Archive for September, 2010

Goodbye my sweet…

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

We met many years ago. I fell in love with you when we first met. I thought over all these years that you were one of my best friends. You have been there to comfort me in sad times, in happy times, those times I was bored and those times that I was too busy for anything else. You gave me a incredible comfort that I always came back for more. I totally understand why I wasn’t able to stop thinking about you, or hanging around you because you see, you always made me feel good. Even when I thought I had enough of you, you still continued to make me feel good.

As of late I have been writing things down, I mean typing things up, adding notes to this virtual journal of mine. It has given me more comfort than you ever did, which is strange to me, but I have been learning a lot about myself lately, since I first heard those words “you have cancer”. I feel sometimes when I look back to 9 months ago, that I have been kind of holding my breath in, but now I can exhale and release negative feelings and actions with a little more ease. This is something I struggle with daily, but I now live in the moment, or for the day and although I do make plans for the future, it hasn’t been my priority. I want you to know that I do forgive, but I don’t forget. So getting on with my note to you, I want you to know that I won’t forget you, but I do need to part ways with you and say goodbye. This is very difficult for me, being that we have been through so much together. You simply cannot be a part of my present or my future. One day at at time, I will get over you.

I have been educating myself and becoming more aware of my choices. I am the only one that can make these changes and I have told myself that although this is a very difficult decision for me to make, it is a decision that has to be made. I have to start putting myself first. You see, my judgement of you was blinded. I ignored all the signs that our relationship was not healthy, but I saw the best in you so those signs were easy to dismiss. I also didn’t want to acknowledge that the friends you hang around with are also toxic. Once I hang around you, your friends want to join in and after a while all the fun gets old and I just don’t feel good. The crappy feeling would pass quite quickly so we would meet up again and repeat the party all over again. I have had enough. So with that said, I am saying my final goodbye to you. I have been with you a little bit here and there in the past few months but it’s getting easier to stay away from you, simply because I know you are not good for me. I should have written this to you a long time ago, I must apologize to myself for not having the strength to do it sooner. I believe that you encourage and feed the monster that lives inside me. This monster called cancer. I think if I keep hanging around you and your sweet friends, yep, even the nutty ones, that you will think that cancer is your friend because it wants you more than I do. I can’t let you two get together and kick me out of the picture, so I am breaking up this trio.

Since we have been great friends for so many years, I am sure I am going to call on you once and a while, but our visits will be very limited. Short and sweet is going to take on a whole new meaning now. Eventually I will be able to see you at a party or run into you at the store without giving it a second thought that the right decision has been made. You can stare me down as much as you like, or wear your best outfit to attract me to you even more, but I am in it to win it.

Time heals everything and healing is what I have to do, so goodbye my sweet.

Goodbye my sweet…… chocolate.

Don’t be fooled…

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Hope is not just this sweet, delicate thing we find in budding flowers and sunsets…….

Hope is tough and durable, strong enough to look “adversity” right in the face and say…

 ” IS THAT ALL YOU GOT ? “

Lead by example…

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Being the first born child to my parents, and being the oldest sibling to my brother and sister I grew up with the notion that I must lead my example.  You know, monkey see, monkey do.  I am confident that I provided both good and bad examples of leadership, but no one is perfect, however I am proud to admit that I showed my brother how to cleverly and very carefully close up a bag of cookies so that it looked exactly the way it did before he would sneak a few cookies out for the two of us to share.  Mom will never know !   (Boy we can be so stupid sometimes !)  You must admit though, that cookies taste so much better when you know you aren’t supposed to have any and you have successfully become a talented sneak.  Now I wonder if my brother’s kids do this to the bags of cookies in his cupboards?  I sure hope so.

So my dear friends and family, joking aside… I am writing today to share what I accomplished this morning.  Once again I am leading by example.  However this time I know it is a great example.  You see, I woke up this morning with a mission.  A mission to have an opportunity to say “screw cancer” in a whole different way other than chemotherapy and surgery.  I am choosing to fight cancer the “easy way” today.   I packed up my “girls” and went on a short road trip.  I wore my best pink lace bra, pink sweatshirt and pink bandana on my head (to cover my still ugly hair), painted my toe nails pink and headed out the door. 

