Friday, November 25, 2011


19th to 25th November 2011

As I sit to type this entry large tear drops of rain are falling freely from the overcast skies over Canberra,the envigorating sunshine that put a smile on all our faces has disappeared, to be replaced by bleak cold weather. 

Last Friday it was Interclub again, I threw the discus and shot put, I did not get a personal best in either event throwing 5.68 meters in discus and 2.28 meters in shot put, I had expected that because I had thrown early in the week.  I always enjoy participating at Interclub, being with other athletes of all ages and abilities.  Nalani threw two personal bests though and was really pleased with herself. Jarrett of course was not running due to his injury however he was there calling out splits for members of his running squad, he is like that, he always encourages other people. 

My week at school began with a Maths exam, we had two long test papers one was on catestian planes and the other was on all the work that we have covered throughout the whole of Year 8.  I love Maths and had studied for the tests, however during the test I found that my right hand began tingling and became heavy and painful, then my head was throbbing, it actually felt like a balloon being blown up so large that it was just about to burst.  My eyes were also flickering and making it difficult for me to focus on the words on the paper.  Then it happened I blanked out, everything goes dark for a little while and then I hear my name, it is Mum, she stays calm but is probably extremely worried.  When I can see light again I feel so very tired and my right arm is paralysed, I am not able to move it, it just hangs by my side.  My head still throbbed and I felt very nauseous it was horrible.
I came home and slept, it helps me feel a little better, I had to elevate my arm to give it support and I took pain killers for my head and stomach pain. 

Tuesday I was still not well, my arm was still useless and my head was still throbbing and felt unordinarily large.  Nalani had a farewell to Year 12 assembly in the morning which I went to with Mum.  It was very special as the Year 12 students paraded in to the Green Day song Good Riddance (time of your life), I noticed that Mum had a glistening tear in her eye as Nalani walked in.  After several speeches the students were then congratulated and wished luck for their exams and they each walked up onto the stage with really special comments been made about each of them.  Nalani had some really lovely words said about her including that she was mature and a sincerely empathetic person.  At the end the Kindegarten children sang a song and gave the Year 12 students a flower, it was really magnificent.

I then had physiotherapy which I could hardly wait to have, Rhiannon is always able to help me when I have problems.  She was able to loosen the excessively tight muscles in my neck, shoulders, arm and hand, then while she was working on my calves which were tighter than usual also, Mum did some ultrasound on my right hand and wrist.  Then my physiotherapy session came to an end, it was one of the saddest days of my life because it was Rhiannon's last day, she has been my very wonderful and extraordinary physiotherapy gurardian angel.  She was working with me before I was even diagnosed with my brain tumour, she was there for me when I returned for those few weeks after radiotherapy and then of course when I finished was chemotherapy and was so weakened.  She has a bright light that shines from within her, it is like a magic light that radiates and helps her patients feel so much better.  I will miss her so much and I cried when I gave her a gift and a huge hug.  I hope that all her dreams come true and that she has many, many rainbow moments in her future life. 

I went to school on Wednesday, in Textiles I worked on my felting, I was still wetting it down and gently rubbing it with the bubble wrap, then the teacher said it was ready to roll.  My poor right arm was still useless so I had to use my left, it was a little difficult but I still persevered and did it.  It still needs a little more rolling, you roll it until it shrinks, then you wet it and then it is ready to be cut and sewn.  In Maths we were working on a booklet that had been made up by all the students in the class. 

This week I also had a visit from the parish assistant who gave me communion, I am not always able to make it to church as I am not well enough or too tired so they sometimes come to our home to give me communion and do a reading and a prayer.  I still believe that God has given me this journey for a reason and even though sometimes I feel a little sad that I have to travel this journey I know that through my journey and trying to raise awareness the best I can maybe just maybe one day in the future there will be a cure for brain tumours.

