Thursday, December 6, 2018

Start the car!

Have you seen the IKEA commercial when the lady runs out yelling “start the car”?  It’s a catchy advert that I’ve jokingly used many times. Lately I literally want to start my car and drive with no particular destination in mind, but instead to just get far far away. However we all know you can’t run away from your problems, they always run with you if not faster. 

Battling and beating cancer once before in 2014/15, I felt I’d do the same upon my 2nd diagnosis in 2017/18 and it started out that way. I knew my treatment plan and accepted it but now 9 months post surgery find myself in a tough place. I’ve gently used the word depression in previous posts but know now I am absolutely struggling with depression. Had you asked me in June where I’d be today I’d have told you the complete opposite. I was a warrior princess kicking cancers ass and accepting my new reality. I may have been a little naive in what that reality really was. 

My hernias popped up mid recovery and things quickly changed. At first I thought I had just one and that it was small, but soon discovered via CT scan that in fact there were two. One in particular is very large and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it’s the size of a volleyball.  My surgery may have kept me alive and cancer free however it’s changed my body dramatically. My ostomy is the least of my concerns as I feel better with Winnie than without her, but when you add in the reconstruction and hernias it’s overwhelming. I’m not feeling like the woman I once was nor the woman I want to be and it’s a big struggle. I have things to do along this recovery road to get me there and it’s a lot to take in. 

I often struggle with cramping when Winnie does her thing and this could be a result of the hernia resting on or blocking my intestine. Obviously I don’t want to have the awful cramping pain so food then comes in to play. If I eat too much roughage I pay for it but it’s healthier. If I eat less or what’s considered less healthy I feel better. Like seriously?  Yet again I can’t get a break. No joke my spring mix may spoil so please come over and eat it!

I’ve been crying a lot lately to the point that my eyes hurt.  Over the past 3 months I’ve seen multiple doctors but felt discarded, so today when I met with my amazing oncologist I let it all out. When she walked in I was already emotional talking with a clerk I know quite well and welcomed her to the gong show.  Where’s the gong drum when you need it!  Y’all don’t need to know exactly what was said & what was done but just know it was intense and emotional .

I do have some positive news in that a January consult with a hernia surgeon has been booked.  I don’t know when I’ll have my final recon surgery but have filled out the admission papers so waiting on the call. I’m seeking therapy which I haven’t done up until now, not because I was embarrassed but because at the time didn’t need it. However now I do. Half the battle is to recognize so my eyes are wide open, and not just because they’re sore!

I don’t think an IKEA shopping spree will help but a nice set of nails, cute ostomy bag covers made by my aunt and possibly some wine could solve a few issues. Christmas with my family, texts about your crazy lives and snuggles with my deaf cat will have to do for now.  In true Carly fashion I will forge forward knowing it will be ok but man it sure ain’t an easy road, speed bumps ahead. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Choo choo

A locomotive goes 🎢choo choo🎢 and I’ve often thought of myself like a train. My way of choo-choo’ing is by remaining positive and by taking the wins when they come. However there are many railway tracks to travel and sometimes a derailment happens. I feel derailed right now.

I’m so darn angry and with that comes sadness.  If I’m being completely honest with myself and with you I’m an emotional wreck. I feel like I’ve been hit by a train, like my caboose stayed at one station while the rest of my train at another.  As a little girl I heard the tale about the “train that could” he just kept trying and eventually did. But for crying out loud I’m so sick of trying. If I was to draw myself as a cartoon train I’d be the long eyelash lipstick wearing train with tears in her big brown eyes. I just can’t stop crying tonight.

I’ve had f-ing cancer twice. It’s made me infertille. I have a colostomy. I’ve had parts rebuilt. I have hernias. I’m not ok. Throughout all my treatments I’ve lost a minimal amount of weight, I didn’t even get a revenge body FFS!  A breast cancer survivor qualifies for reconstruction so why the heck can’t I qualify for, or shall I say be approved for, a goddam tummy tuck. No I was not a skinny mini before this all started however my hernias have really done a number on me. I’m so goddam mad that my body has been through so much that I’m scared I’m now falling in to a depression. I’ve never felt so down. As much as I’m an advocate and the joy it brings me in doing so, it’s just not enough. Perhaps I’m just feeling things a bit more than usual tonight as yesterday marked 9 months since surgery, I honestly don’t know.

