Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ooops!

Remember that funny story where I said I was going to give up needless spending for Lent? It's amazing how one can justify what is needless spending.

Last week one of my PP sisters bought something for me that I've been needing for work. So when she gets it shipped I'll need to send her the money for the item and shipping. Spending by proxy is not spending right?

On Saturday I got a coffee at Timmies. I can't justify that one.

On Sunday I ordered something online, again that I needed for work. But it was Sunday. You're not required to stick with your Lenten sacrifice on Sundays.

Yesterday I bought some wine glasses for one of the baskets for the basket raffle at the tea. But it was for our fundraiser so is that needless spending? I also bought some containers to replace my alphabet containers at work. Again, for work, does that count as needless spending?

Probably.

I really should try harder.

This week I looked into canvasing in front of the LCBO to raise money for our Relay for Life team.  You see it all the time, hockey teams, fundraising for cancer, etc. So after calling 4 different people I finally spoke to the person I was supposed to speak to only to discover that the chances of us being able to do it this year are slim to none. They can only accept one group a month. And only one group for any particular organization can canvass per year (meaning one hockey team, one soccer team, one relay for life team.) 

So, I guess the idea is that I'll have to apply this coming summer to be able to canvass next year.  I'm not so confident that we'll reach our $5000 goal this year. I'm not giving up yet but we've only got 3 months left.  If you'd like to donate to our team and bring us closer to our goal you can do so here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Done!!



I'm finished and I couldn't be happier. I actually cried when I left the hospital I was so happy.

And I hope and pray I never see any of those people ever again.

What a great day!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

As I Come to the End of This Journey.....

I never thought I'd see this day, when I could look at my calendar and see the squares empty. No doctor's appointments. No treatments. No tests.

Okay, in fairness, there is still herceptin treatments for the next 9 months and a mammogram in June. I will  follow ups with my oncologists (I think in the beginning those are every 3 months) which may or may not involve other tests. I think the fact that my particular breast cancer presented in the lymph nodes first rather than the breast would mean the oncologist will order regular CT scans to make sure my lymph nodes are still clear. But - I really am speculating since I won't see my medical oncologist for my post treatment exam for another 3 weeks.

The point is, as of tomorrow at about 9:30 am I will be officially done active treatment and will move into maintenance. And I couldn't be happier. I want to cry just thinking about it.

I've gone back and read my blog from the beginning of all of this; from when I first discovered the lump in my armpit in May. It's been a long road and I think I've felt every emotion there is. Fear, denial, hope, happiness, anxiety.  I know more about cancer than I ever wanted to and hope and pray I never have to learn more.

I've learned a lot about myself too. We're constantly put through tests in life and have two options, to fold or to fight. I'm a fighter. I knew I was but  didn't know just how hard I could fight and how willingly I'd do so. I've had bad days, sure, but overall I've felt good and strong and ready to kick this cancer shit to the curb.  As I said in the very beginning. I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

I've also learned a lot about the people around me; my family and friends. There is no way I'd have had the strength to get through any of this without them.

My husband has been my rock. He's been there every step of the way, ready to encourage me, hold me, fight for me when I was too tired or to do it myself. He took care of me when I was sick and celebrated the small victories with me. I couldn't imagine going through this without him. Cancer has brought us closer, it's made our marriage stronger and it's shown us that we can get through anything together.

My kids; my reasons for fighting. My reasons for being. My reasons for getting up in the morning even when I don't feel like it. They have been so great. Understanding, helpful, strong and encouraging. I know they are scared but they put on brave faces. I love them more than I can ever express.

My mom, brothers and sister in laws have also been amazing. They've juggled their schedules to accomodate my treatments, taking care of my kids, taking care of me. Sean has been amazing but there was no way he could do it all himself.  But having my mom and brothers there to take the kids to and from school allowed him to be there for me at treatments. Having my mom and brothers there to take me to treatments when Sean couldn't meant I didn't have to go alone or didn't have to pay for parking (it adds up!) And having them there to encourage me, to tell me they know I can beat this, to build me up when I felt like crap. My mom cleaned my house, did my laundry, fed the kids....all the things I couldn't do when I was run down.  It means the world to me.

My extended family and (IRL) friends.  It's often said that in times of crisis you find out who your true friends are. I most certainly did. I've discovered who falls into the categories of 'those who know me' and 'those who genuinely care'. For a long time I was hurt by certain people who seemed to have fallen off the earth or failed to acknowledge that I was sick. Several people said to me that it might just be that they don't know what to say and for a while I accepted that but now, I feel differently. If someone really cared, wouldn't they put the ackwardness aside and suck it up? Perhaps. But, I don't stress myself about that because what matters to me more is the people who were there for me. The family who checked in frequently (either with me or my mom) the friends who sent me emails, text messages, phone calls and cards. The friends who brought my dinner, who offered me housekeeping, who gave me head scarves, who brought me boob cakes. The family and friends who did none of those things but instead had a normal every day conversation with me about normal every day things so that I'd feel like a normal every day person and that cancer had not taken over every aspect of my life. It's all the people who supported me that I'm thankful for.

