Thursday, December 6, 2018

Start the car!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Choo choo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ostomate and the City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Inspiration

Definition: 

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

Or 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch 



Monday, October 1, 2018

Seasons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

 XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

❌⭕️❌⭕️

C

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Harriette

Can you believe it’s been 4 months since surgery? I remember thinking 4 months would feel like 4 years and now here we are. This journey is as windy as my intestines on the inside yet so obvious like Winnie on the outside. I’ve sure come to know my body differently and pay more attention to it too.  In saying that I noticed a large hump like bump on my ride side so had a visit with my GP to find out more. As I suspected from some Dr Google type research I have a hernia, she’s a pain in my right side and have jokingly named her Harriette. 

I’m often asked why I name everything from my car to my colostomy bag and now my hernia. It never really dawned on me till today. I used to think it was just a funny thing I did but it’s more than that. It’s things I cherish or live with. We name our kids, our pets so why not our car?  My car is white and from Alberta so found the name Snowflake quite suitable.  Winnie took her name from Pooh but we changed it to πŸ’© poo and then to pouch. Winnie the Pouch. A hernia is annoying and I don’t know any Harriettes so won’t offend anyone, yet imagine she might have annoyed me at the age of 6 playing in a park. It also just gives me a smile thinking up these funny names. When times are sad or tough, a smile can sure change things. Do what you can to get that smile πŸ˜ƒ.

As much as my smiles come around I also have some sad tough days. I felt like I was just reaching a point where I could do more physically and now Harriette shows up....told you she was annoying!  My GP advised we won’t be having surgery for a while as I’ve been through too much so will have to live with her for a bit. Hernias are common to happen post abdominal surgery but nevertheless a total roadblock in my recovery.   

I’ve been in contact with Ostomy Canada and they’ve asked me to submit an article by September which will be published in their next issue!  How exciting is this as I’ve always said I want to be a part of awareness and change. As of 2016 an approximate number of 90,000 Canadians live productive lives with an ostomy, we just go about things a little differently at times. If you go to www.ostomycanada.ca you’ll see that it’s run by volunteers. If you feel you’d like to help a cause close to my heart (obviously) please take a look. Donations fund Ostomy Canada and no amount too small.  

I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in another 4 months. I’m hoping my swelling will be less and my hernia gone, maybe even a trip to the desert 🌡 with some gal pals. Most likely one more surgery by years end to finish “fixing” where they removed the tumour and had to reconstruct. Once that’s done I’ll be able to sit better which is my biggest struggle. I really want to ride my bike Mango but it’s not very comfy to say the least.  No biggie as she’s safe all locked up and maybe in 4 months we’ll ride again, just might be in the rain but I’ll be so happy I won’t care one bit!

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Appearance vs Reality

When you visualize what a cold looks like you’d probably envision runny eyes ‘n nose, Kleenex on the floor and most likely stay away from the person fighting off the cold. So what do you think of when you think of cancer? If we polled 10 people we’d probably hear words like hair loss, skinny, death...maybe cancer free. What I’ve learned & writing about today, is that appearance isn’t reality. 

When I was first diagnosed I was like many people and misinformed about cancer. What cancer looked like and what it actually was weren’t one thing or one look but instead many. I’ve been told numerous times I couldn’t have cancer because I had hair and no extreme weight loss. It’s not that people didn’t support or believe me, but they like me, had the general appearance on the brain. I’ve replied to these conversations saying how I too wish I’d lost my hair. Wait what? Yup. You heard me. When you look “ok” how are you supposed to see how far you’ve come?  My end of treatment photo looks more like I had a hangover from a wild Saturday night vs a beautiful side by side shot taken 6 plus months apart. My cancer scars weren’t visible but instead disguised by clothing. This time round I’m posting pics from my colostomy surgery.  My face never got a side by side but darn it my stomach scar will!  Sorry I can’t post the other things done to me, my blog would have a R rating! πŸ˜‰ 

Because of this I sometimes struggle to leave my home. I struggle if I look too good but really it’s just that I take a decent photograph & applied a face of makeup. Every time I’m at the Cancer Agency I see my thick file and think wow you’ve been through so much. I’ve felt pain like nobody should and I’m forever changed in so many ways, although some ways for the better. Cancer teaches you so many lessons about strength, love and vanity to name a few. 

A few days ago I decided to ride my bike. Please know it was just circles around my neighbourhood and nothing overly extreme. I was hardly comfortable but gosh I was happy. Happy to be doing something I took for granted but really enjoyed. My bikes name is Mango and I swear she spoke to me and said “good to see you” as air was inflated back in to her tires. Because I had plastic surgery where my tumour was removed (vulva near my sphincter) that was where I felt the most pain. I’ll have another surgery in 6 months or so to sort that out so I’ll be better able to ride thereafter. For now any future bike rides remain closer to home or maybe I need to invent a cool plushly padded oversized bike seat!  If you look at my photos linked to this blog you can see me sitting on my bike with a huge smile on my face. As Charlie Sheen would say “winning!”

