Archive for May, 2011

I need you…

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I need you to help me.  Please join me in the fight against cancer.

The annual Relay for Life is soon approaching in 3 weeks, on Fri. June 17 and I am asking

if you would kindly consider making a donation to support me on this year’s walk for the Canadian Cancer
Society.

Not only do I walk for myself, I walk for all of you that have supported me emotionally since diagnosis.

If I am okay, then I know that you will be okay and that is what drives me to continue to fight hard.

Every dollar counts.   I am living proof that new drugs from research monies do get developed and prescribed.

Please consider assisting me so that one day we can find a cure so that no one ever has to hear those three devastating words ever again… you have cancer.

It’s easy to donate, just click on the Relay for Life logo at the top of my blog.

Remember, you don’t have to make a huge donation, just $5, $10, or $20 adds up quick.

Thank you in advance for your support… I need you.

Let’s show cancer what the power of friendship can do.

xo  Karrie

It’s time again…

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

to write another letter, a short one this time.  Things come to my mind at the strangest of times without invitation.

I enjoy life unscripted and unplanned but I don’t like these moments of cancer awareness.   

My 7 yr old niece Caelan and I are currently watching the “Cool Dog” movie at my place, girl time, sleepover and this popped in my head, better write it down and get it off my chest so I can enjoy the rest of my evening and kiddie fix.

Dear Cancer,

You have changed me inside and out.  Literally.  My physical appearance will never be the same, my internal organs will never be the same, and my mental status will never be the same.  Some of it I can embrace it (embrace rather than thank) you for, some of it… I cannot. 

Forgive and forget is not part of my future…. so buzz off, I’m trying to enjoy a movie. 

Quit crashing my party. 

No one here likes you.

Ugh.

Signed,

you know who…….. the bitch that won’t give up.

A new Spring…

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Spring is my favourite time of year.  Maybe because I love to garden, maybe simply because it’s just so beautiful to watch life come back again.  Birds are chirping, their babies will soon arrive, the bunnies & squirrels are loving my plants, everything is just fresh again, I can play in the dirt and make my surroundings pretty to look at every day and be one with nature.  I often refer to my back yard as my church.  I can be busy with a shovel and garden gloves, dirty and sweaty in my play clothes and reflect at life and say my graces without actually going to church and crying in public because I am so thankful to be here.

This is what I am thinking at the moment.  It is a beautiful Sunday morning.  It rained last night again (the wet deck is the only evidence because I sleep like a rock).  The sun is out and I am sitting with a breeze listening to the world from my backyard.  Traffic in the distance, but I am concentrating on the light wind and the birds and my dog breathing so heavy so deep in sleep, some things we take for granted.

I think I am at peace today.  Well as peaceful as I can be despite “it”.  We all know what I am referring to.  Yep that big “C”.   Ten minutes ago I was writing in my head.  It’s strange to be hanging my summer curtains and changing the bedding to spring colours and I am inspired to sit down for a moment and chat with you.  Or am I chatting with myself?   Pause.    I look up and outside the window, the leaves on the trees are blowing just slightly… I smell the laundry drying outside.  Mmmm, I love that scent.  I just don’t have an answer for this question.  Who am I really writing to? Me?   You?  Them?   Him?   It?

As I am fighting with the curtain rod and stretching as tall as I can be on my tippy toes, my abdomen quickly reminds me, go get a step stool you stupid woman…. you can’t do things like that.  Your insides have been turned inside out and sideways, 3 times.  Work smarter, not harder.  (ughhh)  So I get a step stool and continue with the heavy white fabric….. thinking now… quit complaining that you stretched too far.  You have so much to be thankful for.  Remember what you were doing this time last year?   Last spring?  

You know the saying spring forward and step back when it’s time to change our clocks?   Well last spring it was uncertain if I really could spring forward.  Spring was more like a twisted up slinky that was forever stuck.  This time last year I was in the middle of chemotherapy treatments.  I looked well let’s say like a cancer patient, but still with a smile of course.   I was weeks away from liver surgery.  Will I survive the operation?  Will life be different without a major section of my liver?  Will they open me up and find out that I’m too far gone?  Will I be able to continue with chemotherapy?  Will my finger nails fall out?  Will the Relay for Life that’s coming up be the one and only that I’m able to attend?  Will I be alive to see next spring?  Will next year be my last year?  How will my family cope if cancer wins?  Is my heaven really an eternal shopping mall?  Will I see my friends and family again that have pre-deceased me?  Do dogs  go to a different heaven?  Is my body strong enough to endure what is ahead?  And exactly what is ahead anyway?  More surgeries, more chemo, different drugs, wheelchair, chair for the shower because I am too weak to stand?  Will I die at home or in a hospital?  The questions never stopped.   And now that it’s spring again, I feel it’s a new kind of spring.

