Thursday, August 30, 2012


18th to 31st August 2012
This Blog entry is for two weeks because last week my family and I were in Adelaide for The Australian Cross Country Championships.  Jarrett was running in them and we always go to support him and to cheer as loudly as we can for him.
Before I tell you all about that I will begin with the week before, on the Saturday, I was extremely fortunate to go to a Cat Show. As many of you know, I have a real love for cats, especially my special cat Tinkerbelle who stays by my side virtually constantly, she watching over me.  At the cat show we saw many different breeds, there was a Bengal cat that had the most unique patterns on it, one even looked like a love heart and it looked like a mini version of a wild cat, it was very muscular and sleek.  There were other short haired breeds like the Burmese and Siamese.  My favourite cats though were all the Persians, there were white ones with blues eyes, white with orange eyes and there was even one that had two different coloured eyes, there were Ragdolls and Birmans and even Norwegian Forest Cats.  I was able to watch and learn how they judge the cats, it is all very complicated and a number of judges look at each cat in each category, they look at their features, colour, eyes, body structure and how alert they are.  I was even fortunate enough to get to pat a few of them; one lady was telling me that she washes her cats three times the day before showing.
At School I was working on a Coaching Lesson Plan in Sports Science, I am going to coach Jarrett, video it and make it into a power point presentation.  In Maths we are working on gradients, we have a Maths test coming up.  In English we are continuing working on our assessment task for Romeo and Juliet. 

I had my weekly physiotherapy session with Kaitlyn, she worked on a spasmed muscle in my spine which was making me feel terribly uncomfortable, she also used the ultrasound on it to try to relieve it, it seemed to make a difference and then my favourite part, the heat packs.
In a busy week I also saw my paediatrician, he has put me on a new medication to help my bladder it is called Ditropan, he also changed my lactulose to Osmolax which is a powder that you put into your drink, it dissolves and you can’t even taste it.  My right foot which has been so sore, he feels is another stress fracture, I have had quite a few of them in my right foot, it is most likely because of the treatment as it caused osteopenia so my bones are more prone to fractures.  He wants to see me again in September to see how I am going but if I am not feeling well or have any new symptoms we have to let him know straight away.

I also had a visit from Tom, my Occupational Therapist, he found me a few cushions to try, often I am getting pain in the top of my spine and neck and to try to make sitting more comfortable, we are trying them.  Also with flying to Adelaide, he was hoping that one of them would make the plane flight more comfortable.  He is so clever also, because he made me a special wheat pack that has ties on it so that I can have it anywhere and it will not slip. 
After many days of appointments and School, it was finally time for us to head off to Adelaide.  On the day we left Canberra it was wet and miserable, our flight was not a direct one, we had a stopover in Melbourne and because we were on the same plane in the same seats they said we could stay onboard, so we got to see them cleaning and restocking the plane.  I also got to use the business class toilet, I don’t know what is so special about it, and I found it small and nothing flash.  Our flight from there to Adelaide was quite turbulent because they also had terrible weather; I think I can easily say it was far worse than Canberra.  It was blowing a gale, there was heavy rain and hail and it was wintry, however I could see from when we landed that it was a really beautiful city.  It is the fifth largest city in Australia, it was named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV.  The city rises from the middle of a tree-covered plain, between rolling hills to the east and beaches to the west. It was founded in 1836 by Colonel Light, the, early Adelaide was shaped by religious freedom and commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties, which led to it been known as the City of Churches.

On Friday we went to Oakbank Racecourse which was where the race was to be held the following day.  It was so wet and boggy, a true Cross Country Course, I guess you could say.  After Jarrett, Nalani and Mum walked the course and returned with muddy shoes, it was time for the Opening Ceremony.  The ACT was the first State to enter and I cheered loudly as they walked past me.  They played the National Anthem and two athletes took an oath on behalf of all the athletes, then they declared the event open. As we drove home, the rain began to tumble down from the grey skies again and I wondered how it would affect the already sodden course. 

