I am a warrior. I may not look like one; rather plain and invisible in a crowd, but I am stronger than you could ever imagine. My armour may be invisible but I have a will to survive that is strong; my determination endless. I have faced my life’s greatest battle and live to tell about it.
In the spring of 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it changed my life forever. There is a lot of cancer in my family; some have survived but most have not. I always knew the risk was there but as we do, I thought it wasn’t going to happen to me. While in the shower, getting ready for another ordinary day I felt something and I knew instantly what it was. My heart sank and I went into a state of disbelief. I knew I had to get checked as soon as possible and called for a doctor’s appointment the same day. That phone call saved my life. The tumour had already grown to 4cm (which is quite large) and if I had not caught it when I did, it would have spread throughout my body making treatment difficult.
I have been poked with more needles than anyone should in one lifetime. Been scanned countless times. Gave tissue samples several times. Endured 8 exhausting rounds of chemotherapy; all of which made me feel terrible, exhausted and generally miserable. I lost all of my hair including my eyelashes and my eyebrows. My eyebrows have never come back fully but it doesn’t really bother me too much. My fingers and toes were numb and both my finger and toe nails were lost in the battle; they have however since come back. I was operated to remove the breast with the cancer to insure against a relapse. I have been though 25 radiation treatments and complications due to infections. After all the treatments were finished; I was exhausted and I felt very small. I was desperate to feel like myself again.
As time went on, I got my strength back and I began to feel like myself again. My hair grew back as well as my finger and toe nails. The infection went away and I began physiotherapy to help retrain my left arm. After the operation and infection that followed mobility in my left arm was greatly reduced and I have worked hard to get as much mobility back as possible. I now have a clean bill of health and have gone back to work and live my life to the fullest. I do not stress about things that do not matter and I take time to do the things that I love to do and be with the ones I love. My memory is not what is was however and I easily forget things. I am easily overwhelmed when life gets too busy so prioritizing is important.
Life is a precious thing, and I have been close to losing mine. Therefore at this time I would like to say that I will be taking a break from writing this blog in order to pursue the book dream that I mentioned in my previous post. I choose not to let it sit on the shelf and regret not taking it down later in life when it may be too late. My life is however busy and I would like to use the moments that are all mine to work on my book. I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my blog and give all the positive replies that you have; it is greatly appreciated and is part of the reason why I can now move forward and write my book. I will still be posting my pictures on Facebook so all of you who follow me there can still look forward to seeing the beauty Norway has to offer.
Possible book introduction
As a child I never liked my grandmother. I know what you are thinking, who says that about their grandmother? But I honestly felt that way; and I had a keen sense that she didn’t like me very much either. I remember her only as an unhappy, bitter person who didn’t show much kindness to a little girl.
My grandmother passed away in 1984 at 75 years of age when I was 9 years old. She never spoke very much to me, and when she did it was reprimanding. I remember visiting her in the hospital the day she died. My brother and I were to say our goodbyes; it was a very awkward moment. As I sat by her bed holding her hand she told me only one thing “Kelly, don’t forget how to dance.” I didn’t understand what she meant by that. I was taking dance lessons at the time – which I hated – and though she meant I should stick with it. I didn’t understand what she really meant until much later.
My grandmother Milka Raman emigrated from Haapavesi Finland in 1929 at the age of twenty. I have only 2 pictures of her from that time, she was a beautiful woman; exactly what I imagine a 1920’s Gibson Girl would have looked like. She had soft brown curls and pale porcelain skin. She was a taller woman, but not so much as to be uncomfortable for any gentleman suitor. I would have liked to have known her then, been her friend. She still had a sparkle in her eye then.
I am telling her story now many years later because she was never able to tell it herself. I tell it as much for her benefit as for my own. I no longer believe that she was an awful person, just one who was never able to free herself.
Port of Gothenburg, Sweden 1929
The sea air filled my lungs with its saltines and I take in another deep breath just to get a taste of it in my mouth. The port is alive with the cackling of seagulls and bustle of passengers still boarding the ship. Although it is early July, the morning air is crisp and I am glad for my wool jersey; pulling it a little tighter around me. I don’t want to go down to my cabin just yet however, I want to stay a little longer and look at the city. As long as the ship is still in port, I can still change my mind; go home again. It seems I have been travelling for weeks now, and home is hopelessly far away. Pride is what got me here and what will keep me going.