Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sense of adventure

When I go on vacation, I think it's important to pack a sense of adventure. As it turns out, I've needed it, even on this trip to Myrtle Beach.

Yesterday, Angie and I decided to go shopping. We left the hotel early, intending to catch the bus. Myrtle Beach has very limited bus service, but we'd researched the routes the night before and had a good idea of how to get to the Grand Costal Mall.

We knew the transfer station was a short distance from the hotel and it was a beautiful morning, so we decided to walk. At first, we went too far in one direction and had to double back to make our turn. Then we missed a slight veer in the road. That was our big mistake.

So we walked and walked and walked . . . without seeing a bus. We knew something was wrong but continued on our jaunt, laughing and talking. Eventually we came to a major corner and found a Target, Ross and TJ Maxx. Then we agreed we needed sustenance and had a delicious lunch at Chik-Fil-A. (Now I'd never eaten there and was thoroughly impressed by the service and food.)

After lunch, we checked Angie's Blackberry and discovered the location of the Walmart, and walked some more.

We never did quite make it to the mall, but we were very close and could see it from the Walmart parking lot. But we'd accomplished what we'd set out to do that morning. We both had new bathing suits, and we bought some groceries and beverages to enjoy from our balcony.

We did catch the bus back to the transfer station. We discovered we were less than half a block off course. The transfer station was across a little parking lot from where we walked in the morning. Oh, so close.

We returned to our hotel with sore legs and swollen feet. The rest of the afternoon involved the beach, books and beverages.

Angie and I both laughed because this kind of derailment happens to us. In fact, Angie recalled a trip she took where she was wandering around completely lost. (Okay, so maybe it's Angie's karma that puts us in those type of situations!)

Most importantly, we had fun, even though events didn't turn out exactly as planned. Our senses of adventure came in handy. We couldn't ask for anything more.

Of course, if we return to the mall, next time we're taking the bus.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hello from Myrtle Beach

It was a beautiful day - sunny and warm - in Myrtle Beach today. Angie and I arrived just before noon after an uneventful flight.

Okay so getting to the airport was a little eventful since the traffic was slow moving for a while and Angie kept creatively cursing its stop-and-go action. I didn't know if the amount of traffic was normal, how far it was to the airport or how many hoops we had to go through once we got there, so I was relatively unconcerned . . . until Angie started muttered at the traffic.

But we made it in time. In fact, we even had time to take a much-needed bathroom break before we got on the shuttle bus. If we hadn't stopped in at the McDonalds, I was afraid lifting my suitcase would have produced some soggy results.

Once at the airport and through the security checkpoint (where you have to take off your shoes), we easily found our gate and sat down to wait. We even had an hour to spare before the blue and white Delta airplane started its southeast journey. So we pulled out our books and clicked on our iPod shuffles to pleasantly while away the waiting time.

Our little room in Myrtle Beach has a fridge, microwave, full-sized coffee pot and little kitchen sink. While it isn't fancy, it gives us a place to relax and lay our heads. Our even smaller balcony looks out over the ocean and beach. It's triangular shaped, with the widest part being about seven feet long.

We walked and explored our section of Myrtle Beach this afternoon. Officially we're in Surfside Beach, which isn't fancy and is full of touristy shops. Apparently it's quieter too. But we're fine with that since we're not here to party, but to relax.

We searched for a burger place I'd read about on Travelocity and ate lunch on its patio. Then we hit the local Piggly Wiggly (yup that's the name of the grocery store) for a few supplies during our long trek back. By the time we returned to our hotel, my ankles were swollen and my feet were sore. Oh well.

Then Ang and I sat on the beach for about an hour and read our books. We sat in a little tent-like structure that's shaped like half a dome. Finally, the guy who cleans them up at the end of the day asked us to leave. He said, "So, you're going home on Thursday?"

Angie and I looked at him quizzically and said, "No, Saturday."

To which, he asked, "Are you the Hills?"

"Nope," we said. But we knew we shouldn't have been lounging there since he'd read the name on the side of the sun shelter.

