Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry merry

Christmas is my favourite time of year.  Not for the presents or even the great food, but for the feel & vibe all around you. Everyone is just nicer. People say hello in elevators instead of staring at the buttons lighting up floor after floor, the grocery clerks wish you happy holidays and ugly sweaters become fashion statements. 

Last Christmas I was struggling post surgery and was admitted to hospital days later with a terrible infection. My stay at VGH was close to 2 weeks having me ring in 2015 in my hospital room. The morphine drip had me asleep way before midnight but I remember dreaming of next year hoping it would all be over. Last night as sat at the dinner table that dream had come true. 

When life is uncertain and on the line, we really learn to appreciate it and want more of it. But as health improves and your life comes back it's so easy to forget. Of course we don't want to live in fear or in the past, but maybe we can just "smell the roses" a little bit more.  As I took pictures of my family last night I was grateful. Grateful to still be alive, grateful my family wasn't mourning me and grateful for each of them. 

2016 is just days away....where has 2015 gone?  This is one year I'm fine to say flew by too quickly, but really it has. I have some great goals and aspirations for 2016, none of them easy, but all of them exciting.  

I've never been one to make concrete resolutions, but for 2016 I want to value life as it deserves and be a better friend and person. Let's not wait for next Christmas to get together or to pick up the phone, but do it now while we're able. Sure we're all busy with kids, work, knee surgeries, cats....whatever, but don't wait if you don't have to as another year will soon fly by finding us right back here. 

Wishing you all a fabulous & merry 2016!

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All clear!

The saying "time heals all wounds" sure has a lot of meaning in my life. My poor body has been through so much, but hearing my MRI results are clear showing no sign of reoccurrence sure makes me smile!

I was supposed to go in to the Cancer Agency today, but instead had my appointment moved to next week as I've come down with a nasty flu virus. Last thing I want is to pass germs to a sick cancer patient so asked my doctor please call me with my MRI results.  Seeing the Cancer Agency come up on my caller ID I took a deep breath and said hello. At first Dr Lee thought she woke me up but my congestion makes me sound like a cross between Farrah Fawcett and Freddy Kruger!  

The MRI shows no sign of reoccurrence and the area is stable.  Great news!  I'm always a little cautious with these results because I never got the margins like we wanted. When any tumour is extracted the doctors like to cut around it creating margins. These margins increase your odds of success to not have the cancer spread or reoccur.  Had they gone for the margins with me, I would have had a huge surgery involving plastics, colostomy bag and more.  The doctors always said they could operate again if necessary but they could never reverse any outcome. I'm so very glad and thankful they took this approach.  

I've been getting lots of comments lately about this blog. Some of you wondering why I'm not writing as much and even some of you wondering if I'll make a book. So I got to thinking about what I love about this blog and what I think I can do with it. My first step is to give it another name. I think it's time to just call this my journey and not my cancer journey.  I'd never change a thing which is a crazy statement for a terrible time in my life, but I want to carry on calling myself a survivor rather than a patient.  I was texting with a BFF today and told her without so many people in my corner sending positive thoughts, I don't think I'd been as lucky beating cancer. I truly believe this. I truly thank you. All of you. 

This blog has been one of the best things to happen to me so why should I stop now?  Just because my cancer is laying low doesn't mean my writing has to!  I have lots of exciting moments coming my way with fitness, school, dating and more. So as long as you want to hear my silly stories I'm willing to share them with you. I still have a ways to go but excited....no pumped.....at what my future holds!

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Surgiversary

Thought I'd make up a new word to mark 1 year ago today, when Big Kahuna was no more. The word is surgiversary. For any new readers or perhaps a refresher for my groupies, I named my tumour Big Kahuna upon diagnosis. It was a life changing surgery physically & emotionally but resulted with me later becoming cancer-free. As Donald Trump would say it was a "huuuugggeee" moment. 

It was a hard recovery resulting with an infection and 38 hyperbaric oxygen treatments but it was all necessary. I was scared back then that men would run away hearing my battle. Who would want to date me vs that other girl who was "normal". I still haven't met my future husband by any means, but have dabbled with dating & think I'll be just fine. 

I had my MRI just over 2 weeks ago but have yet to hear the results. My monthly check up at the Cancer Agency is this Wednesday so will hear then. Fingers crossed all is still fine but if for any reason bad news comes about, I'll take it in stride. When I had the MRI the technician said my images were clear, so gives me faith my doctors will have a good grasp on things. 

Seems each scan, or specifically each dye injection, has left it's mark with me. The radioactive dye illuminates my pelvis allowing for proper imaging. 5 days post MRI, my vein & arm area where the injection was(near elbow) were swollen and red. I had to go to the ER as I was in quite a bit of discomfort & no doubt needed a doctors opinion. Glad I went in as I was told it could have become a blot clot or an even more serious infection. I picked up my prescription that night & improved over 4 days. Phew!  If you go to my blog online you'll see a photo in my slideshow. 

Dad had knee surgery 2 days ago and is home recovering like a champ. He's done really well and was up walking the next day. Bionic man is on the move!  As always Mom is taking the reins and earning more points for whatever comes her way. She's got lots of points!!!!

I won a contest with Save On Foods & the Canucks, so my friend & I attended (along with other winners) a Canucks private practice. I've been a fan since I was 5 years old & dad taught me to yell "booooo" at the refs so this kind of thing is exciting for me. We even got a photo with our mascot Finn!

I'll be sure to write Wednesday before 11pm so you get this in real time. I wish the email would go out once I write but it has an 11pm deadline & I often write thereafter. 

Lots of love your way this holiday season. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Saturday, November 21, 2015

You hear that?

Have you ever taken the time to close your eyes and just listen?  It really is quite interesting to hear what you think you see, it often being a different result. This is my strategy for my scans be it CT, PET or like today an MRI. 

I'm not fond of going for scans and doubt other patients are either, but since my first scan in July of 2014 I told myself to escape. I'm already stressed with diagnosis and treatment so why stare at the machine, stress out in numerous ways and possibly get poor images?  I started to listen and stopped looking. Instead of hearing the annoying loud noises I make them something else, I imagine. 

Once my head hits the uncomfortable hospital pillow my eyes shut and my imagination switch is on. The rotating noise becomes African drums. The banging noises makes me invision a construction zone (with cute workers of course). The buzzing makes me see hundreds of birds flying in a crazy pattern in a blue sky. The noises change often and so does what I see. Today even brought forth a scene from the movie 'Alien' with Sigourney Weaver. The sound I was hearing made me think of evacuation alarms on her ship. 

Pending my results return in good form, I'll continue with monthly physical checkups and scans every 3 months. This got me to thinking. Why does cancer make me hear?  Why can't I close my eyes and see what I hear every day? 

Just imagine. Just listen. I will.  

#carly2conquercancer

C



Friday, November 13, 2015

Remember

It's been a while since I last wrote. There's no big story as to why but if I really think about it, it's because my life is coming back piece by piece. I no longer have daily updates about appointments or surgeries but instead find myself doing things that are "normal". 

The 11th marked my eighth month since being told I was cancer free, I've submitted my application for enrollment in school next fall and now have strength to get back in to the swing of life again.  The things or changes I'll have to cope with for the rest of my life are just becoming regular to me vs a set back. 

