Annet is not the type of person to ever sit still. Her whole house is covered in clever little mosaic art pieces which she usually makes without a pattern... she just follows the design as it evolves and where her feeling goes. I met Annet for the first time during a mosaic course which she gave at her home studio. It opened a whole new world for me to the value of things... you make yourself. Regardless how small or advanced your own piece of art... it's a piece of you.
When I found out that Annet was ill, I asked her if she was still continuing with her beautiful hobby (as I could imagine that her cancer treatment had taken over her life).
To my relief, she replied 'ABSOLUTELY!'. She said that when she first started chemo and in the summer months, she was too tired, but during her second chemo cure, she was able to start her hobby again. Annet said that she found it therapeutic and it helps her focus on something other than her cancer treatment and the thoughts she struggled with everyday. She called it a 'welcome distraction'.
Other things she did to distract herself was watch tv (especially the Tour de France) and play games on her laptop.
When I asked Annet if she was able to carry on with her normal day-to-day activities after starting chemo, she replied that she was not able to do much of her daily routine and things around the house. She was just physically.... too tired...
Some days she felt able to do a few normal activities, and on other days... she had to just take it easy. She said that she went to the gym on days that she felt good but even on those days, she was not able to do normal activities in the gym. In the past she used to go 3 times per week. Even though this was not possible anymore, she tried to go whenever she felt up to it to make sure that she kept working on her fitness.
She also told me that going for walks were a challenge. Due to feeling so tired, she had to test and adjust as to how far she was able to go. If she had gone a little too far... then it was really difficult to get back home. Once she worked out a route that she knew she could handle... she walked it regularly.
Annet said that she was unable to continue with her work. She was unable to give the skincare workshops and that she will from this month, start giving them again (which is an AMAZING sign!!!). Her last workshop was given on the 10th of June last year, the day before starting chemo.
Annet said that the second chemo cure was not as 'heavy' as the first. She slowly started giving facials again but not at clients' homes as before, but at her own home. Also with only 1 client at a time instead of the normal two.
She also tried to keep going to the weekly training. It wasn't always possible, but as much as she could. She wanted to stay part of the team and stay involved.
I can recall attending one of these training evenings with Annet in November of last year. Annet wanted to take part and be part of the team. She said from the beginning that she would only assist, but that only lasted a few minutes. Annet suddenly felt ill and had to leave the room. I don't know who got a bigger fright... me or Annet?
We both decided that she had to take it easy and I immediately took her home.
Annet was quite proud of the fact that she could take part in the preparations for their year-end function where they launched their Christmas Brochure. She had help from her son (who made a film of the event) and really enjoyed working with him.
When I asked Annet if there was anything that others did for her... to make this difficult time a bit easier... she couldn't stop talking!!! :)
Annet said that the visits from her friends helped her more than they will ever know... One of her friends (Jacqueline) even came to clean her house.
Her sister helped to get everything ready for the holidays (caravan clean, house clean etc). Annet only had to pack her bags.
It was thanks to her sister and brother-in-law that the holiday away could take place... at all! It was wonderful for Annet to be able to take a break in between the 2 chemo cures.
Her mother came by to get all her ironing, she is quite old already but wanted to help so she picked a task that she could do.
She LOVED all the cards which she received and proudly displayed them on her wall. She said that she often stands there, just looking at them and reading the beautiful things which people have said.
She also said that she received a lot of flowers! There was always a fresh bouquet of flower in the room and she loves that.
She had visits from people she hadn't seen in ages and she's thankful to have been able to have contact again.
Whatsapp messages... emails and many gifts of little guardian angels... ALL HELPED!
She said that in this difficult time, she didn't loose contact with many people, there were only 1 or 2 who disappointed her and all the other's who have shown their help and support... have more than made up for this.
We did a little private portrait session in Annet's home, so she could have some photo's to remind her of the difficult time (when it passed). No matter how Annet felt while going through her chemo treatment, she ALWAYS wore make up and smiled. She looked so beautiful in her portraits that I had to break to give her a hug and thank her for letting me be part of this process.
I asked Annet if there was anything in her 'normal day-to-day' that she appreciates more now... she said:
She is so excited to start giving workshops again and doing her much loved mozaic... Is even more enjoyable than ever...
She LOVES working in the garden (always have but now... even more so!). She also helps in her son's garden as they lead very busy lives so she likes to help.
It just makes you think....
Every day is extraordinary. Don't ever take the little things for granted...
Thank you for sharing Annet x