical state of Paris and Nicky (RIP).

As I say goodbye to my old blog there are exciting things afoot.  I shortly hope to announce the availability of my blog in paperback, hardback and e-book format with my goal to spread my story further afield.

I trust you'll agree my story has been a good one, and if not, your thoughts on how I might improve are always welcome.

But now it's onto other subjects and I hope you will stay with me for the rest of it -  I think it will be at least an entertaining ride!  There is more to life than breast cancer, after all.

In closing the old chapter, I felt it appropriate to use this opportunity to share what used to be a regular Christmas Letter to all my friends and family.

So first up…


Welcome to my first Christmas letter since what we shall call ‘the whole horrible business’ of the past two years but here is hoping you will find this vaguely informative if not entertaining.

Well, 2013 was off and running with the ongoing, diabolical scenario of my sister Fiona’s breast cancer treatment.  To this end, I found my January and February revolving around her three-weekly chemotherapy infusions.  In between, the House of Hope lay in a state of anxiety as we buckled down to the business of selling our home in Redland Bay.  

What a stressful period it was as Al and I dealt with packing up the house, all the issues with subdivision, selling land plots, finalizing the construction of a new garage, and meeting the demands of our proposed buyer.

In all the stress, Al miscalculated the day we could move out and we found ourselves moved lock, stock and barrel to Harry's Manpad in South Brisbane with six weeks up our sleeve.

In between all of this, a great part of my life was consumed with fundraising in preparation for a walk I completed in October, trudging 60 kilometres in the name of research into women’s cancers and raising more than $15,000 along the way with my team mates Lee, Louisa, Sylvia, Sonja and Harry's girlfriend, Robyn, otherwise fondly known as 'Bean'.

A High Tea at my home, a movie night, a dog wash and a garage sale along with the distribution and collection of coin jars had me exhausted!  Here is a picture taken at our garage sale.

By the time we moved into the City, Fiona had had an instant double mastectomy and was sporting a neat little A cup.  She seemed to have sailed through her chemo and was maintaining a wonderful attitude, so all was well on that front (so to speak).

Soon after, we were off with Ethel and the boys in tow for five weeks abroad.  Our East and Western Mediterranean cruise plus our visit to the UK to spend cherished time with close relatives and friends with a (stressful but enjoyable) stopover in Dubai was all effected thanks to an unexpected lottery win for Al.  Here is a picture of the family taken outside Al's family home in Polesworth.

We arrived back after the end of the school holidays with my focus then on my 50th birthday celebrations.  That in itself was quite stressful and, I have to say a little disappointing.  Not only did several key friends fail to attend, but my parents were also unable to attend, and Harry had to leave for a gig that launched his first Tour as a Deejay.  (More d├ętail on this follows below).  In fact, I was so traumatised by the whole thing I have announced to Al that that was my LAST ever birthday party.  (I have only had a handful over the years anyway as my September birthday has always fallen during the start of the school holidays).

Around this time, I also decided to take the bold step to turn my blog into a book.  This has now been designed and I am looking forward to officially launching it in the New Year.  I am working with Lyndal's daughter Lucy, a talented young graphic designer and have already learned a huge amount about the terrifying world of self-publishing.

This project has helped to keep me sane as, up until literally a few days ago, 2013 was to go down as the first year ever in my (uninspiring) career in which no new paid work was done.  I am suffused by guilt, of course, at my lack of productivity.  However, I hope you'll agree there has been plenty to keep me busy.

Family life has happened all around these events.  Harry has had a huge year, managing to maintain his scholarship at Uni while at the same time pursuing his dreams of becoming a Club Deejay.  

Later in the year he was signed up with his partner, Robbie Jacob as the duo ‘OddMob’ with Central Station Records which is owned by Ministry of Sound.  Their first track 'The Tribe' was released on ITunes and Harry, with his partner, Robbie, have been working hard to extend their offering. The boys were subsequently signed up to play at ‘The Big Day Out’, ‘Stereosonic’ (which takes place next weekend) and Future Music next year (in both Brisbane and Sydney).  Here is an article I arranged in the local paper - I am supposed to be a public relations consultant after all.

