The Day That Changed Everything... (by Nikki Shah)

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14th April 2015, just after Mike’s 30th birthday, I get a phone call while I was sat at my desk at work.  It was not a call I was expecting, or shall I say it was not the news I was expecting. It was my best friend, Mike who called me, he asked if I could go into a quiet room, so I did.  He went on to tell me he had been told he had cancer, he had Osteosarcoma, surprisingly a cancer I had heard about before from a close family friend that passed away before his 18th birthday.  

The conversations that my best friend and I had before this one, were always quite light, funny, uplifting, but this one, I can’t remember what my response was, but in my head I was thinking “shit” and then walked out of the room and back into the office, I think I was in a bit of a daze, I had a blank face, people could tell something was up.  Honestly speaking, those few hours after finding out were a blur, I was in shock, but at the same time, I just wanted to get out of work, but couldn’t.  I didn’t know if I told my bosses, did I tell my friends, did I tell anyone?  

I left work that day, and of course, went straight over to see him, we talked about what was next, I said I was there every step of the way and that day changed my entire life to come.  In ways I would have never imagined.  

The following weeks were hospital trips, surgery, seeing my best friend in states of pain, worry, not many smiles as you can imagine.  My world definitely did change in those short months, I was a person that would have so many social things on before and after work, weekends packed with exciting things to do in Sydney or interstate, exercise everyday, this all changed.  My evenings and weekends became drives to the hospital, preparing healthy and nutritious meals (your should have seen my kitchen), spending my evenings having dinner on plastic plates watching a Netflix show cuddled up with Mike in a hospital bed.  I stopped seeing most of my friends, stopped going to the gym, stopped traveling, started to get a serious knowledge for chemo and all its side effects, things changed.  And how did I keep a full time job while doing all this?  I actually look back and wonder how I did it, I would take my laptop everywhere with me and work while he was being pumped with chemo drugs or waiting for tests.  It was lonely, a journey I felt no one I knew really got apart from him and I, and even at times I couldn’t talk to him about my fears either.  You go on auto-pilot, you just get on with things and don’t even think about how tired you are, how much your life has changed but it has, and honestly speaking it will never go back to what it was.  

I reflect back now and think about how supportive the directors of my first company were initially when I got the news, and even when I moved companies and was up front and honest about my situation and them still offering me the job. However, as time went on, they could see the adaptations they needed to make, that this is not an illness that afer a few months is all better, and both were exactly the same, that support started to diminish and I was left not knowing the future, but also not knowing the future of my job, the stress and strain that this put on me was unbelievable, at times, would make me so sick, and then I would have to put on a brave face both at work and provide that support I needed to as a carer. Sometimes, I feel that people really do not think about the impact there thoughts and decisions can make to a wider circle of people. 

Now going off and starting my own business, maybe I will see things from the other side, but I would like to think that I would think about my past and the impact and support that we as humans need in times of difficulty like this.  

 As you can imagine, cancer has such a strain on so many aspects of life, many of which will be covered in blogs to follow.  

 But for now, I wanted to talk about why I set up MyMuse.  From the quick description you saw about my situation. When Mike first got told about his cancer, there was phone calls, support, work were considerate, but within a very quick space of time, this all changed, the work situation become so hard to deal with, the friends stopped calling, the support disappeared.  MyMuse is to show that this can’t happen, and the reasons why not, we need to create an environment at work and in the personal life that can help people through these tough times, can get them what they need to be part of society again.  I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I, or people I have spoken to have been through, its time to make a change, it is time to step up and realise 1 in 3 of us will be told we have Cancer, or a life changing illness and this can’t mean that life stops.