I am receiving what I believe to be the best care in the world.
The state of the art building boasts a world class Cancer research Centre, the best doctors and nurses, the best drugs, equipment and most importantly in my case the best mental health team.
When the chunks of hair started coming out in my brush, I gasped, although I was mentally prepared it was still a surprise. After the initial shock I laughed out loud.
The beast thought it could attack my calm state of mind, the ugly intruder had underestimated me though.
I was excited, it was time to execute my plan and kick it in the guts.
It happened on a Friday and I had taken the weekend to process my next phase of womanhood.
My sister Amanda and myself had formulated a plan. It is handy that she is a hairdresser and has life experience dealing with women and men who have alopecia.
By Sunday the chunks were becoming bigger and I was shedding everywhere. My oncologist had given me a choice to wear a scalp cooling hat during chemotherapy to reduce the hair loss. That was something I didn’t consider.
In a bath full of bubbles I soaked for a long time, the music was roaring in the background as I took my razor and shaved every follicle of hair from my body.
I had decided that the entire hair experience was going to be a fun adventure in fashion. I had already bought a gorgeous blonde wig in preparation.
My beautiful sister was more anxious than me as we sat in front of the mirror and began to execute our plan on Monday morning.
She finally relaxed and we started laughing uncontrollably as she started to
“Chop, chop, chop”
When we were children she had attacked my dolls with the scissors, I was so upset with her at the time. This time I gave her full artistic power to create as many different hairstyles as she liked.
Amanda created a sleek bob, a rapper hairdo with a long fringe and an executive spike hair cut.
The final result was better than I had visualized.
I wake up exhausted, if I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep my mind will go into overdrive. I am better off opening my curtains and waiting for sunrise as I turn on the television. The news anchors are talking about the 2021 Australian budget.
A big shiny high rise building, it’s empty, another scary sign of the world we are now living in because of Covid-19. My friends in Melbourne are mostly working from home now.
I stare at the evidence glaring at me 24 hours a day 7 days a week for 14 full days. I cannot leave my small room, the policeman in the hallway is the warden.
I am more than halfway through my mandatory quarantine, I have settled into a routine of being incarcerated.
The first few days of my imprisonment were a different story, I am grateful that I have gotten through the first week.
This week I am not running to the peephole every time I hear activity in the hallway.
Through the peephole I can see staff dressed in full Covid-19 combat gear, sometimes spraying my front door, vacuuming, dropping of meals or taking a Covid19 swab test from the tenants at the doorway from the room opposite.
The nurses test me every two days, every test has come back negative, which is what I expect.
I have already had the first jab of Astra Zeneca vaccine almost 5 weeks ago.
The tests will continue at my door every two days until I am released. The nurse also checks in every day, by making a telephone call to my room.
They call me to ask me if I have any Covid19 symptoms, if I am eating and drinking, and what I have planned for the day. I find this last question hilarious.
I often think about the people in this building. I am in a hotel that is run in conjunction with a hospital. We all have different reasons for being here, we all have some sort of pre-existing medical issue.
I am still coming to terms with the diagnosis after my radical mastectomy in Bali. The beast had spread to my lymph nodes and I need treatment to fight back.
Leaving my husband and baby was heart wrenching but necessary.
The medical care I will receive in Melbourne is the best in the world.
With the help of a small group of determined, intelligent and connected women I made it back home to Australia safely. The gratitude I feel is hard to put into words, my prayer and meditation routine is my main source of strength.
Appointments have been made.
I am all set to begin my battle the same day I leave quarantine.
I ask my readers to please pray for my victory and the strength of my loved ones at this time.
I knew something was wrong, but life is different now. I am normally extra cautious about health, you might even call me fanatical. Like self isolating in a pandemic for more than a year, when I didn’t have to.
I did’t even leave home for a hair cut. I could not justify spending money on myself for luxuries, finances are tight, really tight.
I was ignoring the rather large lump in my breast, I didn’t want to visit a Bali hospital during a pandemic
I knew after I received my first immunisation, I would feel a sense of freedom, I told my sister about my lump. I knew she would scream at me, I needed to be screamed at.
