Shannon's Story

Introduction:  The article, “Shannon’s Story” is another which is about family, my niece and the daughter of an older brother.  Shannon has shared through her writings a profound journey regarding her health, her dreams and challenges. 

Dedicated to….
There is nothing in the world that I could buy or give to my mum and my husband to repay the debt I owe them for looking after me that year. 
In so many ways and at so many different times during a process like this, one of your biggest battles is dealing with your mind.
I always wanted a big family and often wondered if we had started back in 2007 as planned, would I have ended up with the four children I dreamed about. But an intuitive lady told me in one of our healing sessions that year, that she saw a mother bear walking together with her two baby cubs.
So, as I now begin to write my story, I look upon my two beautiful babies, sprawled out in my bed, leaving me no room whatsoever and think, that yes, this is my life, this is how it was meant to be.
I needed to experience that year of hardship, to see the bright side and end up where I am today.

Someone wrote to the cyclist Lance Armstrong during his battle with cancer saying, “You don’t know it yet, but we’re the lucky ones”. How true it is!
There are many stories of ‘courage’ when it comes to a serious, life threatening illness!  As an alternative therapist and ‘channel’, I am in awe of the dedication and commitment of those in the medical profession.  Even more so, the journey I have witnessed throughout the years of the endurance people have in relation to their health, the impact on family, friends and the boarder community.  “Shannon’s Story” is an inspiring deep “soul travelling” experience and it has been an honour to assist her, encouraging her to share all in “putting it out” as she moved to another level of healing through her writings.   

Large, extended families share a unique close bond with the potential for many celebrations of life!  Births, marriages and death sum it all up, however, in between are the stories that do not make it into the record books.  I believe this is one of them!  Following the birth of Shannon’s second child, Zac, in May, 2013, my sister and I visited Shannon, both aunties and somewhere in the back of my mind came the conscious thought of encouraging Shannon to write her story.  However, with the number of visitors and a limited time frame, it was not an appropriate time to discuss such a matter, sensing it was a delicate topic.  The impact on her life over a short but significant time and now asking her to re-live the incredible ordeal, all over again.

While Shannon is one of five nieces, at the time of Zac’s birth, he was the sixth great nephew to be born and my sister, with her husband had another hour or so to travel.  They were connecting with three of their grandchildren also having birthdays in the same week.  The eldest child, yet another great niece was celebrating her eighth birthday!  However the twins, a boy and girl were six, a rather synchronistic time frame indeed!  The twins were born exactly on Shannon’s birthday, six years earlier on the 14th May, 2007.  Shannon was just twenty six and dealing with the greatest challenge of her life, having considered the subtitle for this story, “Miracle Babies”!
A few days following the visit, relayed my idea to Shannon by email and her reply was quick, “I would love to share my story!  I always think that writing down life stories is interesting and a great way to educate or open the eyes of others, especially younger generations and family”.  While Shannon was ready to begin writing her story, sitting out there in the etheric was a matter of "divine time" for she was about to move from her home in Brisbane to Roma and with a new baby.  The actual writing would begin three months later! 

Affectionately known as Shan to her family and close friends, Shannon lived with her parents and two younger brothers in the beautiful area of Byron Bay until the year 2000.  A popular destination for backpackers, Byron Bay is situated on the most eastern and central point of the Australian coastline in the northern part of the state of NSW.  Once Shan had completed her high school years in 1999, she enjoyed life that saw a new millennium arrive for all, filled with dreams and new possibilities.

