Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas...

I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.  May all your wishes be found beneath your tree and your dreams come true next year.

When all seems dark...just keep swimming!

Monday, December 22, 2014

"D" day....

Oops...wrong alphabet.   10:00 a.m. I had my CT scan to see where the cancer is...did it grow?   Did it shrink more?  Did it stay the same?  I guess we will get the results on January 7th.

I will admit to being nervous and a bit fearful.  I will believe and fingers crossed for a Christmas miracle.

Swimming...sorry but, the water is warm here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Countdown begins...

Here we go.  Got up early for blood tests.  Nerves are twinging but, I have lots to keep me busy...house full and grandkids are here.

Swimming...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Normal....

What exactly IS normal?  It can be so different for each person.  For me...it means not having chemo and radiation shove it down my throat every day that I have cancer.  For me...it means after two months - starting to rebuild my energy levels.  For me...it means having my hair start to grow back - even thicker than before!  For me...it means for November and, up to now not even thinking about having cancer....just being human...normal...me!

I even got into my craft room and produced three sets of wedding invitations and now working on Christmas cards (pics to follow when the invitations have been mailed out in order to keep the surprise).  I am too scared to jinx anything by getting my craft room furniture but, I did buy a cabinet at Ikea to be used as a cutting station...tired of having my cutter on the floor and bending over to cut anything...or, to not have a place for my Big Shot and plates.  Now I have a designated cabinet and I will post pics...hubby is putting it together on Sunday.  I even have energy and I am planning on doing some Christmas baking...yeehaw!

Twelve days until my CT scan...then two weeks to get the results on January 7th.  Our payment deadline for the Panama cruise is the 15th and we have to renew our passports...fingers crossed...swimming merrily!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not impressed!!!!

I had to shave my armpits Saturday...not impressed.  Mind you...hair on my head is growing back too!

Swimming merrily.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I am here….

It has been a long haul since August 22nd…my last chemo treatment.  I am just starting to get some energy and most of the bruises are gone (just a faint one on my wrist).  So too, are the “cold flashes” or…at least, they don’t burn my skin anymore.   My cough seems to be worse but, both doctors don’t seem concerned at all and…I guess…nothing showed up on the xrays or scans.

Not been fun emotionally for me….I lost my best friend.  To others…he may have just been a cat but, to me…he was so much more.  

I got to pick him out of the litter the night he was born…he was probably about 2” long and the only tabby.  He came home eight weeks later on my birthday.  It took a few days for his name to come to light…we had company and the door was opening and closing most of the day.  Later that night we started to look for him…we called and called…we searched and searched.  Friends searched where we had looked and we looked where friends had searched…no kitten.  I went to bed and cried myself to sleep picturing him lost and alone and an animal snack (we had coyotes, bears, raccoons and cougars where we lived).  Rick woke me up about 2:30 a.m. with this tiny kitten in his hands…he heard the meowing and…sure enough…the kitten was in a space I looked, he looked and friends looked.

A day or two later…the same thing….he was missing.  This time I didn’t panic.  I looked in the spot he was before…I looked everywhere and no kitten.  I was standing in the doorway of the living room and looked over at the couch…one tiny tuft of an ear was peaking out from behind the sofa cushion.  Sure enough…the little rotter was hiding and thinking this was so funny watching me look for him.  I sat down on the computer and googled “practical joke” and the word “hijinks” came up…it stuck…his name was now ‘Jinks.

A year later we found out he had a level 4 heart murmur and he was placed on heart meds (actually…the same ones my dad is taking).  I didn’t think we would have him long but, the years started to roll by…fifth birthday and he was still with us.  He loved to travel in the motor home…didn’t like the driving but, loved sitting in the big window spread out on the dash surveying his kingdom.  Two years ago we had an ultrasound done on his heart and he was doing great….however…he needed to lose some weight.  Man, oh man, he hated that…you would have thought we were starving him!  His energy level picked right up and for the past two years he was acting like a kitten again.

It must have taken ‘Jinks and Abby (the dog) a bit to notice something was not quite right with me.  When they started the chemo and radiation…Abby started staring at me and wouldn’t stop watching me until I would tell her I was okay and then she would go lie down.  At night she would stand by my side of the bed and not settle down until I got into bed and pulled up the blankets.  ‘Jinks started following me around from room to room and when I would settle down he would climb up and lie down beside me with his tale draped over my lap…one paw touching me….and purr.  Man, that cat liked to purr.  He started the second he woke up and didn’t stop until he was asleep.  He was there through the worst of the chemo and radiation.  I would come home and climb into bed and he was there.  I would get up to go to the bathroom…he was there.  I wandered from room to room and he was my shadow…never settling down until I did.

October 8th…normal day…Rick was cooking supper…Abby was in her bed in the living room…’Jinks was beside me on the couch and Rick dropped a pot or something.  Abby was off like a shot and so was ‘Jinks….he headed for the bedroom and under the bed.  Suppertime came and I doled out his supper…tiny voice in my head wondered why he wasn’t begging for supper.  Time for bed….noticed ‘Jinks hadn’t eaten supper…with a sinking heart I went to the bedroom and looked under the bed…he was there but, didn’t look up and I knew.  I went to the other side of the bed…lifted the cover…and saw he was gone.

It has been really rough as I see him everywhere.  I do something and he is not there.  I can still smell him on my blanket…a certain sound and it is like his meow…I have a hard time going to sleep because he is not at the foot of the bed lying on my feet.  I wake up in the morning and he is not walking on the bed around my head…back and forth…trying to get me to get up and feed him.  He gave me so much comfort when I needed it the most and I am not done yet and still need him and he is not here….okay, enough tears…suck it up!

He had such an attitude….I had an “in box” on my desk in the office and he decided that was  his.  So, while I was working he would climb into his basket and watch me.  If I didn’t pay him attention my papers would land on the floor.

One day I was working on the computer and I couldn’t figure out why the typing was so nutty.  I glanced down and…sure enough…his paw was on the keyboard…not paying him attention!  I know deep down if I close my eyes he will be there…and I will argue with any theologian….he had a soul and is now in Heaven chasing butterflies!






Peace….driving to the hospital every day getting treatment…looking at the scenery go by…I would notice some trees between No. 3 Road and Whatcom Road that gave me peace…don’t know why…they are not special…just gave me a sense of calmness.  If I saw them…it was a good day…if I didn’t…I felt anxious.

Like I said…nothing special…just some trees lining a driveway that caught my eye and meant something to me.






This one looks so much like a rubber stamp I have and that is why I noticed it.  Right now the leaves are changing colors and there are golds and yellows ready to turn into reds and oranges.


Saw my ex-bosses and co-workers on Friday...not a good day.  One of the guys I worked with for over 20 years was killed on a job site and Friday was the funeral.  It was great to see people I have missed...working with them for 21 years and then not seeing them anymore was a difficult adjustment.  One of my bosses gave me a hug and told me to keep in touch...excuse me...I told him I would and his finger was not broken by the way.  The guys invited me to the Christmas party so we shall see if the invite makes it my way.  I really was hurt with the way I was treated as I was going out the door to retirement....we shall see.

The waiting game is the hardest right now….December 22nd seems like such a long way away with results on January 7th.  Life on hold!  Trying to not think about it…trying to not worry…some days I seem to forget most of the time that I have cancer.  Finished the 3d advent calendars for the grandchildren…I want a piece of me to be there with them so they don’t forget me.

Nope…done with the tears…not talking about scary things right now….swim, swim, swim!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No surgery….

We met with the radiation oncologist yesterday morning…his opinion was that as the cancer had shrunk in half he saw no benefit to surgery.  The thoracic surgeon agreed saying that she thought it would cause more harm than good but, didn’t rule it out if it became an option in the future.

