Gripping On To The Wreckage

My mind has been completely scrambled for the past two weeks. It wasn’t just a matter of cruising down that famous river in Egypt, denial. I was heading Tsunami style, gripping on to the wreckage of life before cancer. Nothing will change. I can work full time. I’ve got this. This is merely a blip.

I’d lose concentration mid sentence, find myself in a personal debate inside my mind over a turban or a wig. Where to buy one? How did they work? Google would have me spiralling into a world of scarves with attached bangs/fringes. I hate this, I hate this. I clicked in despair.

I became a hands free parent, dialling it in via FaceTime. Not wanting to be the one who hung up I’d sit watching cheerios being eaten and listening to clarinet practice. I looked at purchases made at the mall, tried to console sobs over swimming lessons that had ended badly. I desperately wanted to hug them, wipe their tears, meet their teachers, pick them up from school. I’d immediately regretted my tone and timing when I began a call with “I received a late assignment notice from your Social Studies teacher?” Her smile disappeared, and then I heard it in the background, just a whisper, but clear enough to distinguish. My eldest playing the role of me “don’t upset her, we don’t want to upset her”.

Perhaps my lowest point.

I hate that this is our life. I am not the lady in a head scarf. They are not the kids with the Mum with breast cancer. Back in the water, desperately clutching the wreckage. Our lives will not change.

I’m the woman who has to book an extra long appointment at the hairdressers. The woman who thanks to her father has thick dark hair that takes hours to dry without assistance. I recently went for a blow-dry “OMG You have soooooo much hair!” she exclaimed. They tell me that after chemo starts I’ll get to about day thirteen or fourteen and wake up with my hair on the pillow. My GP looked me in the eye. “I know you, you’re a practical person, this is no big deal in the big scheme of things but it will affect you. It will upset you and mentally it’s a big challenge. There’s a lot that’s going to change”.

My lip quivered. “I’m just angry, there are so many good things going on in our life right now and this has just stuffed it all up”.

It was after I’d got the words out, had a cry and been honest with myself that I realised we were going to be okay. It is a blip, but it can’t be ignored. Life is going to change. There are going to be some really tough days but it will end. There is a chemo plan, it will be done by Christmas. Radiation will happen, it’ll all be over in five weeks. I’ve been honest with myself and with others. “I think I can only work 20 hours a week” I nervously offered into the phone “I think I’ve been in a bit of denial”.

There was a laugh at the end of the phone “Oh, do ya think?”

It turns out I wasn’t fooling anyone.

The waters have calmed. I’m getting organised. On my shopping list, just below strawberry creams for Henry, Cherry Ripes for Lizzie, BBQ shapes for Fred and Caramelo Koalas for Annie, is a wig, for me. We will get through this. Face it, work around it, and live through it.


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  1. I’m glad the water has calmed, but it’s OK if it gets choppy again. That’s the thing about water – it’s forever changing. Just like us. x

  2. Love you xx

  3. Every day will be different, each with its own challenges. I hope we can be your safe harbour.

  4. I was in denial for you too, thinking and hoping that you were out of the woods and back on track. You are out of the woods in one respect as you say, but now you’ll be on a road less travelled for the next part of your journey. As someone who hasn’t met you, I send as much love and strength as if I knew you irl. Go pick out an awesome wig, we’ll all cheer you on.

  5. My mum’s post-chemo wig is magnificent. It looks amazing, it feels amazing, it always sits perfectly on her and none of my friends or hers have even noticed that it is a wig. I am not much of a girly girl- I hate blow drying my hair- and I actually covet it. I don’t imagine that is much consolation, but if you have to have chemo, don’t go with the scarf with a fringe attached. Be yourself. Be magnificent. xx

  6. You’ll get there in your own time and on your own terms. BIG HUG.

  7. Your life will change. It has changed. Just as life always does. But you will find new ways, you’ll be flexible and adaptable, up and down. And if you want a wig alternative I recommend Christine headwear. It’s a very classy alternative!

  8. I shaved my mum’s head for her when it started falling out, took a bit of ownership of it ๐Ÿ™‚ Also made sure the grandsons were watching so they just thought Grandma had a bit of a radical haircut and didn’t think she was sick – my 3yo nephew said politley “um, it’s a bit short?” and my 4.5yo son goes “you look like a boy Grandma!”

    It’s hard because the bald look is like the uniform of a cancer patient and alerts everyone to your situation…but on the flip side my mum also got hugged by random stranger who had been there and wanted to give her some support (after asking her permission ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Hopefully you will rock it x

  9. I guess there’s no way to go about it except to live each day as it comes. I know that is very easy to say and so hard to do. I know you will have highs and lows, but remember when you are in your lows that there will be highs again. I think that you are lucky to be a writer. To be able to articulate your thoughts and get them out of you and into the universe, surely this is a good and therapeutic thing. Rock that wig or that bald head girl ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Huge hugs.

    I have a friend who’s a few months ahead of you in all this cancer crap. It’s a horrible, cruel illness. It sux. Cancer sux.

    Just sending huge hugs.

  11. Susanne Turner says

    Oh Kirsty… you are beautiful and honest and gorgeous and real and all those lovely things that make you human ! Take care of you ….there will be good things again. This is just another chapter in your story…..this beautiful, crazy, heartbreaking, amazing, awful yet briiiant thing called life. xxx P.s. Are you okay without your babes and hubby around though. I would need them with me at this time . I hope you are surrounded by love xxxx

    • Trying to get rid of my comment as i am compltley crap at this commenting on a blog thingy !!! Sorry… not my position to even mention if you are okay without your family etc. ( and its hardly relevant what i would need right now !!! )

      Sending lots of love though. xxx

  12. I am one of those people you don’t know who are reading and following along. Probably a throng of people like me who are also sending love and support as you go through this and as you continue to be so honest and vulnerable about it. We’re all with you…even us silent followers.

