Thursday, May 30, 2013

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

This tree is hundreds of years old - Poland 2012
So here I was in January already.  A new year had started and I had only one more treatment left to get through.  Although it was kind of a whirlwind since finding the lump in June, each day seemed to go by very slowly.  I spent many days lying in my bed in my room over those chemo months.  I always stared at the tree outside my bedroom window because I could see the branches when I was lying in my bed.  There was so much going on outside my window when I was stuck inside.


Fall Colours - Russell, ON 2009
The tree outside my window was full of green leaves when I was diagnosed with cancer in August.  As autumn approached I spent many days watching the leaves change colour and start to fall to the ground.  It might seem kind of weird but that tree became somewhat of a friend to me.  It was also a source of inspiration for me.  It was a reminder that there are changes in life that might just be for now and not forever, like the seasons.  Sometimes we might find ourselves in a cold, dark place in our lives but like winter, it will eventually disappear and the warmth and the sunshine come back into our lives.

I remember when almost all of the leaves were gone off the tree in the fall.  At one point there were less than ten leaves left.  I watched those leaves and found myself cheering for them to hang on.  “Hang on little leaf.  You can do it.  Be strong.”  These were the top 10 that were left, kind of like watching American Idol I guess.  Eventually I saw that very last leaf drift to the ground and it made me feel so sad.  It was like that was the end of something.

Mike & I - Fall 2010
But then the snow came and the tree looked beautiful with its new fresh white coat.  Now here it was January and the branches were coated in ice.  I was in a cold, dark place at this point so lying in my bed looking at the tree it seemed a reflection of me.  Lonely, desolate and lifeless is how the tree seemed.  Just like me.  I wasn’t at a point that I could see anything but that.  But perhaps I’d missed something.  Maybe that last leaf falling wasn’t the end of something but the beginning of something.  Deep down I knew that no matter how cold and dark it got outside, that tree would somehow have buds on it in a few months.  New life that would grow to be green beautiful leaves once again.  I prayed that it would be a reflection of me then too.  I desperately needed that hope and inspiration.  Spring seemed impossibly far away from this cold, dark place I was in now.

I was coming to the end of the chemotherapy treatments.  Finally.  Although the last treatment was scheduled for February 1, it wasn’t over on February 1.  I still had the usual weeks that followed that would leave me feeling crappy.  I wanted to get it over with but I had to summon my strength each time because I knew that it would be needed.  The thought of the way I would feel after the treatment was really daunting.  Imagine something that has happened to you in your life that really hurt or that made you feel really sick or that caused you pain.  You got through it right?  But imagine knowing that after you started to feel a bit better you would have to go through it all over again except this time it would be worse than the last.  That’s kind of how the chemo was for me.

I also knew that after the chemo was done there would be the next set of challenges.  Surgery was coming up in early March.  That wasn’t very far away.  It was kind of scary to know that was around the corner but I couldn’t think that far ahead yet.  I was trying to get through one day at a time for now.  That’s all I could do.  My strength was fading.  You know what was really exhausting?  Pretending.  I don’t know how many times I pretended I was fine.  I was okay.  Sure yes I feel not too bad.  Oh don’t worry I’m fine.  I didn’t need people worrying about me.  I didn’t want to bother anyone with how I might be feeling.  I wanted my kids to think I was okay.  Maybe just a bit tired but not so bad.  I didn’t want Mike to slow down on his MBA or his work and mostly I didn’t want to be the cause of any stress for him.  I really just wanted to act like everything was okay. 

Tall Trees - Jasper, Alberta 2009
Pasting on a smile and going deep within to draw out some positive energy and strength to get through a visit, an event, a phone call, a meal, homework, etc…was draining.  Pretending is tough.  Acting is tough.  I really don’t know how well I did with it.  Maybe I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself.  Who knows?  But if it did lessen the stress for the people I love then it was worth it.  Sometimes I would go to my room and crawl into my bed and just escape into sleep.  Collapse actually.  I couldn’t focus to read.  I had a hard time carrying on a conversation.  I sometimes just stared blankly at nothing.  I knew I was doing that but was powerless to do anything about it once I’d used up my strength reserves to get through the pretending.

