Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas miracles .....

So it's Christmas time!   Not really feeling it which isn't normal for me .   I love Christmas but this year it just seems to be overwhelming me.    I think the body can only handle so much whether it's good or bad .    I have been procrastinating doing anything and yet at the same time I know this is my first Christmas with my granddaughter ..... That is fun .... Just the energy levels,the pain, the stress of the surgery seems to press down like a weight .   I get up and think ok today I will decorate, or shop, or wrap then I sit down and it doesn't happen!!!!!!    Well the universe has conspired to make me move :)

God intervened through those around me:

A good friend helped me finish a special gift which started me looking forward to the season.    Then a friend gave me a very nice gift to share with my family .    So again, I am being directed towards the Christmas spirit.    Then I lost the gift :(.  I searched, retraced steps, prayed to St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost things) , then finally let it go ....  No point obsessing over it .... It's gone .    Two days later another friend comes to me and says "look what I found".  There in her hand is my lost gift.   The story of it coming into her hands is bizarre but suffice it to say ..... It was a miracle .... A Christmas miracle.    Then, a friend decides to visit and while here convinces me to haul out a few decorations, put up a small tree and VOILA..    I am inspired!     So Christmas will take place this year and I will participate ..... Sometimes you just need a little divine intervention through the love and kindness of friends .

I am still tired and overwhelmed about the future, but for the next little while I will live in the moment and enjoy the season ..... Count my blessings and find joy in what today has to offer.

I am a very blessed woman in so many ways :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lesson in Relativity......

I recently had a very good lesson in the 'theory of relativity'......It was very eye opening!

On November 5, I learned that my cancer had metastasized to the hip which was a surprise for everyone, doctors included, as it was not even on our radar.   To say I was devastated is an understatement.    I was more upset about this news than I had been about the first two felt like a death knell.   Then, on November 28th, I saw an ortho surgeon who explained to me that he could resect the hip bone and rebuild it but first he wanted a bone scan.   The purpose of the bone scan was to see if the cancer had travelled anywhere else in the skeletal system.   The reason this was necessary was that if it had, the surgery would not change the outcome. now I feel even worse....omg this might just be the end of the journey as far as possible treatments.    For two weeks I waited under a cloud of very heavy and black foreboding.    It was awful.   I was told it might be a month before the bone scan.   How was I going to wait that long and then again for results?   One day later I got a call, bone scan was scheduled for December 3 and a return appointment for results on December 9....the irony is that made me even more nervous because they were moving so fast.    Even the doctors were worried....Yikes....poor medical system they can't win:)

So Tuesday December 9th I returned to the ortho doctor to get my results.    No spots seen anywhere else!!!!    Yippee it is ONLY in my hip!    What a change from November 5 when I thought that was the worst news.   Now it seemed to be the best news.     IT IS ALL RELATIVE!!!!!!!

So, there is cheering on the bus.....everyone is allowed to yell, scream, and laugh as loud as you like.
The news is good......only hip metastasis...who would have thought I would be cheering this news.

Now, we wait for surgery.    Not till early January so it will be a great Christmas.   I decided on the way home yesterday that I WILL put up a tree.....and hopefully my 'little' puppy won't take it down!

I am excited for the holidays and can feel the difference in my body of how the news changed my stress levels.   My daughter said that she physically saw me relax as the doctor gave me the news.  News that a few weeks earlier had made me stressed out now made me relax.    Life can be very funny sometimes.

It will be a tough surgery and after hearing all the gory details yesterday of how and what they will do, I did have a few bad moments last evening as I was drifting off to sleep.   All the risks and what ifs....but I pushed them aside and began to imagine the upcoming days of Christmas with my beautiful granddaughter and her amazing parents.   I am blessed in so many ways how can I not be joyful.

Life is not always what we want or expect....but sometimes we need to put it all in perspective and focus on the good stuff.   January will come and it will be tough, but for now I will take good drugs, feel happy and blessed, and enjoy the moment.......

My prayer for everyone is that what ever Christmas is this year.....find the nugget of joy in your lives and make it the focus of the season........remember God is with us.......during this season and forever!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Living "today".....

I wrote this sometime ago but felt it very much applied to what I have been trying to feel these past weeks.    It hasn't been easy but there is a truth in trying to live in this attitude.   It was good to be reminded that I have struggled before and overcome it, so perhaps this time will be similar.    If not then at least I haven't wasted today.

Originally posted in December 2010:

It is very good to take time and recognize the blessings that we have been given.  Even if it is only to be able to rise from our beds and walk to the kitchen.  Or put our coat and boots on and go for a walk in the evening mist.   Often these things seem so natural, that we forget that some no longer have that ability.  To take a simple walk, eat a good meal, or spend a few hours without any form of pain or discomfort, that alone is gift.   I know  that I have struggles ahead and perhaps even challenges that I don't want to face,  but today, I am fine.  Today, I can look after myself, participate in the daily grind of living without too much discomfort.   Today, I will enjoy the simple things in my life and not worry about what might come later on.  Today is all that really counts because in the end none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.   I will go with how I feel today and live that to the fullest.   Tomorrow will take care of itself, and yesterday is gone.   Thank you God for the gifts of today, and for the awareness to appreciate them and to use them to their full potential.   Bless all those who have less than myself, and may they find peace and some joy amidst their pain and suffering.   Bless those who minister to loved ones in their illness, may peace surround them during this difficult time.   And most of all allow all to rest and regenerate so that tomorrow may bring some form of hope for a future!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to help someone journeying with cancer........

So five hours at the hospital can give even the most narcissistic person pause for reflection.   Yesterday was one of those days.   I rewound to a time that I had almost forgotten.    As we wandered the halls in between tests I made the mistake of going places that I probably shouldn't being the Surgery Ward....the body does not forget even if the mind pretends to.   Had to make a quick exit as I actually began to sweat and get dizzy.....way to raw for that place.     In addition, I found myself being very confused and realized that it was probably a good thing my daughter was with me or else I might still be wandering the halls looking for an exit.    We certainly had a few good laughs with my lack of directional ability and my moments of complete confusion as to what we were doing or where we were going.     It was comical but very revealing at the same time.

Going through this journey there have been very comfortable, calm times, and there have been very disturbing, chaotic times.     Unless you have been through a roller coaster ride like this I don't know if one would actually understand how it changes.     When no tests, doctor appointment etc are going on it seems like you can convince yourself all is 'normal' and go about your life quite balanced, parking the bus for future use.   As soon as the bus starts moving again all those old feelings of dread, fear, and chaos rear their ugly head.     My daughter is very familiar with this and so gives me great slack at these times.....not taking anything personal and knowing that something simply said can set off a storm in me.    Others may not be so aware!   So here are a few do's and don'ts one might put in their store of things you need to know when dealing with me specifically, but anyone undergoing a Cancer journey in general.

1.    We don't want to hear about other people's journeys, especially if they haven't survived!    It is not the time to have a conversation of comparisons between your friends and us.    We aren't in the space to deal with it and might actually hit you......

2.   We don't want to hear that everything will be OK.    Yes, it might be and God willing it will be....but it might not and that is part of the journey we desperately need to deal with.    It is hard for you to hear it but imagine how hard it is for us  to live it.

3.   We appreciate anything you might do for us.    A visit for tea, a casserole for the freezer, or just a phone call to say 'wanted to hear your voice'.     Don't just say 'call if you need anything' because we probably won't.   First, its hard to ask for help and secondly we don't always know what we really need.    Come by and offer to clean or bring a simple lunch.   Recently, someone did that for me and it was wonderful (awkward at first as she cleaned both my bathrooms) but after she left I felt so good and had the sparkling bathrooms to boot.

4.   Don't not call because you are afraid to bother us.    If we don't want to talk we won't answer and there is a good chance we do want to know that people are thinking of us......even if its just to say hi.

5.   Pray for us, send positive energy....let the universe and us know that you love us.    Nothing is more healing than knowing that people are thinking of you, praying for you and loving you.....the best part of a journey like this has been finding out how many people care and love me.    That is a blessing in any one's life but especially someone who is struggling with least we know we will be missed if it doesn't go well and that can be very important.

Finally, don't worry if you feel awkward.....its normal we do too.    No one deals with illness well but it can be a very positive and uplifting moment for both of us.      It isn't about how YOU are feeling, sorry but for this time its all about me.      Not often we can say that, and hopefully most won't ever have to, but for now my focus is limited to about 3 feet in front of me.    My brain doesn't really grasp what's going on in my own life most of the time, let alone how the rest of the world is dealing with it.
So, be patient with me, love me from near or far, but if you need someone to talk to because you are feeling sad......I am sorry but for now I can't comfort you.....I only have enough energy for me and my family.......

