Friday, September 22

This One's About Love....

Yup you read it. Love. (and gratitude)

Being diagnosed with cancer has actually helped me. Can you believe it? So far it has been a crazy, sad, hopeful, determined journey. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying, "hey, you should try cancer sometime, it will really change your life!" but it has. and not in a bad way.
first of all cancer has made me a nicer person to the general world. And most importantly, nicer to myself. These are some of the things I have learned:

-I have a very hard time asking for help. ( I am figuring it out)(the first few experiments have gone well!)

-I used to feel like I shouldn't burden people with my state of mind, or my huge emotional feelings. ( I have started to trust, that when people ask me how I am, they really want to know)

- I thought I was fat. In every single picture ever taken of me (after high school). And it was simply not true. (That's why I posted that cheesy motivational poster thing on my FB wall about wanting to be friends with my body)

-I am really strong. Like, stronger than I know. I keep having this flashback of me as a kid, I'm not sure what age, maybe 7? of me trying to get up and going on our friends windsurfer. It was way too big for me, and every time I stood up and grabbed the sail bar to go forward, I would fall over into the water. I did this for over an hour. over and over again, I believed, that if I could just get up on it in the right way and  hang on, I could go. I couldn't/ wouldn't give up.

-Even though my face and hair and body are different/changing, and soon I will missing my right breast, I have a partner who will stay with me, through thick and thin.(thank you B)

-My Toronto "family" is here for me. Other parents are helping with childcare, my neighbors are bringing us meals, my co-worker from Lilliput Hats has made me bone broth and borscht every time I have chemo, my friend and ex boss has come by with meals and she and her Hubby have been checking in all through this process, not to mention L, who comes over almost every night and washes the dishes and takes Jake for the weekends that are the hardest for me. T came and brought groceries, and cleaned my kitchen. It is amazing. It completely blows me away, every time someone reaches out. Shout out to #hospitalglam gals and especially Rosalind, for pain and stress management tips as well as moral support, and her adorable kitty Louis Cat-tors (sp)

-My international "family" and my friends back home have been amazing at sending cards and love. (and flowers! Butch Kaplan!!)

-I am learning who my real friends are and who will be there no matter what.

- My blood family, my Mom, my Dad my Aunts, my cousin Dale, are awesome. They have all been loving and supportive. And they believe in me.

-Kids are resilient (well my kid is) he is lovely, happy, and not phased in the least about Momma's changes. And my kid is going to be ok.

-eventually I will feel normal again.

Take care of each other, we are all we've got. J.

Monday, September 4

The Time Is Near.....

ok so here we go, into treatment 5 of 6. It has been a crazy ride, I shit you not. I'm still feeling optimistic and ready to move on to the next phase. This cycle has been tough. I had an common alergic reaction which manifested as a rash "collar" all up my neck and the skin around my eyes was super sore and dry. But I've got a new plan for all the uncomfortable stuff. You see the first treatment is a shit show of side effects you don't know whats happening or how to make it stop, you try all the things, you consult the almighty Intertron you ask around...by the next treatment you've figured it out, and you can manage better. By the third one, your tired of it all. My third one of Taxotere will be my last!!! I really really hope I don't get this again in 20 years, 'cause I really don't want to ever do chemo again. (knock on wood). So. Whats next?
Surgery. I have a CT scan on the 11th and then I see the Surgeon on the 21st to talk about surgery options. Boy, there are so many!! I've decided on a mastectomy for sure. Due to the fuzzy margins of the mass, I don't think there's a 100 percent chance the surgeon could get it all. I would worry. all the time. I've been researching and talking to other women about a proceedure called a DIEP flap reconstruction which involves taking tissue and blood vessels from your tummy zone (hey! bonus tummy tuck!!) and putting it in your boob spot. they often do a lift of the other boob at the same time to make it even (helloooo 20 year old boobies again!! with some scarring) and the new boob feels and acts like a natural boob, losing and gaining weight with you and feeling natural. The recovery time is intense a week in the hospital and a few months of uncomfortableness. Anyway, this is all conjecture at this point we shall see. I'm not beyond going flat, or doing an implant (can't have one put in though until radiation is done, boo) or tattoos over the spot etc...

We shall see. Anyway, I'm off to my treatment, thank you, as always for your love and support, I couldn't be handling this so well without it. Love you. J


Saturday, August 19

No Really, Rest Please.....

This is what I really look like right now, no filters no make-up.
 And you know what? I love my body. It is so much stronger than I thought it was, it constantly surprises me with it's determination and strength.  I feel like after this is over, I really could do anything. So I know some of you know the dream, but the dream is to get a boat, live on the boat and sail the world, particularly the Southern Indian Ocean. Ok let's backtrack, how did this treatment go?

This new drug is way different that the others. I's much more of a physical thing now than a mental.  I'm not nauseous, which is great, but the inside of my mouth feels like it's been scalded and all my food tastes weird and bitter, even water. I'm having some neuropathy which is random shooting pains all over my body that usually don't happen in the same place twice, which I'm taking advil for and I have a backup bottle of Oxycocet just in case it gets really bad. I take that mostly at night to fully relax. The Doctors give you a few days of a steroid called Dexamethazone to combat all the side effects which is good I guess, but then on the day you run out BAM. The fatigue is insane, I feel like I'm navigating through water. Try telling an active three year old Mummy is slow today...whew. Brian and Jake had movie day Wednesday, and our friend John took Jake in the afternoon on Thursday. Also L took Jake again to her cottage this weekend, which is how I'm able to blog and rest. I have a cheesy novel lined up and I plan on having a nap after my nap. Oh. and then a nap.
Also this taxotere must really be doing something to my cancer because my breast has been hurting in the effected area for two days. That is a good thing, it means it's dying and disintegrating. I am proud to have surprised my oncologist with the shrinking of the mass and the last time I went for an exam, he said he couldn't feel the mass at all, nor could he feel any abnormal lymphnodes so that is excellent. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma doesn't typically respond to Chemo by getting smaller, but mine did. I'm a realist, I think although this is great news, it really will only mean a smaller surgery for me. That's what sucks a bit, cancer can be microscopic and there really is no way yet to test if you are completely clear of it, the Oncologists never deal in absolutes, there is just no way of knowing. This will be my next challenge, when I'm finished all the stuff, the mental task of not worrying about it all the time. I've had all the tests and a genetic test, and so far there is nothing else showing, and I don't have a predisposition for breast cancer. When I have my surgery and radiation and then take Tamaxofen for 5 years (an estrogen blocking drug, as my cancer was estrogen positive and feeds on it), I will have the same chance of getting it in the other breast as any other 44 year old woman does of getting breast cancer in the first place....So it's day by day right now, I can see the end and I'm hoping for the best.

