Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the ring and battling it out.

It's been a little while since I have post anything and am now in  my 5th month of maintenance with the Interferon-Intron Apha 2b.
I recently FINALLY saw the Dermatologist which went well and that right after having had the "mole mapping" photos done through the hospital! Well that was interesting! The photographer and volunteer had me feeling very much at ease in no time! While with the Dermatologist I did have one mole removed from the back of my leg and learned too that if there is hair growing from a mole that is a good sign, as a rule hair will not grow where there is melanoma. I haven't heard back on that one but haven't been too worried about it as the Derm didn't seem concerned at all and I think took it off for my peace of mind. I will return in six months.
Overall in this process I thought I wasn't doing too badly and did return to work but that really didn't go so well; one week and three days. Co-workers had tried to convince me to stay off, but financially I felt I needed to return and also in feeling like so much has changed I felt I needed to try, thinking somehow I might feel more of a "normal me" in getting back into the swing of things. 
Headaches here and there, appetite is so-so; eating very small portions, fatigue...well, ongoing and always but the hardest thing to deal with is the emotional fragility I have been feeling. What a roller coaster and it seems it changes without warning.
I don't like the way I've been feeling at all, it scares me and waking up in the morning is not a pleasant time; though the alternative is not at all a pleasant thought either. It's a fight every morning just getting past the "physically ill" feeling that takes over as I enter into awakedness! Not to worry though upon "crashing down" recently was in touch with my family doctor and also the social worker I have had in my corner since  the Induction phase of the treatment. I saw my oncologist for my bi-monthly checkup last week and a follow up with the social worker as well. I also had a follow up my family doctor. 
For others out there, yes it can be difficult to share that you are feeling what may be depression, but during an Ultrasound last spring the tech shared her experience with her brother who had been on Interferon and advised me to be aware of feelings of depression; it is a listed possible side effect, and not to wait to talk with someone and if needed antidepressants can help. I'll admit to being a little worried about taking such meds, but know with my "team"; oncologist, social worker, family doctor, I can withdraw gradually once treatment is complete and have a great deal of support.  The antidepressants at this point are taking a lot out of me; I sleep a lot, and have no ambition at all and there is nauseasness and extreme fatigue  .   I know it is that my body is adjusting and the oncologist did say it could take from ten days to 4 weeks before I am feeling really good.   The social worker will be doing frequent follow up with me.
I'm working hard at staying in the ring with this fight! I'll just have to be patient with myself This has been a very difficult period for me this last month or so, but I hope I can work through it and celebrate like there was no tomorrow when I complete the run!
Still fighting the battle!  I've lost count of the rounds and another round straight ahead.

Be good to yourself.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Part 1 Getting the Skinny on my skin!!!

Photo Cd in hand and ready to share...o.k, with a Dermatologist ONLY, I finally have my appointment with the Dermatologist today!   I'm almost giddy with excitement, well perhaps not quite, but this appointment was made months ago and apparently that's the way it goes.

One week ago I had an appointment with a photographer at Lakeridge Health, for a "Mole Mapping" session!   Hmmm sounds intriguing at least doesn't it?   Not your "Glam Shots" kind of session but as important in relation to what's been happening in my life as the usual photo shoot is to the resume of an actor or celebrity.     It wasn't so bad and surprisingly didn't find myself at all nervous once in there.   There was the photographer and a hospital volunteer who was pretty cute in her manner and had a great sense of humour.   I think looking back, that the photographer was more nervous than I.   He was a gentleman and explained everything from the get-go.   My Oncologist will have a cd for his records and I will have mine.  

From the photos my dermatologist can view each mole and then exam them in their actual location on my person, assess and from here we will both make note and compare any future changes with these lovely little spots.   I have one which may raise some level of concern and a possible second one that she too may feel the same about, but we will soon know.   I know all too well, even if there is anything to be concerned about I won't necessarily know today but will have to wait a couple of weeks!   I don't think I will ever get used to the waiting!

I've been to this dermatologist before but the nature of this visit is very different than my last visit;  so many changes and in what seems like a very short time period.
The story continues...stay tuned!   : )




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gathering topics and ramblings of late ...to return soon!

I haven't written in a couple of weeks now, but DO have many a thought filling my head so will get back in the next couple of days!   There is much happening, and plenty for me to ramble on about, though I hope it doesn't come across as rambling!?  
I know there are times as one/I, roll into a subject/conversation and one thought leads to another, leads to another and yet another!  One certainly does not mean to but in the excitement, amazement or simple pondering of initial topic of conversation, it happens!
Having noted this I shall do my best in delivering in a non-rambling fashion!
See you soon!

xo

Monday, October 15, 2012

Officially 50 - and Ontario Health Care knows!

Yep, I'm officially 50!   I received a letter from Cancer Care Ontario today to remind me that once I reach 50 my risk for Colorectal Cancer rises!

It's o.k, I've had this discussion with my family doctor last year, she made a point of it after glancing down at my medical file.    Since so much has happened since then and I've been through a barrage of medical tests it hardly seems much to get worked up about.   My hubby has already had this test as he is just a tad ahead of me in birthdays and it really wasn't so bad.   I had him all set up and comfy for the pre-test preps and I think that is the hardest part!   That part starts out slowly and then of course everything changes very quickly...lots of 'urgent' trips to the lieu!   He was set up in the room closest to said location.   With only one lieu available, he was of course given priority in availability!
On one hand it's like crossing some kind of border into a new foreign land, hearing so much about it but not truly knowing just what to expect with this new MAGICAL land called "50".   On the other there is the thought that "Wow" I'm here and I think I should feel privileged, wise; in some degree, and it does in fact scare me a little because of course there is much reflection to be seen from here.   I think I'll grab the world by the 'hiny' and get what I can out of the next several years  even if it includes 'Age Privileged' medical testing in ensuring the extension of my physical existence!

Well, here's to turning 50 and receiving additional Birthday Wishes of sorts.   If you are going to be turning this magic number soon, keep this in mind.   For more information please go to:
ontario.ca/coloncancercheck or call, toll free at 1-866-662-9233

Take care of yourself!

: ]

Wind swept meanderings...I'm under the influence!

This morning; late, just after getting up for the day and about to shower I peer out the bathroom window and see a woman in the parking lot at the Legion next door.    This is not so unusual as there is always someone walking a dog or setting up for some event there, etc., but she has no dog and I try to decide if her meandering is just that or she is under the influence; of something we all wish we had!
I couldn't help but feel a sense of mystery, intrigue and my imagination was spurred on!

There she was, all dressed in black, a black dress, black stockings and black, heeled shoes.  The bottom of the dress was of alternating lengths of long and short; like arranged handkerchiefs, which fluttered and waved so eloquently in the wind.    Walking onto the gravel road leaving the parking lot and leading up past our house, I noted she wore the large maroon shawl or scarf  draped around her shoulders.   She was raising it above her head and in circular motion then brought it down around herself and back onto her shoulders.   Such a dance, as the light fabric lifted and fell again gracefully and wildly.  Her steps looked a little awkward and I wondered if she was just enjoying a very slow "meander" or that she was as I said under the influence of one form or another and perhaps influenced by the wonderful winds that blow today.

I teetered on whether or not to step out and offer assistance but she was doing fine, just not completely convincing in the manner with which she took each step.   Her legs awkwardly criss crossed in very slow, almost sideways but still forward steps.  She might wonder if I was well had I given the opportunity for my being judged as well.   My hair not done, in my bath robe and not well put together at that point.

I thought about what it all meant.   Was she in a distraught state of mind and feeling completely depleted?   Was she preparing to bid someone near and dear farewell at a service later this morning.   Maybe I was even a little envious of the way she so free spiritedly moved and let herself be taken in by the wind and just letting go!   If she wasn't burdened with great sadness, maybe she was actually in a state of emotional relief and didn't care to be hurried any longer and simply in some form of blissful thought, caring less about everything.

Whatever her thoughts, state of being I hope she's alright and maybe the wind simply just inspired a sense of carefree.   That's what it's doing to me this morning, despite my knowing I have many tasks at hand and a couple of them involve being timely in their completion!   Oh well I am finishing lunch and then taking a few minutes; if not longer, to linger outdoors throwing my cares to the wind!  I can't wait and I must give thanks to the young woman's inspiration this morning.  I know we all get so caught up in our busy busy little worlds and need be reminded to just stop and smell the flowers, breath, dance, jump in a puddle, feel the wind, be a little carefree now and again!   Go on, let go!

xo

Friday, October 12, 2012

...So I'm 50?... where to from here and the "C" Word!

