Archive for July, 2012

The Medical Crap…

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Yesterday I got a call…..have to go for another CT scan for lungs/chest tomorrow. I just had one on the 12th of July. Ughhhh!!!! When I got the results last week my doc told me she wasn’t concerned but then I mentioned to her that my armpit was sore, she examined me and determined that the lymph nodes in that area are swollen. (left side) She told me it was a good sign that they were sensitive to touch. This is happening on the opposite side of my continuous sore hand/wrist which she is also requesting an apppointment with a joint specialist but it takes quite some time to get a date set. I’ve dealt with my arm for almost 3 months now, so I can wait out that particular pain and I am getting good at eating with a fork with my left hand. I remind myself that I have a good doctor that doesn’t dismiss any complaints or lumps or bumps or feelings that I am experiencing and she doesn’t hesitate to order tests. I have learned to speak up about any thing because I am not a trained doctor and what I think might be minor, she may look at differently, which she does.

I guess a couple of benefits of dealing with cancer and chemotherapy treatment is that if a CT scan or MRI or Xray or whatever is needed I don’t have to wait long to get the actual test and one good bonus is that my hormones are out of wack and I’ve missed two periods. First time ever in my life. I appreciate the break in that department. So the little money I have saved in tampons I treated myself to some pretty nail art stickers and I’m going to pamper my feet and toes that carry me through this crazy journey! Look good, feel good! Sometimes it is just a state of mind.

I refuse to worry about the pending results because there isn’t a friggin’ thing I can do that will change anything and stress only feeds this monster. I woke up this morning of course with my chimpanzee inspired hair (very thin with bald patches and fuzzy) simply happy to breath deep comfortable, restful breaths and to be on the right side of the grass!

C’est la vie!!! Foot soak here I come!

The yucky stuff…

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I don’t write about the yuck stuff often, because frankly I have been fairly fortunate with side effects. At least I think so. My home care nurse Nancy came by to the house yesterday to take the chemo infusion pump off. I only vomited once during the 3 days of treatment, unlike the last few rounds, however the nausea was persistent and now I am running to the bathroom dealing with the other end. So fortunate I mention? Yes. As I sat in the chemo waiting area and in the chemo treatment area this round, I particularly paid attention to others around me. I still to this day feel like I am just a visitor at the cancer clinic, not staying long, just give me the poison and send me on my way. I do not belong. First look was at a gentleman across from me. He was about 60 years old and sat with his wife. He was very thin, however his face was terribly swollen (likely side effect of the steroids which I refuse to take) and he just didn’t have the right colour to his skin. As I lay in the bed while my chemo drugs are dripping into me, across from me is another gentleman. He is laying in bed, his wife is hand-feeding him bite by bite and helping him drink with a straw. Is this going to happen to me? Gosh I hope not, but I’m not in denial. I likely will get weaker as I endure each round, but other than the hair loss, the nausea, vomiting and sometimes messing my pants, I really can’t complain.

I don’t even know really what I am writing for today, I guess I just need to vent and I know that you are wondering how I am doing and are here for me to ramble and just to simply listen. Thank you for that.

I have a good tan coming along from getting pool time in, my hair is beyond trying to do anything with it, my smile is still on my face, my guy and my doggie and you are taking great care of my spirit and I will get through this yucky day, no problem. Tomorrow is another day and I plan to make the best of it. xo

I am blessed…

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Thank you Rick for the best ever night before chemo distraction…. inpromptu trip to Toronto to see Enrique Iglesias & Jennifer Lopez in concert at the ACC!!!! What an amazing show! Sing with me everybody…. Baby I Like It!!!

I probably shouldn’t have been so close to so many thousands of people at the concert because of my weakened immune system, but I put those negative thoughts aside and totally enjoyed myself. We had great seats and could see both artists very well. I think I have a new obsession with two “Rick-eh’s” now. Man can that boy perform! And J.Lo, well, let’s just say that my inner goddess (borrowed this term from the Fifty Shades books) sees herself in a nude coloured heavily rhinestoned uni-tard with a rock hard body and beautiful hair! Despite how I look today and this dreadful disease I am fighting, I do feel beautiful inside and that’s because I feel so blessed.