So…where does that leave me?  We are in a holding pattern for the next four months.  December 22nd I have a repeat CT scan and we see where we are at.  I am going ahead positively believing that anything left over will just turn into harmless scar tissue and I am going to be just fine.

The catch word of the day is “neuropathy”…such an innocuous little word…but, such a royal pain in the ass…oh, that is right…pain in the boob!  Some people have tingling and numbness in the fingers etc….I am the opposite…I have too much feeling. 

I have gone from hot flashes to cold flashes!  However, these cold flashes run across my bust line and leave it feeling like I have the worse sunburn ever!  The rest of my body feels like someone has dumped itching powder all over me.  Rick is having a hard time because I can’t stand to be touched right now.  At lease he heard it from the doctor and doesn’t think I am making up excuses to avoid him!

This “neuropathy” can last anywhere from days to years before it gets any better…if it ever does!  Lovely side effect of Cisplatin….but, I have been told that was the best chemo to fight lung cancer.  As for my neutrophils…still tired and weak.  I have a bruise from the last chemo treatment on the 22nd of August and it is still there.  Each treatment the effects get worse and last longer…I am to give it another two weeks and if I still feel like crap with no energy etc. I am to go back to my chemo oncologist.

So…I am busy working on wedding invitations for two nephews and two nieces.  I am thinking ahead to Christmas cards.  I am working on three advent calendars for the grandchildren…I am looking forward to going to Quesnel for Thanksgiving…I am looking forward to 21-day Panama Canal cruise…camping.  As soon as I feel a little better I am going to order my craft room furniture and get this room set up.

When I have a few minutes I am going to finish my Copic lessons…I am going to start learning Pergamano…I am going to start Tim Holtz’s classes on using his products…I am going to be around a long time and I am going to do the things I want to do and play with all my toys!

Just keep swimming, swimming…what do we do…we swim, swim!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t count me out yet….

First of three doctors…this one today was the thoracic surgeon….PET scan results are in.  Cancer has not spread…it is still only affecting my one lymph node and the same spot on my lung.  The two spots discovered just before treatment started do not “ping” under the PET scan…chemo seemed to have taken care of them.

The spot on my lung has shrunken a bit…from a twoonie to a loonie…to me, not very significant…the lymph nodes by my heart had no change.  So…no new cancer spots, no growth but, not much shrinkage either.

She is going to consult with my radiation oncologist to discuss surgery.  She feels I may be a good candidate (i.e. young and healthy) for surgical removal of the cancer.  This of course, all depends on how much radiation I had and the possibility of scar tissue obstructing things.  If I received the maximum dosage of radiation…surgery is not an option.  Fingers crossed.

So where do we go from here?  I see the chemo oncologist on September 10th, the radiation oncologist on the 17th and the surgeon right after on the same day then we will know what treatment, if any, will be suggested.

Still swimming!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Better…

Today is a better day….the choking fear is gone and slowly being replaced by numbness…I will take it!

It could be that I slept for a change or…at B.C. Cancer Agency I was led to a private room, placed into a recliner, tucked under a warm blanket and listened to a Diana Krall CD with the lights down low…while the drug raced through my system turning me radioactive for six hours.  No…I didn’t glow in the dark when I turned my lights out last night!

Today was the CT scan…done with tests…my arms are black and blue and I don’t think I have a spot from fingers to shoulders that have not been poked or drained.  My bowels finally stopped bleeding…making being nauseous and tired worse…tomorrow all the chemicals should be flushed from my system and I can start the recovery process.

I want to thank my family and friends who posted words of encouragement and…even those who did not because of respect and giving me room to breathe and come back to myself…I am on my way there.  I think when the test results are in and I again know my enemy…I will be able to take charge and fight through.

Not quite swimming yet…strongly treading water…and yes, I am not alone.  I feel you all in the water with me floating, treading…some with water wings on and some on rafts…but, with me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here we go….

Chemo finished on Friday…feeling so damned crappy…tired…nauseous…done.  Side effects are kicking in and my poor bowels are fed up…tired of antibiotics…just tired.

Tomorrow I go to the BC Cancer Agency for a PET scan, Thursday I go to the hospital for a CT scan, September 3rd I go back to the thoracic surgeon, on the 10th I go back to the chemo doctor and on the 17th I go back to the radiologist.

I could lie and say I am strong and tough but, I am so “effing” scared.  I try not to think about it but….if this is life then I am done!  I am so tired of feeling like crap three weeks of every four…and then we are back at it again.  I am trying to be positive…nope…that is a lie…I feel so crappy that I am unable to feel positive.  I do not have the stamina to eat…more or less trying to be happy and upbeat. 

I get “so and so did this and was cured…so and so did that and was cured”…nice…glad for them.  I am not rich.  Am I supposed to take out a loan for a “miracle cure” and then what….if it doesn’t work…is Rick supposed to pay the loan off after I am gone?  Then I wonder…what if I don’t do that?  What if I don’t go into debt and try these so called “miracle cures”?

I got back on the computer again today looking up cancer facts…I still have the most aggressive kind…lung cancer is still the second biggest killer…that doesn’t give one much hope.  One option is to continue taking chemo treatments but, they are more toxic and more toxic and I don’t know how much more I can take.  This is not life.  Then I start thinking about quality of life versus quantity…I am done…I am tired but, I don’t want to die….God, I don’t want to die.

It’s easy to say “wait for the test results” but…you are not me…I am not you.  I have never, ever been this scared in my life.  So…no, I am not swimming right now….barely trying not to drown….maybe tomorrow.

 

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Anybody out there.....?

I see my "Total Page Views" climb like crazy (from 96,000 to 110,000) and it got me to wondering....hmmm....I know family and friends read my blog but, I can only assume that people I do not know are reading it too.  I mean, I know my family is big...but, not that big!

I guess I am wondering if I am reaching someone out there who is just as scared as I am and if I am helping in any way.  This blog is for me to vent...to think...to feel but, if I am helping someone else then I am glad.

Yesterday - the day started with labs to see if my Neutrophils were up.  Went to sit in the lounge until time for my appointment and noticed blood on my arm...not clotting.  Back to the lab for a cleanup... more pressure...another bandage....back to the lounge.  Round one of chemo yesterday...took long enough to find a vein that would work...krippeee!

While we were waiting to go in I noticed a lady with a couple of friends with her.  Not much privacy in the waiting room and I couldn't help overhearing that it was her first day of treatment and she was worrying about losing her hair.  During the number of bathroom trips (the usual..drip, drip, pee) and noticed they had her in the back corner sitting with her chemo buddies.

Treatment took so long and Rick needs to eat on time so...we decided to stop at the restaurant in the hospital.  I noticed her sitting outside of Starbuck's and...I had to stop and talk to her.  I told her going bald was no big deal (I had taken my hat off when I got into the hospital).  She said that she noticed I was rocking the bald head...she also said she bought a wig for this.  I told her I had a number of them and just couldn't be bothered wearing one.  She asked what cancer I had and I told her lung...she mentioned she had breast cancer and during a follow up CT scan they found ovarian cancer and so she had gone from being the chemo buddy for her friend to being the one who needed the chemo buddy.  We showed each other our good luck charms and then we wished each other well and went on our way. 

Today, I go back for chemo and this time I am going to ask if I can find out when her name is and when her next chemo is set up for...I would love to go visit and see if she is rocking the bald head...she could probably use some cheering up about that time too. 