I have still been saving those five cent coins and will be sending them off to the Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation Brain Tumour Fund early in December because they close from 23rd December until 9th January, so anyone else who has been saving them may want to do the same.  Cheques are made out to Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation Brain Tumour Fund and the address you send them to is Tara Donnelly, Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation Locked Bag 5, Randwick NSW 2031.  You can also send a cover letter telling them that you were raising the coins because you had read about it on my Blog. 

Today we had a telephone call from the Canberra Hospital Paediatrics unit to let us know that my growth hormones have been approved, the next step is to meet with the educator to tell us all about them and how Mum has to inject them.  We have an appointment next Tuesday to do that and then we will be given a prescription for the hormones.  I am excited that they are going to help me but are aware that there are side effects which may not be pleasant. 

As the rain still tumbles like large tears from the angels in heaven my left hand has fatigued and I need to rest it.  Wishing you all a wonderful week, never give up on your dreams, look for inspiration in others, don't underestimate your courage and let the light from within your heart shine brightly on the lives of others.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


12th to 18th November 2011

I truly believe that if you are determined enough  and possess enough courage then you can achieve even the  goals that seem almost impossible.  

This week has been extremely hectic and exhausting for me both mentally and physically, firstly with school as we have been working on end of year tasks.  In English we did revision early in the week to prepare for our exam questions on Thursday.  Then of course the exam was Thursday, it was based on the novel Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo and there were two parts to it.  Writing is so difficult for me because my fine motor skills have been affected by my tumour and treatment, it took me fifteen minutes to write one small paragraph.  I did finish the exam eventually with the assistance of a scribe but it had zapped all my energy so on returning home I slept.

In Textiles I began my felting project, you have to lay down your base colour by sandwiching it, that is putting the felt one way and then the opposite way to help it bind.  I then added my polka dots in four different colours and I was then able to put the prepared product onto some bubble wrap and place a piece of material over it, then wet it down with hot water and some lux soap flakes.  Using another piece of bubble wrap I smoothed over the material, this process binds the materials together.  Next week I have to work on the next process of rolling it.  The procedures get repeated until you produce a piece of felt that can be made into a product, we are making mobile phone/ipod cases.

For Maths we did revision of all the work that we have done this year, there are so many things to remember, we have our exam next Monday, it will go over a double period and will assist the teaching staff to decide which level classes we are in next year.

Tuesday was the most extraordinary day for the whole week because it was the day that I was competing in the ACT School Track and Field Championships, through being determined and even coping with some pain I was throwing in the discus, shot put and javelin events.  The weather that day could only be described as perfect, the radiant sun was shinning ever so brightly in the crystal clear blue sky and there was only the slightest hint of a breeze which was a gentle, refreshing on.  My first even was the discus, I had those familiar butterflies in my stomach that appear whenever I am a little nervous, but once I had my first throw they began to disappear.  My second and third throws went longer each time and my final distance was 6.02 meters which was a personal best.  The next event was shot put, after doing so well in my discus I felt much more confident in shot put, my legs were a little wobbly but that did not worry me, I looked ahead, cradle the shot put near my neck and threw with all my might, it seemed to go a good distance then my second and third went further again.  Upon measuring I had achieved another personal best, 2.61 meters which was a whole twenty one centimeter personal best.  The final even was the javelin unfortunately I had tired from my huge efforts in discus and shot put but still remained determined.  When I was given a shiny gold 400g javelin to throw I thought it may be lucky.  My throws were good and I was not sure whether I had achieved another personal best, I had not but it was second best distance I have thrown so that was fantastic.  Throughout the day I went to all my events with the other AWD athletes, they were so encouraging and positive it only made me more positive.  I ended up coming first in all my events for my age and category.  As there were not that many athletes with a disability, only twelve, they combined some ages and categories for the ribbons and I ended up with a first in javelin, a third in discus and a third in shot put. I have to say that it is a day that I will treasure.

Apart from that I have not done too much else this week as I was exhausted, I did help Mum to write the Christmas Cards ready to post on 1st December.  I have Interclub on Friday afternoon, I will be competing in discus and shot put, I am hoping that I can equal my performances from Tuesday but won't be too disappointed if I can't.