My appearance may seem that of a “normal” gal but not quite. I’m still not going out with my friends for more than lunch or car rides but to me that’s a huge win. I’d like to hit up a movie theatre next as those seats are much more comfortable than Mango. Amy Schumer’s new movie called ‘I feel pretty’ seems hilarious and probably quite suitable for where I’m at.  It’s ok to feel pretty when going through cancer and not let it take that away from you too. Doesn’t happen every day but makeup is one thing I’ll beat cancer at every time. That’s appearance. Unlike the common cold cancer brings people together in various moments....like now you reading this blog. That’s reality. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch 


Friday, April 27, 2018

Insomnia

I’ve always heard of people struggling with insomnia or sleep deprivation but never struggled myself so couldn’t relate. FFW to today and boy do I know how real the struggle is. I’m writing this blog with tears rolling down my cheeks from total exhaustion. This is not how I thought crying myself to sleep would go. Nothing seems to help in short periods, but instead hours. My good ol reliable sleeping pill Zopiclone isn’t even doing the trick. I realized I haven’t written in nearly a month and I usually write late so here we are. Long overdue sleep & long overdue writing may do the trick, but hopefully just to me and not you!

As my healing journey continues some days I’m up and others I’m down. The up days can be the hardest though, as they trick you in to thinking you can do more.  Uncle Pete's service was last week and hands down the biggest outing yet physically and emotionally since leaving the hospital. Clearly not the reason why I wanted to be out & catching up with loved ones, but I owned it. I dressed to impress as that’s exactly what P would have done for me.  I didn’t want to take away from the man who gave so much, so I medicated myself more than usual knowing I’d be up/down/sitting/crying...the list continues. I wore a dress that hid Winnie and my swelling, using my cane only in certain situations. It was a perfect goodbye but I’m reminded of him daily with one of his creations in my room & a bracelet I wear often. He will be missed by many, but how proud he must be of his legacy. 

A long time back I spoke of struggling to know what legacy I’d leave behind. To not have become a mother which is most women’s way of leaving legacy, however not mine.  Firstly how cute would they had been pending the mythical fathers genetics. Where is he anyway, like showup anytime now lol . A girl would have been named Marnie Monica Nita after all my grans ‘n nans. And Fraser Norman Grant honouring my pops, grandfather & my dad. I never froze my eggs during cancer because I accepted what was showing itself. Infertility & maturity. Had I done so they’d still be waiting since I’m on round 2. Ain’t no way I say yay at 50. So instead my future fur babies will get the honours and birth announcement as we deserve to make the fridge like you did mine. A photo shows joy for a new buddy be it human or fur. Simba seems to want to live forever so could be a while yet till you get my latest post in mail!  I don’t weep at not being a mother but I do think about not carrying on some history on the tree. Common Shane pucker up, just don't steal my names! But how do I look at legacy not involving DNA?  That is my next thing to sort out and I’m hoping it’ll be via ostomy awareness which really is a cool anatomy lesson. 

Parts of my old life like driving my car, are starting again. I’ve been cleared to go for walks but still no heavy lifting or any form of struggle I can’t take physically or emotionally. It’s hard to have been on mostly bed rest up till now. It’s time to start with walks. A little longer each time to help my physical healing. My GI ordered blood work to make sure my Crohn’s is being treated properly and showed some low vitamin levels such as B12 so I’ll be adding supplements to my routine. 

Plastics will see me again next month but all seems to be healing as predicted. Another minor surgery in 6 months or so to finish it all up. Overall my swelling has started to go down again as it was stagnant for a while. Wearing socks left marks, my ankles more like kankles!  We’re sorting out meds which may have played a role. Healing has so many hills I never really expected it to be so hard. Saying you have a long road ahead is a lot easier than living it but I’m doing my best. 

Full disclosure I fell asleep writing this around paragraph 3 but woke up early to finish. I’m still tired but no sense sleeping now and struggling again tonight. Instead I think I’ll give Winnie her first bath, mop my floors and head out for a walk this afternoon. Sounds like a few steps (literally) in the right direction. 

 XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch

Monday, April 2, 2018

Phases

What’s a phase to you? Perhaps fashion, hair or even friends? Up until 2014 I had phases similar to these. My Madonna inspired short cut (not a good phase FYI). I lived in a house with 4 girls, where all we drank was Molson Dry. I’m not a beer gal but that was one heck of a Xmas party. We mailed out invites, yes kids, no email in 1998!  My fashion love phase has grown stronger but currently on hiatus. 

These last 4 years have brought on 2 cancer battles so my phases were now about chemo, radiation, surgery and recovery. Then after the recovery phase seemed to end in 2016, it brought a year of dancing at my local pub, working even though I struggled, along with great new friends in a new community. 

