An unexpected journey.


photoflooded riverThe Oosterman Treats has been a bit quiet lately. Let me try explain why. My wife Helvi  was diagnosed with breast cancer some three months ago. Perhaps I should use the more gender neutral word of ‘partner.’ Apparently the gender police want reference to male or female lessened or at least only allow it used for pass-port applications. The same-sex ideology seems to get a bit over-excited.

Anyway, breast cancer struck way out of nowhere. Who would think that having reached the age of late seventies it could still happen? The annual letter to have free mammograms stopped after seventy. The funding apparently is tight and limited.  Helvi never wanted to make a fuss over herself and wasn’t all that keen for me to write and use it in my blog. She is just that kind of girl, always concerning herself about others and isn’t keen to talk about herself or sicknesses anyway.

The subsequent chemotherapy thrice spread at three weekly intervals left her immunity very low with the ever opportunistic infections promptly taking advantage and giving her pneumonia. On Christmas day with a kilo of raw prawns, a leg of lamb and the pavlova ripening in the fridge, I took Helvi to the local Bowral Hospital just a hundred metres from here. She was so weak and could hardly stand up. I get choked thinking about how she was.

Helvi was taken to ‘High Dependent Unit’ and stayed there for five night before going to a recovery ward for another six nights. One night I was asked to spend a night with her and a special roll out bed was provided. She was so sick and agitated. Helvi has lost 15 kilos during the chemotherapy period.

The good news is that the chemo has worked with the experts very pleased. The chemo has now been delayed giving Helvi the chance to get her appetite and reasonable health back again. Within the next couple of weeks Helvi will be operated to have either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The journey is ongoing.

Her care in Hospital was fantastic and the dedication of nurses inspiring. Nothing was too much and to consider the shortage of staff and the hard work they perform I am amazed the system still seems to work so well. I so wished they would get paid accordingly. I noticed some of the most vital equipment seemed in need of repair or modernising. The sink had been taken out of her ward because it was needed more urgently elsewhere leaving the taps open for patients to get water running over the floor. Someone then taped them up to avoid flooding.

So, that is the story at this stage.

A mere bagatelle is that my Visa Credit card had been compromised to the tune of $1100.- I never use credit or any bank cards but have it to get dividends paid in and for automatic payments such as Toll charges and subscriptions. I suspect that my renewal for Norton Anti Virus was used by some scammer to fleece my account. Strange transactions in US dollars in Hong Kong and Cayman islands turned up. My Visa card was stopped and the fraudulent transaction credited to my account. With all that what was going on with my dearest Helvi, I could have done without that.

Please, wish Helvi well.

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54 Responses to “An unexpected journey.”

  1. bal837 Says:

    I very much wish Helvi well, and I embrace you both with good wishes and love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barry Smith Says:

    So sorry to hear about Helvi,Gerard.She sounds like a strong woman,so I’m sure she will come through this,especially with the support of a loving and caring husband.
    Best wishes,Barry Smith.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. bkpyett Says:

    Dear Gerard, Please give Helvi my love and best wishes for a successful operation and a smooth recovery. Best wishes to you both. It’s great the bank picks up these anomalies so that you’re not out of pocket.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. auntyuta Says:

    Wishing both of you very well and that much brighter days will soon be ahead of you. And best wishes for a successful operation too!
    Much love, HUGS, Uta

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The operation will follow soon. People tell us he is a good surgeon. Helvi is getting a bit fed up. She doesn’t want cancer to be all overpowering and all defining. Very grateful for all your best wished, Uta.


  5. Robert Parker Says:

    Mr. O., I wish both you both well. I only know you a little bit, through your writings here online, but if you don’t mind me saying, you remind me quite a bit of my grandfather, who was also a man who formed his own opinions, a freethinker, and I wish the best for you and your wife. It is good to hear that the chemo worked well, and that the medical staff are good people and working hard to help. RPT

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yeah, Another Blogger Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s situation.
    All the best to Helvi.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yvonne Says:

    We did wonder where you were, and what was happening. Dear Helvi, she’s gone through a bad time, and so have you. I hope the rest of the journey goes well, with the very best of outcomes. My love to both of you, you feel like old friends to me. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  8. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I am sorry that the big C hit Helvi. I know from what you write that she is a strong woman and will over come this awful disease. I am sending my best wishes and warm karma. May she have a speedy recovery and total healing.

    Love to you each of you with prayerful thoughts from central Texas.

