Archive for July, 2010

A great day…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I had a great day yesterday!  Thank you to some friends and family.

Started the day off with a healthy breakfast, then I went for a walk (yep, still moving kind of slow but I’m moving to keep the blood flowing to promote healing and prevent widening of my ass.  LOL !  Walking is a win-win activity.  I am glad I am feeling a bit better to get out and get moving a bit.

My walk was to meet up with Rick’s Mom who I call “Jack”.   She lives pretty nearby.  She drove her motorized scooter to the restaurant (she is 85) and I walked to meet her there.  This is our hang out spot where I eat a healthy salad for nutrition but then the good eating habits that I have adopted went all to pot for the day after the salad.  You see, it’s the darn coconut cream pie that Jack has made me become addicted to.  It’s delicious !  Meeting Jack for lunch was the only plan I had made for the day other than some light housework.

Just before I left the house to meet Jack, I received a phone call from my dear friend and fellow cancer fighter, Dana.  She asked if I would like to accompany her to her cottage beach retreat at Rondeau Bay for the afternoon.  I immediately said “darn right I do!”.  I am learning that housework waits for you plus I have been itching to get to the beach this summer.  (I used to spend a lot of time at the beach when I was a kid, one of my favourite past times)  I asked Dana if she would like to join Jack and I for lunch first and she accepted.  I think we may have Dana craving for more pie in her future. 

Off to the beach we went, but not before stopping for an ice cappucino at Timmy’s first.  Mmm, yum…. thanks for the idea Dana, afterall, we don’t have to behave and eat healthy all the time right?  Dana and I never lack topics of conversation.  It’s nice that because we are both in cancer-land together we connect in a way that I cannot put words to really, we just “get it” and say things to each other that maybe we wouldn’t say to others.  I am so happy for Dana as this Friday is her last chemo treatment!  Congratulations!    For those of you that have never been to a cancer clinic, (I’m sure each clinic has their own tradition), but in London where Dana and I go, there is a little ceremony after your last treatment, the nurses gather together and ring a bell to signify a patient’s last treatment.  In the waiting area, other patients and their friends and family will clap along and cheer you as you leave the clinic.  It’s quite touching really.  The first time I experienced this event, it was with a patient I didn’t know.  The man did not seem happy, he seemed to have this look in eyes.  A look that I recognized “of fear”.  I completely understood the look as I have thought of this myself.  What happens after chemo is done?  As difficult as it is to go through 2 major surgeries and chemo treatments within a 6 month period, I am “actively” fighting against cancer and “doing” something about it.  However when chemo is done, what the heck comes next?   This is why I understood that man’s look that day.  The big question of “what the frick comes next?”  I don’t trust the “wait and see” fight method or the “scanxiety” method.  Right now I feel in fight mode, but come November when I am done chemo, things will be different.  I wish I could have an MRI machine at home so I could test myself every day and nip cancer in the ass and say “huh !  caught ya!” and nice and early.

I am sorry I got off topic for a bit, my intention was to share my great day with you.  As you see, cancer is always right there behind every thought of mine and sometimes it sneaks out and takes over, well take a back seat cancer, I am talking about my great day.  It’s not about you today, ughhh! Back off.

Okay, so we arrive at Dana’s cottage, it’s so perfect.  A great place for healing and serenity.

You can see the beach from the back of the cottage, a very short walk to the water.  I wanted to swim and lay on my tummy in the soft sand, shallow water, calm waves, just like some little kids were doing.  However because I am still waiting on my incision to close up, I am not able to get my abdomen wet yet.  Crap.  Oh well, we improvised.  We took Dana’s umbrella and 2 of her plastic muskoka style chairs right out into the water.  You can walk out quite far into the water as it’s shallow and sandy for quite a way.  We sat and people watched and chatted for a couple of hours, my shorts were getting a bit wet, so I headed back to shore and took them off.  Yep, I enjoyed hanging out in a tank top and my undies.  Who cares right?  I no longer am that worried about body image, who cares about scars, stretch marks, dimples, whatever we normally obsess about.  I am not letting anything stop me from enjoying a abeautiful experience, if it means stripping down to my undies, than so be it !  It was a beautiful day out, and as Dana and I were talking, sitting on the chairs in the water, I am thinking to myself, gosh, Dana looks so great!  Since she is still in chemo, she has to be careful of sun exposure.  She has lost all of her hair so she was wearing a brown weaved wide brim beach hat, fashionable sunglasses and she looked like a movie star.  I doubt she realized how great she looked.  I know all to well how it feels to look in the mirror every day and see someone other than yourself.  Well, a different version of yourself. 