Shan was in relationship with Brett, the man she would later marry in February 2004!  The four year time frame in between, was dedicated to study and completing a Diploma of Administration, eventually taking up a position with an accounting firm.  Life cruised along for Shannon and Brett!  One year after their marriage they bought a house and were living happily with their two dogs, cat and various birds.  By the end of 2006 they both decided that after Christmas they were ready to begin extending their family.  Shannon was twenty five years of age.
The following paragraphs are Shannon’s reflections as she shared with me in great detail the circumstances surrounding a rather hectic week at the end of February, 2007, the beginning of what was to be a life changing experience. 
The Story Begins

Believing that it was all brought on with a very busy schedule of parties, sports events, bbq’s, visitors coming to stay which involved more eating and drinking, an Annual Awards dinner with her work, not to mention a wedding anniversary in that very week and celebrating life out on the water while on a Sunday fishing trip.  I rapped myself over the knuckles for drinking and partying so much when we were supposedly trying to get pregnant.
The fishing group arrived home to yet another b.b.q. dinner with more drinking and eating.  I was exhausted, felt sick, headed to bed early and began experiencing serious stomach cramps, so decided to sleep in the spare room so as not to disturb Brett.   Early the next morning, approximately 5am, I called Brett to help, driving me to the hospital.  After directly injecting Buscopan into my stomach, I was physically assessed and while the doctor could feel a lump, she suggested that being so thin, it could have just been a bowel obstruction, presenting severe abdominal pain.  The doctor’s words describing it as “just pooh”!  I was given a referral to have an ultrasound on my stomach later that day.
Upon returning home, I organised work commitments and by the middle of the day was having the ultrasound.  The lady who completed the ultrasound was relatively chatty and friendly, but I knew something was wrong when she left the room, with a senior doctor taking her place, who began taking ultrasound pictures.  He sat me up, told me that they often find unknown black masses and whilst it might be serious, don’t panic yet!  Ha!  In typical Cooney family fashion, I held it together until I walked out the door of the x-ray clinic. 

By the time I got to the car where Brett was waiting for me, I had crumbled into a sobbing mess and I sat in the passenger seat of “Old Brown” (our old beat up land cruiser) and explained to Brett that the black mass in my abdomen couldn’t be explained.  For some reason, after I had the big cry and returned home, my “panic mode” or my sense of worry must have switched itself off.   Maybe unconsciously I knew that things were about to turn nasty or that I was about to lose all control of my  “normal” life, but at no stage again over the next ten months did I worry or get upset about what was happening to me”.

Shannon describes her closeness with her immediate family as “regular and overall happy”!  Her extended families also deeply loved and cherished Shan, support that would carry her through the challenging months ahead.  Beginning with her mother, Lu, speaking on the phone together once a week, longer if they both had time and it was important.  The phone call which Shan made to her mum that day would be one of those significant conversations.  Lu, a trained nursing sister, with years of experience across numerous levels of hospital care, became Shan’s primary ‘carer’.  By the end of the phone call, Lu had decided she was on her way, a two hour drive north!  Over a few days Lu lived with Shannon, looking after her and helping out in every possible way.  

I remember hanging up the phone that day and rolling my eyes thinking “It’s ok mum, there’s no need to worry”!   What mother would not go automatically into “mum worry mode”?   Shannon’s phone call would not be words any mother would want to hear, especially with such knowledge and experience in the medical profession, which began long before Shannon was born.  The days that followed combined doctor’s and specialists appointments, as well as ultrasounds and finally a CT scan.  The results of these tests showed that Shan’s bowels were intussuscepting, i.e. a sliding of a portion of a tubular organ into another portion, especially a condition of the bowel in which this happens, creating swelling that leads to obstruction.  In other words, folding upon itself like a telescope.  The cause was unclear and surgery was required to fix the problem.

Wednesday 28th February 2007.  I arrived bright and early at St Andrew’s Hospital to have a laparoscopy on my abdomen, followed by possibly surgery to cut out the section of bowel that was spasming and causing the intussusception.  I got dressed in the pretty undies, shoes and hat, all made of paper, also a gown and laid on the table while everyone fussed around getting ready.  Finally the anaesthetist and head surgeon clarified the planned procedure then got underway.  The last I remember was telling the anaesthetist that I felt very heavy! That night I woke up to the surgeon telling me about the procedure, I was still very groggy and the only thing I consciously felt or thought at the time, “Ouch!  My feet hurt!”  I must have had pins and needles in them from lying still on my back for so long. Thinking back through the hazy fog, I do recall the word “tumour” being said, however, at the time, I really was not completely back on the planet. 
March 1, 2007. I woke Thursday morning and felt a little bit sore but overall pretty good, the sun was shining, the hospital ward was bustling.  I knew that Mum, Dad, Brett and my two brothers were on their way in to visit me in hospital.  At that stage the only “bad thing” I had to deal with was that when they brought in the breakfast tray, I was informed that I was on a clear liquid diet until I passed wind or farted!   I love my food and wasn’t sure how I was going to survive the next two or three days without it!