God bless you and thank you for means the world to me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The bus is in DRIVE!

Well, well, well, things are moving.   I am sitting in the driver's seat and the bus is buzzing along at break neck speed.    Last week I felt like I was in a field of mud, slogging along by myself trying to get some one's attention.    And then BAM!!!!!

So Thursday I saw my oncologist , Friday the ortho surgeon (or as my Mom would say 'bone man').   Figured that would be it for awhile as it seems to go in fits and starts.   Today I get a call to say that on Wednesday I am having a bone scan and then next Tuesday (Dec 9) a second appointment with the bone man to discuss the results.    Also, somewhere in there I am to meet again with my oncologist.    To be honest, I work best at this pace.    I am more of a doer than a waiter.    So, I actually feel good about what is happening.   Also, can't spend to much time thinking when you are busy driving the bus..........

Now the only thing is that we need the bone scan to show that its only metastasized to the hip.....and we can get that sucker resected, rebuild and repaired.    Plus of course all the other stuff the oncologist must do such as resecting bowel and removing muscle etc.    Big surgery, but at least we are doing something.   The one lesson that I have learned about this disease is that if the doctors are still willing to do surgery they are hopeful of a positive outcome.     That is what I keep in the forefront of my mind now.  

So, before Christmas or after Christmas who knows.   As long as we do it!!!!!!

Feeling like the universe is back in my control, if it is only an illusion that is fine at this point.   Let me live in my fantasy for the next while :)   THE BUS HAS LEFT THE STATION !

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Waiting for surgery ... Still

So what to write?   Nothing good at this point.    Still seeing doctors and doing tests....seems like an endless task and sometimes a waste of precious time.    Then the rational part takes over and I know that a few weeks or a couple of months in the life of cancer is not a long time ...unless you are in the eleventh hour.   Which I am not !!!!!

So, at this point it looks like major surgery is called for ......nothing minor ever seems to be my way.   Saw the ortho surgeon after much phone calls and drumming of fingers ( read smacking of fists) .   I was at the point of thinking we should fine someone else but my oncologist didn't agree.   His analogy (of which he has many) was that if you wanted good food you went to the place where all people go!    I even took the liberty of phoning myself , leaving a message as they never seem to answer.   Polite but detailed.    Don't know if it worked but had an appt four days later .   Must admit though I do like him ......very easy to talk to and explains thing well and in a way that you feel part of the team.   That is important to me as I want to be "in the loop" . So we do more tests!

 Seems that the cancer has gone into the bone and quite a bit of the bone.    Not common of course!   He believes he can remove the affected bone and rebuild it  so my pants don't fall down ....his words not mine :)     Seems bones have very practical purposes , as well as essential ones.    Long and very painful surgery and that is just his part.  Then here's the other half of the surgery that my oncologist will perform ..... It will be very long and painful according to them both!     Oh goody !

So, what does one do in the meantime......that is the part I am trying to figure out......not feeling very good, and also a bit scared.     Honestly, at this point I am numb ...... Need more time for it to process and sink's shitty cause one of the tests is a bone scan to make sure it has not gone anywhere else.   Thinking if it has not much point in doing the surgery least the hip part..... Like closing the barn door once the horse is gone .

So we wait, and pray!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Angry .....frustrated......I hate the word 'rare'

As I sit and think, I wonder if I should write this post.   It is not going to be a light, cheerful one that makes fun of the seriousness of cancer illness.   It is one that will be angry and frustrated.   I can't seem to get past these feelings, as hard as I try.

I am so angry!    I did exactly what I was suppose to do.   I learnt to listen to my body and forgo numerous tests in order that I  could have a 'normal' life in the midst of a cancer diagnoses.   I took care of myself, went for my regular check ups.   Agreed that it wasn't necessary to constantly  have scans, MRI, or even blood tests.    I lived my life.....somewhat naive I feel now.    On Wednesday when I went for my consultation I really didn't think I was going to have any great revelations to deal with.   I knew the drill.   I had a good handle on what was going on inside of me and had accepted that it was time to deal with the tumour.   Never, never in a million years did I expect to hear "it has invaded the bone".    Ovarian Cancer doesn't invade the bones.   Epithelial cancer barely invades tissue and organs, never mind the bone.    It is the one cancer that is different in this way than almost all others, its unique in that way - rare.   If it does attach itself to bowel, bladder, muscle etc, it is a very superficial invasion.   I have studied this disease, read the articles, investigated the medical findings.   Ovarian cancer is one of those cancers that although deadly , does not invade the bone.

Then why did mine?    It's so uncommon that the literature uses the expression "extremely rare", not rare but extremely rare.    I know that 'rare' is a word that has been used to describe me and my illness, but somehow this one missed me.   So when I heard this last week, I almost fell off my chair.   I know that I didn't retain much else of the meeting because my daughter kept correcting me on the way home about what had been said.    I was 'gob smacked' as one friend put it. 

I have gone online (not always a good thing) to read up on this new information, and it has been very hard to find anything written about it.    First I thought that I would look at the anatomy of the hip especially since biology was not my best subject.    That was interesting but not very helpful.   Then I decided to look up OVCA metastasis to bone.   Well I was able after a lot of digging to come across ONE article written in 2010 about two women from Asia who had bone metastasis.     The article did say that the prognosis in such a situation was POOR.    And both women died!!!!!     So that's a 100% mortality.     Now both these women also had multiple sites so I have one up on them....mine is only in one place.     Also, it seems that more research has taken place since 2010....another one for the expression "the longer you live with cancer, the longer you live".

I guess I am angry because I am going to that place of "what if".    What if I had surgery earlier would that have prevented this from happening.   Maybe, but who was even thinking about it.   I know I wasn't and my doctor wasn't.....I feel he was just as surprised as me.      So, I am angry but not at anyone, just at the fact that if it's rare it most probably will happen to me.    Now, I know I should probably go and buy a lottery ticket and see if this extends to other such rare occurrences the only thing is when I don't win I will be even more angry !!!!!!!

Well, I guess I will be angry for awhile.    And please, please don't tell me how lucky I am that they still want to try and get it.....I know that....but for the moment I just want to be angry and feel sorry for myself.   I won't let it be for long......but at least give me a moment to vent before I have to get back on my 'happy bus'.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rules of consultations!!!!!

Well its been a few days since 'my news' and I have had time to digest and think.   Firstly, I realize that I have forgotten the rules of consultations.    The most important being, write down what is said especially if there are names or anatomy or individuals mentioned.   My daughter was there and she has corrected me on some of what I had thought I heard.  But again, you would assume after this many years I would at last have a pen and paper.   Actually, in the first couple of years I not only had a pen and paper but also and entire binder divided into sections that contained all the test results, nurses notes etc.   I am sure that some people in the waiting room may have mistaken me for a drug rep I looked so official.
I have mellowed since then obviously as now I don't even carry the basics.

So, anyone beginning this journey, and my heart goes out to you, the best advice I can give is to have:

1.   Another person with you for a second set of ears.    Ears is the operative word here.   My rules stated that the individual is not allowed to speak before receiving my permission.  I must admit that not all of my friends or family have followed this rule but those who never got asked back now know why!!!!   Not that your questions or queries weren't appreciated its just that 'driving the bus' part.

2.  At least a pen and paper, preferably a note book so that you can keep all your notes together from each meeting.   I would jot down questions before I went in to ask in order that I didn't get too overwhelmed and forget.  There is nothing worse than getting home and realizing that you forgot to get a prescription for your bowels etc.   Also, I find when you take notes often the doctors speaking slower!

So that is my advice....which I haven't been following lately but will definitely do so at my next appointment.   This one with the orthopedic surgeon.   I know nothing of the anatomy of the hip, except that little ditty :    the hip bones connected to the leg bone....which in this case has not been very helpful.   I did try and go on the Internet to see if I could make sense out of the news, but I can't really remember the names of the bones he mentioned.   I have a vague idea of where and what but it would have been helpful to have the parts of the bones written down.   I thought the hip bone was a seems that it is not really the actual name for the bone in your hip.    It is made up of three bones, that are separate when you are born and then fuse together as you grow.   So from what I can make our it is the iliac spine part of the hip bone that is affected I think!    Anyways not important for now will know more soon.

