Monday, 15 April 2013

Connie's Diary: Cushions & Canberra Weekly

Nancy Stroop from South Australia has been busy sewing “Have a Hearts” they are Love Your Sister cushions and they are simply adorable. They are soft pink polar fleece hearts with a black ribbon across them. She is selling them for $15.00 a pair, one big and one small. One is to keep and one to give to your sister. You can even have a name monogrammed onto the ribbon for a small fee. 50% of sales go straight to Love Your Sister. There is also a small postage charge. They are so cute, and this week we received 4 in the post, 2 big ones for Mike and I and 2 little ones for the boys, all monogrammed. These cushions have made my couch complete. I’m not sure who liked them more, me, or the kids.

How perfect are they? Order one now through Nancy Stroop’s Facebook Page

Mention in the Canberra Weekly

The Canberra Weekly wrote up a little article about our humble little fundraiser at The Capital Chemist a few weeks back. It’s not just Sam who makes the press! 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Connie's Diary: ID Bracelet & Missing Uluru

Last year, in July I got really sick. It started with feeling sick in the tummy and a slight temperature. Within an hour Mike called the ambulance I was so sick, they took me straight to Emergency where I was put into acute care.

In 8 hours I was being resuscitated. Because my body is so weakened by all the cancer and the treatment I am on, it doesn’t take much for me to get so sick that I can’t talk for myself and need serious help to survive.

Since then I have been meaning to get a medical ID bracelet, so that if I get sick while I am out and about, people would know that there was a problem and would be able to ring to get details about me. Well, I haven’t got around to it. But recently, through Love Your Sister, I was given one by Nicole Graham, the Director of Emergency ID Australia. Not only is it very practical, but it is also very beautiful and I happily wear it every day. It even has a breast cancer charm on it!

Check it out, isn’t it beautiful?

Missing Uluru

Samuel has been in Uluru and Alice Springs this week. I really wanted to go with him, I have never seen the desert before and I really wanted to see it with him. But I wanted to be with my boys here in Canberra more, so I stayed here and spent Easter with my boys. I’m glad I did because we had a great Easter, but looking at all the fun Sam, Jon Bon Jonno and Ley Ley are having in the outback, I must admit, I got a twinge of jealousy. I will have to settle for living vicariously through Sam for a lot of this journey, and this is a shining example of that. Check out his blogs and the Facebook and Instagram to see what he has been up to this week, it is action packed and the scenery looks breathtaking.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Connie's Diary: Easter Egg Hunt

Many weeks of preparation went into the Easter Egg hunt as Hammy is allergic to milk and all milk products, and doesn’t like carob, even when it is milk free. So we buy loads of milk free chocolate buds and make Easter eggs and bunnies like mad for weeks before Easter every year. This year was a little different because we were able to buy some premade milk free Easter eggs, which was great, but we still had to make quite a few, because there weren’t enough for the hunt. He doesn’t usually eat them, but at least he has them and feels a part of it for Easter.

This year the boys were delighted to find that the Easter bunny had left them some Easter colouring in pages, a big egg and 3 little eggs with a note each. Willoughby was delighted that the Easter Bunny noticed that he has been a good boy at school lately, and Hammy was excited that the Easter Bunny knew that he had been eating his fruit and been doing good listening. Hammy was also thrilled that the Easter Bunny knew that he has allergies, and brought him real eggs, wrapped in coloured patterned foil (instead of the normal silver foil that we wrapped them in last year much to his distress). 

We had our hunt down at our local park, with two friends from school, it was a lovely morning with much excitement and joy. Hammy was particularly pleased that he got an egg with gold wrapping and dinosaur cracks in it. He held onto it for ages whilst playing after the hunt.

Since I have been diagnosed I have celebrated 3 Easters with the boys. This year they didn’t remember last year, but I think they will remember this year now they are that bit older. It is such a delight to get to share these special moments with them. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Connie's Diary: 18 - 25th March Part 2

Willoughby and Hammy have been missing their uncle long legs (that is what they call him, because he is so tall to them, and has such very long legs). They have been mapping his progress and are very excited that he has about to get to Uluru. They drew him a picture each, which we sent off to them to pick up in Alice Springs. They both drew the Love Your Sister heart, and Hammy even included the paint splatters, which I thought was very cute. Willoughby thought it would be funny to call him big toes instead of long legs this time J

Willoughby copied the corporate logo, very neatly.

