With a family history of cancer, Fifi reflects on the different challenges faced both in being a carer or support person for someone undergoing cancer treatment as well as receiving her own diagnosis.
I was lucky Breast Screen Victoria rang to remind me of my appointment. We had moved to Victoria from Adelaide early last year.
Having a breast screen was the last thing on my mind, but if it weren’t for the persistence of the breast screening ladies who called me, I would not be where I am today. Which is, about to start treatment for breast cancer.
I keep getting told I am pragmatic in the way I am handling this whole experience. But with my family history I know there is a list to get through and each thing I tick off will get me closer to the end.
My family history includes my mother dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, my father dying of lung cancer, and my brother dying from a brain tumour. Both of my sisters have had breast cancer and survived it.
It’s never pretty and I’m of course scared but it can be beautiful sometimes. Being on the outside helping is a whole different thing to going through it. Holding someone’s hand and listening as they pour their heart out is a gift, one to be treasured.
I’m lucky I have a wonderful partner who is very supportive and always by my side. It must be stressful for him as well, but we try to express our needs so that we can get through this together. He comes to my appointments to takes notes and reminds me of my appointments.
We have three children, one 17-year-old living at home, and two older children living interstate. I just want to hug and love them through this as I worry about how it’s affecting them all. When my kids were little, I used to kiss them behind their ears at night and tell them to save it for when they needed it. I hope they have enough stored there now for the moments they may need them.
The support from my friends has been invaluable. Phone calls, cards, gift boxes, offers of support and their company have been wonderful. Chatting and cooking together has always been where my heart is and I’m lucky to have friends to share recipes with and help me prep meals.
I try to remember to say thank you and appreciate even the smallest of gestures. A cup of tea made for me, dinner cooked, dishes done, the small everyday things that help us get by. Sometimes it only takes a phone call to help brighten your day, you can get caught up in too many thoughts.
Anna Blatman has been a long-time friend. We share a love of art and friendship, and our homes are open to each other at any time. Everyone needs an Anna in their lives. It is typical of her generosity that she would paint and donate to BCNA. If there is a cause especially for women Anna will be there cheering. Some people come into your life and you know they will be there through thick and thin, Anna is that one.
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