Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Peek at my Week

Where have I been?
Work, Home, Work, Home, Oncology, Home, Work, Casualty at 2am, Work,Oncology, Home and a little bit of Christmas Shopping! Quite a busy week! In between I found time to indulge myself with time for friends at a divine afternoon tea to celebrate a birthday girl and I attended the Business Woman;s Association year end lunch. No matter what is happening in your life its always a good plan to find time to see your girl friends. What life takes out of me they put back in. The Oncology Centre continues to surprise me - I really thought it would be a depressing place but it is a lesson in humanity. Caring staff and is it my imagination, but are the loveliest people prone to cancer? Yesterday a chap had so many people with him that I thought he may be famous person that I didn't recognise.. but no...his entire family had joined him for his final treatment and a photo shoot was in progress. When he rang that bell it was like Christmas! Casualty at 2am was a bit of a surprise too! V stopped using his pain meds as he is pain free, only to find that his body wants the drug regardless. So he had withdrawal symptoms and we had no idea what was going on, Of course the nursing staff knew immediately - Thank God for these competent and caring people! The waiting room was packed when we got there and we thought we would be in for a long wait  - what we didn't know that at least half the waiting room was all waiting for one person and there was another car load outside. How the staff keep their patience with these patients I really don't know. They were in, out, in, out, in, out as if hospitals are a social meeting place to pop in and out of.

Who I have met?
Well its that time of year that I get to listen to Exit Presentations done by individuals on a formal leadership learning programme and seeing that this is the 'outcome' of my work then I always look forward  to them, This year didn't disappoint and my most memorable moment was listening to a young man who has paid for himself - he makes peanut brittle in a sweet factory but he has decided he wants to better himself and works at 2 or 3 jobs to pay for his studies. His presentation was professional, personal, inspirational and its a wise man who can acknowledge what he knows and commit to what he still needs to practice and learn, It was a pleasure to listen to him and award him a distinction. In fact in a joy to hear about the learning path of these people and to know that I have played a small part in their growth and transformation. I had a double dose of inspiration this week as the BWA in PE invited me to speak at thier Hurdles and Help event and then I got to interact with their members yestrerday. I got to meet Mr South Africa again and what a lovely young man doing so much for worthy causes in his  title year - I also got to catch up with women who work hard and accomplish much, The theme was glamour what a glamourous affair it was.

What I have learned?
It takes courage to be the real youI have learned that many people carry something around with them that they need to say and are holding back through fear, embarrassment or vulnerabulity - It may be to express  love or gratitude and it may be some feedback about a persons behaviour. Say what you feel now .....always in a manner worthy of repsect.
I have been reminded that many people work hard while we are sleeping to keep people safe and healthy - ordinary heros saving lives.
I have learned that in order to enjoy Christmas you need to reignite those childhood memories of anticipation and hope. Back then I hoped for a sack full of presents - now I hope to be surrounded by the presence of my love ones during the Festive season.
I have learned that more can be accomplished by a little planning and a lack of time - when you have much to do a little pressure can go a long way to spur you into action. No matter how busy you, make time for the special people in your life - Its important for them and you!
I have also learned that happiness and positivity is contageous - when you are short of it - Go look for it and drink it in!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Living with "it"

"So how is it going?" That is how most conversations have begun for the last four weeks. "It" referring to cancer. It is amazing how an illness can consume your every waking thought and yet its a disease that more and more people live with not die from. V is coping well with "it" and since I last wrote my blog - yes a whole month ago - has completed a course of radiation, spent 10 days away in PMB working at the lodge and flown back to await the next step of the treatment, which started today. He now is a member of not only the C for cancer club but C for chemo club. Its a really terrifying thought to undergo chemo - watching extreme drugs being fed into your vein to kill the good along with the bad, but when your survival depends on it -  you have to take a deeeeeeep breath and close your mind to negativity, grit your teeth and get on with it. Walking into oncology you know you are not alone - the room today was pretty full of people battling "it", all hooked up to a variety of drips, some bald, some not, all with their own story to tell, all fighting their own battle and nearly all with a smile on their face and the quiet light of determination shining from their eyes. This is what courage looks like, I thought. There is a bell on the wall that patients who have had their last session of chemo are invited to ring - it rang three times today and the smiles grew broader at the knowledge that someones journey was over.

I don't intend for "it" to take over our lives and more than once I have told V that you are living with cancer not dying from it. Life has to have some normality, some old routine - it cant all be medication and conversations about disease, diet and drugs. One of our biggest challenges is to silence people who want to give advice about miracle cures and wonder foods and what to eat and what not to eat. Generally the people offering all of this wisdom have not had "it"! So we have learned to thank them for their concern and change the subject swiftly and close our ears to all the conflicting information. V knows what to eat - having eaten healthily all of his life! We will listen to doctors, medical professionals and survivors who speak from experience.

As usual, we will also make the most of every moment we can to experience joy and gratitude! We took off on the spur of the moment on Wednesday morning and spent the night in a tented camp in the Karoo - eating chicken stew and rice with our fingers, off the table covered with a plastic packet, listening for animal noises after dark ......making a few ourselves to entertain other campers (V is particularly talented at hippo sounds) and waking to birdsong and canvas silhouettes. We drove through Meiringspoort to Prince Albert - rescuing a lizard from certain death while trying to cross the road. We had tea and scones at Prince Albert under a rain of purple confetti from the jacarandas and marvelled at the tiny library building - the size of a large fridge - and the tourism office - no bigger than a cupboard! We watched the passing parade of tourists and locals - easy to tell the difference and then took off over the Swartberg Pass feeling very small in that vast landscape and knowing that the Creator, who made this majestic scene before us would surely cure "it". When the car overheated at the top of the mountain - an angel of the road disguised in khaki shorts, sturdy boots and a leather bush hat rescued us giving us his water supply and a contact number should we need him to come back and assist. As we descended back to the Karroo dessert so the temperature dropped with each kilometer and we made it home (with a bit of a detour) safely. I foresee more of the Carpe Diem excursions. Seize the Day - its really all any of us have!