Saturday, December 17, 2011

Flyball Video

Our team has produced a video to explain flyball....

If you have 10 minutes to burn, please check it out!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I don't have cancer!

So, it's mostly official that I don't have breast cancer.

Thankfully, no one really noticed the time lag between my 'special date' for my Nov 1 mammogram and the lack of posting.....

I had the mammo on Nov 1, but then went to California for two weeks and on my first day back my doc called me in to review the report. HMMMMM, I thought - that's never a good sign when the doctor calls you in to discuss results.

So I had a mini-meltdown, called Cam at work who reassured me that they would take more pictures and confirm nothing was wrong.

So we met with the doc that afternoon who did indeed report that the mammo had showed a 'shadow' on my right breast (the real remaining one) and the mammo people want me back for a close-up just to be sure. So of course he was telling me not to worry - they were just being extra cautious due to my history.

HOWEVER, as much as someone tells you not to worry, it is still at the back of your mind - particularly because the stats all say that 80% or more of breast lumps aren't cancer too and I already lost with those odds.....

Anyway, I think I did pretty damned good at NOT worrying, and then waited a couple of weeks for my 're-take' appnt to be booked but when they still hadn't called, I got on the horn to the clinic and basically demanded an appointment - which they obliged me within 3 days. (LADIES- IT PAYS TO BE PUSHY WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH). Well, for that matter, I'm sure it does for men too.....

So today was the day, and when I explained to the tech that I already had breast cancer, she made a point to track down a doctor so he could review the film immediately. And he did, and gave me the all-clear.

So that put me in a FINE FINE mood today!

And of course I did not post anything so as not to worry the world, and mom didn't find out until today once I got the all-clear because I really didn't want my family freaking out for nothing. (very glad I did it).

So now you can all know the story after the fact..... with a happy ending.

And I think I got the opportunity to help someone today with some reassurance at the centre who is just starting her process - a pre-op meeting before her mastectomy..... so it seemed like I was the right person in the right place at the right time. At least I hope so anyway.......

So yay me - my first official 'no breast cancer' result post-treatment. Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'm officially back in the swing of things

How can I tell? I'm awake at 5am thinking about work. Not in a bad way - I seem to have overcome my initial overwhelming crying every day freakout period. Of course, it was unfortunate that had to happen for many reasons, but the main one being that every day when I come home from work, Cam asks me if I cried today. Irritating!

So last weekend we went to the movies. We saw 50/50 and Moneyball. 50/50 is the one with the guy who has cancer and the movie trailers show him trying to use that angle to pick up chicks. EXCELLENT movie! However, it was an emotional ride for me. These comments are not spoilers because my reaction throughout the movie was not related to the events occurring in the movie itself, but just because they were all so familiar and since I really didn't have too much issue going through cancer treatment itself, I certainly didn't expect to get emotional watching a fictional character go through it.

But, alas, I did - and once I started it was SOOOO hard to stop. And it was embarrassing because it wasn't just tears streaming down my face, but full on sobbing that is hard to do quietly. Cam was trying to comfort me but it just wouldn't stop! I have theorized to a few people that in my real-life situation, all I see and know of the reactions of my friends and family are what they choose to show me. In the movie, they have the ability to show the background stories of friends and family that don't involve the main character and gave me some thought to what other people around me must have been going through as well.

I know for a fact that the scene where he and his friend were shaving his head (also in the trailer so no spoiler there), was very relatable - Cam was cringing because that is the one part of my treatment that really hit him hard. You may remember that post describing how Cam was really affected by the head shaving because that's when it hit him that this cancer thing was a reality. Which is weird because by that time I had already had my breast removed - that should have been a big hint. HA HA. So that tells you something about our sex life if he didn't notice that... KIDDING geez....

In reality, it shows that Cam really didn't care about me losing a breast and while he does pretty much ignore the fake the one in breast-related activities (meaning, him grabbing mine not for any 'fun' reason but just because he knows that it irritates the hell out of me). I have discussed this issue with some close friends so believe me, I know that I am not alone. Men are fascinated with boobs whether or not it relates to sex. But I don't really blame him for this since I basically have no feeling whatsoever on that side, so why bother? Meaning, why would he bother if it doesn't irritate the hell out of me? Which of course is his goal in life on any given day. Luckily (or stupidly), I love him in spite of this. HA HA HA.

I met a woman recently who will remain anonymous in all ways for obvious reasons. Within minutes of first speaking with her, I learned that she had a breast reduction which has caused her nipples to be permanently erect and what's worse, they aren't symmetrical so her husband calls her Marty Feldman. I loved the fact that she would share this with a basic stranger. And also told her that if I HAD 2 nipples and they pointed in different directions, I know for a fact that my husband would also call me Marty Feldman. He just totally would no doubt about it. Permanently erect nipples! Whadda ya know about that!

But, I have digressed quite thoroughly from the movie...... I eventually did stop sobbing but I was quite exhausted afterward. But not too exhausted not to sneak into the other movie for free afterward.... YUP - we're movie stealers, what can I say.... We don't get out to the movies much so whenever there is a situation where there are TWO movies out worth seeing, we do it. It's so easy at our local theater. There are some in the neighbourhood where this task would be much harder, but this one is easy-peasy. And of course my theory is that probably all the workers there know we've done it but the 17-year-olds making minimum wage likely don't give a crap. Plus, Cam is 6'3" and my seem somewhat intimidating to a high-schooler....

That reminds me of a story from years ago when Cam injured himself at ball. We were sure his pinky was dislocated and one guy said he normally would put it back but Cam is a 'big guy' and he didn't want to be near when someone tried to relocate it. Of course, like all of us, Cam is somewhat bigger than he was 10 years ago, but only one size! And I found it weird because I never really thought of him as a 'big guy' - probably because he's slender. Of course he would say 'WAS' slender - which is a bunch of crap because he is still in fantastic shape, but he's almost like a woman the way he always thinks he's too fat. But in reality, 6'3" IS pretty big..... and we're very glad they guy didn't try to relocate the pinky because as it turns out, it was broken. So the guy probably WOULD have had to run for his life in that situation!

Wow, Cam seems to be a main character in this blog..... I think this was meant to be about the movies....

Oh yeah, the second movie we saw was Moneyball with Brad Pitt. It was good too but the first movie was better. I will be curious to know if any other cancer survivors react the same way I did in watching 50/50.

On another note, I am curling this year. My own team has pretty much folded due to injuries so I was happy to get a call from a ladies team who needed a player. So I'm curling Tuesday nights & doing very well so far - except my curling muscles haven't been used for quite some time so my massage therapist is getting a lot of custom these days.

I think that's it. Hell, I think that's MORE than enough!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Don't Forget to Wash your Hands!

You already know I'm a big advocate of this from past posts, but now it's flu season and it's extra important.

Of course, there is the no-brainer of washing your hands every time you use the toilet - but you should also be washing before and after preparing food.

And in 'sick season', you can wash them just randomly to be extra cautious.

Last week, I was in Petsmart and paid for my items by credit card. I handed it to the teller and she was sniffling and coughing. Then she rubbed her nose & then handed me back the card. EW! I immediately used hand sanitizer when I got into the car.

Hand sanitizer is a handy thing - everyone should carry some in their car or purse for those occasions when you can't use soap & water.

So chemo is what triggered my heightened awareness of hand-washing since it is vital to not get sick while immuno-compromised - and it worked! So if it works when you're on chemo, it will definitely work when you're healthy. And it's easy - and hygienic! So why not?

Oh yah - one last thing.... I recommend washing your hands after entering a washroom for any reason. When you think about it, everyone using a washroom touches a door handle or tap faucet before getting the chance to wash their hands. 'Cooties' are everywhere in a washroom - so even if you haven't officially used the facilities, if you've entered a washroom for any reason, you are subject to 'Cootie-ness' - so wash 'em off!

Which of course means that you need to be prepared with a paper towel to turn off the faucet after washing your hands - and opening the door to get out.

Many people at my work are falling extremely ill with a very bad flu going around - so I'm doing my part to help prevent it.

These hints aren't just for public washrooms. Be safe at home too!