I know I do this at the end every time, but it has been so amazing receiving all the support notes and the cards and messages of love, I really feel it you guys, so thank you. Take care of eachother. J 

P.S. My friend Annie made me a Fuck Cancer mixed tape, you can hear it HERE





Wednesday, August 9

Monday, Monday

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
~Carl Gustav Jung
So yes, I know it's only Wednesday, but I am getting nervous about Monday. Monday, and the next two treatments are with another drug added called Taxotere. 15% of women who are treated with this drug have permanent hair loss (oh joy, another stat to beat) and there is a risk of neuropathy, which is excruciating joint pain and nerve damage, which can range from tingling in the extemities to having trouble doing up buttons or tying shoes etc.. I suppose it is the way of my mental hamster, to worry about the next thing and really, I have had it pretty "good" so far side effect wise so I'm hoping my body does the same thing this time. I have friends bringing frozen and fresh meals that week, and Friday L is taking Jake to her cottage so I can have the weekend to rest and have down time. We have been watching 'Preacher", "The Night Manager", and "iZombie"when I;m down for the count and they have been such good shows to get lost in. Thank god for Netflix too!! I've received some wonderful gifts this last week or two, a gorgeous dress from my Mom, a 3D printed worry stone from Cara, that says Fuck cancer on it and aYoda T shirt that says "Do or do not, there is no try, and a few wonderful cards of love and support. A big thank you to everyone for the support and love, it is so welcome and appreciated. I love you guys!!! send me good thoughts on Monday at 1:30 (10:30 West Coast time) I have wifi while I chemo, so say hi!!! Feeling Up, Feeling Good!

Sunday, July 30

Halfway Blues...

Wow. This week was hard. I guess the chemo side effects are cumulative, 'cause DAMMNN. I have been feeling nauseous and exhausted since Monday. Last time it took about 4 days to recover, but not this time, boy howdy. I feel like a sack of unmotivated bloated bald shit. And today (Sunday) I am pissed off and sad all at the same time, which really makes for a lovely day. Some of you know about (and took part in) the type of therapy I did, which is a mix of Gestalt and Primal Scream (perhaps a post for another day?), and I tell you I really feel like going up to the bat and tearing Cancer a new asshole. And then crying the ugly cry so hard I look like the cover of that Hole album where her makeup is running down her face.
SIGH. Ok. I'm ok. It's funny, for the whole week I felt like I didn't have anything I wanted to say and today I am all over the place with the things. I never really thought about it, but it makes sense that I would have a harder time this time around, seeing as how I don't have an immune system now. I've just been feeling like I have an epic hangover that I can't shake. The best thing that has happened this week is our friend L took Jake to her cottage on Friday, so  we got to have a child free couple of days, where I could relax and sleep and eat and let my guard down a bit. I hadn't realized I was doing it but I've been working hard to maintain a "normal" persona around Jake and it's exhausting. I mean I'm not pretending anything, I tell him I'm a little tired today or I'm not feeling well, but I'm trying to keep the worry off my face and give him extra squeezes.
You know what? I'm just sick of it. Sick of the appointments, sick of the fear, the malaise, sick of the blurghy tummy that has now started to bloat and make me feel like a whale. I hate that I hate the heat and the sun. They used to be my friends and now I am hiding and laying low dreaming of white sandy beaches and coconut water and hammocks. like a Moorlock. Yes, I just dated myself there.
And yet. I look in the mirror and the person there is Me. The Me I've known before. The Me that whispers "There, there. You are not alone. You have Me. And We are going to kick this things ass, and go out in the sun and lie in that hammock. Boob or no boob, but not now. Now you have a more important job to do. You can do this. will do this. have to do this."
I've started doing that thing where you look at photos of yourself from years ago and look at the happy on my face and think "She has no idea whats coming" If you had told the 20 year old me I would hook up with an old flame after 20+ years, move across the country, have a baby and then battle cancer I would have laughed at you and jumped back up on my speaker to finish my shift...lol. (shout out to Scandals days).....So yeah, that's me at the halfway point. I hope everyone is having a good week and thank you again for the cards and letters, I love them. This came in the mail last week, it my favorite thing ever.
Take care of yourselves and each other. J.

Thursday, July 20

Oh Helloooo.....