So before we headed to Toronto to the concert, earlier that morning I was getting my 6 year old niece Brooklyn ready for her day. She spent the day with me the day prior and stayed the night. My sister asked her… “do you want to go to day camp today (complete with splash pads, playground equip, lots of friends, crafts, circle time, etc), or do you want to go to Kucka’s house (me)”? She didn’t hesitate and shouted out “Kucka’s house”. If you are new to my blogging, Kucka is the name that Brooklyn gave to me when she starting learning how to talk. She clearly knows that I am her Aunt Karrie, and so does her little sister DeeDee, but they prefer to call me Kucka and I carry and accept the name with pride!

I tend to ramble and I’m sorry about that. Here’s what my goal is to write about today. Giving and receiving. I find it much easier and much more rewarding to be on the giving end. So it’s hard for me to accept kind gifts and stuff, especially over the top experiences like this concert that Rick and I went to.

Brooklyn still is pretty tiny and does sit in a car seat, always in the back seat. Well, my “cool car” as she calls it, is lacking a few things. No back seats and on nice days, no roof. So I took her for her first ride in the fun car. She was so excited because she told me she had never sat in the front seat before so today was her day to ride shot gun! She sat on a borrowed booster TinkerBell seat which raised her up just enough that she could see through the windshield and out the side door if she stretched a bit. She was so friggin’ cute. Pink ball cap on with pony tail swaying in the back, and butterfly sunglasses. We were quite the pair. It was a very hot humid day and I had some errands to run. I took her to a craft store so that we could pick up something fun to do in the afternoon. Her Mom gave her five bucks to spend on herself so I helped Brooklyn with prices and helped her browse.
“Kucka is this expensive?”, she would ask me. “Do I have enough money?” Every thing that we touched, contemplated and smelled, she always thought of her little sister and wanted to buy something for her as well. We are exactly the same in this aspect and I was gleaming with pride that she was thinking of someone else other than herself, like I always do. You get what you give. I was so pleased with her that I surprised her at the cashier counter and I bought her selected items for her. I told her that I was doing this because she was being very giving and generous with her sister (especially since DeeDee wasn’t spending the day with us) that I was treating her. I hope that will inspire her to keep on thinking this way throughout her entire life. It also made my day when 3 year old little DeeDee called me that night to thank me for the little things that we bought. I only spent 7 dollars, but to them it meant a lot and it meant even more for me.

We returned home from our shopping and along the way, Brooklyn asked me “Kucka, does your car have air conditioning, I’m really hot!”. I obliged, here we are, two hot chicks with the roof down, sipping on cold drinks, with the air conditioning on full blast. Spoiled? Yep.

As I was packing her things up and doing her hair and putting sparkly powder on her arms to get her ready the next morning for day camp, she takes out her five dollar bill out of her little monkey purse, along with two quarters and two pennies, lays them out on the breakfast counter beside her bowl of oatmeal and berries and says to me…”there you go Kucka, here is some money for watching me”…. my heart melted and inside my head I swear that my chin dropped to my knees. I was so touched that she felt that I did a great job spending time with her that she felt the need to reward me with payment of money. Little did she know that I simply felt rewarded the moment that she decided she wanted to hang with me instead of going to day camp with all of her new buddies. Of course I didn’t accept her money, and thanked her for the gesture and thought but told her to keep her money and buy something special for herself instead.

So what do these two days of fun with Brooklyn and the concert surprise with Rick have to do with cancer? Well almost nothing and almost everything. Does that make any sense? Living each day as it comes, whether it’s a healthy day or a feel shitty day, it’s spending time with the people who love you and that you love even more, whether cancer is in the picture or not.

Who are you?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

I ask myself this question when I catch my reflection in a mirror or shiny car window, etc. I know what the answer is, you are the same old you, silly woman, you just look different, so take a moment and recognize your new outer self. I do laugh at my thoughts most of the time, especially after that first glance in the mirror with bed head in the morning. I usually shake off the negative self image thoughts because I know this (hair loss) is not something I can really control and I just have to remind myself that it just means the chemo is working which means more days with you. I am at the point now that there is no managing my real hair any more. It is just too thin and patchy and I look like a mix of a stray wired haired dog and Bozo the clown. Frizzy stringy curly mess. Why don’t I just shave my head you ask? Quite simple. I promised Rick I wouldn’t. Since diagnosis he has never really asked anything of me except this one thing, not to shave my head. He won’t really give me a reason why.  He just asks, “please don’t”. …..So I don’t……. If this is all that keeps him happy then so be it. I can certainly respect his wishes especially since he has removed all stress from my life aside from the fighting cancer stress.  Besides, he is the one that has to look at me more than I look at myself.  If he is okay with it, then so am I.

