My recovery is going well.  Just three weeks post rads and the burns have completely healed with only a slight suntanned tinge to the area and some residual itchiness. The tissue expander is tender and there is some hyper sensitivity if I am brushed past.  This may always exist and I’m hoping I don’t develop capsular contracture of the tissue expander in future which sometimes happens from radiated implants. But so far it’s looking good.  I am scheduled to have an exchange surgery which will swap the expanders for silicone breast implants sometime in the next 18 months.

I am thrilled to be getting back to walking, riding my bike and running.  Well, if you can call jogging slower than what most people can walk, at least it is something.  It’s going to take some time to get any sort of fitness back. When I run it is hard.  It is uncomfortable. I want to stop, but once I start I won’t let myself walk.

It has been a lot harder that when I started 21 months ago on a serious fitness and health kick, (which led me to discovering cancer). I must have low haemoglobin from the blood loss from surgeries and chemotherapy. The last mastectomy in August resulted in quite a lot of blood loss, but not enough to have a transfusion. I could really do with some Lance Armstrong type blood doping now! What’s that eloquent quote? “All good things come to those who wait go out an f@*ken earn it!” So I’ll just have to take my time and keep chipping away till I see some improvements in my cardio fitness.

All of the expectations of returning to what I was twelve months ago aside, getting out again has helped immensely with energy levels and getting on with things. Big thanks to Catherine, Megsie and Mrs Kenny for being there on the occasions where I took my first steps on the exercise road as a “survivor of cancer” which is a very strange thing to refer to myself as.  I’ve been treated for cancer and now I am not being treated for cancer.  But I am here, and I am out moving, and breathing, and smelling the air, and taking it all in. There is a new appreciation for everything.

The only thing that is bothering me at the moment and believe me, there is a lot of things that could bother me when I reflect on the last 11 months, is that four months post chemo I still don’t have a thick layer of hair on my head and I seem to have developed some male patterned baldness.  You know when they say couples grow to look alike?  Well I think that is what is happening.  Mr Cool and I are morphing into the same man!  My hair is one inch long and it is terribly thin and you can see all of my scalp in daylight.  I’m hoping this will rectify itself in the coming months or I will forever be wearing scarves, wigs or opting to have a shaved head for the rest of my days.

Male patterned baldness… the new black!
Male patterned baldness on a woman… the new black!

I’m not sure how I feel about this given I had long straight hair for 38 years.  I never contemplated how long it would take to regrow hair. I had a lot of fun taking the hair off for the Shittytittie Chemo Cut Challenge. Some women never have proper hair again due to the chemo drugs, it is rare but it does happen and can be psychologically difficult to come to terms with. If I turn out to be one of them, if at least I am alive and that is what counts.

Last week a student I taught back in 2006 wrote me a letter after hearing of my circumstances this year. The news made him reminisce about his experiences in a Winter Alpine Environment subject I taught at university.  How amazing is it to receive a hand written letter in the mail from someone?  I can’t even remember the last time I received one.

He wrote…

“You’ll be glad to hear that my relationship with the mysterious and moody mountains still continues strongly and I have just completed two terms teaching at an alpine school.  Many of your alpine lessons have been passed onto my students too.  I have been teaching people how to paragluide and have taking tandem joy flights for a few years now.  Many of your weather lessons have helped build my meteorological knowledge up too and I fondly remember you saying “you should observe the weather in the mountains as often as you think about sex!”  Lets just say I read the weather quite well now!”

Ha ha! I can’t recall saying that, as I used to observe the weather in the mountains more than I thought about sex. But that’s just me!

He then went on writing his beautiful letter and extended an offer for me and my family to go for a fly around the mountains with him if the weather is good.  That offer might just be too good to refuse!

Morning Flight. A student takes off on a morning flight.
Photo: Kieran Campbell Image from

He was and is one of those free spirit and awesomely natured folk, with a depth to him and an understanding of how to really live. It’s no surprise to me that he now teaches outdoor education intermittently in the winter months so that he can spend the other half of the year taking paragliding joy flights in the mountains.  If ever there was an experience of living on the edge it must be soaring high above the Australian Alps!

The letter and the offer, just awesome!  And I promise to write back to you.  With a real pen and paper, and an envelope and a stamp and everything!

Big smiles to you too Wally, big smiles on the winds,