And last, but certainly not least - my cheering section, my chemo angels, my Pumpkin Patch sisters. They seem to have  knack of knowing when I've been feeling down and a card shows up in my mailbox (sometimes covered in glitter!) or an email shows up in my inbox with a note from one of them. I'm not 100% sure but I think they made a list of who was to send cards to me  and when so that for the length of my treatment I'd get a card in the mail cheering me on. Some were funny, some were sweet and all brought tears to my eyes because it meant someone out there was thinking of me.
I made a scrapbook with the cards I've gotten from them all - over 100 cards because if there is one memory I want to take away from this whole thing it's that there are beautiful people in the world and I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of them.  I'm lucky to have my PP sisters and I've said it several times before - one day I will give each and every one of them a hug in person.

Cancer is not a journey one fights alone. I don't think anyone can fight it alone and win. I've been blessed - cancer has shown me the beauty in the people around me. I'm lucky to have them in my life.
And I couldn't have fought this battle without them.

I still have a long road ahead. I have 9 months of maintenance and will be anxious until I hit the 5 year cancer free mark but for now - I've crossed one giant bridge - with an army of people behind me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It Caught Up With Me

I was warned about the side effects of radiation. Burned skin, nausea and fatigue.

I can understand how the burned skin happens, I'm being zapped with radiation in the same area everyday. And burned I am. The whole right side of my chest looks like I feel asleep in the sun, only the burn is in a distinct shape for the area they are treating. But worse is under my arm, at the side of where my breast was. It's beyond red, it's purple. And it's starting to blister. I've got a special cream to put on the blisters so they don't get infected. Yay. The real problem is that they are in an awkward spot,  a lot of friction happens there so it's quite painful. I'm also supposed to be using a saline compress on the area. Good thing the home care nurse left me a whole bunch of preloaded saline syringes as well as a brand new bottle of saline. Saves me the trouble of trying to make my own.

I don't have the nausea so that's good.

But the fatigue, whoa nelly, that has set in. I don't understand how radiation causes fatigue but since Wednesday I can't seem to motivate myself to do much of anything and took a nap yesterday and today. I'm exhausted. I hate feeling this way.

Sean won't let me do anything (cook dinner, do the dishes) and on some level I appreciate that but it also makes me feel 'sick'.  I don't want to feel like I'm a sick person.

Monday will be my final radiation. I'm so excited I could pee my pants.

Forgive me if I seem absent or if my posts are not exactly great reading. My brain is foggy from fatigue and tylenol 3's (which seem to have the same effect on me as the percocets did...so clearly my tolerance is back to normal - that's good news at least!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ignorant.

My mom's party is done and over with so that means it's time to move on to planning the Spring Tea Fundraiser for the Relay for Life. I've been pounding the pavement (or the keyboard as it were) drumming up donations for items to use in our basket raffle.

We're doing well. We've got some great baskets, Avon, Scentsy, wine....and we've got some great gift certificates from places like Glama Gal Tween Spa and the Bowmanville Zoo. My goal is to have at least 20 items available for the basket raffle.

I'm also adequately annoying the FB world with my constant reminders to "get your tickets now!!" I know it's not until April 14th but I panic when my mind is in gear and I worry that we won't sell any tickets. I know it's unfounded, last year's tea sold really well and we raised over $800 but I still stress.

My uncle has again generously offered to match what we raise up to $5000 (which is our goal this year) and holy crap, I can't even begin to think about how freakin' excited I would be to raise $10,000.

I posted an ad on Kijiji a week or so ago selling diaper cakes. I got an email the other day from someone who wanted to buy a Mickey Mouse themed one. She wanted to spend between $40-$50. My ad clearly states that the funds are for charity. So I build in a $10 'pledge' into the cakes I sell. So a $40 cake would have $30 worth of goods in it.

Naturally a themed cake, especially a Disney one, is going to cost more - the goods cost more. But I gave her 8 cake options in her price range (and they were excellent) I then discovered that she lived an hour away from me and wanted it delivered. Fine, but it's gonna cost an extra $20.

I got an email from her this morning. Apparently she was not impressed with the delivery charge. She seemed to think I was a 'business' not an individual. She then had the balls to question whether or not the money actually went to charity and how would she know. (because had she taken the time to click the link to my Papa's Pride blog either in my ad or in the siggie of my email she would have read all the information and answers to those very questions.)