Hammy copied the grungier splatter logo

Every time there is an event I think the boys will like, I try really hard to take them to it. This habit started in 2012, when I decided that I had to do as many special things with them as I could while I was healthy enough to do so. Well, we managed to do heaps last year, and the tradition has continued. So this weekend it was off to the model railway exhibition. I have been taking them to this yearly event since they were 1 and 2 years old, both being mad about trains, how could I resist? It is wonderful that they still get enjoyment out of it, every year they notice new things and find it interesting in a different way because they have grown up a bit since last time. 

The highlight this year were the Lego trains, because they have really started to get into Lego this last year or so, especially Hammy. He got a Lego book for Christmas that is just about falling apart he uses it so much. He sleeps with it and takes it everywhere with him, even the grocery store! So needless to say the Lego trains were quite popular, but they also enjoyed the trains they were allowed to operate themselves, driving them fast and slow and stopping them at the stations. 

This week I got to speak to Sam finally. It feels like it has been ages, it hasn’t been that long, but while he has been in the outback I have missed him terribly. I can keep him informed of important information and find out that he is safe using the satellite phone (thanks Pivotel!) but to have a really good chat we really need a landline or mobile tower. So I got to speak to him on his normal phone this week (thanks Vodafone!)

 He said “Thanks for giving me this Con, for giving me Love Your Sister. I haven’t experienced anything so real and meaningful in all my life until now, and now I am living it everyday. It is amazing, you should be very proud of yourself Con, we both should.” I was nearly in tears because he is so right, we have dreamed of this and planned for this for such a long time, and we actually pulled it off (with the help of many many people and sponsors), but we have actually made our dream real, we are doing it. I am so incredibly proud of him for doing the k’s on that crazy unicycle every day, then for doing all the events and fundraisers in all the towns along the way. My admiration knows no bounds. He ended the phone call with “I’ve gotta go to bed, I’m tired, I love you, I love you, I love you” Fair enough, he should get some rest ‘cos he’s got to do it all again tomorrow, and I love him too.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Connie's Diary: 18 - 25th March Part 1

It has been a quiet (relatively) week with my family this week. I have been sleeping a lot. The time I am up I have been spending with the kids. I am trying to spend time regularly on their reading and we went to a model railway exhibition on the weekend.

I am in week 2 of cycle 24 of Xeloda, which is an oral chemotherapy. It is good because it is oral I only have to go to the hospital to see the oncologist and pick up my chemo every three weeks. It is tablets morning and night. It tends to make me feel sick in the mornings and it makes me very tired, just like most chemotherapy drugs. But it is great in that it doesn’t kill hair cells, so my hair is growing quite long since I last lost it, in 2010/2011 when I was on a different chemo. It is also great that I don’t have to be in hospital away from the kids.

When I started this particular chemo I asked the doctor how long I could take it for if it was successful. She said that it is usually effective for 10-15 cycles, then the effect wears off, the cancer starts to thrive again, and you have to change to a different chemo – a new mode of attack I guess. Well, that was 24 cycles ago (each cycle is 3 weeks, 2 weeks on the drug, and 1 week to recover) and it is still working. I’m basically having it to stop the progression of the cancer, to prolong my life, and that is exactly what it is doing! I am so pleased that it is still working, we have become friends of sorts over the last year, me and Xeloda; it is doing what I need it to do and not causing me too much pain in the process. I hope I can stay on it for a long while yet!

Who knows, maybe while Samuel is breaking the world record for longest distance travelled on a unicycle, I could try to break the world record for longest effective treatment time on Xeloda! Wouldn’t that be great?

With Easter coming up, and having a child with allergies to milk, eggs and nuts, I have been in the kitchen melting down milk free chocolate and trying to fashion it into something resembling Easter eggs. By the time Hammy is 18, and no longer interested in Easter egg hunts, I may well master the process. Let me tell you, it is no mean feat, the little solid ones are easy enough, but the big hollow ones, wow, they are a challenge. I have managed to break far more than I have successfully constructed. Hopefully he will be happy with the result and won’t mind that they are far from perfect. He is a nice kid, very accepting of his allergies so he should enjoy the hunt anyway.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

LYS Diary: Uluru/Yalara Part 2

Uluru Camel Tours invited us out to ride camels infront of the great rock. I was assigned Conner, a true character to be sure!