Full of many questions of course, some the same, but some very different.  I am hopeful more now than ever.  Even though scanxiety is setting  in again.  My next CT scan of my lungs, abdomen and pelvis is soon approaching, just 4 weeks away.   The date is set for June 23.  My cousin Mark’s birthday.  Let me take you back to last year for a moment.   My liver surgery was scheduled for June 21.  I was all set and prepped, ready to be wheeled down to the operating room.  In walks the nurse and informs me that we have to reschedule to June 23 to accomodate a last minute liver transplant patient.  I accepted graciously.  June 23 was meant for me because as it turns out some of my questions were answered at a later date when the pathology came back on the liver with better than expected results.  So June 23 was truly a lucky day for me, it was meant for me.  Now jumping back to present time, June 23 is set for my next scans.  I spoke with my cousin the other day and I told him that he is a special angel to me because we share this date.  I told him I think it’s a sign of some good news to come.  I believe we are connected/guided by an angel that we both know that is communicating with us that this is the right path and not to worry, I will be okay.  He started to get wet eyes and so did his wife.  I couldn’t keep it to myself.  I want him to believe too, not that I ever doubted anyone’s belief for that matter, but I don’t like to keep things like this to myself, it will drive me crazy.  I see angel signs everywhere, every day.  Some I share, some I keep to myself.

Well one curtain hung and the rod propped up against the patio window, it’s waiting for me to get back to it.  As I step back on the stool, I am stepping forward, springing forward and hopeful for good news to come.  Please let it be good news.  Please let it be good news.

Happy Sunday, Happy Spring !

Make an appointment…

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Did you know that something as simple as a screening could save over 1500 lives a year! Pretty good statistics, don’t you think?  Don’t keep your head in the sand…. because…. Y E S … it can happen to you……  “it”  happened to me.

Talk to me…

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

It’s been 16 months since diagnosis and I think it’s probably a good idea to write a note to myself.  It’s long overdue.  This is a note to myself, but not the current me.  It’s a note to my old self before the big C entered the picture.  It is unfortunate that it took a monster like cancer to wake me the hell up.  I hope that by sharing this very personal letter on my blog in such a public place will inspire at least one person to make a change, whether a tiny one or a huge one and a bunch of medium sized ones.  On second thought, maybe a change isn’t needed, but just a re-energized appreciation for life. 

Dear me,

It is okay to love yourself more than just a little bit.

You don’t always have to say yes to everything, because people will understand.

You don’t have to eat on the run, even though your cooking sucks, just keep trying.

You are a hard worker so you don’t have to work 12 to 14 hour days 6 or 7 days a week to prove it to yourself.

It’s okay not to spend an hour on your hair to make yourself feel better, your hair does not define your mood for the day, besides you get more compliments when you just spend seconds in the mirror… lip gloss and a bandana over your crazy curly hair will suffice.

If you stop eating crappy food and make time for even a little bit of exercise every day, you will feel better.

You will survive quite nicely without diet pop.  Just do it and take my word for it because the other you choked on a sip of it yesterday when you picked up the wrong glass in the dark and spit it out. 

You look much better without a double chin.  Make changes now and quit doing everything the hard way, 3 abdominal surgeries and a terminal diagnosis is not the ideal way to shed 55 pounds.

Make time for yourself.   If you don’t take care of you first, you can’t take care of anyone else.

Learn to embrace your stretch marks, your scars, your dimples, your wrinkles, your grey hairs and all of your other insecurities, because honestly no one cares about them. 

Your house doesn’t have to be spotless all the time, tidy yes, but enjoy your space and live in it, stop being a slave to it.  

Stop putting things off until tomorrow.

Whatever you choose to be the most important will be the most important.  Decide what is actually important.  Folding a load of laundry or laying on the floor snuggling with your dog?  The laundry will wait.  Take your nephew to a movie or cut the grass?  The grass can wait.

Plan for the future, but don’t forget about today.

Write a note to yourself more often.

Love always,   me.

Now with all that great advice for my old self, how long will it take to write a note to my new self and will the messages be any different or will they be the exact same?

I stepped aside…

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Well hello there.  Before you get started on me…. let me explain where I have been and what I have been up to.  I know it’s been quite some time since I last wrote and I just realized that it’s actually been a month and a half.   Please do not worry, I am doing good.  Thanks to my sister’s urging, I finally sat down today to take a breather and chat with you.  I can visualize my sis right now, sitting in her comfy fave p.j. bottoms and sweatshirt, the kids in bed and she’s thinking… it’s about time Kar!  You know the saying, time flies when you are having fun.  Have I been having fun?  Sure I have.  Most days. 

So basically I have to be honest with you.  I simply just stepped aside.  I absolutely love writing on my blog but I got to a point that I just didn’t know what to write about, my brain became kind of empty for lack of a better word.  No one wants to hear the regular blah, blah, blah about who I met for coffee, what I wore today, and silly unimportant things.  I felt I reached a point that I just didn’t have any more to share.  I was at a point that I was recovering quite well from surgery and just wanted to let life happen at it’s own pace.  Living with cancer always seems to be a life in fast forward with a broken rewind button because there is so much that I want to cram in and do while I am healthy and not look back.  I wish I could be at a point where I didn’t think about this cancer crap on a daily basis, but I’m just not there yet.  Now I ask myself, will that day ever arrive?

