Worth a read and Thankyou to you all.



  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,684
    Amazing, isn't it, that she got  more relief & laughter with strangers than with family & friends. 

    In case the link disappears on us ..... here it is in full:



    The oddest thing about a cancer diagnosis is the unexpected and random things people say. And do. Particularly new cancer inductees.

    I recently pulled on my new cancer identity a bit like an itchy jumper, not sure if it would ever soften but it did. Almost immediately, thanks in large part to a most unexpected discovery – the comfort of strangers.

    As a television journalist, I’ve been deeply touched by the kindness of strangers. Lately, not only has that kindness been directed at me but I’ve discovered an unexpected solace in the safety in strangers.

    I am a private person, whose public career over two decades has taught me how to smile at a crowd and avert my eyes from anyone whose name I don’t know. Yet now, suddenly here I am striking up conversations at random. And I cut straight to the chase: Oh me? I’m here on holiday, to have a break before I get my bowel chopped out. I have cancer. Yeah, pretty nasty... Before long I’m engrossed in an intimate dialogue with complete strangers who have nothing invested in whether I live or die, and whom I will never see again.

    In sharing with them my secret fears about what’s ahead – thoughts I keep mostly hidden from those I love – I’ve stumbled upon an extraordinary world of honesty, generosity and at times outrageous hilarity.

    In exposing myself – so to speak – I’ve had the funniest conversations. The laughter shared with strangers is not only safe, it’s thick and boisterous and oh, so uncomplicated.

    A young woman I struck up a chat with in a hotel gym overseas recently had me laughing so much as she described the comedy of errors she’d experienced in hospital due to a language barrier. I had to hold my gut and told her if I buckled over any more I’d split open my tumour. I laughed so much I cried.

    Back home those who love and care for me deeply aren’t laughing. At times it’s exhausting living with my finger jammed hard in the dam of pending tears. I hear the tightness in their worried voices and feel the rein on their fears occasionally fall slack. I understand that.

    I really do. And I love them for such precious care.

    But it’s strangers who allow me relief. When my surgeon with the beautiful hands leaned forward and said “I know this must be a terrible shock", I shrugged and told him it wasn’t. I have no family history of bowel cancer, but given the ongoing war in my gut I just knew.

    A total of 15,253 Australians were told they had bowel cancer last year. I’m yet to find out if I will be one of the 4346 who will die from it. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer but on the upside – it’s very treatable if caught early.

    The day I was diagnosed I tried to crack a few jokes when I told my husband. ͞Everyone gets cancer. It’s hardly original! One of my dear friends who has battled bowel cancer, secondary cancers and a plethora of complications, had me laughing again as we tried to work out just how many rooms my extra-long colon could stretch if the whole damn thing was removed. Would it reach from the living room, through the kitchen and into the lounge? Stopping at the fridge for a chardonnay along the way?

    By the time you read this, I will have had that unsightly colon chopped.

    Good riddance. I won’t miss it. But to the lovely young stranger who served me three pieces of cake on my last day before fasting, and smiled with sweet delight when I said they were all for me – thank you. You were right. I ditched the green tea. A final feast deserves champagne!

    Virginia Haussegger is an Australian journalist and television presenter


  • LMK74
    LMK74 Member Posts: 795
    This is awesome and very true.
  • Beryl C.
    Beryl C. Member Posts: 270
    Arpie - this is also my experience and you express it so well. Thanks. I remind myself that family and close friends fear the worst and we see or hear their contained fear and grief. Apparently the ANZACS used humour to negotiate impossible conditions - is this embedded in the Australian psyche? I make light of ongoing Herceptin treatments (I'm up to no.93 and its been seven years to date) by calling it 'juicing' and the treatment centre is the 'juice lounge'. I have found it necessary to re-assure a couple of close friends that I am not in denial and 'spoke seriously' while fighting the urge to express my annoyance at being psychologised. Strangers don't do this and yet they are likely to make a big difference - the gift of the moment and shared laughter. Thanks again. xBeryl
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,684
    Hi @Beryl C.  - hehehe, it is not my actual post - I just copied it from the Sydney Morning Herald website just in case it disappeared - as sometimes the links are only available for a short time.

    It is a wonderfully written piece.  There are some lovely people out there.

    When my husband was having major surgery for Stomach Cancer in 2010 (he had 3/4 of his stomach removed.)  It was a stranger in ICU who's father had had a stroke who took me under her wing & calmed me down, took me for a walk, bought me a coffee  -  and made all the difference to my ability to cope on the day.

    Her father recovered, as did my husband, who luckily is still here today.

    Yes, humour & goodwill, sharing & caring - are all wonderful tools to cope with this BC caper!

  • lrb_03
    lrb_03 Member Posts: 1,268
    Virginia read the news on ABC in Canberra for many years. I could hear her voice as I read through it a second time, knowing who she is. Very well written