Archive for April, 2012

Telling the Truth…

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

It was an early Sunday morning.  The living room was dark and we were cuddled together on the sofa.  We were enjoying the movie Dolphin Tale.  We both liked it very much.  It reminded me so much of my recent escape to Florida and the dolphins that I saw. 

We were keeping warm under my favourite plush grey blanket.  I was cherishing every single moment that she was gently, perhaps unknowingly tickling my arm, my cheek, she was ever so softly showing me how much she loved me by her actions.  I would imagine that most people who are parents know what this kind of genuine snuggling is all about.  I think this is what I have missed most by not having kids of my own.  Not that all kids snuggle, but I would bet money on the fact that I would have had a child full of emotions and feelings like myself.  I know this only happens when kids are young so I just cherished every second of it.  It likely only lasted a few seconds, but I stretched time as much as I could to fully enjoy the experience.

“Aunt Karrie…. how come you keep getting scars all over your body?”, my eight year old niece Caelan asks me.  I hate that cancer entered this moment that we were sharing together.  I snapped back into reality right away and I simply told her the truth.  The truthful version of what I felt that she could understand.  I told her  “Sometimes people get broken legs or arms and the doctors fix them with casts and medicine, and sometimes people are broken on the inside parts that we can’t see, like our tummies and our hearts and lungs.  Some of my inside parts are broken with something that is called cancer, but don’t worry, my heart is okay.  We know these body parts are there even though we can’t see them, that’s why my doctor has had to operate on me so that he can get to the inside broken parts to fix me.  This new scar and big bandage on my chest and neck that you are asking me about is where the doctor just put a special part inside so that he can give me that crazy medicine again that made my hair fall out before.  I have to get this medicine again.”

I think this answer was okay.  God I hope it was okay.  The last thing that I want to do is scare this young girl who I know loves me very much but little does she know that I love her more.  I never want her to know that her Aunt Karrie may very well leave her world before she ever reaches her teenage years.  I can’t even allow her to think that my broken parts may cause me to go to heaven way earlier than every planned.  I will never give up, it’s not an option.  Ever.

The conversation was over as quick as it had started.  Thankfully.  We continued hanging out, keeping warm on the comfy couch, under the cozy blanket and watching the injured dolphin in the movie overcome his injury and the obstacle that life dealt him.  He won with the support of so many people that loved and supported him.  I thought, yes, I am a lucky dolphin too.

Here are a couple of pictures.

Caelan & I when she was only 5 months old, and present day, Caelan teaching me how to feed and change a diaper on her Baby Alive doll.  Great memories.










The Old Man…

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

This post was written on Sat Mar 10.

The morning was relaxation time. Rick kept cool in the air conditioning on a big comfy chair, searching the internet with ideas of where our Florida journey may take us next. I, on the other hand lathered up in delicious coconut smelling suntan lotion and headed outside for my medicine of soaking up the sun’s light and energy. My freckles have surfaced again on my face. I no longer hate them like when I was a little girl. There is actually a quote I like, “A sky without stars is like a face without freckles.”  I am definitely solar-powered.

We spent mid afternoon to late evening down on Duval Street and Mallory Square which is basically the happening place in Key West. It’s at the southern most place in North America. The crowds were gathered at the docks. I marvelled with the sheer number of people that were there just like us to simply watch the sun set. It was a beautiful sunset and sailboats, houseboats, jet skis and many other watercraft seemed to all perfectly align themselves at the precise moment for the optimal photograph. I have never seen so many people take photos of the sun. It gave me shivers all over when the crowd started to clap and celebrate as the last bit of the bright orange ball sunk behind the clowds and under the line of the ocean. I did at that moment feel so connected to Earth and all of it’s beauty. I hate that this beautiful moment brought such an overwhelming thought to my mind of “Oh God, please allow me to witness many more of these”. We were entertained by several street performers and of course some shopping. Rick was so patient as I searched for a pretty white summer dress. I can’t wait to wear it. I love that he likes to shop too.

I visited a palm reader. I have never had my palms read. I thought, let’s see if this brick house that I carry on my back will surface in the reading. I am skeptical, but I do believe that some people genuinely have special gifts, so I tried it out.

The old man had long grey hair and a long grey beard and eyebrows to match. His eyes were more brown than mine and he had extremely long eyelashes. His eyes were kind. He concentrated more on my right hand and I had hoped that he would tell me more about my left hand where I am pretty sure our life line is. My life line breaks in two, half way down my palm. It is cut short like a big fork in the road. Is this ironic? (insert shoulder shrug here)

As he runs his fingers over my hands, back and forth a few times, the first words he says are, “you are a very stubborn woman, nothing gets in your way and once you set your mind to something you do everything possible to accomplish it”. Shivers here again. Those of you who know me wouldn’t argue this statement. Later on toward the end of the session he mentioned this stubborn word again. All I could think to myself was “that’s right buddy, screw cancer”.