  13. Corinne Basmaison says

    Hang in there. No, life won’t be the same. But it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it, at least some of the time.
    I must have missed something over the summer because I thought your eldest was staying in Australia in boarding school. The reason I bring this up is because I actually thought that at least you would get to stay closer to her for a while longer. It seems I was mistaken.
    A friend of mine went through the wig thing gracefully. I think however that you need to decide early on whether you want it to be natural, don’t want people to know, or if you want to enjoy the liberty of wearing a blond pixie cut one day and long black curls the next. But this comes at the cost of having to talk about it with mere acquaintances. This is really a matter of personal preference.
    Sending you good thoughts and healing vibes.

  14. Darlene Foster says

    Hang in there.Your family is there for you, which is a blessing. I canยดt imagine having to go through this without the support and love of family. Have fun picking put a wig. Sending much love and hugs.

  15. I am feeling for you and all the emotions you are having. Here is a happy story and one that is maybe applicable. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 (46 years ago). I was five years old and my brother was 2. She had a double mastectomy and her lymph nodes removed. At that time, I was shipped off to my grandparents in another state for three months so she could recuperate. I had a grand time and Mom got better. In her mind, she HAD to beat cancer because she had a family to raise, like you do. And she did, like you WILL! I still talk to my Mama daily. It’s a blessing. You are strong and you have a lot of love surrounding you. Kick cancer in the face!!! xo,L

  16. Oh Kirsty… Thinking of you and thank you for sharing your thoughts tonight. Yep it’s bloody annoying the way it’s stuffed everything up but yes also just a blip. Fast forward to this time next year and as someone else just said, it will just be another chapter under your belt. We’re with you in spirit. Nicole xx PS been through the wig shopping thing with a dear friend and there are some amazing true to life pieces of ‘hair’ out there! Or just go with the good old head scarf. You’ll look fab. Hair grows back and you’ll make a roaring come back. Xx

  17. Debbie Newton Jeffrey says

    It’s OK for your mind to be in denial for a while – it’ll take its own sweet time to adjust to this stuff, there’ll be days when it copes & days when it doesn’t. But Kirsty, just take care, when you’re sharing this very raw stuff with all of us – thousands of people who you don’t know – because further down the track you may regret how much you’ve exposed to we strangers. I’m sure it’s advice given to all bloggers, but it’s one thing to expose yourself when it’s your parenting vulnerabilities under discussion, & quite another when it’s your life-&-death struggle. It’s beautiful for us to read about this struggle you’re going through & it’s beautiful, raw writing, but if the price is that you later on regret that you’ve opened up too much & you feel exposed, it’s not ok. Take care. Xxxxxxx

  18. Sometimes when the hair grows back it has changed characteristics. You might get the hair you always envied. Be hopeful.

  19. This, too, will pass. Hurtling head first into the treacherous waters of denial will cause these feelings. It is hard.
    I lost my long hair mid August , it had re grown by Christmas …enough . It started after the first 9wks of chemo. I googled scarves and there are lots of fabulous links if you go wigless.
    My friend in U.S. just ordered the most insane kick ass wigs. I can send you the link.

  20. You can look different every day now, just like Cher

  21. Bite size chunks. And take whatever offer of help or support is put your way. And it’s okay to feel down and up and down and up like a flippin’ yo-yo. You will get through this and be all the more amazing for it.
    And in the meantime here’s a humorous lifestyle tag line in Italian (trans: Yesterday was a memory. Tomorrow is a hypothesis. Today, f*ck it.)

    LCM x

  22. *Big hugs* You will get through this, all of you will. Take care of yourself, take time for yourself, be kind to yourself. Sending much love.

  23. Checking in with you and sending you the good cancer-kicking vibes. X

  24. Well, this sucks, but ‘done by Christmas’ sounds fantastic, and having a plan in place always helps. It sounds like your colleagues are absolutely brilliant and have your back in every way.

    My bestie decided against wigs when she was going through chemo – she just stuck to a baseball cap – she had just quit work to stay home with her 4 kids for a few years (youngest was about 2.5) so she didn’t have to take going to an office into consideration, and she hated dealing with the wig she did have – so she just didn’t wear one. Her husband was the GM of a historic horse farm in Kentucky at the time, so they always went to some fabulously posh Christmas parties with the Glitterati of the racing industry and their guests. That year she was in the middle of chemo in December. so her mum bought her a black ball cap and they used a hot glue gun to decorate it with rhinestones (this was back in 1999, before you could just go out and buy rhinestone everything) – she wore it to every party. Not everyone would want to be so ‘out there’ with their diagnosis, of course, but she was fine with it, discussed it frankly with anyone who asked (and of course people did) and we got a laugh about how she managed to get away with wearing a ball cap to such a posh function. We also had quite a few laughs about the people who got very serious and morbid and pitying with her- which drove her CRAZY – and we always had the best time afterwards imagining all the outrageous things she *might* have gotten away with doing or saying – and then blaming it on the cancer or her treatment, just for the naughty fun of it. Shame on us -but you just can’t be serious all the time! I think most people (including me) would have just preferred to go with a fabulous wig and blend in, but that just wasn’t her style. And over the years of rubbing elbows with this f*cking disease, I’ve learned that everyone deals with it differently and the job of friends and family is to support them in facing it in their own way and their own time. You’re doing it perfectly for you and giving all of us some valuable lessons at the same time. xx

  25. Please try and be kind to yourself – hold onto there being a plan, remember you don’t have to be superwoman and take time to let yourself deal with all that is going on. Sending lots of love x

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