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Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Christmas ...come and gone!

Another Christmas over and more memories to store away for those lonely days when you need a little pick me up.   This Christmas was a wonderful time for a number of reasons, least of  them that I am here and healthy enough to enjoy it.    Reminders that there are those who survived to see Christmas day yet had to deal with health issues is always a good reminder to me to enjoy the moments and be grateful for the health that I have been blessed with.  An 'attitude of gratitude' is essential in life in order to really live it to the fullest.  No life is perfect, or without its disappointments or sadness's, but finding the light in the midst of the darkness can turn what might seem to be a bad day into a very good day.

I have no regrets this year or disappointments.   On the contrary, it was a miraculous time all round.  I enjoyed lots of visits with friends, and even reconnected with family.   That in many ways was the best present of all (besides the beautiful fireplace my daughter and her partner gave me!).   To be with family at this time of year is important but to reconnect with family especially at this time of year is divine.   I got to visit with and break bread with people who have been in my life for all of my life, but who I haven't seen in years.   I am so blessed to have had the chance to see these family members and to be reminded how much I enjoy their company and the ease with which I feel about myself around them.   You can never be quite the person you are except with family.  They know you 'warts' and all and still love you.

Another wonderful time was had cooking Christmas dinner at my home for the first time in  years.   We had turkey and all the trimmings with a twist.....gluten free.   Staying home due to so many dietary restrictions allowed me to see how much I have missed being the chief cook and bottle washer at Christmas time.   There were only three of us but it was a beautiful and loving time.    I think we may continue this in the future.    It isn't important how many are around the table, only the love that is around the table.

So Christmas Day has come and gone, but the season of love and gratitude can last for the entire year if I allow it to.   Beginning today, and hopefully into the New Year, I will be grateful for what I have, and not be disappointed in the things I don't have.    That will be my way of living into the future. ....what ever it holds and for however long that is.   It really isn't how long we live that counts, so much as how much we live during the time we have......blessings to all for a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Simultaneously.........

Simultaneously, a happening in our life that occurs 'at the same time' that can often be overlooked.   Last night I realized that this was exactly what happened at the time I was diagnosed with cancer.

When major things happen in our lives we are so focused on them that we miss the other things that may be going on at the same time.  I had this amazing revelation and know this is true because after my initial diagnoses I seemed to have gone to a place that just kept me sane enough to deal with what was happening as far as the cancer was concerned.  I remember very clearly that one day about six months later I noticed a small donut shop that had always been close to my house was now a diner.   I was so surprised and sure that it must have changed over night.    No, friends told me its been like that for about six months!!!!    There were other moments like that for a few years afterwards....it seems that I just wasn't noticing anything that didn't directly concern my cancer.   The brain is an amazing creation and it was probably all I could do to just find my way through my own immediate life than try and assimilate the normal everyday occurrences happening all around.

The reason I write this is that last night I was made aware of another simultaneous event that took place at exactly the same time as my cancer diagnoses, but until now I never made the connection.  I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and there are no coincidences.   Here is what happened.

Just before June of 2001 when I would find out that I had Ovarian Cancer, a woman came into my life.  She started out by offering to help me organize an event at the high school as she was on maternity leave and was coming to the high school in the fall.  It was an opportunity for her to re-enter the work arena on a volunteer basis, get her children used to her being out of the house periodically, and meet some of the students she would be teaching in the fall.   We became fast friends.  Over the past 10 1/2 years our friendship has blossomed into almost a sister relationship and I feel very much a part of her family.  Through her I have come to know the most wonderful group of people and they have been the backbone of my support over the years.   Each one has brought something into my life, usually initially through their children.   Not working and being a little older allowed me to become sort of the universal babysitter for the various couples.    These relationships now though are more than what I have ever had with a group of friends.    Last night we celebrated our Christmas dinner and there was 20 of us who ate, drank, laughed, talked, hugged and just enjoyed each others company before heading off to celebrated Christmas with our various families.    This is the second year that we have done a planned Christmas dinner.     We usually meet as a group of women once a month regularly and at this time we allow the men to join us!!!!

Simultaneously, God gave me what I was going to need to deal with my disease, and the new life that it would entail.   I have in my life the most wonderful people.    The second event that happened not immediately after but because of the situation I found myself in, not being able to work due to my illness, is the knitting group.  Now I have friends who mainly live a similar lifestyle as myself with days that include many other things besides going to work.   I have a part time job because of the knitting which has allowed me to get to know many more people I again would never have met otherwise.  My life as evolved in a way that I would never have imagined, but until now I don't think I ever realized that it was evolving at the 'same time' I was dealing with my disease. 

So, what's the moral of this story.  I guess when we find ourselves in times of struggle, sadness, and perhaps just overwhelmed by parts of life maybe we should take a minute and see what is going on simultaneously.     Our lives are always multi-faceted and we must never ignore the whole picture by being too focused on the parts.   

Simultaneously to receiving my cancer diagnoses my life was exploding in blessings that still exist today, as does the cancer.......what an interesting life I have and I wouldn't change it for anything!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No miracles today.........but

Well it is the season for miracles and I was hoping maybe there was one in my life.....I recently had some tests in preparation for possible surgery.   In two ct scans they couldn't seem to find the tumor that had been on my right psoas muscle for over a year now.   In August it was very obvious and had grown and by November it was very painful.    It was decided in early November that I would undergo surgery to finally have it removed.    So thus the tests.

Then the pain went away and I could finally sleep through the night for the first real time since last May.    So, needless to say when I found out they couldn't see the tumor, I figured it was gone.  I mean it is the season for miracles and I thought maybe, just maybe, God had decided to grant me one.   Not that He doesn't owe me one mind you.....10 years of dealing with cancer certainly in my books deserves a miracle of some sort.      Well, it was not to be.   Of course the doctors weren't going to give up that easily and they aren't the sort to believe too quickly in divine intervention.   I mean it could effect their bottom line!!!!   So I had a MRI.    And lo and behold ( that's a Christmas expression the angels used!)    there it was still in the same old place and a little bigger.   Damn scan, leading me on like a hormonally charged man!!!!!!!....

So, how come no pain I ask.....because perhaps it has shifted away from nerve I am told.   So, how come I feel less tired and more rested these days I ask......because you are probably sleeping more soundly now that you have no pain I am told.....always a logical answer.   So science wins again....no miracles at least not this time.

I have miracles in my life though - a daughter who loves me, friends who care a lot, an amazing group of women who put up with me and my idiosyncrasies ....not much to complain about.....and so I will enjoy this Christmas and all the blessings it brings with it and  hope that perhaps a miracle will still happen in the new year.........so here's the BUT,

Here is a two thousand year old miracle presented in a very new way.......enjoy!

http://www.tu.be/kWq60oyrHVQ


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Latte's....new fuel for cleaning...

It is now evening and as you can see I survived the test.   I was surprised had how much the MRI's have changed over the years.   Doesn't even look the same, seems smaller and less intimidating.   I was in it for about 40 minutes, listening to or rather trying to listen to music.  If you haven't had one of these tests you don't realize how noisy they are.   While they are on standby it sounds like birds are twittering in it.   When you start the test it sounds like it is a rocket about to blast off with these funny noises that increase in sound and then it sounds like someone dropped sneakers in a dryer.  If you close your eyes you can imagine a variety of things and think that you are on a really weird trip of some sort.

So, of course  I took one of my Ativan, and sort of dozed off between loud noises and them talking to me and this mechanical voice saying "breathe", "hold your breath", relax....a little creepy.  Had a few very short but strange dreams, and then would wake to a voice from nowhere telling me to 'breathe'.....

Afterwards I was a little drowsy so we went to Timmies and I got one of their new Lattes with Mocha....oh so good.   BUT, then I got home and the Espresso made me very energetic.   I cleaned the basement, broke up about a dozen boxes for garbage, then went out to the garage and continued to clean up and break up boxes, sort gardening things, bring stuff into the basement which now had room b/c  the boxes were gone.   Put out loads of recycling garbage to be picked up tomorrow.  It was like I was a mad woman.   Now the basement is clean and organized, the garage can now fit my van.  Oh yea and then I spent a large number of minutes on the telephone making changes to my cable and phone bills, house insurance and car insurance.   Those Lattes could be the solution to our children's lack of energy when it comes to cleaning their room.  We could slip them one on a Saturday morning and then just watch them fly around like crazy people cleaning.....probably not they would be just moving their hands faster while they played the video games.

