Monday, July 30, 2012

30 Things - #13

To find out what this is about click here.

13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.

This one makes me feel like I'm at a job interview. Don't you love when they ask you this question? Because really, who wants to talk trash about themselves when trying to impress a potential employer.
You can't say things like "My biggest weakness is that I care too much." 
Really?Thanks for coming in but we're going to hire that guy who told us his weakness was his lunch hour spliff. He might be a stoner but he doesn't try to feed us a line of bullshit.

Okay, so here's mine. Not my job interview real live everyday life weaknesses.

1.  Beer.

Not like the guy who sparks up every lunch hour but I really like beer a lot and if someone is having a beer I'm inclined to join them. There's nothing better than sitting on your patio in the sun with a nice cool beer. Yum.

2.  Michael's.

I have small problem with thinking I am the most creatively inclined person out there. The truth is I'm mildly okay at many many things but not really good at any one thing. I get on creativity kicks and will spend a week or two on a new craft until I bore of it and move on to the next thing. Going to Michael's is bad for me because not only do I always have a coupon but there are 45 million different craft ideas there that are screaming at me... "Buy me! You know you could make these for Christmas/birthdays/Hanukkah/Halloween/Tuesday/to sell to raise money for Papa's Pride" So I spend a small fortune, make some things that turn out okay and then go to Michael's again for more inspiration.
It's beyond weakness...I think it's full fledged illness.

3. Homemade chocolate chip cookies.

There is nothing better in the whole wide world. Not even sex. And that's saying something because I really like sex.

4. Reality TV.

I know most of the time it's garbage but even after 12 years of Survivor I love it. And Teen Mom, don't get me started. 19 Kids and Counting....more power to ya lady. Sister Wives, not my bag but I love the relationship they all have. I'd love a Sister Wife who I don't have to share my husband with.

Oh, wait, we call those best friends. Duh.

5. My kids.

I don't mean this in the "I care too much." way but honestly my kids are my weakness. I can't stand to see any of them unhappy. I cave in at the first sign of tears. I am a sucker for a hug or kiss. I'd pass up all the beer, crafts, chocolate chip cookies and reality TV for time with them.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Big C

One year ago today I sat in my surgeon's office and listened to her tell me that I had cancer.

On a deeper level I knew already but to hear it being said out loud made it real.

I remember the beginning of July last year, thinking that it would be the last summer I spent at the beach with my kids. I remember when we went to Canada's Wonderland thinking I should go on all the scary rides because what I was about to face was a hell of a lot more scary than a really big roller coaster. I remember thinking I was going to die.

The fear of cancer will never go away for me.  Any ache, pain, lump or bump is going to terrify me. Any cough, sneeze or headache is going to make me want to run to the Dr.

But something else has changed in me too. I've become an entirely different person. I've changed more in the last year than in the 37 years prior.

I'm more outgoing. That painful shyness I used to have is all but gone. I'm still a little on the quiet side in new situations but at least I'm in the new situations. I would have avoided them before.

I'm taking chances I never did before - doing things I never would have dreamed of before.  I don't suffer fools and don't listen to bullshit. I don't engage in drama and focus only on the positives.

I'm being the person I always was but was too afraid of what others would think of me to actually be. I am living my life, happily.

Cancer was a bump in my life's road. A huge bump (that took away one of my bumps..ha ha) but I'm happy to say I'm over the bump and looking at it in my rear view mirror.

But not for too's always best to look ahead.

Friday, July 27, 2012

30 Things - #12

To find out what this is all about, click here

12. Describe a typical day in your current life.

I wish I had an interesting answer for this one but frankly, my life is a big bore and pretty average.

I wake up, I drink coffee, I eat breakfast and check my email. I go to work and 9 hours later I come home. I eat dinner, spend time with my kids, put them to bed and watch TV.

In the summer those 9 hours I'd be at work are spent taking the kids to the beach or the zoo or hanging about the house doing laundry and putting the sprinkler out for the kids.

But truth be known, my life has been a chaotic mess for the past year so I'm pretty content to have a bit of boring normalcy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

30 Things - #11

To find out what this is about click here

This one will be fun. Everyone loves to complain and really, what are pet peeves if not complaints!

11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.

1. People who talk on their cell phones during breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks with friends.

This also includes texting, browsing the internet and all other electronic methods of ignoring the people who are right in front of you.

Besides the fact that it's horribly rude to talk on the phone in a restaurant imagine how the people who are sitting with you feel. You're in essence saying "I'm happy to spend time with you but if a phone call or an interesting text message comes in you're on your own. And if you're truly boring, I'll check my facebook and twitter while we chat."

Here's the thing. Unless you are on call for work or it's your babysitter calling to tell you that your house is on fire and Junior is bungee jumping from the roof, chances are it's nothing that can't wait an hour.

