Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Had an awesome time on the cruise and did not want to come home.  I miss having a bar tender follow me around the ship from lounge to lounge ( seemed like he was my personal bar tender) making sure I had the day's special drink in my hand.  I miss having my bed made in the morning and turned down at night with chocolates on my pillow...I miss having my meals cooked for me.  I miss the warmth!

We had a blast in Vegas too....friends got a surprise when his sister and hubby showed up on their doorstep at midnight...they haven't seen each other for 24 we have two more friends in the mix.  It was a bit cool but sunny and we saw the usual sights.

Back to the grind...I like the means I am alive!  Xrays and lab reports all state "no change" and I am still stable.  Had chemo a week Wednesday and I have been sleeping on the couch ever since.  Rick came down with a horrible cough and chest cold and...with my neutrophils being so low...I can't afford to take the risk of getting what he has.  

My throat was sore and scratchy and I felt like I was coming down with it but, with all the mega vitamin C IV's I get...I have been hanging in there.  I did triple the Echinacea and so far I have been fine...just the usual wiped out.  Energy levels starting to perk up again.  I guess Rick has been feeling better too as the Christmas tree is now up and he "sprinkled" decorations around the house.  I didn't bother putting a tree up in the family room (my domain)...I will just light candles!

For the first time since I was diagnosed and we ended up on this merry-go-round...I have nothing else to say!  I can't believe I have gotten to the point where I am stable and doing fine...especially with Stage 4 lung cancer!  I have some heavy-duty guardian angels up there pulling for me and I know God has my back....

Swimming to Christmas carols....

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Not quite....

Was on my way out of what I thought was my last chemo for awhile and the nurse tells me they have me scheduled for chemo on the 17th...hello, I will be on a cruise ship!  Then she said they could reschedule it for the 24th...hello, I am going to Las Vegas!  Left a couple of messages for the chemo nurse and for Dr. Keith to call me back but, no one did.

So...Monday morning we got up early and drove to the hospital to see what was going on.  Apparently, it was up to Dr. Keith...something about delayed chemo?  Anyway, they were surprised that no one had gotten back to me and they would definitely find out what was going on and call me.

As we were waiting for the elevator, Dr. Keith got off...walked past...turned around and came back asking if I was comfortable talking in the bet!  I had it wrong...chemo is ongoing...treatment every three long as I keep responding.

I guess the last CT scan ended up resulting with me still stable and continuing with Pemetrexed every three weeks on a maintenance plan...I really like the words "stable" and "maintenance"!  We talked about the confusion with the dates and that we booked our vacation.  He said it was okay to take a we fly to Fort Lauderdale for a 7-day Caribbean cruise...we get back on the 24th and off to Las Vegas on the 29th to December 3rd.  When we get back it is xrays and labs and chemo on December 9th.

I can't wait to sit on a sandy beach drinking something cold and frosty with my feet IV's in feeling crappy...normal...just plain old normal!

Looking forward to where I will be swimming.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's a wrap!!!

Tomorrow is my last chemo treatment in this round of six.  It was supposed to be last Wednesday but, I ended up with a stupid Diverticulitis attack and landed on anti-biotics Cypro and Flagyl...heavy duty drugs...not good with chemo.

So, tomorrow morning is chemo...right after lunch is LRHT and then we play the waiting game again.  The CT scans keep showing some spots gone, some spots micro larger and some spots stable.  Not too sure where we are going from here but, will have consults with doctors (chemo and naturopath) to see what our game plan is.

In the meantime...I am going to get my energy level back and head off on our cruise on the 12th.  We had to miss the Panama cruise and it was our idea...I have earned this!  I want "normal" for awhile.

Besides...I need to celebrate.  The radiation oncologist gave me two years....still here!  The chemo oncologist gave me four months with no treatment to eight months with...still here!  You bet I am still here!

Swimming, diving, blowing bubbles...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It's Been Awhile....

Been busy with life and doing "normal" things like camping, visiting with #2 son and daughter-in-law (who are expecting their first child) doing touristy things...finally getting to Red I said...normal things.

I have had three more chemo treatments followed by the LRHT's with the final one for this round scheduled for October 21st.  Each one seemed to be worse than the one before...apparently the side effects compound.  This last one has taken a week to get the vertigo to stop...the world was spinning so bad I was nauseous.  Thankfully, today is the start of getting some energy back and maybe I will get out of my pajamas tomorrow.

Got the CT scan results from September...cluster of nodules and patchy opacification in the left lower lobe seems to be gone with only scarring in the area now.  Partial collapse of my left lung...Dr. Keith says it has been like that since radiation last year.  Some nodules have enlarged and some have stayed stable.  Good news and bad news...a real mix.  I have another scan scheduled for the 16th to see what, if any, changes there are from that report.  I guess that result will dictate the direction we go with the chemo in the future.  The doctors caution me that the increase in size is millimeters...tiny, tiny growth...and not to get too worked up right now about the changes.  Not too happy with that as I had been stable for so many months.

