Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Running BACK to the sun!

I found out that my radiation won't start for at LEAST 2 weeks after my measuring is done on Friday.... start date of 2 - 4 weeks after measuring.... SO, I thought WHY hang around here if I can be back in Desert Hot Springs soaking up the heat and the healing mineral waters?

I didn't say soaking up the sun since I always wear 50 block and wear a hat & glasses..... I have done that for years - being known for taking hot holidays and coming back the same colour as I left or close to it.... but now that I'm dealing with a cancer diagnosis, I'm extra careful.

I had grand plans to use my 3 weeks away as an opportunity to eat right and get fit. But instead, I ate a LOT and gained weight. WHAT THE!?! Despite 4 hours per day of waterball.... but I have come to realize that standing in the pool and leaping in the air twice a minute does not a weight-loss fitness program make - as fun as it may be....So when I go back, I will ACTUALLY make a REAL effort to lose weight.

Today I saw a plastic surgeon for a tissue expander fill (my last one) but it wasn't my usual surgeon so it was a guy I hadn't met before. He was examining me and I could see him comparing my breasts (to each other, not to his and since they aren't really close to equal, I mentioned that I had gained some weight since surgery and intend to take some off before my next surgery. I am pretty sure I heard him mutter something like "I think that's a good idea".....

I'd like to say 'JERK'.... but I know it's true.... also, I met with my medical oncologist today who advised that I will have a much more success at weight loss now that I'm not on steroid drugs. I didn't even realize I was on steroids.... I hope my testicles don't shrink... Oh wait a minute... And also said that keeping weight off is yet another measure in protection against cancer recurrence as they think the estrogen builds up in fat tissue and since my tumour was estrogen receptive, it's better NOT to have extra estrogen kicking around.

So that has given me yet another good reason to get in shape.

So, I'm leaving early Saturday morning and will be back at the Palm Springs airport by 10:30am or so.... we figure if we hurry, I might make it back for waterball!

Catch ya later.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Did I mention I play waterball? ha ha

Yes - that is pretty much what I do here... now that it's twice per day. 11-1 then 5-7. Yesterday I 'met at the flagpole' at the usual time for heading to the neighouring spa to play there. Only one other player met there - the 22 year old grandson of someone. We waited around long enough to realize we had been stood up - but instead of giving up on the idea, he ran home, borrowed granny's car, picked me up and we headed next door on our own. The other spa was happy to see us since they didn't have quite enough players for a good game. So the two of us got OUR waterball in..... And I got to go home and brag that I had a 22-year old date instead of an 82-year old date....

Bob keeps telling everyone that I have all the old men lined up around the block. Then I said that the REALLY sad thing is that isn't even true. And shouldn't it be true????

After yesterday's game, I had a chat with Chuck, who is 86 years old and still playing waterball - and doing it well! He is also missing a breast to breast cancer. Although he was 71 when he was diagnosed and they took out 32 lymph nodes and they were all negative so he decided to skip chemo. Obviously it worked out for him. Breast cancer in men is rare but not unheard of... so it's kind of cool to have one right here on the same waterball team as me....

I have heard a lot about eating habits from the fit older folks around here that I might start practicing at home. It is obviously working for them..... So why would you question the good thing. The good eating habits plus the spa waters.....I've stumbled onto the fountain of youth here!

There is only one waterball game over the whole weekend, so I guess I might have to do some sightseeing or shopping this weekend. DARN!

Once I get back to reality, I guess this blog will go back to its original purpose of providing info on my treatment etc. I have Herceptin on Thursday, and radiation measuring on Friday. Not sure when I actually start radiation but probably within a week or 10 days from the measuring appointment.

I am now looking forward to doing some crabbing when I get home because Butch bought a new boat for us to do it with! yee ha. And the dogs love crabbing too.....

I think that's about it! Until next time!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mineral Waters!

