Friday, 26 December 2014

Goodbye 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, I reflect on this past year and hope for maintained stability for 2015. Both for my sanity and for this craptaculous cancer. I look back and recognize my last month of innocence, whilst still being in pain; January was the only month where I still assumed I was "cancer free." Even in January, although not formally diagnosed with mets yet, I may have already known deep down that it was back. Denial can be a beautiful thing. You can try to suppress the pain. Suppress those little "demon" voices that tell you repeatedly, "your so shit outta luck." I managed to go on a relaxing vacation to Mexico with my mom the week prior to learning I had a recurrence. I think I knew on that trip that something was terribly wrong. I remember someone once saying if you have a cancer recurrence "you'll know." I never really thought about this, until that fateful vacation when the pain became so unbearable that I truly "knew" it was back. You try to go over the scenarios of what else it could be, and I came up with many excuses as to why I was in pain. The other scenarios were treatable, temporary problems. Cancer is not temporary, and it would dominate my life from February onwards.

When I heard that my cancer had returned, and not only to my sternum, I was shocked and completely deflated. I was no longer in the survivors club, but rather the "surviving" club. I made this club up, but anyone is welcome to join:). I would require treatments basically for the rest of my life. This was the exact time in my life where my hubby and I had decided to start trying to have a baby. Instead of a little life growing inside me I had cancer growing inside me. Again. Fuck. The entire month of February was a bit of a blur as I felt so lost, confused, uncertain, and simply sad. Nothing could change what was, and everything I had worked so hard for throughout my life wasn't even important anymore. Nothing mattered.

After the shock wore off I knew I couldn't live in this pity party world anymore. What's the purpose of being alive if you've already given up on yourself? I refused to live sad, and decided it was time to get over it. That's when I started this blog. It had two purposes at the time. One was to inform my friends and family about how I was doing. There's something about having to repeatedly tell people of your diagnosis that feels like a form of slow torture. Not only is it horribly difficult to tell people, but then it becomes horribly difficult to try and console a loved one who is bawling their eyes out. I can handle so much, therefore this was hard. Secondly, I felt it would be therapeutic to write down my feelings and thoughts throughout this "journey." Ok, I hate that word so I would say this is more like a crapshoot, and who the heck knows where the hell I'll end up!!

As the year went on, my treatments seemed to be working! My pain decreased. My life developed a new flow, and I developed an increased acceptance of having, and living with cancer.  My hubby and I went on an amazing road trip that we had always wanted to do. We drove down the California coast, went to Palm Springs, and then went to Las Vegas. This vacation was so needed at this point as they had found a "questionable" spot on my brain. I left that appointment in June completely scared and tried to do some magical cancer math to try and determine what this meant for my survival. Anyone with cancer knows what I'm talking about. Dr. Google can kiss my ass!! I don't even know why I refer to google to determine MY survival because it's such a load of rubbish. I have learnt that with cancer what the internet displays are averages that never pertain to any specific individual. We had an amazing vacation none the less, once in a lifetime, and made memories that I'll cherish forever.

As the year went on, I had my brain blasted with radiation because, of course, that "questionable" spot was indeed cancer. I often wonder if someone approached me with a hand held radiation detector if I would beep off due to the amount of radiation I've had. I'm like my very own, walking, talking, Chernobyl! I kind of think of myself as a slightly contaminated nuclear disaster! I simply feel this way because I hate to even think about the amount of radiation I've received from countless CTs, radioactive dyes, and actual radiation treatments. I'm surprised the hair on my head doesn't permanently stick up like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket!! Oh cancer, the shit you have done to me, and how you've affected the way I think.

My hubby also damaged his knee at work, and was off for a few months recuperating from surgery. This was definitely not the year of health in the Saunders household!

I have had many, many amazing gifts from friends and family that I will cherish and never forget. As a new year approaches, I only ask for health. I ask for disease stability and good health for all my loved ones. I have had more infusions then I care to count, but I have learnt to make the most out of these days, and they have actually become days I enjoy! You see, I know I can't change the cards I've been dealt, but I can, and I will, decide how I play them. I refuse to be reduced by this disease. I refuse to allow other young women to feel isolated and alone, and will do my part to reach out to whoever I can. Therefore, looking forward to 2015 I hope to continue to be surrounded by those I love, continue to laugh wholeheartedly, and live like there's no tomorrow. Bring on the new year because I am ready to LIVE IT UP!!
                                                                  The last bit of 2014!!

My husbands annual work Christmas dinner, and a little bit of dress up on my part!

My sweet Sophia as my date for my last infusion of 2014!

Beautiful date in Banff with my hubby, and our festive hats. I basically had to inform my hubby that yes we are wearing these hat, and yes we will smile. I love how his hat just stood straight up!! 

Just had to post one more with our hats!

My princess noodle at her school Christmas concert!
 
My love bug on Christmas!
 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Humanity

Before cancer I would watch the news and think what is wrong with this world, with people? Everything always pertained to crimes, robbery, war, and simply hatred amongst people in society. It was easy to see the bad in the world.

Now fast forward to today. I have been blessed with so many acts of kindness that I can't even believe that there is that much bad in this world. Suddenly, all I see is the good in this world. The amazing people who are selfless with their acts of kindness that have directly benefited me and my family. The amazing firefighters whom I have received countless envelopes from; thank you. Every time I've worried about people forgetting about me because I have been off work, and then I'm surprised. The "21 Days of Christmas" that my bestie organized and so many of my amazing friends took part in to make me happy. I've been on a high (natural high of course) since this as everyday I wake up I open a new gift and, my favourite, a new card or letter. Even on days I wake up sore, I go downstairs and see all the gifts under my tree and I'm left excited, happy, loved, and overwhelmed. You see, when you're off work from a job you love, it leaves you feeling as though you're simply a distant memory to those you used to work with. I often wonder why I even question this as my nursing friends are such amazing people, definitely a cut above the rest.

As everyone knows, I waited to get my hair done until after all my scans. Since I got good news, which started with the scan results, it has since snowballed from there. I have literally been in my own little happy bubble ever since! When I went to get my hair done, I was astounded by how my appointment ended. My hairdresser is lovely. She is kind, and a perfectionist with my hair! Obviously, I like this because I'm always guaranteed a great cut and color. After she finished I got up, and she looked at me and said, "this is on me. Spend your money to go out for a nice dinner with your hubby. Merry Christmas." Wait, what?? She can't possibly be serious; but she was. I completely understand that this is her career and this is how she makes a living, and it's Christmas time so I was not expecting what she said to me. She didn't need to do this, but she did! I left there completely shocked, and cried all the way home. Not sad tears, but the completely overwhelmed tears where I couldn't even fathom how amazing people are. Thank you Carly, you aren't just a hairdresser but an amazingly beautiful person and I hope you know how appreciative I am for your act of kindness.

I often wonder when we watch award shows like the Academy Awards, and we put these actors on a pedestal, but for what?? For being able to act, essentially for being good liars?? I wish I could televise and give awards to the amazing people in my life, so that they can be recognized for being amazing people. I mean isn't that what life is about? It's about individuals who act selflessly, wanting nothing in return. In reality, if we only spoke about all the goodness in this world I think people would be shocked to see that there really is more goodness then bad. Unfortunately, it took me getting cancer to recognize this! If I could say one thing to everyone it would be; do something for someone else, smile, and focus on all that is good. You would be surprised to realize that this doesn't just make those around you happy, but it also fulfills your own soul. One small act of kindness can completely change a person's state of mind, and turn their day around for the better. I dare everyone to try it, and I can guarantee you that you will be a happier person for doing it:).