The finish of the Cross Country
Saturday was the main Cross Country Race; Jarrett was not running until lunchtime, in the 6km event.  The weather was really miserable, it had poured raining overnight, it was foggy in the mountains and the wind must have had a wind chill factor in the minus temperatures.  When we arrived we seated ourselves in the Grandstand while Jarrett did all his pre-race preparations.  I think all the runners were pretty hesitant about the course conditions, many runners in previous races had rolled ankles, lost shoes or just pulled out because it was just too tough.  At the starting line, the rain began to fall again, the gun went off and they seemed to all be running carefully, we would see any records broken on this course.  As they passed by after their first 3km, the runners were covered in mud, including on their faces, some even ran past with only one shoe on, the other one must have been sucked into the deep, sloppy mud puddles.  Jarrett was running well but then I saw him begin to drop back a little, something was not right but when they are out on the course you can’t communicate to find out what is happening.  I became worried, I first suspected it was his calf but then wondered if the horrid weather conditions may be affecting his asthma.  He crossed the line in 64th place, 34th in his age group; there were originally 81 runners in the event.  Then we were told something was wrong and we had to go to the first aid room. 

As we arrived at the room we saw Jarrett being stretchered by some of his fellow team mates who had extremely anxious looks on their faces, we could hear that he was not breathing well, it was his asthma.  He had used his ventolin on the course but it did not seem to help, so the first aid people gave him more through a spacer.  As he was wet and muddy, he began to shiver so he was wrapped with warm blankets.  With Mum stroking his head and getting his breathing controlled he recovered, the first thing he said was that he hoped he did not let the team down.  Well, he did not because they came third on points for their age group and won a bronze medal.  I think that asthma attacks are quite frightening; it must be really awful to find that you have difficulty breathing and your chest tightens and restricts you from breathing.  It was so unlucky that the weather was so awful because if it was fine, Jarrett would not have had the attack, you see his asthma is affected by cold or humid weather. Adelaide is supposed to have pleasant weather at this time of year, not weather that was worse than what we often have in Canberra.  I was so proud of Jarrett and when he was feeling better I gave him a huge hug, I love him so much and seeing him run always makes me happy. 

After seeing Jarrett have the asthma attack, I began to feel a bit ill also, I think that it also gave me a fright and a shock.  I was so glad when he was well enough to drive back to our accommodation so that we could both rest. 

On the Sunday, it was excursion day for Jarrett; he had recovered from his asthma attack with only a slightly sore chest.  We went to Port Adelaide where Jarrett was going on a cruise of the Adelaide River with the team and other secondary teams from other States.  I was so excited because we were meeting Rhiannon (my extraordinary physiotherapist) for a hot chocolate.  It was so wonderful to see her and hear what she has been doing.  While we drank our hot chocolates we looked out over the water, it was really lovely.  After Jarrett finished his cruise we looked at the Port Adelaide Markets which were a variety of new and old items. 

On Monday it was the relay and time trial day, Jarrett had decided not to run, he did not want to risk another asthma attack.  We went to watch his team mates run and to see the Closing Ceremony.  It was at a place called Santos Stadium, it was a really terrific track because it had only been re-laid recently and it was also spongy rather than really firm like the AIS which is much more suited to sprinters than distance runners.  The weather was a little cool but the sun did manage to peep through the clouds occasionally.  The boys in Jarrett’s age group came fourth in the relay however they protested one of the change over’s and ended up winning a bronze medal. 
West Beach Adelaide
In the afternoon the sun shone brightly and we took a walk along the beach front of West Beach, there was a path that went for kilometres and looking out at the unpredictable surf was so incredibly uplifting.  After taking in all the wonderful fresh air, I felt so relaxed and closed my eyes and slept.

Tuesday was the day we were to fly home, we left our accommodation, we were going to spend some time on the beach however the weather was so overcast and miserable so we spent some time at the shops. Then it was time to head off to the airport, only to discover that our flight had been delayed.  So after a long and tiring wait we finally boarded our plane and were heading home.  The flight again was rather turbulent and the landing was not too great, the plane landed with a shuddering thud which sent pains up my spine.  After a late dinner, I was so elated to lay my head on my pillow and fall asleep.

