The Afterthought

1969 was a massive year in human history, as on July 20 Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, uttering the immortal words ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. My mother was 35 weeks pregnant with me at the time, and I imagine she was taking lots of small steps, most of them in the direction of the toilet, as she suffered with something called hyperemesis gravidarum (constant, untreatable nausea, vomiting and dehydration) throughout the entire pregnancy. She was still vomiting in the car on the way to the hospital, madly driven by my aunt through red lights because I was Mum’s third baby and she’d decided to stay at home until serious labour started, which turned out to be a bit difficult to judge with any accuracy. I was born less than an hour after she arrived at the maternity ward, whereupon the vomiting stopped and I imagine my mother lit up one of her customary cigarettes and mentally high-fived herself for giving birth to a nine pound baby despite having eaten nothing except lemons and aniseed balls for the preceding 40 weeks.

Mum and Dad only ever intended to have two kids (well to be perfectly frank I think both of those were accidents too but let’s not get too caught up in details), but when my brothers were 10 and 9, she went to the doctor because she felt so crap, and said to the doctor that if she didn’t know any better, she’d say she was pregnant [insert my mother’s high-pitched nervous laugh here]. The good doctor decided that it would be best to check, so blood was taken and sent away (no peeing on a magic stick back in ’69) and lo and behold, a couple of weeks later my mother found out that she was indeed pregnant with what my grandmother always referred to as the family’s ‘afterthought’. Because I was the precious youngest grandchild, feted and fawned over by my brothers and cousins, I always felt that being the ‘afterthought’ was pretty special, and so wore the title with flamboyant pride. You could take your eldests, your middles, your twins and your favourites; I was the afterthought, and nothing short of another accidental pregnancy whilst using contraception could take that away from me. And fortunately for me, and my mother, I remained the only afterthought of that generation.

I think my status as the much-loved afterthought has played a significant part in me having what can only be described as excellent self-esteem. I’m now 45, one-breasted, greying, with thunder thighs and reflux, but now, perhaps more than ever, I can see very clearly what I have to offer the world. I love to talk, and I love to write, and I love to do both about myself. So over the coming four weeks, I have three breast cancer-related public speaking gigs and a sponsored post for the Cancer Council. I’ll be talking and writing about how cancer has affected my life, how sometimes adversity breeds a little bit of beauty in amongst all the darkness, and how it’s the little steps, taken every day by researchers, that will enable us to make the giant leap towards finding a cure for cancer.

If you are interested in the events I’m speaking at, you can find more information here about the Mother’s Day Classic Walk/Run (they’re being held all over Australia so get your arse out of bed and your feet on the pavement on May 10) and here about the I Believe in Pink High Tea (which is being held in Toowoomba on May 9). I am also going to be walking (slowly, and probably puffing a bit on the hills) in the Mother’s Day Classic, so if you would like to sponsor me (all donations go directly to cancer research), you can find my sponsorship page here. I’m also going to be writing soon about the work of the Cancer Council, so stay tuned.

Here’s me doing a happy dance in anticipation of your support. Dance monkey, dance.

julie happy


  1. Since my Aunt was diagnosed a while back, I’ve become that person.. you know, that person who suddenly realises that many things have been left unsaid, and now is the time to speak up and say them. They are all positive things but writing them gives me happy tears every time. I just did one this week for her partner, my uncle, and it contained the line “Even if I were to say thank you in every language on the planet, there would still not be enough thank yous in the world to say to you for everything that you have done for our family”.

    I’m not saying the things to her yet because she has a lot to deal with right now, though I do plan to say them once her treatment is done. Because I’m 1500kms away, I’ve been sending her packages with chatty, hopefully funny cards, and little treats and goodies. She’s been enjoying them and sending me sms’s in return.

    Though, she might have got a look at the card I sent to my other Aunt, which said many of the things I do want to say to her.

    I’m so lucky to have these people in my life, and if not for this diagnosis, I might have left it too late to say these things to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hehe…. I’m sure it’s just a typo, but it’s wonderfully appropriate that you are going to give some talks on “beast cancer” 🙂


  3. Your blog has inspired me to pick up a pen and spend an afternoon with my 95 year old grandmother and ask the “frivilous” questions about her, my dad and growing up. We’ve covered the big stuff thanks to my dad before he passed away but I want to know what sort of mischief she got up to, places she liked to hang out, favourite song, best dessert ever, god knows she must have had a few. Thanks for reminding me to not wait any longer.


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