Ups and Downs

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good news: I tested negative for the BRCA-1 and -2 genetic mutations, which nixes my increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, a variant did show up on the results, but it's apparently one with a database so it's being tracked in other patients as well.

Now the other news.

We met with the OB/GYN last week for our monthly check-up. She said she talked to my plastic surgeon, who's insisting on a C-section so that she can assist in the repair to the mesh. That means that I have to have the baby at another hospital than originally planned, which means adding another OB/GYN to the team. Coincidentally, turns out that that doctor is the same one I had when I was pregnant with Mylo. Unfortunately, we later found out that she's on vacation for the whole summer, and our baby is due to be extracted from my shell in August. So now we're being juggled among doctors, but I'm sure it'll work out. I'm thankful that I have a team who's the best in Canada.

Then we were presented with yet another challenge yesterday. I had just pulled into the school parking lot to drop off the kids when I got a call from the OB/GYN's office. They received the results from my serum screening (or Triple Screen, as it's called in the U.S.) and they wanted me to come in to talk about the results. My heart immediately sunk, as I knew from past pregnancies that this test was to check for risk of Down's Syndrome and neural tube defects (most commonly, spina bifida). I calmly took Chloe and Mylo into their classrooms, read a book with Chloe, and rushed off to go home. I contacted my family doctor and told her that I got the call from the OB/GYN, and she responded that she would get the results herself and get back to me. Within an hour, she asked me if I could come in and see her right away. I was struck with the same feeling I had when I got the call to come in and discuss the results of my initial biopsy two and a half years ago.

Anton tried to remain calm, but I knew what was coming. Before she went over the results, she told us that these numbers aren't conclusive, and that the next step would be to get more tests done that would give us more definite answers. Then she gave us the numbers: 1 in 5 chance of neural tube defect, 1 in 25 chance of Down's syndrome. I accepted the news. I nodded my head. I listened as she explained all the numbers and terms to us on the report. She told us about the amniocentesis, which I knew about as well. And then I lost it. She consoled me and sat with us as long as it would take. We went home, exhausted, and it was only noon.

When we got home, we Googled, talked, and cried. I just couldn't believe that this was happening. It's not so much the idea of having an "imperfect" baby that worries me; it's more of the idea that the baby might be born suffering. Neural tube defects are more than just spina bifida. Some cases leave the babies paralysed, mobility challenged, blind or deaf, or can even lead to stillborn deaths. I know--we shouldn't let our minds race before we get more conclusive results, but still, how can we reign all this in?

A couple hours afterward, we went to the OB/GYN to talk to her about the results. She told us what we already knew, and then talked about the amniocentesis and genetic counselling. There was no question--we would do it as soon as possible. Just one problem: the mesh in my abdomen. How would the needle pass through that to get the amniotic fluid? The doctor was confident that the technicians could find a pocket that would allow the needle to pass through, but the idea of someone having to stab me multiple times with that needle before getting the right spot didn't sit well with me. So when I got home, I emailed my plastic surgeon.

This morning, I got my appointment for the detailed ultrasound and the amnio--it's not until the end of next week because Anton and I are off to LA to visit his mother, who is very ill. So it'll be more than two weeks before we know the condition of the vaboose. Also, just as I suspected, the plastic surgeon wants very much to communicate with the people performing the amnio before they just go in there and try to do their thing. I'm happy that I was proactive enough to call her and inform her of the situation so that she could contribute her expertise to the procedure. It's quite difficult and stressful being someone whom medical professionals are not used to dealing with.

Another call I made this morning was to my oncologist. You might wonder why, since this seems to be entirely a prenatal issue. Well, in my desperation to find a scenario that it's actually me who has something wrong, not the baby, I looked up alpha fetoprotein (AFP--the protein that indicates risk of Down's syndrome and neural tube defects), levels and any possible relation to cancer. Sure enough, increased levels occur in men and non-pregnant women when there is presence of liver, stomach, testicular, and ovarian cancer and lymphoma. This is wacky, but I really started praying that I have cancer and that the baby is okay because that would mean I could get treatment and get better, and the baby wouldn't be born with some incurable defect from which s/he would suffer. So I left a message for my oncologist to get back to me so we could see if that's a possibility.