Wow. I can tolerate a lot but I will not abide someone questioning my honesty or integrity. And had she just bitched about the cost of the cake I would have said fine, have a lovely day but I couldn't let the comment about  the money going to charity go.  So I had to 'correct' her. (Remember in The Shining when the ghost of the former caretaker told Jack Nicholson that he "corrected" his wife and creepy twin daughters...and he rolled the r's. That's how I hear that in my head)  I emailed her back and very calmly and succinctly let her know her mistakes. I haven't got time for assholes.

One final note. I follow a lot of blogs, though I'll admit some of the ones I used to really enjoy I don't read anymore. They just seem silly now. It's one of those things cancer changes about you - some things seems pretty trivial that didn't before. Anyway, I read two or three blogs from people who are also travelling this crappy road called cancer. It's a not so elite club that I'm not happy to be a part of but since I am I figure I'd like to read about how others are dealing so I can feel normal. I've learned that we all deal differently. Some hit the pits of despair. Some get very factual. Some you can tell are holding back their true feelings and others are letting it all hang out (I am in this group). 

My blog was mentioned today in one of the blogs I read and it made my heart happy. The whole point of my putting it all out there, letting the world know my deepest darkest feelings about this cancer journey is so that others who are facing it can know that A: they are not alone and B: someone else out there feels the same way and it's normal.

Yes, I joke about my cancer. My girlfriend brought me a birthday cake shaped like a boob for my birthday, the same day I got out of the hospital from my mastectomy. (this is the same friend that grabbed a handful of real boob and prosthetic and said "I can't feel the difference!" If I'm wrestling with Sean I'll say things like "oh, you just punched me in my cancer"    My brother commented to me once that he paid an arm and a leg for his house but I paid my right tit for mine. (in reference to our health crisis insurance) and I thought it was the funniest damn thing I'd heard in a long time.

Not everyone is in that place. Cancer is certainly not funny but for me, finding the humor in life is what keeps me happy. It keeps me sane. Laughter might not be the cure but it sure as hell helps! At least for me.

My heart was happy because if my boring little blog can bring a ray of sunshine, hope, inspiration or a even a dose of reality to someone who's in these shoes then I feel like I've accomplished what I set out to do when I decided to put my fight with cancer out there for the world to read about.

Charla, thank you for making my heart happy. We might be in very different places but your strength is awesome to me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Go Big or Go Home

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. So it's time to think about what I'm going to give up for Lent. In the past I've given up chocolate (that was tough), coffee and chicken wings.

I've been toying with something for a while, partially due to the financial strain we've been under with my not working and partially because I just want to see if I can do it....so I've decided to do it for Lent. Because that will be my drive to actually do it and not just give a half assed attempt.

I read an article about a family who decided not to spend any money for an entire month. At the end of the month prior they did a giant grocery shop for their month worth of food, they stopped driving their cars and walked or biked everywhere.

Now, in theory this is a fabulous idea but for us it's not feasible. Sean can't walk to work. He can't bike, public transit costs money and even if he could take it, he drives the public transit and starts working before it starts running.  And I can't afford to grocery shop for a family of 5 for an entire month at one time - we go through 4 litres of milk in a day and a half - I'd have to fill my fridge with milk and wouldn't have room for anything else.

But, I can adjust this experiment to better suit our families needs - make my Lenten sacrifice  - and it's something that would benefit our family in the long run.

So, for Lent, I'm giving up needless spending.

How is this a sacrifice you ask? Do you know me?

I'm an emotional shopper. I'm an "I'm bored" shopper. I'm an "I might need this at some point for something" shopper. Even if it's the dollar store, it's shopping.

So, starting tomorrow - I will only spend money on groceries and gas. There will be two exceptions that I'm putting out there right now - I will be going out for dinner to celebrate finishing my treatment sometime next week and my 14th anniversary is at the end of March so there will be a gift and/or dinner there.  But that's it. I will not spend one single dime on anything else.

It's going to be hard. I'm going to have to say no to the kids a lot. I'm going to have to find a lot of fun and free things to do on March Break (thank God for our zoo membership!)

I think this sacrifice will be a huge benefit too. I am flat broke and won't see a paycheck until mid April. So not spending needlessly will save me a small fortune no doubt.

There you have it, it's out there, before my blog reading public. I'm done spending.

And I'll be tested as early as tomorrow since it's grocery shopping day. Can I manage to get in and out of the store without buying anything that isn't part of the menu for the week? We shall see.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Impossible Surprise

Throwing a surprise party can be challenging enough but it can downright impossible when you are throwing a party for someone in their own home...and they live with you.

I've not been able to really talk about what I've been up to for the past several weeks  because I've been planning a surprise 65th birthday party for my mom and she sometimes reads my blog. And she lives with me. And the party was here at our house. Needless to say, it was all very challenging.

