I feel like a large part of my story is told in my book so rather than repeat myself I have decided to respond to the most frequently asked questions since my book has been published.
You never know - there might be another book on the way that shares my experience over the last 4 years!
How are you feeling now?
Since writing my book I have had two reoccurrences. One in 2010 which required 6 weeks of radiotherapy and one in 2012 which means I am currently undertaking 12 months of chemotherapy. There is no doubt that the reoccurrences have come with challenges and new lessons learnt. Some things haven't changed - I still have to continually listen to my body and respect that I need to continue living the ‘new normal’.
I have regular MRI scans so I must watch my thoughts at the time of my appointment to make sure I’m thinking hopeful and courageous thoughts, knowing whatever the results I will be able to cope with what is to come. As quoted in the last chapter of the book “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time” Abraham Lincoln
What are my current challenges?
Saying ‘no’ of course.
Every day I am challenged to take notice of what my body is telling me I can cope with as my life gets increasingly busy. Old habits die hard. I like to say ‘yes’ and to live a full life, so I have to be careful I don’t try to do too much. I must choose my priorities based on my values and I highly recommended taking time to ‘stop’.
How are David, Josh and Ben?
Where do I start? I am so grateful for every day I have with them. Our determination that my diagnosis would only bring us closer has meant that through tears, laughter, fear and noticing ‘sparkling moments’ we have worked to stay connected. It has not always been easy but it has been worth it. David is so motivated by the ‘Blackwood 8’ charity and how supportive friends and especially strangers are in encouraging him to ‘think big’ when it comes to the potential of ‘Blackwood 8’ in raising awareness and much needed funds for cancer research.
The boys are so ‘real’. They regularly remind me what is important and to live in the ‘here and now’. It is the simple pleasures that matter to them. Pancakes on Sunday morning together, reading the paper, family chats. They are getting on with their lives and loving every minute. Both boys are proud that my book has gone ‘public’ and we often laugh about the number of radio interviews I’m doing and how ‘famous’ they are becoming as I try to take the opportunity to quote things they have said along the way. Josh keeps me very grounded saying things like ‘It’s all book, book, book!’
How do answer the kids’ questions?
For me, the most important thing is that they feel free to ask anything they like. I don’t have to have all the answers and I don’t have to have it ‘all together’. David and I try to be as honest as we can with Josh and Ben, but at the same time avoid giving them what I call ‘adult worries’. By that I mean information that is speculation, such as prognosis, or financial worries. If I don’t have the answers I tell them that but I also tell them that as soon as I do have an answer I will let them know. If I’m sad, then I tell them. I want them to know that we all have bad days and that hopefully tomorrow will be better. David and I want to encourage them to build resilience.
Have I written a book before?
I have been asked this question many times, often by people who have been considering writing their own inspiring stories. I tell them I simply started out with a journal that Heather (from the book) gave me very early on after my diagnosis. I tried to write as honestly as I could about the events, my dilemmas and challenges. With this intention in mind the rest of the process has taken care of itself.
How do I contact Dr Charlie Teo?
I recommend you go onto the Cure For Life Foundation website www.cureforlife.org.au which has all the information about how to contact Charlie and lots of fantastic information and support for those diagnosed with a brain tumour and their families.
How can I help the Blackwood 8 charity in their support of cancer research, treatment and prevention?
You can visit www.Blackwood8.com.au and contact us with your suggestions or make a donation. The website will be update with the outcomes of our latest charity event held on 18 October 2013 and upcoming events. Over 6 years we have raised over $300,000 for brain cancer research which is very exciting and you can be a part of it.