So the day was not a total loss.    Must watch those Lattes though....only drink in the early day or else I would be up all night cleaning....what a very depressing thought.   Well, off to dinner with a friend and then a relaxed evening knitting.....with all this extra energy I might actually finish the sweater I am making......bye bye

Appointmentl.....should be a four letter word

Ok, its 7:00 am and I am sitting here drinking coffee.   This is an oddity b/c when you are "retired" it isn't often that you get up before the sun.   If you are new to this give it time, you do begin to adjust to the new lifestyle and realize that unlike the rest of the world you can sleep later and stay up later.   It takes a little time to readjust but it does happen.

Anyways, I digress as usual.   I am sitting here waiting to go for a TEST.   Another test.  My life seems to be scheduled around what test or Dr appointment I have this week.  It has been like that for far too long and it only gets more and more frustrating.  One year, in the summer I cancelled all appointments and had a 'medical' holiday.  I refused to have any tests, see any doctors, or even enter a medical facility.  It was a very good emotional and mental revitalization .....I would suggest it is necessary periodically for anyone with a chronic disease.

So, today is an MRI.   I am so angry I am walking around talking to myself.   Between worrying about the tests there are animals to feed and walk and litter boxes to empty.   Life as usual is multi dimensional and always seems to be able to bring you back to the basics.    So off I go to have another test.  I am so sick and tired of living this way there are times when I want to throw my hands in the air and say enough.   Go back to work, make some decent money, sleep when I am not working and forget this hole illness thing altogether.    It would be so much simpler at so many levels.  Christmas always seems to to bring out the anger and frustration in me.  I think in many ways it is at this time of year, that I feel that a part of my life has been stolen.   Each year I wonder if this is the last Christmas and having done that now for 10 years....this being the 11th Christmas it tends to wear on a person.

Well, have to close, my ride will be here in a few minutes.  Thank goodness for friends that will get up early enough to drive me.   I have packed my Ativan as I am claustrophobic too so that doesn't help the situation.   Off I go to be MRI'd what ever that means.....don't even care.

Will post the news when I get it .....but that is next week when I have my other appointment......Appointments who ever thought I would hate that word!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cancer Donations......where is your money going???

I don't really feel like writing, but that is usually a good sign that I should.  I have always wanted to keep a journal but then I just stop writing.  I am trying really hard not to let that happen with my blog.  I enjoy doing this but at times it seem a bit like a job.   So I am going to write and about something very interesting that I listened to yesterday.

On a pod cast on CBC, from a show that was done about two weeks ago, they discussed where exactly our dollars go when we donate to cancer.   It was very educational although I was aware of some points.  The most important point that was made  is the cancers that get funded the most are not always the ones that are the worst.   I knew this to a certain degree b/c when I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, I realized that there was not alot of information or awareness about this type of cancer with women and with family physicians.  It not only surprised me, but terrified me.  Why?   Because over 60% of those diagnosed will die from this disease in 12 months, after five years there are virtually no survivors. If people aren't even aware of how terrible and deadly this cancer is how can I possibly hope to survive it.   Of all the women's cancer Ovarian is the deadliest but, I am sure you guessed it, breast cancer is the most widely known and more common, and also the most to receive donations.    The question is 'do you know why?'.....because of the fact that there are more survivors!!!!!!!!!    Any cancer that has a lot of survivors (Prostate for men) is going to have the largest group of people speaking up for it and therefore making more noise in the public forum to get more money.    Don't get me wrong, I am not against breast cancer, well I might be just a little jealous, I keep saying that if I ever get breast cancer, I am going to claim that it MUST be metastized Ovarian cancer!

So we have very deadly cancers (there are over 200 diff kinds of cancer, each being essentially its own disease) which get virtually no funding from the public, less from government and of course even less from pharmacutical companies.    The public b/c we don't hear about them, the government b/c there are less peole living long enough to lobby them, and well we all know why not the pharmacutical company b/c it is in the business of making money and well there isn't money to be made when people are dying!!!

So, now that we know why, what can we do about it?  I will tell you what I did.... Well, when I was diagnosed, I started a support group for those diagnosed with it in order to bring people together.   It was successful but I must say within 2 years 29 women had died.   I also helped to organize fund raisers, one being a run that still occurs each May to this date.   One of the interesting things that happened was I found out that people are very territorial about their cancer.   When we approached CIBC to help us with the run (b/c they do the Run for the Cure) we found out they didn't want to help us b/c it might take away from their run......hmmmmm.   When we approached the Cancer Society we found out that 30% of the funds would be applied to a building fund before going anywhere else.   So, instead we started our own trust with LHSC so that all the funds would go to research, something that was not really going on too much.....because we all kept dying!!!!   For us, that was what was absolutely essential.....we needed to start surviving so that we could raise more money and awareness.

The very first year we did the run, many tried to make us be realistic and kept saying..."the little you will bring in won't really do much for research you know, maybe you should rethink how to disperse it"......well they all got to eat crow when we raised over 100,000 dollars that very first run.    To date I can't tell you the amount that has been raised (over 1/2 million dollars or so), but I can tell you that there is now a Chair for Research at LHSC and a doctor on staff who just researches Ovarian cancer.    In  just the past 14 years those researching Ovarian Cancer in Canada have gone from about 6 people to over 70 people.   One of the other things we did during the past 10 years is to bring awareness not only to the women (some of whom I am sure didn't even know that they had ovaries, they thought a hysterectomy took them out) but also to all the GP's in the London area.   We sent packages of info, we had cards made up, we did talks and showed videos, we went to Churches etc.
So that is what can be done for those cancers that kill so many that they fall off the radar.  But you have to know your stuff, research the charity, figure out what the money is going to.  

If you want to donate to a charity there is a web site called 'charity intelligence' which gives you an idea where the most dollars go and how they are spent.    It is very important to do research so that your dollars (which you have worked hard for) go to  a place that 'you' believe they will have the greatest effect'.   I am not advocating not donating to any one type of cancer, I just think that perhaps we need to be figuring out where our dollars are most needed.     Right now, the most dollars are going to those cancers that at this point in time have the lowest mortality rate, and the least are going to those that are killing the most people.    We can't depend on government, and certainly not pharmacutical companies to take the first step, so maybe we 'the public' can do something about this.

Well, I feel that I have vented enough.  If you are interested in listening to the podcast on CBC....you can find it at CBC.ca,   Sunday Edition, November 20, 2011, in the second hour.

So, now I will go and knit and figure out what I will write about next time....I will try to keep it a little lighter....:))

Monday, November 28, 2011

Humour and LIfe

I haven't written in a long while.  It is the waiting period and it seems that I always get stuck and don't know how to feel or what to say.   I feel like I am in a 'limbo' state not really knowing what is going on but knowing that at some point I will get 'told' how I am doing.  It sounds crazy but for anyone who has a chronic disease I think it is very understandable.   Sometimes, you just don't know how to be.   You don't trust your body to always tell you what is going on because it has proven in the past to have betrayed you.    I also just realized that I am speaking in the second person as if I am trying to keep an arms length from things.  

I have a lot going on and there have been some really good moments in the past couple of weeks.   I went to a cancer fundraiser last weekend and it was really good.   It was a 'play' called the Rabbit Hole Monologues.   It was written by a woman who had breast cancer and it was about the various parts of her journey from diagnosis to now.   It was hilarious.   I love when I can look at this disease and see the comedy of errors that surround me while I journey through it.   Often it is the characters that you meet along the way that give you the laughs.   Often, those who I would assume would be the most understanding and perhaps comfortable with it, and yet they make the best mistakes.   I kept the program and thought I must sit and think of my journey in a similar way....different little one act plays of situtations that have arisen over the past almost eleven years.   I may just write my own monologues.
I really enjoyed the night.   I did meet someone who couldn't imagine how you could find humour in such a serious subject......I am hoping that he enjoyed the evening and maybe saw that life can be funny even at the most serious of times.  

I think I have had my best laughs when the times have called for crying.   Laughter is only the other side of the coin from crying.   Both offer a release of energy that can only be positive for the physical as well as emotional well being of the person.   Unfortunately, in our society we have so many rules for when it is appropriate to laugh and to cry that most of us are bound up into conformity.  I love my Irish roots that have allowed me my dark humour often to the shock of some bystanders.   I get no better pleasure out of taking a serious, often taboo subject, and telling a hilarious story around it.   Most people laugh in the end but I have had some who don't get the humour.  I must say that I feel sorry for anyone who can't laugh at life, because I don't know how you can live for long if you can't laugh at the things that you must go through in this state of being.

Well, I will continue to wait but now I have a job to do.  I must sit and write my own version of monologues if for no other reason but to pass the time and keep my spirits up..........oh! I remember the time when I had my head shaved by a nurse................

Friday, November 18, 2011

Deciding to embrace the season.....

