Monday, October 31, 2011

It don't matter.

I was thinking today about cancer.... I think about it everyday. I was thinking that it is unfortunate that cancer doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you are young or old, black or white, thin or plump. It doesn't matter if you can run a marathon or need a walker to help you get around. It doesn't mind if you eat healthy or not so much. It doesn't skip past you because you are a CEO at a major company or an employee at a fast food restaurant. You aren't exempt because you have little children, teens or grandchildren.

Cancer doesn't care if you have an amazing holiday planned or are going to a friends to visit for the weekend. It doesn't mind at all if you have an abundance of money or you are barely scraping by. It could care less about the size of your house or what car you are driving.

It doesn't mind if you are married or single, in love or utterly alone. It doesn't care about the plans that you had for your future or the things you wish you could have changed about the past... because maybe if you could change the past, you could have done something to prevent it...

Cancer also doesn't know that it can change one forever. It can make a person stronger and yet softer at the same time. It has the ability to make you think about what is important and what really matters in this life. It can push you to learn more about the world we live in and who we truly are deep down inside. It can make you fall deeper in love.

Cancer automatically invites you to be a part of a special group of people who all share the same ideals. People who have the same fight and determination. People with the same willingness to succeed, live and thrive. Special people who are linked to each other, even if they don't know your name. People you can have a conversation with and find so much in common in a matter of minutes. People who you can find comfort in and draw a certain strength from.

It doesn't matter who cancer decides to pick on because it can't completely take away who you are and the mark you can make in this life.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Would never do.

There are a few things I thought that I would never do in my life. The list as follows:

- Never go out in public without my make-up on, unless to the Gym which has been a long time.

- Never go out in public without a bra on.

- Never go out in public without a bra on and only one boob.

- Willingly show people my boob/non-boob.

- Avoid people I know out in public so they don't have to see me, or so I don't have to talk. (rude I know and I am NOT like this normally)

- Have skin so dry it literally feels like fruit leather.

- Never thought I wouldn't have eyelashes or brows.

- Never thought I would shave and then WAX!!! my head.

- Didn't think I would ever miss so many days of church (even though I know my relationship with God is more than just a Sunday affair, I really miss being there)

- Make plans (because in the bottom of my heart I am still me and I can do everything) and then cancel because I can't do it.

- And my most favorite, added to this list as of today... wear those mesh panties that you get in the hospital when you have a baby, as a partial tube top (crotch cut out!) and part of my church outfit!!!!!

What has happened to me?? I know what has and I hope that once I am past this "stage" in my life, I will NEVER do these things again!!! ;)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red Hot.

Well, my armpit is to the "skin is breaking down" stage. But apparently it still looks good. WHAT?? I think it looks like hell so I guess I am lucky compared to others. It hurts most of the time and I can't wear a soft sports bra or anything constricting. I am completely down to my man's tee's. And my fakie is most certainly out of the question.

Mom and I went and saw a nurse the other day because one of the radiation therapists told us to ask for a dressing that we could put on. So when we asked the nurse about it she looked at it and told me it looked dry. I am not supposed to put lotion on 2 hours before the appt because it can act as a bolus, so by the time two hours is up, it is pretty dry. I was a little annoyed because I honestly put lotion on about 8 times a day. She also said that it wasn't cracking or oozing yet so she wasn't sure if I even needed a dressing. Well, Mom and I thought that this was a stupid idea. Why not give us a few things to we could treat it if we needed to. She she finally gave us some different dressings to put on it while we were away from Kelowna this weekend in case something happened. And guess what happened - on the way home in the car it cracked and started oozing. YAY!!!

Last night Ken was putting lotion on for me, ( I STILL hate touching the area, it really grosses me out!) he said we were about at the baby but rash stage. But when the lotion dries out it is like a sick, thick peeling sunburn. On the bright side, I think the front of me is hanging in there!

24 down - 4 to go!

The countdown is on!

This past week I had 9 different appointments. It was pretty busy for me. I know there are others that endure way appointments and visits with doctors, specialists and such than I will ever have to and to me they are strong, amazing because it is busy and exhausting.

