Discovering my 'new normal' after breast cancer diagnosis at 34.

29 April 2011

Hatiheri on sale: Bleeding Heart City Markets

"Bleeding Heart proudly presents a city market held on the first Friday of every month, right in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD.

Hatiheri will feature at their first city market!

"There will be a mix of handmade, art and vintage items on offer from local artisans, with stalls wrapping around our veranda and flowing out to our front gardens. Visitors will also have the chance to pick up a coffee and grab a bite to eat from our cafe, making it the perfect lunch break outing for the busy people of the CBD."

Date: Friday 6 May Time: 10am - 4pm Place: 166 Ann St

Share your support on Facebook!

Mark it in your diary and come down to say hi! More information here and here.

27 April 2011

Media: TEAM TISH in the Courier Mail

Four members of "TEAM TISH" and I were featured in today's Courier Mail newspaper, the local paper for Queensland. We're running in the Brisbane Mother's Day Classic, on 8 May.

The focus of the article is about information on fertility options being available at time of diagnosis. Chemo can result in infertility, and in our case we were lucky that we had a chance at IVF. I underwent a cycle prior to chemo starting and as a consequence we have seven embryos waiting for us for use after my current hormone treatment regime (arimidex and zolodex) has finished (hopefully in 2014).

You can read the whole article online here.

25 April 2011

Mother's Day Classic 2011: Training

Every Sunday for the past four weeks, I have been doing the Brisbane Mother's Day Classic course as a training run. Some days are slower than other and some days I walk a little bit, but it's a wonderful start to a Sunday. Sure, it's hard to get up at 5:30am for a 6am start but it really does give me energy for the whole day. My running buddies are Julie, Bronwyn, Alex and sometimes Mike joins me too.

Brisbane Mother's Day Classic Course 2011
In addition to this, every Monday evening for the past three weeks, Tymara and I have been doing a training run in New Farm, which is about 3km. Recently we have also been joined by Carly and Louise. It's so wonderful to do something together that you know is contributing to something even greater.

I'm really looking forward to the 'big day' now: 8th May 2011. Please sponsor me if you can!

23 April 2011

Products: Aloe Range

Smell is very closely connected to memory.

"A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people's moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it's sometimes called the "emotional brain," smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously." (

Just as I avoided eating favourite foods during chemotherapy (which I am so glad I did), I avoided using favourite daily shower and beauty products. I highly recommend you do the same. Otherwise you will be reminded of this not-so-pleasant experience every time you use that product in the future ... and it will no longer be your favourite product.

I found that my skin became sensitive during chemotherapy, and especially sensitive during radiation. (In fact, during radiation I used special products for radiated skin.)

For regular use, I switched to the "Aloe Range" from The Body Shop for this period and found that it was ideal.
It's fragrance free, colour free, and moisturising - perfect for dry and/or sensitive skin. And mine was dry AND sensitive ... something I had never experienced before. I used the Aloe Gentle Facial Wash on my face, body, and bald head. I also used it as a shampoo when my hair was growing back. Definitely no scrubs or masks.

There used to be an Aloe Body Wash but I see that TBS now as a fragrance-free and colour-free "Earth Lovers" shower gel, which I am sure would also be perfect.

Unfortunately, I now have a negative association with the (mild) aroma of the Aloe range, but that's OK... I only used it temporarily and now I can use my favourite products again and enjoy their refreshing and delicious fragrances first thing in the morning!

Here are three of my current favourites:

21 April 2011

Helpful Hints for Cancer: Lite n'Easy

Living with cancer is a full time job. When you've got one person in your household who is a full-time worker and full-time carer and the other person is full-time trying to feel better, simple things like cooking and cleaning are incredibly hard to manage.

We weren't eligible for "Meals on Wheels" as we didn't meet the selection criteria for this wonderful service. We did have family members and friends come and help out (which we are very grateful for), but in terms of ongoing chores, we found two really great solutions:

1. Get a cleaner.

2. Get Lite n' Easy (or something similar).

"Lite n' Easy delivers great tasting, healthy meals ... a convenient solution for time poor people who are too busy to shop or cook everyday." (

This was us in a nutshell.  We only ordered their dinners.

You don't have to join any "plan", talk to any consultant, or sign up for anything ongoing. You just jump online, click "dinners only", choose what you want, and they get delivered to your door. You don't even have to be home for the delivery!