Ok, so today I woke up and decided it was time to stop the pity party.  I have been in a not so good mood for awhile and it is taking a toll on my sanity.  I 'kicked' myself in the butt today and made a decision to start seeing things in a better light.  I am always saying that it is 'attitude' that you take to life that determines how you see reality, but lately my attitude has sucked.   Not that I am apologizing for it, nor that I don't sometimes deserve to be miserable, just that the time has come to move on.

I have been slowly being drawn into the holiday spirit, and made the decision today to bring that spirit to my own home.    Went to Michael's to get some crafty stuff to make wreaths, something I haven't done since my daughter was little.    Then we (my daughter and I) decorated some wreaths.   It is a beginning to what I think is going to be a very nice Christmas.    The holiday season is often seen as a time that we are suppose to be happy, and full of hohoho's but sometimes it just doesn't work.  That is fine as long as it is a conscious decision to be a 'grinch'.   There have been a few years where that is how I felt and I heard someone say one time "how you feel when you put your feet on the ground in the morning (esp Christmas) is fine"....but the same goes for deciding to be happy too.

I am determined to make this year a great time.    I know that I may feel lousy some days and the pain may get to me, but overall I am going to have a nice time.   I am going to make the best of a bad situation.   It isn't always easy, but just living in the moment, and one day at a time and anything is possible.    I just hope that I can postpone the surgery till after Christmas so that I am mobile for the holiday....hard to cook turkey and wrap presents when you gut is sliced open.    My daughter made a joke (or what she thought was a joke) today.   She said, as we parked far away for the door to Michael's as I always do, "when you have your surgery will you get a handicapped parking permit?"....as she smiled and got out of the car.   I am a firm believer that the people who park close to the doors of stores all PAY for gym memberships......I digress as usual.


So as I was saying, we made wreaths....quess which one is mine and which is hers......we had so much fun and it is so nice to see how she is her own self.....nothing like her very obviously traditional mother....so we have begun to embrace the season.....and the weather seems to be doing the same...brrrrr....well will keep you all posted of how we continue to decorate and get ready for the CHIRSTmas season......

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Life happens.......

Life is never boring...but sometimes it is very frustrating.   So I have been waiting for that next scan.....

I had wonderful plans for Thursday, made a few weeks ago.   My nerves haven't been the best so I have been cooking and baking up a storm.  My daughter has always said that 'we eat the best when mom is stressed'..well yestereday I made a big pot of my favorite soup and also decided to make a cake that I love and haven't had in a year or so.    Thought I would share it with friends on Thursday and was psyched.    Well, as life would have it...all that changed with a phone call.   I rec'd a call saying that I was to have a scan at 3:30 Thursday, and I wasn't to EAT anything after breakfast.    OHHHHHHH....when I went to pick up the prep I mentioned to the ladies at reception that this test really was interfering with my plans and explained why.  They looked at me with great compasion and empathy, I thought, then said, well bring it here we can still eat!!!!!

So, I didn't eat but watched as friends enjoyed my preparations.   It was still fun, but reminds me that never think your day is going to turn out the way you have planned.    Life seems to hit you in the face while you are looking the other way.    I have always be heard to quote "if you want to give God a laugh, tell her your plans for the day".....I guess this time I got caught in my own words.    Well the scan is done and now hopefully we can make some decisions on when the surgery will happen....and if nothing else we have begun to get ready for Christmas.....right Tom?????

Friday, November 11, 2011

Novermber 11, 2011

So, off to the doctors yesterday....was to be a very long day so I brought my knitting and a crossword book and didn't wear a watch.   All the necessities I have learnt over the years when going to the Cancer Clinic.   They call it the Cancer Program but I refuse to use that name as I it would make me feel like I am in some kind of a 'sit com' at someone elses expense.   Program to me is something you attend for a very short period of time...or something you watch on t.v.    Anyways, I am off topic again!

Off we go, and of course it is not the long day we anticipated.   Why?   Not because the doctors are on time, that would be miraculous.   No because the tests I had last week were not reported on properly so the oncologist couldn't make any decisions.    Not only were they incorrect, they didn't even talk about the tumor.   So, maybe it isn't there I said......unfortunately that isn't te case.   This means that I have to have another ct scan and now an MRI too.   At this rate I will be able to be my own glowing Christmas tree this year, or I will save a fortune in hydro costs b/c you can just plug everything into me.   Maybe, I could make money by being an amazing display of lights all by myself at Pinafore Park this year.  That was my day yesterday .......so the bus is definetly stopped for awhile while we re-group and do some more tests......onto another subject

Today is November 11, and we will be remembering our vets from all the wars.   I will put aside my own crosses and bear the one for those fallen, injured, and still living men and women who have offered their lives so that we may live the life we live..    Off to the school to celebrate with the students.   That will lift my spirits and make me feel very alive ......have you ever tried to move through the halls between periods at a high school....if you stand still long enough you won't survive to talk about it :))   so for all my complaining today I will go and offer up prayers and thanksgiving to all those who have suffered much more than I.   

Lest we forget!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not a good time lately.....

So, have made it through another week.   That in itself should be considered a miracle.   Life is so tenuous that making it from one day to the next is often nothing short of miraculous.  We don't often think of life as that precious in our affluent society.  Many societies have a much better appreciation of how precarious life is, and they tend to know what is really important and what isn't.  Often, it is said that in order to know what is important in your life, watch at see what makes you angry.......now that is a very good measure of how you are doing in life.   If its the untangling of Christmas lights, or the bad job your housekeeper did, maybe you need a lesson in gratitude....if that is all you have to complain about I think maybe you despterately need a life.   I sound short, but that is because my life at the moment is not going the way I would like it to go, and that makes me angry, and I guess a little jealous of those who 'seem' to be doing better.   That is not a fair judgement though b/c we all have crosses to bear some are just more obvious than others.....

Biblo had her surgery yesterday, and I am gratful that all went will, but still a little pissed that it happened at all.   Tomorrow is my turn.   I see the doctors and determine when I will be having surgery.   Honestly, I would rather be doing anything else at this time in my life but I guess somethings are just not in my control.    The one good thing about all this is,  I will hopefully come out of the surgery without any pain in my hip and leg and actually be able to finally get a good nights sleep.   So off we go on another journey with this damn cancer.   

I probably shouldn't have written today because I am anything but in a good mood.   I must say though, I am grateful for the people in my life and my faith and don't know how I would make it without both.  So in the midst of all this other crap I am still able to glimpse the good stuff....and that is always important.......life is better than the alternative!!!!!! :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Overload........

So, I have reached my limit....there was a book that was written by Gilda Radner the comedian called "Its Always Something" and right now that is exactly how I feel.   Yesterday, I had another ct scan...(I figure at this rate I should be 'glow in the dark' before long) and so emotionally that took a toll on me.  It is hard to go through these tests without having to relive at some level all the other times related to cancer.

Needless to say, I was exhausted and did nothing much else for the rest of the day.   Today, I woke up and went to a wonderful breakfast being held to raise money for VAW and it was awesome.  The speaker was great, saw people I hadn't seen for ages, and ate lots.   Then home and feeling energized decided to get the house in order for the up coming weekend......old friends coming for a visit.    BUT, my little dog, Bilbo  



wasn't feeling well and I knew that meant she had to see the vet....$$$$$$$$ is what that means.  Well, little did I know how much $$$$$$$$ that would mean.  Yes she is sick and guess what, she needs surgery!!!!!!!!! OMG not now...I have no more excess cash, energy, emotional capability ....I am running on empty...and now this.  I am awaiting a date for my own surgery and now she needs it too....like sympathetic illness or what.

My first thought is, take me out into a field and shoot me....but then I don't really want to die I just want all my problems to disappear....I know this too shall pass but in the meantime, I think I will go bury my head in the pillow and just sleep, sleep, sleep.    I wish sometimes that I could have one whole week with absolutely 'nothing', no bad news, no upsets, no tests, no doctor appts, no nothing.   Except of course, I want my friends, my knitting, my daughter, my pets (even the sick ones), my life.   I guess I really am o.k.....I do want my life and so I guess that means that I just need to do one day at a time and hope for the best.     But really, how much can a person take before they explode.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Friends....thank God for them!

Well tomorrow is another 'test' day.   I will spend more time in the car than I will at the hospital b/c I have to go all the way to the north end of London for a ct scan.    I guess in order to get you in faster you have to be willing to travel.   So no coffee in the morning....my biggest beef with tests.   I can't have anything to drink or eat before hand....why I don't know because it's my hip that they are checking.  That means that I will be cranky till I get my morning caffeine.   Oh what a terrible cross that I must bear.

