Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meow

I love my cat, we've been together for 16 years, but these meows at 7am need to stop.  My alarm goes off at 8 so it's like a crying child, do you get up and give them what they want (in Simbas' case wet food) or suffer through the the cry and be the boss?  I've chosen a middle, I'm laying in bed writing this blog listening to his meows. By the time I finish it'll be 8, my alarm will go off, and our regular food routine continues having him fed at 8:05. Just a quick side note he has a FULL bowl of kibble, little buggar!

I had a PET scan last Monday and yesterday went in for those results as well as a physical check up.  I'm always anxious on results day, but more so this time as I've heard of more & more people around me being diagnosed or sadly losing their fight. Had I had margins I'd be a little more at ease. Margins refer to the area surrounding your cancer. In most cases when doctors operate, they'll cut around the area to avoid reoccurrence or any unseen cancerous cells. For me that would have meant an extensive surgery involving a colostomy bag and plastic surgery. This is why I go in every 3 months so if any cancer comes back they can catch it ASAP. 

My last few scans have alerted a spot but to say it's cancer isn't right. Basically as long as it doesn't grow, all is ok. This scan showed higher intensity than the last, but no change in size and also could be from my Crohns. Physical checkup was good with no red flags. I'll go back in February for another check up, and then my amazing doctor will decide if a biopsy is needed which means a day surgery. I'm so impressed with how on top of things she is and since day one felt totally cared for by her & everyone at the cancer agency. Funny thing, today marks 2 years ago having my tumour removed!

I've now been back to work for just over 3 months and time has flown by. I remember just hoping I could stand and here I am running a store and a team for a great company who's supported me with kindness and grace. If you're ever in the Tsawwassen Mills mall please swing by Mavi and say hello. Just the other day a friend of my moms who I'd never met did just that. It was great to meet her and lovely to know she reads this blog. 

I'm really happy right now. Life is pretty much back to normal except for my hot flashes, so my doctor increased my daily dose ha ha. After my PET scan they asked if I was cold and hot, I replied "that was just my hot flashes you saw". Pretty funny hey. 

I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday season, an even better 2017. Where has the time gone, gosh so much has happened these last 2 years. I thank you for your love and support and send it right back your way. Funny how I started this blog with Simba meowing and now he's laying across my arms as I type..little buggar indeed!

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thankful

It's 10pm and I'm in pyjamas laying in bed which funny enough, is where I write best. I came to realize I haven't written an entry since late August!  A couple months ago I would have still been up watching tv & somewhat down emotionally.  I wouldn't say I was in a depression as I hate to use the term loosely, but I was in a funk.  I call it the "cancer perguatory" where you aren't fully recovered but you're cancer free and living life somewhat normally again. I wanted to work but was scared, not sure if I had value to bring, not sure if I could simply do it.  But with support from those who love me most and my amazing doctors, I put myself out there again but it was one of the hardest decisions I'd made in a long time. I never had to decide to fight cancer, I just did since I had to, but trying to get life back was so hard. 

I'm so thankful that I did. I can say with every ounce of me that I'm happier than I was even possibly before my battle.  I've lost all my cancer weight and even some extra, I love my job, love the community of Tsawwassen and my newest crew members. How can I, how am I, so lucky to be here when so many others aren't. I've learned to not think this way too much as it can really get you down, I've learned it's ok to live again. I truly love my life and those in it.

Mom and I went to NYC a few weeks back after seeing family in Ontario. It was to see Jimmy Fallon, a man who helped me laugh when all I could do was scream. He doesn't know me but he sure helped me. As he ran up the stairs I luckily got a high 5 and almost melted. Pretty full circle moment for me and being with my mom who's been my rock since day 1. We explored the city, saw the sights, musicals and hopped on and off the bus. Wouldn't call it my favourite city I've ever seen but I can say it was my favourite time with mom over the last 3 years. 

My Mavi store in Tsawwassen Mills is open and I'm still kicking. My pelvis sore and the limp still strong, but I frickin did it.  My team loves me and those who guide me through the Mavi ways inspire me. As a result of walking in NYC and working my knee swelling is going down. I no longer walk stairs 2 feet at a time. I'm completely off all cancer and anxiety medications (which were making me a little crazy & shake) only taking meds to balance my hormones and Crohns. 2 years ago I was on so many meds in so much pain and now I'm here, truly remarkable. 

Sitting around the table with 13 Allens this Thanksgiving made me smile. How close I was to not being at that table and there I was bickering with my brother like the old days. I wouldn't give up those brother moments for anything. 

I now wake up 2 hours earlier each day and run a bath. I no longer want to feel rushed or stressed first thing, I want to feel calm and happy and a hot bubble bath sure makes the happy list.  I make my lunch, go to work and train my team, try to not exceed my hours worked, remembering if I can do it tomorrow to do just that. When you're told you might die, missing an email or not getting all those boxes unpacked sure isn't important and instead can be important the next day. I jokingly tell my team that if I, a recent stage 3 pelvic radiated chemo induced surgery prone lady can do it, they can do it too!

