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    Gertrude is the name we decided to call my cancerous breast hence the title of this blog. Although I had to keep my breast through chemo and radiation due to the nature of IBC - once it 'blew up' it no longer looked like my breast and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Calling it Gertrude was a way of seperating it from myself. This main page is where I write about the general goings on that relate to Gertrude, there is another page that are more a diary of treatments etc This blog is a public blog so although I am being very honest about my battle with Gertrude I have "changed names to protect the innocent" - because everyone can see it if you write comments on the blog pages please use the same abbreviations for other family member or friends that I do. Please feel free to ask questions if you want clarification because then other people who might have been wondering the same thing can read your question and our answers.
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    OH- Other Half (Hubby), OD- Oldest Daughter, MD- Middle Daugher, YD- Youngest Daughter, SB- soulja boi MD's fiance in the army (now ex fiance), OD's R OD's partner, BS- Breast surgeon whose initials just happen to be BS as well, BC- our GP (family doctor), Dr H- my medical oncologist, all other friends family etc will be referred to as initials etc
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Guest post by MD

I’m not the only creative writer in the family, both OD and MD have talents in that direction too.

MD is finishing her degree in primary (elementary) school teaching and as part of that she has to take a general education paper, that is one not related to the other course papers.  She decided to do an English paper and one of her assignments was to write a short narrative essay on an important experience.  This is what she wrote – she got a great mark for it and I think it captures some of our family dynamics perfectly.   She gave me permission to put it on my blog.

Standing in the gardens surrounded by flowers, trees and shrubs, I thought of the photo on the wall at my parent’s house. It was old, the frame was starting to fade and the gold detail flake away. The photo itself was still filled of colour and I could still remember that day. Eighteen years had passed since that photo was taken, my mother’s hair once long and curly is now replaced with a short wispy cut and there are scars on her chest and neck from her endless battle, my dad has aged with time, and the three girls are all grown up. In the photo I was six and wearing my favourite blue dress with little black bows printed all over, my older sister was wearing a colourful jumper and her long dark hair tied up in a bun. My little sister YD standing in the middle of us two, a big smile on her face as we held her hands tight to make sure she stayed in place. Mum and Dad were standing behind us, you can’t see it but they were holding YD in place as well. It takes quite an effort to get a good photo of YD.

“Smile”, eighteen years later and I was standing there, holding YD’s hand so she stayed in place once more.  We moved around the Botanical gardens, having
photos taken in various different areas. We stood by an old wooden gate with
rusted bolts and nails, moss was starting to grow over the wood in patches and
it sagged close to the soft dark soil on the ground. My black heels sunk slowly
into the ground like an anchor lowering into place. Photo after photo was
taken, and my smile started to fade and feel fake as we moved again to a new
part of the gardens for a change in back drop. Then I heard it, the start of
one of YD’s meltdowns. She grizzled and groaned, mumbling about how she doesn’t want any more photos, then it developed into a cry and scream.  I could understand her frustration; we had been taking photos for over an hour. People started to stop and look; this is nothing new to my family. I walked up to my little sister as she was hunched over sitting on a seat by a big native tree, and gave her a long and tight hug.
She cried and told me how she had been trying hard but it was boring, she does
not like waiting, its part of having autistic tendencies. I asked her why today
was important. Why were we getting photos taken? She replied “because the other photo is old”. If only life was so simple, we were getting a family portrait
taken as we do not know how much longer we have together, because my mum is
sick. YD knows mum is sick but she doesn’t need to know the severity until she
has too.

As we walk towards the cafe to have afternoon tea, I put my arm around YD’s shoulders and tell her she did well today. I feel an arm around my waist, its warm and pulling me tight. The hand is pale and thin. I feel an immense amount of happiness in that moment, its YD’s hand. She doesn’t physically show emotions like that very often. We share a special bond my little sister and I, it’s not a normal relationship but its only one that we understand and I am her best friend.

the photographer captured the moment

Our first family portrait on the wall at my parent’s house shows a young family with an unknown future ahead of them. Life has changed in many ways, we have all grown up and moved out of home, my big sister is getting married, YD has lived longer and overcome obstacles we didn’t know she would.
There have definitely been some hard times. But the new portrait, it shows a
family of adults that can overcome anything, that are still standing all together and holding YD’s hands so she stays in place.

Family portraits show more then who is in your family, they show who your family, as a whole, are together.

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11 Comments

  1. Bridget

     /  August 27, 2011

    wow :) I can just imagine MD telling that story, and captures YD so well

    Reply
  2. What a beautiful tribute to all your family’s hard work at being a family! :) I’m sure she got very high marks for something so close to her heart. HUGs and blessings to you and your family!

    Reply
  3. BRO

     /  August 27, 2011

    Brought a tear to my eye – great descriptions of YD – could picture it straight up !

    Reply
  4. Angela

     /  August 27, 2011

    Beautiful sentiments from MD It’s funny how such “simple family” activities take on such poignant meaning for so many reasons. I have ourown family portarit stories so can really understand-the photo before my father in law passed away from cancer which our darling chap just refused to be in! And the one before where he had to be photoshopped as he was crying so much in all the “actual photos”. As parents I know that sometimes we underestimate the pain that our “regular” children face because of their “different” siblings, but theyare also amazing human beings with insights far beyond their years as evidenced in this beautiful story. Thanks for sharing Jenny. X

    Reply
  5. meghan

     /  August 27, 2011

    cry :) thats beautiful. photos of family are so important, there can never be too many :) xx

    Reply
  6. Sis M

     /  August 28, 2011

    beautifully written – has great meaning also to the wider family

    Reply
  7. This is just beautiful! I’ve often wondered how my daughters would tell our story…your’s did it wonderfully!

    Reply
  8. Oh, Jenny. That story was stunning. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much to you and MD for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  9. feistybluegecko

     /  September 2, 2011

    Oh my, what a beautiful, insightful and honest story. It is so important to step to the side and feel what our loved ones are feeling and I found this enormously touching and powerful. She captured the complexities of family dynamics amid the real side to cancer and what it does to all around. Thank you so much for sharing. Warm hugs to you all xx

    Reply
  10. Jenny

     /  September 11, 2011

    An awesome piece of writing. It is beautiful what one can write from life experiences

    Reply
  11. Diane Dotchin

     /  September 13, 2011

    Just so beautiful

    Reply

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