Hi and welcome to Get Out Gertrude – this is my main page and as such will have all my posts on any subject. If you are looking for posts I have posted in specific catergories you can click the menu above the header picture – for example if you are looking for stories purely to do with Inflammatory Breast Cancer click on that heading – or want to read about trips/ travel click that heading. My twitterstream to the right will both contain mini blogs in between my larger posts but also give you an insight into some of the other things I am interested in. Medical info on inflammatory breast cancer can be found in the links to the side of this page and so on. Thanks for stopping by!!
Posted by jaydub26 on September 13, 2010
As you will know, if you’ve been reading for a while, three years ago Mum started a Bachelor of Social Work with the University of Auckland. She always knew that there would be a solid chance that she would not finish it – studies show a 25-50% survival rate (and that’s survival, not cure) after diagnosis of IBC. As it turns out, we held her funeral on her fourth cancerversary (did not realise that until I was typing this) and at that stage she was just a few credits short of being able to gain her diploma. Sad, yes, but I know that Mum would not have traded that time for anything in the world.
Her close friends A, N and M from the course, along with her lecturer J and others campaigned to give her some recognition for what she had managed to achieve in her course. And achieve she did – this is a woman who, during active treatment, was regularly gaining As and A+s. This is the woman who would have liked to gain a PhD and lecture herself. As it got to the end of last semester, however, she knew that she wouldn’t return. So on Wednesday the 27th of July (the week before she passed), Mum had her own little graduation of sorts, where she was declared “QBE” or qualified by experience. She wrote a short post on how much her “Mixed Nuts” classmates had meant to her here.
What I don’t know whether people realise is exactly how much it meant to her. She had photos and film of the event and on Monday the 30th, my first “task” of the day was to sit down and watch them. She was so proud of what she had achieved and really overwhelmed and humbled by all the beautiful things that people had said. We discussed how it is possible for anyone to graduate, and walk across the stage with hundreds of others, but it takes being pretty special for people to throw a “graduation” of your very own. We talked about how much she must have meant to everyone to have a certificate signed by every one of her lecturers. Why wouldn’t you be proud?
Mum had two goals once her cancer had made it to the “control, not cure” phase: make it to my (OD’s) wedding and make it to her fiftieth birthday. The night before she died, she said that she was satisfied. The uni celebration and the visits she had had from friends had made her feel so loved and appreciated that she didn’t need the big event, especially if she had to plan it to happen in advance of the actual date. As she put it “You don’t usually get to hear the nice things people say about you before your funeral”.
She’d planned to post this second post last week – showing her certificate with blanks on it to protect the privacy of her lecturers. It is the least I can do to post this here and honour that wish.
We are so proud of you Mum.
Posted by Mrs. M on August 8, 2012
OD here again. Driving home from Dad/OH’s tonight, the sun was setting and the sky was filled with gold and pink. It was another spectacular moment in the sky, one of many in a week that was meant to be awful and dark and revolting. Mum always said that grey days only made one feel worse, and in the middle of winter, those days here have been very few. Coincidence? Maybe. But that golden light tonight made me think that it was time to write one of two posts that Mum wanted to write. This one is on faith.
Mum’s history with the Christian Church is strong. Her mother was very religious and a large amount of socialising in Mum’s rural town upbringing was church-related. Mum attended the local youth group and even taught some Sunday School. Her and my father were married in the local church and all three of us kids were also christened there.
Moving away from the town meant moving to different churches and the fit was not so good. My father is agnostic and has never attended regularly. My disabled younger sister came along and Mum was made to feel bad that she was not attending church regularly, yet also made to feel that YD was disruptive and unwelcome. In what is possibly the most horrid example of “church-i-anity” that I have heard of, Mum’s pleas for help in some sins that she was struggling with were met with the comments that YD’s disabilities might be God’s punishment for the things Mum did wrong. Just writing that makes me sick. YD is one of God’s creatures too and I can’t believe how cruel people can be.
Mum left the church and never went back. A couple of weeks ago, she got a letter from a family friend known as Mrs Five-Minutes – the one that Grandma was always on the phone to for “just five more minutes”. Mrs FM knew that Mum no longer attended the church of her youth and was worried that Mum had lost faith. Mum has always had faith in God, even when she has not had faith in people.
It was something that Mum wanted to write a blog post on – that her belief in Science and her belief in a higher power were not mutually exclusive. The reason that she was not afraid to die – and we both agreed that not being scared didn’t mean that it didn’t suck – was because she was a firm believer in that this life was not all there was. She didn’t know exactly what it would be like but she knew that Heaven would be love and being with God and that Hell would be not getting to be a part of that.
She’d thought about attending a church again but didn’t want to be perceived as a “rainy-day Christian” and was getting to the point that she didn’t want to be explaining her history to a bunch of new people, didn’t want to be known to a whole new bunch of people as “Jenny, the cancer patient”. She knew that you didn’t just get into Heaven by good works (although we discussed that those would have given her plenty of brownie points) but she knew that she was strong enough in faith that she would get to be part of that love.
What do I believe? I believe that at that point, so soon before she passed, when she told us that she had to go, that door to the hereafter was opening. She seemed so at peace with heading into the light. I like to think that our family friend Keith and Mum’s dear IBC friend Susan were waiting on the other side to welcome her with the joy that she deserved. I believe that she’ll never truly be gone.
Posted by Mrs. M on August 5, 2012
“Mixed Nuts” is the facebook group we created for our year of the BSW degree
To my dear ‘Mixed Nuts’ family
You are all so diverse and I think mixed nuts was a great name for our group representing the unique ‘flavours’ we have all bought to the group
I just want you to know how much yesterday meant to me and I was so glad so many of you turned and said such lovely things about me… I felt so much love in that room.
One thing I had wished I had said last night that I didn’t think about until I was talking to V at the end was that you all indicated that you were all so amazed ‘that I had kept coming to Uni with everything else that was going on in my life’.
What you don’t realize is that it was for my own sanity. I had my oldest daughter when I was 22 and had my youngest when I was 26. When my youngest (YD) was born with a chromosome deletion my identity became first and foremost ‘YD’s Mum’. When your child with a disability gets a label so do you… especially if you try to be assertive and get the services for your child that they need. YD left home 8 months before I was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, one of the rarest but the most aggressive forms of Breast Cancer so I went from YD’s ‘Mum’ to the new ‘Label’ of ‘ A Cancer Patient’ in very quick succession. University has been the first time in many years where I have been Jenny, a university student and recognised as myself rather than ‘the Mum’ or ‘ the patient’ and that has saved my sanity in this journey I have been taking. Thank you all for seeing me as Jenny first and foremost, even though those other labels were still there they were not the most prominent one.
Thank you again for showing the love and being my family the past 2-3 years. Go well and I am sure you are all going to be absolutely amazing Social Workers
Love to you all
Posted by jaydub26 on July 25, 2012
This last week cancer took a back seat and chemo took a holiday.
It was time to focus on family
It was time for a wedding.
OD and R got married.
I was Mother of the Bride and did a bible reading as part of the service.
I was tired but extremely happy.
Yesterday we spent a bit more time with family and friends at a day-after-wedding afternoon tea.
A great time was had by all
Posted by jaydub26 on June 2, 2012