Monday, November 7, 2011

Nothin' to see here

I think I'm ready to close this blog. 

I have many things to say, but not lots to do with cancer. At least, not as much as other stuff. So I have moved blogs a few weeks ago, and started something new. 

After all, this blog was always meant to be a transient blog. Of course, if I do have cancer updates, I will still post them here for you to see. Let's hope there are not many of those.

What I've realized with my new blog though, is that it's not nearly as much fun to write when no one is reading, which is why I'm spilling the beans here.

If you don't know me in 'real life' please email me and I'll re-direct you to the new blog.

Sounds funny, I know, but I want to write about my life (and sometimes the people in it, lol) so I don't feel comfortable sharing the blog with anyone but cyber friends. 

That way, I don't have to censor what I'm bitching writing about.

If we part ways here, thank you for being part of my life for the past 11 months. I am truly thankful for your part in my 'journey'. Your comments and your thoughts lifted me up on bad days and have helped me get through this.  And on good days, your comments and ideas made me laugh and hope.

Thank you for reading "Knock Knock, it's Cancer" - I will post a link here if my book is ever published.

Later Gator.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What do you DO everyday?


I hear this question about once a week. Usually it's from well meaning people, who have no intention to be hurtful. Other times, it's from people who haven't seen me in a while and are just catching up with me now.

Either way, once they hear that I finished treatment, the question becomes "What do you do now?"

I understand the curiosity that comes with that, and I guess the time has come to internalize that and really figure out what it is that I DO everyday.

I suppose I should start with the obvious.
And when I say 'obvious' - I realize this part is only obvious to me, and not everyone else.

But, the obvious answer is I am NOT finished treatment yet.

As happy as I am that I survived this disease, I am not out of the woods quite yet. I am still on chemotherapy and will be for the next 5 years. FIVE YEARS I will be on chemo. This magic little chemo pill helps me keep the cancer from coming back (Hopefully) but in the process it makes me moody, tired, gives me headaches, makes me sick, hurts my joints and bones, keeps me awake at night with insomnia and puts me in menopause (and all the wonderful things that go with that)

Honestly, some days, I just try to make it through the day.
I may look okay, but I am far from feeling okay.

The second thing I want to point out is that I still have a handful of medical appointments each week still - be it for the oncology ward, the physio therapist or the support meetings. I am constantly surrounded by medical personnel.

This makes it kind of hard to 'forget' about cancer.

I still take (many) pills/injections/immune boosters every day so that my body can function the way it's supposed to.

At the appointed time my iPhone rings with my alarm.

Just the other day I was out looking at some jeans, and my 11 am alarm rang "Take Tamoxifen" it says (I just looked at the sales lady and said 'oh, it's just my chemo alarm - do you have these in size 4?')

I am learning to live with it, but that doesn't make it normal.

Before I go to sleep every night, I pray that my cancer will not come back. The first thing I do when I wake up, I pray that my cancer will not come back. Even though to my oncologist I am 'in remission' - to me, it feels like I am always waiting for something bad to happen again.

It's a terrible way to live, and I hope that one day cancer will not be the first and last thing on my mind.

Time will heal that.

I nap during the day most days, because my body is tired. (And this is not the kind of tired that you can sleep and be rested) I feel fatigued, deep inside my bones.
My legs feel heavy, so do my arms.

So I nap.
Once or twice, when people hear this they say 'must be nice to nap during the day' - again, a simple comment, but such a slap in the face. Nothing about this entire experience is 'nice'.
Not even the napping.

I would rather be working and living how I was before than be off on disability.
But that is not my reality and I try to make the best of it.

On good days, I see my BFF who is also off work on maternity leave, we meet for lunch. Or I go have coffee with some other friends who are also 'lucky enough' to be off on disability because they too, have cancer. We meet and talk and understand each other.

The other day, I went to a breast cancer support group with my friend Shonna. She has cancer too. We were there about 2 hours, and as we left she whispered to me ' Are you coming back?' and I responded with a 'HELL NO'. You see, this group - as good as it was, was made up a bunch of older ladies (60s or so) and so their needs/concerns/fears didn't match mine. Breast cancer is supposed to happen to 'older' ladies, but everywhere I look I see women my age who are going through it. Women like me, faced with their own mortality and have babies to raise at home.

It's not supposed to be this way.

So, that night Shonna and I decided that it was time to start our own breast cancer support group. For women who were diagnosed under the age of 40. Sadly, there are more than enough (in my small town) to fill a room. There are 3 of us that are meeting regularly and hopefully as the group takes off, there will be more.

This may seem so un-interesting to anyone else, but it's my entire life line. I may not have cancer anymore, but the 'relationship' I have with cancer is everlasting. It changed who I was.

I feel that I've been given another shot at life. A second chance. So I am bound and determined to make my life exactly what I've always wanted it to be. I want to make it count. I want to make a difference (sounds corny, right?) I want to write a book. I want to see my kids grow up.

