Western education 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

..... feeling spoiled and beyond grateful....

...... for the outpouring of love and generosity this week that has left me wondering how I can ever thank such wonderful, amazing people?!

23 December 2013
  It started with an envelope in the mailbox early this past week from Sandra Moyer.... hand delivered with chocolates after a lunch and visit from Nancy.  Next came another hand delivered envelope in the mailbox, stuffed lovingly with gift cards from Shelly B..... and a visit from Pat bearing home made cookies complete with a card and gift.  Then yesterday, an afternoon snack presented by Ameeta, Peter, Sanjay and Sarah with her two lovely girls Payton and Rowynn.

We just returned all of Mandi's dishes from all the meals she kept providing us with when I was going through Chemo.  She started a meals for Marita four years ago and had all kinds of volunteers provide nutritious home cooked meals with each chemo treatment.  This time she managed to do it all with the help of her children.

I have no idea how to thank all of these amazing people?!  I say thank you and give hugs and tell them how grateful I am... but what can I do to show them how I feel about what they mean to me? 

29 December 2013

I am at the movie theater with the whole family.  William has bought us a gift certificate for Christmas and we are there to see the second part of the latest run of the Hobbit trilogy 'The Desicration of Smaug'.  Before the movie started, we ran into Tony in the lobby.  He is the father of my childen's childhood friend Terry.  I offer him sympathies on the loss of his partner who died of metastatic breast cancer two years ago.  Apparently I met her within weeks of her passing.  According to Tony, she decided to not continue on the chemo, which was making her sick and extending a poor quality of life.  I understand that all too well.  It is the balance of quality verses quantity of time....and the dilemma of leaving behind those you love.  We call it 'buying time at a high cost'.  

I have considered many times what I would do if my cancer began to grow out of control?  Would I do anything to buy more time?  Would I live on chemo while exhausting all my options?  These are tough questions for someone of my age...if I was 80, it would be easy for me to simply choose nothing and let nature take its course.  I think differently at almost 50 with children at home.  The dilemma is all about the choices you make that effect those around you. 

We have been taught along the way to fear if we could cheat it somehow.  We are horrified and deeply mourn the loss of a child, which seems so unnatural in our century....considering early last century it was far more common.  We celebrate the death of those who are elderly and ill and call it a blessing.  We consider a successful life one that is long and prosperous.  We all know that one day, we will be leaving our earthly confines to go to wherever we believe we go to. It is not the passing that scares us, as is undoubtedly the way in which we pass.  We all hope to go to sleep and never wake up.  We all hope we do that in our sunset years when we have lived a good life, watched our children grow up, marry and have their own children and that we leave being well-loved, appreciated and missed.  

When my father had a near-death experience in June 2012, I was given a rare opportunity to witness his passing within minutes of arriving at the emergency ward at University Hospital.  I was sitting beside him, holding his hand....his eyes rolled up in his head and his face greyed when his breathing ceased.  For that split second I was focused on his face I knew he was at peace.... and a split second later, was trying to revive him.  I witnessed this twice in 20 minutes... according to the nurse, had I not been there, he would have passed away.  I think about this and of his alzheimers and wondered if I had done him any favour by calling him back.  I had no doubt when I brought him back to the nursing home that he had touched the ceiling 12 feet above his head in the emergency room.  He would continue to try to touch the 7 foot ceilings in the home for a few days after with a far off stare.  He was almost joyful and definitely peaceful.  I didn't want to lose him and somehow I thought we needed more time....I think I was being selfish.  A year later, he is alive, but is living his life in an Alzheimer's home and I have been unable to spend time wih him because of a compromised immune system, due to chemo clashing with the constant illnessess in the home and our own home. Just as I am finished another cold, the floor is closed again due to the flu season....

30 December 2013

I will be grateful to see this year end and a new one begin.  While I think 2013 had some amazing, wonderful was filled with uncertainty and bouts of depression.  It's hard for me to admit that there have been some incredibly dark moments and tears....lots of tears this year.  There were many moments where I withdrew from the world to ponder my life and to listen to my soul.  My family is my anchor point and on the days when I could not be strong for them....they were strong for me.  

This year was the affirmation of my career - the pursuit of my life's passion.  I crossed the stage at Western, proudly wearing the scarf of Fanshawe College and Western University.   Despite my illness, I graduated with Distinction, took two online career courses while creating a new course for Fanshawe.  I am deeply grateful for the support of my family and my incredible co-workers John, Sara, Joel, Elaine, Stepanie  and so many others who stopped in to just chill with me at my desk.

This month, I have done a full body cleanse, continued to use the Metformin at what is now 1,000mg of this medication with a few side effects of bloating and some bowel discomfort.  I have a lot of sweets from Christmas which are now decorating my dresser - I have little desire to eat what I know my cancer would love to share with me.  I am sleeping longer than I have in years with the Melatonin (4mg) and am feeling well rested and better able to cope.  