Coping is a crazy thing.  I learned how to cope with being told I had cancer, I learned how to cope with the pain treating it and now have a decent grasp on how to cope with the new me.  I now understand my new limits be it with travel, food or body strength. I still have bad days but know how to cope and move forward. I control my environments and have trained myself with routine.  Joint swelling and fatigue seem to be my biggest hurdles but I'll take those any day over everything else I've been through. 

I've had a few moments where I almost feel guilty for taking the day like any other. When you're sick you learn to appreciate life and all you want is to still live it.  I don't want to forget those feelings so have to do things to make me remember. As soon as I can volunteer I will (have to be 1 year cancer free) and if I get accepted to my schooling I'll be able to give back that way as well. I must and will have purpose from this. 

The program I've applied to is called 'Health Unit Coordinator' and is through Kwantlen Polytecnic University.  Short version is I'd be the clerical support for patients and doctors, being the face of the hospital or clinic where I'd work. The ladies at the Cancer Agency inspired me to enroll as they were truly amazing throughout my journey.  One day I asked them how they got to where they are and they pointed me in the right direction. Fingers crossed I get accepted!  I guess this means back to school clothing, cute binders and pens and pencils will be needed right?  LOL

My next MRI is scheduled for Nov 20th and like any scan, it's a big one. I'm not scared to go like I have been in the past, but with time can come relapse so just keeping the faith that another clear scan will come about. All I want & can think about is to continue to move forward with my aspirations and goals.

Funny how I never called life a journey before I was diagnosed and now it's the only way I look at it. I find myself a more patient and understanding human who just wants to live and have a good time throughout the beautiful journey.  May we all remember and may we all thrive. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Never have I ever...

Have you ever played or heard of the game called 'Never have I ever...'?  It usually comes about in a group setting sitting around someone's table most likely after a couple cocktails. People have to say something they've truly never done.  "Never have I ever jumped out of a plane" true fact. But my most recent is "never have I ever walked in to the Cancer Agency feeling confident". 

As of Wednesday I can no longer say that. I walked in to the Cancer Agency for my monthly check up feeling good, no nerves, no real concerns and no mom holding my hand(silly for a grown woman to say but she's been my rock). I had a friend visiting me the previous night so she came along curious with it all. Usually I'd sit in the waiting room twiddling my thumbs, thinking of possible scenarios but instead found myself reminiscing. Telling her stories of other visits & lessons learned and not needing comfort before my name was called. 

The doctor was pleased with my progress. She sees no obvious signs of cancer, no tumour like tissue and pending my November MRI, thinks all looks good. She reminded me that imaging hasn't always been a good resource for me. Had we solely relied on scan images I would have had the colostomy by now. Imaging is still very important but more to see if cancer comes back in the same area or somewhere else. 

At this stage of recovery I find my body and mind becoming one again. "Never have I ever felt this good in close to 2 years". I've still got lots of work ahead of me to get to where I need to be, but seeing it, feeling it, tasting it, sure is special.  I still conquer  with the mentality of one day at a time, but back to looking at life as a big picture. I see my future and starting to make it a reality. 

A friend of mine watches the sunset almost every night and there are some great places in Tsawwassen and Ladner to observe. "Never have I ever REALLY taken the time to watch a sunset". This week I'll go to one of these spots, watch the sunset and then say "never have I ever seen something so beautiful"

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thanksgiving

Growing up I always enjoyed Thanksgiving, but don't think I ever understood it like I should have. Family got together, said a few words at the table, ate delicious food and had some fun. I would have said I was more of a Christmas girl.  I found it odd that Americans made a bigger deal of Thanksgiving than they did Christmas. Bigger parades, bigger dinners, but after this past year I get it!

This time last year I was quite ill. I'd just finished chemotherapy and radiation with surgery close behind. It was baseball playoffs and dad and I watched every game seeing Kansas City make their way to the finals. We'd moved the couch such a way so I could lay down to watch the games, dad sitting in his chair alongside me. Kansas City ended up losing the World Series but brought forth a special time for dad & I during a terrible time in our lives. I'll never forget it nor will he. 

Tonight's table sat my parents, my brothers (Jayson is more like a brother so let's just say that), my sister-in-law and my 4 nieces and nephews. Dad made a lovely speech in the wake of all going on in Syria. There are so many people without homes, without food, without their families and here we sit. Our daily struggles seem and are so minor in comparison. There was no talk of cancer and I was happy with that. 

As my recovery continues, I'm happy to see my family getting their normal lives back again. The kids telling stories of school & sports, my parents getting set to embark on holiday and my brothers pushing my buttons like they always have!  As I listened to these stories a moment of reflection came about. Cancer almost took these amazing people away from me...how thankful am I to be sitting here today. 

My monthly check up is Wednesday with my next MRI coming in November (I get them every 3 months). Wednesday will be the first time I head to the Cancer Agency not feeling scared to be looked over. I truly believe I'm OK and will remain OK. Maybe I'm naive to think I'll continue to live a cancer free life, but it's the only way to think.  As positive as I've tried to be throughout this battle, I've always prepared myself for the worst. Maybe thinking this way was a wall I kept up so I didn't let myself or anyone else down, but the wall has been lifted.  I don't want to feel like I'm letting my guard down but grabbing ahold of life again is bringing me such happiness.  

Cancer took a lot away from me but it's also given a lot to me.  I would never have thought to write a blog. I would never have met some amazing and now important people in my life. I would never have felt so much love.  I would never have thought to return to school & change my career. I would never have found a better version of me. 

I hope you found your blessings this Thanksgiving. We all have them, sometimes they're just a little harder to find. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C



Thursday, September 24, 2015

New...I see you there!

Newness has started to show itself to me or maybe I'm just willing to accept it and my eyes are open. Anyone that wants to join me in this next phase of my journey please do, as I feel it's going to be spectacular.  I must admit I AM PUMPED!  Right now I'm smiling ear to ear as it's been a great day with new things. New signs of the new me. 

When I moved to Tsawwassen in January it was 100% a family decision. My apartment is maybe 500 yards (I didn't measure but I'm guessing) to my folks house. My amazing parents have been by my side since day 1 of my life & day 1 of cancer. Now we're neighbours and that's a new change as we haven't been this close in location since I moved out in 1998! The thinking behind this was that I was close if I needed help, yet still had my own space as I got better. If I'm being honest having mom's home cooking on a semi-regular basis was a total yummy win!  I've also got cool Auntie Shelly 5 floors up and her closest aunt duties have happened and have been appreciated. 

Just as I was getting ready to hit the sheets I remembered I had some mail. Last time I opened mail late in the night I cried, so was hoping for a better result this time. Envelope is from The City of Delta which is where I recently applied for Recreation Pass assistance due to being on disability/low income. I held it, sat down on my bed & opened it. APPROVED!  I jumped in excitement & gave my cat a hug he clearly didn't appreciate!  This is a huge step for my recovery. My body wants to move & now I have the means to attend classes as often I like at no cost. I like to think grandma heard my call for help and worked some magic from above. I'm still going back & forth with MSP so having this win comes at the right time. Runners ✔️ Workout pants ✔️ Cute Addidas runners ✔️ So so t-shirts ✔️  Hair able to go in a ponytail ❌ 4 outta 5 ain't bad...time to get moving!