Also, I want to know if my cancer treatment, particular the trial chemo I had, has something to do with this. I was told many times that it's pretty possible that I'd go through early menopause cuz the chemo would fry my reproductive system. Obviously that didn't happen, but perhaps the chemo has been a contributing factor to this situation.

I woke up this morning with the same feeling I had for the first month after I was diagnosed in summer 2007. I wondered if I had been dreaming--that this shocker was some kind of fear that my subconscious was dealing with. But then I saw the copy of the report on the couch, and I knew that it was real.

I ask myself why things keep happening, why just when things seem to be going right, we get another life-changing challenge thrown at us. In my most cynical moments, I think that I'm the universe's favorite joke. In my most spiritual moments, I feel that the universe thinks I can handle it, that if there's anybody to lay these challenges on, it's me. And lucky me--I have a partner who's on the same wavelength as I am in terms of dealing with all this, and I have two kids who show me constantly that there is so much happiness and joy in life. After I told the kids that the baby might be sick, Mylo kept hugging my belly all night, "to hug the baby" as he says. This sounds so co-dependent, but I feel like I'm only as strong as the people around me, and the people around me, including my children, are the strongest. Being strong means being able to cry, and being able to tell those around you that it's okay to cry. Being strong means believing that no matter what, it WILL be okay.

Back To The Chiropractor

Back in December I enlisted the help of a chiropractor to help me get moving. Taxotere had left me too fatigued to do much of anything and so I had become stiff and sore. Back then he helped stretch out some of my leg and shoulder muscles. After Christmas, I was feeling so good I decided to continue on my own. My legs have continued to improve but my shoulders are still weak ... especially my right side where I have lymphedema. My arm has become quite swollen, sore and achy. I sort of equate the achiness to a toothache. It’s always there and makes a person real grumpy. 

So today I stopped in to see the doc. He looked at my lymphedema arm and pointed out some bruising on my elbow. The bruising is caused by the swelling. It didn’t take him long to find the tightness which was actually causing a clicking sound in my elbow. He did some stretching and massaging and gave me some information on applying the kinesthetic tape to my shoulder to help strengthen my rotary cuff. I already use this tape on my lymphedema hand. We also reviewed what exercises I need to be doing to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders.

Get this .. I’ve even decided to cut back on my computer time ... that is a biggy.

Online Cause Marketing.....Is It Good?

There has been a lot of chatter about online cause marketing over the past several months.  Chase Bank, Pepsi, PayPal and Ebay are only a few of the many companies who use cause minded contests to hand out cash to charities. Spirit Jump has taken full advantage of several of these contests and that has given us first hand knowledge about what works, what doesn't and why social cause marketing should be the wave of social media future.

Recently blogger Beth Kanter posed a question on her blog: "Should We Just Blow Up Nonprofit "Vote For Me" Social Good Contests? We were shocked at the number of comments in favor of doing away with "Vote-For-Me" social good contests. Many people claimed that it was too easy to cheat, that the contests pitted one charity against another and that in the end the bad outweighed the good. 

While we agree these contests are not perfect there are many invaluable reasons why individuals, companies and nonprofits should not shy away from "Vote-For-Me" social good contests:

  1. For small nonprofits online contests provide the opportunity to be seen. While you may not win the big Pepsi grant, your nonprofit will be seen by hundreds of thousands stopping by to check what all the buzz is about. These large companies advertise their social good contests everywhere including television, online and radio. Nonprofits benefit from this mass advertising.
  2. "Vote-For-Me" contests allow the community to make a decision/have a voice. Under normal circumstances foundation funds and grants are given based on the decisions of board members, and usually to the same charities year after year.  Social media has opened those board room doors allowing other charities a chance at funding and allow YOU to help decide what charity should be the recipient.
There are many reasons why cause marketing and social good contests work but mostly they provide an opportunity to participate in a process that has been, for the most part, because it gives individuals and charities a voice.