Well! My heart is singing today that for sure! I had my regular bloodwork/ check in appointments today and the Doctor told me I'm responding exceptionally well to the chemo and that the mass in my breast is definitely smaller. FUCKIN A BUBBA. Initially I didn't have much hope for the cancer to shrink at all, as the surgeon had said my type of cancer doesn't usually respond to chemo in that way, but hey, someone had to prove them wrong right? As always in the week before the next treatment, I have been feeling really good. The sun and I are in a constant battle and I over did it the other day by going a little farther than i usually go, to take Jake up to Riverdale farm to meet some friends and then had to navigate the the walk home in scorching high noon type heat. I couldn't cool down and I was bleary and sweaty and nauseous. Oh well. Lesson learned.
It's funny, since my diagnosis, a few people have come forward to apologize for not reaching out right away, or not really responding to all of this. What I have to say about that is this: I love each and every one of you. Just because I'm going through something and decided to share, does not mean you have to do anything. Doing what you want to do or can do is just fine, even if it means you sit on your bed and have a cry for me but don't tell me, or decide there's to much going on for you right now and a heart text is all you've got. I'm not expecting anything. I just wanted to blog so that you guys wouldn't worry and you would know when I wasn't feeling great so that if you wanted to you could reach out at the right time.And also read about the good days! like this one!!
So. I'm almost halfway. I know I keep chanting this mantra, but it's keeping me going. This whole shrinking tumor thing is a bit of a game changer in my mind though. It could mean a less hardcore surgery/reconstruction later. It makes me feel like I chose the right path, like there's a point to doing all this. There are still things to be watchful for, neuropathy for one. That is nerve damage from the Taxotere, which consists of aching and pain, numbness and tingling in fingers and toes. The Doctor says I have a 50/60 percent chance of developing this, and that it is usually mild and manageable. The other ladies in my support group say, hydrate insanely, have good pain killers, rest and eat. So I'm going to work on that. I don't have as much fear about any of it right now, simply because of my check up results today. I feel a teeny bit teflon. (knock on wood, sacrafice a small animal, spit out some rum) and I feel that because my body had been so good so far, that I wont have any serious problems down the road. Here's hoping. Thank you again for all of the love. My next treatment is Monday the 24th at 1:30 if you want to say hi! Take care of eachother. J

Sunday, July 16

Almost Halfway....

Well this past week or so has been an lovely blur of cottages and summer fun. I didn’t have too much trouble with the sun, this time around I wore enough sunscreen that had I actually become a vampire, I would have survived.  A very large hat is really the thing. So even though I looked like a pasty redneck (the large hat is a Canada day special, straw cowboy hat replete with red trim ), I won. I even went for a swim in the lake and it was glorious. Until I jumped in the water, I hadn’t realized how precious I was treating myself, I unfurled in the waves like a long lost mermaid and instantly my body felt good. I swam and dove and splashed and most of all laughed in joy. I’m still me. Th only draw back to all of this lovely distraction, is now I only have 10 days until my next treatment. I get nauseous  just thinking about going back into the hospital and sitting in that chair. I now have an adverse reaction to the smell of alcohol wipes from giving myself all the injections of neupogen, but I’m becoming a pro at it! I have had some of the bone aching this time around as well, but not until the last three injections and Aleve + heating pad seems to do the trick. My hair continues to disappear, I still have my eyebrows and eyelashes, but my armpits are smooth, and, *cough*, down there is thinning out as well.
When we get home I’m going to shave my head right down to the skin as it is patchy stubble and, I am thinking of getting a Henna Crown!. This salon in Toronto that does hair and henna parties, does a special treatment for ladies who suffer from alopecia or are in treatment for cancer and have lost their hair, it’s beautiful. The young woman will come to your house or visit you in the hospital and spend an hour and a half with you decorating your bald scalp with beautiful Lotus designs or Peonies or Buddhist symbols, whatever you choose. It lasts about 10 days...
     Ok time for the mental check in. I’ve been much better since my last blog post and that few dark days I had. I feel optimistic again, and I recognize, now that I’ve done this twice, that that is how it goes. You go for your treatment, you feel like shit, you wonder how the fuck your going to get through however many more you have, you go dark, you feel better, you eat some really yummy food, you feel better, you have hope.
It's funny, I've recently had this this thought that pregnancy really prepared me for chemo. Weird right? I had a really easy pregnancy, besides some heartburn and some hip tendon aches at night, I really sailed right through. But I did not like being pregnant. It felt really strange to have something inside of me that was alive. I had nausea most days until about 1pm, in my first trimester, so I learned how to assuage it and how to function. dealing with the unknown on a daily basis in regards to my body became the norm, and that's how I feel right now. I don't like what's happening to me, but I have no choice. I feel calm about it. I've had to gather strength from this part of me before, the deep part of me, the primal protective part. It's strong, it's not going to let me fail. I've got this....
Thank you to everyone for reading, thank you for sending cards and treats, they really help. One week to go until I AM HALFWAY!!! Monday July 24th 1:30. Wish me luck. Love you guys. J

Friday, July 7

Woah Nelly...

Well, my second treatment was a bit harder than the first. We've been spending a lot of tome up at the cottage just to get away from the city and the heat (which I can't abide any longer, I need to be indoors between 11 and 3 at least), so we had come back from the country to go to my treatment and then scoot back up the next day. The wait was shorter this time only half an hour compared to the 3 hour delay last time. And it was quiet. Holiday Monday is the day to be at the Hospital! Anyway it went off without a hitch, the nurse was excellent and I've only got a small nickle sized bruise on the top of my hand from the IV. Chemo drugs are notoriously hard on your veins and in fact can damage them and collapse them permanently, that is why, often with longer treatments there are options for a semi permanent way to administer them. I decided I didn't want either option if I didn't have to, since I have a three year old climbing all over me most of the day, I just didn't want to risk injury to the site or damage, or hinder my ability to give my child the type of affection he is used to. So far so good. Six treatments seems like a lot but it's actually the shortest way to go, so I'm holding on to that. I need to hold on to something. Mentally this treatment(#2) has been more difficult all around. About day 17 my hair started to fall out, and I cut it down to 1 inch, then this week at the cottage I had a shower and lots and lots came out and it ended up looking a bit patchy and weird, so we drove into town and went to the old school Barber and had it buzzed off. That was a relief but my scalp feels prickly and sore when I wear a hat so I'm waiting until it's all gone to do that I think. Jake thinks it's funny that I have no hair which is a relief. The nausea was worse this time around, I did end up taking some of my in case of barfing extra meds they give you. Fortunately everyone piled into the car and went to the berry farm for the day and left me and B alone to watch movies and lie around. I really didn't have much energy and the heat during the day doesn't help. What sucks about the nausea is that while you don't want to barf, you are ravenous and want to eat all the things. I try and eat small amounts, but I feel like I'm constantly snacking. Sort of feeling full but slightly sick and still hungry. The oncologist did tell me that most women do gain weight while going through chemo, as the drugs make you feel hungry. Sigh. and then Jake saw me changing and said what's that? pointing at my belly, and I replied, that's mammas belly. Jake said nooooooo, it's not... too much food!!! From the mouth of babes right? Anyway, enough of that. The next day was a little better, and today much better. I was able to help wrangle all the kids and get the kitchen cleaned up and make dinner.
I'm not one for cheesy memes about self care, but I do like this one.