Be thankful. Act thankful. Feel thankful. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Friday, August 26, 2016

Workin' girl

Yes my friends, I'm a working girl again! Honestly, I didn't think this time would come. I wanted it to, but didn't think it would. After a handful of interviews and an offer turned down, I accepted the position of Store Manager for Mavi Jeans. They are my new fit, my new beginning. 

I had some criteria in order to return to work, with working close to home at the top of the list. A new mall is being constructed across the way (called Tsawwassen Mills) so seemed an obvious choice. At first I wasn't sure if I'd return to retail after my last experience, but it is what I do and my experience strong. After researching companies and their core values, I applied to MAVI JEANS. A week later an offer was presented, accepted and started work on Monday.

My body is not happy with me right now after being off work for 2.5 years. Obviously it was of good reason, but my feet care not. I limped home day 1 and after day 4 didn't have to change shoes mid day! My biggest obstacle week 1 are my knees. Since I had lymph nodes removed from my groin, blood circulation isn't the same. My knees are almost always swollen. The optimistic me hopes the movement helps my knees long term and after a couple weeks this will improve. 

I'm very impressed with the company and people thus far. They know my journey and welcome it to our relationship. This is what I wanted. A company who cares, really cares, and a company I'll do my best for in thanks.  For those of you who know I always wear dresses, the tides are turning. I've gotten a great first pair and look forward to more. Now to get in jean shape as they're my new fit. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

41

I was 39 when diagnosed with stage 3 cancer & today turn 41. This time 2 years ago I'd had lymph nodes removed and in 1 weeks time would start chemo and radiation.  My uncle and aunt took me to dinner as I was too sick to be away with visiting relatives from South Africa.  I remember thinking I'd soon see the end, boy was I wrong. 

I always thought after treatment I'd bounce back and be good to go. In many ways "recovery" has been harder for me than treatment. With treatment you know there's an end date, you'll either live or die. My recovery journey seems to have no end. My pelvis always hurts, my bladder is weak, anxiety runs fierce, I shake, I take meds to hold off menopause, swollen knees, bathroom issues and food issues. 

The first year I couldn't move much so now I move when I can. Sometimes easier than others, but  told myself to step out of my boundaries & train my mind and body.  Going to the beach seems an easy task, but for me involves mind control and pit stops along the way. It's a free venue so might as well get out and conquer.  I recently gofled but on a team as I can't do it all. Yes these things are fun but know they are also lessons. 

I'm ready to enter the workforce again, but easier said than done. No doubt employers have passed on me since I'm a survivor. I've shared my status up to now but it may be time to stop. I would never apply for a job I couldn't do, so hopefully I find the right fit. My recovery side effects can take a back seat and allow me to grab the reigns. 

Who knew I'd be in this position at 41 but the optimism in me is ready for my new beginning. I think I'll be a better employee & a better boss because of all this. Stay tuned!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Friday, July 8, 2016

Balance

I haven't written much the last few months but must have been dreaming about it last night. I just woke up (it's 5am) grabbed my iPad and here we are. I've had some ups and downs the last while and wasn't sure how to say it in words or if I was even meant to share. It's funny how you go from sharing everything from your medication to your radiation, and suddenly post treatment, you seek balance and boundaries. 

Coping with a cancer battle is similar to coping with the loss of a loved one. You grieve, you say goodbye to that relationship and then you move on. One thing I was really struggling with was the moving on. At first I was all excited and ready to take on anything and everything, but after that dust settled I felt guilt. Guilt for forgetting the agonizing pain, for forgetting the taste in my mouth from the chemo, for forgetting how precious life is and for forgetting how easily it can disappear. I didn't realize all this at the time and suspect it contributed to my anxiety just as much as my food issues did.

A few weeks ago I went in for my usual 3 month checkup.  I've gotten comfortable with my checkups as I've always been fine but this visit was different. My doctor saw some concern and performed a biopsy. Of course the one time I don't have my mom or a friend with me this happens, but I remained calm & called my aunt to talk it out.  It was my first real scare over the last year and a few days later heard the biopsy was negative...no cancer had returned. Needless to say after that phone call I was doing a happy dance and I'm not such a great dancer!

These struggles have also brought forth some greatness. As my 2 year diagnosis date of July 11th approaches, I'm thinking of no better time to take back the reigns and looking for work again. In saying that, I need to make sure I have balance and don't take on more than I can handle.  I'm not the same physically that I was before and although my head/ego thinks I can, my body says different. 

