Monday, January 31, 2011

Red Poison (and some Swimming in the Sea)

My oncologist gave me a leave pass to go on our long planned summer beach holiday in the Central Coast of NSW where we rented a house for a week.   

Although it was a bit shorter than we had planned, and meant driving 843 km in one day so we could return in time to start my chemo on Monday, it was worth it.  (Important note: such a drive can be challenging when one's son says 'Are we nearly home' after 5 minutes in the car but I was sensibly advised us to buy little portable DVD players - they are cheap now - and this fixed the problem and produced silence for most of the journey).   

It was worth spending a week gazing at this view:



To sit on this beach (more of Jane on The Beach below) and watch my daughter, far braver than I, master the art of the boogie board, and my son, previously with a visceral fear of the sea, master that fear and begin to love the water, was worth it.   There is something so fundamentally pure about the feel of sand under our feet, and the warm wind in our faces.  It is truly medicine for one's soul.  


I may have mentioned here before that I have pale burny skin.  Skin which burns even after SPF30 cream is slathered all over it.  I have spent many summers in my childhood sitting on a beach covered in towels to mask my bad sunburn of the day before.  Now of course, every child, including ours, wears a Lycra top thingy (called a rashie I think) to prevent that.    

The upside of my pale burny skin is that I might have fewer wrinkles than I otherwise theoretically might have had if I had spent the last 25 years in the sun.   The downside is the sitting on the beach thing.  Which I did during this holiday, sitting fully clothed, like a strange Edwardian person possibly transplanted in a time machine who doesn't understand she is at the beach in 2011.   It was however worth it, again, to watch the children frolic and scream with delight.  

I had to include a picture of this hilarious sign which is still making me laugh as I type this:




If you click on the picture you can see that this pleasant flat beach with reasonably low key surf is in fact a Den of Danger, potentially filled with neck breaking hazards, sharks, jellyfish and extreme wave action.  Oh and there may even be a giant exclamation mark out there waiting to trip you up.   This is what we lawyers call a disclaimer.    It did not of course put anyone off going into the sea.   I wonder if other countries have things like this?  I have only ever seen them in New South Wales.  

Today I started my first round of 'dense dose' chemotherapy.   I sat in a lovely comfortable chair in the lovely comfortable oncology suite listening to Boz Scaggs on the piped music and received my dose of bright red and clear poisons plus enough follow up anti nausea drugs to stock a pharmacy.   This first round goes for 6 or 8 weeks (can't remember at this point in time) and is the worst in terms of side effects.   Second round should may be a bit easier.  

It is quite surreal sitting here waiting for those endlessly explained side effects to kick in.   But I have been doing some reading.  Quite a lot actually.   

I have been given a lot of wise counsel, as you would expect.  And it is a bit repetitive I know but I thank you all.  I am slowly working my way through emails....... still... 

In terms of advice, simple is good, I think, and as a kind man said to me in an email last week:  'Jane, be calm and strong'.  And that works for me. 

41 comments:

Make mine Mid-Century said...

Calm and strong.

You're sounding calm and strong ... with an intact sense of humour and a sense of appreciating the simple lovely things as they arise.

Amanda said...

So glad you were able to go on your holiday still Jane and enjoy your time with your family (even if your beach ventures were spent on the sand as a spectator) :) Sending you big hugs and much love and strength as you start your chemotherapy xx

Virginia Blue - Director Blue Fruit said...

Glad that you got your much-needed family break and it is good to hear how you are travelling emotionally with everything. Strongly, and pragmatically, it sounds ~ true to your nature! The view of the beach looks very soothing and beautiful, despite its dangers! I hope the side effects are as minimal as they can possibly, possibly be.

Posie Patchwork said...

Hi Jane, you're never far from my thoughts, i can only imagine the wnoderful 'memory making' as my husband calls it every time we go to the beach in NSW (from landlocked ACT) & the fun they have. We took the 4 of them to Coogee in December, wow, they swam amazingly in 'real' surf & my darling son read ALL the warning signs but his 3 sisters had already run off, at least i have one who reads the small print!! My husband is the strong olive skinned swimmer so taught them how to dive under waves, i stayed 'guarding the towels' & rinsing their eyes on the beach (fair skinned weak swimmer, i'll take the pool thanks).
Wishing you all the best with the red poison, you may be super lucky & skip all the side effects?? Thinking positively?? Love Posie

brismod said...

Boz Scaggs is now muzak? Lido Shuffle? I bet you are going to hear some more crazy tunes in the next little while. And that kind man who emailed you is also a wise one. xx Anita

Just Martha said...

Take lots of deep breaths whilst you remember that beautiful holiday... That concoction sounds like a cocktail! Maybe a red fire-engine?