I'm clearly not the only person who feels this way. There is a 'game' that people are playing while out at restaurants now in which everyone stacks their phones on the table. The first person to take their phone off the stack to answer a call, text or browse the internet is responsible for the restaurant bill for the group.

I'm ordering ONE OF EVERYTHING because I know I won't be the one paying the bill!!

I may start this game up at our house parties too. If you take your phone off the stack to answer a call, text or browse the internet you'll be responsible for the clean up. Did I mention my dishwasher is broken? Booyah!

2. Dirty Feet.

This especially hits hard at this time of year - flip flop season. As a side note, flips flops seriously have to be the worst shoe known to man. Not only are they uncomfortable but they are ugly and the sound they make slapping against the feet when you walk is worse than nails on a chalkboard.

But I digress.

I'm in the small group of people who don't really find feet disgusting. I think they are fascinating really. I don't have a foot fetish but feet don't gross me out either. I spent hours looking at my kids feet when they were babies. Mary has impossibly long toes and Emily has big feet (proportionately so - she's tall) Connor's feet are still small enough to be cute.

But we live in a place where wearing shoes in the house is not the norm and so walking around in bare feet that are dirty translates into that dirt going on the floor. Feet sweat more than any other body part so combine dirt with sweat on my floors and furniture and I want to scream.

If you're gonna be barefoot, please keep them clean!!

3. The Sound of People Chewing

I once saw a show about these people who had some kind of illness in which they would go completely ape shit  for what appeared to be no reason. It turned out they were hypersensitive to certain sounds. One girl would loose it at the sound of her own mother's voice (though as the mother of a teenager - I tend to think this is most teens)

Having said that, I get that very same feeling when I hear someone chewing. It's not about chewing with your mouth opened (that's just plain gross) but even people who chew nicely. If I can hear it I get fiercely irritated.  This is probably why the TV is on during meal times in our house, not so we can ignore each other but so that I don't start throwing forks at my family just for chewing their food.

4. When People  Adults Use a Z in Place of an S.

Az in the wordz "kidz" and "hugz".  It'z annoying enough when kidz do it but they're kidz it can be overlooked. But when adultz do it it'z just plain annoying. I'm not zuper zpeller or anything and my grammar zuckz azz but zeeing an adult uze a Z in place of an S zmackz of 40 year oldz trying to ztay young and hip. My guezz iz that theze zame people fall into the 40 year old drezzing like an 18 year old category.

5.  People Who Blow Sunshine Up Other People's Butt's.

You know the people I mean. It's the casual acquaintance who says you look gorgeous in that dress while your real friends are wondering what the hell you were thinking when you bought that? It's the people who gush about how smart/thoughtful/kind you are when in fact you haven't done anything more extraordinary than bring a box of Timbits to work. It's the 'Yes Man'. 

I value honesty above all else in a friend, colleague or acquaintance. Hell an honest stranger is better than a two faced friend. 

Please, don't blow sunshine up my ass. Tell me how you see it. We may not agree but I'll respect you a hell of a lot more if you honour your own thoughts, values and beliefs.

6. The Mommy Wars

I will openly admit that I don't agree with a lot of what other parents do. And I'm positive there are other parents out there who don't agree with how I choose to raise Emily, Mary and Connor. But here's the thing. The only person on earth who gets a say in how I raise my kids is Sean. No one else's opinion matters so save your judgement on my choices to both breast and bottle feed, use disposable diapers, not spank, let my kids watch TV and play video games and let them play in the mud. And I will afford you the same courtesy because unless you are putting your kid's life in danger by filling her bottle with whiskey or beating him with belts for spilling milk - how you raise your kids is none of my damned business.
No one is a better parent for my kids than me. And no one is a better parent for your kids than you. So you raise your kids and I'll raise mine.

7. People Who Must Fill A Silence

I think that says it all. It's okay to sit and be. There doesn't always have to be conversation or humming or other background noise. There is not enough silence in this world so if you find yourself blessed with some - enjoy it! It's NOT awkward. It's heavenly.

8. Referring To Someone As "Years Young" When Saying Their Age

As in "My mom is 65 years young"  Seriously? You all know I'm a glass is half full kind of gal but this expression is not an optimistic one, it's just friggin' stupid.  The one exception to this would be if someone asks "How young are you?"  "I am 38 years young."  But when is the last time you heard a person ask that? I'm thinkin' never.

I understand it's meant to make the person feel not so old but come on, an 89 year old has been around long enough to know he/she is old. It's not going to offend them to say "George is 89 years old."  In fact, I'm betting George agrees with me and is thinking "You douche, say it right!"

9. People Who Post Ambiguous Facebook Status Updates

You know the ones I mean...  "Uh oh! What do I do now??"
                                                "I'm so happy!!"
                                                "I'm sad......"