In order to volunteer at the Cancer Agency you need to remain cancer free for over a year. Now that I've exceeded the 1 year mark I'm able to volunteer if they'll take me. With regular life seemingly coming back my way, what a great way for me to stay grounded, to rid myself of the guilt and to gain more balance in this new beggining. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer







Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bunny

Remember the commercials for the Energizer bunny....it keeps going and going. Kinda the way things are with me of late. Today marked 1 year and 3 months since I heard the words "cancer free" and I'm  just like the bunny & keep going and going. I like to think my batteries need a charge here and there, or maybe a replacement, but I charge on regardless.

I heard a bit ago that I wasn't selected for the school program I applied for last November. Obviously a bit of a disappointment but after what I've been through I shrugged it off. There were some red flags the last couple months making me question the university, it's processes & my future, so I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Physically I've been feeling pretty good. After I met with the physiatrist and got a prescription for anxiety medication, I've noticed a big difference. I still have struggles but not as bad as before. A couple issues have occurred but don't we all have something holding us back now & then?  I need to work on how to communicate to people my limits & abilities. As much as I might appear and act ok, I'm not quite there and know how to mask it. It's all about my settings and sometimes people just don't get it. I hate to feel like I'm a burden but every once and a while I am. 

My reintroduction of raw vegetables is going well and I'm so happy about that as it just makes things so much easier. After so long without raw vegetables it was like I'd never had it before. I could have written a love letter to tomatoes!

Mom and dad are currently travelling in Europe and sounds like they're having an amazing time, minus missing me of course!  My auntie Karen came over the other day and helped me recover some patio chairs spiffing up my outdoor space. A little DIY to a 1968 set and now they look like new. Shane is loving the weather and golfing as much as he can. I'm not sure of his handicap but word on the street is he's quite good. Jay, Maria & the kids have settled in to their new home and the kids are growing like weeds. 

My new normal continues to unfold. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer 

C



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Head check

On Tuesday I was back at the Cancer Agency for a sit down with a psychiatrist. I often hear people talking of going to a "shrink" for various reasons so wasn't embarrassed or nervous.  As I sat in the patient lounge on the 5th floor waiting to be called, all I saw were memories. It was in that very lounge not so long ago I had napped between chemo and radiation.  It was in that very lounge I had filled out admissions paperwork, called loved ones and shed a tear.  When my memories faded and I looked around me, I saw those exact things happening but this time with strangers. 

I made conversation with a 60 something couple next to me. As much as you don't want to listen to other people's conversations, it's hard not to. They were talking of scans and upcoming treatments so I pardoned the interruption and spoke of what I knew. I hope I was able to shed some light for them as I wished someone had done the same for me in my days in the lounge.  Soon after I was called in to my appointment and wished them well. 

The doctor asked me the obvious questions and then some I didn't expect. Everything from childhood, family, career and my cancer journey. I explained I'd reached out for help because I've been struggling with anxiety. It was during that sentence I got a little misty and the joyful jokester took a back seat. My only real worry heading in to this appointment was that my feelings would be dismissed and no solution would come about. By the end of our session I had a workbook recommendation, told of website resources, given a prescription and a follow up session scheduled for the following month. I felt I was heard and understood. 

I had 5 hours until my next appointment with my GI Doctor so headed to meet mom for lunch.  Mom had golfed that morning so met up with her and her golfing friends at the club. Many of these lovely ladies read my blog and I jokingly refer to them as my groupies. Such a nice group of women who've got some remarkable stories of their own. Seemed though that Tuesdays stories were mostly about their game on the back 9, or was it the front 9?  Regardless I enjoy our lunch dates and must acquire some golf fashion this summer. 

Dr. Weiss is my GI and diagnosed my Crohn's just over a year ago. I haven't seen him since diagnosis  and had a bunch of questions for him.  He gave me a deeper understanding of my condition explaining I don't have a blockage but I do have inflammation and I'll remain on medication to help with it.  He explained the restricted diet (I've been following this past year) is not necessary and to go back to normal eating habits/diet. I don't think he'd seen someone so excited to eat raw vegetables again as he did me. I must have asked him 3 times if I heard him right and then proceeded to punch the air like a punching bag! 

During our conversation he helped me have an "ah-ha" moment. Not to dismiss my level of Crohn's, we came to a conclusion that my anxiety is most likely the main cause of my food issues.  I had 2 defining incidents during treatment that seem to have affected me more than I thought. We feel that if I can get a stronger hold on the anxiety, that the rest will hopefully fall in to place. When I met mom in the waiting room my grin must have been from ear to ear, I felt the cheerleader in me coming out again. 

This journey has been so very hard physically and emotionally, so the times when you come out on top are just so amazing. I haven't felt this full since I heard my cancer was gone. Tonight two of my friends came over for dinner and I ate a salad. It was unreal, tomorrow I'll eat a tomato!

