My name is Sarah Avis and I’m 45 years old. I live with my gem of a husband, Jaco, and three beautiful daughters, Rochelle, Arlise and Clarice in a rustic town called Ras Al Khaimah not far from Dubai. We’re originally from South Africa but moved out to the United Arab Emirates in 2002 when Jaco got a good job offer in Abu Dhabi.
I’ll never forget the flight from Johannesburg to Dubai that I had to undertake on my own with the girls, since Jaco had to fly ahead 1 month before us to get our visa’s in line beforehand. There I was, struggling to board the plane with three heavy hand luggage bags slung over my exhausted shoulders, with what was by that time two wriggly and irritated babies in a tandem pram. To add to that I was dragging along a 4 year old who was also outright bad tempered and was digging her heels in for all she was worth. Having holes stared into the back of my head by the other passengers who were waiting behind me, one of the flight attendants assisted me as we battled to fold up the pram in preparation for take-off. At this point I would’ve gladly taken the pram and thrown it overboard onto the apron outside the plane without a second thought. However I managed to restrain myself and we were eventually shown to our seats in Economy class.
I was very nervous to fly alone with three such young children, so as a precaution I’d visited a pediatrician who had given me some medication to give to the girls during the flight that would keep them calm and hopefully help them to sleep. (No, I wasn’t trying to drug them…just hold onto my sanity). I was also warned by the doctor that this medication could have the opposite effect in some children, but I was confident it would give me the desired results. It didn’t…and so began an 8 hour flight from hell.
3 hours later and I was tired, craving a cigarette and seriously wishing that I’d been cloned. Scientists had found a way to clone Dolly the sheep…what the hell happened to humans?!! As one little toddler would run off towards the back of the plane, the other would simultaneously head for the front. It was as if they’d made a pact between themselves before the time to make my life as miserable as possible. I found myself trespassing in First and Business class, humbly apologizing to flight attendants and fellow passengers for the disturbance. This is not mentioning struggling on the floor of the airplane during episodes of turbulence, trying to change a diaper and watching the expressions on people’s faces gradually change as they started to look around and wonder where the heck that foul odor was coming from.
Needless to say, when we landed Jaco, who was filming us when we rounded the corner with a huge smile on his face, did not get one in return. Instead he was greeted by the wicked witch of the west who proceeded to light a cigarette the first chance she got. Yes, the joys of immigrating!
We have come such a long way since then, and our relationship has truly stood the test of time…from losing parents right through to my devastating breast cancer diagnosis in 2003. I have since done several writing courses, gone on a major adventure into Antarctica to raise awareness and, after doing extensive research, written a book on breast cancer in the hopes of helping as many people as I can.
If I can do the same through this blog…if I can provide even one person with comfort, encouragement and hopefully inspiration then all the struggles and hard work have been worth it.
What I write about in these pages won’t be all doom and gloom however, but there will also be some laughs along the way. If there is one thing I’ve learnt in the last 11 years through all my struggles with this disease, it’s that life is way too short to take yourself too seriously and to not make a habit of having a daily giggle.