So, getting ready to head back to the hospital for round 2 and I am swimming.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Charlie…

He’s always been there…from being my brother’s best friend…to seeing him while I hung out with his older brother Vic…to being the photographer at my first wedding…to being there the day we buried my brother…to the day we buried my mother…he’s always been there.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I tore through my Facebook friend list and cancelled a lot of people I had not seen since high school or rarely since…not sure why…maybe because I did not want a bunch of cyber hugs from people I barely knew anymore….and, partly because I guess I was angry at life.  Charlie was one of the names…his was cancelled by mistake.   I did not know about his illness until my sister mentioned it while she was visiting a couple of weeks ago.  He’s dying…did you know?  No, I didn’t know!

Charlie is a free-lance writer and has columns in Kelowna papers (Capital News and the Now for starters), plus he is an author.  I “Googled” him until I found the column about his illness…Charlie is dying…slowly of emphysema….his mother passed away due to the same thing.  In his column he writes about his life and his dreams and accomplishments.  He has a lot to be proud of and he says he can look back on them and feel blessed.  

It got me to thinking…in the dark…what about my hopes and dreams…have I accomplished all I set out to do…and the answer is “No…I haven’t”.  I wanted to travel and may not get a chance to do that.  My career choice was not what I originally wanted but, I did enjoy working for the 21 years at my last job.  I did not want a divorce under my belt but, who does!  What I have accomplished is a life filled with friends and family.  When I was a little girl I said I was going to marry a man named Rick (no surprise there…I married two of them!).  I was going to have four children…not quite…I ended up with five and it took Rick’s help by bringing three with him to our marriage and I have four grandsons and one granddaughter.

I may not have accomplished all I set out to do and that is okay.  A lot of my hopes and dreams may not be realized and that is okay.  I may not be rich in material things but, with all the blessings in my life with family and friends…I am rich!!!

I have not been crafting and I finally admitted to myself that I have been avoiding the room.  I check my emails etc. on my tablet and not on the PC.  I admit to sitting down at my desk the other day and looking around at all my tools, stamps, dies and paper etc. that I have…and not used so far.  I look at my technique books and wonder if I will get the chance to learn them.  I have so much I wanted to do but may not have the time to do them.  I look at all my stuff and I know there is no way I can leave this for Rick to clean out and I know that I will have to do it myself.  It is just too hard some days to be in this room knowing that my outcome may not be good.  I look at my stuff and I don’t see the possibilities of what I can do with them but…who should get what…how much can I sell this for…will I have time to get rid of everything?

No chemo this week…neutrophils still too low so…next week.  What this does is makes me too ill to travel and I will miss my grandsons’ birthdays…both of them….the first time I will miss them. 

We saw the chemo doctor on Tuesday and he says the cancer is shrinking…shrinking…not gone.  Then we saw the radiation doctor yesterday and again, the cancer is shrinking…not gone….neither of them said by how much.  Lung cancer is aggressive and he said they treated me aggressively with the radiation so…no more radiation as it may cause too much tissue damage.  That leaves only chemo.  Then one has to weigh quality of life against quantity of life…do I want to spend what time I have sick and flat on my back or…do I want to enjoy the time I have.  Either way…there is no telling anything right now.  I am scheduled for a CT scan to see what stage the cancer is at.  There will be no magic operation to cut it out.  I really, really hate this waiting game.  I won’t get any results until September 17th.

So…right now I am sitting in my craft room…cuz…I had to format my stupid computer… Windows update corrupted a system file and I really, really hate installing and reinstalling stupid software and trying to force Windows 8 to accept printers that are really not compatible.

What am I doing…I am set up in the family rooom painting advent calendar kits for the grandkiddies for Christmas.  I am planning on making wedding invitations for nieces and nephews… three sets of them…going to be a busy summer next year!  Number 1 son, daughter-in-law and grandson are coming tomorrow (boy am I needing some Nolan hugs), niece and hubby are dropping by for a visit tomorrow…laundry is done…house is clean…life goes on!

I get through each day by NOT thinking about it.  I shut down all thoughts (other than the blog where I can vent).  I hear Dory telling me to “Just keep swimming”…I read the hugs from my family and friends (some are in the water with me…some are wearing water wings)and I keep going.  Not sure if I am a Timex watch or an Eveready bunny…but, I am swimming!!!

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Round 3 down...

Made it through round three chemo...full dosage cisplatin and 25% etopiside.  So far so good...litte to none nausea...just super sleepy.  The doctor has scheduled round 4 (and final) for August 13th...if my levels are up...fingers crossed.

Got to visit friends and have coffee and cookies with my fav crafty people at my fav crafty srore...off to a good start.

Lots of visits with family over the weekend...resting today then I want to start some crafty projects.  Getting bored!

Swimming.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Here we go again....

Blood work done on Tuesday and no calls from doctor or the chemo ward so...I guess it means my neutrophils are up and it is a go for chemo for today through to Friday.

Not looking forward to it at all...I feel so run down and crappy that I know it is going to get worse.  However, hopefully this will be the last one.

My favorite craft store is closing for the month of August and I have some projects I want to work on while that happens....advent calendars for the grandkids, a journal that I have been wanting to make, some cards that are crying out to be created and another Copic class I want to finish.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...just need to keep swimming.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ouch...

Had a shower...made the mistake of looking in the mirror...I look like a beluga whale...white and hairless!

Blood work tomorrow to see what my levels are and if we go with chemo on Wednesday.

Swimming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Not yet...

Just got a call from chemo ward...labs are in and neutrophils are still too low so...no chemo again for this week.  We will try for next week but, that is pushjng it for time frame.  Not good.  I guess I will hope that radiation and two chemos did their job.

Swimming sluggishly but, swimming.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Piss, Damn, Sh*t….

Went for blood work at 8:40 this morning and saw the chemo oncologist at 10:40…no chemo this week.  My neutrophils are only at .45 and should be in the 2.0 range.  No wonder I feel so lousy like I am coming down with the flu. 

What this means is…I had to make a phone call to my dad to tell him I would not be coming to Quesnel for Billy Barker Days as that is now chemo week.  It is really hard to not only want to sit down and cry because…one, I feel so crappy and disappointed and two, I had to listen to my father break down and cry and then try to be so brave for me.  Not happy with life at the moment.

I was given the option of saying, “No” to chemo as…according to the experts it would make a negligible difference.  I told my doctor that everyone I have talked to raves about his professionalism, his compassion, his integrity and most of all…how brilliant he is in his field and that if they were ever sick…he is the doctor they would want.  I saw how touched he was…I don’t think he was aware of how highly regarded he is.  I asked him…and he came back with, “If it was himself, he would have the chemo”. 

In spite of my disappointment…with lung cancer (the second deadliest form of cancer), I want every shot I have at beating this….negligible means a fighting chance…so, I chose round 3 of chemo.  I will be getting the full dosage of Cisplatin (that is the critical chemo for lung cancer) and 25% of the Etoposide (that is the one I seem to not be able to handle and keeps triggering diverticulosis attacks).  Hopefully, with no radiation to bring me down…I will handle this round better.

So…a week of rest…Nolan hugs on the weekend as Jim, Jen and grandson will be coming for a visit…yay!  Rhiann, Dez and Riley show up on the following Wednesday (first day of chemo) just for the night…more hugs and my sister and hubby at the end of the month.  Not being able to travel really sucks as I don’t see any of the family and I miss everyone.  At least, they are all doing road trips to me!

My eldest brother (sorry, but you are) and wife, Sharon came for a visit on the long weekend.  Ray (no. 2 son) and daughter-in-law, Amanda came too.  We had a house full with six people and four dogs.  Abby had to learn to share and ‘Jinks kept pretty much to himself under the bed!  Then…this passed weekend nephew Dave and fiancĂ©e Samantha came for a visit.  While they were here Samantha and I worked on wedding invitations.  We had fun looking at images and making up a mockup so she can show her mom.  Next stop…”Save the date” cards.  It is nice having something normal to work on for a change!