So, the next time someone asks me ' What do you DO everyday?' I may just respond with:

I live.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My last 10 months in pictures

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Breaking News

The results are in and I DONT have the breast cancer gene!! Woohoo

I am so excited. I was quite scared when they called me (as I was driving down the freeway at 100 km an hour) 'is this a good time to talk'? Ummm. YES IT IS. I even pulled over. Then I reached for my paper bag and realized it was in the other car. Darn it. "Okay, I'm ready!"

"Bla bla bla... you don't have the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 mutation... bla bla bla" That is all I heard.

Since I have a little girl, this is especially good news for me. And her.

That means, genetically at least, I am not defective.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I have awesome blog friends


Well, here's yet another silver lining to this whole cancer thing.

I got to know some amazing people through this blog - random strangers I met by accident because we are all fighting this life threatening disease.

Through the last 9 months they have shared their stories with me, their lives, pictures, and their fears. And I did the same with them. We have gotten to know each other intimately.

In the middle of the night if I couldn't sleep, I could send off a quick email to my 'cancer buddy' and know that when I woke the next morning, there would be an understanding reply. When I was unsure of treatment side effects, I could rely on the experience of my new found friends to guide me through it.

Just last week, my friend at Darn Good Lemonade finished her treatment!!! Yeay Mandi! So excited for you - and in her post she mentioned she got a 'diploma' from her cancer facility for 'successfully completing the treatment.'

I was overjoyed for her.

Then I sent her a whiny email about how 'my cancer facility didn't give me a diploma'. She must have felt bad for my sob story, because not even a week later this awesome package arrived in the mail.

Brad thought I ordered something online, but NOPE, it was a care package from my friend.

She ordered this for me and then went to the trouble of UPS-ing it!!!



In case you can't read the engraving, it says:
"Michelle (my last name) you are a cancer fighting ninja"

I know you're jealous. I think it's the most thoughtful and funny gift ever.

Now, I need to find a special podium for my trophy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 - the best year?

I'm not talking about wine.

I am talking about my life.

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but I always wonder how to start it. Most people will think I've gone crazy. They'll probably phone my doctor.

I am going to go on a limb here and say it out loud:

'2011 may have been one of the best years I've had so far'

'BUT YOU HAD CANCER!' - I hear you shouting at your computer.

And that is true. I did.
(Notice I wrote 'Had' and not 'Have'? That was intentional)

I had one of the worst possible things that could have happened to me, happen.
A life threatening illness.

I had fear, anxiety, pain - oh, so much pain, stiffness of joints, amputation of 2 body parts, weight gain from steroids and chemo, hair loss, lung punctures and scars, and burns.
Not to mention the sickness that comes with chemo.

YUCK.

This pretty much sums up my last 9 months.

BUT

it happened early in 2011 - only 2 weeks in, so there was still time for this year to save itself.

And it did.

Along with the above mentioned things I've also had more kindness shown to me in this year, than I had ever had before, people came out of the woodwork to visit, to call and to send flowers. I have never felt so loved, by strangers, and by my family.

I've gained tremendous insight into this disease, more than I could have ever known from standing on the sidelines, and therefor have become a more compassionate person. Because of my experience, I now 'know the right thing to say' when I hear someone else is going through it. In fact, twice this year I have received phone calls from 2 different gals who found a lump in their breast. Because of my experience, they chose me as their contact person.

And because of my experience, I could be there. Really listen. Cry with them.

This type of understanding was foreign to me before.

And even though their journeys ended before they really began, (lump turned out benign) - I felt that for a brief moment, I was helpful to them.

I now understand first hand how it feels to walk down the street and have people look at you with that 'look'. (you know, the 'oh, you poor thing, you have cancer' - look) I've given out that look a few times myself in the past. It's a very humbling experience to be on the other side.

My family has grown so much closer together this year. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but over the course of 2011 - I can honestly say we are a tighter bunch.

I was home with my children for the last 9 months. I saw them off to school (almost) every day - except when I was too sick- and I picked them up from school (almost) every day. I went on field trips, I went to school plays and every single concert/rehearsal/award ceremony/assembly.

I felt like the luckiest person in the world - simply because I was given the gift of 'being there'. Just present.

I am also present in the moment. That is a new concept. I used to be 10 steps ahead All.The.Time.

I would be on vacation, and planning the next one in my head. I would be receiving a paycheck and immediately putting in a percentage in my RRSP for later. I would say 'later' when my children would ask me to 'come see this' because I was busy cleaning or making supper.

NOW - I am here. Fully.

I live now.

I listen to my kids now. Not later. I play now. I enjoy the moment I have with whoever I have it with - now.

I still (secretly) plan for 'later' but certainly not with the same intensity.
Later will come, well... later.

Having had my breasts removed was a huge opportunity for talking to the kids about how we view (and judge) others. It provided hours upon hours of discussions, that lead to interesting and meaningful conversations. Conversations that would not have occurred naturally if I didn't have to make the choices that I did.

My hairloss was also bittersweet. I didn't wear wigs often. I didn't wear scarfs that much. I often went bald. Sometimes that brought on looks. Most times it softened people. Strangers would walk up to me and share their stories, their pain. It was amazing. Like I had been given some special powers to attract people to me, only they were no powers.

