Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

On living, dying and metastatic breast cancer


Consequence by Donna Williams I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in Sept 2016. It had metastasised to my liver with innumerable tumors and no chance at resection. This is expected to most likely be my last year. I have made this video to explain to people how I feel about it all, why I have no bitterness and no regrets. Read the rest of this entry »

Facing death with positivity


Transition by Donna Williams Facing death… I keep hearing how brave, how positive I am. But is it all about positivity, or is it broader? I’ve been trying to understand what has shaped my perspective to see if it really all came down to positivity… or something else. I wanted to know this because facing death is so hard for many people, so why was this transition relatively ‘easier’ for me? Read the rest of this entry »

The Language Of Death


Polly and Chris Samuel As a person with metastatic breast cancer facing what is expected to be my last year with a body, I wanted to explore the language surrounding death, dying and end of life… Are we ‘the body’… do we end when we lose conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings, experiences….Is it possible part of us doesn’t die, somehow lives on…
This is what I explore here, as a Taoist, as a humanist. Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer, Chemo and Mythbusting


Donna Williams 2016

I am not a doctor, just a layperson with metastatic breast cancer. These are my experiences and views as someone who has had mundane completely treatable cancers, who has had early treatable cancerous changes and non invasive cancer, who has had primary breast cancer and now metastatic breast cancer. I have made this video to help people in the public to hear someone cancer talking openly about how broad cancer actually is, how broad chemo is, and how this impacts treatments and treatment choices including when cancer is metastatic and considered incurable. This is not intended whatsoever as medical advice. Read the rest of this entry »

The Incidental Mirror


Circus Hoops by Donna Williams The battle between those who see humanity, dignity, equality, inclusion and those who see preservation of a self interested status quo is the age old battle between change and resistance to change, flow and stagnation, openness and self righteous certainty, a clear mind and one boxed and limited by fiercely defended (often culturally inherited) dogma.

And this battle has some ugly faces, for defensive people self righteously protecting self interests can be as soul-ugly as any Nazi. But eventually even everyday Nazi’s protected by their own self righteousness, narcissism and whitewashed history and self image, nevertheless catch an undeniable glimpse of their ugliness in a mirror. So, without hatred, without judgement of the Nazism you cannot imagine being your guide, strive in your art, in your writing, in your living, to be the incidental mirror.

Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams‘)
Author, artist, consultant and presenter.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

Yesterday’s Hero


Donna Williams aged 12 Remember the song, Yesterday’s Hero by John Paul Young… It was a hit here in Australia in 1975. I was 12 years old at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

Throwing a living wake


Donna Williams October 2016 It was my 53rd birthday mid October. I was diagnosed with terminal metastatic breast cancer in mid September and the week of my birthday had just done my fourth palliative chemo. The weekly chemos had been shrinking the innumerable tumors in my liver and the one in my spine wonderfully and even though I know this drug Cinderella tends to work for only 8-12 months before the cancer cells mutate again and become resistant to it and all the tumors return, I get to ‘go to the ball’… Read the rest of this entry »

Realistic hopes about metastatic cancer are grounded in context


Polly and Chris Samuel I was diagnosed mid September 2016 with metastatic breast cancer to the liver (and spine). Statistically the usual life expectancy for metastases (mets) to the liver is 6mths-3yrs, the former being extensive/innumerable tumors to liver, the later, a few. I have extensive/innumerable tumors to liver. We’re doing a great job shrinking them, but this will only last around 10 months when this drug is known to stop working because the cancer cells become resistant to it. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes shitola is a gift


Donna Williams aged 7 Ya never know how the shitola of the past becomes one’s best asset… when the chemo stops working I’ll be leaving my breathing machine off, taking a muscle relaxant and a few sleeping pills with a sake and night night to the world.

My wild reckless homeless teens gave me all the practice… accidentally overdosing, drinking myself unconscious, playing with death like life was far scarier than death ever could be… and as an adult about to turn 53 I’m so glad I was that teen because it is so hard to actually let oneself leave like that. This is not actually suicide, for I did not come into this world with a failed respiratory drive. It was damaged when I was 2-4 years old and failed further when I was 46 then further again when I was 47-48. So I would merely be letting my failed respiratory drive do its thing, much the same as someone choosing not to take their medication or use their walking stick. I’d just be ensuring my failed respiratory drive does its thing as I leave my machine turned off. Nevertheless its still a full on thing to confront. But a slow death from cancer is the alternative.

Thanks to the gift of a failed respiratory drive from a mother with Munchausen’s By Proxy and the blessing of my chemo and two mastectomy related general anesthetics in 2011 pushing that to a point I only breathe on my own in my sleep without my machine for a few minutes every 30-120 minutes, I found myself blessed to HAVE a choice about the length of my ending.

I just wish every other person at their end had a humane choice, the kind we give our fur babies. A choice is not obligatory, people can do the long drawn out ending if they wish. But it is my wish that as a society through talking openly about death and the end processes in incurable slow deaths, that we can look at the issues with sanity and humanity and not the knee jerk me-me defensiveness of those in power with religious ‘beliefs’ who are not in this position and do not, and should not, represent all without their beliefs.

Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams‘)
Author, artist, consultant and presenter.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

A little 101 on metastatic breast cancer


Memory by 'Donna Williams' A little 101 on metastatic breast cancer… Read the rest of this entry »

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