I looked forward to the day that I would be outside my window looking up and thanking that tree for being so sturdy and strong and for getting me through each season.


Outside My Window - Sarah Buxton & Jedd Hughes





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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BRAVE

Bike Day by the St. Lawrence
River - Summer 2012
I continued to send out email messages to update my friends and family every few weeks so after I had made the decision to have the bilateral mastectomy, I sent out another message.  I got so many responses back!  They all wrote such supportive messages and I am convinced that these messages kept me going.  Sometimes on the darkest days I could check my emails and there would usually be something there from someone that made me feel like I could carry on.  That I could get through this.  I had chosen to end these emails and put myself out there for people to read about and see how things were progressing and at the same time it kind of made me accountable to them to live up to all of the praise and expectations.

There were so many comments about my optimism, my positive outlook, my sense of humour, my courage, my bravery, etc…Sometimes I would read these and think “what a load of crap!”  They all think that I’m brave and strong or whatever but really I’m just doing what I have to do to get through each day.  Whatever makes that easier is what I choose to do.  The bravery and the courage, well I don’t know about that.  When one is faced with something big and scary I guess you either face it and fight it or you hide away and hope it leaves on its own.  I just had to face this monster and not let it get to me.  Maybe I’m not brave or courageous, maybe I’m just stubborn and pigheaded.  Who knows?

Humour helps for sure.  That’s good medicine.  I also believed that a positive and optimistic outlook was one of the best weapons to defeat this cancer.  I also didn’t know how else to be.  What good would it do my family or anyone around me if I was negative and pessimistic all the time?  It would just make things even worse. 

Talking on the Phone - Summer 2011
One thing that many people did was to thank me for the updates I was sending.  Apparently many people were learning things about cancer through my experience.  They were also appreciative of the fact that I was able to share this with them.  I had no problem with it but others thought that they wouldn’t be able to be so open about it all even if they wanted it to be.  I guess I wanted everyone to know what was going on and I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or have unanswered questions.  I also liked the email option better than repeating myself on the phone all the time about how I was doing.  This email update thing was also making some of them look at their own lives and realize that in the grand scheme of things, some of the issues in their lives were really not as bad or as important as they had thought, compared to what we were living through.  It’s true that when someone else is worse off than you are it makes you feel better about yourself.  I’m glad I was able to help y’all out!

The other thing that nearly everyone commented on was how blessed I was to have such
Diving off the Dock in Kagawong - Summer 2008
a supportive and wonderful husband and kids.  That is an understatement in my opinion.  I cannot begin to describe how blessed, lucky, and fortunate I am.  There are no words.  I thank God every day for my amazing family and without them; I really don’t know what I would do.  The same goes for my Dad and Sheila.  I really cannot imagine dealing with this on my own.  How do others get through this?  What if you had no family or friends to support you?  What if you were a single parent with small children?  What if you had no health plan and weren’t getting any income at all while in treatment?  What if you lived far away from the treatment centres and had to go there and stay all alone until it was done?  The stress of knowing that you have cancer in your body is hard enough to fathom.  If you add financial and emotional stress and all of those other stresses into the mix it becomes an incredible nightmare.  I can easily see how people can fall into depression and other mental health issues during this time.  Plus it must really slow down the recovery time and healing of all the physical elements that one endures throughout the cancer process.

I was going to continue being what everyone thought I was.  Maybe if I read their messages enough then I would start to believe it too.

