52. ‘The Weekend’

Wow! This weekend will be a year behind. Time to get moving.

Friday 28th February to Sunday 2nd March, 2014

‘The Weekend’ refers to ‘The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers’ benefiting Peter Mac, a 60km walk over two days. If you remember back to the days when I was blogging a bit more regularly, you will recall that my friend Lisey and I co-captained a team called ‘The Good Tittie Team’ (so named to tie in with both of our blogs). I don’t really need to say a lot about this weekend, but I’m sure I will. The achievements of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ have been all over Facebook (albeit nearly 12 months ago), and Lisey has written a more succinct summary which you can read here if you want to skip my ramblings.

In the weeks leading up to ‘The Weekend’, (apart from being broken by ridiculously intense chemotherapy) we were busy working as a team. We were sharing money around to make sure every member had raised over $2000 as that was a requirement to be eligible to walk and would also mean we would achieve trailblazer status. I’ll be honest and say we were all getting a bit frustrated by the constant phone calls “encouraging” us to continue fundraising, and we were not at all impressed by the fact that each individual had to raise a minimum of $2000 instead of a team total equating to at least $2000 per team member. For example, I had raised over $5000 but if someone else in my team raised any less than $2000, they would be told they were not allowed to walk. This led to a few heated phone conversations with organisers, and to my immediate family in particular, being politely described as “passionate”.

Achieving trailblazer status meant our team name would be inscribed on a plaque and displayed at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and we were all a little bit amused by the prospect of the word “tittie” appearing on a plaque. It also meant that Lisey and I, as team captains, would be invited to a post walk recognition event. I was particularly keen on attending that as I had a bit of a bone to pick with the CEO of Peter Mac (unrelated to the walk), who I assumed would be at this event.

On the Friday, our team uniforms had to be picked up and we had a team dinner as most team members had chosen to stay in a hotel that night given the walk started very early in the morning. We had an awesome uniform supplier but he had a bit of an issue with the printer and had to find a new printer who would do the job free of charge. This led to very last minute printing on Friday afternoon. We had a fantastic logo for the front of the T-shirts, designed by Papa Russ, and on the back, we had the names of all the team members as well as logos for businesses and names of people who had generously donated $500 or more.  The layout and digital designing of all of this was painstakingly (painstaking because he had to deal with the indecisiveness of Jenni and myself) put together by Shane from Analog Creative, a good friend of mine and husband of one of the three Lisa’s in ‘The Good Tittie Team’.

Jenni, being the self-appointed uniform co-ordinator, was in charge of picking up the uniforms. Off she went in the early afternoon, for what she thought would be a quick trip to our supplier. The tops were there when she got there but there was a slight problem. The printers had taken it upon themselves to make an executive decision not to print the back of the tops because there were seams on them which they thought made the printing look imperfect. Yes, it did look slightly imperfect, but this was a fundraising walk, not the Olympic games (although you could be excused for thinking that’s how we were treating it). We wanted the names of the team members on those tops and we wanted to recognise our major sponsors. When Jenni told me about this issue, it took her quite a while to convince me she was telling the truth. I really thought she was pulling my leg.

So, Jenni and the supplier drove back to the printers to get the backs printed and of course that took a lot longer than anticipated. Jenni then took everything back to her house to sort out (two tops of correct size and a hat for each walker) and cousin Sonya delivered them to the restaurant we were all dining at, at approximately 10pm! We were all very impressed with the end result.

How good was our uniform?

How good was our uniform?

There had been much discussion and even a poll amongst the team, regarding what colour hats we should wear; black or purple. I can’t even remember what colour won the poll (possibly green) but I was firm in my opinion that they should be purple. And when you’re a captain of a team, with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, not many people argue with you. As you will see from the photos below, purple was a good choice. In a sea of 1401 walkers, the purple hats stood out and it was easy to find fellow members of our team.

After a decent sleep, the day of the walk finally arrived. I woke up and got out of bed at stupid o’clock, which in itself was an achievement for me since I’d spent much of the past three weeks not really getting out of bed. I didn’t really have a plan regarding how much walking I was going to do, I just knew that I was going to cross the finish line with my team. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk 30km each day, so a wheelchair had been hired so I could still rest if I needed to (and make someone push me!)

