Fran's Journal Fran's Journey of Hope

February 11, 2009

I have ticked the first box – Adelaide.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fran @ 3:03 am

I have successfully made my trip to Adelaide. From the start of the trip to arriving home, the kindness, generosity and support of the people I interacted with was so much appreciated.

My cousin organised an upgrade to business class for the flight to Adelaide. To be able to stretch out and have a lovely breakfast served was magnificent. i also received a $300 complimentary lunch or dinner voucher to one of the posh restaurants in Grote St from Qantas. It was so I could take my parents out for a memorable goodbye meal. That blew me away.

Family drove me about, accommodated my meal and rest needs and we chatted creating so many fun memories. I caught up with my 2 girlfriends. One was not planned – cos I had lost her contact details, but my amazing father had still kept the piece of paper that I had given him more than 5 years ago with her phone number and address on, so at the last minute, we were able to catch up. What an amazing father!  My 2 friends in Adelaide are the sort who I catch up with infrequently but when we do catch up it is like carrying on conversation from yesterday. They both are special people that I met nearly 30 years ago and to include them in my “farewell tour” made it even more significant.

Reliving memories are fun. Our family has a mad sense of humour, so it always is a time of laughing about the silly and somewhat inane antic we did as kids. Driving around Adelaide was a new experience in that I knew it was the last time I would physically see the place. Consequently I had to look at everything and appreciated what I loved about the place – the dry harsh Australian environment, dead grass, hot sun, dry winds, beautiful old sandstone houses, park lands, lack of peak hour traffic, unpretentious nature of a capital city, flat blue sea. I felt like I was drinking in the sights with a new fascination.

The plane trip was also strange. This was the last time I planned to go in a plane. What would planes look like in the future? What would be travel be? Flying along looking down at cloud formations, rivers, dry desolate farms. Wow, it was all spectacular.

Then it all finished with kissing my father, step mother, 2 brothers and niece goodbye. A couple of them will be visiting later in the month, but otherwise, this was the last physical contact I was having with these people. That is strange experience. I have been through that with my sister, and other people. We all have probably at sometime known we would never see someone again. And it is harder no doubt for the person who is staying behind. This was my first time as the person going. What should I say? have I said enough? what do I say as a thank you to  the person who has has done so much and meant so much to me for my life? do I need to say thank you? is there other more important things to say? what is important? I still don’t know the answer, but in the split seconds that it happens it goes all too fast and afterwards, the words even seem shallow and polite. I can so relate to the stories from the Victorian bushfire – where family members rang each other to day goodbye before they thought they would be burnt alive. The words said at this time have great importance, but the comfort comes from the lifetime before of experiences, memories, conversations, sharing etc that really cant be summarised in those short moment. Also the great hope I have that all the people said goodbye to I will be interacting with in heaven at sometime soon to come. Thank God for that. it just doesn’t end “just like that”, it is a continuum at another level.

Now that I am home, I have the funeral details to finalise and a lot of that tedious financial paperwork to reorganise. Once these jobs ar done, I will be able to relax. Thankfully I still have the strength to do it. I need people to transport me about, to mull over decisions with and keep me focused. The pain is increasing each day, but it is self inflicted as I spend long periods sitting and walking, so the tumours get really cranky as the day goes on. I treasure the evenings when I can lie down and the nights that I get relief from the constant aching. I have been increasing the fentanyl slowly, but at this stage I need clarity of mind and physical energy to get about. When the end of the month comes, I hope to have all organised to the level that I can relax and afford myself adequate pain relief and rest.

January 31, 2009

Jogging along the path

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fran @ 3:32 pm

Have been very busy trying to organise things. Time is very precious because I dont know how much I have left. Thus continues my great sense of urgency to push and get the things done.

It has been an interesting experience doing funeral planning. Once I got started I am enjoying it (funny word to use!), trying to think of all those things that will be of significance to me and those who surround me. It is fascinating what you can do, the sky is the limit! I have found a funeral director who I really like. It is like we are organising a function, it is not morbid or sad. It is more about celebrating who I am and who God is for me. I could choose to get bogged down in oh how sad and all the rest, but that’s not going to help, so let’s be practical and focus on what will give the occasion meaning for everyone. Also how to ensure that the focus is on the great God who is holding me and nourishing me at the moment so richly.

