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!




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! 




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.




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. 




Update Dec 5th

Sorry I am a day late! This is from Carly yesterday :) Pic 1 was taken months ago and shows how big my hernia was. It was even bigger at...