I have been working on my Romeo and Juliet project as well as putting everything together for my Sports Science Coaching session.   The weather here in Canberra is very Wintery today, with strong, icy winds and showers.  With Spring beginning on Saturday I hope that our weather will improve, tiny blossoms are beginning to appear on the trees and bare trees have small buds of leaves appearing on them. 

The Paralympics have begun and I noticed that a song in the Opening Ceremony had the words, I am who I am.  I thought that those words are so emotional, I felt it was about been accepted for who you are and the fact that anyone is capable of reaching their dreams.  I am now looking forward to watching these amazing athletes compete in their events.  I have a feeling that our Australian Paralympics Team are going to achieve amazing personal bests and perhaps more medals than our able bodied athletes.

It is the last week of the football season before the finals, I am just three ahead of Pop, and he is making a last minute dash to the finish.  The Tigers are playing Storm this week; we have to win to have a chance to make the finals. 

As Spring begins next week, I hope that your hearts are filled with happiness and you spread that happiness to others, it is the little things that we do for each other that can blossom and grow and make a huge difference.  

Monday, August 20, 2012






Friday, August 17, 2012


11th to 17th August 2012

Large, white,  delicate snowflakes have fallen in Canberra today and the temperature has plummeted to just 2.8 degrees.  Seeing the large snow flakes fluttering down ever so gently out of the darkened morning sky was so incredible.  As the flakes touched the ground they only sat there for a moment before melting away into just a small puddle of water.

On Saturday, a special friend, Monique organised an afternoon tea and fun activities to raise money for The Sydney Children's Hospital Brain Tumour Fund.  Everyone that went to it brought a special friend with them, a teddy bear or soft toy.  Monique read Theodore and Friends - Theodore is left out to all of the children that were there, they all seemed to enjoy it.  One of the fun activities was using toilet paper and designing a costume for an adult, it was great fun and some of the adults were so wrapped up in toilet paper they couldn't even move!

Then on Sunday, a magnificent cruise and thank you party was organised by the wonderful Cristina.  The weather turned out perfect after the day before had been so miserable and windy, Lake Burley Griffin sparkled as the Pirate Party Boat cruised smoothly and all the guests could take in the spendiferous sights of Canberra.  We were treated to a delicious sausage sizzle on the freshest buns I have tasted in ages and for dessert we had a totally scrumptious Italian custard cake.  I was able to thank some of the people who have played such an important role in my journey.  It was a day that left me with precious memories that I will treasure always. 

My big weekend left me drained of energy and not feeling too well, so I was pleased I did not have school until later in the day.   This week in Maths we are doing Linear Equations and graphs and in Sports Science I worked on the Officiating Course, I completed the first module and I achieved 100% in the assessment.  In English we are working on a huge assessment task where we have to pretend that we have been asked to direct the latest adaption of Romeo and Juliet, we have to create a proposal for a production company that tells them what our vision is for the film.  We do this assignment by keeping a process journal, creating either a storyboard or movie poster and finally a 500-600 word proposal. 

I had my weekly physiotherapy appointment with Kaitlyn and she worked on my spine, neck and right foot.  At the end of the session I enjoyed lying on my stomach with those lovely warm heat packs on my back. 

The sales of Theodore and Friends - Theodore is left out, have been phenomenal, they will definitely be sold out before the end of August with only a couple of copies left, which was a hope that I had.  There will be no further reprints so for those people that purchase a copy they are very unique books and I thank you for supporting my effort to raise funds for research to find a cure for this absolutely horrific disease. 

In the mail this week I was totally surprised to receive a parcel from my oncologist, in the parcel was a gold medal with the words 'Best Chemo Patient' engraved on it.  Those of you who have read my first book will remember that during my chemotherapy I was told that I would end up in hospital many times running temperatures, I did not and my oncologist had promised me a gold medal for that.  It is hanging in my bedroom and each time I look at it, it reminds me to have strength and courage in everything I do.

A huge thank you to Julian who despite terrible weather conditions, ran on Sunday in the City 2 Surf, he completed the demanding run and raised a considerable amount of funds for the Brain Tumour Fund.

