Sunday, October 30, 2011

Exciting!

We had a bit of excitement here last night.

We live on a main street, one of the streets that runs out of our city to the neighbouring one. It means we get a lot of the late night bar traffic heading home (it's a one way street that runs from downtown to the neighbouring town) It also means that on weekends we often hear the noise of drunks going past our house and other such things.

So last night at about 1 am Sean and I were in bed. He got up because he thought he heard a thump in the backyard. He looked out the window (our bedroom overlooks the backyard) and he went and checked the back door. He didn't see anything but did mention there was a cop car in front of our house. It's a busy, one way street so if he's not stopped another car it's a little weird for him to be stopped there but I was tired so I just went back to sleep.

About 2 minutes later we hear a man taking in our back yard. Sean got up again and looked out the window. He then flicked on the light (we have a light switch in our room that lights up the backyard) I can't see out the window but suddenly Sean is frantically unlocking the window to open it. He yells out, "Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing??"  Then I hear a great big SPLASH and Sean tells me to call the cops. As I go past him to get my phone I see a guy trying desperately to get out of our fish pond.

So, as far as we can deduce, the cops were looking for this guy and he thought he'd hide out in our backyard. Sean took him by surprise so he thought he'd hop the fence to get away but being blinded by the sudden bright light he went for the gap in the trees, which is actually our 6 ft deep koi pond.

He managed to get out of the pond and took off over our neighbours fence. I called 911 and told them what happened and where he was headed and apparently some of the neighbours on that street were calling 911 as well. A few minutes later several cop cars whipped up the street. I'm not sure if the caught the guy, the helicopter was up circling for a while too but if they didn't, well, it was only about 1 Celsius last night so I'm sure he was mighty cold.

The downside to all this excitement is that I was wide awake afterward and didn't get back to sleep until about 4 am. Which is all well and good when you don't have children to wake up for the next day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Heart is Smiling

It's been a good day.

I went shopping with my mom this morning at a big toy warehouse. It sells mostly overstock and last years toys but it's inexpensive, brand name stuff and frankly, my kids don't care if it's last years toy, if they don't have it, it's new.

I managed to get all of my shopping done for everyone except Sean and my own kids. Everyone else is D.O.N.E. and I am stoked about that. This is the earliest I've been able to finish and granted it's out of necessity, my unemployment runs out December 3rd and we're forced to live on Sean's income until  I can go back to work.

I got a package in the mail yesterday from a friend. It was a chemo care package...aka something to make me feel better when I'm feeling like shit (chocolate!!!) but she included things for the kids too, little loot bags with playdough, some popcorn and a movie with a pizza hut gift card for a family movie night. The kids were so overjoyed and I was too. Our family time is already so limited with the kids in school and then with them being sick so often with coughs and colds that I've got them half a room away so I don't catch it and then with me feeling like crap for a week out of every three it's so nice to have something right there for us, family night planned and arranged, all we have to do is call the pizza place. It really made my day.

I gave Connor's kitchen set to some friends for their young daughter and I got to thinking about them today. These friends are the dad and stepmom of one of my former daycare kids. And while I've always really liked this girl's mom and dad and stepmom, I was pleasantly surprised at how they have circled the wagons of support for me since my diagnosis. Between the three of them there has been cards, texts, offers of help, hugs...just a general love and I feel so blessed because as I pointed out in this post I've really learned who my friends are.  And I'm happy to be able to count them as that, rather than just former clients or Mary's friend's parents.

Today was the family celebration for Mary's support group and Hearthplace. It was a group for children who had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. I thought it was important for her to go to because she's a very emotional child and doesn't always know how to appropriately express them. And she's immature for her age and doesn't always understand things for what they are. At any rate, this group was fabulous for her, letting her know that how she feels about this is completely normal (no matter what she feels) and it gave her some good positive ways to express those feelings.  So tonight the families were invited to come for pizza and cake and a little presentation.

Mary gave me a scarf. It's a pink flannel teddy bear scarf but she traced her arm lengths and cut out her hands at the ends so that when I wrap the scarf around me it's a hug. Yeah, that turned me into a puddle. Even now, I'm such a weeny, tearing up thinking about it.  I promised I'd wear it often and I intend to. Especially next week at my next chemo...when I need those hugs the most.

I'm feeling a little better today. No runny nose but the cough and laryngitis is lingering. Sean is off to the Dr again tomorrow so I might tag along and see if I should take anything for it before the dreaded 3rd round of chemo next week. Blah, I don't even want to think about it.

So I won't. Instead, I'll wrap myself in Mary's hug scarf.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't worry, I'm still here.

I've just not had much to say.

I caught a cold from one of the kids. I've got a splitting sinus headache, laryngitis and a runny nose. The runny nose thing is actually new because with no nose hair, when it runs you can't sniff it back in. I'm hoping this means it won't collect in my sinus the way colds normally do.

I've been monitoring my temperature, taking it every hour or so because if it gets to 38 C I have to go to the hospital. It means infection and since my body is not equipped to fight infection right now I'd need antibiotics. I'd also be isolated. I'd also run the risk of missing my chemo next week and while I'm not overjoyed about having it I'm also not wanting to miss it.

