The year that was

I thought I would get in early and reflect on the year, and what a year it has been!

As I always say, most people would consider that my year has been the epitome of shitty, but gosh there was a lot of joy shoved in there.

It was January 6 when we found out that my treatment was not working and the cancer had spread to most of my major organs. And it was on this date that I asked my doctor how long I had to live, and the response was only months. We were told to go and do what we had to do and to live… you know its not good when your doctor gives you that kind of freedom!

With this news, we entered 2014 with the need to make memories.

My immediate family – my parents, sisters and their husbands, nieces and nephews, and Serge – went on a holiday to Hamilton Island. It was great week spent with the family, but emotions were high and the news still raw. As we moved further into 2014 we slowly established a routine, we all began to work out our own coping mechanisms to deal with my prognosis.

A wish for a 'happy however long'.

Two days after our family holiday, Serge and I departed on our pre wedding honeymoon. We needed the pre wedding honeymoon because we didn’t know if I would be well enough after the wedding to make it overseas. We spent two luxurious weeks in Bali. This holiday was just what I needed. Serge has the ability to make me feel ‘normal’. Serge doesn’t see me as Emma with cancer, I am just Emma. Our time away from the craziness that our lives had become was refreshing. Cancer was rarely thought or spoken of. There was one moment when we had a teary moment and the reality of our upcoming wedding was at the forefront of our mind – it was when we went on a romantic dinner at a beautiful temple and we let a lantern off in to the nights sky with a wish of a ‘happy however long’. Serge and I can’t wish for a long future growing old together and having a family, but we can hope that the time we spend together is happy and full of love.

My bridesmaids that made planning our wedding so much fun!

March 16 saw Serge and I wed. It was an amazing day, as well as lead up to the event. I had six bridesmaids (yes, six!) – my two sisters and my four best friends. Originally I planned to just have my sisters stand next to me on the day, because, really, who wants six bridesmaids? But, I am so glad that I included my best friends on this special day. We all had such a sad few months with my health and we needed something that was positive to focus on. From choosing dresses, to the wild hens night, and of course the wedding day, there were so many special memories that will stay with us all forever.

Our wonderful wedding!

Our wedding day was everything we could have hoped for. We chose ‘Here comes the sun’ as our wedding song (slightly ironic choice considering the whole melanoma, but didn’t think of that) because it speaks of the light that comes from a period sadness. Serge is my light on this journey.

My two wishes when we found out that I only had months live were to make it to our wedding day (tick!) and to meet my sister’s first baby (tick!). Not only did I get to meet Harry, I have been able to watch him grow into a cheeky and very chubby 7 month old. Now to planning his first birthday!

One of the biggest achievements of 2014 has been launching this blog. Dear Melanoma was officially launched on June 8 this year. Who would have thought in 6 months that the blog has had 80,000 views and has over 2,000 followers on Facebook. The launch of the blog raised $12,000 for Melanoma Institute Australia, which was added to the $23,000 fundraised during the Melanoma March.

The launch of Dear Melanoma.

I started this blog first and foremost to be a coping mechanism for myself, but to also document a very very honest account of my life with cancer. Dear Melanoma has well and truly exceeded my expectations. I get so much joy from interacting with people on the Facebook page. Every time someone contacts me to tell me that they had their skin checked after reading my story, it gives me the energy to keep on going. I thank every one for being part of this journey.

2014 continued to surprise me. As I continued to respond to the clinical trial, I started to let down my walls and relax. Serge and I went to the USA for 3 weeks, which was a very big decision considering I can’t get insurance. As my oncologist told me, ‘what is the point of responding to treatment if you can’t go and live life’? What a wise woman she is!

Our beautiful Ralph.

Serge and I welcomed a puppy, Ralph. It was a big decision because we had to think about what would happen if I passed away, would Serge be able to look after him. However, we ditched that thinking and got Ralph anyway. He makes me wake up in the morning…. if I don’t I will find wee everywhere! He gives me purpose. He is a very special little puppy.

Christmas was spent with my wonderful family. Although I was apprehensive, it was such a fun day, especially when it was spent with my nieces and nephews. Every moment spent as a family needs to be treasured and memories made.

As we launch into 2015, I am not going to set New Years resolutions. I am not going to wish that my cancer be cured. I am not going to wish to be here for New Years. I am not going to put any pressure on myself. Instead, I am going to remind myself of my quasi-bucket list. I am going to remember all the little things that bring joy to my everyday life. I am going to embrace each and every day.