End of lecture..... LOL

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Chemo Brain Contagious?

Today was my flex day.... a day off every two weeks - my "Golden Monday". I treasure it! So I started my day today by reading an email from an online promotional sales site that I had placed an order from recently.

I was trying to add one more item to the order and so had sent an email to the art department that I communicated with previously. They replied that they can't help me and I should talk to Customer Service. So I emailed customer service and they emailed back and said they can't help me, I have to phone Sales. So I phoned Sales and they said they can't help me I have to talk to Customer Service. So I explained the sordid circle to them and she put me on hold presumably to look into it. After several minutes, the phone went dead. So I tried to use their online chat help and explained the circle on THAT and the woman told me she can't help me and I need to talk to Sales. So I explained the story AGAIN that all those departments said they aren't the right one so she said 'sorry - why don't you try Customer Service?' - AAAAAACCCCCCCCKKKKK OK I realized in a hurry that besides this not being the right person to help me, she REALLY wasn't the right person to help me... clearly not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. So in the end, I tried the Sales number again & went through it all with another person, who promptly helped me and resolved the issue within a few scant minutes. So I ended up with some competency in the end, however, it was looking a little dicey there.....

So my next chore was to book a rental car with Airmiles. In speaking with my rep, she asked me if I had coverage for insurance or will I need to buy it. I said I was pretty sure I was covered- but she didn't think that was a good enough answer and encouraged me to put her on hold and call my insurance company using my cell phone. This was very gracious as Mondays are the busiest phone days for Airmiles and I already waited a long time on hold to get through. So I DID call my insurance company and was assured that I had coverage for the one car. So as a back-up I asked him about my second car to make sure that if I used that insurance instead, it would still offer the same protection. He then proceeded to inform me that my second car's insurance expired MAY 15!!!!! WTF?!? Ummm It's September 12..... that is FOUR MONTHS of driving without insurance! Yup - that's right - it's not like the car was sitting idle.... we've been using it as our second car - and NEITHER of us had any clue we were driving with expired plates. (hence my Post Title - since Cam didn't notice either).

So after I freaked out upon hearing the news, my insurance guy calmed me down, told me he would renew it online right there & then DELIVER it to me within 10 minutes!!!! Holy Crap - who does that? And remember, my Airmiles lady was still holding for me..... so I went back to her, explained my freakout and thanked her for encouraging me to phone the Insurance company..... Then got my rental car booked, and then had my insurance papers delivered TO MY DOOR minutes later. Wow. PRIME INSURANCE in FLEETWOOD. Go there!

Sometime before all that, I found time to put a first coat of paint on my deck stairs - task that has been overdue for several years now. When we first built the deck, I only ever got one coat on with the intention of adding another when the weather cooperated - but never got around to it. So today was the day. After my Airmiles/Insurance freakout, I had to zip over to New West to get my (newly insured) car sorted out at the mechanic's. When I came home, I put the 2nd coat of paint on and have been feeling pretty damned smug all day about my accomplishments.

I even squeezed some other tasks in like arranging for roof replacement quotes - yup - it's time. Our roof is trashed and all our neighbours have had it done - so I guess it's our turn.

And most people know I'm heavy into flyball these days (sucker....) and got several flyball chores done today as well. There is NEVER nothing to do.... And I keep telling everyone over and over - working REALLY interferes with my personal life.... It's hard to squeeze everything in.

Yesterday we did a Demonstration of Flyball at the SPCA Paws for a Cause fundraiser in Richmond. We couldn't get our whole team out there so we patched something together with a mish-mash of people and dogs. And the results showed..... our flyball demonstration was a bit of a fiasco with dogs running down the wrong lane & dogs refusing to run and dogs missing the jumps... but the crowd was amused at any rate, until we finally got our 'S' together and ran some decent races for the crowd. But they seemed to enjoy it. For those who forgot, check out our website at As a reminder, our team is always collecting items to raffle off at our November tournament. If you have anything you want to donate, please just let me know. New & gently used accepted!

On the long weekend, Cam and I took the dogs to see our good friends in Oroville and had a wonderful weekend relaxing on the mountaintop ranch with a view of the lake. SO serene and beautiful.

The weekend before, we met Suzy at the cabin in Tulameen and enjoyed Otter Lake daily! The weather was so awesome - I'm really enjoying summer - it reminds me of Palm Springs.....

Our next trip is booked - leaving Nov 7 & returning Nov 20. Got the flights booked (and of course, the rental car). Dogs are staying home this time (THANKS MARK & VIKKI!)

Well, I think that's it - I'm pooped. Just got home from flyball practice too..... Yup - flyball BBQ on Friday night, flyball practice Saturday morning, flyball demonstration on Sunday (12 - 5) and then flyball practice Monday night. PHEW. We're glad for a rest until Saturday..... (we practice 2x per week). The dogs love it, but the humans get a little tired of it....especially this human.....

So that's about it.... actually, it's enough - this post is enormous! You're basically caught up now..... Ciao!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I look normal!

So the last couple of weeks I've been wondering how this diagnostic mammogram thing works so I finally remembered to call my doc's office & found out that I have to go in to arrange that. So I went in today (I mean, WHY? - I need a mammogram - phone me.....). Anyway, I guess he has to put his kids through college....

So I went and he put in the order - hopefully it's sooner than 3 months since I'm due for my annual on Sep 8. And so I confirmed with him that it is up to ME to remember - no one will track it in a system & make it happen..... UGH.

So he asked me if I was back to work full-time (yes), then he announced "you look normal, how do you feel?", - great to have a professional's opinion - he must be really good.... Then he quizzed me on whether my hair colour was natural or not (it is) - and he expressed surprise that I don't have to dye it.

In fact a lot of people express surprise to know that I don't have much grey hair. Come to think of it, considering who I'm married to, I'm very surprised myself....

I'm looking forward to a flex weekend coming up - I'm going to Tulameen to see Suzy! And even more surprising, Cam is coming too! And then on the long weekend, we're back to Oroville..... we're busy beavers! (anyone want to babysit birds for the weekend?)

It's been a fun summer.... OK - not as fun as last summer since I still wasn't working.... although last summer I was doing and then recovering from radiation treatments.... OK - this one is better.....

So to sum up - I look normal! And more importantly, I FEEL normal! I'm slimming down to where I want to be and I got my vitals done for the BC Generations Project and I'm in pretty good shape - almost....

I'm at 26.5 BMI (should be 25 or under). I'm at 34.8% body fat (should be under 34%).... but my lung function was excellent - no surprise there really..... over 80% is good and mine was at 124%.... and my bone density was in the normal range. Normal is considered minus 1 to 2.5 and mine came out at 0.4. So while it's in the normal range, I still pulled up my brochure on preventing Osteoporosis to refresh myself & get working on strengthening my bones.

Hopefully my mammogram gets booked sooner than later but when I have it, I'll keep you posted...literally!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

BC Generations Project

please check out to learn about a study that is being done to help learn why how and why people develop cancer over time.

They are looking for people 35-69 to participate. They need 40,000 people and they aren't getting as many men as women so it would be great if you could encourage the men in your life to have a look at this important study.

They will be tracking 40,000 over 25 years to see if they can see any patterns or contributing factors for cancer. So they ask your eating habits, environment, physical fitness levels etc. In some cases, they will get blood samples etc.

I feel this is VERY important research that may help generations to come. The information they learn with my help won't be useful for another 20 or so years, but I will be happy to know that I helped them identify some factors down the road for our young people being born today!

I urge you to consider participating if you are between 35-69 & live in BC.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Officially full time back to work.

As of Monday July 4. 7-hour days (yup - government) and now I can accrue vacation..... once I got over the shock of the inevitable I just wanted to get back to the grind so I can save up my vacation days and head to Desert Hot Springs! Right now I'm doing basic 7-hour days but on July 18, I'll work a longer day so I can take my flextime. My first flex day will be Tuesday August 2 (tagged onto the long weekend - woo hoo!)

Also, I learned that even though I've been away, my vacation bank still grows because they base your allotment on years of service. So I earned 2 more days while I was away! Of course, I will only get to take one of them since I have to be working to earn vacation and this year I will only be working half..... but 84 hours is better than nothing!

