February 15, 2012

On Monday dad went into surgery. It’s Wednesday now so that makes it two days ago even though it feels like it’s been a week already.

My sister and I spent most of the weekend with Dad (my brother had to work in Canberra). Friday night we went to dinner, and Saturday morning we had brunch. I went to church with Dad on Sunday morning, and we lit candles and prayed. I surprised myself – I expected to be upset, but I think because we knew this was coming, the time in the lead up to the surgery gave us all enough time to come to terms with it. Without the surgery, all the other stepping stones (some of them super mossy and slippery) wouldn’t have been worth it.

The day before his operation, Dad couldn’t eat, which is probably what made the reality of it all sink in for him. We didn’t talk much about the operation, unless it was completely important – what time was he going in? What time could we visit? Who would the hospital be calling? Sunday night we went to bed full of hope, fear and nerves.

We woke early Monday morning. Dad’s girlfriend was picking him up at 6am to take him to hospital. I had offered to drive but Dad had declined because he would “be too worried about you driving home upset”. He knows me too well.

Saying goodbye to Dad was hard, especially when my little sister started to cry, only because she’s usually the tough on and I’m usually the crier. Our roles reversed for some reason.

I went in to work as usual, knowing that Dad’s operation started at 8am and that I should expect a call from the hospital between 12pm and 2pm. The waiting was the hardest part. With Dad’s tumour, the doctors had told him he could have two results from the surgery – one being he would need a colostomy bag for the rest of his life, and the other being that he would only need it for a couple of months after the surgery, because of where the tumour was situated, and how large it had been. Dad had come to terms with the possibility of having the bag for life, and he was surprisingly okay with that – but I guess when you throw life and death into the mix, it makes things a lot clearer.

Monday morning was full of supportive texts, Facebook comments and messages, and phone calls from family, friends and acquaintances alike. I think it made things a million times easier for my whole family knowing we had each other, and a whole community of people out there praying for my Dad. It definitely helped me.

I finally got a call from Dad’s doctor at 2:30.

“Hello is this Hollie?” a woman asked.

“Yes, is dad okay?!” I don’t think I could have spoken any quicker.

“Yes, yes, he is in recovery now. Bye…”

“..WAIT!” I interrupted the nurse before she could hang up on me. “Is the bag permanent or temporary?”

“Oh…there is no bag. The operation was fantastic. You should be very happy.”

No bag. Dad was given only two options – a permanent or a temporary bag. And then we were hit with a possibility we hadn’t even considered. That was when I started to cry.

* * *

We are so, so extremely lucky and blessed and thankful to all of you for your prayers and support. Dad is looking and sounding a lot better than he did on Monday (he was so whacked off the morphine, it was hilarious!)

We’re still waiting on the results of his lymph nodes which will determine how long he will be on chemo once he is out of hospital (if at all) but the doctors said his pathology report was ‘excellent’ so there is so much hope in that.

They didn’t even end up cutting into him like originally thought – instead they removed the tumour via key hole surgery – that is how much the tumour had shrunk. We believe the results are a combination of positive thinking, a clean, healthy lifestyle, green juicing, prayer and the abundance of support Dad has received over the last few months.

Dad is over the moon as are me and my family – it really goes to show the power of positivity, support, prayer, faith and hope. It even looks like he will be out of hospital this weekend – they originally told him to expect to be out for 2 weeks.

It would be such a waste if my family and I didn’t take anything away from this experience – I look at everything as something to learn from. Here’s what I learnt on Monday:

– Never lose faith no matter how bad something seems. Miracles do happen.

-Pray as often as you can and be thankful for every day and every person in your life.

-Positive thinking can get you through absolutely anything – the mind is a powerful tool and we should use it more to our advantage and not our detriment.

– I am a hell of a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.

-Don’t get angry over little things. Hell, don’t get angry full stop. Try not to stress. Put things in perspective. Perspective has kept me sane over the past 5 months.

– My family (immediate and extended) are the most important and greatest people in my life and I will literally do anything in the world for them.

– You only live once. Make a list of things you have always wanted to achieve and don’t wait around to do them. If you can do it now, do it. My list includes overseas travel with my family and a tattoo. I’ll hopefully have done both of these before the year’s completion.

We still have a long way to go with my Dad, but we have smashed another huge boulder and man does it feel so good. Thank you for your support, encouragement, emails, tweets, texts, Facebook messages and phone calls. We are truly blessed and so humbled.