So, as you can see I have been busy trying to become an orthopedic specialist as my control issues are in high gear.   I don't know what I think this will change in the grand scheme of things but at least for the hour or so that I am absorbed in the information I feel in control.   When first diagnosed with OVCA I tried to become an oncologist too.     I have learnt a lot in the past 13 years, more than I ever learnt in school taking science, biology or chemistry in school.   I guess when you life is on the line you find the information my more important and pertinent.     I don't think the knowledge has helped in any way with my recoveries or my journey, but it sure has kept me busy when I have felt a little crazy.   It also has given many people in my life a break from my frenzy ramblings.    So, no matter what it has served some purpose in my life .......well am off to the Internet yet again!  

Friday, November 7, 2014

WHAM hits again!

Some times I think I am very naïve about the way life works.   I write about how it sneaks up on you and hits you in the face....and then I go about my day as if nothing surprising is going to happen.

Well, Wednesday was a day that life went WHAM, BAM, SLAM!!!!!   And it wasn't a super hero's cartoon strip.    Now, let me say that I have come back to some form of equilibrium and I am fine.   I am more upset with the fact that I was so certain nothing new would be revealed.    I laugh that I wrote a post about how life is never what you think and then am surprised when it happens.   I believe perhaps God was trying to prepare me for this but of course I wasn't listening.

So the consultation didn't go quite as planned.   We are still doing surgery but I have yet to get a date because there was a bit of a surprise in the MRI.    I now have to see a second surgeon for a consult who will assist my oncologist.  That specialist is an orthopedic surgeon!    It seems that the tumor has invade my hip bone.     DO YOU KNOW HOW RARE THAT IS!    For those who have been on this journey with me for sometime.....that won't surprise anyone.   Rare, of course it would happen , I am the RARE one.   If it isn't common, normal, or the usual it will happen to me.  Now in some ways the fact that I am still alive is RARE.   So as in everything this is a double edged sword....there is good RARE and there is bad rare.  

What this means for the moment is that I need to meet with a surgeon who specializes in bones.   Then he and my oncologist will set a date for surgery.     I guess it is not all gloom and doom.   There is a very good chance that they can remove the bone that is until I talk to him I wait and wonder what next will knock me off my chair!!!!

WHAM, BAM,. those words they are so appropriate!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Juggling LIfe.............

I began a post this morning very seriously and morose.   Didn't really want to write but felt that often that is the time I need to the most.   Then life intervened.....the dog needed to be walked.     Isn't that what happens all the time?    We are seriously thinking about all the problems of  our world (meaning my little part thereof) and .....and it happened again!   Writing along and the dog decides to jump up on my white love seat.    Which wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem (even though she isn't allowed) but you see she came into heat last that's a problem!!!!!  Another snag as I had her scheduled to be spayed next is so unpredictable!!!!!!

I realize that we are constantly looking one way assuming that is where our life is happening and WHAM (always wanted to write that :) our real life knocks us from the other side.   Usually with just the mundane, everyday, easily dealt with problems, but occasionally (again an knocked over the baby gate).   By the way I live in a menagerie of animals in case anyone is interested.

as I was saying, but sometimes life is big, and ugly and not so easily fixed.     It is only at those times that we seem to be aware that our world is very much out of our control.     Today I am more aware of just how unpredictable it is.    I just usually fix the little interruptions and move on.   Well, can't do that today!   Off to see the oncologist and see what he has to say.    Had all the tests and now we 'consult'.   So life is interrupting in one of those 'big' ways and I am not happy!!!!!   Even though I won't be finding out anything new (or hope not) but just the idea that this is not what I want to be doing today.   I am at the mercy of the universe....which in reality is how I am always but don't notice because I live with this  false sense of control and order.....and then WHAM (just had to write that again lol) I have to deal with something I don't want to, can't fix, or even feel is not right.   All those adjectives seem to describe my life these days.     I just want to sit and read, and knit, and play with my granddaughter but instead I have to live my life.     Which obviously is more than just those simple things.

I did hear a quote yesterday that I thought was very good:   "the difference between a happy ending and a sad ending is where you decide to stop the story"    SO so true!!!!!    This from a man who was lost at sea in a rubber dingy for 76 days......was rescued and then a few years later diagnosed with cancer!!!!!!  My story is still unfolding, as is every one's no matter what the situation, so I don't even know if it will be happy or sad.....but if I have my choice I will choose a 'happy ending'!  So, as I go about my day today I will recognize the 'real' life that is taking place around me rather than the life I think I am living today.    It certainly makes for an unpredictable, often uncomfortable way to be, but entirely more interesting than the plans that I had set out.
One quote that I often use as my mantra during times like this (which are now that I see all the time!!)

 "if you want to give God a laugh, tell God your plans for the day".......

.Obviously, God laughs a lot while watching me try to keep all the balls in the I am throwing one up and letting God catch it......easier to juggle with less balls!!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just rambling......

So we are arriving at the end of October and I am still waiting for a surgery date.   That in some ways is my own fault as I had a very important engagement on October 26th and was adamant that I was not going in until after.   So here I wait.....

The engagement was the Christening of my beautiful granddaughter.    I never believed that I would be around to see her let alone be at her Christening.   I sat there in tears almost the whole service and thanked God for the privilege of being alive and healthy enough to enjoy every moment.  

My life over the past 13 and a half years has been anything but predictable.   Not that any one's life is actually predictable but when dealing with serious illness the probability of not feeling good or something going wrong rises somewhat dramatically.   So to have been feeling well on this particular day was definitely a blessing.    I couldn't have been prouder!    My little angel was so happy and smiley it was wonderful.    The dress she wore was made by my sister from my wedding dress.   Thank goodness she had the foresight to save the dress.   I had thrown it in a pile to go to Goodwill many years ago and she saved it saying "one day I will make a christening gown for your grandchild out of this"......yea yea I thought.  Well true to her word she did.    And my little one looked beautiful with all that satin, lace and crinoline.   The parents looked so proud and I think are still trying to wipe the smiles off their faces.    Nothing like the world looking at your child and thinking she is the most beautiful baby every created!!!!!!

So, now that has passed and we wait for the date.   On Friday I had an MRI.     Those are the kind of tests that we all hope to avoid.   Whoever invented this contraption either had a sick sense of humour or wanted to see what it was like to be buried alive.    I hate enclosed spaces so you can imagine how I felt as they slid me into this large metal tube.   I know  'its open at both ends'....only you are lying down and can't turn your head so you can't see the end .....    The worst part is that they say " now try and just keep you eyes closed while you are in there."   Well, as I have mentioned many times I am a control freak.   When you tell a control freak not to open their eyes, they spend the entire time wanting to open their eyes.    Also, they put earphones on me so I could listen to music while the test was going on.....only the machine is so noisy that you can't hear the music anyways.    Finally, there came a point in the one hour and ten minutes I was encased in the tube that the operator asked me to hold my breath.    So I did.....only there was so much noise I never heard her tell me to 'breathe again" so I almost passed out from lack of oxygen!!!!!    As much as I hated the test I kept reminding myself that having cancer and going through all the that entails this was minor detail.    My mind had no problem with that by somehow it never actually related that to my body.   After a while I felt very warm and suffocating and was very relived when the voice said "are you ok in there"  "only five more minutes'......I wonder what they do if you say NO, or don't answer....might have to try that next time for a laugh:)

So the journey of tests etc has begun in earnest.    Next week I get the results which I already know....I have a tumour that is 7 cm in diameter that needs to be removed.    I will hopefully also get the date of my surgery.    So till then I have parked the bus and am resting up for the next step.....

Friday, October 17, 2014

A new career..........

So, maybe I haven't learnt how to take it easy!   I recently went to the doctors and mentioned that I was having a lot of pain, especially at night.   She asked what I was doing?   Well, after I told her she said:   "I have three kinds of patients with pain.    The ones who are in pain and sit home and do nothing and are very unhappy, the ones who do way too much and aggravate the pain and are very happy, and a very few who have actually found the middle ground".   Then she prescribed me T3 and said to go and enjoy life.