We admitted our mistake and then asked about the shelter rentals. Then we asked the cost. I almost gasped when he said, "$30 a day. But we give you a discount if you rent for multiple days."

We started giggling when we got out of earshot. Yeah, we're not going to rent them, but thanks to the Hills, we lounged for an hour on the chairs in the protective little shelter.

A rainstorm hit Myrtle Beach this evening. We saw it coming in the distance. The wind picked up and then it was raining. We're watching it now as it heads out to sea, creating a fog-like mist. The thunder and lightening are creating quite a show. We're marvelling at how it smells like summer.

So hopefully, the rain will pass tonight so we can enjoy sunny days for the rest of the week. Tomorrow, maybe we'll do a little shopping, sit on the beach again (but not in the Hills' spot) and dine on some of the area's renowned seafood restaurants. Heck, we can do whatever we want. It's that kind of vacation. And it's exactly what Angie and I both need.


P.S. I love the fact that I can hear the sound of the waves hitting the beach as I write this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick update

I don't seem to have much to say these days. In a way, that's a good thing. I'm just living life and being a semi-normal person.

I also think I've lost a large part of my followers. Since it's been one year since my diagnosis and treatment (a year ago Saturday I had my first chemo treatment) I've been re-reading some of my earlier posts. Back then, it wasn't unusual to get five responses in a day. Now, I'm lucky if I get one. And several days I don't know if anyone is reading at all.

So, I guess I'll blog when I feel I have something to say. For today, I'll provide a brief update.

Naturopathic follow up
I saw the naturopath again on Friday. I told her I'd gone wheat-free for four weeks and cut back on my coffee. She seemed pleased that I'd cleansed my body. I do have to say that I felt absolutely no different living wheat free.

I experienced acupucture for the first time. She's trying to get my fat-burning systems turned back on again because it's really difficult to lose weight now. (Like I didn't have issues before.)

Celebratory trip
Tomorrow my sister and I fly to Myrtle Beach for five days of relaxation, book reading, swimming, walking on the beach and chillaxin'. She stood by me during all those chemo treatments, bringing snacks and keeping me company. Now we're doing something fun together to celebrate remission and her birthdays.

While we're there, we'll probably also try to run, which brings me to . . .

Run for Ovarian Cancer - May 16
If you're going to participate in this very worthwhile event as part of Team Tina and haven't signed up yet, please do so by Wednesday, April 28. We need to order the t-shirts (for those who weren't part of the team last year). We'd also like to get a sense of the size of the team.

If you can't make it that day, please feel free to support ovarian cancer research by sponsoring a member of the team.
(Then click on the running shoe.)

Next check up
As I mentioned last week, I felt off, experiencing stomach pains and cramping. I think I may have caught a minor bug, which churned through my system. Of course, given that my follow-up appointment is in three weeks, I'm sure my mind will be playing tricks on me - again. I'll do my best to stay positive.

Make the most of each day
Remember, it's up to you to determine how today is going to go. Even when obstacles are thrown in your path, you control your reactions. Make the most of today. It's all any of us can do.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stupid symptoms

I hate the symptoms of ovarian cancer. They're so innocuous, women can easily dismiss them - until the disease has grown out of control. That's what happened to me. And since I didn't notice the symptoms, I'm so afraid I'll miss them if (heaven forbid) there's a next time.

Women are urged to look for:

Vague but persistent gas, nausea, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea

We all experience these symptoms and they're so easy to brush off. I have a friend who often has gas and indigestion from food allergies. We can easy overlook these signs, saying I ate something funny, I had too many vegetables, I took vitamins on an empty stomach, I'm just a gassy person, etc.

Abdominal bloating, feeling of fullness, or pain

As a chunky monkey, my abdomen always feels bloated. Of course, that could be fat. I sometimes feel full. I regularly have pain. Does that mean my cancer is back? God, I hope not.

I had these symptoms before my last check up and everything was fine. But the problem is, if these symptoms become part of every day life, how will I know when they're different? Quite the dilemma.

