Yesterday was the last day of the worst year of my life. Hopefully it will stay the worst year of my life. Hopefully my life can only get better from here on. Of course there were some good moments. Like when my father and brother married their significant others, when we moved into our cosy little house in the lovely town of Hveragerði and of course the day when I married the love of my life. The highlight of this Christmas and New Years Eve was having my lovely husband by my side. Something I had dreamt of for many years…since before we even met.
in January last year I was diagnosed with a stage 4 primary peritoneal cancer and spent the whole of the year 2016 fighting that cancer, going trough 2 different chemo therapies, 6 rounds each therapy, I fought the system long and hard so I could marry my love and I lost a dear friend.
“Happy New Year! Happy New Year! May we all have our hopes, our will to try. If we don’t we might as well lay down and die” sings the iconic pop group Abba. These words could not ring more truer to me than on the beginning of this new year 2017. I won’t give up my fight. I won’t lay down and die. All I have got to kick off this new year is hope and I will take my hope and ride it all the way. I have so much to offer and I am only just beginning to realise how much.
Tomorrow I have a blood test and a CT scan and on 4th of January I will see my doctor and then I will know more how things stand for me right now and what I have to deal with this year and what I need to do to continue my fight. I swear this year I will eat better, take better care of myself, write and read more. These are my New Years resolutions.
Happy New Year everyone! May all of our dreams come true this year and may we never lose hope or the will to try.
I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for the support I received last year, both financial and emotional. You helped making a difficult year more bearable. ♥
Ravi arrived in Iceland on March 31st. It had been awhile since I had smiled or laughed as sincerely. He really is my ray of sun (the name Ravi means sun). We planned to get married as soon as we could so we could get on with the IVF treatment and freeze the embryos. The sooner we could finish that, the sooner I could start chemotherapy. It had already been nearly 3 months since I was diagnosed with cancer and the pressure of getting him to the country in time for everything, had been overwhelming. So on April 1st we applied to get married and reserved Thursday April 7th for the ceremony, which is my mothers birthday. We bought the wedding rings, took my dress for dry cleaning, planned the feast and ordered the bouquet. After all we didn’t expect anything to go wrong. We had researched and planned well and prepared what papers we needed to bring to apply for the marriage license and how to get them. However getting the marriage permit wasn’t going to be as easy as I had hoped. I will tell you more about that some other day. I don’t want to rock to boat too much right now, as we are working on fixing the situation. But I can tell you this, according to marriage law in Iceland, if either individual getting married is seriously ill, they should not have to go trough any extra paperwork, which is why we know this situation will be corrected and we will be able to go ahead and marry as previously planned.
Thankfully the staff at the IVF clinic have been really understanding about our situation and how pressing it is to get this done so I can have my chemotherapy and they told us that they would freeze our embryos now, just as long as we are married when they are placed in me. That was a huge burden taken off my already frail and sick body and mind. It has all been such an emotional rollercoaster and I have feared for my mental health as well as my physical one. It’s been allot of pressure put on one person, if having stage 4 cancer wasn’t already enough. The overwhelming pressure of getting Ravi to the country, dealing with immigration, our struggle to be allowed to get married, freezing embryos in time before chemotherapy, all the troubles we have had with that and on top of everything, loosing my childhood friend. I sometimes wonder how I am still getting out of bed in the morning. The good news is that we managed to get one strong embryo out of the IVF treatment, which has now been frozen. In the beginning they managed to get 9 eggs from me, 8 were fertilized with Ravi’s sperm, however only one survived and we are calling it our little fighter. It is my little ray of hope and I will look forward getting to know it, once all of this is over.
Monday April 25th, I finally started chemotherapy.
Ravi got his working visa today and as soon as he did, we booked his ticket to Iceland. He will be arriving home to me on Thursday next week. I cannot wait to have him here with me, the week cannot pass fast enough. I spoke to the IVF clinic and they told me not to worry, we can still make it in time…that is as long as we arrange to get hitched as soon as he arrives. Not a problem, I wouldn’t be freezing embryos with this man if I didn’t know with all my heart that I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I cannot wait for this cancer battle to be over, so we can start putting our future plans into action. I just really hope the Icelandic bureaucracy won’t give us any trouble. We really don’t have time for that sort of hassle, my life literally depends on everything going smoothly. The sooner we can marry, the sooner the IVF process will be over and I can start my chemotherapy and the sooner I can start the chemo, the sooner I can beat this cancer, get better and continue with my normal life.