This week is my 4 day trip to Adelaide. I am stockpiling all my energy for that. It will be physically and emotionally exhausting, but it is something that I really want to do. I must admit, there will be great feeling of relief and achievement when the plane touches down in Brisbane next Saturday.

I have so many possessions, financials matters, odds and sods that I want to put in order. I want to refurnish the lounge and if possible organise insulation for the roof (it’s mad, but we don’t have any and this is a hot summer) and maybe if I can another air conditioner. Funny the things that become important!

So there is plenty to do and it seems like there is not much time. I don’t know why I have the sense of urgency. I know I will be able to rest easier once these things are done. That does not mean I will turn up my toes and want to die once I have completed the above. Hey I have so many wonderful people to live for. But I also know reality. I know I am dying.

My path is not one of anguish and distress. I feel calm. This is my task. Some people have a job they have to get up to each day to do, some have exciting holidays to go on, at the moment, my job is preparing to die and go to heaven. It is not scary. It is not a place of turmoil. Sure I have sadness, sense of loss. There is nothing brave about it, it is that I am on a different path. If I am being brave so is everyone else getting up and doing whatever they have to do for the day. I really don’t see the difference.

I realise there is no prizes for martyrs, so am learning to stop and rest a bit more and take the pain medication more regularly. And when it does not cover me, rest a bit more and it passes. Yes, I get uncomfortable as the liver gets bigger and squashes everything. And I notice each week that I can feel more lumps and that the liver is taking up more space etc. And it can give me a bit of a fright, but hey that’s the disease. Got to go with the flow.

So please do not feel sorry for me. Please do not pity me. Please don’t say its not fair, because it is not a matter of fair or unfair. All I want is to spend time with you, hearing what is going on in your life, what is mattering to you. Just hanging out like we have for so many years. Nothing has changed, except I am going go to be spoilt soon and spend eternity in heaven. Yes, it will be a great release from this life. And one I look forward to sharing with you in days to come.

January 24, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Fran @ 2:06 pm

What a confronting subject. Death. Many times over the years I have fleetingly thought about how I would feel or think when my death became a reality.  This never having been the case in the past, my thoughts have been previously quite superficial.

Over the past 3 months with the changing of my situation, thoughts about preparing for my death have often wandered through my mind. Each time my musings hit on another aspect or thought that I had not considered. When having to consider it is part of reality, it becomes a complex issue. I think of things that I realise I never had explored before. And even now I don’t really want to explore. Too painful, too confronting.

I allow myself to explore death and preparing for my death because at sometime in the future it is my reality. At the moment while it is not imminent it is not so urgent an issue and therefore I am able to consider options, preferences and what I want in life/death. It still is just as emotionally loaded but at times I can distant myself from the emotion and think logically. The more I think of it the more I realise that I need to think about it and organise things in preparation.

Should I go through my things and throw lots of stuff sentimental to me only away?  Or should I leave it for others when I die? I really cant see Mike going through the stuff and throwing things away – I can see the house being cluttered till the day he dies and then who will be the poor person who has to do the clean out?

What will my condition in the time leading to my death? Will I be well and then suddenly go downhill or will it be a gradual decline? Will I be self sufficient till the end or will I need assistance with care needs? Who will care for me if I need it? Should I expect family to care for me at home? What community based care services are available? Will I be admitted to hospital? I don’t want to die at home – I think that would leave horrible memories in the house for Mike.

Throughout my life I have loved planning and organising. I have organised so much of my life, I am not going to miss out on the opportunity to plan my funeral! It will be the only one I get to plan! Wow. Where do you start? How do you choose a funeral director? Where will the service be held? What sort of emphasis do I want for the service?  What songs do I want at my funeral? What do I want to be buried in – my wedding dress? pyjamas? something else I buy? Where is the wake held? How many people should be catered for? I love flowers – so should I organise lots of flowers or will others provide flowers? Do I want anything special buried with me? Lots to think of!

