Thursday, April 30, 2009

My sister, my friend

Angie and I grew up in the country, with a creek in our backyard and acres of land to roam. We swam for hours in the creek, climbed the trees in the orchard next door and rode our bikes for hours down the dead-end gravel road. What our "neighbourhood" didn't have were lots of other kids. So I played with Angie - or no one.

Over the years, we went our separate ways, attending different universities, living in different cities, carving out our own niches in life. Despite distance, husbands, kids (we have five between the two of us) and careers, we've always kept in touch. Or in touch as our busy lives allowed.

When the doctor phoned with the cancer diagnosis, I told Angie second (after Michael). And like the amazing sister she is, she's stepped up to the plate to battle by my side. Despite living 1-1/2 hours away, she's come to emergency, my first oncologist appointment, my chemo treatment and just to visit (and paint my toes). She brushes aside my pronouncements she doesn't have to be present for everything or make the trip to London as often. She rolls her eyes and tells me she'll see me again soon.

She's a steady rock in this storm - I think for both me and Michael. She has the medical knowledge to help calm my fears, she's my notetaker and extra set of ears during appointments, she asks the questions that flit out of my head when I'm talking to the health care professionals.

Through this terrible ordeal, I know I'm going to gain an even deeper relationship with Angie. She's not only my sister, she's one of my best friends.

I'm a lucky woman.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I woke up this morning determined today would be better than yesterday. Maybe I needed a "I feel sorry for myself because I feel like crap day" and I took it. I guess I have that right.

Actually, everyone has the right to have a day when you're just a little bit selfish. We all have to take care of ourselves because life is what you make it. It's not going to wait until you're finished that project, you or your kids reach a milestone or until you get to that next vacation. It's here and now. Find something to enjoy and be thankful for every day.

So stop right now and think about something good in your life. Something that makes you smile. I remember before my diagnosis, after a really good workout when I felt strong, I'd feel thankful for my fitness. I've never been thin, but I've been fit. I'd tell myself to remember that good, healthy feeling as I aged, because I'd inevitably feel more aches and pains. I'm now thankful that I was diligent about working out because it's going to come in handy during the coming months.

To recapture a sense of well-being, I walked for an hour this morning with my dog, Ginger. We went over 6.5 km through the streets of the neighbourhood. I felt the cool wind on my face, watched the activity in the neighbourhood, admired the spring flowers and anticipated the continuation of nice weather. After the jaunt, I feel almost "normal" - although that's going to be a relative term in my near future. But I feel better and that's important.

I also had a nice visit this morning with Jodi, my friend from work. She dropped by with smile, some engaging stories and a card from all my supportive friends at London Life. Thanks guys, your comments and good wishes made me smile.

I know I keep saying how lucky I am, but that's how I feel. I'm thankful for the visitors, emails, phone calls, cards, flowers and care packages that make their way to me. I'm truly blessed.

And so are you. Think of at least one reason why you're lucky today and be thankful for it. Take the time to do something you enjoy and let go of the "rat race" mentality that can consume us all for at least five minutes. You'll be better off for it.

Smile because the sun is shining.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The weather is fitting

The rain and my mood match perfectly today. I don't feel brave or strong today - and I hate it. I know it's completely unrealistic to expect myself to be positive all the time because that's impossible. I'm a human being. But I've always had high expectations of myself. Perhaps I need to be a little kinder.

I had a great day yesterday. I got to enjoy the outdoors and some great company (my sister). By late afternoon however, I was tired. The stabbing pains in my legs came back. But I took some medication for the pain and to help me sleep, and I dosed almost peacefully for about 9 hours - something I haven't been able to do lately.

I was looking forward to having a lazy day to lounge on the couch, read and rest, but Noah had a rough start to the school day so he's now home with me and I am playing teacher too. I'll try to balance the roles. I think we get to study science!