So in the early hours (it was still dark) of Saturday 1st March, all of the members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ (and a couple of thousand other people) converged on the park where the walk was to begin. Surprisingly we all found each other. There was a buzz of excitement. Those who hadn’t been at dinner the night before were given their uniforms, trailblazer ribbons were attached, we ate breakfast and before we knew it, the opening ceremony was underway.

Lisey and I had been invited to be part of a survivors circle in the opening and closing ceremonies. This involved six cancer survivors holding hands to form a circle, and walking up on to the stage. There was a rehearsal on the Friday afternoon which I couldn’t attend but the organisers had said that Lisey could tell me what to do and I could decide on the day if I wanted to be involved. Everything happened so quickly that morning that I completely forgot about the survivors circle so I didn’t take part in it. When they first asked me to do it, I told Lisey I didn’t really feel like a cancer survivor given that I still had cancer and was still having treatment. I felt like I was surviving but was not yet a survivor. Lisey took part in the opening ceremony and they managed well enough with five people in the circle.

There was a mass aerobics session to warm everyone up and then it was underway. We got a photo of our team together and off we they went. You see, I really hadn’t planned this well so the wheelchair was in the car. We didn’t think it was a good idea for me to take off walking in case I didn’t make it very far. Cousin Sonya and I decided we’d go back to the car and drive to the first pit stop and meet the team there, where I could join them with the wheelchair.

Cousin Sonya had originally signed up to do the walk but pulled out as she thought she would be of much better use being a general team helper, being there if I needed anything and looking after my daughter who wanted to be involved in the weekend but obviously wouldn’t have been able to walk 60km. I gave Sonya a bit of hard time when she first pulled out of walking but it turns out she was right about being better used as a helper. Sonya was there if anyone needed anything, she followed us around tooting and screaming ‘Go Good Titties’, she met us at pit stops with my daughter and she could go to the shop if someone needed something.  It was a very wise decision by Sonya, probably the only wise decision she has ever made in her life.

It was at the first pit stop that I experienced one of the MANY highlights of the weekend. A few weeks before the walk (in fact, while I was in hospital having chemo), I received a donation from a stranger. The name sounded familiar and I soon realised it was from the captain of the ‘Walkie Talkies’. The ‘Walkie Talkies’ were the biggest and highest fundraising team across all the walks in Australia. We had them in our sights at one point, thinking we could raise more money than them, but that was a tad ambitious given their team was at least twice the size of ours. Us, ambitious? Never! Danni, the captain, left a lovely message with her donation and said that she’d stumbled across our team page on the walk website and was so touched by the story that she felt compelled to donate.  We exchanged several emails and it turned out she lived not far from me and my chemo buddy, Karine, and one of her friends, Georgie, who Jenni and I had met at my very first chemo session, were also members of the ‘Walkie Talkies’. Small world.

So Sonya, my daughter and I arrived at the first pit stop and I questioned everyone who walked past me wearing a ‘Walkie Talkies’ t-shirt. “Where’s Danni?”, “Where’s your captain?” The support (not just the donation but moreso the emails and messages of support) from a complete stranger was so touching, so I was determined to meet her. Finally, she was pointed out to me. She had also spotted me, on the side of the footpath, wearing a ‘Good Tittie Team’ t-shirt, bald head partly obscured by a purple cap and a wheelchair beside me. “Are you Melissa?” she asked. I nodded. We hugged, laughed and chatted. I introduced her to my cousin but before I even had time to tell her my cousin’s name, she asked “Are you cousin Sonya?” She’d been reading my blog and knew all about favourite cousin Sonya, who at that point was feeling a little bit famous.

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Danni and I at the first pit stop.

 

Then we were on our way again. I walked and someone got left pushing the empty wheelchair. If I looked even the slightest bit tired or short of breath, I was ordered to sit down in that wheelchair and have a rest! I walked a fair bit on that first day, much to the amazement of everybody including myself, but if you ask anybody who pushed me in the wheelchair, I spent quite a bit of time sitting in it too.

My brother pushed me.

My brother pushed me.