MORE INFORMATION PLEASE! The point of these is so that all of your FB friends will comment "What's wrong??"  "Why are you so happy?"  "Awww, hugz!!"
If you want some attention post a status saying just that. "Hey friends, I need someone to pay attention to me please." so that the rest of us who simply don't give a shit can move on.

If you genuinely need help or something to share I'm betting you're going to going to ask for it privately or you're going to come right out with it.

"Uh oh! What do I do now? Junior ate my diamond earrings!!"

"I'm so happy, Junior pooped out my diamond earrings!!"

"I'm sad, I need new diamond earrings because there's no way I'm fishing them out of Juniors shit!"

10. People Who Get Mad When They Are Proven Wrong.

What's the big deal? We're all wrong sometimes. It's no big whoop. It doesn't mean anyone thinks your an idiot. It doesn't mean you're not smart. It doesn't mean people don't like you. It means you were misinformed. End of story.

Instead of getting huffy when someone shows you that you were wrong, thank them for showing you what is correct.  Even if they were kind of douchey about how they did it, at the end of the day isn't it better to have a clue and know what you're talking about than to continue to be wrong and look like a yutz? I think so.

But if I'm wrong, please let me know.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

30 Things - #10

To find out what this is all about click here

10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

I was 8 years old and in grade 3. I was not very popular in school at that time and was often teased and picked on. I had a couple of friends but for the most part I was bullied through most of elementary school.

Anyhow, on this particular day I was playing with some friends at recess. Our school yard had a lot of trees and one tree in particular, an apple tree, was a fun place to hang out because the branches were low enough that we could climb it (and jump out quickly if a teacher came around since we weren't allowed to climb the trees)

I don't remember what lead to it but we were all laughing, hard, and I laughed so hard that I peed my pants.

As if the kids in my class didn't have enough to tease me about - well you know where this one is going. I went into the bathroom and splashed my pants, front and back, with water so that it would look like my whole pants were went. I then told everyone that I'd fallen in a puddle. On a completely dry and sunshiny day.

Needless to say, no one bought it, I was humiliated and spent the rest of the day crying.

Thankfully, I transferred schools at the end of that year and that was a major turning point in my life.

30 Things - #9

To find out what this is about click here.

9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

I've been pondering this one for a long time and just posted that I wasn't going to answer it right now, that I'm having a hard time with it. And then in answering question 10, I came up with a partial answer.

So, I'm going to answer this one bit by bit, as they come to me. Forgive me, I'm finding this one hard because I'm not easily influenced - I'm pretty strong willed and while I'll seek out the opinions of others, I generally do what I think is best, not what others do.

1. My Childhood Bullies.

I was bullied quite a bit as a youngster. I was teased for many things, my size (I was tiny) for where we lived (we lived in public housing) my clothes (were fine but we couldn't afford brand names and you know how kids are) my lack of coordination or athletic ability ('nuff said).  The fact is, if there was a reason to tease me, the kids in my class found it. I hated school - especially in grades 3, 7 and 8 because that's when I felt it the most.

And it's those very same bullies that taught me empathy. I could feel the pain of the other kids who'd been bullied. And as I got older and more accepted I was still rooting for the underdog.

And now as an adult, especially now as an adult, I still see it happening, at the school I work in (not just with the kids, but sadly enough with co workers as well....yes, even adults bully other adults....being a teacher does not excuse one from being an asshole)  and I see it in my kids' school  and I think back to when I was that kid and felt the shame and unhappiness of being bullied.

I strive now to teach my kids to be kind to others - always, no matter what. I don't insist that they be friends with everyone but that MUST be kind to others. I know how hard it is to be a kid and I hope I'm able to instill in them that while it might be unpopular, someone needs to stick up for those kids who everyone teases....turning a blind eye to bullying is just as bad as bullying itself.

And I lead by example. As unpopular as it may be, I am kind to those at work who others are not. Because within that person is a heart, feelings and goodness. And no one deserves to be treated like shit.

So - my childhood bullies have influenced me to be a better person than they were - to accept others for who they are and to be kind to everyone.

That's it for now - but as I think of more I'll add them in.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Because

This post was inspired by a friend's recent comments on Facebook. She'd made a joke about how difficult it had been to go strawberry picking with her 2 year old and 4 year old and was slammed for not appreciating her vacation and time with her kids.  This is my answer to that assault and others like it.

Just because I complain about my children doesn't mean I don't love them with every fibre of my being. I appreciate the gift of motherhood and know all too well that there are women (and men) out there who are struggling to make sense of their empty arms. I know these people would give those very arms to have a child to complain about. Likewise, my complaining about my pregnancy symptoms (no I'm not pregnant) does not mean I'm not thankful everyday for that child in my belly.