Just a bald head.

Brad and I have been together a little over a year and a half, and cancer has been our companion for 9 months of that. At our 'honeymoon' phase of our relationship, we were dealing with things that can put strain on the most solid of marriages.

We 'survived' together.

He has been my ongoing support system, day and night. When I needed a cry, he held me. When I needed a laugh, he made me smile. He allowed me to be exactly who I was at any given moment and for that I am so grateful.

I felt beautiful the entire time. Granted, I was on some heavy medication, but I think mostly it's because I have a fantastic partner.

I used to be organized - almost anally so. I called it 'efficient'. Some people thought it was extreme. I was wound real tight. Short fuse. I'm happy to report that the fuse has loosened somewhat, and maybe even lengthened by a foot or two.

I'm still TYPE A - of course, I mean come on now, I can't totally change. But I am more relaxed.

I distinctly remember about 3 situations that happened and me saying 'wow' - 'i would have handled that so differently before'... this type of growth could never have happened in such a profound way - had I not had cancer.

The people I've met in the last 9 months, in the hospitals, in the chemo rooms ... I've made friendships to last a very long time.

One of my closest friends is an employee from the cancer centre. She and I hit it off immediately and managed to evolve into a friendship outside of the 'worker/patient' structure. Another gal I absolutely love is someone I sat beside in the chemo chair. Now, we talk or text every single day. My life has been enriched by people like this.

The last thing that I noticed has improved is my diet. My lifestyle. Because of the research that I had to do - based on my type of cancer - I am now vegan. (Well, the meat part just happened 2 days ago, but the dairy and eggs has been gone for months) I am learning how to use plant based foods to keep my body fed. I am speaking with a dietician, reading books and making a plan that I can stick to so that I can achieve optimal health. I have never been much of a 'granola eating' gal before, but I am now.

I have the opportunity to change my lifestyle and I am grateful.

I know this post is a little hoky, but it's from the bottom of my heart.

I really feel that God/Universe has touched me on the shoulder this year and said:

'Excuse me, I think you may be on the wrong path - you may want to consider taking a new one'

and in every way, I am.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good News Bad News


What do you want first?

The Good News or the Bad News?

Bad News is that my radiation burn is getting worse by the minute. Literally. Half an hour ago, it hurt less than it does right now.

Here is an updated picture of the skin around there
(compared to a few days ago in the post below)



Point made, right?

Now on to the good news:

My hair is growing like a weed.

I remember about 4 weeks after chemo finished, I was still bald as ever. Everyone was asking me when my hair was gonna come back (As if I'd know!)

Then finally, around week 7 after chemo (took it's time didn't it!) Brad said he could start seeing somewhat of an outline of possible hair growth.

Then a week later, there was definite hair, and now, even more so!

Check it out:

Last week:




This week:



By this time next week, I'll be braiding it for sure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Officially done radiation - plus pics

Alright peeps - I'm back and I'm done with radiation!

Can you believe it?

All D.O.N.E. with radiation!

I am burnt, but not too bad, not itchy or uncomfortable yet so I guess I did okay. It will remain in my body for the next 2 weeks though, so I expect it to continue to get redder. And sorer.

I even have pictures for you!


Awww... they are getting the machine ready for me. I get my own mold to lay in. (As you can see there are plenty of molds hanging - our name is on each one)


As I lay there I mostly have my eyes closed. But if I didn't, I could look up and see their version of a palm tree decorated on a fake skylight in the room.

I know you've wanted to see the inside of the radiation room, while I'm lying in the machine. I have my arms above my head (and my ipod in my hands so I can listen to my favorite music instead of their yucky elevator music).


The nurses are pushing buttons and from this angle I look pretty comfortable, but in fact my arms have the 'pins and needles' felling fairly quickly. I lay like that with my arms above my head for 12 minutes every day.


I've got two nurses fussing over me but it's not all luxury. They are also making sure they are lining me up right (by drawing on me with black felt pens!!) so that the laser beams go in the right spots.


Talk about being monitored.


When they're confident that I'm all lined up, they leave the room and start watching me through their TV. They also press a bunch of buttons on the computer to make sure the machine buzzes and spins around me. You can't see them in the photos but there are green lasers pointed at me from different angles, suggesting I better lay still or else...



It's far too small to see from here, but on the second computer, in the top left corner, you can see my body and my organs inside... cool eh? They need to make sure they avoid the other organs as much as they can when they do the radiation.

And this is what my chest looks like now - red, bumpy and scarred.

My hair is also starting to grow, it started a couple of weeks ago and I feel a little like a chia pet. It sticks straight up and is soo soft, I love it. I am constantly rubbing it. My eyebrows are also growing in, and I even had them threaded the other day (well, the 9 of them that are there)

In September I move on to Tamoxifen (oral chemo) and my injections of choice, Lupron and Zometa... (trying to stop my ovaries from producing estrogen) I have decided to go this route for now instead of the hysterectomy.

We'll see if I change my mind...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Radiation

I've been going for a week and a half. And I keep meaning to tell you about it, but I think "I have to get pictures next time" and always forget.