The meals go directly into the freezer and only take 10 minutes or so to heat up in the microwave. We usually order 10 meals at a time: 2 x 5 different dishes. The work out to be just under $10 per dinner, which is cheaper than takeaway/delivery AND you know you're getting a balanced meal. What are the meals like? Well, of course they are not like a home-cooked or freshly-prepared meal. The have been frozen. However, they are tasty, varied, and I liken them to good quality aeroplane food.

One of our ongoing favourites is the Fisherman's Pie.

They were an absolute life saver for us.

If you know someone who has recently been diagnosed, aside from a Hatiheri headscarf, a Lite n' Easy gift voucher (or meal delivery) would make a wonderful gift.

20 April 2011

Mother's Day Classic 2011: TEAM TISH

Yesterday, we had our photos taken for media publicity for the Brisbane MDC 2011.
Here are a few members of "TEAM TISH": L - R: Louise, Alexis, me, Rita, Julie
(I hope they can photoshop out my squinting. Even though it was overcast, it was bright!)

19 April 2011

Resources: Food & Recipes during Chemo

When the burnt feeling in my mouth, the odd metallic tastes, the inability to taste certain things (sugar) and the ulcers got bad, they prevented me from eating many food items. I could really only eat ‘soft diet’ food. Even tomato-based sauces stung because of the acidity, fruit was the same, definitely no spices and I couldn’t taste sugar. Dairy (e.g. yoghurt, custard) was uncomfortable as it coated the inside of my mouth and I couldn’t clean/rinse naturally as my mouth was dry. At one stage, even water was painful to drink! Anything that was somewhat solid but didn’t require chewing was the best for me.

Here are some recipe ideas to help get you through the rough bits. Rest assured it IS temporary and (eventually) your taste bud DO return to normal.

NB: Although mashing by hand yields a nicer texture, pureeing with a food processer or wand will mean a better, smoother consistency with fewer lumps. You may even need to use a sieve.

Mashed potato
In stock: Boil peeled potatoes in liquid stock until soft. I prefer the pre-made stocks. These can be diluted with water if necessary. Drain but keep stock. Add drained stock slowly and mash well.

Traditional: Boil peeled potatoes in water until soft. Drain. Slowly add milk, butter, and salt until soft consistency. A cooked egg can also be added while mashing.

The same steps can be followed using sweet potato or pumpkin/butternut/squash. This freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Mushy peas or corn
Cook the peas or corn in water or stock until soft. Puree and then sieve to remove any extra bits of skin. This freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Scrambled eggs
Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick pan or pot. Keep at low heat. Break in 2 eggs and a splash of milk. Cook and continue stirring until thick and eggs are cooked. Make sure there aren’t any eggshells in the mix.  Ensure eggs are well cooked if neutrapenic. This cannot be frozen.

Plain omelette
Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl and pour into pan. Allow to settle and to cook on the base. Flip or fold in half to cook through. This cannot be frozen.

Overcook chunky pasta, such as macaroni or shells until super soft. When it was comfortable to, I liked to add a little plain white sauce (without the cheese because I couldn’t taste it).

White sauce: melt knob of butter on low heat. Add flour until thick consistency then slowly add milk, whisking the milk in as it gets thicker. Don’t let it get too thick. You could also make a thin sauce with stock instead of milk.

Rice pudding
I cheated and bought store-made rice pudding but to make it, I overcooked short-grain or risotto rice in milk and sugar.

Bread & butter pudding
Remove crusts from soft white bread. Butter one side and place face down in an oven dish. Whisk milk, eggs, and sugar and pour over bread. Bake in oven until egg mixture is cooked through. Normally I love the crispy bits but make sure there are none of these. I haven’t tried to make this in the microwave but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Mashed weetbix
Made with warm milk / warm water and mashed to a very soft consistency.

Meat Stew
Braise meat chunks and onions in a pan. Sprinkle with flour. Add liquid stock, chopped carrots and chopped potato. Cook slowly until meat is falling-apart soft. Everything will be super soft and overcooked but that’s the point!

A note on food temperature: make sure you check how hot the food is before you eat it. Check with your finger or ask someone else to check it before you put it near your mouth. Although my mouth was really sensitive, I still found it hard to sense the temperature with my lips before eating it. The last thing I wanted was a burnt mouth!

17 April 2011

Mother's Day Classic 2011: Hatiheri Headscarves

Six red and white polka dot Hatiheri headscarves are ready to go. I've run out of red thread but as soon as I get some more, I'll finish the rest of them to make 10 for our TEAM TISH members. I've ordered blue shirts from an online clearance shop and I hope they will arrive early next week. We're going to look AWESOME in our costumes!