Money is exeedingly tight and with an unknown future, we are holding on to every penny to ensure the bills get paid.

3 January 2014

I welcome the New Year with renewed belief that this will be a better year than its predecessor.  Christmas was truly a wonderful quiet holiday after what seemed like a string of many busy months with little wee breaks in between.  I actually was able to relax, read, spend time with my children and sleep!!!  I am now recharged and ready to return for the winter semester at the college and available a few days a week for the high schools.  I am learning to definitely pace myself and pay attention to my body when it is tired.

I would be remiss if I didn't speak to the bouts of mild depression which sank to an all-time low just days into the holidays.  I would be lying if I didn't have moments of sobbing mixed with guilt for having succumbed to my feelings of desperation.  Even the strongest of us have chinks in our armor and we are allowed to have those moments, as long as they don't last long.  I have been playing iPad games and doing crafts and avoiding having any thoughts as to what this month will bring as far as the doctors and my illness.... and the impending testing to see where we are at.  

Two days ago, the swelling in my neck was up and I wrenched my neck when I went to turn it.  the pain shot up the right side and across the right scapula.  Last night I spent it in agony, trying to find that one position.  It would only last a few minutes before being wracked with a piercing pain.  Today, I went in to get it looked at by Dr. Laura in order to reduce the pain and gain mobility....and to cuddle with her baby Lucy!!  A few hours later and the swelling in the neck has subsided and there is just a remaining dull pain which we will look at next week for another visit.  While I was in the office with her, I asked her about a particular 'Green' product I was using.  I was using the Greens + with multivitamines  and decided to read the label.... low and behold, it specifically states that the product should not be used for those with cancer or other critical illnesses????  A close look at the ingredients list had me shaking my head.... no wonder my intuition was telling me to stop using it just days after opening it.  There is a product line she sells and one in which I had used many years ago when I started to have issues with my bowel.  Not my favorite topic of discussion but one that everyone needs to consider.

We are given many warnings at the beginning of an illness or disease....and we either choose to ignore these subtle (at first) hints or deny what we are experiencing.....because, we are busy and tired anyway... and if we ignore it, it will simply go away.  I remember as a child suffering from terrible constipation from all the iron pills I was put on (don't get me started on this ridiculous and unnecessary and often dangerous additive to our diet).  I would suffer with bouts of constipation and diarrhea and in 2008, I had a colonoscopy.  The symptoms would later prove to be diverticulosis (pouching in the large intestines caused by diet and constipation).  I was only 44 at the time and the doctor was surprised that this was the case.  The voice inside me wasn't convinced that this was the problem which prompted me to seek out the procedure in the first place....I was sure it was cancer but l turned down that nagging internal voice until shortly before I was diagnosed, I could feel a pain in my chest when I reached across the cable trough to pull some cables out and the voice got louder.  Three weeks later I found the lump.  Many of my friends would say that they too let it go out of denial or some other excuse and wished, like me that we hadn't.  

I can't go back and change things for me.  If I had pursued my intuition initially, I am sure that I would not have found myself with the metastasis I am living with.... or not.  It is purely academic at this point. I read the research papers... as close as they say they are getting, logic tells me that I will be long gone before any of the talked-about trials come to fruition.  

      'Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome'..... We are humans and not all the same, and I have learned that what works for one person will often times not work for another.... we are a machine comprised of extremely complex functions which most of us couldn't even fathom.  Our DNA is unique to ourselves... from eons of two people are exactly the same.  So, explain why all the treatment options for my illness are??  In all the research I have looked at, there is very little research done on the benefits of healing the body using the foods we should be eating to assist us in healing?  I work in a field of logical thought and I am seeing scientists building on what the scientist before them did thinking that they will find the key?  I truly believe that our bodies, when given the opportunity to heal themselves would do so with the foods we were meant to eat, the water we were designed to drink and the air we were supposed to breathe.  Our food is a chemistry of GMO, dyes and sugar, our water contains fluoride and bleach and we breathe toxins in our hermetically sealed house, in our cars and in the work we do.  Cancer is a mutation, period.  Cells gone rogue.... and we all have them.  It is not one single defining moment that creates the rapid growth and spread, it is many such moments.

My herbal cleanse is one week away from completion and two nights ago, I am sure the pain in my right side under the rib cage and right scapula (shoulder blade) was as a result of what I believe to be gall stones that passed last night.  The cleanse is doing its job clearing out the organs and the bowel.  I will see if any of this has worked when I go into CT later this month.  I feel better than I have in months and had enough energy to clean the basement, defrost the freezer and want to get more accomplished now that the toxins are leaving.  My mental outlook and positive attitude is coming back and I feel better able to tackle the future.  

