‘Good’ Cancers and ‘Bad’

‘Good’ Cancers and ‘Bad’

People often refer to Breast Cancer as one of the ‘good cancers’. Surely the phrase ‘good cancer’ is a total oxymoron, but you’d be surprised how often it gets bandied around. I remember on one occasion last year in the chemo ward, while hooked up to my intravenous cocktail of poison, I overheard someone I could not see proclaim she wished she had Breast Cancer.

Say what? Had I actually just heard someone WISH for BREAST CANCER? Why on earth, would anyone want what I had? Had she seen people like me lately? I was hardly a picture of health at the time: incredibly weak, rake thin, bald and pale!

eyebrows 1
A picture of health in the chemo ward!
Now of course, with a teeny bit of perspective and a bit of space away from the trauma of my own treatment zone, I get it.

A bit.

I have no idea what this woman’s diagnosis was, but ALL cancer diagnoses are pretty damn horrible.

It’s true that as far as cancers go, Breast Cancer’s overall survival rates are better than some others out there, and it has a much higher profile in our society thanks to its fucking ridiculous playful association with the colour pink. I think it obviously helps too, that boobs are constantly sexualised and therefore way more important to everyone that your average – you know – colon or something. Sorry Colons, but it’s just a fact of life that everyone loves boobs, and not many give two hoots about you guys. It’s just too hard to garner as much enthusiasm for boring bits that don’t bounce and stuff.

Breast Cancer awareness campaigns can do fucking ridiculous hilarious things like dress men up in tutus and put dogs in bras.

men tutu

dogs bras

They can have cutesy slogans like:

save the tatas

and ‘Save The Titties’ and people everywhere will donate because – FUN BAGS, amirite?

Celebrities can post ‘no bra selfies’ or pose sexily on Instagram in their underwear under the guise of cancer awareness.

Total. Puke. Fest.

 On the flip side it means that people quite happily talk about Breast Cancer, so on some level, I have to admit that the profile of Breast Cancer is bigger and better because of it. I just take issue with the message, and the ‘sexification’ of  what is a pretty ugly disease.

You want to see what Breast Cancer really looks like? Check here. I’ll happily show anyone who wants to see my scar lines too.

In comparison to the carnival that is Breast Cancer, there are lots of other forgotten cancers out there that struggle to get the same level of community support, dollars for research and awareness required to bolster survival rates. It’s pretty hard for, say – your bowel – to garner the support and media coverage that a pair of breasts can, isn’t it? But here’s the thing…we need to stop sticking our fingers in our ears and closing ourselves off in little ‘bubbles of invincibility’ and start talking about all cancers, their signs and symptoms.

bowel cancer awareness

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness month, and today I’m taking a break from all things boob, in order to highlight the importance of being in tune with your bowel. Copping a monthly feel of your breasts is easy, but sometimes the signs that something is amiss in your digestive tract are less obvious. And leaving symptoms unchecked for too long can be devastating.

While the chances of contracting Bowel Cancer increase with age, many young people are afflicted with it too. The worst thing we can do is presume we are young, and therefore immune to diseases like cancer. I felt that way before Breast Cancer, and we all know how that went down!

bowelcanceraustralia-youre-never-too-young-665x308-bca-banner-b

 

So, let’s talk about poo… poo

No don’t go screwing your nose up like that! This is super important.

Bowel Cancer affects more and more Australians every year, both male and female, young and old.

We all need to be bowel-aware

 

Here are the IMPORTANT things to watch for:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit, such as looser, more diarrhoea-like bowel movements (i.e. going to the toilet more often, or trying to go – irregularity in someone whose bowel movements have previously been regular)
  • A change in appearance of bowel movements (e.g. narrower stools or mucus in stools)
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
  • Frequent gas pains, cramps, or a feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum
  • A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained anaemia (a low blood count) causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss
  • Rectal or anal pain or a lump in the rectum or anus
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

Now, having these symptoms doesn’t guarantee you’ve got cancer, but It will never hurt to chat to your GP and query anything that feels different. Spread the word to those you love, be bowel savvy and remember that when discovered early, Bowel Cancer is very treatable.

This month, some friends of mine and I are raising funds to donate to Bowel Cancer Australia. We want to show those we love who have been affected by this insidious disease that we care and are committed to increasing the dialogue around Bowel Cancer, and raising money for research. If you know someone who has battled Bowel Cancer, perhaps you might like to help us. To donate some cash, you can click this link to go to our Everyday Hero page, which I spectacularly titled, Bowel Cancer is A Load of Shit

Every cent will go to Bowel Cancer Australia.

I am trying to think of some other ways to raise money for Bowel Cancer. My kids suggested baking biscuits to sell, so we will be doing this soon. If you would like to be involved, or if you would like to buy some biscuits, drop me a line.

No cancer is a good cancer, but there are many that need far more awareness and funding. We can all help!