I took a break from writing because I noticed that I began trying too hard to make life interesting so that I could come home and plunk myself in front of my laptop and get busy to share with you.  I don’t want to force life experiences.  I have never been much of a planner, I work best on just wingin’ it, going with the flow.  Sure we all have our regular routines and schedules, but for the most part I find that some of the best days are the days that we don’t plan. 

Take for instance this weekend.  Saturday morning was a foggy blah day outside, I had absolutely no plans.  Before I knew it, it was bed time and I had spent the afternoon with Dad.  Us gardeners went for our annual trip to Leamington to the greenhouses.  Let’s just say we were in colour heaven!  We visited a couple of different greenhouses this year and also some roadside small veggie stands in front of people’s houses.  We filled up the back of the truck with several hanging baskets and I picked up a couple of elephant ear plants and red banana tree plants for around the pool this year.  We also picked up some fresh veggies, nothing like those huge beefsteak Leamington tomatoes!  Dad was planning his first real toasted BLT sandwich of the season. The old me would have snacked on a donut or two with a diet coke chaser for the drive home, but the new me crunched on a very green fresh mini cucumber with a bottle of water to wash it down.  Yummy!   Cucumbers?  See the compromises I make?  Who would have thunk?  The new me may have gone green, but I’m still thinking chocolate, all the time.  We arrived back in Chatham and me, Dad and Rick enjoyed dinner out.  Sunday morning arrived and again no plans.   It rained heavy all day.  Non-stop.  At lunch time I put on my flip flops and took a bag of garbage outside.  Yep, I slipped on the slippery wood deck.  In retrospect I should have let myself fall on my ass, but no, I tried to catch my balance totally forgetting that abdominal strength would have been needed.  Let’s just say that I still hurt today, a day later.  I stretched or pulled my insides.  Just when I was getting cocky thinking I am doing just awesome… well, this happens.  It’s just a minor setback, well let’s just hope so and I suppose that setback is probably too strong of a word, I am just relaxing today taking it easy to heal up. All I can replay in the back of my head is my surgeon’s words…. you are very prone to hernias because you’ve had so much work done internally to your abdomen, you need to be careful, and I don’t even want to hear the word “exercise” out of your mouth until you’ve reached the 3 month point post-surgery.  June can’t come fast enough for me, I want to get back to my fun, energizing Zumba dance classes.  There I go again, living life in fast forward! 

Back to my unplanned weekend.  Sunday started with brunch out, a ferry ride across the Detroit river for some shopping in the states, meeting my cousin Mark & his wife Ruthie at Caeasar’s casino in Windsor.  But before we arrived in Windsor, I noticed there was a voicemail message on my cell phone from my family doctor… on a Sunday evening around 5 pm….. Oh my God…  a call on a Sunday?  This could only be bad news, right?  My heart was racing.  Message checked.  Bloodwork results from my annual check up, not cancer related bloodwork.  Things look pretty good, but your iron is low again.  This explains my tiredness and grey circles under my eyes.  Low iron has been my new normal since 70% of my liver was removed, so back on the iron pills again.  No biggie….. Phew!  …and just to get off track here for a moment…. I went for my annual physical last week.  I really don’t know why I bother.  You know the whole pap test thing?  Like what’s the worse thing they are going to tell me?  You have stage 4 cancer?  Been there, done that….. ughh!  I had it done anyway, but the 2 hour stay in the waiting room was 2 hours I won’t ever get back.  We all know how I feel about waiting rooms. 

We were able to get tickets to see Chicago (the band).  They were playing at the casino.  It was a great show!  My cancer brain was of course paying attention to certain lyrics like for example… sing with me now…. “you bring meaning to my life, you’re the in…spir…a..tion….”… and “I wanna have you near me”…. and so on.  I played the slots and rouellette and took some of Caeasar’s money home…. yeah baby, that felt great, so shopping earlier in the day was like “free”.  No guilt here.  I absolutely love my impulse buy… a black leather jacket with a little bit of pink leather designs in it… you know… perfect for those motorcyle rides Rick’s going to take me on if this rain ever stops!  Thank you Rick for negotiating a nice price with the retailer!  The pink leather parts are floral tribal like and what I like best is that on the back it has a pink leather bull’s head.  I celebrated my 41st birthday last week.  I am a Taurus through and through and the sign of the Taurus is the bull. (Stubborn bull you say?  Yes, me… stubborn!) It’s like the jacket was made just for me!  It’s form fitting along the waste (now that I have one thanks to cucumber snacking LOL) with criss cross leather laces on the sleeves, on the back and on the waste.  I can’t wait to go for a cruise!  I love riding on the back of the bike, I feel so free!  I finished the look off with a bandana for my head.  Of course it’s pink too but the best part is that it has these words on it …. “Crazy Bitch”.   Come on now, you must agree, I couldn’t leave it there.

I am energized to write again.  I have things to share from my journey this past month… looking forward to chatting with you soon.  My bum is sore from sitting, so time to get up and get busy.  Poor Rick, I am attempting to cook tonight for us.  Thank you for reading today and for those of you that I have not seen or spoken with, I didn’t mean to make you worry.   Life is great!