Well, I took her at her word.    I have taken on a very interesting new job - doing school tours at a local apple farm!  The farm is owned by a former student and her husband, and my daughter worked there previously.    Since she is not able to this fall due to motherhood, I volunteered to help with the tours.    Now, lets be clear.    I know very little about apples so it has been a huge learning curve.   I didn't know there were so many varieties and that each was better for one thing or another.   The good thing is these children are very young and know less!!!! :)

So last week I did my first tour and I think it went very well.    We learnt about apples, we sang a song about apples, we picked apples and we ate apples and we even had a tractor drive!!!!!......then we went in the corn maze......not so good.   I was feeling pretty confident at this point and decided I would lead.   Well I got us lost and had to have one of the five year olds lead us out!!!!!   A little scary...especially when I am slightly claustrophobic :)   So yesterday was my second day.    I was a little nervous because I was going to be doing a pumpkin tour.   If I know little about apples, I know nothing about pumpkins except how to carve them.   As an aside I love carving them.  Used to do three or four every year when my daughter was young!!!!
So, I arrive early to teach myself about pumpkins (did you know they have 'brains' neither did I) and find out that I am not just doing pumpkins but apples too!!!    60 kids and they are there all day!!!!!!!    Ohhhhhh my goodness what have I done!

Weeks away from surgery on my hip area and now I will be walking around a farm for four hours.  Hmmm thinking I know which category I fit into for the doctor .  Well I did it!!!!   We learnt about apples in the morning, and pumpkins in the afternoon.  We picked apples and we picked pumpkins.    We did the tractor ride and the corn maze (I stayed outside and let the teachers and parents go with the kids).    It was such a great day.    I was exhausted but pumped!

So, today I am off to do another tour.     I may have to up my pain meds for the next week or so, but let me tell you it is worth it.     I enjoyed those children so much.    They had so much fun and were so excited to be on a farm and to do all these things.    Life is about living and this week I am living it to the fullest.    So, I may be a little tired (read a lot) and not do much else, but I tell you the doctor was right......I am very very happy.

P.S.    And I know more than I every thought I would about apples.......did you know there are 13 varieties, at least at this particular farm?    Oh and the stuff you can make with them is really yummy too....I sampled a few things between tours!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Counting blessings.......

Today is a day to reflect on our is Canadian Thanksgiving.   Personally, I love this time of year.    The crispness of the air, the swishing of the leaves underfoot, the startle you get when a leaf falls right in front of you.    It is a beautiful time to reflect on the changes that have taken place in your life, just like the changes that are taking place in nature.    All around it looks like things are dying, but in reality they are preparing for the hardship of winter that is to come.    It is in the preparing that they are able to be sure of making it through the cold and dark months ahead, and coming out into the springtime and newness that brings.

This is how I see life too!    Although at times lately I feel anxious of the difficult times that lie ahead, I know that by preparing myself I have a better chance of coming out the other end too.   I mean that both figuratively and literally.   I have this strange superstition that if you prepare for the worst then it doesn't happen.   Needless to say I have been busy preparing for the very worst in the hope that my superstition is correct.    But I have also been reflecting on the incredible blessings that I have been given in my life.    There are the practical ones such as I have always had a roof over my head, enough to eat in the cupboards, a car that may run rough but seems to keep on going like the ever-ready battery, and a few dollars to continue with my addiction to knitting and buying yarn.   But more importantly, I have been blessed with family and friends who I know genuinely love me, but more importantly actually like me too.    That has been my greatest gift in this life. 

As human beings we are by nature relational, but that doesn't always mean we have an easy time of it.   Some people have great difficulty with being in relationship, and often feel isolated and alone.   I have been very fortunate that I enjoy people, and have great fun meeting and engaging in new and old relationships.   For that I am thankful.   There can be no greater gift than to look back on a life filled with good friends, and family you enjoy.     Not always an easy feat.    |So this year I will prepare for a long and scary journey ahead, but I know that I will have the love, support, and help of many on that journey.   Now, if I can just work on how to ask for the help and support I need!!!!!!!  

I will begin, cleaning, and dog walking great fully accepted over the next few months.   Don't wait to be asked, just come by and visit and pick up a broom, a pot, or a leash and make yourself at home.   Much easier to do in writing than in person :)   

It is also a time to be thankful and to thank others.   So from my heart to your heart I thank each and everyone of my friends and family (you know who you are) and give thanks for each one of you everyday of my life.      My life has been blessed in more ways than I can count, and by that I mean the people who have entered my life, the ones who have left, and those who have chosen to stay.

Most of all I am thankful today for my daughter and my granddaughter......I am one of the happiest people in the world knowing that I had some part in bringing these two beautiful women into the world.......if I do nothing else in my life I have succeeded in my purpose and God's plan!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone......and be sure to count your blessings today!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The journey has begun.........

So we are on our way.   The journey into the world of medicine as a regular part of life has begun in earnest.     Yesterday I had the first of a couple of tests that will determine the course of the next few months.   I think I had forgot how overwhelming the whole process can be.    Not that I haven't been periodically having tests over the past few years, but in those instances I knew they were just precautionary and not leading to something else.   Or at least I was able to convince myself of such.

I began yesterday by going to a hospital that I wasn't familiar with.  Always a bit daunting, but fortunately I had the company of someone who was familiar with it moreso than me.    We parked, on the sixth floor, again noticing that the staff seemed to have the best spots closest to the main hospital.   Maybe I should drop a note to the hospital about them encouraging more of a 'participaction' attitude......they could walk each day to and from their cars for exercise.    On an aside, ever notice the people that park the closest to stores all have gym memberships!!!   Just saying :)

So we got into the hospital on the main floor, took the elevator up to the second floor, wound our way around the corridors to the reception area and signed in.   Receive a small map to direct us to the next spot, and realize it takes us all the way back to where we started. All this walking can't be easy for people who are sick.   A bit of an oxy moron guys !  This hospital is huge, and the area for the scan is about 9'x9' and that includes the sign in area.   So we are all squished together waiting our turn.    My friend and I notice a container of liquid sitting on the table.    Yellow liquid.   So of course we figure it must be someone's sample right?   No it is the wonderful drink they give you for the test. breakfast, and now I get to drink something that resembles PEE!!!!!   Off to a great start!  Well we finished there after a long wait and 5 minutes to do the test.   I have no complaints though because I have learnt years ago that it takes as long as it takes and the staff are usually very busy.....and they were very busy.     It is a little scary that so many people are ill and in need of such medical treatment.    Another reason to be thankful we live in this country.

Well, off we went and had a wonderful lunch at my cousin's which I wolfed it down because I was starving and the liquid had begun to harden  yet in my tummy.   Then home.   Now is when I realized the toll it takes on me.   I felt tired but decided to go to knitting.   My stomach was a little upset to no need for supper.  After that I took the dog to the park.   So about 5:30 I decided to lie down for a 'quick' nap.   Well at 11:45 pm I awoke!   Guess it took more out of me than I realized lol.

It is the emotional strain that always seems to surprise me.   I think in many ways that it is at a very unconscious level that I recognize the seriousness of this disease.    I was able to recognize that I slept for so long for a couple of reasons.   One, I was drained from the day at the hospital but two, it allowed me the ability to retreat from the real world and go to a place of peace.     When I woke, I was startled that it was late but I took advantage of the late hour to just be.   I took the dog for a walk around 1:00 am and enjoyed the silence and lack of people.   It was very relaxing and rejuvenating.   Then I read for a while and finally went back to sleep till about 6:30 a.m.   

Today, I feel great!    I am not tired.   The yukky stomach  after that 'yellow' drink is gone....I don't know how others feel but it always makes me feel like I have a cement block in my stomach for about 12 hours.    So, yesterday is over, I have slept enough for two people, and the sun is shining.     The journey has begun but for now there is nothing I can do so I will park the bus and get off until I need to drive to another appointment.

Happy Thanksgiving and this year I have much to be thankful for...........

Friday, October 3, 2014

Universal Medical Care.......God bless Canada!!!!!

I am trying to remind myself that I am lucky to live in a country that has universal medical.   I believe in our system and am the first one to defend it.   It is not perfect by any means, but it is better than a large part of the world and I am grateful.    The problem is as a human I want everything to be focused on me and only me, and our medical system does not do has thousands of others who want the same thing.

Before we can book a date for surgery there are tests that need to be done.    Therein is where the delay exists.    I am in a line of many others who are just as in need as myself and therefore we wait!
My first test is to be next Wednesday and then not again until the end of October.    Then I have to have an appointment to discuss the results of the tests that I am waiting to have.   So at this point  the bus is just circling in the parking lot waiting to know when to go.

I will sit and remind myself that in many parts of the world, the medical treatment I am receiving is not even available.   As humans we tend to become very insular and myopic and forget that we are a small part of a larger organism .      I know that I will receive excellent care.  M doctor is one of, if not the best, in his field and the hospital is top notch.   So, if I have to wait a bit it is not such a big deal.