My attention pauses for a moment as I glance at this wandering rooster strolling around us. He is pretty or should I say handsome? Yes, a rooster. His feathers are so shiny. Is it the reflection from the full moon? They (roosters) seem to appear randomly through Key West, walking across the streets on sidewalks, etc. Huh??? He (the old man who looks like a wizard I think) also said that I would have one great love in my lifetime and that at some point our relationship will be severely tested. He said he couldn’t determine whether the stressor would be on my behalf or my partner’s. (we all know what he’s referring to here don’t we) He said that the stressor would not end our relationship and we will be able to work through it. (I know that if anything our relationship is stronger than ever due to the stressor that we deal with)

I was choked up when he told me something else that I already know. He said that I am very intuitive. I see and notice things that most people don’t tune in to. He said you can walk into a place and feel like you have been there before or that you will see or feel something that talks to you on a spiritual level. Yep, he was absolutely right. One word came to my mind. Angels.

“When you love someone, you give all of yourself and more”. “You will do anything for someone you love and you will sacrifice and give of your time to assist when you are needed even if it is not asked of you”. “On the other hand, because you love so deeply, when someone hurts you, you will hurt more deeply”. I immediately think of two dear friends that walked away from our friendship shortly after my diagnosis. I hurt every day and think of them every day. I forgive them of course but this feeling of abandonment overwhelms me and I grieve for what once was.

He also said he doesn’t like how my lungs look, I need to get them checked out. (my tumours are near my lungs, plus there is a questionable spot on my right lung…hmmm)

Some other statements were way off, but I choose to believe that he was able to truly read parts of me. I am not sorry I visited him.  I had asked Rick if he would sit through the reading with me as my back up plan because I know I will not remember all of the things that this man will say to me.  Rick obliges and does well for the first little bit and then all of a sudden he gets up and moves away.  I am annoyed because I think he is seeing something like a cool sight on the main street like, bikini babes maybe?  God I hope I can remember everything.  After my palm reading wraps up, I asked Rick what was so interesting that he had to get up and leave?  He said, “Sorry, it got a little emotional for me.”  At that moment I felt very little inside.  Forgetting that perhaps my Rock may turn to pebbles at times too.  I am so sad at this very moment.  I see another rooster.  We continue on our way to enjoy our evening in Key West, the best way we know how.  Together. 

We are leaving Key West tomorrow and heading north toward Key Largo & Miami, will likely stay the night in Hollywood. (I didn’t know that Forida had a Hollywood) We plan to stop for lunch in Marathon (half way between Key West & Miami as the annual Seafood Festival is happening today and the shrimp, crab and lobster are plentiful! I am comprimising my vegetarian lifestyle for seafood while we are in the south and enjoying some of it. Seafood only, that’s where I draw the line. I am fueling up with a different type of protein for the future mess that my body will be going through in a couple of weeks once chemotherapy begins. It’s like spring training for the big fight.

I am heading for bed now and I am tirelessly trying to recall all the things that the old man told me. Frustration is setting in because my mind has already forgotten some of it. I hate chemo brain. I wanted to write more about what he told me, it is forever lost.

A Princess Day…

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Every day that I am here on Little Palm Island I feel like a princess. This is a place that I wouldn’t on any normal circumstance ever splurge or spend this kind of money on, no matter how beautiful. We are surrounded by people that live like this all of the time. I actually wonder if they forget how beautiful their surroundings are and simply take it for granted. I am tuned into everything.

Today we skipped breakfast and slept in. We headed down to the pool area for a late lunch which consisted of jumbo chilled shrimp and crab cakes. When you eat a vegetarian diet there are no rules except those that you make for yourself and while I am in the heartland of seafood, I am indulging, however I can’t let myself eat any four legged beings like those that visited us at our table today.

Two deer came right up to our table and one actually put his little head under Rick’s arm and looked up at him, like to say, come on mister just a little bite? These beautiful Key Deer are an endangered species with only 1000 left so it is a hefty fine if you feed them, etc. We took some photos of course.

As we were finishing up lunch I noticed a sign on the pool bar. Today’s drink special “Lifesaver”….. Yes, I ordered one.