The Living Well Cancer Support Group

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This morning I was at the Living Well group. Our homework assignment last week was to do something fun or enjoyable that we wouldn’t normally do and secondly we were to do something philanthropic. 

What I did for myself was to apply for a travel subsidy to attend a cancer conference in the US. What I did for others is, I signed up to do some volunteer work. Because both of these events are to happen in the future ... I can’t really comment too much about my personal experience right now.

The lesson to be learned here is that when we do something fun for us, the good feelings are rather short lived however; if you give of ourselves to others ... the feel good feeling lasts longer because we are using your personal strengths to help others. 

Our assignment this week is to think about someone whom we are grateful for, yet we haven’t ever properly thanked them. The task itself is to write a letter expressing our gratitude to whom we are grateful. We are to read the letter to the person, either in person or over the phone and then give them the letter if we like. 

This assignment is actually on my bucket list ...

Lunch With A Friend

Monday, March 29, 2010

Audrey from Stage 3! Who, me? and I had a really nice lunch together today. I’m glad to say she is doing real well and so full of life. We chatted up storm.

I think some of her enthusiasm rubbed off on me because I feel so energized after our luncheon.

What to do with my extra energy ... hmmm?

My Sister Asked If I was Feeling Normal

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I was on talking long distance the phone with my sister and she asked if I was feeling normal. I said nope and rattled off that my lymphedema arm is achy and swollen; my feet are still retaining a small amount of fluid and I have mild neuropathy in my feet and hands. 

The biggest issue with the neuropathy is that I often have the dropsy’s. Using anything small …like nail clippers, they just fly out of my hands for no reason at all. The dog has learned to keep her distance in the kitchen. 

Mentally I’m nowhere near normal. My focus and concentration are poor. I can be very emotional for no reason at all and my memory is atrocious. 

So Sis, am I feeling normal? … no, I’m not there yet.

Canadian Cancer Society PSA

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lots of Socializing

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wow, what a full day. This morning I had a great time at the knitting group. One of the gals knitted a chemo cap to show as a sample. She is going to make copies of the pattern for all at our next meeting. Another said she’d whip up a flower to put on the side of it to help jazz it up. We’re going to knit up a few different patterns and see which one we like best.

After the knitting group was done ... some of the gals went out for lunch at the food court and I joined them. We chatted about this and that. Three ladies really connected as they each had 16 year old daughters as an only child. Kawinkydink or what?

After a while, I zipped out to meet the Second Cup gals. Four of us met which is great because we only started with two. As usual, we talked about all sorts of stuff, everything from our treatments to Skype.

After all that yakking ... I’m tired ... maybe a snooze is in order to rest my jaw.


The Sears Group

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yesterday on the way to the Sears coffee group, I thought I’d stop at the Cross Cancer Institute and pick up a daffodil pin for each of the gals. The pins are really soft and pretty. I snapped a pic, check em out...

Four of the six ladies came for coffee. Most everyone in the group is doing well except for S who just got out of the hospital ... thinking of you S and hoping you join us soon. We all miss you.

After a couple of good cups of coffee and a few good laughs ... we gave each other a nice hug and off we went.

With Cancer, Let’s Face It: Words Are Inadequate

We’re all familiar with sentences like this one: Mr. Smith died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. We think we know what it means, but we read it and hear it so often that it carries little weight, bears no meaning. It’s one of the clich├ęs of cancer.

It is easy shorthand. But it says more about the writer or speaker than it does about the deceased. We like to say that people “fight” cancer because we wrestle fearfully with the notion of ever having the disease. We have turned cancer into one of our modern devils.

