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.