37. Look good….feel better

Tuesday 24th September, 2013

The day after my 5th hit of chemo, I attended a ‘Look good…feel better’ workshop. Jenni (fav sis) came along as my support person and professional photographer. Apparently a few people have asked Jenni if my other sister, Joanne (the one who hasn’t commented yet) would be upset by my constant references to Jenni as the fav sis. I will just clarify that I don’t have a fav sis…….yet. I’m referring to Jenni as fav sis as that’s what she calls herself. If Joanne doesn’t comment soon however, I will be forced to declare Jenni the favourite. There I go, digressing again. Oh, did you know I have a brother too?

The ‘Look good…..feel better’ program is a free national program especially for people undergoing cancer treatment and aims to help them manage the chemotherapy induced appearance-related side-effects. It was initiated by the Australian Cosmetic and Fragrance Industry in 1990. The program is run by volunteers and includes instructions, tips, suggestions and advice on dealing ith hair loss, skin and complexion changes and demonstrations on makeup application and the use of wigs, hats, turbans and scarves. And, it includes lots of free cosmetic products which are donated by cosmetic and beauty labels such as Revlon. These free products, are of course, for the people with cancer who are attending the workshop, but those of you who know Jenni will not be surprised to hear she got some freebies as well.


My free stuff!

When Jenni and I arrived, the scene was a little chaotic. Unfortunately for the volunteers who had given up their time to help that day, they had no idea who was going to turn up and who wasn’t as apparently a couple of volunteers high up in the organisation had recently quit. Make-shift name tags were made, we were all asked if we were ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ in terms of make-up colours, our freebies were laid out and we were ready to start.

I was chosen as the model for the day, clearly because I am drop dead gorgeous. No, I’m pretty sure it was because I was the youngest there. I mentioned in an earlier post how you start feeling old as you approach 40 but getting cancer in your thirties all of a sudden makes you young again (although you don’t necessarily feel young, you just constantly get told you are young).

There were probably about 10 other participants there and I quickly noticed I was the only one wearing a scarf. I thought all these other people may not have started chemotherapy yet (but I noticed a few PICC lines too) or they had good cancers with good chemo that didn’t make their hair fall out. When we started with the cleansing, toning and moisturising, a few wigs were ripped off. I had thought all wigs looked like wigs unless they were human hair wigs, but I thought all these ladies had their own hair, so that was promising.

So, I was seated at the head of the table with a lady using my face to demonstrate how to cleanse, tone, moisturise and apply make-up. When it came to drawing on eyebrows, a new model was needed, as fortunately I still had mine.


The model having her make up applied……


……and the finished product.

After the make up session there was a quick break for lunch and then we tried on scarves, hats and wigs. There were even scarves with little fringes attached to the front and this very strange looking ring of hair that you wear underneath a hat. This ‘Look good……feel better’ workshop was held within the same building complex as the wig library which I have written about here. I was really hoping the wigs we would be trying on were not from the wig library and much to my delight they were not. I had a lot of fun trying on all the wigs that were there, while Jenni was busy snapping away. I experimented with being blonde again, as well as having very long hair and a couple of grandma do’s.


The scarf with a built in fringe.


The very odd, almost scary, round hair thing.


Only marginally better with a hat over the top. What a sight it would be if my hat blew off!

And now the wigs. Firstly, the blonde range……..


Long blonde wig No. 1.


And No.2. Goldie Hawn? Just the wig I mean, not the complete look.

And then the medium length brunette range……


No. 1.


And No. 2.

And the long brunette range……


Long brunette wig No. 1. Angelina Jolie?


And No. 2. This one looks like a wig.

Then there was the Grandma range……


Perhaps this is what I’ll look like if I live another 50 years…or if chemo makes my hair grow back grey!


I don’t think I’ll go with this look as my hair grows back.

The ‘WTF? This reminds me of the wig library’ range……


I have no words for this one.


Or this one.

The token fun wig……..


Ready for a fancy dress party.

And to finish off with, the old me…….


I actually forgot what I used to look like with hair.

I had decided I wasn’t going to bother with a wig during my cancer adventure and I am yet to regret that decision. I am beginning to think however, that a wig might be good when the treatment part of this adventure is over and I’m back at work and have had enough of looking like a cancer patient. I’ll just keep a scarf handy for when I need to use that cancer card. I think a wig will be good when my hair is growing back and is a bit of a mess, and maybe even for days when I just can’t be bothered with it.

The highlight of the ‘Look good….feel better’ workshop was meeting a fellow participant, Katie. She had a great attitude and we had a laugh but unfortunately we only got chatting at the end of the day. So, Katie, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re still going well and kicking cancer’s arse.

36. Chemotherapy – round 5

Monday 23rd September, 2013

It was the school holidays and Jenni (fav sis) wasn’t able to accompany me to chemo that day. She usually works on Tuesdays but had to work on Monday instead that week. My friend Simone knew someone who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 10 years ago and she had told Simone that she wished she’d taken different people to chemo with her, rather than the same person every time, so more people could see what it’s actually like to be given chemotherapy. (I actually thought it might be nice to take a different person to chemo each time so they could have the chemotherapy instead of me! But my PET scan results probably wouldn’t have been so good if I did that).

Simone was the first person I thought of when Jenni wasn’t able to be my chemo friend that day and after confirming her mum could look after her two children for the day, she accepted the job. Poor Simone definitely drew the short straw, however. It was a long day!

I met Simone about 15 years ago, maybe more, when we worked together at the good old Grand Hotel. We travelled overseas together for a few months in late 1999/early 2000 and got up to a bit of mischief. We spent New Year’s Eve on the streets of Edinburgh at “Hogmanay” which is one of the biggest New Year’s Eve events in the world and was a pretty awesome place to welcome the new millennium. We actually had more fun the next night at a little pub, chatting to some locals wearing kilts. And we found the answer to that question everyone asks – ‘do they wear underwear under their kilts?’ No, they don’t! Well at least the one we were talking to didn’t. I think I took a photo to prove it. Simone is a very caring, generous, sympathetic and empathetic person and has been a friend I have been very fortunate to have during this adventure. She put together a cancer show bag before I started chemotherapy, made me a bracelet with a ‘tree of life’ charm on it, has been to my house to cook me dinner (and drink wine), delivered many meals, and called/texted often. She was also the first one to start investigating hats and scarves.


The bracelet Simone made for me.

Simone sells bracelets too by the way, so if you want to order one, let me know. And you can still order those stickers from http://www.myracecarsticker.com.au I am determined to get some orders for something!! I think I’m going to go for an FUC sticker, a little more subtle than F##K CANCER.

Back to the chemotherapy. Simone picked me up from home and we drove into the hospital. First stop was the chemo ward to have a blood test to see how those neutrophils were holding up. There was no visit to the haematologist prior to chemotherapy this time as my usual haematologist was still on holidays and I had seen the covering haematologist on Thursday for the results of that PET scan. Simone had been instructed by Jenni to make sure a hot lunch was ordered for me and she completed that task with stealthy efficiency.

That day was a very special day as it was Karine’s (my chemo buddy) last chemotherapy. I was definitely jealous, but very happy for her. I wasn’t seated next to Karine and that was not going to be acceptable for her last session.

That day was also the day I had a PICC line inserted so after the blood test, the next stop was the radiology department next door. I have mentioned in a previous post that PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter so it is basically a catheter that is inserted into a peripheral  blood vessel (i.e. a blood vessel in a limb) and fed up to a central vessel (i.e. a large vessel near the heart). The advantage of a PICC line is that it can be left in for several months. It can be used to deliver things (i.e. chemotherapy) and also to take blood for blood tests, therefore preventing the need for multiple stabs. Also, the delivery of chemotherapy to a large, central vein would save my poor peripheral veins from further trauma and sclerosis.


This illustrates where a PICC line is inserted and the tip in a large vessel near the heart.