There's a fork in the road and I'm wondering which path to follow...I feel like I really need to at least go down the one I know less just to see where it leads me!   Thoughts so many thoughts and just thinking about true happiness and what that means.   When I think about being happy I picture my hubby and I on our wedding day and feeling so very happy to know from that day forward I had the most wonderful man right there by my side!   Sounds so corny I know but I really was so excited to know he was mine...and 28 years later still is and I'm feeling the very same way!   Picturing each of my children's faces makes me incredibly happy, especially thinking back to when they were very young and watching them discover the wonders all around them, including things that as grown ups we have long taken for granted and completely overlook any more!    Suddenly you find yourself rediscovering everything through your children's eyes and the world couldn't be more perfect, all over again!  They're young adults themselves now and I still find myself seeing the world through their eyes and it's still so amazing, well most days!

I had my 50th birthday recently and while that alone could make me think about so much in life, the life I've had in the past, and what lies ahead for me,  this year in addition to my 50th birthday I am celebrating just being here, as anyone should but sometimes life throws you a really fast curve ball and it REALLY makes you take a good look at what's happening and it makes your head spin.   In February I was diagnosed with melanoma and that alone changes so much and while you might think in a negative way, it has over time since then also changed much in a positive way!  Initially of course the news made my head spin and I really didn't know what to do with that news, aside from thinking, "I have to call my doctor!"!

Two surgeries; having the tracer dye injected was more painful than the surgeries themselves, one month of daily Chemo at the hospital, and in the middle of my second month of self injections done three times weekly, which will continue until next July provided my liver continues to tolerate the Interferon and I'm doing pretty good.

I have found a program which I fell head over heals for right away, but people didn't tell me about out of concern in relation to the nature of it.   "The Big C" with Laura Linney is my new favourite show and you guessed it, it is about Cancer!!!   In particular and ironically it's about a woman named Cathy...yes, with a 'C', who has been diagnosed with Melanoma!   Laura Linney's character, Cathy is Stage 4, I am Stage 3.    There are certainly moments for shedding tears in this program but it's so cleverly funny, poignant, there is such sharp wit and I love it!  If you haven't seen it, I warn you there is adult content, there is swearing, etc., but that's what makes it so exceptionally great, it's just as we are, imperfect and trying to find our way while life hurls rotten  tomatoes at us!  She is trying to figure out how to deal with her prognosis, as Stage 4 carries a much more uncertain future and one looking to ensure as much time as possible will with their oncologist seek out all options available in treatment, clinical trials etc. .    She does at first go a little to the extreme; or not at all, in how she deals with everything and then begins to see a new perspective and perhaps later another one yet.  Yes the sad parts will make me cry but I feel stronger for that in allowing for tears and then laugh out loud in the funny moments and walk away from it with a will to be as spunky and strong a fighter as Laura Linney's Cathy.
I'm only recently beginning to question just what it all means, now having gotten past the initial shock.  That's the thing, in the early days following diagnosis, seriously you can't help but wonder how much longer you have on earth and that's scary shit!   You know how they say when you think you're dying and you see your life flash before you!?  Yes.   I also couldn't help but see everything I hadn't done, wanted to do and hoped I'd get the chance!

In sorting through the emotions in dealing with this I have been painting and writing just as I once did so many years ago but of course it feels different now and the genre of how and what I am painting or writing is all new!   I also am trying to be more brave in going after new experiences and am not sure how I feel about returning to previous ones.   Time will tell!  I don't know what lies ahead, but HEY nor does anyone else!  Of course a lottery windfall would be nice, a trip somewhere beyond nice too, we'll all just have to wait and see!
It's like stimulation overload to have had melanoma happen and turn 50 all in the same year!  My thought is, well, melanoma distracted any concerns I may have had about the impending 50!   I have to take from this whatever I can and if I live to be 100 I want to be sure I've done everything I can to have had another great 50 years of life even when life throws rotten tomatoes at me!
Go ahead, "Hit me with your best Shot!"!
xo

Friday, September 21, 2012

Music to your Ears? Alfie-Cat is still deciding!


Watching a clip from X Factor that a friend had posted I thought I'd share this with you here-not quite so inspiring; setting, etc., but it was impromptu.  I do love to sing, at this point mostly around the house, in the shower and when in the car.   I need to brave up, I'm turning the big Five O' very soon and with things that have happened in the last several months, it's like a wake up call to do what you really want NOW!   Fear is likely the only thing holding me back, it's time to buck up and get past the fear!!!

This was a few months back and the second video I have shared but hidden away in the mass of youtube videos.   The first a practice run for a competition to sing at the Roger's Cup.   The video posted then saw my cat Alfie jump up on me while singing Oh Canada-which perhaps one day I shall sing at an event!?   It's on the 'B' list!
This time I thought I'd brave up and try singing another song and who should come along again, ...Alfie Cat!   I'm trying to decide whether he appreciates or does not appreciate it when I sing!?
Hmmmmm!?
I hope you find it at least somewhat pleasant and it doesn't hurt your ears!



http://youtu.be/sB_lPkn4CKg


Every Day is a winding road, I get a little bit closer...the "c" word Day 218

Holy Autumn, we're about to enter into October!!!   I'm o.k with that, I love the fall and winter doesn't scare me either!   Love the cooler seasons!   This is premiere 'grab the camera, jump in the car let's go for a drive and maybe stop somewhere for a little treat and who knows where we'll end up' time of the year!   It kind of feels like a 'falling in love' all over every year, when while the crazy world goes on; as one sees/reads in the news, there is a beautiful world happening all around us that allows us to believe the very best and feel so wonderful in taking it all in!   I'm ready to 'stoke the fire'; even if it's only a little electric cast iron remake, make the hot chocolate and don a favourite slightly oversized cozy sweater and curl up next to my honey!   I'm not opposed to jumping into a very large pile of leaves or a walk in the aroma of an Autumn evening's crisp air.

At this point I begin to contemplate a return to work, but try not to let it be the focus of my daily thoughts because it kind of stresses me out a bit.    I did have visits with many of our centre families and staff this week for our annual trip event to the Burnham Family Farm Market and very much enjoyed seeing everyone!   It might have been just what I didn't know I needed.  Buying a little produce, including homemade fudge just added to how good I felt that morning!   I WAS only buying one block of fudge when the girl mentioned the buy two get one for free!   She didn't know how very aware of that deal I was and have been for a very long time AND have caved before!  I had thought I could get past the idea this time!  LOL, I should have known better!   I am happy to report I wrapped two of the blocks and have frozen them!  If my daughter should read my blogs she is sure to show up soon and I will happily send some away with her!  : )

I am two weeks into a new prescription for what began a year ago as indigestion/heartburn and now may be stress related.   I am hoping it subsides in the next two weeks or there is likely to be a 'scope' involved.    A scope...a scope, that just doesn't sound like any form of fun that I'd like to be a part of!!!!  I had contacted my Oncologists office and a nurse returned my call to say that my oncologist didn't feel it was related to my Interferon injections but I should get an appointment with my family doctor and have it checked.    I did and hence the prescription for Tecta, another form of the Panto prazole I was previously on, but with magnesium versus sodium this time.    What I experience is the sensation of very dire hunger, though there is a difference in that there isn't any growling of the stomach and it hurts much more and makes one feel ill.  It occurs even right after having eaten a meal and experiencing the sense of being full!   For one afternoon this week I thought it had gone only to have the effects return.  My doctor feels it is most likely stress related, in light of the treatments and everything I've been going through.  I hang on!

Today I drove to Oshawa.   Not a big deal but it's been some time; June, since I have driven myself that far....alone!   I was off to Lakeridge Health to pick up my next round of Interferon.  I was thrilled to use the handy dandy travel kit they give you for the medication, with it's own ice pack etc. and tucked in my constant companion water bottle!   Off I go!   I was happy to have additional tunes on cd in the car to occupy my thoughts and keep me singing!
After picking up my prescription I did as I had on my way into the hospital and scanned the cafeteria crowd for a friend of mine and her husband.    I briefly thought to myself that they could have been here much earlier or perhaps had much later appointments, and then ta-da there they were!   Her husband was facing my direction and waved!    I was pretty pleased with myself then that I had looked for them!    She is getting her treatment underway very soon.   We had a good visit as they had just finished lunch and I was packing a dutchie bun and chocolate milk from the Auxillary cafe!
While we chatted I took the opportunity to pay forward the very helpful information a friend of mine had thoughtfully shared with myself as my husband and I headed into such a very different chain of events one is never prepared for following my diagnosis and preparation for treatment.