But in pondering all this, at the moment there is no fear. It is going to be my release to a place of great joy, no more suffering and much beauty. Sure I am jumping the cue, but hey, I will be hanging out in heaven eagerly awaiting to catch up with you all when your time comes. And in that interim, I will be keeping a watchful eye out and hopefully there will be times you feel the quiet hand of a watchful guardian on your shoulder – that will be me.

The chemotherapy is OVER!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fran @ 2:06 pm

I guess it came as no surprise to me when I saw Rick the oncologist on Tuesday to hear that the CT Scan showed that the 4 chemo treatments had had no effect on the liver tumours. The scan showed that there is now innumerable tumours of the liver. As a consequence, Rick has ceased chemotherapy. There is one more drug that could be tried, but Rick believes that it will be ineffective and it has many side effects that would continue to make me feel sick. Because of the aggressive nature of the cancer, Rick feels that I have 6-8 weeks of quality life before I deteriorate. It is for that reason also that he does not want to subject me to further treatment, so I can have time getting back my strength, taste and be able to sort out all the things I want to do before I die.

This was indeed shocking news on the day we received it. But since then I have gained great peace, because once again I know what the nature of the beast is that I am dealing with. It has given me a purpose again to live.

While on chemo I was so focused on how horrid I felt and often I did not feel like living. I found it hard to experience joy and pleasure and felt that was what the rest of my life would be like. What was the use of doing anything because I was going to die.

In a turn around, now everything is of use. I have lots to do, things to plan and so many people that I want to see and have great memorable and pleasurable times with. I may not have long to live, but I am going to live it as long as I can.

Times given are just concepts. If I am feeling full of life in 10 weeks I wont be whinging, every extra moment is a blessing and gift. We all know people that were given a certain timespan and well out lived that. So time is in God’s hands and that is all I care. He will take me when he is ready and that is when it will be.

So folks, I am happy to fill my days with you. I am fairly mobile at the moment. I am on Fentanyl and Morphine for the pain, so am pain free. Just sometimes I get a bit tired. This has also given me a new lease on life because I can get about and not feel sore all the time. Down the line, they say I will get more tired and spend more time resting, but I am happy to go out and have as many visitors as possible. Cos I have lots to cram in!!

January 12, 2009

Cycle 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fran @ 4:52 pm

Well this has so far been the best cycle that I have had. I know I should not count the chickens before they hatch, with one more week to go in the cycle, but I must confess it has been easier than the last 3. That does not mean that I am free of side effects, but that I am riding them a little easier and there has not been any wild cards so far.

It also has been a quieter. Last cycle was very busy with the wedding and Xmas. In some ways it flew by becasue I had family around for so much of the time. This cycle has dragged a lot more.

I have had more energy so am forcing my lazy self to walk Charlie in the dog park at least 3 times a week. I have noticed that my leg muscles are a bit stronger and that with each walk I don’t feel so faint. I also set myself a task to do each day, so that i feel like I am accomplishing something.

This cycle has not been without the mind battles. On a couple of days I became quite anxious in the morning and felt some of my old panic mind patterns happening. But I was able tio pull myself up quickly with prayer and also looking at the ways that I am in control of the moment therefore not letting that free floating anxiety start a spiral.

I probably cry most of the days of the week. Sometimes the littlest thing on TV or thought triggers the emotion. I allow myself a few seconds to indulge in tears and then pull myself up. Sometimes it is self pity, other times it is grieving for things I have lost, or things I perceive I will lose. Sometimes it is sadness on behalf of others – grieving on behalf of others.

I have my CT Scan booked for this Friday, but I doubt I will know the result till the following Tuesday. I try not to wander that far in my thinking. I don’t know if I am ready to find out if the cancer is still progressing. I am concerned because my liver is larger than before, and is very tender at times. But maybe that is just the chemo. Also I feel different around the midriff – the stomach / liver areas – as if things are getting squashed in there. Maybe it is just mind over matter. My liver function was the worst it has ever been at the beginning of his cycle, but then the chemo can make it go up and down, so maybe it is not from growth of the tumors. Just have to be patient.

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