The thing that happened to me this time around, that didn't happen the first time, was the mental journey I took. It got scary. It got dark. real dark. I cried like someone had died. I felt helpless, and sick and scared and just so fucking worried about everything. It is really quiet up here when there aren't kids running around, and the nature here is so lovely, the breeze off the lake, the dappled sunlight on the wooden deck, the oversized chairs covered in cushions. It's an easy and gentle place to be, and when you are battling something so internally you really have no where to hide, you just have to sit in your perfect chair , on your perfect deck and drink your weird spur of the moment anti nausea concoction and think. Think about all the things. About being a child, about past abuses, about mistakes, about how sick you feel, about how much you'd give just to have a normal day to complain about anything other than the fact that you have something in your body that could kill you. And the fear. my god. fear like this would shrivel the testicles off a buffalo in a heartbeat. Just the fear of the unknown. Trying to look forward to the future and just feeling like it's a long tunnel, with, yes, a tiny light at the end but so so far away at this point. I had an expression I used to say when things went sideways or took an unexpected turn "Shit got real now, Dog". And it used to be funny. So yeah, that was a bad day. B held me while I sobbed and then I was really tired and slept deep. But I woke up feeling much better today, brighter, more myself and I hung out on the dock with my baby and sat in the shade and watched the others fish.

And I guess it will just go this way. Days of feeling bad, feeling afraid. Days of feeling good, strong determined. I absolutely believe in the treatment I have chosen, and I feel I am in the best hands possible for this fight. So there's that. The next treatment is July 24th and I'll be HALFWAY!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait....actually yes I can, I feel nauseous just thinking about going back to the hospital right now....But I want to reiterate I couldn't do this with as much strength and dignity without all of you messaging me and telling me you care. It really, really helps. seriously. P.M me on messenger or whatsappp if you'd like my snail mail as I love hanging my cards and notes up on the wall. Here's the sexy bald girl I see in my head.
Take care of each other. We are all we've got. Until next time. J.

Sunday, July 2

Another Sunday...

The last few days have been kind of up and down. I had a good check up on Friday and the Doctor was glad I haven't had too many side effects nor too much of a reaction to the chemo.  After my appointments we braved the weekend traffic to make it up to the cottage and arrived around 8:30. It's been really nice to be around family and to watch Jake with his cousins, he adores them and they love him right back. There was a huge trampoline purchase and set up yesterday that has kept all of the kids amused and exhausted. So, me...I put the picture up of Zoe Washburn from Firefly today because I love the show Firefly, and in the beginning, I identified with Zoe the most, she is strong, she is wise, she is nobody's fool and in love, she is just as strong as when sh is alone. In fact, I won a prize in an essay contest on the podcast The Signal a few years back. It was called "Why Zoe Washburn is my Han Solo" and I talked about relating more to male heroes as a child and how I didn't want to be the girl next to the hero, I wanted to BE the hero, like when me and my girlfriends played Star Wars, I was always Han Solo, and I would watch the others argue about who was Princess Leia, and be like "can we JUST get in the Milennium Falcon already?!!". Don't get me wrong Leia rocked, and she was, besides Wonder Woman, one of the few Women heroes(and dolls) I had. But, as I have changed over the years and in particular light of my journey right now, I have been feeling a bit more like this Gal
She is wild, and strong, and vulnerable. Her strength lies in her intuition and emotional landscape. She feels crazy and misunderstood and a little bit lost. (I don't feel misunderstood but the other two, sometimes yes). I feel like the strength I am drawing from River is about her ability to keep going despite all the things. The strength she seems to draw out of the very air, to fight and to keep going.
Anyway, we went to Giant Tiger to find some fun summer clothes and I made the mistake of going into the change room to try something on. Now, this is not a rant about body image or fat shaming yourself or whatever, most of the time I love myself, but you know what? sometimes, you just don't. And since I've been shedding like a huskie trapped in Florida, I've been a bit more sensitive to what the rest of my body looks like. I had taken  off my top, and stood there in my leggings and sports bra and I just sighed a huge sigh and said to myself "what the fuck happened to you?". Oh yeah, I had a baby and then  three years later I got cancer, that's what the fuck happened. I know now is the time to be the most kind I can possibly be to myself, and that now is not the time to really be worrying about weight, and I need to be kind and gentle to my psyche. But MAN not looking in a full length mirror for years at a time and eating carbs like it's the last noodle you'll ever eat, really changes your body, and it's insidious, because it's slow, and then one day you're in the change room at GT looking at a person you don't recognize that you are supposed to love, who is sick and looks nothing like the person you imagine in your head that is you.
Anyway, I got dressed and I forced myself to buy the slinky red cotton summer dress, that felt good when I put it on, and said "fuck that mirror". I felt sad for a few hours but hugs and a chat(thanks B) and a really hot bath in a clawfoot tub with salt water really did the trick. I washed my "hair" and it felt really nice to do that 'cause most of the time my scalp feels weird. I don't want to shave my head down just yet. I have registered for a class at Princess Margeret called "Healthy Eating Through Breast Cancer"  which is taught by a diatician/nutritionist, so I'm looking forward to learning how to eat a little better
To end on a positive note, I am feeling good today. I think that's the thing to try and remember, it really is day by day, and take the good when you have it. This morning when I opened my email there was a kind message from my friend Rosalind(@rosalindr ), she suffers from a form of EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) which in a nutshell means chronic pain, and ligament tissue issues which cause her to have things happen like dislocating her shoulder just by putting on her coat(!!). But she has been a wonderful support to me reaching out to talk about self care, pain management, energy conservation and #hospitalglam. What is hospital glam you say? It is this amazing movement by women who suffer from long term illnesses and not so long term, that spend and inordinate amount of time in waiting rooms or doctors offices, or hospitals that take "glam" selfies while they wait and post them on instagram with the hashtag "hospitalglam" I have joined the ranks. Bring it on. Here is an article about it. Here is Rosalinds Tumblr if you would like to learn more about her, she makes amazing jewlery and clothing, has a cheeky lovely cat and is truly awe inspiring! (hope it's ok to shamelessly promote you!!). Home today for chemo tomorrow, and then back up to the cottage for rest time. Take care of eachother and I will do my best to take care of me. Until then J.