The initial stage of writing was relatively quick for Shannon, just over a week!   However, I received an email from her informing me that it was taking a little longer to write about the next stage.  Shan explained how her mind was jumping back and forth between things or events that had taken place.  On another level, Shan also reminded me that little bits were being written each morning while her two year old, Ella and baby Zac, were sleeping!   Shan described how the first part of her story was so matter of fact, “this is what happened” she described, “but the second part (post-diagnosis), is a lot more of a mental journey.  Not because I’m upset or afraid to write about it all and what happened next, but more because it’s very hard to describe the feelings and emotions you experience when you are told you have cancer”.
The Diagnosis

Everyone arrived and we sat there in the busy room chatting, laughing and in particular making jokes about “passing wind”!  My surgeon arrived to check on me and talk about the surgery.  Looking back I cannot remember much of what he said, until I heard, “we removed a tumour the size of a golf ball from the outside of your bowel”.  He continued on to say that everything was removed that looked like it was affected, including a significant section of bowel, my appendix, some valves and lymph nodes that grow along the outside of the bowel.  The doctor also indicated with confidence that they “had caught it all”. The tumour and parts removed were to be sent off to pathology for testing as well for examination.
At this stage I must have looked like a ghost, no, possibly more like a statue. As his words came flowing through my ears and into my brain, not a single part of me moved in that hospital bed. Until one single tear slipped down my cheek and gave away the lump in my throat also the tight knot in my tummy. I think I sat there like a ‘stunned mullet’, numb, until he left, than everyone jumped up to cuddle me. I couldn’t look at anyone and I wasn’t going to let myself cry. All I could say was “I don’t want to lose my house”, which, in hindsight sounds like the oddest thing to be considering at that time.  Again, I think this was my body and brains way of coping with shock, “ignoring” the hard road I was about to travel physically and emotionally.
For anyone who has had cancer, you will know that it’s not as basic as the doctor coming to you saying “you have cancer” and then you start chemotherapy or radiation. It took two or three days for pathology to come back with the results and it turned out to be an aggressive lymphoma. Of course the doctor explained it all to me, together with the conclusion “I will refer you on to another specialist” …words that would come to annoy me many times over the next year! On the upside, all of my scan, all the poking and prodding, showed that there was no further significant cancer growth anywhere else in my body. So a nine month course of intense chemotherapy was prescribed, starting as soon as possible to kill off the small amount of cells that were left after surgery.
I knew that the months to follow were going to be hard.  I think I had a few days at the start where, in my head I was walking around saying “F…  them! I’m fine, I feel fine!  The surgeon said he got it all, it will be right”!  However, I knew that it didn’t matter what I thought, for this thing  was like a large rock rolling down a hill and once it started there was no stopping” the process” until it reached the bottom. 
Specialist after specialist, oncologist after oncologist!  Appointments, scans, bloods, I was poked, prodded, needled and marrowed .  The procedure for one scan involved drinking some ’ yucky’ drink, lie in a dark room for half an hour and then  on the scan table for one hour without moving!   If I moved we had to start it all again!  The insertion of a portacath into my chest was also fun, with me spending the rest of the day vomiting. The worst procedure of all was the testing of my bone marrow to see if the cancer had spread into my bones – OUCH! OUCH! OUCH!
In the end, the diagnosis was that I had non-hodgkins Burkitt’s lymphoma.  A fairly rare but fast growing cancer of the lymphatic system and generally unknown how or why I had developed this cancer.  My oncologist basically described it “as though my body, in creating cells, got the combination wrong a couple of times and these cancerous cells started to multiply rapidly”.