Returning to work has been harder than I thought it would be. At least I think it has..... I'm not really sure how hard I thought it would be but I certainly was NOT looking forward to it. I'm finding it harder to manage the stress of it than I thought. And I also found that I took on some projects during my leave because I had time - but now I don't have that time and so the projects will have to be pared back....

It's a lot harder to fit all the napping in when 7 hours of the day is filled with working. It's rather inconvenient.

Anyway, I'm happy to see the good weather arrive - reminds me of California - and today I got to ride in a 2-seater convertible Audi and it was SWEET! Gotta love a convertible on a beautiful summer's evening.

I've had a couple (few?) meltdowns the last couple of weeks. I'm hoping I can find my centered and happy place and not forget what is important. I guess I didn't learn as much as I had hoped to - but at least I've learned that! (meaning I recognize this and will attempt to improve)

I better sign off before I confuse the hell out of everyone. I'm already there.....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tick Tick Ticking Along

So I've been gradually returning to work - adding a bit more time week to week to get myself back up to full speed.

I'm not sure what happened yesterday - maybe a little brain overload - but I was SO tired I couldn't stay awake at work so I left early & came home to sleep. I probably hit the pillow at 12:30 and didn't wake up until 4:45! Just in time for the game - not that it was much to stay awake for....

Wasn't able to sleep until midnight but still got a solid 7 hours of overnight sleep even still. So I guess my body just needed the extra and thankfully it is no issue for me to do so at this time.

Otherwise, work is improving as I am remembering more of my job & getting more and more comfortable.

I've been trying to get more fit but seem to be at a plateau weight-wise. I guess I have to change something up to get that last 10 pounds off.

Don't really have much more to report.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My new nephew

Jennifer had Baby Iain on Sunday May 15 at 12:46pm. He was born at home with midwives present at a weight of 9 lbs 1 oz (4.15kg).

Chatted with Jenn today - she said the baby was 'brilliant' but the labour was the worst pain she's ever felt in her life. So everything was normal from what I've heard.... LOL

Here are some pics!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Improving my Attitude

OK, I have to admit that I have been less that enthusiastic about my return to work. I have been bitching & moaning & pissing to anyone who asked me. (not about the work itself, just having to be there instead of in California playing waterball....)

I then started wondering why I would have that crappy attitude about something as simple as going to work when I had a great attitude all through my cancer treatment. And as I said to a friend on the weekend, 'going to work HAS to be better than cancer, right?'. So I've decided to put a positive spin and attitude on my return to work as well.

And this morning I was cleaning out some old emails and came across some that will help me do this. The following story is one my mom sent me because she said 'it fit me to a T'. It made me cry and was one of the nicest things she has ever said to me (and naturally there have been many... )


There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. 'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.' So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. 'H-M-M,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.' So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. 'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.' So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. 'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

So I am going to use this example to make the best out of returning to work - like the good things of seeing my awesome colleagues who are all great people, and also the bigger paycheque! And the fact that being at work means I don't have cancer! So I have now given myself an attitude adjustment - my own 'kick in the ass'

I have another great email to share but I'll save it for next time.....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Officially back to work.

Yesterday was my first day back at work. Well... half-day anyway. I'm on a 'graduated return to work' for a couple of months where I add more time over the weeks until I'm up to fulltime.

It is strange being back at work - and I have to admit I did start to feel somewhat overwhelmed during a meeting today, however, I added my 'new perspective' to it to make myself feel better.

Basically, I'm thinking - hell, if I can get through cancer treatment, that I can definitely get through this process of getting back to work. This is nothing compared with what I've already gone through - and of course is necessary for me to put the cancer experience behind me.

Am I happy to be at work? No. But honestly - who is, other than dolphin trainers?

I consider myself very very lucky to have had the benefits & support from my employer that I have had and so feel that it is only fair to do my best to return to work in an efficient (yet healthy for me) manner. I don't plan on dragging it out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The 11th hour.....

Meaning, tomorrow is the big day of my 'Return to Work'..... ACK!

I haven't even told you all the story of my 'Return to Canada' from Scotland and here I am already 'Returning to Work'. ACK!

So, my trip to Scotland was fabulous - most notably for the fact of seeing my ever-so-pregnant but not for long sister-in-law Jennifer (who actually is due today however there is so far no sign of said baby arriving as yet). We had lots of quality time together and I really enjoyed getting to know her other half & his mother. I had already done most of the 'tourist' type things when I was in Scotland in 1996 (my first honeymoon - but that's a whole other story). So this was 'family time'. Although that didn't stop us from going up Arthur's seat. I know - that sounds so weird, doesn't it? But what it means is that 'Arthur's Seat' is the name of this sort-of mountain near Holyrood Palace and the top of it offers a fabulous view of the city. So it was a beautiful spring day and Jennifer was feeling up for it so we actually hiked up this hill. Me and my 8 3/4 months pregnant companion..... sadly, she was faring much better than me - But despite that - and many of my other best efforts - no baby arrived on my watch.....

Anyway, my out to Scotland, I had window seats all the way. The ride home was aisle seats for me. So my row had a largish teenager at the window, a little old lady in the middle seat and then me on the aisle. About 2 hours into the flight, the lady got up for the restroom and then, in broken English, asked me to move to the middle seat. See, I am the kind of person who would give up my seat on a bus for someone who is old, or pregnant or disabled.... but I learned I am NOT the kind of person who will give up my aisle seat on a 9 hour plane ride for someone old - especially when there are 7 hours left in the flight. She was trying to wangle her way into a seat in the row behind me because her daughter & granddaughter were there. But there was a man in the aisle seat there and I guess he probably didn't want to move to a middle seat either - so she figured he would be willing to move to another aisle seat one row up and if only I would move to the middle, she could sit on the aisle with her family.

Admittedly, there was some guilt attached to my decision - but who wants to sit in a middle seat for 7 hours? She certainly didn't so why would I??? Then she asked the flight attendant about changing seats and was told there were extras so if she found one she liked she could move there. So she scoped the plane, and obviously found an empty seat because she came back to me and asked ME to move to the other seat she found! I refused again. Guilt factor ramping up but I stuck to my guns, thinking that my 5'7" frame more needed an aisle seat than hers did....

So in the end, she moved to the other empty seat which was a bonus for me and my other row-mate as we had no one between us anymore. And the EXTRA bonus is that at the end of the flight during the descent, the guy who was sitting in the row behind (the one she tried to convince to move to my row with me) got air sick and puked 3 times into the bags provided. So I was really glad I hadn't crammed myself into a middle seat in order to sit next to a guy who would be puking......

So I arrived around 2pm on Wednesday (which was 10pm Scotland time) - and the trick to beating the jetlag is to stay up & go to bed at a normal time. So Cam took me to flyball practice where I was dead on my feet but knew it was for a good cause - especially because I had stupidly committed to running Cooper at the flyball tournament on the weekend. But it did help me with the jetlag as I had no problem sleeping through the night & was pretty much ok after that.

Thursday night I went to my TOPS meeting, Friday night I had a double-header of slo-pitch then Saturday I ran flyball all day (for the 2nd time in my life - the first with one of my own dogs). I was not only exhausted from all this - but also sore and injured. My muscles were MAD. There was no thought of me doing the same on Sunday as per the original plan. I was pretty much useless all day on Sunday. I was so tired Saturday night that I woke up in overtime and had no idea the predators had tied the game up with less than a minute to go.

So today was my last day of freedom - but I got an interesting phone call from my 'return to work' guy. My doctor had told me to go back to work half time for 2 months when I finally do go. So I planned for that. But then THIS guy called me today to explain that Return to Work schedules are usually more graduated - which actually makes a lot more sense than what I had scheduled based on the doctor's recommendation.