Monday, 8 December 2014

2nd. Best. Day. Ever!!!

Alright I've often been heard bragging about how I have the best friends in the world, but once again I'm going to repeat myself. Thursday was an amazing day for me and my family as I heard the disease is presently stable. Friday I had my Herceptin infusion, but it turned into something I completely did not expect. At all!

My bestie came with me during this infusion, but she told me she would just meet me at Tom Baker. I thought; ok. I had decided to make 20bags filled with lotion, Epsom salts, pen, notepad, lip balm, and a little Christmas card for patients undergoing chemotherapy. I remember what it was like to receive chemo around Christmas, and I remember how awful I felt during the holidays. Therefore, with all the good news, and feeling really well, I knew I had to do something. So I filled up my trunk and told my bestie I would call her when I got to the hospital so she could help me carry all the bags.

I waited in the parking lot for a while, and then my bestie showed up. She came with no coat and no purse. Firstly, it's flippin freezing out!! When I asked her she had an elaborate story about how she fell in the parking lot, and got dirty so she put her coat and purse in the car. She had some dirt on her pants too, so I believed her. Off we went to get my infusion, and it felt like it always did.

When I finally got called in, it was by one of my favourite nurses, Stephanie:) I consider her like one of my "people" as she's so similar to what many of my friends are like. She was chit chatting all the way, and then we bumped into one of my other favourite nurses, Catherine. Catherine, I will always remember as she was the first nurse I had when getting chemo the very first time I got diagnosed. Once again, one of those nurses that I consider like my "people." Easy to talk to, very sociable, and intelligent. These lovelies are phenomenal at getting my IV. They had never missed before. Well...up until this day! Stephanie it may not have been your shining moment this day, but I think it's because I jinxed you. You got blood return, so I wouldn't consider it an epic fail, let's call it partial success;) Therefore, when we finally made it to my chair, the curtain was pulled and I was kind of just hoping it wasn't a soiled chair. As she pulled the curtain I was completely, and utterly shocked!! There I was speechless, again, as the area had a red blanket on the chair along with over a dozen wrapped gifts with a poster indicating it was from my lovely friends from the Alberta Children's Hospital. Essentially, they created "21 days of Christmas" for me with a single gift I was to open everyday from now until Christmas. I can tell you I was beyond shocked. My friends have done so much for me and my family. I mean way more than I ever could have expected. I never expected anything more than what they surprised me with earlier this year. Yet, here I was once again completely and utterly shocked. Shocked at the fact that they still think of me, despite being off work since February.

I never expected anything from anybody, really. I completely understand that everyone has busy lives and families. Christmas is stressful enough having to buy things for your loved ones, and I mean they really didn't need to do this for me. However, my plastered smile from Thursday is still plastered on my face from the surprise and shock from Friday. There will never be enough words in the English language that can sum up how completely and utterly thankful I am for the amazing people in my life. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but I could never be able get through all of this without each and every one of you. My bestie and her beautiful family for always doing soooo much, my phenomenal nursing friends for always being there, my lovely oncologist for essentially keeping me alive and for always having time (despite the fact that I doubt he has much extra time but he's good at making it seem like he has all the time in the world), and all the lovely nurses at Tom Baker for all your continued kindness. Lindsey C, one of my other "top five" nurses wasn't there this past Friday, but I hope you know the difference you make in people's lives; you are amazing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and I hope everyone who has had such a positive impact on my life knows that I am forever grateful for everything. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and I wish nothing but the best for all the wonderful people in my life!!!!! Love you all:)

This was completely clueless Judit, thinking I was being so sneaky with my small gifts for patients.

My bestie!! You are sooooo sneaky!! I swear Lex I think you could be a spy, except you're way too nice and caring, sooo... Nursing was definitely the right choice for you;)

Three of my lovelies!! Catherine, Stephanie, and Fiona. Missing was Joyce & Lindsey C. All the nurses are lovely, these just happen to be my favourite ones that's all. Obviously Nancy is also included in this list too;)

Not only were there gifts, but decorations and food!!! Feeling beyond blessed!
 
I required two wheelchairs to take all my gifts to the car!!!
 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Best. Day. Ever!!!!!!

 
Going into my appointment with my oncologist this week I was scared and stressed. I had my CT and MRI, and the week leading up to this appointment I was trying so hard to just keep it together. The morning of my appointment I was well beyond scared. I broke out in a rash from the stress and thought I was honestly going to vomit. It took a lot to try and calm myself.

The moment my oncologist walked in and simply blurted out, "everything's good." I had heard this before which then follows up with a "but..." I asked if there was a "but," however he said No. It was the biggest relief, as if the largest weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had been having quite a lot of pain to my left shoulder and was so scared that it was related to cancer progression. It wasn't. I probably pulled something, thank frickin goodness!!!!! The thought of it being a simple muscle strain was the greatest joy. It's been a while since I've been this ecstatic!!!!!

To further add to my elation was the MRI of my brain. Firstly, anyone with cancer is aware of the seed and soil theory in which if you have a solitary met to the brain, there may be a high likelihood that further spots will "pop" up. I can say there is NO NEW spots!! NOTHING!! The stereotactic radiosurgery to my left frontal lobe shrunk the cancer from 9mm to 3mm!! Honestly, this was the best darn Christmas gift I could have ever imagined. This is all I wanted and I got it:) I am so thankful for my amazing oncologist for always taking the time to talk, and never, not even once, have I felt rushed. I leave these appointments feeling as though I've been cured of cancer. I know I haven't been, but he has a phenomenal ability of being able to instil so much hope. I need this. It's the only way to deal with metastatic cancer. Small victories=hope=happiness=An amazing quality of life.

My hubby and I went for a coffee right after to celebrate. It's such a feeling of elation I can't even describe. We sat there and I saw my hubbies eyes well up. I recognize how this affects him, and I know he's just as scared as I am. These were happy tears. Tears that represent that cancer didn't get us today. Tears shed that literally allowed us to let go of all the fear we have both collectively held in this past week. I had to admit to my hubby something that I had done quietly, and not told anyone because it's a little bit shameful and maybe even a bit pathetic. My roots have been growing out and I have been long overdue to get my hair cut and highlighted. However, knowing I had this appointment I decided to schedule it for the following week. My thought process was what if things got worse? Specifically, what if it spread to my visceral organs? I know I would require chemotherapy, and once again this would lead me to lose my hair. Therefore, I thought why would I not only waste my money, but I don't want to look in the mirror and cry at the thought of losing my new, nicely styled hair. I know this seems very minuscule in the grand scheme of things, but I am 29years old, and yes this matters to ME. I don't want to advertise my disease. I don't want pity, and I don't want people who don't know me to know I have cancer. I just don't. I know people are thinking, but you blog about it so people probably know. However, I am nowhere near famous enough with this blog to have everyone know! I'm trying to avoid strangers from knowing. I mean people at the store, gas station, restaurant, who will look at you with that cocked neck pity party, sad eyes look, and say, "but you're so young." I HATE it when people say that as my only response is, "yup, it sucks." Next time maybe I should ask if I could get a discount? That may be the only benefit to having everyone know I have metastatic breast cancer.