Now, don't think that if I needed surgery immediately that I would have the same waiting period.   My experience in that area is very positive.   When one goes to the Emergency Department for an emergency the care is usually very good and very fast. I have been on the receiving end of such care and was very impressed.   Actually, when they rush you through the Emergency area it can be scary cause you know it is serious!  I am always surprised when I hear someone complain about the long wait they had at an Emergency department, after they waited days at home before going to have whatever ails them seen.   Being in pain, doesn't necessarily constitute an emergency!    Although, telling them you are not in pain, may delay your attention lol!    I often think of my daughter and how she responded to aches and pains.   I figured that if it hurt bad enough that she didn't want to do something she liked, it was probably serious.   If it didn't prevent her from doing things I figured it probably wasn't. That monitor usually worked pretty well...although sometimes it took a bit of time to figure it out!    One time she hurt her wrist playing with the dog.   She came to me and told me and so I put ice on it.    A few hours later, she was still sitting on the couch holding ice on her wrist.    That in itself wasn't the surprising part.  The fact that it was Friday night and she wasn't getting ready to  go somewhere was!!!!    I decided maybe this injury needed more than ice.
Off we went to Emerg and low and behold she had a broken wrist :0     Yes, I felt bad and she has never let me forget it.   Sort of like that negative experience we have all had at Emergency rooms that we continue to re-live.    

I know there are serious situations that arise at hospitals and terrible mistakes are made.   I have experienced such things too.    I don't dismiss these but I also realize that we do not live in a perfect world and human beings really do try to do their best.    Maybe I am  naïve or maybe just overly optimistic, but I choose to see the positive side and be grateful that I live in a country with universal medical coverage.    I wouldn't want to be an American citizen at the mercy of an insurance company on whether or not I could afford to have surgery and doesn't even enter into my field of vision.....I know that I will get help for my cancer regardless of my income level, amount of insurance, or employment status.   As a human being, I am entitled to decent medical care regardless of who I am or where I live and work.   That to me is a blessing......and it is at this time of my life one less thing to worry about.......God bless this country

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oldie in the system!

Just a quick post to say the journey has started.    Getting the phone calls about appointment arrangements and all which means the bus is being gassed up and idling waiting for the first trip to 'cancer town'.......yuk!

There is a funny note to it though.   I must be considered an 'oldie' as I am now getting messages with brief summaries of what they need to know.    My answers can be left on message machines too!
Pre-opt form hadn't been filled out so I got a call from hospital (I am familiar with the individual) and she listed off a whole bunch of maladies - diabetes, cardiac issues, pace maker , clips, dialysis etc, wanting to know if the answer is still no.     I had to laugh!    Guess I have been around long enough that this can be done over the phone.    Not that I mind, makes my life easier!

Waiting to see how the rest progresses.......MRI, CT Scans, blood tests, ECG all the necessary pre-cursors to the invasion of the body doctors.

Keep you posted :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interesting bit of information........Common Cold!

I have been complaining about having a nasty 'common' cold lately and a friend sent me this.    I will share the link here for anyone who is interested in reading about the possibilities of this common yet nasty virus maybe doing some good !

It is a very interesting article and in many ways makes sense.   The most interesting thing that I found was that every time I have had a recurrence I have also had a really bad cold about the same time .   I have always thought perhaps it is because my immunity is down and so I am more susceptible to the virus, but this puts a whole different light on things.   I am just 'talking out loud' now, because God knows I am not a scientist or even anything close to that, but maybe it was the virus kicking in trying to resolve the cancer.     Just saying!    I am always thinking about these things, as anyone who knows me  knows, so this spiked my interest. 

Who knows, stranger things have happened and we know so little about the way our immunity system really works.    This miracle we call a body has the ability to heal it self in so many ways, maybe we are looking outside when we should be looking inside.   I am always open to anything that might help eradicate this disease.     So, I post this link purely for informational purposes because I don't have a lot of information on the source.....but never hurts to think about!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oh a cold!

You would think that I could get a least for a few more weeks.   But no I have to be like every other person that lives in Canada at this time of year......and get a cold.   Yukky, ukky cold!   Survived the entire year without one and now that I want to have energy and get stuff done I am feeling horrible.    I have so many ideas that I want to do with my place, now that I know I have to have surgery.   Isn't it funny how you try to get things done just when you know you might be leaving?   

I liken it to a job.     While I was in a job, although I am quiet organized, things were never totally in order.   Then when I was going to leave the job, all of a sudden all those ideas that I had had for years come to fruition.    I think its so people think I am more 'organized' than I really am lol.

So I want to paint a couple of tables, finally frame and hang a picture I bought seven years ago, wash my carpet that I have been meaning to do since the dog destroyed my house last spring, oh and finish a couple of projects that I started knitting ages ago, and maybe sew up a few finished projects.   And what happens to prevent me from all this?  I get a nasty cold.

Well, here's to lying on the couch thinking of all the things I could have accomplished if this virus had not taken up residence in my body........Oh but I am going to the Jan Arden concert tonight.....only imminent death would keep me from that!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The journey begins.........AGAIN!

So the journey begins....again!   If you have read my very early writings you will understand that I have made the analogy of a bus trip.   I am the driver, and everyone else is a passenger.    I often have applied the 'no talking to the driver' rule.     That was a few years ago and whether I have mellowed, or maybe just aged and thus too tired to care, I don't feel such a need to control.  Not that I plan on letting anyone else drive, but I will probably allow more to sit closer and at times even right behind me.     I mean I didn't write my own eulogy remember :)

Some things have not changed though.   Yesterday was a difficult day for me on many levels but I got through it.    Exhausted but feeling glad that a plan is now in place......always like a plan.   So, for many today would probably have been a quiet day of relaxation and reflection.    Not me, I cooked!   You see when I am really stressed I love to cook.    My daughter always claimed that we 'eat the best' when Mom is stressed!     So I went grocery shopping, bought lots of vegetables and beans and set about making homemade chicken soup and my 'huge' extra large roasting pan full of chili.    It feeds about 22 people.     I have no idea who I am going to feed but chopping all those veggies and opening all those cans was certainly a way to work out my frustration.    The soup is on the stove and the chili is in the oven, so now I will sit back and reflect.

This journey, although long (13 years) has had many destinations along the way.     In the VERY beginning, the main destination was purely survival, any way possible.  Also, it was about 'beating this disease forever'.  I was at the mercy of the medical society and had nothing to contribute but my consent for whatever they suggested.   It worked well at the time and allowed me to live in a fog for long enough to gather strength, faith, and a sense of balance again.    I survived, believed in the doctors that where caring for me, and realized that cancer does not need to be a death sentence.       Living is about getting up every day and doing just that.   I got three years at this place!

The second time, was different.   The destination became a little more muddled.    I now realized that the disease was not going to just go away.   It was back and now I had to figure out what the reality of my life was going to be.    It was as if I was officially a member of the club now, where initially I was just dropping by for a short time.   Now it became about pushing the cancer back in order to extend my life long enough to continue filling the frames I had set for myself.     No longer was I to believe that I would 'beat' this disease, I just wanted to find a way of negotiating  with it to go away for awhile again.   So I became an active partner in my care.    What were we going to do and how were we going to reach this next destination?     So,  I researched more, listened more carefully, asked more questions, and came to a consensus with my doctors about how we would proceed.   It worked.....I got a reprieve for another three years before it raised it's ugly head again.

In 2010, they discovered another tumour.   Small but in a place where they had removed one in 2005.   So here we go again :(     Again, I had to figure out what was this particular part of the journey going to look like.   I knew it wasn't going away, I knew  that medically it was being characterized as chronic, so that left a whole lot of new questions.     Still being a partner, also being very well educated in how this disease progresses, I became more of the director of this destination.  I wanted to live a quality of life.     Length didn't seem as important.   Life was about living in the moment not hoping about what the future might bring.    So, this was how I approached my cancer.   I wasn't feeling sick, the cancer wasn't causing any problems, lets just watch it and see what happens and decide at some point down the road what we should do.   I did ask more questions, I did seek a second opinion, but I also trusted those around me who were the professionals that their understanding of this disease was also evolving on a more universal level.   And, so we waited and watched and hey I got four more years of no treatments, and lots of life.    And now we have come to the point in the journey where we need to make some decisions.

Well, I have decided, (note that 'I have decided') with the consultation of my oncologist that if he believes this tumour is operable then we should operate.    It was my call.    The other options were radiation and chemo but for now....lets just get that sucker out.    He agreed he would do the surgery and so that is where we are today.   Sometime in late October or early November I will have a very difficult and tough surgery.  God willing I will wake to fight another day.!