The impact of such intense times in one’s life as Shannon experienced in regards to health, can be viewed from a very different perspective in the years to follow!  In assisting Shannon share her story, I am humbled to play a very small part in Shannon’s road to recovery before leaving for Hong Kong in May.  Upon hearing of Shannon’s illness, I offered her Bowen Therapy, the second of two modalities in which I was qualified, Pranic Healing being the first in 2002. Shannon agreed to my offer and our sessions began March 7, 2007.  While able to lay Shannon face down on a massage table, the basic procedure for beginning a Bowen session and again this was the case twelve days later.  However, all was about to change! 

The emails Shannon shared with family and friends throughout that year have become significant in piecing the jigsaw together, information she now has been able to access in writing her story. 

March 23, the first email:  “I had to go into Day Surgery to have a porta-cath inserted into my chest. A supposedly short procedure that you can walk out of the hospital after, but I was in bed for the rest of the day vomiting.” 

In medical terms, a port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin.  A catheter connects the port to a vein. With this in her chest, I explained to Shannon how the next session would proceed, just to lay on her back.  Minimum ‘hands on’ in the physical was now the only way possible and the ‘etheric  energy work’ was about ‘holding’ the vibration for her throughout each session. The drive to Shannon’s home was approximately one hour, also on two occasions I facilitated sessions with Lu and husband Brett! 

Now, some years later, I am very aware that both Shannon’s mother and husband greatly assisted the LoveLight vibration in Shannon’s home to be anchored more fully.  The impact on the multi-dimensional levels, both conscious and also taking place in the subconscious were necessary as we were all on this path together with Shannon.  The learning awakened in me through the “trust” that Shannon and others had in the ‘healing treatments’, wondering myself if anything was helping, for it was only March. 

The Bowen Technique, only completed the previous year, brought through a new understanding of the Gift of the Channel and significantly awakened in me during the following sessions with Shannon, three in total until the end of April.  These sessions were all held in Shannon’s own home, downstairs initially and one in her bedroom, for she was unable to get out of bed.  I placed crystals around her room and was totally guided in how each session would unfold!  Following a session in early April, I was witnessing a very ill young woman who was dealing with severe headaches and was at this stage, regularly in and out of hospital.

The news of Shannon’s illness began a flood of visits, presents, emails and cards.  Her many friends and large extended family all ‘walked’ with Shannon during the months to follow, however, not to the extent as her primary carer’s, husband Brett and her mother.   Lu who was with her day and night, at home as well Shannon's numerous stays in hospital.  However, everyone agreed that Shannon’s core strength, determination and will to live through what would be some of the darkest of days, came from deep within. 

The ‘roller coaster ride’ of emotions had begun and Shannon’s selfless attitude was mixed with the many questions she would ask of herself over the months to follow.  I guess some people go into a medical assessment or surgery, with cancer, being the possible and likely diagnoses.  For example, a seventy year old smoker who is having trouble breathing is going to suspect that lung cancer is a possibility.  But at twenty five years of age, going in with stomach cramps and an intussuscepting bowel, even after finding a black mass in the ultrasound the week before, I still didn’t think that I, a fit healthy “normal” woman who never went to the Doctor’s for anything, could possibly have cancer.
Shan’s ability to describe the medical terms, procedures and possible outcomes are also mixed with emotion and on numerous occasions could see the ‘funny side’ to it all!  However, in reading through her own words, there is nothing other than an obvious strong desire to stay positive and hopeful in all that was being thrown her way!

Chemotherapy is designed to kill you off – literally. They inject chemicals into your body that kill ALL cells but in particular, fast-growing cells which are typically cancer cells (but cells, like the ones that make up your hair are also fast growing which is why most people lose their hair!). The oncologists inject just enough chemo to bring your body down to nothing, you are barely alive, they monitor all your blood count levels, that is, red cells, white cells, platelets and a whole heap of other ones in between that mean different things. Then they stop, you get a week “off” while they pump you full of other things, such as steroids, trying to get your body to recover just enough to start all over again.  A line graph steadily going down, down and down, with a small jump up every so often until you reach the bottom.

