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.

Pay It Forward

Blessed. Lucky. Spoilt. Just three words to describe how I feel when I think about the support that I received when I voiced that I needed to have my surgery through the private system. I didn’t ask for help (because I had already been helped in so many ways) but friends – old and new – surprised me with secret fundraisers that, in the end, covered the cost of surgery.

Now I want to pay forward the kindness and generosity that I received. I want to share about another fundraiser that is currently taking place that is dear to my heart. I want to help in more ways than just giving a financial amount; I want to spread the word so more people can help.

The Fundraiser: The Baby Smith Dream.

Before I tell you about The Baby Smith Dream, I need to introduce you to the person who is doing the fundraising and tell you what she is doing. My amazing friend, Meg is walking from Brisbane to Ipswich! That’s FOURTY-TWO KILOMETRES! Meg has no experience in this, she isn’t a closet marathon walker, but she had a calling in her heart to do something ‘big’. And I personally think this is BIG.

I have known Meg since I was a child. She’s the unofficial third daughter in my family. She lived down the road from us and we spent our teenage years together – especially summer holidays (we have a pool). We spent hours creating fun for ourselves. My contact with Meg after I moved away was limited to Facebook, but when I return last year, it was as if I had never been gone. She has been there for me throughout my whole treatment with many trips to our favourite coffee spot.

So why is Meg walking? (I should add here that Meg has a walking partner, her cousin Maddy)

Friends of Meg – Kylie and Jo – are hoping to have one last chance of growing their family through IVF. They are already loving parents to a little girl and hope to provide Olivia with a brother or sister. After many failed attempts with IVF, and many thousands spent, time and finances are getting in the way of fulfilling their dream. There is no more time to be wasted; it’s time to take action now.

I know first-hand how hard the IVF journey is, and I only did part of the process, and without any additional emotional pressure. With every injection I thought of all the women out there that have much more on the line. It has stayed with me always and left a mark on my heart. My heart sinks each time I hear of someone going through this journey.

The Baby Smith Dream has created a blog where you can read about their story and updates on Meg and Maddy’s training. The big day is approaching, November 2.

If you want to help and read more about Kylie and Jo, and their journey, go to http://thebabysmithdream.wordpress.com

When I was supported with the cost of surgery, I was supported without having to ask.

It takes a whole lot of bravery to ask for help. I am proud of Kylie, Jo and Meg for all asking for help. Our giving nature, as a society, has been put to the test recently with the viral campaigns such as the Ice Bucket Challenge. Let’s continue to stretch ourselves to help those that are real in our lives.

Please share this on your social media and help me, help them.