Frequent or urgent urination

I drink A LOT, therefore I pee a lot. Even as I type this, I'm thinking I should make a trip to the bathroom. It's hard to determine how many times is too many.

Menstrual disorders, pain during intercourse

No more uterus and ovaries, no more menstration. And I've got so much scar tissue and various pains, that I don't know what is the new normal for me and what isn't.

Fatique, backaches

Who doesn't feel tired? So many women I know have various activities, children, difficulty sleeping, etc, they often feel tired. I often feel tired. I know when I was first diagnosed, I was exceptionally tired. But like the other symptoms, how do you know when it's an unusual tired? How do you know when it's your body spending too much time trying to fight disease that it has little leftover energy?

And my back hurt during cycling on Tuesday. My left side ached as I pushed myself to do the hill climbs. Does it mean anything?

Weight gain or loss

Well losing weight isn't my issue. Weight gravitates to me and makes it home on my abdomen, back, arms, butt - okay everywhere. That's a terrible indicator of cancer for me. Now, I was trying to lose weight before I got sick without success. The same thing is happening now. So what does that mean?

Abdominal distention

This is the one very obvious symptom I did notice, eventually. Of course, I originally passed it off as excess gas (and so did my family doc). But it takes quite a bit of fluid to distend my belly so it's noticable. By then, the cancer had spread into my abdominal cavity.

See what I mean. Reading all these symptoms raises all kinds of questions in my mind and makes me worried. These very indicators make me wonder if my ovarian cancer is back. But they're also so common in every day life that they're easy to attribute to other things.

But if you're a woman who's experienced any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, get yourself checked out. It's worth the time and effort.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Making a difference

"As a cancer survivor, do you now feel you have to achieve something extraordinary? Do you feel like you now have some greater purpose or goal you need to fulfill?"

The faciliator of my cancer survivor group asked that question on Monday night. It caused the group to pause and reflect on the answer. Some members seemed stumped by the questions, while others nodded their heads.

My first thought was, "What great achievement could I now accomplish? What beneficial act could I do to make a difference?"

Then I stopped and reminded myself that I'm making a difference simply by being alive, making memories with my friends and family, being a good mom to my kids and enjoying each day God's given me.

Sure, I'd like to write a book (and maybe I will). Yes, I'd love to make a big difference in the world through some benevolent act or discovery. But achieving those goals won't make my life more fulfilled or worthy.

Living each days is a recurring theme among the cancer survivors in our group. We all consider each day a gift and celebrate the small things in life.

I often reflect on the simple joys of life, like the sun shining, the birds singing, a small hand that slips into mine while strolling down the street, the peals of laughter from my children, the cold of my dog's nose as it nuzzles my hand, a warm muffin, a colourful bunch of flowers or the first sip of a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

But some days, I wonder if I'm living life to the fullest. I get grouchy. Sometimes I'm tired and short with others. Other times I'm depressed or worried. There are days when I don't do anything special. I go to work, make meals, communicate with teachers, go to the gym, watch some TV and go to bed. It's just an ordinary day.

But that's life - and I enjoy my life, in all it's mundance normalcy. Yet, the little things we do in everyday life can make a difference.

I share what my cancer journey has taught me, which may help, change or improve the outlook or experience of others. I raise funds for ovarian cancer research and that extra $1 may just be the one that creates a breakthrough discovery. I teach my son how to work through a difficult situation, which may give him the skills to be more successful in life. I give instruction to my daughter how to be a good friend or lend a listening ear to my husband as he vents about work.

I make a difference to someone every day. We all do. As humans, we're all interconnected and our lives do make a difference. We don't have to be or do something extraordinary to make an extraordinary difference.

I often write notes to my kids as I send them to school: Be the best you that you can be. That alone can make a difference in this world.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Illness and the survivor mind

I've discovered I can't feel ill without my mind automatically jumping to irrational and unfounded conclusions.

Yesterday, my stomach and abdomen hurt. It was almost like my PMS days when the cramps would make my stomach ache. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was that time of the month. But all those womanly parts were removed 10 months ago.

