The last two and a half years have been tough. Damn fucking tough. But this week I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’m gonna make it – and so it’s time for me to get my shit together!
This is my story.
This story starts on February 10th 2015 which is the day we found a massive 8 cm bone tumour that was eating away my 19 year old son’s right proximal femur (that’s the ball-y bit at the top of the leg bone). The scan showed that there was only an egg shell thin bit of bone holding his leg in the hip socket.
Needless to say, that was the most terrifying thing either of us had ever heard. I believe my first word was “oh fuck”, followed very quickly by “So what happens now?”
Well what happened was a week of hospital where they did a bone biopsy which told us it was a benign but extremely rare Giant Cell Tumour. Yes, benign is good but this type of tumour is incredibly aggressive and had totally destroyed the top of his leg bone. It is also the only benign tumour that has the ability to metastasize to the lungs and actually turn cancerous. It also has an incredibly high recurrence rate – 48% chance of recurrence for most people. It’s a real shit of a thing.
Next they started an amazing course of treatment at the Peter Mac Cancer Hospital here in Melbourne. Due to the rarity of his tumour there was no specialist clinic for us to attend so we were added to the Sarcoma Clinic where people had serious bone and soft tissue cancers. It was incredibly confronting to see all the people who had lost limbs or who were obviously incredibly sick from their chemo. It was confronting for me, so I can only imagine how confronting it was for Mr 19 who was the one with the damn tumour growing in his leg!
While he didn’t have traditional chemo, his treatment was pretty brutal and made all his bones ache, gave him extreme nausea and severe fatigue for the first five days of every month. He was in an incredible amount of pain and the heavy-duty pain relief he was on had their own side effects too.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, they were trying to save his hip bone but were unable to so on 27th July 2015 my beautiful 19 year old footy-loving son had to have a Hip Replacement which meant he would never play footy again. A very tough and heartbreaking day for the whole family but especially Mr 19.
As a mum, it was really tough.
As a business owner, I managed to keep my little VA business chugging along and thanks to having such a flexible business, I would often work in the hospital as I kept him company. Days like these I really appreciated being a VA!
Of course it’s hard to keep a good woman down, so on 1st July 2015, just a few weeks before the surgery, I launched the Australian Virtual Assistants Centre of Excellence (AVACOE).
Why the bloody hell would you do that I hear you ask.
Well, because I’d promised to. It’s that simple – and I’m a woman of my word. I had been going to launch in February but of course all hell had broken loose so I put it off for six months. But a promise is a promise.
Needless to say it was on a go-slow for the first six months as I just couldn’t give it everything I wanted to. But it was there. I had a website and a Facebook group and the passion to make it work. There is nothing I love more than helping and motivating people to get started on their journey into starting up their own VA business. It is seriously more fun than work for me!
So fast forward to January 2016 and I was ready to ramp things up and get the AVACOE on track to where I wanted it to be. I started marketing to find clients for my members and I was just getting a good momentum going when all hell broke loose yet again in my family.
My 25 year old daughter was in America on the trip of a life time when she was sexually assaulted – on 27th July 2016. It was the first anniversary of Mr 19’s hip replacement.
I remember getting off the phone from her after she’d told me what happened and I couldn’t stop shaking and crying and came very close to throwing up. My world stood still as I tried to contemplate what had happened to my beautiful baby girl.
America is such a long way away when your child is there in crisis mode.
Somehow we managed to get her home in one piece – an auntie of one of my kids friends lives there and she headed down on a 1.5 hour trip to check up on Miss 25 and have a coffee. She scooped her up off the streets of New York – (she was actually staying at a hostel, not on the street, but it sounds more dramatic if I put it that way!) – and took her home to Connecticut where she looked after her until we could get her on a flight home. Thank fuck for that woman who I had never met – Miss 25 told me later that she was planning on killing herself after she’d had coffee with this lady.
She saved my daughters life. She had no idea until 12 months later when she came to Australia and I got to meet her and buy her a drink – there is nothing I can ever give her that would be enough to say thank you so a drink had to do. How the hell do you thank someone for saving your kids life? She was so shocked. She just thought Miss 25 didn’t look well so took her home.
Once we got her home we got her into some treatment and things started to very slowly get better as she started to heal. Until she had another event occur which will go untold here but which was incredibly traumatic.
So to cut another EXTREMELY long story short, Miss 25 had a complete mental breakdown on 4 December 2016. Ambulances and hospitalisation in the local psych ward ended with a diagnosis of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Anxiety and Severe Depression.
Oh yeah – and in the meantime we were still having 6 monthly checkups for Mr-now-20 to make sure all was well with the hip. All was well, but the stress of the anticipation every 6 months takes its toll, I can assure you!
After months of getting the medication right , Miss 25’s recovery slowly began in earnest and I’m so pleased that she is on the right track now.
But my two and a half years of hell weren’t quite done yet.
In March and April 2017 we lost two extremely valued family members, both to cancer; both too young. They each have their own story to tell and their place in my story is simply to highlight the stress that I was under at the time that seemed like it would never end.
I just felt like nothing was ever going to go right in my world.
I actually marvel at my own ability to keep going with work, although I’m not going to lie, the AVACOE is the one who has suffered the most. I have limped it along with one or two smallish events but nothing of any substance. I feel I need to apologise but I know that I’ve done my best given what I’ve been going through and I trust that people are supportive of that.
I didn’t realise it but I was actually holding my breath until 27th July 2017 passed me by without incident. I’m not really a superstitious person but I was absolutely dreading that day and what it might bring me this year. (My psychologist would probably have a field day with that one, had I told her! Yes I had to get help to cope – I’m not ashamed to admit that one little bit! She’s been an awesome help to me.) In fact, 27th July 2017 was actually a pretty good day. It’s the day I met my daughters saviour and bought her a drink.
So today it is 8th August 2017.
My son is well and healthy and pushed out to yearly check-ups instead of six-monthly. His lung scans in July were clear. His hip looks nice and strong. He will never play footy again, but he is back playing cricket and social squash with his mates.
My daughter is still a work in progress but she can now manage working 1.5 days a week and has started a floristry course at TAFE. She still has a long way to go but she has come a long way and is absolutely smashing her recovery.
So guess what that means? I can actually see the light at the end of what has been a very dark, tough tunnel!
That’s why I’ve decided that today is “Get My Shit Together Day” and I am ready, willing and as excited as all fuck to FINALLY start to get the AVACOE up and running and doing what I always dreamed it should do.
I can’t wait to finally REALLY help our awesome Aussie VAs become even more excellent than they already are. I want to help them to grow their businesses to exactly what they want it to be. Whether they want a few hours a week while baby is little; to working school hours; to grow a team of subbies under them; or anything in between, I am going to do everything in my power to help.
Look out world – here I come!