Nalani finishes school next week and then has her Year 12 exams, it is so exciting for her and I know that she will do extraordinarily well, she studies really hard.  She did a Maths test for the Term and she got top of the class and achieve a 'z' score of 3.31 which is unbelievably good. 

Jarrett went for a jog and found out that he has no pain now, so he can just jog next week and then begin training again the following week, it has been frustrating for him as he loves his running so much, but he is also sensible because you don't want to run on an injury and make it worse.  He has also done well at school achieving top marks in his Sport Science assignments. 

Keep believing in yourselves, don't be afraid to challenge your abilities to reach those goals that you thought may be impossible. 

Friday, November 11, 2011


5th to 11th November 2011

Today is a special day when we remember the soldiers who lost their lives to make our Country the place it is today.  At 11 am on 11th November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. In November the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.

This week for me was one that was filled with doctors appointments and blood tests.  It all began on Monday with an appointment with my Endocrinologist.  He found out that my growth hormone request was still pending and it would be another six to eight weeks before it is all approved and I can begin daily injections of the growth hormone which will assist me to grow a little, I have not grown for well over a year now and people of my age are usually going through quite a growth spurt.  Even with the growth hormones I will never reach the height that I would have been before my tumour.  I was also told that I am going to experience problems with my spine from the extremely high doses of radiation that I had to have, there is already a curvature and it is likely to worsen.  The thyroid is one of the bodies organs that respond poorly to radiation, my thyroid function has been dropping over my last blood tests and will continue to drop and cause problems.  Often when people have had really high doses of radiation there is a high chance of them developing thyroid cancer.  So the Endocrinologist decided to send me for more blood tests to see what is happening.  He is also organising a bone density test for me as that is another thing that can be affected by the radiation.  I will be seeing him again in February for my regular monitoring however he will see when as soon as the growth hormones are approved.

On Tuesday I had an appointment with the Oncologist from Sydney.  With not being on the study any longer I am only been monitored six monthly rather than three monthly.   My high ferretin levels where mentioned and he told me that they were extremely high because of the many blood transfusions I had to have whilst on chemotherapy, it is been monitored as if it does not drop through natural ways like puberty, which will not occur for a long time, or may not at all because of my treatment and tumour then I will have to have medication for it.  He was amazed that I was competing in throwing events and thought that showed true determination.  With a tumour like mine there is a really high risk of recurrent disease, the team are amazed that I have not had a recurrence as yet as they had expected it to happen.  Some people go five years without a recurrence but then it returns more aggressive than before.  I still have the residual tumour which we do not know what it may do in the future but I feel like my positive attitude and determination to try to beat this disease is helping.  I will be having another MRI in February on both my brain and spine and then going to Sydney after that for more appointments.  He is trying to organise an appointment with a neurologist doing a Canberra Clinic in the New Year also.

I had physiotherapy on Wednesday, it was my second last appointment before Rhiannon leaves, she worked on my shoulders, neck, calves and right heel which is giving me a few problems because of the spur.  I have an appointment with her again on 22nd November and that is the day she leaves.  I will miss her so much, she has been my very special guardian angel and has been such an important part of my rehabilitation and ability to be positive. 

On Thursday I was supposed to be competing in discus, javelin and shot put in the ACT Schools Championships but the weather had other ideas, the rain had been pouring down out of angry, grey skies the night before and then that morning large drops of rain continued to pelt down, forming large puddles on the ground.  The Championships were postponed, they are now going to be on Tuesday next week and the forecast for that day is sunny and twenty nine degrees.

I had a blood test today to test my thyroid function, insulin, growth hormones and a full blood count as well, I now watch my blood tests, it is rather interesting to see the fine butterfly needle enter my skin and go into my vein which is so used to been poked and then the thin blood flows down the fine tube and into the vial.  the needle does not even seem to sting anymore when it goes in.  Today after I had my blood test my vein continued to bleed for a little while afterwards so we had to apply extra pressure to it.  That used to happen when I was having my chemotherapy and my platelets were low but they should not be that low now.