I've also met some new friends in my community which is exciting. Bike rides, dinners, a few cocktails, movies...whatever. Just nice having more folks close in age and with similar interests nearby to chill with.  No offence to mom & dad as they're hip, they just aren't new!

A huge thank you for reading my blog.  I've exceeded 34,000 views which is amazing!  Love all the support just wish I'd get more comments LOL  I do get your texts and emails which is fine too. Lots of love!

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Emmy Goes To....

I've always been a sucker for award shows and watched The Emmy's Sunday night. The Emmy's, The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Grammy's...I'm always watching. Maybe it's to see the latest trends in fashion or to hear the good and bad speeches, but mostly I think I watch to dream.  I'm a sucker for the rags to ritches story or the girl discovered at the subway, they get me every time!  I always joke that if I ever won a prestigious award I'd say it was in honour of the German-English-Scottish girls out there!!  I'd thank my cabbage patch doll for letting me change her name multiple times and ask stationnary company's to print my name on pencils and pens like the Sarah's and Nicole's of this world. 

I sort of feel like I go to the award shows all the time. Trying to cover up the real me and smile for others to see. To get compliments instead of sympathy, to feel special, trying to be normal. Crazy thing is that everyone has a struggle no matter what their status.  Cancer, depression, arthritis, a peanut allergy....we all have something so why must we cover it up?  Those who show their struggles often help someone along the way and probably feel better too. Owning these struggles doesn't make us weak it makes us warriors. 

This past weekend I was with my closest girl friends celebrating our 40ths as a group. It was an eye opener for me as my struggles were more apparent than I thought. The fact that I can't eat or drink during a long car ride, the horror of eating out, my energy levels not quite the same and struggling to find common ground. I listen to stories of babies and husbands but when it's my turn to speak, my life revolves around cancer and crohns.  Some days I am that warrior I speak of and other days just a wounded soldier still looking for a new base. 

I look forward to the days of getting dressed up for an award show because you know you're going to win. You aren't just a spectator you are the winner holding the statue. But nobody wins overnight. The rags to ritches and subway girl are rare so instead tell myself to keep working. The more I learn to own these things, the sooner I'll hold a trophy in my hands.  My trophy won't be an Emmy but instead a new healthy life and way better topics of conversation!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Late Night

I seem to write my best blogs late at night. Right now it's 1:30am and nothing but quiet surrounds me. Only noise I hear is Simbas tail wagging & hitting the hardwood floor. Why he chooses to sleep on the floor vs other Simba friendly spaces I don't know...but whatever!  I hear no neighbours, no cars, no doors slamming. All I hear is myself reading this aloud as I write it. I am my best audience.

My monthly check-up went well this past Wednesday. Dr sees no signs of concern even after I explained the sensitivity in my groin. This feeling could be from more movement or it's just going to feel that way going forward, but a huge relief as I was a bit worried. I still have a 2cm alien however as long as it doesn't grow it's causing no harm. We aren't even sure if it's cancer. With my PET and MRI scans being every 3 months, if this alien does grow we will catch it in time & deal with it accordingly. But so far so good so time to keep on moving!

Since day 1 I told myself I'd try my best to dress well and/or have good hair 'n makeup. There were days my face was so green no foundation could help, but in general I did my best. I did this for me. I was home all day looking sick so wanted to look decent when going out. If I was going to a treatment or to the grocery store darn right I dolled myself up a bit. A lot of times I was wearing oversized baggy sweats, but my face & hair looked fierce!  Anyone who is sick needs an escape and this is mine. The glares and stares people give you get old so masquing the illness makes its better. Just because you're sick, doesn't mean you have to look the part too!

After my check-up was over I was waiting on mom to head home, and sat down beside a young woman. She had on a cool felt grey hat so I complimented her on it. She loved that I complimented her hat and soon was showing me her cute bald head and telling me more about her journey and how she's doing. Compliments are a thing we often take for granted or misjudge. I challenge you to see how 1 compliment can make you or someone else happy. Own the moment. Right as I was saying goodbye, the woman complimented my necklace. I said thanks and to take care, both of us with smiles on our faces continuing on with our days. It was a great moment.

Hopefully over the next week I get a recreation pass organized with The City of Delta. There are so many great activities offered at my local community centre. Aquafit, Yoga, spin and more. My body is telling me it's ready to move again so I gotta listen. These outings will however be makeup free as the last thing a girl needs is mascara running down her face.  But if I'm being totally honest I'll probably wear lipstick!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Handbags

Going through cancer is like switching a handbag, some days you're clutch and other days you're oversized.  Some bags are colourful and cheery and others black and dreary. But the one thing I really relate to a handbag, is the switch. The moment when you change your bag but forget to swap all the items. How did I not swap the Kleenex, the small brush and even a pen?  Here I was thinking I was cleaning out the bag but really I missed what was in it. 

I just celebrated another milestone reaching 180 days cancer free. With such happiness also comes many feelings, thoughts, goals and ongoing struggles. Some days I feel like I'm holding that cute black and white clutch but suddenly I'm carrying a black bucket bag, everything buried deep inside. Why can't I control these things?  How can I fix these things?  These are 2 questions I ask myself almost everyday. There really is no answer. I keep telling myself the good ol' slogan "time heals all wounds" but I don't know how much time and that bothers me. I want structure and I'm not getting it.  It's time to create it!

My monthly check-up is this Wednesday afternoon at the Cancer Agency. Lately I've felt change in my groin where lymph nodes were removed. It causes me concern but must remember the recent MRI showed no sign of cancer so I'm hoping what I feel is skin healing, blood pumping differently or something the doctors can describe. I don't want to live appointment to appointment anymore. I want to build my new life. 

When I get the go ahead from doctors to re-enter the workfoce, I plan to work PT and test my boundaries. I have not stood on my feet for 6-8 hours in one & a half years, so as easy as standing on your feet sounds, add in all my surgeries and treatments and you'll see....it ain't easy.  Maybe a florist position, or cashier at the local grocery store. Just show up, do my thing & go home. No responsibility for a team, just moi!  I hope to make some new friends along the way, laugh again and stop talking to my cat as much!!  I'm applying this November for enrolment to attend Kwantlen Polytecnic University Sept 2016.  If accepted, all handbags are out and a knapsack or stylish book bag will replace them. No matter how cute the clutch, it can't fit no books!

This cancer journey really is a roller coaster ride physically and emotionally. I couldn't make it through The Dave Matthews concert without a few concerns, so last thing I need is a real life coaster ride at the PNE!  Currently too big of a crowd for me, and honestly, I just don't know which handbag I would have used!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Me

I've been writing this blog since I was told I had cancer. I've written about treatment details, surgeries, procedures and loads more. I think one important thing I've yet to really write about is ME!

I've known for a while that the aftermath isn't easy.  Finding the new you and the new normal is difficult.  Lately I've found myself sad, sad with myself. No matter how many people support and love me ultimately I need to love myself. My bubbly personality is the perfect facade and truly shows you that you can't judge a book by it's cover. There are a few things I do to rid me of the sadness. Biking, a good hair doo, and now that fall is here, wearing a good pair of boots making you wanna strut like BeyoncĂ©.