I first met the nurse who would be assisting the radiologist who would be inserting the PICC line. She was lovely. Simone told her I was doing a blog and I wanted some photos of the PICC line going in but she was a little uneasy about that. I also thought it probably wasn’t wise to have someone photographing the procedure. We didn’t want to make him nervous and have him pierce a big central vessel or my heart! So we settled for a few photos of me lying on the table ready for the PICC line to go in. The nurse asked me which arm I’d like it in and I chose my left arm since that was the arm that already had all the stuffed veins. Might as well keep the right arm good.


Ready for the PICC line.


The radiologist came in and introduced himself. Also lovely. He was the husband of a work colleague so we chatted about my work and also about my radiologist friend, who I assume had lined him up to perform this procedure. He explained what the procedure would involve; injection of local anaesthetic which would be the worst part, a small incision, insertion of the catheter, threading it up to a large vessel near the heart and confirming its position radiographically. The local anaesthetic was inserted and all of a sudden I felt a hand rubbing my right shoulder. It was the nurse. Although it wasn’t really necessary, I did think it was such a nice thing to do. The local anaesthetic did sting but it was nothing compared to a bone marrow biopsy!

The radiologist made the incision and inserted the catheter. He made a comment about me having royal blood because it was very blue. Perhaps I really am a princess! The catheter was threaded up the vein and the correct position of the tip was confirmed. A dressing was applied and that was it. It was all over with pretty quickly.

I returned to the chemo ward ready for the chemo to be delivered through my new PICC line. I was happy to find that I had been moved and was now next to Karine, so we could chat all day during her last chemo session.

My blood test results were back and I was informed that my neutrophils were 0.3. Wow! That was an all time low. Still, I wasn’t concerned because I was ‘well’ so I would be having my chemotherapy. The nurse who was looking after me said she’d have to check with the haematologist before hooking me up to chemo. I understood that but I was a little nervous as my haematologist was still on leave. I knew he would not bat an eyelid and tell them to give me the chemo but the woman who was covering him (you know the one who looked me in the eye and asked “how are you?” and who was so very positive about my PET scan results) was nice! I was just hoping she was only nice to people and not to cancer and would tell the nurses to give me my chemotherapy!

The head nurse came over and told me I wouldn’t be having chemotherapy with neutrophils of 0.3. I told her I’d had chemo with neutrophils of 0.5 and 0.3 wasn’t that much lower than 0.5. She said 0.3 was very low and my chemo would be delayed for a week at that level. No chance! I had the rest of the year mapped out in terms of bad weeks (chemo weeks) and good weeks (non-chemo weeks) so throwing that out by a week would mean I would be having chemotherapy on the Monday before xmas and xmas day, being a Wednesday, would be a write off. It would also mean that the treatment for this cancer would extend into 2014. That was not going to happen. 2014 was going to be a good year.

The nurse who was looking after me came back and told me they were still waiting for the covering haematologist to call back. I was happy to wait. About 10 minutes later, the nurse said the haematologist hadn’t called back so they had spoken to another doctor who sometimes covers my doctor when he he’s away, and he said I should have an injection of neulasta (a drug that makes the bone marrow produce more neutrophils) and come back on Wednesday for another blood test to see if my neutrophil level had improved. I wasn’t happy with that so I told the nurse I wanted to wait for the female haematologist to call back to see what she said.

My haematologist would be back at work the next morning at 8 am so I had already decided I would be calling him at 8:01 am to get him to instruct the nurses to give me chemotherapy on Tuesday if it wasn’t going ahead today. Fortunately the female haematologist called back and told the nurses to give me chemotherapy. She also explained to them the importance of not having delays in chemotherapy in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I would also be earning an injection of bone pain causing Neulasta this time. The nurses apologised but I was not angry with them. I understood their concern about giving me chemotherapy with such a low neutrophil count, but I also knew I should be having chemotherapy that day.

When re-telling this story to an old colleague recently, we laughed that I was possibly becoming a drug addict. Nothing was getting in the way of me having my drugs that day. It’s a little odd, because these drugs make me feel like crap and I wish I didn’t have to have them but I do not want to prolong this adventure by a single day.

So, I was hooked up to chemo through my new PICC line and despite a very late start, it all went smoothly.  Jenni came to visit on her way to work to wish Karine well on her last chemotherapy, (and to check that Simone had ordered my hot lunch). I am so glad I met Karine, although in a way I wish I’d never met her as both of us having cancer is the reason we met. The chemotherapy sessions were almost fun with Karine there. She was a breath of fresh air and made Jenni and myself laugh often with her honesty and sense of humour. We met her mum, her friends and her husband, as she had a different ‘chemo friend’ each time, and we learnt a lot about her through the stories she told us. Karine is also participating in the weekend to end women’s cancers but unfortunately she is not a member of ‘The Good Tittie Team’. I guess we’re all on the same team really, raising money for the same cause.  I wish Karine all the very best in her life after cancer. It won’t be the same but she’s a strong, happy person and she will be fine. We’re Facebook friends now and I think we can call ourselves real friends too. I am sure we will keep in touch.


Karine and I in our gold class chairs, in the naughty corner, hooked up to chemo, for the very last time for Karine.

Simone and I didn’t leave until nearly 5 pm which is the latest finish I have had. It was a long day but it was another chemo down. Seven to go.


35. Results are in

Thursday 19th September, 2013

Sorry Helen and Lesley. I’ve already made you wait a lot longer for the results than I had to wait, so that’s probably a bit unfair.

After the PET scan, I went to the local shopping centre as I needed to get a few things. One of those things was a mermaid nightie for my daughter. I had seen it in a catalogue and knew she would love it. The store only had it in a size 5 and I needed a 7. I then went to the supermarket to get a couple of groceries. I lined up at the check out and the lady in front of me, who had a lot more than me, let me go in front of her. That NEVER happens to me. Must have been the scarf. Now I just ask people if I can go in front of them if I’ve only got one or two things. I’m making use of the cancer card while I can!

After shopping, I went home with about half an hour to spare before I had to head off to the appointment to get my results. While I was at home, it occurred to me that what I had seen on the CT scan of my neck and interpreted as big lymph nodes which had taken up the contrast, were actually blood vessels with intravenous contrast in them, which is a completely normal finding on a CT scan when you’re given intravenous contrast! Lymph nodes wouldn’t even take up the intravenous contrast.  They take up the radioactive glucose for a PET scan, but intravenous contrast is not given to highlight lymph nodes (I’ll have to confirm that with a radiologist). I had just had a quick look at the CT scan and jumped to the worst conclusion.

I headed off to the appointment and parked my car in the hospital car park. When I got out of the car, a lady who was leaving gave me her parking ticket as she still had more than an hour left on it. It only saved me $1 but it was a very nice gesture and it was the second good thing that had happened that day. Must have been the scarf again. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps this meant the results of the PET scan would be good, since as the saying goes, ‘good things happen in threes’, or is that bad things?

I went into the hospital and upstairs to the haematologists’ rooms. I didn’t have to wait very long. She called me in and she was smiling. ‘Have you seen your results?’ she asked. I told her I hadn’t. I can’t remember her exact words but she said the results were great. She printed out a copy and gave it to me and carefully compared it with the results of the first PET scan, and told me that this second re-staging scan showed only one or two lymph nodes in my chest that were still showing activity (indicating that there was still cancer there). There had been a dramatic improvement in my chest and there was no evidence of cancer in my neck, in the lymph nodes around my spleen or in my spleen. The first PET scan had been suggestive of lymphoma in my spleen although my haematologist wasn’t certain if it was there or not, but this one showed no evidence of it. The radiologist who reported the first scan also raised the possibility of bone marrow involvement although my haematologist was quite firm in his opinion that there was no lymphoma in my bone marrow. This scan indicated that my bone marrow looked normal.