    Warm regards, Yvonne D.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    So sorry to hear about Helvi’s unwelcome condition. I have always pictured her as a strong and optimistic person, and I have good feelings that she will get stronger and fight like hell. I know you will take good care of her as Dr. A does for me as well.
    Sorry about your hack but glad that turned out well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Helvi was so pleased the tumour had shrunk considerably and at least all the agony of chemotherapy had paid dividends.
      She gives more than I give her but I try and make up by trying to be less self-obsessed.


  10. lifecameos Says:

    I wish you both well and hope Helvi’s recovery continues. How horrible to have your credit card scammed. I hope nothing more like this happens to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I do wish Helvi well…you, too, Gerard…I wish you both well.
    I send ❤ , well wishes, healing thoughts, prayers.
    I am so sad that she is having to go through all of this struggle and pain. 😦
    May she continue her journey with strength, hope, optimism, and a fighting spirit. She CAN conquer this!
    I know you will take good care of her.
    Please give her a gentle hug from me. And tell her there is a fellow cancer battle-r named Carolyn who cares about her and is rooting for her.
    PS…Ugh on the scamming of your credit card. Those happenings are always unwelcome and frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Carolyn.

      Cancer sufferers seem generous in spreading goodness and cheers. We have met so many who have overcome.

      I am not sure why the female breast is so chosen for punishment. What have they done to deserve this curse?

      I HUG to you too, Carolyn, and the hope you are successfully battling your cancer in retreat for ever more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doesitevenmatter3 Says:

        Yes, it makes me sad (and mand) that women get breast cancer. And that men and women past a certain age STILL have to battle such things. I wish when people got to a certain well-seasoned age that then they wouldn’t have to worry about cancer anymore.


  12. Michael Jones Says:

    Gez , please give Helvi our love and best wishes.

    Very tough gig. We’ve been down this road too- 11 years ago. And treatment has improved incredibly since then.

    Can I reblog this piece over at the Pigs Arms ?

    Is H accepting visitors ? At the hospital ?

    Love from Mike and Wendy.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  13. ninamishkin Says:

    Oh yes, Gerard, I do wish Helvi well — very well indeed. With your love and support, she has the best weapons for fighting this horrible disease. My forty-one year old daughter-in-law was diagnosed with it two years ago, named it Ursula, and with the support of my loving son vowed to kick Ursula out of her life. After a year of purgatorial treatment plus a (double) mastectomy about which she was strong and brave, as I’m sure Helvi will be, if necessary, with you behind her, she has come through with flying colors and has indeed beaten Ursula down to invisibility. Not a trace to be found on the scans. May 2018 bring Helvi and you the same result, whatever the medical road towards that end turns out to be. Virtual hugs to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Dear Nina,

      Last time I heard from you, you were on your way to the Ireland or was it the UK? Lets hope Helvi’s cancer will go the same way as Ursula.

      She lost so much weight that Modigliani would have been pleased to sculpt her or would that be Giacometti? I suggested that the cleaning of the house would be so much better with less of her collection of bits and pieces. She suggested in response I should get rid of my stack of unsold and useless paintings and bags full of fading drawings. ‘What makes you think my ‘bits and pieces’ are less treasured?

      We are back to domestic sparring and that is a good sign.

      I’ll never forget het lovely smile when she was being showered after being so terribly sick.

      This girl is from Finland, you know!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. DisandDat Says:

    So good to have you back on line Gerard. As you know we have gone through this awful hoop twice. People aren’t wrong about Helvi being very strong and she is strong minded. You too have had a hellish time and need to look after yourself as well. Looking forward to you keeping up entertaining us with your witty words and I know it gives you great satisfaction as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I do try and look after myself. Helvi is suggesting I should do more things on my own. Yesterday I did. I walked with myself and Milo and bought a mango gelato, a single scoop. It was so lovely and liberating. Milo likes gelato too.
      To morrow I will go and do bowling at the local RSL club.


  15. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Oh Gerard, what a stressful time for you both. May Helvi sail through the next phases and come out calm and smiling with the nightmare in the past. It does and can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jennypellett Says:

    Dear Gerard,
    I’m so sorry to hear your news – a worrying time for you both. I do wish Helvi all the very best for a speedy and successful recovery and I wish for you to look after yourself too. She will need you. Be strong, both. Sending my sincere good wishes to you from the other side of the globe. Warm hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Curt Mekemson Says:

    First, Gerard, I wish Helvi the very best, and you. So sorry to hear about your plight. I was wondering yesterday about you, where you had gone, why I wasn’t receiving my normal fix from down under. Also sorry about your credit card. Do take care. –Curt


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Curt. Even though Helvi never writes on my blog she does take an interest in your blog and those of others.
      She is a keen follower and contributor on some political blogs.
      Thank you for your well wishes.
      The cancer came so unexpected and at advancing years, one seems to believe it can’t happen.