As we drove home I was on cloud nine. I knew things were good when the Black Eyed Peas song, I Gotta Feeling, came on. It was timed perfectly, and resonated completely with how I felt. It was the final confirmation that my health, in this moment, was good. We are feeling very lucky, and extremely blessed, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to pay it forward. I know there are others, where today may be the worst day of their lives, and I would love to be able to bring some happiness into their lives, even if it is something small. However, it may just be what they need in that moment. I'll let you all know what I'm up to in my next blog post;)

Today, was one of the happiest days I've had in a very long time. I just want to jump for joy. I feel I have a smile plastered on my face like those scratch and win Christmas commercials! That's my face today, and I don't think anything will change this! So HAPPY:)

Our faces were a bit more composed here!!

Having my black coffee with the perfect words for a perfect day!!
 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

It's That Time Of Year Again!!!

 Nope I'm not talking about Christmas, although I would much rather be talking about that! I'm talking about scans!! Although at times I feel I can relate to a Christmas tree, especially when I light up like one! The only thing different is the feelings we evoke. The tree makes people smile with a warm fuzzy feeling in their stomachs, and when I light up...well...I make people cry and want to vomit; sorry. I had a CT of of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. As well as an MRI of my brain to make sure the stereotactic radiosurgery got rid of that little bugger that had wandered into a private, highly gated community, in my brain. I kind of considered that one met like a party crasher. The brain met is the third wheel that I would love to ditch!! Don't get me wrong, I hate the mets to my bones, but they just scare me a little less then the one in my brain.

I'm slightly embarrassed even saying this but I'm curious how many other people think like me. Whenever I have an MRI of my brain, as I lay on the table with that boxy contraption over my head, my mind automatically wanders to inappropriate thoughts. I'm talking anything sexual, and then I tell myself to think of something else. Anything else. Flowers. A garden. ANYTHING. But then I'm so far gone that silly sexual things keep "popping" into my mind, and then all I can think of is whether a certain part of my brain lights up when I think like this. I wonder whether the techs will one day look at me and say, "well your cancer is stable, but you are a pervert." That would really be the happiest day of my life!! Never thought I'd say that, but this is where i'm at in my life.

Now moving onto the CTs. CTs I find to be relatively simple, in the sense that it's quick and I don't need to lay still for very long, and well...they can't probe into my slightly twisted brain. Comforting really. The dose of radiation from having these tests every three months leaves me a bit uneasy, but this is my only option for now. With CT scans all I can think of is you better empty your bowels prior to. I can't tell you how often I wonder whether the radiologist reading the scan looks at it and laughs either because they think you're full of shit or full of gas. How embarrassing would that be! Yes, this is what my crazy life has amounted to. The things I think about as I lay on a table exposing my insides has left me a bit...well..nutty!

Now I just wait. Hoping the results show stability, or better yet: No Evidence of Disease. I dream of this. If I could have either of these for Christmas it would be the best Christmas gift EVER!! I now wait, and will repeat this process in three months. Best case scenario: I can think of "appropriate" thoughts during my next MRI, and I can empty my bowels prior to my next CT. Oh the many joys of having cancer, and how things I NEVER would have thought of before are now in the forefront of my very crazy, slightly twisted, and "sillyish," "cancery" life.

This is written backwards, but it sums up my feelings in a nutshell:)

I'm hoping my insides don't light up like my Christmas tree!!!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Why?????

I often wonder since my cancer recurrence, what did I do to make this come back? I would never blame anyone for their cancer, but it's hard for myself to not question my life and my actions. Sometimes I feel it would be easier to deal with if I knew I did something to cause it. However, I don't know. I have no clue why I got this crappy, overwhelming, and life-altering disease. I simply have no clue.

With my initial diagnosis my friend, and co-worker, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. We went through our treatments at the same time and, selfishly, it felt nice to have someone to talk to who was going through the same things as me. Don't get me wrong, I have the most AMAZING friends in the world, but there's something about the bond you form with someone else going through this who simply "gets it." We would call each other to talk about our bowels, as we would go from having diarrhea to the worst constipation ever. We would talk about mouth sores, and we would discuss the horrendous fatigue. The fatigue that a person who has never had chemo could never possibly be able to understand. I would not want to bombard my non-cancer friends with this, as it's simply indescribable. The pain, the complete and utter exhaustion, and the crazy obsession with my bowels!! Yes, we would literally sit on the phone for the longest time talking about crap; quite literally crap! I was 26, and although I'm a nurse, I don't typically speak about shit outside of work with anybody!

Fast forward, after we finished our treatments, we both went back to work. We were both happy to move past the hard part, without realizing that the hardest part was still yet to come. My friend relapsed very quickly, and sadly passed away within months. This left me questioning everything, as nothing was guaranteed. She was young, married, and had two young children. I think people didn't know what to say to me at this point. I would hear things from people saying, "but you're so positive, that won't happen to you." Really?? Cancer doesn't give a shit if you're positive, young, old, or a good fuckin person! We were good people, we laughed, and sure as shit she tried to be positive. What people don't understand is that it's extremely hard to keep up the positive facade when someone struggles with each breath they try to take, when they are hospitalized and away from their family, or when every movement causes incredible pain. It's not easy, and a positive attitude won't save you. My father also died from cancer when I was 12 years old. He struggled with every breath and it was awful to watch, and I remember everything vividly like it was yesterday. My family didn't deserve this. The most positive and happy people; children, get cancer; WHY!!!! There's a population who shouldn't even know of this word.

With all the amazing people I know/knew with cancer it has left me questioning, after so many years, why can't we figure this damn disease out! Sometimes when I read research articles about absolutely ridiculous topics, I wonder how much money and time was put into researching something so completely absurd. I'm talking ridiculous things like; after years of research we have figured out men are more physically attracted to attractive women. Ok, I made this up, but the studies are just about as ridiculous as this!!

I don't know why I got cancer. I thought I did everything "right." One of the things I have started to wonder is the impact of stress on cancer. I know stress is awful, but I think it may have more of an impact then we may think. I know of many nurses who have been affected by cancer. What can I tell you about my profession? It is definitely high stress!!! I would love to find something to blame because that way I could avoid it! The people I know who have had cancer were all amazing, strong, and wonderful people. None of that mattered to cancer. I would love to know what profession people affected by breast cancer have? Was it high stress? I'm not saying a persons profession is the single determining factor, but sometimes I wonder if it helps contribute to it. I simply want answers. I want to know why, and I don't want others to have to go through this. I don't want others to understand what this is like as the only way you would ever know is if you got cancer yourself. I hate cancer.

Monday, 3 November 2014

MY Views on Cannabis

When I say the word marijuana what is the first thing that pops into your head?? I'm sure the first picture that pops into your mind is that of a hippie, stoner getting high. Prior to having cancer, and realizing the merits of cannabis, I probably would have thought the same thing. I've said it before, that prior to having a cancer recurrence I had never done ANY drugs, nothing. I wasn't even a drinker. I had tunnel vision as to what the "appropriate" and the "right" way to live my life was.

Fast forward to today and my viewpoints have done a 180 degree turn. After my cancer came back I became invested in researching everything that may have some form of potential benefit. I was in pain. A lot of pain. I tried to brush it off as being nothing and continued to work a couple more months in that state. It wasn't until I picked up an infant and truly wanted to cry from the pain that I realized something was extremely wrong.

Cancer is one sneaky son of a bitch, and I have never liked sneaky sons of bitches before. Therefore, I became enthralled with trying to figure out what could potentially help me?? I can be sneaky too;) Cannabis oil repeatedly stuck out at me. Looking back, I wish that the first time I was diagnosed I would have tried it. Initially, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was scared of how others would view me if I started using marijuana? Here I was, in a respected profession in healthcare, and I was worried about what this could do to my "reputation?" Just saying that creates a lump in my throat. Why the hell would I give two shits what others think!!!! This was MY life, and in the end the only person who would need to live with the ramifications of what could happen was ME. We spend so much of our time constantly worried about being accepted, doing the "right" thing, and wanting others to respect us for being good people. Well, I've come to realize that just because I use marijuana doesn't make me any less of any of those things. I am a good person. I know that. Am I perfect? Nope. Never have been, and I don't expect to become perfect anytime soon. However, who the heck is??