 

 

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February 5, 2012

It’s been a while since my last post/rant which I guess is actually a good thing given the context of this blog. Things in my world have slowly shifted back to ‘normal’ as in, there has been less of a focus on my Dad’s health and wellbeing and more of an appreciation of our life circumstances.

Next week Dad will have surgery to remove his tumour. Up until this point I have refused to focus on this, as has the rest of my family, as it is a necessary evil and as mindfulness says, there’s no point in worrying over something that hasn’t happened yet, especially when you have no control over that something.

Dad has been running every day, going to the gym, eating really healthily and just living as normal a life as possible now that he is off his treatment. We don’t really talk about the looming surgery just because there’s nothing to say. It has to happen.

That being said, it’s a big operation, and we won’t know entirely what the ‘next step’ of this whole process is until they see how much the tumour has shrunk by and what they have to work with once Dad is literally being operated on, so until then there is really not much we can do. I ask that you all send out positive vibes, pray, or do whatever you do, for my Dad and his surgery, and a quick recovery.

One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to only put in effort with friendships of people that return that effort. If you know me, you probably also know I can be a bit of a pushover – I let ‘friends’ use me when they need me, and then drop off the radar for months until they need me again, and I’m happy to be there for them because I hate conflict and I’m pretty much a people pleaser.

When Dad got sick, it forced me to put my own life into perspective. Why waste any time or effort on people in my life that don’t value my friendship or me at all? I told myself at the beginning of the year that instead of being the ‘giver’ in friendships, I was going to sit back and only return the effort that genuine friends would no doubt make with me. This year already I have seen amazing friendships blossom from people I have always been close to, and even some I hardly knew. They continue to provide me with such support during this hard time and never before has the support of friends been more important to me. That being said, there are friends I considered closer, that have completely dropped off the radar – and to be honest, they probably haven’t even realised. I have spoken to a lot of people going through similar circumstances, and they all say the same thing – your true friendships really blossom in truly shitty times.

My little sister has had hardly any support from her friends which affects her greatly – people rarely ask her how Dad is or how she is, because she puts up a strong front, and so they assume everything is okay. I can count about 5 girlfriends who regularly touch base with me and ask how my family and I are going – 5 of about 15 that I would have expected it from. And this isn’t me whinging, I’m just being honest. I promised myself this blog would look at everything I’ve had to deal with since this happening, and failing friendships are one of them. That’s life and yes it sucks, but I’m grateful for the amazing support my family has received by friends, family members, and strangers alike. I guess when you see the support you can get from so many strangers, and people you rarely see, it highlights the negative in some friendships that maybe you’ve held on too long to.

It’s also shown how lucky I am to be blessed with such a supportive boyfriend – I see so many guys treat their girlfriends so poorly, and I am so lucky that I’ve had Trent with me throughout this whole ordeal. Just knowing he’s there for me whenever I need to cry or break down is enough, and I wouldn’t be as happy or strong without him.

And also my boss. He is a legend and deals with my emotional ups and downs on a daily basis, so he definitely deserves a shout out.

So thank you to those friends, strangers, family members, acquaintances, who continue to touch base with me and my family, make us smile, give us support on a regular basis. It doesn’t go unnoticed and helps more than you know.

 

 

 

 

 

January 17, 2012

I want to start this post by saying I am not intentionally trying to offend anyone with what I write today – if I do however upset or offend you, please know it is not my intention – I am merely expressing an opinion and in no way am I saying what I think is right or passing any judgement.

A bit of background on me and how I view health. I have been pescetarian for seven years (I eat seafood but no red meat or chicken). I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I rarely drink. This year one of my goals is to cut out dairy as much as possible (I’m a sucker for cheese!) I always wear sunscreen (my best friend and boyfriend call me the suncream nazi.) I consider myself to be pretty healthy when it comes to diet and lifestyle…that being said, I don’t exercise nearly enough.

My Papa (mum’s dad) is one of Australia’s most recognised cancer surgeons (surgical oncologists) – Professor Fred Stephens. For as young as I can remember visiting his house when I was very little, we would stumble across slides of his patients – cancer patients with tumours on their mouths, arms, legs and throats – the type of pictures that you flick past quickly because they make you want to throw up. A lot of his work was on skin cancers and cancers that were a result of smoking. He has saved hundreds of lives. That being said, many of his patients also died because they left it too late or the cancer was too big.

