PICC Infection is Receding

Monday, May 31, 2010

Last night around 8:00 pm, D and I took a good look at my PICC arm and the infection had receded below the line drawn on by arm my Onc. And this morning it’s even further back of the line. Yippee.

Yesterday throughout the day, the whole PICC line area on my upper arm was itchy … really itchy. And it got itchier into the evening … symptoms of healing? I couldn’t resist massaging the area a little bit with the tips of my fingers for some relief. 

Hopefully I can get back on chemo this Friday. Fingers and toes are crossed.

Why Stand Up To Cancer?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Universe, can you please cut me some slack?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

April 15, 2010 was the 2nd anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy. It was also the day that our son, Veo Hieu Liam Worrall-Soriano was born and then died. Veo had a birth defect called anencephaly, which causes the skull to not form and therefore, the baby would never have a chance to survive. I was admitted to Women's hospital to give birth to Veo and to say goodbye. When labour was induced, I felt the familiar pains of childbirth, but with the added pain of knowing that all the dreams we had for Veo would never come true. Each contraction that passed through me was another permanent wound. I knew that before long, we would be able to hold Veo, but only for a little while.

Throughout our stay at Women's, the staff--from the nurses to the social worker to the spiritual counsellor--helped us in every single way they could, and we will always be so thankful for that support. But as we came home, we felt the immense sadness and void fill up the space around us. We spent time together, just the two of us, and we also thought about how we would help Chloe and Mylo deal with the loss of the baby brother they were so excited to have in their lives.

Even though they are only 5 and 6 years old, my children have gone through so much in terms of death and loss and illness, starting with my cancer diagnosis in 2007. When they were 2 and 3 years old, they watched me transform from a healthy young mom who could easily fulfill all their needs into a sick, bald woman who spent a lot of time in bed. They watched me give myself white blood cell booster injections, and they watched me recover from my surgery, with drains hanging out of me. They watched me get better again. Then they endured their father's and my separation, trying to cope with now living between two households and understanding why grown ups behave the way they do. Now this--a baby that they never saw but hugged through my belly, a baby whom they had all these plans to play with, a baby for whom they drew pictures and made up stories--this baby they wanted--he was dead. Why? My heart broke when Chloe asked me, "Mama, can we have a baby that doesn't get sick and die?"

It's been over a month since Veo's birth and death, and we're still feeling the loss. Chloe and Mylo have resumed their lives as usual, but now and then they ask me about Veo. They ask to see the tiny footprints the hospital gave us, they ask to burn some incense for him. The hospital gave us teddy bears to give to the kids, and the funeral home gave us a stuffed elephant--all as reminders of Veo. Every night the kids are with me, they hug those stuffies and remember their brother.

Now, I sit alone in my apartment. The kids are with their dad. Anton is going to be by his mother's side as she takes her final breath. It is quiet, but I'm feeling very unsettled.

Yesterday, I had a check-up with my oncologist. She wants to give me a full-body PET scan to make sure I am truly cancer-free. However, in order for me to have that done, I have to not be pregnant. And now, more than ever, Anton and I really want to have a baby. A fear struck me this morning as I thought about the PET scan: what if it shows I have cancer, and I have to go through chemo or whatever, and then I can never have kids again? I really want to say, forget the PET scan until we have the baby we want so much. But I know--I have to make sure I am good to go.

I fucking hate cancer. It keeps getting in my way.

Why can't we have this life we want so much--to be with Chloe and Mylo and their baby brother/sister, to live quietly and in the service of society? The last three years of my life have been devastation upon devastation. Yes, there has been so much that has gone right. I still have two amazing children, and I am in love with the most amazing man. Why, then, does life keep dishing out all these challenges that make me want to scream?

Unscheduled Clinic Visit

Last night the redness from my infection crossed the line drawn in by the Onc. And it’s more painful. D wanted me to call the clinic immediately but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I really don’t want the PICC line pulled out of my arm just yet. 