Having so many amazing people attend my birthday party truly showed me how lucky I am, but it also showed me what I'm missing.  People who love their jobs, their husbands/wives, newly in love, about to become parents or soon embarking on an amazing holiday. They've worked hard for all these things and I just can't help but wonder if I can do the same going forward.

As I met new people in various ways over this past year, I would easily introduce myself. A crowded room doesn't scare me nor will I hide in a corner, I go say hello nice to meet you.  A lot of people asked what I did for a living, (the 2nd most asked question in the world), and I responded that I was just finishing up a battle with cancer. If they had questions I was an open book as I like to believe that knowledge is power and I'm also proud to say I've made it this far. Illness has no face but it has explanations.

I'm worried that with my amazing journey I'll end up alone.  Men I meet range from 30-45 and I consider that young. Why would any one of these men want to take me on when they can get a version pretty identical somewhere else. Maybe not identical because we all know Carolyn does me some good hair, but there are lots more single fabulous 40 year old women out there ready and willing.

The kid topic is more of a roadblock than I thought it would be.  When people catch on to the fact I can't have children the conversation goes to adoption, surrogacy etc etc. I was totally accepting to the fact I wouldn't be a mother, until the recent past when I joked if my future husband wants a kid badly, we will get eggs of an Olympian and create a kick ass kid.  I started to say this so much that I almost believed it. I am 99.9% sure that I will not be a mommy. I leave that .1% chance open just in case this scenario does come true but this isn't a movie of the week!

Somehow I need to move on from this but it's hard. I've been looking more in depth at schooling and life post disability. I'd like to get back in the work force on a minor scale level but first need clearance from my doctors. Some days I'm whistling away & dreaming of change, other days I'm exhausted or having side effects from treatment or symptoms of Crohn's.  I like to think I've done a good job handling most of this but there's loads of room for improvement to be had. I think we all can improve at something right?

So lets sum up this blog. Looks like I need to steer clear of men, work out as much as my body permits me and love myself....my new-self.  I usually adapt well to change but this change is a little more difficult than picking out a new colour for my bedding.  I might have curtains in 7 different colours...just sayin'!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Post party

I often hear people say "fabulous at 40" and until I knew what that felt like I obviously shrugged it off. This past weekend I felt fabulous and not just because I was now 40 and "cancer free" but because of all the love I felt and saw in front of me.  DNA linked me with many and long term friendships with others, but when the room was full all I felt was love.   It was a night to remember, a night I'll never forget.

Throughout the party a lot of people spoke to me about this blog.  Am I going to keep it going?  Am I going to write more often? Can I recommend a good mascara?  I laughed at that one!  Apparently people think I'm a good read, how very flattering!  The answer is yes I will keep writing and yes I can recommend you a great mascara!  My journey is ongoing and writing has become part of my new normal.

There are some funny photos from the photo booth I had set up at the party linked on here.  If you don't have access to Facebook or Instagram and want to see the photos be sure to check them out. I was laughing for quite a while as I loaded them up.  Looks like people had a good time chuckling away with a funny prop be it Elton John like glasses or a furry boa.  I can easily send you a copy of your photo too, just let me know!

Thank you everyone for coming from near and far. Ontario was well represented with cousin Crissy making a surprise guest appearance and of course all the friends and family from the GVA. I would not be 40 and fabulous if not for all of  you!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Birthdays & Anniversaries

I didn't fear turning 40, if anything I embraced it. Last year on August 16th I was in incredible pain as I turned 39 & was out for dinner with my Uncle B and Aunt Katyann.  I was walking with a cane and struggling to sit but happy to be with them and dreaming of life at 40. Here I am 1 year later just home after a birthday dinner with one of my best friends Erynn, in no pain and cancer free, but instead knowing my limits of my new normal.  Gone are the days of stuffing yourself full of amazing food at an amazing restaurant and instead bringing home left overs for later.  There was no cake or sparklers but really why do I need that?  Life is my sparkler and my loved ones my candles. 

Today, August 18th, marks 1 year since starting chemotherapy. I remember being so scared at last years birthday dinner of what was to come and this year I celebrated how things are and how far I've travelled along this cancer journey.  Erynn and I spoke of the future, some great memories of the past and how to bridge them going forward. Sounds so easy to do but really it's harder than one might think. 

There will always be anniversaries of diagnosis dates, treatment dates and cancer free dates. A day I had surgery or a day I struggled, but now I need to figure out how to make these anniversaries mean something and move forward.  I look forward to seeing where I am at 41 to see what good I've put back in to the world after a horrific experience. At times I've found myself being harsh in self judgement and tend to think I'm the same woman I was pre-cancer, but in reality I am not the same woman. Struggle doesn't mean we have to be worse off it can also make us better, the road along the way may just have more speed bumps. 

This weekend I'm celebrating my 40th birthday.  My closest family and friends will all be in one space and I'm really excited to sit back and watch them all interact. I don't need this party to be about me, I just need it to be about us.  Family and friends who would move the world for each other, who have moved the world for each other, and will continue to do so. My only want is for no tears, but at least they'd be tears of joy and love....I am my fathers daughter! 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Roller coaster

Roller coasters are fierce. They toss you like a rag doll, make you scream, you might even cry, you're up you're down and could even get whiplash. This is exactly how I've felt with my cancer diagnosis but I'm sick of riding the coaster!  I'm ready to sit back on the swings and check out the scenery looking upwards & onwards.

Today I had an appointment at the Cancer Agency which I thought was to sign consent forms for a further in depth biopsy ultimately deciding if I get a colostomy aka 'Winnie'. The past 2 weeks have been stressful for my family & I. The idea of another hard surgery & recovery was scary. I sort of went in to a "this isn't happening" zone with the mindset of August being the last month as I know myself physically.  Like earlier this year I had made peace with Winnie but today that all changed.

Lots of sick people means we have lots of doctors, and today 2 doctors I don't usually see reviewed my case & prognosis. I'd met these doctors before but they weren't the leads on my treatment plan. In short, they think additional biopsies could cause more harm to me than good.  They feel monthly checkups and MRIs every 3 months will catch cancer if it comes back. The 2cm alien I currently have might not be cancerous and as long as it doesn't grow then everything is fine. Needless to say I had lots of questions & although happy with this good news I was frustrated.

I can't count how many times I thought I was ok and then heard I wasn't. I coped & got through, but after a while it becomes like whiplash and you can't get your head straight.  Now that this has all happened I need to set boundaries to stop the coaster from tossing me around in the future. Knowing the worst case scenario is totally different than thinking it's the only case scenario.

I still have some challenges with food and digestion but to know I don't have cancer is pretty amazing.  I've often said I was looking for my new normal but really what is normal? Everyday I'm just glad to wake up, get stronger & live. Living is normal but life isn't. It's a puzzle and piece by piece I look forward to seeing my picture and making sense of it all.