I told Dana that I felt like I was 10 years old again.  It had been many years since I had been to this area (even though it’s only 20 minutes away from home).  I forgot how much I loved this place.  We went for a drive along the lakeshore and admired all of the cottages.  We drove through the woodsy area and left the park.  Next stop, we shared an order of french fries and gravy at the fry truck.  After the pie at lunch, I thought who cares, I can eat better tomorrow. 

Dana was close to dropping me off at home and my cell phone rang.  It’s now supper time.  My brother was texting me to see if I was up for company, he could stop in and bring my niece and nephew by and deliver ice cream if I was interested.  To be honest I didn’t even think twice, ice cream?  Yep that’s a healthy supper!  I said sure I would love some company and ice cream, just surprise me with any flavour.  I have to thank my 6 year old niece Caelan for choosing a great ice cream and for the blue tongue. She thought I would enjoy the cotton candy flavour.  Life through a 6 year old’s version is more fun I think.  I don’t know any adults that would choose cotton candy flavour ice cream.  I enjoyed it and next time you go out for an ice cream fix and see that bright pink and blue ice cream staring at you through the glass, you just may think twice about ordering it, at the very least you may think of me.  LOL !  The kids enjoyed a swim in the pool while my brother and I chatted.  It was a great impromtu visit.  Thank you guys!   

The day is not over yet, just before Davey and the kids left, I received a call from my friend Sandy (my  Zumba dance class buddy), she asked if I was up for company.  I said sure, stop in!  We sat pool side and talked away the evening.  Sandy always makes me laugh, she is a doll !  We met about 20 years ago when we both worked at United Parcel Service and have been friends since. 

It was about 9:00 pm now and Rick just arrived home from a long day at work.  There it is again, that internal feeling of extreme guilt knowing that he was working his ass off while I am having a great day.  He never complains or makes me feel bad, that is all my doing.  When I called him in the morning to tell him I was headed to the beach with Dana, he said, stay as long as you like because I will be working late anyway.  Thank you Rick, but how do I “really” thank you?

Since the day was shot for my healthy eating strategy I had a bowl of cereal for a very late supper at 10 pm followed by a chocolaty, gooey, surgary home-made treat that Sandy brought to us.    As I lay in bed reviewing my great day in my head, I am thinking, hmmm…. the pains were there but they didn’t dominate the day.  Yippeeee !   Good night everyone and thank you for the wonderful day.  I pray for health and happiness for each one of you.untitled

Missing some friends…

Monday, July 26th, 2010

It’s not “Dear Cancer:”……  it’s more like hey you…. a-hole !

I just learned that you took another friend from me this morning. 

I am so mad right now that it’s best if I don’t type what I am thinking about you.

I will focus my attention on my friends….. R.I.P. … Barry Goslin (pre-deceased by his Mom, Ruby Goslin)… both were cancer fighters.  I have to admit that I am feeling guilty today because I have been very lucky so far on this journey in cancer-land, not everyone gets good news and I know one day the good news may stop for me, but I still can’t help but feel guilty, it’s human nature.  I would guess that Barry was in his late forties or early fifties, too young to die.

I met Barry 6 years ago.  His parents were my new next door neighbours at the time.