First stop was to the lab to get some bloodwork done (a check up that I insisted my family doctor do for me).  We are checking in to quite a number of things, just to be pro-active to avoid any other health issues.   

Second stop was to the hospital.  I was on my way to my very first mammogram.  I admit I was nervous about it because it was my first one, but there was nothing to it.  I felt a wave of confidence as I was changing out of my clothes into the gown.  The gown was a bright pink colour and of course the opening had to be at the front instead of the back like I have been accustomed to wearing during hospital stays.  It wrapped around the waist with a white tie up and I thought to myself it resembled what a person would wear to a martial arts class or work out.   To amuse myself, I did a little karate chop wave in the air in the change room before I exited it and waited for my name to be called to get the mammogram done.  Fuck you cancer !  I am in charge today!  A few little squeezes and shyness aside, it was over in 10 minutes.  I have to tell you that’s the best way to fight cancer.  TEST FOR IT !!!   Ten minutes compared to two major surgeries and chemo !  Heck ya !  To be honest the toughest part of the whole ordeal was paying the $5.00 parking fee for my quickest trip in and out of a hospital.   I felt great on an emotional level while I drove home, top down on the car, music loudly playing and underneath it all, my comfy, fancy pink bra!  I think I am going to wear it more often, not just for special occasions.  (like anyone sees it anyway, but I know that I’m wearing it!)

Arrived home, sat down for some lunch and turned on the computer to catch up on emails and facebook.  My friend Dana sent me an email that touched me.  She asked for support with her fundraising efforts.  She has just completed chemo with her second battle of breast cancer.  She is the same age as me.  She is participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer next week.   Since I declared my day as “screw cancer” day, her email came just at the right time.  I didn’t delete the request, I went directly to the link to her personal fundraising page and yes, I donated.  I may not be fighting breast cancer, but I am fighting cancer.  WE ALL FIGHT CANCER, even if you aren’t fighting it now, you may become one of the unlucky people who will in their life time.  Why not fight now instead of later?   I am tired of waiting “for another day”.  

I feel so strong today that I am getting my butt outside, holding my chin up high and I’m going for another good long hour walk today.  I am going to try out a new pedometer that I just bought…. how many steps will I travel today?  (wish I could walk to Bora Bora)    There I go… getting off topic and distracted again, but as you see, I don’t have time for cancer.  I am going to win, one step at a time!   Tests, donate, and go for a walk!    “Screw you cancer” !

Some emotional healing…

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Last night before bed I decided to go for a swim, it will be time to close up the pool soon for winter so I am taking advantage of the nice weather.  I feel like my summer just started.  The night was so beautiful that I just feel the need to share.  In our busy lives we are all guilty of “I’ve got to do this”, “what time is it”, “I’ll relax later”, “I’ve got to go here, need to go there”.  Not any more.  I’ve learned that “lifestyle” the hard way, a lesson I don’t intend on repeating.  I still do all of the above, but I am learning to find a balance.  Anyway, let me paint this picture for you.  I was so relaxed (this happens so very rarely for me), on not only a physical level, but for once in a long time, on an emotional level also. 

The sky is dark, stars are plentiful, the steam from the warm water is drifting up into the air all around me.  I am in the deep end supporting myself with a pool noodle.  I am so still that hardly a ripple of water moves across the pool.  The water is all lit up from below and the light reflects all around the wooden fence that surrounds the yard.  I am watching the airplanes high above and wondering where the passengers are headed to.  The geese are flying overhead and I can faintly here a few crickets still.  Fall is coming.  My golden retriever C.J. is laying on the pool deck supervising me. Music playing softly in the background and I look at the beautiful full moon in the sky that is providing me with a quite a night light.  As I am gazing at it I hear a couple of songs that made me giggle inside.  I swear the radio DJ knew I was out there or something.  I am hearing “I wear my sunglasses at night, so I can, so I can…..”  and the next song has lyrics that go “take your broken wings and learn to fly”.  I realize at that moment that I have not thought about “living with terminal cancer” at all.  I am not thinking of anything really.  I am simply enjoying the moment, my beautiful surroundings and am so grateful that I am able to find “Karadise”. 

I owe this all to Rick.  Thank you.

