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  • All about Gertrude

    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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  • SUSAN’S ARMY

    No Princess Alone button

“Cause I’ve had the time of my life…” – a celebration of Mum’s schooling era

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.

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8 Comments

  1. Angela

     /  August 8, 2012

    It was such a wonderful occasion-thanks for posting this OD-now others will know how proud(and quite rightly) she was of all she had acheived.xxx

    Reply
  2. Nina

     /  August 8, 2012

    Thanks for your last couple of posts. The story about the church was familiar to my experience. However have recently given church another go… The fact that she did her studies through all this time is amazing.
    So good to read your posts. It helps a lot of us and hopefully it gives you comfort too.

    Reply
  3. BRO

     /  August 8, 2012

    Thanks OD, we were all proud of her, & she has a great legacy left behind in you 3 girls, & OH !

    Reply
  4. Sis M

     /  August 8, 2012

    Yes we were very proud of her acheivements.
    Thanks OD – you write so well

    Reply
  5. Moana Papa

     /  August 8, 2012

    Learning is lifelong. The quest for knowledge and enlightenment becomes a positive focus in dark times. I’m glad Jenny found friendship and joy with her friends and academic supporters at the University of Auckland. Will miss your chipmunk giggle my friend! ;o)

    Reply
  6. Meghan

     /  August 8, 2012

    such a big achievement, studying to earn A’s is hard enough on its own without being so sick as well. Hats off xx

    Reply
  7. How ABSOLUTELY beautiful. OD, I want you to know that you “mum” (I would say mom ;) … ) is missed by so many in the social media community. She had a strong voice and in an “offline” conversation, she shared how she came to terms with her situation as she continued to advocate for the rest of the IBC community. She was special in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Rather than lick her own wounds, she was on the sidelines cheering for everyone else. I am a better person for having shared a time in my life with your mum. Her legacy lives on in you but it also lives on in HUNDREDS of people all over the world. She touched many. Thank you for sharing with us.

    xoxox

    Reply
  8. Pam

     /  August 9, 2012

    Jenny must have felt so proud of this achievement. Not only did she achieve so well academically but also in raising the awareness of IBC, goodness knows how many lives she inadvertently saved just by raising this awareness. We all hear a lot about breast cancer, the dreaded lump etc, but until I got to know Jenny (by email) I never knew that there was this other hidden and sinister part of breast cancer that even GPs sometimes have little knowledge of. Thanks to Jenny, I discovered that a little rash on the breast is not just “some sort of infection or something I’ve eaten” but a lot more lethal than I thought. All my best wishes to your family who we got to know so well on Jennys blogs and emails, and Jenny who we know is in a soft and cosy place up there, you will stay in a lot of people’s memories because you made a lot of difference to a lot of ladies and helped educate them on IBC. xx

    Reply

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