My brothers and sisters in law were a huge help in pulling it off too. And I'm sure they'll all be thrilled when I go back to work and have something to keep me busy. Every week I was sending emails with excel spreadsheets attached with the guest list and menu. There just might be such a thing as too organized.

The trick to planning this party was that I had to let my mom think I was going to a party - because I was making the birthday cake and 1/3 of the food. I managed to slide the food past her (though she questioned my 4 packs of cocktail tomatoes - I made these appetizers. I told her, several weeks ago, that a friends husband had asked me to make a birthday cake for my friends 40th birthday. I mentioned it here. Yes, sorry dear readers, I lied to you too. See, if my friends husband had indeed asked me to make a cake for her I would have written about it in my blog (because she doesn't read it) and I needed my mom to believe it.

This was the cake. I must say, I'm incredibly proud of it.




My mom went on a cruise a few weeks ago and it bought me 10 solid days of cleaning (not that I don't clean my house all the time but the kind of cleaning one does for regular cleaning and the kind of cleaning one does for a party is very different) shopping and final preparations.

The next trick in this whole productions was the guest list. I invited over 75 people (thankfully not everyone came because I couldn't have accommodated them all in my house) but roughly 60 of them did. More exciting was that my Dad's brother and his wife came up from Georgia for the party and my Mom's cousin came in from New Brunswick.  This was my next challenge. My Dad's brother was fine, he stays with his sister but my Mom's cousin was staying with us. So I had to figure out how to get her from the airport, find somewhere for her to stay the night before the party without my mom knowing she was here. Luckily all my years of high school lies paid off and I told her I was going to my sister in law's sister's baby shower on Friday night (the shower is actually next weekend) and went to pick my mom's cousin up from the airport and brought her over to my brother's house for the night.

Yesterday morning (the day of the party) I arranged for a friend of my mom's to take her out for the morning. Mother nature decided to rear her ugly head for the first time this winter and dumped some snow on us. Not a lot, 5 or 6 cm maybe but it's the most snow we've seen all winter. It meant some people couldn't come to the party - those who had to drive up from the snowbelt where they got even more snow.
So my mom left, my brothers and sisters in law came over and we got to work, moving the furniture around (we have a large living room/dining room and a smaller living room so we combined the two living rooms into the big room and put the dining table into the small living room.) and putting together all the food.  We got everything in place and the guest started to arrive.

I have a pretty big house but it was bursting at the seams with people. Thankfully I had enough chairs for everyone. And food. Holy crap we had A LOT of food (not a bad deal really, my brothers and I were able to divvy up what was left to take home)

At 2 pm my mother came home. We'd told her (yet another lie) that we were painting the foyer so that she'd be forced to come in the garage door - directly into the room we were holding the party in. She came in the door and was greeted with the surprise.

This was the reaction.




After she got over her initial shock she began to make her way around the room and as she noticed people she'd say "Oh my God!" and hug them. So she  oh-my-God'd a friend that she used to work with who she's not seen for some time. Then she oh-my-God'd her brother and sister in law. The she oh-my-God'd some friends that she'd been on the cruise with, only 3 days before. Then she saw her cousin (by now she'd been oh-my-Goding for 5 minutes.) and when she saw her cousin she actually screamed "OH MY GOD, BETTY!" Clearly a good surprise.

So the party went well. She was truly surprised. She had a lot of fun. We had a lot of food leftover and my hips and feet are killing me. All in all a great party!!

By some miracle we pulled off a surprise party in the recipients own home. Booyah!  


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I have my screen saver set to show a slide show of some of my favourite pictures. Yesterday for some reason this picture caught my attention.


It's me and Emily taken in August 2010. I was struck by my hair. I loved my hair at this point, I loved the colour, I loved the style. I loved the time. This would have been right before I started my job. I was carefree, relaxed and happy. I was ignorant.

It made me really sad. I miss that time. It made me scared that I'll never have a time like that again.

I'm mostly nervous. I'm coming to the end of my radiation treatments (only 8 more) and I suspect from that point we have more scans to make sure there is no cancer left. And that is what scares me. I want to be cancer free. I want to be done with this portion of my life and move on to something happier. Something like the picture above.


Yesterday while I was waiting for my radiation I saw a book in the waiting room. The cover said "Please write in my journal"  This book is a journal that someone left there in 2010. She started it for herself and all the other cancer patients, family, friends, doctors, nurses and volunteers to write in, to share their stories and to encourage others.

I read as much as I could while I was waiting. I'll probably add to it today (since my appointment will be longer - I meet my oncologist on Wednesdays)
But it also inspired me to do the same at the other hospital (I get radiation at the R.S McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre) but I had my chemo and herceptin and Centenary Hospital.) 