My co-captain pushed me.

My co-captain pushed me.

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My cousins pushed me……

.....a lot!

…..a lot!

 

 

 

 

Kate pushed me, and cancer got the bird!

Kate pushed me, and cancer got the bird!

And Daisy pushed me too.

And Daisy pushed me too.

That first day saw us walking through the streets of Melbourne, past the hospital I’d spent a week at recently and would be back at for more treatment in the next week, through beautiful parks and gardens, past lane ways, past Federation Square and the MCG. We also walked right past Peter Mac, the hospital we were fundraising for, where staff cheered us on, high fived us and had photos with us. The pit stops were amazing; all run by enthusiastic volunteers. Some families even made their own pit stops out the front of their houses, serving cold drinks to weary and sore walkers. All of these (except for passing the hospital I was being treated at) were highlights.

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The captains at a pit stop.

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I had to get my photo taken with this lady at one of the pit stops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter happy to see me.

My daughter happy to see me.

And catching up with the G-town girls at a pit stop in a park.

And catching up with the G-town girls at a pit stop in a park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This family had set up their own pit stop out the front of their house. The support and encouragement was truly amazing!

Passing the MCG. Yep, that's a cousin still pushing me while I post some photos on Facebook. Not too taxing at all, this walk.

Passing the MCG. Yep, that’s a cousin still pushing me while I post some photos on Facebook. Not too taxing at all, this walk.

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‘The Good Tittie Team’ posing for an official photograph on the Princes Bridge, approaching Federation Square.

Outside Peter Mac.

Outside Peter Mac.

With my favourite brother and 'fave sis' outside Peter Mac.

With my favourite brother and ‘fave sis’ outside Peter Mac.

The captains outside Peter Mac.

The captains outside Peter Mac.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We mostly walked in small groups on the first day, caught up with each other at pit stops and then the composition of the groups would change. It was an opportunity to really catch up with people have a good chat. There was a lot of reminiscing and new friendships were made as not all the team members knew each other prior to the walk.

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Old friendships: Six members of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ who all went to high school together. There were also another five members in the team who went to the same high school but were in different year levels.

New friendships. Lee (primary school friend), Kristy and Naomi (Lisey's friends from Bendigo) and Lisa (a high school and very good friend).

New friendships: Lee (primary school friend), Kristy and Naomi (Lisey’s friends) and Lisa (a high school and very good friend).

It’s kind of funny going through these photos now. It looks like the only place I stood up was at pit stops! I promise, I did do some walking.

See, the wheelchair is empty! I must be in that group somewhere, walking.

See, the wheelchair is empty! I must be in that group somewhere, walking.

After many hours, the end of the first day approached. I think the last 3km went for 10km because for quite a while there, it seemed that no matter how far we walked, we still had 3km to go every time we asked! Finally we could see the end. Team members who had gone ahead waited near the finish line so we could cross together, as a team. We came in to a heroes reception with family members meeting us to cross the line with us and others forming a very loud cheer squad. Yes, that’s you President.

Crossing the finish line on day 1.

Crossing the finish line on day 1. Look, I’m walking!

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Still crossing the line.

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More titties crossing the line.

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And more titties.

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Aand that’s just about all of them.

 

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Best cheer squad ever! The President in the middle with her daughter, Karlene, on the right holding up that awesome banner she made! Papa Russ And Auntie Kaz from WA weren’t officially in the cheer squad as they walked, but they got back early and were there to cheer us over the line.

When we got back to ‘camp’ there were massages (not long enough), foot soaks, facials, dinner, limping, talking and even some dancing. Some people spent the night in tents at the campsite but the more sensible ones, like me, slept in a proper bed in a hotel room.

Tent city (photo credit to Lisey)

Tent city (photo credit to Lisey). You’d have to be nuts to sleep in one of those after walking 30km and facing another 30km the next day.

Foot soaks at camp. Even for those who hadn't walked too far.

Foot soaks at camp. Even for those who hadn’t walked too far.

And the wheelchair came in handy at camp too.

