Friday 18th October 2019

Women Of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King.100/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King. 100/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcoming friend and artist, Tracey Fletcher King, aged 51, to this series. Tracey and I have ‘known’ each other via the world of art and creating and a few years back, she had some wonderful on-line classes called Delicious Paint. They were delicious because it was about learning to paint fruit and vegetables. I amazed myself when I saw the shapes and colours in a few I managed to do under her guidance.

I learned so much about ‘patience’ in waiting for  a page to dry because it would not help me get the result if it was a teensy wet. Maybe, without me knowing it, Tracey was using her experience as a cancer patient to then help me (again) as a newbie cancer patient back in 2017. Here’s more about Tracey in her words. A little different in presentation this week, is the use of two other images (I asked Tracey to supply them) about her Art Exhibition. Go, if you can. I know some Queensland blogging friends did last year.

 

Blog/Website: www.traceyfletcherking.com

Instagram: traceyfletcherking

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Six and a bit years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing too special about that as 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with it, and despite mine having spread to some lymph nodes and a gruelling year of treatment I had good results and for a glorious couple of years I was cancer free. In April 2016 I went for my routine check to hear that my cancer had returned and had metastasised to my liver, and suddenly everything changed.

The courage, bravery and strength I thought I had acquired thanks to my first run around was blown away from that moment on as suddenly I was dealing with incurable. Those words and the new path I was then on was devastating. I had to tell my daughter, my family, and face the five million tests to determine treatment options etc while holding it together. I still have no clue how I got through that week but I think it was one of my strongest weeks just to get up and face it.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

This new reality has changed me in profound ways. We all have a use by date, but mine is monitored and discussed constantly and while some weeks it feels like we may have years left and others the end feels scarily close, it is always there at the back of your brain. It is part of my everyday and the only way to cope for me is to be pragmatic. I had a stage of not wanting to know what was going on, and I tried like crazy to pretend it was all going to be fine and that a miracle cure was around the corner and every other thought that screamed avoidance. It didn’t make things easier, in fact it made it harder and those months were pretty miserable as I tried to shove the cancer bunny back in its hole but during a round of chemo my oncologist explained having cancer is like trying to hold sand, eventually it will run through my fingers and there will be none left, but his job and mine is to keep shoving as much sand back in as we can.

That was a revelation to me.

I can only hold that sand if I acknowledge that I need it and that it is running through my fingers which that can only happen if I am dealing with it so that’s what I do. If I try to pretend and have no say in my care or face how I am doing then how can I hold that sand? It takes tears and a good old boot up my own butt somedays, and other days I feel like I am piling that sand in there left right and centre, but I face it. I don’t try and hide from it or cling to false hope. I am just going to do the best I can with what I have and for as long as I can and as long as I stick with that I can face almost anything. This is so much easier to deal with and makes courage an everyday habit rather than something to call on in dire circumstances.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

The idea that if you pretend it’s not there it isn’t happening is one of the toughest mindsets to cope with. It’s weirdly easier to just face it, grieve, yell, stomp around the house, cry, try new things, change your mind a million times and be angry at what’s been dealt to you, than trying to pretend it’s not there. The sooner you face it the sooner you can live with it. The fantasies you have in your head of how bad things are going to be are always worse than the reality in my experience so just face up so you can stop wasting time and get back to the good stuff and there is a lot of good stuff. My days are filled with lots of great stuff, they are also filled with a litany of side effects from ongoing and endless rounds of chemo but life is actually pretty good now I let it be what it is and go along with it.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I know I am more courageous now. I don’t have time to warm up to things or to run endless pro and con lists before I do something I just do it. I don’t want to regret time taken making decisions and torturing myself with what ifs… I just jump in most of the time now. Well not so much jump as a bit of a lurch but I just get on with things. I am better at saying no to things and I spend a lot less time on social media. If people find my work and want to buy it etc then that’s great but I’m not into marketing my art or anything else. I got rid of a heap of online platforms and my days are much better for it. It takes so much pressure off to not be faced with a barrage of notifications and emails. I have stepped back and enjoy the quiet a lot more. I meditate daily, exercise most days and face chemo with a welcome attitude instead of dreading it. It is all about going with the flow rather than fighting things and that gives me the time and energy to be courageous when I need it.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

The thought of what may happen is always worse than living with the reality so face it as soon as you feel able to, and then go with the flow because some days you just have more than you do on other days. For example I ask myself how strong am I feeling and then tell the oncologist at the beginning of the session, I’m having a strong day today so hit me with it, or I’m not feeling on top of things so just tell me what I need to know. Courage is a habit and some days you will do it better than others so make the most of it when you are feeling strong and be kind to yourself on the days when you aren’t feeling so strong.

 

 

That is one BIG story of courage. I know that others who read this are also undergoing treatment for cancer which decided to add its ugly presences elsewhere. I do hope as I am sure readers will too, that your art exhibition is a great success, and that your treatments give you the strength to attend. You are in my thoughts often. Your kindness, checking on me during my early days of learning about my cancer, will never be forgotten. Thank you Tracey.

