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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

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you…

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.

Leave a comment


  1. So beautiful. And I have something in my eye again. I think it must have broken off from the huge lump in my throat…

  2. Dear OD and family of Jenny. Well done for continuing the writing of some of the hard stuff. Your mother would be (and probably more likely is) very proud of you all and your achievements. What is so great about Jenny was that she was bold enough to write about the hard stuff. The way we truly think, feel and do about those hard topics. She wrote from her point of view and that was of a true help to those that were going through similar situations. As I read this post I had those shivers right down my back and I believe that is a sign that some one is there for me when I read the difficult stuff. Your thoughts of Jenny will keep her with you for the rest of your life. Although physically no longer with us they are forever with us in our hearts.

  3. Kevin Horne

     /  August 5, 2012

    hi OD. Mrs Five-Minutes is my Mum and I was in the Youth Group with Jenny all those years ago. I was also priviledged to be at the service on Saturday where we heard about the amazing, wife, mother, friend, and women that Jenny was. Jenny was an Awesome lady of faith. It is sad to think that some ignorant (in the nicest of ways possible) people managed to get christianity so wrong. Jenny was a true example of what living for Jesus really means. Thank you for having the courage to write these words. May God Bless your entire family. Kevin

  4. I long ago came to the conclusion that faith is one thing, church or any form of organized, group expression of faith is another thing. You don’t have to have the latter, to have the former. Your mother lived her life as a child of God and she died a child of God. No question.

  5. Tania hallinan

     /  August 5, 2012

    Thanks for sharing OD on behalf of your mum. She is am amazing woman. Sad that she was treated like that with YD and whilst she went thru that she still had her faith. Her service on saturday was beautiful and nice it was held in the town church which was so important to her.

  6. Marti Staton

     /  August 6, 2012

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I truly believe that your mom is with God and loved ones. I also agree that faith and church attendance do not necessarily go together. I’m also glad that her funeral service was held in the town church that had been important to her.

  7. Barb

     /  August 6, 2012

    Beautiful post, OD. There is no doubt our dear Jenny is in Heaven where she belongs.

  8. Pam

     /  August 6, 2012

    that was beautifully put, your mum would be so proud that you were able to put into words what she was planning to blog about. I am a great believer in life after death and there are many times that I have almost had tangible evidence of this. Sometimes the clues are so obvious, especially when the relationship is close as mine was with my mum and yours is with your mum. Over time you will find these little clues as reminders of what you shared. As far as church and christianity I believe that faith is not just in the church and attendance but in the minds and hearts of those who feel their faith in an inner way. Your mums christianity is very obvious in what she did to bring to the forefront IBC. I had never heard of it as a separate breast cancer until I was facing it myself which is how I came across Jenny. Your mums spirit will shine on in those she touched through life. Thanks for keeping us updated. xx Pam

  9. Your moving words had me in tears .. Your mum would be been proud tat you carried on her blog and posted what things she wanted to discuss. My heat aches for you at such a difficult time and i bet it was difficult for you to write this. Big hugs , your Mum has the biggest angel wings ever xxx

  10. Auntie M

     /  August 6, 2012

    Grandma J will be waiting for her and be very proud of her

  11. N

     /  August 6, 2012

    Hearing your words reflecting on your mothers life underscores for me that despite my grief, it is healing to acknowledge that life can, and life must, go on. The imprint that jenny left on so many is like a bruise at the moment that hurts when pushed. But as the pain leaves, I know that part of her legacy is not only her honesty, courage and generosity in sharing her journey – but also her wonderful family who are the living embodiment of her legacy. I hope you see your mum in every sunset.


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