Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Cancer: My Journey to Humility
Annette Bredin (O’Connor)

My journey to humility is all about me being brutally honest, first of all with myself and then with family and friends. My blog is about how I have arrived at the grand age of 42 and able to fight cancer with a sense of humor.
I have been told several times, that I am a very strong character and to then become physically weak with cancer is going to be hard.
So my journey is all about accepting God’s will, accepting weakness in my physical sense and accepting help from others. I prefer helping others especially kids.
Surprisingly, I have accepted cancer and “what will be, will be!” but I feel very positive, calm and loved and just want to get on with it, with a sense of humor. I am not hiding behind humor, I just prefer to laugh rather than cry.
My Health Warning
Before you read this blog, I want you to know a few things about me. I am a dyslexic, over weight school teacher who is direct, can’t stand a*** holes who have the god-like complex. Enjoy your read:
My Sense of Humor
When I am told someone has cancer - I think ah well they are going out the back door - cancer kills, maybe not just right away but its catches up with them maybe in a few years time. They are dead!!!
I now want to tell you that is a myth because I am not going out the back door; I am going out the front door with Gerry.
(A quote from the film In the Name of the Father).
I am not going to hide from cancer because I am baldy or I have one breast. I am going to celebrate that I have lived through it and I have scars to prove it.

My Policy on Life
Be decent, be good to kids, have a laugh, dont take yourself so serious - it could give you cancer!!!! (LOL).
My Mummy
I was speaking to my mother on the phone and I said “I cant believe I am shagging a fifty year old” because my husband had just turned fifty. My mother replied” I wish I was shagging a fifty year old” LOL
My Twin Sister
My twin sister Roisin believes she is telepathic with me because she is my twin sister (we are not even identical twins). Here is an example of my twin sister’s telepathy.
My twin phones me up and says, “I been having pain in my breast.” This was on the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Wed 1 August) I asked my twin “what breast was painful?”
She replied, “Right breast”. I gently let her down and said, “Its my left breast that has the cancer.” This is what I have to deal with LOL.
The next telepathy experience was the day I started my chemo.
She said “I have a sore shoulder,” which I also had during my treatment this time she gets the right shoulder. Do you think she is getting some of my pain or do you think she has problems? - Because she does.
My twin is a laugh! But she also has problems!
Here are my twin’s problems:
  • She doesnt like people chewing gum she glares at strangers on the trains, shops, bars in Birmingham - she is very scary.
  • She doesn’t like people to breathe in the morning because she can hear it eg when I was at secondary school, my twin screams at me in the living room whilst I was eating my breakfast, “You are breathing!” She is off her head. I am good in the morning she is not.
  • My twin has always been “me” “me” “me” type of person but since I have been diagnosed with cancer she has changed - phoning me religiously everyday and giving me money. I couldn’t ask for a better twin sister ever.

My Cancer
My cancer is lobular advance invasive cancer, stage 3 that means I am F****d. Only joking!!! 

My Side Effects
So far, I am a lucky because my side effects have been very mild. Most cancer patients have severe side effects like vomiting, nausea, pain and many more. I am on my second course of chemo and feel very well except for the thinning of my hair. So I cant and wont complaint.
But my heart does break when I chat to the other women having treatment and they describe how their chemo has effected them eg exhaustion, not leaving the house, going to hospital during the night with high temperatures and being put on a course of anti bodies. That hurts me the most, other people in pain that’s why I dont associate with sick people.
My views on Sick People
Run away!
I find I tend to hide away from sick people they are just not my cup of tea. Some sick people want to tell you all about their symptoms. That is fair enough! I want to live a life of ignorance because the truth is I dont want to see anyone suffering, I dont want to see the pain behind their eyes (eyes are the window to their soul) - that is the main reason I dont like sick people I cant cope with their pain but now I have cancer I will still avoid sick people.
In school, a colleague returned to work for the day during her cancer treatment. I spotted her from the top corridor and decide to go the opposite way just to avoid seeing her. Thats terrible! But if anyone avoids me I totally understand. I would avoid me I am an open book. I just tell how it is and what I am doing etc.
My Religion
Acceptance of cancer has been my guiding peace in dealing with breast cancer. The prayer that I use to help me deal with cancer is the Serenity Prayer;
God grant me the
SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
WISDOM to know the difference.
I am going to get brownie points from my old Ma (LOL)
My Holy Medals
I can’t go through Glasgow Airport security because my bra is full of holy medals. I am jangling all over the place.