I'm due to hear if I've been accepted to school mid-May. I'm prepared for either a yes or a no but sure hope for the YES. I just feel it's my calling to work in health care. I'm no doctor, I'm no nurse but I am a survivor which carries no diploma but can help in any lounge, on any floor, any way & any time. Love to you all!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Monday, May 2, 2016

Father Time

How time can fly by always astonishes me. You look at the calendar and suddenly it's one month later.  While reflecting on what you did you shake your head, maybe touch your hand to your forehead or even possibly a raised eyebrow and a silly looking face. That's pretty much how I feel tonight. 

Last I wrote I was struggling with chocolate...oh the drama!  I laugh about it now because of how silly it sounds but it was not so fun then when I could hardly stand the pain so severe. Overall I've had a decent few weeks coping with swollen joints and the usual struggles with food and anxiety. I see my GI next week so hoping he can shed some light and dietary referrals my way. I only eat at a few places in town and eat the same thing at each place each time. I'd like to expand my palet but uneasy until I get better advice and direction. Most people crave a burger, I crave lettuce. 

One month ago my friend Amber relocated to BC from Alberta. She came to visit me from Calgary twice during my illness (which in no way was inexpensive for her) & showed me sincere love and friendship. Amongst the visits she took a liking to Tsawwassen & this past New Years' came out again and spoke of the idea of relocating. Now it's happened!  She's got a great job, an apartment & a cruiser bike to come along on rides with me too!  

I'm very fortunate to have great friends in Alberta (from my 8 years living in Calgary) and of course here at home. Most of my school friends are widespread from Kits to Aldergrove, so now having a longtime friend blocks away is pretty amazing. It just might be what I need. Someone closeby besides my family who really knows me, understands the new me but yet can help push me. I'll help and push her too in to becoming the new her as new beginnings seem to be my specialty!  This weekend she moved and I helped set up her apartment. ✔️ for me already, the decor fabulous of course. 

I remember being a fourteen year old girl who'd hear her parents speak of "back when I was ..." Or "I've known her since I was..." stories & thinking they were weird and old. Here I am now telling these exact stories pretty much around the same age they were then. Time seriously has flown by and I'm just so grateful for it. 

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chocolate

To some choclate is a sweet many can't say no to, but me, I'd pick a jellybean any day over chocolate. This Easter I had a secret bunny who left a lovely chocolate treat on my door, and it was even wrapped all pretty!  I can't seem to figure out who this mystery hopping bunny is, but I thank you whoever you are. Although I prefer a jellybean I couldn't let my mystery bunnys efforts go to waste, so indulged in the sweet chocolate. Lesson 278....chocolate and Crohn's don't pair well.

I've read a lot of brochures, books, even joined an online support group, but my biggest issue through cancer recovery is food. The radiation has brought my Crohn's so much to the forefront, that I just hate to eat. When I know I'll be out all day & travelling I simply don't eat or pick away at the usual couple things I know won't make me sick. Not being able to eat raw vegetables, seeds, nuts, lettuce, having to watch my fibre intake, trying to avoid wheat & dairy, like what am I left with!  It's so frustrating & I look forward to getting some dietary help. I'm done with the journals, the try and find out method....I want help and soon. 

Getting help isn't always so easy. I visited my family doctor, had 3 visits to the ER (misdiagnosed) & waited 5 months in horrific pain to see a specialist, before being diagnosed with stage 3 vulva cancer. I called the specialist every day hoping for a cancellation, wishing they'd squeeze me in but no such luck.  Once you're a "member" of the cancer club help comes your way. I had scans and my first surgery within a week. I remember saying to myself I'd always fight for help moving forward and now find myself back in the same boat. When I visited with my oncologist a couple weeks back I expressed my needs and concerns and she listened. I now have an appointment with a psychiatrist and my Gastroenterologist on May 10th. Thanks Dr. Lee for listening and helping me since July 2014. 

If I can get my food issues under control I think my anxiety will take a back seat. To know that I've remained cancer free for 13 months is amazing but in order to enjoy the life I fought so hard for this has to change.  I'll know soon if I've been accepted to Kwantlen and will need a steady food routine long before the September semester begins. I'll train myself with a consistent sleeping routine and an early wake up call for daily prep.  Where's my nutritionist fairy godmother?  Hope she hears my tears like Cinderellas godmother did hers!

So for now I continue as I have been in hopes of some new practices and medications by mid May. I'll make sure not to indulge in any more chocolate no matter how many treats you may leave me but should you leave jellybeans, can you throw out the coffee ones?  They're so yucky! LOL  

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Stayin' alive

They say there's a song for everything & I often hear songs in my head. Today's song was Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees. My PET scan came back normal with no changes since my last. Insert chorus here "ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.."

I've always had something irregular in my uterus. Since the beginning of this cancer journey we've never known what it is, so I just call it an alien. As long as this alien shows no sign of change we're happy. No doubt the radiation zapped it over & over stopping its growth as it did my entire reproductive system. PET scans light up irregular cells & today Dr Lee explained that my scan showed it to be less lit up, exactly what I wanted to hear.  Where my tumour once was, or as I named it 'Big Kahuna', all looks good. I was very happy to hear the fantastic news. 