What these harsh images taught me from a very young age was that treating your body with the utmost respect should be priority one. I don’t smoke because I respect my body and, to put it in layman’s terms, smoking will kill you. It’s not rocket science, it’s a pretty obvious fact.  I will never understand the mentality of a smoker.

The thing is, people from my generation and younger, we know all this and yet a large majority still do it. We don’t have the excuse that people our parent’s age do – there wasn’t nearly as much evidence of the harms of cigarettes as there is now – and hardly as many chemicals. I have friends that say ‘I’ll worry about it when I’m older’ or ‘By the time the cancer gets me, there’ll be a cure’. That one angers me the most.

The same with suncream. How hard is it to cover up? I love the beach and lie in the sun probably more than I should, but never ever do I will myself to burn. I always, always use 30+ suncream just out of common sense and respect for my body.

What angers me so much is that there are so many people out there with cancers that they did not cause. My dad for one. I see people all around me huffing and puffing on cigarettes and lying out in the sun burning their skin (sometimes at the same time) and I can’t help but get upset. They KNOW that this will eventually kill them. Yet they turn a blind eye. I wonder if they would like to swap places with my Dad? With my aunty who passed last year from cancers riddling her body – she wasn’t a smoker or a sunbaker. With the huge number of children battling cancer? It’s instances like this that I find so unfair.

I stumbled across this little blog a while back and it now is my daily fix – The Wellness Warrior. You can read more about Jess yourself – she is one of the most inspirational people I have ever heard of. Jess is battling her own cancer, and healing herself through nutrition and a particular therapy known as Gerson Therapy. She juices up to 13 times a day and eats a mainly vegan diet, doesn’t drink or smoke and guess what? She’s healing herself. Her rare cancer is going away, and this is without any chemo or radiation!

After Dad was diagnosed I spent a lot of time on the internet researching other people like Jess. People healing their bodies from all sorts of ‘incurable’ illnesses through what they put in their mouths and how they treat their bodies. It upsets me that modern medicine doesn’t recognise the value of nutrition as it should. Instead of popping pills, a slight change to what we put into our bodies as fuel could save a life. Search for yourself, the stories are endless!

This is why this year I am saying no to dairy and most sugar. It’s also why I encouraged my Dad to buy a juicer. We now juice green vegetables every day (the alkaline levels are amazing for the imbalance in levels cancer sufferers usually have). I’ve been reading up on super foods like raw cacao and chia seeds and spirulina. I bought a raw food cook book that I plan to try out very soon. When you read up on the awful things we put into our bodies, thinking that they’re normal, and then see how cancer rates and heart disease have risen in Western countries but not budged a bit in countries like Japan (where they rarely eat any dairy or highly processed foods), then it’s easy to make the change…even though it’s only been two weeks and I am seriously missing a good cheese platter. I know my body will thank me for it in the long run.

January 10, 2012

Well I’ve been a slack little blogger now, haven’t I? First, I want to say a big Happy New year to you all – I hope 2012 is filled with laughter, health and lots of goals reached.

Yesterday I returned from a beautiful, relaxing break in Byron Bay, northern NSW. For those of you who have never been, I cannot speak higher of it. It’s a gorgeous little hippy beach-side town and I spent the days by the beach, eating yummy healthy vegetarian food and practicing my mindfulness a whole lot more.

In such a busy day and age, too often we forget to stop and simply ‘be’. When I speak of midnfulness, this is what I mean. It’s a little like meditation, without the eyes closed and removing yourself from people kind of thing. I learned about mindfulness from a friend of mine, Sarah from CLEO magazine, who, when finding out about my dad, pointed me in the direction of a number of very helpful, inspiring blogs as well as teaching me about how to be mindful and live in the moment. She even wrote an article about it which was published in last month’s CLEO – I cannot reccomend it enough to anyone, especially if you find yourself ‘sweating the small stuff’ – that is, getting stressed and worked up over day to day life happenings.

Mindfulness is a tricky thing. It’s easy enough to say ‘stop thinking’ but when you really try to practice it, clearing your mind is such a difficult task! If you’re anything like me, no matter what you may be doing, you’re thinking about a number of things – what you have planned the following day, why that friend of yours hasn’t replied to your message in a week, how you’re going to finish that uni assignment in time…Mindfulness is a matter of clearing your mind of all those thoughts and just being in the moment – because so often we miss wonderful things as we are too busy trying to stay connected. How many times have you spent a concert videoing/taking photos and not just enjoying the moment? How often are you at the beach and actually enjoying sitting on the sand and watching the waves, without any thought in your mind other than peace and quiet?