On another note, I want to tell you about a friend of mine.   She is a relatively new friend, but I really enjoy her and she has some very interesting ways about her.   One, she is always looking to encourage people to do new things, like gardening, looking up names of plants in books, and how to iron linen.   I have learnt so much from her.    Well, now she is set on teaching a group of us how to decorate for the holidays.  Our first course took place in September when she asked us to her house for lunch and knitting.   Little did we know that we would have to learn a new skill before the fun began.   The only thing was I didn't really feel that I had pulled my weight b/c I wasn't feeling very well...although I did offer to make everyone tea while we were knitting in the sunroom....

It seems that she has decided that she needs to give us another lesson in decorating and thought the Christmas season would be a good time.   Feeling that perhaps I wouldn't be much help, I mentioned that  I didn't know if I would be up to decorating and was feeling bad about it.   Oh course, I expected her to dismiss my concerns and just tell me 'it will nice to just have you with us.'     No, she decided it was more important to make me feel like one of the gang and said instead "oh I have just the right job for you to do, someone needs to unwrap the ornaments for th tree and hand them to the person decorating....you can do that, and you can sit while you do it"....isn't that sweet of her...so concerned for my needs and wanting me to feel useful.....

Now, normally when I 'play the cancer card' people are much more sympathetic and tell me not to worry....but no not her......she will find something for me to do, and it won't be just making tea.   So, I guess after 10 years I have finally met my match......I think I will call her Tom Sawyer from now on because she is able to make decorating for her seem like a fun thing to do......so Tom, when do you want the decorating staff over????????.....oh before you go south for your vacation, of course!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New found happiness....for the moment

I know that happiness and contentment is an attitude that one finds internally and not through external sources.   Well, if you find it through something outside of yourself it will probably be very fleeting.
BUT....and I mean a big BUT...is that sometimes its o.k. to acknowledge that you have found that wonderful albeit fleeting feeling from some material source.    I did just that yesterday....oh it was so sweet and I was so happy, I was dancing (sort of) and laughing and being just really silly because my heart was so happy and excited.....no I did not find Mr Right or fall in love at first site...at least not with anything resembling a human species.    I rec'd a gift of yarn....oh not just any yarn...a gift of silk, alpaca, merino and ewe boucle.    In the most beautiful colours and also so soft and subtle, you just want to maul them and hold them and stroke them, and feel them, ok so now it is bordering on sexual.  

I have the most wonderful people in my life and I know and appreciate that fact all the time.   Then sometimes they do something for me and I am just amazed at how really nice these friends are.   Well, I had mooned over, pined over, and whined over some yarn I had seen about a month or so ago at a Yarn Fair, but alas I was strong enough to realize that it was not meant to be the two of us....that perhaps in another time and place our paths would cross again and we could be together forever....again I have moved in to the questionable area of sexual....really I am talking about yarn not men!!!!!!

A good friend gave me that yarn  yesterday with the pattern to make the most amazing sweater ever.   So I am tickled pink, and didn't want to sleep a  wink last night.   I took that yarn and spun it and wound it, and stacked it and then started to play with it....I mean knit with it.   OMG I think I know how you feel in heaven....at least from a mortal point of view.

So, although it is material this happiness, it has lingered into this new day and will continue to arise in me a feeling of absolute devotion until I have completed the sweater....at least a good 50 hours of knitting I figure.....better than a man...he would never last 50 hours....Oh my I am bad!

So, for the moment, and I AM living in the moment, I am ecstatic....over the moon, swooning like a teenager over my new found love....I mean yarn.    Take a look.....isn't he....I meant it beautiful......





Thursday, October 27, 2011

Risking rejection........your call!

I am presently sitting in my kitchen, watching the world go by outside my window.   The other day I noticed that an ambulance and fire truck had been called to the apartment building next door and it was there for a very long time.  This in itself is not unusual because the majority of the residents there are seniors so there seems to be a constant flow of ambulances.   The difference that I noticed was the fire truck (not the ladder truck) did not leave soon after arrival.  This was different....and so my interest at the time was peaked.   Later I noticed that there were a number of flower deliveries to that same building over the course of the next couple of days.    Today, there just seems to be great activity for so early in the morning...cars coming and going, people in and out....etc.   Now let me clear up one thing...I am not the nosey neighbour you may think I am....I just happen to have about four very large windows in various places in my house that all face the apartment building...also there is absolutely nothing else around .........so that cleared up.    Anyways, my point is that I am noticing things around me....and making assumptions on those activities....I am thinking that someone has probably died in the building....maybe not but not a totally unreasonable conclusion to come to.   Based on that assumption I am sitting here sending positive energy and prayer towards the building.

It has made me think of another situation....and also realize that I am a person who NOTICES things and people.   I go about my own life with some eye to the rest of the world and am not oblivious to my surroundings.   Yesterday I was at the cancer clinic and something happened that really bothered me....
As I was buying a coffee at Timmies (and any Canadian knows the bustle that would be around that area) I noticed a young woman sitting close by and she was crying.    She was doing so quietly, but it was very obvious that she was upset....as she constantly dabbed her eyes with a kleenex.     I watched as all the people around, both patients and staff, continued on their way totally oblivious to this scene.   I couldn't get past the fact that here I was in a hospital, with huge numbers of people around, and this woman was sitting all by herself in obvious distress.  Now, I know too that this is not an uncommon scene in this environment but as far as I am concerned that doesn't excuse the lack of interest.   I also know that many people there have their own concerns, distresses etc and probaby just can't imagine trying to console another (although it has been proven that helping someone else usually does more for oneself than the other)....but the staff didn't do anything either.   I also am very aware that many people are afraid to do anything because they might be rejected.....in my career that happened alot...trying being a spiritual care giver in a hospital....very few people really want to see you initially....anyways.

I did go up to her, we spoke for a few minutes, I don't know if I helped, but she didn't reject me and I know that I felt that I had done what I beleive to be my obligation as a human being....I interacted with another when they were in pain....the one common bond that we have as humans....we are always closet to another when in pain b/c it is the one thing we all understand.   I do know that it could have gone differently...she could have told me to bugger off...but that isn't the point.....we can't limit our actions to those situations where we know we will be accepted.   We need to put ourselves out there and take risks.....life is about risks......if we don't risk anything how can we say we are living...we are simply existing in this world until we no longer exist.  And finally, we are relational beings, it is our nature to interact with another, it is who we are at our base level and to ignore that is to make us something less than who we are meant to be.

Ever notice that when we put chairs together there are usually two......who's sitting in the other chair next to you today??????

My challenge for myself and for anyone else interested is.....do you notice those around you and are you willing to get involved in another person's life??????......your call!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A separate journey.....soul medicine!

I have decided to start of journey of discovery which I will keep separate from my blog.  It will be a place to talk about myself and where I might like this journey of cancer to take me not necessarily on a physical level, but more closely knit into my soul.

I will express my thoughts and how I might see myself evolving as this third chapter with cancer takes shape.  It will be a place to watch how I view myself from where I have come to where I might be going be that into a new chapter here or perhaps even a final chapter to somewhere new.  I am not trying to be melodramtic but I have an urge to search spiritually at this time and feel that this new outlet will allow that expression.

It will be attached as 'pages' to my blog but will be for reading only.  I would appreciate no comments as it will limit my ability to freely express what my soul is really saying if I feel that others are judging or making comments.   As you can see I have yet to let the old person go as I am still setting conditions and rules as to how one is allowed to function on this blog LOL.....I hope that may change.

I need this new space in order to say good bye to the person I have been for so many years and allow the person I know that is straining in my being to come out to be released.   I open myself to all in order to help my own journey along.    The expression of one's deepest thoughts and dreams is the best way for human beings to open themselves to growth and new ways of being in the world.  I have always maintained that I refuse to see any 'blessings' in my cancer, but I will allow it the opportunity to open me up in to the person that I must become in order to deal with it.   I will not stand still in fear or anger, allowing it the power  to take over my soul as it seems determined to take over my body.   As Mellisa Ethridge sings "you can cut into my body, but you cannot cut into my soul".........

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hope.....

Hope...what is it exactly.  I remember when I first began this journey I thought of it as "something that existed in the future"....but I now know that it is what exists right here right now.     My understanding that hope is what moves us to the future has changed from that which was  something evasive or unseen to that which gives us the energy neccessary to continue.   My hoping this disease would go away has not worked, it hasn't even kept it at bay.   My hoping that tomorrow will be better is senseless because only through my own efforts will that happen.  So what is hope exactly???....I don't know if I can define it.    A friend today mentioned a program that talked about 'hope' and so I listened to it.   Joan Chitister defined hope as "being able to dance around corners"....I think I like that definition.  It means that even thought my world is not the way I 'hoped' it would be, I don't have to be sad and sullen, the future may not be within my control but the present very much is.   Hope I think is something more than a wish about a future happening, it is about how we deal with the happenings right now.

