XV – We Can Be Heroes


This morning I woke up and watched the sunrise (well, tried to. It was pretty cloudy)! The 21st March, exactly one year since I was diagnosed. Today. One Year. CRAY CRAY. It’s like the most bittersweet anniversary ever. On this day, one year ago, I knew I had cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed today, I didn’t have any test results, though. My future was literally thrown up in the air. I thought that I might going be joining the 27 club. I wasn’t sure if I would be alive to see another year. I totally made it through with the love and support of my family and friends. What a year it has been!

I’ve gone back to work full time, as a PE teacher. A massive move and people seem quite shocked to hear that I have jumped straight back into full time work! But I’m doing it. I am doing everything in my power to try and keep myself healthy. It has been tiring going back to work, but really great at the same time. It’s helped me create more of a routine. I’ve got more energy now than I did last year. It’s so awesome being with students again, too. It has made me realise even more so than I ever have before, how much of a high energy job teaching is! To call it intense would be a huge understatement. I have had a few hiccups, no biggies; just my mind making them biggies. Ahhhh the old mind, hey. Loves to play tricks on you! So after everything I have been through in the last year, you would think that if I got a slight cold, a sore tummy or a random ache or pain, it would be nothing to me. A breeze! Surely not a big deal after what I went through with chemo. Well… That’s not really the case. I’ve managed to figure out that a ginormous trigger for my anxiety is not feeling 100%. For example, a few weeks ago I got a cold and a bit of a sore throat and a runny nose. I managed to work myself up into a crazy, anxious, messy ball about being sick. My thoughts –

– I’m doing all these things to support myself and be healthy!
– How could I get sick?
– What’s the point of all these things if I’m just going to get sick anyway?
– I am never going to feel better.
– This is so scary, I can’t handle my body not being normal.
– I’m so tired.

Anyone would think I had been struck down with the plague. Helloooooo drama queen! But I got better. Within two days. It really was just a cold. I really didn’t have any reason to be anxious.

Last week I posted a photo about the sad, heartbreaking news that Jessica Ainscough passed away. Jessica Ainscough  has been someone I followed since before my diagnosis. She was a self described ‘Wellness Warrior’ and had lived with epithelioid sarcoma (a cancer of the arm) for 7 years. She was a beautiful and inspiring lady who was all about empowering women, cleaning up her lifestyle, being kind to herself and trying to make her mark on the world. Her condition deteriorated throughout last year and just last week she eventually passed away. She received a lot of backlash about refusing conventional treatment. My upset about her passing, is completely and utterly selfish. Of course I am so saddened for her family, her fiancé and all her friends and followers she had around the world. But my real devastation lies in the fact that when I have been sick, anxious, worried, curious, even happy, I would turn to her book ‘make peace with your plate’ and her blog, for comfort, insight and knowledge. It was like she had already researched everything that I was into and anything that would help me, analysed it and written about it. I thought that if I did the things that she did, then I would get through this too! It gave me so much hope. But now that she’s gone, it’s been like a big old freshly caught sea bass slap in the face again, a reality check that I didn’t want, saying that not everything works out how you would like it to. I spent so much time trying to copy her and even got upset with myself when I couldn’t meet the level of her holistic living.

Then there is the other story of Belle Gibson… The Whole Pantry creator, a cook book I cook from every single week and follow her closely, is apparently a fraud! Another role model gone.

I was talking about it to Luke the other night (boyfriend, not brother!) and he said the best advice ever to me. I was going on about being so upset that these two heroes of mine were no longer people I could look to for comfort or advice. He said, maybe I should stop looking for answers and help from these people and stop copying them and just be that person myself. Boom. Me. I’ve said it before, haven’t I. It’s up to you. It’s all in you! It was the best advice ever. You Gotta Be Your Own Hero, Baby!

Trying to find my place back in the ‘normal’ world hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions, I wonder about the meaning of life and why this experience happened to me etc and what I should be ‘doing’ to save the world and all that jazz. Sometimes I think about this crazy world we live in and wonder if I would be better off living in a remote hippy commune or perhaps the olden days. Back in nineteen tickedy two, ya know? But then I come to, and tell myself how important it is to remember that I was born in this time, in this country, in this town, for a reason. That my life does matter. Right here and right now. You can’t wish for things to be different, because if things were different, I wouldn’t have all the awesome things I do now. Like my amazing parents, unconditionally loving friends and family, I wouldn’t have jimbo, my trusty little car, I wouldn’t have met the sweetest boyfriend ever and I certainly would not be rocking this raging hair cut. I’ve learnt a lesson that I constantly try and remind myself of, but often forget. That I am enough right now. Not in a few weeks time when I’ve lost those few kilos. Not when my hair has grown back and I look prettier. Not when I get a promotion or save a certain amount of money. I am whole, right now. Perfectly imperfect. Right now. There is no delay in the happiness. Give it to me, baby.

I still wonder what exactly gave me cancer, but try not to let it consume me. I have had genetic testing done, but the results haven’t come back yet. If it wasn’t that – what was it? Was it the stress I felt when one of my dearest friends passed away a few years ago? Was it the X-rays I had to have when I broke my humerus in London? Was it the partying I did in my early 20’s? Was it drinking from plastic bottles? Was it caused by the millions of chemicals I’ve put on my skin thinking they were good for me?  Was it the anti-perspirant deodarents I used to wear which are also full of parabens and aluminium? I am totally aware that specific kind of thinking is of no help to anyone! But I still get lost in it sometimes. What I prefer to now do, is think about what I can consciously now do, to make myself feel well and supported. Which is things like taking numerous supplements for my health, doing yoga and meditation, using organic and natural beauty products, exercising and not over committing myself to things.  Trying to find stillness in this frantically paced life! These things all help me. I’m not going to figure it out, so, like Elsa, I’ve got to let it go.

