The Cancer that shook my world and took my Aunt.
We have heard or know those people who get cancer and are really healthy, the last in your friends or family to ring with the ‘C’ news. Well that’s what shook my world two years ago, my dear Aunt Gabbi who was 62 at the time was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. I was shattered but she calmly said to me at the time “I’m not afraid of dying“, she made me feel better, a gift she always had; “Ok, count me in I’m along for the ride.” That ride was profoundly life changing and heartbreaking for me as two months ago she passed away.
Gabbi was a healthy organic vegetarian, yogi and healer by profession. She never went to a GP or even took panadol, that sort of healthy. In hindsight she did have early symptoms of bloating for a few years, something she addressed with diet and never thought to get investigated, if she had of, maybe her cancer would have been treatable but we don’t know that. It wasn’t until she had irregular bleeding that she went for investigations, her diagnoses and treatment started immediately, a hysterectomy and then chemotherapy.
I was able to give her weekly acupuncture through her chemo that she said made her feel strong, the week following she would feel ordinary but managed well with less nausea and other side effects than expected and her energy perked up again after five days. Along with lots of foot and leg massages and cuddles with my daughter she continued her life as she knew it, walks in nature, meeting up with friends, lots of healing treatments and even work after a few months. She researched all the healthy advice and followed even healthier diets. I believe that her organic lifestyle and love of food was fundamental to how she received the medicine and later how she died.
My Aunt followed her own heart with healing treatments, after months of wellness she had a relapse that required more chemo. In the end she chose not to have more and continued with what she believed in her heart to be the best path for her.
The last few months of her life were spent in her home; she needed no strong pain relief, knew when to call her nearest and dearest to surround her with love and goodbyes and consciously passed away peacefully. It was a blessing being able to share quality time with her and say words of parting. Waiting for the unknown inevitability and holding back grief was an emotional stretch but with a supportive partner I was able to hold it together. I had such a sense of peace and relief when my cousin called and said she had gone but the next day the grief swarmed me like I had never known. Such an emotion that deserves and demands respect, I consumed myself in the pain and healed a little each day.
I have learnt so much on this ride both personally and professionally. How my treatment expectations changed and were received along the way from the chemo weeks to the palliative care days and how to juggle hope and realism with respect and acceptance. To be a niece and a carer and to keep love flowing whilst watching a human body and mind expire was a very humbling experience for me. I am so proud of how my Aunt kept her heart open and flowed into death as she had lived her life, with love and courage.
This is my Aunt with my daughter Daisy.
Early common symptoms of ovarian cancer are also similar to other health issues; abdominal bloating or pain, feeling full after a small meal and frequently urinating. If these symptoms persist or with a Doctor cannot be related to another illness further investigation is required. In my consults I am always looking out for red flags, these are symptoms that need a western medical review. I believe there is a place for Acupuncture and science to exist together so we can really understand the cause of our health issues and heal in the most efficient way of our choosing.
Teal is the international colour for ovarian cancer awareness. On Teal Ribbon Day, Wednesday 28 February 2018, we encourage all Australians to purchase and wear a Teal Ribbon to raise awareness of ovarian cancer; show your support for the women, and their families, who are living with the disease; and to remember those who have died.
To find out more about ovarian cancer awareness month please head to: https://ovariancancer.net.au/ovarian-cancer-awareness-month/
Kerry is available for consultation at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Tuesday and Friday.
To book an appointment please call us on ph: 5973 6886.