Just because I complain about my job doesn't mean I'm not glad to have it. I see the people who struggle to find work or those who struggle to find a job that will support them or their families. I complain, sure, but I also work my ass off and give my job my all. 

Just because I complain about my sore knees or back or my terrible eyesight doesn't mean I'm not thankful for my health. It's a no brainer that I'm thankful for my health - having fought for it.

Just because I whine about what I hate about my house doesn't mean I am not thankful to have a beautiful home to live in. I see homeless people mere kilometres from my house. I know there are many who struggle to make the rent payments on run down apartments.

It's human nature to complain. The grass is always greener on the other side. When it snows we wish for summer and it's summer we bitch that it's too hot.

If I fail to speak of my good fortune, health, loving family or love of life on a regular basis or if all I ever do is complain then please, by all means, let me know I'm being  an ungrateful, whiny snot.

But I can assure you, you will never need to. So when I do complain, either nod you head and commiserate or look the other way. I don't need to be reminded of how good I've got it.

Just because I complain, doesn't mean I'm not insanely happy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eyeballs to Cooch

Sorry for the absence. I'm still here. It's summer vacation so I'm enjoying time with my family.

I've also been going to a lot of Dr.'s appointments but thankfully they are much better appointments than this time last year. In fact, one year ago today I was having my surgery to remove the offending lymph node that would lead to my diagnosis. I was panicked, terrified that they were going to put me to sleep and I'd never wake up.

But here I am.

So anyway, in the past two weeks I've seen a plastic surgeon, a dentist, two oncologist, an optometrist and my family doctor.

You've heard the story of the plastic surgeon already...I'll update that in a minute.

I'm getting a crown put on the tooth that kept cracking while I was getting chemo and could only get a temporary fill.

I saw my medical oncologist when I went for herceptin on Thursday. I casually mentioned that the results to my mammogram had been faxed to him (I'd still not hear about them) and he said to head upstairs to his office to get a copy of the report, he couldn't remember reading it but had no concerns. I love that about him. None of this 'wait until I read it and make an appointment' it's all 'this is your health record, why would I make you wait for it?' So I went to his office and got my report and it read that there was no evidence of malignancy left in my right leftover area and no change in the right breast area. Can I get an AMEN!

Later that day I saw my family Dr for a physical. I got checked head to toe and everything in between (ahem, no one like their 'lady tests' but it's even more awkward when you think your Dr is pretty easy on the eyes) Anyhow, I mentioned the plastic surgeon I'd seen and that I'd like a referral to someone else. He knew right away who I was talking about and while he agreed she does great work he also said her personality was 'different' and you had to catch her on the right day. So he gave me a blank referral and said I could research and find a plastic surgeon and if they needed anything else to give him a call. Excellent! If you're a local reader and you've got a tip on a good plastic surgeon, email me, I'd love to hear about him/her.

Then off to the radiation oncologist. He went through my mammogram results and didn't seem worried. He checked the rash on my chest/neck area. I've got a dry itchy patch, my family Dr gave me a cortisone cream for it but I've scratched one part so hard that it actually scarred and he wanted to make sure it wasn't a skin cancer. He said it didn't look like cancer and frankly, I wasn't concerned that it was, I know I scratched too hard and that skin is already damaged from radiation.

So, I see him now every 6 months. I love that I see two oncologists every 6 months. It just give me that extra sense of security because it actually means I'm seeing one of them them approximately every 3 months. I'm okay with that.

And finally, I decided I'd like to get contacts. I've worn glasses full time since I was about 18 and while I don't hate them, I'm feeling a little more vain since the removal of the boob and loss of hair. My eyes have always been my best feature. I have amazing eyes, you just can't see them behind my glasses. I did wear contacts for a year or so, around the time Sean and I were dating/got married. The thing is, because I have severe astigmatism they were hard lenses. If you've ever worn hard lenses you know they are insanely uncomfortable. And I had two terrible experiences with them - once one broke in half seconds before I was about to put it in my eye and the second one was when it got stuck in my eye on my wedding night and I was sure I'd end up in the hospital trying to get it out.

Anyhow, my new eye Dr explained to me why I'm still not a good candidate for regular, disposable or soft lenses and that if I want contacts I'm again stuck with the hard ones. NOT INTERESTED THANKS! So, I'm sticking with glasses. Shit. The good news is my eyes haven't changed in 3 years so I didn't have to get new glasses.

So now I've been thoroughly examined from eyeballs to cooch. It's safe to say I'm in good health and can continue on with my summer.

I'll be unplugged for a week while we go on vacation so I'll catch you on the flip side. In the meantime I'm struggling with #9 of my 30 Things. Have 10 people influenced me? I'm not easily influenced.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Have you ever heard of a gender reveal party? Have you ever been to one?

