In these last couple of months I have experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. In early October I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Whoa. Slap across the face. Brave face. Not so brave face. Scared. Crying in the shower. Crying on my daughter's broad shoulders. Crying on my brother's tall shoulders. Hugging my husband tight. Let's just get on with it. Cut it out. Do you think pathology made a mistake? How much longer have I got? Shit. Will my voice be affected permanently? You have to slit my throat open? How did this happen? You really think the radioactive cloud from the atomic bombing at Maralinga in 1957 has got something to do with it Doctor? What about the waste from the Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital that was dumped into the local creek we used to tadpole in? Could that have caused it? Get a grip. If you have to have cancer, this is the one to have. Survival stats are through the roof. You're lucky they caught it early. Glass half full remember.
I wasn't going to post anything on my cancer diagnosis on social media and particularly not on my blog, as this blog is my happy place. However, now that I'm through the worse and I'm now confident that the talented medical team around me has helped me get on top of this, and the fact that my family and friends have been amazing, I want to write on my blog to say thank you and let others know that even from the most confronting news, good can come. A lot of good and a lot of love.
This diagnosis has reminded me of my mortality and of the mortality of those around me. I'm trying hard not to sweat the small stuff anymore, although surprisingly, it still can creep back in when I'm not being vigilant. And through my hospital visits and operations, I'm even more aware of how much sickness there is in the world and that there are many who are doing it far tougher than me. I'm also aware of what an amazing health system we have and how kind and dedicated the nurses and doctors are. Theirs is a vocation.
This diagnosis has brought my family closer. I adore them all. My husband and daughter have been at my side both physically and spiritually. I have become closer to my brothers and been able to sympathise with my sister's painful illness more fully. It has also brought my friends closer, especially my friend Kerry who was there for me through the dark times and is still right by my side during the hopeful times. My golfing friends have been wonderful, and I have felt the hugs from my wine club friends. Other friends who I don't see as often as I should have reached out and demonstrated their love. I have been touched deeply.
As for adjusting priorities after such a confronting diagnosis, I'm lucky in that I am already living the dream. I left full time work a few years ago. I am pursuing my passion to write books. I am playing golf, lunching with friends, being there for my family far more than I had been through my full-time working life.
I plan to be an old lady, embracing decrepitude and frailty. Like my 94 year old mother, who we lost last year, I want to be grateful for what I have until my last breath. In the end mum was legally blind, in pain, in a wheelchair and incontinent. Get the bin bags ready Hannah. In thirty years from now you'll need to protect your furniture from an incontinent but happy and grateful old lady.
They say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. It's a cliche but like all cliches, there is some truth to it.
Spring in the garden is particularly beautiful this year.