So, yesterday I went out and bought a journal and on the first page I explained that I'd seen a similar journal at the radiation clinic and that there were two years worth of stories in there, people feeling uplifted and stronger for having shared their stories and read the stories of others and I wanted to offer the same to the patients at Centenary. Then I wrote my story.

Tomorrow I go for herceptin so I'll leave it in the waiting room and when I go back in 3 weeks for my next herceptin I'll see if anyone else has written in it. I hope so. It was amazing to see how many people were thrilled for the journal at the Durham Cancer centre...I hope this one has the same impact.


I've been feeling down, scared, worried and stressed. I'm hoping this mood changes soon. Until then, I'll just keep on keepin' on. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Really?

Yesterday while I was waiting to pick Emily up from school I was listening to the radio. They were talking about this news story in which a woman was asked to leave a store when she was breastfeeding her baby.  Yeah, ignorance still runs wild. But wait, it gets worse.

The show I was listening to was  the Jim Richards Showgram on Newstalk 1010 (AKA old man radio) (You can download the podcast of the specific show in question - it's the February 13th show)

Now, I'm claiming to know how it is anywhere else in the world but here in Canada you are protected under your basic human rights to breastfeed your baby anywhere at any time and it's against the law to ask a mother to move, cover up or be more 'discreet' while doing it. If Mom wants to haul the boob out and feed the baby she's perfectly entitled to (in fact, in Toronto she doesn't even need to be feeding her baby because being topless is legal for women in public places - but that's a whole different issue.)   When I was breastfeeding Mary and Connor I did occasionally feed them in public. If they were hungry and I wasn't home I wasn't going to rush home. Mary refused bottles for about 5 months so pumping for her wasn't an option and because of the late correction of Connor's tongue tie it was imperative to my milk supply and his latching efforts to use the bottle as little as possible.

So, the host of the show said, while he had no problem with women bf in public he felt that the store policy of 'no eating in the store' should apply to all, not just people with hamburgers but babies as well. You know in case Mom squirted some milk or the baby spit up. His opinion was that mom should have left the store and gone out to sit on the bench in the main mall area. Whatever, that wasn't even the most irritating part of the show.

People called in to give their opinions. They were all men (no surprise here because no woman would EVER) say what these men said) and they all had one single theme to their comments. Respect. Show some respect for others and go somewhere else to feed you baby. Don't be disrespectful, take your baby somewhere else. Some people might be offended, show some respect.

Are  you kidding me??!!

The real problem in this was that I'd left my phone at home and couldn't even call in to tear a strip off these ignorant asses. Since when is breastfeeding a baby disrespectful?? I was also really mad that the breastfeeding advocate who was on the show. She was too 'respectful' and not once asked any of these asses why feeding a baby is disrespectful.

I don't normally go all ape shit about stuff like this but man, I was getting irritated by the whole respect word being thrown around when it comes to something like this.

My rant is over now. Have a fabulous day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Just Don't Get Valentine's Day

I know it sounds a little cliche to say "I don't need a day to tell me to tell my husband that I love him" but it's the truth.

I don't understand valentine's day. I used to, way back in the day when having a boyfriend on valentine's day was a novelty or when Sean and I were in the infancy of our relationship and we did silly little things like flower petals on the bed or tissue paper hearts hanging from the room.

But I grew up. Our relationship grew up.

We still go out for dates. We still do romantic things with one another. The most romantic thing he's done for me that I can think of right now is his holding my hand while I got chemo or holding hair while I was sick from said chemo. Or telling me I'm still beautiful despite the missing boob and fuzzy head.  That puts any sentiment Hallmark can dish out to shame. I don't need chocolates or dinner or flowers to know my husband loves me, he shows me every single day in the little things he does.

Moving on.

I spoke with my radiation therapists today about my sore throat (which is starting to feel a little better) They don't think it's from the rad treatments because while the beam does get my neck area it's coming in from the side and shouldn't affect that particular area. They suspect it was from my cold. I'm not convinced but I'll follow up with my oncologist.

Ironically, I've noticed today that my body is aching and, in particular my fingertips are sore, like they were after my taxotere treatments. Sore throat, sore body, sore fingers....but it's been 6 weeks since my last tax treatment so I shouldn't feel this way. But then, who said this whole crappy process would be predictable.

I read somewhere today that size 12 is the new plus size for models and clothes. Size 12, really? I'm a 12-14 depending on the clothes. Not that I'm complaining really, because I don't want to look like a wafer thin bony girl. I like my curves. Of course, I'd like a little less curves. I 'm working on it.
I've got to find a physio therapist or personal trainer who's trained in lymphedema because I don't want to run the risk of further injuring the area. Until then, I'll stick to light exercise and cardio (I'm looking forward to joining an aquafit class in the spring when I'm allowed to swim again.

Only 9 more radiation treatments to go. Hooray for me!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I did it again.

