Friday, September 28, 2012

So Now It's Hearts

I've received the same message in my Facebook inbox a few times in the past few weeks:

Hello, Beautiful Ladies: Without replying to this message, put a heart on your wall; no comment, just a heart. Next, post a heart on the wall of the person who sent you this message. Then send this message to your women friends, only women. If anyone asks you why you have so many hearts on your wall, don't tell them. This is only for women, because this is breast cancer research week. One small act of solidarity between women. P.S. To type a heart, first type < then 3, it will turn into a heart!

I'm sure many of you remember the rant...but for those who don't, it went something like this.

REALLY??!!  Are you frickin' kidding me??!!!

When I wrote the rant, I was newly diagnosed with cancer and had only just had my mastectomy. Now that I've finished chemo, radiation and am nearing the end of my maintenance treatments I can speak a little more clearly and eloquently on this.

REALLY?!?!  Are you frickin' kidding me??!!

Let's break this apart.

How are hearts the least bit significant to breast cancer? Less offensive than the cryptic fake pregnancy symptoms status that was used last year that I found especially insulting since the treatment for breast cancer can often leave a women infertile.  But still stupid.

Why are we sending this message to women only? Men get breast cancer. In fact, roughly 200 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. (Canadian Cancer Society)  22,700 women will be too. Of those nearly 23000 women, I wonder how many have husbands or sons who might want to be informed.

The next part is funny. If anyone asks why you have hearts on your wall...don't tell them.
I have no words. Really. How is this serving any purpose at all if you're not telling anyone what you're doing?? Is breast cancer a secret? Is breast cancer research a secret? And if it is, WHY?? It should out out there loud and proud so that every woman (and man!) knows the possible causes, the symptoms and how to detect it early. Because if you don't have early detection your chances of beating it just plain suck. And dying from cancer is neither pretty nor dignified.

I don't find secret hearts in a status supportive. I find them insulting. Supportive was the people who called, emailed, wrote me letters, sent me cards, said prayers, brought me dinner, took care of my kids, drove me to treatment, made donations to the Canadian (or American) Cancer Society in my name or in the name of Papa's Pride.

I found solidarity with the people who turned their Facebook profile pictures into Pink Ribbons (or in the case of my PP sisters - Pink Pumpkins!! Or teal ribbons for ovarian cancer or gold for childhood cancer or  white for brain cancer.....) because cancer of any kind should not be kept a secret. It should not be cryptic. We shouldn't be hiding it or hiding from it. We should be fighting it. Together. Hard.

Otherwise, we'll never win the battle.

I am a PROUD breast cancer survivor. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I will be turning my Facebook Profile picture pink. I invite you all to do the same - in solidarity with those who have fought the battle, in memory of those lost and in the hopes of finding a cure.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Chemo Kind of Day

There was never a timeline given to me in which I'd start to feel better normal.  My oncologist tells me that all of my aches and pains have very little, if anything to do with chemo. My nurses tell me my aches and pains have everything to do with chemo. I'm more inclined to believe the nurses, not because I don't trust my dr, but because the nurses spend a whole lot more face time with the patients.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part, I feel completely normal. But I also notice certain things. My sense of smell for instance, is still a very strong trigger for nausea. We've got some new flushable wipes in the bathroom that smell to me like the Lysol clothes I was using after my first three chemos and everytime I go into or passed the bathroom I want to vomit.

I still can't drink cold water or even consider ice in my drinks.

My fingers still hurt sometimes, as do my toes. My back is terribly sore (which of course I've now convinced myself is cancer)

I've got a cold - my first real illness since all this started and my whole body hurts in a way that reminds me of chemo. I would kill for a Tylenol 3 because extra strength tylenol and advil aren't doing a thing for me.

I was talking with my sister in law's mother last night, she's a 10 year cancer survivor and she told me she was 7 years or so before she felt really normal again. I guess that's just the way it will be. I shouldn't complain but on these days when I feel like a giant bucket of crap it's hard to not be a whiny grouch.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

Moving on....I'm enlisting your help in a fun (and completely pointless) competition I'm having with my now teenage daughter. You see, while other 13 year olds find me cool, my own does not. So I've presented her with a challenge. I've opened a twitter account (I didn't have one before, I still don't quite understand twitter) and I've bet her that in 3 months time I'll have more followers than she will.