If I hope for something in the future and it doesn't happen, I will be disappointed.  If I hope for the strength to deal with today and the struggles it brings I will be fulfilled.   Who I am right now does not change because of the things I may not have tomorrow.   I guess I can say I am hopeful.   I know that in the beginning of this journey I could not have said that.   I was hopeless because I didn't understand the purpose of hope....I truly believed it meant that you had to have the guarantee of another day...now I know it means that I must hope for tomorrow but live today with hope!  By the way that  is not my own profound thought but simply a paraphrase of the Dali Llama.

So much has changed over the past year.   It is one year ago that I was told that the cancer was back...although it was never gone....we just couldn't see it.    Ovarian cancer does not go away...it simply hides its ugly head until it decides to 'roar' into  life again.   The literature on this disease refers to OVCA as the 'cancer that whispers'.  This may be true initially, because the symptoms are so silent and yet so deadly, but when it comes back there are no whispers.....it roars into your brain and continues to scream at you every day .......well the screaming has to stop...it is time that we do something to silence the beast again.     I will be making some big decisions in the next couple of weeks, as well as having more tests.    So glad there is no studying for these tests.....I would probably fail.....as positive in cancer is not a pass, a negative is not a fail.   See how this disease turns everything on its head.     I digress, as I was saying I will be deciding what to do in the next while.   I am not very anxious to do this, and there are moments when I think I will just close the door and pretend the inevitable is not there....but the beasts is knocking very loudly and so I must go and slay the beast.

I am gassing up the bus and having it tuned up....the journey is about to begin in earnest as so 'all aboard' ....it is off to 'cancer land we go'.    I know that most of you know the rules...but just incase remember no talking to the driver....unless of course you need to get off, and please keep the click clicking of the needles going....it gives me great comfort to know that things are being created even while I am killing something else!1!!  So here we go.......

I have hope though....which is much more than I can say I had 10 years ago.......

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soul Weariness

|Today, I am going to try and begin a new journey of discovery.   I learnt today that it is o.k. to be just the way I am, and not do anything about it.   To be in the moment.  This is not something new to me, or to anyone who has been reading my blog, but it has resonated in a very different way this time.  I seemed to work from a very intellectual, rational point of view and living in the moment from that perspective is one way of doing it.   I will begin today to try and live in the moment, from my soul, from the core of my being, acceepting whatever it is that I am and just rest there. 

My journey for the next little while is to learn to 'lean into the weariness' from my heart.....trusting that sometimes it is o.k. to just rest and be, and not even have to figure out why.

So for you who have chosen to join me on this journey (bus trip, cab ride whatever), the vehicle will be meandering along at a very quiet pace, just resting and giving the soul time to regenerate.   My soul has been a very good companion over the past ten years but I think it needs a rest now.   So, it is not going to be easy, as rational thinking is my nature, but I will try and accept the tiredness, the feelings of loss and grief, and just wallow in them for awhile......who knows a completely new being may arise from those ashes.......

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Self Reflection and Thanksgiving

Just spent a glorious long weekend among friends and family.   The weather was absolutely incredible for this time of year and so I decided to use it well.    Had turkey at friends, but BBQ'd at my house on the Monday.    Thanksgiving was a 'beer can' chicken and roasted potatoes and it was so good.  

These times give one a good excuse to pause and really look at the positive things in our lives.   What are we really thankful for, but also it offers us an opportunity to see what it is in our life that may not be so good.     Toxic relationships are often a good one to focus on.   We tend to surround ourselves on  holidays by the people who have been around since our childhood.   It doesn't mean that these people are healthy or good for us to be around.   Do we change in their midst, do we become someone we do not like to be, are we constantly struggling to put on a 'happy face'.  I am not suggesting that we do not include these people in our lives, but perhaps we can take some time to  reflect after the holiday and see how it is we can make changes in our own attitudes and judgements so that they don't affect us too much.

Holidays are wonderful times to sit around and go down memory lane, but for many they are a very tough time.   Being with family and friends who maybe aren't a major part of  your life anymore can be very stressful.    I believe that these are the times we can learn the most about our selves, and even work on those areas that we are not as happy about.  Instead of looking at the other person and wishing they were different, these gatherings can be a time for us to look at ourselves and try and be the best we can be.    Being patient, non-judgmental, accepting, loving....all the things we want the other to be of us.....first giving it to them and maybe just maybe over time it will be recipricated.

Holidays have always caused me much stress and distress.   I often want to crawl into a hole and wait till they are over.   Not any more.  I enjoy the times when we get together with others and do things differently, maybe even a bit more loudly.   I had a great weekend, and am reflecting on how I have grown over the years to enjoy those in my life, especially family, no matter who they are or what they bring to the table.    Reflecting on myself has been the key!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs....a very wise man!

Needless to say that the past few days have been interesting.   The death of Steve |Jobs has been on the news alot and his speech at the graduation is amazing.   He mentions that once you accept that you are  going to die, then you will realize that you really have nothing to lose in this life.   Go for it!  

The other thing that I heard was that he always believed that (had a premonition) he would die young.   I don't often share this but that rang very true for me.   Since I was a child, I have always had this feeling that I must do things now, because there was going to come a time when I wouldn't be able to.   In 1986, I had a spinal cord injury and many doctors told me I wouldn't walk again, or if I did it would be limited and with a cane.   I decided then that no one would every tell me what I could or could not do.  I would try and continue to try no matter what and was able to prove them wrong.  They also suggested that getting pregnant wouldn't necessarily be a good idea b/c of the injuries and the added weight that would put on my limbs etc.  Remember that was in 1986, alot has changed medically in regards to spinal cord injuries.   I didn't listen then either....and now have a beautiful daughter.  I can't imagine my life without her!   So many things in my life shouldn't have happened but did.......and it just reinforces that we do not know what we are capable of until we try.    Steve Jobs showed us that we are able to be productive, valuable human beings right up to the end no matter what life throws at us.....its all in how we see it....attitude, attitude, attitude, and a great deal of humility.   Jobs was quoted in an interview (one of very few he ever gave) that it isn't about revelling in what you have already accomplished, but rather always moving on to the next thing that you can accomplish...always moving forward.   Well, thank you Steve Jobs, for not only the amazing technology you have given us but more importantly the wisdom of living that you have also given us....may we all access your words of wisdom over and over again on the technology that you  will live forever on.     God bless and Rest easy.........look out God heaven will never be quite the same :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just wandering......through life!

When I began this blog almost a year ago I had these ideas that it was my way of using a bad thing to maybe share some insights for others.  Well, I realize now that it has become a really good way of keeping myself honest about what is happening on this journey called life.  Whether it helps someone else has become secondary.  I seemed to have left the bus behind and am travelling more in my own vehicle just allowing others to wave as I drive by.   That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I think in many ways I have spent a good part of the last ten years trying to see how my journey can effect others instead of honestly looking at it and experiencing it purely from a selfish point of view.  

Well, it sucks sometimes and right now I don't really care if it helps someone else.    I am sad on many levels and I need to work things out.  I realize that cancer isn't the only thing that I have had to deal with lately.   I am starting to think that perhaps this 'empty' nest   stage is taking more of a toll on me than I have been willing to admit.   I will start working through that and see if maybe I will be feeling a bit more chipper.   So....can't write too much today because I haven't the energy nor the insight at this point but I am beginning to reflect on more of life's experiences rather than just the cancer one. 

I recently went with friends to a really pretty spot for a walk....this is the picture that I took and it helps me to reflect that life is  journey and you don't always know what awaits you just around the corner but you have to keep moving forward in order to find out.....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good days....very good days!

Nothing to profound to write tonight.  It is almost midnight and I am sitting at the computer reading other people's blogs and realizing there is this incredibly huge world out there with people of all kinds with lives of all kinds.   Makes my life seem much smaller in the grand scheme of things.  This is a good thing because I believe it is important to remember that we are just one small piece of something much greater.   Not that what we feel or live is not worthy of our focus but that it must always be kept within the context of the greater picture.  As Desiderata says "there is no greater or lesser person than yourself",but we are only one part of the whole.