This 2nd recovery phase has been tough, even if you know you’ll improve week by week. Surgery-hospital-home. There’s the learning on how to walk again, how to seem sane on medications, (I posted Instagram videos high at weird times lol) & learning how to manage your colostomy. The plastics phase has yet to reveal itself, bit early still. 

Now that my 18 day hospital stay is over, I’ve been in my home phase for just shy of a month. Unreal to know I could hardly stand when I came home, and now I shimmy out of my couch with no help needed. I’ve got the emptying of my colostomy bag Winnie down to 5 strips of TP with which I clean it. I recently started standing in my shower no longer requiring a bench and nurse. I still can’t bend or be on my feet for extended amounts of time. So this phase annoyingly makes me ask you for help. Help putting on my socks and shoes. I need you to be in my home while I shower just in case I fall. I need you to prep me food so it’s easy for me to warm it up. I need you to help scoop Simbas kitty box (Ew! sorry lol). It’s so great to be at these points but I’ve got so much more to follow. The bending phase is coming then y’all are off the hook! 

My swelling is getting less every week it’s just taking time. When it’s over, Winnie and I will be able to sit up straight for an entire meal and join you in a restaurant. Oh the little phases we take for granted. I’ve really looked at things by phases so I don’t jump too far ahead. If I don’t keep it real and do the work, I won’t get there. And if I’m being completely honest I have zero clue of what “there” is...TBD.  One thing I have learned through my phases thus far, Winnie is the best thing to ever happen to me. I’m starting to feel like the real me in so many ways. This is my best phase yet!

On a serious personal note....

A dear man known to me as Uncle Petey passed away recently. I’d like you to know he was talented with many things including welding. For my 21st birthday he created me what we called ‘Mannequin Man’ but really it’s a structure to toss clothes on after they’re worn. Thanks uncle Petey for this gift over 20 years ago....it’s always used as an excuse not to hang something!  I see you everyday in your creation and remember you always.  #foreveryoung

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer
#winniethepouch


Monday, March 19, 2018

Sleeping pills

Sleeping pills are great. They help you sleep...simple.  But clearly my Zopiclone isn’t quite doing it’s job as I’m awake and couldn’t stop thinking but to write a blog. I so miss writing but my medications are holding back some of my creative chops. They also are to blame for last blogs run on sentences and spelling errors Hahaha!

I’m more up and down with this recovery than Ricky Martins career. Today I woke up and within an hour found myself hysterically crying over this surgery, over my pain, cancer,....my life in general. I called for my mother like I would have at age 8 when I skinned my knee on the crosswalk playing jacks. I needed to be kissed better before I could carry on then & now. This time I texted her to hurry over whereas in the 80’s she just heard me from the kitchen table chatting on the phone wired to the wall. “Gotta go Sue, I can hear Carly crying away” she’d no doubt say. Today she walked in my apt, helped wipe my hysteria of tears and said it’ll all be ok. No bandaid today as my wounds different than 1983 but nonetheless she got me back up on my feet ready for the next jump. 

Today I went to the Ostomy Clinic in New West. If you’re reading this, live in Vancouver general area, this is the place to go for all ostimates. Each time I meet with my nurse we evaluate my stoma, my pains, my bag and even me if there’s time left over. I started with a different bag that constantly leaked and now my new Winnie stays on for up to 4 days thus far. This week we’re pushing for 5. I have all the tools and training to change at home should Winnie need refreshing before my Friday visit, but I quite enjoy my visits. Of course I’m new to this ostomy world so now I feel I can’t live without them, but over time I’ll find myself there for supplies and a hello as I’ll be coping with Winnie just fine. 

If you’ve ever been super sick you really see who’s there to help. And if you haven’t ever been really sick take some time to think about who you want and who you think will be there for you. I’m not saying your pal in Mozambique needs to move home, although that would be impressive, I mean more family and close friends. My parents have been so amazing I just need to tell you more. My dad is the AM Man!  He arrives at 8am, either waking me and Simba up, or joining our morning mugshot faces. He makes me breakfast usually a piece of toast followed by a tad of oatmeal. He collects garbage from around the house and scoops Simbas litre box. I can’t lift or bend so he’s stepped up in my place. Pretty sure dad will tell you he gets a kick outta Simba. He’s a 17 year old always hungry cat who’s rail thin. You see his hip bones but please know he’s over fed and just old with hyperthyroidism. He does have hearing loss but his sense of smell & eye sight bang on. He really is a special cat & we’ve loved our 17 years together and looks like more to come. 

I’ve seen some of you lately and still haven’t seen some others. Please know I welcome visits it just has to be planned. I’ve got home care nurses, wound care nurses & Dr appts so always work around those. I’ll tell you no if I’m overwhelmed and I’ll tell you yes if you can help get me overwhelmed lol. I’m going to be recovering a long while so don’t feel you have to flock over. I’d love help in my garden once it’s time to plant, and I’m getting pink flamingos for this years theme. Just been wanting them for some nutty reason, but I’ll do it right. All my plants will clearly need to match that vibe!  I can’t wait to see the outcome, I just love planting season. 