So, instead of waiting to remember to take pictures 'next time' I will let you know what I think of radiation now.

I may never remember my camera.

There are 2 rooms they use - unit 1 and unit 2 - the machines are loud and mega loud respectively.

But I don't discriminate -I hate both units.

The ladies working there are quite nice. Their whole job is to line me up 'just right'. They have calculators, lasers and my mold to help them. They are constantly calling out numbers at each other across the way. Kind of like at the Seattle fish market.

But less stinky.

I sometimes wonder what will happen if one of them calls out a number and the other one mishears her - will they radiate the wrong body part? That would suck.

After about 5 minutes of rearranging me, all the healthy people leave the room and I am left with the machine. It moves all around me, sometimes coming quite close to me then other times backing away. It makes a buzzing noise while it radiates me.

I have 7 buzzing noises in 12 minutes.

I don't know if that is a little or a lot.

But it's irritating.

I sometimes have a small panic attack in there since I get claustrophobic and the noises don't help. They make it worse. I count the times til I am done - 13 more!

So far the skin has darkened a bit, and has a light pink shade to it, but nothing too much. I've heard horror stories about people's skin falling off during radiation so I am expecting the worst, but so far, it's not bad.

Of course, it may just be too early to count my chickens.

Brad will come with me on monday and promises to take pictures! When he does, I will post them so you can see what I'm talking about.

In other news - my hair is a 'darker shade of bald' (as one other blogger put it). Brad keeps telling me he thinks it's growing back, but so far, I don't see it. In fact, the little small amount of fluff that remained is now falling out. It seems backwards doesn't it? I'll keep you posted and as soon as I see a reasonable amount of hair, I'll share a picture for you to see too!

We will then have officially hit all the milestones.

Which brings us to my next thought: I have a feeling this blog may soon have run it's course... there is very little 'new' information left to share.

I haven't figured out how I feel about that yet.

Don't worry, I will say a proper goodbye when the time comes.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fear

I wish I could go back to the life I had before January 8 2011.

It was the morning after my daughter's birthday party and Brad and I had just woken up and were still laying in bed lingering.

I was happy. Truly happy, no care in the world.

And then, the lump.

Since then, there have been so many emotions, but fear has been a constant companion through all. And now, that I'm almost at the end of the treatment road, I am expected to be joyful and excited and to start picking up where I left off.

But I can't.

I am joyful and grateful and excited that it's done, but since nobody can really tell you whether the treatment worked or not, I am also fearful.

In my oncologists' words: 'when you die of something else, we know you'll have beaten cancer'.

Comforting, isn't it?

My 9 year old asked me the other day if I'll be teaching her to drive when she's 16, and I broke down into tears. Not that I want to teach her, mind you, but I'd like to be the one who writes the check to the 'Young Driver's' program' for her.

It is my new 'normal' I suppose, living each moment with equal parts gratitude, for experiencing it and really soaking it in now, and fear, that it may be over too soon.

It's been 6 months and fear is my constant companion. It accompanies me in my private moments too, when I sleep, when I dream, when I'm alone, even when I shower.

It is always with me.

I'd like to say that I got used to it, and I guess I have, but it sucks.

I wish I could go to that 'carefree' feeling of before. I've talked to other gals who've gone through it, and it's unanimous.

You cannot go back to 'carefree' once you've had cancer.

Damn.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bikerchick gets lucky at the hospital

Bikerchick is me!

Who'd you think it was?
Haven't you heard, I got three tattoos last night in one sitting on my chest area.
If I still had boobs, it'd be soo hot.

Nothing screams 'class' like boob tattoos.

I went to my radiation apt yesterday, they were all very friendly, until they asked me to strip from the waist up and lay on their cold table. It got a bit friendlier once the gentleman brought me a blanket. Yes, they assigned a gentleman to this procedure for me. Perhaps because they knew it'd be less comfortable for me, or perhaps they knew that he hadn't been on the job that long and having one look at my non-boobs would freak him right out.
Or at least teach him not to look.

I'm fine with both.

So we get in to the waiting are where we have to watch a 15 minute video about radiation. We've heard it all before, but it's interesting and we're nice so we watch all the way til the end.

Then it starts over again, and we decide one time is enough for us.

We look for a way out, where the nurse if waiting for us. She brings us into a special room where we can talk about radiation that specifically relates to my cancer.
She draws pictures on an approved 'breast cancer handout' that shows a woman topless. She proceeds to circle the boob and starts shadowing it. "this is where the radiation will go" .

She takes a look at me and pauses. I am not sure what face I made, but she didn't like it.

'Honey what's wrong?' she cares enough to ask.

"Well, you said we were gonna discuss the specifics of me and I don't have breasts so I'm a bit bummed that the cancer handout you're working with shows a woman with breasts."

O ya, I totally said that.

Poor woman proceeds to erase the breasts on this handout but after a while gives up and says 'we need to pretend that they're not there' - at which point I look down and say 'don't worry, I know I'm a misfit' in my best Eyore voice.