But after staggering through prostate cancer and its treatment — surgery, radiation and hormone therapy — the words “fight” and “battle” make me cringe and bristle.

I sometimes think of cancer as a long and difficult journey, a quest out of Tolkien, or a dark waltz — but never a battle. How can it be a battle when we patients are the actual battleground? We are caught in the middle, between our doctors and their potential tools of healing and the cell-devouring horde.

Click here to read more from this post by Dana Jennings from the New York Times Well Blog.

Hair Today

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Today I thought I’d do a hair update. For most of last year I was Q-ball bald on Taxotere. But when I switched to Xeloda in October... my hair started coming back in. It’s not a full head of hair yet but I’m so happy ....I’ll take whatever I get.

Now when I’m out, the locks sticking out from under my cap make me look a bit more normal.

I’m heading to the mall this afternoon to find some nice light summer caps because now that I’ve have some hair, my head heats up real quick with my winter caps.

The Living Well Group

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I just got back from the Living Well Group. Last week’s assignment was to look at some of our character strengths and try and use them in a new way. One gal in the group she did a kind act and upon reflection ... she felt the rest of the day went very smoothly. It’s like her kind act set the mood for the day.

This week’s assignment is two part ... firstly, we are supposed to do something that is fun and enjoyable. Secondly, we are to do something philanthropic ... it doesn’t matter what we do, only that it is something that shows good will to others. One rule tho... it is important that you spend about the same amount of time doing both parts.

Next week we will compare and contrast these experiences.

Welcome to Our Blog!

WELCOME to The Wellness Community-West Los Angeles' blog, Cancer Support, Education, & Hope!

This blog is for all people affected by cancer who are looking to share and connect with others dealing with cancer. If you are up in the middle of the night or just looking for something to occupy your time during a chemo session and want a safe place to share feelings -- reading and responding to this blog might help you in your fight for recovery. Explore the power of the written word and its impact on your well being.

March Is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

Monday, March 22, 2010

Here is a three and half minute inspiring video by Tony Clark who talks about how he is living a full productive life with kidney cancer. Tony is the Chair of Kidney Cancer Canada.

Personal Reflection

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I’ve been feeling so good lately ... can hardly believe it. Yesterday I went out for a drive, just to get out of the house. I had all four windows down a bit with the tunes turned up ... what a great feeling. The weather has been so lovely here lately too.

I’ve been doing a bit more reflecting these days. It’s kind of hard to imagine my body is sick with stage four cancer. Right now it’s not getting worse or better but it’s still there. Part of me wants to think, I’m back to normal but ... I’m not. I’m always thinking of that next scan and what it could show. What is the cancer in my liver doing to me today? The weird part is that I don’t feel it, so I don’t know. On the other hand I’m so fortunate not to be having any major side effects from the cancer or chemo... like no pain. I wake up thinking ... ok how do I feel today? ... any changes? Then I go about doing things and then all of a sudden I stop and think ... I have cancer ... can’t be true. It just doesn’t seem to be something I can totally wrap my head around ... even after all these years.

Daffodil Days In Edmonton

Saturday, March 20, 2010

As shown on the Canadian Cancer Society website …

March 22 – 27

Every spring, Canadian Cancer Society volunteers in Alberta and the Northwest Territories are busy delivering and selling bright, yellow daffodils to help raise money in support of the fight against cancer. The daffodil is the Canadian Cancer Society's symbol of hope. The bright, cheerful blooms are sold every year and provide a kick-off for our National Cancer Awareness Month in April.