Last night was worrisome. My temp got to 37.8 at it's worst. It might have even went higher but I sweaty it off quite quickly. Now it's better, 37.2 so I'm feeling  a little less scared about it.

Last night I took Emily and Mary Jo to the the Selena Gomez concert. I asked them months ago if they wanted to go and they said no. (I could have got backstage passes too) Then, at the last minute they decide they want to go. Of course, it was sold out so I called, and called and called right up until about noon yesterday and managed to get a set of tickets on a just released block. They were at the side of the stage, 10 rows back and I have to say, they were the ideal seats. We could see everything perfectly.

It was good show, considering it was teenie bopper music. They even went as far as doing a little thing about self esteem and anti bullying which I thought was great considering the audience.

Not much else is new around here. I'm feeling drained because of the cold so I'm hanging out on my couch today. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do You See The Irony In This?

When it was time to wean Connor from his soother (he calls it his doo doo) we cut the tip of it off, little by little until there was very little left to actually suck on.   But my boy, not to be without his security still hung on to doo doo and rather than sucking it, he plays with the open end of the nipple.

Doo doo is firmly tied around lovey's neck. Lovey is his dog head/blanket body stuffed thing. Lovey and doo doo are a team, they go everywhere together and Connor doesn't go far without them. And he's not spent a night without them ever. (Actually, once he forgot it at daycare and getting him to sleep that night was a nightmare!)  Lovey doo doo comforts him when he's sad, makes him feel better when he's sick, plays with him when he's lonely.  Lovey doo doo is his best friend.

So this morning Connor came to me to show me that doo doo has a little mark. What's actually happening is that the rubber in the remaining nipple is wearing down to the point that it's starting to crumble. (it's had two years of Connor fingering it)   So I told Connor is was breaking.

I may as well have told him that the world was ending because the look I got was just that. Doo doo can't be breaking!!! The tears filled his little eyes instantly and when he cries like that, he doesn't make a sound and the tears don't roll down his cheek, they are so fat that they fall right out of his eyes. It's pathetic.

So we've agreed that later today we're going to go to WalMart and buy a new doo doo. The irony of this is that I am going to buy a new soother so that I can cut it up because his old cut up one is broken.

Go figure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Alone

For the first time since all of this began I feel alone. It's a horrible feeling.

Sean and I were talking last night about his going back to work. He's going to have to eventually, we both know that. I'm pretty damned lucky to have had him off at all, I know it's not common. He's been home since August and it's been a huge support to me to have him here through the surgeries, the recovery and the treatments. I'm sure it's eased his mind too, not being at work, unable to contact me (or be contacted) at any given time and not 'in the loop' on what's happening. But all good things must end.

We were taking about they reasons why and why not for going back to work after his next doctors appointment (he's the one who signs him off) One of the reasons he said to me that he wanted to go back to work was that he wanted to feel like a part of the world again. He also didn't want to tell me that answer because A: he didn't want to hurt my feelings and B: he felt selfish.

I get it. I really, really do. I can't imagine being in his shoes. Complaints aside, he loves his job and being stuck at home for 2 months, away from colleagues, friends, mental stimulation....it sucks. It shows when he gets irritated easily. He's getting cabin fever, especially when he's stuck on 24 hour a day duty for 4 days after my treatment - not just for the kids but for me too.

I don't begrudge him feeling that way because in his shoes, I would too. The thing is, I am kind of in his shoes...only they smaller....and I can't get them off.

I too long to be part of the world again but it's not a luxury I have. And it's made me realize that while I know everyone who loves me has my back, is here to support me and would do just about anything for me if I asked...I'm surrounded by friends and family and am completely and utterly alone.

I don't get to turn it off. Even if I thought going back to work for the two weeks that I feel okay was doable, my immune system would not allow me to spend 6 hour a day with 30 five years year olds and their germs.  A friend asked me out to a club for tonight for drinks and dancing and I think, that would be a hell of a lot of fun, except that I can't drink right now because I need to take my percocets for my sciatica and if I didn't take the percs so I could drink well then I couldn't move well enough to dance. Plus, there's the whole vanity thing. I see it at the mall, at WalMart, at the kids school.....that head tilt/pity look I get from people because I clearly have cancer...why else would I have a scarf on my head and no hair. And I only had my treatment a week ago so being in a crowded, germ infested club is probably not the best idea, my immune system is not strong enough.

I guess I've realized how jealous I am. I'm fiercely envious of everyone else because no matter how invested they are in me, they still get the chance to escape this. They can go home, go to work, go on with their lives. I can't. Mine is stuck, right here, right now. I can't get away from cancer. I can't go to work and pretend I'm fine. I can't go on vacation and pretend I'm fine. I can't even sit on my couch and pretend I'm fine. Because the fact of the matter is, I'm not, I won't be for a really long time. My life will revolve around appointments, my immune system, the fear that all of this will not result in the clean bill of health I'm hoping for and the unknown for the next year, at least. And as much as anyone else is invested in me and my well being, I am still very much alone because it's not them it's happening to. It's me. I'm the one who has lost a body part forever. I'm the one who's bald. I'm the one who has to have red goo pumped into her veins until she longs for death because it's got to feel better than the after effects. I'm the one whose life has come to a halt and I'm not sure when or even if I'll be able to get it going again. Will I ever get to become part of the world again?