I'm reading more about these. The gist of it is that expectant parents throw big parties, inviting family and friends to share the exciting news about the the gender of their soon to be baby.  There are all sorts of cutsie ways of doing it. The most popular seems to the cake way. The cake is decorated oh so beautifully with gender neutral colours but the inside is either pink or blue, depending on what parts the baby is packing.  I've also seen a giant box with balloons to be opened by the parents, or lovely gift bags for the guests with favours in either pink or blue.

I think I'm a little old school.

Now I get that I'm in the minority, having never found out the gender of any of my kids until they came out of me. I didn't want to know. I think there are so few surprises in life and this one is a true one. And yes, it's a surprise still if you hear it at the 12 week ultrasound but, to me at least, it was way more exciting to wait the whole 40 weeks and to know that all that effort of pushing that little person out was going to climax with Sean saying "It's a ...... "

I didn't have trouble bonding with my children while they were in utero. I didn't mind decorating their nurseries in neutral colours. The fact of the matter is, they all slept in a bassinet in my room for the first 3 months anyway so I had plenty of time to get a gender specific room ready. I didn't mind buying gender neutral clothes. In fact, I loved that Sean had to go out on his own and buy the kids their come home outfit all on his own. It made those outfits more special. It also kept me from spending too much money on clothes they were either not going to wear or were going to grow out of too quickly to wear more than once or twice.

Don't get me wrong, I don't judge mothers who find out the gender of their babies before birth, to each her own, it just wasn't a choice I made.

But a gender reveal party? Really?  I'm not quite sure I get that. I think had I found out what gender my kids were I wouldn't have told anyone. It would have been mine and Sean's little secret. But if I had told people, I just would have told them. "I'm having a ..... and her/his name will be........"

I suppose it's a good a reason as any to have a party.  Everyone loves a party!

I'd better get going, I've got to get the preparations made for our "We're painting our hallway" party. Sean's going to paint his genitals the colour we've chosen and the big reveal will involve a striptease.  Magic Mike, eat your heart out!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

30 Things - #8

To find out what this is about click here.

8. What are 5 passions you have?

I'm having a tough time with this one. I'm not sure I'm passionate about 5 things.

I'm not sure I'm passionate about anything really. My family? Of course. My job? Sure. But I don't think that's what this question is about.

This one is going to have to be unanswered.

Maybe I'll be able to come back to it and answer it someday.

Friday, July 6, 2012

30 Things - #7

To see what his is about click here.

7. What is your dream job, and why?

Okay, again, kind of a no brainer because I've said it a million times in the last 2 years but I'm doing it now.

I always wanted to be a teacher and for me, kindergarten is the ideal grade to teach.

These kids are going to spend the next 18 years in school and they start that journey with me. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a kid develop from someone who didn't know the letters in his/her name to a child who can read a simple book in just 9 short months. There is nothing better than watching a child who didn't have any one to one correspondence in September do a graphing activity in May.

Kids this age think their teachers are the next best thing to Mom and Dad. They think you walk on water, you know everything AND you have stickers.

I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. Working with children is my calling. I also chose to work in an inner city school because, unfortunately, a lot of these kids may not make it all the way through high school. If I can give them a love of learning early on hopefully it will stick with them so that they will stick with school.

Of course, I'd not balk at making a career of my other dream job.....being filthy, stinkin' rich and traveling the world doing good deeds.  

Sean always says,  "If you're going to dream, dream big. It doesn't cost any more!"


We went to the beach today. It's the first time we've been there since my surgery last year.

I remember so clearly the last time we were there. I was terrified I'd never be back there again. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. The water was perfect. The kids were having blast. And I was miserable, terrified and sad. I was sure I'd not live to see this summer.

But here we are, almost a year after my diagnosis and I'm healthy and strong and hopeful. And today I got to go to the beach and enjoy it. It was hot and sunny and the water was perfect. I played catch and Frisbee in the lake and soaked up some sun (heavy sun screened up course!) I sat in my chair and people watched. And I was happy.

I've been blessed with having met several people who are on the same journey I am and it's nice to have others who truly understand how I'm feeling. There is one in particular, a girl who was 'introduced' to me by one of my PP sisters. We've talked a lot via email and FB and we've found we're very like minded people.

So, when I came home from the doctor yesterday and posted a FB status that said I was discouraged she emailed me right away to support me. I unloaded everything on her, not just about the reconstruction but about my feelings about my weight, going to the gym and not being back to normal, despite feeling normal. And she understood.

But in writing that email, two things happened. I had time to sort my thoughts about everything and her response helped me see something else.

I really truly think this doctor I saw yesterday had some sort of agenda.

I googled this reconstruction option she spoke to me about; the one not covered by OHIP and I have a few things to say about it.