Tomorrow it's off to Toronto to wish my son Chris well as he heads to Boston next week for the Boston Fashion Week where he is a featured designer; one of only two Canadians to be INVITED!   Pretty cool!   My sister will accompany me on the train and we'll have a little "girl" time and time with my son before he heads off!   We wish we were going to be there to cheer him on, but it's not possible at this time.    I know Chris is very thankful for the support he has received in ensuring he CAN go to Boston, but John and I have to express our thanks too, as we have been watching as this drew closer and closer to actually happening and wish to extend our very heartfelt appreciation in the generousity people have shown in helping make this dream opportunity actually happen!

Well that's a lot for you to read, but if you're still here, I thank you for listening and being here as as I rambled on!    I'm going to have a wee nip of fudge now; sounds like someone about to have a wee nip of booze doesn't it!?
Take care of each other!  <3 br="br" nbsp="nbsp"> xo



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Road Side Sighting-Autumn represent

Heading North, even as close as Peterborough, fall comes into evidence at the very top of many trees.  Crimson and Amber leaves prominent decor and looking so lovely.

Sitting at the intersection of Hwy. # 7 and the off ramp for the 115 I notice a stand of Poplars and already turned leaves of golden yellow shimmer and dance in the breeze.  Then 1, 2 and 3 leaves separately one after the other flutter with grace down, down to the ground below.
Autumn represent!

xo

Monday, September 3, 2012

Huh, I hadn't thought of that...Saving your own Skin

Funny, though not really...
Yesterday I had a random 'epiphany' thinking to myself and out loud how having melanoma gives new meaning to the term 'Saving your own skin'!

That I found this funny seemed wrong but I think I really only laughed about it because I wondered how I hadn't thought of how literally the term seemed in relation to melanoma.
Hey, I take the 'laughs' as they come!

xo

the Quirks and Queries of Side Effects...Oh give me strength! the 'c' word Day 200

Querks, pains, twinges and a faux hunger like thing happening frequently.   I was actually thinking the whole side effects thing with the injections portion of the Interferon was going fairly well as such things go generally, though I admit to the odd day where with just the extensive exhaustion I have wondered if I would be able to make it through the now next ten months of this!

These last few days for whatever reason have been much more challenging.   I might feel a tad depressed as well, but maybe that in addition because of so much going on right now.  The little kit looks harmless enough, even almost 'friendly'.   My pen even more so in it's pretty pink shade. Pink represents 60 million individual units; each dose at 15 million.



I know even without the affects of the Interferon there are a number of ongoing strange and querky things happening which are ongoing affects from the Lymph node surgery.   Today I am experiencing; as I did yesterday, quite a bit of pain in my right armpit/breast area.  
I am consistently badgered by back pain which also extends to just above my abdomen below my ribs, it's not stabbing but a dull and annoying pain, that makes itself well known!
Following a meal and thinking I feel full; on far less portions than ever before, I can feel what resembles hunger pangs but is not, only minutes later!   This particular problem is very bad today. I'd gorge myself but I don't even have the appetite to attempt to fill the false sense of a void!
In addition to said fun stuff something is up with my throat!

It is not helping to know tonight is injection night and tomorrow will only be a compounding of effects from post injection and all that is already going on!
I will be calling the Oncologists office if this gets any worse or if needed get in to see my own doctor!

So, so tired!
One day I hope to feel like 'ME' again; whatever 'ME' was, even just for my husband's sake!


xo

Monday, August 27, 2012

Working at Chill, when it's so flippin' hot!

Sunday August 26th.
Man it's so hot and sticky outside.   I am feeling restless but haven't the energy to do much and lack the focus to do much.   Even staring off into nowhere needs focus!
John was going to put up the hammock for me but upon stepping out onto the barely used deck out back, realize just how much cooler it is there and the scenery is rather nice as well.
He proceeds to bring the lounger with it's cushion up to the deck for me.

Carting my water bottle, drawing book, pen/pencil, sunscreen and my very large hat, I set up to find 'Chill', relaxation, perhaps even a small amount of focus, despite the yuck of the heat.

Once settled I can't help but just take it all in.   It's quite lovely and I wonder why I don't sit back here more often!?

The slightest breeze emits the most quiet but relaxing rustling through the trees which fill the scene in the ravine directly behind our house.   I then notice a gentle trickling of water, arising from our little fish pond, as the water rises up through a little fountain piece and cascades back down again.   The fish like me are hiding beneath shade, afforded them by the overhang of the Virgina Creeper vine; Engleman's Ivy.

The deck itself is in dire need of a rebuild, but even in it's state of dilapidation it grants me time for chill in a more comfortable setting and my thoughts to scribe without the distraction of such heat and humidity.

While considering my good fortune found on the ol' deck I can't help too but look to the rapidly growing White Pine tree; one of three.  I instantly imagine I can hear it's soothing soft whisper as winter winds blow through it, standing over a layer of shimmering fresh snow.

Woops, I hadn't meant to go there!   That's a state of 'Chill'!

xo




Saturday, August 18, 2012

To Peel n' Strip or to Layer...Round 2 with Interferon-the 'c' word Day 184

Another Friday morning; all morning, spent at LRH!   It was quite a morning yesterday, not really anything more than we might have anticipated, except for the "you already have your prescription and know we're doing the first injection this morning?"!
I guess a little miscommunication happening here!  It all worked out and thankfully will not need to return to the hospital Monday.
The injection itself really is very easy.  I will admit that at the moment she asked me to go ahead and inject I was for a millisecond thinking, "NO WAY!", and then without further thought simply and very quickly with conviction 'stabbed' my belly!  I didn't actually even feel anything, until of course the needle was in and then there was a noticeable sting.   Hold and push down the depressor then a few seconds more, and all done!   I can do this.   With anything like this you will of course do what you have to do!
Not so bad at all.    It's the side effects that cause a greater sense of fear than the needle itself!!

We feel good as we leave the hospital and are happy to be meeting up with my friend Nancy and her little boy.  We will pack a picnic next time though in making sure I have something to eat before the drive home.   I do have some rice cakes with me and water and that gets me through until I am home.  We had a visit for about a half hour then walked together toward the car and she lives very close by to where we are parked.
We were to have stopped for lunch at the Mandarin today but now that we have our "Drug package" with us and it needs to stay cool we will have to do that another day.   The hospital did provide us with an ice pack to keep it chill while we enjoyed our visit with Nancy, but beyond that it's too warm out and especially in the car, to be much longer.

I am found approximately two hours later-by the effects of the Interferon.   The side effects of the  injection; half the dose of the I.V I had received for a month, catch up with me as we arrive home.   I lie down for approximately 1 1/2 hours and on waking it starts.   The oncologist said there are likely to be MORE; MORE!?, fever and chills than before but the hope is I will sleep through the majority of it!   It's like clock work or right from a text book.  The remainder of the night sends me into fever; low grade @ 38.4, chills/shakes, sweats and very lethargic.   I'm either pulling on an extra blanket; can't get warm enough, or at one point peeling off layers of clothing; too hot!
Just something John might have dreamed up...my randomly stripping off in the living room in the middle of his television viewing pleasure!  LOL!   Sadly for him the pleasure stops after the stripping!   He couldn't have gotten any closure if he tried, I'd have fought hard to keep anyone from touching my hot then cold and then hot body!   Poor fellow.

Having headed to bed before long I worked again at getting warm and every trip to the washroom throughout the night induced further chills and shaking.   It was a long ol' night and I'm sure if I had any accurate measure of how much sleep I actually benefitted from it would be quite minimal. Upon waking this morning the 'standard' headache wakens with me!   This appears to be my new "norm"!

Today is a new day and the last of the side effects seemed to wear off late this morning, so we're hoping the remainder of the day will all be good.   It's our 28th Wedding Anniversary today too so even greater reason to hope for a little "feel good" to celebrate!   I do hope I am afforded an appetite today but appetite or not the Rib fest is on and for John's sake we WILL go!
He's been such a great support through all of this and deserves at the least a really good feed of pulled pork and maybe some onion blossoms or corn on the cob! Had I the funds, of course there are many other wonderful things I would love to surprise him with, but this is good for now!  : ]
Appetite Please!!!!!   xo


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Perfect Prescription- I Escaped!!!