One of the saddest things for me to deal with emotionally at this time was that Brett and I had wanted to start a family that year. We had hoped we would be visiting the Doctor for tests and scans of a different type, not for cancer.  Because the lymphoma was aggressive and the chemo due to start immediately, I wasn’t able to have any of my eggs harvested or saved, I really wasn’t given any options or time to think about any of it. Obviously the Doctors were looking at it matter of fact, “it is the eggs or my life”!  To me it was almost the end of the world that I might not be able to ever have children. What was the point of saving my own life if I was never going to be able to conceive in the future?

My oncologist prescribed me a drug that would shut down my reproductive system and essentially put me into menopause, to try and reduce the blood flow to the organs and therefore, hopefully reduce the amount of chemotherapy drugs affecting those areas.  It was the only thing I could do if I was to have babies in the future. 

The enormity of Shannon’s daily challenges are remembered and expressed in her own words!  Written in early April, this was the first of three chemotherapy updates written through email letters.

Unfortunately, I have had a bad start to the chemo treatment regime as well. The first four days went ok with only minor fatigue and nausea.  Each day I would go into the hospital and they would pump me full of saline for fluids, various random drugs and steroids for nausea, cell reproduction, then of course the actual chemotherapy drugs as well.  I also have a pump that I get to carry around with me, all day every day that drips the chemo through my system continuously, until the next day when I go back into hospital and they changed the bag over. 

Finally on the Friday I had to have a lumbar puncture to have chemo injected into my spine. The procedure itself wasn’t too bad, but I woke up with an instant headache which only proceeded to get worse. I spent the remainder of Friday, then Saturday, Sunday and Monday in bed unable to get up without vomiting. So it was back to hospital for me on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday they took me into surgery to complete a blood patch on my spine to stop the leaking spinal fluid. Having to lay flat on my back in the hospital bed until Wednesday morning and so will  just say that there are SO MANY basic things that are extremely difficult to do while remaining in this position.   For the first time in five days I was able to get up on Wednesday morning and go to the toilet without vomiting.  It was the biggest relief ever.  The headache was still there, but only just, and suddenly my appetite was back. I was looking forward to going home.

Between Shannon’s first email and the second chemotherapy update is three months.  However, we may excuse her for not writing so regularly, while dealing with her own illness and all she was asked to endure.

Shannon admitted, “unfortunately I’ve been pretty flat lately and unable to do much anyway” yet she managed to organise a surprise birthday party for Brett in July.

I threw a surprise 30th birthday party for Brett on Friday 6th July.  It was a great night, Brett had NO IDEA that there was anything happening, right up until he walked up our front stairs, then he saw everyone standing on our deck!  Of course I could not have done it with the help I received from Brett’s family and especially my parents who brought ALL the food stuff, gas bottles, drinks, ice and eskies, all the way from Byron just so that Brett had no idea.  We eventually crashed” into bed at 2.30am and I was completely knackered!

Following the birthday event, Shannon wrote, “unfortunately since then, everything has gone a little downhill”. By the end of the same month, July, Shannon emailed the following updated chemo letter. Well I have not written for a while and have lost track of what I have and have not told you. I started round 3B with a cold/flu and therefore spent most of the next two weeks in bed or laying on the lounge. On Friday of week two I went into the clinic for some platelets and ended up with a fever and a temperature of 40.3 degrees. My blood pressure dropped to 80’s over 40’s and they pumped me full of fluids and some other drugs to try and bring it back up.

I was then admitted in to hospital again and had a horrible night. My blood pressure did not come back up, but they had pumped too much fluid into me, so I now had fluid in my lungs and could not breathe properly – I was taking 40 breaths per minute. I started coughing up blood and then they decided I needed a chest x-ray.  They pumped some more drugs into me to make me pee and then talked about taking me down to the Intensive Care Unit to be put on life support as I was going into septic shock. It was a very eventful night and one that I really never want to repeat.  I heard a nurse the next day describe me as, “neutropenic,  (abnormally low number of white blood cells), septicemic, (a deadly blood infection) cytotoxic (designed to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells) and afibroll”.