As I've mentioned previously, this place is called Caliente Springs - which means Hot springs because the swimming pools here are fed with the natural hot springs. There are signs posted everywhere about all the health benefits of being in the mineral water.

I'm skeptical, however, there are a lot of really old people here so perhaps I should be less cynical - and I have been spending a LOT of time in the pool so I'm hoping that bodes well for me....

There is a man walking around here that we have dubbed 'skeleton man'. He is basically brown skin over a skeleton. He sunbathes by the pool on a lounger and sleeps with his mouth open. You have to look very carefully to see if he's breathing.

In the discussion about whether the mineral pools are actually any good, someone said that 'skeleton man' is 98 so the pools must do some good. So I replied, 'Yah - and that guy died 4 years ago....' ha ha. OK - that was funnier at the time than it is by blog but what the hey....

The swimming pools here are appx 90 degrees. It's a real chore getting in.... The day we arrived, the pool was 95. That's getting a little too hot, I must say. But it sure is nice in the evening! The hottest hot tub is about 104.

Today we went to Joshua Tree National Park. This week is National Park Week so they are all free so we saved $15. The park is big - there is a place called "Keys Ranch" where an old homesteader lived until 1969. You can go on a guided tour there for $5 and it's about 90 minutes long. Our tour-guide 'worked in tv' for 16 years until he gave it up about 6 years ago to become a park ranger. After we Googled him when we got home, we found out that almost his entire career was spent as 'miscellaneous crew' and his work was as a stand-in. HA HA.... however, we contemplated on whether or not there really are guided tours up at Keys Ranch. Perhaps, since he was supposedly an actor, maybe he threw on a ranger suit and just made $130 from us up there feeding us a bunch of bullcrap.... Ah, whatever - it was entertaining anyway....

As we were filing out, the group of us in our car (we had guests too) were contemplating how old he was. I said 42. We decided to ask him, so we pulled up as he was letting us out the gate and randomly asked him how old he was. When he said 42 - we all laughed hysterically especially because I said YES in a loud voice - and sped off down the road cackling like hyenas. He must have thought we were nuts.

On Saturday, we went to The Living Desert which is basically a zoo. We hit it on a good day because it was half price due to Earth Day. So 1/2 price at the zoo and free at the National Park.... We're doing pretty good here!

It is funny asking anyone who lives here about a good place to eat. They have no concept of simply knowing a place for the food. It's all about whether it's under $10 or not.... and if the food is too salty. I think it wouldn't enter anyone's mind here to eat at a restaurant that charged regular food prices... The Emperor's Buffet has been recommended to us although we haven't been able to find it yet. $6.60 for lunch and $9.95 for dinner! Sounds good to me.... it's not like I'm against getting a good deal. We ended up eating at a lovely Italian place in Desert Hot Springs which is right on the main drag, has been there a long time, supposedly has the best steaks in the valley (but we didn't try one) - and yet the pasta was $14.50 and the steaks started at $20 and went up to $35..... so I'm guessing that place is not even on the radar around here.....

But I shouldn't poke fun since having a fixed income is no joke! Especially if the hot springs will make you live forever like skeleton man - you need to conserve your $$ for future meals....although, if skeleton man is any indication, I guess you don't need to eat MUCH..... lol

I missed waterball today.... damn! But it was a good day despite that. I'm staying 'home' tomorrow so I don't miss any waterball. I guess I'm addicted.

Guess I should sign off now. Still loving this place! Glad to see the weather is looking better at home so I won't have too hard an adjustment next week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waterball galore...

So I'm in Desert Hot Springs (near Palm Springs) at Caliente Hot Springs Resort which is an RV and mobile home park. Cam's parents bought a place in here in January and so I have been camping out in the living room of their very cute 1 bdrm mobile home.

Just 2 'blocks' away is the resort recreation area. There are two big pools and 3 hot tubs. There is a fitness room and a library. Plus a little bistro which will be shutting down soon. Basically, this place shuts down for the summer as the snowbirders head home. It supposedly gets too hot to hang around, however, there are about 100 permanent residents here.