In Footy Tipping I am still in the lead on 95, Nana and Pop are both on 91, so anyone could still win the competition with only two more rounds before the finals after this weekend.  My Tigers are playing the Bulldogs tonight, I have everything crossed for them and believe they are capable of winning. 

On a really tragic note, a girl who goes to our school and has fought Neuroblastoma for six years, Olivia Lambert passed away on Tuesday night. She was inspirational and fought so courageously throughout her journey, so I ask if you can say a prayer of comfort for her family during this sorrowful time. 

Friday, August 10, 2012


4th to 10th August 2012

How splendiferous are the Olympics?

I have immensely enjoyed watching the many different types of Sports that have been televised, seeing magnificent achievements and felt empathy for those experiencing moments of heartbreak after years of preparation.  Some of my favourite momentous accomplishments of our Australian Team have been our Sailing Gold Medal, Sally Pearson's incredible 100 metre hurdle run, the whole rowing teams success, our diving silver medal, the triathletes and just our athletes getting out there, showing determination and doing the best they can.  Seeing Usain Bolt win the 100m and then the 200m to give him the double again was also amazing, he is a great athlete. 

We should all not just in sport but in our everyday lives seek to do our best, to be a truly amazing person in every way possible, to help and encourage others, to show empathy, to have courage and determination, to  not be afraid to choose a path that may not always be easy but will see us facing challenges and growing as a person. If we have dreams and goals we should not just talk about them but take the action to achieve them.

I have found a new goal for myself and have added it to my special list, there is an AWD Championship in Canberra in November and I am determined that I will qualify and be able to compete in it.  Having the championship in Canberra also means that finally I will have my face to face classification done, this could mean that my classification could change, at present I have a provisional T/F 36. 

My books have almost sold out now with only ten copies available, what a magnificent response I have received, I am just so honoured and humbled that so many people have purchased it and are helping me to make a difference.  The proceeds raised from the sales of the book are all going to The Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation Brain Tumour Fund for their research program to try to find a cure for this horrendous disease.

Not only have people purchased the book, it has also inspired them to raise funds for the Fund doing other activities.  A humungous thank you to Julian, one of my Dad's workers who is competing in the City to Surf Race this weekend and raising money for the fund, also to the incredible Monique who has organised a fund raising fun afternoon for children, Kaye who was a driving force for fundraising by the fantastic Fernwood at Woden and the generous Gowrie Pharmacy. One day because of the kindness of these people's hearts no children will have to suffer like I have. 

Throughout last week and this week I have experienced an increase in my pain levels, so the medical team have increased my doses of pain medication which have relieved my pain a little.  Having pain can make you feel really ill and so fatigued it makes it difficult to do anything. 

I had my weekly physiotherapy appointment this week, Kaitlyn worked on my hip, spine and neck then at the end I had those wonderful heat packs on my back.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone invented clothing that had when you turned a switch on it heated?  That would help so many people with pain and whose bones suffer in the cold. 

Yesterday I had an ultrasound on my bladder, I have been experiencing some problems and they were investigating to see why that may be happening.  Last week I had to have a urine sample test done, and it was all clear, so my problems are not from an infection.  Sometimes when you have tumours on your spine, they press on nerves and then that effects some of your body functions. 

School is very exciting, in English we are working on Romeo and Juliet, we have been watching the Baz Lurhman version and taking notes, we have noticed many intertextual parts in it, like lines from other Shakespeare plays and even in the graffiti on the fences.  In Maths we are continuing our work on linear equations and in Sports Science, I am now working on an online Beginner Officiating Course through the Australian Sports Commission.  The only thing I am finding with school is that I am becoming fatigued so easily, perhaps it is the higher doses of the pain medication.

I had a visit from Tom my Occupational Therapist this week, we are looking at things to make me more comfortable at school and at home.  He is so helpful and makes a real difference, I am so lucky that I have people like him and Kaitlyn looking after me. 

This week we had something very special happen, Nalani went for her driving test and she passed, so she is now on her 'P's' we had a special dinner to celebrate this wonderful achievement. She said that it was really strange driving by herself the first time but after that she found it was fantastic, she really loves driving and I think she is a careful and good driver.