I mustn’t have reacted much to the news that the scan showed a dramatic improvement, as the haematologist kept telling me it was great news. It was fantastic. She said if the scan had been done after three cycles (6 treatments) of chemotherapy instead of two cycles (4 treatments), it probably would have been completely negative. She said my cancer is responding to the chemo and it is excellent news. She then went on to say after two more sessions of chemo I’ll be half way and then I can start counting them down. She was very, very positive and was also trying to give me a strategy to get through the 8 further sessions of chemo I had in front of me.

I asked her if people ever respond like I have but then the cancer has progressed when the PET scan at the end of treatment is done. She said “well yes, but that is very, very rare” and again reassured me that things were great.

I left the appointment and before I exited the hospital I sent the following text to a few people who were desperate to know the results of the scan:

Good things happen in threes. Today a lady let me go in front of her at the supermarket, then when I parked my car at the hospital a lady gave me her parking ticket because there was more than an hour left on it. And my PET scan is almost negative. Doctor very happy. She said if they’d done it after 3 cycles instead of 2 it would have been completely negative.

My phone was then running hot. Text messages, phone calls. I couldn’t keep up. Everyone was VERY excited and relieved. Jenni texted me and said she was almost crying. Almost? I would have thought that result should bring on some tears!

As I drove away from the hospital, I was feeling quite good about the results but I wasn’t excited. It was definitely a huge relief to know that all the side effects I had experienced were not just horrible effects of a treatment that was doing nothing for the cancer. It would make the side effects that little bit easier to tolerate in the future. I didn’t want to be negative Nelly but it was impossible to feel excited when I was only one third of the way through treatment and I still had more than three months of chemotherapy and the associated side effects to endure. Eight mores sessions, which was twice as many as I had behind me. I did spread the word however (although not too widely), that it was good to know that the good chemo was kicking the good cancer’s arse!

I also thought about other people with other types of cancer who go through chemotherapy and experience all the horrid side effects but have no idea whether it is actually working or not, as they don’t have a PET scan after a few cycles to assess how the cancer is responding. People like Lisey with breast cancer. These people usually have surgery, the aim of which is to remove all the cancer, before they commence chemotherapy (but sometimes things are done in a different order) so there is essentially no cancer left to assess with a scan. The chemotherapy is given to take care of any stray cancer cells which might be floating around. There is just no real way of knowing if the cancer responds to that particular chemotherapy. You just can’t compare different types of cancers and their treatments. It’s like comparing apples with oranges. Lisey later texted me with these very thoughts, that she would never really know if the chemotherapy she was given had any effect on her cancer cells. I did feel I was in a fortunate position knowing that my chemotherapy was working.

I drove to the nearest shopping centre to try to find that mermaid nightie for my daughter. Before I went in, I had a feeling they wouldn’t have it because I’d already had my three good things for the day. They didn’t have the nightie but I did find some lovely mermaid bathers. I gave them to her that night and told her I’d had a test which showed my cancer was nearly gone so I bought her a present to celebrate. She was pretty happy with that – both the test results and (probably more so) the bathers.

That evening I texted my radiologist colleague and thanked him for the good PET scan result as I had asked him to make sure it was negative. I also asked him whether he thought my bone marrow did actually have lymphoma in it on the first PET scan or whether the radiologist had overcalled it, which my haematologist had thought was the case. The appearance of my bone marrow was different on the re-staging PET scan so I was wondering whether that actually meant there probably was lymphoma there initially and there now wasn’t. My radiologist colleague agreed that  radiologists often overcall the bone marrow (that is, say it looks like it has lymphoma in it when in fact it doesn’t) and that the appearance on the initial PET scan probably represented reactive change rather than infiltration by lymphoma. Thinking about it later, I decided that my bone marrow probably looked different on the re-staging PET scan because the chemotherapy was wiping it out! I have no idea if that is correct or not and apologies if this paragraph has completely confused the non-medical readers.

So, how did I feel about the results once I had really had time to think about things? I knew they were good results but I also knew they could have been better. And of course, a lot, lot worse. My haematologist (not the one I saw to get the results, the male one who I had seen from the start and would continue to see when he got back from holidays) had told me that he expected this PET scan to be negative. It was nearly negative, but it wasn’t completely negative, so what did that mean? I didn’t have bulky disease (that is, my lymph nodes weren’t greatly enlarged) but I had read about people with bulky disease who had a negative PET scan after 2 cycles of chemotherapy. So given that I didn’t have bulky disease and the PET scan wasn’t negative, did that mean the response wasn’t really that great after all? It probably didn’t because some people have no response at all to the type of chemotherapy I am having (ABVD) and at least I was responding. I just didn’t know what it all really meant.

And I don’t really believe that good things happen in threes. If the lady in the supermarket didn’t let me in front of her and the lady in the car park didn’t give me her parking ticket, my PET scan still would have been almost negative.


The lucky ticket. It’s a shame it wasn’t a tattslotto ticket!

34. The second PET scan

Thursday 19th September, 2013

The day had finally arrived when I would find out if the chemotherapy was having any effect on my cancer. It was the day of the follow-up PET scan. If you need to refresh your memory on what a PET scan is, click here to read about my first PET scan. It was only a few days before this second PET scan that I started writing this blog, so many people were aware I had strong opinions on inappropriate things to say with someone with cancer. As a result, I don’t think  anybody really knew what to say as they were worried about saying something inappropriate. That actually suited me fine. I was happy for people to say nothing. What can you say? Good luck – not really appropriate because luck has nothing to do with it and it’s not an exam or a job interview. It is something you have no control over. Some people just said they were thinking of me and hoped the results were good. That was appropriate. I don’t recall if anybody even said this but I would suggest you don’t say “I just know the results will be good” because actually, you don’t know and then what are you going to say if they’re not good? And don’t ask “Are you nervous?”

I dropped my daughter at school and headed straight to the radiology centre for my 9:15 am appointment. I was feeling a bit emotional that day. At the time, I didn’t think it had anything to do with cancer and the anticipation of finding out what the scan showed. It was about other things going on in my life at the time, but looking back maybe the cancer stuff was a factor. I went up to the desk and was told to take a seat, and I waited and waited and waited. I think I waited close to an hour which I know is not long if you’re in the public health system, but in the private system with probably the first appointment of the day it was a long time and it pissed me off a bit. The scanning was going to take a couple of hours as it was.

Finally my name was called and I was escorted into a small room where I was given some oral contrast to drink (for the CT scan) and two radiographers fussed around, neither of them wanting to be the one to have to put an intravenous cannula in a doctor! I gave the lucky candidate the good arm and she went for a nice juicy vein in my cubital fossa (front of the elbow) and much to her relief, the first attempt was successful. She was however, a bit embarrassed about all the blood that spilled all over the floor.

I was then taken into the room with the iron walls where I was expecting to see the ancient looking, big metal machine in the corner, which I was planning to take a photo of, but it wasn’t there. Had I imagined it last time? The radioactive glucose was simply injected from a small syringe and I was left to radioactivate. The radiographer said she would be back in 50 minutes. There was no radio with fuzzy reception this time. Just me and silence. I don’t know how long I was left there for but when the radiographer returned, she apologised for leaving me so long.

I was taken into the PET scanning room. I didn’t have to get changed into a gown this time. I was just asked to remove my bra and when I was lying on the thin table I was covered with a blanket and pulled my pants down to around my knees. The scan was much the same as last time. I had to lie very still with my arms by my side and I was very, very slowly passed through the donut. When that was done, I was expecting another scan with my arms above my head but I was told I was done and could get off the table. I asked about the second scan and they said it wasn’t needed and they only usually do that with the first staging PET scan. Were they telling the truth? Or did they not need to do it because this PET scan still showed cancer everywhere so it wasn’t really important exactly where it was? Or was it showing no cancer so they knew the scan with my ams above my head would be pointless? I was thinking too much.