In this blogs opening paragraph I spoke of sleeping pills, and it’s now kickin my eye lids quite heavily. It’s time to rest. Time to recharge. Time to dream of tomorrow. Time to dream of the end of recovery. Time to dream of a beach vacation with my folks & Winnie. At least Winnie doesn’t need her own seat, she’s got me. I’ve got her. πŸ’© lol 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

#winniethepouch 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tis me

Hello there my lovely friends, ‘Tis me & I’m  back to writtimg my blogs. A big thank you to Dawn for writing my updates when I was incapable of knowing my name let alone write a blog!  

Where to start, where to finish as this surgery journey has been insanely busy, intense, sad yet joyful. I awoke in recovery after 8.5 hours of surgery with mild recollection of seeing my folks. My room was ready sooner than expected so I was only in recovery for less than a day. Thank goodness for that as my dedicated nurse was awful. I was spoken to with disrespect and hardly helped so getting to my room around 6am was a blessing. I had called mom at 4am to please come so she was with me as I went to the 4th floor, the same floor as I was on in 2015. 

I had incredible pain that had me screaming for help, straight morphine injected in to my direct line to
help me cope but also hallucinating!  My stomach was swollen so much I couldn’t see the footboard nor my feet. Staples started right where your bra would sit all the way to my bikini line. They opened me up centre fold to do my hysterectomy, colostomy and once that was stapled up my lower vaginal plastic surgery. Instead of taking skin from my thigh it came from my stomach since it was so perfectly undamaged and soft. I like to boast about my nice skin for some silly reason lol 

Scans followed as blood clots are very common in lengthy surgeries and I did have some in my lungs. Every morning at 10:30 I inject myself in my thigh to help avoid any blood clot issues. You should see my bruises. Are purple legs in at the moment as well as purple arms?  Bloodwork nurses struggled daily as my veins were tiny so my mid arm is purple.  If so I could rock that runway tossing my hair to the side, my right side with no bruises has my nerve pain leg gets a free pass. Fold me up and it’s like a before & after lol 

I started to move & walk towards the end of my stay but it was no picnic. I had 4 drains coming out of my body so we had to clip them on my gown as I walked the halls with a walker. Once the drains were removed things were much easier and soon the walker wasn’t needed yet kept close by. I was discharged on Monday March 5th so have been home now just over a week. 

Life at home hasn’t been easy but we knew it wouldn’t be, but it’s been so nice to be home. Simba has caught on to the fact that I’m not well and is my shadow. I have daily nurse care and when they’re here he’s on the bed right beside me. He walks with me to the bathroom and always nearby when I’m sleeping. My skinny old boy shows me more love each day and with people always in & out helping,  he gets more treats as he knows how to work it. 

I’m walking really well but can’t bend or anything more than walk, lay down and sit as needed. I’ve made my couch in to a recovery heaven with pillows, warm bean bag & cozy blankets. I need no help to get in or out which is pretty amazing. I feel like I could do more but I can’t per orders. It’s so hard to have people doing stuff for you but at the same time it’s kinda nice not to have to fold my laundry!

My stomach is still very swollen, similar to a 4 month pregnancy and I apply BioOil daily to where my staples once were to hopefully avoid serious scarring. But if it does scar I’ll think of something be it tattoo work or just owning it. My story really is a great anatomy lesson so instead of talking babies I’ll talk of how my scar came to be. 

Winnie has been doing good in the fact that my bowels are moving in to her. I have however had some leaks so off to an ostomy clinic tomorrow to assess the bag I have now might not be the correct one. They’ll know and make Winnie whole again.  My daily wound care nurses have been fabulous and I also have a nurse every other day to help with bathing & any round house chores I may have. I’m very blesssed to have such great help from them, my parents and friends. I don’t think thank you cards can express my gratitude. From those of you who saw me in the early days a little cookoo to those of you who sent flowers, visited and helped at home. Y’all are wonderful people. THANK YOU to infinity and beyond!

I stood in front of my bathroom mirror yesterday and looked at it all. Winnie, the scars, the bruises, my hair so deserving of highlites and I smiled. It was not the reaction I thought I’d get but it was real. This is me now and I’m 110% ok with it. Once my stomach swelling goes down I’ll see how it’s really gonna be.    Me. ‘‘Tis me. ❤️

#carly2conquercancer

#winniethepouch

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Update, March 1st



I finally went to see Carly today after being sick last week and working 16 hour days the last few.

I arrived about 9:30am, went into her room to find her sleeping.  I sat down quietly and played for a bit on my phone.  She wasn't sleeping much the first week out of surgery so I thought I shouldn't wake her.  It wasn't long before she noticed I was there.  We chatted, she showed Winnie to me and her scars.  Normally I am a bit squeamish but her strength is contagious and I took a look.  Things looked good. She does have an infection they are keeping an eye on that is on her tummy.  They had to undo some of her stitches to all the infection to get better. 