It was fantastic. Should'a seen the nice girl turn red. I almost felt bad, but not entirely. I figure the longer we take here, with her, the later I'll get to the part where they will do the CT scan and tattoo me.

Nice girl talked a mile a minute after that, (i bet she wanted us , well me, to leave) and escorted us into the SIMULATOR. (that's what it was called)

I wanted to make a wisecrack about that too but it seemed in poor taste after I had already embarrassed her.

So Brad and I walked in. They asked me if he could wait outside, at which point I replied that I may just faint if you make me do this without him.
Guess what? He got to stay.

He watched them remove my top, stare and i mean REALLY stare at my chest for a long time. I almost felt bad that there was nothing there for them to feast their eyes on. Finally the gentleman asks if he can touch my chest (he needs to position me in a thousand different positions first and then place the laserbeams around me just right so he knows where the tattoos will go.) I say yes, but I think I should've had some more fun with him and told him to ask Brad, who's sitting there in the chair beside me.

(But I don't because I'm not like that. Pffft!)

After they ask me to put my hands up in the most uncomfortable position behind my neck they proceed to inflate some kind of a pillow thing that takes a mold of my back and body and I need to sit like this until I cry out in pain. For me, that takes about 5 minutes, because I feel pins and needles already. The nurse tells me that it's too soon to cry (wolf) and she ignores me.

She sticks me in the CT scan and then all the important people leave the room.
Just me is left. In a dark room with a spinning machine and my own thoughts that are interrupted by the pins and needles feeling every few minutes.

I was in there only about 5 minutes, but it felt like 20.

As they walk up to the CT scan I plead with them to let me move my arms.
They are benevolent and so they allow me that comfort.
Gratitude washes upon me.

Doesn't last long because gentleman comes over with tattoo ink.

This won't hurt you - he lies. I know he's lying because I have 2 tattoos that I've actually gone and paid for and they hurt like hell. So I know when someone tells you that it doesn't hurt, they are lying.

He starts with the first one, incidentally that goes into the lumpy fatty tissue that we've discovered that I have on my chest and he's right.
That one almost didn't hurt.

The next one is on top of my breast bone. I would have braced myself for this one had I known that is where he was aiming. *my head is facing up and my eyes are closed at this time*

Let me tell you that I screamed for this one. And not just a short 2 second scream. It lasted a good 6 seconds. And then I look at him. "Sorry, this one is always more painful, it's on the breast bone' - looks apologetic. Then he says "we need to go over it another time though it's too small" - I swear I want to leave this room and find out where he parks and slash his tires.

I am annoyed.

Breathe Michelle Breathe.

Last tattoo was not bad as well, just annoying again. So all in all I escaped without having to ask for demrol after all. It was hit or miss on that for a while. But I did it naturally!

Aren't y'all proud?

So, having 3 tattoos on my chest (coupled with my tattoo on my back and the one at the back of my neck) definitely bumped me up to biker chick status.

Sooo, now about the part about how this bikerchick got lucky at the hospital.

I went in for my 10 minute procedure.
The surgeon told me I could take 2 ativan since I was very nervous about the whole thing.
This morning, just for good measure I took 3.

Brad was driving, so what did it matter?

We arrived at 11:15am like our appointment card said and we found out we were not due to see the dr til noon. I should've been pissed, but I felt oddly calm about it. And I had started to slur a little so I thought it best I don't speak to much.

We wait. I feel (you guessed it) somewhat calm.

The procedure begins, they get Brad a stool (same thing - he has to stay doctor, otherwise I can't do it without his support) and the surgeon brings the needle out. I ask if it's gonna sting.

She says it will sting AND burn.
Super.
I love dual action.

Ready? Here comes the sting. (needle going in)
And now you'll feel a slight burn. (HOLY F*CK - my actual words followed by whimpering and screaming and a bunch of 'i don't like this' in a row)

I trust that she got the hint because finally she backs off with the needle. Pheew.

Then the rest of is is pretty fast, there is a ton of tugging and pulling and then there is stitching back up. I am grateful that we are finished and feel like I should pay her a compliment after screaming her ear off a few minutes ago.

'You must be really good at sewing buttons ' I say. (What? I thought that was appropriate)

She laughs and then we're all done.

She said the clot came out with it. Which is good. I took a picture of the port but it's still got my skin and guts attached to it from when it got removed and so it just doesnt seem right to put it up. But it was a lot bigger than I thought, it's the size of Brad's thum and quite tall too.

Good riddance.

Then I proceeded to escort myself out and immediatly fell flat on my face.

The 3 ativan pills may have caught up to me.


Blame the Ativan manufacturer for any and all spelling mistakes and possible errors in judgement for all the things I say and do for this evening.

Oh and the lucky part??

It really only took ten minutes, and absolutely nothing went wrong with it!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's been too long


I can't believe it's been 19 days since I posted. OMG - WHAT have I been doing?

Well, I went to the New Kids/Backstreet Boys concert the day before my birthday -
that was awesome.
It was full of dolled up 30 somethings so I fit right in.
We were in a box (my BFF's company has one and we were allowed to use it) so we watched in comfort. I took my daughter and Brad's daughter - first concert for them both.
They loved it. Fantastic.

