pina’s diary:

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“This my personal take on my experience with breast cancer. It’s raw, it’s real and it may not be your cup of tea. You may know someone with cancer or have experience with this first hand, if so read, ignore or feel free to forward it on,” – Pina.



Admittedly it’s been about 20 years since I left University and haven’t really done any study or research since then. I’m guessing that looking up how to bake an easy chocolate cake recipe on the internet isn’t exactly research. Like most of us, we don’t talk Oncologist speak, its a completely different language that is full of huge words that sound to me mostly ‘harsh’ and ‘terminal’.

pina post #3Once I heard the words Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma I knew that I was way out of my language league. I had studied Fine Art at University and I was more used to discussing the exstistential elements of art and its context. Onco speak was so daunting and final, there is no room for contemplation or personal interpretation.

The day I discovered Google Scholar, I got my game on. The note pad was ready, the pencils were sharpened, the ginger and turmeric tea was at hand. I was in my PJ’s and I was ready to kick some scholary arse. I found myself reading research paper after research paper trying desperately to interpret language that was beyond me. The funny thing is I managed in my own inept way to scour across papers and seemingly made some sense out of it all. It was more gut feeling than intellect. I spread myself around the sites like a greedy cookie monster. One site wasn’t enough, multiple pages and research articles opened all at once, cross checking info on my iPad and iPhone simultaneously. I needed more devices.

Knowledge was king and I was hungry for more. Im not so sure I was ingesting the right amount of quality nutrients but I was getting something. This was junk food for the mind. I felt inspired and motivated. That was the day that I swore off sugar as an evil product made by huge multinationals who were out to make big bucks and poison us at the same time. I discovered articles on assassinated professors who had come close to simple cancer cures that couldn’t be patented, there was so much to read, the concept of cancer as a business was starting to seem very real to me. That is when I declared that I would stick to an alkaline diet. I was going to kill this fungus inside me, no more sugar, no more acid causing foods or drinks, I was going to be the king of my own domain and re set my path to healing. I was knee deep in conspiracy theories, this was so much fun. I was on the edge of my sofa. Chemotherapy was going to kill me, surgery was going to spread the cancer further, radiation would give me new cancers, holy shit I was l wadding through a pool of hot steaming crap and I couldn’t see a way of getting out of it.

Anyone who knows me knows all too well that I’m a rebel at heart. I like to question, I don’t like being told what to do. This was going to get interesting, I was ready to fight every oncologist and pummel them with my questions and theories, I was armed with little knowledge and god knows this can be most dangerous.

I took my note book with me to my Medical Oncologist appointment (the chemo doctor) and fired away. Will the Chemotherapy cause new cancers? Will it damage my organs? Is this the worlds best practice for treatment? How many of your patients have declined treatments and what was there outcome? What is a hidden cancer? Do you know if the cancer has spread or are you guessing? Is it in my big toe as well as my breast? Why don’t we remove the cancerous breast first? I went on and on. Suffice to say that this $565 appointment wasn’t going too well. The Doctor had her back up, I was that pain in the arse patient that thinks they know everything and was questioning her extensive knowledge, expertise and experience. She was ‘patient’ at first but soon realised that I was resisting treatment and perhaps resisting the idea that me, yes me, had Breast Cancer.

Patient: adjective. Able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. “be patient, your time will come” synonyms: forbearing, uncomplaining, tolerant, long-suffering, resigned, stoical.

I walked out of that appointment humming Bowie’s classic 1974 track: ‘Do do do do do do do do, Rebel rebel, you’ve torn your dress, rebel rebel your face is a mess.’


Getting rubbed up the wrong way.

When word got out to the wider community that I had breast cancer I began to develop a mild form of agoraphobia, it wasn’t so much that I was scared of leaving the house, I was more scared of bumping into people that I knew.

pina rubbed up the wrong wayOther people had become a constant reminder to myself of the impending uphill slog of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and more surgeries. Whoa, this was more shit than I could stack. I was trying to focus on one aspect of the treatment at a time, the questions and advice from well-wishers was too confronting for me, I was having trouble digesting what felt like impending doom.