While I was there a wound care nurse also came in, repacked her infection and checked all of her different locations.  This nurse is making a care plan for when she goes home.  Someone will have to come to the house and check on the progress of her healing.

Today was a hard day for Carly.  There were many tears.  She is so grateful and thankful that she has made it through the worst part.  Today, she was mad, sad and fed up being in pain and in the hospital.  As a fellow cancer survivor, we wrestle with our emotions when we have these bad days.  Not wanting to be ungrateful....  knowing others have not made it this far - it takes a different type of toll on our minds.  I assured her it's ok to have all the feelings.  You can let them go unless you go through them.

The catheter is now out as well as all of the iv's.  She went for a CT scan today, she got up out of bed and walked to the porter in the hallway.  So proud of her!!  She is most likely being released on Saturday, she is in the process of getting things ready for her homecoming.  House is being cleaned tomorrow, she is getting some supplies she will need for home.  Carly is excited about being at home but also anxious about not having nurses around to help. 

Hopefully, the next update will the from her at home <3




Lost in space blog - Saturday, Feb 24th



Hi everyone,

Well, I thought I posted this past Saturday but apparently, I sent it somewhere into the www :)

Here is an update from Miss Carly:

The swelling is coming down quite a bit.  When she was first out of surgery, she couldn't even see the footboard and now she can! Progress!

The drugs that she is taking for the pain has caused Winnie to be constipated and that caused her so much pain.  She cancelled her visitors as it was too much to deal with.  Super Bro came to her rescue Friday night and helped her get out of bed and go for a walk.  The nurses were so busy and luckily her brother lives close.

She is finding it hard to chat with people by phone as she is so loopy from all the drugs and texting is harder as it's hard to keep a straight thought. She is so appreciative of all the love and support that has been sent - it has not gone unnoticed even if she hasn't reached out.

It has been hard not being able to bath, the nurses are doing a good job of keeping me clean :)



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

5 days Post Op



Another message from Carly:

Please forgive me if my spelling or conjugation is off. I can πŸ’― say it’s the meds. I just got 4 mg of morphine as I have a crazy pain in my right hip/stomach area. Just now as I lay here on my bed looking out my wibdow ,which looks onto another wing of VGH, I thought I needed to write to y’all. Plus I’m not as high at 5am as I will be mid day.
In saying that last sentence I started to cry and my sounds different than before. I have to adjust as I have drains,4 of them, that come out of my calves/legs, 1 from right inner thigh and the 4th is from my left groin/vaginal area. Lets also not forget my epidural line. It’s set to help certain area. For example I have full movement of my legs. It’s more pubic bone to chest bone. And it’s not a miracle worker, we’ll need to ween off it so it just keeps me comfy. I have pain, just not as much.
So to describe to you how I’m doing. Well not good but I’m getting through. My pain level are off the charts, Anytime I cough it hurts so I need to apply pressure with a pillow. I’ve shown anyone who’s visited my “owies” so they can understand what’s going on. One of them called it beautifully done. Nobody has runout but I have seen some tears.
I was cut open from my chest bone to my pubic bone. The Drs did a hysterectomy only leaving my blader and of course the colostomy. They ended up taking skin from my stomach instead of my thigh, as my stomach skin was considered quite beautiful. Although my tummy not close flat, the skin never stretched since I never had kids nor too much sun exposure.
The last surgery stomach site you’ll see is my left groin lymph nodes were removed. And let’s not forget our dear friend Winnie ,who just farted BTW, which is such a good sign. She is on my left side and doing great. She looks great even without an outfit, but she sure does fart a lot but I’m lucky with no smell! My house has always been #2 and fart friendly and really will be now. I’m enjoying not going #2 since all has been redirected to Winnie.
I have a Jugular IV which is where I get my fluids and meds that I don’t take orally and I have a left hand IV which is used in emergency’s circumstances which I have had, PHEW!
Well, I think that’s enough for today. I still have open spots for visitors thu, fr, sat so if you want to be my assistant meaning you help feed me, get more waters from staff kitchen, teeth washing, organizing etc please reach out to Amber. She’s hee either today or tomorrow (too dark in here to see whiteboards).
I miss my Simba every day but my lovely friends are no doubt snuggling him (if he lets them the little bugger) feeding him and maintain liter box. I THANK YOU FRIENDS for taking care of my old guy.
Ok, I’m gonna beep the nurse for Ativan now as I’m teary eyed from writing this but a good teary-eyed. I know I’ll be ok but man oh man it’s going a long ass road!
XOXO
C

Carly also posted a video this morning - you can try to take a look here on her fb supporter page: Carlys Cancer Care Supporters



Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 3 Post-Op!