I find myself practicing mindfulness now as often as I can, and it has really helped in calming my stress and anxiety with everything I’m going through – not just with my Dad being sick, but with other little things I used to stress about – fat days and bad friends and feeling overworked – all that silly stuff.

It has helped me put so much into perspective – and when I find a negative thought creeping into my head, I’ll let it sit for a moment, and then clear it right out. As a result, I am feeling happier, more positive and I’m enjoying moments a lot more rather than worrying about what is coming up the next day, or what has been happening in my past.

Just then I found out about Dad’s next stage of treatment – his operation. It is scheduled for the beginning of February and he will be in hospital for 10 days to 2 weeks. This shocked me – I guess I was so busy looking on the bright side, and focusing on having got through the hurdles of chemo and radio therapy that I wasn’t ready for the next stage just yet. So while I’m still big on thinking positive and looking on the bright side, I still do have my moments, like right now. No one wants to see their Dad in a hospital bed, especially undergoing such major surgery. The positive of this next hurdle is that the tumour will be removed – which is what we want in the first place, so while it’s going to be yucky and awful for a short while, in the long-term, it means my Dad will be back to his healthy, energetic, happy self!

I’d like to ask you all to keep him and my family in your prayers. We still have a tough road ahead of us, and sometimes I get a bit caught up in thinking of the good, that when something tough comes our way, it rattles me a bit – and I think I can say the same to all of my family. So I will let these feelings sit for a while, and then let them move on – because we’re fighters, and dwelling on the bad isn’t worth the stress or anxiety. You know what they say – it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile!

December 29, 2011

Let’s play a game. I’m going to say a word, and you have to write down the first 3 related words that pop into your head. Okay, you don’t even have to write them down, just take notice of them. Ready?

Cancer.

I bet I can guess the words that instantly sprung to your mind.

Death. Sick. Chemo. Sad. Maybe you thought of a loved one who lost their battle. I’m going to go all out and say majority of you did not have any positive feelings when thinking of that word.

Yes, I am calling cancer a ‘word’ – because that’s all it is.

My experience with cancer was pretty distant up to a couple of months ago. I lost an aunty to cancer last year, and I’ve heard many stories of sufferers losing their battles. I’ve donated to cancer charities and said how much it sucks that there ‘isn’t a cure’.

Two months ago I hated that word. My family and I went through the motions of linking that word to the other horrible words listed above.

It just goes to show the power of words.

I imagine that if I was told my Dad ‘was sick, but would get better after some medicine and an operation’ my reaction to his diagnosis would not be anywhere near as bad as being told ‘your Dad has cancer and needs weeks of chemo and radiation, then a big surgery to get through it.’

If there was no mention of success rates, of awful side effects, of what could go wrong, then I’m certain the stress and depression experienced by those close to my Dad wouldn’t have been nearly as bad.

People ask me all the time how I can be so happy given my life’s circumstances.

I ask them what I have to be sad about.

They respond with the obvious – your Dad has cancer.

Yes, he does. But he’s going to beat it. He has taken to treatment really well. He is fit, strong and the healthiest he has been. If he was an old 90 year old woman, or a little baby, things may be different. But he isn’t.

I’ve told my friends that anyone in my family could easily justify becoming ‘depressed’ and angry at the world. We could easily turn our backs on our loved ones, on our faith, on happiness, because we have been dealt with a tough time. But you know what? That’s life.

The last thing I want is to be sad day in and out, to ask why this happened to my family, to hate on the world. Why waste so much energy when it’s much more productive being positive, thankful, and hopeful?

Yes I have my bad days. My whole family does, especially Dad. I am so impressed with how well Dad is taking things. He is taking each day as it comes, and looking on the positive. Even when treatment was making him really sick, he was saying ‘well, imagine what it’s doing to the tumour!’

It’s so easy to complain and ask why, but that’s not going to get anyone very far. My family and I have started going to church again. I’ve taken up meditation and practicing mindfulness. We juice vegetables to give our bodies the nutrients they deserve. We have a positive outlook on things.