I also had my CT scan.
It was my first one, so I was completely unprepared when the 'warm feeling' came ... those who've had them know what I'm talking about, but for the rest of you... when you get the dye injected in you during a CT scan, you start feeling really warm in the back of your throat and in your pelvic area, in fact it feels like you are peeing your pants!
Thank God the technician warned me about that just before it happened, but yowser, that was a weird feeling.

I got my results back a week later, the lump thingy is fatty tissue as they thought (YEAY!!) but they found the reason my port hadn't been working.
I have a 2.7 cm clot attached to the end of my port-a-cath apparently.
They told me to come back in the hospital for a 'small 2 hour procedure' the next day in which they would try to dissolve the clot.
Well, I was there for almost 4 hours, and the clot didn't budge.
It's still with me.
We are hopeful that it will come out with the port removal which is scheduled for this Friday and yes, I will blog about that experience for sure! I'm sure you all remember the ordeal it was to get it in, so I am a bit nervous to take it out. Especially since I'll be awake!!
(I'll have to take a few adavan's before I go in, methinks.)

Our pig roast came and went over the weekend, it was an amazing time.
It rained the whole week before so our dreams of a pool party slowly faded, but we bought tents and tarps and everyone stayed dry.
In fact, during the evening we even had a few sunny breaks, the kids ended up swimming anyway, while the adults watched in disbelief. I cannot believe we had 70 adults and 18 of their children at our place and it turned out so great.

I have to say, we throw a mean party!


This little piggy went to the pig roast.

Brad and I during the pig roast. (I had my long wig on and I made 'pig' tails)

Mmmm...pulled pork.

Finished product. The kids loved the apple in the pig's mouth. So did I actually.


As guests arrived, they stayed dry under the tents.

The kids didn't care as much, and still went in the pool. Brave children.

Tomorrow I go in to the radiology clinic for my 'mold' and 'tattoos' - I have to lay still for an hour and they position me the way they want me and I will have to get 3 tattoos - they are small dots, but with tattoo ink - so that they'll always be able to match up the lasers in the same spots for radiation. I wonder if they'll hurt as badly as my 2 other tattoos? Probably not. But you bet I'll be telling everyone I have '5 tattoos' from now on just to scare them!

Sorry for the cliff notes, things have been so busy and I feel so guilty for not having blogged, you guys are always on my mind.

Wish me luck for my port surgery on Friday, I"ll be back to write about it then :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Catch up


Someone suggested in the previous comments that perhaps I was taking a hiatus at the beach. I wish it were so. As I'm typing, my raincoat is nearby, as we're still waiting for the sun to make an appearance this 'summer' in our neck of the woods. So, no, sadly I have not been spending my time at the beach. I will try to recap my last 2 weeks for you. Let's start with the fun parts:

I'm having some severe night sweats, hot flashes and (obviously) insomnia (who could sleep through the night sweats and hot flashes?) that are leaving me tired, soaked, grumpy in the morning, and just generally pissy that I have to go through them. This is because of course chemo has shut down my ovaries and now I am experiencing the joys of menopause. There are many more side effects to menopause, and I'm experiencing those too, and I am not liking them. For those of you that have gone through it, you know what I'm talking about, for those of you who haven't - I don't want to scare you. 'Nuff said.

I've had a bladder infection 3 times this month. Yup, THREE times. Each time I finish one round of antibiotics, it comes back, and I go on another antibiotic. I am currently half way through my third antibiotic, and the lab called me (they finally cultured my sample) and they say that that can't find any micro-organisms in the sample. Which leaves me puzzled, but I wonder if that's because I've been on constant antibiotics and they can't see it because of it? Or, perhaps it's not a bladder infection at all and I need a referral to a urologist now? Hmmm... either way, doctor apt is at 1:30pm today.

I found a lump on my chest wall - it's been there a few weeks, but it's getting bigger. I went to my doctor, my surgeon and my oncologist. At first nobody was concerned, they said it could be 'fatty tissue' so we should watch it. Now it's grown, it's getting more painful and I'm half way crazy with worry. So now we're doing a CT scan on it - it looks like they're trying to get one for July 11, which happens to be my birthday. It's ok, I'm having another procedure done at the hospital that day so I guess it's as good time as any. I just want to know what it is. Let the scanxiety begin.

Yesterday was the last of my chemo sessions. It was a bit of a crap shoot, as I went in there high as a kite (i even borrowed a graduation cap from a local highschool to mark my 'graduation' from chemo) and left there quite in a different mood. Turns out my port wasn't working right (Brad had put his head on my shoulder for an impromptu snuggle a few weeks ago, and by accident somehow must have moved the port or the line from it. I felt pain immediately and of course he lifted his head right away but the 'damage' had been done. I was in pain for a couple of weeks after that, the line in the port felt kinked and it hurt when I lifted up my left arm and I could no longer sleep on my left side due to the pain. Of course the doctors said it'd be fine) Anyway, it was fine after a while, at least the pain went away... but yesterday when they tried to access the port and stick the chemo in it, guess what? It wasn't working. Ugh. So, for my very last chemo they ended up having to stick it in my veins (which I've been trying to avoid, which is why I got the port in the first place, and all the nuisance that came with that surgery). Anyway, it was ok in the end, but it did sting going in and I didn't like it. At least, we're done with chemo.