Here is an update direct from Carly:

Happy morning everyone. I slept for 2 hrs, then woke up spoke to the nurse and slept for 5 hrs! Hooray!!!I’ll probably be attempting sitting up and maybe walking a step or 2 today which is crazy! If you’d like to come visit please message me or Amber & we’ll set you up. It’s very important we limit the number of ppl each visit and don’t exceed a 2 hr window. There may be a dry erase board in my bedroom ha ha ha. During the day I’m most medicated and literally can’t type so sending voice msgs...ya they’re really f’d up. The word SORRY is said so much in here so we now say RICE KRISPIES and for swear words, it’s FRAGLE ROCK!

As you can see, she is in great spirits considering she just had MAJOR surgery on Friday (or maybe it's just the drugs lol).  Rest is still on the menu but she is having visitors if you make an appointment!  I woke up with a cold on Saturday but am on the mend and will be going by Thursday to visit and get an update for the blog!

Don't forget to check out her Instagram (link on the side menu) she has posted some photos!

<3

#carly2conquercancer

#WinnieThePouch



Saturday, February 17, 2018

Rest and recovery


Hi everyone!

Good news - Carly has been moved to her private room already!  The night went well and with firm doctors orders is to rest, rest, rest! 

With that being said, I ask that if you want to connect with her to wait a few days.  Carly needs to be disconnected from her phone (sorry Carly <3) and res....t but right now her phone is going berzerk with people trying to see how she is and sending her love. 

If you want to send her some love you can post on her fb group: Carly's Cancer Care Supporters and she can read it in a few days.  You know she will reach out as soon as she is up to it!

Thank you <3

#carly2conquercancer

#WinnieThePouch



Friday, February 16, 2018

She's out!



Helloooooooo, my name is Dawn and I will be updating the blog for all of you! I do not have the writing styles of Miss Carly - but will keep you all updated with all the facts!  She felt it was very important to keep all of you updated while she is in the hospital and I am happy to do this for her <3

Carly's social media team (Amber, Candice and myself) have received an update from Marj, Carly's mom..... Though the surgery went longer than expected, she was taken in at 10:30am and got to the ICU about 7:30pm,  everything went as we all wanted/hoped - GREAT!

Carly will be in the ICU for the next 24-48 hours with the doctors/nurses keeping a close eye on her.  Mom saw her for a few min, she woke up and in typical Carly fashion - asked if we had all been updated yet so that we can update all of you LOL.  I would assume the first few day's they will be checking for any signs of infection so that the healing process can start.  

TBH, when I heard the news I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.  It wasn't as I was worried it wouldn't go well, I am just so relieved that there were no surprises. I know I can speak for all of her friends and say that I'm sure we were all holding our breath waiting to hear how today went! 

That's it for now, and when I hear tomorrow - I will update the blog. I know she would love if you left a message for her below, that she can read when she is coherent enough to look at her phone.

Please continue to keep sending her positivity and strength.  

<3

#carly2conquercancer

#WinnieThePouch




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ahhhhhhh!

Ahhhhhhhhh!  Yup, you read that right say it with me Ahhhhhhhh!  Tomorrow is surgery day, holy guacamole batman! πŸ’₯ Not too long ago I was talking about time and here we are. The morning before, the last blog sans Winnie, my last day going #2 like most everyone else! 

It's been a challenging couple weeks to say the least. I'm very much a planner and need a timeline to give me some sort of structure. Having to wait to meet the ostomy nurse and anesthesia doctor was super hard for me, as all I had was basic information and whatever I had researched. I did find some amazing people to chat with in my community and via Instagram who've been through similar experiences. It's going to be great to have them to chat with through the ups and downs of colostomy life....life as on ostimate they say. 

My ostomy nurse was FANTASTIC!  I'd heard of her through a fellow ostimate who had her last year when she had her colostomy. The way she described everything from my hysterectomy to my stoma was super informative. I got to touch a fake yet life-like stoma, see a typical bag, picture charts outlining my changes and of course was marked as to where Winnie will be. I left feeling at peace and empowered whereas 2 days ago I called a friend around 930pm crying uncontrollably needing her to come over. 

My biggest fear has always been my reconstruction and can ya blame me 😳. I've met with my oncologist, my plastic surgeon and now the anesthesia doctor and he put it best out of them all. VGH does gender reassignment surgeries so if they can successfully help those patients, they can successfully help me. What a frickin genius thing to say!  Why has nobody else said such a statement to me?  How did I not think of this?  It was just on Greys Anatomy last week but to be honest, I stopped watching the episode as it was just a little too close to home!  I was also told by this amazing man that I'd have an epidural line for a couple days to help with post surgery pain. As much as I feared the epidural in the past it'll now be my BFF!

With these empowered moments my fear hasn't just floated out in to space. I KNOW I've got a long hard road ahead but I'm so excited to have this agonizing pain go away. I can't sit, walk, stand, move really, for long periods of time. At least my new pain will get better instead of worse. Bye bye tumour, it's been awful making your acquaintance twice now. Peace out!