Ah, some days are just like this, ...picture perfect!!!
We made a quick run to Lakeridge Hospital today to pick up paper work, just in case I should need it before Friday, when we have a morning appointment for blood work and to see the oncologist.
Having missed all of the previous "BBQ lunch" days held out in front of the hospital due to my Chemo/Appt. times, today I joined John in a "combo" lunch in affording me sustenance even when my body doesn't know enough to ask for it and helping with funds for the hospital!

I haven't been anywhere this summer or done much of anything and that can really bring me down at times.   It's that financially we're missing my pay and paired with that, I only seem to have so many really "feel good" days!   The last two have been pretty good and with John on holiday this week; minus the Monday he had to work, I am hoping the next couple of days will feel close to that good again!!!    Friday may be the start of the injections which could; will likely, change things once again!   While everything is very different this summer, CHANGE, the one thing one can count on is very consistent!   You have to be happy for the things you can count on.

On our way home we meandered away from Oshawa on Taunton, down to county rd. # 9, through
Kendal, Elizabethville and finally sitting high above Garden Hill stopped in to Richardson's Lookout.  Growing up I think we knew it better as Dean's Hill Lookout.
I had taken the camera and tripod with me today in anticipation of a photo shoot, with nature and John!   Hmmm, that could almost sound kind of kinky!   Even out there we ran into a Ward 2 Town employee John knew, so no "kinky" allowed!   We're not exhibitionists by any stretch of the imagination!   I won't say we haven't been there before!  LOL!
It's a beautiful spot for a picnic...which we didn't have with us today!   Years ago I do recall a big family picnic with all of my cousins.
Today it was very evident the amount of area that used to be cut back is no longer.   A narrow strip leading up to the deck of the lookout is all that is cut now.    The many saplings and new trees I recall around the perimeter of the hill have grown immensely and impede some of the view but you are still most certainly afforded a great view.   It's an especially rewarding trek in the fall!   I've never been in the winter but I think I should make note to do that.



Shortly after arriving we set up the tripod and proceeded to do a few photos and then were greeted by two lovely labs; a golden and a chocolate lab.   In a few more minutes their "human" came to find them and we talked for a few minutes.   Are you thinking what I'm thinking...we couldn't help but think he sent the dogs up to be sure no-one was up to any "shenanigans" on the hill; or the lookout deck, or under...!  The gentleman lives just next door from there.

Can you tell I really enjoyed my "escape" today, and am perhaps full of "sillies", or as my Father-in-Law might say, "Piss and vinegar"!   My apology if that offends.   He is a lovely person and I have to admit to having come to appreciate and enjoy; when needed, some of his phrases.

We did some photos; some with lots of laughs, and I'll leave it to you to recognize the 'scene' if you will.   John is 'silly' too today and as we went through the photos once home had a few comments of his own!
It was a much needed outing for us both.

Following the pictures of ourselves I went about photographing the panoramic view, the vegetation, some butterflies, etc.!   Next time we will have to do a picnic.
It was such a simple outing but with Hubby and camera by my side, I'm sure it's just what the doctor himself might have ordered!
xo

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An LP fabulous start to the weekend!...REALLY music to my ears!

It's amazing how listening to old LP's can make you feel better!   Our son had told us we should bring the turn table upstairs from the basement.   He left for Korea May 11th to teach for one year and we have just brought the turn table up this morning!  

How wonderful it is to know there are many new albums being made, when upon the production of cd's some said LP's would disappear!   Not so much at all!!!!!  

A group our son had introduced us to is producing albums, Cuff the Duke and they are among many who never gave any thought to excluding LP's in their offerings!

It's a good morning...another of those "just what I didn't know I needed" kind of mornings!
Progress is good but recognizing what already works well is awesomesauce!   : ]

Have a fab weekend!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Laughter IS the very best medicine! : )

My eyes sting so much and I am up much much later than the "norm" lately, but so happy for both!
Stinging eyes from so many tears but very happily from tears of several bouts of great laughs!
While I did not attend this weekends Homecoming I did have a couple of lovely ladies come hang out for a while and we shared so many laughs.
I also had the privelege of meeting my friends two daughters who are beautiful young women and just as lovely in their personalities as their Mom!
It's been just the afternoon/evening I know I needed!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Count Down to Celebrating another milestone!

You may wonder why I post the "Day #" every so often.   It is anything but to dwell on the number of days since diagnosis but to represent my fight and determination to see this through to the last day of Interferon treatment.  
While I have finished the "induction" phase, I will in two weeks begin the "maintenance" phase of the treatment.   I will do self injections for the next eleven months barring any problems arising with my liver or kidney's as a result of the Interferon.
Now THAT will be a celebration!!!   Here's "counting" on it!!!

Every Time a Bell Rings... The "c" Word -Day 169...

It's a very emotional day today but I certainly hadn't planned on feeling quite so emotional, emotions just took over!
Yes, today was my last "Induction" treatment for Chemo at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa and a very long morning it was.  For the last four weeks 5 days a week I have been going for treatment for Malignant Melanoma.   In the beginning of course you have no idea what to expect really, regardless of what you may have heard, read or imagined for yourself.   You read plenty in advance, but from only legitimate sources knowing anything less will only completely freak you out!
I've had a number of friends attend the appointments with me as well as my husband and both my Mother and my Mother-in-Law.  It is preferred that you bring company just in case you are not feeling well as you leave.   Most times the "ill feeling" didn't really settle in until at least part way home in the car.   I almost always felt a little "sickly" and very very tired!
From day one of treatment I knew I shouldn't expect to feel very good following treatments and quickly thought of the nurse who on the first day had told me, "You're going to feel really crappy tonight!".   I was disappointed to realize she was so very right!   Feverish, chills, body aches, headaches and some light nausea!   While it sounds terrible and was certainly very unpleasant, I tried to imagine how much worse it could be!!   I have been incredibly thankful NOT to have vomiting included in my side effects!

When I was having blood done in the Chemo Suite this morning and talking with Nurse Lisa, she was excited to realize this was my last day of treatment.   She then pointed out to me to be sure and ring the bell as I was leaving to announce my completion with Chemo!    I said o.k, I would do that.
My Mom attended with me today and Nurse Ida was attending my care this morning.   She's a lovely lady and I shared with my Mom that she reminds me of the character Georgette; Georgia Engel, from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Today I also had my Picc line removed, so much to rejoice.
Not long before my treatment and was done this morning, the bell was rung and everyone clapped.    I immediately choked up and the tears flowed.   I surprised myself; or perhaps not really.
It just seemed so  poignant and it took me a few minutes to collect myself.   I couldn't help but notice my Mom tearing up too and I couldn't even speak.
Ida asked if I was o.k and I said yes, the bell ringing just really affected me.   I didn't see who had rang the bell but it only mattered that someone had finished treatment and you could understand what that meant to them,  a very personal achievement, a great hopefulness and carrying on with their lives.

On our way out today I stopped at the desk and left a card that I had made with every one of the nurses names inside and including thanks to the volunteers as well.   I wanted to go round and hug every one of them but of course they are quite busy with the many patients at any one time.   I picked up the bell; like an old school bell, and I rang it!   I choked up as everyone clapped.  Lisa was working near the door and we said goodbye and she asked that I stop in when I come for appointments and I promised I would.   I would like to bring in some flowers, the ones on their desk are near done!

It's been quite a day and I won't forget any of them in the Chemo Suite and while I won't miss the "high dose" treatments, I will miss those ladies and gents who made an awful adventure much more bearable!

Funny too when I rang the bell it reminded me of my work in the OEYC, we ring the bell for Circle Time and sing a song to gather everyone, maybe I should have sang a song!?  LOL!



























Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fan Fare Please..."Induction" almost complete!



I am two days away from completing the 4 weeks of daily treatment at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa; R.S McLaughlin Cancer Centre.  This portion is referred to as "Induction".   There will be a two week period of no treatment and then the "Maintenance" portion begins.   "Maintenance refers to self injections done 3x per week just before I go to bed each of those nights.
In the beginning this didn't seem so bad but as expected it might has felt worse and worse with each week.   I suppose that's as the medication takes over my body and lets all systems know it is there!!!   I'd have to say too, the meds seem to be in charge of me right now, but when I have a small window of "feel good" I am determined to do something I want to do before the meds find out I'm feeling good and send in the "crappy"!