Cannabis oil was the single medicine I could take that gave me pain relief, whilst still being functional. When I used to go to bed, my mind would wander, then I would get a hot flash, then I would be pissed off that I'm sweating and hot, and then I would be freezing. It sucked. Ok, it fuckin sucked!! Not being able to sleep does not work well into my life. I LOVE sleep, and I value a good nights sleep with all my being. Therefore, not wanting to take sleeping pills, I resorted to cannabis oil. I ended up having the best nights sleep ever!! I never once woke up, and yes I have continued to use it regularly every night, and I sleep remarkably well.

What continues to irk me is this stigma around marijuana, and it being a controlled substance that is viewed as dangerous. Firstly, this medicine does have merits. I'm living proof that it does. What bothers me is that due to this classification they can't do research into what the true potentials of it are in medicine. For myself, I had to experiment. There are many different strains and types. Some have higher levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient, and some have higher levels of CBD, which has zero psychoactive effects, but does show lots of potential in the field of medicine, specifically with seizure disorders. By not having research to back this up, I must admit that dosing has caused me to take a smidge bit too much at times. Once you take too much, the side effects are not pleasant at all. However, if they changed the label and stigma around marijuana they could do research and figure out adequate dosing, and what strains are good for what types of disorders.

This is not about religion. This is not about being a good person, and it is certainly not about pleasing others. I've tried to please everyone my whole life, and have come to realize that that's not possible. This is about me and finally doing something that allows me to live a little easier. I don't believe that anyone should need to suffer in any capacity if there's something out there that has shown to alleviate this. Do it. In the end, nobody will understand your suffering, only you.

I am not a fan of narcotics. I hate the side effects, and realistically the number of prescription narcotic overdoses that occur yearly are pretty scary. According to the CDC these are LEGAL medications, and they kill 15,000 people in the United States yearly!! However, people assume because a physician prescribed it that it is a peachy, rosy, treatment for pain. Fun fact: nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose (people have reported raiding their fridge for snacks though. Ok, I made this bit up but I'm sure its happened).Well... while you are dazed, drowsy, and constipated from your prescription narcotics; I will be eating, laughing, pain free, and having the best nights sleep EVER!

I think it's time for change. Huge change pertaining to cannabis and its uses and potential benefits. When I hear politicians, uneducated on the health benefits of marijuana, blatantly not wanting legalization as they talk about it being a controlled substance, and the dangers, I want to smack them across their dumb nut faces!! I can only imagine how quickly their own viewpoints would change if they, or their loved one, got cancer and they had to view the devastation caused by it!! I think it's time for them to recognize the ignorance that their narrow minded heads has created. To allow some of the prescription narcotics that are on the market to be legal completely baffles me. These are drugs that are highly addictive, and have proven to kill, but it's ok???

I could go on and on about this, but I truly hope others in my shoes can find relief with cannabis. This is not about creating an uproar, or about stepping out of the box and skewing away from what's "right." This is about pain relief. About quality of life. About not suffering. I'm a firm believer that this is a right that every individual should be granted. Young and old. Rich or poor. This is about our basic right to have a good life, and I strongly feel that this is not a topic that should have any jurisdiction in politics. They are not healthcare workers, and have no clue what it means to witness suffering. Therefore, do what makes you happy, what reduces your suffering, and what you know in your heart makes your life a little easier. This is MY life, cancer is MY problem, and I'll choose to handle it the way I deem seems fit. I refuse to suffer, and don't give two shits what others may think!!

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Best Medicine Is...

Not too much has been going on with me healthwise that I know of anyways. I do get the aches and pains, on and off, which then makes my mind wander to the craptaculous cancer progressing. My sternum will hurt, then when I rotate I get pain in my hip, recently I've had some pain to my ribs, and then my memory, ok what memory? Then I tell myself to snap out of it!! Yes, I talk to myself, not out loud but I have to remind myself that aimlessly worrying won't change what is, and won't eliminate what will be. Therefore, this post is not about the things that slowly erode my sanity, but rather the things that nourish it. What could this be you wonder, well let me tell you!

Happiness and laughter. Yes, this sounds so simple but when I'm around the people I love, and we laugh, and I mean laugh wholeheartedly I forget about everything. I mean specifically this crappy cancer, and I get to really enjoy the moment. This is the laughter where you become fearful of peeing yourself!!

This past week was filled with much of that. I volunteered at my nieces zoo school, and got to enjoy myself with a handful of grade 5ers. They were all sweet and well behaved. The conversation I had with one of the kids was priceless as I didn't know how to respond to her question. As we were looking at the big horn sheep we noticed the male going up to the females and sniffing the females, and the females running away quickly. When one of the kids asked one of the zookeepers what they were doing the zookeeper responded that it was "mating season." Here was my conversation with the little girl:

Girl: "what are they doing?"
Me: "umm..."
Girl: "why are the girls running away from the boy?"
Me: "hmmm... I think the girls have a headache"
Girl: "oh"


At this point I could see her really thinking so I simply told her let's check out the other animals, preferably ones not trying to mate!! Goodness gracious, I was not going to teach human sexuality animal version to a bunch of 10yr olds, so I was happy to move on.

This week was also my Herceptin infusion so I took my partner in crime (quite literally, "partner in CRIME"). The infusion was our usual ice cream treat, chit chatting time. Then it was my besties time to explore at the cancer center. We get very into doing some random, slightly questionable, possibly a smidge bit criminal"ish" activity. We seem to be escalating in our childish bets, however I laugh uncontrollably. From laying on a random stretcher, to sitting on a bench with stuffies, to milking a cow statue, to sitting on a cow statue, and then jumping off the cow to sprint like an Olympian so that the security guard wouldn't catch us. I laughed all the way to our car, and then some as we drove home.

Although I was at the cancer center receiving treatment, I never once thought about cancer. I simply didn't care. I felt good. I was with my bestie, and I had a blast. I'm tired of all the seriousness of this disease, of thinking it's going to kill me, of wondering if the cancer is progressing. All that is exhausting. This week I'm exhausted from volunteering at zoo school, and from hanging with some amazing friends that make me laugh uncontrollably. I'm tired from having an amazing week, where I managed to have glimpses of a life without cancer. Laughter really is the best medicine. I think it may be my favourite therapy yet, and I could definitely take an indefinite number of rounds of this type of treatment!!

Obviously Lex wrote on the board, she's involoved with everything!! I've never even seen this board before, but you bet that Lexer found it!!!!!
 
Herceptin #13, I can't believe it was #13 already!!!

Lex had to write on a leaf!

Me and Lexer driving (possibly distracted driving?) I swear I only momentarily looked at the camera, no accident involoved:) I don't recommend this as usually I am fully focused on driving, hands on 10 and 2:)

Zoo school with my favourite little lady:) She even got to feed a camel!!

Zoo school with my princess noodle. Words can't describe how much I love her
 
 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day & Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, however did you know that it's also Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day?? I'm guessing most people don't, unless they have metastatic breast cancer or know someone who does. I mean people might think I'm a debbie downer, but metastatic breast cancer is MY reality. There's no days off. I wonder what the average person is thankful for? People get so caught up with all the crap in life that so many forget what makes up the best part of our lives. It's the people who have our back through everything, and our ability to do the simple things in life that allow us to exist with purpose. I'm talking about the real simple things; walking, talking, eating, loving.