I blogged once about someone I knew whose husband had had cancer and how she became a person who undermined other's problems - everyone elses problems were insignificant because they were not cancer - they were not life or death, they were trivial. I didn't want to become that person but I find I am. I read people's FB status updates and often think, "Are you for real??? You're complaining about THAT??? Walk 3 feet in my shoes and you'll see how stupid you sound."   I've defriended two people already because I'm so freakin' tired of seeing their status updates complaining about going to work. I'd give my right arm (my left tit?) to go back to work.

And yet, even as I type that I find some perspective because I can sit here and have this pity party for myself and the fact of the matter is, I too could have it a lot worse. I have cancer, sure, but to the best of my knowledge it's not terminal. As much as I complain about not knowing when this will end I do have the very real hope that it will end and end with a positive outcome. When I start feeling sorry for myself I just have to take the time to read this blog and be inspired because you won't find a single word of pity party in her blog and if she so chose to, she'd certainly be entitled to her share of it. Instead she looks up and forward and beyond. I could really take a page from her book.

I will join the world again, one day. I hope it's not too far off, it's lonely here. In the meantime, I guess I will continue to do my best to enjoy the good parts of this, I'm sure one day, many years from now when I've lost this perspective and am taking life for granted again I too will update my FB status with "Oh shit, I  really don't want to go to work today, it sucks." 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moving On

I don't know if it's in my head or if it's a fact but it seemed like this round was harder to get over than the last one. It could be all relative. It could be that is was in fact, I'm not entirely sure if chemo has a cumulative effect or not. Today I woke up still suffering from the mouth watering. My nurse came in (the home care nurse still comes in a couple of days after chemo just to check on my symptom management and side effects) and I asked her about the water mouth. She said she really didn't know, it's usually the opposite complaint, that people have dry mouth. I guess I'll stick with mints and potato chips. It's not as bad this afternoon.

Today was the anxious/heart pain/zero energy day that I recall from last time. I get winded walking from the living room to the bathroom (and I'm in a bungalow so it's not like I'm doing stairs) and I'm getting dizzy spells. I imagine most of this is due to decreased red blood cells and therefore less oxygen in my blood stream. I took a nap this afternoon and I feel 100 times better since I woke up so I'm sure by tomorrow I'll be ready to venture out and get groceries and take a walk. And not a moment too soon because I think Sean is getting cabin fever.

It's starting to get cold here now and I've been worrying about what to wear on my head. I got a lovely surprise in the mail this morning and among other things, my cool hat weather problem has been solved.

I love it! Thanks Lareina!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Down, Four To Go

I still can't get over how powerful the mind is. Even now, writing this post will be difficult because of it. The sheer amount of nausea I've felt over the past three days is astounding and horrific. And I'm not the type to not eat and drink when I don't feel well, in fact, I often do the opposite because an empty stomach makes me feel worse. But it's a catch 22 because filling an already sick belly means more sick.

As with the last time even thinking of water, ice and now apple juice makes me, even right now, feel physically ill and I consciously have to think of something else just to get the feeling to pass. Treatment has ruined so much for me already and now we add pizza and apple juice to that list (and quite possible cran-grape juice as well)

But, for the mast part that has passed. I feel quite a b it better today provided I can keep my mind off of the things that turn it. I am eating again, successfully, enjoying my morning coffee and for the first time since Thursday, at my own computer rather than using my mom's laptop on the couch or Emily's iPod.

My energy is still low but I'm going to suck it up and go see Mary compete at cross country today. It was supposed to be two weeks ago but got rained out.

I'm told that the next treatment will be dramatically better than this one because of the new meds I'll be taking. It remains to be seen but I can tell you this, I thanks the Almighty that the next one will be the last of this type of treatment. From what I understand the next type of treatment, while it has it's own set of side effects, the nausea should not be one of them. Of course, it seems to me, I was told not so long ago that I shouldn't throw up at all with the treatments.

You'd think I could get a small perk out of this like weight loss but no, in fact, I think I'm gaining. (It's the steroids...I'm sticking to that story. It sounds a whole lot better than the truth; I saw an Oh Henry commercial last night at like 7:45 pm and said to Sean "Oh that looks GOOD!!" and then sent him to Shoppers to get me one. He came home with a Halloween pack of 95 mini bars and I ate...well....a lot of them.   Oh, and two bags of Lay's chips because the salt helps with the constant mouth watering (which makes the nausea worse)

It's officially time to put treatment number 2 behind me. I look forward to the next 2.5 weeks in which I'm allowed to feel somewhat normal, complain about my sciatica (it's back) and wonder how I'm going to keep my head warm now that the temperatures have bottomed out.  I'm going to finish my SIL's quilt, get some more Christmas shopping done and look forward to Halloween.

Moving on.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good, Not Great

A quick update.