I googled.

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter, you perv!

Last Wednesday when I left my radiation treatment I stopped at a Timmie's and got a bagel. I was going to an after school workshop for work and didn't have time to go home for supper first. Eating that bagel felt like I was swallowing blocks of concrete. It was horribly painful.

When I came home from the workshop I was feeling like a pile of crap. My nose was running, my throat was sore and my body ached. I had a cold.

On Thursday we went to the zoo.  The new polar bear cub is out and we decided to go mid week when there is no one there as opposed to on the weekend when everyone and their grandmother's are there.  I felt okay but by the time we left at about 1 pm to come home I was feeling achy again.

On Friday after I ate lunch I had a piece of chocolate with almonds in it and again, it felt like glass in my throat.

My throat is killing me, every time I eat I feel like I'm swallowing glass. And when I cough, it hurts too. But not the kind of hurt that you feel when you have strep throat of a cold. It's lower....where my throat meets me breast bone.

So I decided it was time to google. I also posted a message in a breast cancer forum. It would appear as though this is a fun side effect of the radiation. Apparently getting radiation on the chest area can lead to a sore throat. Hip hip hooray. I've got 10 more treatments to go which means it's only going to get worse.

Part of me is still panicking that it's something else but for now I'm reassured enough to wait until I see my oncologist on Wednesday. Until then, I'm eating soft foods: eggs, porridge, soup.....

Cancer Sucks.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little Things That Make Me Happy

I've been feeling a little stressed lately. I've picked up a cold. And my throat hurts, but not like it would hurt from a cold, but how it hurt after my taxotere treatments. On Wednesday I ate a bagel and it felt like I was swallowing glass. This afternoon I had a chocolate bar with almonds in it and now it feels like a piece of almond shard (yes a shard) is stuck in my throat.

Naturally I'm worried and have convinced myself that I have cancer in my throat. But the more likely reason is that I've had a cough for several weeks now and my throat is irritated by this - and then further irritated by 'rough' foods.

At any rate, I'm seeing both of my oncologists next week so I'll mention it to both of them (because I can't get in  to see my family doctor until March.

So, I thought, in order to cheer myself up I'd talk about the little things that make me happy.

My kids.
Yeah, that's a no brainer but it's specific things. Connor's facial expressions when he's talking. He's so animated. Mary's heart - she's such a caring and compassionate person, she'll often wrap up her own toys and give them to us as gifts. Conversations with Emily. She's maturing so much and I enjoy just chilling out on the couch and talking. Even if she thinks I'm a giant nerd. I can take it.

My husband.
He rubs my back, my head, my feet and just about anything else I ask him to rub...and he never complains.

My cat.
My cat is like a dog. He's an awesome cat. He plays fetch. He follows you around the house. He creates havoc. But he's cuddly too.

Small victories.
There's been a bit of a battle of wills at my workplace between me and the teacher I work with over a carpet. My opinion is that we need one for the children to sit on, his was that we didn't - because 5 years olds sometimes pee their pants or throw up at school. I made it clear that I'd be bringing the carpet back into the class when I came back to work. As the mother of a kindergartner, I'd be livid if I found out Connor was sitting on the hard, cold, tile floor. He insisted we wouldn't be bringing it back in.
I found out today the Principal is buying our class a new carpet. Score one for me.

Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
I love these even more than beer and chicken wings combined. It is THE ultimate food. But it must be homemade, none of that store bought crap.  In fact, I think I'll make some tomorrow.

Greasy spoon coffee.
Nothing (I mean not even Timmies) tastes better than the coffee you get at little greasy spoon breakfast places. I don't mean places like Cora's I mean the little tiny hole in the wall places that serve a 3 egg breakfast special for $5.99. I don't know what they do to it (and I probably don't want to) but it tastes FABULOUS!

A clean kitchen in the morning.
It makes me so happy to wake up to a clean kitchen. It doesn't happen often though. Don't get me wrong, my kitchen isn't a pig sty or anything, I clean it after supper but then later that evening we have our little snacks and it gets messed up again. I don't have the energy (or inclination) to clean it again.

Taking the perfect picture.
I love to take pictures and I take thousands. And every now and then I get a really great one. I love that!

There are so many other things that make me happy but I'll stop here. Casino is on. I love that movie. And that makes me happy too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cancer Patients are the Happiest People I Know

Strange thought, yes?

I've met a lot of cancer patients in the last 6 months. Not one of them has been crabby, bitchy, rude or unkind. Is it because their mortality has been thrown directly in their faces? Probably. Once you've truly faced your own mortality (and I say truly because we all cognitively understand we're mortal but to really know it in your very heart and soul because you are quite literally fighting for your life, it's just plain different) you see things differently.