Janette said...

I really like that - be calm and strong. I'm so glad that you were able to get away, to my good ol' holiday neck of the woods :)
All the best for your chemo treatment Jane, I hope that the side effects are not bad. You are in my thoughts and prayers all the time!
Jxx

Kerry said...

Very good advice that. I love Boz Scaggs...not sure what this says about me :) Your holiday sounded like a wonderful boost for all systems. So glad you got to go before the chemo and I really hope that the side effects are all just possibilities and not the reality. Thanks so much for letting us know how you are...you're very much in our thoughts x

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I am sorry that you are going through chemo. I am praying for you.

Fondly,
Glenda

Amanda said...

Hi Jane, you may be pleased to know that the pc brigade had managed to erect a similar disclaimer at our beach here in NZ this summer too. Watch out for those marine creatures! Crazy signage to say the least, but it made me laugh too. I like that calm and strong advice, and you sound as though you've taken such wisdom to heart. Actually, I can't imagine you any other way. Thinking of you lots. Try not to read too many of the side effect negatives. The ultimate result is the positive one we're all after for you.
Amanda xx

Lee said...

Jane, your week on the Central Coast sounds like it was just the tonic you needed before you dive in the deep end with your chemo treatment. I too think the 'calm & strong' advice is very wise - and if anyone can do it, I'm sure it's you. Thinking of you and saying a little prayer. Take care, Lee x

Emma said...

So lovely to hear you sounding so positive and upbeat about everything. Your holiday sounds like it was fantastic and best of luck with the red poison. Be calm and strong sounds like wonderful advice for all of us. x

Jane said...

Ah, Jane, it's such a pleasure to see you here again in your little haven in Blogland. And to see someone using 'visceral' so artfully (you know the logophile in me appreciates such matters).

I share your sun 'issues' but like you, have avoided the leathery skin of my peers who sunbaked (remember we used to call it that, not 'sunbathed') in our teens.

The PF public liability lawyer in me is bemused by that sign as well.

You're constantly in my thoughts as you undergo your treatment. Sending you my love tonight J x

Jenny said...

The holiday sounds like it was just what you needed Jane. Thinking of you often. Strong and calm.... soldier on.... ;-)

Deborah said...

Oh yes, Jane, the sea. It's magic isn't? I felt every one of those symbols as I read your post - waves, sharks and submerged objects in turn. They were sort of metaphors for one's worst imagined fears of what it must be like ... and there you were penning your thoughts as calm and strong as the beach scene. Just keep swimming between the flags and stay well-covered in your neck-to-knees. Still thinking of you every time I see the moon. Deb xx

Raina Cox said...

I'm going to bet your brief vacation was just as curative as many of your meds.

Pithy poster slogans,

Raina

Thisisme. said...

I am so pleased that you were able to get that little break in. I always find the sea to be very restorative. I am still remembering you in my prayers and can only say, "in quietness and trust is your strength". It was lovely to get that post from you today. Hugs from over here in England.

Kristine said...

Hi Jane, I hope you had a lovely week. Beaches are good for the soul i find. You will thank your pale skin in the years to come, for all the sun damage you avoided. People will remark that you look decades younger than your fellow octegenarians.
We spent 3 hours on the beach for the Nippers comp in 40 degree heat on Sunday. Being the end of summer holidays, everyone had had their dose of sun. I couldn't help but notice how weathered so many of the parents looked. You can spot the Aussies when overseas too (before they talk and you hear the accent). They are the ones who are wrinkled and aged beyond their years by the sun.
Thinking of you this week. Hope the side effects don't hit you too hard.

BabyMac said...

How does the Lido Shuffle sound on pipe music I wonder? How COULD that make anyone feel relaxed?!

Glad to see that you enjoyed a nice break with the family. Fingers crossed all those hideous side effects don't kick in too much - what a horrible thing sitting around waiting for Godot.

Thinking of you. Sending calming vibes and all the rest that I can muster.

Sarah B said...

Thank you for letting us know how you are doing. It is not something I have experienced so I won't pretend to understand how you feel, but I like the comment by the wise, kind man.
How lovely that you got a chance to get away, it looks perfect, good medicine for the soul. Take care x

Anonymous said...

Hello Jane,
I think you are amazing .
x

ejay said...

It's lovely to see your post and learn of your progress....Thank you for keeping your followers updated....
It was also nice to hear that you were able to get away for a few days...

Thinking of you and wishing you the very best.

Elizabeth.

mise said...

How brave you were to photograph that Very Dangerous Beach. And I'm so glad to see a post from you; I gaze out across the Blogtopian seas for updates from the Pear Tree House as though I were the French Lieutenant's Woman keeping her vigil. May the red poison be bearable.