I've been throwing up again, but not as badly. I've taken double the Zofran prescribed to me when I was put in the hospital last time plus steroid and I'm hoping it will hold me over until tomorrow when the nausea should be more or less gone. Apparently the new med prescribed to me, Emend, for the next treatment will be like night and day from Zofran. The nurse said ideally I'd have had it for this past treatment but because they hadn't known how sick I'd been I wasn't given it. One can hope because again, despite my feeling much better at this point than I did last time (I believe I was making plans to go to the hospital by this point last time) I still feel terrible. I'm having trouble staying hydrated, I can't drink water, the mere thought of it make my stomach turn, juice is too sweet so even though it's a diuretic I'm drinking tea, it's all I want. I'm eating soda crackers and dry cheerios because an empty stomach adds to the nausea for me and I'm praying it stays down.

Sean gets pissed at me everytime I throw up because he says I'm not listening. I'm eating, I'm getting out of bed (to come to the couch) I'm drinking tea instead of something better. I know he's just worried but it upsets me when I'm feeling this shitty and he's getting mad at me. I just remind myself that he's scared. That's all.

I just remind myself that each day I'll feel a bit better and that I got through it once before and I had two solid weeks in which to complain about my sciatica and be happy as hell to do so. This shitty feeling won't last forever and as long as I can will myself to keep things down, stay hydrated and out of the ER I'll be okay in a couple of days.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dare I Hope?

The Doctor who was on call for my chemo was great. He actually works out of my hospital out here. (Apparently there are changes in the Provincial infrastructure with regards to health care so Dr's are a bit more interchangeable.)

Anyhow, I explained the whole antinausea/Zofran/being in the hospital bit and asked if I could get a prescription for Zofran. He did me one better.

He gave me the Zofran for this time around, plus a prescription for the steroids I take at the hospital (which incidentally also eradicates my sciatica pain)  but he upped to dosage of Zofran too. He said the dosage I was given was for post op patients, and the dose he gave me is for chemo patients, much stronger, and I shouldn't need to take anything else again....possibly tomorrow but not likely.

Also, he gave me a prescription for something even stronger to take for my next chemo treatment, one on the day of chemo and then two more for the next two days. He said it's even better than Zofran but they only give it to patients with drug plans because it's very expensive.

So, I dare to hope that this time, I might be queasy but I won't be sick and can avoid the hospital altogether. Time will tell.

I'm going to rest now.

Number 2 Here I Come.

I'm heading out in roughly an hour to my second of 6 chemo treatments. I'm nervous. I know that expect now and the actual treatment, not so bad. The week to come though.....

I'm prepared to be sick. I'm terrified of going back into the hospital again though. I hated it, every single minute of it and I don't want to go back there again.

My oncologist is on holiday this week so I didn't get to talk to him about the Zofran. But I'm going to bring it with me and talk to whatever oncologist is on call there this morning. I WILL take the Zofran and hope and pray it's enough to counter the nausea enough that I don't throw up.

Just to add insult to injury the month hag has come to visit. It's actually late but almost 2 weeks but I think the first chemo threw that off. It's also highly likely that this will be my last ever period. Chemo kills that too. I'm okay with that. I'm done having kids and I've been sooooo done with tampons and maxi pads and cramps and feeling uncomfortable for a week each month. That might be liberating.

Connor is still sick, he's got laryngitis and he's been croupy. It's hard for me to not go to my kids when they are sick, I'm the caregiver. I'm the nurturer. I'm the mom. I've been really excellent about washing my hands, getting the kids to wash theirs and not giving lippy kisses (I miss my lippy kisses) In fact, I only give forehead kisses now (have you ever watched a 4 year old wipe his nose on his sleeve? His cheek is not a safe place to kiss either.  But to not be able to take care of him as I would when he's sick has been really hard on both of us.

Well, I better go get ready. I have to shower and that is a trick because I'm trying to have the last of my hair thin out rather than clump into bald patches. That means I have to get my head under the water, rub it evenly back and forth and then get my head out of the water so that the shower doesn't wear a bald patch on the top.....I'd look like my Dad.

Have a great day everyone. I'll check in again when I'm feeling better.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Losing your hair is a funny thing. The other day I scratched my head and a clump came out, not a big one, my hair was pretty short, Sean had shaved it to a #3 but it was a clump nonetheless. I'd also noticed other hair coming out, if you catch my drift.

It shook me a bit so I asked Sean to shave me again, to a #1 so that it hopefully wouldn't come out in clumps and more so so it wouldn't make a mess in my bed at night or freak me out in the shower.

For the last two nights I've had a hard time falling asleep. My head has been ridiculously sweaty. I never realized just how much a persons head sweats and how much our hair sucks it up and we don't know it. Now that there's no hair to suck it up I've woken up, quite literally with sweat running down my head. It makes for a lot of laundry. Plus, my mind is messing with me. I imagine waking up in the morning with two bald patches, one on each side, because I'm a side sleeper and I imagine the hair being rubbed right off, much like how a newborn gets that cute little bald patch on the back of his head from lying on it all the time.

It's not actually happening that way, it's more like it's thinning out. It's a lot thinner than it was right after Sean shaved it the second time. But at this point, the stress of waiting to go bald is worse I think than actually going bald.