This morning I finally gave in and called the clinic as instructed by my Onc. I asked if I could come in and have a nurse look at it. The triage nurse said we don’t normally take walk-in traffic but … if I wanted to come in, she’d come down and have a quick peek. Excellent …that is all I want. 

D and I headed straight over there. The nurse had a look and said … well, even tho the infection has crossed the line it doesn’t look too bad yet … besides it takes two or three days for the antibiotic to kick in and since I had only been taking them for just less than two days, we could probably wait a bit. “Keep a close eye on your temperature.” she said and off we went. 

Perfect … I could now enjoy the weekend. To celebrate, we went out for breakfast.

PICC Line Infection Update

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yesterday throughout the day and into the evening, the area above my PICC line became redder and redder. My arm became increasingly sore with the redness. I especially felt a weird throbbing sensation in the vein on up my shoulder where the PICC line is located.

Around 8:00pm D and I looked closely at my arm, we even took a picture of it and concluded that the redness had moved up to the go-no-go line that my Onc had drawn on my arm. But the redness had not crossed the line so I did not have to go to the clinic. And my temperature was still normal.

We took another picture this morning and compared the two. There’s a small color change for the better in the area. It is less red and the soreness is way down. The throbbing is gone too. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the antibiotic is now kicking in.

Here is the picture taken last night showing the infection and my PICC line.

PICC Line Infection

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This morning I went in for blood work to confirm I was OK for chemo tomorrow. When it came time to see the nurse, we discussed the side effects from last week’s infusion. I mentioned I had chills on Friday and Saturday, I had a sore acidic belly and a small dry cough up until a couple of days ago.

I also mentioned something else … this morning I noticed that my PICC line area was sore and my skin was reddish and warm to the touch. She looked at it asking if maybe I had a skin reaction to something. I said I didn’t think it was that because it was just too sore. I mentioned to her that the muscles in both arms and shoulders were usually weak and often sore but this is different. A second nurse had a look and thought it might be an infection.

The first nurse called my Onc in to have a look. He concluded that this was indeed an infection and rescheduled my chemo to next week Friday. He also put me on the antibiotic Cephalexin 500 mg for 7 days. Then he took out his pen and drew a line on my arm at the edge of the redness and said … if the redness goes beyond this line … to call the clinic immediately.

So now I’m back to checking my temperature 4 times a day for the next week at least. …Zaraza!

A Renewal Retreat for Women with Breast Cancer

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our mission is to provide no-cost healing retreats to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The focus is on encouraging women to reclaim their sense of personal power and to strengthen them in their journey toward healing on all levels and living fully.

Image Reborn's Living Beyond Breast Cancer retreat program is designed and facilitated by a highly professional staff with backgrounds and experience in addressing the special concerns of women with breast cancer.

We offer weekend retreats in a serene mountain setting in Park City, Utah.

Chemo Cycle One – Day Five

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here is an update on my side effects.

I’m now waking up nearly every morning with a headache above the sinus area. It sort of disappears after morning coffee but comes back in the afternoon a bit stronger. I’m going to start taking Benadryl today and see if that gives some relief.

I’m finding my stomach has become a bit finicky too, with some burning acid indigestion. So I’ve pulled out some medication I had when I was on Taxotere … it’s called Metoclopramide and works like a darn. I’ve also started coughing a bit again. Don’t know if that is fluid around my lungs or not.

Generally I’m just starting to feel low on energy.

On a positive note, my finger tips and toes aren’t peeling from the Xeloda anymore. The edema in my right arm is down too which means it isn’t bothering me as much. As far as the swelling in my feet goes, I have minimal if any left.

And finally, I need a hair cut… can you believe that? Tho my hair is still thin from the Taxotere … it’s long enough where it requires some super model shaping and style.