Join us at Daffodil Mountain March 24-25 at Commerce Place (10125-102 Street), or visit one of our street sales locations:

Location and Date:

Bonnie Doon Mall
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Camrose Farmers Market
March 27, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Canadian Tire West
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Canterbury Manor
March 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Capilano Wal-Mart/Capilano
March 26, 4 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
March 27, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Clairview Wal-Mart
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

College Plaza
March 25, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Commerce Place
March 24-25, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Cross Cancer Institute
March 24, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Grey Nuns Hospital
March 26, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Londonderry Mall
March 26, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Misercordia Hospital
March 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

March 22, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
March 24, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

South Edmonton Common Wal-Mart
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Southgate Mall
March 27, 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Strathcona Farmers Market
March 27, 7:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

University Hospital
March 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

University of Alberta Hub Mall
March 23, 10 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

West End Wal-Mart
March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

My Friday Knitting Group

Friday, March 19, 2010

I usually walk in to find that most everyone has their knitting out and chatting up a storm. Once everyone’s here, we’re asked to circle up and share what’s happened in the past week and if there anything needing to be talked about.

Once that is done ... we can talk freely amongst ourselves and we sure do that ... everything from Farmville on Facebook to lymphedema to raising teenagers. 

One topic that keeps coming up is the idea of forming a knitting group to knit chemo caps for cancer patients. We’re just looking at different patterns right now and deciding what type of yarn would be best. We’d also like to knit or crochet flowers to the caps, just to make them that little bit prettier... especially for the men folk ... hehe!

I hope it comes together not just for the cancer patients who’ll use these caps but because it’ll be such a great healing process for us all... knitting together for a good cause.

A Cheeky Colorectal Cancer PSA

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My New Spring Look

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I’m sure you’ve noticed ... I changed the look of my blog. I’ve wanted three columns for a very long time and now I have it ... and I changed it all myself ... well with Blogger’s help of course. I’ve been tinkering with the Blogger Draft Tools off and on for a few months now. 

Now Blogger in Draft has come up with some new tools to manipulate the look of your blog. You just move and add graphic objects to get it looking the way you want. There are plenty of templates to choose from and you can preview any changes to the look of your blog before publishing. Easy breezy.

Here’s the link to the official Blogger in Draft.

Here’s the one minute demo video ... 

Happy renovating!

My Living Well Homework

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just got back from the Living Well cancer support group. Our assignment last week was to record three good things that went well during the last week and then think about why these good things happened. The lesson here is ....if you open yourself up to the world and take some risk, good things do happen.

This week’s assignment is to look at your own virtues and character strengths. We were given a list of 24 good qualities to possess. We are to consider what we think would be our top five strengths or ... our signature strengths. We are then supposed to try and think of a new way to use one of these strengths during the week. For example, if kindness is one of your strengths ... try and find a new way to be kind during the week.

This is gonna be interesting ...

Blood Work and Oncologist Visit

Monday, March 15, 2010

I just got back from seeing the Onc. My blood work all looks normal ... liver and kidneys are functioning fine. The liver is always a concern because I have tumours on it and the kidneys are a concern because Xeloda is extra hard on them. I really haven’t any of the major side effects from Xeloda... that’s great because it makes my visit short and sweet.

Today is the last time I will see my regular Onc for a year as she is going on mat leave at the end of this month. My new Onc has his clinics on Thursdays, so that will change up my schedule a bit.

Nothing more to say other than it’s a sunny spring like day and I’m feeling really good.

A Powerful Video - The Dash

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cards 4 Cancer Day Video

We made this video using pictures of cards made by people around the world. We are putting on a project called Cards 4 Cancer Day. On or around 4-10-10 people around the world will be delivering cards they have made & collected to local cancer centers. We are looking for people around the world to help us with this project.