Obviously, I have moved on from my horrible day yesterday.   I decided that sleeping 12 hours was the best way to deal with it and so now I am feeling much better.   Was wakened up by a very good friend from PEI....nice way to wake up hearing a voice that is as familiar as my own....   I didn't do much with the remainder of the day but it was a good day.    I baked, which always makes me feel good and then I took my baking to my knitting group and watched other people eat it...which also makes me feel good especially around the waist!!!:}     I always love to go to the knitting group.  No matter how I feel or what is going on in my life, this is one of the constants.    Sitting and knitting, either quietly (yes sometimes I am quiet) or sharing stories and jokes, I feel like I have found a place that I can truly be myself.   I have met the most amazing women (and some neat men too) who I would probably never had the chance to cross paths with if it hadn't been for knitting.  Knitting introduced us, loving each other has made us friends.   I guess I have alot to be thankful for even if the 'lady' on the phone yesterday didn't get my life story.    Well I don't seem to have much more to write and I am getting sleepy finally....only been up for about 12 hours but tomorrow will bring more adventures so I better get some sleep.   Life can be very good some days....and today was certainly one of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The 'real' world of disability insurance!

Just when you think things are looking up something inevitably happens to make you realize that "Murphy's law' is always in effect.  Gilda Radner called her autobiography of her journey with ovarian cancer "It's Always Something" and I think that is true .....even in a life without cancer!

Today I received a phone call from my insurance company.   Now normally, that no longer makes me sweat and gives me hives as I have been dealing with them for 10 years and have finally past the point of thinking they are out to get me.   Well, it is amazing how quickly one reverts to old feelings!    The person on the other end was very nice, but also very new at least to me.  She informed me she was my new 'case  worker'., and my previous one was no longer with the company.     The questions they ask I am sure are form questions and used as a means of extracting the same information for each person.   I am also sure that the detached, if not sometimes totally bored, attitude they project is to keep them at an arms length as well as to seem professional.    BUT, is it really possible to ask a person such personal questions and not at least seem that you have some empathy and understanding.    This woman, as nice as she was, put me into an absolute state of frustration and made me feel that perhaps I shouldn't be just sitting at home.   I mean, she wanted to know why I felt I wasn't able to work, considering I seemed to have an active life as I went to a knitting group and a book club.  This she got out of me by asking me to give her an idea of how I spent my days....I guess I should have said lying in bed!   I tried to explain that a large part of my problem was 'fatique' which I think she heard as 'tired' and wanted to know if there were any other symptoms that I was experiencing besides this fatigue.?????    Then she mentioned that although I had tried to work in the past and hadn't been able to was I willing to try it again....at which time I informed her that it had taken me years to feel psychologically o.k with the fact that I couldn't work, considering our society sees people's value based on their productivity.   At which point she says "and what was it that you did at work that made it so difficult for you".....oh I don't know the physical, emotional, mental, psychological part of dealing with the fact that I had an incurable cancer and might die!!!!....I didn't say all of that but it was what I was thinking.

She also asked if the next appointment with my doctor would include a scan.  I just had one in August and had told her that so it surprised me when she asked.   I very quietly but forcefully informed her that I didn't have a scan at each appt (which she knew at this point was every two months) because the scans themselves have the possibility of giving you cancer!!!!!   DUH   Also, we already know the cancer is there so it isn't necessary.   Well when are you starting treatment she wanted to know....at which time I said when I am not feeling well.   She grabbed that line and said 'so at this time you are feeling fine, right?"   Yes I said except for the fact that I have extreme fatigue and my legs hurt from the neuropathy.   How bad do your legs hurt she said.....UGH  how I wanted to hang up...its like you are on a wall being hung by your toes and each time you answer another question they find away to tightened the screws......

Anyways, suffice it to say that I got off the phone feeling like crap.  I wondered if perhaps I should consider going back to work.....etc etc etc....then thought it is amazing how because I didn't die as scheduled people seem to think my life should just revert back to the good old days BC (remember before cancer).....I feel like just crawling into a hole and dying then maybe all these insurance  people will finally be happy that I am off the pay role. Makes you wonder if they get a bonus for each person they are able to get off disability!!!!!!   Oh what I would give to have my life back and not have to be so vulnerable to people on the end of the phone who will never know me except by name and policy number!!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dark vs light

I have been receiving some comments lately that I think are worth commenting on myself.  One of the things people have been saying to me is that my posts seem a little dark.   Yes they are a little dark.  As most people know the way I deal with anything really serious in my life is to be funny...I think it is the Irish in me...they have a very dark humour.    I haven't been my best lately and I have been putting down what is really going on in this brain of mine, in a serious way which may take some by surprise...I have always been dark but tried to be funny too.  I find it very cathartic and usually once I have put it into words I actually feel much better emotionally.   I am not a person who likes to wear my true feelings on my sleeve....I have a tendency to put on a happy face and look like I am always feeling good.  Usually, this type of behaviour really does help to make me feel good because I believe very strongly that what you put out into the universe you get back ten fold.   So even if I am not feeling as chipper as I may appear by the end of the day I  have often received so much positive energy that  spirit is almost the same on the inside as it appeared on the outside.

Long before I became ill I had been trying really hard to match my inside with the outside.   I have always been a very upbeat person but there was a time that that was more of a public persona than a personal one.   Over the years, through much reflection and 'therapy', I have come to really like who I am and so the person you see is most probably the person that I am that day.   If I am not feeling great I choose to stay away from others....I have a 'pity' party but I don't invite anyone else mainly b/c I don't want to be cheered up.

Over the past few months I have learned alot about myself and life in general.   I have been given moments of great sadness and great gladness....what I guess is the reality of life in general.  Yesterday, I had a day where I was able to see that life really is a character building event and one must choose how one is to negotiate it.   There are people that I know have gone through some very trying moments (or years) and yet are able to enjoy those times that have been good with gratitude and joy.    I met one such person yesterday.  I hadn't seen him in years and know that he was having a difficult time the last time I did talk to him.  He looked so happy and content that I just had to find out how things really were in his life.   He was able to tell me that at the moment things were good, he was really enjoying himself (he is recently retired) and that he just focuses on this time.   We talked about how some people just don't know what to do with themselves when they retire...but neither he nor I seemed to have that problem.  It was very refreshing to 'chin wag' with someone who lives in the moment and appreciates the good things that are happening rather than focusing on the past.

I have decided that I am very blessed and grateful for my life...although as I have said many times I really could have lived without the drama of Cancer.  It has taught me to appreciate just moments like yesterday and not get to wrapped up in the details.   So, today will be a good day no matter what it brings, although my plans are made and am looking forward to them.    I wish in some ways I could pass this wisdom on to many many people......whatever you must endure today do it with a song in your heart and do it with joy because the alternative to being here really stinks!!!!!!    Happy day everyone...and yes sometimes I am dark.....but that is the balance we need to enjoy the light.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Change is as good as a rest!!!!!

Spent a few days in the big city.   You don't have to go very far from home in order to take a break from reality and enjoy the moment as if nothing in the world was wrong.   I forgot how much energy the city sends out and how much of it is so positive and uplifting.   Walked miles and miles and got the endorphins charging.   Felt so alive and happy.   Haven't felt so good in a very long time.   Mostly windowed shopped and investigated new and interesting stores.  Met new people and was made to realize the networks that exist within the inner communities of the big city.   Found stores that sent us to other stores to people who introduced us to amazing restaurants.   Eat.....ate the most amazing food and shared good times with both old and new friends.  Watched people take advantage of moments, listened to fun stories and good music....   I had the best time and I was only 2 hours from home.   It was a time of rest and relaxation....maybe not rest.....and much needed new environments with no memories or old stories attached...everything was new and eye opening.  We all need to take these times away to recharge and open our eyes to the world that exists in the midst of our lives.......

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another death another lesson!

Seems that there is more time between postings as time goes on.  I have been sleeping alot lately which in my mind is a good thing.   I think I am catching up on 10 years of exhaustion and finally feeling o.k. about accepting the fact that I am truly 'sick and tired' of being 'sick and tired'.

Yesterday was a very difficult day on many levels though.   I had to attend a funeral and it was one of mammoth proportions.   A woman who was very active and well known  died very suddenly.   Again, a lesson in how precious this thing called life is.   Each day is a gift and we, esp here in North American, rarely realize that until something like this happens.  I know in some ways I have been blessed with the knowledge of this fact, but even so I often live like tomorrow is a guarantee and don't say the things that should be said or do the things that should be done.   Anyways, her funeral was absolutely a tribute to her and to her works.   It was a real reminder of what is important in life, love and good deeds...that is all that we are asked of....nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

It was also very hard because her beautiful daughter was so close to her mother.  It reminded me very much of the relationship that I have been very blessed to have with my own.   They talked every day and were very much a part of each others lives.   Meaning, that this is going to be very difficult for her daughter....but in the long term it is this closeness that will give her the most comfort.   What made it so hard for me is to see how upset and sad she was.....knowing that too would be mine.   As she walked up the aisle in the church she and her Dad just held onto each other, holding each other up.  My heart broke but then all I could think of was 'who will hold my daughter up'.    It hit me like a brick and I just started to sob.   Not something that I am accustomed to doing even at a funeral.  I mean it is what I do for a living.....hatch, match and dispatch!....but it was good for me.  I cried,held a friend's hand and after answered my own question....all those who I know love her.