Friday, June 30

Into the Next...

So cutting my hair was absolutely the right thing to do, even though my hair was fairly short to begin with, there was something sad about running my fingers through it and coming out with 30 hairs instead of three or four! The only mistake I made was not letting Jake help me do it, for as soon as I came downstairs fro the bathroom he threw a fit crying and chanting don't cut your hair Momma don't cut your hair. After he calmed down, I figured out, by asking him questions, that he was upset, not about the haircut itself, but about the fact that I did it by myself and didn't let him help. I had forgotten how much silver I have in my hair, and I must admit, I have cut it down to 1/2 an inch, and I look a teeny bit like Carol from The Walking Dead. Now if only Daryl loved me as much as he loves her!! I'm at the hospital today for bloodwork and oncology pre chemo check in. I put make up on and my spiffy shoes. It's funny that now of all times I feel like I need to care about that stuff again. I feel good with makeup on and I want to start caring for my health and appearance more. I think cancer for a lot of us is a wake up call you know? You really have to get to know your body again and do constant check ins to see where your head is at. Foraging a new connection to yourself through sickness, is new to me, but it's vital. I feel more alive right now than I have in years, connecting with the things I like and people I love has re grounded me, I feel strong. Yesterday I went to see another Doctor for an un cancer related issue, I had bee referred to this specialist before I was diagnosed but decided to keep the appointment and let her know what was going on for me. After the "I have cancer" chat, she asked me if I was going to get a mastectomy or not. I said I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but that most likely, they would take at least the one. She said "well, I had the same cancer as you, and I had them take both breasts and give me implants, and I've never looked back, you too, will get through this, it's only a bump in the road of your life, you are going to be fine". It still surprises and amazes me, how many women are touched by this disease, and how wonderful it is to get a random surprise "yaay, you, you got this" from someone I've just met. Not to mention all of the love and positive messages from all of you, my friends and family. Thank you. I can't begin to explain how wonderful it feels to hear all of you (sometimes daily!) telling me you care and that I've got this. The thing running through my head today is about knuckle tattoos F#CK CNCR... just a thought. Just a reminder that my treatment is Monday at 130 my time which is 1030 west coast time, feel free to message me while I sit in the chair!! I've also posted photos of the new hair on my instagram account here.
until next time, J 

Tuesday, June 27

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

So here we go..got back from the cottage Sunday night, Monday was a good day, I was a bit tired but it felt good to be home doing normal things. Monday night the top of my head stated to hurt, like I had slept on my hair the wrong way or like when you have a high fever and everything is aching. When I was a child and was sick with a fever I used to tell my my mom "my hair hurts". Today my hair has started to fall out. I knew it was going to happen, it's literally the first thing out of the Oncologists mouth when he(or she) begins to tell you about the side effects.  In fact the the first appointment I had with my Oncologists, I stumbled out of the office and into the rest of the Hospital with two prescriptions, one for a wig and one for a mouth wash in case I get mouth sores, which is another charming side effect of the chemo (none yet). But at the beginning when you're first learning all about the new buddy in your breast, they tell you all of the things all at once, what kind of cancer you have, what treatment plan they recommend, what the side effects are and in what order they will appear, and by the way, did we mention you have to come back tomorrow for all your blood work. When all you are hearing is stage 3, it's fucking stage 3, are my bones rotting too? is it in my lungs or liver or bowels? (thankfully, no none of these) but before all the scans and tests, you don't know and you spend weeks, wondering what the twinge in your back means  or if your knees are hurting because you're just old or are there tiny new little tumors growing there? anyway, I'm cutting my hair super short tomorrow, it will be less stressful I think than pulling out my bangs every time I run my fingers through my hair. I have reached out for support and found a wonderful group of ladies at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RethinkYWN/ it's a closed beast cancer group for younger women ( I was accepted at age 44 so I'm not sure what they consider young!) and https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lobular/ specifically for ladies with invasive lobular carcinoma. Already I've connected with a 41 year old mother of two, two years out of her treatment and still cancer free. She was encouraging and supportive, and it felt good to connect with another person who knows what I'm going through. So this week I have appointments Friday in preparation for my second chemo Monday the 3rd at 1:30. That's right holiday Monday, 'cause cancer never sleeps bitches...Heading up to our cottage this weekend for some family time, the cousins and Papa. Hoping for the kind of joy you can only really feel watching children running round being kids. love you, J

