Hi! I’m Still Alive

Hi! I thought I should get on and type a blog and let you know that I’m still alive.

Caitlin and kids
Mothers Day 2018 with my precious children.

Which is something we flippantly say when we haven’t been around for awhile.

But when you have cancer, you don’t just flippantly say this. All of a sudden the fact that you are still alive is news. It makes you realise that we shouldn’t be flippant about how fantastic it is to be alive each day. Life is a gift that we receive each day when we open our eyes and we should put our heart and soul into living, especially when we have the privilege of living it with a healthy body.

I’m happy to report that I am living life with a healthy body. I am a cancer survivor. A cancer survivor! Woo Hoo! What a sweet label that is.

Since I discovered cancer last year, I have undergone treatment after having a thymic carcinoma tumour surgically removed. I then had radiation and chemotherapy as an insurance in case any microscopic cancer cells had lingered in my body. Since completing my radiation and chemo regime at the end of October last year, I’ve had 3 CT scans that have shown zero cancer in my body. I’m officially in remission and by the grace of God I am remaining this way.

I thank God for the medical and scientific brains that have discovered and refined radiation and chemotherapy and the healing powers it has brought so many lives. Even if the treatment itself can be brutal. I am grateful that for much of my treatment I had low side effects. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my family and I. I have valued every prayer that I knew was prayed and those I didn’t even realise that were being sent up to Heaven on my behalf. To be prayed for by those who love you, even if they have never met you, is like a big warm comforting hug.

When I started the second treatment with the higher dose of chemo, I was told that I would need help for the duration of the treatment and beyond as I would be far too sick to function. I am so grateful this was not the case. We had lined someone up to help us in the home and with the children, an even though she did work a few times at first, which did help, even if things weren’t quite the way I had asked. Before long though the little millennial we enlisted soon signed out without a word and stopped answering phone calls. So, we were on our own for the most part. We were very grateful for every meal that was delivered,it was particularly a relief to have meals on chemo days and a couple of days afterwards when I was particularly tired. Our volunteer ironing lady who had helped out so much when the triplets were young quietly reappeared in our lives. We have family that stepped in and help out to fill in the gaps which made all the difference on those days when Alex and I couldn’t quite do everything. They also helped proved the emotional stability that our kids needed.

I was tired, I had an aching body quite often, ran temperatures, but thankfully never so high that it put me in hospital, and became quite a grumpy Mummy and wife quite regularly. I really wish I wasn’t so snappy, it was the hardest part of being sick last year, trying to regulate my unstable emotions, often just due to being so tired, while running a household with five young children. But at the end of the day, I’m so grateful that we made it through. I was able to pick children up from school most days, Alex did many of the drop offs because often I was just too tired to get out of bed, and would just get up to pack five lunch boxes before they scampered out to the car. Homework might have been a bit hit and miss, and we strategically dropped some of the after school activities (but even still, me and my covered bald head was often standing on the sidelines during soccer season last year!) but they arrived at school dressed and fed and able to function, and you realise that sometimes that alone is enough. In fact, it’s a triumph!

I am so grateful beyond measure of my amazing husband. He was such a rock of support throughout it all. It’s so good when you have a husband who can just get in and help out without making a huge issue about it. Alex is truly amazing and kept us all afloat last year.

The last round of chemotherapy really hit me for six. I was felt so sick and so tired that I could barely function. The four weeks after that treatment was the hardest of all, but all the more exhausting as it was November so we were doing all the things necessary for the end of school year. The children were tired from the end of school year and on edge due to all the testing at school. Then it was the blur of end of year activities and before we knew it, holidays had started and then Christmas was upon us. The holidays were tiring, but thankfully I was regaining strength, even enough to host Christmas, which I planned to do the year prior, and was very grateful that we managed to pull it off!

Christmas Dessert
Dessert on Christmas day

I was so relieved when school resumed though. I don’t know if I could have kept going even another week! But maybe that’s because I was hanging out for a particular day. Getting five kids ready for school with all the book covering, pencil naming etc. etc. is always exhausting, but even more so when your body is still recovering from a tumultuous year. In any case I was so grateful to be able to rest for a little bit during the day when I needed to and finally I stopped feeling exhausted all the time.

Early in February Alex and I made a long weekend for ourselves, sent the children out to stay on the farm with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (one of their favourite places in the world) and we flew to Melbourne for a romantic interlude to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary that had passed in January. It felt like a reward for surviving last year and I lapped up the luxury of the whole mini-holiday. Maybe because I was feeling so relaxed, and also because the Australian summer was heating up, I decided to ditch the turban and start going out in public with my super short hair.

Alex and Caitlin Melbourne

Since then it has been the usual round of family life. We’ve been doing a lot of catch up appointments of all the things that were missed last year as well as regaining our regular routine and stepping up the children’s responsibilities. (Why is making children do jobs such hard work for ourselves?) I’ve begun working again with a contract job I’ve had with our local university for quite some time, and I’ve updated my teacher’s registration and dipped my toes in the relief teaching waters.

Since I’ve got over the effects of the cancer treatments, I’ve been able to focus on helping my back to recover also after my scoliosis surgery (which is when everything began). I’ve been seeing a wonderful physio and trying to be faithful at doing my exercises to regain back strength. I’ve been trying to increase my exercise in general to help with strengthening my back but it also helps improve your chance of long term cancer survival. My chest still hurts on occasion thanks to the sternoctomy last year, but everything has healed correctly and I’ve been warned I might always have a niggly feeling that will remind me that my breastbone was sliced in half.

Life has been trundling away keeping us all busy, and I never have got back into the pattern of blogging again. I contacted a blogging friend recently and made an off hand comment that I wished I had seen her more often since she had moved to a city closer to where I live. She tentatively asked how my health was as she had been worried this comment might have been linked to a final farewell. It made me realise that I need to apologise to all of you who have prayed and sent well wishes our way and have been wondering how we have been progressing.

I can’t believe it is the middle of the year already. Life really does fly when you are having fun! And what a delight that there has been so much fun in this year. It’s crazy how you can cherish life so much, while still being caught in the whirlwind of busyness and the frustrations of parenthood. I’m just grateful I’m healthy enough to be there for my kids, whether it’s listening to them chatter, giving them kisses and cuddles, making them groan as I wake them in the morning or annoying them with job requests and homework and piano practice reminders/ultimatums. Of course, the cuddles and the chattering is my favourite things to do as a healthy Mummy.

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3 Comments

  1. Wonderful to read this! 😊 Welcome back to the blogosphere, may your writing groove return with vigor.

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