Kate x

 

 

The Incredible Something For Kate Gala

The Incredible Something For Kate Gala

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I’ve been wanting to blog about Something For Kate for more than a week now, but the pressure of trying to accurately convey how much the gala has meant to me, and describe how incredible it was, has been playing on my mind. In fact, I’ve been nervously avoiding my laptop. I’m just not sure I can do it justice, guys!

When I was a kid at Primary School, I remember one year my parents planning a family holiday to Europe. As most of our Summers were spent down at Rye on the Mornington Peninsula, just the thought of going overseas was the most thrilling thing that had ever happened to me! Mum and Dad would tell us stories of all the different places we were going to visit, and I’d spend countless days daydreaming about ice-skating on canals in Holland, and having a real, white Christmas. Mum even began knitting us all special woollen socks, and we all got to pick out the colours we wanted. The anticipation of our holiday went on for months and was so exciting.

We never ended up going on that holiday. I’m not exactly sure why, but you know what? The pure anticipation of it was almost enough. I had lived the idea of it for so long that I almost felt like I’d had the holiday anyway. I’m not even sure whether I got the socks in the end …(let’s face it – knitting five pairs was probably a bit much for a busy mum) but my siblings and I got incredible joy out of imagining wearing them. Seriously.

My mind skipped back to this funny imagined holiday recently, as the date for the Something For Kate gala drew closer and I was drawn in to feelings of pre-emptive exhilaration.

For me, the true gift of the gala began long before I stepped into that glittering Peninsula Ballroom.

Just the anticipation of the Something For Kate gala put an extra spring in my step for months. Many, many times I had to pinch myself in sheer incredulity of it all. How incredible were these four school friends of mine? Despite the distance of time, and all the other things going on in their lives, they were putting such extraordinary effort and love into planning an event for me. It really boggled my mind!

I had been super excited at the original prospect of a small fundraiser with some fellow Ivanhoe Girls’ alumna, but as the weeks progressed, and the size of the luncheon grew to EPIC, I was floored time and time again by the amazing force rallying to support me.

Besides feeling utterly flabbergasted by their plans, the first great change in me was that Something For Kate got me painting again, a creative pursuit I love but had let slip since my December diagnosis. That in itself has been a huge gift. My mental health has vastly improved since, and I am no longer needing the anti-depressants I was prescribed earlier this year. It’s hard to put into words how indebted I feel to Kerry and Sally who requested I paint something for the gala, and when I doubted I could, said: “just bung a few colours on and call it ‘Hope’!” It has really changed me for the better.

Throughout the months of horrible treatment; the chemo, radiotherapy and then that delightful surprise week in hospital with Staph, I found Something For Kate like a beacon of hope to focus on; something lovely to offset all the awfulness in my life. The anticipation of this wonderful event really did help me battle through some of the darker times. I couldn’t wait to hang out with all my favourite people, soak up the happy feels and forget about cancer for the day.

Well, after months of anticipation, It didn’t disappoint! It was the most breathtaking, heart-warming example of community and kindness I have ever personally witnessed. As dreadful as it has been to have to go through the despair of a cancer diagnosis and the onslaught of treatment, boy has it been beautiful to be at the centre of so much love and support.If only everyone could feel as loved up as I do now! The world would be a better place!

It was such a feel-good day. I adored it all: Kate Cebrano rocking Chrissy Amphlett’s cheeky anthem, dancing up a storm with my daughter on the dance floor, hearing about the wonderful progress in cancer treatments from Prof. Sherene Loi, enjoying such a delicious meal, catching up with so many people I haven’t had a chance to see in ages and having my children see true kindness in action.

SFK with Kate Cebrano

It was a day chock-a-block full of so many moments that I will store in my heart forever. I have been walking around in a blissful haze ever since, feeling completely loved-up and so lucky to have so many wonderful friends.

Although the post-gala blues are threatening to hit pretty hard, I continue to be astounded at the amount we were able to fundraise together in one afternoon. The gross proceeds were in excess of $63,000, which will make it possible to donate a very healthy sum to the National Breast Cancer Foundation! AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!

To my beautiful SFK girls – Kerry, Nat, Bec and Sally: I’m awestruck by what you put together. What an incredible achievement! Thank you from the fullest part of my heart. You have turned a devastating year into something I can smile wholeheartedly about. I am so proud to count you as my friends. You have such big, beautiful hearts.

SFK girls

And to everyone who sponsored the event, donated prizes and auction items, and came along – thank you for making me grin so hard I had sore cheeks afterwards. It was the most incredible thing looking out into your amazing sea of faces, and you have helped make a real difference to the lives of those with Breast Cancer. The power of community is awesome.

Kate x

For all the pics of the Gala, head to the Something For Kate Facebook page

A special thank you too, to Joel Buncle from Marketable Video for this beautiful video about our SFK story:

I am so grateful for the time you took to make it and can’t wait to see the footage from the gala too.

And to the extremely kind souls who bid on auction items or won prizes and then selflessly gifted them to Jay and I…thank you so SO much. We feel humbled by your kindness. Wow.