Sunday, June 25

A Cottage Away

Last night at the cottage I went to bed early, thinking I could try and catch up on some of the sleep I’ve been missing (if  I’m honest, for the las three years, ‘cause kids, boy howdy). And had I been asleep I may have missed the amazing storm that rolled in over the cottage and lake. It was very dark, I had just killed two hours watching my favourite Mighty Boosh episode (Old Gregg) and Bridget Jones’ Diary and the rain started. Lightly at first, gently tapping on the newly installed metal roof above me, then a little harder and faster, building into a crescendo so loud I thought for sure the sky was actually falling in chunks onto the ground. I got out of bed and rolled open the sliding door off the bedroom and stood on the other side of the screen, listening. The rain was coming down so hard it was actually bouncing off the ground and back up two feet to hit my legs through the screen, and the thunder was cracking and rolling across the whole sky while sheets of blinding light flashed, illuminating everything for an instant at a time. It was windy, and the air smelled renewed and fresh. I was just a human, standing in the weather, smelling, feeling ,tasting nature. I felt alive. Not sick, not worried, just present and grateful. Just alive.
My bones stopped really hurting this afternoon, and tonight I didn’t have to give myself a shot. My body was so relieved at this, I felt free of this horrible ride, just for  a few hours. I wished out loud, this afternoon for a strawberry rhubarb pie, and low and behold a delicious hot pie was presented for dessert. It was so, so good. We all played dominos on the floor in font of the fire, which is to say Jake ran around in circles and jumped up and down while me and L set up said dominos in patterns for him to knock over and get us to do it all over again. It was awesome. There was lots of laughter today.
I’m worried about getting sick because I don’t have an immune system. Jake has a cold right now and I’ve been trying not to eat with his fork or kiss him directly on the mouth.  I’m worried about skinning my knuckles or cutting my finger, because I don’t know how long things like that will take to heal now. I am concerned that my bald head is going to freak Jake out. I’m worried that my bald head is going to freak me out.
Thank you everyone for your continued support and love via the intertron, and to whomever sent me the Ornamental Death Star  YOU ROCK!!!!! thank you so much it made me so Happy!!!
If any of you would like to comment or ask me any questions, please do, I love hearing from you. Until next time. J.

Wednesday, June 21

And the Days Roll On...

      So it's Wednesday today, and since Sunday the days have been fairly normal except a few things. I've managed to stay out of the sun so I don't feel so crazy when I walk outside. So that's good. I haven't been too tired to go swimming with Jake so that's good too, and he has figured out how to swim underwater!! of course in the water in a regular way, well that's another story. Some mornings when "we" wake up too early for mommy to function without and extra large coffee, Jake watches a show on my computer and I watch re runs of "Bones". It's not the greatest show to watch around a three year old, but yesterday, I did it. There was a mummy on the table and Bones was examining it  and there was a hole in the torso above the heart. I didn't think much of it until Jake looked up from the computer and said "look Mommy the lady has a hurt in her chest just like you"....devastated...I didn't really know how much he has been hearing these days regarding my diagnosis, but obviously more than I thought. I haven't been keeping things a secret per se, but I've been careful to use language appropriate for a three year old, and until I am showing signs of my treatment, I'm not really explaining what's going on. But they hear stuff, and they can sense it. This morning at 430 am I woke up sore in my bones, the kind of sore that you feel when you've been in bed too long and your back feels screwed up. So I took my temperature (to make sure I didn't have a fever, as this is the first sign I'm getting an infection) and took some tylenol. But it didn't really go away, the deep ache is in my hips, lower back, pelvis and all the way up to about the middle of my ribs. It feels like all my joints are loose. I checked my booklet and the internet and they both say this is typical for neupogen treatment. yay. I was a cranky jerk all day. I"m not good at being gracious when I'm uncomfortable, it something I should work on I guess in my current state of life. I have a feeling I'm going to be more uncomfortable than comfortable for a while. The tylenol and advil aren't really working but I don't have anything stronger right now. The heating pad helps.  I'm ok though..Jake and I are going to our friends cottage for four days of fun. I get pampered up there, good food, lots of distractions for the boy (which means I might actually get to read a book!!! or sleep!!!) and some much needed nature time. Can't wait. Until then. J.

Sunday, June 18

Sunday Check in.

It's Sunday today and I've woken up to some serious dizzy....Let me backtrack.... This week has been really much better than I expected, I have been feeling 80 to 90%, with few side effects YYAAYY! I've been eating more, smaller meals and trying to eat well. It's hard though, I feel hungry a lot. And my energy had been sporatic, low for a while then a sudden burst of normal. Chemo, for me, sort of feels like a hangover you can't quite kick. That feeling in your stomach that says extra large cheeseburger with fries, but the slight nausea that makes you wonder if you would hurl even if you ate a cracker. I've been drinking Kombucha for the first time, which is AMAZING!! The particular kind I'm swilling is a black tea, ginger combo that makes my tummy feel awesome and gives me a little pick me up. I'm thinking about Scobies in a whole new light, lol. B has been amazing through this week, taking us on outings in Anya (yes, my car IS named after a certain Vengeance Demon), to get me out of my head.

