Leonie’s Message to the World – As told to Tan for Write Your Cancer
“I have always said to myself to Live Life – and I have.”
I met Leonie when she was in palliative care and she was keen to share her story. She is an incredible lady with so much energy. It’s hard to believe she has cancer. This is her story as she told it to me. ~ Tan
I have had a good life and have always enjoyed my life. It only fell a part a little bit in 1978. You may think it was because of the cancer, but it wasn’t.It was because my mum was killed in a car accident.
But I survived and got through that time.
Funnily enough, being diagnosed with cancer didn’t make my world fall apart like it did when mum died. It probably should have, but it didn’t. And it didn’t because I believe you should live life and not let let life overcome you.
My First Diagnosis
I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2005. I found a lump in my breast and had a biopsy. But I wasn’t worried, because back then, no one in our family talked about cancer, and no one thought it was anything to worry about. As I said, my world didn’t fall about like it did when my mum died. But funnily enough, my best friend’s world did when I was diagnosed with cancer. My best friend Anne, was absolutely devastated. Sometimes it can be harder on those around you than on the person themselves.
By 2007, I had had a double mastectomy and I got told that I wouldn’t have much arm movement.
Sometimes you don’t have to conform to what you are told by health professionals and conform to what they expect of you, because God can work miracles. When the physiotherapist came in and saw me after my double mastectomy, she told me I wouldn’t be able to lift my arms up very high anymore. I responded by lifting both arms above my head and said, “What, like this?”
She looked at me, said that I obviously didn’t need her and walked out on me. I never saw her again.
I could never understand why being able to do something good that someone said I wouldn’t be able to do, made me feel like I’d done something wrong. It was like it was wrong to be able to put my arms above my head and made me feel sad. I don’t understand that.
My New ‘Live Life’ Attitude
After my double mastectomy, I had chemotherapy as my treatment. I wanted to live. My family was my life and I wasn’t ready to die. So I battled on with my “new life”.
Even though I stayed positive and kept my faith in God, I stayed in a cloud – in a little bubble. I realised this when Anne said to me, “All this information isn’t bothering you.”
I said, “No, you’re right, it’s just information.” And that’s how I coped. By staying in my little bubble and treating it all just as information, I didn’t let any of it bother me.
So I got on with life and kept up my new ‘live life’ attitude.
In 2012, I was looking after a little boy and we went for a walk along a walking path by the creek. Suddenly, without warning, I fell down. The little boy came over to me and patted my knee and asked me if I was okay. I reassured him I was and hobbled back to his Dad.
Because my back was so sore, I went to the doctor in case I had really hurt myself. I taught small children, so I needed to be fit and healthy. When I went to the doctor, they did an X-ray and found out I had bone cancer. And things went on from there.
Getting On With Life Despite Cancer
Once I was diagnosed with bone cancer, I was advised to give up work. Which I did. I missed the children, but it was all about making the conscious decision to live life to the fullest. It was difficult, but it’s all about having faith and deciding to just do it.
I’ve seen so many people die because they gave up on life. I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted to live life and have a good time doing it.
At one time, I discovered I didn’t have much movement in my legs anymore and I fell. When I fell, I actually fell into my suitcase and couldn’t get out. It was really funny and I still laugh about it. Don’t get me wrong – I still have my breakdowns and I cry. Especially when things happen like I lose control of my bladder, like it did the other day.
I cry and call out to God and say, “God, I can’t handle this anymore! I can’t do this on my own.” And he hears me and is there for me. I chat to God and give my pain and problems to him.
And every day, my faith in God gets stronger and stronger. I am a super, duper, strong Christian, but some days, I don’t feel it. I’m still a human being.
And as a human being, I have decided that “You don’t let life overcome you, you overcome life”.
If you have a story or message for the world like Leonie does, contact me and I’d love to share it on Write Your Cancer…