How many people say that they are thankful for their health? It's one of those things a person wouldn't understand unless they have had their own health compromised. One of those things where when your health comes back you tell yourself you will never take it for granted. I want people to get it before they have major health problems to deal with. I want people to simply be kind to each other, enjoy the energy you have because it may not last. I know how quickly things can change. What's in the past is gone, we can't go back, but we can change our futures.

Today, I am thankful to be able to breathe without struggle. I am thankful for my appetite to be able to enjoy a good meal without nausea or vomiting. I am thankful to have manageable pain, and to be able to walk and run. I am thankful to have my mind, free of seizures and debilitating headaches. Yes, I have cancer, but I also have so much more. Something I am completely aware of is that things can change in an instant, so today I have an immense amount of gratitude for my life. To top it all off, I have the most amazing people in my life who are like the icing on the cake. My amazing husband, my mom, my brother, sis-in-law, nieces, extended family, my bestie, and my amazing friends who are more like family. Yes, I still have cancer, that's no surprise, but I am thankful for what I have right now. Most people don't have this much love surrounding them, and I couldn't imagine how they could handle serious illness. There's no way I would have this much joy in my life if it wasn't for "my people." Thank you to everyone who makes me a better person and for everyone who has touched my life with so much kindness and love. Am I thankful for cancer, nope I sure am not, but I am thankful for the different perspecive on life it has given me.

                                 These are simply some pics of the most important people in my life.

me and my wonderful hubby
 

Me and my Bestie!! I think I have advertised this lovely lady plenty. However, she deserves it because Lex never thinks of herself. She is the most genuine, loving, and caring young woman I have ever met

Me and my lovely Sophia (can't forget about our dog, Max, in the corner)
 
 
Me and my beautiful mom who has the biggest heart. Love her. Couldn't ask for a better mom!


Me and hubby again (I've realized while doing this that the majority of our pics are selfies). We need to start asking people to take pics that don't only show our heads!!


My sweet Sophia. This little lady is growing up so quickly and she has the most beautiful little soul!!!
 
 
My amazing hubby for keeping me so grounded. Ok, this pic doesn't show that, however this was pure happiness with no alcohol or leafy green herbs on board;) This is what our non-selfies turn out as.

Me and my love bug. She loves you wholeheartedly, and is VERY outspoken.
 
 
 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Can We Choose To Focus On Living

I have been reading a lot lately, and more specifically some perspectives pertaining to women with metastatic breast cancer. I know the month of October really annoys and angers many stage IVers. I would be lying if I said a lot about this month didn't bother me, it does! However, I can also relate to people who aren't in this stage IV category.

I wish that women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer remain with no evidence of disease for the long haul, so that these women can continue to live. The stats are a different story all together. 1/3 will develop distant metastasis, however when and who will be affected is unknown. 2/3 will survive and continue to live their lives.

This month I just don't like the bitterness. Some things that I read I feel as though women want others to fall into the stage IV category so they "get it." Let me tell you, before I was a stage IVer and considered "curable" I completely understood what it would mean to have stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I finished all my treatments and was scared out of my mind. My friend joined the ranks of stage IV before me, and I watched her deteriorate and leave behind her husband and two beautiful children. I GOT it before I had stage IV.

I want people with early stage cancer to have a good life, I want them to relish finishing their treatments, and I want them to LIVE as if cancer was a past tense, god forbid it comes back. Don't waste your time thinking of the "what ifs." It will consume you, and if it does come back you would have wasted your time worrying. If anything, become a better you. Realize the fragility in life while recognizing your own strength that you never knew you had.

It sounds so cheesy, but can't we all just understand each other? Why cant we get along? Absolutely, stage IV needs more, a whole heck of a lot more! I understand the mortality rate, however I'm not going to sit around and say I'm dying. I'm not. I'm very much living, and choose to believe that new advancements will come about that continue to keep me alive. If all we think about is dying, then we aren't really living at all. I will never give cancer the power, therefore, today, I won't acknowledge what it's capable of. Obviously, cancer doesn't recognize what this chick is capable of either! We would be doing a complete disservice to those who lost their battle, or those too ill to actually enjoy their lives if we only focus on deterioration and death. Bitterness will slowly consume and eat away at you, just the same way cancer does. I've given this disease enough of my attention, and I choose to be happy and understanding to everyone. Do I have days where I'm sad, mad, confused, angry, and overwhelmed? Damn right I do, but I try to limit those days and moments because they don't help ME. ALL types of cancer suck. I hate it. That's a fact. I've established that more needs to be done in regards to stage IV, however I will offer my support to EVERYONE. I choose to LIVE, LAUGH, and LOVE. This isn't an exclusive club, and I am not about to become a hater. I dare you to LIVE with a focus on life, will you accept?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

My Thoughts On Breast Cancer Awareness

So October is breast cancer awareness month. I know for those of us living with mets this month may be a bit of an overkill with the pink. Personally, and I speak for MYSELF, pink is simply a colour. I always liked the colour pink, but I will explain what bothers ME.

When I see all the products that say they will donate a portion to support "breast cancer awareness" I have come to realize that many of these companies don't give two shits about breast cancer. They care about their own personal profit. It's more of an insult when it states that they give five cents from the cost of a $20 pink scarf goes towards breast cancer awareness. Really?? Wow. Secondly, I'm getting sick of this umbrella term "awareness." What the heck does that mean?? I feel people are aware; get your mammograms, check your boobies, etc... People with stage IV breast cancer need a CURE.

If you want to talk about real awareness did you know that:

-67 Canadians are diagnosed with breast cancer everyday (Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation)
-5000 the number of Canadians who die of breast cancer annually (Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation)
-1/3 people who have early stage breast cancer who go on to develop distant metastases (Metastatic Breast Cancer Network)

Those are some important facts that people should be AWARE of, so now let's donate to causes that help those of us living with stage IV continue to live.

Don't get me wrong I think we have all purchased these products with the best intentions, I know I have in the past too! All I want is for people to be more aware and really question how much, and where the money goes.

I don't need a pink scarf, pink gloves, or pink whatever for me to be aware. All I need to do is look in the mirror, and I have plenty of scars that remind me that aren't nearly as pretty as a pink scarf. That's because breast cancer isn't pretty. It never has been, nor will it ever be.

Sadly, I think people are aware about early detection, blah, blah, blah. However, did you know there has been no significant improvements with survival rates once the cancer becomes metastatic?

Pink is a colour that I still like, despite all the negative connotations associated with it and breast cancer awareness. I'll still wear pink, but I will not support purchases that don't donate to a cause that will benefit those of us who have fallen into the stage IVs. Next time you buy please please think before you pink because the only person who may be benefiting are the large corporations who make a profit from these products. I will continue to rock my pink, but NOT the kind with a pink ribbon that says: "a portion of the proceeds go to raise awareness."

Awareness=???
Research=life!!
                                                   "Awareness" according to social media
 
 
                                                  Awareness according to my reality.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

What's Your Purpose?

Today marks three years since I first heard the words: "you have cancer." Everything in my life changed in an instant. My life became divided into two parts. Before cancer and after cancer. Even after I was given the all clear, and a new bill of health my life never went back to what it was before. This doesn't mean my life wasn't good, but rather I realized how quickly and how easily things can change.