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C


Friday, August 7, 2015

The 3 I's

Inspire...to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Inspiring...having the effect of inspiring someone

Inspired...an extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse  

You don't need to be ill with cancer or any other disease to feel one of the 3 I's, however a life changing time can easily bring these to the forefront.  A friend, relative or a perfect stranger are often examples of people who bring you face to face with one of the 3 I's. This past Wednesday and Thursday I met some new strangers via Inspire Health and was very inspired. 

Inspire Health is an organization of supportive care for cancer patients and their support system.   The 2 day 'Life Program' helps members with coping skills, connects you with other patients dealing with a previous or existing cancer diagnosis, nutritional sessions and much more. I walked in for 8:45am and almost walked out. I was nervous to hear other people's battles, announce mine to those who could so easily judge me and not be in control of my surroundings. One by one we said our names, type of cancer and where we live. At first I was timid and held back, but by the end of role-call said it all & choked back tears.  A few in attendance said there was no cure for their cancers and others were just starting their journey.  

Over the 2 days I got random hugs, loads of knowledge and strangers became new friends. I've never been in a room full of people who could so easily understand my struggles and I theirs, it was truly inspiring. I highly recommend anyone who has access to Inspire Health to join as it costs you nothing financially and the pay back is priceless. 

I did get another follow up call about my MRI and go in to the Cancer Agency Tuesday to hear next steps. Another biopsy will happen soon and that will tell us if this alien is cancerous or not.  Like I said in my last blog, the colostomy could be my new normal. Obviously this is not something I want but it is better than the flip side.  A quote I read the other day said "It's better to poop in a bag than in a coffin". Oh so true. 

Living life as best I can and grabbing hold of the 3 I's any way they show themselves to me. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer 

C

Friday, July 31, 2015

MRI

Wednesday I had an MRI at the Cancer Agency which is an important check point to ensure the biopsies findings were right and there are no other cancer zones needing treatment.  I've had so many different scans over the last year, that the ladies at the check in desk treat me like a regular at a Pub!  

I got changed and sat in the chair with the nurses getting set for my injections.  Since my MRI is of my pelvis, they need to keep my bowels steady and illuminate the pelvis in the scan.  First injection was of a drug called 'buscopan' (a muscle relaxant) and not 30 seconds later I had a seizure.  I said I wasn't feeling right and that was all I remember. When I came to there were numerous doctors and nurses tending to me. Crash cart was brought out, checking all my vitals and apple juice given to me to drink in order to raise my blood sugar.  I had fainted before but this was different. 

I was told my eyes were rolling in the back of my head, I was shaking and of course unresponsive.  It took me a while to know who I was, where I was and what had happened. As I regained consciousness all I could hear sounded like a music tape on slow motion rewind (for those of us who remember music tapes) and I couldn't make sense of it all. A scary moment for sure but thank my lucky stars I was with doctors and nurses to help me.  Once I was OK I had the MRI but we didn't do the 2nd injection since my body and brain had just had trauma. They seem happy with the images and I hope to hear from my doctor in a week with the scan findings. 

Just a few hours after I started writing this blog, my oncologist called me. The MRI results aren't quite complete but she does know that they see a 2cm alien where Big Kahuna was. We don't know if this alien is cancerous, so another biopsy will most likely happen, but the odds are high.  I've always been high risk for reoccurrence.  In regards to the seizure, it's thought I had a rough fainting spell with some convulsions. They don't think it was a full on seizure and won't test me and I'm ok to keep driving. 


When she told me this I asked her if I do have more cancer how do we treat it?  I've had the max amount of radiation so does that mean more chemotherapy?  Chemotherapy isn't very effective against previously radiated areas so as suspected the colostomy was brought up. If my alien is cancerous I will get the procedure. The good news is no cancer is in my lymphnodes or any other part of my body so although I might have another battle in a massive surgery, I'm not going anywhere.  The doctors are watching me so closely and I'm grateful for that. 

My heart kind of sank after I hung up the phone.  I've been trying so hard to find my new normal and now wham-bam!  I'm feeling good and looking good to the naked eye so just goes to show you illness doesn't have a face, it is so easily in disguise. 

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lotto

I might have bought one or two lotto tickets in my life.  I've always said it was a waste of money which is a crazy if you see how much jewelry and shoes I own!  I'm thinking now might be the time to buy a ticket. But how do I chose the numbers?  The diagnosis date, surgery dates, scan dates, cancer free date or just all my best friends birthdays since this is our big year turning 40.  Maybe I'll do both methods and see if I have some more good fortune come my way.

But with good fortune always comes highs and lows, and the past month has been low. Good thing is, I'm climbing back to the high levels again.  I've made it through week one of meal replacements with Isagenix, got on my bike and purged some stuff I just don't use anymore...even getting a few bucks for them too!  My immediate goal is to get through this 30 day program and now that the first week is over I'm starting to get my rhythm. I'm impressed with the shakes but the cleanse days are disgusting. The next 3 Monday's I cleanse and no doubt will be poutting!  Not so much for food but for the awful taste of the stuff I drink.  But it's gotta happen and I'm no quitter.

I started a journal called "My 5 favourite things" in early Februaury. Each night when I go to bed I write 5 things I'm thankful for as well as a quote and a couple notes as to what I did that day.  My 5th thing is always how many days I'm cancer free. Saturday night was 137 and my quote was 'Positivity is a choice'. This is so very true and I've tried to be as positive as possible during this battle.

In speaking with my Wellness Coach she's asked me to look farther ahead and set some goals. My ultimate life goal is to work in the Health Care system either at the Cancer Agency or a Hospital.  Such inspiring and lovely ladies support our patients, doctors and nurses and I want to join their team in 2016!  Going back to school is a goal I'm working towards now that I've heard my cancer hasn't come back.  I haven't enrolled yet but expect to soon after a few more questions are answered and some additional information received. Future looks bright.  Lots of hard work but I'm ready...if I can beat cancer I can get this diploma!

Pretty sure I'll be buying those lotto tickets but with over 31,000 views on this blog you can't all chase me for a loan...I'd be broke in no time!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Keep counting!

I'm excited to announce that my cancer free days will continue.  Tuesday was day 126 since hearing I was first cancer free and was told to keep on counting.  I like to keep track of the days, as it keeps all in perspective and helps me remember how lucky I am to still be here. One year ago I had stage III cancer and today I don't. Sureal.

Hearing results from scans isn't something I get too worked up over, but when biopsies are involved it's a different story.  I called super-brother as I wasn't feeling comfortable in driving myself to the doctor, and of course super-brother was there for me and I arrived at my appointment on time.  Mom met me there and when I came out she greeted me with a big hug as I told her I was ok (I might have chocked up a little).  

An MRI will come about in the near future as they want to get a closer look at what the PET scan showed.  When they did the biopsies it was an approximate area per the PET scan so an MRI will let them know if any other areas need to be tested.  Doesn't appear to be something to worry about but we need to make sure.  I'll continue to have scans and check ups every 3 months since I remain high risk for reoccurrence.  Cancer takes time to grow but we'll find it if it does.

Now it's time to concentrate on getting my body stronger and my energy levels higher.  Fatigue is still very much a battle along with a new eating regime. Even though my Crohn's Disease is considered to be on a milder level, I really struggle with food so often find myself not eating which is in no way healthy.  As of today I've begun a 30 day health plan which involves meal replacement shakes, exercise and a low-calorie healthy dinner.  The goal is to get an energy boost, lose a few pounds and rejuvenate my body which has been through so much this past year.