My purpose for this blog is to update people and, in some small way, get my feelings out - regardless of what they may be. There will be good days and bad days, and there will be cheerful, strong, humerous blogs and scared, sad, tired blogs. Hopefully, in the long run, the good days/blogs outnumber the bad.

I thank you for taking this journey with me, wherever it goes.


Monday, April 27, 2009


You hear the diagnosis of cancer almost every day. Unfortunately, it's not an uncommon disease. But I never thought I'd hear it in relation to me. It still seems surreal - even as the chemotherapy courses through my body. I was healthy. I was working out regularly, I was training for a tri-triathalon, I could swim a mile in 45 minutes, I was even running! I'm only 42!

Why me? I could ponder possible reasons - bad genes, fate, too much stress, too much partying in my youth (but who didn't?). None of them will answer the question as to why I'm fighting this battle.

I guess I'm lucky that I am strong. Day two post chemo was far tougher than the first. The noxious chemicals that are killing the cancer cells are wreaking havoc on some of my internal systems, including my stomach. I'm also experiencing the muscle pains the nurses warned me about (like someone is sticking pins in my legs). Too bad they aren't the growing pains that kids get when they're growing too fast. I think it's a bit too late to figure on a growth spurt. Of course, there's the tiredness.

But Michael and I took a nice long walk yesterday evening. The weather is beautiful and I'm determined to enjoy it. Summer is my favourite season.

I know it's only been a little over one week, but I miss work. I miss the people, the business, the sense of purpose. I know my purpose is to get well now, but it's still hard to adjust.

I appreciate everyone who is staying in touch via this blog, email, Facebook, phone and visiting. I feel a little more connected.

Have a great Monday,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's a beautiful day

You hear it all the time - it's a great day to be alive. Having cancer puts that all into perspective. It is a great day to be alive and be thankful for the gorgous weather. Bonus - it's a Saturday to boot!

It's day one post chemo and I'm surprised at how good I feel. The treatment went well for the most part. I had a reaction to one of the chemo drugs (I get two pumped into me along with saline to flush and Benadryl to prevent allergic reactions). My primary chemo nurse yesterday warned me that if I felt any different at any time that I was to tell one of the nurses and that a whole team would come to help. She wasn't kidding. When I commented my mid back hurt a little (I thought it was from playing cards), FOUR nurses rushed to my bedside. Then I had a burning sensation my mid chest. They stopped the chemo, pumped Benadryl into my system, which made my ears burn, my vision blur and I got really sleepy. Because it didn't alleviate the burning in my chest, they all added hydrocortisone. Once the symptoms were gone, they slowly titrated the chemo back in to start and then gave me the rest of the dose at full speed.

The second drug went in with no generated excitment.

I guess they're now going to add the hydrocortisone to my next round of chemo to prevent the onslaught of nurses during the treatment.

Overall, I'm in good spirits. I was really tired last night. I feel slightly tired today. As my wise husband said this morning, we have no schedule, so sleep when you're tired and eat when you're hungry. My stomach feels different but not too bad (I was expecting nausea and vomitting but they give you LOTS of drugs before, during and after to prevent nausea). I have a funny taste in my mouth, which I was warned about. Apparently, I could get a metallic taste and I won't enjoy the same foods. Heaven forbid that chocolate become one of them! And I'm suppose to get muscle aches for which they've given me pain killers. For someone who didn't take a lot of medication, I have a whole basket full!

Thanks to everyone for your postings to my blogs, your emails and your good thoughts. I appreciate them all and feel strengthed and blessed. You never know how great a team you've gathered around you until it's put to a test. You guys all pass with flying colours.

Lots of love,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Short and sassy

Tonight was the big haircut. I figure if I'm going to lose my hair anyway, I may as well be proactive. So in preparation for my first chemo appointment tomorrow, I had my hair cut really, really short.