15 April 2011

Inspiration: Bizness Babes

Hatiheri could not exist if it were not for the wonderful and timely support and guidance of "Bizness Babes".

"inspiring women to turn ideas into business"

I did the course in Brisbane in August 2010. My coach was Liana Kabel and my business facilitator was Sam Jockel.

"Bizness Babes is a not for profit organisation with a range of business training programs for women who want to succeed in business.

"We began in 2006 with a vision to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of mothers. Women who don’t have access to mainstream business education. Women who dream to succeed.

"Through our Business Development Program we have given hundreds of women the tools to create successful micro enterprises.

"We let business success be defined by the women themselves. While you may aspire to develop multi million dollar businesses others just want to have some financial independence … the freedom to choose salmon rather than sausages for dinner!"

Are you a Bizness Babe? Please add your business to the 'Comments' section. Thanks!

A Short Grammar Lesson: you're / your

I can't bear it any more. I feel I must say something.


On your facebook status updates, twitter tweets, emails, etc:

you're = you are
example: You are a wonderful person. The apostrophe replaces the a of are.

your = possessive pronoun for you
example: Your cat is cute.

"Your a wonderful person." NO.  "You're (you are) a wonderful person." YES.

"You're cat is cute." NO.  "Your cat is cute." YES.

PLEASE include the apostrophe. 
It is located between the ; key and the return key on your (AU) keyboard.

12 April 2011

Mother's Day Classic 2011: We Can Do It!

"TEAM TISH" is getting into costume for the 2011 Mother's Day Classic fund-raising run!

We're going as the "We Can Do It" poster woman, often associated with "Rosie the Riveter".

Just like me, she's wearing a headscarf, working, and dealing with a difficult time. But she's got that upbeat, unbeatable spirit that I see in my family, friends, and supporters.

I've ordered blue denim shirts from an online clearance shop and the next step is to make our headscarves. Hatiheri headscarves of course!

Keep coming back to see photos of the finished result and also of our run. Mother's Day in Australia is on Sunday, 8 May ... less than a month to go ... We Can Do It!

Tymara - Louise - Carly - Kathryn - Gabi - Rita - Julie - Alexis - Bronwyn - Heidi - and YOU!

11 April 2011

Radiation: Skin Basics

With radiation therapy, I found the key was to moisturise moisturise moisturise ... everywhere!

The products I found most useful were the "Skin Basics" range, which you can buy in most pharmacies and even in some supermarkets.

1. Aqueous Lotion
I used this for washing the sensitive skin during radiation therapy. I started using it long before the skin became thin and red so I could adjust to it. It's not like a normal shower gel or cleanser in that it doesn't foam, so that took some getting used to. But it was lovely and soft on my skin AND I have since found that it is perfect for shaving my legs! I chose the pump bottle because it was easy to use in the shower.

Ingredients:  Purified Water, Paraffin Soft white, Paraffin Liquid, Emulsifying Wax-anionic, Phenoxyethanol.

2. Sorbolene Cream
I used the rich cream as a moisturiser after showering and after treatment. I didn't know how much of my skin was being radiated when treatment started and my advice for anyone would be to moisturise absolutely everywhere near and around the treatment area. I missed a patch and you can see on my photos that it's much redder and more raw than other parts of my skin. I chose the 100% pure cream in a tub. I used it a lot and I didn't want any additional ingredients such as glycerine, aloe vera or vitamin E. (I also used this product prior to radiation to moisturise my hands and feet when I was taking Taxotere.)

Ingredients: Purified Water, Paraffin Light Liquid, Paraffin Soft white, Cetomacrogol 1000, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol,  Diazolidinyl Urea, Methyl Hydroxybenzoate, Propyl Hydroxybenzoate

3. Zinc and Caster Oil
I wasn't able to use this until after my treatment had finished, but it was a wonderful thick and heavy moisturiser which made my skin feel, although heavy and greasy, nice and cool and healing.

Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 75mg/g.
Also contains Peanut (Arachis) Oil, Castor Oil 500mg/g, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Beeswax White.

10 April 2011

Household Hints - Washing

As much as I love having an outdoor rotary clothesline and weather which is (almost) consistently good enough to do washing whenever I need, AND I love having a partner who takes responsibility for helping out (most of the time)... there are one or two things which really REALLY irritate me!