And the wheelchair came in handy at camp too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was keen to walk again (some of the way) on Sunday but I was mindful of my weary team who would probably find it painful enough just walking themselves without having to push me in the wheelchair too if I needed a rest. There was no shortage of volunteers to push me, but I have to say, some team members set a cracking pace (I’m looking at you Lisa N, and cousins Chris and Cheyne) to make sure they were nowhere that bloody wheelchair and couldn’t be roped into pushing. My daughter had had a big day and a late night, so I thought she could do with a sleep in too. I decided it would be fairest on everybody, including myself, if I just joined the team for the last few kilometres and crossed the finish line with them. So whilst the rest of the team set off at about 7 am, cousin Sonya, my daughter and I took our time, checked out of the hotel and met the team for lunch at one of the pit stops. Just before this pit stop, we were joined by one of our old high school teachers who most of us hadn’t seen for about 20 years! That was a beautiful surprise.

An old high school teacher joins two of her old students on the walk.

An old high school teacher joins two of her old students on the walk.

The team took off again and I got in the car with Sonya and my daughter. We met up with them again at a pit stop that was maybe 6km from the finish line.   I decided I would stay with the team from this point so the wheelchair came out of the car. I was feeling surprisingly good so when people kept insisting I have a rest, I just kept walking. Not wanting to let the wheelchair go to waste, others took the opportunity to have a rest.

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Fave sis having a rest.

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Daisy’s turn for a rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which reminds me, we also lent the wheelchair to another walker, not from our team, who was struggling on the Saturday, and one of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ members (yep, a cousin) even pushed her. That wheelchair certainly came in handy.

Sunday was also a birthday for one of our team members. Unfortunately that occasion went by very under recognised as we were all a little bit pre-occupied with getting to that finish line. Thanks for giving up your birthday to walk with ‘The Good Tittie Team’ Waughbag.

Happy Birthday mole!

Happy Birthday mole!

There were a few casualties on day 2. Besides the blisters and sore muscles, there were lost toenails, a case of concussion from head butting a low hanging tree branch and a couple of knee injuries that meant one or two team members had to get on a bus and miss a lot of the walk. I won’t name them because I know they were disappointed that they couldn’t complete the entire walk.

Finally, a group of us arrived at the last pit stop. Those who had powered on ahead were waiting near the finish line so we could all cross together (they had been given strict instructions that we’d be crossing as a team), and those who were straggling behind were called and encouraged to get a move on so we didn’t miss the closing ceremony. At the last pit stop, which was about 4 km from the finish line, we were joined by a old primary school friend (who had gone to primary school with Lisey and I) who we probably hadn’t seen in about 25 years. There were five girls in our grade (in grades 5 and 6) at that primary school and we had four of them together at that moment.

We made our way along that hilly last 3 km, joined by kids and friends.

An old primary school friend joins us for the last 3 km.

An old primary school friend joins us for the last 4km.

And the kids make use of the wheelchair.

The kids make use of the wheelchair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the rest of the team sit and wait for us so we can cross the line together.

And the rest of the team sit and wait for us so we can cross the line together.

The WA uncles had already crossed the line. But they came back to cross it again.

The WA uncles had already crossed the line. But they came back to cross it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were frantic texts from the cheer squad – “how far away are you? We’ve been waiting for hours!” Finally at about 2:30 pm, the sea of purple hats approached and finally crossed the finish line.

Here come 'The Good Tittie Team'.......at last!

Here come ‘The Good Tittie Team’…….at last!

And then we crossed!

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The captains leading ‘The Good Tittie Team’ over the finish line, joined by lots of supportive family members.

 

More of the family crossing the line; from left to right Uncle Max, cousin Cheyne, cousin Sonya's daughter (support crew), my mum, cousin Chris and Uncle Russ. Max and Russ had come all the way from Perth to be part of this team.

More of the family crossing the line; from left to right Uncle Max, cousin Cheyne, cousin Sonya’s daughter (support crew), my mum, cousin Chris and Uncle Russ. Max and Russ had come all the way from Perth to be part of this team. The birthday  girl is in the front right of this photo with her lovely kids crossing the line with her.