Did the bank account up today and paid all the bills.  We have been using one credit card for my treatments and paying it off with my RRSP's.  However...the funds are running out and not enough to pay off the card in, I do have enough left in savings to cover the 21st...but, that is it.  I may have enough for another round in my RRSP's....I will know more when I get my next statement.  Each round so far has consisted of six chemo treatments with LRHT's on day 1, day 3 and day 5.  Each LRHT treatment costs $501.00 and the supplements run around $600.00...basically, $10,000.00 for each round. 

One other option is a reverse mortgage on the house but, that leaves Rick in debt.  I don't know how other people are doing it.  One man has had over 38 full-body treatments at $1,500.00 each.  To be honest...I am now scared and trying not to let it get to me.  I even googled GoFundMe the other day to see about it...but, I just can't ask family and friends.  I can't believe our federal government will not cover any of this.  BC Medical covers the chemo but, I have to pay for any prescriptions...they do not cover anything of the naturopathic treatments.  I get to claim the treatments (not the suppliments) on my tax return...big deal!  I guess that is their way of population control...yeehaw!

So...I will get the CT scan results and sit down with my chemo oncologist and see what my options are...then I will sit down with my naturopath oncologist and see what my options are.  

I am going to take some more "normal" time and...who knows...maybe I will strike it big in Vegas at the end of November (just couldn't pass up the trip...$377 US funds...for two people, three nights, four days including airfare) and our 7-day Caribbean cruise just before that. matter how scared I am or get...I am swimming strongly...head above water...singing "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swim, swim.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I am hanging in there.  Had my first "maintenance" chemo and no side effects at all...awesome.  Each chemo is followed by LRHT chemo day (day 1) and then again on day 3 and day nausea.  I made it to my niece's wedding in Kamloops and then up to Quesnel to visit family and then we had another wedding (the summer of weddings...four of them!)

Second chemo was last Wednesday...I was fine until Friday and then I started to crap out....tired, tired, tired....all I wanted to do was to sleep.  I was like that until Monday afternoon and then I started to get some energy back.  Monday night was pot luck at our complex and I wasn't too sure if I was going to make it or not but, I did and even walked that night.  I did a "no no" was a corn roast...there was so much corn on the cob there...I had to have one...just a little issues!!!  Rick was so sure it would cause an issue with my diverticulitis but, nope...mind you...I am not going to push the issue either.  But it was sooo has been over three years since I had one and I really, really miss BBQ'd corn on the cob!

I saw the naturopath today and my blood levels are all good.  My liver and kidneys are taking a beating with the chemo but...hanging in there.  My tumor markers are down again...yeehaw!  I am scheduled for a CT scan on September 8th LRHT other than chemo day 1.  The LRHT causes inflammation and it can skew the's only for day 3 and day 5.  That's pocket book can take the rest!

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible" - Christopher Reeve

Swimming merrily.

Friday, June 26, 2015

And we are off.....

Had the CT scan and while I was waiting for them to release me, I got a visit from the nurse with a paper of information.  Apparently, my kidney levels dropped below the threshold of 60 and since I had the CT scan I need repeat blood work in 48 hours. 

Went to the family doctor on the 23rd for my B12 shot and while I was there I asked about my blood levels and they were 61...lots better.  I knew the chemo was going to be rough on my kidneys but, they are working fine and I am drinking lots of fluids was not something I was overly concerned about.

I also asked about the CT scan results and got a copy printed off for me.  I got knocked was not news I was expecting or wanted to read about.  I will admit to feeling a bit depressed and I didn't want to talk to anyone or see anyone...I sure didn't tell Rick about it.  Yes, the cancer seems to be stable...yes, one of the tumors shrunk...but, there was mention of new spots.  As usual, the technician who reads these things states that spreading cancer can't be ruled out.  At least, there is still no cancer anywhere else...confined to my lungs.

Saw Dr. Keith (oncologist) on the 24th and we went over the CT results.  He gave the impression that this was all good news which brought my mood up considerably.  Bilateral lung nodules (cancer spots) not significantly changed or slightly smaller.  The largest nodule in my left lung has shrunk from 7mm to 4mm.  I think that is good news, don't you?  The new spots he is attributing to a lung infection.  I picked up a cold at the beginning of May and I have been unable to shake the coughing etc.  No antibiotics as my system seems to be fighting it off my new new cancer!  I am stable and the big spot is mention of the smaller spot.

So...we are doing another round of six treatments of Carboplatin...only anti-nausea drugs.  Dr. Keith thinks I should handle the new chemo treatment a lot easier.  We are starting at 80% dosage and see how I respond from there.  We talked about targeted cancer treatment but, he doesn't think I am bad enough for that yet...nor, the drug trials.  Good news!  The new treatment sheet he gave me says, "This treatment is being given to keep the cancer from progressing, once it has been successfully controlled with an initial chemotherapy treatment".  Yeehaw!!!

On the 25th I saw my replacement naturopath oncologist (Dr. Lindsay Adrian)...I like her!  We went over the CT scan results and reading them from her perspective....the report talks about the cancer being stable...and oh by the way, it shrunk almost in half.  Again, yeehaw!!!  She prescribed a high dose of Echinacea to combat the lung infection and we continue the treatments as usual.  Each time I have a chemo treatment I go in that day for LRHT and again on day 3 and day 5.  I am back drinking Chaga tea...haven't been feeling very good up to now and not able to drink even normal tea.  At least my dad is happy now!