Life can throw many punches at you, but each one is an opportunity to deal with and learn something new.  Today I know that even though it will be difficult when my time comes that she will survive if a little more sad and lonely.   Those around will gather and love her....just as we all did yesterday for this young woman and her Dad.    Love is an amazing thing, it doesn't cost us anything, it is so simple to give, and in most cases it is accepted without any argument......so live each day and love and all will be well in our world........

P.S. Off to the Toronto International Film Festival today.....maybe I will see Brad Pitt:}   even people with cancer still get excited about the silly things in life....YEA

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stages of Grief.....or LIfe?

Stages of Grief...or life?

Interesting how the mind continues to work even when you are trying to take a break.  I can't stop thinking about the 'stages of grief'.  I have decided that perhaps to limit them simply to grief is to deny (1st stage) that they are actually the functions of life.

Denial - This stage which often begins the process is seen in almost every aspect of our lives.   It is a period of time that seems to allow the brain to adjust to changes in our lives that perhaps we are not so happy about.  It offers that, albeit incorrect, belief that somehow life is controllable. Hopefully, only for a period of time in order to come to terms with the changes.  Scott Peck believes the state of denial when taken too far, the refusal to change ones map of life even when faced with the reality of the changes, is actually the road to insanity.  So maybe it is a good thing that I have  stopped driving the denial bus.....don't want to appear insane.

Depression - the second stage is often the attempt to return to the past.   There are certain emotions that can actually tell you where you are living, future, present or past.  Depression is the state where one is not willing to accept the changes, you are still in the past, and is a wishful thinking of better times.  (I am not talking about clinical depression here ...purely situation!)    So, the brain moves from the ability to totally deny what is happening to a place where it 'wishes' things where different.   A normal human response given that it is our natural state of being to want to control our lives.   So, I dont' feel so bad about having entered this stage as I do 'wish' things were different.  How long I will wish this is to be seen.

Anger - is the 3rd stage (realizing of course that we don't go through these stages so succinctly and probably toggle back and forth between them) which is the movement from the state of depression, and wishing, to actually glimpsing the reality but still not liking what is being seen.  A fighting mode that sees the reality, the change, as an enemy.  This stage in our grieving  is absolutely necessary in order to move the brain to a place that perhaps reality begins to sink in.   I can see myself in many instances in life having been angry about situations before I ever came  to a place of moving into those realities. In addition to cancer diagnosis,  my divorce stands out very significantly at that point.  Long before I ended my marriage I was angry both at my ex as well as myself for not being able to fix the problem.    I am also beginning to realize that although it may not seem to be a grieving process as we understand grieving...almost all change is a loss of something or someone so no wonder the process fits all aspects of our life......hmmmmm

Bargaining - this is the stage were we still haven't accepted the fact that life is not necessarily in our control.   We figure we can bargain our way out of the change by doing something different.   If I just change the way I eat (this was me when first diagnosed with cancer), or change the way I deal with people, or change the job I have all will be well.  I think maybe bargaining could be the road to insanity rather than denial.  It is here that one risks  staying too long because of the refusal to give up control of one's environment, life whatever.   Many people have spent their whole lives bargaining with life in order to not have to face the changes that have taken place.....an example of this that seems to come to mind is the recent increase in plastic surgery, and all these things that promise 'eternal youth'.   Boy if that ain't bargaining I don't what is.    We are all going to grow old it is just how soon we accept that fact that will determine if we do so in a state of happiness or not.

Which of course brings us to the final stage ACCEPTANCE!!!!!   This is the stage that we all hope to arrive  at sooner or later no matter what occurs in our lives.   The changes that we face are much better dealt with once we have arrived here.   Not that they will be easier to deal with or that they will not seem so huge, it is just that we will adjust our behaviour to incorporate the changes into our lives, thus not giving change the power over us to make our lives unhappy.  So no matter who we are, or what we are going through, we are all somewhere on the continuum  of the stages of grief.   At any point in our life we are dealing with some type of loss, be it our health, a loved one, our youth, our children leaving home, our inability to remember all that unimportant trivia, whatever.  We are always somewhere on this journey called life dealing  with the different things in our lives, each at a different stage depending on the loss and our willingness to accept that the only constant in life is 'change'.

For now, at this moment in my life, I am dealing with depression (the wish it was different stage)......what stage are you in???????     .....and what loss are you grieving???

Monday, September 5, 2011

Holidays...more than just from work!

Last weekend of the summer and it was actually a very nice one.   The weather was hotter than hades, which always reminds me why I must be a good person so that I don't have to spend eternity in that kind of heat.   But at least the sun was shining and everyone around seemed to be in a good mood despite the heat.

Performed a wedding ceremony on Saturday and it was lovely.   Not too serious but very classy.  Had a great time at the reception catching up with people I hadn't seen in awhile.   Then taking it easy, sleeping lots without feeling guilty and celebrating Labour Day with friends and great food.   So, today I am going to just enjoy the day, and worry about nothing.  Its a holiday and I have decided to take a holiday from my feelings....and maybe I will even sleep again today.......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving to the next stage of grief....depression!

I don't know why the very first post I ever made found its way to the recent posts but maybe there is more going on here than we know about.   It is a new chapter in my journey and maybe it is good to review the initial post and the purpose of this medium for my sanity.  I have moved from driving the denial bus to the depression cab.....smaller, more maneuverable, and much less room for passengers.

This will be difficult for me because I am not very good at exposing my real emotional feelings.  I don't like telling people things that they might decide becomes their job to make me feel better.   I don't want to feel  better!  I want to sulk, feel like crap, sleep too many hours and be just whatever this time brings.  It has been a very long journey and I think in many ways I have gone from denial over the years directly to acceptance.   Well, after 10 years I think my soul has decided it is time to feel depressed, angry and even very very selfish.   I will try really hard to be honest, mainly in order to work through this period and come out the other end a more stable and maybe even wiser person than the one that entered the 'dark night of the soul'.   I have lots of spiritual literature that tells me that this is an amazing time to grow spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.  Whether or not that is true I have no choice but to work my way through it.   I have tried very hard to put this off, and I think I am finally have physical difficulties because of that denial.  There are more than one stage of grief obviously for a very good reason.....

So, all you on the bus, line up and take a number for a ride in the cab.   We aren't going very far for the next while, if we even end up leaving the lane.   I will of course be driving, as always....you might have to wake me periodically so that we don't run off the road.   The only time anyone is allowed to talk is to remind me, or wake me, to go to knitting.   That is the one thing in my life I am not prepared to give up no matter what.    So, here we go........thanks in advance for your patience, your support and your love......

Monday, August 29, 2011

Death is close....always!

Haven't really felt like writing much.   The juices don't seem to be flowing...maybe this is what is called a writer's block.   Decided I needed to though because the past week has been nothing if not interesting.  Then again, I find that my life is usually interesting...at least to me. 

Had a real theme of dying this week.   With Jack Layton's death which put me in a bit of a tailspin.  It reminded me of how swiftly this disease can take you from the top or peak of your life and within weeks put you in the ground.   I don't like being reminded of these things but sometimes it is a good thing.   Then I did a funeral on Saturday for a former student who's father died very suddenly, and again was reminded how precious life is, and how unpredictable!   There was a photo at the service of him taken one day before he died with his granddaughter.  It was so beautiful and he didn't look like he was dying...and yet she turned one year old four days later without her Opa.

Both of these men were young by our standard's, yet in many ways both had lived life to the fullest in their own ways.   It made me realize that it isn't how long you live, its what you do with the  time you live.  I know that isn't very original as we all seem to say it often, esp when someone dies.  But it is profound!   

If we come to accept death as a part of life we are much more likely to live while we are still alive.   In our society (b/c most of the world knows full well that death is very close at hand) we often see death as something that is outside of life.   As if it is standing off in the wings and if we are really careful and don't let it come on stage we can somehow beat it and live forever.  We constantly believe that if we do the right things then we can avoid or at least delay death indefinitely.  Then comes a moment where someone dies and we are stunned.......

I too am very much guilty of this way of thinking.   Even with cancer, I have gotten complacent and not lived the life I know I could have.   Then it raises its ugly head again and I am taken aback by the seriousness of it.   I don't believe that we should all live as if at any moment we are going to be struck down.   It would be a very neurotic world to see everyone running around twisting their heads to see if some awful thing was about to befall them.    What I mean, is that we should look death in the eyes, see it as a reality, and then decide to live every moment as if it counts.   Not putting off all those things until it is more convenient, especially the things that are relational in nature.   Spend time with loved ones, help those in need not b/c they deserve it but b/c we as humans are obligated to help others.   See the good in others, the wonder in nature, the awe in  children, the humour in God's world.    Believe me God definitely has a sense of humour and it is all around us.   Just tell God your plans for the day!!!!   

