Dear Year that Was,
I just wanted to say WOW, like seriously WOW! You threw me some curveballs this year mate; some pretty unexpected hiccups, and some equally unexpected celebrations. But like any person, young or old we moved with them; we moved through them… sometimes confronting them, sometimes smashing them out of the equation and sometimes embracing them; and secretly some that still have me scratching my head! Dear Year that Was how you like to test me, I can give you that!
January had me recovering from a very intense round of radiation treatment, but I worked through it… literally! The happy times spent with my group of friends visiting from overseas made each day bearable! And it was pretty sweet that you included the celebration of my sister’s engagement to the mix! Who knew you could associate Pearl Jam with romance!
Then came the hardest month of all… February! Usually I celebrate this month Dear Year that Was, this is MY month but you made me dig deep, you made Ant and I dig deep as a couple and you made my family dig deep. February you brought a whole new level of uncertainty in to our lives. Three days before my 33rd birthday we were given the news of my melanoma spreading to Stage IV. Life took on a whole new meaning, did I ever tell you that? My small body became so very heavy and I began a new battle with… my mind. Melanoma the invisible beast took over my precious life, it took over the lives of my loved ones and it became a ‘tainted’ word. February saw me make enemies with the pointy side of my life… dodgy veins, one good arm and cannula phobia; it saw me confront the paperwork of terminal disease and the battle games of relinquishing independence, it saw me hide away into my protective shell… BUT in all its darkness it brought to light the love and support I have in my life. And like a beaming ray of happy… Sir Winston made his grand appearance into our lives!
Amongst all the smelly puppy poos and crazy Frenchie zooms March came rolling in with a new lease of life! Our little terror, in all his demanding mischievous glory brought true meaning to living a life in the present. He made me understand that I can have my mind-wars but at the end of the day, isn’t play so much better! He brought a new responsibility in to my life – dependency. Dear Year that Was he is like the gift of life to Ant and I, he is our healing pup! I am sure he would go crazy meeting you, he still jumps (puppy school could only do so much and he is a free spirit like his mama) and he has a mind of his own when he is on the lead but you would love him! You should have seen him at the Melanoma March, he rallied up “Team Nakeds Gardiners” and walked with pride alongside his very smitten fur-parents, until he had to have ‘time out’ too many times to count! It was a pretty slow march! Hahaha! In the background of the month some dedicated and beautiful souls were hard at work creating a lifeline for me, and The Naked Gardiner Foundation Charitable Trust entered our lives.
April, well that was pretty epic! A very big cloud of uncertainty was looming over our house… treatment options started looking dismal. Yervoy only had another month of treatment left in her and there were no options in Australia on the horizon that I could access. It was in April Dear Year that Was, that The Naked Gardiner Foundation held their first event and 120+ souls joined my friendship circle! These wonderful souls raised over $32,000 for me to gain access to treatment in America. For now this amazing generosity has been placed in Trust for the day that I may eventually need it, because when 30 May came around Dear Year that Was, Ant and I won the ‘Treatment Lotto’ when I got accepted on 2 year compassionate ground access for MK-3475 which is now ‘Keytruda’. May (and life) was very much a month in limbo up to this point. May; soon became a favourite month for me! We also found out my sister was pregnant and that my bestie at the time of me finding out my ‘lotto’ news was experiencing her own lotto… by giving birth to baby Remi!
Ant and I took off to Bali for 2 weeks after our news and finally got some much need R&R! Ubud will always hold a magical beauty of serenity for me because of this! I began my three weekly schedule of treatment and embarked on new relationships and friendships! And then all of a sudden it was babies, babies, babies! So many of my beautiful girlfriends started this flow of ‘baby popping’ as these little bundles of joy entered our fold!
The birth of my own baby creation took place in July as Thankful Thursdays came to light! These little acknowledgements of gratitude make Thursday a beautiful day of the week for me!
Beautiful August came round and the love of my life Anthony whisked me away for some romancing and asked me to marry him! Let me share a secret with you Dear Year that Was… this bearded ratbag of mine is pretty damn special! Amongst all the uncertainty he showers me with the gift of unconditional love, he is the angel of my life! Yoga re-entered my life, I discovered the power of breath and beautiful baby Ethan was born into our family!
Celebrations carried on into September and news of tumor reduction entered our lives! Oh I can’t even tell you Dear Year that Was how huge this milestone was for my family and I! Some positives were entering our lives! We celebrated the wins!
In October, with our loved ones embracing us we decided to party!!!!! Sensible partying from my position Dear Year that Was because we celebrated our engagement and our love! October saw me finding the courage of voice as I was invited to Canberra to share my story of my battle thus far. And then I did it again in November and this time I had more great news, more reductions!!!! Our baby boy turned 1 and got up to mischief with his puppy brothers and sister! And we celebrated the union of love while watching our friends tie the knot! I decided that when I get out of this ‘melanoma mess’ mind-frame, that The Naked Gardiner would become a business of sorts and I would explore my loves with you more in the forms of my writing and design passions (when my energy and creative flows allow). I spent some intense months learning all things self-hosting in the web-o-sphere and educating myself in my areas of passion. Oh and Dear Year that Was… I began wedding preparations….! I’ve been busy!!!
December has brought a few emotions as with Christmas creeping up on me and I experience the heat and a case of elephant-arm as I work through Lymphoedema. And The Naked Gardiner website turned 1!!!!! “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, hahahahhahahaha!” And I forgot it! hahahahahaa! And here we are Dear Year that Was… the 31st December and where we say farewell to each other once again!
Let me share with you though, that the second half of this year has brought about more happiness and hope than what I ever thought was imaginable earlier in the year! The gift of life extension and self-reflection has been a lifeline of dreams. More precious time on this earth and with my loved ones is truly a blessing. To be able to reflect on where I have come from to where I am now, I won’t lie… it has involved a lot of internal searching. There have been many ugly moments but amongst it all there have been many beautiful moments too. Frankly this journey with Melanoma has been ‘pants’ Dear Year that Was! I hate that I have to work double time and half to get out of my dark moments more so than the average person needs to and that I don’t get to enjoy future planning without some level of uncertainty looming over my head; that I discovered I really need people… (something I hate to admit) and that the independence I have prided myself on my whole life has come back to slap me hard in the face. I want to share something with you Dear Year that Was, that even in those dark ‘pant-iness’ moments the very sheer fact that I can usually see a light of positivity, a moment of laughter or the beauty in situations makes me realize how far I have come! This time last year I set a goal for 2014; I made a pact with myself that I would confront fear and do what I could to come to terms with it! I personally don’t think that fear will every fully be confronted on some “Mother Teresa” level in my life but I am proud of the steps I have taken this year to be able to push fear out of the forefront of my mind.
Dear Year that Was, who knows what will be ahead of me for 2015 but just as you reminded me this year… I have the strength to live and live is all I plan on doing!
With love, light and gratitude of reflections xx