I was then asked to drink another cup of oral contrast prior to the CT scan. Since there was no ancient looking metal machine in the room with the iron walls, or anything else remotely interesting enough to take a photo of for my blog, I took a photo of the cup of oral contrast. Very interesting! And Lisey, the private oral contrast doesn’t taste like aniseed. I’m not entirely sure what flavour it was, but it wasn’t aniseed.


The cup of oral contrast.

The CT scan was quite uneventful. This time I did have to put my arms above my head, so I had two injections of intravenous contrast (and hence felt like I wet myself twice), one for the scan with my arms by my side, and one for the scan with my arms above my head. The CT scans are much quicker than the PET scan so that part was over with quite quickly.

The radiographer told me to go to the front desk to sort out payment and then to wait and he would give me a copy of the CT scan films to take. I told him I didn’t need the films. I actually didn’t want the films because I didn’t want to be tempted to look at them and misinterpret them. He told me my haematologist always wants his own hard copy of the films. I thought that was odd because I hadn’t taken a hard copy after my first CT scan back in July, but then it occurred to me that that CT scan had been requested by my GP, not my haematologist.

So, I took the films and headed out to the car. I tried not to look but I couldn’t stop myself. I pulled out one of the several sheets in the envelope and it just happened to be scans of my neck, where most of my enlarged lymph nodes were in the beginning. It looked to me like there were a lot of prominent lymph nodes which had taken up contrast. Shit! I told myself not to be stupid, and to wait, and I didn’t look at any more films. It was only a matter of hours until I would see the haematologist.

33. Punks rule

10th – 18th September 2013

Strange title for a post but all will become clear. The days after the 4th hit of chemo involved the usual exhaustion with Wednesday spent in bed but there was nothing too out of the ordinary, or what was becoming the ordinary. Whilst the exhaustion was ‘normal’, it was more annoying this time as there was so much I had wanted to get done around the house while there were no children to make a mess, and time was skipping away. Just in case you’ve forgotten, or haven’t read the relevant post,  the rest of my family were in Bali on that holiday that I couldn’t go on because of cancer and no neutrophils!

On the Thursday before the 4th hit of chemo, I had gone out for a lovely dinner at a local restaurant with a few school mums.  We had a great night with lots of laughs and a few wines.  It was just the night before that dinner that I had shaved all my hair off. One of the mum’s, Andrea (member of ‘The Good Tittie Team’) mentioned the trivia night that was coming up on 14th September at the primary school our children attended. She said they had a spare seat on their table and asked if I would like to join them. I said I would love to. At this trivia night, each table dresses up in their chosen theme and the theme for our table was punks! How I wished I’d known about this just one day before. I would have kept the mohawk!


How perfect would that have been for a punk theme??!!

Saturday 14th September came around soon enough. I had borrowed some ‘punky’ clothes and accessories, including a fake nose ring, from my sister (the one who hasn’t commented on this blog yet) and found some fishnet stockings but my outfit wasn’t quite complete and I hadn’t been able to find a ‘punky’ wig anywhere. As luck would have it, my good friend, Lisa Waugh (of chemo show bag fame and also a member of ‘The Good Tittie Team’) texted me that morning and I mentioned my dilemma. She happened to be in a shopping centre and she jumped at the challenge of finding me some appropriate attire. She arrived at my house several hours later with a mohawk wig, tattoo sleeves, safety pins and all sorts of other ‘punky’ accessories.  Thank you Lisa!

I wasn’t sure whether to go with the mohawk wig or  to bear my shaved head. My sister, Jenni (fav sis) convinced me that the shaved head option was the best and that I might as well take advantage of it. I got dressed into my punk attire and then went to Jenni’s for the finishing touches. After that I went to Andrea’s house for the application of the punk make-up and we were ready to rock!


Rockin’ the punk look.


A bit closer just so you can appreciate that nose ring.


The mohawk wig. The natural mohawk looked better but unfortunately I didn’t keep it.


Three punk chicks ready for some trivia. Renee, Andrea and myself (L-R).


The reason for title of this post becomes clear.

The trivia night was a lot of fun for reasons other than trivia. People who knew I had cancer thought I was very brave exposing my shaved head. And those who didn’t know I had cancer? Well I told them I had shaved my head especially for the night and they were very impressed with my level of commitment to the theme.

I also heard what is possibly one of the most inappropriate things to say to someone with cancer that night, but I thought it was hilarious. A fellow punk who was a hairdresser and was slightly intoxicated was told I had cancer. She had recently lost a good friend to breast cancer and was very interested in my story. She told me I had a beautiful shaped head which I thought was a bit of a strange thing to say, but she told me that she was a hairdresser so basically she was qualified to make that judgement. She told me the shaved head really suited me and then all of a sudden she came out with “YOU’D LOOK SHIT WITH HAIR!” Most people I have told think that is a highly inappropriate and offensive thing to say to someone with no hair due to having cancer, but I thought it was funny, funny in it’s complete randomness, and I laughed. And I wasn’t intoxicated.

On the morning of Tuesday 17th September, I picked up the family from the airport after their 17 night holiday in Bali. When they left, I had the short dodgy hodgy chemo cut number 7 hair cut. My daughter had wanted to help shave my hair off before they went to Bali but we never got around to it. I had told her via FaceTime that I had shaved it off while she was in Bali but I hadn’t shown her. I arrived at the airport, wearing a scarf of course, and when my daughter saw me, she could see some (very) short hair in front of my ears that wasn’t covered by the scarf. In the middle of a very busy airport, she ripped off my scarf and exclaimed very loudly, “You told me you would have no hair when I came back!” For a split second I was angry and was about to tell her off but then I thought, “Who cares?” and I laughed. I was rather grateful however, that I was wearing a scarf with a built in cap so it was very easy to slip back on.

Now, an update on that challenge to avoid a PICC line. I had been feeling that big vein that the diluted, slowly infused chemo had gone into every day since hit number 4 and in the early days things were looking good. No pain, it felt soft. I thought we had succeeded. Then over the weekend it started feeling a bit tender and by the next week it was definitely feeling hard. Mission aborted. I rang the chemo ward on the Wednesday and told them I needed a PICC line. I thought I might be able have it inserted the next day as I would be in a radiology department having a PET scan (a PICC line is inserted by a radiologist) but I was informed I had to be admitted to hospital to have it inserted so it was booked in for the following Monday and would go in before hit number 5 of chemo.

I was having a procedure performed by a radiologist. Naturally, I had to make sure any old radiologist could do this and there wasn’t anyone I needed to avoid. Doesn’t everyone do that? No, just doctors. I sent a text to my helpful radiologist colleague letting him know when and where I was having this procedure performed and asked if there was anyone there I perhaps shouldn’t trust. Within what seemed like a split second, a text came back telling me the name of the radiologist who would be doing it, that this radiologist was a good guy, and in fact was the husband of a work colleague. Small world. There are so many colleagues to thank at the end of this adventure, and I think they might be thankful this adventure is over too!

So, the next day, Thursday 19th September, is the day I would have a PET scan and find out if the chemo I had already grown to hate was working on the good cancer.

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32. Chemotherapy – round 4…..the new challenge

Monday 9th September, 2013

I usually see my haematologist prior to chemotherapy but he was on holidays so I’d seen the doctor who was covering him on the Friday before. That Friday was actually quite a busy day. A blood test in the morning to check on those damn neutrophils, a quick lunch with an old work colleague I hadn’t seen for a while and in to work to attend a cardiac genetics meeting. It was good to catch up with colleagues but there was no time for socialising after the meeting as I had to rush off to get to the doctor’s appointment. Bloody cancer!

