Monday, 12 May 2014

For my sister

It's been quite a while since my last post and the truth is, I don't feel that I have much to write about now that I'm well on my way to recovery. 

I've decided to make this my last surgery related blog post. I'm amazed at the response I've had from others just from writing these posts and feel that my original purpose for writing has been fulfilled. This blog has proved to be a very useful outlet for me to write about how I'm feeling and through this I've managed to connect with a number of others in my situation. It's been great to follow others' journeys and to know that I'm not alone in what I've had to go through. I couldn't have asked for better support over the past few months. 

I've also been very happy to receive questions and messages from others who have been through or have to have a gastrechtomy themselves. To know that I've potentially helped others through my writing is a feeling I can't describe. Please don't hesitate to send me any questions as I'll keep my blog going and will keep checking my Facebook page regularly.

I won't be writing another post for a little while but when I do, it's likely to be the most exciting post I've ever written (for me anyway.. maybe not for anyone else). I have a plan as to how I'm going to start ticking off items my bucket list so when the time comes, that's what I'll write about. I'm sure there will still be a few post surgery mishaps to write about along the way as well. 

3 Months Post Op
In a little less that a week, it'll be 3 months since my surgery. What a long way I've come in those 3 months. 

I'm back at work full time and so far that's been going well. I do get quite tired still so I'm heading back to see my GP soon to get all of my vitamin levels checked. I will eventually have to have vitamin B12 injections so it could be time I start having those. 

I've started increasing the amount of exercise I'm doing. I've been to the gym 3 times in the past week and also managed to go for a walk over the weekend. I'm still lifting much lighter weights that I was pre-surgery and my fitness isn't what it was but I know that as time goes on, it can only get easier. 

I think my portion sizes have increased slightly over the past month or so. I've managed to maintain my weight and foods are going down a lot easier than they were. One question I get asked a lot is whether I feel "hungry" now that I don't have a stomach. The answer to that is yes, I do. I don't think it's the same feeling that it used to be but I certainly get an "empty" type of feeling and know when I need to eat. 

Certain foods still tend to get "stuck" and are not as easy to get down as others. Bread is one of the worst foods for this. I haven't tried any meat just yet as I'm not a big meat eater anyway but I can't imagine it going down to well either. I'm still mostly sticking to softer foods - pastas, rices, veggies, salads etc. I also still eat too much sugar. I caved and went and bought some chocolate tonight and am sitting here suffering the consequences whilst I'm typing this. 

I think that I'm travelling as well as I possibly could and once I get this tiredness under control, I will be basically back to normal. 

My wall of inspiration getting me through these cold Melbourne nights
For My Sister
One thing I've never written a lot about are the days that are more difficult that others - not necessarily physically, but emotionally. I've always kept my posts very positive because that's the type of person I am.  It's been easy for me to write positively because thinking this way is what I believe gives me my strength. 

However, just like everyone else, I have days that are harder than others. Mothers Day is certainly one of these days. For most people, it's a great day spent with family to celebrate mothers all around the world; and they certainly deserve it. For me (and for so many others, I'm sure) it's a reminder of the people I've had to say goodbye to. Growing up without my mother was, at times, very difficult. I believe that you never "get over" losing someone but that you eventually just learn to live with it and it helps to shape who you are. I'm very independent and wouldn't change the person that I am but there have been many times when I'd just secretly wished I had a mother I could call. I was only 7 when I lost my mum so saying goodbye at that age wasn't the hard part - it was the many years that followed. 

I've said before that the hardest thing I've ever had to do was to say goodbye to my little sister. My sister was also a mother and absolutely adored her little boys. It broke my heart knowing that she had to leave them behind. I think this is what makes Mothers' Day so hard - not what I've lost but what my sister would've given anything to hold on to. 

Mothers Day, Christmas and birthdays are some of the hardest of days but often I'll find myself driving along and hear a song or remember something randomly and feel as though I might fall to pieces and other times these things will simply make me smile. I'm not writing this as a negative post or to try and get sympathy from anyone at all. That's the last thing I want. I'm writing it because I know that not all days are good days and I think that's completely normal. I think it's OK to feel sad for those we've lost who have played a part in our lives - big or small. I also think it's normal to feel happy for the memories we have of these people. I'm lucky now that my good days well and truly outweigh the bad; but they still creep up on me now and then. 

About 2 years ago I'd not long moved to Melbourne and I was truly happy. My family and I had been through a terrible few years and I almost felt as if my happiness wasn't allowed. I even said to my housemate that I felt as though something really awful was going to happen because something always goes wrong. It was only about a week later that I received the phone call to say my sister was very ill and had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Though I had a feeling something was going to happen, nothing could have prepared me for this phone call. 

I know now that thinking that way is not healthy at all and isn't a way to live my life. However, so much has happened over the past 5 or 6 years that I also know that life is uncertain and anything can happen or change unexpectedly so we truly do have to make the most of the time we have. 

With all of the hardest days come the happiest memories of all; memories I will always treasure. My sister was so happy with her two little boys and didn't need material things to make her life complete. As kids we were polar opposites but our underlying beliefs were the same - the people we surround ourselves with and our experiences in life are what make us happy; not things. She inspired me to write my bucket list and to start ticking some of these items off. Through genetics testing, she essentially also saved my life. 

So this final surgery-related post I dedicate to my little sister who will be remembered not only on Mothers Day but every other day. For my little sister who in her hardest moment said "it's the beginning, not the end." This year I've started a new beginning in my life and have been so happy to be able to share my story with others. 

I cannot wait for my next post because it means I'll have definite plans to start doing some of the things I've always wanted to do. 

Thank you for reading. 


  1. Hi Kate this is the first time ive seen your blog and I just wanted to wish you luck and send my love and support, you're an inspiration. I lost my 19 year old son Joel and his father to HDGC 4 years ago and have 3 other family members who have the CDH1 gene and had gastrectomys. They are now 3 years post op and all doing well, they have good days and bad (but mostly good) and most importantly they have life so hang on in there and live your dreams. Much love, Zoe

    1. Hi Zoe, I am so terribly sorry to hear about Joel and his father. I understand how heartbreaking this must have been for you and your family. I also received a message from one of Joel's friends, Kyle. It sounds like you've all done an amazing effort in raising funds for charity in his memory. I'm sorry to hear that there are others in your family also carrying the gene but it's great to hear that they are doing well. I think there are always going to be bad days but you're right, getting to have a life is well and truly worth it. Thanks so much for the message and take care, Kate.