This is where you come in, dear reader. Pop on over to Twitter and follow me @urmomiscooltoo

I promise to not fill up your twitter world with crap....I just really need bragging rights and for my teenager to concede that yes, her Mom is cool.

And feel free to tweet that to all your followers...the more the merrier!

Friday, September 14, 2012


I promise, I'm still here. Being back to work really interferes with my blogging time. But since the blog doesn't pay my mortgage and the school board does....well, you get the picture.

I am still in that euphoric stage in which I'm in love with my job and more importantly, happy to go to work.  Two weeks in and our class has settled into a nice little routine. I've got a great group of kids and I'm having fun.

I said goodbye to a friend today. It was a bit sad. A coworker. A large part of the reason he left was because of how he was treated by many of the other staff.

Perhaps I have a stronger empathy chip, I remember being the social outcast as a child. Perhaps it's because I see people for what's on the inside, not what they show outwardly. I'll tell you though, this particular friend, while socially awkward and occasionally annoying - I've never met someone with a bigger heart. He was thoughtful. At Christmas he gave me a bunch of bandanna's for my head since I was quite bald at the time. For the 7 months I was off work a week didn't go by that he didn't text or email to see how I was feeling. And it saddened me to see him treated so poorly.

But, he's moving on and hopefully to a place where he'll be treated with a bit more respect. For me, it will be a little quieter at work and a little less entertaining.

On Wednesday I had my 6 month follow up with my oncologist. Everything looks great and I'm still recovering nicely. Yesterday I went for my 15th round of herceptin. Only 3 more to go!! While I was there I was speaking to one of the nurses and she told me a little story.

One of the other patients there is a woman close to my age (she's 42) and she's got colon cancer. She was having a really difficult time; depressed, closed off, not managing well.  She read the journal I'd left in the waiting room (I tried to find a link to a post where I wrote about it but I can't find it right now - so long story short,  I put a journal in the waiting room at the chemo clinic and a note encouraging patients, their families, the volunteers, Dr's and nurses to write in it. I saw one at the radiation clinic and it was very moving)
Anyhow, this woman had read the journal in the waiting room and I guess it made her feel so much better - less alone. So she wrote in it too, telling her story and talking about how afraid she was but being the mother to 3 young kids she was going to fight.

The nurse said after she'd written in the journal it was like a weight had been lifted and she was a whole new person. The nurse thanked me for putting the journal in the waiting room.

It made me feel so uplifted - on top of the world. My whole intention for leaving the journal there was just that - so that everyone else who read it and wrote in it would know they were not alone in their battle against cancer.

Some people once they've beaten cancer don't want the title survivor. They'd rather say they survived cancer and be done with it. I guess it's all semantics but to me - I wear the title Survivor with pride. I worked hard to become one.

It's not to say I don't want to get back to my regular life but this is part of my regular life now. As a colleague says "You're going to play the cancer card?"

Yes, yes I am. Because I fought and won that right. I am a survivor. I wish everyone who fought cancer could say the same.

One day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Honeymoon

You know how you build up something in your mind to be terrible and it turns out to be not as bad as you thought it would be?

You know how you build something up in your mind to be great and it doesn't live up to that expectation?

I'm going to admit now that I was terrified to start work. My first year started terribly but turned around and became a dream come true.

Last year, work took a back seat to my health and when I went back to work in April it was a complete and utter nightmare. I was stressed, tired, aggravated and I dreaded going to work every single day. I was counting down to the last day of school.

I expected a lot of the same this year.

Wow, was I wrong!

In fact, if this year stays on track with how it's going now - this year will be better than my first year. The kids are quiet. They are calm. They are well behaved. They are excited to be at school. We're only 3 days in but have already managed to cover everything we wanted to teach because the time we factored in for classroom/behaviour management was not required.

I hope and pray I'm not jinxing it but I'll tell ya, the only thing I don't like about going to work is the waking up at 5:45 am!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

What's For Lunch?

School is starting tomorrow, for me and the kids. That means school lunches.