Does my body have a memory of all those monthly episodes and is still responding to what should be happening? Do my hormones still work in cycles and therefore, I'll continue to feel different sensations at different times of the month?

Or perhaps I consumed too many vitamins on an empty stomach and it lurched in protest. Perhaps I ate something that didn't agree with me. Maybe I have a minor virus. Heck, maybe I'm having sympathy pains for my mom as she recovers from her first chemo session.

Then again, the illogical part of my mind chimed in, maybe the cancer is back and those pains are from new tumours.

See what I mean. I can't even have a stomach aches without my mind conjuring up the worst case scenario.

I know I'm not going to feel well every day. That's impossible, even for the most healthy person. So I'm going to have to work through the doomsday voice in my head.

My stomach is better, but not perfect, today. I'm tired, but I don't think I'm alone in that state of being. As hard as it is some days, I have to believe I'm cancer-free. My positive attitude is very important.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Hello fellow survivors

On Monday night, I went to my first cancer survivor support group meeting. First of all, let me say, it's amazing for me to even say, "I am a survivor." It makes me feel all warm and happy inside. I hope I can continue to repeat those words for many, many years.

So I go to this meeting on Monday night at Wellspring with some trepidation at the unknown. I was also somewhat disappointed because my social worker, who led the last group, had to bow out of this one because of other commitments. Don't get me wrong, the leader is perfectly fine, but I don't have the same kinship and warm, fuzzy feeling as I do about my therapist.

About 12 very diverse people, who fought many forms of cancer, gathered for our first meeting. It didn't occur to me until I was driving to Wellspring that men may be part of the group. I guess I've been influenced by the BRCA support group, which of course, is all female.

To be honest, in the first half hour, as we were doing introductions, talking about ground rules and objectives of the meetings, I wasn't sure the group was for me. I'd wondered if I could simply disappear and never return. I didn't feel comfortable or part of the group.

But over the course of the evening, my perceptions changed. I realized I had a lot of the same feelings, fears and reasons to celebrate as the other survivors.

At the end of the night, when asked how we felt about the evening, I said, "I felt encouraged because I'd found people who could empathize and not just sympathize." I got several nods when I spoke those words.

And as a result of these fellow survivors, I feel less alone with my irrational thoughts and perceptions. I feel like we've all conquered an enemy and we can share our battle scars. We can all learn from one another, and discover where we differ and where we have similar experiences. That's a good thing.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Optimism and spring

"An optimist is the human personification of spring."
- Susan J. Bissonette, in Reader's Digest (1979)

This great quote came to me via a wisdom newsletter I receive every day. I found myself nodding when I read it, because that's exactly how I feel.

Most of the time, I'm an optimist, with a realistic bent. I know the world isn't all sunshine and tulips. But I have to admit, the warming sun and beautiful flowers during these spring days add a bounce to my step. The budding trees, greening grass, singing birds and blooming flowers all give me hope. They're signs of renewal and life.

Maybe that's why I only had one really difficult day this week. I was anxious and down on Monday, but I've turned a corner into optimism. While I thought about my mom all day yesterday and got regular updates from my sister's Blackberry, I've got good feelings about her treatment too. Not that it won't be difficult, but that she'll get through it and navigate her way back to good health (fingers crossed).

Luckily, spring is making its arrival a month early this year. That's fortunate, because I think everyone was ready. And after the lack of real summer last year, we're all feeling optimistic at the arrival of this season of renewal.

It's good to be alive.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Die cancer!

My mom gets some more help today with her cancer battle. Yes, she's a little nervous about her first chemo treatment, but I'm sure she's also glad today is here. No more anticipating what it'll be like. No more wondering what those nasty little cancer cells are doing in her body.

I always envisioned the chemotherapy provided a stealthy group of ninja fighters to my abdomen. They'd sneak up on the cancer cells, who were too busy trying to multiply to pay much attention, and then the battle would begin. Any pain or discomfort I experienced in my abdomen was due to the ninjas fighting and killing the cancer cells with their razor sharp swords.