I wish each of you a healthy and happy New Year!!!

....... religion is always a bit sticky Phil......

disclaimer - these are my opinions based on what I have read and experienced.  I in no way reflect any opinion but my own and in doing so, because it is my blog, I do so with the intention of showing that all people, regardless of sex, age, culture etc all have the right to be here.           

...... its good to see that A&E, despite the ratings they get for the top rated reality show on TV, has decided to ban Phil Robertson from continuing on the show 'Duck Dynasty'.  Phil has views that are not in keeping with the support this station has for the LGBT community.  

Are we really all that surprised that a man like Phil, living on the outskirts of modern society, quoting from a bible written 2 millenium ago and about 300 years AFTER Christ walked the earth?  The sad reality is that this man chooses to turn his back on a progressive society while partaking in the benefits this new society has to offer him.  He's caught between two worlds but the old world is just too comfortable and well entrenched in this man of the 60's.  

I like that the Robertsons are a close knit family.  I like their quirky family traditions.  I like that they show gratitude for their lives and the days events at a table shared by most family members. I even like their redneck solutions to some challenging problems.  They have taught me quite a bit.  Phil is truly the patriarch of the family, the one the family looks to for guidance and help.  Which is why this latest revelation is so disturbing on so many levels to those looking in from the outside.  I like that Phil takes a stand and tries to show his spoiled grandchildren traditions without the use of their technology.  I like that he is an intelligent man.  I like that he has shown what a true redneck is and has garnered respect from the millions who watch him religiously.  He has a following of somewhere close to 11 million viewers.  I think that he far surpasses the TV evangelists of the 90's in viewership.

I don't like that Phil has expressed his personal opinions while quoting the bible to back up his claims.  I don't like that Phil does not see the impact his personal opinions, as a well known TV personality,  will have on the society he chooses to live on the outskirts of.  I do not respect the lack of insight he has for the people he speaks of but has never met.  Phil, you may not like it but yes, it is up to God and only God to judge others and you as a preacher should remember the cardinal rule of not judging others, at least not publicly.

I had my reservations about watching a redneck show but I chose to take a risk and discovered some truly wonderful moments and people I grew to really like.  I am not alone in my pre-conceived thoughts, it is how we are, we all make snap judgements on people and things we know little or nothing about based on some general opinion..... which is why Phil's opinions are so important.... he has expressed them openly and without reservation or fore thought as to the impact of his words.  Words hurt as we have seen historically with leaders showing their ignorance and hatred of specific groups of people and realizing them in the form of discrimination and in extreme cases, genocide. We are warned of false prophets and idols and yet, when they appear, their charisma and charm has a dulling effect on our sense of right and wrong.  Regardless of whether we like Phil or not, his opinions challenge my beliefs of what a loving God is.

My loving God loves my LGBT friends and Phil.  Phil's opinions have once again made me review and reflect on my own beliefs in a modern age where things move too fast to sit quietly with an ice tea on a wooden step.  He has reminded me that not everyone feels the same way I do about religion.  It has sparked controversy and recently I had a 'back and forth' opinion swap with a Phil fan... it ended well with each of us understanding the right to have our own opinions and to still respect each other by wishing each other a Merry Christmas from the heart.  We both knew that words could anger and cause bad feelings between two strangers.....we were having none of that after realizing that our words were misinterpreted by the one reading them.  Maybe all this controversy will teach Phil that words, whether meant a certain way or not, can cause more trouble than its worth....

Perhaps this is just what Phil needed to teach him that humanity has progressed past the 60's.  Perhaps we will learn to slow down and take the time to spend it with family a little more often and without the technology at the table.  Perhaps, when all is said and done....we will all be more tolerant of each other with respect and love. 
...Just my 2 cents worth....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

......with gritted teeth....

.....I took the high road....

I picked up the phone and invited my mother and her friend Fred for Christmas dinner after talking to my mother in law.  It is the right thing to do despite my deep reservations. 

Each year I am asked (ever since I can remember) what I want for Christmas and the answer has never changed 'nothing'.  I was never asked why I chose to answer this way....I suppose in the beginning it was because I felt that I didn't deserve anything or knew my parents couldn't afford much but then it became a standard answer because I really didn't know what I wanted for myself. I knew what everyone else wanted.  Perhaps I was afraid that Santa wouldn't get me what I wanted because he thought I was bad? So I accepted all the gifts that came my way and was grateful for whatever I got.  Christmas was not my favorite holiday and probably because I couldn't make the connection as to why we were giving gifts on a day that was clearly not our birthday but in fact, someone else's. 