Whilst some consider camels a pest, I love all animals and have new appreciation for these beautiful beasts, thanks in no small part to the devotion, professionalism and passion of Chris, Kel, Roscoe and the crew, who are an impressive outfit to say the least. If you’re ever at Uluru, please do visit them and say hi from me! They’ll look after you an absolute treat. We all became pretty tight-knit, as you can see below.

Meeting Michael from the Wakagetti Cultural Dancers led me to meet Justin Majid, a beatiful and quietly-spoken young man from the Torres Strait Islands.

Just before we left he presented me with a beautiful work of his, titled Kazi Koedal (Baby Crocodile). Between November and March is crocodile breeding season. The mother crocodile lays her eggs in small mounds along the banks of the Torres Strait Islands. She will guard her young until they hatch and venture into this world. In this work the baby crocodile is coming out of its egg to start life in this world. The design within the egg shows the habitat where it will grow up for the next few months, avoiding predators and catching it’s prey. It’s an amazing piece and we’re going to auction it off for the cause. Bidding starts at 1000 dollars. Serious bids only please, to samuel@loveyoursister.org!

And finally, a MASSIVE thanks to Megan, for sorting us out with all this and more in one of the most significant places in the world. Nothing was too much and the team here at LYS feel so well looked after, it’s just not funny. Megan, you are an absolute champ and we thank you with all our heart. In Megan we trust!!!

Monday, 8 April 2013

LYS Diary: Uluru/Yalara Part 1

After 2000 clicks we rolled into Uluru, suspecting it might be special, but with no real idea of just how special. Remarkable people, breathtaking surrounds and spiritual experiences abounded. I’m kinda lost for words, but will try to find some that go part of the way towards explaining what we went through. Pictures will help though, like this one of Uluru at sunrise!

One of the first things I did was visit the Wakagetti Cultural Dancers. Before each dance a story was told to help explain the origins of the dance and its cultural significance. I was struck by the humility with which they thanked the creator of each piece. They flipped from being spiritual, to funny, to dramatic, to insightful, to inclusive. They invited the the crowd up to dance with them and that was all the encouragement I needed! I was terrible, of course, for I don’t have that rich and ancient culture coursing through my veins, but I found it to be a most uplifting experience and I was very grateful for the opportunity. My thanks to Michael (above right) for welcoming me so warmly, promoting our cause and inviting me into his circle of friends. What a privilege.

The next morning I did a sunrise tour of Kata Tjuta (translates into ‘many heads’), formerly known as The Olgas.

I toured with a terrific group of Yanks. I worded them up on the whole LoveYourSister fiasco and they loved the idea of our challenge system. So much so that they dared me to stealth-kiss Mike for the princely sum of 200 bucks for the cause. Whilst I had reservations about infringing on someone’s personal space, I was assured that everything would be ok. So, around the brekky table, I pounced and planted a big pucker on Mike’s lips. He was an absolute sport and his travelling party were only too happy to part with the money. Laughs aplenty, for sure. It was interesting, in hindsight, that I kissed a man in Kata Tjuta, which is a men-only space for the indigenous! This is Mike, below - a great fella with a priceless sense of fun.

Friday, 5 April 2013


After being smashed by the sandy terrain and plagues of flies, this swim was some of the most welcome relief ever… heaven! xsj

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Wednesday, 3 April 2013


You never know what you’ll find on the road. We were lucky enough to see the aftermath of a rare sign brawl… it’s not every day you get to see something like that! We’ll be watching our backs now though! xsj

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I got a little bit cranky… then got the best surprise. Jon Bon Jonno got me good! xsj

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Monday, 1 April 2013


Isn’t my sister a gem? We always look forward to meal time… Connie is pretty much Masterchef! These cookups are just some of the many behind-the-scenes activities that happen around me, and I couldn’t have done any of this trip without them! xsj

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