Here is our wondermobile,

I'm posting a photo because I've never had a new car ever , and on the last few really hot days when I was climbing the walls to get out but was too hot and sensitive to the sun to leave the house and the baby needed to nap, we climbed in and took off and I literally felt like it saved my life.....Satellite radio, AC and a low rumble that makes your bones purr can cure almost anything, did I mention AC?!! One day we went out to COSTCO to do all that business, and the next day we drove to Mississauga, to the Dairy Creme to have a celebratory banana split (this is an annual pilgrimage, and a newcomer right of passage, so be warned if you come to visit!!)  On top of nausea and eating things, I have become quite sensitive to the sun, which they told me would happen, but I just love the sun soooooo much, I did push the limits. Twice I've had to call B to come get me out of the little bit of shade I found at the park, hiding and sweating like a hostage in a bad hotel room with no ice. (maybe I shouldn't try and write more creatively, I can't tell if that was a cheesy analogy or not, I have been watching a lot of Burn Notice lately, so forgive me).
..... Just to even out the eye candy photo's.......
...So I haven't really touched on the mental stuff I've been going through so far. It of course it's harder to write about. I'm scared. I am hopeful and  positive that this will turn out for the best possible outcome and I've been told by various medical experts that this will be so, but fuck is this ever terrifying. I have this condition you see, called "The Hamster", I tend to internalize my thoughts and feelings a little bit and when I get triggered or have a bad day, sometimes I disappear, and the Hamster gets on his little wheel and goes to town, off on a train of thought that goes around and around usually surrounding things I wished I hadn't done or things I did to people I wished I could take back, all of that useless stuff that makes you anxious but you don't really have any control over. They say that kind of worry can give you cancer HAH. see what I did there?....anyway, that's why the car trips have been good, the hamster gets derailed.
My mom sent me this amazing book, I highly recommend it, it's called Stumbling Towards Enlightenment an illustrated guide. It really appeals to the artist in me and really shows you how many phases of being in crisis mode there is! It helped me identify what I was feeling and it helped me ground. It's the worst when Jake is asking me to do something and I feel like it's going to take everything to do it. Or late at night when the world is quiet, and I can feel myself settling into my body a bit and I have to be aware of my right breast and what lies there. I wasn't wrong about it looking like a scorpion, it's 5 centimetres wide and almost 7 centemetres long. It doesn't hurt. and before chemo I was feeling little twinges and some pain there once in a while, but since chemo, that spot has gone dead. At least that's what it feels like. I'm glad. I know that it's not this evil outside force and its not something that has "happened" to me, it's my own cells, mutating and gettin' fancy. Stop it already alright? Sometimes the hardest part is knowing it had been there for a while, growing silently and slowly (thank Cthulu)! When did it start? why did it start? why me? 1 out of 9 of us will get some form of breast cancer. I'm not genetically predisposed to it, no one in my family has ever had it. I'm not the healthiest eater, and yes I drink (not heavily, just the regular "mom" wine amounts) but 'cmon Universe, did you have to clock me with such a large sledgehammer?.....
back to Sunday and the dizzy... I am coming up on a week into my first treatment (yay) but, this also means this is when some of the trouble can start. I have low white blood cells so I am more susceptible to infections (boo) I am giving myself injections of neupogen, which is a white blood cell booster, but there are side effects to that too. Flu symptoms, dizzy, headache. Anyway, they say to call the hospital if you have any symptoms so I did and the Doctor on call says it is probably dehydration. (yes mom, I know, I know!) so I'm drinking lots of fluids and resting as much as I can. Until next time. J.




Wednesday, June 14

Chemo Coaster

                                                 I've titled this picture the Chemo Coaster.

8:00 am--It's the day after my first chemo (1 down 5 to go!), it's early morning and Jake and I are sitting on the couch together watching Finding Dory. I've had a small bowl of oatmeal, my anti nausea meds and a coffee and I am so relieved to be feeling ok, I can't even tell you. Actually I will tell you because otherwise there would be no blog ha ha. Anyway, yesterday went off as expected (thank you Sarah, and Cindy for the heads up) I can't express enough how important it is to talk to people who have gone through this before! it has given me so much peace of mind to hear other journeys and help me set up some kind of order in my head about all of this crazy stuff.

10:00 am-- ok, so the nausea comes in waves, but it's about 2 on the scale. Eating small smacks about 2 hours apart has been helping. Jake and I went to the drop in centre we usually go to and had visit and some play time. I'm finding it a bit hard to concentrate, one of the anti nausea drugs is a stimulant to counter the drowsy of the other and it's making things a bit surreal. Like having just onnnee too many cups of coffee. No other physical stuff. Just kidding HOT FLASH

12:00--at the park, Jake is runing around the splashpad and I'm feeling gross. The Thought of walking all the way home is daunting, I call B for a pick up and we go home. I have a snack and feel better.

2:30--the nurse calls to make sure I'm on time to come for my injection lesson. You see one of the drugs, on top of the chemo, that I have to take is called Neupegen and it stimulates your bone marrow to make more white blood cells. It helps decrease the chances of infection while you have zero immunity. Anyway, it's a daily injection, like an insulin shot in the subcutaneous fat. The downside is, because your bones are working extra hard, there is a chance I will get aching in then and possibly flue like symtoms..Booo.... HOT FLASH

3:15--waiting to go in. I think sometimes this is the hardest part of the treatment, seeing so many other women in various stages of recovery and treatment, it's scary to see the others that might not be doing so well. I feel an immense amount of compassion for them and always hope the best. I chatted with a really nice older woman who was a year into her treatment, she asked me how it was going for me and where I was at. It was nice to make a connection. She looked good. She had already gone through her chemo and surgery. When I asked her if she had had surgery she nodded a little and looked down, very sad. I couldn't tell if they took one or bot of her breasts. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about that when he time comes. I am pretty sure we are going to take the whole right breast off. The lesson from the nurse went fine.

4:45--My friend T had come over to keep Jake and B company while I was gone and when I got back, she went and did a little grocery shop for me and I made supper. Then L came after work and took Jake to the park before we ate. It was a lovely family dinner, shake and bake chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and corn and salad. I managed about half my chicken and all the veg, with about a cup of potato.

7:30--Jake was super tired so went upstairs to bed. I fell alseep with him and woke up at 10:30. The girls were gone but not without doing the dishes and tidying the toy mayhem that is my living room. Went back to bed. Woke a few times, felt gross, went back to sleep. End of day 1.

Lots of you sent messages during my treatment and it was so lovely, so thank you. And thank you for the phone calls and check ins. I can feel the love. ---Jeff

Sunday, June 11

IT'S TIME...