So instead of starting half-time tomorrow, I am doing more like 1/3 time for a couple of weeks, then moving up to almost half-time, then 2/3 then 3/4 etc. until I am accustomed to working closer to full-time hours. So that is actually a much smarter plan - I hadn't realized that there was an option for this. I just assumed that since the doc said 1/2 time, that's what I had to do. This guy explained that doctors are not usually extremely specific - they will often just say 'graduated return to work' with no specific hours identified. So they go with their own info as long as it doesn't contradict the doctor's (like trying to make me work MORE hours than the doctor recommended). I'm happy about this - it seems more logical. And less stressful. And I'm not talking about the stress of actually working - I'm talking about the stress of realizing that I have to 'get back to normal'. That my 'life of leisure' is over..... my trial retirement has drawn to a close. But now it is closing JUST a little more gradually to make it that much more palatable.

But now it is 11:15 - and I have to go to bed - because I have to work in the morning!!! This is still blowing my mind and freaking me out a little.

But, that's life! Here I go - getting busy living!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Here I am in Scotland and to you folk, depending on what time stamp shows up on this entry, you will think I am doing the usual trick of posting in the middle of the night.... but alas - it is 8:15am here.

For my time here, this practically IS the middle of the night as my jetlag time adjustment seems to keep me up until 2:30 or 3:30am and sleep in until 10:30 or 11am.... but not so today. (the first part is true but not the second part.

Oh yeah - HAPPY EASTER!!!

Today is looking like a gorgeous sunny spring day - which is good because yesterday it pissed with rain until the late afternoon. But otherwise the weather here has been good. No rain to speak of and some lovely sunshine.

We went to Rosslyn Chapel on one of the sunshiny days. Actually, it was a gloomy damp day when we left but just out of town the clouds thinned and -voila- fabulous afternoon for the visit. Rosslyn Chapel has been around for over 400 years but it wasn't really all that well-known until Dan Brown featured it in THe DaVinci Code. Before that, they received around 10,000 visitors per year. The yeara after the book came out, they got 170,000 visitors!!! Now they are getting about 130k per year.... Turns out it was a great way to get the restoration sped up since they charge £7.50 to get in (I think the exchange rate is just over 1.5 these days - so about $11.00 CDN)

Otherwise I haven't really been doing too much 'touristing'.... Of course that is not why I came - I'm here to visit with Jennifer & Greig and try to add some level of entertainment / comfort to their last days of freedom before the baby arrives. As promised, I have been doing my part to encourage the baby's arrival before I leave. Although she doesn't want to eat a hot curry due to heartburn - but I do often put my mouth up to her belly and tell the baby to come out and meet his Auntie..... So far, no luck. Cam thinks that method is a sure way to make he doesn't arrive early - he thinks I probably scared him into hiding.

I think today I will convince Jenn to take me to the Royal Mile. I saw it 15 years ago when I was here (also when I did mostly all the usual tourist things anyway so now I can see the 'real' Edinburgh). But it would be cool to start at the castle & work my way down to see the closes etc. But my expectations are realistic - Jennifer is due in exactly one week and her mobility & speed are rather limited. It won't be a whirlwind tour, that's for sure....

They live a very healthy lifestyle in this household - both in fitness and eating habits - which suits me fine as I have been able to stick to my plan. I have probably lost another 5 or 6 pounds since the surgery so I'm curious to see what the plastic surgeon will say now (I see him upon my return home). Of course, other than that he wants me to have a nipple..... that's standard.... but if he notices my further weight loss.

Will keep you posted (literally) if a baby decides to show up while I'm here....

Friday, April 15, 2011

My last hurrah....

It's back to work for me the first week of May. To squeeze in one more trip before my 'freedom' ends, I am off to Scotland on Monday to see my dear sister-in-law who is about to have her first baby! (due May 2) I'm hoping for an early delivery...... I'll read up on things to feed her to put her into labour early....!

Just as my plane takes off on Monday afternoon, Cam will be finishing his first day of work at his new job as a Warehouse Supervisor at Pharmasmart. It's located in Cloverdale - for the first time in a very long time Cam won't have to cross a bridge to get to work. It has a pension plan, plus RSP matching and decent vacation time.

I am getting skinny!!! OK, well, maybe skinny is pushing it a little but certainly on the road to it. Last night I went out with Suzanne and she said she needed to take our traditional photo of the two of us - so she did and when I saw it I realized I had no double chin. It has been a long time since that happened.

On another topic, I had been totally confused about some foods as I had decided I wanted to eat healthy choices and soy products and ground flaxseed are in the 'superfoods' categories. But they also have phytoestrogens and the paperwork handed out at the cancer clinic lists all the foods with phyoestrogens (plant estrogens) but then goes on to say that there isn't much research on the effect of these foods on certain breast cancer patients and so to consult with your medical professionals.

So I tried to talk to my oncologist but he wasn't much help. He said eat soy in moderation but I hadn't asked him about flaxseed. So then I phoned the cancer agency again and asked the flaxseed question and the pharmacy reported back that hormone positive patients shouldn't eat ground flaxseed due to the estrogen but that flaxseed oil is ok. This frustrated me because I really WANT to eat flaxseed and I read a study online that said that the weak estrogens in the soy & flax will help my Tamoxifen (cancer pill) to work better. So in my frustration & desperation, I emailed the organization who did the Run for the Cure. Since they raise money for research and I want to put in a suggestions for them to do research on the foods, I emailed them.

They actually emailed the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and a registered dietician answered my question! And the answer is that new research HAS been done and the info I received before was out-of-date. A new booklet was published last August called A Nutrition Guide for Women with Breast Cancer and says that up to two servings per day of soy products is safe as is 1 - 2 TBSP of ground flaxseed. YAY! I guess things are really getting back to 'normal' for me.... it's a weird feeling but, as Red said in Shawshank, you either get busy living or get busy dyin'...... I intend to get busy living!!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My first post-treatment ball game!

Tonight I played ball for the first time in a LONG time on my fabulous slo-pitch team the Crazy Dutch Bastards. Only half a game - we have lots of players so we all have to share playing time - but it felt good to get back out there. I even got a hit! I had to wait until now because the plastic surgeon said no running for a month after surgery - so I didn't - and let me tell you, the wait was BRUTAL because I LOVE running.... . I know - sarcasm doesn't translate well in writing....

Well, the ugly truth of return to work is upon me - a couple more weeks of freedom and then, back to the grind. Well, half time anyway for a couple of months. The good news is that I'll get to wear all my new work clothes that I bought in Palm Springs. And more good news is that I am continuing to lose weight - so those clothes are going to look better & better!

I have spurts of motivation and have been doing a few 'spring cleanup' kinds of chores around the house - but I also still take naps. I haven't figured out if it's because I have to or because I can. I always did love me a long nap....

I'm posting in the middle of the night. I'm not really sure why. After the game, we went out to the pub for dinner as it was one of my teammates' 40th birthdays. To celebrate, I brought a bottle of Crown Royal to the game. A bunch of the team had shots and of course I also partook. Hadn't eaten since breakfast so a few shots of CR are very efficient on an empty stomach. Got home at 10pm and went straight to bed. I'm not sure 'passed out' is the terminology in this case, but it MIGHT be..... But then I woke up at 2:40 and now I can't sleep so here I am.

Today I used a sewing machine. (one of those afore-mentioned chores). I shortened some curtains - by myself!!! Of course, if I didn't have mum-in-law threading the machine, I probably would still be sitting there. But it did bring back memories of high school when I sewed myself some 'Hammer pants' that had stripes. And as a happy coincidence, the stripes lined up properly on the sides (definitely not planned - I'm not that meticulous) - and my sewing teacher gave me a high grade because of that. For those of you who know what Hammer pants are, welcome to middle age. For those that don't - they are baggy pants with the crotch at the knees. I wonder if the waist of those pants would fit one of my thighs these days.....

I really don't have much else to say. My treatment is done, my boobs are done, I'm able to run now (against my better judgement - or should I say my 'laziness' judgement). Now I just have to focus on getting fit. For real! It sounds awful, I know. But what can you do when you live in a shoe? (eat sole) OK, that's it - now I know it's time to log off.... Good night!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The final Kiss Off

Saw my oncologist today for my final visit. He did an examination which didn't turn up anything distressing, and he advised that my final heart scan came back & everything was good.