My Hair
In June 2012 - I was a blonde bomb shell and I then I decided to go back to being brunette because I was not having as much fun with my husband as I was as a brunette. (LOL)
Being diagnosed with cancer, I was told twice by the consultant you are going to lose your hair. I wanted to shout “I know that - I am not stupid”. So, I had to take control of the hair situation.
First preparation was to get my hair cut short. I loved the new short look - no more pony tails for me. A week later during one of my mad moments whilst having a vodka I chop a whack of hair off. Luckily my husband knows me so well; he caught me in the toilet before I removed it all.
A week later, I got my hair cut even shorter behind my ears. I absolutely loved it. So, in a few weeks time, I have decided to shave off my own hair - there so many people who said they would do it - but it is something I need to do. I want to experience what it would be like to shave your own hair off from a lady’s point of view.
My hair is starting to fall out. So, I am going to shave it off myself.
Why? I want to experience doing it myself and taking control. I want my husband to record it, so I can put it on my blog.
I am planning after I go baldy to do a “Walk of Faith” through a busy street in Glasgow - Baldy because I am going to embrace my new look and I am not hiding this disease.
Am I frightened of being baldy – NO! My concern is about other people - how will they feel? So in some circumstances I will wear a wig, in some circumstance I will wear a hat, bandana, but really I might go baldy most of the time.
My Family and Friends
What a bunch!!!
After informing all my family and friends that I have breast cancer - they all started texting, phoning, sending cards all saying I love you. It freaks me out! (I don’t even like half of them LOL)
One of my good friends held my hand and looked into my eyes and said “I really love you, I will be such a good friend, I will even tell you the truth if you smell of piss!” I thanked her and I wondered. I know I am going to lose my hair and breast and now the control of my bladder. This road to humility is going to be so hard now. Thanks Frances B!!!! (LOL)
My Favorite Football Team
C.E.L.T.I.C - simply the best!
You would think my husband Jim’s favorite team was Celtic but he never stops talking about New Co. He smiles and tells me what league they are in, who they are playing that week, what their players are like, how they are funded etc. He also makes regular comparisons with Celtic. I am no longer allowed to call the old team Rangers - it must be New Co. The football season has started again – I’m now using my ear plugs.
My Crush
Bear Grylls: Born Survivor.
What a guy! During my treatment, I have watched every one of his programmes on how to get survival tips in the jungle, desert, Ice Caps Mountains and how to make fires with no lighter and eat insects full of protein. I dont plan to use these tips but feels it is vital that I know how to survive in these places just in case - you never know.
When some people have cancer they want to bungee jump or jump out of aero planes. I dont!
But if Bear Grylls was attached to me, I might consider it for charity.
My Pet Hates
  • Cooking for my children - I tricked my oldest daughter into taking up Home Economic so that she could gain lifelong skills in making my dinner Ha! Ha!
  • Getting a glass of juice and ice - always get my kids to get it.
  • Can’t understand why my husband can’t multi task - it’s my top pet hate. I caught my husband making me a cup of tea and he stood watching the kettle boil. I give up because I could have all the counters cleaned in that time. (LOL)
  • People who gossip - if you haven’t got something nice to say then don’t say anything.
My Annettism
Annettism means getting a saying totally wrong. Here are a few examples:
  • I slept like a ribbon.
  • The hair the broke the camel back.
  • I killed one bird with two stones.
My Favorite Word
  • Shut up!”
  • With family and adult friends “Shut the f*** up!” lol
  • With pupils “Shut up wee man and read the instructions.”
My Childhood
Poor! Poor! Poor!
Like every other family who loved on the Newlodge Road (North Belfast.)
My Nationality
Irish and very proud. But technically, I have lived in Scotland for over 23 years, 4 more years than I lived in Belfast because I left when I was 19 years old. Does that mean I am more Scottish because I just can’t support their football team? Have they ever got to the World Cup?????

My Phone Calls
I never answer the phone - I hate talking to people after 6 o’clock.
All my family and friends always complain I never answer the phone or return their calls. Well, simply don’t phone me!
The true reason why I don’t like to answer the house phone is because I talk all day in my job and am fed up listening to my own voice. I also hate repeating myself, so if I phone and tell one sister a story I then have to tell the other two.
Another reason, I hate answering the phone because I used to have a stalker (female). She would phone, I would be captured and then I would have to listen to her rants because the only time she talked was when she was drunk on the phone to me. Now do you realise why I hate answering the phone.
I then started to give out a code to family and friends if they really needed to talk to me. The code was three rings hang up and then three rings and then I would pick up. But the problem with this code I couldn’t remember if I had given it to my stalker. So therefore I never answered the phone


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  2. Loving the blog!!! You have a fantastic sense of humour. Keep posting - it is so good to hear from you. Geraldine

    1. Hi Geraldine. Delighted you enjoyed it - pass it on to anyone who woud appreciate the humour of cancer

  3. Annette, it was so lovely to meet you today. What an amazing woman you are. Your courage, strength and humour has truly inspired me and my mum. Lesley xxxx

    1. Glad to help!!!
      Try and keep a sense of humour whilst your mum is going through chemo.
      Annette Bredin