It has taken me a little time to get around to writing this blog and I have indeed spoken a little on Facebook about it, but have finally stopped still long enough and I wanted to get it all down in the one place. So, here goes.
When I received the phone call asking if I would be prepared to share my story with the crowd at the Field of Women, I don’t mind telling you that even though I was very excited, I was also very nervous. The thought of standing in front of 15,000 people was indeed daunting but I wanted to do this so very much.
Not long after being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and whilst undergoing chemotherapy I wrote a poem about what I was feeling and what it was that I could see around me and how I hoped to move forward and continue living my life and not allowing my cancer to take away my spirit. It sounds d&m and at the time it was a very emotional thing to write. Even though I had never written poems before, this one just seemed to flow. All it needed was an introduction (set up) so it made sense to those who were listening. As I sat are read it all together it was a fraction too long and so I altered a few lines.. I actually like the newer version much better.
This was my introduction……
My name is Sharon and I am 47 years young.
Sometimes, I have found it extremely difficult to express my situation.
Especially to family and friends who have already seen me deal with my unwelcome tenant,
breast cancer, back in 2004.
We thought it had been beaten, but it returned in 2012 andI now am living with advanced breast cancer.
Squatters, who are even more unwelcome.
I stand here today for myself, my family and for everyone who hears those four little words
‘you have breast cancer’.
But most of all, I stand for those who then hear the words ‘we cannot cure you’.
I have put my thoughts into a poem that I would like to share with you all called
Cancer You Will Not Defeat Me
and this, my poem
I did not have too much time to think about it really as the day came around very quickly. I was really happy that my husband and were coming with me and when we arrived on the day they enjoyed some sandwiches, fruit and drinks in a corporate box whilst I did the sound check with the other speakers and then got hair and make up done. The team from Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) were just wonderful and it was a pleasure being there with them all. As I sat up in the corporate box with the gates not yet open to let everyone in, you could feel the magnitude and importance of what was soon to take place out there on the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A ground that normally only sports people get to step onto. An iconic ground that is known Australia wide (and possibly around the world too). Not only was I getting to walk on it but I was very soon going to stand up on a stage and speak with the 15,000 odd other people who would come for so many reasons. Together we would stand as one for just a short time. It was indeed so very exciting to be a part of it.
The gates opened, and very slowly, the stands began to fill with a sea of bright pink and a touch of blue. For those who were going to be in the ceremony we were totally ready to go. The call went out and we made our way down to the stands where a little time was spent finding, hugging and chatting with friends and family who were there. The sea of people were dressed with all sorts of accessories, rabbit ears, wings, halos, coloured hair, banners, signs and just about anything you can imagine!!! The one thing they all had in common so far …. pink and blue ponchos. An equalizer for everyone there to participate. The event had not even begun and the whole MCG was electric. You could feel the anticipation and emotion bouncing around the ground.
You cannot help to get goosebumps and perhaps even tear up just a little.. The pictures tell a MILLION words and will surround you in the emotion of the enormity of the event
As I mingled with the crowd, there were only the people speaking that were not in ponchos!! it felt a little strange to stand out so much.. But it was indeed important.. As I looked around a the crowd, you could see that there were so many reason for people being there. For those who had been lost to the disease. For those who were on the other side and looking back at the journey they had undertaken to get through dealing with Breast Cancer. Friends, family, husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, children, and many many more. It was actually very empowering to be in the middle of this sea of emotion where joy and sadness intertwined and lifted everyone to an amazing place. Any nerves that I had arrived with were suddenly gone. I was way more excited and knew that it was important to get my presentation right.
It was a privilege to stand and share my story with the massive 15,000 strong crowd. To stand with and listen to Maxine, Sherone and Megan speak.
As Maxine spoke the lights were still on around the ground. She embraced the reasons for everyone being there. The intertwined lives lost, saved, loved and respected.. acknowledging the amazing individual stories of everyone who were standing on the field together and why BCNA are so very important to those who have been affected by Breast Cancer.
Then, as Sherone took centre stage, the lights all around went off, leaving only light on her. After 9 years (2005), she is now thriving and here today because Herceptin was available but she had to pay for the privilege .In 2006 BCNA were there and speaking for those who needed to be heard and it was placed on the PBS and available for all women. No longer would homes need to be mortgaged and those who had no resources miss out on such an important treatment.
As I then stepped up to speak, I could see up in the stands, many people in the corporate boxes. I could only see the shadows of the 15,000 standing there right in front of me. But I could see my husband and son and they were intently watching me. Everyone had by this time got out their pink torches and were gently waving them around.. It seemed that I was standing before a sea of pink fireflies. It was very calming and I then felt at ease in introducing myself and then reading my poem. It did not see it at the time, but the picture on the big screen is of my boys and I. Taken 2 days before my hair fell out after beginning treatment for my Advanced Cancer.
Then finally, our last speaker, Megan. She was speaking to tell us about her mother. She had seven weeks before finally succumbed to the disease and in around seven weeks would be welcoming a little ‘pink lady’ into the world.. How close her mother came to seeing her grand-daughter. She also lost her father a few days before the ceremony. A beautiful tribute indeed.
Here is the video of the speeches. It touches me each and every time that I hear them.
There was so much time and effort and amazing organisation to get our wonderful pink lady up and glowing and it seemed to go so very fast. In the blink of an eye, it was time to leave the field (apparently there was a game of football to be played). But there was one thing left for me to do.. I had not had my poncho on at all during the ceremony and before leaving the ground stood with my family for a picture that I will treasure forever. I am so very glad they were there with me to watch me speak and to experience the enormity of the event. Totally priceless.
It is only a few short months ago that I completed the training to become a Community Liaison for BCNA and I feel extremely privileged and honoured to have been chosen to speak at such an important event. Thank you BCNA so very much for believing that I could give a speech that was worthy of such an event. I am not sure if I will ever be involved in a more amazing moment in time, but it will certainly be fun trying.
You see, the ‘old’ me would probably have said thank you but no thank you.. The new me with the mantra of Don’t Wait – Just Do It, would not have missed it for anything
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