I took some pictures of the room that I am in called the Beach. This is the machine that does the damage! ;) If you look directly above the radiation machine you can see some lighted panels on the roof. They are pictures of waves crashing in the water - to help soothe and relax you I suppose, or give you something to looks at if you get bored in there. You'll be able to see them better in another pictures that I will put up. I rest my left arm in the stirrups on the left side of the bed and tuck my right thumb under my hip because you have to stay in the exact position that you were placed in when the first CT was done. So if you have an itch, a twitch or need to go to the bathroom - you have to wait! If you do have to cough (I did the first few weeks because I had a cold and it's too hard to hold in some coughs) it's all manners aside and you just cough in whatever postion you are in because your body will usually settle back down to the position it was in in the first place.

The reason it is so crucial to stay in the same position is becase they literally work in millimeters when lining you up on the machine. So if you move, they have to start all over again. I think it would be quite a tedious job. And there is always two people in the room to double check what the other is doing while setting up.

This is me laying in postion ready to go... well almost, I have to expose my burnt, disfigured left used-to-boob and then they draw markings on me by following the tattooed areas and then all things are a go.

Monday, October 24, 2011


At night, I c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y. and I mean that, crawl into bed, and rest my sore arm on a pillow. With my right arm, I pull the covers up around my head and snuggle into another pillow, moving like a little puppy trying to find the perfect spot. Just as I find it, HOT FLASH... rip off covers, sigh, repeat.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red isn't rad...

The red is upon me. As you can see, my upper left side looks a bit like a patchwork quilt. Well, one square of a quilt I guess. And it hurts! I have a hard time sleeping at night because it is often very uncomfortable. I put lotion on about 5 times a day and a few of Ken's t-shirts are stained with grease marks... and the bed sheeting too. Allllllllllmost! over with it though. I only have 9 more treatments and I am stoked! (Grade 9 word I know.) I can't wait to get home and get my tree up. Yes, the Christmas Tree. I missed decorating for one of my FAVE!!! seasons, so I am getting geared up for my total favorite, early.

I am going to try to explain a few things for you. Where my boobie used to reside is very thin now and it is probably the only place I can feel my ribs... sick. Anyways, in order to radiate it better/deeper they put a fake piece of skin on me called bolus. This helps the radiation to be more effective. As a result of this, the area that the bolus is applied usually ends up being more red, especially along the scar. So far so good I think. I know that I am red, but I don't honestly see it to be in any specific area on the front of me... except that nice red spot on my neck. The reason that I have that little area is because the position that I have to lay in causes a neck roll (not surprised, I have a lot of rolls right now!) so the double up of the skin acts like bolus, and therefore, treats the area more effectively. I have a prescription that I put on the skin once a day to help thin it out.

My armpit however, is a complete mess all on it's own. No doubling up on skin, but just irritation from my sports bra, shirts - whatever comes in contact with it, like my own skin! It really hurts to have anything constrictive on so I am back to no bra and one "girl" running free. And if I am not wearing a bra, I am not wearing my fakie. So I am back to sporting the awkward body form... again. Brings back sweet memories of post mastectomy... "U-G-L-Y you ain't got not alibi. You ugly - - you ugly..."

I asked the "radiation therapists" (that is the correct term for these amazing people) how long until the redness disappears. I told them that I know that everyone's skin is different, and one of my friends is still "pink" and it's been a year. They told me that a therapist or a radiation oncologist will always be able to see it on a person. I guess I may not ever completely cover up the path that I have traveled. Which is fine, but I kind of always pictured a few years down the road when people would assume me to be a normal girl and wouldn't have a clue as to what I had been through. You know, when I have lost weight, have hair, and two boobs again. Is that what "normal" is?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oh the tears...

Have you ever stood at the end of a driveway and watched, broken hearted as your family drove away... children crying uncontrollably and it takes everything inside of you to keep it together... it's awful and I am getting tired of it.

Are we going to make a comback?

Well, have you ever tried to count your eyebrows?? Probably too many to even start. Well, I am down to 19. I was hoping that they would have started to come back, but no such luck. And my lashes are still MIA. I am looking forward to the day they decide re-appear.

The part that really sucks is when I rub my eye and then rub off my eyebrow and forget about it. Then I look really odd...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Check your ta-ta's month!

Well in honor of this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided I wanted to make a cute cake for the amazing staff at "The Beach". I thought this was perfect because I could make a cake and not have to eat it all because I feel bad that it is going bad on the counter.

Some of the sweet staff... not all of them... they are so great at making you feel alright about what you are going though. They are so attentive, answer any questions and treat you with such respect. Special, special people!