I’ve become more aware of the ‘complainers’ and ‘whingers’ in my life, and while I’m not going to stop them living the life they choose, it really puts things in perspective. Too many people are oblivious to how lucky they are to be living the life they live. Too many people are so quick to criticise rather than apologise or forgive. It seems people would rather be sad and depressed than happy and positive. That can’t be good for you emotionally, spiritually and physically.

I’m going to end this post with a saying that really struck a chord with me – and I hope it will help put things in your life into perspective when you’re having an off-day.

Cancer. It’s a word, not a sentence.

December 26, 2011

Two days ago my Dad finished the first lot of his treatment – just in time for Christmas! I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate.

For the last six weeks Dad has undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time, in an attempt to minimise his tumour to be ready for surgery.

My Papa, Professor Fred Stephens, (mum’s Dad) is one of Australia’s greatest cancer surgeons, and in fact, he introduced this method of paring chemo and radio therapy together in Australia quite some time ago. He was happy to hear Dad’s doctors had put him on this treatment, which of course put all of our family at ease.

Now, when you hear the word CHEMO, you instantly think hair falling out, weight loss and vomitting. (I know I did.) I had friends warn me – Hollie, chemo is going to be hard for you to watch, you’re not going to like what it does to him.

I told myself that no matter how hard it seemed, nothing would be as hard as the week of not-knowing. We had to stay positive for Dad….the last thing he needs is people worrying about him, fussing over him and showing signs of being scared in front of him. I wasn’t worried as I knew he was going to be on the ‘lightest’ dose of chemo – the doctors told him the worst side effects he could get were ‘possibly some mouth ulcers’.

The first couple of weeks of Dad’s treatment went by okay. Dad had a catheta in his arm (like a drip) that connected to a pouch near his heart that was pumping in chemo 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He had to wear a bum bag to keep his chemo in, and he would get annoyed going out because people would stare at the tube in his arm and ask him what was wrong, so he stopped going out and when he did, he wrapped his arm in a bandage.

On top of the chemo, he was being ‘zapped’ with radiation every week day – they even had to tattoo a point on his body where the radiation entered.

As I said, the first couple of weeks weren’t as bad as anyone would expect. Dad was tired and everything he ate he said ‘tasted like crap’, like he had ash in his mouth.

Then the ulcers started.

It got so bad that Dad couldn’t open his mouth to talk or eat. He was in pain just speaking, and when he did speak, he didn’t sound like Dad, he was a croaky mess. Now, the doctor did warn Dad that these ulcers might be a side effect, but it got so bad that there were about 20 ulcers in his mouth and around his tongue. Dad went for his daily checkup and the nurse took one look at him and said ‘Oh, we will have to put you on a lighter dose.’

Hold up. Lighter dose? Wasn’t Dad supposed to be on the lightest  dose? Had the doctors got it wrong?

It was worrying to think that Dad hadn’t had to experience that pain and perhaps it was a fault on the hospital’s part. I guess we will never know. We took comfort in the fact that if he was receiving a heavier dose than he should have, obviously so was the cancer, which clearly was a good thing.

But then it got worse.

Dad woke up one morning with blood clots pouring from his nose and painful ulcers all over his body. He knew something was wrong and drove himself to the hospital. His doctor took one look at him and ripped out the chemo.

‘You can’t be on this anymore, it’s so lucky you came in when you did….’ he told Dad.

They couldn’t explain why Dad had the reactions he did. All they said was ‘Each person is different.’

I want to mention at this point, for the people that don’t know my Dad, he is the fittest 53 year old I have ever met. Before diagnosis he ran on average 5km a day with his 32 year old girlfriend (Dad clearly doesn’t look his age). He doesn’t drink (never has) and doesn’t smoke. He prides himself on a healthy lifestyle. As Dad’s friends and family say all the time, if it can happen to Tony, it can happen to anyone.

I digress.

So they took Dad off the chemo. My Papa consoled us by saying if the chemo was having those kind of effects on the healthy parts of his body, then what it was doing to the cancer was good. It makes sense, but it still wasn’t nice seeing Dad so sick, especially when we were told the worst side effect he’d experience was ‘maybe a couple of ulcers’.

So where we’re at now: Dad had his last zap of radiotherapy on Friday the 23rd. He has been warned that the radio therapy works for another 6 weeks in his body, and that apparently next week will be the worst for him health-wise. That being said, the last couple of days, he hasn’t looked better. He even went to the gym a couple of times!