He lived in Ancaster and he would come visit his parents a few times a year to help out with stuff around the house.  During some visits, he would bring his 2 teen-age daughters along who were equally as nice and loving.  All of the Goslin family made me feel like I was part of their family.  His Dad was Bill… he passed away the year we met him.  His Mom was Ruby, she passed away approx 2 years ago.   Ruby and I became very close after Bill passed away.  She was alone in this house now and it was shortly after my grandmother passed away when she lost her husband, so I adopted Ruby as my grandma.  She became that special person that I would watch out for.  It turns out that Ruby would out-shine me.  She was the one doing special things for Rick and I.  We would come home late from work and 10 minutes after we arrived home, our doorbell would chime and there she was with home-made, hot chicken soup, ready to eat for supper.  (she knew I couldn’t/didn’t cook).  We would leave the house at 7:00 am and she would already have our driveway cleared of snow.  This woman was 72 years of age with so much life and energy, I couldn’t keep up to her.    One night she called me in the middle of the night asking if I could take her to the hospital because she wasn’t feeling good.  She didn’t want an ambulance to come to her house because she didn’t want to disturb the neighbourhood.  Can you believe her?  This was Ruby, always putting other people first, even when she was feeling terribly ill.  We did this a couple of times, she didn’t want to worry her family either.  One day a couple of weeks later, Ruby called me.  She said, I am calling to let you know why I am not feeling well, the doctor tells me that I have leukemia.  Ok, I thought, what kind of meds will you need?  What does that mean?  All I knew about leukemia was that I thought it was a disease that was manageable, I didn’t know that it was cancer of the blood in reality.  She said “I have a couple of months”.  I asked her “a couple of months of taking medicine?”, and she said “no, I have a couple of months at best to live”.  I was shocked, this strong woman was calling me to tell me she was dying.  I just didn’t want to swallow the news.  I am not ready to lose another person I have come to love and cherish.  Although I wanted to rush right over to her house just to hug her, I gave her privacy for the evening.  The last thing she needed was to see my crying in front of her to bring her spirits down, I needed to get my act together first and cry my tears in private.  I thought I could be strong for her the next day.  So the next day I visited with Ruby in her living room, she was in her night gown in the afternoon and she was always dressed very nicely and always presentable, it was wierd to see her in her p.j.’s, it then hit me that this was serious news.  We sat on her couch together, held hands and we said things to each other that I am glad we had the opportunity to say.  I told her that I had mentally and selfishly adopted her as another grandma to me and that I loved her very much.  I appreciated all of our visits when either I was helping her out with something like hanging Christmas decorations or when she helped me out with gardening or using her clothes line, etc.  We had some deep, honest, raw emotional talks over the years about how she coped living alone without her husband Bill.  I always listened and thought, could I ever be this strong without Rick?  I just can’t go there.

One day, before Ruby was diagnosed, she asked me if I could be late for work one morning because she wanted to know if I would accompany her to “bring a buddy to breakfast” event that was held at a local senior activity centre where she liked to play cards and volunteer.  I was honoured that she thought of me to invite, as Ruby had many, many friends.  I graciously accepted.  It was nice to take a detour out of every day busy life to sit back and hang out with some seniors for an hour, especially Ruby.   I always referred to her as “My Ruby”, not my neighbour or my friend, she was more than that, she was “My Ruby”. 

We became quite the gardening buddies.  We were always chatting through the fence or taking care of each other’s little weeds, sharing cuttings, setting up the sprinklers, shopping at garden centres together ( I would help carry her bags of dirt for her ).  Another memory I have is of a Christmas gift that Ruby gave to me.  It was a planter, in the shape of rubbery garden boots and it basically just looked like someone poured concrete over the boots and made a nice planter out of it.  I loved it.  I still have it on my back deck to this day and think of Ruby when I look at it.   The first time I looked at it after I received my own diagnosis, I thought… how ironic…. now I have to walk in these boots.  First Ruby fought cancer, now I am fighting cancer. 

The best memory I have of “My Ruby” is one of the last things that she said to me.  “Karrie, you know that I think of you and love you as if you were the fourth child that Bill and I never had”.  Wow, what a special moment that I will never forget, to be a recipient of such beautiful words, of such beautiful feeling.  She then proceeded to tell me that eight years prior she battled breast cancer and with this new diagnosis she was not prepared to do the battle again without her precious Bill, she was giving in and was ready to go.  Ruby only lived 4 weeks after she intially told me that she had leukemia.  Just as always, she put her mind to it and she accomplished it.