We have had some really lovely weather in Canberra, however yesterday that all changed, the day was repugnant, the winds were glacial and there were even snow falls reported in parts of Canberra.  It was a reminder that it is still Winter and even though there are some buds appearing on trees there is more cold weather to come before we can enjoy Spring.

In Footy Tipping Pop has caught up and overtaken Nana, she is now in last position and now Pop is just three behind me, I had better watch out for him!  My Tigers had a massive win against the Eels on Monday night and hopefully they will be able to repeat that against Dragons this week.

'If you follow your heart and are true to yourself then you can never go wrong'

Friday, August 3, 2012


28th July to 3rd August 2012

What an wondrous and inspiring opening Ceremony we witnessed to the Olympic Games, the Ceremony was titled 'Isles of Wonder', the Ceremony welcomed the elite and  finest athletes from two hundred and five nations. It was the third time that London had hosted the world’s biggest and most important sporting event. The Opening Ceremony was a reflection of the key themes and priorities of the London 2012 Games, these themes were sport, inspiration, youth and urban transformation. It was truly a Ceremony for young and old and celebrated contributions the United Kingdom has made to the world through innovation and revolution, as well as the creativity and exuberance of British people. The highlight of the whole event was the finale when the Olympic Cauldron was spectacularly formed from 205 copper petals which represented the competing nations, it was just incredible, and will leave a visual memory imprinted on people's minds for a long time to come. 

I think my favourite part of the opening Ceremony was Mr Bean, being incorporated into the Chariots of Fire music, he is so amusing and I know that when I was having my chemotherapy and feeling a little down, watching episodes of Mr Bean on DVD always made me smile.
There have been so many awe inspiring efforts from athletes who are pushing themselves beyond their limits to achieve their very best.  There have also been some disappointments but I believe that those athletes will grow from these experiences.  To even be representing your Country at such an event is something that every single athlete should feel proud about.  Then if you have done your personal best your should hold your head high, because it is not always about winning medals it is competing and knowing that you have given it your all, the medals are a bonus. 

I have really enjoyed watching the Gymnastics, Rowing, Horse Riding, Hockey and diving and I am especially looking forward to the start of the track and field events tonight because I enjoy taking part in my throwing.

For school I have been working through the Coaching Section of my Sports Science Textbook learning all about different coaching styles and the roles and responsibilities of a coach.  In Maths we are now working on linear equations which I am enjoying as there are similarities to algebra in it and I really love algebra. 

The sales of my book 'Theodore and Friends - Theodore is left out' are going exceptionally well, there are less than fifty of the last one hundred printed left.  I feel so excited at the response and it means that we can really make a difference and contribute to the research program at The Sydney Children's Hospital to try to find a cure or at least more successful treatment for this absolutely devastating and life changing disease. 

At physiotherapy this week Kaitlyn worked on my pelvis, legs and spine, I am having terrible trouble with pain which makes me feel rather ill and exhausted.  It is lucky that I have Kaitlyn to provide some relief for a little while. 

I also had a visit from Wendy, the CNC from Sydney and my palliative care doctor.  They are looking at changing my pain medications to try to provide relief for me.  They are also going to organise some medication to help with my nausea, it is horrible to feel sick.  Wendy is going to speak to my oncologist in Sydney to see if he wants anything else done. 

Everyone in our house is slowly recovering from their injuries, Dad has quite extensive bruising coming out now, it is a yellow colour and actually looks really painful, he is still limping around but has been allowed to go back to work doing light duties.  Mum is still wearing her knee brace but has so much more strength and endurance in her knee.  Nalani has no straight brace now, but has to wear a small patella support one when doing activities.  Jarrett is not going to race this weekend, he wants to make sure his calf nerve problem is fully better as he has the Australian Cross Country  Championships in just three weeks time. 

In Footy Tipping Nana is catching up on me, she is only two behind and Pop has really had a winning burst, he is now only four behind me.  I am disappointed that my Tigers are now sitting in tenth place on the ladder, I am hoping that they will having more success in their next few games and manage to sneak back into the top eight. 
This is a really lovely quote about doing your best, it is from Helen Keller.

"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”