I loved the atmosphere and the window dressings, but the crushing crowds and the obligatory gifts you had to pick up for everyone on your list and for anyone who might pop by through the holidays escaped me.  What if you forgot someone?  What if they knew you forgot them in your busy life?  And then I had children.

The gifts chosen for them were always what they asked for, wrapped with love and tagged with their name.  They would know that I loved them and that they were good and cherished like the child born millenniums ago and whose birth we celebrate today. Yes, Christmas has become commercialized and gaudy in some respects....but it is also a time near the end of a calendar year to reflect back on our year and of the people who made it special. I am blessed to have children, in-laws, siblings and yes, parents (difficult as it may have been growing up with them) and dear friends to celebrate our lives together again under one roof.  

While I may have extended an invitation through gritted teeth, it was done with the spirit of the season and with a good heart.  T'is the season to be gracious and hospitable to all. I wish each of you a wonderful Merry Christmas spent with those you love and grace towards those 'not so much' relatives amongst you.  Christmas should bring out the best in families.  Peace and goodwill to all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

......I am dragging my feet all the way through the LRCP doors....

......and dreading today's appointment. My reservations revolve around the increasing swelling in the clavicle and lower mandible.  I wait in line at clinic 4 and can't help but think how much these kiosks look like old theater ticket booths.  I look around and note how many people are sitting around waiting for appointments mid-afternoon and know that by the time I leave, the place will be empty.  I find a seat and within a few minutes I am approached by Amy (mom of one of Lydia's early childhood friends) and she sits beside me.  A few words into our conversation and my tears are starting to run, catching me completely by surprise.  I am not embarrassed, I just don't want her to be upset, so I wipe my face and smile at her.  She is there with a friend who is going through chemo. Amy is sorry that she didn't quite understand what I was going through 4 years ago when I was first diagnosed.....I recognize a look of guilt and I immediately tell her that nobody really knows what to say or do until it comes to their world.  Amy is always kind and concerned for others......we could all take a page out of her book!!

I see a familiar face walk by and her name escapes me as did Amy's when I first saw her.... my mind is on other things and not completely as aware as it should be.  I get her attention by pssssst...and get called on it.....I was excited to see Melina.  She looks amazing despite the illness.  She has had her lungs cleared and is now awaiting chemo.  There is seldom, if ever a day that goes by that I do not think about her and pray she is OK.

Amy's friend is ready to go home after a long day at the clinic.  Amy and her friend pass by and I blow her a kiss..... then my attention is caught again and this time by Jame's white hospital coat.  He is my soul friend and as if by magic, he is there talking to a colleague.  James is a dietician in the Cancer Clinic.  I get his attention when he is done and his wide smile greets me as he slips into the seat beside me.  He is concerned when I tell him the lump has made its debut again but like everyone else in my life, he says I am too strong to let this get me down for too long.  My pager goes off and we stand to hug.  I give gentle hugs and a kiss to Melina and wish them all well as I head towards the nurse waiting for me.  We smile at each other and it is off to be weighed before taking me into the examination room.  I have lost 7 pounds so far in the 9 weeks since I was last weighed!!!

It isn't long before Dr. Lock taps on the door and enters.  He is not just a caring doctor but a truly wonderful human being.  He looks at me, smiles and says "its good to see you". He notes the look on my face and I let him know about the lump that has recently arrived once again in my neck.  He is surprised by this news and I let him know that I had called a few weeks prior and left a message for him. "OK. wait right here, I know Dr. Younis has not left yet and I would like to quickly consult with him before he does"..... Luckily, Dr. Locke was able to catch up to and consult with my chemotherapist Dr. Younis while I stayed in the room to wait.  A few minutes later, he returns and smiles at me.  "OK, so, we are not going to do chemo unless it is necessary and you have symptoms that need to be controlled such as what you experienced in July.  Chemo for you will only be used if there is a new or expanding metastasis in your liver, bones, brain but even then, I can go ahead and order radiation in those isolated incidents."  In short.... my chemo is to be used for adjuvant or pallative care.  Adjuvant for reducing inflamation which causes physical breathing difficulties and pallative for end of life symptom management.  

We discuss the Metformin that I am taking and the cleanse I am currently doing.  He indicates that what I am doing has proven to be effective and he encourages me to continue what I am doing.  He wants to book an appointment for a CT scan to see if there is any changes to what they believe may be a lesion on the liver.  They are not sure what exactly it is and will continue to compare it to every CT scan they do.  In the meantime, I am to keep tract of my symptoms/changes if there are any and for sure keep tabs on the liver to make sure that I don't show signs of liver function failure.  Symptoms include: jaundice, pain under the right front ribcage, pain with fat ingestion and belly bloating.  The unknown marking in the middle of my liver is in a location near the gastric duct leading into the Gall Bladder.  Should this create scar tissue or a cancerous lesion, it can block the duct.  A friend of mine's mother had this happen and it had to be operated on to bring back its function..... regrettably, the cancer would take her life months later.  I promise I will continue to be diligent and to contact him should things change.  He examines my breasts and under both underarms looking for any other signs that the cancer might be invading.  When he is done, he turns to leave and says "its  really good seeing you and we will see you soon, enjoy the holidays..... you are looking good!"  I leave in better spirits and make my way out into the snowy afternoon.  How long is anyone's guess but for now I decide that I will make every effort to enjoy the holidays with my family.  The snow is fluffy and covers the windshield as quickly as it gets wiped off with the wipers.  I call Max and we are both grateful.