Then I'd envision the cancer cells crying out in pain and shrivelling up. Die cancer die!

Some studies suggest guided imagery can actually help fight cancer. I know it helped me deal with the pain because it meant an agonizing death for those mutant cells.

While today and the next few days will be hard on mom, she's starting the journey. Each step is one towards the treatments being over. Each chemo provides the necessary toxic, cancer-killing juice. No more nervous anticipation, the bell rings and the battle begins.

So today, I'll think of my mom often. Go mom!

I also want to wish a happy birthday to my sister, Angie. She told me not to blog about her, so I didn't. But what kind of sister would I be if I didn't at least mention the anniversary of her birth in my blog. Happy birthday, ma belle soeur.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One year

One year ago today, a single phone call changed my life. Today is the anniversary of the day I found out I had cancer.

It was about 3 p.m. I was just gathering up my gym paraphenalia to run on the treadmill, when the phone rang. The whole world seemed to slow as my doctor delivered the news: Cancer cells were found in my pap smear (which in itself is rare). She initially believed it was uterine cancer, which has a very good survival rate. Of course, further tests revealed I had the far more serious ovarian cancer.

Regardless of type, I had the Big C.

I remember sitting in my cube, phone to my ear and the very scared, sinking feeling that came over me. The sounds around me faded away as I listened to my doctor and then they magnified. The air in my cube felt heavier, slowing my movements, squeezing my body and separating me from the rest of the world, which was continuing on, the same as always. It was my world that was shifting on its axis.

As I hung up, I didn't know what to do or who to tell. Then I picked up the phone and called Michael and then my sister, Angie. I rallied two of my biggest supporters.

They helped me through the next couple weeks as I underwent ultrasounds, chest x-rays, abdominal draining, an overnight in emergency, my first oncology appointment and my first chemotherapy treatment. What a whirlwind.

I'm amazed at how much my life changed in a year.

While yesterday was a terrible, depressing day for both Michael and me, I'm cautiously optimistic this morning. It may have something to do with the yellow tulips sitting on my desk (Michael brought me 30 beautiful blooms last night and there were enough for both home and my office).

Maybe I'm able to focus on how far I've come instead of the fact I had cancer, and that it may return. Maybe today is a turning point for me. I know anniversaries are really difficult for those with post traumatic stress disorder, so I expected difficulty. I didn't expect a lightening of my mood today, though. Hunh.

As my friends, Diane and Pete said on the weekend, today should be a celebration of winning the fight against cancer and the fact I'm still here. Easier said than done. But I'm trying.

So today, join me in mourning the cancer diagnosis and celebrating my victory over it. Hopefully, in the coming years, we'll be able to celebrate many, many more years of remission.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The beginning of a tough week

I know this week is going to be difficult. While I start it knowing that, I don't know if consciousness will make it easier. But it is what it is.

I received a great quote in my inbox this morning from Lisa Coffee and her Daily Wisdom email. Mark Twain sums up my thoughts perfectly:

"Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that are forever blowing through one's mind." - Mark Twain

A whirlwind of emotions are swirling in my mind. Even as I try not to dwell on it, subconsciously, I know my grey matter is trying to process it all. As I've discovered through working with my social worker, emotions and logic often don't connect. Therefore, we don't always respond rationally during emotionally charged situations. So you'll have to forgive me if I seem a bit irrational.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I had planned to be away this week and avoid it all together. Yet, fate conspired against that plan. So maybe I'm supposed to face it while at work. Maybe it's a test of some kind.

Then on Wednesday, my mom will get her first chemotherapy treatment. Yuck! I can't even express the negative emotions I have surrounding that event. I can't even be with her. I'll be stuck at work, thinking of her as I go about my duties.

Since I live in London, and she'll need a ride back and forth to Wallaceburg, it doesn't make sense for me to be the one who accompanies her to the cancer centre. While I'd be more than happy to be the snack-and-company girl, I don't know if I'll be called on to fulfil that roll.