Basically, my only treatment now is daily Tamoxifen for 5 years. After 5 years, if I am post-menopausal then I will see him again where he will evaluate me for another kind of hormone therapy for post-menopausal women. If I am still pre-menopausal, then I get no further treatment.

And, of course, I get my annual diagnostic mammogram (it is a little more skookum than the screening mammogram that most women get).

But other than that, I get no further testing - nothing that tells me I am 100% cancer-free - no guarantees or stamps of approval. Of course, I will be doing regular self breast exams (as all you women should be doing monthly).

If, after 5 years, I AM post-menopausal and he puts me on hormone therapy, then I will get regular bone density scans as those drugs cause Osteoporosus..... So he has given me a pamphlet on how to prevent Osteoporosus so I can get my bones in as absolutely good a shape as possible if it turns out I will need those drugs in 5 years.

I am looking to be a healthier me - in reading the nutrition stuff, I realize I have been eating very healthily - perhaps a little too much at times causing the weight struggle - but my choices have been good ones. I love fruits and vegetables and with the help of my TOPS friends and the nutrition stuff I've learned online, I am getting better and better at choosing healthy options.

And so I hope to get back to the weight I was at before I found the lump - that is about another 10 pounds or so away. Am hoping to do this before I go back to work so I can return looking & feeling great & reassure everyone that I am as good as new.

So, one more visit to the plastic surgeon for post-surgery follow-up and then I'll see him again for nipple tattooing (maybe, if I decide to do that) and otherwise, it's a wrap!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Real life, here I come....

Visited my GP today - he has authorized my return to work for May. He wants me at half time for 2 months and then he'll re-evaluate after that.

Let's see.....
June 12, 2009 - found lump.
Aug 26, 2009 - had breast removed.
Nov 09-Mar2010, chemo -
May 2010-June2010 Radiation -
Sep 2010 - surgery to replace expander
Feb 2010-Jan 2011 - Herceptin
Jan 2011 - chemo port removal
Mar 2011 - final reconstruction surgery.....

PHEW! I have been through a lot and will make use of this recovery time to get myself physically in shape and also mentally ready for my return to work. It seems so overwhelming - but gotta do it anyway.

I know I've said it before, but now that it all seems to be at an end, I just want to thank everyone who has supported me and sent their prayers and good wishes.

I read one of those breast cancer books early on where one woman had written that many people feel that cancer changed their lives for the better - but she will NEVER think that and went on to describe why. I think that same book had the story about how after one woman finished her chemo she threw out all the clothes she had that were red because that was the colour of her chemo meds. As I blogged in the past, I disagreed with that philosophy and felt that the chemo is what is saving our lives - and we should be grateful to have access to the treatment unlike in years past when cancer was simply the end.

I am one of those people who WILL say that cancer has improved my life. It brought everything that is important into sharp focus. It allowed me to have time off work to get healthy and happy and really appreciate all the wonderful things in life (like Desert Hot Springs!). It made me realize that always being irritated is not a very constructive way to be. It made me more tolerant - although it has been very frustrating to see people I love acting in the manner that I always used to feel. And no amount of description or advice can pursuade some people that all that stress just isn't worth it!!

Cherish the time you have! There's no point living a long and 'healthy' life if you are miserable doing it. I feel I have kicked cancer's ass, but if that is going to be my fate down the road, I can say that even if my life were to be shorter than I had hoped, I am HAPPY with mine the way it is right now. Fabulous network of family and friends supporting me, wonderful husband who has been there step by step with me, a workplace that has been completely understanding.

I plan to put cancer behind me in that I feel I am cancer-free and plan to stay that way with a healthy lifestyle - but I also DON'T plan to put it behind me as I feel that my cancer experience is a big part of me now and with all I've learned from it, will be looking to share that knowledge with others and hopefully ease some fears along the way.

I have had people ask me if it's ok to pass my blog onto others who have been diagnosed and I say BY ALL MEANS. Pass it onto anyone you feel would benefit from reading about my experience.

I have asked Cam to make a blog entry of his experience during the whole process. He said he would, but he is the kind of man that has to work up to these things and I'm sure he'll think carefully before he commits to writing. I hope I can get him to do it sooner rather than later as I really think that people could benefit from hearing his point of view as well.

But, I guess that's all I have for now. Thank you everyone!

Monday, March 7, 2011

More details & an update!

As I mentioned before, we arrived at the hospital at 6:30. My surgery was scheduled for 7:45 but I know from previous experience that it never happens at the scheduled time. While we were waiting, Cam's parking time was ticking down - so he had to dash out to refill the meter - and, of course, when he was gone is when they came to take me away to the operating room. But, thankfully, Butch was with me so I had some words of support to send me on my way.

The frustrating aside to that story is that Cam was THREE MINUTES over the limit and already had a parking ticket..... hmmmmm cheesy!

During the wait, Butch had asked me if I was scared or nervous. I said no because I was now an expert at this process. He advised me to take up a new hobby. I thought that was sage advice and plan on taking him up on it.

And I hadn't been nervous about the actual surgery - but I did have apprehensions about the awakening process. After my mastectomy, I remember feeling like I had to go to the bathroom immediately (which I didn't as it turns out and that makes sense since they don't let you eat in advance of surgery). But it was a yucky feeling. Then, after my expander replacement, I could taste the anaesthesia and felt quite nauseous and definitely recall being irritated with the surroundings. I'm sure I blogged previously about how bright and noisy the recovery room is - and nothing has changed.

So the I did get sick a couple of times (with nothing to bring up) in the recovery room, but I didn't taste the anaesthesia and in general felt better after this process than I did after the others. BUT, the recovery room is still awful - all the nurses are nattering all the time, and the blood pressure machine goes on every 5 minutes, and the lights are blaring (imagine the nurses needing to see what they are doing....) But after one of my bouts of nausea they brought me a cold cloth so I was able to use it to cover my eyes from the brightness.

I have no idea how long I was in the recovery room and no idea how long the surgery actually took. But we got home at 2:45.

The anaesthetist talked to me about the surgery as we walked down the hall to the operating room. Since I was having 'the full meal deal' I was naked under my gowns, and of course I had to remove my housecoat before getting on the table. My bare backside was visible and I was holding the gown closed behind me as I approached the table. As I climbed on I commented that I wasn't sure why I was protecting my modesty considering what was just about to happen. This made the doc laugh - he said 'well, you have a good sense of humour about it'.

I had discussed my apprehension about the awakening process in the OR and they were glad I did because apparently they can adjust the meds to compensate for nausea. And the gyno (who was doing his stuff first) patted my arm reassuringly and told me everything would be great. This gyno also phoned me PERSONALLY the day before the surgery to have a quick chat about it and advise me to get bloodwork. And so while I had previously had some reservations about this particular man due to his strange advice earlier in the process, the simple act of phoning me personally and then of patting my arm in the OR has made me a fan of him.

Also, in advance of surgery, I met with my plastic surgeon who draws all over my chest to help guide him in his work. When I bared myself for this process, he exclaimed on how much weight I had lost. WOO HOO. So his memory of our visit in the fall had him thinking he had a significant breast reduction to do to match my fake one. But he was SO happy because I already did most of the work for him. He was so pleased that he had less work to do that I commented to him 'Well after all, this IS all about YOU'..... He laughed - which is good because it probably isn't a good idea to piss off your surgeon right before you head into the operating room..... And he made a final comment on just how pleased he was with the result of our replacing the expander back in September.

He also asked me what I had decided on for the nipple option (a little nerve wracking as I thought I had made it extremely clear in the past that I'm not having the nipple) - but I clarified to him that I'm skipping the nipple and so he took his felt pen and wrote NO on my breast next to the circles he had drawn in the nipple area. What the!?!

Afterward, we discovered my recovery nurse is the mother of a major league baseball player Adam Loewen. To clarify, after surgery there is the recovery room (the loud irritating & bright place) and then when they are convinced you are stable enough they wheel you back into the daycare surgery area. So you're still in a bed and you're still recovering but it is much more calm and quiet in there. So this nurse was the one looking after me in THAT room. She was super nice. She even wheeled my wheelchair right out to the sidewalk when Cam went to get the car.