1. It is done here - sort of. It's very new and they do it at the University Health Network hospitals (of which Princess Margaret is a part of, one of the leading cancer treatment hospitals in the country)  but they do it in women who need a partial reconstruction; women who had a tumor removed from a breast and have a mishaped breast because of it. The don't do it for an entire reconstruction.

2. This technique was developed by a Dr in Florida and from what I can gather, he's trying to sell an expander device used in this procedure. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this wouldn't work, it does make perfect sense to my non medically trained mind, however......

3. This procedure is not widely used fact, my friend (my survival sista!) was not offered this as a reconstruction option either  - and she's in the US. She'd never heard of it either.

The more I think about this doctor the more I'm irritated by the whole consultation. She presented me with two options and told me why I'm not a good candidate for them (I had radiation and I'm too fat. Oh, did I forget to mention that, she said I was too overweight for the flap procedure.  Really, so what she's saying is only skinny women or those who've not had radiation can have a reconstruction? I call bullshit!)

Anyhow, with all that floating around in my mind I've definitely decided to ask for a second opinion.. And actually, I'm going to ask for a third as well. I'm going to ask both my radiation oncologist and my family doctor for referrals. My RO will refer me to someone out here where I live. My family Dr will likely refer me to someone in the same hospital as this other woman but I have no trouble telling my family Dr just what I thought of her.  I've only ever asked him to get me a second opinion once before so he knows if I don't like a specialist he sends me to and ask for a new one I have a damned good reason.

And so, I feel better now. I know there is still the chance that there won't be an appealing reconstruction option for me out there but if I feel like I'm presented all my options fairly then I can make an informed decision on what I want to do.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Whole Bunch of Crap

I'm back from meeting the plastic surgeon.  I'm not sure how I feel about it just yet.

Let's start with her office. While it was clean and tidy it absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke. Overwhelmingly so. If I didn't know better I'd say someone was smoking in the office itself.

When we got into her office she asked me the standard questions about my cancer, my treatment, my previous surgeries, my age, weight etc.

She then examined my scar. The one good thing she said was that the surgeon who did my mastectomy did a great job, she left a nice scar and lots of tissue to work with.

Now the shitty part.

Here's my options.

Implants. She can put a tissue expander in, fill it with saline to expand the tissue and when that's done she can put an implant in.

Why this isn't a good option for me: I've had radiation. She noted that I didn't seem to have a lot of skin changes with the radiation (some people do?) but that this affects the tissue underneath. There would be a 60% chance of me developing a certain kind of scar tissue, hardening if you will, that would turn my breast into a hard, melon like mound (it gives a whole new meaning to calling your boobs melons)  It's not dangerous or anything, more of a "wow you've got rock hard tits" kind of thing. 

Taking a flap of muscle and tissue from my stomach or back and moving it up/over to create a new breast.

Why this isn't a good option for me: The recovery for this is about 6 months. It's not aesthetically pleasing - the scar on both the stomach and back is substantial. And again, because I had radiation she's not sure of the quality of tissue she has to work with.

The last choice is the most appealing option. She can put a tissue expander in to expand the tissue and then graft fat from other parts of my body to put into it.

Why I won't be getting this one: OHIP doesn't cover it. You see, part of this procedure requires liposuction. Liposuction is cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is not covered by OHIP. Ever.

Having said that, she did say she was petitioning to have that particular surgery included. She encouraged me to call and do the same - unless I want to travel to Miami and pay out of pocket for this surgery to be done. HA, fat chance!

Anyhow, I came out of my appointment feeling shitty. I went in with the hopes of having an answer - a plan, and idea of how I was going to proceed in order to get my new boob.

But all I'm left with is more questions.

So, I think I'm going to explore three options.

I'm going to ask my radiation oncologist for a referral to a plastic surgeon at the hospital out here, just to see what a second opinion give me.
I'm going to talk with my family doctor about how I go about petitioning for this surgery (the fat grafting) to be covered.
I'm going to seriously consider the implants. Of all the shitty choices this seems the least shitty. She did say that if the scar tissue were to develop that I could just leave it as is or I could remove the implant and do the grafting (though I'd have to pay out of pocket for the grafting)

The second option is not an option as far as either of us are concerned. I'm not willing to commit to a 6 month recovery and be left with a nasty scar on my stomach or back. And the surgeon herself said she didn't like that option for surgery at all. Oh, and I'd have to loose more weight for that surgery to be an option anyway and well, we know how that's going.

So, I went in feeling enthusiastic and I've come out feeling pretty low.

A lot to think about.

Step One - Weight Loss

When I was diagnosed I tried to find a bright side to things. I figured that chemo would make me loose some weight. No one told me that they load you up with steroids and you actually put on weight.