Brave - Josh Groban



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Saturday, May 25, 2013

AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

The day I had gone to see Dr. Surgeon about the mastectomy I had gone by myself.  Mike just simply couldn’t be there and that was okay with me.  I was a big girl.  He had been to every appointment and treatment up to this point with me.  Driving to the appointment was something that I could do because I was feeling good enough that day to drive there but I knew that I would have to come home immediately afterwards.  Some days I did not trust myself to drive but on this day it was okay.  This doctor visit would drain me and I knew it.  The drive to the city and back was a bit daunting and I knew I would have no energy for anything else.  When I arrived at the hospital there was only parking available on the top level of the parking garage.  I parked there and hurried down to my appointment.  When I left my appointment I headed towards the parking garage and this is when I experienced the third of the low points I mentioned in an earlier post.
My Family at the top of Whistlers Mountain - Jasper, BC 2009
Maybe I will call this one “Struggling in the Stairwell”.  I headed straight through the parking garage the same way I had come in.  I had no idea where the elevators were and actually didn’t recall ever seeing elevators on any previous trip there.  I had to go up to the top level (I am guessing about 6 levels) which was the rooftop level of the garage.  It was so incredibly cold that day that I just hurried through and started up the stairs.  I didn’t get too far before I started to slow down.  Eventually I could hardly move myself forward and upward.  I had to sit down.  I couldn’t breathe and then I was freezing.  There was nobody else around.  I was sure that eventually someone would find my frozen body there in the stairwell and have to look through my purse for my wallet to figure out who I was.

Vicky & I after hiking to the top
of Grouse Mountain - Vancouver, BC 2011
I got up and tried again.  I made it up a few more stairs before I had to sit down again.  It was like walking through mud.  I pulled myself up using the railing and went up a few more stairs until I had to sit down again.  This was my pattern and I was crying at this point and frustrated so much because I couldn’t walk up the damn stairs like a normal person.  I was angry that this was happening to me and then I just dug down into myself as far as I could and pulled out all the strength that I could and kept moving.  There was no way I wasn’t going to get up to the top.  This was like my Mount Everest at that moment.  Six lousy flights of stairs it a stupid parking garage had become my Mount Everest.  How pathetic.

FPU at the top of Blue
Mountain - Collingwood, ON 2007
I have no idea how long it took me but I finally made it to the top.  I made it damn it!!  I pushed open the door and walked out into the outside like I had accomplished something huge!  I fully expected a crowd of cheering fans there and flags waving for me.  The finish line!  The top of the mountain!  Nobody was there.  Just my car.  Yes I had done it and I could see my little blue car.   Now if only I could get from there to the car.  I kept it in my sights and moved one leg in front of the other until I got the door open and collapsed on the driver seat.  I was exhausted and exhilarated that I had done it.  I cried because I was happy that I had made it and because I was angry and because I was frustrated and because I had had enough of feeling this way.

I turned on my car, waited for it to warm up, waited until I was calm and breathing normally, and then I drove straight home.  I made a mental note to figure out where those damn elevators were located.


Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

MY NEXT THIRTY YEARS


Me & My Friends - Niagara Falls 2005
The New Year of 2007 began with my seventh chemo treatment on January 11 and I can say with certainty that each one is definitely worse than the last.  I was finding that I couldn’t do simple things anymore.  I didn’t have energy to change bed sheets.  I would have to stop a couple of times to go upstairs in my own house.  Hard to believe that not long ago I could run for an hour.  Now I just couldn’t do anything.  I physically couldn’t and it was so frustrating because I wanted to do things so that Mike didn’t have to do it all.  I felt like it was too much for one person to have to do by themselves and I wanted to contribute.  However, I had accepted that I simply had to stop doing.  Well maybe I hadn’t totally accepted it but I was trying.  It was so very difficult to accept and some days I just wanted to sit down and cry.  But I couldn’t go through each day like that.  I allowed myself to lose it once in awhile and cry like a big baby but I didn’t want to let it get to me.  I’m just too stubborn.  However, I had to learn to live within my limitations and there were getting to be many of them.
Me & My Crazy Family - Montmartre, France 2012

