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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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    No Princess Alone button

Mental Armour

Some of you who have been on my blog in the past day or so may have seen over on the right hand side a new addition, a ‘button’ that shows a lego princess and the words – “No Princess fights alone” .  You may have wondered what it was doing there.  If you click on the picture it takes you to the post that explains it.  This Princess is part of Susan (WhyMommy’s) mental armour and she calls it the Princess-who- can-defend-herself and it sits on her desk.  One of Susans blogger friends in the States created this button as a way of showing that although she is a ‘Princess who can defend herself’  there is an army of supporters behind her and I am one of  them.

But Susan’s post and a few other things got me thinking about the mental armour we metaphorically gird our loins with and go into battle against cancer.  A lot of us like Susan have things that remind us to stay strong because it is ultimately us fighting the battle.  One of them is knowing that we have the love and support of friends and family,  another is making contact with others that are fighting IBC or other advanced breast cancer.  I have 46 friends on facebook that I have never met (apart from S) that like me have had or are currently battling IBC.  Yes, they may only be ‘facebook friends’  but we share a common experience that has given us a bond far beyond a purely internet one.  Admittedly there are a few on that list that have died but I keep them on that list as a way of honoring their memories (just as their families have kept their facebook profiles alive for the same reason). 

Sprucehill in her latest post talks about being friends with people all over the world and them being available at just a click of a mouse. And that is the way I feel about the friendships I have made through the IBC support mailing list, Facebook, and twitter and knowing that they are there adds to my mental armour’s strength.

Like Susan I too have physical things that add to that mental armour.  In my blog’s header photo montage there is pictures of the bracelets I wear every day.  Its almost a ritual when I get dressed: foob on, lymphodema sleeve on,  bracelets on.

On my left arm I wear my charm bead bracelets – one is my grown up version of the child cancer beads and the other one is other special events/achievements since diagnosis – in 2010 I added two beads to the cancer one ‘ finishing vinorelbine’ and ‘remission’ and added 4 to the other ‘finishing 1st semester of uni’, ‘trip to Samoa’, ‘finishing second semester’ and ‘having a normal christmas’.  As much as the ‘cancer’ beads remind me of the cancer they also remind me I’m strong enough to have gone through all that. 

On my other arm over my lymphodema sleeve (very effectively blurring the demarcation of sleeve and skin so people actually don’t realise I am wearing a sleeve at first) I wear the ‘serenity prayer’ to remind me that there are things  I can change and things I can’t and basically to “just deal with it.” Recently added to sit beside that bracelet is another that AW gave me for Christmas with the Maori words ‘Kia kaha’ on the outside of the links and the English translation “stand strong” on the inside. 

Serenity and Kia Kaha bracelets

Serenity and Kia Kaha bracelets


She gave it to me for being a strong brave amazing woman but my feelings on that which I also said to CPM when she said something very similar to me the other day was that I dont think that I’m any braver, stronger, or any more amazing than the average woman – I am just doing what I have to to get through, to carry on living my life the best way I know how, and I think most woman I know would find that they too have a supply of mental armour that they never knew about.

As I typed that last sentence I had a vision of our mental armour being like an invisible forcefield we dont even know we’ve got – its not ’til the bullets starting flying and some bounce off that we realise we have it and that it starts to show itself – yes I’m a sci-fi geek but you’ve all seen movies where the forcefield glows as things hit it and is otherwise invisible.

So here I sit waiting for news but with my mental armour as my forcefield and glad that I am a small link in the chain mail of Susan’s armour

Nobody fights alone.

Leave a comment


  1. David Nilsson

     /  January 30, 2011

    Dear JayDub (although you remain JayJay to some), Still love the blog. I moved to London and lost your email address (everything got deleted by mistake – damn technology!). This is the only way I can think of to contact you. Love, D.


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