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, 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 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 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 here's the BUT,

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Latte' 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 can find it at,   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....:))