I can still vividly remember sitting in my car after taking a day course pertaining to nursing. I had had a biopsy, and didn't think anything would be wrong especially after all the reassurance I received from my family doctor that this lump had a 99% chance of being benign. As I sat in my car, my phone rang and my doctor told me I had cancer. I honestly have no clue how I managed to drive home as I was a big blubberfest all the way home. The most difficult part to finding out you have cancer is by far telling the people you love. Absolutely everything in your world stops. You become numb to everything, and wonder what the hell was my purpose in this world?

The second time I heard I had cancer this past February basically deflated any hopes I had at beating this disease. This time I was knowledgable about what it meant, even though I wish I didn't know what it really meant. I honestly wondered, if all the plans I had for my future are no longer possible then what the heck am I gonna do?? I don't think I'm a bad person, however I am in no ways perfect either. After all this I have figured out what I am beyond passionate about, and it's metastatic breast cancer awareness and advocacy. More needs to be done to bring awareness to metastatic breast cancer and to push for more funding for research. I am not going to simply have this disease without shedding light on it, and I plan on changing the course of the future as it pertains to this disease, especially in young women. I may be one person, but I won't stop until I accomplish what I want.

Three years ago today my world shattered, but today was a new day. A better day. A day where I've finally realized what I want to do, and figured out what MY purpose is.

“It doesn't matter what you did or where you were...it matters where you are and what you're doing. Get out there! Sing the song in your heart and NEVER let anyone shut you up!!”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Friday, 19 September 2014

CIBC Run for the Cure

I'm sure most people know that I am doing the CIBC Run for the Cure again this year. However, this year my wonderful bestie created an actual team in my name (team super judit). I personally hate hounding anybody for money, unlike my husband who sent repeated texts to friends to donate until they did, hahaha. Sorry guys if you were one of those people. However, as I sat thinking about it I'm actually pretty desperate. The money from the CIBC Run for the Cure is the biggest single day fundraiser in Canada that contributes all its funds towards research, education, and advocacy initiatives. I've mentioned this before that research is what I am relying on to literally keep me alive.

I am asking anyone reading this to please consider donating. Every penny counts and adds up, and this goes on to benefit anyone affected by breast cancer. Survival rates have significantly increased over the years thanks to events such as this, however there's still far too many people who succumb to this disease. Young and old, mothers and daughters, sisters and wives, and even men. Still more needs to be done to change this. If you want to donate directly to me go to CIBC run for the cure and click on donate. Then under individual write: judit saunders. Click on my name, and voila!! Or, simply click on the following link (if it works):

http://www.runforthecure.com/site/TR/RunfortheCureFY15/PrairiesNWT?px=3929419&pg=personal&fr_id=1851

You can also donate directly to our team; team super judit or donate to any of the amazing people on my team:) If you would like, join our team, the more the merrier. My goal is to bring awareness to metastatic breast cancer, and the bigger team we have the greater chance we have to spread the word while directly funding research.

Thank you to everyone who has already donated as this means more to me then you'll ever know.


"Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person."

- R. Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks my 2year wedding anniversary. I can't believe where the time has gone. We have been together 9years now and I am still so shocked as to how much we have been through in those years. Looking back, when we first started dating I was completely carefree, in university, and had no worries. Everything in my life was quite simple. Our biggest concerns were where we were going for dinner.

In the past three years, after my initial cancer diagnosis, it left me completely stunned, saddened, angry as hell, and made me question just about everything including my relationship. Chris and I were engaged when I was diagnosed and all I could think of was why would he possibly want to stay with me?? I was 26 years old and had cancer. CANCER. This meant hair loss, fatigue, neuropathy, nausea, and potentially death. At this point I definitely wasn't a catch. How many men would run as though they were training for the Olympics to get away from ms-shit-outta-luck cancer chick if they knew their partner had cancer?

I definitely made it hard on him. I felt ashamed and extremely vulnerable. I never would have chosen to be bald, but it happened. Chris never looked at me once as if I was diseased, rather he said he liked my buzz cut because he thought I looked like GI Jane, hahaha. As time went on he never once felt ashamed of me. After I had surgery he didn't look at me any differently. I lost my nails from the chemotherapy but he never said, "you're falling apart, this is too much for me to handle."

He stuck by me through everything. Even when I gave him the option to run for the hills if he couldn't handle it anymore; he stood by me. Once I completed all my treatments I realized what true love really is. It isn't about the carefree fun, but it really is "for better, for worse" and in "sickness and in health." We got married after I finished all my treatments. I had super short hair (a hairstyle I never imagined getting married with) and a totally new hair colour. The radiation burns still present on my chest and visible in all my wedding photos. However, at this point I was just ecstatic to have hair, nails, and my life back. Everything about our wedding day was perfect. It was a new beginning, and I had a glimpse of my own mortality and was so happy to put it behind me and move forward.

One and a half years after getting married, cancer came back. The day we found out we sat in the car in the hospital parking lot and cried. Oddly, it wasn't so much the cancer diagnosis that affected me as much as it was the loss of my future. The loss of fertility and knowing we will never have children hurt the most. I wondered how on earth he would handle this? We wanted a family, and we were on the cusp of starting a family, and once again this stupid disease was back! When I asked Chris he said he didn't care if we never had kids as long as we were together. Now I tried to imagine if he was simply trying to be supportive in saying this, but nope he was completely genuine and it affected me in the utmost positive way.

He has come to every one of my appointments, the majority of my infusions, all my scans and tests, and he has done so willingly. I have never had to beg him to, and he has always known how to talk me through all my fears even though he probably has the same fears as me. As we celebrate our anniversary I do so knowing we have been through more in these past few years then most people go through in a lifetime. We know what is important in life and recognize the fragility of it. I couldn't be happier, and look forward to many more anniversaries to come. I would just like a little less focus on illness and a little more focus on health and happiness. Just a little more of the carefree life we had years ago, without it being just a fleeting moment.

Happy Anniversary babes. Thanks for sticking by me through all my "craptaculously" huge health problems. Probably not the future you envisioned as we seem to be aging a bit more rapidly then we would have liked. However, I have figured out one perk! I think between my crappy cancer and your crappy knee we may qualify for rock star parking, AKA: handicap parking:) I love you.

 
 


Monday, 15 September 2014

This Is For My Nursing Peeps!


I pondered whether to even write this blog. I mean there may be people who read this and realize; shit this is about me. Then I thought, heck I want you to know this is about you! More importantly, I want to enact change because as a nurse who is more of a patient now I want other nurses to realize the words you speak may negatively affect the very people you are supposed to advocate and care for.

I can honestly say that in the six years I have been a nurse I have always treated my families with the utmost respect and kindness. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean I didn't complain and bitch about certain situations. Let's be real, we don't always agree with the families we deal with but we respect their choices and, for one, I did not become a nurse to argue with people. If I wanted to do that I would have gone into law. I can still remember a shift where the diagnosis of cancer was made in a child. A sweet, young child. This to me, completely and utterly broke my heart because I knew the devastation this family would feel and the arduous treatments this poor child would go through if he survived. My bestie and I, who is also a nurse, tried to accommodate and speak with the family. Our shift was over, but that didn't mean we stopped caring because the clock showed us our shift was over. Then when we were finally ready to leave we sat in the locker room and cried. We both understood each other because both our hearts broke for this sweet and innocent child and his family. I have a conscience and if I would have left without doing anything it would have eaten away at me. Time is precious, and I understand we all have a life outside of work, however there are times and situations where you need to take your eye off the clock and look the families you care for in the eye and hold their hand through some of their darkest moments. I promise those extra five minutes will be remembered and etched in their minds forever, but you will quickly forget about getting home five minutes late.