I arrived at my appointment a couple of minutes late, thinking that wouldn’t be a problem as doctors are always running late. Not this one. Maybe because it was Friday afternoon.  She took a few minutes to read my file as she didn’t know me or where I was up to with my treatment, and then called me in. I could tell almost immediately that she was different to my usual haematologist. She was female for a start. I told her about my two sclerosed or hardened veins and asked if I’d need a PICC line. She said if I was asking about one this early on, I was probably heading towards needing one. I told her I’d prefer not to have one and also told her that it was the last drug I was being given, dacarbazine, that seemed to cause the most irritation and pain when it was being infused, so I thought this was the problem drug. Dacarbazine is the fourth and last drug I am given and it is infused over 1.5 to 2 hours. I asked if it could be given even slower than that, not that I wanted to spend any longer in the chemo chair, but she didn’t think that would help as it wouldn’t change the fact that it was an irritant drug in contact with a small vein. I then asked whether it could be prepared in a bigger volume of fluid so it was more dilute when it was being infused. Perhaps that would cause less irritation. She agreed that might help and made a phone call to pharmacy to ask them to prepare the drug in almost twice the volume they would usually prepare it in.  She asked if I had any problems with fluid retention after chemotherapy, which I didn’t, so it would be safe to give me a bigger volume of fluid without risking heart failure! I’m young and fit remember. Just hope that chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy doesn’t kick in.

I asked her how my neutrophils were going as I’d had a blood test that morning. They were at an all time high of 1.5! 1.5 is actually still a bit low for a ‘normal’ person (ie. someone not having chemotherapy) but for me, it almost seemed excessive, three times what they’d been previously. Perhaps things were looking up. I later joked that maybe the chemotherapy wasn’t working anymore as it hadn’t knocked me around as much and my neutrophils weren’t being knocked around as much either.

She then looked at me with this knowing look in her eyes, I think it was sympathy, and asked how I was going. It wasn’t a simple “how are you?”, it was more “how are you really coping with the fact you’ve got cancer in your thirties with two young children and are having chemotherapy which makes you feel like shit, and you’ve still got 9 treatments ahead of you and you don’t even know if it’s working yet?” To be honest, I can’t even remember how I answered. I think I told her it was harder than I thought it would be but I was OK because the second and third rounds had not been horrendous like the first round. I told her the family were away at the moment so I had a lot of time to myself to relax and not worry about anyone else. I told her I’d even been out in the garden doing some weeding. She looked horrified. “You shouldn’t be in the garden with your neutrophils!” she said. I asked what was in the garden that was bad, thinking she might say some weird fungus or something but the answer was simple. “Dirt!” Yes, I suppose that makes complete sense. I just hadn’t really given it any thought. I could have a small cut on my hand, get a bit of dirt in it, and with no neutrophils to ward off any little bugs, I’m a sitting duck for septicaemia. “No more weeding for you!” she exclaimed.

She then told me about the ‘neutropaenic diet’ I should be following which is pretty much like the diet you are supposed to follow when you are pregnant. This was all news to me. She said that I probably hadn’t ben told all of this because I was a doctor and people assumed I knew. I am a doctor, but I’m a pathologist, not an oncologist, and my patients don’t have to worry too much about their diets.

We then had a quick chat about the upcoming PET scan which would be done about 10 days after the 4th hit of chemo. This would tell me if this chemotherapy was working or not. She told me to make an appointment to see her as soon as I got the appointment time for the PET scan, as my usual haematologist would still be away.

So, on Monday 9th September, I arrived for chemo number 4 (or day 15 of cycle 2 if you’re my doctor).  Number 4 sounds much better.  That’s one third of the way through chemo – once I got through the next two weeks that is, and provided the plans don’t change, which of course they could.  I was seated next to my chemo buddy, Karine, again today.  That day was her second last treatment.  I was happy for her, and also very, very jealous.  Soon enough (only 3 or 4 months later!) it would be my second last and then my last treatment.  I cannot wait!  The ladies next to me commented on my scarf and asked where I got it from so I was happy to be able to give them a pamphlet for Hat House and tell them how great the hats and scarves are there.  I gave the rest of the pamphlets to the nurses so they could go on display with all the other information there and hoped that the next generation of chemotherapy patients would not have the same difficulties I did finding scarves.

The challenge. I mentioned in previous posts, and discussed with haematologist, the difficulties I have been having with my veins sclerosing after chemotherapy and the possibility that I may need a PICC line.  I had already decided that if the vein sclerosed after this round of chemotherapy, I would get a PICC line.  I’m not really strongly opposed to getting one.  If I absolutely need one, I will get it.  I just need to be satisfied the reason or reasons are good.  It’s a bit like when I was pregnant and was searching for a reason to have a caesarean.  The fact that ‘natural’ childbirth is ridiculously and unnecessarily painful wasn’t enough. No idea why not!  I do not judge those that are too posh to push.  I applaud them.  My second labour was so intense and quick that there was not even time for drugs.  That was not my birth plan.  Actually, I didn’t have one.  Anyway, I’m digressing.  The PICC line.  The reasons I don’t really want one are all relatively minor which is why I won’t really be shattered if I need one.

  • It is a foreign body in my immunocompromised body so there is a risk of infection (probably low, but there), and having one in might sway my doctor to put me on bone pain causing Neulasta injections if my neutrophils remain low.
  • I have a one year old child who likes to pull things, but it will probably be well covered and taped for that not to be an issue.
  • Summer is around the corner so it will be constantly exposed for all to see.  That one really is minor.  I’m not that vain.  I think it’s hard to be too vain when you’re bald.
  • It will necessitate another weekly visit to hospital for flushing and a dressing change.
  • I won’t be able to swim in my pool, as you have to keep it dry! Come to think of it, maybe neutropaenic people shouldn’t be swimming in pools anyway.  Will have to ask my doctor that one.

A PICC line would however, save me at least 20 stabs over the coming months for intravenous access for chemotherapy and blood tests and would save my poor peripheral veins from further torture and constant pain when they sclerose.  Some of you are probably wondering why I don’t just get one.

So when I arrived for chemo today the charge nurse mentioned the trouble I’d been having with my veins and we briefly discussed a PICC line.  She asked if I was having 6 rounds of chemo.  I wish! I told her it was 12 – still 9 to go!  I told her I would get a PICC line if the vein that was used today sclerosed.  I went through the ritual of soaking my hands in hot water to dilate my veins.  When the nurse came over to insert the cannula she decided we wouldn’t waste our time with those small veins in my hand and wrist and would go for a big vein in my cubital fossa (front of my elbow).  Big vein, bigger volume of fluid and therefore dilute chemotherapy, heat pack to dilate the vein, infusing over 2 hours instead of 1.5 hours.  It had to work.

After the cannula was inserted the charge nurse came back and said “I think we’ll just book you in for a PICC line”.  I was quite perplexed by that.  I think she saw the cannula in my cubital fossa and assumed there were no veins lower down that were any good.  I told her I would wait and see what happened after today and that I still had one good arm! The nurse who put the cannula in also reassured her that there was no problem.  We just decided to go for a big vein.  So, call me determined or call me stubborn.  You can even call me stupid if you want.  It is now my mission to avoid a PICC line.  Chemotherapy number 4 went in with no problems.  No pain during the infusion like there had been the previous two weeks and no pain when I returned home.  We may just have found the successful formula.


Have I set myself an impossible challenge in trying to avoid a PICC line?

I also received an appointment time that day for my PET scan.  This is the one that will tell me how well the chemotherapy is working.  Apparently, it should be negative! That’s what my usual haematologist had told me. Well that is the best case scenario.  I am not expecting it to be negative but that doesn’t mean I am expecting it to still show signs of cancer.  I’m just going in with an open mind knowing that it could show anything.  I know the chemotherapy is working as the itch has gone and the lymph nodes in my neck are smaller.  But how well is it working?  Time will tell.  My PET scan was booked for Thursday of the following week (19th September) at 9:15 am.  After chemotherapy I went upstairs to make an appointment with the haematologist to get the results.  I was informed that my haematologist would be back on 25th September so I could just wait and see him.  Really?  Wait six days for the result of the PET scan?  I don’t think so.  So I got an appointment for 2:15 pm on Thursday 19th September.  Do you think I’ve learnt my lesson from the last PET scan and I won’t get the results directly from the radiologist?  Probably not.  But at least this time I’ll be seeing the haematologist the same day so if the radiologist gives me bad news again I’ll find out soon enough what it really means for me.