I do not know HOW MANY times I have mentioned this and even asked him to go back and re-hang but it happens time and time again! I suggested it's a underhand sneaky conspiracy to get him out of helping with this particular task but he insists not.

As a result, I have made the following photo instructions and posted them on facebook:

07 April 2011

New Friends: The Warwick Foundation

I want to introduce you to some new friends of mine: The Warwick Foundation.

The Warwick Foundation is the first and only Non-Profit Charitable Organisation in Australia focusing on supporting young adults (18-40 years) on their cancer journey.

The reality is young adults (aged 18-40+/-) are the fastest growing demographic among the over 10 million new cancer diagnoses each year worldwide. In fact, cancer is the leading disease killer of young adults.

And while there are hundreds of cancer-related organisations in existence today, there are almost none that are strictly focused on meeting the unique needs and issues faced by young adults on their cancer journey.

What The Warwick Foundation does:

    • Advocate for the holistic treatment of young adults and their caregivers
    • Raise awareness on the unique needs of this age group
    • Support the diagnosed and their caregivers through our member programs
    • Provide relevant and age appropriate information
    • Advocate for the establishment of young adult care centres in Australia
    • Support young adult cancer networks and organisations in Australia and overseas
    • Support research programs into the needs of young adults with cancer

04 April 2011

Hatiheri+Happiness Project

Naomi from SevenCherubs has set us a Happiness Project challenge...

So here is the plan:
Starting on April 10th and finishing on May 10th we take time each day to record and write one sentence on what has made us feel happy during that day or things that we are grateful for on that day.

At the end of the month after May 10th (Naomi will let us know what date), we each publish as a blog post our one sentence monthly list and link up together here at Seven Cherubs so that we can each read what touched our hearts and made us happy. If you do not feel comfortable sharing all of your daily sentences then just share with us those that you do feel comfortable sharing.

So will YOU join me???

Link up your blog on SevenCherubs if you want to take the happiness project challenge.

1. 10 April: I am grateful for good friends with whom I can talk heart-to-heart.
2. 11 April: Today I am happy because I met a new friend who has been through a similar experience and is now working full time.
3. 12 April: I am happy about a surprise/impromptu dinner-and-movie date with my bloke.
4. 13 April: I am happy to be able to use a car from time to time.
5. 14 April: I am happy for good and timely advice from my business mentor, Liana Kabel.
6. 15 April: I am happy that my brother lent me his bike and I use it nearly every day.
7. 16 April: My sewing machine brings me happiness through creativity.
8. 17 April: I am happy that I have the energy to train for the BNE MDC.
9. 18 April: I am happy to be an auntie! My nephew, Andrew, is 5 months old today.
10. 19 April: Our own "fur-children": Suki and Zoxy.
11. 20 April: Internet friends.
12. 21 April: Friendly neighbours.
13. 22 April: Family.
14. 23 April: I'm happy that Mike and I are godparents to little Andrew!
15. 24 April: I'm grateful for sunny weather over the Easter weekend and a day at our favourite beach with family.
16. 25 April: I'm happy to have met Tash, who does a wonderful job helping me sew!
17. 26 April: I'm happy that I have some teaching work lined up for tomorrow.
18. 27 April: I'm happy that my story was published in the newspaper today and hopefully well help other women in my situation at diagnosis.
19. 28 April: I'm happy about snuggly slippers.
20. 29 April: I'm happy that I can take time to rest and recover from hormonal treatment.
21. 30 April: I'm happy that Mike bought us thermarests which are about 7cm thick! Comfort!
22. 1 May: I'm happy to enjoy a weekend of camping with Mike and some of our friends.
23. 2 May: I'm happy to have blue skies and sunshine, even in Autumn.
24. 3 May: I'm happy that I don't have to go out in the rain.
25. 4 May: I'm happy to go for a run by myself (although I prefer doing it with a friend).
26. 5 May: I'm happy about friends participating in the MDC with me.
27. 6 May: I'm happy that I can participate in a market stall - my first experience - and I met wonderful people there! The other marketeers were so lovely.
28. 7 May: I'm happy to have a little rest.
29. 8 May: I'm happy that I was able to run the Mother's Day Classic 4.5km ... all the way! (Despite having a migraine.) I'm also happy that Mike has been so wonderful and supportive, and that we had a great crew. I'm also happy that it's over. Organising the costumes took a lot of time and energy - but it was worth it!
30. 9 May: I'm happy to have some paid teaching work coming up this week.
31. 10 May: I'm happy to have met Naomi and proud to be a Bizness Babe graduate.