Western education 2013

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 2011

I went through a horrible depression soon after my treatments ended and the nurse handed me the 'Dear Jane' letter, which happened to coincide with the human resources officer at work asking for my cell phone and work keys back.  It felt like the two handed slap to the cheek - the one in which your head snaps one way then the other and you are left dizzy and confused as to what exactly went down?  I have always been an upbeat person with a positive spin on life and when it spun out of control and the tears seemed endless, I found little solace in the few friends that remained after my journey.  Everyone it seems is on a journey of their own and with family living many miles away and my own children moving along at their own pace, I felt very isolated and cast out.  I stopped going into work for visits because I no longer felt welcome there either especially when I was told that I could no longer head up the Recreational committee that I had been a part of for so many years.  I also could not witness the installation of the new Digital Transmitters that I had so longed to do!! The isolation at times was taking it's toll and I needed an outlet and a goal to work towards.  Summer was spent hanging out with the children and as September rolled in, I was able to return to my teaching position part-time as this was a rehabilitation portion of my insurance and not a physically demanding job.

The fall seemed to go by so fast as I immersed myself in teaching the labs to a group of new students.  My memory wasn't great and I had to leave notes and minders everywhere.  I finally decided that getting my own personal BlackBerry would save me a lot of aggravation and get me feeling connected with the world again.  I removed all my gaming friends from Facebook and the games I played when I didn't have much energy to do anything else with my time and then started to remove those people who meant little to me.  I wanted to recapture my private life again after being in such a public forum through my illness saving the nursing jobs.  As tired as I got some days and the appointments missed because of the flawed memory - all due in part to what could now be classified as menopause brought on by chemo - things were steadily improving and I was becoming more myself.  It was good to be back in the driver's seat again..speaking of which - I got my car prior to my first teaching semester in November 2007 and almost four years later, I am still under 30,000 Km!!!  October also saw me finally accepting the fact that I needed to take medication to keep the hot flashes I was experiencing under control.  I could go from comfortable to wanting to pull my skin off at a moments notice when the heat wave would start and the sweat would stream down my face.  I would ask my students if it was hot and they would smile and say 'not really'.  The medication is an anti-depressant which took most of the flashes away and finally normalized my demeanor and kept me feeling more of myself that I had not been since the early spring.

Life is a funny thing and one only has to put out a thought or a desire to set a goal which is precisely what I needed and found when I went to the Braz for Cause in October of 2010 and met Linda, a Rowbust member who was standing behind a display and looking for new recruits.  I remember telling her that I was strong and sure, why not, I would love to try out!!  A few short weeks later, I received a sign up welcome note and the start date in November at the gym.

It is now June of 2011, two years after my diagnosis and 23 months after treatments began with my two surgeries.  I still cannot feel my underarm or parts of my shoulder due to nerve damage and the likelihood diminishes with time that I will regain much feeling.  My fingertips fell victim to neuropathy - the nerve endings in the fingers were affected by the Docetaxel portion of my treatments which means I can easily injure my fingertips without realizing it as they are numb all the time.  My toes were affected but not to the same degree.  There are many side effects of the chemo medication which in some cases do not present themselves until years later.  Kim discovered a heart condition which came about as a result of the Rubricon component of the FEC treatment she had 5 years before.  I had the same treatments and I pray that my heart is OK.  According to a friend going through treatments currently - they are using that chemical less and less.

Without the work outs and the constant movement of my arm and shoulder, I would not have the mobility that I have right now.  The pain is always a dull reminder that things are not 100% but it is a small price to pay for having my life and the privilege of being able to live it.  So much has changed in my world including my outlook on life partly due to the wonderful gals that I paddle with at Rowbust Dragon Boat racing.  I finally feel a part of something that I have been missing since i left work those many months ago.. an opportunity to be with women who know what the score is without having to explain yourself to.. you just are a part of the group.  A part of me is sad to see the old life end but is excited about so many new doors that are opening and my new found ability to recognize opportunities when I see them.

At the end of May, I went to Toronto to take part in my first paddling competition and won a silver medal in B division - pretty much means that we placed the 6th best time out of 51 competitors.  While in Toronto, I also partook in an Advocacy course with the CBCN and had 3 appointments with Mpp's at Queen's Park.  I also visited with Carolyn, who has been hospitalized for months with a new cancer diagnosis of Leukemia - a very dangerous form of which she is receiving chemo treatments for.  I met her when I advocated for the nurses and this go-getter has advocated many things but mostly for the myeloma cancer patients.  I think of her often and of my friend Perci whose diagnosis of metastasis in her bones, soft tissue and neck have rendered her unable to eat or drink.  My heart goes out to these incredibly brave souls who face yet another journey with cancer and the constant fear of their mortality.  It is also a reminder to live each day and to focus on what is positive in your life.  Remove the negative garbage by doing a spring cleaning of all the energy vampires in your life.  Friends are those people that stick by your side through thick or thin and remember to send a quick note once in a while to see how you are despite their busy lives.  Saying good bye to people is easy when you know that they are not genuine.  Be kind but be honest.  Do something sweet for someone because you know we all need that and learn to accept that not everyone will like you and you will not like everyone.

My blog has always been positive and pro-active and I have neglected to write down some of my feelings in an attempt to take the high road but I would be remiss if I did not mention that my journey had its pitfalls.  Some of which I cannot discuss at this point but will blog at a later date.  It is suffice to say that the individual I have had dealings with over the past two years of my illness needs to take a course in empathy and another one on how to effectively do her job..... I have often thought of telling her to her face what she put me through while I was ill.  The disappointment of having cancer was magnified by the insensitive handling of myself as I struggled with the loss of everything that was important to me and the years I spent in my career..... and how she just matter of fact told me it was over..... what that does to you when you are fighting to get better is devastating..... I do not wish her ill will but a part of me will always have a distinct dislike for her.

On the up side - my Mr. Mitchel will be graduating on Monday - he is soooooo excited and we have just the nicest suit ready for him to pick up on Monday in readiness for the day's event of graduating and celebrating with his friends.  Mitchel has been teaching himself how to play guitar and will often find himself up in his room strumming away on the guitar I bought him years ago for Christmas.  He is able to download YouTube tutorials on his android phone and is proving to be a quick study.... always brings me back to his piano lessons and finding out that I really am a failure as a Suzuki parent... I take comfort in the fact that most of us aren't and our children grow up Ok anyway.  William is finishing off grade 11 and was struggling near the end.  He broke off his relationship with Eryn which was becoming toxic by the minute and finally collapsed with an argument and a parting of ways.  He is getting ready to head out for part of his summer to my sister's farm to experience rural life and a change of scenery.  I am teaching him how to drive my standard car and other than some burnt clutch work, he seems to be picking it up quite quickly.  We hope to get him into driving lessons in the fall and to have him get his license in the new year just in time for his grade 12 graduation..... where did all the time go?  Miss Lydia is growing in leaps and bounds and at 9 years of age, she is funny, affectionate and highly entertaining!!  I am so incredibly blessed.  Last but not least, my soul mate and my best friend has finally gotten back into doing his artwork after all these years and his first pieces have been a hit!!  Bigger and better projects are on the go.  I am creating artwork myself and developing a health newsletter for my paddling girls.  Who knows what the next few months will bring us.... only upwards from here!!!

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