To get the word out Spirit Jump is throwing a contest to encourage people to blog and make videos about Cards 4 Cancer Day.  There are 5 $50.00 gift certificates up for grabs from One Hope Wine.  You can get amazing wine, gift baskets, wine openers and more. There will be 5 winners here is how you can get one of these $50.00 gift certificates:

1) The Cards For Cancer Day blog post that receives the most comments by noon (EST) 3/16/10- Contest has been extended to 3/22

2) The most creative blog post about Cards For Cancer Day by noon (EST) 3/16/10- 3/22

3) The two most creative & fun YouTube videos about Cards For Cancer Day by noon (EST) 3/16/10-3/22

4) The team to recruit the most team members from 3/9/10-3/16/10. For a team member to count they must sign up using a full name and email address.  The team member must also type in the name of the team they are joining.-Contest has been extended to 3/22

To be considered for this contest you must email the link to your blog post and/or YouTube video to  Submissions must be received by noon (EST) Tuesday March 16.  Winners will be announced live on the Spirit Jump Show 3/16/10 8-9pm EST.  Winners will also get an opportunity to be guests on our show that night!

You can read previous blog posts to help you write yours HERE

If you want to start a team you can do so by clicking HERE

Lymphedema Explained Video

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My silly lymphedema arm is so sore and achy today... and I have no one to blame but myself. I am not doing the required stretching exercises as I should be. 

I found this YouTube video that offers me the motivation I need. It has arm exercises toward the end.


"I'm sure it's nothing. I'm sure it'll be okay." How many times have I said these words to myself and to those around me when it comes to cancer scares? I'm saying that now. I've been having a consistent pain in my leg for two months now, and my oncologist wants me to get an MRI to get it checked out. I was pretty happy and surprised that she's taking that action because they don't just hand out MRI's to anybody with a leg pain in Canada. But she wants to figure out what's going on with my leg, and this is the best and safest way to do it now, given the pregnancy. Still, I'm sure it's nothing...right?

Anton and I met with the ob-gyn again for our monthly check-up. She got the notes and recommendations from the plastic surgeon who did my TRAM-flap, but she has other ideas about how this pregnancy will progress and how to deliver the baby.
The problem is, none of my doctors have any experience at all with a woman in my situation, who is pregnant after having had a bilateral mastectomy and TRAM-flap reconstruction. So everything that they think about the situation is theoretical. The plastic surgeon believes that since I don't have abdominal muscles, I can't push out a baby and will therefore have to have a C-section, which would require cutting into my mesh. The ob-gyn would rather me have a vaginal birth and use a vacuum to suck out the vaboose, which kinda freaks me out. I know it sounds superficial, but I don't want my baby to have a cone-shaped head (I also know that it won't stay cone-shaped for long, but I can't hold off on taking pictures until the vaboose has a round head again). We meet with the ob-gyn in a couple weeks, so we'll find out more then.

We're off to a young adult cancer survivors retreat today, specifically for couples. It's good to get connected with folks who've gone through similar situations, especially because it's so easy to become isolated. Even though young people are resilient, it's quite difficult to just "get over" cancer. Thankfully, there is this space to talk about what's still there, even when the cancer is gone.

Shout Out To - Kids With Cancer

Friday, March 12, 2010

As taken from their website ...

The Kids with Cancer Society, a registered not for profit Edmonton based charity (88640 1397 RR0001), was established in 1979 to provide peer support to children with cancer and their families.

Kids With Cancer is putting on its Fifth Annual Beaded Journey Gala Thursday March 18th 2010 at the Hotel Fairmont MacDonald. The Beaded Journey Gala is hosted by our Mayor Stephen Mandel. To purchase tickets please contact the Kids with Cancer Society office at 780-496-2459 or email

A bit about the beaded journey from their site …

When children are diagnosed with cancer they receive a piece of leather twine and beads that spell out their first name. As they go through their treatment, a colourful bead is added to mark each facet of their journey including: surgeries, diagnostic procedures, scans, blood transfusions, and special events.

March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer or large bowel cancer. These include cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. 

As taken from the Canadian Press... 

… the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, in conjunction with government partners, has been taking a "giant colon" on the road to cities across Ontario to educate people about the disease and to promote the need for screening.

Visitors enter a Giant Colon Exhibit designed to raise awareness for colon cancer checks in Toronto on Thursday March 4, 2010.