Before this post went live, I was assured from Tracey that all fingers (and toes!) were crossed that she was well enough for her treatment regime and that she would be able to attend this much anticipated event:

Therefore I am adding this for you, dear readers as Tracey and I have discussed:

“Tracey will be delighted to see your kind words I am sure, but as she is conserving her energies (post chemo treatments is always a challenge) for this Art Exhibition “Still Blue and White” coming up on Saturday – see the brochure- I know she will read but may not be up to commenting right now.’

Denyse.

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

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Comments

  1. “Courage is a habit”, Oh Tracey I like that thinking very much! And it sounds as though it is serving you extremely well. Thank you so much for sharing your wise words and your story. I’d not heard the sand analogy before. I’m going to share it with those I know who will benefit from such an insight. May each day for you be filled of what you desire most on that given day and may that sand trickle through your fingers mighty slow.

    Love and hugs. Sandra xo

    Thank you Denyse for feature another courageous woman to draw strength from by featuring and sharing Tracey’s experience and wisdom. I’m in awe. xo

  2. This is another inspiring post. I love the idea of facing the situation as soon as you are able. I know my imagination can conjure up worse things than reality.
    Wishing you the best Tracey!

  3. Kia Kaha Tracey.

    Very inspiring, and I agree with you that facing up to what is happening and be open to discussing life and dying. It helps.
    My husband was diagnosed with a Myelofibrosis [a rare bone marrow cancer] last December. It certainly is not easy being reminded of your demise regularly. Though we do have a few laughs about certain things, our humour is tending to be towards black humour. Funny all the same, well to us it is 🙂

    • Our humour tends to dark at times now as well… it can be a grim business this cancer thing but it’s got its light moments too … sending you my thoughts and hope you can get through what us to come with grace and dignity
      Tracey

    • Oh Suzanne, that sounds tough and rough. “Rare” is such a not helpful word really. Sending you and your husband my very best wishes and if black humour works, bring on more of it I say!

      Seriously, though, thank you for popping in to read and commenting on Tracey’s post. I so appreciate that too.

      Denyse x

  4. Tracey that analogy about the sand is a really good one for all of us – but especially if you’re dealing with a life issue that is making the sand run out way too fast. I love the idea of you and your oncologist stuffing the sand back in as fast as you can so that you get to live longer and more fully. Your courage just shines through and I wish you many long and happy years ahead x
    Denyse, thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  5. Hi Tracey, and thanks Denyse for highlighting her…I found the post to be a perfect example of quiet, personal courage. I was so moved by your words, Tracey, that I read the entire post out loud to my husband. Your everyday courage is inspiring.
    Facing difficult situations is the only way to grab on and handle them, I think…which you have admirably done. I aspire to this.

    • Tracey is not only amazing but with no pretence. Tells it as it is yet is gracious and kind. Her phone messages to me when I was first diagnosed with cancer and running pretty scared were filled with kindness and concern. I am in awe of her strength too.

      Thank you Nancy for reading, commenting and sharing!

      Denyse x

    • Thanks to you both for such kind and supportive words. It means the world to read them

  6. Oh my, I can’t imagine how tough that is – and how absolutely courageous you are, Tracey. As an aside, that artichoke is just fabulous! Thanks, Denyse, for bringing us another inspiring story. #MLSTL #teamlovinlife

  7. Tracey, my heart goes out to you and you are indeed worthy of the title Courageous Woman. Dealing with the prognosis and treatment while trying to make the best of everyday takes a whole different mindset. As people go through their days with minor ailments and much moaning and groaning, it takes a reminder like this to make us wake up, step up and get on with enjoying every moment we have. I do hope that your days are indeed filled with love, laughter and motivation to do the things you can (and want) to do. I wish you so much of the best during your ongoing treatment, and thank you for inspiring us all. xx #mlstl

  8. Thanks Tracey and Denyse for sharing this honest account of real courage. I am in awe of what you have been through and continue to go through. Such an inspiring story and I have no words. #mlstl

  9. Denyse I’m so happy to see Tracey here as part of your Women of Courage series because OMG she is so very courageous in every way imaginable. Tracey I can only imagine how it would feel to get the diagnosis you got and to come to terms with it and find a way to live your life in a happy and fulfilling way but still accommodating the required treatments and their affects and the scary dialogues that must go on in your head. I’m so glad you have your art and boy oh boy you are so talented! You’re also incredibly inspiring and the loveliest of persons. I enjoyed going to your show last year. I won’t get to this year’s unfortunately due to my recent illness but I wish you all the very best of luck with it (but I’ve no doubt it will go superbly well). I really look forward to meeting up with you soon and having a good ‘ol chat. xoxo

  10. Dorothy Allison says:

    Thank you for such honest sharing about your cancer journey – what your oncologist said about shovelling sand, and it running through your fingers is an image that is like climbing out of the pit of grief. I do hope your exhibition is rewarding for you and all who attend. Blessings.

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