A new me…

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The last two weeks have been a good two weeks.  I am getting strength back and I am starting to feel like myself again, the self that doesn’t sit still… however the “new me” listens to my body when it starts talking to me.  (and it talks more than I like it to, but I stop and smell the roses so to speak when I have to)  I am keeping busy and working on building some more strength yet so I can get into exercise mode.  I met with a few doctors last week.

Family doctor – for bloodwork check up (I thought it might be a good idea to ask for this since I was given a transfusion of 7 units of blood during liver surgery… note our bodies consist of 10 to 12 units, so 7 units is quite a bit, hope I got some good stuff, we’ll see !)  I also booked a mammogram….. will be my first one ever… yikes, I hear it’s like placing your boob under a car tire… oh well…. has to be better than being told I have cancer there too.

Surgeon #1 who performed my bowel surgery in Dec. —- had a great check up with him…. he told me that I have become a medical question mark ( I like this…. keep all these doctors guessing ! )  if all goes well, meaning if my bloodwork for CEA levels (cancer markers) and if the CT scan next month has good results, then I will be preparing for surgery #3 to put me “back together” again in Jan or Feb !    This will be another major surgery, but hey, it will be a happy one for me!  My doctor asked me if I could lose an additional 20 lbs before then, and I replied back, sure how about 30 instead?  I put a smile on a face that doesn’t smile too easily… I think he’s getting to know me.  He says every time he gets paper work and updates sent to him he calls them “the latest chapters”. 

Oncologist says that she stands behind my decision to wait and see about continuing chemo until we see the results from the CT scan in October.  She has told me a couple of times that I am “an amazing woman”.  Should I take this as a compliment or should I over-think why she says this to me?   I don’t see the amazing part.  I am just in “screw cancer” mode and that’s all there is to it. 

So the next four weeks I am considering as “me time”, not “cancer time”.  I am eating healthier and wiser than I have ever done in the past.  I am exercising every day, low impact still, but I am now able to do laps in the pool and I am walking.   I can’t wait to get back to Zumba class.  If anyone knows of a dragonboat team that is looking for a team-mate, I would be very interested.  This is something that has always interested me but I never acted on it.   No time like the present to start because technically I might be dead in a year and 3 months. 

So wish me luck…. I am not going to think about “stuff” until I have to swallow that yucky liquid on scan day !

Dear Cancer:   I am still not ready to communicate with you, but I do plan to write you another letter.  You see I am too busy dealing with me.  I have become high-maintenance, not you.

A Great Question…

Monday, September 13th, 2010

My sister and I placed our order through a drive-thru window yesterday.  The pleasant voice  through the speaker said “Welcome to Tim Horton’s… How can I make your day better?”  I immediately thought sarcasticly to myself…. well that’s a loaded question!   Sarcasm aside, we pulled up to the next window, picked up our order and continued driving.  While Cindy was driving I repeated that question in my head over and over again.  How can I make your day better?  I came to the realization that the day was already “better”.  We visited with family that we haven’t seen in a long time, we were spending the weekend together, us two sisters, out of town and it was a great day. How much better can it get, right?

Well I arrived home, and checked emails before bed.  I was so touched by this email message that I just have to share it.  Let me share a bit of background first.  This email is from a young lady that I have only met a few times in the past few years, but I feel like I have known her longer.  She just lost her Dad to cancer.  I posted a note about Barry (her Dad) passing away about a month ago.  He was the son of my neighbour Ruby that also passed away from cancer 2 years ago.  Well, this email came from Stella, who is Barry’s daughter.  She lives (lived) with her Dad.  Since Barry passed away about a month or so ago, she has been living alone in their house and was let’s say, at a cross road with life, not sure where to go next.  I can’t imagine how she must feel, having lost her Dad.  I don’t even want to go there. 

I met with Stella and her Aunt Gwen one day for a visit while she was in town.  We had a nice conversation.   Here is the email that Stella sent me yesterday.  I am so deeply touched by it and I am so proud of Stella for following her dreams and not letting sadness get in the way.  It’s hardly ever productive. 

“When you come to the edge of all the light you have known and are about to step out into the darkness, faith is knowing one of two things will happen…
There will be something to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.”
 