I want oh so much to be the survivor who does amazing things but any time I start to feel that way I feel like I’m getting slapped in the face over & over again. I sit here and think what can I do to resolve this but it’s just not that easy.  I’m in constant discomfort and pain and just can’t seem to unlock the path to help me be that survivor. I hate life after cancer, it’s so much harder than life during cancer which is crazy to say. I’m at the point that I feel I need strict rules and regulations to see any sort of solution because without them I just don’t know how I’ll overcome this hurdle.

For 4 years I’ve been trying my best to be positive and to look on the bright side, but if I had a towel right now I’d toss it in the ring. I won’t give up because it’s not in my DNA, however I understand struggle like never before. Every single one of us has a limit...seems I’ve just hit mine. I’m done being strong so maybe it’s time to be angry and vengeful...I really don’t know but I got to figure this out.

People are worse off...this too shall pass...others have been through worse, all things I tell myself when I’m in a dark spot. As much as it has helped in the past it just isn’t this time.  I’ve been through extreme agony and it’s ok to acknowledge it. I begged for mercy after chemo & radiation. I’m sick of begging for mercy which is where I find myself physically today. It’s now affecting my psyche which hasn’t really happened before.

I’m left with this thought. Trains can be repaired after derailment right?  So how can I get myself repaired physically and emotionally because goddam I hate this space I’m in.  In saying all this I know I’m strong, that I’m a fighter and that I’ll conduct my train in killer cute overalls with a bold red lip. Just sucks I’ve had so many accidents along the way.  Choo-frickin-hoo.

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ostomate and the City

Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte & Samantha are a cast of names you most likely know.  The TV show ‘Sex and the City’ first aired in 1998 when I was 23 years old and summed up in 2004. I didn’t watch it religiously straight away but later as I approached 30 I bought the DVD collection binging it for months. My late 20’s and early 30’s were spent living in Calgary as it was a booming young vibrant city in Canada at that time. My girlfriends and I were a lot like them although we didn’t wear Manolo Blahniks but we did hail yellow cabs!

I’ve been branching out on Instagram and YouTube with other cancer warriors and ostomates so decided I needed a fitting name. Most people I’ve discovered have the word ostomy, stoma or cancer in their handle and a name came to me after watching another feed. It just clicked...Ostomate and the City!  I haden’t thought of this show and it’s amaxing characters in quite some time but it just popped in to my thoughts.   How would these ladies handle being a 2 time cancer survivor and ostomate for life?  All I could think is that they’d own it. My YouTube and Instagram now carry this name. 

Latest happenings for me still involves waiting. I’m waiting to hear when I’ll have my final plastics surgery to smooth out the skin that replaced where my tumour once was. Still no word as to when my massive hernias will be surgically fixed and as a result of this fix my stoma will change. Fitting that just as I get Winnie stable I’ll have to go through all my bag fits and tricks to maintain bag longevity all over again. But honestly the changing stoma is the least of my worries as I’m so darn uncomfortable.  I’ve been going to the ostomy clinic on a weekly or bi-weekly basis since surgery nearly 9 months ago and my nurse now recommends I come in as needed.  I was elated to hear she felt I’m self sufficient enough and although I’ll miss seeing them on the regular, I walked out super happy.

I had a good cry on the phone with my brother that night even after such great news. Earlier that day I had a slight fall in the shower and once I settled in for the night my hernias were causing me a lot of pain. I took some pain pills and while changing in to my pjs saw my hernias in the mirror along with Winnie and my scar. I just started crying. Between the pain and the image I got rattled. I’m as upbeat as anyone can really be after so much pain and physical change, but it just all kinda sat on my shoulders at that moment looking in the mirror.  The next day I called my doctors office and was told the surgeons name whom I’ve been referred to for my hernias. Unfortunately I’m on a waiting list but I called and left a message saying I’m struggling and would like to be seen.  Maybe I’m being too calm and not really expressing to my doctors how bad I really feel. I’ve been in many worse medical situations that I probably hold my current state to a lower level. They’re huge. They need to go. 

Making acquaintances with others like me is really empowering and I’ve already had some great moments and feedback. Numerous people from all over the world have messaged me saying how they relate or how I’ve helped them. They too have helped me. Not one persons story is the exact same, however the end result oh so close.  Only those who live with cancer or an ostomy really comprehend so I need these people in my life to help me and my purpose. 