After getting through the post-chemo week in a fog, I had an appointment at the Women’s Breast Health Centre again with Dr. Surgeon to discuss what happens next with the upcoming mastectomy.  I had thought a lot about what to do and discussed it with Mike many times.  I realize that for some women it is a very difficult decision to have their breasts removed.  I knew that I would have to remove the left one because of the cancer.  There was no choice there.  They had found no cancer in the right one so I didn’t have to remove that one.  But why would I want to save it when I might develop cancer there in a year or two or five or thirty?  I didn’t want to have to go through this all over again.  Nor did I want to worry about it and have that little black cloud hanging over my head all the time.  I wanted to be sure that I did everything I could possibly do to prevent cancer from ever coming back.  I wanted to enjoy the next thirty years.  I wanted to have fun and try new things!  Besides, if I had only one breast then I would be all lop-sided and that would be kind of weird for me.  I decided to have the right one removed as well.  As a preventative measure and for peace of mind.  Mike supported me 100%.
Cycling at Presque Isle State Park
- Pennsylvania 2011

I wasn’t sure how Dr. Surgeon would react.  I had this feeling that I was going to have to somehow justify my decision so I made a list of all the reasons why I wanted to do it and I was prepared to argue my case until the cows came home.  I didn’t have to argue at all.  Dr. Surgeon was also in agreement and had no problem with my decision.  So he would do a bilateral mastectomy and the surgery was scheduled for March 8, 2007.  It would be about a five to six hour operation followed by a three day hospital stay.  The recovery period afterwards would be several weeks.  Radiation therapy might still be a possibility after the surgery recovery but that was still to be determined.  Another potential surgery down the road was a hysterectomy because I was now a higher risk for cervical or ovarian cancer.

Just when I was coming to the end of the chemo there were a whole new series of challenges ahead.


My Next Thirty Years - Tim McGraw



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Monday, May 20, 2013

CARRY ON

Alex Carrying Cousin Trent - Fall 2012
When I first started with chemo, I had a visit from a representative of homecare services.  Apparently I was eligible for homecare and they explained to me that someone would be in touch with me.  The homecare nurse did call me and she came over regularly, usually the week after my Thursday chemo session, and checked on me.  There was a series of tests that she would do including blood pressure, temperature, etc…as well as some interview questions to keep track of how I was feeling.  She also kept a list of upcoming appointments and so on and would follow up with me on those outcomes.  I was grateful for the fact that I knew someone would be available to answer any questions that might come up and would be keeping an eye on me.  I was very fortunate.

However, sometimes these visits also made me feel angry that I was in this position where I needed them.  I was also stubborn to the point where I would want to scream at her to go away because I was perfectly fine and I wasn’t one of those old sick people that needs a nurse.  I never did that though.  Of course I always welcomed her into my home and thanked her for what she did for me.  After all, it wasn’t her fault I had this stupid cancer wrecking havoc on my body, my mind, my emotions, and my spirit.  She even came during the Christmas holidays.

Tasza and Dziadzio (Grandpa) - Christmas 2003
On December 21 I had my sixth chemo treatment just six days after getting home from being in isolation at the hospital. Although I was able to do some Christmas preparations I had to accept the fact that I needed to sleep most afternoons and that I needed to slow down, relax, take it easy and however else you want to word it.  In fact it is not so much that I had to do it but more that I simply could not function normally anymore.  No matter how hard I tried to fight it I was done.  In November I was running a couple of times a week and now I had to sit down three or four times just to change the bedsheets.  The fatigue really does build up with each treatment.  It’s not forever it’s just for now...

Christmas 2006
We made it the best possible Christmas we could for our kids and of course they were spoiled with gifts.  However, I felt extremely crappy during this time and tried very hard to stay awake and be a part of things.  It was tough and it took a lot out of me.  I did manage to go for a walk on Christmas Day with the whole family, not far but enough to get some fresh air.  It was strange because there was not a stitch of snow anywhere that year.  I was already having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit and without snow it made it even harder.