So…Bill and Sue, Gord and Judy, Terry and Donna, Gord and Linda, Ron and Kelly, Dad and Doreen…I will miss you guys and have fun this weekend with Willie, Sharon, LaVerne and Brigita.

I will be swimming while you are watching the parade!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Last Date With You…

The title of a Skeeter Davis song except…I am not sad, or blue and I haven’t lost my true love…just, last radiation today.  Can’t believe how time has flown…I have been wrapped up in such a bubble of going to treatment…coming home and sleeping for six weeks.

I got to the floor and got called in right away…twenty minutes early too…walked into the room and gave a hug to “my big boy”.  Thirty days I have patted the machine as I lay down saying, “Hi big boy”…closing my eyes and visualizing the cancer getting zapped…when it is done patting the machine again as I left the room.

Some out there are old enough to not only know who Skeeter Davis was (Google her if you want to know) but, to know the movie Fantastic Voyage.  A diplomat is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his blood stream with a small crew.  In one of the scenes, they take a ray gun and zap the blood clot and save his life.  That was my image for the treatments…a Buck Rogers ray gun zapping the crap out of the cancer while I kept saying, “I am melting, I am melting”.  Today…I got to sing, “Ding dong the witch is dead”!

The radiation staff from Dana in reception to Claire and the girls…and even Omar…to Dr. Hsu and Dr. Gable are the best in the world.  I felt cared for and cared about.  As I got off the table Claire gave me my instructions for my next appointment and she tapped my appointment card, “You come down and see us after you are done”.  We talked about the fact that they never know the ending…all the people who come and go and they never know if they made it or not…that would be so very, very hard.  I promised I would be back to let them know my ending.  One of the therapists told me that when they met me and saw my attitude…she said to herself…that one is going to make it.  Believe…believe…believe.

Where do I go from here?  My radiation side-effects will taper off in two weeks or so.  The “cooking” of my chest and back will stop and I can put my necklace back on.  The radiation effects itself will continue up to six weeks.  I see Dr. Hsu on August 13th and then he will arrange either a CT scan or a PET scan to see where the cancer is at.

Monday…I go for labs and then I see Dr. Keith and we will discuss the next phase of chemo.  I am not handling well even the half dose of etoposide with feeling really, really crappy.  I have been spiking a fever for the past couple of days and they did labs and a chest xray on Monday.  Weird…I have never seen purple blood before and the urine sample was dark orange.  No message at the hospital or a phone call…so, I guess everything is okay.  However, feeling like this I don’t think my Neutrophils are up to snuff and we may have to postpone chemo again.  I guess I will know more on Monday.

Merrily swimming away.

 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2 Left...

Well...didn't quite make it...almost done and ended up hugging a toilet...crap...wrong end!  The banana went down okay but, last bite...the taste buds turned and I knew there was no way I was keeping it down.

On a good note...two more radiation treatments and I am done...now to finish chemo.

Nauseous but, still swimming.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I met a man today….

I was going to bitch about chemo….complain about the acid diarrhea, complain about the nausea, complain, complain, complain….

But…today I met a man on “O” radiation floor wrapped up on a stretcher…he had bare feet and a nurse found him a pair of booties.  When everyone left I called out to him, “You know…everyone is going to want a pair of those”.  He got up very slowly and came and sat closer to Rick and I. 

We got talking and he has esophagus cancer which spread to his lungs and now into his bones.  We got talking about bucket lists and his trip back to Portugal to visit family…I shared my story about Talia and Dory.  He said what gets him through this with a positive attitude is his family (teen boys that have just left the home) and his friends.  He has been told he has about six months left and he wondered if he would live to see his 59th birthday in November…I told him to never give up.  They called me into the room and I said goodbye…all I got is his name was Terry.

On the way home, Rick and I talked and he said to me, “You were good for him”.  I think it was the other way around.  I don’t know my outcome.  I don’t know if I will live a long life or be gone in six months.  What I do have is hope.

I have a rubber stamp that says “Some people come into our lives and quietly stay.  Others stay for awhile, leaving footprints in our hearts and we are never the same”.  I am glad I met him and my prayers go with him and his family.

Just keep swimming.

 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Post script….

Forgot the pics of my oncology bag…it hold my chemo cards, notices for doctors, phone while I travel and my good luck charms…




This is the flip side of Dory and it is a picture of  my strength…Talia Castellano.  The gold bauble is attached to a hand made rosary given to me years ago.  My necklace that I can’t wear right now is attached to the handle.






My guardian angels…the one on the left was sent to me by friends Doug and Linda and the gold on on the right was my mother’s.  She is in heaven watching over me like any mother would.

















Like I said…swimming.

7 Days And Counting….

Seven more days of radiation.  Starting to feel like a piece of meat being cooked in the microwave…cooking from the inside out!  Huge red rash that looks like a bad sunburn.  I am now doing four saline baths per day and using tons of lotion and sunscreen.  It has been helping.  However…one downside.  I had to remove my good luck necklace as the heat from the sunburn was heating the metal of the necklace and burning me.  It is now attached to my oncology bag with the rest of my good luck charms.

Second round of chemo three days in a row…feeling slightly nauseous but, the meds are working right now and I am eating and drinking fluids and that is the main thing….ain’t going back to the hospital if I can help it.

I thought I would show some pictures from the Look Good Feel Better conference we had where we got to play with makeup….  


   




 Me in all my glorious baldness!!!

   



Photo bombed!!!
    
Little too much rouge for me but, still looking good!!!














Thought I would share what kind of friends I have….just had my head shaved and this is what they leave for me under Room 2028 and above Nurse:  Barry (who was awesome by the way)…  Also, beautiful flowers from my dad and stepmom and they are still going strong!



    









Anyway, positive day today…feeling pretty good and the current is with me right now…swimming stongly!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Night at the museum…

Oops…make that “night at the ER”. 

Sunday, June 1st …around 4:00 Rick wants to know why I am huddled under a blanket, “I am cold”.  Later on, I start taking my temperature…37.1, 37.4, 38.1, 38.5…call the B.C. Cancer nurses hot line…get my butt to the nearest hospital.  We land at the ER in Chilliwack around 6:30 and as soon as I get out of the car and start walking across the parking lot I knew…Diverticulitis…sharp pain in the lower left abdomen while walking…great!

I hand the nurse my red Sheet “To Emergency Room Triage” with the warning in big letters “Febrile Neutropenia”….lovely as this is followed by the words “infection in a neutropenic patient is potentially life-threatening”.  Just what I want to hear!

Triaged…in isolation…on oxygen…nurses and doctors flying around the room…Rick is vibrating he is so scared…me?  I start to laugh!  I found the whole situation so blooming scary it was funny…cuz what else was I going to do…curl up into a little ball, cry and hide under the blankets?   I chose to find the humor in the situation and just deal with it.  By 10:30 I had blood work done…white cell count way down…neutrophils (the white cells that fight bacteria and infection down to .65), my doctor had talked to the chemo oncologist and I was on antibiotics and sent home with the dire warning if my fever got up to 38 I was to head to Abbotsford hospital immediately.

Monday, off to radiation as usual.  Tuesday,  coffee and a hug with Michael, radiation and then off to meet Marj my friend for lunch.  By the time we got home I was feeling crappy again.  On top of that, my hair is starting to fall out and I texted my daughter, who was coming for a visit, to bring her shaver…time to chop it off.  6:00 temp was 37.4, 6:15 it was 38.4…call my friend to cancel the wire wrapping class I was going to take that evening, grab ear plugs (because you never know) and in the car and on the road to Abbotsford ER. 