Carrie was a writer and this blog has now exceeded 99,000 views.  Vlogging is new to me and like to think she would have done the same had it been 2018. Miranda almost always single eventually settling down later in life which seems to be the way I’m headed. Charlotte always a great hostess and I love to entertain. Samantha survived breast cancer. Had she had vulvar cancer I jokingly say she probably would have ended her life ha ha ha.

From now on out I’m chanelling these 4 characters, or ladies, because they seem so real to me.  I need to think of what  they would wear, what would they say, what they would do a heck of a lot more. Although they’re fictional women they were strong and I related to them, still do.  Hopefully my name will relate to others and I’ll meet some more empowering women (and men) throughout  this next chapter. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Inspiration

Definition: 

a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation 

Or 

b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions 

My parents dear friend who’s beat cancer, perfect strangers messaging me on social media and an old coworkers father having colostomy surgery 20 days ago, lately I’m feeling inspired.  Inspired because they’ve shared with me some of their struggles and wins but also because they’ve come to me for comfort. I’m obviously not a doctor but when you go through illness only people whose journeys have been similar really get it.  I’ve learnt lessons from every person I’ve spoken with and seems I’m helping them learn too. This is why I continue to bring forth awareness by sharing. It’s way easier to just close the book and start a new story. But are our stories ever really over?  Not really, we just write a new chapter. 

A lot of you have told me I need to start vlogging, I heard you and have created a channel on YouTube. No posts as of yet as I’m trying to sort a few things out, but after checking out other channels have a pretty good idea of my approach. Just gonna shoot the πŸ’© with you. (Emoji seems fitting). No scripts, no graphics, just the moments thoughts...just gonna be me. I usually do better on the fly anyways avoiding overthinking and remain authentic. I’ll of course speak of cancer, ostomy life, hockey and probably some of my makeup favs too. So far it’s just under my name but if you have some creative name idea please shoot them my way. Carly’s Collage, CancerColostomyLife, Life with Winnie..,I really don’t have a clue as of yet  (those were on the fly FYI!). For those of you wondering...no I won’t stop writing. I love it, it’s my therapy.  Please subscribe below to help me build my followers & have some fun with me.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkc1uQm3RlXS5iG5FQxahQA

This week I have a lot going on. Two of those things are seeing my plastic surgeon and attending an Ostomy social/meeting for 20-50 year olds. Plastics will involve hearing how my healing is going and how it’ll end. Last we spoke I’ll need one more surgery but it’s no where near as extensive as before. From all accounts I’ve heard the social is quite empowering. Keynote speakers like surgeons, ostomates themselves and who knows what else. No doubt each social will be different and I look forward to meeting some great people in my own city. I’ve met some great ones thus far and can’t wait to ad more people to my ostomy squad!

Still no word as to my umbilical hernia repair or who the doctor will be. I manage as they aren’t painful but huge and in the way.  Because of their size I’m very uncomfortable and can’t get in to my jeans but you know how much I love dresses so still have style. When surgery does come about I’ve been told by my Ostomy nurses that my stoma will change. This means I’ll have to start over with new fits and routines. I just started going steady with Coloplast bag 16757 but looks like Winnie gets a new bag to date and wear her cute outfits for! 

The greatest compliment I continue to hear is how upbeat and happy I’ve been and continue to be. Just yesterday 2 young women currently going though a similar journey messaged me. I was so honoured they came across my posts and felt they could share and ask me for advice. That’s exactly why I continue to write, post on Instagram and soon to vlog.  It’s so easy to pack our suitcase and fly off with a one way ticket. I’m more a return ticket kind of gal and inspiration is my gas. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch 



Monday, October 1, 2018

Seasons

West Coast living sees many seasons. We had a great start of warm weather in May which led us in to a spectacular summer.  Just last week the sun was shining and a debate to go to the beach or not was upon me.  Fall is now in full swing with multicoloured tree leaves, the rain pounding the pavement with sounds of raindrops falling down my window. 

My life is similar to the weather...sometimes I spring forward and other times I fall back. I’m nearing 8 months since my surgery that ridded me of my cancer for a second time and of course the beginning  of my life with Winnie. I’ve had some bright sunny days and some gloomy stormy ones too. I follow a lot of other ostomates on social media and see that no forecast is the same, that I’m not alone and that big picture I’m doing pretty good. 