During most of the holidays I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was keep my eyes open and keep the smile on my face as much as I could.  I often excused myself to retreat to my room to lie down.  I felt like I was ruining what is normally such a wonderful time.  I had leaned into Mike’s arms on Christmas Day and asked him if he could ever have imagined that one year ago at our happy Christmas celebration would we be where we were now as 2006 was drawing to a close.  The next question was, “Where will we be next year at this time?”

We had to just carry on and see what happens.

Carry On - FUN

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Friday, May 17, 2013

PRIVATE EYES (They're Watching You)


Mike & I - Christmas 2004
Just before school ended for the Christmas break, Tasza announced that there was going to be a Christmas brunch at her school.  It was being put on by the grade three classes for the parents and I really wanted to be there for her.  Mike and I were going to go together.  The night before the big event I asked her what she wanted me to wear on my head.  I told her whatever would make her the most comfortable was what I would do.  I offered to wear a scarf or a hat or even one of the wigs that I had bought and never worn.  She told me to go the way I was because that was me.  Just plain old bald me.  So if the bald thing wasn’t going to bother her then that was what I would do.  It was going to be tough with all the kids seeing me and once again I was amazed at how brave and strong she was to face that with all her classmates.

When we arrived at the school I got that familiar lump in my throat and felt nervous walking into the library area that was filling up with parents and students.  I took a deep breath and swallowed it back and tried to act as normal as possible.  We found a table in the far corner and sat there with some friends.  I wanted to be as far away from germs as possible.  I wasn’t a germaphobe but I certainly didn’t want to end up at the hospital again with Christmas just around the corner. 

So there we were sitting at our table, minding our own business, having our brunch when I noticed one little boy really staring at us.  He came closer and then he walked around our table checking us out.  He walked around and around again.  Then he went over to my courageous little girl and the conversation went something like this:

Mike, Bailey & I - Christmas 2006
 “Are those your parents?”

 “Yes they are,” Tasza replied with a proud smile.

 “And they’re both bald?!?!” asked the incredulous little boy.

“Yes they are,” Tasza said and then she added, “But my Mom’s hair is gonna grow back but my Dad is stuck like that forever!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I was so proud of her and she was just so funny and honest and proud.  She just tells it like it is.  Man I love those kids of mine!

I will never, ever forget that day.  Sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad.  Sometimes you gotta laugh.  Sometimes you gotta cry.  But each and every day brings something new to add to our collection of memories.




Private Eyes - Hall & Oates

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS


It was so great to get out of the hospital and to get home just before Christmas!  It felt so good to be in my own house with everyone that I love.  There really is no place like home.
  
Me and My Bailey - Fall 2010
One of my best friends was there to greet me as she always is.  My Bailey girl.  The greatest dog ever.  I really don’t know how I would have gotten through each day without her.  I remember reading somewhere that animals, especially dogs, can sense when there is something wrong with us humans.  Bailey certainly seemed to sense it and was always by my side.  When I was really feeling down she would stay very close and just put her head on my lap and look at me.  Other times she would follow me around the house and I would talk to her about all kinds of things.  Why not?  One time when I was lying on the couch, feeling like crap, crying my head off, feeling sorry for myself and wanting my Mommy to look after me; Bailey slowly walked over to me and quietly put her head on my shoulder.  How awesome is that?  Man’s best friend?  More like a girl’s best friend.  Who needs diamonds?

So getting home made me very happy and I was able to do what I could to prepare for Christmas.  I got Christmas cards done and mailed.  The house was also decorated a bit.  I wasn’t worrying about food preparations or anything like that because my Dad and Sheila were coming and I knew that they would help out with that.  I remember feeling tired and weak almost all the time.  I was also afraid of getting sick and avoided people as much as I could.  Being out in public was not something I wanted to do.  Although Mike and I are both usually sociable people that enjoy parties and being with friends, we were starting to feel like hermits.  We just kind of wanted to shut the world off because we were in our own world now that was consumed with cancer and treatments and doctor appointments and there was nobody that could understand our world right now.  Well nobody we knew anyway.  They weren’t in it like we were.