My summer is back on hold again...we are missing a wedding this weekend because I am still not up to traveling....the chemo treatments won't affect the next two weddings but, we will have to see the calendar to find out about the fourth one.

So...good news for a change!  Swimming in large circles, doing back flips and belly flops!

Friday, June 12, 2015


Met with Dr. Parma (naturopath) to go over treatment results etc.  He is taking a 6-month sabbatical to work on a book he is hoping to release and to collate the cancer study results he is doing, which are finished in June.  So, I get handed off to another doctor there.  Diane's doctor is back from maternity leave so I will transfer to her.  Gonna miss Dr. Parma....  When I see Dr. Keith (oncologist) I am to ask for my "alk" and "egfr" results from the lung biopsy.

We met with Dr. Keith on June 1st and he was in much better spirits...more positive.  I asked for the lung biopsy results and he said they were "negative".  Apparently, that means that I am not a good candidate for targeted cancer treatment....that option now may be off the table for me.  My blood levels were low again so...that means back to the hospital Wednesday morning before chemo for re-testing.  Crap!  Chemo is at 9:15 so that means we have to be at the hospital by sleeping in.  Dr. Keith is also going to lower the chemo dosage's cumulative and I still don't seem to be handling it well.

Wednesday, blood tests...and up to chemo.  Neutrophil levels from 1.0 to over 6.0 again....chemo is a go!  Then off to Fort Langley for my Mistletoe injection, Vitamin C IV and LRHT treatments.  Thursday was not too bad a day....Friday I crashed.  Can't stop coughing and that brings on the gagging reflex and the LRHT treatment has to stop so I can get sick again...second time. No more treatments until after the CT scan.  The LRHT treatments can inflame where the cancer is and I could have a non-true scan result.  We are continuing with weekly IV and injections for now.  The ideas is to wait for the inflammation to settle before the scan is done.

Flat on my ass....I go from the bed to the couch forcing down water...too sick to eat.  I don't even want tea...just water to keep hydrated....dozing most of the day.  At 10:00 I take my sleeping pills and off back to bed for the night.  Wake up - repeat!  Rick is trying to force food down and I can take bits and bites but, that is all.  Don't want food!  By Tuesday I can lift my head without the room spinning and I can sit up part of the day before I have to lie down again.  Wednesday is even better.  Thursday off to Fort Langley for IV and injection...back home...over to the neighbors (haven't seen anyone in six weeks) for lemonade...yumm...back home to bed.  We ordered in supper and I ate every crumb on my plate...even sunflower seeds tasted good.  Man, I was hungry.  I really, really want to get back to normal!  My sinuses are starting to dry up...must have been the lower dosage of carboplatin and the coughing is less...bronchial congestion is starting to break up...I can see the end of the tunnel.

I will not do chemo again...nope...done.  It just takes too much out of me.  I don't feel normal...I don't feel good.  Barely get myself on my feet and...wham...another chemo...repeat six times.  Then it takes months to get any energy back just to do housework or anything.  I miss walking...I hate looking at my bike hanging in the garage not being used.  I hate looking at my craft room because it is not organized...I am tired of being on the couch.  I am tired of not going anywhere or doing anything because life revolves around Abbotsford Hospital.  I miss my friends!

And...we are in a holding pattern again.  The CT scan on the 18th, blood work on the 23rd, my final B12 injection on the 23rd, we see Dr. Keith on the 24th for test results and to discuss my options within the B.C. Cancer Agency and then Dr. Adrian on the 25th and we discuss my options outside of the BCCA.

Swimming weakly, but swimming.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Alrighty then.....

Went to Quesnel for dad's was really touching and he would have liked it...right down to the honor guard from the Legion (dad was a vet).  On the drive there I was feeling pretty down and one thought was that I would not be getting a birthday card this year.

Later that night...the family and close friends were gathered around in dad's "man cave" toasting him and reminiscing about dad and just being together.  My stepsisters and I were going through some of dad's photos...seeing which ones we wanted and...there was an envelope with my name written on it.

I opened up the envelope and it was a signed birthday card from dad and my stepmom.  I guess sometime ago he couldn't find the card and sent me another one.  Later on, this one showed up and he put it got my birthday card from him this year after all!!  I had a good cry when I officially opened it up on my birthday and it is now on my bookshelf where I can see it all the time.

Something else we had written out the words to Amazing Grace and I think it was my niece who found it and a last minute change to his funeral where we had Amazing Grace played...I wish I had known ahead of would have been more poignant  I think...mind you I was a mess to begin with that day and it could have made it worse for me.

So....chemo....fourth one at 100% and I was flat on my back.  First time in a year that I ended up being sick to my stomach too...not impressed.  Had the treatment on Wednesday...then over to Fort Langley for the LRHT treatment.  Back to Fort Langley on the Friday....rough day...and then again on the Monday.  All I wanted to do was sleep!  I go to bed...stay in bed until noon...go back to bed again at 11:00...sleep until noon....I did this for almost two weeks.  Seems like I never got my energy up and back to the hospital on the Monday for blood work and the meeting with Dr. Keith.  My neutrophils were just over 1.0 and we need them over 2.0 before he will consider another chemo treatment. 