I feel crappy every day, some more than others but realize it could in fact be even worse!   Headaches are certainly prominent, the fatigue is the worst and my appetite isn't always available!   I don't crave chocolate either...Gaaaaahhh, that is just weird!   I can't say I really CRAVE anything, it's disheartening!  I try to eat a good lunch and breakfast because supper hour arrives and my desire for food seems to have slipped right off the radar!  When I know I just can't seem to stomach much of anything I reach for a BOOST on ice!   The only chocolate I really dig right now!
I am so tired and have the odd noticeable but thankfully brief bouts with feeling down, and have in fact spoken with a social worker at the hospital.  They have every aspect of your treatment covered and someone to help with anything that might come up.   It's a very well run facility and as a friend of mine commented today they are so caring.   She was admiring the way one of the volunteers patted my legs and tucked my feet beneath

I really do hope the maintenance portion of the treatments are not quite so bad, and look forward to the two weeks between induction and maintenance in the hopes that I will feel a little bit of "normal" during that time!?  It's certainly been a very different summer!

 I have just felt so crummy...crappy!   "I feel crappy", the most overstated phrase I use lately!   Well it's 10:00 p.m., way past my general bedtime lately and I have an early appointment for a follow up with my surgeon tomorrow morning.  I sure don't want to look tired when I see him in the morning  ; ]!    After that, off to treatment in the afternoon!   Oh such fun this summer!

Good night!  xo
Cathy

Saturday, July 28, 2012

'No Cancer' is the best cancer

Education is the key to eliminating both ignorance and insensitivity.
"Melanoma is the best cancer if you're going to get cancer, right?"; a woman suggested to me recently.
Not!...ask someone with cancer if they feel like they got the " best cancer!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Boston Calling...giving up would be even harder at this point!


Update...Chris continues to hope to make it to Boston Fashion Week, but further bad luck befalls him, but he will not give up.   A friend of his has developed a site where anyone wishing to may donate toward the entrants fee for the big event.   It costs 2200 for him to partake and he's struggling at the best of days of recent, so any amount you may be able to offer will be most helpful and greatly appreciated!  No pressure here, just excited for him to realize a brand new course of success in finding doors open to him!
http://christopherjnevin.com/
Please spread the word!!!!
1

Feeling unexpectedly good...don't tell Crappulous!

Hey!  I just wanted to share that I have (almost) had two full days of actually feeling pretty good! I think Crappulousness has taken a mini vacation or can't find me in my disguise beneath my large brimmed hat and behind my dark shades!!   I haven't felt this good in at least two weeks!   Shhhh, we don't want Crappulous to hear!    We do however return for regular treatment tomorrow morning so I have to take this for all it's worth!  
I do hope this will be what I feel a little more of once injections begin, knowing they are a lesser dose and only every other day three times a week.

Either way I greatly appreciate a little reprieve from feeling so totally run down!   Yay!   I almost feel like me again...like, "normal", whatever that was!
I'm so enjoying the beautiful breezy afternoon and penning letters with quill and ink.  One such letter to our son in Korea, he's sure to get a kick out of the quill penned letter, just as he would write!

Well, I must get back to enjoying this strange but wonderful "feel good" bestowed upon me! xo

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crappulousness and the pursuit of happy thoughts!

...It's Friday again!   Friday means a very early morning at LHH beginning with blood work, then an 8:30 treatment time which takes about an hour and a half and then a visit with our friendly oncologist.   The morning rolls along well until it comes to the appointment time with our oncologist.   Last week appointments were backed up and again this week, but even more so!   Our appointment was for 10:40 a.m, I was called in at about 11:30 and saw the doctor at 11:50 and was done at noon.   A very long morning.  My Mom had accompanied me Friday and we both enjoyed talking with the nurse in Chemo, they are all wonderful.   I've been writing down each of their names which helps in remembering each of them and being able to call them by name when I see them in the Chemo centre.   We also enjoyed talking with another lady who is just one week ahead of me in the same course of treatment.   We are fast becoming well acquainted.

Every Friday feels the same, with one exception this time, in admitting to feeling a sense of "down", yes, some measure of depression.   I prefer though at this point to refer to it as a realization that "crappy" is just the way it's going to be from here on.   My ESAS; Edmonton Self Assessment Survey, will reflect this new admission and I know they; nurses/doctor, will be keeping track of this.  There is no denying that one has a general feeling of complete "crappiness" or better yet as a friend referred to it, "crappulous(ness)"!   My new favourite word.    Thursday I found myself randomly consumed with a feeling of great woe, tearing up and wondering if I could actually recall how it feels to actually feel "happy" for any length of time at all.    I do have moments of laughter, and try to find humour where possible but it is not fun to wake up and realize no matter how lovely a day weather may offer up, or despite some fabulous events available to enjoy, I am going to feel "crappy"!  There is no desire for any particular activity, no ambition or energy for much beyond a really good sleep!

Being excited because it's the weekend isn't quite what it used to be, while that does mean no treatment for two days, it doesn't really offer anything different in what to expect in how I will feel physically!   I am happy to have John home with me though, he may or may not know just how much comfort his presence alone affords me, even when I have expressed just that sentiment to him.
I think a nice drive, perhaps to Young's Point, to watch boats come and go at the locks while we sit on a blanket and maybe enjoy an ice cream!   Anywhere near the water would be nice, watch the sun dance on the waves and listen as they lap onto the shore...maybe Lakeport?  
I'll do my best to find some "happy" and this afternoon, that is likely to be in the form of some "hammock time" and maybe a new painting!
Whatever I can do to change the title of my "end of summer" blog from "The Summer that Never Was" is a good idea!

xo


Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Good but Crappy Weekend, and still worth celebrating!

I remember last Monday, my first round of Intron/Chemo one of the nurses guaranteed me I'd feel crappy that night and she was right!  Since then it's been an up and down kind of thing and over this weekend, mostly down!

I felt tired yesterday but today I feel VERY tired and Crappy!   Weakness, tired, nauseas and if I have felt sloth like due to the heat, I have felt Super sloth like with the combination of heat and all of these wonderful side effects bombarding my body!

The good news, week one down, only three more to go!!!!
Small triumphs!!!!  : )

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Full Day's Work and it's just noon - pokes, picc's, and warm fuzzies!

Approx. ten years ago I passed out upon arriving at the refreshments table after having donated blood, and that wasn't my first visit.   Today I almost passed out for the first time in all of these ten years since.
Today was PICC day!   It's not a terrible procedure but as the nurse rolled along in the procedure I began to feel very strange and said, "Should I be feeling very funny right about now?".   I feel very strange, dizzy, sick to my stomach and like I'd just like to close my eyes.
She said I might and then asked the other nurse to bring me the oxygen.   I'm working at taking the oxygen in and they work to keep me talking and ask me to keep my eyes open...I really really just want to close them and go to sleep!   They keep me talking and I enjoy the oxygen, but continue to have a great desire to roll onto my side and yes just go to sleep.
They are finally done and I am asked to just lay there a while.   We talk more, about each of my children and soon am told it is alright for me to sit up but not to go anywhere.    I sit up and we talk some more, I apologize because it seems I gave them a little scare.  I scared me too, it's been most unpleasant being reintroduced to near faintness!

Before long they trust I am o.k and permit me to go get changed.   Felicity the nurse follows me out to the waiting room to catch up with John and hands me my package of information and additional goodies.  I can expect a call from Home Care later today!

I thank her; again, and off we go.
I think I feel pretty good, then as we head out on the road to meet my sister I feel "illish" all over.
Upon arriving home I take my next Tylenol and fall asleep for the next 2 hours.

It was a very long morning today!!!   8 a.m.  to just after 12 noon, before we leave the hospital.

I'll sleep well tonight.

xo

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Picc's Ports and near Ambushes-Day 146 the "c" word

This morning I say to my husband, "Take advantage of me in the morning as much as you can!".   There is an immediate very wide silly grin upon his face!   I should have known how those words would be misconstrued!   Ah, gotta love him!   I was meaning for him to have me cook, do the dishes, etc., whatever I can in the morning because in the late afternoon and throughout the evening the side affects of the Interferon have already begun to stake their claim on my body, effective, day one-Monday July 9, 2012. 