Now, here comes my rant...

My husband heard a lot of choice words out of my mouth after my last Herceptin infusion. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the nurses in day medicine at the Tom Baker. I have always been treated with respect and I have always thought they were incredibly kind. Firstly, I do not have a port. I have seen numerous complications related to CVCs. I, personally, don't care how many times I get poked to get treatment. I DON'T want a port. I hydrate like crazy to help my veins "pop" up so they are primed for getting poked. Do my veins always cooperate? Nope, they sure don't! I still DON'T want a port. I have been on a pretty good role lately on getting IVs in on the first attempt. That was until my last Herceptin infusion.

It took six pokes to get an IV. Not ideal, however I know every nurse tried their best and I can't complain about that. It happens. Almost every nurse who tried went on to ask me if I wanted to get a port. Nope I sure don't. I'm knowledgable about CVCs, and guess what I still don't want one. For people who hate getting pokes then these lines seem quite ideal, however like I said before I don't care about getting poked. Now all the nurses who tried were very kind. Then out of nowhere a nurse, whom I have never seen before, yells over to me that I should get a port. At this point, I was getting a little sick of repeating myself but I told her I definitely don't want one right now. She decided to argue why I should get one and how in her twelve years of nursing she has only seen two complications. Well, this is where I was already over it and told her I had been a nurse for half that time and had seen three people die from complications related to their CVCs.

My odds never fall into the majority so the small risk of infection or potential for a clot are not worth it to me right now. I require infusions every three and four weeks. I am not getting blood draws daily or requiring chemotherapy, so to me I don't feel I need it. If she would have stopped talking at this point I would have been fine but she didn't. In case you didn't catch onto the theme as to whether I want a port, I DON'T. Once I told her that I didn't want one she basically told me in her exact words, "well then you may not be able to get treatment, and you won't have a choice but to get a port."

Firstly, I was completely offended! I understand that my infusions happen at the end of the day and people want to go home, but I'm sorry if I may have inconvenienced you. Since the highlight of my life is going to Tom Baker every three weeks for the rest of my life is what I envisioned. This sucks pretty significantly for ME. What bothered me was the way in which she worded it and her attitude delivering it. She did not say this sincerely to me because she felt bad for me getting poked numerous times, but rather because she wanted to go home and I was inconveniencing her. I'm sorry that I wasn't an "easy" patient. I'd hate to hear what you would tell a patient who codes! Would you let them know how much extra work you had to do to resuscitate them, and how much extra charting you had to do? Ha, just imagine what a hard day YOU had. I mean the person who required resuscitation had it easy, right? Would you argue with them when they woke up about why they had to flippin code on your shift?? I know plenty about ports. I am also a fellow nurse. You want to know why I don't want a damn port? Let me explain...

I have one tit and a six inch scar across my chest, my eyebrows never grew back to what they looked like pre-chemotherapy, I have constant hot flashes, and I get horrid pain in my sternum whenever the weather changes. The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is cancer. The last thing I think about when I go to bed is cancer. I am constantly reminded that I have cancer with every ache and pain. I DON'T need another reminder. Hence, I DON'T want a port. The fact that a nurse would threaten me that I wouldn't get treatment basically disgusted me. I come to Tom Baker for treatment for a disease that will kill me. I have a lot of crap on my plate, and I don't feel I should need to argue with someone who is supposed to care for me.

Next time you choose to argue with a patient maybe you should consider empathizing with them. I'm sorry if I delayed your evening of dancing or your drive to Edmonton, or whatever that was so important to you that you had to make a patient feel like shit. I know I can sleep at night knowing that I always put my patients first. I can probably count on one hand how many times I got to leave work on time, however I always left knowing I did all I could to make my patients as comfortable, and as cared for as possible.

Just as you remember the small acts of kindness, sadly you also remember the snippets of crap that impact you so negatively. I just needed to get this off my chest, and want everyone to know that just because I had one bad interaction does not mean that everyone is like this. In the past three years this is the only negative interaction I've ever had. I'm hoping it'll be the last! In case the message didn't get across I'll give one last reminder: I still DON'T want a port;)

"They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel"

-Maya Angelou

My forced smile!!



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Slumber Party Weekend!

The other week my bestie thought it would be fun to have a slumber party for our nieces. I, for one, never had a slumber party in my life. As a child, I never had any desire to sleep over at any of my friends houses. Therefore, when Lex brought this idea up I thought why not? I'm now 29years old and I might as well have a slumber party prior to the age of 30! Better late then never.

Firstly, we decided to go to Calaway park. My girlies were a little slow getting ready, hence we were late to Calaway park. I think one of them couldn't find their shoes and their hoodie. I mean the shoe bit was essential, and we eventually left once they were found.

Once there, I think we had 5 little girlies with us. The only thing that was difficult was finding rides where everyone agreed to go on and balancing out who sat with which little person. My "princess noodle," who is nine going on forty, started talking about animals when we were in one of the lines. Anyone who knows me knows that for whatever reason I suck at naming animals. Ok, let's clarify, I know the basics. This means dogs, cats, lions, etc... Don't quiz me on moose and caribou and all that crap because they all look the same to me. Yes, you can laugh out loud, animals are my downfall and after 29years I kind of don't care to figure out the difference. As we were standing in the lineup my princess noodle said that dolphins communicate by making whatever noise she made. JOKINGLY, I told her no they don't they actually communicate via whatever stupid noise I made. Well, that did not go over well with my princess noodle. Initially she just got plain out mad at me, then she turned and cried, whilst telling me she didn't want to sit with me on the ride. Oh shit I thought. I swear she's on the verge of becoming a teenager because she may very well be more emotional then me, and I'm in a medically induced menopause!!! This meant I had a few minutes to tell her I know nothing about how dolphins communicate and that I was sorry, and she was right. We had to get on the ride soon and because of all the kids we had with us we were basing each persons size with who could sit with who. Right before we got on, she got over it, thank goodness!! All this, and we had only been there for about 10 minutes!!

After being at Calaway a couple hours we decided to leave and start our lil girls slumber party. As we left, I realized I had nillo clue where I had parked my car. I asked the girlies, and one said row 12 and the other said 13. Well, one row difference is no biggie so we wandered a bit but eventually found it. It was indeed row 12, thank goodness my 5yr old "love bug" remembers more then me!!!

Once we got to Lex' there was one more little girl that showed up, however one more adult came too! It's like an army, once you become too outnumbered you are doomed, so the addition of one more adult was a godsend. Within the first couple hours one of the kids knocked over a large piece of wood in the garage landing on a box of lightbulbs which shattered. Ok, so we rounded them up to go inside as Lex and I tried to clean up. Then, about four pictures somehow fell off the wall with a couple of them breaking. Ok, it was time for dinner at this point. One of the girlies accidentally also dropped all her ice cream on the floor. Now I love children, but it felt like we were in a natural disaster! It's amazing how little people can do sooooo much destruction in such a short amount of time.

The kids got to have their nails painted and their hair done which they loved. By the time it was bedtime I was tired and so looking forward to it. Initially the little girls would all sleep together, and I had my own room to sleep in. In theory, this was going to be lovely. Then my princess noodle told me she wanted to sleep with me. Fine, it's a big bed. Then my love bug woke up and told me she wanted to sleep with me. Fine I thought. However, I had to sleep in the middle. I told her no because I have hot flashes and this involves the covers coming off and on, however she refused and I didn't want to argue. However, she ended up laying her head on my chest and wrapped her arms around me. Now for anyone experiencing hot flashes you'll know that this is not conducive to sleeping! In fact this is a bit of a nightmare scenario as I just wanted to gently push her head off me and switch positions with her because I was boiling. I literally may have been a fire hazard as I felt so overheated!!!