PICC Line Dressing Change

Monday, May 24, 2010

Last Saturday I went in to the clinic and had my PICC line inspected and redressed. It’s usually only a weekly event but because I had it inserted just the day before, the Doc just wanted to make sure everything was in order.

So while the nurse had the dressing off, I thought I’d take a snapshot of the PICC in my left arm.

Pretty cool huh? … NOT!

Video - William Li: Can We Eat To Starve Cancer?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

William Li offers a new way of thinking about treating cancer and other diseases. Anti-angiogenesis uses drugs or substances to stop tumors from making new blood vessels. 

William Li speaks on eating cancer-fighting foods that cuts off the supply lines and beats cancer at its own game.

Cycle One - Day Two

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I had my Vinorelbine just before lunch yesterday and late in the afternoon I started getting a bit of a head ache … felt a bit of nausea too. Around supper time I got the chills. I just couldn’t warm up so I hopped into bed with a couple of comforters on top of me. By the time D came to bed, I had warmed up and ended up sleeping pretty well through the night.

This morning I woke up with a stuffy head … but overall I’m doing good.

PICC Procedure and Chemo Infusion

Friday, May 21, 2010

This morning I had my PICC line inserted. A doctor first attempted to use the same PICC vein used last year but after two attempts he said there was too much resistance and we needed to find another vein. So he moved to the cephatic vein which is located more to the front of my upper arm. That one went in like a breeze. Besides the needle for the freezing … I really didn’t feel a thing.

After changing back into my street clothes, the nurse wheeled me to Daycare for my Vinorelbine infusion. The actual infusion was only about ten minutes but between that, the flush and the liter of saline, I was outta there in just over an hour.

My chemo cycle is a little bit different this time too. It’s still a three week cycle but with treatments on two of the weeks and one week off... nothing like changing things up a bit.

Overall, I’m feeling fine … a bit woozy as I was getting the chemo but really nothing to complain about. I go in tomorrow for a dressing change on the PICC line just to make sure everything is fine … after that it will be weekly changes.

Today’s Oncologist Visit

Thursday, May 20, 2010

During last month’s visit my Onc said options were limited for treating the new growth on my liver. My choices were the study drug TK1258 or Vinorelbine (Naveltine). Because I don’t qualify for the study drug ... Vinorelbine is it.

Back then I didn’t have the courage to ask the Onc what he meant by… limited options.

Today I asked the question. How many options do I have left? He said if Vinorelbine fails, I will be put on compassionate care. 

I asked if I could try DCA and he said he would look into it.

Guest Blogger: Kiki Kaboom

Spring 2010 is here and that means one thing in the world of burlesque, The London Burlesque Festival. So we asked one of our previous performers who was a major part of the festival, Kiki Kaboom to keep a little journal for us. The chavvy, geek to freak star and winner of the Best Newcomer Award at last year's festival, gave us this.

Bumped by a one-legged man from Iraq

I had a slightly inauspicious start to the London Burlesque Week 2010. Picture this: 11am at the Cafe de Paris, Tuesday 20th April 2010. I’m in full hair and make-up, having cycled from Brick Lane to Piccadilly Circus in costume. (One of the many great things about living in this city is that no one bats an eyelid). Slightly bleary-eyed since going into burlesque full-time, rising before midday is anathema to me - we waited for London Tonight’s news team to come and film us for their evening edition. But the best-laid plans cannot compete with servicemen returning from the front-line, running marathons for charity. And neither should we. We get bumped. Hey ho, I said to the Halo PR girls as I got back on my bike. It’s fair enough - all we’ve got are tits and glitter....