Every day at 11am except Sunday, a group plays waterball which is basically volleyball in the pool. In waterball, you can hit the ball as many times as you want to on one side and the same person can also hit it as many times as necessary. The back row has to set the ball to the front row unless it has been touched by someone else first. The 11am crew is the more serious competitive one. There is another group that plays at 2pm with a beach ball and it is more recreational and less rules.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, our resort sends players to a neighbouring resort from 5 - 7pm. Then on Saturdays, that group comes to our resort. They announced today that for the summer, it looks like the other resort will be allowed to come over to play on Mon-Wed-Fri from 5 - 7. So that means there will be waterball for 2 hours at 11am and then again at 5pm EVERY DAY except Sunday! Holy crap - these old folks are HARD CORE!

Of course, I'm right in with them.... I went to the neighbouring resort today. After 4 total hours of waterball, I am exhausted. And waterlogged. One of the guys I play with said that the bad thing for him these days is that once he gets out of the water, the wrinkles still don't come out.... hmmmm, I might have written that already in another blog.... oh well.

After the first session, I chatted with one of the players afterward. Without much prompting, she told me that she left her husband 4 years ago and he is stalking her despite the restraining order she has against him. And because she is slim and single and on the youngish side for the resort (meaning in her 60s), the other women don't like her because they think she is after their husbands because she sometimes wears a 2-piece bathing suit. Holy Crap....

Plus, the first day I played on the 'competitive' team, one woman told another to 'shut her mouth' because she didn't want to listen to her anymore.....whoa! So I just play my hardest and cheer all the good plays even for the other team. They all think I'm 'nice'. HA HA.

When I got home today, I took two Advil. I think I strained about 4 different muscles today. After my first game of waterball, I had to go out and buy water shoes (only $7 at Walmart), and a couple of hats, plus sunglasses for the pool. So with my wide brimmed pink 'old lady' hat and my wrap-around mirrored glasses, I suspect you wouldn't actually be able to pick me out of the crowd of 60 - 80 years olds in the pool. Which is sad, really..... When selecting my sunglasses at Target, I was entertaining my inlaws by doing 'land jumps' pretending like I was in the pool leaping for a ball to see if the sunglasses would stay on. My new glasses make me look like Spiderman.

BUT, I am really enjoying waterball, and I'm pretty good at it, and it is good exercise... So I'll keep doing it.

I also went to TOPS yesterday morning. There were 20 people at the meeting and that is a summer attendance when no one is supposed to be here! And they have 12 KOPS!!! Ok, that won't mean anything to most of you, but some of you reading this might be impressed! (it's a weight-loss group if you don't know)

I currently have water in my ear and no amount of jumping up and down is helping get rid of it this time.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cancer treatment and weight issues....

Most people, including me before I went through it myself, assumed that chemotherapy meant that I would feel sick all the time and get really skinny from feeling nauseous & generally not feeling like eating.

While I'm no expert on other kinds of chemo treatments, the oncologist - and people who have already gone through it - all said that everyone on chemotherapy for breast cancer gains weight.

My theory is thus: they provide excellent anti-nausea medication so you don't feel sick and don't feel like 'not eating'. In fact, the Dexamethasone in some of the anti-nausea meds actually has an appetite stimulant in it. So, instead of feeling like 'not eating', exactly the opposite happens.... you feel hungry a lot.

In addition, the chemotherapy does make you feel fatigued - whether you like to admit it or not. So you eat at least the same, and usually more because of the appetite stimulation, and then you do less activity because you are fatigued. Hence the weight gain.....

Last spring / summer, I had finally gotten my act together and had been successful at losing some weight. At one point I was down 18 pounds.... HMMMMMM I JUST thought of this now--- I wonder if I hadn't lost that weight, if I wouldn't have felt the lump as quickly..... (another good reason for losing some pounds!!) Anyway, I was hoping to keep the good trend going....