I'll find out this afternoon as to what time I'll be admitted tomorrow but I'm certain it's early.  Since it's a long surgery of 6-8 hours I'd be shocked if I was admitted mid day. My family and I are so very thankful of all your love and support but in saying that at times it's overwhelming. I've set up 3 ways for you to follow my progress at your leisure with this blog, Facebook and Instagram. I have delegated people to post on my behalf until I'm back to the land of coherence. I'll be staying in recovery for a minimum 24 hours so my parents are the only ones who can see me and that visit short of like 10 mins. Once visitors other than immediate family are allowed and I'm comfortable in my room a post will follow. Please try to come in small numbers and possibly limit bringing children until such a point it won't be traumatic for them. I want to stay the cool auntie not the "OMG mom is she dying?" auntie. I do want you to visit please know that. I just want to remember seeing you. I want to be in a good space to show you the new me. My Winnie. 

Ahhhhhhh it's all so real. One sleep away.  Don't worry Winnie we'll take care of each other in more ways than one, I've already got you some snazzy briefs!  See everyone on the other side, love y'all. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

#WinnieThePouch








Friday, February 2, 2018

Time

Time can be told in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months to a year. At times we feel time go by quickly and other times it seems so slow. Sometimes we want to go back & other times we wished we could jump forward.  I've felt these times over and over again unsure which is the lesser of two evils. 

Right now I want to jump forward but in saying that I also want time to go very very slow.  My jumping ahead means my cancer pain will cease but my new beginning and that recovery will begin. I'm so totally miserable in this moment so I'm shocked to hear myself say I want time to go slowly. I quickly realize I'm scared of what my future holds. 2 weeks will be here soon enough and as I lay down on that OR table the current physical me of 42 years will cease existing.

Flashback to my first cancer battle. I never lost my hair. I never lost an incredible amount of weight. I never looked like the typical cancer patient. My pain struggles fierce but not visible. My surgery scars can only be seen in an incredibly awkward position (lol). Now this time I'll have multiple visible signs of a cancer battle. My stomach will be cut.  Skin from my thigh used to help with plastic surgery. My stoma created. My colostomy bag Winnie born. It'll stare me in the face every single day. 

I met with my plastic surgeon Wednesday and he explained worst to best case scenarios as they always do.  I can't think worst case as I've never been led to think this way from any of my doctors. They just have to ensure the cancer is gone for good so will cut what's necessary. Once done the plastic surgeon comes in to fix me up using skin from my thigh & it's muscle along with other treatments. The entire surgery will take about 8 hours and result in high blood loss so transfusions will be coming my way.

So here's why I want time to stand still but why I want it to speed up all at the same time.  No matter what we want to do with time in the end we have no control. A day finishes & a new begins. All I can control is how I use my time.  I'll have a lot of learning post operation but it'll keep me busy. Soon enough I hope to write a blog saying it's been a year and time has flown by quickly and I'm just fine. I'm the new version of me and time has become my friend again. I'll be living life in a new way minute by minute, day by day, year to year. 

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

#WinnieThePouch


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Future

Early on in my first cancer battle, my cousin Jacqueline gifted me a jar or wishes/inspirational sayings. I saved every single paper she stuffed in the jar as I pulled them out on a daily basis for a smile or glimmer of hope. Now that I'm battling cancer for a 2nd time, I put all the wishes back in the jar and pulled one out. It read "focus on the future".  What a perfect wish for this stage of round two.  

My biopsy results came back and confirm cancer as imaging indicated, however no cancer in my groin. They might still remove a gland or two to ensure no future reoccurrence just to be certain. No sense to go as far as we are to rid me of this disease to have a small miss.  I'll also have a hysterectomy but no biggie there as none of it works post radiation.  My one perk of cancer is no more girl time, didn't get to be a size 2, but I'll take it! πŸ˜†

January 31st I'll meet with my cancer doctor to hear more information. I still don't know much in regards to Winnie's size, how she'll work, what kind of diet I'll need to follow and loads of other questions. After that appointment I'll head downtown to meet my plastic surgeon. I have no idea what this appointment will bring but do know it's two hours long so I'm sure I'll walk out of there with a clear understanding of what will happen February 16th. Yes, that's my surgery date, it's all so frickin real!

I've had some rough days coping with pain but just have to keep looking for my future like Jacqueline said in her note. I KNOW I'll be a better version of myself when this is all over, it's just going to be a bumpy ride. I'm trying to prepare as best I can and have reached out to my community seeking other Winnie people locally. I'm amazed of the support I've received from strangers thus far. 4 people are willing to share and teach me the colostomy ways. Of course my Carly brain starts spinning and I think of creating a local support group, but one thing at a time ha ha ha. There's not a lot of awareness on social media so hope to bring more awareness along my journey. 