I have another chemo treatment this week, on Thursday. I'm nervous. I've finally gotten over the trauma of the last treatment, I can drink water again, in small doses though I'm still turned off of pizza (Sean is happy about that one and has suggested my post chemo meal this week be chicken wings - funny guy)  I'm hoping that taking the zofran this time will eliminate the vomiting. I know I'll still be nauseous which I suppose I can handle, as long as I'm not vomiting. I don't want to go back to the hospital.  I also take heart in remembering that by the Wednesday after my last treatment I felt exponentially better and hopefully this will be the same. 

My baby boy is turning 4 this week. I can't believe it. it feels like he was just born.

The other night we were lying in his bed reading If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. After the story we talked about his birthday coming up and all the things he could do when he turns 4. You see, Connor is all about the numbers and what he can do. He knows that when he's 19 he can drink beer. Apparently when he's 25 he's going to drive a fire truck and when he's 50 he'll drive a regular truck. When he's 16 he's going to drive me to the mall (oh, how I wish that were true but somehow I don't see my 16 year old son having any interest in driving his Mom to the mall.)  So when he's 4 he'll be able to run faster. He'll be able to jump higher. And...the best thing of all, he told me when he's 4 he'll be able to love Mommy more.
Can you say Heart Melting. I love that kid.

He got a toonie from my brother yesterday and he hasn't let go it since. He also got a $20 from my brother in law and if it weren't for the fact that I'm worried he'll rip it, he'd not let go that either. Connor is a bit of a tightwad. He doesn't like to buy things with his money, he likes to just hold on to it. I see riches in his future.

Mary has decided to be a skunk for halloween this year. I love it. She always comes up with the most creative costumes and best of all they are usually things I can make. (like the sock monkey last year!)
Emily is going to be a bee. She bought hers at Claire's and truthfully, it's a pretty cute costume. I suspect this will be her last year trick or treating. She'll likely go out with her bff again. I think for them it's more about hanging out and walking around at night than it is about candy. (Silly girl!)

Well, I'm going to take advantage of this Thanksgiving Monday and everything being closed to get some sewing done. There is no temptation to go anywhere because everything is closed and there's nowhere to go.

Have a happy week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in the Great White North. I've never been a big one for Thanksgiving. We stopped doing to big family dinners several years ago when my schedules couldn't coincide with my brothers and their in laws and Sean's brothers and their in laws. And for a few years my mom took the long weekend opportunity to go up north to visit friends.  It's all good though, like I said, it's not exactly one of those holidays that ranks high on my list of 'gotta celebrate'.  We're not farmers, I can barely grow green beans (and that says something because 5 year olds can grow green beans). We don't need to celebrate the harvest.

Thanksgiving is kind of bitter sweet for me. The last Thanksgiving dinner we had with my Dad in 2008, it was me and Sean and the kids and my Dad. We were going around the table talking about what we were thankful for and my Dad, with his quasi-serious sense of humour said "I'm just thankful to still be here."  We all laughed but deep down we all knew he wasn't entirely joking and we were all thankful for the same. And 8 months later he was gone.  But it's also at this time of year that we celebrate Connor's birthday (the 12th) and that makes this a super time of year, it gives us a reason to celebrate.

This year, I could protest this holiday and scream to the Heavens, "What have I got to be Thankful for?" I'm nearly bald (ironically, I dreamt of my hair falling completely out last night and my Dad was there with me telling me it was no big deal - he was nearly bald too) I'm lopsided in the chest area with a hideous scar. I can't walk from here to there without pain and spend most of my day hopped up on drugs (okay, that's an exaggeration, the drugs don't actually get me feeling loopy anymore...guess I'm used to them)  I can't work. I have to spend the next year going for IV treatments in the hopes of eradicating my body of this cancer...the cancer they are having trouble pin pointing.

And yet, none of those reasons make me feel like I shouldn't be thankful. Because the truth is, I have more this year to be thankful for than I ever have before - and much of that is thanks to cancer, go figure.

I am thankful first and foremost for my family.
My husband who has been my rock and has carried the weight of the world on his shoulders without uttering a single complaint. He's made me feel whole, even though physically, I'm not. He loves me and supports me and even when I'm driving him crazy, he bites his tongue and humours me. 
My kids - that speaks for itself. They are my world. They are the reason I am fighting with everything I have. They are the reason I will beat this. I can't remember what my life was like before they were born and I can't remember why I felt any purpose in life back then because they are my purpose. I love them more than I can ever express and they make me so proud each and every day.
My mom. I can't find the words to describe what my mom means to me. I certainly couldn't get through this battle without her either. Not just from the practical standpoint of not worrying about what to do with the kids when I'm sick or having appointments or any of that, but from the strength she gives me. My mom has put up with a lot of shit in her time and she keeps getting up, brushing herself off and moving forward.  I like to think I get that from her. I know my mom loves me because she tells me everyday. And I'm pretty damned lucky because I know not everyone has that relationship with their mom. She might drive me nuts sometimes (as I'm sure I do her) but I wouldn't trade her for anything. 
My brothers. No matter the differences we've had in our lives (and we've had our share) at the end of the day blood is thicker than water and we stand together. I know they will never let me down. I'm blessed to be from a close nit family, one that doesn't communicate or spend time together because we're family and we have to but because we're friends and we want to.