I was honoured when her son Barry and daughter Gwen came to visit me and they asked if I would join their family and be one of Ruby’s pallbearers.  Of course, I would.  I will carry “My Ruby” wherever she needs to go.  So we laid our Ruby to rest beside her precious Bill, it was so fitting that my gardening buddy was buried on Earth Day. 

I have visited her every Earth Day since that day, I clean her little garden and plant a few flowers in front of their head stone and think of all of the wonderful memories in only a six year time frame. 

Dear Ruby…. now you have another angel, your precious son Barry to be with you for eternal life.  Please watch over me and my family and friends,  I will walk in your boots as long as it takes.

Below is a photo of Ruby and Bill, chatting it up with us in the backyard.

r - Im000091

A huge sigh…

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Since diagnosis day 6 months ago I literally feel as if I have been holding my breath in, it makes it easier to absorb news and accept the rotten blow to come next. 

Well on Thurs July 22, during my follow up visit with Dr. Quan my surgeon, he reviewed the pathology report with me.  This report was from the testing that was done on the liver portion that he removed from me.  Let’s just say, I was able to finally breathe and shed a few tears in disbelief.  How could it be that I was just given the best news ever?!  Yes, everyone, I am so elated to report that we were told there were NO SIGNS OF CANCER in the part of the liver that was removed !!!!   I have been doing cartwheels in my head ever since he told us and as soon as I am physically able I am going to do actual cartwheels all the way down my street and I don’t care who is watching and what they will think, or whether is raining out or too humid out.   Wouldn’t it be cool if some of my neighbours actually joined in?  Seriously now, I am going to do it !

He removed 70% of the liver and from prior testing it had 3 tumours in it.  Due to their size, my age, my health, etc, I was a candidate for surgery.  I have researched a lot on the web and time over time I have read that basically only about 20% of people in my exact situation are eligible for surgery, most people are in-operable.  I feel I hit a jackpot.

He also told us that when he was checking over the other remaining liver portion when he had me opened up, he could not physically see or feel the tumour that was on that side!   Dr. Quan told us that this news could be the result of 2 different scenarios of which we may never know.  This is what he told Rick and I.     

Option # 1…  the tumours they saw on the CT scan initially were something other than tumours and weren’t cancer at all and basically he may have removed my liver for nothing and the surgery could have been avoided….  (yes he said this and I am glad that he did, he is HONEST AND HUMAN)

Option #2… the chemo did it’s job after only 6 treatments and only half way through my total scheduled treatment regimen.

I truly believe that option #2 is the scenario that belongs to me.  All prior testing including bloodwork, scans, etc.  all pointed toward metastatis to the liver.  I have been lucky to receive a new drug along with my chemo cocktail which is called “Avastin”.  This drug basically just started being covered by OHIP about 30 days prior to my first scheduled chemo treatment.  I hit another jackpot there too !  Long story short, the Avastin is an antibody drug that basically cuts the blood supply to tumours.  I truly believe that this along with the chemo is what did the job.  I still have to meet with my oncologist to find out what the next course of action is.  I am hoping that she tells me that we continue the remaining 6 chemo treatments as I want to destroy any other microscopic cancer crap that may be lingering throughout my body.  In fact, I would do another 12 treatments just for insurance if she would allow me, but your body can become immune to chemo if over-treated.

I am so very happy to share this incredible news with you.  It doesn’t mean that I am cancer free as it can re-appear in my colon or other organs, but I am taking one step at a time.  (us cancer patients are told that we cannot be deamed cancer-free until we have survived 5 years post treatment).  In reality though, it doesn’t matter if I am given 2 years or 30 years, I will always consider myself as living with cancer.  It will never escape my mind.

I wish I had 2 arms that extended for miles and miles so that I could gather each one of you in one giant group hug.  You all have “hugged” me since December and I want to re-pay the favour.  The power of our spirits and souls as a collective is what shows cancer who is in the driver’s seat.  Thank you so much for your love, support, friendship and prayers!