One Caring Gal... Renee

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When I first started blogging in August of 2008, I was furiously searching the web to find other people blogging with metastatic breast cancer. I found Renee from Circling My Head, who not only had metastatic breast cancer; she had been on Taxotere too. Wow two things in common. I was so happy to find her. Someone who was going through what I was going through.

After eight treatments, the Taxotere was really beating me up ....with no end in sight. I asked Renee how many treatments she had. She replied 22 or 24 ... she couldn’t quite remember. I said to myself ... if she could do that many ... so could I. Honestly, she is the reason I got through my 20 treatments at all.

She left me so many inspiring comments on my blog ... often using the most colourful adjectives to describe cancer and its effects. Some days she helped by making me smile, others she helped me cry it all out. She always knew what to say. She gave me encouragement, just that little bit I needed to get through that day or that particular part of my cycle.

I’m very sorry to say, my good friend Renee lost her battle this week ...

Living Well Assignments

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I just got back from the Living Well, a support group for cancer patients. The discussions are based on increasing our joy, satisfaction and contentment. And enhance our sense of meaning and purpose in life. Each week we go home with an assignment.

Last week’s assignment was to slow down and savour one task each day that I would normally rush through. Well, I didn’t do so well ... I read the sheet and said I’d do it later ... which I didn’t. 

This week’s assignment is called the ‘three good things’ task. We are to write down three things that went well during that day. The idea is to do this daily for the week. Then we are to reflect on why did this or that good thing happen.

I’m hoping to do better on this assignment than the last...

Last Day Of Pills For This Cycle

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today is the last Xeloda day for this cycle. For the first ten days or so, I have been retaining a bit more fluid. My wrist was sore and achy but now the pressure has diminished and the fluid is down quite a bit. I think I should start tracking my fluid retention from day to day, just to try and make some sense of the rise and fall.

My sinuses still give me occasional grief. Some days I have this sinus pressure which causes sneezing, stuffiness and a runny nose. With spring around the corner, I doubt that will get any better.

I’ve been very good at moisturizing and wrapping my fingers, toes and feet so no skin cracks at all. Tho, if I miss a day ... I sure can tell. It doesn’t take long to see cracks start.

All in all ...a really good cycle.

Shout Out To – The Alberta Battle Of The Bikes

Sunday, March 7, 2010

As taken off their website ...

On Sunday, March 14, 1:00-2:00 pm, we are staging Alberta’s first Battle of the Bikes to raise awareness and support for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Cyclists will square off in giant spinning classes at Northlands in Edmonton and Eau Claire Mall in downtown Calgary.

Nothing like a little friendly competition …


A Good Time

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yesterday was pretty full day ... in the morning; I had my cancer knitting group. We had a few good laughs when we started talking about Farmville on Facebook. Before you knew it ... I had five new neighbours. We talked about having to feed all the animals and harvest crops. Everyone was asking what level each was on. I said that I kept running out of fuel for my equipment. Then someone said that if I fertilize the neighbour’s crops, I’ll get free fuel... yippy! I’m not sure what makes these Facebook games so much fun but it sure makes for good conversation.

After the knitting group, I came home for a snack and then off to the Second Cup coffee group. We chatted about this and that with cancer bits fading in and out. Two hours later and it was time to go. 

Recently I’ve started taking pictures of my friends that I meet... using my cell phone. That way if I’m feeling a bit down, I just whip out the phone and look at all my good buddies ... all the people that are supporting me through these times. So don’t be surprised if I’m out for coffee with you and ask for a quick snapshot.


Stigma Associated With Cancer Video

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lymphedema Changes Again

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today I went to the medical supply store to get a new glove and sleeve for my arm. The technician there said the measurements of my arm and hand had increased since my last visit back in October of 09. I knew my arm had swollen up recently because I could see it and feel it. Also; it’s been a bit sore and achy over the last couple of weeks.

