In 2010, I was feeling tired. That was hardly surprising, as that year I clocked up some serious miles. I was juggling a teenager in college, a teenager in high school, a primary schooler and a pre-schooler. I was working part-time and there was the normal round of sports, play dates, school commitments and appointments.I was used to being busy and I would head into military mode to make the days work. I was counting down the days until 2011, but all was good because I knew exactly why I was tired.
With a simple visit to the GP to check my vitamin D levels, my world tilted on its axis. Over the following Christmas holidays, I turned 41, we moved house, celebrated Christmas and two birthdays, and I had a mastectomy.
The kids started back for the new school year and I dragged myself to the classroom and gingerly hugged my youngest as he started kindergarten, hiding the drainage bag in my oversized handbag. Then, I went home and started preparing for a few months of chemo. Cancer changed the world as we knew it. I missed my daughter’s first swimming carnival, didn’t do reading in the kindy class like I had for the others, skipped parent–teacher interviews, much to the delight of my older boys, and just managed to stop my daughter from taking my prosthesis in for show and tell.
The freezer was always overflowing, as were the biscuit and cake tins. In fact, my kids probably never ate so well. Just as much difference was made by the people who happily dropped the kids home after school so my husband wasn’t constantly rushing home from work.
Friends took me out for walks and movies and wanted to chat honestly about cancer and shared what was happening in the real world. People who helped out with getting kids to sports and training so some routine could be maintained. Play dates and sleepovers all still happened so their worlds weren’t all about my cancer. People always wanted to do more, never realising that it was the combination of small actions of our community that kept us afloat.
It was this that stopped us from imploding. It gave us the foundation from which we could rebuild our family life.