Today I feel like I am driving in a sporty convertible car, singing along to some very loud high energy dance music, driving extremely fast in the Nevada desert with no one but me and this car for miles and miles…..and not thinking twice about my passenger “cancer” who is scared shitless and looks at me in disbelief when I open up the passenger door and kick him out!   See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!  Hope you get a bad case of road rash and become so unrecognizable and hit the pavement so hard that you remain in a coma forever and never high-jack my “ride” again!     Eat dust asshole and enjoy the smell of rubber as I skid my tires and do doughnuts around you!  I am skidding my tires right now and when these rubbers run out, there are many stores where I can get more, cuz you know what?  I like to drive !

ps.   I am really refraining from typing a crap load of really bad words right now… so I can continue my conversation with cancer, however I will let you fill in the blanks yourself, trust me, it’s a great release and you also can benefit from “a huge sigh”.   IMG_9770

Follow-up visit

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

I am sorry that I haven’t written in a while.  Basically recovering from surgery and taking it easy pretty much means that there is not much new to talk about, therefore I’ve been kind of silent.  I understand that everyone is curious on how I am feeling so here goes:

My days pretty much consist of doing not much at all, very light housework, lots of t.v. and reading and basically just hanging around  (I suck at this, I work best in a stressful, busy environment).  Recovery has been slower this time around from what I can remember from my first surgery.  I am very numb with nerve damage on the outside of my abdomen, all of my pain is internal except for the part of the incision that opened up.

 My whole abdomen feels very heavy and very tight.  It’s almost as if it doesn’t belong to me anymore, it’s very hard to describe what I feel physically when I rub my hands over my tummy.  I think it’s because the main core muscles were cut and nerves too, so lots of internal things need to heal.  Approx 2 weeks ago now, I developed a severe grabbing pain on my right side just below where the liver is/was located, kind of in the kidney area.  It hurts to take a deep breath, to sniffle, to cough, to talk loudly, to sit straight up and most of the time it’s painful to lay on my back or my side.  I thought the pains might go away in a few days, but they didn’t, so I have learned to listen to my body and when Rick and I went to my first follow up visit to the surgeon in London yesterday I mentioned the pains to him.  He ordered an ultrasound, bloodwork, etc to see if he can pin-point the cause, he speculates at this point that it could be an internal abcess (a collection of fluid) and if the ultrasound confirms this he may need to put a drain into my side to release the fluid.  Can you say… yuck?  My Mom took me back to London yesterday for the ultrasound so I should know early next week what the result is.  I have had a few ultrasound tests in the last 6 months and I like to pretend that they are mini massages, this one was not so pleasant.  The technician had to rub the wand over my entire incision area (including the un-healed part) even though it was covered up with a dressing, plus she had to press into the area on my side that has been causing me the most grief lately.  I didn’t complain, but it did hurt, actually hurt so much that I waited in the car afterwards while Mom went into a store (we did a little shopping after the appointment).  I am a reformed shop-a-holic, but still do enjoy shopping. (so am I really reformed?  I doubt it, but I’m trying)  You know I am hurting when I don’t even want to “just look”.   I am now at the 4 week mark post-surgery.  Basically this is half way to recovery.  The surgeon and his assistants keep reminding me “you have had a massive surgery”, it takes time to heal.  I believe I may go mental before the 8 week mark gets here.

Make ’em laugh…

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

I was just replaying surgery day in my mind and some memories came to me that I think I will share.

Rick and I arrived at the hospital, they showed me to my bed (bed #9), ironic that nine is my favourite number?  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s a sign, I think to myself.   Strip down to the lovely blue gown, hair net, and nets for your feet, cover up and wait to start getting poked and prodded from needles to questions, the time is near to tackle some more cancer.  I am so ready, yet so terrified at the same time, but no one will see the scared part of me.  I wish they would have given me a different outfit to wear, boxing gloves, a fancy robe, helmet, mouth guard, I’m sure you get the picture.  I was in fight mode despite the few tears that leaked out when it was time to say good-bye to Rick while the nurse was waiting to wheel me down to the operating room. 

“It’s 10:30 a.m. Karrie and your family should be able to see you at 8:00 pm tonight as the operating room is all yours until 6:00 pm.”  I am thinking, wow, that’s a long day, this is a bigger deal than I thought.  Oh well, snap out of it, time to fight.