31. Update on ‘The Good Tittie Team’

After the last frenzy of posts (14 in 10 days to be precise), it has now been almost three weeks since I’ve written anything. At the time of writing the last post, ‘The Good Tittie Team’ had been in existence for just one week and had accumulated 15 members and raised over $9000! Now, after just under 4 weeks, we have 28 members and have raised a staggering $26,236.05. We hit the top 10 fundraising teams like a tornado after about two weeks and have now rocketed our way up to number 4! And Cousin Sonya assures me that she is going to make a friend’s birthday gathering tonight all about me and get a lot of money donated. Happy Birthday Dahna!!

Seven members of the team have raised over $2000 and have therefore officially qualified to walk and five members have made an appearance in the top 10 fundraisers of the week at some point. We also currently have three members of our team in the top 100 fundraisers.

After one week, Jenni, Daisy and myself had raised over $2000. Yeliena Baber (fellow forensic pathologist) made the courageous decision to shave her head in an effort to raise money and it worked a treat! She got to $2000 within about a week and I also benefited as she was seeking donations from work colleagues, many of whom decided to donate to me at the same time as donating to her. Yeliena will have her head shaved at work on Friday 13th December. Lisey took full advantage of Yeliena’s rapid approach towards $2000 and pleaded with her friends on Facebook to not let Yeliena beat her to $2000. Lisey won! Yeliena was not far behind however and that made 5 officially qualified walkers. Next was Kate Maynard, who succeeded despite her pleas for donations from cashed up pathologists mostly falling upon deaf ears. The latest qualifier is Lisa Newitt. I will take some of the credit for that as after joining Facebook, I immediately threatened one of her brothers and then the whole family came through with huge donations.  Lisa also had some very creative fundraising ideas like sending a ‘swear bucket’ along on her boys’ footy trip.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. I joined Facebook!!! After years of stubbornly refusing to give in to the lure of social media, I did it. I actually wasn’t being stubborn, I just thought I didn’t have time for it, and I think I was right! Goodness me, what a time waster! But it has been fun commenting on many irrelevant and unimportant matters, stalking people and ‘catching up’ with old friends I haven’t spoken to for years. I’m even going to see (as in face to face) a couple of old friends I haven’t seen for about 15 years in a couple of weeks. So yes, I think Facebook is good. Excitingly, I think my venture on to Facebook encouraged two other fellow stubborn (busy) doctors and members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ to get on board; Annette Connelly and Yeliena Baber. Yeliena has been so prolific with posts, likes and comments, I think she’s wondering how she ever managed without it!

Another good thing  about Facebook is that Lisey started a group on it which means that all the members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ who are on Facebook have a little forum to communicate with each other.

My mum, Amanda and Papa Russ have been training hard, going for walks whenever they have a spare moment. Papa Russ has also designed the logo for our team uniform! It looks awesome but I’ll keep that a secret until our Tshirts are printed.


Papa Russ in training in Perth.

I will now introduce the next THIRTEEN members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ (in the order they signed up). Thanks to Lisey for the introductory words on Kristy, Naomi, Josh, Michelle, Jenny and Anita

  • Kristy Horan and Naomi Jolly – these two ladies are members of the Bendigo chapter of ‘The Good Tittie Team’. Lisey was lucky to meet them as part of her mothers group 5 odd years ago when they all had their first children. Kristy had twins and Lisey remembers thinking ‘how on earth does she do it?!’ (I thought the same thing when Kristy told me she had twins). Both Kristy and Naomi commented that they felt they hadn’t supported Lisey enough during her journey so when they heard about this walk, they didn’t hesitate to jump on board and Lisey is thrilled they did. Kristy’s dad was also recently diagnosed with and treated for stomach cancer at Peter Mac so she is walking to support Lisey and to give something back to the hospital her father was treated at. Both Kristy and Naomi think Lisey is truly inspirational (as we all do). Kristy even went as far as saying Lisey is possibly the most amazing woman she has ever met. As I said to Kristy, she hasn’t met me yet!
  • Jean ‘the pocket rocket grand master poppet’ Payne – Along with Kate Maynard, who I have previously introduced, Jean is a super scientist from Geelong who I met in 2004 when I started my pathology training. Jean is so smart and in demand, she travels overseas to give lectures and she is an honorary doctor in Thailand! We have kept in touch since I left Geelong in 2007 and she has texted often, sometimes just a “xx”, during my adventure. Jean and Kate also made the round trip from Geelong to my place (about 400 km) and delivered an abundance of food and love! Jean is small in stature (and I’m pretty sure will have the title of shortest team member) but big in personality, strength, support and determination. She refers to everyone as ‘Poppet’, hence she has been dubbed the grand master poppet! Jean is doing this walk not only to support me, but also in honour of one of her best friends who she lost to ovarian cancer nine years ago.

I stole this from Jean’s Facebook page.

  • Josh Frederick – Josh was essentially Lisey’s bridesmaid at her wedding. He has always known who he is as an individual and been comfortable in his skin. Josh and Lisey have a great friendship with a common love of sharing music. He is a crazily, overly social creature who attracts friends like a magnet. He has always had a great love and understanding of animals. Lisey used to think he would become a zookeeper but it wasn’t meant to be. In recent years he finally entered the career he was destined to, as a kick arse prep teacher! Which I guess is a lot like a zoo.

Josh are Michelle Kavanagh (see below) are significant friends that Lisey has known since 1987, from their prepubescent days at school (with me), the era of dealing with zits, slumber parties, perms, of reading Cosmo, of gossip sessions, wearing long white socks, writing on those ridiculously hard to carry box woodwork pencil cases, and boyfriends. Michelle and Josh were some of the the first people Lisey went to with her cancer diagnosis and they jumped to be by her side coming to stay with her in the early days of diagnosis and supporting her at a triathlon back in January when she was in complete la la ‘dread dragon’ cancer land. She will never forget what they did for her this year, (along with others who haven’t yet been successfully coaxed into joining our walking team!)