I'm thankful for my friends.
I've talked about friends before and how this trial in my life has not only shown me who my friends are but has strengthened the bonds of those friendships. I always said, I might not have a ton of friends but the ones I do have are the best and I would be lost without them.

I'm thankful for my job.
How many people can truly say that the prospect of not going to work would make them physically ill? I can. I love my job that much. I miss it terribly and can't wait to get back to it. It's fulfilling. It's challenging. It's fun.

I'm thankful for the very gift of life. When put face to face with your own mortality you tend to view things differently. We've all heard the adage, 'don't sweat the small stuff' and many claim to live by it but I think when you're put in this position you have a greater understanding of that. It's not just about not worrying about the small things like a few cobwebs in the corner of the living room or crumbs in the new car, it's about leaving the past in the past, not worrying too much about what the future holds and about living life - here and now. And it doesn't have to be 'bucket list-ish' like every moment is the last so it's got to be an adventure it's just about appreciating life - even the mundane things like emptying the dishwasher or playing Wii with the kids.

No matter how shitty you think you might have it - there is someone out there who's got it a hell of a lot worse than you. Remember that and you've found the secret to a happy life.

And so my friends, take time to look at your life, see the beauty in it. There's so much to be thankful for.


Friday, October 7, 2011

What Cancer Has Taught Me


I've learned that my days will never again be consistent. I woke up this morning feeling on top of the world. I got a good report from my surgeon. I went to physiotherapy for my sciatica and was able to do all the exercises. I made 34 cake pops for Connor's birthday party tomorrow, plus chocolate suckers. I went shopping with Em and we didn't argue about spending money.

And then I scratched my head....and a small clump of hair came out.

My hair has finally started to fall out. I knew I'd feel tingly in my scalp before it started and it was tingling all morning. I knew it would starting any day now (15-17 days after your treatment....today is day 15) I thought I was prepared, I mean, that was the whole reason I shaved my head before my first treatment in the first place, so I'd be prepared to go from long hair to no hair.
Turns out, I wasn't as prepared as thought I was. I had myself a good cry. And then I had Sean shave it again, down to a number 1. I look like the skin heads my mom didn't like me hanging out with in high school.

It's not all bad I suppose. I'm happy that I won't have to shave my legs for some time. Of course, that would have been preferable in the summer when it really matters. I'm happy I won't have to shave my armpits for a while. I won't have to pluck those little hairs between my eyebrows...not quit unibrow but noticeable when you get really close. No more worry about bikini line waxing - it's a full on Brazilian now. And I've just noticed, I have hairy toe knuckles. Ick, I'll be glad to be rid of that.

The down side is that if I loose my eyebrows (some women don't, they just thin out a bit) I'll have to either pencil them in or have that 'bald' eyes look. I'm also losing my nose hair, which as a woman I don't notice much....until I start crying and sniffing doesn't seem to help the runny nose. I'll have to have tissue on hand at all times from now on.

But I'm not one to harp on the negative side of things. So, I'm going to take full advantage of my pending full on baldness.

For Halloween I'm thinking I'll paint my hole head orange, put a flicker candle in my mouth and go out as a jack-o-lantern.

Finally!

The surgeon called yesterday. I always get insanely nervous when her number shows up on the phone.

She said that the results came back from the MRI and that there was nothing to see. There was nothing there to biopsy.

Holy freakin' crap!! We finally got some good news!!! So I am released from her and don't need to see her again for a year.

I couldn't have better news to go into Thanksgiving weekend. And I have a hell of a lot to be thankful for.

This is the first real bit of good news I've had since this whole mess started and I am so beyond relieved I actually cried, tears of happiness for once.

So last night Sean and I decided to go out to celebrate. We were going to go to East Side Mario's and use the gift certificate my brother snagged for us. But we got side tracked, me with writing, Sean with hockey so instead we decided to go for dessert at Williams. We weren't there long before I had to use the bathroom and well, without giving away the farm I'll just say my butt is spoiled and doesn't respond well to public washroom toilet paper. I need my moist wipes. Yeah, that's right. My ass is a diva. So we went home after only being out for 40 minutes. I'm a cheap date.

So Sean watched hockey and I soaked in the bath for the very first time since July, with my Kobo and my iPod and my tea. It was heavenly.

I'm feeling fantastic, more positive now than ever before. See what a bit of good news does for you!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New Venture

I'm so ridiculously excited.

I've toyed with writing for a long time. I've written several children's stories (picture books) and have attempted to get published. Unsuccessfully so far but I remind myself that Dr Seuss's first story And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street was rejected 57 times before it was published. So I hold on to some hope and I'll keep on trying.

I've really wanted to write something for an adult audience but that's been more of a struggle for me. Finding the right story, something that interested me enough to stick with it and something I could develop a solid story line and characters with.

I've found it. Or, should I say, it found me.