A few days ago I contacted a woman who owns a very unique furniture business in St. Thomas called 'Diamonds and Toads'.  She specializes in chalk paint and even holds classes to teach others how to bring life back to old and new furniture.  Lydia has been asking for a lady's vanity for the past few weeks and as we get closer to Christmas I know that this is not a passing fancy but a deep desire to realize her 'girliness'.  So I text the owner of this amazing store I have been following on FaceBook and ask if she has a vanity with a 40's vintage look.  Within a few minutes, she is sending pics of a few vanities she currently has and there it was..... a beautiful vanity from an age when they knew how to build furniture and give it character.  It is beyond beautiful with its Art Deco appeal and the feet that look like inverted cupcakes.  The large Oval mirror will be just perfect for Lydia to gaze back into her beautiful face.  We texted back and forth last night and I could tell right away how very special this woman is and the pride and love she has for what she does.  She sends me a picture of the vanity without its handles and mirror.... it is stripped and in its almost raw state, it is stunning.  Soon it will be bright white with the handles changed to a silver..... it will be the most magical gift to such a deserving daughter.  I would love to have the matching pieces but alas, it is not in the budget.  This is what Christmas is to me.... bringing love and joy to a daughter whom I adore endlessly.  I can't wait to see what the finished piece will look like.... I will post photos when it is done!!!

For the first time in years, money is excessively tight with no margin for much other than bills and the mortgage.  I will be handmaking some gifts before Christmas and the rest will have to wait until after.  I am just starting to feel like myself after chemo and have some energy to create.  

18 December 2013 ...... my neighbor Victoria calls this morning and Max hands me the phone.  I am groggy and pull myself up to lean against the headboard...."Hello?"  Her voice quivers as she tells me that her husband Walter is not doing well.... the brain tumour is not responding to the radiation and the cancer has metastasized into his bones.  She tells me that Walter wanted to know how I am feeling and that they are both upset that I am facing this illness. (I met Walter and Victoria when they first moved in across the street.  With no family in the city, this elderly couple left their long time residence in Woodstock to be nearer to her brother and for the medical care that Victoria needed.  I invited them over for breakfast in our home and they graciously joined us.  I was in my 4th round of chemo then!!!)  She says that he is upset that someone as young as myself raising children should have to face this illness.... he is OK with being 82 and ill.  Funny how I always thought 50 was old and through his eyes, I am just a kid!!  Well, I will see 50 in May and have made it a point to be able to party it up!!!  I send my blessings to Walter that he will pass quietly and painlessly in his sleep..... as for Victoria, I will make sure that she comes to our house for Christmas dinner to spend it with people and not alone.  She has spoken of returning to her country of Italy when Walter and her brother pass... I hope she will get to spend her remaining days amongst those that love her and care for her.

I am dedicating my blog to all those who may be struggling during the holidays.  May you all find a magical moment in your days that you will cherish always.  Remember to show love, patience and respect to those you meet by chance, for you never know what joy you will discover or what joy you will bring to lighten their day.  xoxo  Peace and Goodwill to all.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

..... those heartfelt special moments.....

...... when your daughter sits with you in bed all day and watches movies while the snow blows around outside.... and then she makes me cry....

She is so beautiful with her big blue eyes and her animated face.... she is telling me about all the great things coming her way in the last two years of elementary school and the tears begin to fall until I catch myself in a mid sob.  Oh dear God.... I love her so much and all I want to do is watch her grow up.  She reaches across the bed to cuddle with me.  Her tears mingle with mine and we tell each other "I love you more".... she's my mini-me.  I adore her and laugh with her as we turn our tears into smiles.

She has started her own blog and she lets me read it... her first entry is about her 49 year old mom who has cancer and how she is sad.  Like myself, the kids push the bad stuff to the back and let the sun shine in anyway.  I am deeply glad they are wired like this ... it makes life good.  We watch the Nanny... we have made it past the 100th show.  Tonight we watched 'The Help'.  We stayed cuddled in bed all day and had our meals brought up to us.  She reaches out her hand throughout the day to let me know that it will be alright......I just can't seem to shed the dread that has pushed the hopefulness to the side as it makes its way to my every thought.  It's soon time for Lydia's bedtime and I snuggle her and tuck her in to bed.