Total different scene than Chilliwack…sick people hacking and coughing all over the place…me?  Stuck in general population with a paper mask on.  I showed the lady on the front desk my red card expecting the same reaction I got in Chilliwack…nope.  We waiting an hour and I went back to the desk.  Her reaction to the red card…you know, the one that says I am supposed to be triaged and on antibiotics within an hour…the one that says this is life-threatening to me…this is the cancer hospital…her reaction to that red card, “that carries no weight here”…excuse me?  I guess a nurse overheard the conversation and Rick was getting loud…got me into her office and got me going.   Did I get put into isolation…did I at least, get put into a corner?  Nope…back into general population with a paper mask on.

Ok…not all bad, Cory the nurse assigned to me was awesome.  The doctor I was assigned was pretty good.  Just that I picked a night when all hell was breaking loose and the ER was overrun and backed up 6 hours….me bad!

12:30 a.m. and the doctor comes back…lab results show white cell down even more and neutrophils don’t even register….not good!  They are keeping me overnight and Cory finds a stretcher in a corner with a screen around it…Rick is sent home…sorry the lights are on…good thing I brought ear plugs.  Between the lights, hooked up to IV and getting pumped with fluids and antibiotics…I have to pee all night I managed to eek out a couple of hours sleep.  Breakfast…nope…CT scheduled for 1:00 and nothing to eat until then except…gross, crappy tasting stuff…which Rick thought was really funny…wait until he has to drink this one day!

CT scan over and now I am getting admitted to Oncology ward.  I am in isolation so I get a room to myself…this I can handle…Mr. Laughing Man is sent downstairs to get me a TV.  He also has to go home and get my toothbrush etc. and hopefully a hairnet to confine this stuff that is falling out all over the place.  The staff on the ward are awesome, the room is confortable…nice view…no restrictions on visiting hours…hair everywhere on my pillow…on the blanket…Rick find me a hairnet!

Dr. Keith, my chemo oncologist pays a visit…not good news.  My blood levels are too low to do chemo as scheduled on the 11th.  Between the apologies I get, “chemo can kill me, he took an oath to ‘do no harm’.”…yadda…yadda…yadda.  All I can hear in the noise is chemo can kill me and I know that the cancer can kill me and my odds just went down.  I am no longer swimming…treading water desperately trying not to drown.  He said he would revisit the issue…given time for the antibiotics to work…time for me to fight back and get my blood levels up….time to fight back period!

Thursday, I put my hair into a braid and got wheeled down to radiation….back in my room and tried to take out the elastic in the braid…half the braid came with it.  Brushed my hair and a whole bunch more of hair came with it…done.  Texted my friend, Gillian asking if she wanted to take a road trip…she did and she shaved my head…no more hair falling everywhere…love it!  My brother says I look like our dad…I guess I do now!  Texted my daughter and told her too late…couldn’t wait for her.

Each morning the vampires come in and take my blood…each day my white cell count goes up and my neutrophils go up.  The food is not the greatest and on the menu is the usual stuff I am not allowed…you know…peas, beans, corn…and the rest is tasteless….mind you, my taste buds are gone right now and nothing tastes right except potato chips and chocolate!

Monday the 9th and the vampires come in…this time full lab workup.  Mark and Susan drop by just as Dr. Keith makes his visit…no chemo.  He is putting it off for a week and he is talking about lowering the dosage.  Now this is scary…chemo will kill me and cancer will kill me.   I don’t have a choice…don’t cry…don’t let the fear in…swim, swim, swim. 

I am doing my best to keep my spirits up, I have Rick to keep going, I have family to keep going…I am down in radiation…patting the machine, as I do every morning…calling it “my big boy”…closing my eyes while the machine zaps me…picturing Buck Rogers’ ray gun zapping  the cancer and shrinking it.  I joke with the staff that chemo has let me down and it is up to them in radiation now.  Laughter keeps me going.

Wednesday, Susan comes back to take me down to the “Look good, feel better” seminar.  Companies donate makeup etc. to cancer patients and we have a blast putting on makeup and looking at hats and wigs.  I get back to my room to hear the words…”you are going home”…yeehaw!  My white cells are normal…my neutrophils are 2.7…wicked!

The rest of the week was quiet…radiation Thursday and Friday…the weekend spent resting…exhausted from the radiation.  I felt guilty because Father’s Day was such a quiet day.  At least all the kids called him (even the grandchildren) and he picked chinese takeout for supper.

Monday the 16th…back for lab work and then radiation doctor who says I am doing fine (even though we know nothing until 6 weeks after treatment stops)…off to radiation…up one more floor to meet with Dr. Keith.  Chemo on Wednesday…50% dosage.  He called it a double-edged sword…yeah, I know…chemo can kill me and so can the cancer. 

Too numb to be scared…too numb to do anything other than hope, believe and swim, swim, swim.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Still here..

Currently in the hospital.  Diverticulosis attack just when my blood levels are low.  More when I get home in a couple of days.

Keeping my head  above water.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I said goodbye today….

My friend, Jose…I met her eight years ago this June.  I answered an ad looking for a bookkeeper for her son…scheduling the interview Dan told me his mother was just diagnosed with cancer.

For the next two years I was at her place every Thursday doing Dan’s bookkeeping…watching her go up and down with treatment…eating healthy…because she was eating healthy…and cheering as she beat colon cancer…and was off to Mexico to celebrate.

Over the next year or so, I slowly dropped clients as it was getting too hard for me and…three years ago, it was Dan’s turn.  I remember sitting in the office with Jose while she cried, “I’m never going to see you again”.  I put my arms around her and gave her a big hug telling her, “Of course you will…I am dropping Dan not you!”.  We talked her and Ken into joining our RV club and we started seeing them with us at various campgrounds and rallys.

Jose never seemed to recover from the cancer…part, I still believe to PTSD.  She was so focused for so long on beating cancer that, when it was all done….silence.  She tried volunteering at gardens and other places, different kinds of anti-depressants, different kinds of therapy and was unable to shake the depression or to recover from the side-effects of chemo. 

Turns out it was much worse….we lost her in April to ALS.  There is nothing more infuriating or frustrating than to lose a friend to another disease when she fought so hard and valiantly to beat the first one.   She didn’t lose me…I lost her.

When I was diagnosed with cancer…I thought right away of Jose…she would get me through this…I would be okay with her and Ken’s help…they did it for her…they would do it for me.  She is not at my side…she is not a phone call away…she is not here…today, we said goodbye.

I have felt a steady pressure on my right shoulder since she passed away…I know it is her.  I know she is with me…when I start to leak or get down…I feel the squeeze and I know her….Jose is with me.

Murphy seems to have taken a holiday too…don’t miss him!  Saw my family doctor to update her as I have been dealing with surgeons, oncologists and specialists and not her lately and to just touch base.  I got the results of all the final tests…amen!

Reminder….when I had the PET scan they found a “hot spot” in my pelvic area and recommended further testing….ergo, ultrasound (pardon me…vaginal ultrasound).  Since I was having a CT scan of the chest, abdomen and head my doctor had the oncologist tack on pelvic area.  Got the scan results yesterday…head is clear (no jokes…glad the cancer has not spread to the brain!) and the “hot spot” in the pelvic area shrunk from the PET scan to the CT scan…not cancer…probably just a cyst that my body is taking care of by itself.

Hydration with a anti-nausea booster this morning (one more to go)…said goodbye to Jose and now I am going to go lie down.

Still swimming…tearfully…but, swimming.

 

Friday, May 30, 2014

8 Down…22 To Go…

Saturday, my brother and sister-in-law surprised me with a “sleepover”.  Had an awesome visit with lots of hugs, breakfast Sunday and they were off. 

The rest of the day found me flat on my back….dizzy and nauseous.  Tooks pills for the nausea and made the dizziness worse…acid reflux and major, major heartburn…followed by acid diarrhea.  Ok…I am not impressed.  I try to sit up to help the heartburn and I get so dizzy I have to lay down…ring around the rosy!