An Exquisite Surprise

An Exquisite Surprise

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

A few years ago, as a full-time stay-at-home mum of three, I felt myself hit a bit of a snag. In the depths of my psyche somewhere, was a small, but very persistent nagging feeling…a sense of inadequacy. While I relished the chance I had to be at home with my kids, I felt myself floundering a little; sort of failing to thrive.

I became keenly aware of the fact that while I spent every day teaching my kids new things, giving them new experiences and encouraging them to explore and try out new stuff, I had stopped doing so myself.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had learnt a new skill, or emboldened myself to step out of my comfort zone, so that year I made it a goal of mine to do both, and within weeks I had started a creative writing class and signed up for an eight-week painting course.

Straight away, I felt inspired and energised! The injection of creative pursuits into each week was like a burst of freshness into my life. I instantly felt happier, more fulfilled and stimulated in a way that I had not experienced in so long.

While the writing course finished up after a term, my foray into painting continued. I loved learning new skills, began experimenting with various techniques and found that painting was a good way to escape life’s routine and surrender to pure creativity. Under the tutelage of local Fitzroy artist, Adriane Strampp, and alongside other fun, creative, like-minded people I began to love painting.

This year, painting has fallen by the wayside and I am missing it desperately. I have dabbled a little on my own at home, but it’s the sense of community and painting alongside others that I have really missed.

Today, as I arrived home from hospital, a parcel was waiting for me on my doorstep. Now, I don’t know about you, but my heart skips a beat when I get anything in the mail that doesn’t resemble an electricity bill, let alone a package! It was enough to make me grin from ear to ear and instantly make my day infinitely better.

Inside was the most exquisite gift, something that bought tears of joy to my eyes as soon as I opened it:

A book titled ‘Paintings For Kate’. A collection of works painted for me by the thoughtful and insanely talented people from my painting class.

PFB

The first page, reads:

‘The paintings in this book have been painted for you Kate, by the students of Painting for Beginners to express their care, support and friendship, knowing that Cape Liptrap holds a special place in your heart, and in the hope that this book will transport you there when you need a break. It has been a pleasure for us to work on this project, keeping you close in our minds and hearts, and in anticipation of your return. This book comes with much love and best wishes from all at Painting for Beginners, wishing you a speedy recovery.”

Beyond that are pages and pages of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. Not only beautiful because they are painted by incredibly dedicated, talented people, but so beautiful to me because of what they portray and what they represent. I am continually left astounded by the love and support thrust in my direction this year and to all my painting friends – let me tell you, I will treasure this beautiful book for the rest of my days. My family will adore flicking through its pages time and time again. Already, my children are delighting in your paintings of their favourite places!

What a wonderful gift you have given us! Thank you all, so, so much. I can’t wait to come back to paint with you all soon!

Kate x

For those who would like to look at the stunning paintings and the clever artists behind them, click on the link below:

PaintingsforKate

Something For Kate

Something For Kate

I can’t wipe the smile off my dial.

There is extraordinary beauty in this world, and I have been reminded of it more than ever over the past six months. The kindness and generosity that has been thrust in my family’s direction as we navigate the challenges of my Breast Cancer diagnosis has left me feeling more loved than ever before and so, so grateful.

But let me just say that things cranked up a notch last week!

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A Whole Lot Of Awesome

A Whole Lot Of Awesome

A few years ago, probably on the back of a particularly gluttonous festive season and far too much wine, some friends of mine and I started a little running group.

It was pretty laughable at first. (Sorry girls…perhaps I’m speaking for myself here!) We’d meet down at the local park at 7am on a Sunday morning (hello commitment!), lycra’d to the hilt, and pound the pavement huffing and puffing our guts out.

I can’t speak for my friends, but for me, wearing Lycra to actually exercise was quite a new phenomenon! I had been pretty good at wearing it in the guise of exercising (which really just meant I’d found a good way to validate not having a shower before school drop-off). Yep, until running group started, my collection of lycra had only ever served as a lazy alternative to clothes, that had the added effect of making me appear like I was prioritising fitness! Win-win!

gym-clothes Read more

A Few Of My Favourite Things

A Few Of My Favourite Things

Things can get a bit rough at times. Not just for me, for all of us.

What brings you happiness when the world rears its ugly side?

Being sick and going through chemotherapy treatment is tough, but whenever I’m feeling low, I channel my inner Julie Andrews and think of all my favourite things. Here is a little snapshot I want to share with you of some of the things that have brought me joy these past few weeks; little things that keep me smiling and feeling thankful every day…

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Not sinking, Swimming.

Not sinking, Swimming.

If I had to think of a metaphor for the way I feel most days, it would be treading water: trying to keep my head above the water line, struggling to keep carrying on as normal, while my legs make frantic circles below, unseen. Most of the time I manage to do this, but the unseen struggle continues. On the outside I can seem strong, upbeat and at times even funny, but inside, I am riding daily waves of turmoil. Still, I am swimming, not sinking.

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