There was a nurse that was beside me during the whole process of being further prepped.  More stuff getting attached to me, blankets, sliding over to “the work table”, computer monitors everywhere I looked and the nurse was great at explaining everything that was being done to me.  She said “the needle poke that you are feeling right now is a sedative but it won’t make you go to sleep just yet…. but once we place the mask over your face it will be pretty much be lights out for you and then we can get surgery started.  My eyes scanned the room at all the high-tech equipment, all of the people, I swear there must have been about 18 or 20, I could be wrong as I was given some drugs, but I don’t think so.  The surgeon was there with his team, the doc that puts you to sleep was there with his team, countless nurses and some student residents also.

Here it comes, I can see the mask coming over my head.  I take a deep breath before it just reaches my face and I raised my head up (this was unplanned) and I asked if I could “have a second please?”.  As my head was still raised off of the table I scanned my eyes to quickly look at everyone in the room and asked “are all of you ready to seriously kick some cancer ass ???”.

Yep, that’s what I said.  I actually surprised myself but I’m learning to live in the moment.

I heard several giggles and chuckles and pretty much in unison I got the response “oh we’re ready honey, don’t you worry about it”…. and on that note, I said “ok, good night” and that is the last thing I remember, I don’t even remember the mask being put over my face again.

So…. I made them laugh and felt that maybe I eased some tension so they could do their best job ever for me….. ha ha ha…. f*ck you cancer !

In better spirits…

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Ok, I admit it…. I’ve had a few “blah” days, but things are getting better.

My Aunt Rachelle (actually I’ve never called her by her given name), she will always be Aunt Ricki to me… came to visit for a few days.  Aunt Ricki is the youngest of my Dad’s seven siblings.  She was a tremendous help both emotionally and physically.  For many years, we just didn’t make the opportunity to get together because life got in the way for both of us, like it does for all of us, but you know it doesn’t matter, time goes by, but we pick up like it was just yesterday.  I am so grateful for family.    Aunt Ricki and I enjoyed a few chick flicks  (sorry about that Rick), ordered Thai food in, we treated ourselves to a pedicure at my favourite day spa… I recommend closing your eyes during one to get the maximum “ah moments” so you can pay better attention to your tired feet that anchor and carry you each and every day.  We shared lunch with Rick which was nice to do on a week day for a change, we shopped, and then headed home for some down time pool side.  Aunt Ricki and I had a really nice chat on my outdoor bed under the starry night, it sure was nice.  Her visit sure made the week fly by for me.  I am so grateful that we were able to spend some quality time together !  On Aunt Ricki’s last day before heading home to Oakville, we went to my favourite store here in Chatham “The Birdie’s Nest”, and I now have a toe twin.  We now have matching toe rings and every time I look down at my feet I think of my lovely, giving, generous Aunt.   Now that she has returned home and a new week is about to start, I am going to be in serious ricky withdrawal… Aunt Ricki’s gone, and my Rick is back to work.

A little detour…

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Well I thought I was on the fast track for healing, but my incision decided to open up and split apart today.  It’s quite a big split, about 10 cm in length and 1 cm wide and 1 cm deep.  On a good note, it is not infected, on a bad note, it’s going to take longer to heal and I am already getting impatient.  (this means that chemo may be delayed in start up again) I have been behaving and taking it easy, but it’s very difficult for me to do so.  I just want my body back, life is out there waiting for me and I am on hold.  I used to complain that my hair was too frizzy in warm weather, now I don’t have much hair to complain about, I used to complain that I was overweight and now I have undergone two surgeries to lose 35 pounds.  I am not going to complain any more about stuff.  I have learned that lesson of “be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it”.  I think my wish list got in the wrong department for translation.

Back to business…

Friday, July 9th, 2010

It’s time to pose a few questions to you… (enough about my journey for a bit)

This is very important:

1.  Have you booked your appointment for your yearly check up yet?

2.  Are you paying attention to any strange new things going on with your body?  (yes, even a minor one can be a major one).  Use my case as an example, I started out with one week of constipation that turned into 4 weeks, and I sought treatment at week #1.  I had no other symptoms and just chalked it up to working too much and not eating as good as I should have been, but this is “normal” for many of us, right?