After we discussed the scan results, I asked my Dr some questions and shared my concerns about my anxiety. It was hard for me to show my weakness, but I trust her 110%. I've been struggling the last few months and think I need some help. Perhaps I tried to hide it because it's not something I dealt with pre-diagnosis, I'm not sure, but it's an issue and I want it figured out. Everyone says things like "you're so strong" or "you inspire me" so the last thing I want is to let people down but ultimately I can't let myself down. 

The highs and lows of anxiety are terrible so I need to figure out an every day fix and not just a temporary one. A lot of the "in the moment" medications mean you can't drive and I need to be mobile and remain somewhat sane. I'm no nut job after all....or am I?  So we reached a decision that I'll meet with a phychiarist who'll help evaluate my needs. Now let's not get too crazy with the shrink business, he need not go too deep in the vault or judge the fact that I love wearing black and white (with a bold lipstick of course). I'm skeptical but open. I'm willing and ready. 

I said to my friend Carolyn tonight how I think I'm a better person post cancer. She told me I was always a good person, now I've just grown up some and have different values. What used to bother me rolls off my back, and things I shrugged off before are now centre stage. She's bang on, perhaps she should be my shrink and save me some hassle. Maybe we can also hit up a Karaoke Bar and sing some Bee Gees. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A new PET

The title of this entry might have you thinking I got another cat. Fear not...I keep my cat count at 1 and with that my cat lady status under the radar. I still have Bob though. He's my fish gifted to me by my godparents for my 40th birthday. Well actually he's Bob II.  Original Bob was a Goldie and died after 6 days so was replaced with a Beta fish, aka Bob II, as apparently they live longer. 

Simba remains an only cat and today I was at the Cancer Agency for another PET scan. This is my 4th PET scan since my diagnosis. It's nuclear medicine images are used to detect any abnormal function of cells or organs. Basically I got scanned to ensure there is no cancer growing anywhere in my body.  They let me leave my boots on so guess the feet aren't of concern. Our poor feet always get a raw heel, I mean deal!

I consider this the easiest of the 'big 3' scans; MRI, CT and PET. The MRI is loud requiring earplugs & earmuffs, the CT makes you feel like you'll pee yourself but you don't and the PET sounds like a fan is on. Of course all these scans require dye injections and IVs, some making you radioactive for 6 hours which could cause some ruckus at the border. There was no going for gas in Point Roberts today!

March 23rd I'll have my 3 month physical check-up and also hear the PET scan results. I feel fine but always like to hear I'm fine. Without pain so my cancers go undetected, so as much as my pain sucked, it saved my life. March 11th marked my 1st year anniversary being cancer free so hope these results keep me on pace for a second. 

My pride isn't overly impressed but I'll be discussing coping mechanisms with my doctor for my anxiety. I don't have problems every day but think I need some assistance for moments when I do. I'm getting better at overcoming these episodes but it's very much a part of my life and see no reason to ignore it. 

One of my dearest friends had a baby a couple weeks ago and yet again no child has been named after me! Instead her sweet name is Sofia Maria. My friend & I had a little phone cry the night she was born. My friend so elated at becoming a mother, I happy for her, but also 5% of me was sad I'll never have that mommy moment. 2% because I'll never be a mom and the remaining 3% because I'll never name a kid Moonbeam or Apple. Those aren't my real favourite names but I do have a list. If you're in need let me know & I'll send it to you.

Remember if you subscribe to my blogs being emailed to you, you can't reply. You have to go to my blog web page to comment or message me directly. You'll also see pictures on the web page too. Maybe I'll post a photo of Bob II tomorrow, he's growing up so fast. I sure love being a Pet-mom!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

8 Mile

Most of us know what 8 Mile relates to.  The older generation think Detroit and the youth of today think of Eminem. Either way we all know. It's a limit, a border or a boundary. The city of Detroit & it's 8 mile community or perhaps instead our inner border or boundaries. Eminem had stage fright and I assume still does in some way today, but eventually got up there and killed it. Now I'm not saying to make Eminem your muse and become a rapper with bad hair, but I am saying get up!

I had a lovely lunch today with mom and one of her friends. I'd never met Corry before but she is an avid reader of my blog and also a cancer survivor. I joked that she is just another groupie as I seem to be getting a following, but seriously she's just another person who makes me want to get up!  Now this does not mean I'm not open to finding a nice man and being a kept woman (lol), it just restores my faith and drive, reminding myself with inspiration comes aspiration. 

Having this week away has been quite therapeutic. I'm not chanting while ringing bells at the pool, but have been thinking quite a bit. I've thought about everything from stocking my wine rack to building my legacy. 5 minutes later I'm pissed off as I forgot my adult colouring book....who doesn't feel better after colouring!!  I continue to hear positive feedback about my writing so exploring ways I could branch out or sum up this blog.  

