The Story of a Cancer Thriver

Guest Blog by Jenni :: Styling Curvy

We are SO honoured to be an ambassador for the Longest Table, along with some other bad-ass chicks and dudes. Enter: Jenni from Styling Curvy, who just happens to be a style guru / body confidence expert / cancer THRIVER / bloody legend annnnddd one of our friends. Her story is incredible, so have a read.

Thank you for sharing this Jen, we love you xx 

Have you ever felt helpless? I have, in fact more than once but no more so than when I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at just forty one. Yup, that very first mammogram I ever had turned me into a statistic and turned my whole world upside down and inside out…for a while.

Look I could write about ‘the journey’, treatment and how much it all sucked balls but I am past that part now. These days I prefer to focus on the present and I even allow myself to plan for the future…because I recently broke up with my oncologist (as in no more appointments needed!) which means the future is actually looking pretty bloody rad right now.

Image Credit :: Styling Curvy

Not everyone who receives a cancer diagnosis gets to look into the future though, sadly cancer doesn’t discriminate and treatment doesn’t always mean a happy ending for all. One thing I do know is that early detection is vital, especially when it comes to breast cancer. But what does that really mean…early detection? It means catching this insidious disease before it gets outa control and we do that through awareness and testing.

Sadly 1 in 8 Aussie women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they are 85, might be you or someone you love.

Either way it will suck, so here’s some tips on what to say to a cancer patient…

+ Start off by being who you were before their diagnosis, don’t back off or tiptoe around them, this is when they need you more than ever and will need to lean in more than ever.

+ Look them in the eye when talking about their cancer.

+ Say the word ‘cancer’…not the ‘c’ word.

+ If tears leak out of your eyes, that’s ok. It’s emotion.

+ Tell them they’re beautiful.

+ Ask if it’s ok to bring small children to visit, noise and germs might be a problem but they might also be having a good day and the distraction and joy of little ones could be needed.

+ Tell them you will be there for them.

+ Ask if you can take them to treatment or pop into treatment for a visit.

+ Ask if they want to talk about their cancer or treatment? They might need to empty their head or maybe they just need to forget for a moment.

+ Ask if you can help with the kids.

+ Ask if you can clean their house or mow the lawn…or wash the car.

+ Offer to take them out for a cuppa/lunch/movie.

+ Ask if they need help with paperwork.

+ It’s ok, you can say it…fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!

+ Ask where they are at in their treatment.

+ Ask how treatment makes them feel…and listen. If they can live it you can listen.

+ Ask if they need any special meals, tastebuds often change throughout treatment.

+ Ask if they have everything they need to make them comfortable.

+ Ask to have a photo taken with them, even if they are bald.

+ Ask if it’s ok to hug or kiss them, immune systems are compromised at certain times of chemo cycles so it’s best to be careful.

+ Ask if their partner and family are doing ok? Once treatment is done…keep asking them how they are doing. Every year tests are done, fears are held and it can be lonely.

+ Tell them you love them, and love them through their toughest times.

And here’s 10 things you can do for families going through cancer:

1. Start a school mums meal roster for the family with one designated person liaising with the family affected by cancer.

2. Offer to help with sporting and after school commitments. Drop offs, pick ups, getting uniforms or footy boots for a new sporting season…even small things like helping out with the oranges if it’s that families turn.

3. Offer to help shop for and wrap gifts for special celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day and Father’s Day.

4. Offer to help write out Christmas cards, party invites or even put up the Christmas tree.

5. Offer to help out with homework, school projects, sports day and excursions.

6. Keep the school informed so they can nurture the children affected.

7. Offer to have children for play dates or sleepovers especially a couple of days after an infusion (when things get tough). Inclusion is so important and keeping things as ‘normal’ as possible when life at home is topsy turvy is vital.

8. Pitch in some dollars with other mums for a house cleaner or gardener.

9. Don’t pretend that cancer isn’t happening but do be careful of little ears listening when discussing cancer.

10. Never ignore someone going through cancer…ever…even years after a diagnosis.Step up and ask how they are doing or where they are at with their treatment.

I became an ambassador for The Hospital Research Foundation just as I finished my last chemo mid-2013, I love every thing they stand for, all that they do in our community, their passion for funding research and I have experienced firsthand some of the wonderful goodness they inject into local hospitals. So, it made sense for me to be an ambassador and one of my favourite fundraising campaigns to be involved in is The Longest Table, where everyday Aussies can gather around a meal and all #forkcancer together! If you would like to host your own Longest Table then check out details HERE.

I’m stoked to be joining the Adelady Longest Table this year and as well as good food, fine wine and good vibes, we’ll be fundraising our tits off (well not my tits, because cancer took mine) and I will also be speaking about my cancer trip. I can’t guarantee you won’t cry but I can guarantee you a good time so grab your tickets HERE.

Til next time

Jen x

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on The Story of a Cancer Thriver

  1. Lisa Cammaroto
    June 18, 2018 at 5:32 pm (6 days ago)

    Wow Jen, such practical advice that I can relate too. Keep up the great work, staying positive for some of us who are a lil low. Thank you

    Reply

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