Thursday, December 15, 2011


Before we had children we used to eat, literally every week, at a restaurant called the Bengal Tiger, which kicked off my obsession with Indian food.   Once we had children we cut back on the endless restaurant dining and so I had no choice but to cook Indian at home, which I have done, almost every week, ever since.

There is something very life affirming about Indian food.  The orange chilli powder, the musky clove and cinamon smells, the saffron yellow turmeric, the grinding of spices, the slow slow braising of chicken, the snowy fluffy rice, all those pulses and grains, the little dishes filled with yoghurty condiments and spicy salads.   And of course there is no such thing as 'Indian' food just as there is no such thing as 'Chinese' food.  So you can endlessly discover new dishes.

(some of my Indian cookbooks)

Which is why all I really want for Christmas is this book by Christine Manfield:

And then one day, off to Agra I will go, to do something like this:

(courtesy Brandon Van Slyke *)

On Saturday it will be a year exactly since my cancer diagnosis.  On that day I will be heading off to my hairdresser to address my unsatisfactory way too short mousey brown boofy hair.  As much as my hair is driving me berko, as I keep saying to myself, at least I am not dead.   My Oncologist Who Doesn't Believe in Remission** (and who also told me that cancer is just the wrong form of energy, which is why I love him) doesn't want me to dwell on this awful anniversary, and I think that makes sense. 

Last year, unusually, I had bought all my presents and even set the table for our twenty person Christmas lunch a good 10 days before Christmas, unheard of for me. And then the next day I had the diagnosis. It was as if on a subconscious level my body knew what was about to happen.  If nothing else, this year has completely convinced of the powerful mind-body connection. Not that you can cure yourself by positive thinking, no not at all.  Those who read this blog will know I do not believe in that at all.  Rather that there are so many things our bodies know, we just have to listen. 

This is our Star Wars Advent Calendar.  I know.   Unbelievable isn't it.  Who would have thought that Star Wars was so Christian.   But my goodness the children love it.

So to the point, which is that last night we went on our once every 9 years trip to the opera.  It was La Traviata, by Verdi.  You know, the One with the courtesan (ie prostitute) Violetta who sacrifices her love for her penniless young man Alfredo only to be reunited with him and then dramatically drop dead from consumption.  That one.  

And I sat there and thought, really, so much of last year has just been about surviving.  Getting out of bed and making it from one day to the next.   Dreading the little twinges.  Over Googling recurrent secondary breast cancer.  Lying in bed at night, sleepless, convincing myself that I am fine, and just a very lucky person.  Wondering if I will even be alive to see my already slightly moody daughter become a teenager.  Hoping I will be around to teach my son the correct way to treat women and to make sure he doesn't break his neck playing football.  

Next year, I hope, will be more about living. 

So it needs to be more about swimming and sunshine:

(Byron Bay - courtesy Adrian McGruther*)

and pointless beautiful things:

And whilst we are enjoying Christmas I want you to think, as I have been, quite a lot, probably too much, about the three amazing ladies, Lisa, Ellie and Sophie, who are listed under the C-word at the right (see Alright Tit, Written Off and Sophie Feels Better), who, all three, have this year had devastating news in varying degress of terribleness.  Every day they amaze me with their guts and spirit.  And every day I curse (just a little bit) the horrible random nature of life.

* these images were in a Christmas Ecard sent to me by this law firm.  Taken by their lawyers on various travel trips. And who said lawyers were boring. 

** this is kind of a long story so I might leave it for another post.  Suffice it to say he is more about curable\incurable than statistics.  And I might note I have never shown any cancer spread, so there is nothing really to be in remission from.


Maxabella said...

One year... what a year. You are the same you, but different.

Thinking of you and so many others on Saturday, Jane.


Razmataz said...

That was a great post. It made me stop and think about many things.

I hope you hairdresser can do fabulous things with your hair so you can feel vibrant this Christmas.

Kerry said...

Everything about this post is, music, fun, friendships, compassion...even law firms you might be happy to give your hard earned dollars to!
I hope that you and your family have a great Christmas, full of good things and laughter. Thank you for a year of inspiration Jane x

Jane said...

Yes Kerry all the good things!

It's all about Choosing Life, I have decided. Not trembling under the doona. !

Millie said...

Of course this post does not surprise me in the least. From the second you heard those words directed to you last year Jane you chose Life. Nothing more, nothing less. Those of us who have been privileged to join you on the winding road of expunging this negative energy (gotta love your Oncologist for that gorgeous turn of phrase!) have witnessed a pretty awesome ride. Next year do all that pleases you & nothing that doesn't. Your honesty in each & every sentence you have written this past year has endeared you to a legion of fans, new & old. See you in Agra next year!
Millie xx

Faux Fuchsia said...

I think that so many people spend their lives waiting, on hold and not really living in the moment.

I know it took something really bad and quite painful for me to start appreciating the small things. I went from needing quite a lot to be happy to being satisfied with the smallest tiniest gesture of kindness.

I hope you bought yourself some of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels to celebrate.


Lou said...

Jane - I always love the bittersweet nature of your posts; they appeal to me somehow. I agree that having a positive attitude can't sadly cure everything but I am convinced that one's attitude to things can make suffering more bearable. I linked to the three blogs you mentioned and, what can I say? Words don't really suffice to explain my reaction to these three beautiful, articulate women, like you, who struggle to make sense of what's happening to them.

