Chapter. Closed.

When I was a young child my mother, sister and I were travelling to New Zealand to visit family. One of the flight attendants asked if I would like to offer sweets to the passengers. From that moment I knew that when I was older I wanted to be a flight attendant.

After many years of trying (Virgin didn’t think I was good enough. Silly Virgin…) I finally landed my dream job. That was nearly ten years ago.

My final days with Qantas didn’t end as I had imagined. Due to illness I didn’t have an official last flight. I missed out on a final silent review, a chance to sit in the Flight Deck on last time, to get a standard photo with the captain’s hat on and the obligatory A380 “stair shot”.

But my memories of flying weren’t reliant on that final flight; my memories were built during the last nine-and-a-bit years.

I couldn’t possibly name every person that has touch my life in a special way since I started with Qantas. But there are a few people that played a major role in many of my experiences.

On day one of training I met the most amazing lady – Lucy Goulding. We car pooled to training, studied together and she still remains an amazing friend to this day.

Graduation Class

And then there were my Bellevue Hill/Double Bay posse: Bec #1, Bec #2 and Sarah. See there is one problem with flying, if you don’t have flying friends and all your other friends work 9-5, it’s a very lonely world.

These girls were always there for midday, midweek coffee dates. Bec #1 was my soft sand run buddy and we would always plan to have tea and toast after, but we never actually drank tea…I still never worked out why we called it tea and toast.

Bec #1 and I cruising Dallas

And finally a shout out to Hatice, Eli, Caroline, Baxy, and Bobby.

I am forever grateful to Baxy, who put a roof over my head when I moved back to Sydney to fly long haul, with a weeks notice. Thank you to Caroline and Bobby for being my fellow London wanderers. And Eli, it all started when I text you your name while trying to save your number. There have been so many funny moments flying together – the swizzle sticks incident will never be forgotten. And Hatice, so many great days solving world problems on the rocks of Clovelly.

I couldn’t tell you how many flights I’ve flown, or how many hotels I’ve stayed in. But there were some special trips that I’ll always remember.

From Safari in South Africa…

Safari in Johannesburg Horse Riding Safari

…to cruising the Rhein in Germany…

Cruising the River with Dizey

… even getting sunburnt cycling along Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

Bike rides along Santa Monica and Venice Beach

I saw big bridges…

Big Bridges...

…and Great Walls

...and Great Walls

But there was also serious training involved. Like learning to evacuate from crew rest.

But nothing compares to the time spent with friends at 40,000ft.

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So although I may have to Photoshop my face into some “final flights” I am not upset that the universe dealt me those cards.

Goodbye, Fuchsia… it’s been a blast.

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Clipped Wings

One must be careful to talk about wings on a breast cancer blog, as this usually refers to the person departing this earth. Before panic sets in, I can reassure you that nothing with my health has changed; I am healthy and continuing with my alias of NED (no evidence of disease).

The wings I am referring to are wings I gained nine years ago — my flying wings.

After returning to the skies post treatment I was met with such excitement and enthusiasm from my flying friends. They, as was I, were excited to have me back at work. Because returning back to flying signalled that life was returning to normal, right? Although I instantly realised (after one flight) that my life had formed a new ‘normal’. And flying wasn’t part of that new normal.

During the 14+ months of treatment I was introduced to a new way of living, a way of living I had given up in my early 20s. A day that consisted of meals at appropriate mealtimes and routine. And I loved it. To return flying and have my body forced into different time zones and eating patterns has been a challenge. A challenge I no longer feel I can continue with. A challenge that has become a struggle.

For me — this is such a very personal decision — I feel it affects my overall health and wellbeing, and I can’t force myself to put my body through those stresses anymore.

I have decided to make my health a priority and remove myself from this environment.

*Drumroll* So, yesterday, September 7, I handed in my official resignation from Qantas… after nearly ten years of service.

Giving up my wings is not a decision I’ve come to lightly. Even though I have struggled since returning to the skies post treatment, I have had many amazing experiencesthe experiences since joining as a young 26-year-old. And I there are many things that I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful that I was able to fulfil my dream job. From an early age I knew I wanted to be a flight attendant, and I achieved that. I have been proud each time I have worn the Qantas uniform.
  • I am thankful for the friendships formed from day one of training and at 40,000ft. It is strange but true that as crew we can meet someone at briefing for the first time, share our life story in the middle of the night whilst trying to avoid devouring the tray of cheese or bowl of chocolates, and form genuine, long-lasting friendships.
  • I am thankful for having nine years of Staff Travel. Having the means to travel at a heavily discounted rate opened my eyes (and passport) to world. I also know one very special friend that has staff travel to thank for her marriage and now children. Staff travel also taught me patience. There were times when it didn’t work — I spent 15 hours at Istanbul airport on standby — but those times were always outweighed with good (onboard upgrades to First Class).
  • I am thankful that Qantas provided the opportunity to move to London. Three years that shaped me to be the person I am today through travel experiences and friendships formed along the way. London will always have a piece of my heart.
  • I am thankful for meeting my partner on board (cliché, I know). A man who now stands beside me, understands what is important for me to live a fulfilling life, and supports me to make this life-changing decision.

As much as I am thankful for all these things, there are moments I will not miss. Like, the time I was so unbelievably tired and jet lagged that brain functionality was almost non-existent and I couldn’t work out why moisturiser wasn’t rubbing into my skin like normal, only to realise I was using conditioner…or standing around in a cold galley, so tired I could cry, waiting for my time off in the middle of the night…and the biggest thing I won’t miss is the gentle tap of the arm in crew rest when it’s time to wake up… I have three more of these taps left. And yes, I’m counting.

So….The million dollar question.

What next?

I’ve enrolled to become a full-time university student.

Through cancer I discovered writing — my happy place. It’s a place that challenges and frightens me yet rewards me in so many ways. I thrive on the moments when I’m staring at a blank screen and unsure where to start, but then a collection of words appears. And that collection of words is a part of me. A reflection from within. (Forgive the corniness).

They say you should do what you’re passionate about, so I’m being brave and following my passions and see where this passion can take me.