I'm trying to "get up" by breaking down some of my boundaries as best I can on a daily basis. For a quick fix, I often look up a sappy quote on Twitter. Helen Keller, Oprah, Michael Jordan & Henry Ford seem to be popular. Just now I read this via Inspirational Quotes:
                    "You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do" - Henry Ford  
Like thanks Henry, how long that take you to come up with? But he's right. I somewhat feel better?

Growing up in the streets of Kitsilano (Vancouver BC for my out of town groupies) is hardly 8 Mile, but regardless of where we grew up or where we got knocked down, we just got to get up each & every time.  

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C






Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hanging tough

Most of us over the age of 30 know who NKOTB (New Kids On The Block) are. A boy band from the 90's who had numerous hits including the popular "Hanging tough".  It came on the radio today as I was driving, crying while talking to my buddy Carolyn (hands free of course) on the phone feeling like a panic attack was happening. The timing of this song couldn't have been any better. 

Driving long distances is my biggest struggle right now. I get anxious. I see things. I feel things. I kinda freak out. There have been numerous days where I have had to cancel plans as I don't feel I can drive or I get in the car and have to turn around. My anxiety is a result of my Crohn's. If I know there aren't possible pit stops on the way to where I'm going, it's really hard to overcome it. My solution or the way I cope with these moments, is by talking it out. A co-pilot is always a good one or like today I call a friend to help me change my way of thinking. 

Today was a day I couldn't turn around. It was a day with no co-pilot. I had to be at Kwantlen in Surrey to complete a typing test for my program application. I drove around the neighbourhood for nearly 10 minutes before calling Carolyn and exiting onto the highway. She told me I could do it. With her motivational speech and the first stretch of highway conquered, I regained my composure, hung up and drove. Icing on the cake is that I exceeded the minimum typing score achieving 55WPM with 92% accuracy. 

Every cancer patient gets left with some sort of aftermath, mine just happens to be crappy....literally!  I just get so sick of these darn hurdles. I've done everything I was told since day 1 but have days where I just hate it all. I try not to let it get to me as there are so many people not beating cancer, but it does. The amount of pain I had & continue to live with sucks. Why can't I be one of the survivors who can jump back in to life again, especially in a trim pant size?  Ugh.... But it is my journey. My new normal. 

I'm headed to meet mom in Palm Desert Wednesday AM.  I fly out of Bellingham early morning and this is not a drive I can turn around from. I'll download "Hangnig tough" onto my iTunes and play it over & over until it drives me crazy & my fears are conquered yet again. Gotta keep jumping those hurdles!! 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lose the booze

Another sleepless night means writing another blog in the dark while laying in bed. It really seems to be how/where I write the most.  The silence is so quiet I hear myself talking as I write. Not real talking just talking in my head...you know what I mean!

Most of you likely recall that I'm fundraising for the BC Cancer Agency for the month of February via Lose the Booze.  At the start of day 1 I was in the lead for most dollars raised and now sit in 3rd shy of top spot by $110.  I want to take back top spot for 2 reasons: 1) to keep raising money for the battle against cancer and 2) my competitive ego! At least I'm honest in saying I like to win!

I was contacted by Lose the Booze a couple weeks ago wondering if I'd be willing to share my story and how I've gone about raising funds. I feel honoured that they selected me and recognized the efforts I've put in to this campaign.  It's never fun asking for donations but as you know I'm very passionate about giving back to the people who saved my life and help others every single day. I answered some questions and approved a draft that will be submitted to local media. Once it's published I'll be sure to let you know.  

My school application process will be complete come month end. I've sent in transcripts, about to do a typing WPM test and attend an information session in March. I'm told come April I'll be made aware if accepted. It truly is a numbers game as there are only so many spots available, so fingers & toes are crossed! I think I'd be a fantastic Health Unit Coordinator and never would have selected this career had it not been for the ladies in this role at the Cancer Agency. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

Merci beaucoup to all who've sponsored me thus far. From $10 to $100 it all makes a difference and donations are gladly welcomed until the 29th...leap year!  Help my ego...help the battle.  But let's start small and just say it's for the ego!

www.losethebooze.ca
Search my name: Carly Allen & click donate

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C





Sunday, February 14, 2016

Struggle

About a week ago I was talking with a girl friend from Calgary who I don't see often but still remain in touch with. She was telling me how much she admires my strength and drive through it all. I've heard that before. It's very kind to hear and most days I think I've done a pretty good job at beating this disease and staying upbeat, but today was not one of those days. 

I've been battling a flu..cold..whatever this darn thing is for a while now. The crippling cough started around Christmas and the rest followed later. Watery eyes, runny nose, plugged ears...I had it all and bad. Right when I thought I was turning the corner it hits me again. I reached a low point tonight around 11:30 and called a dear friend in tears. She was kind to listen and was very understanding of my "what if.." all while reassuring me that I'll be ok.  This cough is so harsh that I'm dizzy. I cough so loud that I asked my neighbour if she can hear me through the walls!  She couldn't as her laundry machine was on but did bring me some honey to help soothe my throat. 

