Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - By Os­car Cainer

( JULY 24–AU­GUST 23)

You know just where you want to go and what you want to achieve. Your vi­sion is crys­tal clear. And you also know ex­actly what you need to do to get what you want. This, how­ever, may not be as help­ful as it seems. Your as­pi­ra­tion is valid but as Mars re­verses out of your op­po­site sign, you need to re­assess your route – and take life a lit­tle less se­ri­ously. Don’t worry, you’ll soon be off in a much bet­ter di­rec­tion. For life- chang­ing ad­vice about the pow­er­ful so­lar eclipse, call 1900 957 223. smaller skir­mishes that have been fought along the way – even though they en­abled big­ger suc­cesses. It’s some­times those lit­tle mo­ments that are worth more than the so-called big events in our lives. As Mars slips back­wards, all you need to do is con­sol­i­date one small vic­tory. Call if you are look­ing to make some pos­i­tive changes: 1900 957 223.

TAURUS Even though you feel you’re fac­ing a bat­tle, there’s good news on the hori­zon. There’s no way you’re go­ing to lose it; the most likely out­come is a stale­mate. A com­pro­mise is be­ing called for in or­der for things to work out fair. There will be some an­noy­ance as you reach a truce, but if you man­age to stay calm and philo­soph­i­cal, your dream will re­main in­tact. There are in­sights and rev­e­la­tions in store for you now. Call 1900 957 223.

(APR 21–MAY 21)

GEMINI What’s the point in chis­elling away at a rock face when there are ex­plo­sives you can use? Well, it de­pends on the scope you have for er­ror. You’ll have more of an im­pact than you imag­ine this week. Once you’ve blown some­thing out of the wa­ter, it won’t sink again with­out a trace – you’ll cre­ate a wave of en­ergy that can shift the dy­nam­ics of a key re­la­tion­ship. Or, you can keep slowly chip­ping away. The choice is yours. If you need in­spi­ra­tion, call 1900 957 223.

(MAY 22–JUN 22)

CANCER We can al­ways find a rea­son to have an ar­gu­ment. There’s usu­ally some­thing or some­one to crit­i­cise. When we put so much en­ergy into life’s bat­tles, it throws more of them our way. Even when an is­sue arises, you don’t have to re­spond in the usual way. As Mars re­verses into your op­po­site sign, you can achieve more than you think by sim­ply stop­ping, be­fore you get too drawn in. Won­der­ful changes are pos­si­ble. Call 1900 957 223.

(JUN 23–JUL 23)

Ihate the word “jour­ney”. I try to re­mem­ber that peo­ple say it be­cause they don’t know what else to say: “It’s just a jour­ney you had to go through” or “It’s great that you got to the end of your jour­ney.” Cancer is not a jour­ney. The best thing to say to some­one who has gone through cancer is, “That’s sh*t. I’m sorry you had to go through it.” It’s ac­knowl­edg­ment with­out pity or false pos­i­tiv­ity.

I re­mem­ber that it was a Tues­day. I’d had the biopsy and a blood test the week be­fore and was wait­ing on the re­sults. Did I have breast cancer? I went to the GP in the morn­ing but they just had the bloods, not the biopsy re­sults. They called about lunchtime, ask­ing me to come in again that af­ter­noon for the biopsy re­sults, but I was at work and said I’d come in the next morn­ing. They in­sisted I come in that same day. That’s when I knew. I was only 32 and since the cancer was ag­gres­sive, my on­col­o­gist gave me what she called the Rolls-royce of treat­ment. Six ses­sions of chemo, a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy and re­con­struc­tion, and six weeks of ra­di­a­tion.

The thing is, there’s an ex­pec­ta­tion that once your hair grows back, that’s it. The end of the Big C – you’re cured, and you can just go back to who you were be­fore. But it’s not like a bro­ken leg you can re­set. There are long-term side ef­fects from chemo that last years. It may have saved my life, but che­mother­apy has also ir­re­vo­ca­bly changed it. A drug strong enough to kill cancer will also kill off the things you took for granted.

The new nor­mal is coming to terms with the fact that you are now a dif­fer­ent per­son with phys­i­cal and men­tal lim­i­ta­tions im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore. The hard­est are the ones that are deeply at­tached to who you see your­self as. I am a writer. I used to hap­pily spend all day at my desk writ­ing, but not any­more. Con­cen­tra­tion only comes in blocks. It’s called chemo brain, a for­get­ful­ness sim­i­lar to baby brain – but which lasts much longer.

The new nor­mal is learn­ing how to rec­on­cile the fact that your body may be in its 30s but, be­cause of the chem­i­cal menopause brought on by drugs, it’s deal­ing with the same things as a 60-year-old: hot flushes, in­som­nia, loss of li­bido, ir­ri­tabil­ity and fa­tigue.

The new nor­mal is deal­ing with that sense of panic and anx­i­ety every time you go for a sim­ple scan, think­ing the cancer has re­turned.

The thing I mourn the most about the per­son I was is my en­ergy lev­els. I could get up and do what­ever I wanted, when­ever I wanted. Those days are be­hind me now.

When I was bald, all I wanted was to get my hair back to what it was – long, dark and straight. But two-and-a-half years out from chemo, I’ve kept it short, blonde and tou­sled. At first I thought I was just hav­ing fun, but now I think it’s an ex­ter­nal re­minder that I am no longer that chick with long dark hair.

When I look in the mir­ror I see some­one who has been changed by what she has gone through, and I want my out­side to re­flect my in­side. Re­nata Gor­tan is an am­bas­sador for Cancer Coun­cil Daf­fodil Day, Fri­day Au­gust 24.

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