However, hats, ball caps, wigs, and especially my happy coloured bandanas keep me looking and feeling normal. Usually it’s the bandana choice, especially when I am just hanging out at home or running errands or being with family. The wigs or hair hats come out for special date nights or just when I don’t want to be out in public and be a token face of cancer. It’s nice to blend in without getting pity looks from strangers.

So last Thursday I went to London for the CT scan on my lungs. This is a routine scan to investigate if the cancer has spread from my liver to my lungs. (this is the next progression of colon cancer) It starts in your colon (intestines), then liver, then lungs, then yep, death.  Scanxiety has already set in as I have to wait 2 weeks for the results.

Enough with the medical crap. I want to share a fun story with you. Sure it was a medical appointment trip but my friend Sher D. came with me this time. The main purpose was the CT scan, however the hour’s drive to London would definitely warrant some retail therapy, nice lunch out and of course an ice cream treat for the ride home. I love spending time with Sher because quite simply she is very easy to talk with. We talk about just everything. Sometimes we talk so much that we don’t finish our original thought or story because we both get sidetracked and finish our thoughts an hour later! Oh well, with my chemo brain moments and her sense of humour we manage just fine. We can “stay with group”, well at least our tiny group of two.  I haven’t known her for too long, but I feel like it’s been forever. I just want to soak in her friendship and kind, sharing spirit. She is a beautiful soul and not to mention that she can rock a bikini and she has 14 years on me. Such a lucky woman!

Here’s my point……. back to the wigs.  So I decided to try out my new brunette wig for the first time.  It’s kind of a dark colour for summer, but it is the closest to my true hair.  It has bangs and a nice layered cut, a few inches past my shoulders in length.  I really like it, and no, I haven’t named her yet, that’s Rick’s job.  Anyway, Sher had been with me for most of the day.  Here we are shopping at HomeSense.  We got separated while we browsed.  I caught glimpse of her a couple of isles away and started walking toward her to catch up with her.  As I got closer to her she was standing still with an odd expression on her face.  I asked her what’s up, she giggled at herself.  She said she looked at me but didn’t see “me”.  She thought to herself —-that is a pretty lady.  Oh boy, I could really have some naughty fun with these wigs/other personalities if I wanted to.  I thanked her for the compliment and even though my head was itchy and it was too hot and humid outside to be wearing a wig, I kept in on because she reminded me that I can hide from cancer…. sometimes.  Thank you Sher!

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

It’s been rough…

Friday, July 6th, 2012

The last couple of days have been rough as I am enduring chemo round 6, the half way mark. The meds don’t seem to help enough with breakthrough nausea and I have been in the bathroom dealing with vomiting and sweats and other yuck. To get me through the bad stuff I just reflect on the good stuff. On Wednesday the cancer clinic before I began chemo I made two new friends out in the waiting room. I was wearing my black Earth Angel t-shirt because I like to take my angels with me and a young woman my age came up to me and asked me where I got my shirt because she said it brought her peace just by reading it. That was so very nice of her to say that. She was the caregiver to another woman by the name of Blanche that was waiting to start her chemo too. She told me that she has ovarian cancer and stated the “bad one”. We shared our stories and we both are very positive and not giving up or giving in. We also talked about the relay for life. She has never been and didn’t know about it, but I gave her some info and hopefully she will attend it at least once. It is such an incredible experience. Jonia, her caregiver gave me a big hug when my treatment was done and wished me well. Of course I hugged her back. When someone tells you that you have a beautiful face and eyes when you are wearing a bandana and no make up, it touches you right to the core. I thank them both for the kindness and wish them well in the crazy battle. Special thanks to my Mom to taking me to treatment and also special thanks to Rick for taking me back to London today for chemo take down.

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Finally she’s back…

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Hey not to worry about me….. we interrupt this blog to bring you Fifty Shades of Grey, of Dark, of Freed, a trip to Saint Joseph, Missouri to visit my best friend, the Relay for Life, and oh yeah, those doctor appointments that remind me of reality.  I have been feeling pretty good both physically and emotionally, not to worry, you know me, always kicking tires and gritting my teeth with a smile.