I wasn't going to say anything for fear of it not turning out as great as it all sounds in my head but I've started already and gained some serious momentum. I've also enlisted some help from some friends for research purposes....I can't write what I don't know.  So it's out there now. I can't take it back.

I'm not going to give away too much but I will say it's inspired by my PP sisters and the bonds that have grown. It's such a great real life story that it's so easy to take that real life story, combine the personalities of all them into a few solid characters and create some fictional - and some not so fictional  story lines to develop a really great story.

My ever supportive husband says "If it's something that interests you, I'm sure it will be great." This is code for "It sounds like a chick book."

Well duh.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Here's What's New

I've been feeling physically pretty good these past few days. The tiredness is starting to wear off, my sciatica comes and goes and though my eyes are painfully dry I've not been feeling any side effects of the chemo. Thank God because it almost makes thinking about the next treatment on October 13th bearable.

So I thought I'd take advantage of the good feelings to get some more stuff done. I picked up my sister law's quilt again. I feel insanely guilty for not having it done for when she initially asked but after the first treatment I lost my will to do much of anything that didn't involve sitting on the couch watching tv. I love sewing but it's not something I can only do for a short time like play Wii or read or make jewelry. Once the sewing stuff is out in order to actually put a dent in your work you're there for a good 2 hours. I've been lacking that kind of stamina. But yesterday I got into it and got 3 of the 7 panels done. I'm glad. I will definitely be ready for her to give her mom for Christmas.

I've also taken a shine to jewelry making (again) but this time I wanted to try something different. I came across this blog (actually I think I came across her FB page first) and fell in love with these rosaries. She makes them so beautifully and I was thinking, what a lovely gift that would be to give someone a rosary that was made just for them. But, until Connor's First Communion we don't have anything coming up in our family that I can think of that would warrant a rosary as a gift.

Then I got to thinking....hey, I could make that. We have a Catholic Supply store walking distance from my house. (it's where we buy all the rosaries we give as gifts) and I thought, there is little doubt in my mind I could get the Crucifix's and other things I need to make them. Or I could make Chaplets. They have all the Saints medals. Or I could make Tenners.

So, with coupon on hand it was off to Michael's. I had a vision of a tenner rosary bracelet. I've got a Ziploc baggy with about $200 worth of swarovski crystals burning a hole in my craft box and this would be the perfect project for them.  So I went to get the necessary clasps and picked up a few crosses too (not to be confused with a Crucifix - which will applicable to all Christians is a predominately Catholic thing)

So this was my first attempt. The Sterling Silver/Swarovski Crystal tenner bracelet. My mom bought it. 



This was my second attempt.  A black bead tenner keychain with a pewter cross. I'll admit, I made it thinking it would be great for a guy. But then after it was done I fell in love with it. In fact, I probably would have bought it but a friend bought instead.  I'll have to make another (slightly different though because I love that they will all be unique) 


I made two more keychain ones but haven't taken pictures yet. I'm  enjoying this new project though, they are easy to make, pretty and meaningful.

I've yet to post them for sale in my Etsy Shop so if anyone is interested in buying one just email me .  An idea of price range, the bracelet was $30 the keychain was $12.

This morning I'm hoping to get to the woods to get some nice fall pictures. It's a gorgeous day, it feels like summer but the leaves are changing. This afternoon it's off to the dentist. I'm not supposed to be getting dental work done while in treatment but I broke a molar so it's got to get, at very least, a temporary filling so nothing gets in there and causes an infection.


Monday, October 3, 2011

I had a burst of energy yesterday. Or maybe it was my trying to back into the swing of not letting everyone do everything for me all the time. I've milked this cancer business as long as I could, it's getting old now and my mind is getting stale. Besides, Sean will have to go back to work at some point and I'll have to (shudder!!) fend for myself!!!

Anyway, I've been wanting to get the playroom tidied up and decorated for Halloween and Connor's party this weekend. I also wanted to purge. With his birthday and Christmas coming it's time for the annual "You don't need this toy anymore so let's give it away, throw it away or donate it to Value Village"

We're saying goodbye to the kitchen set. He doesn't play with it anymore, he never really did but I've kept it because in this house, there is no such thing as girls toys and boys toys. My brother in law is a fantastic chef, you never know, Connor could have gotten that skill from him so let's encourage it now while he's still young.

So the kitchen and all the food and dishes are going to a friends daughter. She's just turned 1 so it will be perfect for her.

I have a big pile of things to go to Value Village, lots of doubles which was necessary when I had the daycare but not any longer. How many Fisher Price garages can one kid use?  The problem is, I don't want to get rid of too much because I want to be able to take them to school. I do have a class that could use them but I'm not bringing them there until I'm back....who knows what would happen to them.

Then we decorated. I used to love decorating the playroom, especially in fall. It's my favourite time of year. I've missed doing it. So I pulled out my box of Halloween decorations and we went to work. It looks so good now!

My fabulous morning was brought to a screeching halt though. I celebrated my hard work with a Halloween sized box of Smarties and cracked a tooth. Yeah, great. Apparently I'm not supposed to really get dental work done during chemo, the bleeding aspect of dental work and my body not being well equipped to stop itself from bleeding at this point. I'm sure they'll be able to do a quick fix for me until Feb when dental work will be more of an option but it's the aggravation. And it was the slap in the face reminder of my life not being what it once was.