Off we go to take a boat ride. Captain Rick is taking me out for a tour on a little Boston Whaler boat. He wasn’t impressed with it, because it had no speed at all. I was happy to just be out in the water and the sunshine. We saw many pelicans and tons of other birds and fish, but unfortunately no dolphins or manatees. The water has so many different colours of turquoise blue, just so beautiful.

After we returned our boat to the dock, Rick found himself a hammock and I found a beach chair for little siesta. We returned to our cabin and freshened up for dinner and to watch the sunset. Tomorrow the moon will be full, but it looks full tonight.

Dinner together was the most beautiful experience ever. Our table was right on the beach. The water was right there. I was wearing a long beachy, flowy dress, it was 80 degrees and the tiki torches were lit around us, candle on our table, the sound of the waves, the wildlife and I know I am missing some more descriptions, it was all I can say is “wow”, and barefoot toes in the sand too.  Mmmmm, heavenly.   Sunset was at 6:31 pm that night and as we ate our dinners, we could still see where the sun went down over the ocean. I think this was the first time I have seen an ocean sunset. The eternal heat or glow of the sun could still be seen at 9 pm. I thought to myself that that is exactly how I feel. Brightly lit within and even though things (cancer) darken my light sometimes, I do know that it’s there deep within me and it’s strong.

A male deer spooked me. It came right up to our table. He was much more agressive than the many females that we have been visited by. He just finished eating all the rose petals that were strewn along the beach for another group of diners. He had antlers too.

We are now day four with no television. Good for us! We feel so tuned out from the real world and it is so nice for a change. I am glad that Rick is able to detox from stresses at work. He works way too hard. Our last vacation was in 2005, so we are way over-due.

This is our last night on the island which I have now nick-named Fantasy Island. I just can’t believe that I am here, but I know I am. I am one of the luckiest girls ever!

We have arranged to meet the boat captain at 1:00 pm tomorrow to take us to the mainland. Part of me is sad that this fantasy is ending. I know that this is a place I will only visit once in my lifetime. The other part of me is excited to see where the rest of our vacation will take us.  All we know at this point is that the shrimp and crab is delicious, the deer has moved on to entertain another couple’s table, Rick looks absolutely handsome by the tiki torch light, the moon is huge and bright, I feel terrific, and I am so very happy that I am holding back tears.  I love my life!!!


In Island Mode…

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I awoke this morning to a beautiful sunny sky, light breeze, the sound of the water against the shore, the sound of the palm trees swaying away. Breakfast was outside on the deck of our suite, which is a grass-thatched roof hut. Fresh berries & tropical fruits, home-made granola and yogurt.

Rick surprised me with a massage. Not one, but two special treats. Here’s how the day continued after breakfast. Our shower is outside. We have a modern one inside our suite in a beautiful dark colored tiled surround jetted tub, however there is something quite earthly and grounding when you shower outside. I felt free. It is enclosed with bamboo fencing and pretty private however if you really wanted a view let’s say, you would get to know me quite well. On the wall of the shower I can’t help but notice the details. The sea shell screwed into the wall that served not only as decoration but also a soap holder. I stood under the rain head shower spray and as I lathered shampoo in my hair my eyes are drawn to the beautiful view before me. I am looking out into the ocean or bay, I’m not sure which it is but I do know that it is called Newfound Harbour. The Florida Keys are absolutely stunning with several shades of that brilliant clear blue turquoise water.

My clothing of choice today is a plush white robe and slippers. The robe is over-sized and I feel like I am wearing a blanket. The breeze outside is keeping me cool even though it is 75 degrees this morning. I leave Rick sleeping in the suite and I make my way down the crushed seashell path to the spa. I am on my way to my first ever massage. This is the special surprise that I mentioned earlier and got side-tracked. My brain wanders everywhere and is consumed by the beauty and tranquility of my surroundings.

Half way to the spa I encounter a little deer drinking out of a little puddle. I stop to watch it for a moment. She stops drinking and she looks at me as if to say good morning. I bend down and put out my hand and for the first time in my life I am touched (physically) by a wild animal. She kisses my hand. It was magical. I felt that ever familiar feeling of being with another Earth Angel friend. I think to myself, how many people can say they were kissed by a deer on their way to their first massage? Lucky me. Not any amount of money can buy you that kind of experience.