So, despite having a body part removed I've managed to gain almost 20 lbs since last year.

Well, it's time to change that.

Yesterday I joined the gym again.

I've never been in fabulous shape. (well, not entirely true, when Sean and I dated I was able to go roller blading in my really short shorts and bikini top and I didn't look like I had no business being dressed that way)

But when I was going to the gym last year I'd made it my goal to be able to run a 5k. I was going slow with it but I was getting there. Then cancer got me.

My cardiovascular health is crappy. I get winded walking up the stairs. But I got my fat butt on that elliptical and went for 20 minutes. Blah. 20 minutes and I was done. Sad. I could have pushed myself further but thought against it. My body has been put through the ringer this past year and I don't want to overdo it too quickly.

Now here's the thing. I hate, HATE cardio at the gym. I hate the elliptical. I hate the treadmill. I don't do the stair stepper or the bikes. But I do it because I know it's the key to weight loss. So, to reward myself I do what I love after my cardio. Weights. I don't do anything too heavy, I'm not trying to bulk up, just tone. So I stick to about 20 lbs.

Yesterday I decided to try a new machine. I don't know what it's called but I call it the 'crunch' machine. You are working your abs. Except that in my 3rd rep I felt a weird shifting in my upper right abdomen area, just below where my breast once was. It felt like a hernia. I stopped immediately and stretched myself out. It went away but it scared me. No more crunch machine for me.

Sean was mad, he said I shouldn't be doing any weights at all. My Dr didn't tell me to avoid them. I'm going to ask again though, just to be sure.

Today is a big day. I'm going to meet the plastic surgeon to talk about my reconstruction surgery. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. Wish me luck that there are some good options!!

30 Things - #6

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6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

You might be surprised by my answer here. It's not cancer. At least, not mine. Mine was hard, no doubt about it. I was terrified beyond words but I had some level of control.

The hardest thing I've ever experienced was watching cancer take my Dad.

No one wants to lose someone they love. And while we do all expect to have to bury our parents, to watch a physical decline from being capable to being dependant on someone is hard. But what was even harder was the mental decline. My Dad had a tumor in his brain and it quickly affected him. I will never forget the morning I found him at the computer clicking the mouse over and over and over and making no sense when he talked to me. It turned out he was trying to figure out how to light his cigarette but couldn't get that thought out. 

My Dad was a smart man. He was quick, witty, intelligent. To see him brought down like that, not able to even formulate enough coherent thought to light a cigarette. That was something that was unbearable to see.

When my Dad was diagnosed we knew it was terminal. There is no control. You can't fix it. You can't change it and all you can hope for is for it to happen quickly. We were blessed with that (if you can find a blessing in that)   But to know there is no hope and to put on a brave face, both for him and for us....there is nothing worse.

It's not something I ever want to go through again and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

30 Things - #5

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5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?

1- My kids. Yeah, it's a no brainer, I know. My kids make me happy, even when they make me mad. They are the best thing, the only worthwhile thing I've ever done with my life or ever will. They are my miracle.

2- My husband. Cliche perhaps but I'll tell you what, we've been in some dark places, Sean and I and the fact that we not only came out the other side but came out together and stronger than we were before makes me happy. I know I can count on him for anything and he knows the same.

3- My family. I am one of the lucky ones whose family are also friends. Our social events always include my mom and brothers and Sean's brothers. Not because we have to invite them but because we enjoy their company. They are fun people, all of them, and that means spending time with them just because.

4- My friends - both near and far. My friends give me strength, they make me laugh, the inspire me and the accept me for the hot mess I am. How can that not make you happy?

5- Life. I genuinely love life. I might complain every now and again but there isn't a thing I would change in my life (not even cancer if you can believe that - I gained a lot from the experience) Life makes me happy. The ups, the downs, the future the's a heck of an experience. It's exciting.

That one was a little too easy.

On a side note, happy Independence Day to my American readers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

30 Things - #4

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4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could

This one might be tough.

1.  Stop skipping school! You are smart enough that you wouldn't have to work that hard to get really good grades - grades worthy of going to university for your ECE rather than college. And then you can go to teacher college and become a certified teacher instead of an ECE.

2. Listen to your parents a little more often (not all the time - let's face it, you are 16!) You don't know it now, but you'll realize later...they are right about most things.

3. Don't get your self esteem from boyfriends. Most of the guys you'll date between now and when you meet Sean will be douche bags. I'm not saying don't date them, but keep in mind they are not 'the one' so have fun with it but don't expect too much. There is one exception.

4. Build stronger friendships. Besides your bff you are not really friends with anyone from your highschool days. While that's not unusual, there are a few friendships you wish you hadn't let fade away.

5. QUIT SMOKING!!! Like a fool I smoked for nearly18 years. I wish I'd never started but I did so I wish I'd quit sooner.