On my bad weeks (chemo weeks which are every other week) I am let’s say very YUCKY.  I call it punky.  Pukey and funky equal punky.  I taste metal for a week and I feel like I even smell like chemical warfare.  I won’t tell you about the other side effects because they are just plain nasty and gross.  Chemotherapy drugs are some nasty shit and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  I hate the treatments but I force myself to respect them as people work so hard to find cures for all types of cancers and I myself seem to be benefiting from the drug cocktails I receive.  They are buying me time.  The tumours are shrinking.  Tomorrow I will be going back to the cancer clinic along with my Mom to endure the 3 day stretch of chemo round six.  Half way through treatment, at least that’s what I think at this point, as plans seem to change often. 

My oncologist and my liver surgeon meet with other doctors and specialists once per week to discuss unique cases.  I consider myself lucky to be one of these unique cases as this body of mine is being poked, prodded, questionned and tested a lot to figure it out.  I am told that I am responding to the chemo much better and quicker than most in my situation.  We don’t know why but I will take it and run with it.  I believe that my extreme will and determination to stay on this earth is keeping me here and guiding me through this journey.  My spirit is strong and I just refuse to be depressed.  I choose to keep living a normal life as much as I can on the good weeks.  I will allow myself time for recovery and rest and all that other important stuff, but depression and stress are words and emotions that I don’t focus on.  Sure I am human and sensitive, I do have the periodic meltdown or cry fest but they are seldom and I don’t hold them back, I go through the motions and then dry up my tears and put my big girl panties back on and move forward.  Each day I feel is a bonus day and I will treat them as gifts. 

So back to the fun stuff….. I flew to Missouri to go visit my best friend Kim.  It had been 2 years since we saw each other in person.  It was a great visit, catching up on old times, talking through our current events and troubles and good times and just being there for each other.  I loved seeing her new loft apartment and my creative juices were flowing big time.  I love to decorate and I couldn’t sleep the first couple of nights because I was helping her decorate her place in my mind.  I couldn’t count sheep, I couldn’t count my blessings, I could only count on her taking me to all these cool places to shop at to help her spend her money!  I wish our visit could have been longer and of course I wish we lived much closer to each other.  Thank goodness for email and Skype and text messages.  She is always sending me positive messages and I so appreciate her!  I must have looked like quite the basket case when I had to go to my gate at the airport.  We hugged lots, and of course the tears were flowing.  I looked like a cancer patient with my bandana on.  I’m sure people were looking at me funny with my bandana, thin eyebrows, red face and continually wiping my eyes and nose as they were both running.  I was sad to leave but happy to be going home to Rick and C.J., sad to go home to a chemo appt, happy that Kim could get back to her regular routine.  A very emotional day for sure.  Kim also helped me decide on two new wigs to take home to surprise Rick with.  Yes, he has two new girlfriends to take on dates.  I brought home a brunette and a redhead!  Red equals passion which I am full of and I think the red matches the fire under my ass to beat this disease!  I was afraid that Rick wouldn’t like the red one because he did state he preferred blonde or brunette, but much to my surprise when I modelled both for him, it was the redhead that was chosen to go out for the first date. He named her Nikki.  I’ve mentioned before that every woman should have at least one wig, they are so much fun and you do feel kind of like a different person when wearing one.  I feel more confident and I don’t feel or look sick.  I am the more fun version of me, well at least I think so.

For  now liver surgery is on hold as per the meeting that Rick and I had with my surgeon last week.  The doctor said that if he operated now, I could pretty much count on a lengthy hospital stay with major complications.  My question to him was “major complications?…you mean like death and/or quality of life?”  His reply was yes.  So back up the happy bus, we aren’t doing surgery now and we may not do it at all.  Time will tell.  My best chance for more time here is to cut out the cancer as chemotherapy alone doesn’t cure.  I know I was diagnosed as terminal but my doctors are remaining hopeful and still aiming to cure me.  They aren’t writing me off just yet and that’s the best scenario that a patient can hear.  I will continue to motivate my doctors to keep discussing my case, me and my situation.  I want to be the patient that beats all odds and sets an example that no two patients are alike.  I am up for the challenge and will give it my all.  I have already lived 6 months more than the average patient in my situation.  You and I have lots to do with this.  We echo each other’s strengths and thank you for being with me on this journey.

I promise to post some current pictures as soon as the lazy relaxed part of me gets her butt in gear.