So after we got home, I went to bed because even though I was in bed all day, I didn't get much rest due to the aforementioned noise. So it was a relief to get into the quiet of my own bedroom. Then I had meat pie and homemade chow mein (compliments of Butch) for dinner - and of course I was ravenous since I didn't eat since the night before. It was DEEEEEE-licious.

And that night before bed, I took a couple of T3s, but then I awoke in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep and remembered that they have caffeine (plus the fact I basically was in bed all day) - so I opted not to take any more of those and was just using regular Ibuprofen. After only a day or so I didn't even need those except that I took some for a sore back.

I have taken off my bandages since the surgery to check out the results and am very happy with it. I can't tell yet what size I'm at and probably won't be able to for awhile as I won't be able to wear a real bra for some time. Sports bra with no underwire is it for me for a bit.

But certainly it is nice to see two breasts that rest at the same level on my chest.

This week I will be seeing all my doctors for follow-ups. Plastic Surgeon, GP & Oncologist. Before surgery, my GP told me that I would go back to work 6 weeks after surgery which puts my return to work at April 18. Of course, I will see him on Wed and he can decide for sure - but even though I am not really chomping at the bit for a return to work, I realize that this cancer process has to have an end at some point and then going back to normal is required. And of course working is part of that normal. But I will ease back in on a part-time schedule as I'm really not sure how much energy I actually have.

In my pre-surgery chat with the nurse, I was having the SAME nurse again that I've had both other times (the one that is also a recent breast cancer survivor). So I told her my last Herceptin had been in January and she advised that about 3 months after that, all my energy would return. I said I hadn't realized I was missing any and she said she felt the same way - didn't realize how much the Herceptin had actually affected her until 3 months later & the energy returned. So that will basically coincide with my return to work so that might make it easier too.

While I am not looking forward to the return to work for work's sake, I will be happy to regularly see my colleagues again as I love the people I work with and they have all been extremely supportive during this last year and half while I've dealt with this.

So I have been feeling good after surgery although a little physically limited since I can't lift things - but that is working in my favour as far as ordering Cam to do the laundry and other miscellaneous projects. HA HA

I guess that's all I have to say this time. Ciao!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Home from the hospital

Everything went a-ok. Arrived at hospital at 6:30am, just got home at 2:45pm. Feeling pretty good.

I got the 'value' deal the nurses kept saying because I got my implant put in, plus my right breast reduced/lifted AND I got the ablation.

Yup - it all worked out that they could coordinate the surgeries so it's all done and I am so happy about it since I have had some doozies of periods over the last couple of months....

Am going to lay down for a bit.


Monday, February 28, 2011

We're home!

Well, we're not too happy about it, but since surgery is on Wednesday, I guess I better suck it up.

We had an easy drive home and the weather was very cooperative.

Will post after surgery!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Surgery March 2

I have received my surgery consent form which says 'left breast cohesivegel implant & right breast reduction' - so YAY - smaller boobs yet again..... as we didn't actually get anywhere near a C-cup last time.... more like a D or DD..... But maybe we'll get there this time. Which also means more BRA SHOPPING.... woo hoo.

I have just come inside from an afternoon of sunbathing on the back deck - it was one of those perfect days where it was just warm enough that you can sit in the sun for a long time without overheating - just a slight hint of breeze every now and then to cool you off, and also the sun isn't too intense at this time of year so I wasn't burning. But now the clouds have moved in - it was predicted earlier this week so we're not surprised by it - which is why I was soaking up the sun while I could. I never used to be a sunbather - stayed lily white everywhere I went by keeping myself totally covered up. But now I love to be in the sun. I still wear sunscreen but I am definitely getting my vitamin D now.

Earlier this week, Cam and I went with our waterball friends to the Morongo casino down the road for their buffet lunch. While we were waiting for our group, we were told that if we signed up for their Winner's Club card we would get a discount. The sign showed $2 off with the card - but since it was free, why not save $4??? So we signed up for the card, and they gave Cam and I each a $10 credit for dining.... what! Our buffet lunch for the two of us came to a grand total of $2.07!!!! So they only give that $10 to first timers to the casino.... but we enjoyed the buffet immensely (I went AFTER weigh-in at TOPS). MMMMMM bread pudding.....

Until Wednesday, I thought the best deal to be had around here was the dinner and movie that we went to a couple of weeks ago. So we went to see the movie Secretariat and paid a whopping $1.50 per person..... It was cheaper for the 4 of us to go to the movies than it would have been to rent one off the TV. Then afterward, we went to the Round Table for pizza. On Tuesday nights, they have a special of a large pizza plus a pitcher of beer or 5 sodas for $16.99. I added an all-you-can-eat salad bar for $3.50..... I love this place!!

We also have discovered a delicious authentic Mexican restaurant nearby to the resort where Cam orders the taco salad ($7) which has rice and beans plus lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, guacolmole & sour cream. I had the Carne de Res last time which is a beef and vegetable soup which they served with tortillas and it was only $4.50 and it was huge. And YUMMY.

Even with all this talk of food, I have still been eating very sensibly and losing weight. I think I lost a half pound last week but I missed the cutoff for weigh in time at TOPS so didn't get officially weighed. But Sandie has a scale now so I was able to compare from last week to this week. I mostly ate vegetables at the Morongo buffet (except for the bread pudding...ahem... and 3 pork ribs).

Cam had lost track of his keys over the last several days so we had been driving around using mine assuming we would come across his eventually. As more days passed and no sign of the keys, we started a more concentrated search but to no avail. Then I remembered that the tennis instructor had asked if anyone had lost any keys - but at the time I didn't realize we had so didn't say anything. So we went to see the tennis guy but he wasn't home. After more searching, Cam finally went to the main office to ask if his keys were there, figuring he had dropped them or something. His keys WERE there, thankfully, and what had happened was that he had them in his pocket while doing tennis drills and thought it uncomfortable and so put them in the pocket of his hoody on the sideline. BUT, it turns out he didn't put them in his OWN hoody - but in someone else's black hoody. So that person would have put his hands in the pocket and pulled out Cam's keys thinking, What the!?!

There is a hummingbird nest in a palm tree outside the office and it is only about 5 feet from the ground. It has been a treat to watch the baby birds growing and when the mom isn't on the nest you can see their heads & beaks, and in the night the momma sits on the nest. Cam has photos of them, and we can watch mom feeding them. You can't believe how far down into the baby birds that the mom gets her beak. It's like she's skewering them with her beak!

I guess that's all I can remember to report now. Every time I post, I remember something I forgot immediately after.

I still say that a sunny destination is THE best recuperation for cancer treatment!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No lunch for you!!!!

So we're playing waterball and besides me and Cam there are several other couples who play together.... There is often the talk of 'if momma's not happy, nobody is happy' especially if someone makes a sneaky play against their spouse.

This happened with one couple where the husband did a nasty play that caused the wife to lose her serve. She said to him 'NO LUNCH FOR YOU' - whereupon I cracked up and announced, "you know you're in a 55+ resort when......." Here, when you're 'cut off', it means no food!!!!! LOL. So now whenever Cam does a sneaky play to me, I always tell him NO LUNCH FOR YOU...... it's hysterical!!

Since we arrived here only a few days after my port removal surgery, I still had the stitches and couldn't go in the water. So for the first week, I watched from the sidelines. I would have preferred to be playing, but since my travel medical insurance won't cover anything for my pre-existing condition, I had to make really sure that my incision didn't get infected. So I stayed out of the pool for an entire week, and then when I did finally go in, I put a waterproof bandage over the incision. The only problem with that solution is that I had to have the adhesive area totally clean so it would stick. So I used alcohol prep pads to make sure any oil or sweat was cleaned off to get a good adhesion. Then, I was dumb enough not to put my sunscreen watershirt on. So now I have ended up with a sunburn in the adhesive area (because the adhesive part is CLEAR) - and where the actual bandage part was has no sunburn. And to boot, my skin is not adhesive-friendly - I usually get some kind of reaction. So when I took the 3rd patch off, it was a very painful process, removing a giant bandaid from sunburned and irritated skin.