On an end note, I just wanted to share a few lessons I think I have learnt in the last year that have really helped me.

– How important saying no is, sometimes. I was always a yes person and always doing something. Now I can say no to staying in and resting. It’s not a bad thing. Being busy doesn’t equate to being successful or happy.

– Life can be spent waiting for the next thing, which I never realised I did before. So much. Just in every day life. You wake up and get in the shower. While you’re in the shower you think about what you have to do at work. At work you think about the errands you have to run after work. While running those errands, your mind is on the workout you will do at the gym. While you’re at the gym you’re thinking about what you have to do before bed. Then before you know it, you’re in the shower again. Thinking about what you have to do at work. Life is a bunch of consecutive moments strung together, if you spend those moments thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, you miss those moments completely. Now, when I remember to, if I’m not caught up in my thoughts and have the clarity to be mindful, I feel the water in the shower falling on my skin. I notice the scents of my shampoo and conditioner and lap those scents up. I feel my feet on the tiles. It’s relaxing and invigorating to be so present! But it’s a practice – sometimes I still get caught up with worry and thinking and not being in the moment.

– When you go on holidays (especially to another country), it’s so easy to feel awe and excitement. Seeing other cultures, other ways of life, different weather, diverse nature. It’s so easy to feel those feelings of joy and awe. Then in day to day life, wherever you live permanently, it’s so easy to feel complacency, boredom, insignificance and repetition. But where you are right now, is just as awe inspiring and exciting as any place you could visit. People come from across the world, right here to Australia and are inspired and taken aback by the beauty and magnificence of it. Maybe because we see it every day, the magnificence of it stops being noticed. Maybe it’s taken for granted. But if people can travel to Australia and be in awe of it, isn’t it possible for us to be in awe of its beauty every day? You have to stop and look at it, though.

– Growing old is an absolute privilege. Embracing everything that comes with age is so important – even if it is grey hair and wrinkles! It 100% beats the alternative – dying young.

– Being angry or holding resentment toward someone is hurting no one but yourself. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

– The word ‘Should’ is the most poisonous word in the English Language (Thanks, Uncle Tony). It’s up there with swear words. Using the word should doesn’t actually help you to do more or be more, it just leaves people feeling like they aren’t enough as they are. I should eat more vegetables. I should practice more. I should have more money in the bank by now. I should be accomplished by this age. I should go to the gym. Stop thinking you ‘should’ be something other than what you are right now.

– Practicing gratitude makes life a whole lot better.

Love you all, thanks for reading! PS Luke and I are going to Switzerland in 6 days! Excitamundo!

Before, during and 5 months after chemo.

Me! All me! One, two, three! All me!

Truth Bomb.

Truth Bomb.


15 thoughts on “XV – We Can Be Heroes

  1. Shell

    Sigh, I never want your blogs to end…… absolutely love reading them. Always take away so much to practice in my own life after every time I read 🙂

  2. Cath Forbes Seager

    To quote ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’. ‘Do what you love and love what you do’. and yes having travelled OS I can truly say one of my highlights was sharing The Sounds of Silence Dinner @ Uluru with international guests whilst dining under the stars. Was truly an inspirational patriotic experience to share this Great Southern land with others. That said there remains many
    more adventures to be found on your very own door step. Remaining young at heart!

  3. Harriet

    I read these posts when one of the dance girls share them on FB. Not sure if you remember me from CFGS. But I find reading them an absolute inspiration…. Much love and positivity xx

  4. claire pezzy-pezz-dawg

    Yo Ali!!! Your boyfie lukey Luke sounds pretty rad and I tots agree with him. When I met you in london I thought you were THE coolest chcicken I ever did met so defo a hero in my books even before your beat the c-Bomb. So yeah never stop being the most awesome human ever.

    Peace lover xx

    P.s you should write some kind of book as your pretty awesome at that too.

    P.p.s have the maddest yodelling time in Switzerland

  5. Diane Suter

    Ali, I loved your blog and I cannot wait to meet you. These six days cannot go quick enough for me. I look forward to giving you a big hug. xxxxxxx

  6. Joan Annabel

    Hi Ali, Sorry I missed you the other day when I called. Enjoy the moment….so glad that we are both survivors! Enjoy your overseas trip.

  7. Colleen Maier

    You are amazing Ali in every way. So proud of you and thankful for where you are “one year on”. Enjoy Switzerand beautiful girl, you deserve it.

  8. michellerushton6

    oh good Lord!
    You are so freaking wise Ali.
    And your writing just pops. You express things Perfectly. Honestly. Precisely as they are.
    I read your blog and I feel centred and calm in my soul.

  9. Mel

    Ali, i too love that you have shared your journey. Thank you for allowing us to be apart of your world this past year.
    I would love to give you a big hug & say you are so very inspiring.
    Enjoy this new chapter and i wish you safe travels xx

  10. Jo smith

    Jane McGrath died in the middle of my chemo/radiation and I was devastated!!! I was constantly thinking ‘so am I next’. Time is a great healer of all wounds. Yep even mental ones!! After all the self analysis, anxiety, crying and vulnerability is over, it’s simple at the end of the day. Just be you!!!! Me thinks you have one very wise and awesome boyfriend. Xx

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