My bike Mango and I will be spending lots of time together over the next 30 days so my Instagram (linked on this blog) will no doubt show pictures of our adventures. I welcome guest appearances if anyone wants to join us for a ride.

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Monopoly

One year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer, it was a hard day and a day I'll never forget.  365 days later I sit in my bed typing away...memories flashing before my eyes.  What a year it has been.

When I saw a gynaecologist on July 7th 2014, she took a biopsy and let me know she thought it was cancer. That was Monday and come Friday all was confirmed.  After the initial shock and tears, Mom and I headed to the car where we called my brother and father.  We sat in the car parked in an underground parkade, phone on speaker, taking turns talking and wiping away tears telling them what had just happened.  I so badly wanted to go home and hide, pretend this wasn't real, but instead was getting X-rays not 2 hours later.

The next week I was at the Cancer Agency meeting with the amazing doctors who would help me battle this disease.  Cancer is like the game of Monopoly.  You roll the dice and keep going round & round until you hopefully win.  The relationships you strenghthen or make during this journey are the hotels, your supporters are the other players playing with you and becoming cancer free is the get out of jail card.  Life is represented by passing GO!..as long as you can go, you can play...you can live.

As much as I've disliked battling this disease, I wouldn't change a thing. Well maybe a couple things, but big picture I'm a better person from this awful experience.  I feel closer to my family than ever before...parents, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles I thank you. I'm a lucky girl to have you all in my corner and couldn't have come out as strong without you.  My friends near and far have truly been amazing.  Most people can count their closest friends on one hand and I'm proud to say I need all my hands and feet and maybe a few pairs of shoes too!

This next week is a big week as I'll hear what the 2 biopsies have discovered. I can only hope for the best but if I get some bad news I'll just roll the dice, build some hotels and pass GO! all over again.

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C




Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sunshine

Vancouver has been spoiled with so much sunshine this past while. I can't even recall the last day it rained.  I haven't been able to enjoy the weather as much as I'd like to, but it looks like this sunshine is staying.  I'm not quite at the point to jump on my bike and go for a long ride but it's coming.  The sunshine is calling me and Mango & the call will be answered soon! 

Friday at 8am I checked in at the Cancer Agency and just after 9am I was prepped and ready for the OR.  Woke up in recovery an hour or so later and walked out with Mom around 1130am.  It's unreal how fast these procedures can be done!  I was really feeling the anesthetic and nausea this time round and it took until Saturday afternoon to turn the curb. Thanks to my mom, Dawn & Renee for helping/checking in on me. 

Dr Lee ended up doing 2 biopsies.  The first was as planned for the uterus and another close to where Big Kahuna was. My PET scan did show some abnormality in the "south" region, so it's a good idea to check it out.  If cancer decided to show it's face again at least we will have caught it early. That's the positive Carly speaking. The angry Carly can't help but think of the "will" questions. How will it be treated?  Will I end up with Winnie after all?  Will I need more chemo?  Will I be ok?

One thing I've learned having cancer and being told I was cancer free, is that it's never really over.  No matter how many scares, biopsies or "will" questions one might have, you have to keep going. This cancer club never turns off the lights and locks the doors. Admission is free but once you're in it's hard to get out back into the sunshine. 

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada eh?

Dealing with illness is tough no matter where you live in this world, but I'm so thankful be in Canada eh?  I can't imagine not having medical coverage like I've had. Being diagnosed while unemployed has had it's share of challenges, but nothing compared to what I might have had to go through in another country.  Happy 148th birthday Canada!

I got a call from Dr. Lee today with my PET scan results. There is still something on my uterus, which I'm calling "alien" since we don't quite know what it is.  We do know it's about 2cm in size but that's about it.  The biopsy will reveal more but Dr. Lee hopes it's just a benign uterine fibroid.  I had no clue what that meant so brought up Google and found out it's common for many women in their childbearing years.  To think at 39 I was still in the childbearing years made me smile but the real good news is that it rarely leads to cancer.  The biopsy will give us answers to these questions, but fingers crossed it's just that.

The scan also showed some irregularities in my surgical area.  Nothing too alarming quite yet but still needing some looking into.  So while in surgery for my "alien" biopsy, if Dr. Lee needs to do anything else she can.  She also ordered an MRI which targets the area directly giving more specifics.  I could possibly be inflamed from Crohn's Disease so we shall see what is discovered. I didn't find myself overly worried today as it's not terrible news but it wasn't better results than my last PET scan.

The good news is that my lymph nodes are clear!  This was the biggest concern so needless to say a huge sigh of relief that radiation has done its job (even though not fun). I must give kudos to the Cancer Agency for watching me so closely.  If anything should pop up at least we'll find it sooner than later. World class doctors and nurses who truly care about you and who have inspired me.  They watch me closer than I watch The Vancouver Canucks...well maybe not, I am a die hard fan. 

July 11th will mark my 1 year anniversary since being diagnosed with cancer and I'll probably find out all these answers around then.  What a year and journey it's been, but at least this Canada Day I'm still a Canuck eh?!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Friday, June 26, 2015

PET

Another PET scan down, my 3rd in 11 months.  I guess that makes me a regular as my nurse recognized me.  I asked her if it was my eyes or hair or perhaps the fact that I wear the same outfit to every scan as to why she recognized me! She might think I wear the same baggy stretchy dress for luck but I actually wear it to avoid wearing the oh so lovely hospital gown! Carly 1, hospital gown 0.....gotta have a win somewhere!

The waiting lobby was quite full and as much as you don't listen in on others, it's hard not to hear what's being said. A woman I'd guess to be in her 70's was chatting with her daughter and anxious for her first PET scan.  She was right beside me so I said hello and offered some comfort.  I told her the only pain she'd have was the needle.  I told her to turn off the lights in the room and take a nap during the 45 min waiting period. I told her to close her eyes while on the scanning bed and picture her favourite place.  I told her there was no physical pain but the results waiting game wasn't fun.  I got called in and never saw her again. I hope my words helped her....I hope she'll be ok. She has lung cancer which is the #1 cancer causing death in women a fact not known to many. 

After my PET scan I headed to the 2nd floor for my biopsy.  My Dr is amazing but I was scared, so she called in a nurse to help me cope.  I will not lie, tears were rolling down and I might have sworn once....or twice!  The cramping was awful and I can only imagine how childbirth must feel...you poor women but at least you get a reward!  I didn't budge but unfortunately she couldn't get the sample. Nothing I did wrong, just anatomy stuff. 

July 3rd at 9am I'll undergo a day surgery where I'll be sedated and the Dr can get all she wants and needs without any pain coming my way.  She'll also take a better look at surgical areas to ensure things are healed proper. I'll be picked up at noon & recover at home. We don't expect any trauma, mostly I'll just be coming off the anesthetic and tired. There's always the chance of complication but that goes without saying & my surgical odds are good.  If my PET scan results come back prior to Friday and show improvement since the last scan, then most likely surgery will be cancelled.  If the uterus still shows a marker then we continue. 