This journey has been very difficult and tiresome at times.   It has not been one that I would wish on anyone, nor if given the opportunity to rewind do I believe that it has any redeeming qualities that would make me want to do it over.   Cancer sucks, being sick and tired sucks....there are no blessings in those things.   I have had many blessings along the way but I am sure I would have had many on any journey I would have taken in life.    One of the other options that I seriously considered is not doing anything at all.   It was an option, and a tempting one.   It is hard to be sick for so many years, even if the physical symptoms are not so bad.   Spiritually and emotionally illness takes a toll on a person.     It is like always being aware of a shadow following you.     Constantly, turning around to make sure it doesn't overtake you.     In weak moments, almost feeling like running as fast as you can to get away.    I thought about just letting things progress but realized that so many would love to be in my place, that I owed it to myself and to my family to do what I can for a few more moments of life.     If it doesn't work, I am at peace.     Life has been very good to me and I have many many blessings, and I have done my job as a mother to sending my daughter off into life.........I have done well and have very few regrets.   

So climb on board, let me know how close you want to sit, and be prepared for a long and sometimes hairy drive, but know one thing, there will be lots of laughter and joy no matter what happens :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Final arrangements......and a lot of laughter!

Ok....funny but serious discussion with my daughter today.   We decided that it was appropriate that I discuss what I wanted for my funeral arrangements.   I had planned on doing it myself at the local funeral home but she thought it would be enough that she knew......but it also had to be written down.   Her idea was that then she would take this writing and give it to whomever with the words "this is my Mom's is the Holy Grail, if we do exactly as she instructs she won't strike us all dead"....funny girl!

So, I say "I already have written it down.  Its in a blue spiral copy book."    So off I go in search of this ....remember I moved a year ago so it took me awhile.   Especially since I was looking for something blue and it happened to be green.    But eventually voila!    I open it and show it to her.   It is written on two pages with writing going up and down the margins and in and out of paragraphs but its all there.    Not good enough!    Has to be redone and in some sort of order......remember she is just handing it over to whomever.    So I begin my rewrite.    Well as I rewrite I read what I had written.    Some of it was priceless.  I do have to do a little editing because it was done some time ago....friends come and friends go lol.....  There were scripture readings outlined both if I was to be nice....or if I was feeling a little be determined closer to the time lol !    And of course the music.....I guess that has been a subject for some time between the two of us because she reminds me of some music and knows the number on the disc.......The only thing I am leaving to chance is the Eulogy and that is because my daughter thought it would be tacky to have that written by me and ready to be read.   LOL   Oh well hopefully it will be done RIGHT :)

There was even a page of distribution of belongings......which my daughter thought was hilarious.....knowing how she tends to hoard stuff.....

So it was a serious situation, which got done and settled, but it was done with a lot of laughter and fun.   

I am so blessed to have an amazing daughter.....she and I know that this journey has been difficult and no one has been more of my champion than her.    She has walked every step of the way in the bad times and the good times.....we have shared laughter (lots of) and tears (a few) and we walk hand in hand......toward an unknown future.     God I am a lucky woman, mother and now grandmother!

A weird post after a long week!

I have promised myself I am going to write more often.   It is very cathartic for me and often I am able to express myself much more completely while writing than I am when meeting people face to face.   I don't really feel like writing but know that is usually when I should be doing it.

I can say that for the first time, at least since the last time, I am in pain.     Not excruciating pain, but that uncomfortable feeling one gets when you sit too long in a position.   A stiff, ache.    Then every once in awhile I move a certain way and I get a 'stitch' of pain that stops me.   Like the tumour is caught on something and I have to shake it loose.     I find this not only annoying but a little disconcerting.   I don't remember pain before.     I also notice that I seem to be favouring my right leg when I walk, especially up and down stairs so that can't be a good sign.     Hmmmmm....guess it is time to do something.

I have so many other things that I want to do in the next while, I can't figure out how I will possibly fit in anything else.....especially something as unattractive as surgery.   It will really put a wrench in my other plans.    That may sound funny, but in many ways that is how I see it.   This disease is serious but I find it very intrusive too.    Seems to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moments.  That does not mean for a moment that I don't take it all very seriously.   I think there are many people who think I am too cavalier about my cancer.    Not at all!   I am more than aware of how serious this is and what could ultimately happen.    I am not unaware of the fact that I could die.   As a matter of fact, that is something I think about a lot.    The only thing I refuse to do is go around as if there is a death knell ringing my ultimate demise.    When I am alone, I think of all kinds of morbid should I pre-arrange my funeral, what is going to happen to my animals, should I be cremated or buried.    Really important questions....only not really great coffee/knit clatch talk.   Also, many are quite uncomfortable with death chatter.   So, I enjoy my time with others, laugh and have fun, but often go home and think about my reality.

In some ways I am writing this because lately there have been a few people who seem to think that maybe I am not taking this  seriously enough.    Years ago when I had an accident and I had spinal cord damage, I had a similar situation.     I was very seriously hurt and needed a lot of care.   I was in physio for seven months learning to walk again and still have residual paralysis on my left side.   At the time the doctor felt that I wasn't taking my limitations seriously enough....he was worried that maybe I had not accepted my situation.     I had to tell him that 'oh I know what's going on, more so than even you do"   I just choose not to let it be what dictates my behaviour and moods when I am out in the world.    Why would I?    I love being with people, I love being out and about, what would be the point of being in a constant state of worry, sadness, when I am in situations that I love to be in.   I have lots of down time at home all by myself to do that.    I know this way of being makes some uncomfortable, so I just want to reassure them that I do have my sad moments, and I am taking all this very seriously.   I just don't want to be that person either, that everyone sees in the grocery store aisle and turns the other know the ones I mean....the ones you no longer ask "how are you".    The fact people still ask, I see as a good thing,....I must be giving the right answer lol :)

I didn't realize how much that was bothering me.    That last paragraph came out of somewhere very deep down.   I realize that my way of being scares people even more than the cancer.   If I am morose and sad, look sick and battered, then they too would know when they are look sick you are sick.    One thing I have learned about this horrible has a very good way of masking itself.    You look great and the world sees you as healthy, but inside it is eating you alive.    If we could tell people had cancer by the way they looked, it would be diagnosed so much more quickly.   The reality is that cancer doesn't give itself away until the 11th hour.....when you start to look like you aren't well it is already most probably too late.      I get this "you look great" all the time, and have to smile to myself.    Most times I just say thank you and move on but recently I did something I shouldn't have........Please read this smiling as that is how I am writing really is funny

There is a person that I see on a regular basis and although I have said hi she often doesn't acknowledge me.   That is fine, some people are shy and don't like to engage in idle chatter with strangers.....I have no problem.   So I stopped saying anything and we would pass each other without a word.    Then one day recently I was out walking the dog and she was passing by......out of the blue she said "you have lost weight, you look great"....I said thank you and then she said "have you been trying to"   (read she obviously thought I could lose a few pounds lol).....I stopped and smiled very nicely and said "actually no, I have been sick  lately with cancer".......(bad girl bad girl )   and the look on her face was hilarious....she tripped over herself and came right over and gave me a hug.     I felt terrible (only briefly) and thanked her and went inside.   I do not know what possessed me to do that but maybe it was a number of things.   Our obsession with weight, body image, diets, etc.   I believe that only in North American does skinny signify health....anywhere else in the world it would mean hunger and malnutrition.   

So as you see, I am not always the nice person.   I do have a dark side that periodically appears.    And it can be very just content yourselves with the fact that I choose to be pleasant and nice........and hope you never have to be on the receiving end of my not too often but not too  nice morbid sense of humour.   I really was trying to be funny but realized that she didn't think it must be that Irish blood that runs through my veins......very faintly but oh when it raises it's ugly head!!!!    

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blessings......for at least a moment!

Ok so am sitting in my trailer eating pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup ..... What could be better?

I realize this week that the way I see my life in many ways is a blessing ... I have a naturally optimistic outlook which not everyone has .   For some I think they can't understand me and how I live  with cancer .   The majority of time I do find my life quite amazing although privately I do have moments where I say "why me" .    It isn't often and I have difficulty showing that side to the world .   This week I have had the opportunity to see that although I may have problems ... I am able to enjoy most moments .   Some don't have that ... They have depression, extreme anxiety, or just a sadness they can't get relief from.   How awful that would be !

