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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.
  • Abbreviations

    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

Husbands and rabbit holes

More than slightly morbid blog post.

After hearing my tumor markers had gone back up, thoughts of death have reared their ugly heads again.  Most of the time as I go about my day-to day business, as much as we are looking at control rather than cure and that control will probably have a limited time frame, I push the thoughts of my death to the back of my mind and close the door after them.

Likewise it is a time that OH and I have some very honest discussions about the likely timeframes and what will happen closer to the end.

As much as I hold out some hope for a spontaneous miraculous remission I also acknowledge the reality of the situation and the chances of that remission happening are not as high as the less desirable outcome we are all facing.

I’m glad OH and I can talk about it, both seriously and with touches of very dark humor, and OD and MD are the same.

But one of the things I love about OH is  that he is also opening up to some of his work-mates about the emotional toll it has on him.  He relayed to me that when he was telling one of his work-mates our latest news, she asked him how he felt.  He had replied ” It’s like we are falling down a rabbit hole, with each piece of bad news we fall a bit further down. And we both know that eventually only one of us is going to make it back up”

When he told me that I envisaged us roped together down a hole – me a little further down than him, and I said that to him and I said there will probably come a time when he has to untie the rope and let me go. And climb back to the surface alone.

It’s not that I think it is going to necessarily happen any time soon but with chemo options starting to be in shorter supply and knowing the reality of my situation – I know we have to acknowledge it will happen eventually.  And our family believes it is better to talk about things, even down to things I might like for my funeral while I am able to make those decisions.  If my condition was to deteriorate rapidly and we hadn’t had those discussions, my family wouldn’t know my wishes.  It’s not like I am sitting down and planning my funeral, but more just having the odd conversation when I find a song I might like to be played or so on.  I can express that wish, they go OK, and we move back to more everyday matters.

I made my friend N at university cry, she is an accomplished musician and singer and one of the things I have thought is that I would like her to sing a song at my funeral.  When I told her that, she was very moved but said she also had been thinking a little along the same lines herself, and although I had made her cry we both agreed that whether it happens in 1, 2 or five years time; it was better for us to talk about it now when it doesn’t weigh so heavily on either of us.

As I think of other little things I tell my family or jot them down or if they are something that I see in a newspaper of magazine I will cut them out and put them in a little file I have started, and yes the label reads ‘Jenny’s funeral ideas’.  Some of them will be dismissed closer to the time, but having that file and that discussion now will definitely make it easier on myself and the family if and when we have to plan my funeral for real.

We still haven’t had these conversations with YD and we won’t until we have a more definite time frame. We will tell her the cancer is not likely to go away again, but unless she brings the subject of me dying up, I would rather not broach it with her while there is such an ephemeral time frame and also when I am not ‘acting’ sick.  I need to find some good children’s books, aimed about a 5-year-old level, to help her cope and process when the time comes for us to tell her.

I did warn you this blog post was morbid, but I firmly believe that it is important to acknowledge the reality of what we are dealing with

I am not actually afraid of death itself, I have faith in an afterlife, and when the time comes I hope to go with grace.

I just hope it doesn’t happen too soon.

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  1. Christina

     /  October 17, 2011

    Jenny…you are such an inspiration…it only everyone didnt have to face what you are dealing with, to be able to have frank and caring conversations with their loved ones. Keep your chin up…keep smiling and keep sharing your heart with us all by way of your blog! Whatever and whenever, you will leave a strong legacy of yourself through your blogging.

  2. Jenny Bradley

     /  October 18, 2011

    You said in your previous blog that you weren’t strong but when I think of all you have had to deal with in your life I think you are one of the strongest woman I know.

  3. NC

     /  October 19, 2011

    I would like to say I hope it doesn’t happen at all… or for a very long time. I found your blog after seeing you talk on the BCAC videos and I have been reading it a couple of months now. I am struck by your honesty, courage, determination and how you tell it like it is. I want to comment on nearly every post how you have enlightened me, challenged me and helped me. I think that I have finished my two month cancer journey. Of course, I don’t know that for a fact. But things look good. I asked myself do I feel guilty things are going well for me but not as well for you? In a strange way no, because when I read your blog it seems to emphasise to me more than anything else I have read how important it is to love the life you live and live the life you love – as much as you can, while you can. I doubt I will comment again although I will keep reading… I just wanted to let you know that by being on the BCAC and now this blog you are helping me, and probably many many other lurkers including those yet to to come, by sharing your story and being you. Thank you.

  4. I found Winston’s Wish very helpful for ideas on how to approach supporting a child. I admire your integrity with regard to your studies. You have earnt every grade fair and square, and each mark represents so much effort, willpower and commitment.

  5. Cheryl

     /  November 2, 2011

    Hi Jenny, I don’t know or remember if I have told you this before, but when my brother was planning his funeral, he asked us who would be talking at his funeral and wanted to know what we would say. It was very thought provoking for all of us and I wrote a piece for him, but it was a piece for all my family as well as for him. It is hard to face your death and we should all have considered the options that will be around for us. I have discussed these things with my family as well even though I haven’t got that weighing over my head as yet. (Who really knows other than those in your shoes) For anyone of us it could be tomorrow or whenever. It is not morbid to talk of it. It is being realistic. I agree whole-heartedly with the above postees about your strength and your remarkable honesty in dealy with your situation. As one of my students said to me the other day. “You’re da Man OOPs Woman!”


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