Max knows that I am hiding from the world and its hard not to......he's made his way upstairs to get ready for bed.  He sits quietly beside me while I start crying.... it feels like I may never be able to stop.  "I really don't know what to do?" I cover my face and rock back and forth.  I feel like swinging between being resigned to whatever lays ahead and then the notion of fighting at all costs.  Max tries to make me feel better by stating that the doctors meant that the chemo would only extend my life but for how long was anyone's guess.... as if this makes me feel better and then of course we both start laughing when Thelma, still wearing her cone, crashes along the wall and stumbles into our room.  Laidee follows right behind and Kajen kitty in tow.  Now this is my life.... comedic relief at the most dramatic moments in life.  Max shoos them all out and heads in to have snuggles with Lydia and say goodnight.  Its bedtime for the three of us while Will, Mitch and Uncle Paul decide to watch a war movie.  Will is wearing his fatigues around the house and looking very gung-ho.  

I make my way upstairs after taking some fiber. Max has moved on to something safe... his Ninja game....sheesh!!!  Tomorrow we will be decorating the Christmas tree.  

Sunday 15th December

Today, I feel more energetic as I move amongst our three bathrooms cleaning them while the men dig out the Christmas decorations in the basement.  I am also doing a great deal of laundry today and grateful for the busyness on another snow blown day.  

It is day three of my cleanse and I am gulping down my breakfast of Greens+ with multivitamin mix.  At least its flavored and I am able to wash it down quickly.  This will soon be followed by half a Metformin tablet.  (I will adjust the dosage in a few days to see how it feels).  A few salmon pills in the morning and at night have stopped the incredibly dry skin I have been dealing with.  The addition of a deep immune tincture has finally handled the chronic nasal congestion.  Sleep is good with the Melatonin I am taking in the evening. I do not remember going to sleep but still wake up at 4 in the morning when Max has hijacked most of the blankets.  I am prepared tonight by adding a spare to the end of the  bed.

What a hugely emotional weekend.... mostly me being emotional... partly the trailing end of the chemo and mostly the fear of the unknown.  My friend Kirsten called earlier today and we talked about my illness, my fears.... and how much I do not want to go on chemo again....there has to be a better way of addressing cancer.   Why haven't we come far enough to test what actually works with each individual cancer diagnosis and cater the chemistry to each specific one?  It would definitely be cheaper in the long run and less return customers for sure.....I have so many questions mulling around in my head..... and each one of them starts with WHY?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

.......and another lump....

......found on the same day my friend Melina is in the hospital draining lungs and getting ready to start chemo again after a short break......

10th December 2013 I didn't think that I would be facing this uncertainty so soon after finishing chemo... and while I know that my condition is chronic, I at least was hoping for a few year's reprieve.  Despite tears and Max's gentle hugs, the darkened room of our bedroom feels strangely empty and I can feel the tears course down my cheeks and off the tip of my chin.  Max grabs a tissue out of his pocket and dabs my eyes.  Yah this is our life now and I apologize to him for the umpteenth time and roll away to be alone.  I receive a response from my amazing Dr. Richard for an afternoon appointment tomorrow.  
Thelma had her surgery to remove a tumour from her leg and we picked her up before dinner.  She looks incredibly ridiculous with the cone on her head but at least she wont be picking on her wound which is nicely bandaged.  We will see the vet tomorrow to pick up her meds and look at the tumour.

11th December 2013  Its early in the morning when I get a text from William.  He is on the flight from Fredericton NB to London.  The cold bitter winds whip at my face as I round the corner of the garage to hop in the car to go pick him up at the London airport.  The light snowflakes whip around the windshield and I have a few minutes to consider what to say to my children..... again.  Do I think this is the cancer growing again... well, what else could it be?  The triage nurse in the cancer clinic this morning asks me if I have a sore do you have a fever.... no.... are you feeling ill.....  I have struggled with a sinus issue and cold since chemo 2 months ago but those symptoms resolved themselves 2 weeks ago.  It is now a wait and see what the doctors will consider as the next move.  I get a call a few minutes from the airport, Will is waiting for me at the front entrance... I let him know that I am almost there.  When I pull up, he moves towards the pick up lane.... wow, its so great seeing him again!!!  He hoists his stuff into the car and we hug tightly.