After the bleeding and some discomfort over the last couple weeks, hearing my Dr say she thinks things look good was music to my ears.  I felt so much better leaving as I did arriving.  I had to call my dad prior to my scan as I was scared, or as he would say I had a panic attack.  Silly dad, no panic attack just a reality slap in the face. Mom & auntie Shelly met me post biopsy as I needed someone to drive Snowflake home. Thanks AS, hope Snowflake made you proud!  

My last blog expressed that I was needing some support, like therapy.  I signed on with Inspire Health and attended their introduction meeting. A 2 day seminar is to follow July 8-9 where I'll hear all about what they have to offer.  Therapy, meditation, nutrition, yoga and more are just a few points offered to cancer patients as well as their supporters. If you know of anyone who needs help on any level, please tell them to check out their web site.  This service is now of no cost in thanks to funding and donations. 

My 1 year diagnosis date is creeping up in July. So much has happened this past year and you've been along for the journey with me. My hope is that the cancer stays away and that I can make a career change where I'll be able to support others going through cancer.  I've always stayed as positive as I could and believed this was happening for a reason, and now it's becoming more clear.  Over 30,000 views on this blog and 30,000 thank you's sent back your way!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Friday, June 19, 2015

Cloudy

When I was first diagnosed I was a lot of things.  Scared...angry but I had purpose which was to wake up everyday and fight Cancer. I had no choice, it had to happen. So many people told me how brave I was, how strong I was and wished me well.  For being a very sick young woman I felt so very blessed. 

When I got news 101 days ago that I was cancer free I felt like the Triple Crown winner (horseracing recent champ Pharoah).  I was on a winning streak and was so inspired and happy, nothing could get me down.  Eventually the winner will lose and looks like it's that time for me. 

I think I've hit my recovery rock bottom, sounds scary but I need to admit I'm a bit of a mess. At least I've got good hair & lipstick... Gotta have a win somewhere right?  As you can see my humour is still around so I'm not a goner quite yet!

Cancer took away many things and I'm struggling at getting them back and redefining myself. Yes nothing happens overnight but being sick is hard.  I'm trying to keep that positive attitude & drive but man it's tough. 

Not sure if you watched Dancing With The Stars this past season, but the gentleman who placed 3rd was missing a leg & an arm. His name is Noah Galloway and you should read his story.  He said he was mad and angry but after he mourned his injury & change, he picked himself up and transformed to who he is today.  I think of him as tears roll down my cheeks when I'm sad and in pain. I need to be like him...strong. 

I'm thinking it might be time I see a therapist.  I know loads of people who do, it's almost weird if you don't have a therapist in Vancouver. Lots of things make me sad or angry from my bad leg, to being alone a lot, to Crohn's struggles, sore body and just being a survivor.  Nobody ever said surviving was easy and it's not.  I feel disconnected from people and life and I want that to change. Being sick is almost like moving across the country.  You don't see people as much and you don't know as much of the daily.  Not saying they don't care, I just wish they cared more. 

This past week with the bleeding has taken me back to the beginning. Last time I had a biopsy I was told I had cancer. A flashback I don't really need or want but unfortunetly it probably won't be my last flashback Friday!  My energy has been really low so if this is to continue I need to find a way to push thorough.  Maybe I should put up a photo of Noah as inspiration. 

With all this said, I wouldn't change a thing.  This is part of my path but right now it's just a little bumpy. I've got a few months to get strong & healthy so maybe talking to someone can help me get there a bit easier.  I know what I want so now I've got to make it happen with help and on my own. 

Two sentences that help me often:

1) one day at a time and 2) this too shall pass

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hurdles

I understand the feeling a track star who jumps hurdles must feel.  There's always one more hurdle no matter how well you do or how many times you win the race.   I relate this to my Cancer & Crohn's.   Each time I felt better or finished a treatment or the pain seemed to stop, another hurdle popped up. I wasn't always jumping over that hurdle on my first try but eventually made it over. Good thing is....when a real life track stars misses a hurdle they get bruised ankles and mine seem just fine!

All-in-all this last while I was feeling progress physically & emotionally. I was doing my best with exercise to help strengthen my sore body and doing way better with food relating to Crohn's.  I haven't had raw veggies since April which was hard for me but now it's just a new normal, another hurdle overcome. 

For the past 6 days I've been having some bleeding similar to that of a menstrual cycle. Common for someone my age however I haven't had "the pleasure" since the start of my radiation treatment.  I was told I'd never go through this again and placed on hormones to balance out my body as it's too early in life for this to usually stop.  I did have one of my medications changed a bit ago which could be why this has happened, but Dr Lee thinks it would have occurred earlier on.  

All my previous PET scans have alerted the Drs to something on my uterus. It wasn't a huge concern in the past and so they monitored it closely.  With my recent trip to the cancer agency a few weeks back and now the bleeding, Dr Lee will be doing a biopsy to rule out any issues. It's done easily at the agency so don't need to be sedated or anything of similar nature.  Just a bit of pain and it'll be over. Pain is something I've come to know well this past year so I'll just jump that hurdle no problem.  This biopsy will be right after my PET scan on the 24th, so next Wednesday. 

I'm hoping to hear that the change in my hormone medication is the reason for the bleeding.  To be quite honest, I've been happy not having a menstrual cycle anymore!  It was the only "cancer perk" I got.  Some people get curly hair or a little skinnier....those didn't happen to me but this instead.  If for any reason my cycle has come back it would be a medical miracle.  The amount of radiation & chemotherapy my pelvis received...they never would have seen this happen to a patient like me.  This is one miracle I'm not praying for LOL

No need to talk worst case scenarios because we don't have the facts.  If they want my uterus gone they can take it...as long as it's no more cancer I'll jump as many more hurdles I need to!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Monday, June 8, 2015

90 days!

When this journey first started the last thing I could think about was reaching 90 days cancer free.  You always stay positive and hope for the best, but when I went in to find out my results three months ago I truly didn't think I'd hear the words "cancer free". I'm happy to report that today, June 08, 2015, I reached 90 days.  

As I've said in previous blogs cancer free doesn't mean you're totally out of the clear or back to the good ol' life.  For me, my body has been through incredible trauma and recovery is ongoing.  I remain high risk and closely monitored so being told I have cancer again is always on my mind. I've learned not to let this feeling control or limit me and to do my best at enjoying each day I have, be it for another 90 days or another 40 years.  I've still got a lot ahead of me but I'm excited to go there, excited to make my new normal. 

You've all been so amazing riding this roller coaster with me.  The Marine Drive ladies, my dearest friends, my fantastic family but most importantly my mother. Not saying my dad hasn't been a whole lot of awesome, but mom has been with me every step of the way.  I think my parents know Shane and I will do anything for them in their times of need but mom has really set the bar high.  I don't need a guardian angel because mine lives 500 yards away.  

I can't wait to get this next PET scan behind me and hear more cancer free results.  The more you hear it...the more you believe it.  Thanks to all of you for believing in me!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tides out

Seems every time I head to Centennial Beach the tide is out.  Maybe this is a sign of sorts?  Ah who am I kidding I'm not a mambo-jumbo kind of gal, I just need to pay attention or read a chart and know when the tide is in!