Last night we went to dinner at East Side Mario's. They were doing a fundraiser dinner for the Run for the Cure so we went with my brother and sister in law and their kids, and my mom. I'm not a big fan of going to restaurants anymore. It's too much work with the kids. I'm rarely happy with the service and often I can't find things on the menu I like. I'm particularly not a fan of East Side Mario's for that reason but this was for a good cause.

The service was TERRIBLE!  The brought out the salad in the large 'share it out' bowls. The waitress asked if we wanted Parmesan or pepper. I said "Not yet" meaning not in the bowl, everyone's taste is different so she should be asking us individually for our plates" Instead she left and no one got any cheese or pepper. My sister in law had to ask 3 times for mustard. They brought out half the dinners out and the other half didn't come out until 10 minutes later.  My brothers chicken was burnt and dried out (we discovered after it was the last piece of roasted chicken so it'd probably been sitting there since lunch) My mom's pasta was too spicy for her to eat despite it NOT being listed as a spicy dish.

All in all, it was horrible.

So when we all left my brother went in and told the manager about how terrible our experience was, and especially shameful during a fundraising event.  So the manager gave him 2 $50 gift certificates as an apology.

So while I might complain about not really liking this restaurant, I'm pretty pleased to have a free date night! Way to go Brian!

I'm looking forward to a busy week. I want to get Connor's cake pops and chocolate suckers done for his birthday party. I still have to get everything I need for the games and prizes. Plus a gift for him!

I also have a new craft idea that I want to try out. I was thinking of making some tenner rosaries. I'm going to go to the Catholic supply store and get some Miraculous Mary medals and some Crucifix's.  I'm going to go to Micheal's to get some more beads and I have a nice stash of swarovski crystals that would make some nice tenners.  We'll see how they turn out.

But for today, it's off to watch Mary at cross country, try and get in to the dentist and if I can squeeze it in, go to my breast cancer support group.

Have a great week.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Remember When?

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I had to go downtown to Mount Sinai Hospital and I bitched and complained about how much I hated going downtown?

Well, we had to go again yesterday for (what I thought was) my MRI guided biopsy. As it turned out it was just a plain old breast MRI. I almost started crying when the tech told me it wasn't a biopsy, I know my surgeon was specific about this. I can have an MRI anywhere, I don't need to go to the ends of the earth for it. The reason for going there was for the biopsy part, that only some hospitals are equipped to do. I explained the whole thing to her - still nearly crying.

She explained to me that yes, they do it, but that there was no way their Dr's would do it just on the request of another Dr. Their Dr's would do an initial MRI to see if there was anything worth biopsying (did I make a word up?) at all.  It did make sense and I should be happy that it's like a second opinion on that breast, they aren't just looking at other images and reading other Dr's reports. And, as the tech pointed out, these Dr's are breast specialists, they ONLY deal with breasts so they may interpret the results differently, knowing what "blips" may be worth investigating further and which ones aren't.  

The downside is that I will likely have to go back to Mt Sinai again to have the biopsy.  Oh well, that's my life now.

The appointment was at night so when we got out of the hospital it was dark, cold and raining. And I loved it. The hospital is right down the street from Queen's Park which looks pretty in the day and even prettier at night.

It made me think about when Sean and I were younger; when we were dating. In the winter we used to go down to Nathan Phillips Square and go skating. We'd get hot chocolate and then after we'd walk down to The Bay and  look at the Christmas windows.  It reminded me of one time we brought my brother in law with us down there, he had just moved to Ontario from Newfoundland.  He rented skates and they broke right out from under him.

For years now I've wanted to do that with the kids, take them skating at the Square and see the Christmas windows at the Bay. But there has always been reasons we couldn't. And again this year, another reason. There is no way I could skate with this sciatica and by then I'll likely feel even crappier because of the cumulative affect of the chemo. Next year. For sure.

On our way home, I was starving so I asked Sean to stop at Texas Burger. Texas Burger is to Durham as Johnny's is to Scarborough (though the owners are less 'Soup Nazi'ish when you order and you can sit down to eat)  When we lived in Ajax Sean and I went there all the time. So we went in and ordered and when the guy called me up to get my burger he said "It was great to see you guys again" 

Now really, this place does some serious business. And we haven't been there in like 2 year and before that it was probably another 2 years. But he remembered us. That to me, is really customer service, remembering someone who had been a regular almost 10 years ago. Amazing.

We also drove around our old neighbourhood. We talked about when life was simpler. We laughed about the park took Emily tobogganing at for the first time and  I was too scared to let her go down the bigger hill so I had Sean push her sled along a little slope. We passed the park that we had to drive to because the one walking distance from our house was too crappy for our little girl. We talked about the qualities our old house had that we loved that our new house lacks ( a big kitchen, huge bedrooms, a walk in and en suite in the master) but that this house is  better because it has room for our whole family and a big backyard.

Last night was nice walk down memory lane.