It hasn't been too bad, it could be so much worse and maybe we've only just found ourselves at the tip of the iceberg!   Next week could be a much different story having given the treatment drugs a chance to really take hold!?   We'll just have to wait and see.   Hopefully for those helping with the driving to and from the appointments there won't be any "messy" side effects happening in their company!  

Each day we have been coming home, having lunch and then I head upstairs to my bed for a nap. It is upon waking up that I realize I am drenched in sweat, hot headed with a stabbing headache and feeling completely drained!   "Hello Interferon!"!   I am lucky though that to this point no naueau, if only barely there.  

The Chemo Suite is like a well run ship, extremely well run and everyone attentive to every detail in it's running.   It does to some degree feel like a spa of sorts, with people asking you if you'd like anything to drink, how about a warm blanket, would you like your chair set back?   They are wonderful.   I have learned to say 'Yes' to the warm blanket!   Today I had one initially to warm up my arms in aiding the ease of needle insertion for a new iv line.   Friday I will get a PICC line inserted which will eliminate the need for a new line every three days; as is now.   Without either the temporary port or the Picc line it would be a fresh jab at the ol' veins every day!  I'm not really into that and thankfully it seems the nurses don't like to do that either!

Yesterday I needed to use the washroom some time after my treatment was hooked up and underway so John unplugged me and I headed for the exit to the washrooms down the hall, when I hear a voice shout, "Where are you going?", I look to the left and say, "Oh, just the washroom!"...the nurse; owner of "the voice", says, "Not out there you're not, down the hall to your right!"!   She then laughs and another nurse steps through the doors entering the Chemo Suite and says, "No worries, I was prepared to ambush her!!"!   We laugh!
Note to self: Never try to leave Chemo with your IV hookup!  It could hurt!!!  LOL!  They don't miss a beat!!

Today on arriving this is the first question: 
"Are you a picc or a port?".

"I'm a port but soon to be a picc!", I reply.

It's a silly bit of a thing, but it did make me laugh as I headed to the washroom before hookup.
Not to worry, the washroom within the Chemo Suite, I wasn't about to be ambushed!
'Til next time.  Good night!  xo
`

Monday, July 9, 2012

The "c" Word Day 143 - Interferon, Let's Get This Party Started!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Chemo we go, tomorrow morning.  Interferon; interferon-alpha2b, IFN, Intron A, similar to but different than Chemo.  I'm a bit scared, just knowing this ride is likely to get a bit bumpy.   I'm also a little worried for John in the anxiety he too must be feeling in not knowing what to expect in how his usually generally easy going wife will handle all said possible side effects!

On Friday we had our visit with our Oncologist and his sentiment was that if I'm not feeling ill, then the dosage is too low.   Interferon is administered to force the immune system into action. Interferon is actually a natural part of our body's immune system, which kicks into action in response to a virus, bacteria or other intruders!   It attaches to other cells and causes changes including slowing down the rate of cell division and reducing cells ability to protect themselves from the immune system.
Wow Interferon does amazing things, unfortunately while doing all of that, will upon being administered and up to 48 hours later, make me sick!!!   Ugh!

My next four weeks involves a daily visit to Lakeridge Health Centre/MacLaughlin Cancer Centre, five days a week.   For an hour or possibly more, I will check in to the Chemotherapy suite every morning for a dose of Interferon and fluids via IV!   I am anxious but at the same time having been introduced to the Cancer Clinic and the nurses there and our Oncologist already realize the care received by these professionals is unmatched!   They are very thorough, attentive and most helpful in assuring each patient the utmost care.   After the four weeks, a two week reprieve then 48 weeks of self injections three times weekly.

Our Oncologist reminds us, that feeling like I have the flu is a good thing, it means the drugs are doing just what they should!   "Feeling ill is good!", it means the dose is strong enough!
I will do my best to try to remember that when flu like symptoms take over my body!  "It's a good thing, it's a good thing, it's a good thing..."!  LOL  Having said that the other most important thing to remember in this treatment, "Hydration, hydration, hydration"!

On our way home from LHC Friday we made a stop at Shopper's for a few items on the list of "Should Have's" in getting through this.   A thermometer, which we have not had in the house since the kiddies were young.   Fever, one of the possible side effects of INTRON.  If my temp spikes above 38 c, we are to go to the nearest Emergency!   Thermometer at the bedside.
Fever accompanied by the chills- blankets on hand.
Boost Nutritional Dietary Supplement on hand in the event I experience loss of appetite, another possible side effect.   Thank you Shopper's for your timely sale, @ 8.99 per six pack instead of 13.99!  YAY!
Tylenol, highly encouraged to help in combatting the "flu like symptoms".   Extra strength and the large bottle!
I will not be dying my hair any longer, not allowed and will most likely get it cut shorter.  I have been assured it is unlikely that I should lose my hair but am prepared thanks to some of the support I have from friends in the know and from the Melanoma Network of Canada discussion forum.   Dr. C said if I should lose my hair it will more likely be due to the added stress I experience in this, than to the effects of the Interferon.  My daughter has kindly offered to shave my head should hair loss beyond keeping it short occur.    She has come a long way from the little girl who broke into tears upon my mentioning that if asked to do just such a thing in support of a fundraiser, I would.   She stands brave ready to take clippers in hand and provide me a new look, completely fresh start!   Should this come to pass and my locks return ala new texture and in a shimmer of silver/gray, I shall proudly sport those natural locks with a new sense of honour!

We are ready!...I think.   Just as with the rest of this adventure, it just doesn't seem like it's real.  I continually just feel like I am "in the role of" a cancer patient.   I mean you always know of someone else who is going through this, it's not supposed to be you...ME!   I don't spend every moment of every day thinking about it, but yes certainly have moments where it's all I can think of.   Tomorrow as we sign in to the Chemo unit, just like at the time of either surgery earlier on in this adventure, it WILL seem real.
I have a good friend who very recently was also diagnosed with cancer.   It's very strange to know I know exactly what she is going through, while our cancer's are different.

Well, a big day tomorrow.  One more 8 oz. of water; meaning at least one or two trips in the middle of the night, and off to bed I go.

Good Night to you!  xo






Monday, July 2, 2012

Cancelling my Donor status- harder to think about than it is to become a donor.

This is so hard to do.
I suspected this might be true but in participating in a discussion forum on the Melanoma Network of Canada site, had the information confirmed today that I may no longer be an organ donor.
It is hard to imagine that while I would want to help someone continue to live on, I can no longer be a donor due to the disease Melanoma.   It would be with additional risk to an already frail body that my organs would be given to someone in need.   Even while I am NED (No Evidence of Disease), melanoma could surface at a later time and attack the body of the unsuspecting host of the gifted organs.
I don't recall, but it may have taken time to decide to become a donor many years ago and talk with my family about it, but knowing I can no longer be one is even harder to think about.
If you are not a donor, please give it some thought.   There are wonderful living reminders of how this changes lives for so many, all around us.   

I had given up donating blood a number of years ago even though while tests at the clinics may have shown my iron up and capable of a donation, I always needed extra time in leaving the gurney's and finally at one clinic passed out as I arrived at the snack table for refreshment; maybe seconds too late!   I was then disappointed also having only returned as a donor a few donations before.  I have remained on iron supplements since then.

I guess I'll stick to doing whatever I can in offering kindness to others, whether that be as simple as holding a door for someone with mobility challenges or volunteering at any number of events/organizations in helping out!  I know having been the recipient of such, even the smallest acts of kindness mean so much.





From the Yard, OH CANADA for 2012!

I was on my way to the top of the ol' sand hill to do my annual singing of the national anthem when I see the silhouette of two people at the bottom of our street; most likely arguing or on the "making up" end of things!  After living here for 26 years we've learned a little about summer love and the chronicles of!   Of course I am not about to head to the hill and force them to move on or listen to what might not be the best rendition of Oh Canada they've never heard!

I stay at my yard and head down to the fire circle hidden by trees and gardens and whilst having a lit sparkler in hand sing in a slightly quieter tone than my usual hilltop rendition do my traditional anthem in honour of this our beautiful country and home, Canada.   I couldn't help but think of our son Alex presently living abroad in South Korea, and missing his first Canada Day while on home soil, but knowing he is having the experience of a lifetime taking in a beautiful new country and it's culture.