Someone very special also crossed the finish line with us, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. One of our youngest team members, Daisy, who is Jenni’s (fave sis) niece by marriage, was walking for her Grandma and Jenni’s mother-in-law, Barb. We were all walking for Barb. Since it’s been a long time between blog posts, I may need to remind you that Barb was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the time we signed up for the walk, so from the outset, she was one of the people we were walking for (since this walk was ‘The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers’). Daisy’s name on our T-shirts was Daisy ‘Walking for Grandma’ Johnson. Barb and her husband Len had donated money to our team. Sadly, Barb passed away just two weeks before the walk. Len met up with us both days, and walked some of the way with us. On day 2, he walked the last 4 km with us and just before we crossed the finish line, Daisy was given an urn containing Barb’s ashes to carry across the finish line with our team.

Daisy on the far right with her trusty GoPro in her left hand and Barb's ashes in her right hand. Next to her is her brother Charlie, then Len and Jenni with Jenni's son in the foreground and more of 'The Good Tittie Team' behind them.

Daisy on the far right with her trusty GoPro in her left hand and Barb’s ashes in her right hand. Next to her is her brother Charlie, then Len and Jenni with Jenni’s son in the foreground and more of ‘The Good Tittie Team’ behind them.

Len and Daisy.

Len and Daisy at camp.

So for a team that officially had 29 people walking on the day, we had at least double that crossing the finish line as we were joined by so many supportive and proud family members. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough ‘Good Tittie’ T-shirts for everyone. You can watch a video of us crossing the finish line here, compliments of Shane, our T-shirt designer (I hope it works!)

Once we crossed the line, there was lots of hugging, tears, fist pumping and posing for photos. The cheer squad had grown from day 1 as I think the President may have put word out that all family members must be present!

The proud captains of the awesome and amazing 'Good Tittie Team'.

The proud captains of the awesome and amazing ‘Good Tittie Team’.

The fave sis and I, and a bit of fist pumping.

The fave sis and I, and a bit of fist pumping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the fave sis and my fave daughter.

With the fave sis and my fave daughter.

The birthday girl with a sign made by her children. Thank goodness they made a bit of a fuss about her birthday!

The birthday girl with a sign made by her children. Thank goodness they made a bit of a fuss about her birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary school friends; Lee, Lisey, Jen and myself.

Primary school friends; Lee, Lisey, Jen and myself.

The cousins. Thumbs up because they escaped the wheelchair on day 2.

The cousins. Thumbs up because they escaped the wheelchair on day 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the cheer squad - Supportive uncles in the background, including Uncle Noof (the one who chose bowling over walking with his niece with cancer) and my dad in the gree

Some of the cheer squad – Supportive uncles in the background, including Uncle Noof (the one who chose bowling over walking with his niece with cancer) and my dad in the green top.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of time for hugging, crying and photos with our cheer squad as the closing ceremony was about to get underway. Everyone who had walked was given a blue t-shirt to wear, except for the cancer survivors, who were given a pink T-shirt. Lisey, my sister-in-law (a breast cancer survivor in case you’ve forgotten) stood at the back of all the survivors and when we were asked to pair off and make our way to the stage, we rebelled and walked hand in hand as a group of three. We ended up coming to a stop right near the rest of ‘The Good Tittie Team’, still easily identified in their purple hats.

As we listened to speakers during the closing ceremony we noticed four survivors (in pink T-shirts) holding hands to form a circle and walking awkwardly towards the stage. I say awkwardly because they really could have done with another one or two people in that circle to make it bigger and easier for them to hold hands and walk. Yep, that was the survivors circle that Lisey was absolutely supposed to be a part of, and I should have been a part of. Oops!

You can see the awkward survivors circle up on the big screen.

You can see the awkward survivors circle, or maybe square, up on the big screen.

When the ceremony was over, we had one last team photo and then we all made our way home. Tired. Sore. Proud. Very, very proud.

'The Good Tittie Team' with a lot of our proud supporters.

‘The Good Tittie Team’ with a lot of our proud supporters.