A few minutes later, we drop in to see Sarah and the baby and to chat for a few minutes before heading over to the Quarter Master.  I am looking for vitamine C, Oregano Oil, Emergen-C and an herbal cleanse.  These next few weeks will be a prep for whatever comes along.  I want to reduce the load on my immune system while feeding my body with high quality nutrition.  Next we head out to the vet to pick up Thelma's meds.  I have known our Vet Julia for about 25 years and she greets William when he pops his head around the corner.  She has sent the technician out to show me the tumour removed from Thelma's leg.  She and I talk about the mass and how it attached itself adjacent to a rich blood supply.  I tell her about the lump in my neck.  Her expert hands find it quickly.  Its located just beside the clavicle. She tells me to follow the doctor's orders to the T.  "No fooling around Marita, get this thing looked after and make sure you do what they tell you".  She doesn't have to tell me twice... she knows the reputation of my GP and notes that I am in good hands.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Julia hugs me tightly and wishes me the best.  I will see her on Saturday to have the dog's leg looked at..... 

In consultation with my GP, I mention a trial I was asked to participate in but chose to do the chemo and not wait.  Metformin is an inexpensive drug used for diabetics and a drug that when used in conjunction with chemo had some surprising side effects... tumours shrunk and in some cases, disappeared all together.  I have been craving high carbohydrates and sugars in the past 3 weeks and now I need to balance the blood sugars that the cancer loves to feast on.... like Thelma's leg tumour and the cancer found in my nodes with the metastasis - they are both located directly within a rich blood source.  Just like having little vampire clumps that rely on this rich supply to survive and thrive.  Tumours have no intention of killing their host....however, that feeling towards the tumours are not mutual.

Noon today began the first step of a full body cleanse.  Flushing the body of stored toxins to reduce the burdon on the immune system using a 30 day natural cleanse.  The metformin will be taken 2 times per day at 250 mg per dose for a week to see how I tolerate it and then up the dose until we are taking  a high enough dose.  High fibre, raw fruit, vegetables and nuts will form the basis of the diet including Quinoa for protein.  The greens mineral mix will provide me with the vitamines and minerals required for repair and then the emergen-C 1,000 mg of vitamin C packaged with Bicarbonate of soda - this creates a PH balance discouraging a cancer friendly environment.  Just before bed, I am taking Melatonin to assist me in promoting restful sleep which also has a cancer fighting ability.  So, will it work?  After a great deal of research and consideration.... heck, its worth a try.  I will also need to find a relaxing time for yoga to help me to focus on the positives in my life.

I will be tracking my progress and consulting with my physicians in a more pro-active way and seeing if there are successful alternatives to the chemo I have been on.  I am not crazy and will consider taking it if there is little else in the way of options.  My mantra is to see my children grow up safe and happy..... they are amazing people.  They know the score with my illness as I have always been candid and honest with them.  They, like me, have hope....   

I wish to humbly thank all the well wishes and calls.....I am deeply grateful.  xoxo

Sunday, December 8, 2013

..... Simple Pick-up donates a larger sum of money to a single mom with cancer.....

...... after the BCRF declined their original $2200 donation upon finding out through complaints that the group 'Simple Pick-up'  had in fact motorboated women's breasts on a public beach using the Charity's name without express permission...... and outside of what anyone would consider 'in good taste'. So they slammed the charity instead of apologizing..... and then came up with yet another scheme to show that Charity and all the 'femi-Nazis' what really stand up guys they are.  Why didn't they advertise on their 'how to pick up women' website and provide a direct link to their group donation site on the BRCP instead of choosing to motorboat women's breasts?  They brag about how many members they have, so why not send out an email with the link?  Because that is not what they are about.... it's Pink October and hey.... why not try a stunt that allows them the opportunity to grope women on a public beach??

They decided to donate a much larger sum of money to a single mom who is going through the journey.  They slam the charity about how they are missing out on this donation which has now gone from helping research to helping out one woman and her family.  So now they are the good guys..... or are they just trying to make themselves look good?  They did help.... even if it is only one woman and her family... so how many others did they say they would have helped with their original fundraising venture?  Most big boys would donate without shoving it in our faces and applauding their effort to help the cause.... which, in their own video statements..... they know very little about Breast Cancer.... they know more about how to push the envelope of good taste to create a client base and to gain them notoriety.... and lately.... sympathy.

Want to do the right thing?  Then do the right thing by raising money like most people..... respectfully within the boundaries of the Charity whose name you are using.  Raise money without banging your own drum..... there are 6 year olds that can raise more money than you without being disrespectful and do it because it is the right thing and not a way to promote your 'values'.  Most charities appreciate your donations when it respects the recipients that the money is intended for.  Yes, every little bit helps.... when all the little bits are pooled together....just my 2 cents.....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

..... she twirls and does a quickstep.....