I wish you all the best and friendship and family... and ever-lasting soundness of judgement (which you already have in spades). Inspiring as ever to read what you think. Lou x

24 Corners said... goodness, one year. You chose to conquer, take charge (even though I'm sure it didn't feel that way often enough), and tackle C with knowledge, humor, grace, strength and steadiness, and here you are...thank heavens there will only be one first year...may the next be all you wish it to be, and more, filled to the brim with the wonderful modes of living you brought up, and the least amount of survival ones truly sounds like you're already off to a great start!
Thinking of you and your hair...I'm sure it will de-boof very soon, wishing you the best on Saturday!
xo J~

btw- I've always been intimidated by cooking 'Indian' might have just given me the kick I needed to give it a go. I've been prescribed tumeric tablets lately for inflammation and it's done wonders...eating tumeric ladened food is the next step.

brismod said...

I can't believe it's been a year since your diagnosis. Surviving and living...this post makes me realise there really is a slippery slope between the two.

Wishing you well for your years of living, Jane.
p.s Love the Jedi Advent calendar.xx

Mise said...

Dear Jane, I hope, looking back, this will have been the Difficult Year, and it'll be smoother sailing, more fun and less worry, from now on, and that you will put it behind you while holding on to the appreciation of living. Good luck with the hair, and may your Christmas this year be an absolute antidote to last year's.

Samantha said...

Yay. The best to your new year.

Ann said...

Your post as usual has given me so much to think about. My bad hair concerns are trifling. I knew that but a reminder is always needed.

Enjoy Christmas and all the moments of beauty it will bring. Even that Star Wars advent calendar! A x

Elsa May said...

Thank you this is a really good post - being one year on is indeed an odd time, I like how you summed up your thoughts...I also believe one needs to listen to one's body...much easier said than done...but vitally important. I hope the next (and future) years bring you much happiness and warmth. And sadly life is utterly random and cruel at times. Take care and I hope your haircut went well :)
Annie x

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Hi Jane,
Well, all I can say is that you have dealt with this year in such a dignified and brave way and have taken us all along with you which, I feel, is very generous. As Lou says, I do actually feel that a positive mental attitude does go a long way, even though it cannot cure.We have all been overwhelmed with the way that you have coped and, I'm sure that 2012 will be a beautiful and positive year.
.....and, I was reading about Jennifer Saunders who has had breast cancer ( and has now had the all clear) and she was saying that when her hair grew back, each and every hair was stronger and better than it had ever been.
Lots of love to you Jane and enjoy all that Christmas brings. XXXX

Marjory said...

All the very best for Christmas> i look forward to reading your blog next year. All the very, very best to you and yours.

Jenny said...

I like what your doctor said about no remission. My cousin has had colon and breast cancer with never a trace of it returning. Look ahead and picture a full life with your family and all your creativity pulling you forward. Don't look back. I think of you alot and have loved your blog this year, quite amazing that you have done it. Merry Christmas from Texas. xo Jenny

Jane said...

Oh Jane. I still remember that sick feeling I had reading your post a year ago and how I couldn't stop worrying about you and what lay ahead.

How you have faced it, looking it squarely in the eye, has been just awe-inspiring, in the truest sense of the word.

You are an extraordinary woman and I'm just so delighted that a year later, you're here, writing your usual pithy, insightful prose.

Bravo, my friend. J x

Tina said...

After reading your incredible post and all of the comments above from such lovely women, I am just going to take the easy option and say 'DITTO' to all that has been said above. Wishing you and your beautiful family a wonderful Christmas this year, sweet Jane! PS: I certainly share your passion for Indian food and will be on the look out for that book. Huge hugs to you as always ~ xx

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane I feel very honoured and blessed to have gotten to know you more and more through your brutally honest writings. It takes bravery to speak what you truly feel and your life has taken you down many tough roads, and many great ones too. I have appreciated knowing your struggles, opinions and yes, humour, it truly has helped me deal with what my mom may of been feeling but too afraid (?) to share with me.
I've learned a lot through your journey.

I wish you & your family a happy Christmas; may this New Year bring nothing but happy times, great experiences and your continued strength and spirit.

xo Deb

Jeanne Henriques said...

Dear seems hard to believe one teat has passed. I think of you every day via your gardenia posted on my blog. One year on and you are still determined and fighting on and it is so encouraging to read. Cooking, opera, family, girlfriends, writing.. Doll Houses :)

Wishing you a wonderful holiday Jane, the very best!

Jeanne xx

Ps..I recently became addicted to Indian cooking after a trip to Agra, hold that thought it is amazing!

lesley said...

You have had a great year that may seem silly to say but you are here enjoying your husband,children and friends that is something a lot of people on your journey do not have,
Enjoy the beach house and all the good times in 2012 and make every day count. x Lesley

LPC said...

This is a lovely post. Thank you so much for continuing to talk to us all here. Best wishes, more than best wishes, for 2012.

Banaghaisge said...

I went back 15 months and then blogspot had a little hissy with my notebook so I am back to the beginning. What an incredible journey you have all been on in that time. I hope you are having a lovely break at your sea-side shack, and preparing to Live this New year!
I thought you could make (or somebody could...) two triangle curtains for that tricky window that look like sails. With useful brass shipmongerey in the corners to be able to hook them open. And that would be a great space for bunkbeds, with the window like a magic porthole. Maybe triangle shutters on the outside for stormy times, and when you arent there???
Merry New Year, Jane - it is lovely to meet you. Now I shall look at the Dollshouse blog, cos I have a little craving for them, too. And am building two...
Hugs, Jasmine

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

awesome post darl. one thing is for sure time does not stand still for anything, but at least it brings us perspective.

i hope you had a lovely christmas and sending you a tonne of positive energy to help keep your tank topped up.

you'll get to india someday soon and it will be completely amazing. just like you. xx

24 Corners said...

Hello Jane, just wanted to send best wishes to you and your family for the New Year! Praying the best of everything for you!! ♥
xo J~

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