Dear Karrie,
 
Thank you.
 
When I was talking with you the other day, I was in a dark place having just lost my Dad.
You gave me my faith back in life and you taught me to fly. Which will come in useful since I just received my offer from Griffith Univeristy in Australia to attend their February 2011 class for Bachelor of Communications.
 
Thank you.
 
Love you always,

Stella

Living with cancer…

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Living with cancer…… is like seeing your world through a black & white lens…. some moments and some days surprise you with a lot of colour, but most days are a whole lot of grey… the unknown.   

While I was doing some housework this morning, as I walked into the dining room, I saw the neatest thing.  A rainbow inside the house, appeared on the ceiling.  It only lasted a few minutes, so it’s strange that I happened to walk into that area at that given time.  I’m sure it’s because the sun just happened to hit the glass light over the glass table at just the right angle, but nonetheless it was a rainbow.  Cool.  Now if only I can find that pot of gold.  Time to do some dusting, maybe it will appear to.    I know I’m strange, but who likes doing housework?  I am trying to have some fun here.  Maybe it’s time to turn up the stereo and finish up my work and stop thinking so much.   ps.  I took a picture of the rainbow so that when I tell Rick about it later he won’t acuse me of fried brain cells from the chemo.  I blame a lot of silly things I do now on the chemo, it seems to be working for me  (giggle insert here) 🙂

An interesting article…

Friday, September 10th, 2010

This is an interesting article that I saw via Facebook this morning that I would like to share.

Healing the person vs. Killing the disease

Here is the link…

  Shortcut to: http://www.85broads.com/experts/susan-beausang/healing-the-person-vs-killing-the-disease

Ride The Wave…

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Yesterday for Labour Day, my Mom and stepdad Gord invited the immediate family out to their house for lunch.  The weather was cool but we decided to go for a drive down to their newly purchased piece of beach which they have named the Sand Box.  It’s a permanent camp site for them to take their trailer to and they are always guaranteed a great beach view.  I think it’s a pre-retirement gift to themselves or maybe they just decided to have a “screw it” moment like I did when I bought my car.   Live for today, live in the moment.  We had a nice family get together.  

I think I escaped inside my subconcious again while I was at the beach.  This happens often, I think I am paying attention and I am in the present, but my subconcious mind is in overdrive, “over-thinking” or something.  I realized that is was Labour Day.  What does this day mean to me now?  Everything changes once you are diagnosed with cancer.  I may no longer work like I used to, but I was having a mini celebration with myself, to celebrate Labour Day.  I have been “working” at a new job this year.   2010 has been a year of work for me alright.  Working to be strong, in mind, in body and in spirit.  I am working on being a better me…. a fighting machine to kill this beast inside me.   I am working to stay alive.  I never thought I would have to think about this last sentence.   Working to stay alive.  It’s not about a weekly pay cheque any more. 

I have come to a decision with my treatment.  In the photo below, my Mom’s shirt says it all….. “Ride The Wave”…. meaning that I am going to “wait and see”  rather than start chemo back up this week.   

Ride the wave

 I am going to allow myself some more healing time for the next month and a half until my next CT scan.  After that scan I will have new data to consider at that point.  I admit that I am terrified of my choice yet I am confident with my choice as well.  I know this doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what cancer is.  Unpredictable and no guarantees.  A friend of mine told me once that none of us are born with an expiration date on our feet.  I just hope that with the choice I have made that it doesn’t put me past the “best before date”.      

Here are a few photos from the Sand Box.  Thank you Rick and Mom for always having my back, for helping me through the waves of treatment, the ups and downs, the good days and bad ones, the “poor me moments” and the “screw cancer moments”. 

DSC04877Kar & Rick at sandbox Sep 10This hospital photo was taken in December just after my first surgery and when the Big C arrived into my life.  Time to get to work… boy have “we” come a long way… it’s September already!  I’ve got to prove those statistics wrong !

 

I’ll protect you from those angry looking waves Rick…. it’s my turn!

 

Kar & Mom at sandbox

Some angel visits…

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Do you believe in angels?  I do.  They are everywhere.  Some of them I know.  Some of them I have never met…. but they are with me.  Today has been a special angel visit day.  I wonder if these things all happened today because I think I have finally made my decision and it’s a sign of my angels telling me it’s okay, it’s the right path?  I would like to believe so.