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

so glad you got away to the beach, i know what you mean about its restorative powers.

calm and strong - i like. it actually describes how i often imagined you to be as a person, so i reckon it will be natural for you to attain! calm and strong, and keep going. {that's my little bit added in} just keep going, one step at a time.

lots of love darl, jules xxx

A-M said...

Oh Jane, you are so calm and strong... such an inspiration. You are never far from my thoughts each day. A little Jane thought each morning over my coffee. A-M xx

24 Corners said...

Jane, what a wonderful surprise to find you've posted. So happy you went on your holiday and were able to have such a special time with your family, all whilst breathing in those healing ions and storing up on Vitamin D...all will benefit you greatly in the days to come.
In your images, the sea looks calm and strong...keep that picture in your mind as you move forward in your healing...the 'ocean blue' replacing the 'poisonous red'.
You and your family are constantly in my prayers and thoughts...
xoxo Jessica

(btw- love the paw-paw :)

Ann said...

I hope the red stuff is not too awful in the days to come... and thank heavens you and the family survived that dangerous beach. Particularly all "!" littering the sand. Be calm and strong I like. Now can we please let go of Keep Calm and Carry On...? A x

Laura [What I Like] said...

I'm so glad you were able to take such a lovely, relaxing vacation with your family. When you get down to it, family is really all that matters and you are lucky to have such a wonderful one. I'm glad I'm not the only one sitting in the shade covered in volumes of fabric on beaches! Have you tried Elba MD sunscreen by the way? Wonderfully non-toxic (according to the environmental working group), but it doesn't have that white cakey consistency that many of the mineral sunscreens have, and I swear I've never been burned while using it.

lesley said...

The beach is a wonderful diversion from what is going on in your life.
I looked at the 'red devil' as I called it and thought if I have this now I will give the future a push and I did.....Downloaded CD books, from library, onto ipod are a good tool when having chemo, time passes quickly if you are mentally involved in the story.
Best wishes. Lesley

Elsa May said...

Hooray that you got to escape to the beach - albeit one awash with danger (excuse the pun). In fact, after reading the sign it's somewhat of a miracle you all made it back in one piece... Can't say I've come across anything similar here re the beach, but I did come across an alarming warning on a toothbrush package once that informed me it would be "harmful if swallowed"... Hoping that you are still feeling (as you are sounding) calm and strong - from what I've read on your blog you are by nature :) Best wishes, Annie

emmaonafarm said...

what a lovely family break hope it gives you the strengh to deal with the "red devil" - you can do it

Millie said...

What a beautiful day this turned out to be dear Jane, seeing your gorgeous face on my Reader! Your sojourn to the beach sounded wonderful, but 1600kms. in the car? Hooley dooley, I'd be needing to consult a Family Court lawyer about halfway through that trip. MOTH & I don't do well trapped in a car together. Last time is was no speakies from Stirling to Ballart!

Do you know it is a well-known medical fact that at the end of each day of chemo, a glass or 3 of Billiecart is recommended. I hope Mr. Pear Tree House is on his way to Purvis's now to pick up a couple of cartons for you. Thinking of you & your precious family as you commence the next phase of your journey to wellness.
Much love
Millie & MOTH xx

Tara said...

Glad you had a nice break and as the saying goes,"stay calm and carry on"..xx

Karen said...

What a wonderful week away - you are so right about toes in the sand. I am one of those with dark skin and 25 years of sun worship and yes, the wrinkles have began.

GOod luck to you in your journey through treatment, I'de say you have the right attitude to get it done and over with.

Wishing you many years of joy beyond this obstacle.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane you time at the beach must of been some of the happiest moments for you all? The kids sound like they are tackling great things and enjoying their brave adventures. I hope that chemo is going o.k.? Just know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. You've always been there for me as a faithful friend in blogging and I always appreciated it.

Being 'calm and strong', wise advice by a nice man.

Big hugs to you Jane xx Deb

Maxabella said...

I'm so glad you had such a lovely break, Jane. Thinking of you!!! x

Elsa May said...

Dear Jane - I came across this on tumblr and thought of you:
“ From serenity comes gentleness, comes lasting strength." — Pam Brown
Take care my dear, Annie x

Vicki Lane said...

All my best wishes are with you -- stay calm and strong!

Ann said...

Hi Jane, just a quick note to let you know I'm thinking of you and your family - hope the chemo is doing its best (or worst I suppose) and letting you feel at least a little like yourself in between. A x

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

I'm just checking in too and yes, that is good advice. Thinking of you, Ally

Ange said...

Edwardian is IN Jane :) Wish there was some beach danger here. :)

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