It was a pumpkin spice cake on the top and bottom and a vanilla sponge in the middle. Bavarian cream filled the insides and it was covered in cream cheese icing. Hope it was good!!

Give me a case of Meno-start!

OK... let me paint a little picture for you... hot cold hot cold hot cold hot cold hot... cold hot cold hot cold hot cold hot cold.... cold... HOT!!! It is really friggin' annoying. The "cold" is from not having much hair up top to keep me warm.

The "hot" are hot flashes from being put into menopause from the chemo. One moment, I am fine and the next my face beams red, like I am embarrassed about something I said, and I can't get cool fast enough.

There are a list of symptoms that one may experience while this temporary menopause is "inflicted"... (word carefully chosen).

Sometimes at night I have night sweats. I wake up soaked, literally, like I have just got off the treadmill from a 1 hour run... my pillow is wet, the sheets are wet, my head is sweaty and my whole body feels glossy. It is a gross feeling.

I will just list a few of the symptoms that I have/am experiencing. No cycle anymore, mood swings, fatigue - not sure if that is from chemo, radiation and fake menopause... most likely all of the above, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, dizziness, anxiety, TOTAL irritability and some itchy skin. Don't feel sorry for Ken, he is fine and I am not that cranky unless it is too loud, hot, cold, the conversation is too confusing... ok, feel a little bad for him. ;)

As the old saying goes, "It's better the devil you know than the one you don't." I am looking forward to the day to have my old friend come for a visit again. At least I won't be hot, crazy and exhausted!

From the mouths of babes.

Just over a week ago, a friend of mine from my childhood was reading my blog. Her sweet son C, came up to her and started to ask her some questions. This is what she wrote to me.

My son caught me reading your blog today and started asking me question about you, how I knew you and why I was reading your blog and so on. I explained most of it not in too much detail but enough so that he would get the picture of what you and your family must be going through. Must ad something else C is 9 and has been growing his hair out for 2 years. Our conversation ended there and we carried on with our evening.

A while later C came to me with the lap top with three web sites opened. First with the breast cancer wrist band and asked if we could get some to support breast cancer, a second with a website of how to donate hair for wigs and the specs to do so and the third was your facebook page. C then asked if you needed a wig and if not he wanted to donate it to someone else that needed hair. To make a long story short you have impacted my 9 year old sons life. He measured his hair and it is 10 inches long and we found a place in Vancouver that will take the hair. He also made an appointment for his haircut tomorrow. I asked him if we wanted to think about it for a while and his response was "What is there to think about mom, girls need hair way more than me."

What a sweetie! My heart was so warm with the thought of the sacrifice this youngster was willing to do for a stranger. And the fact that C is only 9!!! His thoughtfulness says a lot about his wonderful parents... they are doing something right for sure! This really meant so much to me because I can well imagine how important his hair was to him. Trust me, I know! LOL Our hair, in a way, is part of our inward expression of who we are and what we're trying to portray to others - sophistication, put together, tired mom, Granny, rocker, "punk", shy and the list goes on. So for him to give up a small part of who he is, to give to someone else is so special.

I learned a few amazing lessons from young C. First of all, you never really know who is watching you and what they may be learning from you.

Love can be shown in so very many ways... no matter what age you are!

You never know how you might be able to impact the lives of others from small and great acts of kindness and sacrifice.

And although I didn't need a wig, I know that the hair donated from C will mean more than a warm head for someone and sense of who they were, even if it was bed head from a little one... it will be a life long reminder of the love that a perfect stranger can have for another person. It will be an example of how to serve and love and care for others in ways that will live on in ones heart forever.

Thank you C! Your act of kindness will always remind me of the amazing qualities that we can acquire no matter what age we are. YOU are an amazing young man!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I had a friend ask me to explain the difference between chemo and radiation and what they do. Very valid, because I had no idea what they were before I hopped on this train. What I did know (or so I thought) was that chemo makes you barf.

Chemo, explained by my simple brain, are drugs that are given to you to kill cancer throughout your body. There are many, many different chemo's, so there are many, many different combo's they can come up with depending on what you are fighting. So again, there are various side affects that can occur. It kills the cancer cells, but also kills your good cells and can cause you to become sick very easily because your immune system is shot.

Radiation is treating a very specific area of the body through - well, radiation. Like an x-ray I guess. This is what the machine looks like... a giant kitchen mixer.