To top it off, these stressful events are manifesting themselves into physical symptoms. Oh, the power of the mind. Yesterday, I started feeling (imagining?) some pain in my abdomen where the tumours used to reside. It's somewhat similar to the pain I experienced before my three-month appointment in February, when I was erroneously convinced the cancer was back.

My stomach is also very upset. I don't know if it's due to what I ate on the weekend, stress, gas or emotional turmoil. It started Saturday morning and has been bothering me on and off all weekend. It seems even worse this morning.

A few minutes ago, my right eye started to twitch, which happens when I'm stressed. Great! Just what I need.

While I'd like to curl up in a ball until about Saturday, life goes on. I have a bunch of meetings this week to talk about projects for work. I will continue to exercise and try to whip my sorry body into shape. I even start a cancer survivor workshop tonight.

But if I seem a bit off this week, you know why.

Again, I return to the mantra of one day at a time.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Born NOT to run

I hate running. Part of the reason may be that I'm terrible at it. When I run, I feel like an elephant. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

I'm not elegant and graceful, like some of the runners I see. One of my friends looks like an antelope when he runs. He practically glides, with long strides and graceful follow through. It looks effortless. When I see folks like that, I think to myself, yeah, I should run too.

But when I partake in the activity, it's a jarring, thudding, less-than-graceful exercise.

To top it off, my endurance dropped significantly during my 10-month hiatus. Before my diagnosis, I was training for a tri-triathalon. I could run 2.5 km without stopping (yes, I am well aware that is not far for real runners, but for me it was awesome) and without the ragged breath I now get when running for just a few minutes.

I ran on Tuesday. It was my first foray outside since last April. Up until then, I'd used the treadmill for my few attempts at running since December, which I find easier. I thought I'd start small - run 3 and walk 1.

I'm surprised cars didn't stop to make sure I was okay. After the first few three-minute runs, I was sweating profusely, I drew breath in gasps and I'm sure my face was screwed up in pain.

I'd forgotten my iPod so my music was my ragged breath and the thump, thump, thump of my shoes striking the sidewalk. I think I also kept tempo with the, "I hate running. I hate running. This really sucks. I hate running" ditty circling in my head.

Admittedly, I'm not built like a runner, nor will I ever be. I don't have a long, wirey frame. I'm built more like a linebacker - stocky, strong, with large muscles. Then I've also got the beautiful apple shape, since I carry my extra weight around my middle. I'm also fairly well enodowed, which adds extra resistence, so a good sports bra is essential.

But I try. Currently, I'm training (if you want to call it that) for the Run for Ovarian Cancer. It's in five and a half weeks and I suck at running. I guess I'll do my best. I'll probably end up running, walking and talking.

The most important part of the run is the fundraising. Every dollar raised supports a researcher in London who is working to find ways to detect and treat ovarian cancer. It's a cause near and dear to my heart (and other body parts).

Join me for the run on May 16. Or sponsor any member of Team Tina. London Life matches the donations the team raises, up to $6,000. That's amazing! Team Tina could contribute $12,000 to find ways to beat this horrific disease. We want to take advantage of this matching, so we need to raise the $6,000. Help us.

In the meantime, I'll continue to thump, thump, thump my way through training. Perhaps I'll change my running manta to, "we'll beat ovarian cancer."


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Sometimes I look in the mirror and marvel at how much I've aged in a year. It's been a tough one. My body, mind and emotions went through the ringer. Those types of experiences tend to age us mere mortals.

More wrinkles grace my face. Not only that, but my face is puffier than it was in the spring of 2009. Steroids, weight gain and eating whatever you crave can do that to a person. While I'm working on rectifying the situation, it's a long, uphill battle.

The silver strands sprinkled liberally throughout my hair also makes me think I look older. I know they existed last April, but I artfully covered them every five weeks or so. Some days I hate them, but most days I'm content with the grey. As one neighbour commented last week, it looks as though I've had my hair highlighted with silver. Sure, it's not the colour I would have chosen, but it could be worse.

One thing is certain, the short hair and lack of hair colour makes its daily styling so simple. I'm thankful to have hair after more than six months without. It returned thicker than ever. So I guess that's a bonus.