My massive hernias are like a hurricane that touched down, made its damage and takes time to recover from. Still have no date for repair but my doctor has submitted my referral and I’m hoping a call comes sooner than later.  I’m starting to exercise in the only way permitted but one I love, the pool.  I attended my first deep water Aqua Fit class last week and did surprisingly well. My right arm was sore the next day from pushing the water side to side, up and down. Hernias did fine. Winnie did great, she loves the water just as much as I do.

My ostomy nurse has told me that my stoma will change post hernia surgery so yet again I’ll have to find my perfect bag fit. I’ve been fairly consistent of late with Coloplast bag 16757 (sounds like a jail number lol) but my skin around my stoma struggles. I have a more innie stoma than most other ostomates with outties. So this means my stool doesn’t fall down in to its bag but instead stays up falling slowly. I’m very self aware and pat it down as needed but it irritates my skin even with all the tricks my nurse has taught me. Lately I’m sore and when I remove the bag to clean and apply a new one I’ve got blood from cracked skin. You can’t just not put anything back on so regular changes are on my radar. I’m lucky though that I don’t have many leaks which I know is a huge struggle for lots of ostomates.

I still like to stay home more than not and find myself cooking a lot more than I used to. Living alone there’s always 1-2 friends over as taste testers and I like that.  You’ll often find me in PJs or lounge wear as it’s just way more comfortable.  When you have hernias like I do wearing tights really gives its name a run for its money! πŸ˜† I go to my friends birthdays but I’m usually the first to leave.  It’s all about balance really and the days that I push myself too much I pay for.  One all day fun day usually means double the time to recover. 

Where I’m at in recovery right now isn’t a bad place. I’m in the middle. I’m able to go to hockey games (wink to my loved ones with tickets) but the next day I just take it easy. Simple. Choose my battles. I’m going out dancing for a friends birthday this Friday but won’t be doing any leg kicks!  One big win is that the reintroduction of veggies seems good so far. I still need to avoid roughage to some degree but all around doing pretty good. I see my plastic surgeon in a couple weeks but still have some healing from where my tumour was, and most likely a small surgery to finish where the skin flap was attached. I need to avoid stress when I can because Winnie seems to act up if I don’t. 

My adorable 17 year old ginger cat Simba continues to thrive although his hearing is gone and he’s skinny from his thyroid condition.  He meows for wet food to the point of frustration on my part but he knows I’ll cave!  I find it funny how vocal he is when he can’t hear himself ... ha ha ha!  He does feel vibrations like the door slamming shut and I can’t imagine going through all this without him. Pets are such comfort and he always knows when I need him most. He’s laying beside me right now as I compose this entry. My sweet little Sim. 🐱 

Like a change of a season or of the weather Winnie and I continue to forge our path. I’m so grateful for what independence and strength she’s brought in to my life.  Hopefully by this time next year I’ll be done falling and sprung back with even more purpose and vengeance.  Stay warm if you're in for a cold fall and winter season and remember a cute scarf always gives your outfit that extra light!

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Challenge

I woke up yesterday and must have had some sort of empowering dream, as I had an incredible urge to make my bed. This may sound silly so let me explain. I RARELY make my bed. I’ve heard many times that making your bed each morning helps you get a good start to your day.  Add in some breakfast and it’s like you’re a superhero ready to tackle the world!  I’m pretty good at eating cereal every monrjng, but the making of the bed is a big fail. This must be why I’m not a superhero lol 

With this urge then came forth the thought to challenge myself in small to large ways. Making my bed is not physically difficult, (although I do have a king size bed so it takes a few rips around to tuck ‘er in good), but nonetheless easily accomplished. So how can I use this idea to help myself moving forward.  This recovery has shown me many speed bumps in what I can and cannot do and it’s become very frustrating.  

I just celebrated my 43rd birthday and it also marked Winnie being 6 months old. In general Winnie is doing great, ask me about the 43 part and that’s a different story. I never imagined I’d be a 2 time cancer survivor living with an ostomy but it’s my vibe, my jam, my journey. I’m very accepting of it all and think that’s the only reason I’ve remained positive along the way. I attended a support group for Ostomates a couple months back and listened to others stories. I held back tears as one gent explained how he just can’t accept his fate and how he hates it. I just wanted to give him a hug. If we hated things about ourselves be it an ostomy pouch, our freckles, hair...whatever, how sad would we always be?  Clearly his situation is more complicated than a bad hair cut, but dwelling can take you down such a slippery slope. As much as I, he, we hate situations or things it can always be worse and find myself telling me that every single day. 