He now has six weeks rest leading up to surgery, when they remove what is left of the tumour. I ask that you all send out positive vibes and pray that the tumor has vanished entirely. I have found that when you put your mind to something and really believe it, anything is possible, which is why I am such a strong believer in hope and positivity.

Help me heal my Dad by sending out these vibes. I will be keeping you posted with the process.

– I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy (belated) Christmas. I hope you got as spoiled as I did. Dad even gave me a Thomas Sabo and Pandora ladybird charm.

December 21, 2011

It was the night of November 14. After weeks of planning, heaps of emails, and lots of Facebook posting, the night of Dad’s benefit had finally arrived.

As the length of Dad’s treatment is still unknown (chemo, radiotherapy and surgery that could take up to 18 months), it means Dad is out of work for quite some time. Being an Australian musician, job instability is a common issue, however this blow to my Dad’s health also means a significant blow to his already average income. He isn’t earning anything, yet he has to pay a mortgage, all of our regular bills, and on top of that, he has to cover medical costs.

My parents are separated, and while mum will drop anything to look after Dad and support him in any way she can, it isn’t fair of anyone to expect her to do that.

It was Dad’s best friend Kere Buchanan, one of Australia’s greatest drummers and friend of the family for as long as I can remember, who suggested we host a benefit night for Dad to raise some much needed funds to go towards medical bills and supporting our family. Kere experienced his own misfortune after getting hit by a car earlier this year. The Australian musician scene had supported Kere and raised an enormous amount of money for him, and he believed very strongly that Dad deserved the same support from the industry.

So the Bodacious Cowboys, a Steely Dan tribute band that my Dad is usually a part of, put on an unpaid gig at the Unity Hall Hotel, Balmain.

My beautiful friend Crystal Bernia designed the poster artwork that we used to market the gig across social media. My Aunty Josie had her work donate 5 hampers to raffle off on the night – some worth over $2000. Blake from the Ministry of Wellbeing donated a personal training package and his book. My Aunty Mary donated private pilates classes. Kere and Peter Northcote donated their CD’s. My Aunty Kate and Uncle Rob donated a bottle of Bollinger. The support we received from family, friends and strangers alike was overwhelmingly powerful and I was more than happy to take on the role of ‘event manager’ of the night.

Dad couldn’t attend the benefit as it fell on the day his treatment started. (First lot of treatment is 6 weeks of simultaneous chemo and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour. I will talk about the side effects of this treatment in my next post.) I think he was thankful that he didn’t have to come – while he was blown away by the support, he was also exhausted from having to explain the same story day in, day out.  I swear, in the first two weeks of diagnosis, our phone was constantly ringing. Me and my siblings took to screening calls for Dad – as much as it was lovely to have so much support, the emotional drain it was putting on my Dad wasn’t ideal on top of the natural stress he was already dealing with. He was also very humbled by the benefit night, and was in no emotional state to be bombarded with questions, hugs, and friends and family who were all still clearly shaken by what had happened.

The night is a bit of a blur to me. I spent the entire night behind a retaining wall selling raffle tickets to the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of people that showed up (big thanks to Ajay and Renae for helping me – I seriously was losing my mind there, and you girls just took it in your stride without even a blink of an eye). I met friends of my Dad’s from when he was a kid, playing in his family band Afrika in the clubs of Kings Cross at 16. Strangers walked off the street asking what the fuss was about – and when they were told the story of my Dad, they all forked out money and donated. One man placed a bet on the night and, after winning, placed all of the money in the donation bucket.

Unity Hall was filled with my Dad’s closest family, friends, people that I rarely see, people that I had never met before, it was amazing. The Bodacious Cowboys put on a night to remember, and even got my brother up to sing, who blew everyone away (I seriously don’t understand how anyone can be that naturally gifted at something!)

We raised over $8000 for Dad – yes, you read correctly! Dad was waiting up for us when we got home from the benefit and my sister, him and I counted the donations. He was speechless when we came to the final number.

The money raised on the benefit night will pay off 3 months of our mortgage or a significant amount of medical costs (whichever way you want to look at it). Dad isn’t as stressed anymore knowing that we have that money there to fall back on.

The benefit night was one of those moments where you really realise how blessed you are. Yes, we’ve been hit with a crappy situation, but if you can’t learn from the bad, then what’s the point? I learnt that my Dad has an amazing network of family and friends, and that we are really blessed with love and support from hundreds of people. It’s a nice feeling.

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