I spent the next few days in bed fighting the fevers and nausea.  Then the Infectious Disease doctor decided that my portacath had bacteria growing in it and needed to be removed.  So on Monday I got wheeled down for surgery to have it removed from my chest, and some PICC lines inserted into my arm, (a form of intravenous access that can be used for a prolonged period of time). That wasn’t the end of the bad news either!  On Wednesday my oncologist visited me, telling me that “my blood counts were not recovering and that I was going to have to stay in hospital until they did”!  Worst part being that they have  now delayed my next round of treatment until the counts completely recover, so my six week countdown had  now been extended to seven, maybe eight weeks. Completely devastated!                                                                             
I am finally home and at the moment trying to complete my first assignment that I was supposed to do last week!  I am just hoping the next seven or eight weeks go smoothly and that I do not end up sick in hospital again!  I have too many places to be and things to do on my calendar!   But again, unfortunately I was told I had to stay in for a blood transfusion because my white and red blood cell counts were so low. So another night in hospital was required”. 

I hope everyone else is well and I am sorry I have not had more of a chance to stay in touch with you. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.
Love you all lots

A Roller Coaster Ride!

The continuing treatment of chemotherapy over a nine month period is a combination of detailed information, coming mostly from Shannon’s own writing and emails during this time.  However, her wonderful openness and sense of ‘humour’ is both an inspiration as well as a great learning for all, “having a bad day” may have a different perspective.   

Nine months of chemotherapy generally progressed, except that my descending graph line significantly dropping straight down along the way. The chemo regime that I was prescribed was called “Hyper CVAD”. “Hyper” meaning excessive and “CVAD” was the acronym for the four chemotherapy drugs that were used (Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine, Ara-C and Doxorubicin).  Although there were many more drugs administered at the same time to assist with side-effects and also to help the chemotherapy drugs in their effectiveness. I used to say that for every drug there are at least two side effects, and for each side effect there was another drug. Each morning I was taking between six and ten different pills (in addition to the various drugs administered at the oncology clinic). I do not know how my kidneys survived it!

I was also required to have lumbar punctures as part of my chemotherapy regime as this particular cancer had a tendency to manifest around the meninges or cerebellum at the base of the skull. The brain and spinal cord have a protective sac of fluid around them to protect them from germs and viruses that might infect the body from time to time. The only way to get the chemotherapy drugs into this protected area was to inject it directly between the vertebrae of my spine. I was told on a number of occasions that whilst this procedure had risks due to working with the spine, after the procedure I should be relatively ok. Unfortunately, my body did not seem to agree with that theory and I would be seriously sick as well as bed-ridden after each one.
My first lumbar puncture procedure seemed to go to plan. They gave me a general anaesthetic to put me to sleep, then lying on my side, curled in a ball, they injected the methotrexate between the vertebrae of my spine.  From what I understand, after the procedure I was only supposed to feel as sick or as “normal” as any other chemo day. Once back at home I spent the next four days bedridden, with the curtains closed and unable to sit up without vomiting. By the Monday, Mum was taking me back to the hospital because I was so sick. It turns out that this first lumbar puncture had caused my spinal fluid to leak, leaving me with a headache and extreme dizziness that resulted in vomiting as soon as I sat up.