He really needs to work on his bedside manner...I have nicknamed him "Dr. Doom & Gloom"....nothing positive from him....talked about quality of care etc. like I am going to die in the next couple of days and there was no point in having chemo....then..."If it was me...I would have the fifth treatment".  Like come on!  Where is the positive attitude here?  Xrays show the cancer is stable right changes...awesome!  I walked away so down and depressed I had a really, really hard time finding anything to feel positive about...almost made me want to give up.  On top of sinuses are going nuts from the chemo and constantly draining which makes me cough which makes my sinuses drain...vicious circle...give me a break!

We are also lowering the dosage back to 80%.   I hate this...I hate cutting back the dosage because I feel I am letting myself down and not giving myself the best chance to fight the cancer. 

Back to the hospital on Wednesday for blood work and my levels have gone from 1 point something to over 8...wicked!  Dr. Parma (naturopath) says this is rare for someone to bounce back so strongly.  Yeah...on paper it says I am doing so good but, my energy levels are tanking....I haven't walked in ages...I can't seem to be upright without almost passing out.  Almost three weeks without walking...feeling too crappy to drink Chaga tea and feeling guilty because I am not drinking it...not wanting to eat....upside is losing weight.  I started way overweight for my height and age group anyway so...lots of room there to do so!

Do the fifth chemo and off to Fort Langley where Kim is my nurse...God bless her...she is so bubbly and upbeat with hugs that my downness (who cares if it is not a word) goes away and my mood is up, up, up.  Also, I find on the internet, "I don't know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text will it ever read, I gave up"....just what I need.  Friday and Tuesday back to Fort Langley for LRHT treatments.

I am tired...sleepy...drained just over a week I am upright!  I made it out the door today for the first time (other than chemo and treatments) in almost two months to have coffee and cookies with my friends....I even made two cards yesterday!!!  We have a week and a half to go until my last treatment and then the CT Scan to see where we are at...and I feel good...I may even get out for a walk.  On top of that...I see my daughter and SIL tomorrow for a visit on their way to the island to pick up the kiddies...then back here on Friday for the weekend and I get my grandkids fix...yippee!

Das it....swimming....

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Ok...first round of chemo is going good.  I have had little to no side effects (I even still have hair)...a bit of nausea but, I am on top of it.

We had our meeting with the Naturopath oncologist Dr. Parma and we are going ahead with the treatments at the same time as chemo.  So...on chemo days I go to the hospital to get my chemo meds and then over to Fort Langley for intravenous vitamin C and Loco-regional Hyperthermia treatment (LRHT).   One can find the information on the treatment here.  I return on day three and day five for repeat treatments.  So far so good...the last CT scan shows the cancer is stable.

They also offer total body heat treatment and I had that one on Thursday.  One lies in a "tent" with one's head sticking out and the body temperature is raised to fever pitch (simplistic description).  It took just over four hours for the temperature to be raised up...leveleled and then lowered.  I bought an IPOD shuffle and had eleven Garth Brooks albums loaded so...I was good.  IT WAS HOT!  The only thing uncovered was my head....socks, gloves, arms...everything else covered.  When ones comes out one is super weak and tired.  I think I slept the rest of the day and then Friday all hell broke loose!

Fours kids, three grandchildren and two spare dogs came home for Easter.  Then...throw in one mother-in-law, nephew and fiance and we were crowded. was fun cuddling...easter egg hunt...early birthday gifts.

Today....I am doing laundry, getting ready to leave tomorrow for the funeral.  Not looking forward to it but, I am swimming...and yes, dad, drinking my tea.

Irish Lament.....

April Fool's Day...who but my father would choose that day to die!  I talked to him on Monday and everything was fine....Wednesday, he was gone.

It still doesn't seem real.  I know I am leaving tomorrow to go to the funeral....I still expect him to be there waving at me from his doorstep or sitting in his gazebo with the heater going in the middle of winter.  His silence will echo when I walk into the house and...the adult part of me is prepared but the little girl part of me is not.

We did not have an easy relationship...lots of baggage and so many scars but, we managed to muddle our way into a father/daughter relationship late in life that I get to treasure.  I have good memories that take the sting out of the bad and I have no regrets.

He was so adamant that I drink Chaga mushroom tea and that it would cure my cancer.  His determination and love alone would be powerful enough to do that.  I drink my tea each day and I think of him standing on my left side with his hand on my shoulder...way to go, kiddo....keep drinking.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Comment issues

Ok so I've realized I have a problem. I have been told that a reader was unable to leave comments on my blog. I don't know if this is due to her browser settings, but once she clicked 'publish' the comment disappeared.  I do my best to reply to all comments left on my blog, so please don't take offense that I haven't replied you - I just didn't know there was a problem.  I have changed the settings to a "popup window" so, hopefully that fixes the issue.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blogger is a pain in the butt.....

Seems like I have to constantly relink my photos to my blogs...done again! 