I know I'm generalizing things and I'm quite certain there are lots of cancer patients out there who are not the least bit happy. I haven't met them though - or if I have they are Oscar worthy actors.

I've been keeping myself really busy lately. I made rainbow cupcakes with rainbow icing after seeing them on pinterest and they turned out fabulous (and oh so yummy!)





I got a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas and am working my way through recipes with it. I'm getting to be a pretty good cook but the one thing I just can't seem to make is bread. No matter how hard I try, no matter what type of recipe, what type of yeast, how long I let it rise....it always ends up dense and heavy. Sean jokes that he's saving them as chalks for the cars.  The last two loaves  I made I thought would finally be the ones. They rose so beautifully and looked amazing when I put them in the oven and then I don't know what happened but they fell. I blame it on my heavy footed children. Yeah, that's it.
But I'm not one to give up so I'll get it right one of these days

I've been on a cleaning frenzy too. I'm finding more and more of my energy coming back but when I crash I crash hard. On Monday my brother dropped me off at radiation and then went to take the kids to school. I was finished before the school bell rang so I thought I'd start walking home and my brother could just pick me up en route. I walked halfway home and for the rest of that day (and today too) my legs have been killing me. It's the most exercise I've had in months.

Tomorrow I'm going to a workshop for work. I know, I'm not working. But I saw the workshop and thought it would be a nice way to get out of the house, talk with some colleagues and feel normal. I can't wait!

Normal is good.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yeah, I'm a Hard Ass

One of the side effects of herceptin is that it can lessen my heart function. So every three months I have to have a heart echo to make sure my heart is still working right.

You may remember my adventures with my first stress echo but in case you've forgotten you can read about it here

Needless to say, I was a little anxious about this test and what the ultrasound tech was going to do this time.  I begged Sean to come with me for moral support.

When he called me in, Sean came into the room with me. The tech said, "Oh, he can stay but it's no big deal, it's just the test, there are no results today." I said "Yeah, but I'm having anxiety because of what happened the last time I had this test."

While I was changing I told Sean it was okay for him to go into the waiting room. I'd be fine. He was worried because the tech seemed really nervous with Sean there and the room was really small.

So the tech starts the ultrasound, no big deal and then halfway through he says "Did you have contrast the last time you were here?" I said "Yeah" He said "Well, I think we'll do it again."

Shit.

I said "Well, I'm not comfortable with that." (and now my voice is quivering - I've been stressing about this for a week and now it's happening)

Him. "Are you afraid of the needle?"

I actually laughed in his face.  I said "I've had more needles in the last 6 months than you've probably had in your life - no I'm not afraid of the needle. What I'm afraid of is a repeat of last time in which you left my IV open and my blood went squirting out everywhere and then you ripped your glove and asked me if I had HIV or Hepatitis. On top of which, I've had so many chemicals running though my body in the last 6 months, I don't need anymore unless it's absolutely necessary!"  And now I'm full on crying.

He said....what for it...."Did that happen last time?"

"Um, yeah!"

So he proceeds to tell me that he needs to get a straight edge picture of my heart to give the right numbers to the Dr. I don't know what the hell that means but I do know this. Last time, he said it was my surgery interfering with the picture (yeah, whatever) but this time the wand was on my left side; the only way it could have been further from my scars would be if he were doing my foot.

Now I'm pissed. On one hand, I don't want this crackpot putting anything into my body or messing with my already fragile veins (you see, I've gone this long without at a port or a picc line but I've still got 13 more herceptin treatments to get through and only one arm in which I can have an IV in. If he screws up and collapses a vein I'm screwed.) but on the other hand I don't want to mess up the test - my oncologist does need to know how my heart is functioning.

So I said "Fine, if I need the contrast let's get it going because I have to be out of here by 11 to get my son from school." (it was about 10:20 at this point)

He had the balls to say to me "Well, we need to make priorities, do you want it done fast or do you want it done right?" 

You f*cker - I want BOTH and if you knew what you were doing you'd be able to do that.

I said again, "If I need the contrast let's get started"

He kept on doing the ultrasound and then said something about being able to get a clear enough read. He moved on to my arteries in the stomach/solar plexus area and my neck. Then he said he was all done and didn't need to use the contrast.

Wow.

The last time I went to this guy my cousin recommended I report him and I didn't....I'm not usually the kind to do that kind of thing but after this....I begin to wonder.

When we left Sean said he got a bad vibe from the place. It's attached to a family Dr's office. The Dr's were all away that day, only the secretary and some nurses. The secretary was giving medical advice over the phone to a patient (which she got in trouble for afterwards) 

I'm hoping that the test results  were clear enough and more importantly that my heart is still okay. But, no matter what, the next time I have to have an echo done I'm not going back there. I'll drive the extra 10 km and get it done at the hospital. At least then if I they tell me I need contrast I know I do and I'm not as likely to get my veins massacred.