Morning came, and it was time to go home. The girls had a blast and I had my first slumber party, AKA: let's-try-not-to-break-anything, and keep things in order while ensuring everyone's safety, and attempting to maintain my own sanity:)

I'm ecstatic my nieces had a great time, and I got to hang with some of my great friends. However, the next day I did resort to my "leafy, green, medicinal herb" and I had my own slumber party with me, myself, and I!!

This was after our dolphin discussion:)
 
Me and my love bug!
 
All the little girlies. Cute as can be!
 
Lexer and I
 
If only they actually would have fallen asleep!!!
 
This is off topic, but that's just how my mind works, but thanks again Megs for the oreo ice cream sandwich at my last Zometa infusion:)
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

What a Week!

 
My goodness the last week was busy to say the least. It started on Tuesday when Chris had his consult with ortho in the morning. Going into it I knew I had my consult with the neuro radiation onc in the afternoon, and then I would have radiosurgery the next day on Wednesday.

When we went for Chris' appointment the doctor told us he could do the surgery the next day. Wait, what? Honestly, how often do people have a consult with ortho only to be told they would operate the next day? It would have been lovely, except for the fact that I was to have this darn radiosurgery the next day. When he initially told us the surgery would be the next day we both just laughed because we thought he was joking. Nope, he was pretty serious. Thank goodness for our parents because we couldn't have done it without them! My mom became our driver and Chris' parents kindly took our dog so we would have one less thing to worry about. I'm so appreciative for having such a wonderful family.

In the afternoon I went for my consult. Firstly, I had radiation over two years ago to my chest and it was fairly straightforward. This time I was referred for radiosurgery which is radiation, but it's very high dose and precise. I mean 200 beams aimed at my head. Hmm.. that's slightly stressful because your brain is not exactly a place where you want small errors to occur. When I met with the nurse at the radiosurgery clinic I felt completely at ease. She was one of those people I felt like I had known for years, and had an amazing ability to make you feel like everything was going to be ok. She told us that I would need to be back the next morning by 7:30 to have a CT so that they could map everything out and then come back in the afternoon. The only problem with this was that Chris had to be at the private clinic for surgery by 7am and I wanted to be there prior to him having surgery. She told me how they have a fairly tight schedule and typically they can't adjust times, but that she would go talk to the people at CT and see if they could adjust it. Sure enough she came back and told me it would be no problem, and to just come back as soon as I had Chris sorted out. Now I know this may seem like something minor but it meant a lot. When we were already stressed and trying to sort out how we were going to get things done this news allowed us to breathe. Suddenly by being the patient I realized that it's the small things nurses do that can really make all the difference in the world.

After meeting with the resident and the radiation doctor they made the face mask which they would use during treatment to keep my head from moving. Firstly, the resident was nice, but very cut and dry. I don't know, but having someone tell me that my cancer seems to be very aggressive, and I'll likely have more "spots" pop up and whole brain radiation may be an option later on didn't sit well with me. I am very knowledgable about my disease and when you have metastatic cancer you want to have small victories. I don't want to feel completely hopeless, and to me this was just another hurdle to deal with and then move on. Now I can completely see how some people are just so much better at disclosing information. Dr. Webster has never made me feel like I was shit outta luck. I was actually happy when this resident stopped talking because I didn't care to hear any more of what he had to say. Don't get me wrong, he was nice but I really didn't care for his delivery. The actual radiation oncologist did tell me that on the bright side if there's a spot you want to get cancer in the brain that this was it! Since the location was far enough away from my optic nerve and brainstem I didn't need to get a head frame, yaaaay!! With a head frame they literally drill screws into your head, while being awake! I was ecstatic about not getting screwed in the head!

After we met with the radiation doctor, I met with the radiation techs who made the face mask. Essentially they heat up this mask which they then put on your face, and then push ice packs on it to help mould it to your face.

The next day, we went to this surgical clinic to drop Chris off. As I waited for him to go in, I was once again reminded as to why I left the adult world. The man in the bed next to Chris whined about utterly everything and this was pre-op!!! I had a pretty good guess as to how this man would be post-op. Once Chris was ready to go in I left with my mom to Tom Baker. Once there, I got an IV and went for a CT. This CT they did with the face mask. Once they put the mask on you can't open your eyes or move your head at all. For me, there's something kind of panicky about this. Obviously I didn't vocalize this, but to not be able to move or see makes you feel pretty vulnerable. I must say the radiation techs, the people in CT, and everyone else who was there were amazing. They talked me through everything, and were so kind.

Once the mapping was done I went back to the surgical clinic where Chris was already all done. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a simple knee scope was slightly more complicated and Chris was told that he was non weight bearing for six weeks!! Now, the man in the bed next to Chris did create some entertainment for us as I had expected and I really did feel for his nurse. As soon as he got wheeled back he immediately started telling the nurse that he needed Percocet because he was in pain, "a warm blankie" (yup that's a direct quote), then he needed help to pee because he needed to void immediately. Ok, then I heard the nurse telling him that his new BP meds he was on may need to be tweaked because his BP was high. Once the nurse walked away, the man told his relative about how his BP meds may need to be increased because his pressure was still high. To this, his relative tells him, "well then maybe you should just pop two or three of those pills then." Chris and I just looked at each other in horror and it took every ounce of effort to not walk over there and tell him please don't try and adjust your BP meds based on trial and error.

Once Chris was ready to leave, my mom and I took him home and I went back to Tom Baker for radiation. Once there I took an Ativan, which I have never had in my life, because I just wanted to be relaxed. The pressure of knowing how much radiation was going to be directed at my brain was slightly stressful and I didn't want any possibility of flinching. Once the mask was on they explained that between each set of radiation they would do a scan to make sure I was still in position, and they are crazy precise when they do your brain, thank goodness. With this radiation the bed also moved, and kind of felt like a ride. We didn't go to Disneyland and I guess this would be as close as I would come. There was even part of the floor that would retract into the ground and all I could think of was that cirque du soleil show; O, because the ground retracts and fills with water. Everyone knows what I'm talking about, right?? I assure you I am still sane! Halfway through my lovely nurse came in and held my hand and talked to me. The entire experience was much better than I had anticipated. The staff at the radiosurgery clinic from my lovely nurse, to the techs, and everyone I came in contact with were absolutely amazing!! They didn't need to go out of their way to accommodate me, my nurse didn't need to come in and hold my hand, the lady in the waiting room didn't need to go speak with my mom and make her feel more at ease, however they did. I am completely grateful to all of them for everything they did, and for making this entire process so bearable. It isn't until you are completely vulnerable that you realize how much the little things people do really mean, and for that I am forever grateful.

After everything was done and I went back home I was pleasantly surprised by dinner on my doorstep by one of my amazing friends, Ashley (yes I feel people should get credit for the good things they do because it really did mean the world to me). As well, Lex had also dropped some things off that I needed and made my life so much simpler. Thanks to the well wishes from all my friends as well because it did mean a lot:) Overall, we made it through relatively seamlessly and now we are moving on, another obstacle overcome. What a week!!


The next Three pics show the making of the radiation mask and the final product



 
So the part that went over my nose got stuck when they pulled it off, and then I was left with a lovely bruise on my nose. They did tell me that that has never happened before! The lovely nurse did mention that I could sue them for this, hahaha
 

Chris pre-op

My week ended with my usual Herceptin infusion