Saturday, 15 August 2015

(Ange) Guest Post

Ange and I have been friends for 16 years. She was the first person to volunteer for my GBM 'research team' and has been an amazing support throughout this whole journey. She took a week away from her study and three jobs to fly to London and spend a week looking after me after I had just received the news of my tumour regrowth and pending surgery. Nikki and I can't find the words to thank her enough for her love and support.

By Ange Guest

Disclaimer – When Cam asked me to write a ‘Guest’ post (pun intended) on his blog, he gave me no parameters or guidelines, just to write whatever I wanted.  Whilst I think Cam has the intellectual and witty aspects down pat, the emotional aspect is more my forte.  So Cam, hopefully you are OK with outsourcing some of your ‘emoting’ to me.    

The days leading up to my departure for the UK involved a flurry of text messages back and forth with Cam.  We covered all the important issues including what would I wear to the BBC Proms concert at Royal Albert Hall given my swollen cankles from the flight, or which of the six Ottolenghi restaurants we were going to dine at, but the last one I received stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me why I was actually going to London and that this was not just any old holiday. Cam had received his scan results early (never a good sign) which indicated his tumour had regrown on the other side of his brain and this was the cause of his recent seizures.


Obligatory selfie with photobombing Pharaoh at the British Museum
My first weekend in London was so exciting, catching up with Cam and Ross, reminiscing about how smart/talented/funny/good looking we were in the late 90s.  We clearly didn’t pace ourselves very well however and on my second day there, Cam treated me to a ‘welcome-to-London’ seizure, which scared the hell out of me. My London induction had thankfully also included a tour of Cam’s medicine cabinet, which contained at least 30-40 types of medications and supplements, and a run through of the Epilepsy management, which ended up coming in very handy.  But in true Cameron Brown style, throughout this whole ordeal, he was totally calm, giving me clear instructions and was even cracking jokes within seconds of the seizure subsiding. Somehow we found ourselves rating our respective performances on how we had managed the first seizure together.  We then did the only sensible thing to help soothe the senses after such a scare…. watched Wayne’s World.  Watching Wayne’s World then became our post-seizure ritual and we both agreed that even after 20 years, that movie has not aged at all and has only become funnier, particular mentions go to the Foxy Lady and Gun Rack scenes.

Meeting with Cam’s surgeon and oncologist was quite a sobering experience as it brought to life what all of this research I had been helping Cam with was actually about.  Seeing the scan results on the screen and seeing that the second tumour was nearly as big as the first one was really confronting and made it so much more real.  George, the lovely surgeon talked about how the tumour was in the Supplementary Motor Area (SMA) which controls the right foot and speech (functions that Cam and I agreed were more integral, rather than supplementary but anyway).  He also explained that one risk of surgery was possible mutism, then paused for breath (which lasted an eternity) and finally added that this would be a temporary side effect and speech would return.  Cam pointed out in his usual deadpan manner that it would have been more helpful to perhaps present these two bits of information in the reverse order.    

Spending 9 days in London just hanging out with Cam was the most incredible experience and was so much more amazing than I had imagined.  It was so nice not to be distracted by the ‘doing’ of being a tourist, as this just allowed us to focus on the ‘being’, just the everyday stuff of hanging out, talking, going to yoga, watching movies and cooking. We shared things with each other that we had never thought to share before, despite being friends for 16 years.   I also found out that Cam has a shoe fetish - were other people aware of this??


Ange, Cam, Nikki and Rafa
Although I only got to spend the last few days with Nikki, I was blown away by her endless strength and compassion. I was in such awe of Nikki and Cam’s resilience as a couple and the constant love, care and consideration they have for one another through such an impossible situation.  Their capacity to find the positive element in a situation is phenomenal and was a very humbling experience (Sorry Cam, I know, too much emoting!!).  Since I have returned to Australia, I feel like I have a whole different perspective on things.  This trip and my time with Cam and Nikki helped me to see what is important (and what is not) and to notice the positives.  Oh and I also feel like a complete person now that I have dined at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants!


Our pilgrimage to Ottolenghi (and a rare night off for nurse/chef Ange)
We ordered every dish on the menu and then spent a long time debating our favourites