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  • Writer's pictureAja McDonald

8 days…

This past week has gone by in a blink of an eye.

Things are going along smoothly since my triple test was done on Monday 3rd October. If all goes to plan and I do have my surgery in 8 days, I know I will have a different outlook as I begin my healing and recovery stage. Whatever the plan will be (once my surgeon confirms his decision from the two MRIs) I know that I have at least one month of income/living costs covered stress free and can relax all thanks to the fundraiser my wonderful husband has set up. Therefore I have been able to just focus on things one day at a time. And this week’s agenda was accomplished with ease.

  1. Emails had been sent to the first four weeks of bookings scheduled after my surgery.

  2. Some appointments put on hold and confirming those that were still as scheduled.

  3. One booking passed on to a workmate with ease.

  4. Clients acknowledged I will be coming back to work when I am ready and with a different approach on hours and artistic focus while I balance out my recovery.

Someone that I look up to is currently going through his own journey gave me some tips for when I go through chemo. It was so nice to see him and have a chat before I went into work. To see how well he is doing and knowing I can reach out to him if needed was a huge relief to start my week and gave me a sense of focus and calm that has stuck with me since my diagnosis.

I am happy I reached out to everyone I did as soon as I found out. I have a naturopath that insisted on continuing to work with me through this and a therapist that has made it easier for me to afford seeing him so I can continue to keep my focus and internal strength through it all. I really don’t feel I need to ask many questions or research about my situation at this time because I know all that is needed to be known for this moment.

I honestly am overwhelmed with how much love and support has already come my way. If anything, I felt this has been way too easy. To the point that a week ago I started to develop a bit of “imposter syndrome” with the feeling I do not deserve a fundraiser or so much attention given when there are so many others that are having a harder time or worse situations.

This is the similar kind of feeling I had when we went into our first COVID lockdown on 26th March, 2020. It was my birthday and I was so relieved to finally have time off to not do anything and just have a break from it all. I felt so guilty to be so happy and just thought of all the people in the world who were not safe, who had nowhere to call home, those who would suffer from this. I guess it’s just putting all aspects into realisation, checking in on where I am at in life and how far I have come, and acknowledging the things I cannot control or change.

I know that I naturally look after others with ease but putting myself first or being the centre of attention has always been something that does not comes natural to me. It feels good to help others and I have always carried on with life, no matter the obstacles I have waiting ahead. So I need to let others have that feeling too, if they choose to want to help me from time to time.

In reflection, only obstacle I faced this week was going to a birthday costume party celebrating a dear friend turning 40. If you knew me before moving to New Zealand, I was all about dress ups and taking photos. I had a storage chest full of props and pieces you could sort through and become whoever/whatever you wanted to be. Halloween was my time to shine and pull out all MUA skills and special effects galore!

For this party, I found it so very hard to find confidence in a “Pop Stars and Icons” themed decision. I always want to put my all in everything I create but even before I caught onto this sneaky cancer, I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be and how I transition myself for the night in style.

Since I am all work and no play, I decided to take it easy and channel a bit of Blondie. I studied her makeup, clothing and sense of style. I felt she was the right fit. I thought at least my friend turning 40 should know who I am (I tend to be the oldest one at a party these days… even if it is just a few years)!

Once confirming this was the look for me, I decided to order a David Bowie T-shirt and beret. I had the reference ready… but then I got distracted. It was only Monday when my husband reminded me of this party and my outfits when I realised I hadn’t ordered the T-shirt yet!

On to the internet I went and ordered the shirt that would do and eagerly awaited the delivery that should have made it in time… but it didn’t. I was bummed. I wanted to go to my friend’s party all dressed up with no signs of life throwing me yet another curveball. I didn’t want to be the centre of attention or take the spotlight from the birthday girl. I didn’t want to be that alien in the corner that everyone was drawn to – due to yet another curiosity coming to the surface. But even thou I was centre of conversation for a moment here and there, it was nice to not be the tattoo artist at a party for once. If anything, I showed up to show people I am ok and thank those that have already contributed in my upcoming healing process. I am not dying. I am just a girl who caught onto her sneaky form of cancer and gets to get that breast reduction she’s been wanting for years. And that same girl got to go home with a sense of friendship, community and a bottle of champagne (Thanks Haley!).

Who knows what will happen after surgery? I honestly don’t care. I know it wont be easy. If it was, people wouldn’t be afraid of it. Just like tattoos. But we are all new to something and we all experience things differently. Some of us have traumas that surface when provoked. Some of us have PTSDs we have to learn how to control. Some of us have had so many layers to get through and understand. But I’m not worried about myself. I’ve been there all along learning, creating, evolving, and caring for others along the way.

I have been through more than one person should ever experience in a lifetime and have carried others experiences, too. And reflecting on the past two years of healing a neck injury and fighting the system that so badly wants me to just be done with it, I realised I was born into chaos and lived through chaos. If anything, I am the most powerful knowing I am in control because chaos does not control me.

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