I have fussy kids. They don't like refuse to eat a lot of things and what they will eat often times falls into the can't send to school list.

Peanut butter. Can't send peanut butter. I'm okay with that, I get it and frankly, don't want to be responsible for some other kid dying. Mary is receptive to alternatives and will eat soy butter. So for her, I can still send her 'peanut butter' sandwiches. Emily though, not happening. She insists she can tell the difference. I'm thinking I'll need to do the peanut butter challenge with her and see if she can tell the difference between peanut butter and soy butter. I'm betting she won't be able to to.

I would prefer not to send lunch meats for the kids, they aren't really that healthy and even with an ice pack they don't stay cold enough. Oh, and let's not mention my kids only like bologna and summer sausage. In other words, the shit meats.

Neither will eat hummus, I've yet to find a thermos that can actually keep food hot for the 3+  hours before lunch and both would be happy to eat cheese buns every. single. day.

So I decided to google healthy brown bag lunch ideas and I came this.

Are you kidding me?? 

Has this been my problem all this time? All I needed to do what cut their sandwiches into shapes and make boats out of oranges and cheese?

Who has this much time on their hands? I feel like worst mom of the year because I don't make themed lunches for my kids. I wonder if those dolphin sandwiches are full of tuna....and then does that mean it's not dolphin friendly tuna?

Seriously though, I truly have to wonder who goes to all this effort for their kids lunches and who they are trying to impress. It really can't be the kids, they just don't care that much. No matter what shape their sandwiches are, they are still trying to trade them with the kids who brought oreos and potato chips.

I'm not further ahead in my search for healthy school lunches for the kids and will likely cave and send them cheese buns everyday. At least I know they'll eat them.

Maybe the urge will strike and I'll cut those cheese buns to look like kittens.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I can't believe it's September already! This summer has flown by. It was definitely a better summer than last year!!

Shall we catch up?

I spent five days on the west coast of Canada and have to say, I'm in love. I come from the city and while we have our moments of scenic beauty it really pales in comparison to our coasts. My husband is from the east coast of Canada and I truly think it's the most beautiful place on earth....and then I saw the west...and it's just as beautiful.  The only mountains we have here are skyscrapers so I was determined to see a mountain. In fact, Emily's instructions for me were to "jump over a mountain and ride a whale"  So I did just that!

Forgive my pictures, they are completely out of order.

In the absence of real whales to ride I managed to cuddle up to this orca at the airport (we'll just ignore the fact that an orca is actually a dolphin and not a whale)

This was my view from the plane flight there. You can't really tell in the pictures but there were mountains down there. I'm a terrible flier but since I've discovered the wonder that is Ativan I think I could quite possibly even fly to the moon! At this point turbulence wasn't bothering me, I was just thinking "Wow, check out the mountains!!"

Here's my mountain. I'm sure my friends could tell me exactly what mountain it is. They just look at them and know the names. They all look the same to me. I took this one on the ferry heading to the wedding.

This was my view from the Cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Breathtaking!
 I'm going to be honest, this meant very little to me because I didn't watch the Beachcombers as a kid but Sean was super excited that I ate lunch here.

This is the start of my trek across the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I'm terrified of heights and yet I wasn't the least bit afraid, even after I realized that the bridge sways like crazy! It was amazing!!

I went to BC to meet/visit with some of my PP sisters. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. To spend 5 years talking with someone online is one thing but to go across the country to meet them is a whole new ballgame. And while we have an  easy flow online, in person it could be completely different. Add into this my shyness - and it could have spelled disaster.

Thankfully it was quite the opposite.

My friends made me feel so welcome and it was as if we'd known each other in person, not just online for years. It was comfortable and easy.

Another highlight was that I got to see my childhood best friend. One of the tests of true friendship is being able to go for days, months or in this case 12 years without seeing one another and being able to pick up right where you left off. It was so nice to see my friend and catch up and laugh about old times.

I missed my kids terribly though and as much fun as I had, I was happy to come home.

And now I look ahead to the start of the school year. I'm excited about having money again and about getting into my routine. I've got to stop all the eating I've been doing with Sean's family here and get back to the gym - which has been neglected.

Life is good!!