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        We have two other close friends in their 70s who have been fighting cancer, as well. Gerard. I think you are right though, heart problems and strokes seem much more common. We are keeping Helvi in our thoughts, and you. –Curt


  18. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Gerard, so sorry to hear of the challenges you and Helvi are facing. It is good to hear that the chemo is working. It’s a brutal process. My best wishes to Helvi and to you as her supporter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi loved your latest ‘You’re a shitty human being.’ The chemo is brutal indeed. I suppose when one gets older those sort of treatments are even more severe. In the hospital ward she was in a ninety six year old woman was given a hip replacement and taught to try and walk again by the physio therapist. Amazing!.


  19. shoreacres Says:

    I’m happy to hear that Helvi’s home, and your mention of fish and chips and a little walk made me smile. It’s such a struggle both physically and emotionally to get through these things, but I know that you and Helvi both have what it takes to surmount these difficulties.

    There’s no question that treatment has improved vastly, and recovery rates are increasing as well. It won’t be easy, but I can count several friends and acquaintances among those who’ve beaten cancer back, so I’m more than hopeful for you. Give my love to Helvi — I wish I were there to bring you dinner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Linda.

      Last night, after watching a TV program on how to make the perfect mashed potato, she urged me to try it out. Even in that field, one is never too old to learn new skills.
      Helvi loved it and with the sautéed baby beetroots in yoghurt and garlic, we dined as never before.
      Helvi is pleased and happy with all your best wishes. Her weight-loss has stopped, her appetite is coming back again.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Andrew Says:

    Wishing Helvi well and a full recovery. Very worrying for you both. Life puts us through all sorts of challenges but none bigger than cancer. Thinking of you both and offering up as near as I can get to a prayer. 🙏🏻🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  21. 8 Degrees of Latitude Says:

    Gerard, I read this with disquiet and sympathy, and with best wishes to Helvi, whom I have not met but would much like to. Please give her my best wishes (save some for yourself) and please let us all know how things are going. RL.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Big M Says:

    Dear Gerard and Helvi, I was just sitting at my computer looking for leads to get my rowing machine to talk to my tablet when I thought that you had been a bit quiet, so clicked on your blog to check for a new chapter in your life’s work.

    What a shock to hear that Helvi is suffering from breast cancer. B and I can certainly empathise with your plight, B having had a mastectomy and chemotherapy over ten years ago. Yes, the chemotherapy certainly is devastating, taking away one’s will to live, let alone will to eat, or join in festivities. As EmmJay says, there are more and better treatments being made available all of the time.

    Love to you both from both of us.

    Mark and Bernadette.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi ( and I)thanks you, Mark and Bernadette,

      We remember vaguely that Bernadette had suffered breast cancer as well. Lately we seem to have more friends with having overcome breast cancer than any other disease.
      Helvi is happy to have a delay in the chemo and is now getting the operation done, after which there will be a 12 months maintenance chemo therapy.
      She now has taken a fancy to mashed potatoes which has considerably lightened my cooking duties.

      Hello to both of you, from Helvi and Gerard


  23. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer Says:

    I understand how you feel and how Helvi feels. I too am a breast cancer survivor, and have written a book about a technique I discovered to help relieve the fear and anxiety that goes along with the treatments. I wish Helvi glorious good health again!


  24. gerard oosterman Says:

    Hello Ronnie,
    Thank you for your contribution to this blog. We have met many survivors of breast cancer. The surgeon said it is a misconception the it strikes younger women more. It is the opposite, he said. The older one gets the higher the chances of breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men.
    However, rates of successful treatment are also increasing, so that is wonderful to keep in mind.


  25. Yvonne Says:

    Somehow I was aware that Helvi was being treated for breast cancer, but I hadn’t read this post. What a terribly rough time your Helvi has had, and you also, her other half. Now, I have read that you are fattening her with delicious mashed potatoes, and that she will have surgery in a few weeks.

    May I join those who feel like you two are old friends, in wishing that all goes well and you can look at this time in the rear view mirror of memories. Hugs to both of you, and to Milo, also.


  26. algernon1 Says:

    Haven’t clicked here since Christmas. I’m sorry to hear of Helvi’s illness. Get well soon Helvi and look after yourself Gerard. Algernon


  27. Ewelina Says:

    So sorry to hear about Helvi. I hope things will get better soon. My sister went through her breast cancer battle for over a decade and finally God took her from us. She is no longer suffering and is smiling from heaven. Sending hugs and prayers your way. Stay strong and continue to be there for the one you love so much!


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