In the meantime, it has continued to be somewhat challenging dealing with Ben as both Al and I seem to have endless arguments about his computer addiction and his lack of interest in anything else.  As the good lord knows, patience is not exactly one of my virtues and there is many a day when I feel like running away.  Nonetheless, I think Second Son overall is a hugely intelligent, independent and very capable kid  who will one day 'come good' once his hormones settle down.   Some may even find his tendency to being a smart arse somehow a  strong attribute.  He is also a really good artist having inherited his parents' artistic abilities and, if nothing else, he seems to enjoy multimedia.  But for now, my constant lectures fall on deaf ears as I am written off as 'the Asian Mother'.  I remain only the source of large amounts of food, his deodorants, hair gels, mouthwash and dental floss.  So if he does end up as the ditch digger he may be destined to be, he is sure to be the best groomed one as the boy is meticulous about his personal hygiene.

As for the rest of the family, Al is as always the constant, managing our property portfolio and managing to maintain his passion for golf... even managing to squeeze in a short golfing holiday in Vietnam later this year.  (Working smart, as they say).  All I know is that he rarely seems to be sitting around doing nothing.

Ethel is also in good health, continuing her passion for golf  and, I believe, enjoying being freed from her servitude to the family laundry.  This year, she started learning Italian and I have to say I have been impressed with her progress.  Overall, I think she is coping well in her world After George.

As for Fiona, as I have mentioned, her recovery has been nothing short of amazing and I have concluded that 'resilience' must surely be an inherited family trait.  Almost immediately following the completion of her radiation, she opened up a language school in Brendale where she has already built up a following of more than 40 students in short shrift.  It's really quite an impressive set up and I just love my sister's unending enthusiasm for her work.  She's also continuing her pursuit of her cherished phD, writing a novel, painting her pictures, tending her garden, and keeping a motherly eye on her five progeny.  Somewhere in there, she also held a wine and cheese evening, raising just under $1000 for my cancer cause.

Meanwhile, Nicky is back to relief teaching and has had a stressful year as her husband, Peter's Parkinsons' Disease has progressed. This year she joined Soroptimists' International and is continuing her many good works.  Earlier this year she scored an interesting gig teaching some students from the UAE.  Needless to say, her initial enthusiasm for her students was soon replaced by total disgust at what rich, lazy, spoiled brats they all were.  In between, I'm pleased to report Nicky managed not to murder the twins.   She also resisted the urge to give away all her possessions to every loser who crossed her path.

My mum and dad are also doing well with their daily lives subsumed in the demands of their garden.  One high point of the year was that their rare yellow frangipani blossomed for the first time since it was planted, 15 years ago!   Dad, in particular, continues to amaze us with his longevity as we all maintain he should have croaked it years ago.  None of us can really keep up with his many hare-brained ideas.    Meanwhile my Mum puts many ladies her age to shame with her wide suite of interests.  She was chosen to read at the community's recent Carols Night and was congratulated by the Mayor, with whom she is quite cosy.  At present she is planning a trip to Amsterdam in the New Year.

As for me, life goes on.  I have used my workless life to return to an active lifestyle, walking Spunky most days, swimming and going to the gym.  Through the first half of the year I continued with my soccer refereeing but did it all with a bung leg.  My reffing season concluded with news from my doctor that I really should not run again.  This was devastating because, as you know, running has been the love of my life since I can remember.  However, I did not mope on it too much.  Instead, I decided to find a new team oriented pursuit so later this year,  I  joined the local GPS rowing club and at least one early morning a week for the past two months, I've been sculling across the surface of the  Brisbane River while deftly avoiding collisions with other rowers or the passing City Cats.  How long my interest will last who knows but for now, I love it!

A regime of supplements, daily doses of humour and the support of family and friends has kept me on the path to recovery, and, while I do have my moments, overall I think I am inching as close as I can to whatever pale imitation of my former self I might muster.  At the very least, I can now bend my knees.

2013 has been a rough year for many people I know.  They have lost loved ones, received diagnoses of serious illness, their children have become critically ill, they've lost their jobs,  broken bones, and endured operations and hospitalisation.  

As I move on, I hope far and away from the travails of recent years, I realise that life really is, for all of us, a difficult road but really, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.

We really are all in this thing called 'life' together and if we can learn to be honest about our vulnerabilities, there will always be someone who is willing to help and support us. 

Now as 2014 approaches, I can only pray that things will improve not just for myself, but for everyone. However, as has been a common theme through the bulk of this blog, there are no guarantees for any of us.

All we can really do is live the best we can.

All I, or anyone of us, can do is hope, in that most hopeful of worlds: the world after breast cancer.