Tasza & her cousin Trent
opening gifts - Christmas 2004
We had tried to organize to have a Christmas party earlier in December and had even sent out invitations thinking that maybe it might do us good to be around lots of people to pull us out of this funk we were in.  Then when I ended up in the hospital we had to cancel the party.  That was another crappy thing that Mike got stuck doing.  He had to tell everyone what happened and then had deal with the questions and so on.

Mike also told me that there was a steady stream of friends at the door bringing food for him and the kids while I was in the hospital.  He had a hard time with that.  He felt like he should be reciprocating somehow.   My Dad told him that wasn’t necessary.  He gave some good advice:  just say thank you.  That’s it.  Folks know that it’s appreciated and they want to somehow feel that they are contributing to help in some way.  They are not expecting anything in return.  So just a simple thank you.  My Dad is a pretty wise man don’t you think?

It was nearing the end of December and we were home and getting settled in for a long winter’s nap.

I'll Be Home for Christmas - Rascal Flatts


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Monday, May 6, 2013

PAUSE FOR PLAYLIST #2


Dancing with Alex - Summer 2011
Well here we are at post #62 already!  I hope that this blog has been good for my readers so far.  I am really enjoying writing and sharing and I think it has been somewhat of a healing process as well.  We are now at the point in my journey where I am about halfway through my chemo treatments.  It really is quite a journey when you break it down into short pieces like this.  Sometimes I can’t believe that all of this stuff actually happened to me.

You may have noticed that the title of every post is actually a song title.  Searching for the right title is fun because I find myself listening to a wide variety of songs that I haven’t heard in ages or that I might be hearing for the first time.  There is something about a song that might remind you of a certain person, or a time in your life or a place you have visited.  Music is simply special.  It was my son Alex’s idea to use the song titles as a blog title and to add the video clips of that song at the end of each post.  He is very musical as well and has played piano and guitar over the years.  I understand he is a pretty good dancer as well (must take after his Dad).
Today I am taking a break from the story and making a second playlist of the last 30 song titles I have used.  As I said for the first playlist back in February, every journey needs music.  A road trip is synonymous with music from 8 tracks to cassettes to CDs to iPod and Bluetooth.  I love music.  All kinds of music. 

Anyway, here is a recap of the last 30 song titles for you.  It makes for an interesting playlist!

We’re All On Drugs (Weezer)
Bad Blood (Neil Sedaka)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Michael Jackson)
Devil Inside (INXS)
Toxic (Britney Spears)
I’ve Been Thinking About You (London Beat)
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra)
Working 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
The Healer (John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana)
Whip My Hair Back & Forth (Willow Smith)
With A Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker)
She’s Got The Look (Roxette)
I Gotta Be Me (Sammy Davis Jr)
Bringing Sexy Back (Justin Timberlake)
Home (Phillip Phillips)
It Takes Two (Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock)
Run for Life (Melissa Etheridge)
Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
Funky Cold Medina (Tone Loc)
Changes (David Bowie)
Jar of Hearts (Christina Perri)
Stop and Stare (One Republic)
Wake Me Up  (Wham)
Super Freak (Rick James)
Talk to Me (Stevie Nicks)
I Get Knocked Down (Chumbawamba)
Night Fever (The BeeGees)
All By Myself (Celine Dion)
Invisible (Bruce Hornsby)
So Lonely (The Police)




I really hope that you are enjoying my blog and that you might be learning something or gaining some perspective as to what others experience after a breast cancer diagnosis.  Please don’t be shy to leave a comment or ask a question or just say hi!  Even song suggestions would be most welcome!

