Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's windy in tropical Queensland..

... but at least it's warm and it's not raining.

Safe arrival in Cairns on Tuesday afternoon and moved into a delightful 3 bedroom apartment at Yorky's Knob - just north of Cairns central. It's a stone's throw from the beach and has every facility you could ever want. The owner even left the fridge and pantry full and a pasta meal prepared for our first night. Very thoughtful - and delicious.

Yesterday was a quiet, slow-paced day where we got our bearings and made some bookings for future activities. Last night we dined at the Yorkey's Knob Boating Club, right on the water, with another friend from Wollongong who is up here doing some volunteer dental work at an aboriginal health centre for 2 weeks.

My friends have gone off on a boat to the Great Barrier Reef today, while I stay around home and the beach and rest. On Saturday we are booked to go hot air ballooning - taking off from Mareeba on the tablelands and landing somewhere on the coast - wherever the wind takes us. We also have plans to go to Port Douglas and points between here and there as well as up to Kuranda by scenic railway and return by skyrail. Now you know why I'm resting today :)

And yesterday, the oncologist phoned to tell me that he had discussed my case with the radiotherapist. I will definitely need to have radiotherapy treatment - no more details. I have an appointment to see the radiotherapist mid-August, so am putting it out of my mind until then.

I spent some time at the beach this morning, but didn't swim. The water is not the tropical blue I expected as it has been raining for the past few days. It's a yukky brown - not very inviting.

OK. Time for lunch, some reading and my 'nanna nap'

Terrie 1.15pm Thursday

Monday, July 26, 2010

No chemo required:)

OK. Today's the day I set off for Cairns. I've been checking the temperatures and it's 10 degrees warmer in Cairns than here in Wollongong. Yippee! I've packed my swimmers and sarongs, sunglasses and sunhat -and a few other things. Cairns - here I come with my lovely friends. We plan to relax and relax and relax!

And then there's yesterday's visit to the oncologist. Now, he's the man who has been remiss for the past 2 years - not identifying the tumour that has been slowly growing. Anyway - I don't think he'll be remiss any more :) He says I don't need chemotherapy, that I am currently disease free, but that I need to see the radiotherapy expert as he thinks I might need radiotherapy directly onto the spot where the tumour was removed.

I have an appointment to see said specialist on 12 August. Meantime, warmth and sunshine in Cairns.

Terrie 10.30am Tuesday

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Neverending story....

Just when you think you'll get definitive answers about the next step ..... there's yet more consultation to be done.

Today's visit to the surgeon was MOSTLTY positive. He said:
  • the pathoplogy confirmed that it was a secondary growth from the original colon cancer
  • he got it all and there were no signs of cancer in any of the samples taken from around the site
  • he had a good look and he couldn't see anything else nasty in there
  • he didn't disturb the liver, so that will need to be watched closely (already being done)
  • probably won't need to have chemotherapy - but ask the oncologist for his opinion
  • may need to have radiotherapy - but ask the radiotherpaist for his opinion
  • I need to see him again in 3 months after a CT scan and blood tests
I have an appointment to see the oncologist on Monday, the day before I go to Cairns, and an appointment to see the radiotherapist on 12 August, when I have returned from Cairns. There's one thing for sure - there won't be any treatment before I have my holiday.

His final words to me were - "There's every possibility that you'll live for a long time". Of course those are words I like to hear and will be doing my darndest to make them a reality.

As I said - MOSTLY positive.

Terrie 4.30pm July 19th

Book is launched

Well, today was book launch day. And it was a great success. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and warm, the wind was NOT blowing - the conditions were just perfect for the launch on the sandstone western courtyard outside the Gleniffer Brae manor house.

Champagne flowed, voices laughed and shared memories, and the formal proceedings paid respect to

  • the brilliant work done by the author, Dr Marcia Cameron, in recording the history of The School on the Hill, SCEGGS Gleniffer Brae
  • the founding headmistress, Kathleen McCredie, and her staff - beginning in 1955
  • the small committee of 'old girls' who supported the author in her work and organised the launch
It was a privilege (and lots of fun) to be a part of that committee and to be Master of Ceremonies at today's function. We had a friend there taking photographs, so if there are any really good ones, I'll post them when I receive them.

It was quite a tiring day for me, but I managed to pace myself, and I have a great sense of satisfaction now that it's done.

Tomorrow I visit my surgeon, Professor David Morris, who will obviously check my abdomen to see that all is OK. I hope it is. He will also tell me the result of the pathology, from what was removed, and let me know if I need to have radiotherapy treatment. I'm hoping that's not going to be the case, but.. we'll see. And then....

I'm heading off for 2 weeks holiday in Cairns. Two girlfriends are coming with me on Tuesday week to fly to the tropical town for some R&R and to escape the winter cold for a while.

All for now.. more tomorrow after seeing the surgeon.

Terrie 10.30pm Sunday 18 July

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick update Tuesday 13 July

Just to let you know that Emma Moore has qualified for the final of the Operatic Aria competition - so we (her fan club) are all off to the Opera House on 15 August to see the top 8 young opera singers (maximum age is 32) from Australia and New Zealand compete for the big prize. There are 4 men and 4 women in the sing-off. The outstanding performer on Sunday, and the likely winner, is a brilliant young Maori man - 22 years old. They were all great - but he was exceptional.