As you’ve probably realised, if you’ve read this far, there were just so many highlights that weekend. I haven’t even described all of them! I left out the bit about cousin Sonya running over my daughter’s plates and being so upset I thought she must have run over my daughter! Perspective cuz, perspective. What started as a team of two (Jenni and I) called ‘The Good Team’ in about September 2013, quickly grew to 30. I don’t know what I was expecting when I started the team, but it wasn’t that. Lisey joined us and ‘The Good Tittie Team’ was born. There were eleven members of my family in the team including Uncle Max and Uncle Russ who had flown over from Perth to walk! Auntie Kaz from WA also walked with us on day 1 (and sensibly went shopping on day 2). There were primary school friends, high school friends, work colleagues/friends, three of whom had travelled from Geelong and there were friends who didn’t fit into any particular category other than being great friends! There were Lisey’s friends and my sister-in-law, Amanda’s cousin joined to walk with her too. We peaked at thirty, lost one to pregnancy, one to work commitments and one (cousin Sonya) to other duties. My brother, Mark, stepped in to replace one of the casualties and someone else joined us just days before the walk, so in the end we had 29 walkers/wheelchair pushers and a team of supporters just as big.

Thank you to each and every member of the amazing ‘Good Tittie Team’. Thank you to our amazing supporters. Thank you to our amazing uniform supplier and to Shane (our graphic designer) and to the printers who stressed us out. We had the best team uniforms without doubt! Thank you to every single person and company who donated to us. We were all blown away by the generosity of our donors. Thank you to my old high school and my daughter’s primary school who both held free dress days and raised over $1500 for us. Thank you to the team members who had garage sales and sold their belongings on eBay to ensure they raised $2000 and qualified to walk. Thank you to the team members who shared excess money they had raised amongst those who were struggling. That is team work.

We were part of something big that weekend. 1401 walkers raised $3.6 million for cancer research and we, ‘The Good Tittie Team’ contributed over $70,000!

Daisy had her GoPro there all weekend to capture the memories and she put together a short video which you can watch below. Just awesome!

Here is the proof of our trailblazer status.

And there it is. The word 'Tittie' on a plaque at Peter Mac. We did it!

And there it is. The word ‘Tittie’ on a plaque at Peter Mac. We did it!

So, a year later, as I finally got around to writing this post, I watched the video and looked at a lot of photos. I was reminded of what we achieved and how much fun it was. I contacted ‘The Good Tittie Team’ yesterday and said I thought it was time we got together again and did something good. Nearly everyone replied with “I’m in!” Rest assured, I’ll be chasing up those who haven’t replied! There might be more than one ‘good thing’ that we do, but at the moment we have our sights on a walk in Melbourne for Lymphoma Australia; ‘Legs Out for Lymphoma’ on August 22nd. Details haven’t been finalised yet but I can guarantee it will not be a 60km walk and it will only be a one day event.  So please, if you’re in Melbourne, keep 22nd August free to join ‘The Good Tittie Team’ and get all your friends on board. Being a walk for lymphoma, I’m thinking a team name change might be in order. ‘The Shitty Lymph Node Team’; that should raise as many eyebrows as ‘The Good Tittie Team’. But somehow I don’t think people will be yelling out “Show us your shitty lymph nodes” like they did with the good titties.

So there it is, a short 5000 word summary of a fantastic weekend. That was indeed a highlight of 2014. It was all pretty much downhill, sometimes very steeply, from there.

 

41. Chemotherapy – round 8…..ho hum

Monday 4th November to Sunday 17th November

It’s all getting a bit boring really. A bit of chemo, a few days in bed. Nothing particularly interesting happened this fortnight…or maybe it did and I just can’t remember it. The chemo brain is quite bad now.

Chemo number 8 took place on the day before Melbourne Cup Day. Like many people, my haematologist had a day off so there was no pre-chemo appointment with him and no hard questions to be asked.

Jenni had to work that day so Joanne stepped in as my chemo buddy. She is definitely putting in the hard yards for that favourite sister status. The results of my blood test took ages to come through so there was quite a delay before chemo actually started. My neutrophil count was fine thanks to the G-CSF injection so there was no need to consult with any doctors before hooking me up. Once it started, it was pleasantly eventful. I was informed that renovations would be commencing in the chemo ward in a couple of weeks and go through until just before xmas. The area was quite cramped so anything that would give the staff more room to move without trolleys crashing would be good. If they finished the renovations on time, I would have the pleasure of receiving my last chemotherapy infusion in the newly refurbished ward.