Norwegian Fan Clubs

Fast forward six hours and I’m back at the Cafe de Paris for the Red Carpet Rollout. It’s tits, glitter and then some. The buzz is infectious. Volcanic ash cloud or not, it seems everyone who’s anyone is here, from movers and shakers of the international burlesque scene, to Chaz Royal and Beeby Rose, the new power couple of burlesque. Press and photographers mill about, mingling with the performers, taking shots and soundbites. As Best Newcomer (London Solo) LBW 2009, and having had a pretty damn good year since, I have a unique press-worthy angle on the proceedings, and am interviewed by several publications. It’s great fun. I consider making my tales of 2009 more and more wildly exaggerated – I perform on a floating stage for Saudi Royal Family. Yes, I have a registered fan club in Norway. No, I never wear the same knickers more than once. But I restrain myself and smile (smoulder? pout? gurn?) for the cameras.

Nice To Meet You Guv’nor

Cafe de Paris is a gorgeous venue, and the surroundings are appropriately decadent for such a celebratory opening showcase. Backstage is teeming, but the atmosphere is warm, convivial, if slightly frenetic. I am only there for the Red Carpet Rollout portion of the evening, and am looking forward to that rarest of occasions for me – actually watching a burlesque show rather than participating in one. Sean Mooney, ever-calm stage manager of the proceedings, manages to get 25 chattering burlesque performers to wait patiently in line in alphabetical order, the most impressive yet most unsung feat of the festival. I am sandwiched between Fifi Fatale and Lady Beau Peep. In front of me is Chrys Columbine, a vision in pink and black. To my right, Equador the Wizard is grappling with his perennial costume dilemma - to turban or not to turban. I hear a gratifying cheer emanate from the audience as the fabulous Ivy Paige announces me. Trying to look simultaneously pleased but not pleased with myself (failed), I walk onto the stage to soak up the applause, and this is when I wished I had thought more about what I was doing. Instead of posing, waving, ANYTHING, I do an unfathomable bob-like curtsy, like a Dickensian orphan meeting the Queen. Completely nonplussed, I scuttle down the red carpet to the blue room at the back. I’m sorry, but the Americans are SO much better at this sort of thing than the Brits.

Stockings Vs Tights

LBW this year was a huge occasion for me, not least because I was booked by Chaz to perform at the VIP Closing Ceremony, but also as I had the privilege of hosting the Newcomers Contest this year. It was held on Friday 23rd April at a new venue for the festival – the O2 Academy in Islington. Usually the home of thrashing rock bands rather than sizzling striptease I’m pretty sure they’ve never seen anything like it!

I’ve been hosting more and more over the last few months. It’s a massive challenge, but a very welcome one. It’s always good in this business to have more than one string to your bow. As Catherine D’Lish said recently said, performers have to diversify to stay ahead of the game, and I wholeheartedly agree. There aren’t many women out there doing it, and I think it’s important not to let the men out there have all the fun of compering, particularly when the stars of the burlesque scene are invariably female!

To go from competing as a newbie to hosting the showcase the following year – well, it was a pretty big deal for me. I felt very protective of the entrants, some of whom I know very well, and while it was an exhausting job – Equador and I had over 20 acts to introduce – it was a wonderful evening. Battle Royale indeed! The competitive element to this showcase means the all performers give everything they’ve got, and it’s tremendously exciting to know you are seeing the burlesque stars of the future.

And also, I’ll be honest, it’s kind of nice to know you can wear tights pulled up to your waist and not give a damn as you won’t be taking anything off. That’s the difference between being a burlesque performer and a burlesque host right there – hosiery.

By the end of the night I have my favourites, and I’m happy to say that they both eventually won Best London and Best UK Newcomers respectively - Pixie Frisk and Ginger Blush!

Ug, Ug, and Thrice Ug

Sunday 25th April 2010, Cafe de Paris. The Closing Gala. The night I would duet with the irrepressible Armitage Shanks and perform my Judy Garland act at the evening’s climax. And - the day after my birthday. Come the 3pm call time, dark glasses, Red Bull and a cuddle from Armitage were in order. But the wonderful thing about adrenalin is that once it kicks in, the hangover is history. You can never underestimate what a thrill it is to perform at an event like this, and also what an opportunity it is for you to showcase your talent. To say I was keyed up for it would be an understatement.