Add in the fact that the PT job I applied for hasn't advised me yay or nay, I think I just hit a point of no return. I'm over qualified so I'm angry I haven't heard. Like seriously?  But then the good angel on my right shoulder reminds me things will happen when it's time.  Yesterday I was driving with a friend in heavy traffic and started to panic. I had to reach a restroom. I was only a few blocks away but we weren't moving. I did some breathing, remained calm, turned left illegally...but I made it. 

I guess lately I just kinda feel like the cards aren't in my favour. The strength isn't always there. Sometimes I just need to cry. I hate thinking "what if" and rarely do but it's always in my rear view mirror. Add in dealing with Crohn's and it's a real pain in the butt....literally!  I can usually cope on my own pretty well but tonight was just one of those nights when I wish someone lived with me to hear me out & even give me a hug!  Simba wants nothing to do with me as the cough bothers him too!

This blog is my virtual hug. It's my virtual roomie. My strength isn't gone it just took a day off. The struggle will end soon enough, most likely via antibiotics and at least I can hog the covers!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C






Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February

This year February has 29 days which is a good thing for my friends daughter who's born on leap year!  For me this is the first time in my life where I'll be cutting out all alcohol willingly. Obviously I wasn't drinking while undergoing cancer treatment, but I sure enjoy a social cocktail when healthy and able. 

I follow the BC Cancer Foundation on various social media feeds, which is how I came to know of this months fundraising called 'Lose The Booze'. It's simple....you don't drink. People sponsor you and the money goes directly to the BC Cancer Foundation. There are lots of fundraisers for cancer but usually for specific cancers.  Did you know that lung cancer is the number 1 killer in women's cancers? You might have though breast cancer since it gets the most attention.  My cancer is so rare that it would never get its own event so this just seemed to make sense to me. All cancers need to be fought so let's share the pot!  Did I just make up a new hashtag!? Lol 

I'm so thankful for all the support I've received thus far. I'm slightly in the lead of all single participants and it's all because of the love you have in your hearts for me and the battle against cancer. No donation is too small...no donation too big!  It's inspiring me to have a healthy and prosperous month. It's inspiring me to keep this fight alive. 

I've had a few rough days of late and I never really know why. It could be from my Crohn's, but really it could be because of a load of things. I don't think I'll ever know. I just have to cope and remember there is always someone who's worse off.  Simba seems to distract me with his OCD of licking himself. I secretly think he always wanted to be a hairless cat or he's like me and appreciates good hair. 

I mentioned before that I'm looking for a PT job close to home. I had an interview and things seemed to go well. I just wonder if employers will be scared to hire a recent survivor. I'm not withholding this information in my interview.  There's a gap on my resume and can't say I was building houses in another country, I tell the truth. It's part of who I am, my baggage. And really is my baggage that bad?  I hope not but think I might be silly to rule it out. It would be discrimination for sure so let's hope I get the call. I'm very qualified for this position so I'm optimistic. 

Anyone who'd like to sponsor me please visit www.losethebooze.ca and search my name. It's very simple and very appreciated. 

Wishing everyone a fabulous February...all 29 days of it!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C


Monday, January 25, 2016

Legacy & funeral

Some big names in music died in early 2016 most of them as a result of cancer, Bowie arguably one of the biggest names. Most generations knew him from his music, fashion and later marrying Iman. Celine Dion's long time manager and husband, Renee Charles, was laid to rest in Montreal with a grand funeral.  With these entertainers and so may other regular day people losing their battles it got me thinking as to how I'd be remembered and what my funeral would be like. 

A friends dad passed away a couple weeks ago so I attended his funeral in support of her. He was 91 so had a long life but suffered in the end with Alzeimers. I have a dear uncle also going through this and seeing how hard it is on their loved ones just makes me think cancer is the better of 2 evils. As sick as cancer can make you and take your life, at least you leave feeling love. Illness has no face, just pain. 

I don't regret not becoming a mother 99% of the time, but when I think of legacy, children is the first thing to pop in my head. I'm not a David Bowie leaving a mark on the music of today and tomorrow so what am I to leave behind?  How will I be remembered?  Will I be remembered?

I thought a lot about this last year when the doctor explained if cancer was to come back in my groin there would be no further treatment, that I would die.  I've had as much radiation and chemo as that area can handle. I was told this around 730am and I'll never forget calling Erynn to have her rush to hospital to stay with me until my family arrived. It was a day I'll never forget, a day that really showed me mortality and a day that cancer scared me the most. I tear up just thinking about it. 