While I like my hair short and I've worn it that way many, many times in my life, the snipping was a reality check for me. It was the first voluntary action I've taken in response to my cancer diagnosis. Sure, I've had all kinds of medical tests and procedures done TO me, but I chose this. So as my hair was falling on the floor, my stomach was dropping.

Don't get my wrong. I like the short do. I think it looks pretty good. But I liked my long hair. I wouldn't have cut it if it weren't going to fall out. But it is. And instead of looking like someone's Uncle Wilbur who lives in the trailer park and loves comb-overs, I got it cut. (No offense to anyone who has an Uncle Wilbur.) I don't think I could buy enough Draino to unclog the drain if I started losing my hair in the shower. And I think that process of watching the long strands circle down the drain would have been far more tramatic.

The literature says one of my chemo drugs will cause ALL my hair to fall out in two to three weeks. So, I'm short and sassy - at least for now.

I've been tired the last couple of days. Stress? My body trying to fight the cancer naturally? I don't know.

Tonight I got to quaff my first five anti-nausea pills. And I get to take five more at 2:30 a.m. (with food of course because everyone loves to eat in the middle of the night). I've been warned that these meds are a stimulant so I may be pacing the halls, surfing the net or creating another blog in the wee hours. But maybe I'll sleep on the big chair as I get my six hours of chemo tomorrow. If these pills keep the nausea at bay, I'm all for the strange schedule.

So keep my in your thoughts on Friday as you enjoy the warm weather, wrap up the end of the work week and start your weekend plans. I'm happy I'm going to be taking action to beat this thing.

I welcome emails, phone calls or comments on my blog. It reminds me of the great support team I have pulling for me.

With lots of love,

P.S. I'll try to update my photo with my new hair on the weekend (when I figure out how to do it - techno geek that I'm NOT!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


And for those of you who have been following my ever growing belly...It was drained yesterday afternoon. They managed to get at least 4 litres drained. I lost 10 lbs. (I wouldn't recommend it as a quick weight loss method though).

I feel much better and can eat, sleep and breathe easier.


The beginning of the journey

This is my very first blog - ever! But I figured this is easier than keeping track of all the email addresses and missing someone. I may have the strength and energy to do that at this minute but who knows about later.

First, I'd like to thank you all for the outpouring of love, good wishes, support and offers of help. I'm a little overwhelmed by it all, but it also makes me feel very good. I have an amazing group of friends and family in my life and I'm very, very blessed. So thank you.

Now on to the update. I have ovarian cancer, which has spread to the fatty lining in my abdomen (omentum for you technical folks). But my ovaries aren't too swollen and it doesn't seem to have spread to my lymph nodes. Instead of waiting weeks for surgery, (which could be anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks) I'm going to start on a couple of rounds of chemo, then do surgery and then have chemo again. Clinical trials determined there's no difference in success rate between the two approaches. I'd rather start chemo now so that I'm fighting the dastardly little cancer cells as quickly as possible. My first round of treatment is Friday.

With this chemotherapy, it's a 6 hour treatment every three weeks. I WILL lose my hair after the first treatment. So remember me with my long, flowing locks because they'll be gone as of Thursday night (I'm getting my hair cut short so I don't have really big clumps to deal with). And don't be surprised to see the hairless wonder when you come to visit. C'est la vie.

The surgery is going to be very invasive - a total hysterectomy and removal of the fatty tissue in my abdomen - maybe I'll finally get rid of that fat that never seems to go away regardless of how hard I work out! ;) Maybe I'll just ask for a tummy tuck while they're in there.

It's going to be a tough, long, tiring journey. But I'm ready. I can do this. I'm strong, young and hopeful. If you pray, keep me in your prayers. If not, send good karma my way. I can use all the help I can get.

I will welcome visitors when I'm not puking or too tired. Don't worry, I will not try to play hostess. I'm good with words and can tell you where to find your own drinks. Ignore my house if it's messy. Ignore my messy hair (oh, wait, I won't have any).

Love you all.