A Little Festive Healing

by Rachel on December 28, 2011

Fiercely protective of her mum
December 2011
Coming out of my Health Stylist’s office was hard, the disappointment and shock on his face was imprinted in my eyes, like the brightflash of a bulb when someone takes your photo at night.
The Braveman and I didn’t cry, we just got in the car and went home. We knew what we had in store, we knew we could do it again and we knew that most of all, no-one had told us that there was a time limit. We wanted tomorrow to come quickly so we could get me better again.
I guess in someway I knew that it was still lurking in my body somewhere. My cough had got worse and my breathing was difficult and the sound of my voice was reduced to some sort of Darth Vader ‘sound-a-like’.  I still held on to hope though. It was just a few weeks back I remember pushing my IV trolley through the hospital with great effort. It was so difficult to push and I had barley any energy to even push it down the hospital halls. I was thinking to myself, “that’s it, I’ve had it, my body’s given up, I can’t even push a simple little trolley.” As my weary head dropped and I looked down at my feet with great forlorn, it was then, that I noticed the brake was still on the trolley. I maintained my composure, took adeep breath, flicked off the brake and swiftly made my way back to my room realising all was not lost and to never give up hope. 
As the Braveman and I drove home, I watched quietly out of the car window, people going about their normal life. Shopping for Christmas presents, hustling and bustling to cafes to catch up with friends to celebrate the festive season, and out buying that last bauble for their Christmas tree. I stared at them with envy, wishing I was one of them.
My Fairy and Bluey
December 2011
It was hard asusual telling Sienna that I had to go back in for chemo, especially when Ipromised her the last time….. would be the last time. We were honest with herand explained about my ‘unwell lung’ and the difficulties we’d face for awhile. She accepted all this as usual but I could see the disappointment on herlittle face, cartwheels and monkey bars for mum would have to be put on hold. Thefirst thing she said was that she wanted to “punch my Health Stylist”. Mmmm not sure that violence was the expectedreaction I thought would have come from my 7 year old, but I assured her thatit wasn’t his fault.

The first lotof chemo, came and went.  In an ironicway, whilst I wished I wasn’t back there again, I felt much comfort in seeingthose familiar and kind faces of the ‘garaangeli’ (tender angels), that are the nurses.


‘Gara Angelo’ Ngaio
December 2011


‘Gara Angelo’ Jo
December 2011
We were still determined to have a great Christmas in our new little farm house and be alltogether as a family. We were not sure if it would be possible, especially whether my mum would be well enough to make it. She was getting to the end ofher treatment and feeling the effects of 7 weeks of constant radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
So we packed the car, which was full to the brim of presents decorated with homemade wrapping, three hours of Bing Crosby’s Christmas favourites the Christmas ham,turkey and pork and a little festive cheer. My fairy was in charge of packing her rabbits and although there may have been one too many, we couldn’t say no.
All the rabbits were coming
December 2011
A bit squished
No rabbit was harmed in the taking of this photo
December 2011
Even though I felt like I had drunk about 5 litres of eggnog, then taken a spin with Rudolph and the guys on a training ride, we managed to set up the house with lots of Christmas cheer. Sienna did all the necessary things to prepare for Santa’s pending arrival and the Braveman and her, even made a specially designed “Sleigh Landing Pad”, to ensure Santa did not miss us.
Preparing the reindeer food
December 2011
The making of Santa’s landing pad
Dear Santa
December 2011


Snacks for Santa and the Reindeers
December 2011
The first to arrive were my brave Mum and Dad along with my aunty Margie from Queensland who had flown down especially. Margie, who is more like a sister than an aunty, had just come back from one of her trips to India. And unfortunately for her, whilst she was travelling, she snapped her ankle like a pappadum and had to come home early. I was reminded about how lucky we were to have a pretty good healthsystem, when she told me that her initial treatment for her broken ankle was by a local ‘Indian healer, guru’, who thought it best to give her a deep tissue massage for half an hour right wherethe break had occurred. Needless to say she was out of there and on the first plane back to Australia with plenty of curry in her hurry.
My gentle Aunty Margie
December 2011
So the family arrivals were building and we knew it was going to be a good Christmas.
Aunty Jilly and cousin Jess
December 2011
Home made wrapping
December 2011
Gorgeous niece Sarah
December 2011
Granny’s Christmas Pavolva
December 2011
Santa’s been!
December 2011
…..and been
By Christmas morning everyone had arrived, including another special aunty from Sydney who had come down on the train with my cousin Jess as a suprise that morning. Despite her own challenge of breast cancer during the year and a double mastectomy, she wantedt o be with family too. So with drainage tubes literally hanging out of her chest from surgery only two days prior, she arrived as a surprise package. One of my favourite Christmas presents.
My Fairy godmother and Aunty Jilly
December 2011
My brave sister-inlaw Jo Jo
December 2011
Happy Fairy
December 2011
Ok so I knowwhat you’re thinking, “Drainage tubes,chemotherapy, broken limbs, Rudolph, Vixen and Cancer, cancer, cancer”,sounds like a really bad joke hey. Despite feeling like we were in a scene from‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s ChristmasNest’, no one complained, no one was sad, we were just happy to betogether.  Enjoying the love, laughterand closeness of family.


December 2011
No sooner hadwe popped our last Christmas bon bon, we found ourselves waving good bye toeveryone as they headed down the long gravel driveway, passed the big red barndoor, leaving our little farm house, hopefully to come back again another day.
The Braveman, my fairy and I, stood there and watched the cars as they headed off downthe pretty country road, all feeling a bit happier after a ‘little festive healing.’  
The next day wewould head back to Melbourne for my next round of ‘health nectar’.
Feeling the festive healing
December 2011


Kirsten January 27, 2012 at 2:07 am

I read your blog religiously. And I love your farm house with the red door. It's perfect.

Rachel West January 27, 2012 at 3:24 am

Thanks Kirsten, it's definately very healing in the country

Kirsten February 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hello again. I saw your comment on my little blog – I'm so touched you came over. You're right, these are extraordinary things. I don't think you know your own strength (if you don't put the brakes on!) until you experience the crazy ride. And then sometimes, all of a sudden, you find yourself brought to a total standstill and entirely overwhelmed. It's been one of those weeks for me, for no good reason, so I've been trying to push the reset button and start afresh. I do now understand what they mean when they say so much of this is mental. And it helps to remind myself that it's "still a lovely life" to quote an amazing woman whose blog I read.

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