The kicker for me was the arm rub from well-wishing acquaintances. These were very lovely people in their own right, however I had never before crossed into the physical domain with these people. My instincts became very sharp, I could pick out a potential arm-rubber in a crowd, I could see them eye me off and then walk towards me with the same determination of killing a cockroach. I just knew what was coming next. The outstretched arm would be cocked ready to close in on my shoulder at any given moment… The arm rub a seemingly compassionate gesture, which of course it was would go on for what felt like forever to me. I was so aware of being rubbed like a little sick dog that my brain couldn’t focus on much else. Words would become muffled, just the warm and unwanted touch of a stranger was at the forefront of my mind.

I used to cringe… first it was the “Ohh I heard about the news”, or worse I would have to endure the stories of ‘so-and-so had breast cancer and she is now fine’…blah blah blah.

In hindsight I now realise that these arm-rubbers had the warmest intentions and were genuinely trying to connect. I was just too scared to accept what was happening to me. Umm, I’m pretty sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, however, I told someone that if they continued to rub my arm any harder, a genie would pop out of my arse.

Breast Cancer Sucks, sometimes harder.

Getting my long curly wild black hair shaved off was my way of trying to assume control over a situation that was frankly pretty f#%$@* up.

IMG_6114 copyThis whole mess of a breast cancer diagnosis was like a kick in the privates, although for me, more like a kick in the tit. So by taking the higher ground and basically getting in there first {with the hair clippers} before it started to fall out in clumps, was my way of assuming control. I booked the appointment. I was determined to tackle this hair loss thing head first, with no hesitations. I was getting myself physically and mentally ready for the next six months of chemotherapy.

I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’ve had some personal experience with breast cancer or know someone who has. I just want to share some of my experiences, feelings and thoughts that have been on my mind. You may be able to relate to some of it, other times you might think I’m completely bonkers.

Breast Cancer sucks but sometimes other parts of life may seem to suck even harder!

After having a biopsy in November of 2014 I had no idea what lay ahead of me, I was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant tumor in my left breast.

FullSizeRender-7Admittedly I hadn’t been sleeping well since I found that little pea sized lump just under my nipple. For some reason my boob was hurting, and I mean real aches and sharp stabbing pains, this pain is apparently pretty rare.

So I did what I thought was the right thing to do and went to my GP for a check up. I joked with my husband on the morning of the Doctors appointment that I was going to flash my tits and let the doctor ‘cop a feel’. This was exciting!

Anyway, I had an ultrasound and was more annoyed that the ultrasound technician was pushing so hard on the tender area of my breast where the lump was than anything else. { I’m a bit of a woose when it comes to pain}. Things began to get a little heated up when the ultrasound technician left the room and returned a few minutes later with the radiologist. Okay, I was beginning to think that this might be serious, or maybe this person just lacked experience, hence the heavy handed ultrasound technique that was really annoying me.

It’s a ingrown hair reports the Radiologist! Cool, I’m off the hook I thought, although the only weird thing is that I don’t have hairy tits!

about Pina:

PINAI’m a creative type who does a bit of everything and nothing. Sometimes I love to draw, paint, play with clay, love natural wine, eat too much and meditate. Mother of two, first husband.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on 11 November 2014. A week after I had a partial mastectomy and completed six months of Chemotherapy on the 1st of July 2015. Since then I’ve had a left breast mastectomy in August, and have had a tissue expander inserted between my chest wall and muscles expanded…ouch

I couldn’t have started writing this any earlier because I basically felt like I had the life sucked out of me and my brain was a foggy mess. On that note, still foggy, still a little messed up. This is my personal experience, my take on life when it sucks and how I’ve managed to keep on sucking it up.

{ALL ARTWORK: Art as therapy by Pina.}