Yesterday at my last chemo session.

On July 29th I'll have a small 'procedure' to remove this darn port out of my body and I can't wait. Good riddance. I have agreed to be awake during it, and I hope things will be less complicated than when they put it in.

Radiation begins beginning of August. Turns out 3 weeks ago, a major international study came out and based on this study, women with my stage of cancer not only are recommended to get radiation, but it should now include radiating the lymphnodes by the collar bone too (Earlier I was perceived as 'aggressive' for pursuing radiation, now it's recommended and more of it. So, of course this will discolor my skin like crazy (and now above the collar bone too, which I will not be able to hide in clothing) One more point for cancer ruining what is left of my body. Ugh. But I'm glad the study came out because apparently it is changing the standard of care in radiology and I'm lucky to be getting in at the right time to take advantage of it. 3 weeks ago it would not have been the case. And that is why they do studies I guess.

It's the end of the school year. My last week has been spent at school, as my son received an 'Academic Honors Award' one day, my daughter was in the 'school talent show' the next day, doing a dance, the day after that was the school play, in which my son had one of the lead roles, and yesterday, was the musical performance in which my son played the recorder. What can I say, I have multi talented kids. Needless to say, I spent my days at the school clapping and cheering and taking pictures. I really appreciated the chance to be there, as normally, in June I would never be able to take time off work (property tax season and all) so I'd have missed it all, like in previous years. Yeay for silver linings.


He is in the front row, last one on the right.

During the school play... It was "the world of OG"

Again, last one on the right. He did a great job and may have found his calling.

I went to the Rihanna concert on Saturday, with my BFF Christine and her daughter. We had the good fortune of staying in a company box, (Christine's company owns a box in this building, and often they let their employees use it) Anyway, I'm not much of a Rihanna fan normally, but it was fun and I enjoyed it. A bit raunchy, and it was funny hearing her 12 year old daughter say 'mom, this is inappropriate' several times.

All dressed up for the Rihanna concert.

Also, through Christine we got the box use again, for July 10 - for ... New Kids On the Block!! Now this concert, I am sooo excited about. I remember them in concert when I was 16. I loved loved loved Johnathan Knight... Hehe. I am taking my daughter this time, and Brad's oldest daughter. It's the day before my birthday, and I plan to have a great time and forget all about the scans the next day. Looking forward to it. The kids have no idea who they are so I have been going on YouTube and showing them videos and songs from the 'olden days' lol. They are just exited to be going.

So, folks, that's what I've been doing the last 2 weeks. Sorry I didn't post. I am now preparing for the chemo yuckies to start today - nausea, bone pain and joint pain is on the horizon for me, but I usually turn the corner by day 10, and knowing this is the last cycle of this may make it easier to bear this time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Technical Difficulties

UPDATE: I think I figured it out, I changed something in the comment settings, from 'embedded' to 'full page' and it seems to work. For those of you who had trouble commenting before, can you let me know if the glitch is now fixed?

Oh, I am back to private again, yes. Sorry for the technical difficulties.

I am going to 'open' the blog back up for a few days while I figure out what to do with the comment glitch. (I will delete the previous post for obvious reasons)

I know that many of you aren't able to comment on my post - since I've gone private... but you could on my first private post, which is weird.

But when my blog is 'open' you are able to comment.

Any idea why?

Monday, June 20, 2011

And we're private...

Hey - you made it!! Yeay ...

Can you leave me a comment so that I know that it worked? Let me know you could log in, okay?

Thanks :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A shoutout

I've mentioned that I got asked to write a story for HugsforStrength.com a while ago. Well, today, they informed me that my story is up.

Click HERE to read it.

Hugsforstrength.com connects survivor through stories, experiences and pieces of fabric, that can represent a connection between ones who've walked this road, and others who are just beginning.

I am truly honored to have shared my experience with them, and be part of their wonderful network.

If you are a new reader (or came here via hugsforstrength.com) and would like me to 'invite you' to read my blog once it goes private, please leave your email in the comments and I will be sure to add it to my 'ivitee list'

Friday, June 10, 2011

Head in the clouds

I am as tightly wound as they come. I am 10 minutes early for everything.
I remember appointments months ahead and my personal monthly schedule gets laminated.
Every month.
(ask anyone who knows me)

That's because I feel the need to be in control at all times, if not of the world around me, then of my actions in it.

I lived that way for 35 years and it suited me just fine.

Until chemo turned my brain to mush.

I have heard of 'chemobrain' - I've been warned by friends who've all had it while undergoing treatment, I've read it on the pamphlets at the hospital that they handed out as one of the side effects and I've ignored all warnings until... it happened to me.

