Jesse is a mum of two (Louie and Maisie), fiancé to Karl and owner of Totally devoted (the best breastfeeding cookies EVER). Jesse shares with us her incredibly brave journey through grade 3 breast cancer, being a mum, partner and continuing to run her business.
I created Totally Devoted almost 5 years ago. It has been a massive five years of craziness trying to balance the family and work life dynamics. However biggest challenge we have faced both emotionally, mentally and physically was the terrifying diagnosis of breast cancer.
Nothing can ever prepare you for something like this.... the phone call from a doctor saying we have your results... you need to come in and bring a family member. The heart sinking all-consuming reality of being told those words.... you have cancer.
I read somewhere that there are no more terrifying words you can hear than cancer... then followed up in the same sentence as chemotherapy... My partner suggested Ebola would be worse which at least made me laugh for a brief second... yes it would.
I was given this diagnosis on the 23rd of December and then told... " don't ever get cancer at Christmas as everyone is on holiday" I then began the most excruciating wait until the 5th of January when the next apt was available for me to discuss everything. When left with no expert to ask I did what we all know not to do and went to doctor google... Don't ever do this to yourself. A lovely friend said you cannot wait until then you have to ring a private clinic and see if anyone will see you before then, you need answers now.
I got an apt on the 30th of December which still felt like an eternity. I was seen by the loveliest gentlest most patient doctor who calmly reassured me that I wasn't about to die and the treatments have come a long way. I was then told they would do everything they could to keep me here for my family.
This diagnosis was a huge shock to me and everyone around me as I live a relatively healthy life in comparison to most. I exercise regularly, I only eat free range organic meat, I use natural deodorant and beauty products. No toxic chemicals in the home. I don't even own a microwave as I don't trust them
I have however partied a lot and enjoyed that lifestyle also... All about balance right??
My medical care was a complete joke leading up to this diagnosis. I had been numerous times to the doctor and mentioned I felt something was wrong. I was passed around the medical clinic. I never saw the same doctor twice. Nothing was followed up and on a visit with my son for an ear ache I mentioned that I hadn't received an appointment for an ultrasound that had been suggested to reassure me. This doctor said ...oh you were supposed to make that yourself... Aye... how?... anyway he put me back in the system where I went for my third mammogram followed by an ultrasound... biopsy and the worst Christmas present ever, Grade 3 breast cancer.
When I had my mastectomy I was told after that it had spread to 11 lymph nodes. If I hadn't kept following this up and insisting something was wrong it would have kept spreading. Always trust your intuition if you feel something isn't right just go to the doctor and if you don't feel you are getting the answers you need get a new doctor!!
For me the idea of going through Chemotherapy was absolutely terrifying mostly because I have spent half of my life doing everything I could to not take antibiotics or any mainstream medicine. It took some deep deep strength to sit in that chair for the first time.
I woke up the next morning expecting to be hugging the toilet bowl like in the movies but I surprisingly felt ok. The anti-nausea drugs these days are pretty awesome. I admitted I've had worst hangovers. Slowly though each treatment wears you down mentally and physically and some days I was in such a dark horrible space I just hid under my duvet. I was extremely lucky to be loved by wonderful friends and family who sent food for the family and did the endless school/kindy pick-ups.
I found some amazing alternative medicine/therapies which helped keep me sane and cope with extreme fatigue.
My kids have coped remarkably well. We have had some hard moments and questions but one of the great things about children is they are so self-absorbed that they ask a question then just carry on with their day.
Having a business to run was also another great thing to focus on and I gave Totally Devoted a new look during this time with vibrant new packaging and replacing the brown sugar with unrefined sugar and organic ingredients which is more in line with my beliefs. I am now feeling inspired and ready to conquer anything and everything. I have learnt the most important thing is to look after yourself first. As mothers we really tend to put our needs at the bottom and I did this for years. Running around stressed out to fulfill all their needs isn't the answer and actually doesn't benefit any of us. If we as mothers are happy and healthy then the whole family benefits.
Strangely I now feel happier than I have in a very long time with this new attitude and I can see this benefiting the family
My reasons for sharing this story are in the hope that I can encourage mothers to look after themselves both mentally and physically and always ALWAYS trust your intuition. Life may be shorter than we envision so embrace it, look around with open eyes and do things that make you happy! Stop waiting until you have time. MAKE TIME and enjoy it.