This picture is one off the net, but the one that is used here is very similar.

You lay on a table in a specific position to how your treatment has been set up. That is why they put tattoo's on so that they can line you up exactly for your treatment each day. The tech's (I think that is what they are called) set you up, and double check your positions with one another and then they leave the "vault", seriously that is what it is called. It is three walls of cement and there you lie, half naked on a table being fried while everyone else is well out of harm's way. I have told myself that the people who do this job for a living need to be well away from the beams as they do this all day everyday. So it must be safe for me... ya right. But, life saving? (still reading a lot about natural ways to kill cancer) none the less.

Dr. M explained it to us as an extension of the surgery. Just to make sure that they got everything. They are also doing my neck because I have lymph nodes that run up there and still more behind the chest muscle that aren't removed.

That about sums up the difference in my uneducated version. I hope this helps!

Monday, October 3, 2011

More updated pic's.

I realized I haven't shown the rest of my ta-ta in a while. Plus I wanted some pic's before the radiation actually starts to show up.

So at this point I have 5 treatments down and 20 to go. I don't feel anything yet and as you can tell from my bright white skin, there is nothing to show from the radiation.

My scar has healed up well and "looks really good" or at least that's what I have heard. I still think it is gross and don't want to have too much to do with it. I don't know.... it's just odd.

I'll keep the pic's coming as to what is going on when I start to notice a change.

Two things.

First of all, have you seen "Despicable Me"?? One of my favorite shows. I love it, my kids love it and Ken loves it. It is great and if you haven't seen it, you should.

Anyways, we all know that my hair is growing back and it looks just like Gru's mad scientist's hair - completely unattractive.

Don't even say it's cute - because it just isn't. LOL

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Did you know?

This post is for my husband... right now I feel lost without him.

Hey Babe,

I am sure that by now you are fast asleep... probably having a good one because last night, you were robbed of that. Something to do with a tiny 3 year old kicking you in the face as he was pressed between us and upside down in our bed. I hope your sleep is peaceful.

I wonder if you can feel that I am up. If you know that I am sad. I wonder if you know that even though we had a good cry yesterday about life and the reality of what our future may hold, I am still scared.... I wonder if you can feel me through the distance. Do you sense that tonight (and probably all week) I am sleeping in your t-shirt, just so I can feel like you are with me? I wonder if when my heart aches, does your heart ache?

I wonder if you know how much I absolutely love you. How I could not live this life without you and your money...... kidding. I wonder how much of "me" would exist if I didn't have you. I know you don't know how much I appreciate e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!!!! that you have done, that you do and that you will do.

Do you know how much I love ALL of the things that we have gone through together in our marriage? The most memorable highs and lows. For without these, we would not be shaped into the people we are now - capable of the love and sacrifice that is needed to endure the moments at this time.

I wonder if you know how much I love the man, father, son and friend that you are. You bless the lives of many. Do you know how I love that you dream? Yes, it does drive me crazy and causes me to often roll my eyes, but on the inside I am smiling... because not one thing in this life, to you, is unattainable.

I wonder if you know that it is hard for me to breathe and my heart pounds when I think of all that we need to do in this life, together, as husband and wife, and mother and father. It overwhelms me to think of 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. I NEED to be here. I NEED to help and love and teach. I guess I need to have more faith and know that only the Lord know of the plan for me and I have to trust in that.

Do you know that I can see us when we are older, sitting on a front porch of a white house, holding hands, wrinkled, old hands that have worked hard, on a sunny day watching life happen on the street we live on? The sun in shining through the leaves on the tall, green trees as the wind slightly moves them. It is beautiful and I hold onto that...

I wonder if you know how often I pray for you and your safety. That the Spirit will be with you and guide you and keep watch over you. I pray you never feel alone.

I honestly wonder if you will read this post because you don't read my blog. I hope you do. I hope you know how much I love you. I hope you know how important you are to me. I hope you know that you are mine and I am yours.

I love you sweetie! I miss you. My arms and soul ache for you... for that feeling only you can give to make me feel complete (thank you Tom Cruise for ruining the word "complete" and making it cheesy in most instances!!). I am doing the best that I can to hold it together to make it easier for you and the kids until I can come back home. And we can be a family again.

And finally, I wonder if you know how much it means to me, when you take me in your arms and kiss me softly on my bald head. It is a moment like that, that I know how much you love me.

From brighter days.