Going through cancer for a second time I'm seeing things slightly different. I'm still an optimistic person but I feel a lot more anger and emotion this round. This doesn't mean I'm destructive & depressed ripping down curtains while crying, lol, I guess it just means I'm a lot more realistic. Realistic of how I'll forever be changed physically, realistic of my pain coming down the yellow brick road & realistic of my challenges. Obviously I'm going to rock these realism's but it's darn scary, but oddly at the same time I'm excited to see what my future brings. A Winnie hashtag is in the works, something never used before, so send me your suggestions and be part of my future!

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Checklist

I love a good checklist. Not the kind on your phone but instead on real paper. I see it, I feel it, it's more real. I cross things off once they're done and keep it with me till it's complete.  I use the same pen to write and fold it up keeping it in my pocket for easy access when I need to remember my next thing to do. My list is a smorgasbord of things from what groceries I need, bills to pay and appointments to attend. Yesterday I crossed off my second biopsy but still need some yogurt and cheese πŸ˜€ 

Tuesdays biopsy was a doozy. I was convinced I wouldn't take the epidural but after discussions with the doctors things changed. They explained the benefits which out weighed my fears and off we went. I shed some tears but with support I conquered. Bent over in to a nurses chest in the OR I felt the needle. I was also hooked up to an IV of sedation drugs so my pain was very much under control. I made it very clear I wanted to see nothing so a blanket was up and the sedation helped me relax. I don't remember much after I layed down. Waking up in recovery I was completely numb from my waist down. The nurse had a bag of ice she'd place in random spots but I didn't feel the cold. About an hour later and I could feel the cold ice and dad was there to take me home. 

This was a really surreal day for me. When I initially got home I was fine but not long after I was a mess. Reality really sunk in. This is just a freckle of what's to come. I was overwhelmed. I was on the phone with my mom in tears and in walks my bestie Amber. She knew I was in rough shape from our texts so headed straight over. I love having her living so close to me instead of Calgary. Lipton soup and a shared smoothie dinner calmed me down and she helped clean up my wound from the epidural. Blood was under the bandage and some bruising but once cleaned up didn't look so scary. I was in bed by 10pm counting sheep. 

Wednesdays biopsy was of my left groin. I've previously had the same procedure on my right so knew what to expect. This was a walk in the park in comparison as the only real ouch is the freezing. Sometimes you feel the needles wiggle by way of pressure, but it's really simple. I turn my head the other way and hope the doctor gets good samples and poof it's over. Yet again my dad picks me up and we enjoy an early dinner at Whitespot before heading home. I should hear results Friday or Monday which will determine my next steps. The colostomy surgery is booked for mid February but until all is certain I don't know much more than that. 

So my checklist still has more things waiting to be crossed off and more things will also be added. A minimum two week hospital sleepover post surgery will no doubt add numerous things to do & things to get. Canucks toque to cover dirty hair ✔️ Trashy magazines ✔️Cute pjs ✔️, love and support ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

XOXO

C

#carly2conquercancer

Monday, January 15, 2018

All aboard!

Illness journeys are like train rides. Multiple stops, long horizons, with possible changes due to lack of roadway or proper fuel. The whistle blows and you hear "all aboard!?" when it's time to choo choo on out. 

My biopsy surgeries are this week and I hear the locomotive pulling in!  My conductor (in this case my dad) will be driving me in & picking me up. Tuesday is biopsy #1 which I'll be sedated for, and Wednesday is an ultrasound biopsy for my left groin lymph node. By the end of the week I should know what is happening. Will my train stay on course or will it jump a track last minute?


In my head I know. I know a colostomy is coming. My pain & symptoms mirror round 1, but this time I got it figured out sooner since I knew what to expect. I've been on bedrest since late December, my bed way more comfy than a train car however, and my pain is somewhat under control. Never gone but not as debilitating as before. 


I was supposed to go to an appointment with the anestheologist Friday but was in rough shape. I woke up expecting I'd be fine to drive myself in, had a bath but then boom! It was 930am and my appointment was for 11. For whatever reason my anxiety went off the charts. I was balling my eyes out, then my body revolted in other ways....I was a total mess. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw the posted videos. I've never done a video before, but have seen so many courageous ones from others, that I did just that. It was like I had someone in the room with me and it helped. It also showed another side of illness, the side we often don't see.  The doctor I was meant to meet with was amazing and called to review what we would have done in person. 


The doctor was giving other sedation options to me including an epidural. I was pretty adimant I want complete sedation. Like common doc, I do not want to know or for that matter see anything you do to me! I've never once been awake or sedated awake, and don't want to start now. It's like they know I'm a veteran of these surgeries and want to give me a purple heart & I just want to see stars as I pass out!   Pretty sure Carly's Train just choo choo'd a loud NO on that one!


Tonight dad and I are staying at a dear family friends home in the city to avoid the congested drive as admitting is 9am tomorrow. This way I'll wake up with less stress and be ready to board my train knowing it'll soon come to a stop one way or another. A straight forward track will show itself most likely by the end of the week. This girl is ready to be the conductor sooner than later. 


XOXO


C


#carly2conquercancer




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...