So as I begin my next part of this ongoing journey I am reminded that I have so much to be grateful for .... Quiet mornings drinking coffee by the bay watching the geese and cranes swim , fish jumping and smelling campfires is for me a vision of what heaven may be like .   Finally, looking into the face of my beautiful granddaughter I see heaven !

I am a very blessed woman despite the negatives ... It's all on what you focus :)

Note : this was written on Sunday September 6, 2014........since then life has raised it's ugly head again.......I hate cancer!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New struggles......

A new year......having worked in education my year always started in September.   I still have the 'new year' feeling every fall is a blank slate.    To me it is much more meaningful than the calendar New Year.    This was the time when I actually did try new things and ways of being and could see the results in my day to day.

It has been a number of years since I worked but still I get that new year feeling every September.   Nostalgia comes with the falling of the leaves and the school buses going by.   It's a great feeling and I love it still.    This fall though I find myself a little off kilter.   I find out in two weeks what my next journey entails, and to be perfectly honest I am not all that interested.   I find myself waffling between not caring and being terrified.     I am so tired of this whole trip......I just want to get off the roller coaster and crawl into my cave (read trailer) and forget the whole world.   I have this desperate desire to start all over again somewhere else.    It is very difficult to put into words.

I imagine it is not unusual to feel this way.     I feel very alone this time.   In many ways it is of my own making because I haven't really wanted to talk about it and have kept many of my closest friends at arms length.    I feel that if I could just get away from all that I am familiar with it would go away.   I also feel like a 'broken record'.   Someone said that to me recently and it was very refreshing to know that she actually got it.    It's like 'here we go again" and I figure who wants to know.    

When this all began so many years ago I had the strangest feeling that I would get to this point. I even wrote a brief essay about cancer stealing your will and your soul.   It's like my soul is tired.    I just don't have the energy to go through this again.   I feel like I have done my job, my purpose is complete and maybe its just time to go.    When this all started I had things to do.  I had a daughter to raise and plans.   Now my daughter is a beautiful self sufficient woman with a family of her own and I don't have any real plans.     Not that I don't want to see my granddaughter grow's just that it feels like my tasks have been completed and I can just fade away.

I am also terrified of not doing anything at the same time.    This feeling of giving up is scary.   I don't want to die....don't get me wrong.    But living seems to be such an up hill battle at the moment.   I know I am not literally dying at the moment......we are all dying from the minute of birth, but I feel like I have to work harder at the living part.   Feeling very sorry for myself obviously!!!!
That's ok I allow for pity parties every once in awhile !!!

So, September 17th the bus leaves the terminal.    I really don't feel like getting on it or driving it, but then we "can't always get what we want" (think that's a song lol) .    So, I will pick up the keys, wait for the 17th, do what I am expected do and keep going.     I just hope that people will put up with the 'new' journey woman....the one who this time is not too enthusiastic about the trip.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A shorter journey.......August 15, 2014

So haven't figured out how to access my blog on my IPhone so that I can write .... Therefore i will use my note pad for the time being .

Heading East .... As it usually does I feel like I am leaving all the negative stuff behind and moving towards Nirvana.   The mind, as I have said many times, is an incredible creation.   It allow the psychy to feel free if we allow it .   I plan on doing just that for the next two weeks .

We are stuffed into my old but faithful van... Baby . Dog and all the big people ... Plus numerous bags of who know what, most belonging to the smallest traveller on the trip lol !

My mechanic was not as optimistic of my vehicles potential but he did say that the difference between he and I is that "I have faith" ... And somehow I don't think he meant in the van !

So will keep you posted on this journey as well ... It's a nice aside from the journey to come .   Great way to put myself in the right frame of mind for what lies ahead .   The best reminder that I had this week which puts everything into perspective is :   In the end we are all dying ,   It's the living part we have to work at ......

Cheers :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm back...............

Well, it's been quite awhile since I wrote anything down.    Probably because it has been one of the most exciting positive times in my life and so I have just been living the moment !   Its like when you see something amazing "a deer grazing in your backyard" you have two choices:   run and get the camera to save the moment , or just stand there and enjoy the moment at the time.   I have been just standing and enjoying the moment:   my new granddaughter.     She is the most beautiful creature that God has created since He designed her mother.    There is no feeling like looking at another human being and knowing that you had a part in their  creation, even if it wasn't directly.   Something in your past has brought you to this moment, be it good or bad, this moment exists because you chose life!!!!   So, that is the reason for the lack of blogging.    I guess I am the type of person that when things are going well and I am content I just go with the flow and don't need to write.    Then stuff happens and I find myself back here.

This has always been a really positive way for me to express my thoughts and feelings.   I am not really good at bringing the focus onto myself when I have negative stuff going on.   I like to keep smiling and just pretend that the world is a wonderful place and all is well.   It is just my way.....I can't and in many ways don't want to change that.    I find that if I stay positive, even just on the outside, it helps to make me feel better for the time on the inside.

Well, as we all know all good things come to an end in life.   Life is not suppose to be this smooth sailing ship, it is suppose to be a time of ups and downs.    The ups allowing us to recognize the downs, and the downs allowing us to appreciate the ups.   I have been so far up lately, I have been in the clouds.    Now I have fallen back to earth.    The cancer has decided that it has been ignored long enough and wants attention.

Recently, I went to the hospital thinking my hernia was acting up again.   Remember, I had it FIXED
two years ago.   Well it burst open last fall but has been ok if I am smart about things.    I wasn't feeling good and decided I would do things differently this  time.  Instead of waiting till things were too far gone for simple solutions, I would go and get checked.     Well the hernia is not fine, but it wasn't the problem.    That damn tumour has grown a bit more quickly recently and is causing the trouble.   I must say, I was a little shocked.  I know it sounds funny that someone who has been dealing with this disease for so long would not necessarily figure out that might be the problem.   I really didn't though.    So, when the doctor at Emergency comes in to tell me that its not my hernia but the trumour I was like "SHIT really?".    I think he was expecting a different response lol.    So he decides that I need to see my oncologist immediately and that he will phone him in the morning and arrange an appointment.    In the meantime, he wonders if he should admit me!   I looked at him and said "I'm not going to die tonight, I don't need to stay.  I can call my oncologist tomorrow and get in".
He looks at me and says "yea ok, I guess you have been dealing with this long enough to know".   Still a little concerned I might not be able to arrange appointments, he gives me his cell number in case I run into obstacles reaching the doctor.   NOW that is a one of a kind doctor.    I was impressed and it isn't often I am impressed.   So off I go.

Next morning I get a call from my GP's office saying that she wants me in to discuss my CT scan.   I say OK daughter has an appointment in four days with the baby can I piggyback on that?   The secretary I think is a little surprised that I am not too concerned.    I wonder at times if maybe I am taking this thing to lightly, but then think, well no one has seemed to concerned until now and I have been living with it.   Well, the oncologist isn't quite as accommodating!!!!   He makes me come in right away!

So, the cancer needs to be dealt with.    And as usual I have plans that I really am not cancelling.   So we make a deal.....I can go on my trip East to introduce my granddaughter to my sisters and brother, and agree to see the doctor immediately upon return to schedule surgery etc.    DEAL!!!!!!!

Somehow this all seems very familiar.   If I recall, the initial diagnoses 13 years ago threatened to interfere with a trip down East.    Even then we were able to compromise and arrange to have chemo scheduled just before and after so I could go.   The moral of this story is very simple:   you can't control what happens in your life or when, but you sure can control whether you choose to continue living through it all.

So, I am back writing.   Probably will continue, and think I will have to dust the bus off and check the engine.   I know I will be driving it again, just not sure when I will turn the key and start to back it out of the garage.     This time too it might be parked an awful lot at the Bay while we wait for the need to drive it.      Calling all passenger that want to go on this crazy ride of my life......AGAIN!

P.S.  Last time everyone was so great, lots of support and food, just so you know will be more than happy to accept both again.......especially the food!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Living the moment :)

Four more weeks and my life with  change forever....AGAIN!   This time in a positive and wonderful way.  I will become a Grandmother....a whole new journey, a brand new chapter and one that I have absolutely no experience or knowledge of.   Usually, when that happens in life I would be anxious but this time is so different.   I am excited and looking forward to new horizons.  No anxiety at all.   Two reasons, firstly I don't have to go through labour, and secondly I take anti-anxiety medication.  