Backstage we had a lot of time to kill. I ambled around, putting a bit of make up on, lolloping off, chatting to Agent Lynch, Ruby Rose (thanks for the amazing hair Ruby! That woman is a hairstyle GENIE), re-crystalling costumes in the craft corner with the Knickerbocker Glories... At the soundcheck Armitage and I decided to use the beautiful spiral staircase as my entrance before I joined him on stage. We would be singing a gorgeously nuanced Tom Waits song – I Never Talk to Strangers - and I would be performing it for the first time. To add to my nerves there was now the distinct possibility I would have my very own Gone With The Wind moment, and tumble down the stairs. (For a burlesque performer, my balance can be truly appalling. I think it’s fair to say I will never run away with the circus). There isn’t a lot of time to rehearse, so it’s even more important to nail it later on! No pressure...

21 Again Dammit!

Time for a few more interviews and photo opportunities before I had to stop playing at getting ready and really begin. The crowd were waiting with murmuring excitement, the show started, and my god, what a bloody show. The standard was exceptionally high, the atmosphere was electric. Finally the time came for Armitage and I to sing, and not only did I manage to stay upright, I also managed to sing passably well. And most importantly, it was such a pleasure to perform with Shanks. Having met him last year at the Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, I really got to know him when I was performing in Seattle in January. Sadly with him being based there and me in London, it will be a while before we get to perform together again.

He thanked me on stage for the song, I was about to merrily trot off, when he stopped me. Not only did he tell the entire audience of the Cafe de Paris what a drunken little stop-out I had been the night before (outrageous! I was in bed by like, 4am), he also spilled the beans on my birthday. And told EVERYONE that I was now 30. Ye gods. Never tell a host your age... As I flushed pink on stage, I had a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday from the crowd. Soooooo embarrassing. But also, a very lovely moment. Thanks Armitage (I think).

Judy! Judy! Judy!

Mine was the last performance of the night proper before the break, and Catherine D’Lish’s headlining spot. I was hugely honoured to have such a great place in the running order. Peeking at a few of the performances from the balcony upstairs, Siren Stilletto, Dinah Might et al had already wowed the audience, and I knew I had to Bring It. The bar had been set at such a high level. My Judy routine is a bit of an epic: her life in eight minutes, sung, danced and strip-teased. I hope it showcases how varied a burlesque performance can be – story, character, humour, pathos, glamour, sex appeal, surprises.... I’m very proud of it.

I’m thrilled to say that I think it was the best I have ever performed my favourite routine. And what a place to have done it. It was the crowning moment of what had been an amazing year for me - may this coming year be even better. I have a feeling it will.

Kiki Kaboom is currently one of the top acts in the London burlesque scene. She was the Best Newcomer at the 2009 London Burlesque Festival and has since performed all over the country and abroad. She performed her infamous 'chav' act for BABC shortly after her win, in July 2009.

A version of this article can be found in the next Burlesque Magazine. Kiki's new website is currently under construction so you find all about her on facebook instead: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiki-Kaboom/71070309751?ref=ts

PICC Line Cover Up in Public

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friday I get a PICC line inserted for my next round of chemo. D and I have been sitting here brainstorming on what I can use as a cover my PICC line up in public. With my last PICC line, I noticed some people staring at my left arm on warm days with a t-shirt on.

My PICC will be between my elbow and shoulder and I’m looking to cover up just the silicone tubing and colored IV part. 

Any ideas out there?

Relay For Life

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the their website ...

Join the biggest Cancer event to make the biggest difference

Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life gives you and your community the opportunity to celebrate cancer survivors, remember and honor loved ones lost to cancer and fight back against all cancers.

Event Details:

Edmonton's Relay for Life 
May 29, 2010 
7 p.m. - 7 a.m.
University of Alberta Foote Field
Edmonton, Alberta

My New Camera

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well… now that the nice weather is here, I’m finding some relaxing moments by going to the various parks around town to just sit and take in whatever is going on. To give me something to do, I take my camera with me. I always try and look for some landmarks, nature or scenery to photograph.