I went for a morning walk today after a healthy breakfast and I passed an elderly man who was looking down as he walked, he wasn’t looking straight ahead.  We were heading toward each other and he stopped when we crossed paths so to speak and he looked directly at me as I said hello with a kind of strange look to his eyes that he was surprised that I acknowledged the fact that he was there and we were sharing a sidewalk.   I always say hello to people I come near to, it’s polite and besides you never know what kind of baggage they are carrying with them.  (Do they have cancer too?  Have they lost a loved one?  Lost a job?)  He said, isn’t it a beautiful day today?   You have yourself a great day!  I replied, you bet, the sun is shining, it’s warm and we’re out walking and enjoying it!  Our connection was brief but his comment of “have yourself a great day”, really did start a chain reaction.   I am glad that I opened my mouth and said hello to this nice man.

I arrived home, freshened up, checked my email and left to run a couple of errands and stopped in at the pool store.  Rick was there and was speaking to a man who looked to be a sales rep from a prospective supplier.  Rick said to this man who I was introduced to as “Clarence”…. this is Karrie, I don’t think you have met each other yet.    Hmm…. I am seeing a theme here….. I am remembering my dear friend Clarence that I shared a hospital room with in London when I had my liver surgery 10 weeks ago.  I wonder how he is doing today?  Anyway, back to the (new) Clarence.  He said it is so nice to finally meet you.  I want you to know that me and my family have been praying for you.  All I could think was “wow”.   It gave me goosebumps when he told me this.  They must belong to my angel team.    Strangers that know of me and they pray for me. 

Next I ran into Reg, a friend of ours, roughly the same age as my Dad.  I always get “hug therapy” from him.   I think that hugs are the best medicine.  Have you hugged anyone today?  I’ll share a private note with you….. this is how I get my positive energy vibes.  Partly to kick cancer’s negative thoughts, and partly just to be kind and express my admiration for people.

Went to the dry cleaners and the lady at the counter says “Oh, it’s so nice to see you out and about.  You look great !  (she likes the shoulder length wig that I was wearing today)  I have nick-named this wig “Kelly”.  (the every day, carefree girl look)  Kelly is fun to wear.  I have been wearing the longer hair wig for the last couple of weeks because Rick likes her look better, she is nick-named “Kristen”.  I don’t know what made me choose to wear Kelly today, but if you read on, it might make sense?  Is it a coincidence or was an angel guiding me subconciously?

Next stop was Staples/Office Depot.  I picked up a journal book to keep track of what I eat every day and to keep track of my exercising too.  Keeping myself in check and to stay on the right path towards being healthy.  As I left the store, there was a big bin of those darn push buttons.  You know that ones?  You push the button and it talks to you.  “That was easy!”.   I am thinking to myself….. yeah right…. this decision I have to make…. is it really that easy?  I kind of chuckled sarcasticly inside my head as I looked at those buttons.  Why did I turn my head and look at them as I left the store?  An angel sending me a sign?  This didn’t occur to me until just now as I create this blog message.

When I arrived home, I checked my email and went on Facebook to see what my friends have been up to and I came across the most special, unique gift.  My cousin’s wife whose name is Kelly, sent me the following message that I have copied and pasted for you to read.

“Since it is my birthday today, and I can do anything I want with My birthday wish , I giving it to You Karrie. Make it a good one and don’t tell anyone what it was or it won’t come true. Maybe this will help you in your futrue decisions”

I replied back to Kelly expressing how very thoughtful she was to be thinking of me on her special day.  I am honoured.  I plan to light a candle tonight in her honour and I am going to make a wish.  “Our” wish.  I am sure that everyone will know what I am wishing for, but I am not going to say it out loud because I do want (need) it to come true.    I am just going to close my eyes and exhale and go to sleep, hopefully to wake up with a firm decision.  

Thank you to my angels who visited me today.  I will stay tuned to you…. but I just have to ask….. how lucky can one woman be?  How much can I ask and wish for?   Thank you for your guidance.  I will light a candle today and hopefully it will illuminate the path so bright !