If nothing else cancer was able to get my anxiety under control.   Statistically, they say that 40% of cancer patients experience extreme anxiety at some point after kidding.   I believe that I always had anxiety just didn't know it...and then when I started having bad panic attacks was able to attribute it to my cancer so went seeking help.   Now I am calmer than I have ever been in my life.....mellow me, mellow yellow, hmmmmmmm life is good and so are drugs :)

I digress!    So last night I had some wonderful women friends over to celebrate my daughter's pregnancy.   It was so much fun and so much pregnancy/newborn wisdom in the room.   I, being older than them, am the first to become a grandparent......they are all hoping it will be some years before they experience it as most of their children are still teenagers :)   I got to know these women mainly because I was not working, had older children, and was therefore free to help them with baby sitting, driving around and other duties that were helpful to the raising of their children.    It made me realize how lucky I really am to still be here.    I never believed that I would share this moment with these women.   I didn't share the raising of my own daughter as she was babysitting age when we met and often was looking after their little ones.   Which was also funny because their children were a little stunned that S. was now having a baby of her own.   

I have shared a good part of my journey with them and they have been an incredible support.   Often I felt that I didn't have much to offer and so they would get me involved in their families and it made me feel much more purposeful, plus I got to watch a whole group of children grow up.   So, now I get to let them be part of a big event in my life.   As they came into the room last night it was fun to see their eyes light on my daughter and the smiles cross their faces....nothing like a large pregnant woman to make another woman smile.    It was like three different age groups had merged together in the light of a new baby.....something we all knew and shared no matter what the age difference.

I sit tonight reliving the celebration, laughing at the funny stories we shared of having babies.   The different birth stories, the pain we all endured, the joy we all remember immediately upon seeing our children.   I watched as my daughter took it all in, laughed with us and at some points looked like a deer caught in the headlights.    The silly antidotes that were shared for getting through the pain after, the nursing, the bottles, the diapers.   The new things that are out that we never had....or for that matter needed.   The old remedies for  colic, sore breasts, and other parts.    SO much wisdom in one room!!!!!

I am blessed that I am here to experience another chapter in my life.    I didn't even know what I would have missed, but I am so glad I didn't.   I feel more alive now that I have in awhile.   One things I know that this journey has given me is the knowledge to live each and every moment.   I have been doing that now for almost 14 years and I am so grateful.   Every event in my life has been a celebration and is imprinted on my brain to relive in the quiet moments like now.    Many live so much of their lives in the past or the future that they miss the simple, joyful moments in the here and now.   I am so glad that my life has been lived in the present moment and not wasted worrying about what has happened or what might happen.   Had I done that I would have spend the past 14 years wondering if I was going to live or die......instead I have been blessed to live every moment.

The next few weeks are going to be so exciting......knitting up a storm and waiting to meet my beautiful grandchild.......what more could a woman ask for !

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Beginnings :)

I have still not been able to get into the groove of writing often.  I don't know if it is I don't have anything to write, or that I have so much I don't know where to start.

I have had lots of good things going on in my life and I have been busy enjoying them.  I seem to be re-entering  my life again, and rejoining past groups and seeing older (read longer ) friends.  It feels good and makes me realize that my mind set must be in a better place.

Over the past year and a half I have been grieving losses.    And most recently, the loss of my dog Bilbo.   I got her about six months after my diagnoses and never believed that I would out live her.   Yet, as life normally does , it surprised me.   I had known since the summer that her time was limited because the spunk was just not there.   After my move in November she just went down hill quickly and so I made the difficult decision to let her go.  It was horrible!     I miss her so much and I found myself going into a depression.   I know there were other factors but this seemed to be the straw.   I was spending way too much time on my own and even not leaving my apartment for days on end.   There is something to be said for an animal at least getting you up and dressed.   I don`t think I realized how much time I spent with her and fulfilling her needs.   So the winter has been a long, cold and lonely one.   I have two cats but even they seemed to realize that something was amiss.   They were close to her so I think they noticed the void too.

Well, last week all that changed.   I got a new puppy!   It was a long prayerful decision and I know that it was the right one.   She is absolutely wonderful, even amidst all the training, nipping, crying, early morning, late night wakening.   She keeps me busy, my mind focused and my day full.   I have done more walking, bending, crouching, crawling, and jumping in the past week than I have in many months.  I think I am in better shape than I have ever been.   So, a new chapter begins.

And in about a month I will be welcoming my first grandchild.   So, life is good and moving forward and ``all seems well with the world``  .,

Interesting how important our pets can be in keeping us from sliding down that slippery slop of self doubt, self loathing.   I feel invigorated and energized at the same time exhausted!!!!!!   Can`t wait till the baby comes then I will be really tired lol!

So here`s hoping  maybe I will be more able to put word to page if even just to tell about the daily antics of my little Miss Maize.....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reflect, Rejuvinate, Reality

It's January 28, 2014 and I realize that I am not writing nearly as much as I would like.   A number of reasons come to mind, but none are really very good ones.    I know I am hesitant to write because I don't have many positive things to say.  I am not very good at putting down the negative side as I would like to think I am.   When my mind goes to places that I don't like, I tend to close down and isolate...even if it is a cyber isolation. (now that is a new term)!!!!!

I am so excited about the new things that will be coming my way this spring.   A baby!    My daughter's baby!    A grandchild!    It is still so unbelievable that I find myself stammering as I try to write it.....grandchild, grandchild, grandchild.     I should be only on the top of the world but then other realities come crashing in.   So many things out of my control, and yet very much just life interfering with my plans.    Financially, I have always struggled since I became sick, not that I was anywhere near flush when I was working.    It seems that so many things are just piling up.    I try so hard to be frugal but I like everyone else want things that make me feel like I am living in the 21st century.    I 'toggle' (for lack of a better term) between being satisfied with what I have, to wishing I had more.   I don't need anything, I am blessed in that way.    It just seems that I am constantly having to juggle every month to make ends meet.   Then something happens and it dumps me back a few steps and I realize that had I died I wouldn't have this particular problem.    Sounds ominous I know but initially everyone was patient and understanding but now its like ...OK you didn't die so we expect you to produce and contribute just like everyone else.   

My insurance company has been very supportive, but again they are a business.    So periodically, they think maybe I should consider going back to work.     There is absolutely nothing I would rather do than work full time.   I loved my job and it was my passion.    I tried numerous times but I couldn't do it.   Now I know that I will never work at my job again....took me a long time to get there!    Then we have the taxes.   You see my disability is really not a disability....its a wage replacement which means that it is taxable.    Never seems to figure that at the end of the year I haven't paid enough.    So I always seem to have a tax bill that I can't pay.     It has taken me 10 years to finally get a 'disability tax credit' and so I now have to re-do my taxes from 2003.   I am very happy that I finally was accepted, but now they are saying that unless I pay they are going to 'garnish' my disability!!!!!   What the hell.   We have Senators in Ottawa stealing our money and they are more concerned about going after me.    I find myself crying when I say about feeling powerless.    So, I have another fight on my hands.   Thankfully, I have the type of personality that even works over the phone.    The IR woman is very kind and is giving me more time to resolve the credit issue so that we will probably not have to pay anything in the end anyways.   But imagine 'garnishing' some one's disability......I am on CPP Disability....the Government has determined that I am not able to work....and yet the right hand is patting me on the back while the left hand is reaching into my purse.   It just boggles my mind!

So, I have been more honest about my situation than I have ever allowed myself to be.   I like everyone to think that I am just 'hunky dorey' (Maritime expression) and in total control of my life.   Well, I just don't have the energy to pretend any more......I think I am in a minor depression.   That's o.k. because according to the psychiatric manual that is one of the normal steps in grieving.   I have lost so much and yet I don't think I really admitted it to myself till now.    I lost my health, my job, my security, my father, my mother, and most recently my dog.    And yet in the midst of all this I am going to become a grandmother, God willing!!!    

Well, I guess that is what we call life.    It is a cycle of gains and losses and sometimes the losses out weight the gains and sometimes the reverse happens.   It just seems that recently, I keep losing something.  

I am looking after myself though.    I am reflecting, praying, and admitting perhaps its time to talk to someone.   So no worries, this post has been cathartic because it has taken the blanket off and allowed me to show that I too have hard times.....not something I like to admit but I am too tired to pretend anymore.   2014 is going to be the year of reflection, rejuvenation and reality.    It is only through these steps that my life will continue to grow and my being will heal and become stronger.   

I might even consider letting someone else drive the bus.........not yet though!   I have this vision of all of my friends running up the aisle to take the wheel cause they don't want to end up in the ditch.   My both hands are still steering it's just going to be a bit of a bumpy ride for the next while.