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My chemo buddy for the day. I’m getting quite good at these selfies.

I started feeling tired while I was having chemotherapy and I may have even had a little nap. When I got home, I pretty much went straight to bed and again spent the next three days in bed. The chemo definitely seemed to be hitting me harder in terms of the fatigue but I had been told to expect that.

Apart from exhaustion and the feeling that I really couldn’t be bothered doing anything (which is probably exhaustion), there were no other significant ill effects. I didn’t have bone pain from the G-CSF this time which was good. The nausea seemed to be lasting a bit longer each time so I was popping the anti-emetic tablets more frequently. There was no vomiting; that pleasure was bestowed upon my daughter this time.

She came into my bed on Tuesday night and said she had a sore tummy. Shortly after she said she was going to be sick so I ran to get a bucket, hoping she’d hold it in until I got back. She didn’t hold it in but she got out of bed and took herself to the bathroom and vomited in the sink. I was so proud of her! I really expected vomit all over the bed. Perhaps I should have taken her to the bathroom myself and not worried about the bucket, but as I said, the brain isn’t working too well now. My mum was there and offered to take my daughter in to bed with her so I didn’t get sick too. I wasn’t trying to be a hero but I figured that I was going to feel like crap the next day anyway and I needed my mum healthy to look after the 20 month old ball of energy. If she got sick, I’d have to call in more back up. So I took my chances.

The vomiting continued all night, pretty much on the hour. Nine times in total but who was counting? At 7am I did a quick google search on zofran wafers and found out it’s OK to give them to kids, so I popped one on her tongue and there was no further vomiting. Wish I’d thought of that earlier! Zofran is a strong anti-emetic (anti-vomit) drug commonly used to treat nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. The beauty of the wafers is that they just dissolve on your tongue so they work quickly and are perfect for kids. I am also happy to report that with frequent hand washing and extreme care, I actually managed to avoid getting gastro myself. Very surprised but very relieved.

I came out of the exhausted phase by Friday, and by that I mean I made it from the bed to the couch. The ‘good’ week was spent madly blogging, fundraising and recruiting new members to ‘The Good Tittie Team’. Jenni and I had a meeting with our uniform supplier to discuss what options were available. It was a long but productive meeting. Girls discussing colours is never going to be quick.

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The team uniform meeting. Yes, another selfie!

Since there is not much else to talk about, I will give you a quick update on the current status of ‘The Good Tittie Team’. The team was formed 6 weeks ago and started with two members. We now have 29 members and have raised almost $32,000. Eight members have raised over $2000 and have therefore officially qualified to walk. That leaves 21 members who are yet to qualify and it’s definitely not too late to donate!

Our fundraising efforts saw us race up to third top fundraising team, but we have now slipped down to fifth. We have three members in the top 100 fundraisers too. I did get up to 8th at one point but have now slipped out of the top 10, to 11th.

Our newest recruit is Bonnie. She has now taken the title of the youngest member of our team and will only be eligible to walk (by age) a couple of weeks before the event. Bonnie is my niece and daughter of Amanda (also on the team and a breast cancer arse kicker). She was my flower girl, shares the same middle name as my daughter and is a real sweetheart – being born on Valentine’s Day, she doesn’t have much choice. She has already kicked off her fundraising efforts with a massive $500 donation! Welcome to the team Bonnie!

If you would like to donate to ‘The Good Tittie Team’, 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, preferably somebody who hasn’t reached $2000 yet (or me).  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. Any person or organisation donating $500 or more will be rewarded with their name on our team T-shirts. We are the second biggest team in the walk so we will stand out. Pretty good advertising.

This is also a final shout out to anyone who would like to join ‘The Good Tittie Team’ for something that is going to be so much more than raising money for a good cause. It is going to be a huge reunion of family and friends showing their support for two girls who had a pretty shitty 2013. Above all, it will be fun.  We will be ordering uniforms very soon so we need to finalise team numbers. If you would like to join, 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. Go on, do it!

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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.

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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.
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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!