Another surgeon suggested that I have a blood patch on my spine. This was a really horrible experience, being kept awake for the procedure, having to lie deadly still on my side while they took blood out of my left arm and injected it into my spine to try to stop the leak. It is obviously very technical and tricky, but I was petrified.  Unable to move despite being wide awake and feeling everything that happened to me. Not surprisingly, I realized a number of years later that watching a video of an epidural procedure in our antenatal classes, was too close to the heart for me and a very upsetting experience.
After the blood patch on my spine, I was required to lie flat on my back for twenty four hours in the hospital bed. I remember waking up with Brett and Mum there.  For the first time ever in hospital I was desperate to eat the hospital meal that had been delivered. Hospital food leaves much to be desired, but I was so hungry after vomiting for four days that I was ready to eat anything! I had to lie on my back, while Brett tried to slide the food into my mouth without dropping it all over me! Funny but also frustratingly slow!
The worst part was waking up at about 9pm that evening and realizing that I needed to wee….oh-o, my first bed pan experience. And I had to do it lying down! After twenty five years of teaching myself NOT to wee in bed, try telling your body to relax and just wee! It is amazing that even with your brain telling yourself to do it that it still does not happen. After about thirty minutes of trying I finally got my bladder to let go and it was such a relief! But just as quickly as it started, I flinched and my body stopped it! Despite all of Mum’s efforts, we were not able to get it to start again and it was starting to hurt my back so we gave up for a while.
Unfortunately we both then fell asleep until about 3am.  I woke with the feeling that I was going to burst! So the bed pan experience started all over again. You wouldn’t believe my relief when at about 6am the nurse came in and told me that the surgeon said I should be fine to stand up and go to the toilet!  It was such a relief, firstly to be able to go to the toilet, and secondly to stand up without vomiting. There was still a bit of a headache, but nothing like it had been.
I hope everyone else is well and sorry I have not had more of a chance to stay in touch with you. I am looking forward to seeing you soon!
Love you all lots

The Final Stage

One thought I always had during that year and still have today, there are plenty of people out there who go through much worse than what I endured. Nine months of chemo is nothing when you consider young children diagnosed with cancers such as leukemia, and have to go through years of chemotherapy and even worse, bone marrow transplants.
One lady I met in the hospital wards, Rosie, had basically been living there for a number of years on and off. Her cancer had moved from one organ to the next, and just when they thought they had cleared the latest outbreak the cancer would reappear somewhere else. She was from Roma, an eight hour drive from Brisbane and she spent every day in hospital, unable to leave due to being so frail. Also leukopenic, meaning she had no white cells to protect her body from infections!  Her husband would spend a lot of time with her, but often he had to go back to Roma and all she wanted was to go back with him to see her daughter as well as the grandchildren.
Stories like this one, kept me grounded during my nine months of torture.  On the days when I felt sad or depressed I would think about Rosie and what appeared to be a hopeless situation.  The cancer, not giving up easily, her family and life too far away to be enjoyed regularly!   In a lot of ways I had it easy with a husband and mother who dropped everything for me.  Being there, day in and day out for the whole year!  Driving me from home to hospital!  Carrying me in from the car and the cleaning up of endless amounts of vomit! Any time!  Anywhere!  Both listening to me whinge about the doctors!  Whining when I did not want to get up, or take my pills and vitamins.  I was literally a shell of a body with no strength or energy to do anything!  However, I still had the mind and mouth of a fit healthy person who had the ‘shits with everything’ about what I was going through.  How Mum and Brett put up with me for that entire year, I will never know!

Now at the end of September and the final chapter of an intense year is penned again by Shannon...   

“I cannot believe I am finally here! The chemo treatment has finished, I have escaped from hospital and beginning to feel normal again.  Still not very bouncy, also I get tired easily, but it is great not to feel sick and exhausted constantly.  My last round of chemo was not as eventful as round three, thankfully. However, I did notice that I was significantly more tired and breathless all the time during the last round. I cannot imagine how horrible it must be to go through more than four rounds, how the body copes as it deteriorates further and further is truly amazing. Oh, once again I lost all the little fluffy bits of hair that had started to regrow on my head and eyebrows.

Unfortunately, my last lumbar puncture was almost a repeat of the first. As soon as I stood up I had an instant headache and felt sick. I was bed-bound for two days until I had to go into the clinic for platelets and blood. The lumbar puncture left me with a headache for nine days and the doctor thought I had an irritation of the meninges from the chemicals he had injected – yay!  But at least I did not have to go for a spinal blood patch this time.

