Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

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 »

How An Atheist Dies


Donna Williams aged 12 At age 13 I had an NDE, a Near Death Experience. I was a suicidal 13 year old, I ‘died’ alone in my attic room from alcohol poisoning inhaling metholated spirits because I was too terrified to sleep in there, because my soul was weary, because I felt there was no hope and didn’t have any reason to live… and as I felt pulled heavily into the mattress my spirit lifted out of my body into a warmth of pure light as all I was dispersed onto that light… so had this same experience, but my body called me back… it wasn’t my time. I never feared death since. Read the rest of this entry »

You’re dying… so why are you on Facebook?


Cabbage Patch by 'Donna Williams' Less than a month ago I learned by breast cancer returned, that my liver had innumerable tumors and one in my spine. Most people imagine bucket lists, but I did a spring clean, celebrated the little things & ordered online what I needed for my new lifestyle of weekly chemo for the rest of my life (chemo for secondary breast cancer is to extend months, hopefully a year or even sometimes years). I focused on laughing, living, loving and normalising this new direction for me, my husband, our cats, our friends. Read the rest of this entry »

On learning you are dying


Chris and Polly Samuel We are all dying… from the time we are born we are marking time upon this earth. From the age of 25 our cells are dying faster than they are repairing. Ageing is part of the dying process which escalates the older we get, some of us sooner, some of us later, depending on genetics, immunity, physical experiences along the way. We have scares now and then… a brain injury we endure from an abuser but live to overcome, our own reckless substance abuse or suicidal endangerment, an infection that lasts 7 months and almost kills us, the loss of respiratory drive that leaves a machine doing our breathing for us, breast cancer we give up our breasts for, endure chemo for, take Tomoxifen for for 4 years and 10 months… And sometimes those scares cross the line. They are no longer scares, for we learn our cancer has returned, we have widespread metastatic spread to the liver, the cancer is also in our spine, we are neutropenic and death looks most potentially just around the corner. Read the rest of this entry »

An autistic journey in acquiring functional verbal communication – by ‘Donna Williams’


Donna Williams aged 10 I was 9-11 years old when I progressively went from 90% meaning deaf and predominantly stored phrases, TV scripts and echolalia to being only 50% meaning deaf and finally striving to string simple novel sentences together. By age 11 I could construct slow, klunky simple sentences (and still also had fluent, expressive echolalia), by age 12 I could do long litanies at people and was developing simple conversing skills. By 18 I had learned to suppress much of my echolalia, keeping my ‘self chatter’ for when I was alone. So how did this happen? Read the rest of this entry »

Matters of Life and Death


The Optimist by 'Donna Williams' People are commonly afraid of death, their own and that of those they love, sometimes of the concept itself. By the age of 5 I had already encountered loss, extreme life threatening events and actual death on a number of levels at a very young age. Read the rest of this entry »

Louise Hearman and the Archibald Prize fail to truly capture Barry Humphries


Barry Humphries and Louise Hearman Louise Hearman and the Archibald Prize fail to truly capture Barry Humphries . To capture Barry Humphries you’d have to have been the 8 year old autistic child experiencing attempted rape at a party in his Barry MacKenzie heydays. Read the rest of this entry »

How dare ‘An Autistic’ be ‘just a human being’


Polly Samuel aka 'Donna Williams' aged 6 The ‘I am autism‘ trend is narrow, ignorant and passé. The stalkers and trolls and obsessed are frankly frightening people who feel that those who don’t identify the entirety of themselves with being ‘an autistic‘ (some actually feel it is a crime against THEM if anyone publicly doesn’t identify this way or address them and ‘theirs’ solely in terms of these politics). The ‘we autistics’ is so disrespectful to the entirety of any one of us by making irrelevant the vastness of what makes each of us who we are that I hope we can all get over that ignorant and passé trend too. Read the rest of this entry »

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