Unfortunately, after surgery, you naturally can't do much physical activity, and so I gained about 6 pounds after surgery. Of course, the trips to Dairy Queen with Jennifer didn't help much either - but I did thoroughly enjoy them.... I guess I could have walked on my treadmill - but hey - as someone who struggles with losing & keeping weight off, surgery seemed like a way better excuse than the previous lifetime of lame ones and so cashed in on it.

Then, many of the cancer books have instructions on how to pack extra calories into your diet. My feeling is that these books are a little out of date because I really think the anti-nausea meds are changing the side-effects of chemo. I'm sure people still suffer - everyone is different. But it wasn't good for me to be reading how I might need extra calories to get me through chemo.... As it turns out, I didn't.... but I got them anyway!! LOL

During chemo (which included Christmas, remember), I gained another 12 pounds. So yes - the entire 18 pounds I had lost, I have now gained back. BUT, chemo is finished now, and I have this break before radiation starts which I am using to 'work on me'.

I'm in Desert Hot Springs now at a resort that has 2 swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness room - even a TOPS group meets here weekly. The weather is hot, so it's summer-style eating. Salads and light meals - plus there are scheduled fitness activities that are geared to the 55+ crowd so are perfect for a lazy-ass like me just easing my way back into the world of exercise. I am making an effort to eat less, and eat SLOWLY. Any of you who know me well at all, KNOW that I could win a speed eating contest without much effort...

I have already lost a bit of weight in the 2 full days I've been here....however, the 3 day drive did not do much for my goal. I probably only just lost what I gained on the drive out.

I even tried some of the exercises my personal trainer gave me for the exercise ball. I learned a valuable lesson - it is WAY easier to do those exercises with someone spotting you.... and I fell off the ball and hurt my butt and my wrist. And so felt it was prudent to give up on that type of exercise since I am trying to avoid requiring any kind of medical treatment down here.... (as I'm sure EVERYONE does at all times...ha ha - it's not like I would be unique in that...)

But I was alone in the fitness room and so besides not wanting to get hurt in any circumstance, not having someone around to dial 911 was another good reason to give up on those exercises.

But I got 42 minutes in on the treadmill - and I actually used the safety rope so it would stop running if I fell off from exhaustion... (ha ha - like I'd have it on a pace to exhaust me....)

So that's the 'skinny' on breast cancer treatment and weight issues.... ahh ah ha hah hah ah ahha hh hahah aha ha ha

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who says you have to age to be old?

So Cam has been telling me this for awhile now, but I have now realized it must be true.... I am already old!

I wasn't worried about fitting in here because I figured I would knit and yack with the old folks.

Well, there's shuffleboard here (which is similar to curling), plus there was 'game night' although no one showed up except me....hmmmmmm.... in one of the party rooms is an organ - which I can play..... I've been doing puzzles in the library too....

They have waterball leagues, which I participated in today. I am doing more of the old folk stuff here than my inlaws are doing.... I think I am mentally older than they are.....

The weather is beautiful, the resort is fantastic....we had a pancake breakfast this morning for $3.50. At breakfast, I learned that a 'saloon' down the road has karaoke on Thursday and Friday nights.... yee ha! more old folk stuff to do.... Plus, I have about as much hair as many of these people do....

Actually, I have had a couple of people approach me about my 'cancer do' and tell me they are survivors and offer support. I am really enjoying myself and so happy that I have a lot more leisure time ahead of me here.... I am doing water exercises and waterball & swimming so I'm hoping to slim down a bit before I get home since chemo made me gain weight.... (yah , the chemo - that's right - I'm blaming it on that!!!)

So that's it for now - dinner is served so I'm signing off.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010


It's true!! It was a border guard, and he had a little black box that was beeping wildly every time he brought it near me....and he was referring to my level of radiation.....but I still got excited to hear someone say I was hot.....(really hot).