I am greeted at the spa and I meet a lovely woman by the name of Thekla. She asked me if I had any sensitive areas that she should be made aware of. I have been on this island for 3 days now and this is the first time that I have revealed the cancer thing as I proceed to tell her that my abdominal area is sensitive due to surgeries & scarring. I am naked and laying under a sheet on the table and she kindly asked if I would be interested in sharing my story. She was curious and interested and of course being the open book that I am, I shared some of my journey with her. I am glad that I did, because she told me that she is going to schedule a colonoscopy with her doctor soon. This was another gift given to me today. Chances are she will have no problems, but at least she will get a base line and know what her body has to tell her. This could save her life and this makes me so proud that I might have had something to do with it. Perhaps she will tell a friend and that friend will go on to tell another and so on. So many people do not talk about this type of cancer because of the “ick” factor. I can tell you first hand that all cancers are icky and I selectively choose this description because it’s the nicest way to describe it or them.

Swedish massage hour one is complete. I put my robe on and continue on to meet Sonia who will perform a sugar body scrub for me. Coconut mango. I feel like an old beat up car going for some body work. I think of my Dad as this is what he does for a living. He meticulously brings old, or beat up vehicles back to their original beauty. I am being sanded down with sugar, releasing the old and shedding some skin. I feel so good and it is quite something to shower laying down, like a car wash. I feel light and pretty and totally relaxed and ready for the rest of the day.  My skin is radiating and ready to soak in the positive energy of the sun and energize my soul some more. There was a beautiful bouquet of red roses on a table in the room and of course I had to stop and smell them before I left to go meet up with Rick.

I can’t stop touching myself. My skin doesn’t feel like mine. I am so smooth and brand new. Rick says, “you smell like butter”, and I replied, “I feel like butter!”. Coconut, mango butter. Mmmmm. We were laying on the bed just talking about nothing really, which is nice. It’s nice to be so comfortable with someone that you don’t even need to talk at all. We just layed there for a bit and listened to the fan above the canopy bed with mosguito netting and a sea shell that served as the fan pull. We talked some more and as usual, out of nowhere my eyes get all wet and my voice cracks as I try to hold my breath to make the pending tears stop. “What are you crying about now?”, he saks me. I muttered out one word. Grateful.

Surprise, I fell asleep, it wasn’t even lunch time yet. I was just so comfortable. I woke up to a roaring fire. Well, not quite, but Rick worked with the best tools he had on hand. We don’t have a fireplace in the room, after all we are in the tropics. Here I am laying in bed and right before my eyes is his IPAD. He found an app that was a roaring fire. How cool ! I layed there and enjoyed it a while and then we got ready for lunch.

I think day three finally hit me. I mean, island mode hit me. I had another nap after lunch while Rick pretended not to work on his IPAD. Dinner was delivered to our room. I never have naps, well I shouldn’t say never. Lately I have been known to fall asleep at odd times that aren’t scheduled bed times, so yes I guess it’s time I admit I have become a napper. Guess my body needs the down time. I think it’s my brain that needs to be shut down. It’s always in over-drive and you know what I am thinking about. I wish it would just go away.

It is a full moon tonight. We go for a walk after dinner and take some photos of the moon and it’s beauty. It is even prettier when the palm trees sway in front of it. We sit at the fire pit in big comfy chairs and talk with a couple who are from Wisconsin. It is their first night here. As we are chatting and being mesmerized by the fire, two deer come to say hello. One came up behind Rick and the other came up behind me. I tried my luck again and held my hand out. They both kissed me. I can’t believe my luck. This is so beautiful, they are so beautiful. I am missing my dog C.J. at home.

It is almost midnight and Rick is catching a little t.v. time in the great room which houses the only t.v. on the island. I am just outside the little building that he is in. I am seated at the pool bar which of course is located at the pool that is lit up beautifully. I am the only one here. Just me and several pineapple glass candle holders. I am writing to you by candlelight. All of the staff has taken the boat ride to their homes for the evening. The staff does not live on the island. This paradise is reserved for quests only.

Island mode is quite something. Maybe it’s just this particular island that makes me feel like I am on little islands on this little island.  Let me explain.  The outdoor shower, an island.  The hammock nestled back within the palms, an island.  The king size bed with mosquito netting canopy, an island.  Enjoying the sunset from the end of the dock, an island.  I am on all these personal little island escapes, yet I am so very lucky because I am not alone.  I have my guy all to myself and it’s so nice that we don’t have to share our time, with work, with stress, or with anything.  We can just be in island mode and breathe.

This post was written on March 8 and I have just re-read it today, April 2.  Two days before I begin chemotherapy treatment.  I have a terrible chest cold and I have no energy.  Rick is away at work.  It’s just me and the couch.  It’s cool outside today but the sun is shining, I have the patio door open and I am gazing out into the sky looking at the bare trees in the yard just patiently waiting to grow into their greenery for spring.  Reading about our island mode is exactly what I needed today to keep me focused on the prize and to gear up for the fight.  More island time somewhere in this world awaits us and I plan to get there.