breast cancer · results

Report cards and tollways

There have been times in my life where results really, really mattered to me. From academic grades, sporting achievements, how family and friends receive a meal I have cooked, the outcomes of pregnancy tests.

At the age of 12, I missed out on getting dux of our year level because of one lousy ‘B+’ grade in a Metalwork subject. Yes, out of ten grades, I achieved nine A’s and one B+. The major assignment was to make a ring. But in the deep recess of my mind, I remember unsuccessfully using a machine to cut red plastic. I also remember developing a keen interest in boys that year, which may have contributed to that B+. I was so close to sharing the glory of ‘ten golden ‘A’s’ with four other girls. Those dux kids from school went on to become some of the most amazing teachers, nurses, pediatricians and forensic pathologists in Australia. I wonder what might have happened to them if they got a ‘B’ in Metalwork that year? (Insert facetious grin here.)

As a secondary teacher, I never experienced anything quite like the anticipation felt on the eve of the release of VCE year twelve results. My kids collectively achieved the highest results in our state in the Outdoor and Environmental Studies subject for several years, but more importantly they were passionate about learning and they worked really hard for what they wanted. It was always about the quality of their learning. Not their grade.

Tomorrow is an important day. The results should matter, but I’m not sure that they will. My Dad was told his cancer was stage two. I remember saying to him “Dad that’s a great sign! Stage two is okay.” He was gone just six months after his cancer was staged by the most advanced technology and some of the greatest medical practitioners. So I’m not going to get caught up in the stage or the results of my cancer. Instead I’m going to focus on eating and sleeping well, exercising, relaxation and appreciating relationships and generally being grateful for a rich life experience.

My surgeon will tell me that I can’t possibly get an ‘A’ with this. That would indicate my cancer was stage 0 and hadn’t yet spread from it’s initial cells. My cancer is already invasive which means it has spread through the cell structures. From the size of my tumours and their rate of growth, my cancer stage will be revealed tomorrow as a B+, maybe a B. Even a C+, a C or a D+. And I am okay with any of these grades even though I still harbour some bitterness for that Metalwork teacher from 1988.

This Metalwork result has never been what’s important in the scheme of things. What mattered was continuing to do better. Continuing to have a passion for learning and living, and having a desire to contribute and make a difference. So regardless if tomorrow brings a B+ or a D- on my cancer report card, I will be fine with it.

I visualise a network of busy tollways. Where the gatekeepers, the toll points sometimes malfunction and let cars through without charge. Sometimes, the toll attendant falls asleep. Sometimes the e-Tag device doesn’t register. Maybe some vehicles sneak through with no number plates and can’t be photographed and identified, and maybe, just maybe they have stolen number plates. What if the toll gate has been invaded or blocked by broken down vehicles?

I live in one of the only regional cities in the state that has to enter our capital city through a network of toll gates. So tomorrow, when I travel the two hour journey to hospital for my results, and drive under the toll gates and hear the beep beep of the eTag, it will symbolise so much more than just the usual reminder that I should have topped up our toll account. It signifies a system of healthy lymph nodes, filtering, catching, identifying, analysing, picking up each fragment that travels through it, stopping the rogue travellers.

I’m hoping the traffic is clear, the toll gates have been vigilant and are working effectively.


8 thoughts on “Report cards and tollways

  1. Hi Lisey, I’m Maree who works with Ben, I admire the guts, determination and courage you have, you are fantastic. I have everything crossed for you, Ben and the boys tomorrow. Good luck.

    Maree XX


  2. Hi Lisey,

    I don’t know you personally but do work with your husband who has shared your story with us. As a mum and woman I share your pain although of course I have no idea what emotions you must feel at any given point of the day/night. I love your blog and love reading your posts which from my end are truly inspirational and I can only imagine and hope provide some therapy and reflection for you.

    My thoughts are with you, Ben and the kids tomorrow.



  3. Oh Lise, you are so admirable. My heart skipped several beats whilst reading this post as I envisage you and Ben having a nervous day together, I couldn’t begin to imagine what is running through your minds. But the strength you have to be sharing this in such a raw moment is nothing short of incredible. You are at the front of our thoughts and prayers each day beautiful lady.

    All our love.

    Jacinta and Nick Bath


  4. I’ve just read your last two posts Lise and my stomach is churning… I hope with all that I am, that the news has been positive today. I’m always thinking of you and your gorgeous family xx


  5. Lise, I’m Ben’s workmate Raych. My heart goes out to you, Ben and your gorgeous little boys who I have met. Life truly is sh#t at times, trust me I know with the recent diagnosis of LCH disease with our 19month old son Ryder who is undergoing chemotheraphy now, and the very recent diagnosis of my dear friend (also 37 and breast cancer).
    Know that I am thinking of you guys everyday and will be sure to follow your journey all the way to the end – an end which will be full of joy, relief & what will be the biggest achievement of your life – A+++!!! Your comments, courage and strength is admirable. 🙂
    A little quote to share with you from one of Ben and my colleagues sent to me recently;

    Love Raych xo


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