I had my heart scan Tue am...they inject me with radioactive crap for the scan and give me a sticker that explains what it was in case I am crossing the border... the tech told me that they would know I was there 2 or 3 cars back... I was skeptical - but she was right. A guard approached the car while we were in line still and asked if anyone had had a medical procedure recently.... of course we said yes and he wrote on a red post-it form and stuck it on the window....

As we approached the booth there was a brief discussion in the car on whether we would declare the cooked ham we had in the cooler....(this will become relevant later on....) we handed over our passports, & then he sent us immediately over to the 'building'... so we had to go inside with our red we were leaving the car, we figured they were going to search our vehicle and we would get busted for having ham.... but we had our 'story' ready since no one had actually asked us if we had anything to declare. They only asked us about the medical procedure....

Once we got into the building,we saw people in the line ahead of us with that sticker too, and then, when we were waiting in the line, a large number of people began streaming into the building all with red stickers.....

So the guy who told me I was hot also explained to us that the sensors are extremely sensitive and he knew I was REALLY HOT because I had set the sensors off in ALL THREE of the open lanes. We were second in line to the booth when he came over to us in the line with the sticker. Turns out that 3 rows of cars in ALL THREE LANES were sent in....I counted 12 people after I realized. Some might have escaped my count before we clued in to what had happened. I kept apologizing to people since it was obvious to everyone who had caused the problem.... They have to take a bunch of surrounding cars so that terrorists don't send someone through who's had a medical procedure so that they can slip through the border behind them...

The guard had to ask me to go across the room because they wanted to take the black box to all the other people and if I was too close, it would set it off.... The big yellow sensors that you drive through are way more sensitive than the handheld boxes inside are.....

So, after my experience, I highly recommend NOT trying to smuggle any radioactive materials across the line.... they will catch you.

After 45 mins or so, they let us leave - and not one person asked us why were going to the US, or any of the usual questions at all...

So while radiactive material is a no-go... if you want to smuggle ham or fruit or anything else that you're not meant to have, get a MUGA scan before going across the line - apparently they are way more concerned about bomb-making material than ham....

Even when we crossed into California, they stopped us at a booth and asked if we had any fresh fruit..... but still no ham questions!

Currently we're at a Motel 6 in Santa Nella - and we had supper at Pea Soup Andersons..... the big windmill you see from the freeway. You get all-you-can-eat pea soup and bread, plus a beverage (which included milkshake as a choice) for only $8.50!!!

You pay $2.99 for 24 hrs of wi-fi and I'm posting this on a 7" laptop with miniature keyboard.... things are not moving very quickly... LOL

It was 23 degrees out today - one more day of driving and we'll be lounging by the pool with a beverage in hand!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rude Awakening...

The dictionary definition of 'Rude Awakening' is suddenly being made aware of an unpleasant fact. Well, this morning that phrase was literal for me..... and I WAS suddenly aware of an unpleasant fact - the fact that I was damn well awake....SUDDENLY!

Molly was sleeping on the bed behind me and must have shifted and fallen off. So in her own 'rude awakening' of suddenly falling off the bed, she scrambled out to not fall, and in the process WHACKED me on the back of my with her front paw and raked it down my fuzzy scalp down my neck and onto my shoulders.

The good news is that it didn't break the skin (I disinfected it anyway). The bad news is that it stings like hell. The WORST news is that it happened at 5:04am and now I'm wide awake. I think I should submit a new definition for the phrase......

So, I thought I'd post since I'm still in town - we delayed leaving by one day which worked out well for me as I got to see my mommy and my Butchy before we left town (they were away for awhile).

Cam is staying home 'batching it', as they say. He has 2 flyball tournaments so I know he'll be busy 2 of the 3 weekends I'm gone.