  • Sally Todaro – I’ve spoken about Sally before when I dedicated dodgy hodgy chemo cut number 7 to her. As I forgot to point out in that post, Sally and I were born in the same hospital, one week apart, but we didn’t meet until 1987 when we, along with Lisey, Josh, Michelle and Annette, started high school together. She is one of the few people I have kept in contact with since finishing high school. She has been an amazing support during my adventure, visiting often to entertain my children, bring food (doesn’t matter if it’s not home made!) and she even tidies up my kids’ playroom! In fact, she visited me today. Sally made a very generous donation to kickstart my mum’s fundraising tally and then joined the team herself, apparently after being made to feel guilty by an ex-high school teacher. Sally is doing this walk in honour of her Nan and Beryl and many friends who have been touched by cancer. Alas, not even me having cancer is enough to get Sally on Facebook.
  • Andrea Pentz – I’ve known Andrea since the beginning of this year when our daughters started prep together. She’s been ridiculously helpful with school pick ups, drop offs, play dates, dinners (both providing them and going out for them). She’s always up for a laugh and a glass of wine and is one of those friendly people who will have everyone in the team worked out in about 5 minutes. Andrea’s mum went through breast cancer about 8 years ago so she is walking for her too. Andrea will do fundraising through the retail store she works at, where our team name probably won’t get a mention!
  • Michelle Kavanagh – (See above also) Michelle is the kind of person who always thinks of other people, remembers their birthdays, always offers her home to her group of friends and makes sure everyone is well fed and always offers Lisey and her family a place to stay when they visit Melbourne.
  • Jenny Dalgleish – Jenny is Michelle’s sister. She was in senior school, in the same year level as my ‘quiet in the blog comments department’ sister (ie. not Jenni, fav sis) when we were juniors and was part of the cool group of girls who we all looked up to! Lisa and I played with Jenny in the women’s ‘Cranny Crushers’ footy team. Jenny and I actually dated brothers many, many years ago (Jenny went on to marry the one she was dating) so I guess we sisters-in-law of sorts, once upon a time. Jenny and Michelle have had some immediate family members go through breast cancer recently, including their Mum and Auntie, so I’m sure the walk will hold some significance to them.
  • Lisa Waugh – the third Lisa of the team. I met Lisa and her husband Shane (who will probably join our team too and will be doing the graphic designing for our T-shirts) about 18 months ago when she was handed my one month old baby at swimming lessons (for my then 4 year old daughter). She’s one of those people you just click with straight away. So friendly, caring, supportive and understanding. She gave me a well researched cancer show bag before I started chemo, has listened to a lot of whining and drank a bit of wine with me. The funny thing is, she said she was going to get a T-shirt made for me saying “I got the good cancer” (before I started my blog). Guess we’ll have to settle for “The good tittie team” on a T-shirt instead. Welcome aboard Lisa the 3rd!
  • Cousins Cheyne and Jo Tomlinson – Cousin Cheyne is the youngest Tomo cousin and apparently the funniest! And that is a big call because the Tomo’s are all very, very funny. Jo is his beautiful wife and now also a cousin. They were so very kind getting married soon after I cut my hair off and so provided the occasion for my first outing as a scarved up cancer patient. Cheyne and Jo have also put Uncle Noof (former fav uncle) to shame by joining as he is now the only member of the family not walking, continuing to put bowling before me! There is also cousin Emma (Chris’ wife) who is not walking but her excuse is a little better than Uncle Noof’s! She’s marrying three people that weekend – she’s a celebrant, and a bloody good one!
  • Teresa Eastwood –  Teresa is also a super scientist from Geelong who I worked with, along with Kate and Jean. As I was writing about Jean yesterday (working on this post) I was thinking about the Friday lunches we used to have. These lunches always involved wine so I don’t think any of us were too productive on our return to work on Friday afternoons. This got me thinking about Teresa, as she was a regular attendee at these lunches. I remember telling Teresa when she was pregnant with her second child that I thought babies were boring. She laughed. I hadn’t had any children at that stage and I too would laugh now if someone told me they thought babies were boring. I haven’t seen Teresa since I left Geelong in 2007 but I heard she went on to have twins a few years after I left! So, having thought about Teresa just yesterday, I was very excited to see her name pop up as a new team member last night. Very happy to have her on board and bring the Geelong chapter of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ to four. Teresa thinks this walk is a great cause and is also looking to use it as a motivation for fitness!! 
  • Anita Weller – Anita is Michelle Kavanagh’s friend and their kids go to primary school together. Along with Michelle, Anita was there at the start of Lisey’s fitness quest last year and they ran some fun runs together. I am told Anita has two gorgeous boys.

So just to recap on the team stats. We have 4 Baker’s, 6 Tomlinson’s (so technically 10 from the same family), 3 doctors, 3 from Bendigo, 4 from Geelong, 2 from Perth, 3 over sixty’s, 2 mothers of twins, 3 who attended the same primary school, TEN who attended the same high school and 28 bloody awesome people raising good money and looking forward to having some fun.

Thank you, thank you thank you everyone for your very generous donations! Everyone has been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of their friends. I can hardly believe that I have raised $4625! Just $375 from my target of $5000. A mere $36 would have me at number 8 in the top fundraisers (hint, hint). We still have 21 people who are yet to reach $2000 which they require to be eligible to walk so if you can help anybody out with a donation, big or small, it will be greatly appreciated.

To donate, simply click HERE.  This will take you to our team page.  Simply scroll down to see the members of the team and click on whoever you would like to donate to.  When you are on the page for that person, click on the big green ‘DONATE ONLINE NOW’ button.  It’s that easy.  If you’d like to make it a bit more difficult, go to http://www.endcancer.org.au and then you can search for our team (The Good Tittie Team, in case you’ve forgotten) or search for an individual by name.

If you want to join ‘The Good Tittie Team’, click on that ‘here’ button above, scroll down and click on ‘Join Team’. Let me know if you’re joining and I’ll give you the password. There were two members of ‘The Good Team’ at it’s inception only four weeks ago.  We now have 28 and are the second biggest team walking!  More members are always welcome, but if you are thinking about joining please do it ASAP as our team uniforms will be ordered soon.

And don’t forget to order your stickers at http://www.myracecarsticker.com.au Remember, you can have whatever you like on your sticker. Check out the website for some ideas. I think they’d make great Christmas presents!

Ev, I haven’t forgotten you. Your time is coming.

Next post, back to reality!

30. The Dodgy Hodgy Chemo Cuts Numbers 11and 12

Well it took two days, but we have attracted another two members to ‘The Good Tittie Team’, and a generous donation from Len and Barb (BT’s parents) got Jenni over the line and she has now raised $2000 and is the second member of the team who has officially qualified to walk. It is quite fitting that the donation came from Barb, as she is one of the people we are all walking for. Hence, the dodgy hodgy chemo cuts 11 and 12 will be revealed after a bit of housekeeping.

The Good Tittie Team tally now stands at a staggering $9551 with generous donations continuing to trickle in, and we have 15 members in our team!! All this, in just one week.


This is what I would look like if I had hair and was looking at ‘The Good Tittie Team’ tally.

We again had three members in the top 10 fundraisers of the week for the past two days. A stirling effort.  Here’s the proof:


Saturday’s top 10.


And Sunday’s top 10. Not much movement over the weekend.

AND, ‘The Good Tittie Team’, despite having been in existence for only one week, is 14th on the tally of top fundraising teams.  This is partly because we are such a large team but it’s still an amazing feat and amazing that we have attracted so much talent, including interstate talent! But don’t become complacent. Keep donating please!! Every dollar counts so everyone out there who hasn’t donated yet, can you spare $10? If you can, donate now please!

I have great pleasure in introducing our two latest recruits:

  • Charismatic Cousin Chris. Son of Uncle Noof (former fav uncle). Uncle Noof is the one who has chosen lawn bowls over walking with his niece with cancer and now has two of his three children stepping up. No pressure Cheyne. I was absolutely “shocked” when I found out Chris had joined the team, and that’s not just because he is an electrician (thank you Sonya for that joke). Chris was hoping to be the first male in the team but by his own admission, being male, he got sidetracked by something irrelevant. Hence, he will have to be content with the title of the youngest male in the team and, according to him, the funniest. Chris is ambitious, or delusional, and has set his fundraising goal at $1,000,000. Since he joined the team, we went from having achieved 25% of our target to achieving only 1%. Hmmmmm.
  • The legendary long lost friend, Lee Neave. I wish I could say more about Lee but I haven’t seen her for about 27 years! Lee, Lisey and I all went to primary school together so I am pretty ecstatic that she has joined the team. Lisey and I were texting today and reminiscing about our primary school nicknames. We have no idea how we earnt them but Lee was Fozzy Bear, I was snake and Lisey was Ozzie Ostrich.  Kermit, if you’re out there, come and join our team!!

Roles are being filled in the team. Lisey and I are co-captains, Jenni is self appointed uniform co-ordinator and Unca Russ (the Godfather), being a sign writer, is the logo designer.

Well, here it is, Dodgy Hodgy Chemo Cut Number 11; the completely shaved head.


Even I got involved with the shaving for this one.


Nearly all gone.