Monday I go in for radiation and I can’t eat anything or drink anything and the world will not stop spinning.  Tuesday I go in for radiation and still not eating or drinking so…I beg my chemo oncologist for help.  I have to go to the Chilliwack hospital for lab tests and by the time we get back home the doctor suggests coming into Abbotsford for hydration.  Too late in the day so Wednesday after radiation I go upstairs to General Daycare and they hook me up to a drip.  Still too much heartburn so I get him to prescribe Nexium…took one right away and again Thursday morning….oh gawd…no more heartburn!  Oh yeah, acid diarrhea stops too!  Poached eggs on toast tasted awesome!

Thursday, still dizzy and nauseous so he prescribes an IV drug to go with my drip…into radiation and upstairs for my second hydration…this time with a booster.  First time since Saturday I have felt human and wanting to eat anything.  Some glitch in the system and my order pills for nausea didn’t make it to the pharmacy.  Oh well, I will see how I feel in the morning.  Oops…spoke too soon…deep rumbling in my ear like my ear is full of water and my taste buds are gone…eat a handful of peanuts…yep…no peanutty taste…no salt…yuk!

Friday…little to no dizziness…no nausea…no heartburn…eureka!.  Into radiation early this morning…off to hydration where it takes forever….my line broke and I have to wait for a nurse to drill another hole and re-hook me up.  In the meantime I am sipping on a Chai Tea Latte and eating a blueberry scone…heaven!  And…I can read…for the first time since Saturday I can look at a computer screen or my KOBO.  Ear is hearing a bit better but taste buds are still shot…oh well, eat the stale tuna fish sandwich…can’t taste it anyway.

Did one lap around the complex when we got home…waiting to go see my GP and touch base with her today…first time I will have seen her since diagnosis…the sun is shining.

Swimming with a smile…come on in…water is warm!

 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I made the class……

Wednesday we started chemo and radiation.  I felt pretty good afterwards…high energy…did three loads of laundry…put the bed risers on our four-poster bed…and looking pretty good…ate Chinese food for supper.

1:46 in the morning…massive heartburn and acid reflux.  Feeling pretty crappy so I took a Zantac, ate some Tums until the pills kicked in and took one of my “backup” anti nausea pills.  It took about 1/2 hour before everything kicked in and I could bet to sleep.

Tuesday…another round of chemo in the morning…leisurely lunch in the cafeteria…radiation around 1:00 and still feeling pretty good.  Got to the car and felt like I hadn’t slept in a week…soooooo tired.  Came home and napped most of the day.  Ate leftovers for supper and still feeling tired…so went to bed.  

1:46 in the morning another severe heartburn/acid reflux night.  Same pills…same time to get it calmed so I could sleep.  On top of that…I forgot to take one of my anti-nausea pills before chemo…that didn’t help.

Yesterday, Friday…last day of chemo in this session (thank God).  Super tired from the radiation…went to bed early last night…took Zantac before bed…took “backup” pills and slept most of the night.  

Woken up early with diarrhea all over the bedroom…not me!  Abby!  She had a skin tag on her eyelid and spent the night at the vet getting it removed.  I guess she should not have eaten supper when she came home!  So…at 6:20 in the morning Rick is using the carpet shampooer to clean our bedroom.  Tonight she sleeps in the bathroom!
I felt pretty good when I woke up…took my normal anti-nausea pills plus I got to take the big boy booster I missed on Tuesday…loaded up my stuff and I was off to class. 









Terry Medaris is from Arizona and my local craft store, Be Creative Rubber Stamps talked him into coming up here and teaching us techniques using Prismacolor Art Pencils. 
His use of colors and Southwest influence make his artwork and stamps extremely vibrant and so much fun to color.  Part 1 was techniques with shading etc. and Part 2 was to tranfer that ability to creating jewelry.  I haven’t finished mine yet but, I now have homework to keep me busy.  

I am so glad I made the class…don’t know how I drove home but I arrived…had a bowl of cereal for supper and now I am ready to sleep.

Right now…we continue treatment with radiation Monday to Friday.  We start another round of three chemo treatments on the 11th.  I will probably post again after I have talked to the chemo and radiation oncologists.
Can’t see too straight right now…going to bed!

Swimming again the tide lately…but, still swimming.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 1 of 30…29 more to go!

Started the morning getting up early as chemo was at 8:30…didn’t get much sleep…not because of worrying…but, because…after so much fluid yesterday all I wanted to do was to pee!

Got to chemo and met Barb and the rest of the staff (the staff at BC Cancer in Abbotsford are the best).  We did our morning check-in, went over all the pills I have to take and then she hooked me up to the IV drugs (one drips for 1/2 an hour and the other drips 45 minutes).   As soon as the needle went in and the nurse ordered the chemical cocktail from the pharmacist…reality hit.   I started to “leak” and Barb patted my hand and told me it was okay to “leak”…in fact, it was okay to down right bawl my head off (haven’t done that yet).  I told her about Talia and Ellen and Dory and I played Just Keep Swimming for her (I have it on my phone) and I felt better and sucked it up and got pissed off!  Mind you…it really is hard to be pissed off when every 10 minutes you are going  to the bathroom.  I spent more time there than I did in my comfy chair!  I still managed to visualize the cancer shrinking.  In fact…when I told Barb about Dory she said she had a patient who stared at the drips.  When Barb asked her why…she said she is visualizing thousands of Pacmans racing to destroy the cancer…I now have Pacman on my phone!

Chemo over around 11:30 and radiation doesn’t start until 1:15… so we headed over to the cafeteria to have some lunch…I ate healthy…salad bar…they had no black olives or baby corn though!  We both brought our Kobo’s and read for a bit then headed out to the lounge where it was more comfortable until it was time to go down.

Down to radiation and they load me into my personal bed (aren’t I special!) and the techs took an x-ray to ensure placement and the big machine went around and around getting it right…and…then she came and got me….”Hello, are we done?”.  It was over so fast I didn’t have a chance to visualize anything…oh well, next time.  I did feel really awkward on the bed and I asked if I was straight and the tech said…nope.  Off to the chiropractor on Friday for a hip alignment!

So far…no side effects.  I had a bit of dry mouth but sucking on a mint took care of that.  I was developing a headache and my chest area hurt like hell…cancer didn’t like the chemo or the radiation…too f*cking bad!  Feel free to leave if you don’t like it!  Took my temperature twice over an hour…no fever…hello pain pills.  I have to be really careful taking anything while on chemo…so many side effects.   “Excuse me?  What do you mean chemo can bring on menopause again?”.  Hello hot flashes…not really impressed…I was almost finished with those babies.  Rick thinks this is funny…wait until I unpack my fan again or crank the air conditioning.  He thinks the ceiling fan is enough in the bedroom…grab a heating blanket buster!

Basically….today was not nearly as bad as my imagination.  We had Chinese food for supper…went for a walk with friends and did three laps around our complex (2.2 kilometers), and did three loads of laundry. 

I feel pretty damned good…tomorrow in another story!

Just keep swimming.

 

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

And so it begins….

Today started the ball rolling….woke up early, got blood tests, went for chest x-rays, met Mike (baby son, sorry…but you are the baby) for coffee, off to the auto repair to book new windshield and get body damage fixed (stupid semi kicked up some metal on the road and it whirled into our car driver’s door)….phew…then off to the hospital for more CT scans.

Had to mix iodine with 500 ml water…ugh that tasted like crap…nothing to eat after supper and only clear liquid until the test at 2:45, had to drink 750 more ml at 1:45…and then the nurse gave me another glass of water to drink…starting to float away.  At least with this test I got to pee…and pee…and pee!