Before I go....

Still no winner on the riddles. Someone came close but missed one. Come on folks....you can do it!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Let's Have a Little Fun

I think it's time for some fun. Some riddle perhaps. And just for even more fun -  a prize for whoever answers them all correctly first. Your choice of scrabble tile pendants (with a silver ball chain).
Leave your answers in the comment section and whoever answers all 5 riddles correctly first wins!
(If I recall the last time I did this we had winner within like an hour or two so this time they'll be harder! )

Here we go....

1. Two spies want to get in an enemy's military base. In order to get in they have to give the correct countersign to the guard at the gate after he gives them the sign. So they wait hidden nearby the gate so that they will overhear the countersign from another soldier.

One soldier comes and the guard gives the sign: "6".The soldier answers "3".The guard lets him pass. Another soldier comes.The guard says "12" and the soldier gives the answer "6".The guard lets him pass. So, the first spy goes at the gate and the guard asks says "10".The spy, sure that he knew the answer as he was, says "5". Immediately, the guard shoots him dead.

Then the other spy, who saw that the other spy was killed when he gave the countersign, had now understood what the right answer would be, whatever the guard's sign was.So, he walks to the gate and the guard says "8".The spy gives the correct answer and the guard lets him in. What was the answer that the spy gave?

2.  You have been imprisoned in a castle and your prison guards decide to tempt you with freedom, but at a big risk. They show you 2 doors, each with a guard standing in front, one door leads to the hanging gallows and the other leads directly out the castle and into freedom.
You are told that one guard is a liar, and will always lie and the other guard will speak only the truth.
You have no idea which guard is which, or what door is what. Your prison guards laugh and inform you that you may only ask one question.
What question do you ask?

3.  What number is missing from the sequence below?
     8 5 4 9 1 _ 6 10 3 2 0

4. A man was found murdered on Sunday morning. His wife immediately called the police. The police questioned the wife and staff and got these alibis:

The Wife said she was sleeping.
The Cook was cooking breakfast.
The Gardener was picking vegetables.
The Maid was getting the mail.
The Butler was cleaning the closet.

The police instantly arrested the murdered. Who did it and how did they know?

5. 2 fathers and 2 sons go fishing. Each of them catches one fish. So why do they bring home only 3 fish?
Have fun and good luck!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I love Michael's and Other Random Nonsense

I've been a bad little blogger again. I'm neglecting my lovely readers. Sorry. Been busy.

I was asked by my friend's husband to make a  cake for her 40th birthday so I've been getting my supplies together for that. I'm pretty excited. It's going to be gorgeous....assuming I don't screw it up. If it turns out good I'll post a picture for you to oooh and ahhh.  If it turns out crappy....well, I'm not going to mention it again and you'll all forget. Haha.

All these supplies are not cheap though, new cake pans, fondant, a nifty mold to make the decorations...but you see, there is one thing Michael's offers that most other stores don't. 40% off coupons....almost all the time! So today I printed out 5 of them. One per customer per day you say? HA! My mom and I went this morning with a coupon each and bought some fondant. This evening Emily, my Mom and I all went again and bought more fondant and the mold.  So all the stuff I bought cost me $55 instead of $91. 
I never go to Michael's without a coupon and will happily make several trips just to fully utilize that discount.

My mom and I are going to take the Wilton Cake decorating class at Michael's in March. I love making cakes and the ones I've made have turned out pretty good but the truth is, I've been winging it, asking advice from friends who know what they are doing and searching YouTube for helpful videos. That's only going to get me so far. Maybe if I get good at it I can turn it into a little side business.

I've also been planning for the Spring Tea. Tickets have already started to sell and we've got some great prizes lined up. We've still got lots of time though so I'm not going to really turn on the overpowering sales pitch until March.

I redecorated the bathroom today. What I want to do is paint it but it's just not in the budget right now so instead I bought new bath mats, new shower curtains and took out an old ugly shelf that was in there. I also bought new towels and wash cloths. Ironically, after having done that I realized it probably would have been cheaper to buy the paint but then after painting I would have had to buy all those things to go with the new paint....you see how that works.

My energy levels are coming back up and while I do fade out around 3 or 4 pm I usually bounce back and feel better around supper time. I'm told radiation will make me tired but so far...not so much. I do now have some pinkness on my chest so I'm putting my cream on twice a day. Hopefully it won't get too bad.

I learned today that a friend's boyfriend had a stroke on the weekend, a pretty big one. I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer (look how much it's done for me!) so I'm asking any of you who are inclined to pray to send some up that his recovery is complete and not too difficult. I'm sure he's got a long road ahead.

And so, dear friends, I'm off now to watch some tv, drink some wine and put my feet up.

Nitey nite.