The past week has been difficult.....I have had to look death in the face at a personal and at a more general level and both have had an effect on me.   I have had to  deal with the reality that this disease is back and that it isn't going to just go away if I ignore it.   Death is in the room in my life but it doesn't mean I have to invite it to stay or even offer it a seat.   I will look it in the eye and then turn and leave the room to live another day......that's all I have and so here I go off to have a great day no matter what it brings....even if it brings death!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mourning..........

Today I was kicked in the gut!   We lost a great Canadian today much to soon.   He struggled like many of us with cancer and unfortunately the cancer won.    Sixteen weeks ago he lived the greatest moment in his political career, leading the NDP from an almost non-existent force in Canadian politics to the Opposition Party.    As was said on twitter "he was the great Prime Minister Canada never had".......

In the midst of his own struggle he was still thinking about how we (those suffering from cancer) might lose hope in our own struggles when we saw that he lost his.    He reminded us that we are fortunate to live in a country and a  time where cancer treatments are very successful, and that we must continue to be hopeful and optimistic in our own battle.   I usually don't use these warrior type words when I speak of cancer but today that is how I feel....like we are at war with this horrible disease.    It is at times like this when I realize the incredible people we are losing to this disease......Jack Layton was a unique human being and a real politician....of the people, for the people!   A man of courage, passion and vision.....now gone from us because of a disease that seems to be winning more lately in my life than losing.    I will hang on his words of living in the moment and cherishing our loved ones and the time we have with them......

I can say it no better than he:     "love is better than anger.   Hope is better than fear.   Optimism is better than despair.  So, let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic"     Rest in peace Jack.....you have done your job and it is now our turn to carry the torch........may Canadians hold your family in their hearts and prayers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Events still happen while I wait!

Its taken me a couple of days to get my thoughts together enough to write.   As I knew it would be, the appointment was quick and to the point.   The doctor, true to his word believed that I knew something was happening and just decided we would go ahead and do tests.   Blood tests done, and a CT scan to come.  So, now we wait, and then figure out what comes next.   Another poignant event allowed me to realize the blessings that I have had just by still being here.   Got to see a very good friend's daughter get married....seems like yesterday she and my daughter were sharing stories and miseries about being the children of  Chaplains.   Now she is a married woman!    Made me wonder if I will live to see my own daughter marry.   Any parent must wonder those thoughts from time to time, but I know that I have thought things like that many many times.   Wondered if I would see her graduate grade eight, see her turn 16, graduate from high school.....so many frames I have had the grace to fill and see her grow.   The next frame is her wedding......at least that's the one I think is next....one never knows!

So, not a bad weekend, and something to boost my spirits.......but still I wait to hear what comes next.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Appointments!!!!!

Ok, so it is appointment day and I am up early and trying to get myself going.   Usually, as I have said before, when you actually get to the doctors all the things that ailed you have disappeared.   Well, I am still exhausted so that isn't happening.

What I find interesting is that I am trying to compare how I feel to how I felt six and ten years ago.   Not that I could really remember.   I have said many times that I wasn't really very sick in the past, and my daughter just rolls her eyes and says "yea o.k. Mom"....which I take to mean that she doesn't agree!  She says that I was tired, moody, sleeping lots etc etc and then says ....sort of how you are feeling now!!!...then goes on to tell me how really sick I was when I had chemo.   I don't remember being REALLY bad, but she does.....maybe I don't need to remember these things my dear.  It's like having a baby, you really don't want to remember the pain or the species might be at risk!!!!!!

Here's to hoping that I can be honest and above board.....I need to have the courage to be honest and figure out what I need done.   My worse trait is to deny deny deny, and hope that all will just work itself out.  I should know by now that when you have cancer that is not necessarily a good thing.  I have a story about that....the last recurrence in 2004/05 I gave the surgeon a surprise during the surgery.  He knew that he was going in to take two tumors out, one on the ascending colon and one on the lower bowel...but to his surprise he found another .....in my right hip area.   After the surgery he came and asked me "did your hip hurt lately"?   I said "yea for the past few months, why?"....he then proceeded to tell me that there was a tumor there and he had to remove some of the muscle and nerves in order to get it all.   "Why didn't you tell me that you were having pain in your hip"?, he said.   "oh I just thought it was arthritis?.....and he looked at me and said "E. when you have cancer, it is a good thing to tell us if you start having pain somewhere...."   needless to say he was not impressed....mind you I did get him back by saying "didn't you take a cat-scan?"....maybe you should be more thorough when reading it?????......we both laughed.    He has said this time though he isn't giving me as much free reign as he did the last time....I wonder if that is why???????

Well, I am off.............p.s. taking my own vehicle so there are no passengers....don't need any whispering in my ear today......

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feeling Sick!!!!

I find it hard lately to even come on the blog site.  I think in the early days it was a place to vent, and then it was just a fun place to write things down and perhaps believe that my experience was helping someone else....so altruistic!!!!   Now it feels like it is a place that is making me face a reality that I truly do not want to face.   At the deepest level of my being I am fighting to pretend that nothing is going on and that if I just ignore everything I can make it so.   I can't explain the reasoning except that I am just so tired of this journey sometimes.  I want my life back....my life that I left behind 10 years ago.   It is silly but that is how I feel.   Not only do I not want to live this but I don't want to drive the bus, I don't want to make everyone feel better, I just want to hide away and pretend that all is well.   

I am so 'sick and tired' of being 'sick and tired'!!!   Cutting the grass has become a huge effort, and it bugs me b/c I loved doing things like that.  Now it makes me so tired  I feel like puking afterwards and can't even enjoy the final product.   I know part of my anger, frustration whatever is b/c tomorrow I go back to the doctors.   Not that I will know anything immediately, which can be a source of frustration.  I wish sometimes I could go back to that 'polly anna' way of thinking that the visit to the doctor is the cure all......never was but we constantly convinced ourselves that once we saw the doctor we would feel better.   Actually, if I remember correctly, it was usually the day before the doctor's appointment that I started to feel better :}

So, I go and talk, and maybe decide to have some more tests done.  I can't explain exactly how I feel b/c it isn't like I have some huge pain that is screaming at me.  It is just that feeling that something is not right.....I am way too tired for normal aging...although I do tell myself perhaps that is all it is.   I sleep too much, I am not rested when I rise, and I want to nap all day long.  If that is normal aging than who every coined the phrase "golden years" obviously didn't make it there!!!!!  

I will end with a profound quote that I read this morning by Carl Jung:\

"if we remember the fundamental principle that the symtomatology of an illness is at the same time a natural attempt at healing",,,,,,,,,   hmmmmm that works for growing old too!!!!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Themes"

I am so confused...too much going on and not enough down time.   I performed a wedding this week...well sort of.  It was an emergency wedding b/c the bride's mother had just been diagnosed with cancer and was given only days.   So, it was in the hospital chapel and it was just like a real wedding.   She was dressed in white, there were bouquets, and family....it was all so strange.    The reason is that it wasn't a legal wedding b/c there was no license,  it being a weekend and all.   The family was happy, the mothers seemed very pleased and so in the end 'who cares'? ... Life just seems so full of interesting turns.   I was very pleased and even privileged to be a part of it.  I received the call at 11:00 a.m. while shopping with my daughter.   I arrived at the hospital at 3:30 for the 4:00 wedding.   There was a time in my life that I couldn't imagine that I would have the temperament to pull that off, but it just seemed so doable and I didn't even stress.   My daughter and I had planned to go to lunch, so we still did.  

The confusion comes in when I try to make sense of what is going on in my life right now.   I have always believed that we live our lives in 'themes'.    I believe that God speaks to us through the events and people that are placed in our lives at any given time.   Over the past few weeks, I have been involved in so many different things, with so many different people, I wonder what it is I am suppose to be coming to understand.    In some ways I would say maybe I am just being given opportunities to see the important parts of life......but so far I am  missing the 'hatch' part.    I know that could be due to the age I am at, although there are a few babies looming on the horizon, but not directly related to me.   I have done many matches and some dispatches but not too many hatches.   Although I did do one baptism at the beginning of the year.  So, I think I may just have figured out what the theme is ........life, living, important moments!!!!!!   Hmmmmm....in addition I have reconnected with family and that is also an important part of the living.....I guess I am being given the blessings of seeing what really is important in life.   Even still having lunch with my daughter was important and I had the grace to know that.    I don't think I am so confused anymore.......at least not for the moment :)