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The Rock-itt : August 2011
Welcome to the third instalment of a story about Julie Knox, a courageous woman who is taking on the fight against the dreaded disease breast cancer which began in 2009. Ed and I had been raising our 8 year old granddaughter since she was 7 months old and recovering from open heart surgery. This was physically exhausting for us at our age but she blossomed under our care and we soon became a little family. As she grew I enjoyed becoming involved in all her activities and eventually became a very active member of the P&C at her school. Her friend’s mums became my friends even though many of them were the same age as my daughters. I was her main carer, as you would expect, because Ed is older than me and Crystal was only a baby when she came to live with us, but he was my main support and I could not have done it without him. Our youngest daughter, Rachel used to give us weekend respite when Crystal was very young. Ed and I both put aside our plans for our retirement and I know that Ed really felt that. I really enjoyed bringing her up and I felt that I had the time and patience that she needed. Just before I started chem otherapy it was decided, for many reasons, to send Crystal over to Perth to stay with my eldest daughter and her family. This stay eventually became 6 months. So now I was not only dealing with my cancer but Crystal was gone and our whole life changed. I grieved for her and our life together and Crystal also missed us terribly but she was part of a large active family and was very well cared for by my daughter. Crystal also has a wonderful ability to live in the moment. When she eventually came home she went to live with her dad John, our son, and is gradually adjusting. John has always been involved with Crystal but taking on a little girl of 8 years old all by yourself is a big job. Ed and I see her often and we have good times together and she knows that we are only a phone call away, but I ache for her and always will. On the 25th January, 2010 I had my first chemotherapy treatment after a long information session on safety precautions and what side effects may or may not happen, and also under what circumstances I should go to the emergency department at hospital. They tell you all the worst side effects that could happen, I remember reading one drug that said death could occur, then they ask you do you have any questions .Ed and I were just stunned. My treatment would be every three weeks for six treatments in total. I was told that it would be pretty tough because my cancer was very aggressive. I became weaker and sicker as the chemotherapy went on and it was a very long 5 months. My hair falling out was also very traumatic for me and I am sure that all women can relate to that. As opposed to the support we had experienced during and after my surgery, we felt very lonely and cut off and very anxious. The oncology staff told us that everyone reacts differently so we had no idea what to expect. It was very difficult for Ed to just watch me when I was very unwell and feel that there was nothing that he could do. I do not think he knew what a comfort it was for me to have him by my side all the time. He used to sit at the dining room table and do huge jig saw puzzles that we now have adorning our walls. The fact that we felt isolated was a lot to do with me. I have always found it very hard to ask for help because it seemed a sign of weakness. The oncology staff were wonderful but after each treatment we were sent home to deal with it. I knew that I could ring them any time but I did not want to appear to be a whinger. My family kept in touch but we all lived long distances from each other and my friends did not visit. My family often tried to talk us into moving closer to them and we were very torn about what to do. I really felt very comfortable with all my doctors and the hospital and we also felt that Crystal needed us to be close. She has had quite a bit of trauma in her young life and we felt that we were her security and wanted to be close to her. Since joining support groups I now realise that it is very common for friends to disappear because people do not like the word cancer and they feel awkward and do not know what to say, but you meet plenty of new friends along the way. During this tim e we were also very aware of the impact a cancer diagnosis has on your family and we knew that it was important for everyone that we stay as positive as we could. My diagnosis meant that my daughters were advised to have mammograms and scans and it suddenly brings home to everyone how precious and precarious life is. It was the thought of how difficult it must have been for Crystal and my children that kept me going every day through that chem otherapy. Join us in Sept ember for Julie’s continuing story which has changed her family’s and her life so radically over the past 2 years. My Fight with Breast Cancer A serialised true account of one woman’s struggle to beat the odds By Julie Knox Julie, Crystal and Ed Crystal and Julie camping Early chemot herapy