Finally I have completed all the assignments that I needed to finish, my last one was one on Kenya for World Studies.  Next week we have several tests and the week after we have moderating tests to work out what level classes we should be in the following year. 

At Interclub last Friday night I was throwing javelin and shot put.  I was so thrilled to throw a personal best in javelin, my previous result had been 4.81m and I threw 6.06m.  Then in shot put I was only three centimeters off my personal best so I was also happy with that.  There is no Interclub this week but there is one the following Friday and the program will be discus and shot put.  Nalani also threw a personal best in javelin and she was also able to run two laps of the track and did not limp at all.  Jarrett again had to be a spectator but his foot has now healed so he will be able to jog on the weekend and then gradually return to full training and then racing. 

My Nana and Pop's dog, Chifley is recovering well from his second surgery, poor him having to have two lots of surgery in three weeks, I think he is a very brave dog.  It must be hard for animals, they can not talk and tell their owners how they are feeling and it would be so difficult for them to understand that they need to stay still.

For anyone that is going through a difficult journey, always believe that there is a rainbow out there for you that will bring you hope, healing and happiness. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011


28th October to 4th November 2011

I wonder how much of your potential you have reached? 
What has held you back?
What do you fear most?
Your potential will open up if you embrace life with a positive attitude despite the challenges and fears that may cross your path.

At Interclub on Friday I threw the discus and the shot put. Discus has always been my favourite field event even before I was diagnosed with cancer and shot put was the one that I felt I was not very successful at.  Through my journey I have learnt to face so many new and frightening challenges with courage and determination, so I have taken a positive attitude into my throwing.  To my surprise and delight that attitude has helped me to throw a personal best in shot put, I threw 2.40m! Sometimes when you work hard and push yourself you may then face a slight hurdle, the day after my huge throwing effort I had a very swollen knee and painful foot.   As the week went on and with some care from Mum the swelling went away and the pain in my foot disappeared. 

School has been so tremendously hectic, we have many assignments that have to be completed as well as having to study for exams.  In Maths we are still working on cartesian planes and our test will cover all the work from the year.  In English we have been looking at how to write short answer responses to questions about text.  We have begun to plan our felting project in Textiles and in Science we have been investigating the respiratory system, it is so interesting and miraculous how our body functions. 

Our weather has turned glorious, the sky is such a clear crystal blue and the sun is so luxuriously warm and inviting.  The gardens are abundant with colour and fragrance, our rose bushes are bursting with heavenly scented blooms and there are more buds ready to burst open.  The grass is growing rapidly and the hum of lawnmowers can be heard frequently in the street. 

Next week I will be kept busy with doctors appointments, I see my Endocrinologist and he may be able to shed some light on when the growth hormones may be approved.  My other appointment is with the Oncologist who will be doing his three monthly check up on me. 

I have also been selected to represent my school at the ACT Schools Championships for discus, shot put and javelin as an AWD athlete.  It is such a special honour to have made it through to this level and I am hoping that I will be able to do my best.  Jarrett was also selected to run in the 3000m, 1500m and 800m but won't be able to because of his plantar fascia injury, he is absolutely devastated about it as he was running so phenomenally well, however he has a wonderful attitude and sees this as a challenge that will make him more determined and stronger when he returns from injury.  

Nalani is running again and trying to regain her fitness levels, it has now been eleven months since her major knee surgery.  At Interclub she also threw personal bests in both discus and shot put, it is terrific that we can compete together in the same events. 

So many people we know have been diagnosed with different types of cancer this year, their families have been facing the difficult journey with them.  Cancer entirely changes your life, I think that I have become a better person because my cancer and appreciate life more. 

May you all find many positives in your lives this week and strive to reach your full potential. Good luck also to the many students who are doing exams in the coming weeks.