I am happy to report that the incision has completely healed up and scab is gone so I don't have to wear the bandage anymore. The human body is amazing!

Cam has gotten back into his old photography habit - bought a new camera at Christmas time and new photo books and in general been re-inspired. He has been getting some fantastic shots - and this digital age is wonderful as you can take so many pictures guilt-free and never any wondering if they will turn out. I always used to hate the photo game after returning home from a holiday with film cameras. Cam would have taken 10 or 12 rolls of film, and anxiously rush them in for developing and rip open the envelopes with enthusiasm. And though his photos were ALWAYS good, they were never as good as he thought they were going to be and so he would be disappointed. Thankfully, that era is over with digital SLR....

Anyway, one afternoon he zipped up the highway to Morongo Reserve where he had gotten some decent pictures of scrub jay at Christmas. He came back with a really good pictures of bobcat!!!! He was standing still to try and look for birds when a movement caught his eye and he spotted the bobcat. He slowly raised the camera up to his face and snapped the picture without much time to 'organize' the shot and as soon as the bobcat heard the click of the camera, it looked up at Cam and when it saw him, bolted away. And so Cam has a great pic of the bobcat looking straight at him. As far as technical greatness, it probably could be a little sharper or slightly better composed, but for spotting something in the wild, lifting your camera and snapping a photo, it is a GREAT shot!! When we get home, I can post the pic. Cam shoots in RAW format so we have no way to retrieve his photos from his camera unless we are at home.

I have been diligently using my time here to eat well and exercise in my final last-ditch effort to get as thin as possible before my final surgery in a couple of weeks (no firm date set yet). And, I am happy to say that it has been working. When I weighed in at TOPS last week, I was down 2.8 pounds and was the big weight-loss winner for the week. In their chapter, each person hands you a quarter and congratulates you to give you added motivation. And it's a BIG chapter so I got 5 bucks!!! yee ha.

So I'm still working hard and hoping to break a 'milestone' if not this week then next. (that means going below a 10 pound marker but I won't tell you which one). when I was here in the spring, I THOUGHT I was doing a great job of eating healthy and exercising since I was playing waterball 6 hours a day. But I guess the chemo drugs just didn't want to cooperate in letting me lose any weight and in reality I ended up gaining weight! It was quite devastating - and before the cancer, I had lost 20 pounds and so after the chemo I was ready to get back down to the right place - but instead gained more weight.... So I was probably 12-14 pounds heavier than I am right now back in the spring - although I must admit that extra extra weight didn't last long - I lost the 5 pounds I gained fairly quickly but then just stayed and stayed in the same general weight area forever..... So now I am finally having success. And hope to keep it going.

Cam has been inspiring me to walk/hike more. There is a small mountain range behind the resort that has a path up to 'the flag' where people hike as a destination. There is a sign-in book up there in a plastic bag (at least Cam tells me there is...). Yah - I haven't made it up to the top, but I did go partway up with him once. The first time he went, he was huffing and puffing his way up to the top and then some 60-year old guy casually jogged past him without a sweat breaking on his brow cheerfully waving and telling Cam 'beautiful morning, isn't it?'..... We all cracked up when he came back and told us the story as his head is beet-red and sweat is pouring down and he is bent over huffing and puffing (I'm sure he exaggerated a little since Cam IS in excellent shape).... but he has been losing weight also.

When I attempted the hike with him, I got maybe halfway and then I waited for him on a rock. The dogs were with him, but we often play a game with the dogs where we try to exercise them by going to a park and each going to the opposite end of it and calling the dogs back and forth between us. So when I stopped on the mountain and Cam kept going, Molly kept running back down to where I was - meanwhile, Cam was getting further and further up the mountain so each runback was getting longer and longer. I think Molly ended up climbing the mountain about 6 times..... talk about great conditioning!! Both Molly and Cam have lost some weight down here - we had to bump up her food intake to keep the right padding over her ribs. Cooper is a free-spirit - he LOVES to roam free in the desert. He ranges way ahead exploring and doesn't return back and forth like Molly. When he gets just a little too far, we call him back and he always comes. He is a great dog - always listens to us (except when we tell him to stop barking). Molly mostly listens well, but sometimes on her own schedule....

We found a flyball team down here that has let us practice with them. She is so happy to have other people here who know how to play flyball as her whole team is new people and she is the only one with any actual experience. We skipped this past week due to paw injuries & birthdays, but we will take them again this week. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I would want to be reincarnated as one of our dogs. Talk about spoiled rotten and loved beyond belief....

Well, I guess that's enough for now - this long blog is the result of no blogging for a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Port is OUT

Before Port Removal: After Port Removal:

This is sort of where it was positioned in me, except the tube went up my chest further and into a vein in my neck (I couldn't get the tube to cooperate for the photo)

This is the actual port that was in me - I photographed it next to a cereal spoon for perspective. I was surprised to see that it's purple - so pretty!!
I drove over to mom's around 8:45 this morning, then we drove to Royal Columbia Hospital for my check-in time of 10:30. They got me in there and laying on the bed and basically all prepped and ready to go, and then came in and told me that an emergency has bumped me so I have another hour to kill. But in the meantime, they had given me two Adavan which I learned is the equivalent of 10 valiums. So when they suggested I go away for awhile and get a bite to eat, they wouldn't let me go unless I was in a wheelchair. So mom pushed me to the coffee shop and I had some sushi & soup for lunch, then wheeled back to the room so I could snooze while waiting.
Very little if any sleep had been achieved by me last night. So snoozing wasn't a bad thing - unfortunately, this other emergency didn't take as long as I thought it would and the guy came in needles ablazing when I was still snoozing from the happy pills. The only pain was from the freezing needles - and some pushing & tugging on my chest and voila - one port taken out and then my incision stitched up. No waterball for a few days though.... bummer!
It seems stupid now that I've already done it, however, I was THE most nervous about this process than I have been about any of the others I've had as yet. No fear or nerves for the mastectomy, tissue expander replacement or even the insertion of the port (likely because of all the REAL sedation you get). But, I got through it and it was not bad. Probably the Happy Pills helped relax me a lot.
Then I had my heart scan at 3:15 - mom was a good chauffeur today (my mother is an excellent driver). Hopefully this one isn't a dud.
And that's the last of it until March - so Cam and I are going back to California with the dogs to take advantage of the lag time before my final reconstruction.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My final treatment

So, I know I'm a little late on this, but I was hoping to have more specific info to report regarding my final surgeries etc. before I posted regarding my final treatment.

It was Thursday, January 13 at 4pm. I dragged Cam along with me since it was 'the final one'..... As I had mentioned previously, I wasn't feeling particularly emotional or worried or anything really. I had a nurse that I'd had once before but didn't know very well - but she was still very nice. We had an interesting conversation about how she used to be 'needle averse'. How the hell does someone with a serious needle aversion become a chemo nurse? She was unable to give an IV for the first part of her career. You have to admire someone's dedication to stick to a profession like nursing when she is unable to start an IV. But, she worked her way through it and now gives IVs like a pro. (not to me, of course, since we were still using my port)

Which, I did think to take a picture of while hooked up - so this is me at chemo.....

In a 'normal' circumstance, I would not be publishing the first photo for all the world to see as I don't believe it is one of the more flattering ones ever taken of me - however, I felt it was important to commemorate this day. Wish I would have looked a little more closely at it so I could have adjusted my sitting position to look slightly less slovenly and well.... wide. Although I AM working on that portion so I can be as slim as possible before my reconstruction surgery. And I weighed in at TOPS this past Thursday and had lost 5 pounds from before Christmas.... that's pretty good over the holidays!!! But, I digress.....

I also included a photo of Cam at my final treatment.... why does he look so unhappy? He isn't the one hooked up to cancer meds.... LOL (the real answer is that he HATES having his photo taken and likely suspected that one was extremely unnecessary).

So, as I was leaving the chemo room, one of my fave nurses ran up to me and gave me a big hug and told me to stop by and visit. She made sure to say I wasn't to return for any other reason than visiting but it was a surprise to get that hug - I'm not really sure why. Unfortunately, it pushed me into an emotional state that took awhile to recover from. All that time feeling as though this last treatment was not affecting me at all, and then ONE measly hug did me in and I was fighting back the stinging tears for a good 15 minutes or so and trying to talk about other things to divert myself from having a total breakdown as we strode out to the car & made our way to the restaurant.