Ta da! The skin head.


A side on view just to prove it’s all gone.

I haven’t had so little hair since I was a foetus! I was born with more hair than this!


This is me at 3 months of age.


And at 10 months of age. Yep, I think I’m a wog.

Just to remind you what I used to look like, and what I’ve become:


A fairly substantial change! I actually think I like the pic with no hair better.

Dodgy Hodgy Chemo Cut Number 12 is my personal favourite. It’s not really another cut, I mean, what more can you do with a shaved head? It’s more of a statement. Here it is.


A picture says 1000 words……or maybe only two.


With the supportive fav sister.

I think the part of all this hair shaving that was the most fun for me was making such a mess in Jenni’s bathroom! If you don’t know, both Jenni and BT are clean freaks. BT even makes his kids tap their feet before they get in the car so they don’t carry dirt in.


Jenni’s bathroom after the shaving. Apparently she left it like this for three days!

If you’re wondering how we got such perfect writing on my head, wonder no more. I will tell you. BT has a sticker business, as anyone who lives within a 100 km radius of him will know, as you would have woken up one morning to find a sticker on your car….or motorbike….or caravan….or lawnmower. For my head, BT printed a sticker and we simply removed the letters and used the surround as a stencil. Pretty good hey? You can even get this sticker on your car.


I reckon these stickers could take off in the cancer world. Not the purpose BT intended them for, but  I don’t think he’ll complain. You can order whatever phrase you want at http://www.myracecarsticker.com.au  At the moment they come with a flag, but if there is enough demand I think BT could be convinced to do cancer awareness ribbons instead of the flags. When I sent this to Lisey she said she wanted one for her car, front door, back door, letterbox and pram.

Well, there you have it. Twelve dodgy hodgy chemo cuts revealed and a plug for the brother-in-laws stickers at the same time. The next dodgy hodgy cut is not really a cut, it’s what happens after two months of chemo when some of your hair falls out and some of it actually grows. This is the one I am calling ‘The Ev’, after a very good friend of mine from high school.  I’ll talk more about Ev when it’s revealed. So, Ev. The pressure is on. Time for you to either join the team or make a sizeable donation if you want a whole post dedicated to you. And since you’ll be torn between donating to either Lisey or myself, I suggest you walk!

Please keep the donations coming. Although I have raised the $2000 required to walk, I am hoping to raise $5000. Pam still needs help to reach the walking target too, as do many of our team members.

If you are planning to donate, but haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now. We are not far away from being in the top 10 fundraising teams and we are aiming for at least a top 3 finish. If you’re not planning to donate, change those plans right now please!

To donate, simply click HERE.  This will take you to our team page.  Simply scroll down to see the members of the team and click on whoever you would like to donate to.  When you are on the page for that person, click on the big green ‘DONATE ONLINE NOW’ button.  It’s that easy.  If you’d like to make it a bit more difficult, go to http://www.endcancer.org.au and then you can search for our team (The Good Tittie Team, in case you’ve forgotten) or search for an individual by name.

If you want to join ‘The Good Tittie Team’, click on that ‘here’ button above, scroll down and click on ‘Join Team’. Let me know if you’re joining and I’ll give you the password. There were two members of ‘The Good Team’ at it’s inception only one week ago.  We now have 15 and are one of the biggest teams walking!  Many more are welcome, and there are rumours of several more members, including one from overseas!!!

29. The Dodgy Hodgy Chemo Cuts Numbers 9 and 10


A bit of housekeeping before the haircuts.

There has been a minor and very necessary change of structure to the team and to the name of the team. My dear friend and cancer sister, Lisey, is co-captain. I copied Lisey by getting cancer, I copied her by doing a blog, and I copied her by getting a huge number of chemo cuts and releasing them on my blog for a good cause. Lisey is the main reason I am doing this walk; to raise money for the hospital she was treated at and for the cancer she has just finished being treated for. She started her journey six months before I started my adventure (I wish I’d found my cancer earlier!) and has been the most unbelievable support and friend to me so there is nobody I would rather do this walk with……..apart from every other bloody awesome member of OUR team!

‘The Good Team’ was so named because of the name of my blog; I got the good cancer.  Lisey’s blog is called Shittytittiebangbang. So the new name for the best team in the walk is……………

The Good Tittie Team

Lisey is a bit concerned about what the tamoxifen of our team (Russell and Max) will think of the name but I think they’ll be proud to walk amongst some good titties. Eyes on the road boys and don’t trip over!

Lisey is not fortunate enough to have the insanely supportive family with so many cousins, aunties and uncles all vying for the title of favourite, that I have, so we are adopting her and taking her in as one of our own.  She told me today that she has always wanted to be a wog, so a wog and a Tomo she is!

The donations are still trickling in, especially to the newer members of the team, and Daisy, so we have now raised a staggering $8675 in five days. Today, we still have three members of our team in the top 10 fundraisers for the week, a pretty phenomenal achievement.


We also have two new members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ who I have great pleasure in introducing to you:

  • Fav cousin Sonya. Sonya good onya.  To tell you about Sonya would require a blog all of it’s own. She’s a natural blonde who does things like wartering artificial plants to try to impress her boss. All I can say is come to the closing ceremony to meet cousin Sonya. There is sure to be plenty of stories to tell. Jokes aside, cousin Sonya has been a great support throughout my adventure, calling often, entertaining my children, breaking champagne glasses (sorry, had to throw that one in) and cooking an abundance of meals which are always filled with love (and sometimes Giardia). She even changes my son’s nappy recently, despite it nearly making her vomit (and I have the video footage). Sonya loves a drink, just make sure you give her a plastic glass to drink out of. Sonya is very, very funny.
  • Luscious Lisa. Lisa and I went to the same high school, where she was (and still is) Jenni’s friend but we are now great friends. Fortunately Lisa has not offered to cook meals for me, well she has but I have declined as Lisa is known amongst our circle as the Paleo woman. Since saying something slightly inappropriate, in an effort to be funny, at the beginning of my adventure, Lisa has more than made up for it and is now walking with me. She is a fitness freak so will be able to do this walk hopping backwards with a blindfold on, but will she be able to do that and piggy back me? Well, she has been training for it.

IMG_1389         IMG_1390 2


Apparently Lisa has arranged to borrow this if I get too heavy and I apparently I forgot to post this haircut on the blog. I don’t even remember having it!

Dodgy Hodgy chemo cuts number 9 and 10 were quite fun and my brother-in-law, BT, showed tremendous support by getting a mohawk with me. Thanks BT.

Here is number 9:


Here comes the mohawk.


Matching mohawks. What a supportive brother-in-law.


From the top for a better look.


From the side.


And the token silly face. Do I look scary? No, it just looks like the sun is in my eyes.

And number 10, just a slight variation on 9.





Dodgy Hodgy chemo cut number 11 is a mere $45 away, or two more members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’. Surely that name change will encourage more of you to join! Cut number 11 is the completely shaved head, shaved on number one. I wish I’d known I was going to be dressing up as a punk a few days later before I shaved the mohawk off!

To donate, simply click here.  This will take you to our team page.  Simply scroll down to see the members of the team and click on whoever you would like to donate to.  When you are on the page for that person, click on the big green ‘DONATE ONLINE NOW’ button.  It’s that easy.  If you’d like to make it a bit more difficult, go to http://www.endcancer.org.au and then you can search for our team (The Good Tittie Team, in case you’ve forgotten) or search for an individual by name.

If you are planning to donate, but haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now and keep us in the top 10. Who said we were competitive? If you’re not planning to donate, change those plans right now please!

If you want to join ‘The Good Tittie Team’, click on that ‘here’ button above, scroll down and click on ‘Join Team’. Let me know if you’re joining and I’ll give you the password. There were two members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ at it’s inception only 5 days ago.  We now have 13!.  Many more are welcome.