3.  Have you booked a colonscopy or at least considered booking one?  (please don’t be afraid or embarrassed about it)  Even if you don’t have a family history of colon cancer, ask for the test anyway, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, period.  I am the first case in my family and I was diagnosed at age 39 to top it off.  Most cases of colon cancer are diagnosed at age 50+.

I have been with 3 family members, my Mom,  my brother and my sister on their colonscopy days… not in the exam room, but all other steps.  All three of them told me that the actual test was a breeze, you get a nice little nap thanks to a narcotic special blend little cocktail and you get a day off of work.  The worst part of the whole ordeal is the prep work the day before to clean your bowels out.  You start taking pills and a drink at 3:00 pm and you will be going to the bathroom likely until midnight and then you are good to go for the next morning.    Please do not be shy about asking to be tested, it could save your life, trust me, you don’t want to be in my position.

Make yourself a promise to take care of business.  Your business.  Be your own best advocate.

Happy and sad…

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

LifeGivesLemonsToday is one of those emotional days. I am on a happy/sad roller coaster.  Both feelings evoke tears and a runny nose.  I guess I’m just allowing myself to have one of “those” days.  I feel absolutely grateful for two successful surgeries (but can’t help but wonder how many more are in store for me, they hurt like hell) and on the other hand I am so sad that I feel like I am grieving for my old self, my old life, before cancer.  (and not just my life, but Rick’s life, my family members, my friends, my co-workers.   I often think, what would I have been doing today if all of “this” didn’t happen?  I am not depressed, I am just releasing.  This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I do it alone and re-assure myself that it’s okay to do this.  I believe this is the first time I’ve actually written about it.  I do believe these moments keep me strong and motivated, but I simply have to let go at times and literally go with the flow.   I am not vain, but I look in the mirror and wonder who that woman is?  I don’t recognize her.  The inside and outside has changed.  Do I like her?  Yes I do, but she is different.  I am still getting used to her.  She has changed forever.  Even if I beat the odds and live a few years cancer-free, it will always be on my mind and that’s the part I cry about it.  I just want to kick it and forget about it, forever.

Tomorrow will be  a better day.  My home care nurse Vanessa is coming by in the morning to remove the gazillion staples in my abdomen, (let’s hope the incision stays closed), I will be heading afterwards to the local Canadian Cancer Society office to have my photo taken for being the local top fundraising team for the recent Relay for Life and then in the afternoon, I am expecting two visitors, one neighbour Joanne and Melissa who is a childhood friend of mine that I recently connected with again via Facebook.

Please don’t worry about me, I am completely fine.  My tears have now dried up and I am headed outside to a beautiful outdoor bed pool-side, to listen to the waterfall and to dive back into a great book that I have been reading, titled “Best Friends Forever”, a smart, witty fairy tale for grown ups.  I am going to be courageous this evening and will attempt to cook a nice dinner for Rick & I.  (shrimp & scallop pasta with a white wine garlic sauce)  The sauce is pre-mixed so as long as the noodles don’t stick together and I don’t overcook the seafood, it should be delicious!)

Siblings…

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I am the oldest of 3 children.  Yep, I’m the old boring one, the 40 year old that never smoked, never did drugs, falls asleep if too much alcohol consumed, yes I agree, kind of boring, I wish now that I had experimented more when I was young and foolish with no “real life” issues to deal with.  (maybe I would have been better equipped to handle the morphine pump last week, I was told that I was really “out of it”)  I had to talk with my visitors with my eyes closed because the room and the divider curtains were spinning out of control, but hey, I was pain free.