At first, I didn't think I would get it, I thought it was an excuse people made up for being forgetful.

Then, last month it really hit full force. I cannot do the smallest thing, simplest task, if I don't have it written down. There are a million little things I forget or simply misplace, but I will tell you about two recent ones so you see just how far off the deep end I've gone.

Today, I was home alone after dropping off the kids to school.
(I thank my lucky stars I still am able to get this task right -although I've sent them to school once without snacks because I simply forgot to pack them - I've never ever done that before cancer!)

I proceeded to have some cereal for breakfast.
I put the dog outside and I went and grabbed the cereal bowl and the milk.
I poured the milk into the cereal and went to close the cap. Which was nowhere to be found.

I looked on the floor, I looked on the table (which was empty - except for the milk and my bowl) I even looked through the garbage - couldn't find it for the life of me. I had to makeshift a lid out of aluminum foil and some rubber bands and put it back in the fridge.

I'm still puzzled about where it went.
(I can't even blame the dog because he was outside.)

A few weeks ago, I took my dog Jet to the groomers. I dropped him off at 9am and I was supposed to pick him up at 3pm.
Like always.

At 3:50pm the grooming lady calls the house "Jet's waiting for you". Oh crap. I totally forgot. "I'll be right there" I say, and get into the car right away. I drive directly to Save On Foods (which is a grocery store chain where I live) I get out, and go inside.

Inside Save on Foods I wander the aisles aimlessly. I try to remember what I need to buy. Why I'm there. About 10 minutes later I leave empty handed because I can't remember what I need.

I drive back home.

About 20 minutes later, the groomer lady calls me again. "Are you coming to get Jet?"

Oh my god!
THAT'S where I was supposed to go!

"I'm on my way" - I yell into the phone.

I drive directly there and leave her a big tip.
I kiss my dog and apologize to him for forgetting him.

Then I wait two full weeks to tell Brad the story, because I'm just so darn embarrassed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For non bloggers - a tutorial


Yesterday I ran into a long lost friend, who happens to read the blog religiously.

So he says.

I drove away thinking about all the people that read this blog and don't comment.
Most don't know how to do it (My friend didn't either) and my very best friend in the world reads this blog, but still struggles with the comments.

I guess I don't get it.

Having been a blogger for over 4 years now, it comes easily to me.
But it must have been difficult at some point I imagine.
Someone must have shown me too.

So, here's a small tutorial for those non- bloggers who wish to leave a comment at some point.

Go to the bottom of the post. On the bottom, towards the right side there is the word 'comments' sometimes with a number in front of it. That just means that's how many people commented before you. If you click on it it will open another window.

It will show you everyone else's comments there.
You can take the time and read them or just scroll down.
When you get to the bottom of the page, you'll see a white box "Post comments here"
- i think it says.

Then you type your comment in the white box, and go to the drop down menu where it says 'post as' - and choose 'annonymous' - then click on 'post comment'. A small tip, because you are choosing annonymous (that is because you don't have a blog of your own, and it's the easiest way to comment) please be sure to leave your name at the bottom.

I"d love love love to see comments from people (who I know read this blog) but don't usually leave a message.
At first I thought it was 'cause you had nothing to say about what you are reading. Now, after having talked to my two friends, I am starting to think it's because you had no idea how.

I hope you enjoyed my short tutorial.
And I'll bet you'll end up liking knowing how to leave comments, it really is like you're contributing to the conversation.

Besides, it lets me know you're reading!
(and let's face it, it's all about me in this case)

And then, as a bonus, you could add your email to my growing list for when I go 'private' - otherwise I'd miss you and you'd miss me... and that's just sad.

Tomorrow is also my second to last chemo, and I'll be feeling crappy after it.

Even more reason to post a comment for the very first time, and cheer me up ~ right?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Renovations



We have waited 2 months for dry weather. It has been the wettest April and May on record. (Sorry, Sayre - I know you're jealous!)

Finally, 3 days ago the sun came out. So did our painters.

We had an awesome company come and paint our home and we are sooo excited.

It looks 1000 times better.

And since they were painting and making the outside look so good, we decided it was a good time to landscape the front yard too.

We did that part ourselves. (and when I say 'we' I mean 'Brad')


This is the house BEFORE anything got done to it.


The plants are being delivered.

So we got to work. First we had to decide WHAT we wanted the yard to look like, and then, get the plants delivered. Brad worked his butt off planting them, putting the bark mulch in and getting the rocks accents around the trim. By the time he finished, it looked fantastic.


Brad is working hard to get it all done.

And here is the front yard once he finished it.

The painters worked just as hard for the three days, sometimes 10 hour days.
There was a lot of prep work to be done.


Painters are working hard on the house.

The crane is bringing the boulders we need. There were three we ordered.



Brad tells the crane operator where to strategically place the boulders.


Brad after he finished planting the entire front yard.


Finished product! The AFTER shot.


We are so excited about the results.

PS - I was asked to write 'my story' for hugsforstrength.com and was asked to keep the blog 'visible' for a bit when I submit the story (so readers can link back to it) - I will resume with the going private idea after that.