I get allot of questions regarding my IVF (In vitro fertilization) treatment. I understand the curiosity, because it is not something that most people associate with cancer treatment. I had no idea about it myself until my friend, who is a nurse, told me about it. She told me shortly after I was diagnosed, that now we would have to put pressure on getting Ravi home sooner so we could freeze embryos. I was taken aback and asked her why she though we had to do that. Then she told me that most chemo drugs can leave you either temporarily or permanently infertile. I wondered why I had never heard about it before. I thought back on all the movies and TV shows that I had seen that had touch on the subject of cancer and I don’t ever remember this issue being brought up and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. When you are young and childless like me and have spent years dreaming of one day having a family of your own, this is a huge issue. When I realized this, I got so scared and I wondered if my dream of having children with the man I loved, would ever come true. Ravi felt so far aways at this point and everybody who has gone trough the process of getting work and resident permit in Iceland, knows how long this process can take and seeing that I was suffering from a stage 4 cancer and that I needed to start chemotherapy as soon as possible, we were all of a sudden in a race with time. Would I be able to get Ravi her in time to marry him before the egg retrieval and him needing to submit sperm for the insemination? Yes there is this issue of having to be either married or registered living together before you can complete an IVF treatment and freeze embryos. We are still at that place where we are not sure if we will make it in time. He has his permits, but the Danish embassy, which is supposed to give him his VISA endorsement, has neither answered his emails or phone calls, when he has tried to book an appointment with them. Then there is the issue of the Bachelorhood certificate, which we need so that we can get married, when it comes to getting appropriate stamps for this sort of documents, the level of corruption and greed of indian bureaucrats knows no bounds. I will be so relieved when we are married and we never have to deal with indian bureaucracy again! I just really hope that my treatment, which I have already started, will not be a complete waste of time and money. I can’t afford it to be, neither financially or emotionally. I have spent so much time worrying and crying over this issue. Having the opportunity to have children with Ravi once my cancer battle is over, means everything to me. My dream of it coming true, gives me a solid reason and elevated strength to battle the cancer and to eventually conquer it.
The issue of fertility in connection with cancer and chemotherapy is a huge issue for so many young cancer fighters, as was so evident at the micro conference of Kraftur, a support organization for young people with cancer. Nearly every speaker at the conference mentioned this issue and some spoke of the insane cost that a people need to fork out for each IVF treatment. When you are battling cancer, your financial situation is already suffering as you are not able to work and need to depend on government handouts, which only covers basic cost of living and god knows battling cancer, drugs and doctors visits, are not free. Why this issue isn’t discussed more in connection with cancer and why popular culture seems to avoid the subject all together when making stories of cancer, is beyond me. Why is this subject still a taboo in this day and age?
I was not on my way to India. It was a result of various events and coincidences that landed me there. It was as if it had always been my fate to go there, I just did not know yet.
The summer of 2012 I was working as a receptionist at a hotel in Norway, Stalheim Hotel to be exact. I was planning a trip to Peru to work as a volunteer in the autumn. I was going to save the rainforest you see. My mother was at that same time, planing a two-week trip to Nepal with a group of people and had already paid for half her journey. When she did not get time off work, she contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Nepal in her place. Of course I did, no question about it!
I had few years before met Satyabrata Dam, from India, when he gave a lecture during an educational evening with Icelandic Alpine Club. Satya had climbed the highest peaks on all the seven continents and traversed both the north and south pole. He sent me a friend request on Facebook after the event, which I gladly excepted. Now that I was going to Nepal for two weeks, I saw an opportunely to visit India as, so I contacted Satya and asked him if he wanted to meet up with me in India. He did not delay his response, of course he wanted to meet up with me, and not only that, but he also planed my whole visit so I would definitely not miss out on all the good things India had to offer.
At that moment I did not know that my fate awaited me in India and another year would pass and another visit, until I knew what it was.