I have one brother, Dave, he is 5 years younger than me.  No matter how old we get, I will always call him “Davey”.  I’m sure he hates it, but after all, he is my little brother and always will be.  When we were little and shared the same home, I admit I couldn’t stand him…(I am sure he hated me too).  He was so hyperactive and he was the only person on earth that could push me to the edge on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day.  I swear he made a game out of it just to see how fast he could make me snap.  He would bring out the beast deep within me and then he would laugh.  Ugh.  We had the usual sibling fights, hair pulling, punching, lots of crying, tattle tales, but we stood by each other when one of us found out where Mom stashed the cookies.  One day out of nowhere, he grew up.  (I guess we both grew up) Literally, he grew from a tiny little boy to a young man taller than me and stronger than me.  He could run faster, hit harder and I knew I wouldn’t win.   Now that we are older I admit that I love him very much and that I actually envy him.   I look up to him and I am very proud of him.   He has a zest for life that I wish I had.  Since as long as I can remember, he has always “lived for the moment” and would deal with any consequences that came his way “after the fact”.   One example is when I gave him my first car, (after I drove it for a few years) a 1980 Mustang that I purchased on my own when I was 15 years old for a whopping $900.00  I used all my corn detasseling and field money that I earned during the summer months.  Dad brought this car to brand new shape, it changed from burgundy to white, we added a sun-roof, new tires & rims, tinted windows, ground effects, a spoiler on the back trunk, it was awesome for a 15 year old girl’s first car.  (I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet)  I would help  Dad out in the shop and wore down my fingerprints with sanding the fenders, etc.  Anyway, I bought my next car when I turned 22, my brother would have been 17 or 18….. so I gave him the mustang.  Long story short, Dave enjoyed the car and driving around with his guy friends, he would burn rubber out of our driveway just to make noise and because “he could”.  Smoke would be every where.  Our house was the one with all of the black tire marks on the road in front of it.   One day when I was visiting home, Dave had decided to spray paint the car.  Keep in mind that the car was starting to show it’s age and abuse and I wasn’t emotionally attached to it anymore, but he had painted on it “O.P.P. can’t catch me”.   Wow… who does that?  I can answer that for you…. my brother.  Come to think of it, this reminds me of the current decal he has on the back of his truck right now that reads “Fuck Cancer”… it’s big and it gets the point across, he does what he feels and like I mentioned, I envy him. He is also a hard worker.  He owns Roy’s Auto Repair, a great mechanic that does not need to advertise, business comes his way by word of mouth.  He is fast and great at what he does.  He is taller than me, he is handsome, married and a father of two.  I get along well with his wife Michelle and I love being an Aunt to his son Austin (8) and his daughter Caelen (6).   Dave & Michelle treated me to a delicious lunch out today which was really nice because the walls at home seem to closing in on me lately.  Maybe one day I will join him as he jumps off of his garage roof and into his pool (14 ft high)…yikes!   Again, who does that?  I can tell you… my brother.

ps.    Dear Davey… I stopped hating you a very long time ago, I love you little brother.

I have one sister, Cindy, she is 10 years younger than me.  Because of the big age difference we never had the typical fights that Davey and I did.  However Davey & Cindy were at each other a lot.  I moved into my first apartment an hour away from home when I was 18 years old.  I was ready to start life on my own and was trying to figure out “what I wanted to be”.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s and purchased my first home that I realized that my baby sister was only 8 years old when I moved out.  I felt so bad that I missed a lot of firsts… her first date, her first time driving, etc.  I still feel quilty to this day that I wasn’t physically there for her.  To top it off, our parents split up when she was just 10 years old.  I am sure that she could have used the support of her older sister, but I was not there.  I am sorry Cindy.  Now many years later we have a great relationship, and we are very close.  She is smart, funny, short and pretty, she can’t sing very well, but she gives it her all.  She is creative, energetic and shares a love of gardening like me.  She is also a very hard worker.  She is married to Shane and I love being an Aunt to their two daughters, Brooklyn (4) and Kennedy (1).  Cindy is a great Mom.  This year we both shared milestone birthdays… she turned 30 and I turned 40….. boy where did the years go?  I look up to my sister in many ways, and here I thought that since I was the oldest, I was to be the one to “set a good example”.  I am proud of her and so very grateful that she has been able to take over for me at work so that I can concentrate on kicking cancer.  I would be in a very tough place right now if it weren’t for my sister.  Yesterday she spent the afternoon with me, she drove me to London for a doctor appointment and it was nice to share some sister time together, away from work. 

ps.  Dear Cindy, I love you too, and thank you.

I am looking forward to a family barbeque this weekend at Davey’s.

IMG_0109DSC04982Cindy & Karrie Oct 2008