What makes all this more interesting is my new camera. It’s got a through the lens viewfinder that allows me to easily see what I’m trying to shoot. Now I can take pictures in any type of light instead of me trying to shade the screen on my old camera. This feature is way cool. Now I just use the back screen for reviewing.

Then I head home and downloaded the pics on to my laptop. I must say, about one in 20 is actually a pretty good photo. I’m thinking about joining a camera club on the internet … we’ll see.

Book Recommendation

Sunday, May 16, 2010

About a year ago, my friend Arlene from The Journey blog told me of the book called; Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence by Dr Robert Buckman. I really liked this book, and you might like it too.

It’s a practical guide written for folks that have just been diagnosed with cancer. The goal is to help those people and their families to make sense of what happens next and to plan a course of action. Dr. Buckman describes everything that comes after the diagnosis, including tests, the stages of the disease, treatment options and follow-up.

A bit about the author… Dr. Buckman is practicing medical oncology at the Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto). He is a Professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and also holds an adjunct professorship at the M.D. Anderson Cancer.

My Treatment Plan B

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yesterday I got the word from the research nurse that I will not be going on the study drug TK1258 as hoped. The study group requested a tumor sample. Believe it or not the Cross Cancer Institute had a sample from my original surgery back in 2000. They sent a slice off to Arizona, to be tested. Unfortunately this study is full for my type of breast cancer. Mine is very common.

So, on to plan B. Thursday I will have blood drawn for white blood cell count and see my Onc. Friday I get a PICC line; so no blood thinners the day before and no food two hours before the PICC. Then I’ll wait a bit to make sure I’m still feeling good and then off I go for my first round of Vinorelbine (Navelbine).

So how do I feel about all this? Well, I guess I’m ok with getting the PICC line; it’s just that it constantly reminds me of cancer and treatment. It was just so nice not having any attachments for the past six months.

This all means way more visits to the clinic… I’ve been down this road before, yuk…. And double yuk.

LBBC Conference Podcasts

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Living Beyond Breast Cancer organization is now offering podcasts of the 4th Annual Conference for Women Living with Advanced Breast Cancer. It was held at the Philadelphia Marriot on May first and second. If you were unable to attend, this is an excellent way to know what went on and may help you decide to go to the next conf.

If you attended the conf, you might want to review a session or two. They were all great. The audio quality is quite good even on my laptop using Windows Media Player. All of the topics discussed focused on Mets.

DCA – Our Best Shot at Cancer?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dichloroacetate or DCA is an inexpensive drug already being used to treat other conditions, is giving new hope to cancer patients. It works by not killing off cancer cells, but by simply reprogramming them. It shrinks the tumors until they are gone by altering a cancer cell's metabolism. I believe this is the real deal here for cancer treatment.

At the University of Alberta here in Edmonton after two years of lab work, the researchers conducted a small clinical DCA trial consisting of five patients with a deadly aggressive type of brain tumor called Glioblastoma. This cancer kills most patients within 15 months of their diagnosis. After 18 months on DCA, four patients are still living and one patient died three months into the study. It appears that this drug needs some time to get going. http://www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/Home/Updates/2010-05-12_Update.cfm

The kicker here is that this drug can’t be patented, it’s decades old. No drug company wants to fund the research necessary to bring this drug to the approval stage and then on to regular cancer treatment. The team at the University of Alberta needs your money to keep going.

Please donate to help Dr. Michelakis and his research team at the University of Alberta put their research into high gear. The donation link: http://www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/Home/Donations/

One Thing I’ve Learned From Neuropathy…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

…is to take care of my feet. On my trip last week I inserted gel insoles into my fisherman sandals and decided to go bare-footed to try and stay cool. This only worked until the temperature got hot and my feet started swelling and burning up. 