Thanks to you all for your support and for continuing to read and share my story.
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Friday, May 3, 2013

SO LONELY

Blue Mountain, Ontario - Fall 2007

Now that I was in isolation, I made myself at home in my hospital room because I knew I was going to be there for awhile.  Mike brought me pjs, slippers, my quilt, the portable DVD player, movies and some books.  I was hooked up to an IV and other things for the first couple of days.  I slept a lot the first day and woke to see my Dad there in the afternoon.  He and Mike sort of took turns one with me and the other with the kids.  I couldn’t wait until that night because the kids were coming to see me.  I missed them so much and I knew they must be scared.  Plus I knew that they would try to be brave when they saw me.  Such strong little people with such big brave hearts.

Finally they arrived!  Just seeing them made me feel better.  I think wearing the masks was kind of scary for them at first but after awhile they just got hot and annoying for them.  Kids will be kids no matter what right?  I didn’t have to wear one now that I was in isolation but everyone that came in had to do so.  Mike and the kids stayed with me as long as they could but eventually they had to go home to bed.  I hated that part.  I tried so hard to be okay about it but as soon as they left I always cried my eyes out.  I felt like pieces of my heart were being broken off each night when they left.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was just not forever but just for now.

I have some great friends that also came to see me with books, magazines, cookies, nail polish, scrapbooking stuff and other things to help me pass the time.  I was getting totally caught up on my pop culture and celebrity gossip with the magazines and TV shows.  I also started following the story lines for Young and the Restless and Bold and the Beautiful which I hadn’t watched in years.  Nobody on those shows ever seems to get cancer.

One day I had a phone call that really touched me.  It was from my family doctor.  She is the one that had to give me the original news about the cancer diagnosis.  She had received a copy of my hospital admission information for my file at her office and so she decided to call me just to check in on me.  I was really touched that she took the time to do that.  It really meant a lot to me and I will always remember how good it made me feel that she had called.  I was well looked after.

Vancouver, BC - Summer 2011
I tried my best to get into somewhat of a routine so that the days would pass by quickly and I looked forward to the evenings when I could be close to my children.  I needed them more than they could ever know.  However I was feeling so badly about how much time this was taking out of Mike’s busy schedule with work and his MBA studies.  The travelling back and forth (about 45 minutes one way without traffic) would no doubt take its toll.  Also, I knew it was hard to come to the hospital and walk through the oncology floor.  Mike told me I was lucky that I couldn’t come out of my room because he saw so much sadness on this floor.

It was getting close to Christmas and I tried not to worry about things like the fact that I hadn’t done my Christmas cards yet, no shopping was done, no decorating, nothing, zilch.  In the big picture it really didn’t matter did it?  I was here to get better, stronger and healthy enough to go home and be with my family.

While I was in isolation I had a neighbour in the next room that I never met or even saw.  He was also in isolation, and he had a horrible cough and I knew that he was speaking another language.  It sounded to me like Inuktitut.  I asked the nurses about him and they told me he was Inuit and didn’t speak any English.  The nurses said that they usually had someone from the local Inuit community come in and spend time with patients transported from the North so that they could communicate in their language and have some company.  However, because he was in isolation, nobody was allowed to visit him.  I remember feeling so very sad for him and so lucky, almost guilty, because I had my family to visit me each evening and Mike and my Dad during the day.  I said a prayer for him to get better so that he would get strong enough to go home to the North and be with his family and friends.

Towards the end of the week the doctors told me that I could go home on Friday.  I was very thankful and happy to be getting out.  My oncologist also recommended that I receive an injection of Neulasta™ (the brand name for pegfilgrastim) after the next cycle of chemotherapy that would help to avoid another hospital stay like this one.  Basically the Neulasta™ injection sends the production of neutrophils into overdrive by stimulating the bone marrow to make white blood cells.  Of course this would have its own set of side effects including aching in the bones and muscles.  Plus it was extremely expensive.

I was not looking forward to the next chemo session.

So Lonely - The Police


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