I got asked a question yesterday that really made my blood boil. “Are you so rich because you sold a lot of books that you wrote?”
My first thoughts were “wow!” Whilst I was choking back the tears which were bubbling up from anger, I also had that voice of reason in my head saying “they don’t understand so don’t flip your lid!”
Let’s set a few things straight. Yes, I have written two books. Books that were written from life experiences and at times when I needed the most help. Being diagnosed with cancer certainly turns one’s life upside down, inside out and sideways too … but it also brings a lot of pain. Pain that doesn’t just switch off once you have finished treatment and you get the "all clear". Writing was my therapy, my way of getting things out so I didn’t bottle them up and explode on other people. It took a lot of guts to be so vulnerable and to let other people into my world, but I did that to try to make things easier on others coming up behind me and for people to understand. I didn't write my books with the idea to make thousands of dollars.
Cancer treatment is not free! A lot of people have this belief, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m going to lay this all out on the table. I don’t think it is anyone’s business except for mine and my immediate families, but since I opened pandoras box and let you all in on my experiences so far with my two books, why not share this one too. If this person bothered to read my second book Thanks For The Mammaries, they would have read a little about this. However, it got me thinking, if this person thinks this about me then what do other people think and what hard questions might they want to ask?
When I was diagnosed Bob took over. I wasn’t in a position to hold myself up, so he did. There were so many doctors’ appointments, surgeons, scans, pathology, and the list goes on. I was oblivious to it all as I was in survival mode, but unbeknown to me, we were taking a hit. Bob was taking leave to accompany me to appointments and surgeries, I had to stop working and keep in mind we had two little girls aged 3 and 1 that we were doing at utmost to bring up whilst tackling a beast. Cash flow wasn’t flowing and we got ourselves into severe financial trouble just by attempting to stay alive.
We nearly lost everything! Here I was fighting, trying to still be a mum and my husband was burdened with everything including the finances. He took on so much. I had so much on my plate with treatments and keeping a smile on my face so everyone around me kept smiling that I didn’t know about anything financial until it got to the point where we had to ask for help. That help came from my family. There were no fundraisers, no Go Fund Me pages and nothing from Centrelink as apparently I wasn’t sick enough. Even to have a boob reconstruction was going to cost us thousands of dollars because it’s classed as cosmetic surgery. It was kick after kick and we felt at times like there was no coming back.
This was a huge thing to get my head around. I didn’t ask for cancer; I didn’t ask to lose a breast and cancer just kept chipping away slowly taking away bit by bit of what we had worked so hard to achieve. The roof over our heads, the food we put on the table to feed our family and the day-to-day normal expenses was on the line, all because of me. I didn’t ask for any of this, but I had the heavy load of carrying the guilt of potentially ruining our perfect little life.
So no, cancer treatment is not for free! You may look at us and say, well they aren’t doing too bad. We live in a nice house, we drive nice cars and our girls have been through private schooling. We work hard for what we have, we appreciate every last bit of what we have and we have managed to claw our way back from the near loss of it all. Yes, I had a breast reconstruction, and yes we paid full price for it, eight years after I was diagnosed so we could work to save and put me back together again. Was it worth it, yes! I felt like I had taken back a part of me that I lost all those years ago. Did I feel guilty that I spent so much money on me instead of taking my family on an overseas trip or buy a brand-new car …. absoloutely, yes. Then I realized that I had just shown my girls what hard work and perseverance can get you. A happy life inside and out and the feeling of being whole again.
So, to this person that so bluntly asked me if I go so rich from selling my books. The answer is yes! I am not rich in the monetary value, far from it, but I am rich in gratitude, love, and forgiveness. My heart is full, and I have managed to become a millionaire. If you can count on two hands people that you can call upon and you know they would drop everything to be there and help you then you’re rich, super rich. I have that! I have managed to beat cancer, not once but twice (remember Bob got diagnosed too and hello … medical bills x 2) pull myself up, put myself back together and surround myself with a tribe who I wholeheartedly trust and love with my life.
Am I rich … hell yes! I am one of the lucky ones who has had the kick in the head and can look at life in a different light. I know that money makes the world go round, but it doesn’t make you happy. I know that hard work pays off and when it does you are ten times more grateful for what you have. I’ve showed our girls that by sharing some hardship that you can make a difference, and I know they are proud of me, especially for my books!
It’s easy to put your hand out and take something, but it's harder to ask for help, admit you are struggling and accept genuine kindness in a time of need.