Since it was my final chemo, we decided to go out for dinner to celebrate. We went to the Keg and shortly after we sat down, 2 people were sat in the booth next to ours and they were really LOUD - which was annoying on its own, but the man was really loud AND saying irritating things - quizzing the waitress in a way that made me feel sorry for her as she had to play along with his ridiculous conversation. Cam and I contemplated asking to be moved but stuck it out a little longer. Then he couldn't decide between the prime rib or a steak, and his daughter told him he should have steak because he had mentioned earlier that he was craving one. His reply was that his colon wouldn't know the difference. So that's what tipped the scale & Cam asked the front desk host if we could be moved - which of course, they did not only with pleasure but with extreme apologies as though they were personally responsible for loud obnoxious people in their restaurant.

A few minutes after we moved, the manager arrived with more apologies. I explained to her that we were there celebrating my final cancer treatment (yup - played my cancer card - very likely one of the last times I'll be able to!!!) - and we got FREE DESSERT! woo hoo. Well, they give free dessert all the time and maybe she was planning to give us one anyway since she was grovelling so bad - but anyway, my cards are running out so I wanted to get one more in there before the 'party' was over (tongue in cheek, of course). I think that this Keg dinner which included dessert makes it even MORE impressive that I had that 5 pound weightloss at my next weigh-in!!

I am having my port removed on Wednesday. I have to report that I believe that is the reason why I am awake at 1:00am typing this post instead of snoozing soundly. I didn't really think much of it before but as the day draws nearer, I realized that no one has actually given me any information about this process.

I got the message that I was to be at Royal Columbian Hospital at 10:30am, but no one advised me if I'm supposed to be fasting before-hand, or if I'm going under conscious sedation like last time or if it's local anaesthetic (I really hope not - not sure if I could handle being awake while a scalpel sliced open my skin). Started Googling at 11:30pm - did find some info online but that info has only sparked questions. So I will be on the phone to the hospital tomorrow to find out what I'm supposed to be doing. Do they expect us to KNOW this stuff???

Reconstruction is slated for the 1st week of March or possibly the second week (but I hope not). Definitely the first half of March as my plastic surgeon will be away for the last half of it. So they had BETTER get me in there!!! I'm done waiting - let's get this show on the road, get my boobs sorted out and move on.

I'm less nervous about reconstruction surgery than I am about the port-removal. Probably because I already KNOW the breast surgery process.... and because I know I will be unconscious. I am most nervous about being awake for the port removal. I don't think I would do well with that.

I also emailed my plastic surgeon's office to advise them that I am definitely not doing any nipple grafting surgery. I opted to have my one remaining nipple left alone and live without one on the fake side. I think I may miss my tissue expander. Since the new one was installed in September, my left breast looks like it's 18 years old - and that sucker doesn't move an inch. Of course, it is in no way natural looking as far as feel and movement go - but when I'm wearing a bra and a blouse and not bouncing around, you have no idea without touching it just how unnatural it really is. When I remove my bra, that one just stays exactly in the same place - whereas the real one drops to my belly button (thankfully, I can report that I am exaggerating......slightly). Once they replace this expander with a silicone implant, the new breast will look and feel much more natural - and that will come complete with the boob sag. He SAYS he will do his best to make them both more perky but don't expect miracles.

Hell, mine haven't been perky since my early 20s. Once they get to a ridiculous size, standing up on their own is a pipe dream. Or at least a plastic surgery dream. I will settle for 'slightly less saggy'. And even that isn't a requirement if I'm ending up with a matching size much smaller than before. I'm really hoping my weight loss helps with the breast size reduction part because as you all know, I started out as an H-cup and was hoping for a C-cup. But I went to my professional bra store at my birthday and was re-measured to an E-cup. Naturally, E-cup is preferrable to an H cup - however, it is not as close to a C-cup as I had hoped. Although in that store, I'm not sure they even have anything called a C-cup. I think they might have 'vanity sizing' for bras. I can buy a D or DD in the States that fit ok. Still bigger than I wanted though.

Anyway, I think I'll give this sleeping thing another go.... goodnight all and again, thank you everyone for all your love and support. I'm almost done!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Cam and I returned from California on Sunday evening. It was an uneventful drive back, but coming back to the biting cold was hard. Although I've seen the temperatures in Alberta recently so I won't complain TOO bitterly....!

Met with my oncologist on Monday who informed me that my Dec 18 heart scan was a dud and needs a retest. Ugh - why do they even bother if the tests aren't reliable anyway? He also told me that he has sent in a request for me to have my port removed (yay!!) and that should happen within a month.

He doesn't generally like to 'sign off' a patient until the port is removed - and THEN we'll have our final appointment where he explains the next steps (which basically are passing me off to my GP's care & telling me I'll get an annual diagnostic mammogram).

Tomorrow is my final Herceptin. It is amazing how the time is flying by. Wasn't it only last month when I was recovering from my Halloween hangover just before chemo started???

I don't feel much of anything about this. I blogged once before that I might have more emotion or happiness once ALL the chemo was done - but honestly, it just feels like another day - I mean it hasn't come yet - but I'm not excited or relieved or anxious or anything. I just think I'm taking it all in stride - because I feel already like I'm done with cancer and that it isn't part of my life anymore. We'll just finish off these 'just in case' treatments - with the exception of my daily Tamoxifen pill, of course, which I'll be taking for the next 5 years - and then that's it!

I am just now getting the organization on the final surgeries. My reconstruction will be mid- March. I thought it was going to be February, but NOT as it turns out....

And I know I must be drawing to the close of this whole process because while I was in California I went clothes shopping and actually bought WORK clothes!!! What the!?! While I haven't discussed this with any of my doctors yet, I am anticipating a part-time return to work in mid-April or beginning of May.

Surgery, then time to recover & get my range of motion back YET AGAIN..... and then start working my way back into real life.... It is a very bizarre prospect but one we need to get to.

And Cam's job is finally coming to a real end this time at the end of January - no more extensions. So if anyone knows of anything in the purchasing field, please contact us so we can get his resume out there.

I realized the other day that I didn't even make any New Year's Resolutions this year.... although I was tempted to follow in my father-in-law's footsteps and resolve to gain 10 pounds. That would have been one I could keep for sure!!!

So I'll make a late resolution that is the same as mine was last year: I resolve to be cancer-free.

I'm sure everyone will support that one!!!

I guess this blog is sort of nearing the end of its life if it is for the 'medical' end of things.... I'm not sure if I will be able to give up blogging after all this time!!!!!

Until the next report!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

DAMN the fire ants!!

I did some research on whether going into a hot tub would help my cold or worsen it. The site I chose to acknowledge said that 20 minutes in a hot tub every few hours would help elevate the body temperature and kill off the cold germs.

Since the answer I wanted was to be able to go in the hot tub, I listened to this advice. And, I have to report, I think it IS true - I feel better after the hot tub. Anyway, it is quite cold here now, and so while the hot tubs & pools are lovely, the air outside afterward is icy cold. So after the hot tub last night, I decided for the first time in all the time I've been here, to go into the sauna to dry off and warm up before leaving the pool area.

As I sat there yacking with mom, I thought I felt something bite me - but I couldn't see anything so thought I imagined it. There there was another and another until I realized there was a serious problem - and I captured and killed an ant on me. ACK more bloody ant bites!!!

So we figured out that when I had my towel on the cement beside the hot tub, the ants were on it and then I wrapped the towel around me to go into the sauna and they went wild!! I have bites on my thighs, stomach and back.

I guess the good news is that the ant bites on my toes have finally eased the itching. The ammonia sting stop stuff is really the only thing that works, I've found. I must be really tasty to ants - no one else I have told this story to has anything similar to report.

Oh yeah - on a completely different note - I forgot to tell everyone that I rode a camel at the Living Desert Zoo. $5 per ride and I waited in line and took my turn. It was cool.

Happy official New Year!