And while I've aged, with it I've gained wisdom and insight, which makes me a better person. Besides, getting older is far better than the alternative.

Here's to getting older, wiser and greyer, and earning more wrinkles - with lots of laughter and enjoyment along the way. After all, that's what life is all about.


Monday, April 5, 2010


It was a strange weekend for me emotionally. I went from feeling content and happy, to grumpy and withdrawn. I think I know why.

Easter weekend last year, I didn't feel well. I complained to my sister about my growing belly and how I looked six months pregnant. I talked to her about the benefits of probiotics and the early signs of irritable bowel syndrome, because that's what I was convinced I had. I didn't eat much and I was worried.

In hindsight, I had good reason to be worried - and for a far bigger reason than irritable bowel syndrome.

So, this past weekend was a reminder of a time before I knew I had cancer. A time before the craziness started. I was wistful, recalling life before cancer. Yet, I was also thankful I'm here to celebrate this year, this spring, this celebration, my family and my life.

On the way home from Easter dinner Saturday night, Michael kissed my hand and said, I'm glad you were here to celebrate with us. It's like he plucked the words right from my head.

While I was contently happy on Friday morning, anticipating the long weekend. By yesterday I was irrationally irritated. So I buried myself in a book and spent some time with myself.

Even though I don't have those woman parts any more, I think I still have cycles. Yesterday would have been a PMS day. Of course, it could also be the emotional roller coaster of menopause. Or it could be just the time of year.

I suspect April is going to be a hard month for me. I can feel myself get more and more stressed as I approach the anniversary of my diagnosis. I think it's going to be a difficult day because of the memories it'll evoke.

To top it off, mom starts her chemotherapy on April 14 (my sister's birthday). I'm sure the worry about her, contributes to my feelings of unease. She's a tough cookie and will get through it just fine, but it sucks.

Luckily, my sister and I will wrap the month up with a trip together. It's long overdue. We're heading to Myrtle Beach for four days of relaxing, walking on the beach, swimming in the pool, reading books, shopping, eating and enjoying beverages. There we'll belatedly celebrate her birthday and my remission.

While the next two weeks in April will be very difficult, I can anticipate the rainbow at the end of the storm.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Souper fundraiser

I spent last night chopping, sauteing, spicing, pouring and stirring. I made two giant pots of soup for a Team Tina fundraiser. My pots of soup were so big, I had to send poor Michael down to the basement to find a bigger pot. Then he was sent on a mission to borrow his sister's stock pot. But the efforts were well worth it.

An amazing group of friends made this souper fundraiser a success by selling tickets and then creating and/or serving soup, buying crackers, ordering extra bowls, cleaning up or talking up the event.

We had the most tantalizing array of soups from which to choose - sweet potato and coconut, chicken vegetable, butternut squash and apple, roasted cauliflower, Dutch meatball, spicy sausage and vegetable (affectionately known as pig in the garden) and even blueberry dessert soup, just to name a few. At times, the line up was out the door and down the hall from the meeting room we succonded for the event.

Of course, we held the event on the warmest day of the spring so far. There we stood, in a room full of steaming soup and eager consumers, wearing our rubber gloves and ladling up concoctions made with love. Throw in a few of my hot flashes and I was sweating buckets.

But it was all for a good cause. Team Tina is once again participating in the Run for Ovarian Cancer on May 16. All proceeds from this event support a local research team who works both in the lab and with ovarian cancer patients to develop new ways to detect and treat this silent stalker.

I visited the labs back in December and these dedicated researchers are working diligently so fewer women will die of this horrible disease. With earlier detection and better treatment, perhaps the future will allow doctors to find ovarian cancer earlier, treat it via less toxic methods and save more lives. Ideally, the total eradication of cancer would be the best discovery.

Team Tina sweated to contribute to ovarian cancer research today and raised $425 for the efforts. I'm so very proud and thankful to everyone who made the souper fundraiser a success.

Of course, this is a great time for me to encourage you to join Team Tina. I invite you to run or donate. Every dollar helps.