Ct scan of pelvic area, abdomen, chest and head done…now I can eat.  Our anniversary is tomorrow so we had date night tonight.  Went to Swiss Chalet for ribs and then over to see Godzilla 3D…awesome.  Rick was bored as usual but, what does he know!  Now it’s time for bed.

Tomorrow we begin…chemo first thing in the morning followed by radiation…the same thing for Thursday and Friday.  Really nervous about the side effects.  Also nervous about other things…like…should I be doing something besides the chemo and radiation?  I am being told about integrated treatment with large doses of vitamin C…hypothermia treatments etc .  Are they “snake oil” treatments….no medical documentation of them working?  What happens if I don’t do them…what happens if I do?  Questions…questions…questions.  I guess I will talk things over with my doctors tomorrow and go from there.

No matter what…I am swimming!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Today….

Today was a better day…lots of hugs and love.  I am back!

Just keep swimming.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Not my favorite day….

Not in the mood to feel perky…not in the mood to be witty…not in the mood to be cheerful…just not in the mood!  I know family and friends and strangers are reading this blog.  This blog is not just to keep you all updated…I started it as such but, now it has become a release valve. I need to write about this…I need to put into writing my feelings, my fears, my hopes.  Days are going to be tough…I am not always going to be upbeat and laugh and joke.  Today is one of those days.

I had myself all psyched up for chemo and radiation to start on the 26th.  I have a CT scan scheduled for the 20th and I figured everything would be set up to start on the 26th…nope.  I had plans…nope.  There are things I need to do before it starts…nope.

Chemo and radiation are starting on the 21st…a Wednesday.  So…Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I am getting chemo and radiation combined.  One of the side effects is nausea and vomiting etc.  I have been waiting and waiting months to take a course using my art pencils by a fabulous teacher from Arizona…now I may not be able to take the class.  I had it all figured out…I was ready…I was going to get the test…do my class and then start treatments…I was ready…now I am not.

I have been struggling all day trying not to break down and just bawl my head off.  I am not ready to start treatments on the 21st.  This isn’t what I had planned on…it isn’t working out the way I had readied myself for. 

I was so positive and upbeat and psyched up for everything to start on the 26th…I was ready to kick cancer’s butt…I feel cheated.  I feel kicked in the teeth…I feel reality is closing in and I am not ready.  I just want to curl up into a little ball…pull the blankets over my head and hide.

Today I am crying.  Today I am sad.  Today I am upset.  Today I don’t feel like swimming. 

Tomorrow I will.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Guys won’t get this….

Monday…ultrasound…gotta pee at 9:15…then…I gotta drink 32oz. of water and not go pee until the test is over.  Do you know how many speed bumps and potholes between our house and the hospital?

When I had the PET scan done they found a cystic lesion in my right pelvic area and the drug they gave me to show up the cancer “pinged” it.  So, I had an ultrasound to find out what is going on.  She scanned and scanned and finally asked if I would agree to an internal ultrasound.  So, I said “yes” because I got to pee!

Now girls…this is where one gets to take a lubricated wand (half way between a tampon and a dildo) and insert it yourself into your “wahoo”!  Much better imaging…ok.  She scanned the left side, top and bottom and got to the right side and stayed there….picture after picture after picture….and…I got scared.

I called the doctor’s office as soon as I got home and left a message for her to call me.  She called yesterday and it is suggested to have a CT scan of the area.  She told me the cyst was sitting on top of my ‘one and only’ ovary and that it had shrunk since the last scan…that is good news to me….cancer grows not shrinks!

So, she is supposed to contact my chemo oncologist to add the pelvic area to his already scheduled CT scan on the 20th.  Just one more scan to go through and I can relax.  He is scanning my abdomen (now pelvic area too), chest and head.  I will breathe better when I am told there is no other cancer in the pelvic, abdomen and brain areas and…the cancer in my lung and lymph nodes has not grown.  The purpose of the scan was to size the cancer so they can track it shrinking during treatments.  Hubby thinks they will tell me whether I have a brain or not….there are days when widowhood looks good!

Adding a new one to my mantra list…Rascal Flats “I Won’t Let Go”. 

Just keep swimming!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Screwed, blued and tattooed…

OK….just blued and tattooed!  Morning spent at the hospital in radiology getting my mapping CT scan…no die, thank God!  I hate that stuff…makes one feel like one has to pee!

We first check in at the desk and then Rick and I are shuffled off to a room to watch a 15 minute video on the radiation procedure….no popcorn!  Rick has a “reality moment” but he is hanging in there.  Next we meet with a radiation nurse and she goes over the procedure and possible side effects.   I tried to get a ballpark time frame for all of this…I have a craft class I am not missing on the 24th whether I am throwing up or not!  Eureka, I will make the class.  Side effects should take a week or two after treatment starts before they show up.

Off to the room where I lay on the bed on top of a "bean bag” while two techs position me and then the bed inflates and forms to my body.  This now becomes my bed for the length of the treatment plan.  Next, the techs run me back and forth in the CT scan adjusting my position and marking my chest and sides with ink (that’s where the blued comes in).  After it is all done and I am perfectly positioned one of the techs comes back in with a needle….that is where the tattooed comes in!

Now…I did take a picture of the tattoo….strategically placing my camera so it is not a porno shot….but, man the chest is hairy and looks like chicken skin when it is blown up and cropped.  So….no chest shot…sorry guys!

I now have three tattoos, one on my upper chest, one on each side of my chest (there you go Rhiann).  She has been trying for years to get me to get a tattoo…I now have three!

Next appointment is on Monday for an ultrasound of the pelvic area.  The Pet scan showed an area of concern but none of the doctors are worried.  Simply could be old scar tissue, which is why I had such a hard time getting pregnant to begin with and a hysterectomy at an early age.  This is really not my favorite test…I think I would rather have the die, thank you.  I have to drink 32 oz. and NOT go to the bathroom until the test is over.  This test was created by a man to get back at us females!

Just keep swimming!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It’s my birthday…..

So, if it’s my birthday then why am I spending it at a hospital getting blood tests and visiting radiology.  I should be out picking out my present, getting ready to eat my favorite foods, surrounded by friends and family.
Nope….my gift this year begins with “C'”.  Yep folks…cancer.  Ain’t that a kick in the teeth….Stage 3a lung cancer.  I quit smoking 13 years ago to avoid lung cancer and I got it anyway!  Did you know that Murphy is my guardian angel…you know…”what can go wrong will go wrong”?  Yep, that guy!
Get yourself a coffee/tea/glass of wine and I will take you down my journey.  If not, skip the post and I will get you another day with a crafty thing….no offense taken here.

My journey begins at the end of February…actually, it began five years ago when we lost Rick’s brother Pat to cancer.  We visited him in respite care and I ended up with a virulent staff infection.  You know….nothing simple here…nope I pick up one that goes straight to attack the heart.  Well, Murphy sometimes gives me good along with bad…in my case, the staff infection saw a squirrel and went to the kidneys instead.  A couple of rounds of antibiotics and I was right as rain.  A year later and I am sicker than a dog (no offense canines of the world) and back on antibiotics.  Another year and another year and finally a diagnosis – I now have something called Diverticulosis.  Lovely disease…just don’t eat any of my favorite foods like corn on the cob, strawberries, sesame seeds, peas, beans, tomatoes…you get the picture. 

Now take us to October and Rick’s other brother Don calls us with “I have cancer and I have to go to the hospital”.  We don’t know where it originated but, it is in his lungs and his brain.  Eleven days from that phone call….November 5th we lost him.  Rick was not in a good place and I did my best to hold him up, their mom up, the siblings up and Don’s children up.

