The Big C – Has it Visited Your Family?

Picture this:

A member of your family – let’s say it’s your husband, but if you don’t have one of those maybe it’s your wife or parent or child – goes into the hospital via the Accident & Emergency Department, with severe gut pain. A day later he’s had a large portion of his large intestine removed, and you’re waiting to find out – is it the C word? Is it cancer?

You stay at the hospital with your husband as much as you can, but you’ve got other commitments that can’t be ignored – kids, maybe, at home – and you can’t be in the hospital 24/7. So you’re not there when the doctor comes by to tell him that yes, it is cancer.

He relays it to you by phone, still sounding groggy from the post-surgical drugs, not to mention the days of not eating much and eventually throwing up, before he went to hospital. Did they get it all?

“They think so,” he tells you, “but they’re not sure. Something about the lining or the gut wall? I’m don’t know.”

“What happens next then?”

“I’m not sure. They said someone would come and talk to me.”

You get off the phone in a daze. How could this be happening? And what exactly is happening? Is he going to be okay? Is he going to need chemo? Is he going to die? Your mother’s cousin had breast cancer a few years ago and she was unbelievably sick from the chemo and unable to work, but you’ve heard not all cancers are treated with the same drugs.

The same sort of conversation plays out several times over the following few days, and in fact he ends up being in for two weeks, due to a post-surgical infection. You spend that time in an exhausted fog, rushing back and forth between the hospital and home, desperate to know more, but feeling like you’re in a holding pattern, just waiting for answers.

By the time he’s ready to be released from hospital you’ve managed to grasp that they do want him to undergo chemotherapy, and there are a couple of options, but you’re not clear on what they are or why they have chosen plan A.

This is all covered by public medicine, but you’re also wondering if you should consider going private – would it make any difference to the outcome? Would he have other choices then, or just a quieter location to watch the poison drip into his veins? How do you find out?

All this was very like my mother’s experience last year.

Do you know someone who’s has been affected by cancer, whether their family member had it, or they themselves received the very unwelcome diagnosis? Or perhaps you have been more directly affected in some way?

If you answered no to all those questions, you are in the minority.

However, this is not a post about why you should therefore be avoiding toxic chemicals in your everyday life, it’s about the support that is there for people who are affected by cancer, whether directly or indirectly.

I’ve been busy this week preparing for online and offline fundraising events for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. This is an annual fundraising event for the Australian Cancer Council, and with several members of my family having had (or still having) cancer in the past few years, this year I decided to get involved.

The Cancer Council funds research into cure and prevention programs, but where they have impacted my family particularly has been in the support and advice they provide to people living with cancer and their families. They provide a helpline for immediate support (13 11 20), local support groups, loads of information on their website and other services.

Their support was invaluable to my mother last year, and to my sister, and to my cousin the year before.

So, as well as hosting an actual morning tea (well, afternoon tea), I am hosting an online fundraiser, on facebook TOMORROW.  It’s going to be heaps of fun with competitions & prizes as well as fundraising activity!

Biggest Morning Tea Norwex Fundraiser for the Cancer Council May 21

How will funds be raised? Well, I can’t tell you all the details here (remember the Norwex media policy about avoiding competition with other consultants), but the basics are that I will be selling Norwex and donating a percentage of sales, and also encouraging people to donate online at The Norwex team that I am part of has a goal of raising at least $1500 (I am not the only one doing Biggest Morning Tea activities!).

How can you get involved?

Well, you can obviously donate directly (if you’re in Australia, donations of $2 and over are tax deductable), or host your own morning tea (anytime in May or June). Or if you would like to join in with my online event, just friend me on Facebook at, and send me a message telling me you’d like an invitation. (You can always unfriend me afterwards if you don’t want to clutter up your newsfeed, I won’t be offended, promise!)


As always (almost), this post has been shared over at IBOT, with the lovely and essential, Jess.

  8 comments for “The Big C – Has it Visited Your Family?

  1. May 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    My grandmother had a mastectomy last Tuesday, and we have genetic bowel cancer – my grandfather lost part of his bowel in his early 50s and more of it in his 70s, and my aunty lost her life to it at 47. It sucks 🙁

    • Kirsten McCulloch
      May 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Emma, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother, I hope she is recovering okay from her surgery. It is very scary, isn’t it, to know there is a genetic pre-disposition in your family?

      My cousin had breast cancer, and my sister bowel cancer – both have finished chemo and are fine so far, but my cousin was told there might be a new gene discovery – a breast-cancer/bowel-cancer gene – on the near horizen. Her mother, my mother’s sister, also had breast cancer in her late 30s or early 40s.

      Thanks for sharing a piece of your story Emma.

  2. May 20, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    OMG I was so worried about your husband when I started reading. Yes, every family would have been touched by the C word in some way and I will join your fundraiser of Facebook. We have a Biggest Morning Tea at work every year with a huge raffle…we invite the other solicitors in town and it is a great event for a great cause.

    • Kirsten McCulloch
      May 20, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Oh Tanya, sorry, it never occurred to me anyone would take it like that! I should probably have added that my step-father, cousin AND sister are all okay now – chemo over and hopefully never to return!

      I’ve never been to one of the biggest morning tea’s that they always used to have at work, cause they ALWAYS seemed to have them on days I didn’t work. But it’s a cause that is closer to my heart this year!

  3. May 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Kirsten what a wonderful idea. You are doing a brilliant job. I wish you every success for your FB event tomorrow. I’m glad the cancer council was able to give your mum the support she needed. Such a heartbreaking story.

    • Kirsten McCulloch
      May 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks so much Renee 🙂 And I should have probably added that my step-father is okay – got through the chemo and now recovering from it, but doing well 🙂

  4. May 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Oh I’m glad I read the above comments too because I was a bit concerned this was all happening to you now too. Harrowing, but glad to hear everyone is ok now!! Phew. #teamIBOT

    • May 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I know, I should really update the post to at least say everyone is okay now (touch wood!). Thanks for commenting Twitchy 🙂
      80s movies hey? I’m going to have to check that post out 🙂

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