Craft Room Reveal

Finally got my craft room painted and furniture installed….mind you, I still have to organize it all.  Everything is just shoved into the drawers and the closet until I can sit down next week and sort everything out.  While I was putting my stamps away I did go through them and pulled out stamps I bought and not used and…probably will never use and have them ready for a craft sale.  I have my dies and  embossing folders to do yet…just need more time to settle down and not be so overwhelmed with it all. I said...everything stuffed into my closet I have to sort through and find a new spot for or toss, sell or keep.  In here are also my seasonal Christmas, Valentines, Easter etc.  I have them stored in separate boxes and it keeps everything together.  My Pergamano, Just Rite, label makers etc. need to find a permanent time.  The two Iris rolling carts - one hold my seasonal papers and the other one holds paper and supplies for wedding invitations I make...each cart per person.  That way, I everything is together and I only have to bring out one container and not sift through everything to find what I need.

These are the closet doors closed.  The two pictures hanging are scratch board pics we did in a class.  They remind me that crafting can create some pretty awesome stuff.

Behind the door is the stamp rack that Rick made me and the wood-mounted stamps that I am keeping.

This rolling cart needs to be gone through and a lot of stuff sorted out.  When we were packing to move...a lot of stuff just got shoved anywhere I could find a spot and so far, have not had the time to go through.  The cabinet...I spotted on Pinterest and fell in love.  I originally was going with the 8x8 cubed Expedit shelf from Ikea and adding doors and drawers...then I saw this!  The small drawers on the top are deep enough for my embossing folders and dies.  Pinterest had the 8x8 on top but, that is way, way to high for me and I went with the 4x2.  I had the 4x1 in the corner to the right but, it didn't work so it is now on top.  So far I have my peeloffs, Copic lessons, and my glitter rotating containers in the top row.  Next is 8.5x11 paper, small embossing folders in a binder and then the two drawer units I need to go through and may not stay there.  The bottom row holds my 12x12, my thin dies in the CD binders and the backpack file folders and then my embossing folders are in a fridge bin from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Another cabinet from Ikea...this is going to hold my Distress Inks, embossing powders etc down the road.  Next to it is my crafting desk under the window.  Top drawer holds pens etc., the second one holds my small Tonic cutter, small scoring board, envelop maker.  Third drawer down my glitter glues and miscellaneous stuff.  Fourth drawer is my Pan Pastel drawer...bottom holds watercolor paper.  The revolving carousel holds my tools (blades, tweezers, Tim mats etc. 
The wire rack stacker holds my Perfect rulers and my tape rollers etc.

My computer sits in the corner and miscellaneous bits and pieces sit on the shelves (things friends have made...little keepsakes).

The printer stand is a rolling cart because I just don't have the room for it anywhere else.  I tried the room without the cabinet and the printer stand in the spot but, I found I still need the cabinet right now...down the road...who knows.  Anyway, the printer stand fits under the desk and the top printer sits where my keyboard is when company we can use the blowup bed.

The red baskets hold my glue dots, assorted bottles of stuff, and one holds all my tape rolls.  The rotating circles hold all my Tim Holtz refills and daubers.  The drawers in the cabinet need to be gone through and sorted badly.
This is the cabinet without the printer stand in front of it.  It originally had white drawer handles but, a quick visit to Ikea and now the handles match the dresser on the opposite side of the room.  

Next to it is my Best Storage unit...the left row holds my embellishments etc....the middle holds more supplies and my sewing stuff...the right side holds all my beading supplies.  The pegboard holds my Martha Stewart punches and I mean...I really downsized these punches too. On top is my extra scanner and my beautiful pink Gazelle cutter.  In the corner is my wire rack that holds more of my 12x12.  I am really not too sure if I am going to keep this there or find another method of storing my paper.  Right now...this works.

Another visit to Ikea and I have a new island.  I was so tired of bending over with my Tonic cutter on the floor trying to cut poor ribs!  So...after research I purchased the cabinet...a visit to Home Depot for a board that hubby cut to size for the top.  Three sides of the board were unfinished so we picked up some trim and covered them up.  Again, the handles were changed to match my beautiful cabinet.  It is counter height and perfect for cutting, using my Big Shot and...I can roll it around the room.  It rolls right over to the Best Storage unit and I can slide my Gazelle over to the island and I have lots more room to work my cutter.  

I picked the cabinet style that had two doors and a drawer because I wanted to be able to store all my plates for my machines.

It is the perfect storage unit for my Big Shot, Grand Calibre and my Tonic cutter. Also, it rolls right out the door and sits in the laundry room when we have company.

So...craft room reveal done.  I can't wait to sit down tomorrow and start working on Valentines stuff.

Side note:  Received a call from the hospital about starting chemo today but, we had to postpone as it has not been seven days since my B12 shot...looking at next week.  Probably, it will be Wednesday or Thursday as I have a CT scan scheduled for Tuesday.  I am on the waiting list to see the Naturopath regarding Hypertheria treatments and I sent over today all my tests from day one.  

Merrily swimming.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Here we go again....

Saw the chemo oncologist on Wednesday...

Good news...the cancer does not appear to be in my bones or anywhere else.  The bone scan came back clear and my kidneys are healthy There is no mention of either original tumor in any reports which leads the doctor to believe the two original tumors are gone. 