6. Do one thing a week that is new, scary and outside of your comfort zone. It will make it easier to do as an adult.

7. You are responsible for your own happiness. No one else can make you happy - they can only contribute to your happiness.

8. Enjoy this time. You don't think so now but this really is the time of your life.

9. Be confident. You are smart, attractive and fun. You have no reason to be shy.

10. Do something with that hair dammit. It looks like shit!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

30 Things - #3

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#3 - Describe your relationship with your parents.

First my Mom.

My mom and I very close and outside of Sean I think she knows me better than anyone. My Mom has always been there for me no matter what. I enjoy her company. She's easy to talk to and though we have our disagreements I know I can tell her anything. We are alike in many ways but I think in more ways we are different and I think that is where our disagreements come from. Regardless, I wouldn't trade her for the world, she's not just my mom, she's my friend. My kids adore her and she adores them. I feel so lucky that they are able to enjoy a relationship with their grandmother.

Now my Dad.

My Dad was a quiet man. He kept to himself. He was the observer and would only offer his opinion once he'd fully assessed the situation. He was funny, really funny and could always make me laugh. His humour was sarcastic and timely; not knock knock joke-ish. My Dad was a realist; he saw things for what they were and didn't sugar coat things. He was a no bullshit kind of guy. I tend to think I'm a lot like he was.
My Dad and I weren't close in the traditional sense. We didn't share the same interests - though for a couple of years in the 90's we went to a lot of baseball games together and I suspect that just as much as I sometimes found it hard to talk to him because of that, he probably felt the same. But I respected him, loved him and admired him. I enjoyed his sense of humor and nothing made me happier than seeing him and my kids play together. My favorite picture of him is this one

It's Connor giving Papa a kiss. 
When Emily was about 5 we had a computer game called Barbie Explorer and my Dad would take Emily outside to play their own version of it, running around the backyard and the side of the house on an adventure.

I have been blessed with two wonderful parents who made me who I am. I couldn't ask for more.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oh Canada!

Today Canada celebrates her 145th birthday and to mark the occassion I am bringing you my annual "everything you ever wanted to know about Canada and more!" post. Forgive my bias, your country is fabulous too, I'm sure, but Canada really is the best place on Earth.

Canada is home to nearly 35 million people. With  9,984,670 sq. km of land we've got lots of room to spread out.

Canada's dominion was July 1st, 1867. We became a self-governing colony of the British Empire. Canada had 4 provinces at dominion: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The remaining 6 provinces and 3 territories joined Canada from 1870 until the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

Our money is colourful and is often referred to as monopoly money by others. We like it though. Our $1 and $2 are coins, not bills and are commonly known as the Loonie and Toonie respectively. The $1 coin has a picture of a loon on it, hence the Loonie. The $2 coin followed a few years later and was nicknamed the Toonie as a play on words. (We Canadians are a fun people!)

The Royal Canadian Mint struck it's last penny on May 4th, 2011. It cost 1.6 cents to make 1 cent. Not really economically feasible. So while we can still spend our pennies, no more will be made.

The rest of our bills are  $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 (we did have $1000 bills as well though I've only ever seen them once and they are no longer being printed or are in circulation) 

Our bills are slowly being fazed into being made of a polymer compound rather than cotton fibres. Yep, plastic money. We rock!

 Alright, enough of the boring stuff. Now the fun stuff....

Famous Canadians include: Howie MandelKim Catrall, Matthew Perry, Ryan Gosling, Alexander Graham Bell, Tommy Chong, Barry Pepper, Shannon Tweed Simmons, Donald Sutherland, Joni Mitchell, William Shanter, Ryan Reynolds and, of course, the Biebs.

We do not live in igloos but something uniquely Canadian is the term 'raised bungalow' which is it exactly what it sounds like, a bungalow that is raised so that the basement is actually above grade.

Our national/federal law enforcement agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, do not ride on horses through the streets and wear the funny red outfits (called Red Serge) Those are their dress uniforms and they drive cars. They do have horses however for the most part they are only used for the muscial ride. I've only actually seen an RCMP officer maybe 15-20 times ever. Most larger cities have their own police force as well as provincial police.

While Canadians do have a unique accent (and within Canada there are many unique accents - try speaking with a Newfoundlander) we do not say things like 'oot' (out) and 'aboot' (about).  We do often say 'eh' and that one particular word can have up to 25 meanings.
There is an old joke that goes like this....

"How did they name Canada? The letters were thrown in a bag, and the first one to be picked was 'C' eh?, then 'N' eh? and finally 'D' eh?"

Because you see, above all else, we Canadian's have a fantastic sense of humor and have no trouble laughing at ourselves.

Happy Canada Day, eh!