I ended up going to my room and soaking my feet in cold water. Once I cooled my feet down, I figured I’d remove the gel insoles to allow for the swelling. Before you knew it … I was feeling refreshed and good for a couple more hours of sightseeing. 

By switching things up on my feet the pressure points vary which gives parts of my feet a break to carry on.

The Lion King

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Something I've always wanted to do was to see a Broadway show on Broadway in NYC. Well I did it. I saw The Lion King at the Minskoff Theater which was right across the street from the Marriott Marquis, where we were staying.

So why the Lion King of all the Broadway shows?

Well, somewhere back in 2000 when I was first diagnosed with my cancer I was looking for something, anything that would help me make sense of this cancer journey I was on. One day I heard the song, Circle of Life sung by Elton John and tears came to my eyes.

The lyrics helped me make some sense of it all. I think we're only on this earth a very short time and we need live life to the fullest as death comes far too soon ... because that is the circle of life.

Anyways, enough philosophy … here is a video sneak peak of the Broadway show Lion King. It was amazing and I would see it again tomorrow.

Times Square

Monday, May 10, 2010

I got into New York City on Sunday evening the day after the NYC car bomb incident. So there was a lot going on to say the least. Times Square was inundated with police, the media and of course tons of onlookers.

Every time we saw a gathering of people we raced to see what all the excitement was about. It was usually someone important being interviewed. I got some great shots … including Police Commissioner Kelly being interviewed , Katie Couric of CBS as she was filming a clip for the evening news plus a variety of other reporters doing live shots from Times Square.

I also got up close with Mario Lopez. He was shooting a clip for Extra.

There was also a huge police presence at Times Square.

Our hotel which was just a few feet from where the car bomb had been parked so it was under tight security. We had an explosive detection dog and handler in our lobby plus all vehicles coming through the hotel were checked. All trunks were opened and the underside of vehicles were looked at with a mirror. There was extra security everywhere.

The Big Apple

Sunday, May 9, 2010

While I was making my plans to go to Philadelphia for the conference, my sister who lives in the US asked if I’d like to meet her in New York for a couple of days. Well let me tell you … that was music to my ears. I’ve always wanted to visit the Big Apple and here was my big chance.

So Sunday after the conference, I jumped on an Amtrack train from Philly to New York. An hour and twenty minutes later, I arrived at Penn station in New York. The city was bustling with activity. My first order of business was to hail a cab. I looked left and saw a lineup of people waiting for cabs. I looked to the right and saw a young girl step onto the road and lift her right hand way up in the air. Seconds later, a cab pulls up and off she goes. I think to myself, when in Rome … I went to the exact spot she had been when she hailed her cab and I did exactly the same thing … lifted my right arm way up. It worked … I was now on my way to the Marriott Marquis on Times Square.

When I get there, I jump out of the cab, grab my luggage and into the hotel I went. I walk around and tried to find the front entrance to check in, looking a bit lost because I couldn’t find it … a gentleman in a red jacket asked if he could assist me. He directed me to the eighth floor. They contacted my sister and she came down to meet me. When I saw her tears started streaming down my face … not just a few tears … the big ugly cry as Oprah would say. I think It was a buildup of emotions … from the conference, from the fact I made it to New York after having gone through some pretty tough times … I was there … the Big Apple. I was crying so hard a complete stranger came and asked if everything was all right. Tho I was embarrassed I couldn’t stop the tears.

Anyways, I’ll post a few pics and share more over the next few days …


The Conference in Philadelphia

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The morning of the first day began with registration. There was a flurry of activity … people were chatting, looking at exhibits and enjoying a yummy continental breakfast. There was a lot of excitement in the air.

The day began with Judy E Garber, MD, MPH who spoke on treating advanced breast cancer including medical and research news. She only spoke a few sentences when she broke down in tears. It happened when she started to speak about a breast cancer patient she’d been treating for many many years. They had exhausted all treatment options and this ladies journey was coming to an end. 