...... on her way down the street.  It's a school day and my face is pressed against the window watching Lydia blow kisses towards me and dance as she heads down the road.  I watch until she disappears from sight and my heart lurches when I can no longer see her.  I often think these days of how much I will miss her when I leave behind this earthly world and how fleeting her childhood has been up to now.  I see her head pop around a tree and her broad grin exposing her crooked front teeth.  I have memorized every detail of her beautiful face, from her brilliant blue eyes to her scarred chin (an accident when she was three).  She is wonderfully funny, sensitive, confident and intelligent. She inspires me each day.  A few more steps... and she is around the corner and off to start her day.

Minutes later I realize that my face is still pressed against the window as I am abruptly taken out of my reverie... I turn to answer the phone next to my bed.  "hi Mom, I love you!!" she calls merrily through her cell phone.  "Hey baby, I love you too!!"  I sit on the edge of the bed and reflect on how deeply grateful I am for the wonderful children I was gifted with and how much I want to see them grow up.

It has now been 8 weeks post chemo.  Every joint in my body aches.  The fasciitis in my feet threaten to take over and I remind myself to choose footwear carefully.  I am feeling ancient ...... then I catch a glimpse of myself in the bedroom mirror.  My hair is coming in fuzzy and grey.  I look as old as I feel..... especially late morning, this morning as I realize that I am not feeling well.  I have been fighting a cold and now the sinusitis that has finally taken hold.  Every ache, every 'not feeling well' moment scares me.  What if the cancer is growing again?  What if it is travelling and is now in my aching back?  My head hurts...maybe I will have brain cancer next time... when is next time?  Tomorrow, next month?  My hot flashes are back with a vengence.... making it hard to sleep at night despite taking very expensive pills to try and offset the angst of boiling one minute and wrapping myself the next.  Hot, cold, hot, cold..... aaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggggg!!!!!!  Then after doing way too much this morning.... and feeling waaay too nauseous, I snapped at my daughter.  She wants me to drive her to her friend's house for a sleep over and I need to lay down.... it is rare for me to snap at her.  She is downtrodden and I quietly ask her to get ready.  I will drive her to her friends and then home to lay down.  She says she loves me as she slides into the passenger seat.  She often slides her hand into mine when I am shifting gears and I can feel her eyes studying the side of my face.  "I am sorry you aren't feeling well Mommy and thanks for driving me".  You can sense the worry but her smile when I turn my face lets me know that I am loved no matter what.  I smile back and let her know how much I love her.  

We arrive at our destination and she tries to open the locked door "I know you want to keep me close to you but you have to let me go!!"  She grins, leans in to me for a kiss.  We kiss and I wave to Pat when she opens the front door.  Lydia turns, waves madly and walks through the door.  I love you so much. Max was pulling into the driveway just as we were leaving and I arrive back home a few minutes later.  He orders me back upstairs to lay down and the tears begin abruptly as I mutter something about being tired of feeling this way..... doing too much when I feel good until I wear myself out. 

Will texts me.  He is coming home this week and staying for a month and then returning to Gagetown to complete his career training in Artillery.  Hard to believe how fast the time has come and gone.  Last evening our students celebrated a pizza party with us on the last day of school for this semester.  They too will be enjoying an extended holiday before classes start again in the New Year.  I will be doing a lot of marking this week and putting in the final grades for the students in this semester.  It certainly has been very busy and I expect that next semester will  equally busy.

Max has come upstairs with a cup of tea for me.... he sits and holds my hand while I read this blog entry to him.  I am truly blessed for the love and support he and the children offer me.  My mom sent me an 'In Sympathy' card the other day..... this makes the third card in as many months from her... she travelled half way across the world to see her sister, who has had bone cancer for over 20 years.... for fear that her sister would pass away before they had a chance to see each other one last time..... I live 2  minutes from her and she sends me cards??  Weird but true..... she doesn't want to bother me but leaves phone messages that question MY mental health.... I can thank the eldest for putting those thoughts into the head of my demented mother....this from someone who considers herself a homeopathic healer????   Ah well, I digress and decide to just lay in bed for a little while. 

I had lunch with Reinhart, Megan, Joel and his wife Beth on Thursday.  The hysterical group texts leading up to our group lunch and the follow up texts through Facebook had me in absolute hysterical fits of laughter.  Reinhart is one special guy who has been an avid supporter of Meg and myself as we journeyed through our first cancer diagnosis and I felt that it was time to meet him once and for all.  Well, most of us had lunch except Reinhart who has been suffering with an infection which started in one of his teeth..... and..... it began to travel.  He stated to us at lunch, that although he couldn't eat anything, he would not have missed the lunch for anything.  I think we all felt that way.... so.... it would be more than fair to book another lunch when he can at least enjoy more than just the wafting aroma from the bowls mere inches from him at the table.  xoxoxoxox what a wonderful lunch.  Reinhart went to the dentist after doing a walking tour through the downtown.  He was pretty close to going septic!!!  Take care of yourself and make sure you are getting better!!! xoxoxo