ONE WARRIOR with Laura Opie
Welcome to the story of Laura. (Yes, another Laura!).
Through the power of Instagram I was introduced to this beautiful girl. Laura (@lauraopie_) is just 23 years old and has been dealt about 7 lifetimes worth of absolute BS.
Her boss attitude is nothing short of impressive and this girl’s strength shines through her words so strongly it pretty much punches you in the face.
And as an extra bonus, she’s funny as all hell.
I hope you enjoy her story. Please send her some love and cancer kicking vibes today.
Name: Laura Opie
Cancer: Now this is a mouthful for you... *breath in* Ewing's like sarcoma cic dux4 in my psoas muscle *breath out* phew
What was happening in your world at the time?
Found out a week before my 23rd birthday. Found the tumour while I was undergoing a CT guided epidural for my pain in my leg (dr originally thought I just had a bulging disc) My birthday trip to Bali with my partner and parents had to be immediately canceled and go straight into treatment. I was working full time as a sales representative territory manger for a drinks company.
Cancer in 3 words.
FUCKING SHIT FUCKED
What helps you get through?
PERSON: My boyfriend Luke, my parents, my siblings, my girlfriends and the rugby union club Luke and I are apart of.
SUPPORT GROUP: The nurses at Chris O’Brien life house are my greatest support group.
FOOD: Polar opposites- starts off as fruit cravings then onto Maccas cravings.
LIFESTYLE THING: Getting taught how to crochet
EXERCISE: Pfft as if
PRODUCT: Face masks and face scrubs. When you don’t have hair your skin is your life haha
DRUG/MEDICINE: Methadone and cyclizine both life savers for me
QUOTE : “No rain, no flowers”
PIECE OF ADVICE: Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to cry and breakdown even though you are trying to be as strong as you possibly can. Cry, let it out.
RITUAL: Long baths or showers and a fluffy dressing gown. May not be a classic ritual but I look forward to this every time I get out of hospital.
Golden tip for the friend and family of a cancer warrior.
- Don’t be afraid to say how fucking shit this is and to cry with them
- Don’t say stories of people you know doing different chemos. Everyone is different and everyone reacts different. Some may not lose their hair, some do ect.
- Comfy and lovely PJ’s and dressing gowns (I live in these at hospital)
- Skin care / travel toiletries (really handy for hospital bag)
The worst part of cancer?
I think the absolute fucking worst part of cancer is losing yourself a little. I still find it so hard to look in the mirror and not see a cancer patient. I don’t see myself. It all happened so quick and fast I couldn’t adjust. I have so many bad days of cancer my chemo treatment is 3 days in hospital chemo every day over 12-20 hours every 3 weeks. It look 4 cycles of my chemotherapy for myself to actually make it to the third day.... first cycle I could only have 2 days because I overstimulated while undergoing egg retrieval and my body couldn’t handle more fluid. Second cycle I woke up 5 days later after the second day in the ICU with no memory of what happened. I had a severe allergic reaction to one of my 4 chemo drugs and it pretty much put me in a coma like shut down and restarted my brain. My mum said it was like watching and caring for a person with a brain injury. The stories I’ve been told... folded a napkin for 6 hours. Didn’t sleep for 28 hours straight. Didn’t speak for the first 3 days. On the 5th day I came through but was over paranoid and made up all sorts of things in my head. Couldn’t tell you even know what was real and what wasn’t. Third cycle it was a 2% chance of this reaction happening again- so we went through with it. The day therapy nurses and I were all making jokes about not going crazy again and being safe... Whoops- 4 days later woke up in ICU again. No memory or anything on what had happened. Again didn’t speak or recognise anyone. Again was told I was acting like I had a brain injury. Scary stuff I never ever ever want to put my family through that again. Or the nurses in the ward who come in and find me unresponsive. Sorry girls and boys: they won’t forget me up in ward 9 at the Chris O’Brien life house...
The best part of cancer?
It’s funny to say the best part of cancer because until you have it you automatically think “fuck no, there would be no best part of it - are you actually mental?” But crazy enough there is. For me it was meeting the amazing people who care for cancer patients and also for me was feeling the sheer love and care people have for me in my life. I think I am so damn lucky.
How has the whole cancer ride changed you and your life?
It has drastically changed my life. I had to grow up real bloody quick. I went from being 22 living in Sydney not a care in the world to being diagnosed with cancer. I feel like I’m not 23, I feel at least 50+. Along with this it has taught me to live life every day. You never ever know what’s coming around the corner for you. Luke my boyfriend this morning had a photo on his phone from November of me sitting playing with a puppy. Long blonde hair, healthy body, eye lashes all the normal girly things. To, well, not. Little did we know that 4 weeks later I would be diagnosed.
What has it taught you?
Live and love every day. Tell your loved ones you love them and always keep a hug going a little longer. Trust me.
Cancer theories: Do you think you were destined to get cancer? Or did something happen along the way?
Look. Fuck no. I don’t smoke, I wasn’t over weight, I hardly hardly drink alcohol, I exercise, I looked after myself. I had never been to hospital before this. Hardly got a cold even. No one in my family history has this cancer. It was just what happened. One cell just went bad and grew.... fucking 13cm.. just what happened.
Golden tip for new warriors.
Things get hard before they can get better. You will get through this and you’ll be stronger than ever. And never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
Any other nuggets worth sharing?
Trust your gut.
And try not to google too much.