Bad news..the cancer has spread to both lungs and is metastatic....i.e. not curable.  The CT report lists "multiple" spots exact figure other than about two largest is around 7mm and the other is 9mm.  The doctor figures the new spots may have mutated and become resistant to the chemo I was taking. battle now is to see how long I can live.  If I do nothing...the doctor figures four months.  If I fight could be anywhere from ten months or longer.   

I am fighting back!  This is classed as "first line" treatment.  If that doesn't work, I have a "second line" treatment option which would be drug trials if I want to go that route. 

The new chemotherapy starts in seven to eight days...just waiting for an appointment to be set up.  I am to take folic acid every day and I have to get a B12 shot while I am waiting.  No radiation unless any of the spots becomes "troublesome"....whatever that means. My beautiful curls are going to go away again....I was getting used to having hair!  One good thing is I don't have to take the three pills that cost $120.00!

Rick...does well during the day but, holds me and cries in the dark.  Him I am worried about the most.  I carried him through his brother Pat dying...I carried him through Mike having the stroke and I carried him through Don and his lost battle with cancer.  He is not strong but, that is okay - I am.

Me...numb to leaking.  I have to fight the "why bother" when I think of doing finishing my craft room or making a dentist appointment or making decisions on what color to paint the house etc.  This is still new to me and I am trying to figure out how to cope.

So...I am treading water waiting to get my balance before I take off swimming.  I feel each and every one of my friends and family in the water with me holding me up.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Oh shit...I mean...oh shoot...

Last night at 6:30 p.m. I got a phone call from my oncologist.  He wants to do a kidney function test as soon as possible...hopefully, the next day.  Abbotsford hospital will call with the details.

Now...I just finished the bone scan, the lung biopsy and a CT, my mind is going a mile a minute wondering what went wrong...what showed up?  Me?  I choose to ignore the whole situation and try to not think about it at all.  Actually, I even dropped off to sleep right way without my mind going and going over it all.  I guess Rick wasn't so lucky.  He said he never got a wink of sleep.  I just told him my mantra is:  1) Was there anything that can be done about it?  NOPE.  2)  Was getting all upset over it going to change the situation?  NOPE.  Just go with it!

So...this morning at 7:23 a.m. Abbotsford hospital calls and says they want to do the test this morning at 9:00.  Have I eaten anything?  Nope.  Stay hydrated...clear fluids only.  Okay, Rick is working with a friend this morning and can't take me to the hospital.  Who do I know who is awake that I can call to get me there?  Hello, Gillian...?  Off to the hospital we go and we sit and sit and sit as usual waiting for my turn. 

Finally, they call me in to Nuclear Radiation and my first question...what is wrong?  Nothing...phew...just a pre-chemotherapy test on my kidneys to see how they are.  Relief is not spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S!  The tech says Dr. Keith is the best and if she ever got cancer...he is who she would want.  It is nice to hear that I have the best fighting for me.  A different tech knocks and now Dr. Keith wants another blood test run so up to the lab in a few minutes.  Two arms with for the radioactive solution and the other for the blood tests.  Three vials of blood from one injection in the other arm.  Now I have two hours to kill before I come back so, off to the lab I go.

The lab does not have a requisition yet and she phones down to Dr. Keith's office to get one.  What do you mean you won't use the port?  Sorry, no more holes today...I will take the requisition with me and they can draw it in Nuclear Radiation when they draw the rest of my blood. 

Half an hour later...requisition in hand...I head off to the cafeteria for something to eat and find a quiet spot to eat and read a book while I am waiting.  Back to the NR for more blood...three more vials later...requisition handed over and back in one hour.  Off to a quiet spot again to kill time.  Back to NR and this time it is four vials...back in one hour for the last three vials.  This time they want to do a quick CT scan of my arm to see if any radioactive solution got under my skin...passed that test and I am on my way.

Dump off my coat...get rid of the tape and gauze on my arm...grab the masking tape...tape off my craft room getting ready for a fresh coat of paint tomorrow.  I have crafting supplies in the middle of the room, in our bedroom, in the laundry room, in the dining room and the family room.  I can't wait to set up the new furniture and unpack and downsize as I am organizing.

Sitting on the floor masking off the baseboards and the phone rings...Dr. Keith's office...he wants to see me on Wednesday...wonderful...I don't have to wait another week to get the results. 

Where am I?  Trying to not think about it (see mantra above).  I know there is a real possibility the cancer has spread from my lungs to my bones.  I know there is a real possibility that I don't even have the two years.  So...until I hear different from my doctor...I am pulling a Scarlet O'Hara, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow".

I'll go on...still swimming.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My lucky day...

Up at 6:00 a.m. to be at the hospital by 8:30.  It is an hour drive from home to the hospital and...we had to stop for gas on they way.

Got into hospital gear and settled into my bed when Rick asked me if I was okay...nope!  Didn't want to be there...didn't want the test done...don't want cancer...want to go home.  Off to the CT room where they mapped the spots...marked my body.  The doctor can't find a special pen so I told him it was okay to use a Sharpie...I have lots of alcohol markers at home and a big bottle of solution that will remove the marks from my body.  This time I was face down on the bed...not too comfortable.  I really liked this doctor as he talked to me throughout the whole procedure.  I knew what he was doing and when he was doing, no surprises.