Had I just had the colostomy surgery I’d probably be doing a lot better by now, my biggest road block is the reconstruction from where my tumour was and these annoying hernias that are constantly in my way. The one hernia is so big and hard it makes it difficult to move be it walking or just rolling out of bed. The reconstruction has left me with uncomfortable sitting, bleeding and pain. I meet with my doctors in September and October to hear next steps. From what we spoke of last time I’ll need a surgery to fix the skin flap. What this surgery will be exactly is TBA, but I can’t wait to not hurt when I sit. I can’t wait to not bleed from too much friction in the area. If they fix the hernias at the same time I’m not sure, I just want my previous belly roll back. Like who says that! πŸ˜† 

This summer I’ve been doing as much as I can physically, usually just chilling at the beach because that takes no effort and I have an amazing chair!  I attended my friends wedding and even got in an inflatable kayak. That kayak was so comfy I could have slept in it!  I guess I’ve been challenging myself longer than I realized now that I’m thinking about it, so does that mean I don’t have to sort the large pile of clothes on my floor?  That’s a hard no, keep challenging Carly and hang up those clothes!

 XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Control

The top definition per Google of the word control is as follows: the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events. I feel a lack of control on a daily basis and just wanna scream! But after reading this definition maybe I need to tweek my thoughts a little differently.  

First off I’m lucky to be alive and do as much as I can to feel alive. I’m out socially in environments that fit my stage of recovery, I mail simple birthday cards to stay connected with others, I show up on time to doctor appointments and I take care of my 17 year old cat. These are things I CAN control. 

What I CAN’T control are these 2 darn hernias that apply constant pressure on my stomach.  I can’t control my sore back which is now compensating for these hernias. I can’t control skin irritation & bleeding to my stoma from a bag that my skin seemed to be allergic to. I can’t do any heavy lifting, no real physical activity is yet to be allowed. And worst of all, I CAN’T control how soon a surgery that will take them away will come. Harriette (hernias nickname) is driving me 🍌 bananas 🍌 and I hear Gwen Stefani singing it each time I think it. If you don’t know the song just google or iTunes it. 🎢 B-A-N-A-N-A-S 🎢

The healing process is different. That’s more of a frustration. Like last week while out for a lovely dinner for my aunt & uncles birthdays. I made it to the end of dinner but couldn’t stay more than that. The chairs were just not my pal. Lovely chairs but too hard for me at this time. I’ll take a selfie with this chair when I conquer it next year ha ha ha. I was sad tho. My dad drove me home and I shed some tears. Why couldn’t I make it thru. Why did I have to miss the speeches of some of the most amazing people in my life. He was awesome at handling this moment & reminded me I’m doing great. I’ve come a long way as I approach the 5 month mark, and he’s 100% right, but it’s still so frustrating not to have control. I did however control my dress which seemed to be a hit. I bought an inexpensive oversized blue & white polka dot long sleeved dress from H&M. Then took it to a tailor to sinch the waist & make it short sleeved. A Winnie friendly & stylishoutfit was born. A tailor should be everyone’s bff!

I can’t watch videos of cancer people hanging from a rock with one arm saying how strong they are post cancer. I also call bullshit!  Most of us who undergo cancer don’t bounce back quickly, nor are we the same, but we do have a better understanding and appreciation of life.  No cancer is the same & I’m glad they won, I just think it’s portraying cancer in a wrong way as a whole. And maybe I’m just jealous if I’m being honest. I want so much to do more and just can’t. However it won’t be forever and what I do now is what counts in the now.

Now let’s conclude by interpreting that definition slightly different. Here I am writing my version which could be called influence as I share with you my struggle and my reality. Guess I just had control of your attention to read this blog, my course of eventswhich is amazing and I thank you πŸ™ 

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

❌⭕️❌⭕️

C

Start the car!

Have you seen the IKEA commercial when the lady runs out yelling “start the car”?  It’s a catchy advert that I’ve jokingly used many times. ...