Happy Canada Day Canadians and all those embracing our beautiful Glorious country, we have much to celebrate!!  <3


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Movie Night and Patient Education!

tonight was movie night!  We went for a walk and stopped in to Shopper's picked up a little treat and came home to curl up!   Tonight's feature...The R.S. MacLauchlin Cancer Centre-Chemotherapy and You!
The highlight the panoramic view of the chemotherapy clinic!   Now when we arrive we will feel we already know the place.
I'm being a bit silly but seriously I'm sure things have come such a long way in Cancer Care and patient preparation for their treatments.   We are very fortunate to have such amazing facilities available to us.   Yesterday we came home with a nifty bag of much reading material covering every aspect of living with cancer and all about treatments, etc. and the dvd.   They cover everything and it really does make you feel more at ease about the impending schedule of treatment and appointments.
It's a daunting experience and while you feel anxious, worried, and uncertain perhaps, it's a good idea to look at what is positive in this new experience, focus on the good and hopefully the cancer aside you are fortunate to have good health.   I can't help but believe your attitude in all aspects of dealing with all that is happen is as much a factor in your well being as the medicine itself is.

Order of the day, chin up and think positive!  xo


P.S. Just now writing the title of this post, I randomly heard Don Herron; Charlie Farquason using the term, "Edumacation"!
...like his reference to "marajouwanna"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Reason, A Season or a Lifetime.

You know the saying, "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime", well I believe that's true.
Whatever the reason may not be clear but you just appreciate them so much and know you connect so well and then one day something happens and you can't help but feel you have found there is a very special reason to be there for each other.
I am glad to be here and have the chance to help someone else when they need support as much as I have and completely understand in a way I never could not so long ago.

Interferon, we're ready for your knock us down drag us out fight...

Well today was the day, we returned to our lovely Dr. C at Lakeridge and it's official I will be starting Interferon treatments on July 9th.   I'm feeling a little scared, John too I think, but as with any "unknowns", you learn and gain confidence with experience!  We have a "teaching appt." first thing Friday July 6th and an another appt. with Dr. C later that same morning.

Every visit is a very efficiently orchestrated affair, beginning with an electronic survey you do online prior to your arrival and upon arrival an electronic check in using your Lakeridge Patient Portal/Identification card.  You are first summoned for a little blood work; a tiny ouch, and then later the actual appt. with your friendly Oncologist.   I had a number of questions to ask, written in a little book I have with me at all visits to Dr.'s, hospital tests, etc.!   It's helpful and I have a pen attached to write down any helpful information as well.  He has a good sense of humour and is very easy to talk with and open about everything!  Dr. C had a student shadowing him today and at one point I felt badly that he seemed tired on his feet perhaps and offered him my seat, but he politely declined.  , I couldn't help but ask as he seemed to be teetering from side to side and we did talk with Dr. C for some time.  I could have had the treatments at Northumberland Hills but the case load there under Dr. F is FULL...so I will travel to Lakeridge five days a week for four weeks!!!   This makes things a little more complicated when I imagined I could go to NHH, have the treatment and then drive the five minutes back to work!   I know regardless of where we might go, the side effects would certainly dictate what happens!
Time will certainly tell!

We left the hospital sometime about 12:40 p.m. and headed off to have a visit with a wonderful friend whom I have missed so, she once worked with me in the Early Years programs and I haven't seen her in close to 3 years I think!   Arriving shortly after 1 p.m. it was exciting to see her!   After John obliged us with a photo shoot of sorts it was time to head home; approx 3 p.m..

Once home, I laid out the card from Dr. C and then checked phone messages.   There was one from his office with scheduled times for the first week of treatments as well as a confirmed time for the "Teaching Appt." and follow up with Dr. C for the morning of the sixth.  Then there was a call from my son and he seemed upset.   I said I would have to talk to him later.  It suddenly seemed that all of the dates, my sons call, the idea of actually beginning treatments and worrying how this will all work and WORK, how my husband's holidays would be affected and my income and whether or not his coverage will actually take care of the "home" portion of the "maintenance" treatment.   It all came down around me...a great big flood of emotional upset.

It seems like I "forget" ...or something like that, about this whole Melanoma thing...the realities, concerns, etc. until we have another appointment and it's right there in front of me.   Always going through the motions but kind of like it isn't really happening, until it's really happening.
I'm trying to stay positive, keep the humour where possible and HANG ON by the seat of my pants and know somehow all of the "stuff", worrying about how it will all be "O.K" will work itself out and there is coverage, I will rise above the side effects and we will despite it all enjoy some form of holiday.  We're certainly getting used to curve balls coming at us in this game!

We'll be o.k.!   Here's to knowing there are many "lovelies" out there to keep our spirits up and keep us going forward, including the great medical team we have been involved with!
Sleep tight all!   xo


Friday, June 22, 2012

Monday Monday...oh and then Tuesday!

I have an extended weekend this week.   I have taken off both Monday and Tuesday of next week.    I have taken Monday to enjoy with John as he has the whole week off.   Tuesday I have off for my appointment at the Lakeridge Health/McMillan Cancer Centre.  This will be our second visit with Dr. C, the Oncologist.   I imagine, having now received the MRI results we so anxiously awaited, we will be discussing next steps and the idea of Interferon treatments.  The MRI results by the way were good; if you hadn't already read previous posts, our best case scenario.  The spots on the liver, "hemangioma's"-harmless.

Liver hemangioma (he-man-jee-O-muh) is a noncancerous (benign) mass that occurs in the liver. A liver hemangioma is made up of a tangle of blood vessels. Liver hemangioma is sometimes called hepatic hemangioma or cavernous hemangioma.
Most cases of liver hemangioma are discovered during a test or procedure for some other condition. Most people who have a liver hemangioma never experience signs and symptoms and never need treatment.

...So upward and Oncologist!, here we come!  ; ]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big Floppy Hats and Swords!

It's been a great day!   Upon departing from work went to have my hair properly "coiffed" !   What a lovely treat!  My daughter has been trying to encourage me to go, she has been working at Mystic Roots since she finished school and will be there at least until September when she will return to School for her Hair Styling Diploma, which will take her right through to the following August.
The visit begins with my choosing a scalp massage oil for a scalp massage.  Of three choices I chose "Calming"...subtle yet very lovely and not overpowering.   My daughter then does the massage; so lovely, followed by the wash/rinse and back to the chair where Amanda does the cut n' style.   Amanda is easy to talk with and does a lovely job with my very thick moppet of hair.   The cut n' style followed by a little makeup touch up...finessing and accentuating the new do!
That was lovely and bar anything "coming up" I will return in six weeks.  Something to look forward to.

I left there and went to the No Frills for a few groceries and admit to not even looking into the car mirror before heading in feeling very confident that I had looked "put together"!  Hee,hee!   There's a first time for everything.

From the grocery store I went to Winners where last Saturday I had spotted...or rather John had spotted a lovely wide brimmed floppy summer hat to wear to protect my face, neck and back from the sun when out and about on those sun shiny summer days ahead!
It's bonus time, the hat was marked down to ten dollars!  "ticker tape from the ceiling kind of moment!"!   I even build up the courage to wear it out of the store.   How could I do otherwise when the sales clerk offered to cut the tags for me if I would like to wear it now!   I know I would otherwise have opted to carry it out in hand and take the next few days (or weeks) wearing it in the presence of a mirror more oft' than anywhere until out of true necessity or perhaps under pressure for practicality.

I head home and have a lovely little dinner with John and then prepare to head to the beach for the  Dune Dancers Solstice!   I was a tad late departing but arrived there and enjoyed some dance moves, including some with a sword, balancing it; as demonstrated to me, on my head, thigh, breasts and shoulder!   A chance to have fun, see a few folks I hadn't seen in some time and learn something new!   The rains soon came; as I knew they would, having followed me to Cobourg showing up rather menacingly in my rear view mirror!
A lovely time and I will look forward to the next chance to dance on the Dunes!


Funny I hear the quote, "I hope you choose to dance..." and it makes for a strong message to go ahead and have fun while you can, partake, be active and get out there!   I danced!   xo

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Once Upon Pulling An All Nighter!