Why did i put myself last on a list of priorities? Actually that’s not true, before the pandemic I would travel to Australia regularly for breast mammograms.
That was before.
Now travel is only for the rich, and for people who have time.
I have let my insurance lapse, my head was spinning, where would I start?
To cut a long story short I had a USG ultrasound in an immaculate facility in Renon, Denpasar called “Prodia”.
I didn’t have to wait, I felt like a VIP.
The doctor at “Prodia” told me I had cancer.
This blew me out of the water. Surely I was dreaming, how the hell would she know? It couldn’t be Cancer, I am healthy, I pray, I have a new baby.
This blew me out of the water. Surly I was dreaming, how the hell would she know? It couldn’t be Cancer, I am healthy, I pray, I have a new baby.
I asked her how she knew?
The operator of the machine assured me she was a Doctor, that’s how she knew, and she gently explained the good news. The X-ray showed the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes.
My fear quickly turned to gratitude.
My ultrasound results boasted
BI-RADS 5 lesions, highly suspicious of malignancy.
One google report I read said that my lump had a 95% chance of being a cancerous tumour.
When I walked out of the centre I said to my husband that we needed to eat, our daughter was hungry. Normally I would burst out information immediately. When my husband, Made, asked me what happened I said I would explain at lunch.
Made is a pretty cool character, I believe though he was as shocked as I. He had been doing energy healing on my lump, I had also, it just didn’t add up to either of us.
The next seven days became a whirlwind of decisions and emotions.
My sister is my rock, she has taken on a role that I would never believe possible.
My little sister has become the older wiser sibling, pushing me to return to the strong fighter I have been in the past.
Pushing me to make decisions, to think clearly and to sort it out.
I gathered my strength and contacted two women, one in Australia and one in Bali. Both women are leaders, both are highly respected health professionals. Both women said I should return to Australia as the first choice for treatment.
The complications of travelling in a COVID-19 world are harsh, the paperwork required for an exemption from quarantine in Australia for health reasons is complex.
The price of the flights are outrageous. The travel time from Bali to Melbourne was up to 40 hours with layovers and overnight stays in various countries. Garuda were sold out until May.
I was not sleeping at night because of the thought of being away from my family. My stress level and anxiety was skyrocketing, something had to change.
The thought of having a biopsy and possible mastectomy in the general hospital was making me feel weak, I have had friends die there. More nightmares and confusion.
My sister took control, like a ray of hope, money appeared in my account. My 85 year old father who has come back into my life recently became my saviour.
He told me he knew there must have been a reason why he is still alive, to look after his first born child.
My worries washed away like an ocean of relief, I felt instantly calm in the presence of Dr Melati. She examined my breast, studied the X-ray results and gently explained what she believed was the best way forward.
Tomorrow I will be put under general anaesthetic and Dr Melati will take a biopsy, the diagnosis of the biopsy will determine if my lump is malignant, if it is cancerous she will perform a mastectomy.
My husband is continuing healing work on my lump. I continue to visualise my lump going away gently. Maybe I will be in that lucky 5%. I believe it is a good omen that the process will take place in the middle of Galungan dan Kuningan. Our Balinese Hindu faith believes our ancestors are visiting earth twice a year for 10 days.
I remember my mum having the same procedure when I was about 11 years old. She said to me “Sharon, when I wake up I don’t know if I will have one booby or two”. My Mother’s lump was benign.
What ever will be is okay, I am now at peace with my decision.
I awake, heart beating rapidly
Although I am not physically home
My soul is yours
Our carefree, funny and free spirit is who we are
Our kangaroos and koalas
Images of childhood realities of comfort
I awake to a reality that my home is at war
The monster is real
Why didn’t you listen?
Climate change is real, they told you
Words Sharon Karyasa
Image 📷: Ryan Pollock | @ryno_thecaptain/Instagram
What do you see?
Can you look beyond a pretty picture?
What if the reflection is you?
Can you look at yourself with love?
Can you look at yourself and forgive?
Be kind to yourself and smile
Go ahead, it’s time to be free