Day 29: Happy Thanksgiving (Saturday 26 November, but it’s the 25th in the USA)

I figure I am off the hook for not sending Thanksgiving wishes to all my American friends yesterday because of the time difference.  I hope y’all will forgive me for that! Just know that somewhere along the continuum of the international date line I send my very best Thanksgiving wishes to all the KSG crew and all my other American friends, as well as the Aussies and others who have found permanent and temporary homes in the grand ol’ US of A. I hope there has been much merriment and delight in your day.

More celebrations have been happening today but this time a little closer to home. Amanda and Damien tied the knot in Kings Park today and from what we hear, it was a tremendous celebration. Congratulations to you both and may you enjoy many more good times on the stretch of Beaufort St from Newcastle up to Cantina (with the occasional segue into Inglewood). Next drinks at the Scotto are on… Brad!

As for me, not too much of note happened in Xian today (at least, not in my part of it). Hospital – antibiotics – P53 – pre-emptive fever relief – long sleep through the morning then back to the hotel around 230pm and straight to the couch to continue the zzzzzzzs. Dull.

The only way to describe my demeanour today was blah. Brad was in a pretty good mood and was even happy about doing the laundry but I could barely muster the energy to hold a conversation so I just went to sleep instead. I wished I could’ve had a little more enthusiasm for the day, especially since we were given a “free” half day off. But I couldn’t. Instead I put on Dad’s old brown jumper from the 1970s (Sportscraft, still in mint condition), swathed myself in a coloured silk sarong that my friends Rachel and Gemma brought back from Fiji for me ten years or so ago, and put on my favourite pair of warm socks that read “I am breast aware,” that came as a free gift with purchase when I bought my purple Steel Blue steel-capped work boots as part of a Breast Cancer Care WA project. It was an eclectic look, to say the least. Thank god no one knows me around here because I didn’t bother to get changed when we went out for dinner although I did leave the sarong at home. If I ever had fashion standards, they have officially been abandoned.

We decided to “save up” going to one of the fancier restaurants further afield for tomorrow night in the hope that I would have a bit more energy so tonight we tried out a Japanese place that we’ve noticed in the mall near Walmart. The thought of eating another cuisine besides Chinese was very exciting. I wouldn’t say that this particular place served the very best food that Japan might have to offer, but it was certainly a nice change. Brad left me in charge of the ordering and I was so taken with the diversity on the menu and the fact that the menu was bilingual that I over-ordered fairly dramatically. We sampled the spicy fried rice (suspiciously similar to Chinese fried rice), some prawn dumplings (gyoza), beef and tomato noodle soup, pork chop and rice, Thai-style spring rolls (???!!!), tempura prawn California rolls, miso and pickled cucumber. There was plenty left over when we left but the flavours were good and the experience was one that we will repeat. The curious question of the lack of chicken came to the fore again tonight. I have never been to Japanese anywhere in the world that didn’t have chicken on its menu, whether in rolls, teppanyaki, teriyaki or in any other dish. The case of the missing chicken bodies in Xian gets more and more curious. There are plenty of eggs around though…

My shoulder started to arc up this afternoon while I was resting and I tried to ignore it and hope that it would go away of its own accord. I struggled through dinner and through the trip to Walmart (what a Saturday night out!) but enough was enough. I took 20mg of Oxycontin when I got back to the hotel room (just one tablet). I didn’t get relief straight away but the pain subsided for the most part so I was confident of a good night’s sleep. Plus, my fresh supply of Panadol was at the ready to take the edge off when necessary without too many of the nasty side effects of the opiates.

I think I need to spend a bit more on the Thanksgiving theme tonight. Despite how down I get or the pain that I feel during and after treatment, I know it could be a lot worse. For a start, it was a lot worse for me earlier in 2011 when I kept getting infections, springing leaks and a bunch of other crazy stuff after the partial nephrectomy. But right now it is far worse for a lot of people who I know, or who are separated from me by just one degree, so I am thankful that I am still in one piece, I am receiving non-invasive treatment and that there is still hope for me.

John from Canberra has shared with me some stories about other “club” members and what they’re thankful for. He told me about another cancer patient who is in ICU in the USA right now on high-dosage Interleukin-2 which takes you as close to death as you can get. If she survives the treatment, there’s a 15% chance that she may not need any further treatment for five years. She is thankful to be halfway through her second week of four such stints in ICU and for the unexpected care being shown by those around her. Another of John’s friends in our “club” is just out of brain surgery after having a 1.5cm melanoma removed and he is thankful that he can still see and speak. Somehow he is still managing to have a sense of humour even though he has an inoperable melanoma in his neck around his carotid artery.

I communicated with a woman this week who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her response when I extended my sympathies is worthy of reproduction:

Don’t be sorry, as I do not feel that way myself. I’ve had a pretty clear run for 50 years, never went hungry for one day, never lived under war for one moment, slept in a bed with a roof over my head EVERY night. There are many, many people who aren’t that fortunate.

She’s right. That’s plenty to be thankful for.


I would like to say a special thank you to our long-time family friend Marylin who took the time to make contact and send a note to me recently even though she is facing her own wretched cancer battle. I know her energy is scarce right now and it means a great deal that she shared her limited reserves by sending a note of encouragement to me. Although I haven’t seen Marylin for many years I have always remembered her perfect red lipstick, striking blonde hair and immaculate grooming. I had hoped to emulate that same level of presentation for myself as I grew old enough to buy my own clothes and makeup but I never quite reached the standard that Marylin set! I remember having great fun during the times that Marylin babysat for my brothers and me – the lolly jar seemed limitless and I definitely don’t remember any hardline rules for bedtime. Marylin, thank you for being a figure to admire in my youth and for your kind words of support. I will see you back in Perth before Christmas and Ellie can cook for us both!


One Response to Day 29: Happy Thanksgiving (Saturday 26 November, but it’s the 25th in the USA)

  1. HI Jay…sending you all the support in the world for your recovery and hopefully you will feel some sort of relief from this horrible disease sometime soon!!! I am also a friend of Marilyn’s and her courage and strength is unbelievable!!!! At every turn, she takes everything that is thrown at her with such courage, that I can’t begin to understand where she gets her strength from. Always worrying about other people and their problems and never dwelling on her own misfortunes.

    All I can say, YOU ALL ARE AMAZING WOMEN and if I ever had to face adversity, I have the strength and dignity to face my problems with the dignity and grace which you girls seem to have in abundance!!!!!

    You are the most amazing people and can only wish you all the courage to continue, love of your family and friends to help you through this difficult time and strength to get you through your dark hours!!!

    Kind regards

    Sheree FitzGibbon

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