An All Nighter!...sounds like the announcement of a great weekend party gathering!   At least since February the only 'near all nighter' has meant anything but a party. Lately 'all nighter' would mean rather that I simply cannot sleep due to far too many thoughts rattling about in my head and some of those in light of recent circumstances due to some very stressful, anxiety inducing thoughts!
Last night was indeed an all nighter but again not due to any party happening but an all night art event!   That's right an art event, right here in my living room!   The event ran from 10 p.m. to 4:10 a.m.!  It was to have happened a few hours earlier in the evening, but there was a baking frenzy that I had to attend to-it just took me by storm!  Muffins and Carrot Cake done, then a shower and onto the big event...the ALL NIGHTER!
I was painting a Muskoka chair for a fundraiser for the YMCA, something I have done for the last few years.
It always takes time to come up with a unique idea and then to execute the idea onto the chair itself.   There is always a certain point of feeling unsure about the chosen plan and wondering if while putting paint to the wood, it will all work out.   Then suddenly you realize everything is going really well and things just come together so beautifully.   You then run the risk of not being able to stop "touching up", adding detail to and finding that final satisfaction that allows you to believe you are now officially finished.   Once having arrived at that moment, it feels absolutely wonderful and I can't NOT admit to being excited for someone else to view it and hopefully enjoy it as much as you can't help but feel great enjoyment in!  Yay, I did it, I finished and it DID turn out o.k.!   I ALWAYS worry and for good reason, there are so many very very talented people putting their hearts into creating a unique masterpiece as well!
What a great idea this fundraiser is!   Do come to the YMCA to see the chairs on display soon and in helping kids go to camp, purchase a ticket or three for your chance to win one of these masterpiece beauties-while beautiful to look at, COMFY to sit in too!  : )

"Yaaaawwwwn"! ...and now my bed beckons!  Good night!  xo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Thick and the Thin of it!

Me: So you're with me through thick and thin?

John: Yep, the thin hair too!   ; ]  <3


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Watching paint dry and lying in waiting...loving it!

Ah man, what a great afternoon.   I have been out on the lower yard painting a chair for an upcoming fundraiser at the Y!   In between paint layering stages I crept to the shadows below the catalpa tree and lie in waiting with camera in hand as the little House Wren couple darted back and forth to their babes in the birdhouse.   While recently having my patience tested with wait times for numerous tests/scans on the medical front, this afternoons wait times were much more easily handled and the results as sweet as expected they would be!
I love both watching and listening to these little birds.   Their chatter is much saucier sounding than you might imagine such a tiny little bird might sound.    They sit upon the fence post saucing and warning each other and those of a threatening nature who dare come too close, all the while their little tails twitching as they bob forward in anticipation of the sudden necessity to take flight.
I repeat, what a great afternoon!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lovin' my Doctor...MRI...and this is me, really impressed! Day 113

Well, today I had a really really good surprise call~ from my family physician. She was kind enough to have called even after the clinic was actually closed, to give me tests results I would otherwise be waiting for next week.
The medical secretary had actually called our home from the doctor's office as they were closing. When I wasn't home they were asking that John have me call on Monday. John said just a few minutes later she; my doctor, called for me and he gave her my number at work.
I was a little taken aback when she called as I knew she would not have had my work number and of course it worried me as to why she would then be calling me at work. No matter how I have tried to assure myself the results would be the lesser of the two possibilites, I couldn't help but think about the possibility of the other.
I am so very lucky and thankful to have my doctor call.    She is such a caring and thoughtful doctor and said she wanted me to enjoy my weekend even more knowing the MRI results showed no metastatic disease, meaning the melanoma had NOT spread to the liver. The spots which showed up on the CT Scan were what is known as "Hemangioma's".
These are benign tumours, small masses of blood vessels which any of us may have but will likely never know unless we happen to be having various scans done. There are no symptoms and they are harmless.
I am sending her flowers next week, she has been absolutely wonderful in all of this new adventure, very thorough and most understanding in knowing the emotional toll so much waiting can take on one and how much I would appreciate having test results the moment she knows.
In a very difficult time in my life having a wonderful doctor on your side is extremely helpful in reassuring yourself as well as others, it's going to be o.k.! :o)
Of course there is more ahead, the adjuvant treatment plan, etc., but I feel so much better having this most recent very weighty test result resolved and no matter what comes, feel a little stronger already.  
Good night all! xo

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thank you Lorazepam...Bows and Flows of Angel Hair, ice cream castles in the air...

The clincher takes place tomorrow, though results are likely to be a week or so.   I'm nervous never having had an MRI, but my doctor has supplied me with a magic pill to take shortly before the procedure.   Inside a little pill bottle there lies "1", yes one little pill to be taken at 8:15 a.m, upon having registered at Diagnostics.
Lorazepam, I'm counting on you to help me through this...I know I can count on John but you too have to come through for me!  ...and because I know you will, it will be a head in the clouds kind of experience for me!

I anticipate the tight space would perhaps freak me out a little, and the noise...packin' ear plugs and the long 40 minutes in there....close my eyes and think happy far away in a meadow on a romantic picnic watching skies roll above us and bunnies and deer bounding about kind of thoughts!

It may be a week or two until we have our results in hand...a week if I know my family doctor, she is wonderful and has been so very thoughtful and informative throughout this whole process.
These results will make or break me in their outcome!
Cross your everything!...say a little prayer and think happy thoughts...Me too!


Monday, June 4th...

MRI with a pleasant inducing drug like Lorazepam...a piece of cake!  The recent bone scan was a little scarier, and much more uncomfortable; arms above head not my favourite position for a "freeze frame".   About to be sent into the MRI tunnel/space capsule, the gentleman technician/nurse dons a pair of very typical large stereo like headphones upon my head.   The lady technician/nurse asks, "Are you all set then?", "All set!" I reply and think, wow, I hope I can take photos when I get there! LOL!
Apparently sometime toward the end of the MRI scan there was to be an injection?   I have no recollection of feeling anything of any such nature!  I DID feel like I had my head in the clouds...via the wings of a very large bird, an airplane or simply soaring upward into the clouds while hearing rumbles of thunder, whistles, little birdies, someone knocking, clicking and some whirring and whooshing sounds!  La,la,la, la!  There was one voice asking ever so nicely for me to take a breath...hold and then very politely ask me to take another breath and "that's fine".   I didn't feel any fear at all, and at the risk of sounding like a television or radio ad, "Thank you Lorazepam"!
What another MRI?  ...I will be ready!   Fun wow!  :o]

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finding a new NORMAL!

The Relay for Life event has a whole new meaning to it for me now.   Of course events in my life have new meaning and have everything to do with that, as well, having people in my life who have been very supportive and caring also has everything to do with that.
What I would call "normal" has changed a lot...I might suggest I don't know what "normal" truly means anymore, at least not in the context of my own life.   Everything has changed, everything is different, while I know of course there are certainly some things, thankfully regardless of all that has changed or has been affected will always remain, but I am searching and wondering just what "normal" is these days.
I'll be happy to varify for myself what the NEW "normal" is.
Yep, a circus of emotion in this.

Me, a Survivor? Day 107

Last night I attended Relay For Life...as I have in the past few years, as we from the OEYC at YMCA Northumberland have been providing children's activities for this amazing event for a number of years now.
I hadn't given much thought to the events the evening brings while always remember the emotional impact of watching so many participating in the Survivors lap, which kicks off the walk around the track in honouring their battle and victories and then everyone joining in to honour them and those who are no longer with us.
Our group prepares craft items for the kids and we also provide face painting for the evening.   Face painting is one of my favourite things when it comes to the children's activities.   Love to see their faces light up when they see themselves in the mirror.
Mid painting a little boy's face my boss let's me know they are preparing to do the Survivor's Lap and that our co-worker has gone to get me a shirt.   Another co-worker says she's there for me.   I understand, but it just doesn't seem like they are actually talking to, meaning ME.   Then it is time. Some find it too emotional and stay back, watching as the Survivors depart on their walk of honour.
There we are arms linked and among the many, as if celebrities at the Oscars, cheered on and admired, but not for a role portrayed but their own real lives and each of their stories with real life threatening and challenging events in fighting for their lives.
Each year that I have been in attendance I have teared up or cried as all of the survivors names are called out and we stand trackside as they pass by and clap, and can't help but imagine what they have been through.   Your heart aches in knowing how their lives must change instantly as they are given their diagnosis.
I don't cry, I don't feel sad, honestly I feel nothing, I am simply numb.   It continues to feel very strange, what I might imagine is similar to an out of body experience.  This keeps happening.
I am numb because I've never been one of those "Survivors" and how can I be.   Emotionally I only feel the caring and closeness of the people I have come with and know no matter what they are here for me, tonight and whenever.

Sometimes you just gotta!

Speaking of shoes and the next thing, someone named Chuck Taylor is suddenly part of the conversation and I think,  "Whose Chuck?...