Today Sarah, aka Frenchie, came out to Tsawwassen for a visit.  En route to picking her up at the River Rock Casino skytrain station, I noticed a big delay coming back via the tunnel as a result of an accident, so we took the long way home but made it nonetheless.  I don't think Sarah, a Vancouver downtown native, has ever seen the Alex Fraser Bridge so a little geography lesson was added in to our day.

It was nice to catch up with an old friend and we found ourselves reminiscing on how we met to how old Simba is...he's gonna be 14...we sat at the beach and then came back home for dinner on my patio.  It was such an easy day.  No cancer worries, no Crohn's flares....and I was happy, however I was in pain.

For the last while I've been doing my best at being active somehow everyday and decided to add sit ups in to my exercise routine.  I use a medice ball to do these sit ups and now I can barely sit up...literally!  Just laughing hurts for crying out loud but I'll take this pain as a win.  Think there's some sort of slogan..oh yeah....no pain no gain!!!

I went to the cancer agency for a checkup Wednesday as I wasn't feeling quite right close to where my lymph nodes were removed.   I was super scared and might have cried with Dr Haywood....and the intern too poor girl!  But he reassured me that what I'm feeling is healing tissue from surgery and radiation.  My upcoming PET scan will confirm but he thinks all looks good. 

As happy as I was to hear this news I was really emotional.  Thank goodness for sunglasses as I cried the whole way home.  I think I was so busy being strong while in treatment I didn't really let myself  feel how serious things were and can be.  Surgery can happen if cancer comes back almost anywhere except my groin, so I just felt so mortal and helpless. I drove straight to my mom and hugged her while I cried and things got better.  Then I had a huge change of scenery as it was Eli's 8th birthday so went over the celebrate how cool he is.

This recovery process is hard and we all handle things differently.  I accepted I didn't want to have kids years ago but found myself in tears the other day not knowing what a skinnier version of me would look like.  (insert laughter here). But that only lasted for a minute and all is well again.

I sure sound like a cry baby in this blog don't I!!  I'll blame it on my hormones and to be honest I usually feel better after a good cry.  You do too right?  Right???? Lol 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Judgement day

I've been thinking long & hard about judgement lately as some has come my way.  We're all guilty of judging others and if you really pay attention you do it multiple times a day. Maybe it's what someone's wearing, a news hot topic, or how the clerk bagged your groceries. Some things we judge are visible and others aren't. 

When I was in the thick of my illness you could look at me and know I was ill no matter how much lipstick I'd apply!  As I got better I started to look better but what people don't see are the hidden changes.  Today was day 84 since I heard I was cancer free but it's also day 84 of extreme leg pain, constant fatigue, a sore body and emotional stress. 

Some people who have cancer don't have much pain but I had pain for nearly one year.  I think as we heal it's easy to forget how bad it really was.  I was curled up in my bed crying calling friends and family asking them to tell me jokes to take my mind somewhere else, even for just a minute.  Then treatment came and this blog was born documenting my journey. How can one be "normal" just 84 days after being told you're cancer free....you can't, or at least I can't. 

Everyday I wake up and give myself a task.  It could be as simple as cleaning my floors or going out for a good bike ride. I want to get stronger so I can be normal again or my new version of normal as I am forever changed. Big Kahuna might be gone but he's left a mark never to go away.  Some days I struggle with this and other days I might say a curse word or 2 and tell myself to keep on conquering. 

Scary thing is not knowing if I'm ok.  When I was in the hospital after Christmas my surgeon explained that if the cancer comes back in my groin there is no further treatment.  I've had lymph nodes removed, chemotherapy and radiation, as much treatment as possible. The last couple days my groin surgical area has been sensitive so needless to say I'm worried. I'm going to call the cancer agency and get an appointment sooner than what's scheduled for early July. My PET scan is June 23. I don't think I should wait but I'm scared, so scared. Hopefully my bike rides are to blame but I've got to get checked. 

I apologize to anyone who has judged me of late.  Maybe my photos of me smiling isn't representing my actual reality. I've just had it so bad this last year I've wanted to show a happier me.  Am I not allowed to get prettied up?  Riding my bike is something I'm very proud of.  Not only for the exercise portion but just to be able to sit on a seat and go.  When something so simple was taken away, you just want to celebrate every day you can do it again. Perhaps I'm living as much as I can right now until my next results come back. 

I wear the Fuck Cancer t-shirt all the time. I have 2 now and I wear them because it's how I feel and how so many others do too. 

XOXO 

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Amen to 40!

Had you asked me 10 years ago where I'd see myself at 40 my answer would be different than today's reality.  I most likely would have said I'd like to be married and have kids, be a stay at home mom if I was fortunate enough.  Funny thing is I was no closer to those things then as I am now although cancer has sorta made me a stay at home mom to my cat if that counts!

One thing I've never heard myself or anyone else say when asked that question is "hope I'm alive at 40". That is exactly all I want to be at 40....and not so my 30 something wish list can come true but so my 40 something list can be born. Now don't get too excited about this list!  I'm not going to become a hippie and live off the land or silly things like that...I wouldn't have even done that in my 20s, but I will concentrate on how I can be a better me emotionally, physically...any way possible. After all I'm not getting any younger right?

Some people might see 40 negatively but I see it as a glass half full in this thing called life.  And why not celebrate making it to 40...it's pretty awesome..Amen to 40!  Celebrate it and any other birthday cause you should be happy to see your friends, family, pets, whatever, for another year.  If anything I think we put more timelines on things than we need to which drags us down. I saw a great quote the other day via Twitter "when things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting". So true right? 

I've had a better week physically which is fabulous as the last 2 weeks have been really hard.  When I was diagnosed with Crohn's the doctor said I had a mild case but really he should have just said you're gonna have pain but others get it worse. Mild to me meant not too much pain, easy to cope, change a few things you're eating, mild taco seasoning vs spicy. Well wrong....It's awful. I joined a support group and boy do others really have it bad.  So yes I do have a mild case in relation to them but it still sucks & is really hard. I just have Crohn's. 

I'm going to try a couple new things this week.  Auntie Shelly and I will head out for an evening stroll along the course and I'm also going to head to the track.  No not to become the oldest woman's sprinter in the next summer Olympics, just to walk. A wise man recommended I walk the track & I feel I'm in a good space to now give it a try.  Put on my headphones and walk round & round to some good music...my version of sweating to the oldies. I've noticed that my leg pain seems to be better the more I exercise. My bike rides helped with the pain but the numbness is never gone. 3 weeks ago I thought I'd never get to this point & now here I am. Training my mind & body is 64.7% of the battle, maybe 65%!

I took a look at my blog viewer records and it seems I'm global.  Canada, USA, France, Russia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, UK, Germany, Netherlands & Poland.  Thank you all so much for reading. You help me by following and I hope I help you in someway too. Hopefully you laugh at my humour and if you're someone dealing with or affected by cancer in any way, I hope I gave you what you needed. 

My 30's wish list might not have come true, but I wouldn't change a thing. I have no doubt that I'll rock my 40's and I won't have to pay a babysitter to do it!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C




Fairytales

I’ve been doing some soul searching and digging a bit deeper of late, looking for  inspiration in all aspects of life and from those around ...