As much as I've set goals for 2016 with education and employment, I think my biggest goal should be my legacy. I want my nieces and nephews to always remember the fun "date days" I took them on, my friends & their kids the cards I sent and my family the goofy times we shared. Once I'm working again I want to make people smile and have them tell their friends I changed their day. If I can leave moments like this behind me I will be a happy woman. Just being kind. Kindness is contagious. 

Now when it comes to my funeral, let's keep it real. I want bling and a party. Oh and a park bench would be great too!  I want a slideshow showing only good photos of me through the years so please be selective of 19-22 as my girls and I had a lot of fun and we had a lot of bad hair (didn't think so then did we. I blame Madonna). Now I'm not planning on going anywhere any time soon, I've got a legacy to build, but just incase....you read it here first!  My blog....part of my legacy. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Late night

It's late, 3am to be specific, and I can't seem to fall asleep. Some nights I hear every thought or idea and have to get it done or write it on a post-it note, stick it on my mirror above my keys, reminding me to do it later! 

Today my amazingly beautiful Kate Spade gold polk-a-dot 2016 agenda arrived (c/o a birthday Indigo gift card thanks so much) and after picking the perfect pen, I started to write in birthdays.  I'm happy to say I have lots of friends & their children to send cards to, but once you start you can't stop or at least I can't.  I went through last years calendar, a note pad, sent a few "remind me emails"  and hours later all was recorded.  

Card sending is a lost art. A thank you note, an invitation or birthday card makes us all smile & I'll always send cards for that exact reason. I'm often asked why I don't use my iphone calendar. I do for some things like sporting event times and maybe a gathering or 2 but there's nothing like seeing it on paper. I feel very old school in a techie world where I communicate via social media more than a phone call, but I open my agenda every morning just like Facebook and get a feel for my day. Look ahead a few days and see what's happening. Maybe put up another post-it to make sure I don't forget, especially if it's mailing a card. 

Now to fill my polk-a-dot agenda pages. I feel ready to work again on a PT basis in a low stress role close to home. It doesn't scare me necessarily but I get anxious. I've kind of created a bubble around me and think it's time to pop it & blow another.  I'm more nervous than I thought as I'm struggling with this goddam sentence....but I have to move on to this next part of my journey. No joke, a tear just rolled down my cheek. It's so hard to explain why. It's like I learned how to cope with being sick, then coped with treatment, then healing and now a new sense of normal. Buying a winning lotto ticket seems to be in order tomorrow. Could you imagine...now that would be a headline "recent cancer survivor wins millions and builds commune" #stayclosetohome

Oh my goodness it's now 4am!  I've read this entry over & over, I'm sure it's fine to post. I'm either going to fall asleep to Gilmore Girls on Netflix or I'll just close me eyes. I'm hoping to just close my eyes. Night!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

PS - Blog has exceeded 37,000 views...wow, thank you!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Milestones

The dictionary definition for milestone is as follows:

*a stone set beside a road.....oh shoot not that one!
*an action or event marking significant change or stage in development 
That's the definition I'm looking for, thank goodness as the last thing I want to do is seek rocks alongside a road! LOL

I always knew and even wrote about milestones before, they'd come and go, but today it really hit me. Facebook sent me a notification via a link called 'on this day' reminding me that last year I was still in hospital dealing with a terrible infection post tumour removal. But there I was taking the time to write a status that my dad got the hospital TV set up so I could watch the Canucks play. I was in so much pain but was doing my best to stay strong and optimistic through it all. 

I had my monthly checkup today. It went well. My doctor told me I could come every 3 months for my PET scan and physical results. This is huge in my recovery. Since diagnosis I've either been at the Cancer Agency daily or monthly. Wow...last year and this year. Crazy. Mom and I spoke of this great news on the way home and of course both of us were excited. But once I walked in to my place the tears were flowing. Obviously these were good tears but I don't think I really understood how hard December and January really were for me last year.  I'm glad my positivity and humour helped keep me upbeat during the battle but man today was rough. 

I'm cool to remember more milestones of this past year, I just hope they don't all hit me this hard. The next memory will be of hyperbaric treatments which was really cool and I feel a big part of my healing.  The beautiful blue scrubs and plastic helmet were super attractive (not) but the people I met and lessons learned were fantastic. People usually don't know what hyperbaric is so I just mention the Canucks used to use back in the day and folks seem to catch on. It all gets back to hockey somehow right?

I've always said I'd give back when I could and make this terrible time mean something. I've applied to school and changing my career this fall but firstly I'm fundraising for the month of February directly for the BC Cancer Agency. These people, this place, saved my life and some of yours as well. We need to keep helping others. Any donation you can make would so be appreciated. Cancer affects 1 in 3 Canadians so let's make a difference. Not everyone might be saved but at least we will continue to have the resources to try. 

www.losethebooze.ca
Search for Carly Allen

I must say it's been quite the day, but what a great way to start 2016. Time to make some new milestones!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C



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...