I'm posting from Cam's computer for some reason and I've noticed a pile of mail on his desk. In the pile of mail is a postcard from the vet addressed to Cooper Bow. It says:
"Dear Cooper Bow - our records show that you are due for your next exam and vaccinations. Please have your owner call us to book an appointment. Regular healthcare will go a long way in helping to prevent unnecessary sickness and treatment. Sincerely, Drs and Staff of Guildford Animal Hospital". My DOG has got mail!!! How weird is that? I guarantee that I could hand him this postcard and he won't read it.... and even if he COULD read, it basically says 'tell your owner to come in so I can give you a painful shot and a thermometer up your bum'. Would you tell YOUR mom that?

I think I might give it to him and video it. You'll get to watch him eat the postcard. He loves eating cardstock....

So I was instructed by one person already to have a martini-type beverage, something 'pineapple-y'. Any further requests?? I am always willing to sacrifice for my family and friends.....

In this day and age, it is practically impossible to be out of touch electronically - and I won't be - however, I will attempt to spend my time at the pool or out in the sunshine (with appropriate sunscreen and hat) - and not devoted to the computer. So I'll probably post to gloat about me being in Palm Springs, but won't be glued to it like I normally am.

Will be flying home April 27. See ya!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Molly is OK

She has a loonie sized hole in her tummy but the vet says it's superficial (compared with something deep into the muscle.

Of course, if you saw this deep hole in her tummy, it doesn't LOOK superficial. But she has a huge bruise, and claw scrapes on the leg and she walks quite gingerly.

And no flyball for 2 weeks...... That probably pisses her off the most!

(and her dad)

This could have been extremely bad, but we came out of it on the lucky side. I hope that dog-owner has learned something but I heard he brought the dog out again after Cam left with Molly..... so I doubt it.

Final Chemo Finished

You might think I was excited as all get-out..... but I'm not. Because I have another 13 treatments of Herceptin every 3 weeks which is still called chemotherapy.... Which makes total sense to me - since Herceptin IS a chemical drug and it is still therapy for my cancer. I still have to go every 3 weeks to the cancer clinic and get hooked up through my port.... So I think I will be more excited after the Herceptin ends.

The good news is that the side effects of Herceptin seem to be fatigue - but not the other stuff because this drug is more to do with the Hormone side of things and not the rapidly dividing cell side of things. So no mouth sores, or nerve damage or nausea.

And of course, I'll be REALLY happy once the damned port comes out!

On a completely different note, our dog Molly was attacked by a pit bull tonight - she SEEMS to be mostly ok but will keep you posted after 2nd vet visit tomorrow. Cam took her to the ball field and, as is his usual practice, was throwing a tennis ball for her between games (double-header). The pit bull chewed through his leash and chased her, then knocked her over and bit her in the soft belly part below her rib cage. Cam picked the dog up by its fur to try to get it to let go, but Molly was still attached so he put it down and the owner got there right then and managed to unclamp his dog. From what we can see, it looks like a deep layer of skin was peeled off with the bite, but we can't see any puncture marks. Cam took her to a vet - but the guy seemed scared of being bitten by Molly and so Cam did not feel confident that he got a good enough look at what had happened - but at least he gave her an antibiotic and suggested she be looked at more thoroughly under sedation.

Our plan is to take her to our usual vet who ISN'T afraid of dogs.... and who we are almost certain will not need to sedate her to look more closely. She is walking gingerly but doesn't appear to be TOO grievously injured - we were very lucky. Our main concern now is internal injury - but we have high hopes as the bite seems to be scrape of skin with the teeth and not a puncture mark - but we're not vets so we'll get the expert opinion tomorrow. The good news is that the guy who owns the dog was very apologetic and provided all his contact info and told us he would pay the vet bills.

That is a stand-up thing to do. A neighbour of ours had his poodle attacked by a pit bull months ago and that poor dog is STILL going through surgeries.... several thousand dollars later and he still is healing. And the guy who owned that dog literally RAN away so the neighbour had no recourse from him.