Off to xray and then back to my spot in recovery.  A couple of minutes later the doctor arrives and informs me that my lung has collapsed and he needs to put in a tube to inflate it.  Back into CT and mapping again...then the tube put in...this time in the front chest...more freezing.  Have I said how much I love needles...NOT!   "Where did this fluid come from?"...not words you want to hear your doctor say when he is supposed to be sucking air from your chest.  Apparently...the fluid buildup was from radiation.  No wonder I was having so much trouble breathing! 

So...after sucking out all the fluid (thanks) and then the air pocket...back to xray to get a reference point for the followup.  One hour later back to xray and then the doctor telling far so good and he was turning off the pump to see if I would leak.  One hour later back to xray to say I was doing fine and I could go home.  No offense but, seven hours at the hospital was enough for me.

Where does "My lucky day" come into it?  The nurses told me that it was not common for someone to leave the hospital after having their lung re-inflated.  Most people end up spending the night.  In fact, the last person they had stayed for a few weeks.

So...I will go on...just keep swimming.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Yesterday was the meeting with my chemo oncologist, Dr. Keith.  At least he was more upbeat about everything.  Yes, I have spots in both lungs.  Yes, it is now stage 4 cancer.  No, do not go on your trip.

So...I am scheduled for a repeat CT scan, this time including the pelvic area.  He also wants a bone scan done because I have developed shooting pains in my shins.  And, a lung biopsy to see if the new spots are indeed cancerous and what kind.  Each kind of cancer (pancreatic, ovarian, breast, lung, etc.) have their own sets of chemo.  Hopefully, all the tests will be done within the next two weeks and I go back for a followup on the 10th of February.  Dr. Keith cautioned me that the spots on my lungs may be classed as too small for biopsy and we may have to wait for that.  I would like to know...what is "big enough"?  How big do they have to be and what effect that has on my survival rate?  Limbo!

We talked about complimentary treatments...mainly the hyperthermic ones.  Dr. Keith, in his opinion, felt that they would not work on non-small cell cancer that has metastasized.  The National Cancer Agency reports that there are numerous trials going on with the treatment in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy with promising results.  I postponed my appointment with the Naturopath until I receive the results of the new tests.

This morning I sat on the phone calling our travel agent to cancel the trip.  Next call was to the hotel in Fort Lauderdale cancelling our reservation.  Last call was to airlines to cancel our flight.  I got lucky and got the "trouble-shooting" agent.  He cancelled the flight with no fee and is refunding the full amount back. 

I am starting to downsize my craft supplies and listed two of the larger items on Craigslist (my Copic air compresser and my 132-set of Prismacolor).  Hopefully, they will sell fast as I would like to buy the smaller (48) set of Prismacolors.  I am ordering some furniture for the room and as I pack things up I can sort through and list what I want to get rid of.  I am not looking forward to that process but, I am looking forward to no longer being overwhelmed with it all and get back to what I love to do.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ok, God....

Today I met my friends for coffee and cookies at my favorite craft store...being greeted by hugs from everyone (they read my blogs).  It was sort of weird...touching on the subject...not touching on the subject and it ended up a relatively peaceful and calm day...until I was leaving.

I got into conversation with Iris and I started losing it.  Up to that point, I have been numbish and it was certainly there in the back of my mind...but, you know what I mean?  God came up in the conversation and I mentioned that I was angry and she told me it was okay to tell him, "He can take it".  That was a weight lifted and as soon as I left the store I started crying and I laid into God as I was driving down the road.

I told him how pissed off I, how fricken angry I was at him for doing this.  I didn't deserve this and I had earned better from him.  I survived a tough childhood he gave me, I survived the rough teenage period he gave me, I survived a lousy, rotten, abusive marriage.  I times, trying very hard not to think, "no thanks to you".  I remarried, I retired, life was starting to be fun.  We were busy with kids and grandkids, we were no longer struggling financially, we were busy with friends... traveling and camping (ok...RVing).  I survived the first round of cancer treatment.

We were planning a dream vacation...then I got nailed with the first diagnosis.  All the doctors told me I would still be going on the Panama cruise...NOT!  Iris said it was okay to ask for what you want and I told him I want to live....I do not want to die.  I want to grow old with Rick.  I want to see my kids and watch our grandchildren grow up...I have too much I want to see and do. I want more time!  I have earned more time!

After supper...sitting and listening to the news on the TV, I picked up my tablet and "googled" "how to beat stage 4 lung cancer".  I guess God was listening and he directed my web search...because Paul Kalanithi (chief resident in neurological surgery at Stanford University) wrote an article and it came up..."How Long Have I Got Left".  I highly recommend anyone reading the article.  He was diagnosed at age 36 with stage 4 lung cancer.  Well written and informative article and I got a lot out of it.