I was admitted to hospital as my temperature, once again peaked a fever of forty degrees. This time I had to stay in for a total of ten days and they were the worst ever in my entire life. Poor Brett and Mum had to put up with me constantly crying at the ‘drop of a hat’ for no reason whatsoever!  I started to wonder if I was ‘losing the plot’. I think mentally I was over it!  I was finished treatment and just wanted to get out, but physically I was exhausted.  I was sick and could not stand up for more than a minute or two without throwing up. Of course, the doctor was not letting me go anywhere until my blood counts had reached the minimum required levels for it to be safe.

Anyway, I am out and as you can see from the photo, I celebrated my escape from hospital with a shandy on the deck. I know, you may think I would go for something stronger but a shandy was about all I could manage.  I believe my poor cat may have been ignored somewhat by Brett while I was in hospital, so once home, he latched on, around my neck and would not stop purring – it’s nice to be loved.

It has now been two weeks since I left hospital and I am slowly getting there. I am walking Stephie (pet dog) most days and finally can walk up my front steps without getting massive head spins. After eight months of laying around, also swearing that I will  never lay in bed or on the lounge during the day again, I must admit that I am still getting to 3 or 4pm each day and looking to have a ‘nanna nap’. Otherwise, I am in bed by about 8pm and very happy to be in a horizontal position!  I guess it will take a while to get going again!

I am still going in to the clinic once a week with blood tests every second day.  Once my blood counts get back up to normal and stay steady they will take the picc lines out of my arm and then I’m truly FREE !!  (Well aside from some final scans and checkups).

So now I am looking forward to doing all the social things I have been planning or have coming up on the calendar. I live for summer to kick in and get down to the beach. Also I am actually excited about going back to work!  I have started with half a day each week, doing accounts and it is great to have the brain moving again.

I thank you all for your support this year. The little and big gifts included cards, lottery tickets, hats, beanies and scarves were all much appreciated. Going through something like this is certainly a physical battle but it is so much bigger mentally and emotionally.  Having wonderful friends and family gives you a reason to keep going.

Thanks everyone, I am looking forward to catching up with you sooner rather than later!   Hopefully before Christmas!

The confirmation that came to me regarding Shan’s amazing journey was not obvious until some years later when Brett was hospitalized over a Christmas period. The hospital was one hour away by car so asked Shannon if I could visit and her reply, “I hope that some of the healing you did with me is now helping Brett”.  The visit with Brett was short as he was about to be allowed home and remembered I had left several crystal following the session with Shan in her home.  Firstly beginning with Bowen Therapy, the conscious modality then going with the flow, the Gift of The Channel.  The bigger picture reveals a small yet profound time for all, especially for Shannon herself, now knowing she was and could hold the LoveLight necessary in assisting Brett.

While sitting with Shannon and other members of the family in January 2015, I discovered that after all she endured in 2007, now had developed shingles!  Asking Shannon if she wished to add this to her story?  Hence, assisting with another “soul travelling” journey which lasted for over an hour.  Upon completion of her return, Zac, now eighteen months was also waking from his sleep in the cabin next door and was being cared for by his grandmother.  Both mother and child were travelling together and had come back at the same time.  The moment had come to bring them physically together and so extended the session by another forty minutes as they lay together as “one”! 

Australia Day celebrates the achievements of Australian’s by the Government and local councils.  January 2015 – the mall country Queensland town of Roma, the following information was posted on the Maranoa’s Council website, describing Shannon as an inspiration!   
Shannon Chappel’s  skills and willingness in planning for the new Lions Park has seen her named the unofficial Project Manager. Her dedication and hours of volunteer work has been invaluable to the Lions Club.

Her commitment to this role has seen her contribute to the Lions Club through her exemplary communication skills, ability to research and collect information, design and publishing skills and co-ordinating cooking for cake stalls.

A valued advisor to the Grants committee, Shannon has helped the club with applications and documentation. She is always the first one to put her hand up to attend supplier and Council meetings to represent the club.

She does everything with a smile and is an inspiration to both the Lions group and the community with her dedication enthusiasm and energy. Demonstrating the true spirit of volunteering, she gets in and does whatever needs to be done for the greater good of the community!