The technician and I decided to hold off me purchasing a replacement arm sleeve today. She said the whole idea is to get a new sleeve when the arm is smaller and try to maintain that size. If I would have known that, I would have made an appointment when my measurements were smaller... but as with everything, this is a learning process and I’ll know better next time. For now I will keep using this sleeve.

I definitely need a new glove because the one I have right now is just too big. I’m thinking it may have been too big when I got it and the fabric is just too thin and flimsy. I mentioned to the gal that I thought something heaver was needed. She listened and we used my October measurements and ordered a glove with a heavier fabric.

On the way home I stopped at Tim’s and picked up a coffee and donut....

Medical Info Organizer Ideas

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I’ve come across a couple of organizers that I use to help make my cancer life a bit easier... and I would like to share them with you.

Firstly, is a website called which offers help with organizing your medications. it keeps track of your daily medications, prints off schedules and it will send you reminders to take your meds. In the US you can set it up to send text messages to your cell... but that feature isn’t available in Canada so I have it set up for daily email reminders.

Secondly, is Google Health where you can record all your health information ... everything from meds, to procedures to medical records from your doctor or hospital. I think it’s just a great way keep all that information in one place.

Hope you find them useful ...

Living Well Group

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I just got back from the Living Well group at cancer clinic. As always, it’s interesting stuff. One lady mentioned she thought cancer makes a person more brave ... definitely ... but she also said it helps make the people around you braver. Friends and family are faced with new challenges. For example; spouses often have to take on new duties at home while their wives or husbands are undergoing treatment. Men learn to cook and wives may have to mow grass. Children may become more independent as they do more for themselves. I thought that was all pretty interesting stuff.

Anyways, we had some take home exercises ... each day for the next week we are to carefully enjoy at least one activity that we typically rush. For exampling giving ourselves more time to eat or drive somewhere. We’re supposed to pay close attention to our senses ... what do we hear and see and feel? We are to savour the moment.

To be honest, my schedule is pretty wide open so I will be able to savour a few moments. One of the things D and I do each morning is having coffee. D makes a pot of coffee and we sit together and chat. After that we get on with the day. I find I’m more relaxed and ready to face the day. For me there is nothing like sitting down and sipping coffee and doing nothing else.

A Real Good - Feel Good Story

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last night D and I attended the Laughing for Cancer Benefit at the Comic Strip at West Edmonton Mall. What a great night out. The atmosphere was so very warm and supportive. You could tell the place was filled with people all focused one thing ... to help Andrew Grose, a local comedian, raise money to fight cancer. 10 years ago after the death of his father-in-law, he set out to raise 1 million dollars.

The show was such a blast, from the gift auction to the comic show at the end. The auctioneer was so clever and funny...pumping folks for just a few dollars more. Then imagine a bunch of comics all running around raising their hands and yelling to alert the auctioneer to everyone’s bid. All their wise cracks were way too funny too. We laughed so hard our cheeks hurt. Not one person went unnoticed or unthanked.

What was so heart warming about the evening was just watching all the volunteers running their tails off to support this cause. From the waitresses making sure no one was thirsty to the cooks personally hot footing meals out from the kitchen. Everyone’s genuine help was just pouring out to make the whole evening a super success.

After the auction, we were treated to a comedy show hosted by 14 comedians ... some local and some not. Three were in from America.

At the end of the show, Andrew invited everybody up onto the little comedy stage and thanked them all for helping him with his cause. He barely got two words out before he got emotional. He said the names of those who recently lost their battle with cancer, including his sister and relatives of the volunteers. He also announced that this would be the last Laughing for Cancer Benefit. By the time he finished his speech, he was not the only one with tears in their eyes.

I’m very proud to say that Andrew did it. He exceeded the goal of $ 1 million. And as promised, he presented his last check to the Cross Cancer Institute. The gal representing Cross was so gracious in accepting the money raised and thanked Andrew for his huge effort. She talked about how the past donations were put to good use and how this year’s donation will help get things get done too.

What a powerfully emotional evening ... one we won’t soon forget.