In the afternoon, Judy E Garber spoke again. This time she focused on treatments and strategies of bone mets.

After a short break we had author Bruce Feiler speak on his experience with bone cancer and author Donna Deegan spoke on her experience with metastatic breast cancer. 

On the second day, I attended a session given by Linda T Vahdat, MD on the treatments and strategies of liver and lung mets. 

After that there was only one more session and that included a panel of five experts with expertise in metastatic breast cancer. The panel addressed a variety of concerns including medical and complimentary therapies, symptom and side-effect management and emotional and legal issues. 

There were many other sessions offered but we picked and chose what interested us most. To be honest, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information offered. The Living Beyond Breast Cancer organizers said they’d be offering podcasts of the sessions but I checked today and nothing is on the website as of yet. I’ll continue checking and let you know when they appear. Here is a link to their blog where they give an overview of the conference.

Please help us

Jan Morrison just sent us a wonderful blog - but being a physician, I'm still struggling to figure out how to respond to her. (Jan, you can email info@healingandcancer.org to contact us directly)

For anyone else interested in helping us grow - please visit http://healingandcancer.org/support-hcf

Thanks everyone for your interest.

How My Conference Trip Came About

Friday, May 7, 2010

About a month or so ago, I was so fortunate to receive an email from Lisa Rendall. I had not known Lisa prior to this email but I was very happy to meet her. Not only is she a fellow mets gal but she also introduced me to the idea of going to a metastatic breast conference in West Conshohocken, just outside Philadelphia. 

The conference was put on by Living Beyond Breast Cancer. After reading her email, I quickly went to the website and was immediately interested. What held me back was fear because I would be going alone. I thought I was physically strong enough but mentally ... I’ll be honest, I was afraid. It took me some time to make the decision and when it was made, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I sent my registration in and wasn’t looking back.

Now I needed to book a flight. I only had a few short weeks before the conference so I knew all the good flights would already be gone. Well it turned out to be a good thing because I received an email from my friend Arlene and she said Air Canada was having a seat sale. I jumped on the phone and booked my flight. I ended up making a few stops but saved a bundle.

Once I booked my flight I then decided to mention the conference on the blog. That is when I got a couple of emails from some mets gals in Calgary saying they were also attending. In fact we ended up connecting in Calgary as we were all on the same flight to Toronto. It was nice to have some company along the way.

I now needed a place to stay so I booked a couple of nights at the Philadelphia Marriott West. I wanted a roommate to help share the costs. It was suggested I go to the discussion board on the Living Beyond Breast Cancer website. That is where I connected with Vilma. She and I became roommates and friends. Since then Vilma started a blog entitled … Not Just Sadness, where she shares her cancer story.

While I was making plans for the trip, I received an email from Chris Lynds from The Edge of Light blog. She said she was also going to the conference.

And finally, one gal from a support group here in Edmonton made a last minute decision to come to this conference. What a great time it was meeting these gals.

I have to thank Lisa for sending me the email that started this whole process.

I’m Back Blogging

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I arrived back in Edmonton last night … safe and sound tho I must say I’m suffering from a bit of jet lag.

Almost a week ago, I flew to Philadelphia for the 4th Annual Conference for Women Living with Advanced Breast Cancer: Enhancing Your Health and Quality of Life. There were about 250 of us from 30 states and provinces including: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. It was very moving to be in a room with so many women sharing their stories and experiences.

This whole trip has been one big wow for me. Over the next few days, I’ll share some of it with you including my side trip to New York City. I just need some time to unpack and collect my thoughts.

I’m so glad to be back blogging again …

Free Support For Moms With Cancer

Monday, May 3, 2010

Check out the post on Christina Elston's blog, Health e, where she writes about TWC-WLA's new group for moms with cancer. The group starts Wednesday, May 5, from 10:30 am - 12 pm. Come check it out!