One thing:  'Life expectancy' and statistics (which are dire and I have done my best to stay away from)....everyone responds to treatment differently...there are inroads every day in treatment.  Hell, when Rick's brother passed away five years ago from lung cancer there was no Etoposide or Cisplatin (my chemo treatments).  Who knows what will be there in the next two years!  Besides...someone has to be in the small percentage of survivors and I am going to be one of them!

Second thing:  Samuel Beckett, an author I had heard about but, never read anything words that spoke to Paul and resonated through me, (I can't go on, I'll go on).

Third thing:  Hope.  Hope I will survive...hope that in the dark of night and I am alone and scared, God will carry me. world is no longer spinning...just slightly wobbling.  I am swimming and I will go on!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yep, yep, yep...

I had my meeting with Dr. Hsu yesterday (radiation oncologist) and not quite what I was hoping for but, deep down...what I expected.  With all the prayers and good wishes that went with me it should have been different. really was not a major shock...just enough to knock me on my ass.

Good news:  The two large tumors (one in my lung and other in the lymph node between my heart and my aorta valve) at the end of August were shrunken in half.  December 22nd scan showed them to be almost gone to non existent...just lots of scar tissue.

Bad news:  The two small spots that the PET scan picked up in August (classed as too small to characterize) have grown and spread into both lungs.  I am now classed as Stage 4 cancer. to two years for survival.  Lovely.  Radiation is not an option as...1.  they are too small and 2.  too numerous right now to target.  If...down the or more become "problematic" Dr. Hsu will revisit radiation. Panama Canal least...not recommended by Dr. Hsu that I go.  I guess cancer could grow and spread too fast and I do not like the thought of a Panamanian or Mexican hospital with the chance that I might not get home.

I see Dr. Keith (chemo oncologist) on the 12th to see what route we go....last ditch hope as we have until the 15th to pay for the trip.  I have a few questions for, why with all the chemo I had did I end up with two more small spots?  Shouldn't the chemo have killed it all?  I also made an appointment with a Naturopath to investigate Hyperthermic treatments.  Cancer does not like heat and it seems to have worked in the case of one of the couples who are going on the cruise.  She had four tumors (although they were a lot smaller than the two I had including the new ones).  She did the treatments along with chemo and radiation.  Three tumors are gone and the fourth shrunk 80%.  You never know.

Rick is falling apart...I don't have that luxury.  If I give in I am scared I will shatter into a million pieces and I won't be able to put myself back together.  I am not much comfort to him right now as I am barely holding it together and trying very hard to stay numb.  I know I am the stronger person and I will have to prop him up along with the kids when the going gets really tough and, I don't know if I can do it alone.

I know all the well wishes and the prayers are coming my way but, in the dark when I am alone who do I have to prop me up and carry me through the rough times?  I love him dearly but, Rick is not a strong person...he will not be able to do it.

Everyone says I am strong and I can do this.  Right now I am just frickin' scared.  I am tired.  I am sitting in my craft room looking at all the stuff here and knowing I have to go through it all and get rid of a lot of way can I leave it for Rick to deal with...that is so not fair to him.  I don't think doing so is negative or giving up...just realistic.

I am not getting rid of everything....just going back down to basics of why I fell in love with crafting to begin with....stamping, coloring and glittering.  I have gotten so caught up with all the new dies etc. that I have become overwhelmed with tools and techniques but...not doing anything.  I have a few "bucket list" projects that I want to do...also, thinking about memory boxes for the grandkids (cards for their birthdays, graduation etc.).  I would like to leave pieces of me behind for them.  A friend says it is creepy but, who knows.

We just got back from going into town to tell Rick's mother.  She is worried but, took the news pretty good...just wants the truth from us and to keep her informed.  For an old bird of 90+...she is pretty is my dad!

When I got home yesterday I "googled" for a picture that I used to have in my wallet...a picture of a crane with a frog in it's mouth and the frog having both hands wrapped around the crane's neck...with the caption "Don't ever give up".  I posted it on Facebook and my cousin commented that her brother had it in his room on his wall.  Ted passed away from testicular cancer at too young an age...I miss him.  When Carol posted was like another angel tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I am with you". 

I am still numb.  I have not gotten to the angry part yet.  I also saw another poster, "You've only got three choices in life...give up, give in or give it all you've got".  Guess which one I am choosing?

To quote a little fish, "When life gets you down you know what you gotta do?  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  What do we do we swim, swim?".

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Have you ever wanted time to speed up the same time...slow down?  That is where I am right now. 

Back on August 22nd when they told me my next scan would be December 22nd....God, that was four months away.  Could I handle my life being on hold that long?  Could I hold my breath that long?  Then I blinked and the scan date was here.  Now it is two more days until I get the verdict on the 7th.

I can't sit and write my feelings down.  I can't verbalize them either.  I am too scared.  I go through each day trying not to think about it....or, feel anything.  I can fill tomorrow up with mundane tasks as laundry needs to be done and that wipes me out so all I want to do is sleep later.  I can clean the house or fill my time with mindless dvd's.

On the good hair is growing back!  It is about 1" long all over came back thicker and curlier...go figure!  Also, I lost weight.  I am 10lbs. less than my pre-cancer treatment start weight. 

So....I will fill my time with Pinterest and anything else that is "brain babble" until I hear from the doctors.