This takes us to February.  After four years and over fifteen rounds of antibiotics I found a surgeon who was ready and willing to do a bowel resection and cut out the bad part.  Wonderful!  We scheduled the surgery for March 10th.  March 3rd we were heading to Las Vegas and I had all my pre-op tests done before we left.  We got back on the 8th and the nightmare began….message on our answering machine to call my family doctor immediately, message to call my surgeon immediately, message from health department informing me of a CT scan scheduled for me on Thursday, another message marked urgent from my surgeon – this time with her cell phone number.  I call.  I hear the words “your surgery is cancelled as the chest x-ray showed a lesion that is suspected to be cancer”.  This brings us back to Murphy (you know, my guardian angel) and the good along with the bad.  Most surgeons do not do a routine chest x-ray for elective surgeries…this one did.  If she hadn’t and had gone ahead with the surgery I would not be in a good place.  Rick is not in a good place either right now….all he can see is Don….I am going to die like his brother.

And folks…signs of cancer?:  Drastic weight loss – nope (though I wish!), appetite – good, energy level – good…so, no signs…no warning…not even a little hint of anything wrong and wham – one’s life gets changed with a phone call.  Now, those who know me know that my life gets changed a lot:  Divorce and the custody battle, car after car after car accident etc.  Gotta love Murphy!
Ok…CT scan gets done and yes, it is suspected cancer.  Now we have to tell the family.  After losing Pat and then Don it was not welcome news.  I am so terrified I could choke….I do not want to die….I want to see my grandchildren grow up, get married and give me great-grandchildren.  I/we have so many plans for the future.  Here I am, again being the strong one…joking, laughing, down-playing the diagnosis.  Rick’s brother Kevin does the Ride For Cancer every year and we were supposed to go to Airdrie for a fund-raiser.  Not coming now…too many doctor appointments.  Everything is moving too fast and at the same time…slow as molasses.  Kevin sends me a text that he has added my name to his banner….and I lost it.  I sat and cried.  No sobbing my head off…no falling apart at the seams….just a few sobs….suck it back and… I call this “leaking”.  It still does not seem real…this is a nightmare I really, really want to wake up from.

Then comes an appointment with a thoracic surgeon who then schedules a PET scan for April 1st.  And…we wait, and we wait.  Another appointment with the thoracic surgeon who schedules surgery for May 2nd.  By the time we get home there is a message on the answering machine telling me the surgery has been cancelled and a biopsy is arranged for April 16th.  Rick and I show up at the hospital and I am my usual, “it’s all right” trying my best to be strong for Rick.  The biopsy itself was rough and while I was on the table having this long needle stuck through my boob and into my lung, I started to “leak”.  After it was over I was left alone for a minute before the tech came back into the room.  God bless him, he closed the door and stood over me while reality hit…I have cancer…I just had a biopsy.  Suck it back and get on with the day.

Now…people who really, really know me know that I am going to go home and head for the computer to look up everything.  DON’T!!  What a freaking scary world that is.  Man, I mean doom and gloom.  If I followed everything I read on the internet I should be planning my funeral.  But…like Pandora’s box…once open it is really hard to close the lid.  I had a couple of weeks of pretty scary feelings…trying to stay positive…trying to keep a smile on my face.  
Back to the surgeon to get the news….it is definitely lung cancer and it has effected my lymph nodes between my heart and the aorta…no surgery.  She is sending me to the cancer clinic.  Murphy – go pick on someone else for a change!
I am struggling to keep it together.  Rick keeps hugging me like he is never going to see me again and I am still joking and laughing on the outside but screaming on the inside.  I am trying so hard to be positive and strong for him and my family and friends.  I need something to hang onto.  Then I remembered a little girl called Talia (click on her name to go to her story).  She had to have been the strongest person I know.  She was on the Ellen show and Ellen asked her how she could be so strong.  Her answer was, “a little fish told me to just keep swimming”.  Ellen was the voice of Dory in the movie Finding Nemo….”You know what you gotta do when life gets you down? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  What do we do we swim, swim”.  Talia is my role model…if she can be strong and brave…so can I.  When I get scared or worried I picture her face and start singing “Just keep swimming…”.  This song is on my phone…this song is on my tablet….this song is in my head and in my heart!

May 1st we meet with Doctor Anderson, the radiation doctor.  We go over my results and why they are not doing any surgery.  He says he will not operate if he has to leave cancer behind.  So…with the lymph nodes so near my heart, it is such an awkward place…no surgery.  We are going with radiation….six weeks of the stuff.  He asked me if I wanted to know the odds.  I told him I wanted to know my enemy.  He told me 1 in 5 are cured, if I am not cured I can expect to be around 2 to 3 years.  That is so much better odds than what the internet said.  He told me there was a chance of my hair falling out.  Ok, it is falling out anyway…no great loss.  I could lose weight…hell, that is a bonus!

Feeling much better…becoming more determined….we meet with the chemotherapy doctor on my birthday…the 6th.  We go over everything again.  This time I hear my hair may grow back fuller.  If chemo can kick-start my dead hair follicles and make them grow again…I will take it!  He asked if I knew the odds and when I told him….he figures with my age and health I have better than the 1 in 5….I will take it and run!  Blood tests done, chest x-rays scheduled, more blood tests scheduled, CT scan scheduled and we are back in a holding pattern.

Six weeks of radiation…five days a week.  Chemo for three days at the same time…three weeks off and then another round of chemo.  If I am handling it, I can do another two rounds of chemo.  All joking aside, this is going to be a rough six weeks.  I am not kidding myself…it is going to be really, really rough.  I am going to lie there picturing God’s hand on my chest shrinking the cancer…I have my mantras, I have a goal I want to reach…to go to Quesnel for Billy Barker days at the end of July….to see my grandchildren grow up.

I am going to beat this.  It picked on the wrong body! 
Just keep swimming!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My second sale…..


My friend and neighbor asked if I would make two birthday cards for their two grandsons.  I asked what they were into….hello, LEGO!  So I searched on the internet and I “cased” a couple of cards.
         

I definitely had fun making them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Watermarking….

I find there are just too many people out there who will steal someone's creative work, claim it is their own and submit it to contests and challenges.  Sheesh...give me a break!
I'm not talking about "casing" a card...I am guilty of that as I do not have a creative brain cell in my brain.  I however, do not submit that card to a challenge or contest.
So...today I finally "Googled" and found a simple, easy method of creating a watermark and I will be using them from now on...especially as I would like to start selling my cards.
Today's card is for my 92 year old father for his birthday.  I have seen this card a few times on the internet.  I did not want to spoil a deck of cards so...I searched for images for the four cards and printed my own on card stock.  For the background, I found a clip art on the internet and duplicated it until I had my own background paper.  Then, I scrunched the paper up...flattened it out and distressed it with Vintage Photo.
 
    

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Well that was just a mess!

Sitting here in my pyjamas...took the whole morning to fix my blog pictures.  So folks....if you are changing computers back up, back up.  This includes the now stupid linking of Blogger, Google+ and Picasa.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Well isn't that just duckie!!!

Blogger has lost the connection to all my photos....sheesh.  I purchased a new computer and a new smart phone...pics are there....just not on my blog!

Let's see how long it takes for them to fix this one!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Still here...

It has been awhile....this past year has been so busy.  We started the year with relocating and it has been the best decision we made...love the new house and great neighbors.

However, not much time for crafting.  In May my father had a stroke (he is doing really good now) and then in September hubby's middle brother had a stroke (he is doing fine too).  Then in November hubby lost another brother to cancer.  Life is not finished "biting us in the butt"...the youngest son of the brother was in an accident and is in a coma....this is a long waiting game.

I manage to get cards done one at a time.  My new year's resolution is to get started on my Copic classes...finish projects and designate time for serious crafting. Besides...not much one can really can do but put one foot in front of the other and keep walking forward