Last minute plans are coming together for the book launch at Gleniffer Brae on Sunday afternoon. We are very relieved that the books were dispatched by the Adelaide printer this afternoon, so there will be a frantic working bee on Friday to put dust covers on and prepare them all for Sunday.

Healing and strength continue. Preparing my questions for the visit to the surgeon next Monday. And my wonderful band of friends is still coming daily to assist with the things I can't do - and to bring their scintillating company. I am so grateful.

Terrie 10pm

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Saturday evening 10 July

It's late on Saturday night and I'm glued to the television watching the Aussie broadcast of the Tour de France. I went to bed earlier thinking I was tired, but couldn't sleep, so I'm back up again with cuppa, laptop and heater for company. What magnificent athletes these cyclists are and what a beautiful country they are riding through. I know it's not everyone's ideal viewing, but I love it.

This week has seen me walk further - sometimes with companions and sometimes alone - but at a little faster pace each time. It feels good. I started out with a shuffle in my ugg boots and am now striding at a reasonable pace in my regular boots.

It's been several days since I took any pain killers, so that's good too. :) In fact, I wasn't taking pain killers for the last couple of days in the hospital. As the wound is the full length of my abdomen, I think it's quite significant that I got over the pain so quickly.

Am still having a nap most days, but today managed to get through the day without one and am still not really weary - so my stamina is obviously improving.

On Wednesday a friend drove me to Sydney to visit the Chinese Herbal doctor for the first time since the surgery. He commented that his acupuncture treatment has made a significant contribution to the quick recovery and the lack of need of pain killers. His main aim now is to keep my immune system strong to fight off any random cancer cells that might be looking for a comfortable site to settle in to.

Visits to Dr Chen always involve an acupuncture session where I lay and rest for about 20 minutes with needles poking into various parts of my body. Sometimes I drift off to sleep and other times I use the time to sort things out in my head. It's a good rest period after the 90 minute trip and before the return trip to Wollongong.

Still eating very well. Too well, really. Three good meals a day and then morning and afternoon tea when friends pop in for a visit. It's good for now - I need to regain the weight I lost from the surgery, but it can't keep happening after that! I've given away all my 'fat clothes'.

Tomorrow I'm off to Sydney once again - with a friend - to see the Eisteddfod of Sydney Operatic Aria semi-finals. Emma Moore, a local Wollongong girl, has made it through to the semi-finals and we are going to see and hear her sing. If she makes it to the final eight (8) she'll compete in the finals at the Opera House on 15 August. I saw her win the big prize in the Wollongong Eisteddfod recently. If she can win this competition, she'll be on her way to an international operatic career.

And next Sunday (18 July) I'll be Master of Ceremonies at the launch of a book of the history of my school - SCEGGS Gleniffer Brae.

This is the wonderful environment in which I spent my formative years. From the age of 8 to 16 I was a student at the Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School, Gleniffer Brae. It was housed in this magnificent manor house on a hill overlooking Wollongong and the Pacific Ocean.

What a privilege it was for my sister and I to be foundation pupils in February 1955 and for us both to be members of the teaching staff when the school closed in 1974.

"The School on the Hill - a History of SCEGGS Gleniffer Brae" by Dr. Marcia Cameron, will be hot off the press this coming week and will be launched at Gleniffer Brae next Sunday. Marcia and I were classmates in our high school years - we were 2 of only 3 Latin students in our final year who had to attend lessons on Saturday mornings, as our teacher came down from Sydney each week to give us lessons!

It has been a pleasure to reconnect and to work with Marcia while she has been compiling this history of our alma mater.

I'm excited about the event, as are the 150+ former students, parents and staff of the school who will attend the launch and collect the copies of the book that they have ordered.

Back to the Tour de France - the riders are at a feeding station in a valley in the Jura region - bags of food and drink held out for them to grab as they cycle past. Stunning scenery.

Time for another cuppa.

Terrie @ midnight

Monday, July 5, 2010

All going well - Monday evening 5 July

Well, it's amazing that I haven't written here since last Wednesday. Since then I've quietly been getting stronger and feeling more comfortable.

My appetite is really healthy and I've been putting away 3 good square meals a day. My pre-hospital store of soups and casseroles is gradually being whittled down and I've also been enjoying delicious food brought in by special friends.

The glut of international sport on TV has helped keep me entertained into the wee small hours of the morning (sometimes) so that by the time I tuck myself in I have no trouble having a good night's sleep - often into the late hours of the morning. That and an afternoon nap most days ensures that my body is benefiting from the restorative powers of sleep.

Short walks have also been the order of the day and I've ventured as far as the light-house today - that's probably almost a kilomtere round-trip. A slow one, with a few stops to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

So...... eating well, sleeping well and walking well. Feeling good :) And, thanks to all my friends who have been coming in daily to help and to bring their stimulating company.

Thanks for reading and for all the wonderful messages.

Terrie 9pm