WETHER YOU SUCCEED OR NOT IS IRRELEVANT, THERE IS NO SUCH THING.
                      MAKING YOUR UNKNOWN KNOWN IS THE IMPORTANT THING-
                                   AND KEEPING THE UNKNOWN ALWAYS BEYOND YOU.
                                                                                                    -GEORGIA O'KEEFE

                                                         So I went and saw the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the AGO, and it was absolutely the perfect place for me to be. She is such a great artist, her pieces just exude strength and pure essence of the thing painted. Not really much to report on the appointment front. Had bloodwork and a chat with my  Chemo Oncologist, who at this point I had not met. He is the foremost Doctor in nausea treatment I've been told so thats a good thing! He has discovered Olanzepene treats nausea very effectively and prescribes it as needed, so we shall see.
                                                         I have been getting some twinges and a little bit of pain in my breast at the site. But it only seems to flair up when I'm talking about it or thinking really hard about it, so I'm not sure if that's real pain or psychosomatic. I am becoming used to the long waits and the appointments that go on forever already. I bring snacks and a book. I just got new readers that make look quite foxy, if I don't say so myself. Every day is a different day. Some days are good and it's business as usual, other days, there is crying at everything. I'm worried about worrying Jake, I'd like him to understand that even though I'm not well, I'm still me and I still love him. Tomorrow is the first chemo treatment at 1:30 and Brian and I will be going together. I'll let you know how it was. Today we are going to spent the sunny afternoon at Kensington market as a family, have some snacks, visit some friends and try and be as normal as possible.

Wednesday, June 7

Ready Set Go....

                                          (illustration by Raffi Anderian)


Ok, yesterday I got the results of my CT scan (chest, thorax, abdomen) and it looks like my cancer has not metastasized! YYYAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! this waiting for the tests, and then having the tests and then the waiting for the results gig really sucks. I have given up most coffee as my anxiety level had been very high lately. For a few reasons (obviously). When I was first diagnosed, and the doctor only had my ultrasound and my mammogram to look at, he suggested I would have a lumpectomy first, then chemo, then radiation. My bone scan came back clean, so I was stoked, it hadn't spread there. Then  I had my MRI which wasn't as scary as the scenes you see on TV, it made  that sounded to me like minimalist techno beep, beep, beep beep beeeeeeep.
There's a feature of being with Princess Margaret, they give you access to your results and appointments in a webpage called the patient portal. Now this is great and crappy at the same time. Great because you can see when all of your appointments come up, but crappy because if you get a scary test that is hard to interpret yourself, you have to wait until your doctors appointment to have it deciphered. So when I had my MRI and got my results 24 hours later, I read that everything was as we thought. then I got a call that my surgery had been cancelled and that I would be starting chemo almost right away. It turns out it is bigger than we thought 5cm wide by 6.5 cm long, up the side of my breast, they also saw 3 satellite spots than need to go and it got upgraded to stage 2/3. (which means it hasn't spread(stage 3) but because of my lymph node and the size it's close) I was pretty upset. Needless to say, the surgeon suggested a mastectomy instead of lumpectomy. I agree.
You see, invasive lobular carcinoma has a predisposition to be "fuzzy" around the edges, sort of like a childrens picture of the sun with the little offshoots or tendrils. They are notoriously difficult to remove with "clean margins" (all of it). And my surgeon said he could do his best but there might be some left that he cant see or get to. So I say cut it off. I want %100 cancer free, lets not fuck around with my life ok? So that's what that first picture up there is all about. that lovely girl has had a double mastectomy and had reconstruction and tattoos. Gorgeous right? anyway, I'm only having one taken and we will see how my skin reacts to the surgery and radiation.My next post will be less about the technical and more about how I've been feeling.

Just a side note WOW!!!!!!! I am so overwhelmed and grateful for all of your love and support! When I told the INTERTRON about what was happening to me, I had no idea how much love I would be getting from all of you so thank you so much. It really means a lot to me that you all have my back, and want to follow me in my journey. And I didn't mention this in the first post but  I love all of you too, and just the thought of you guys thinking I am strong has helped me stay strong. My BFF Casey has been communicating with me through Whatsapp, leaving voice messages and sending pictures, then I get to reply. It's sort of like a conversation but on your own time. If any of you Victoria peeps would like to do that you should download it to your phones!! it's nice to hear the day to day from others it makes me feel like we are sitting and having a cup of tea on a cozy afternoon. Love you.

Monday, June 5

The Next Chapter...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news folks, but life has decided to throw me another curve ball. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Invasive lobular carcinoma to be exact.
                                                       Around April 18th of this year as I was lying on the floor of my son's room, in the dark, waiting for him to FINALLY fall asleep, I decided to do a quick feel of the boobies as the right one didn't feel "right". I know it sounds weird, I didn't have any pain or any other sign that something was there, but I just had a sense of it. I was right. Deep in the tissue at about the 8 o'clock position on my right breast, there was a spot that was harder than the rest. It freaked me out, but I went to my GP right away and she sent me for a mammogram ( my first, and boy howdy was that uncomfortable!) as well as an ultrasound. They came back about three days later, as suspicious.
I have to give kudos to my amazing GP, she does not mess around! She referred me to the rapid diagnostic centre at Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital link here...they are one of the best in the world for breast cancer detection, treatment and care. I had a core biopsy and a needle aspiration of my lymph nodes on a Friday, I had the results Tuesday. the C word.
 So the good news is, my cancer is hormone positive, but her2 negative. What that means essentially is that with hormone therapy treatment after chemo, surgery and radiation, the statistics are great. I have the second most common form of breast cancer,  invasive lobular carcinoma. just a side note, it's been really interesting seeing inside my body. I mean you don't really ever get the chance right? Well I had a bone scan and saw my skeleton, and my MRI showed me my large veins and heart, and my mammogram showed me the cancer, it was strangely beautiful. The mammogram put all of the tissue in white and my cancer looked like a scorpion wrapped around my breast. Of course the news was devastating. Especially with a young child to care for, my thoughts went immediately to my family and how they would cope with this.
 I want to give a huge shout out to Miss Sarah Kramer at  http://www.blog.govegan.net/
who fought her own battle with breast cancer (and won!!)  and who has been my "breastfriend" right from the beginning. Thank you Sarah for the support and help. And of course to B who is my Rock. I will continue on with my story up to now, in a second blog post as I have a CT of my thorax, abdomen, and bowel tonight (to make sure it hasn't metastasized ) and I can't eat after 4, so I'm going to go eat, eat, eat!!