Saturday, 31 December 2016

Year End Review for 2016

I can't believe another year has come and gone. Just like that another 365 days have passed. I look back at this year and feel thankful to have had many good days that far outnumbered the bad. Everyone's life entails highs and lows, but trying to navigate through life with MBC is exponentially hard, painfully sobering, and a constant reminder of days passed and the days that still lay ahead. I feel beyond thankful to have had a productive, happy, and fulfilling year. My definition of success has changed, from defining it based on monetary "stuff," careers, & education to simply defining it based on one simple, far too often overlooked, component: Happiness. To see those I love happy and healthy truly elicits a sense of calm and peace within me. Here's a quick little review of my past year:

  • January 4th: Celebrated my nephew's first birthday. Super high moment for me:)

MAD love for this lil dude. He has brought so much happiness into all our lives. I could keep posting pics of him, but I'll stop at three;).
  • February: this is when my meds accumulated and I learnt for the first time that it really, really sucks when this happens!! I also learnt that, as a bare minimum, I should  consume a minimum of 1L of water everyday while on this chemo or else I become dehydrated to the point of needing IV rehydration. It was also the month where my appetite went out the window, and I started to wonder if it would ever make an appearance in my life again!!! Happy to say it came back;). I also got the most epic blisters on my feet that I would have loved to have gone without. Not to mention that this month I stocked up on Boost...yup this month was officially the month that I felt OLD.

  • March: we decided to switch my chemo schedule from two weeks on and one off, to one week on and one week off to better manage the toxicity. This helped a LOT to make Chemo more manageable. 
  • April: this month was BUSY, but oh so worth it!! I had the wonderful privilege of taking part in Living Beyond Breast Cancer's (LBBC) Hear my Voice Advocacy workshop in Philadelphia. The best part was meeting many of my amazing metsters friends in person. It was such a high point, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity and for the friendships forged. To walk into a room where EVERYONE gets it and is living in a parallel world to yours is unbelievably refreshing, although I truly wish it was under different circumstances. To meet many in person, and then to hear about many of their passings simply made me want to advocate ten times harder!! The deaths from 2016 were far too many, and heartbreaking for the MBC community. Later this month I also had the opportunity to advocate for medical cannabis, thanks to Rethink Breast Cancer, in a medicinal cannabis forum. It was a wonderful experience, and made me happy to realize that the general population is finally beginning to recognize that this plant has medicinal potential. I also started on Twitter, and became an official tweeter, lol (@Judit_Saunders)

Love all these ladies. We are all living with metastatic breast cancer and simply hoping for more time. xoxo

Rethink Breast Cancer's panel on medical cannabis. Thankful for this amazing organization and for all they do for young women living with breast cancer (

  • July: A group of us metsters, from across Canada, decided to form an advocacy group to help serve a very underserved, and often ignored population: MBC patients ( Twitter handle @MBC_Advocacy_CA. Since the inception of our group, we have had other opportunities for advocacy. This month we also went on our annual trip to Invermere with my mom and nieces. Plus, I got to celebrate my 31st birthday this month:). Later this month my hubby and I went to Disneyland and had a lovely getaway! The Comedy Store in L.A was one of my favourite components of this trip, and the ocean...I love nothing better then being able to have a good laugh and some sun and sea:). This was also the month I got a selfie stick & utilized it like crazy...the following pics are brought to you thanks to the stick (just don't bring up the sour note of Disney and how it is a prohibited item)...
This was literally right before we got caught with our "prohibited item" and told to leave. They seem to take selfie sticks VERY seriously!!

Just a thought?? Hmm...if someone doesn't want to collect their children at the end of the day we are more then willing to accept them into our home!! If only it were so easy (sigh).

  • September: Firstly, I should mention that this was the first year I tackled having a vegetable garden and I LOVED it and actually managed to grow some things!! I had to post pics as I'm not sure if could ever replicate this!! I also went on our annual Vegas trip with my mom:). It got kind of derailed as our province decided to stop funding my Zoladex injections (this is the drug used for ovarian suppression). I was switched to Lupron and off I went to Vegas to be an emotional roller coaster crazy person with some horrendous headaches that lasted our entire trip!!!!!!!!! The good news? I learned my mom is a Saint....the fact that she could stand to be around me not only shocked me, but certainly made me realize that she would do anything and everything to make my world as perfect and blissful as humanly possible. For that, I could never thank her enough. Love you mom.

One of our planters with tomato's, squash, and corn. The corn was soooo close, but our gardening season was just not quite long enough (AKA: I planted them too late).

The final yield. I'm excited for next year to see how everything grows!!

Mom and I in Las Vegas

  • October: This was the month that we did the CIBC Run For the Cure. This year was different then all the previous years as our advocacy group decided to see how many MBC groups we could form across Canada. After which, we learned that the funds could go directly towards MBC specific research. We ended up with 10 teams across Canada with our local team raising over $11,000. Together with all our sister teams across Canada we raised over $32,000! Super high point! This month was also the annual Boobyball in support of Rethink Breast Cancer which supports young women affected by breast cancer.
Our amazing Calgary team. Thanks again to all those who took part or donated. xoxo

Firstly, this year was a jungle theme. Looking through my photos I came across the first two from Boobyball and don't quite know why my bestie and I were posing with a tree?? But there you with nature;)

  • December: Got Influenza A, and earned myself an ambulance ride. Didn't expect to end my year with this, but I don't think we ever expect the things that happen when living with cancer. On a bright note, I had a lovely Xmas surrounded by family, and had an enjoyable holiday season. 
This is how I felt during the flu...get your flu shot!!!

Here's a run down of what it takes to simply stay alive when living with metastatic breast cancer:

  • over 2000pills taken, and that only includes chemo & a dual kinase inhibitor (targeted therapy). Add supportive meds and honestly I have no clue how many that comes to!! 
  • 4 PET scans & 4 brain MRIs. The scans itself are simple but the stress of these exams are quite literally the most stressful and agonizing days I have ever experienced. It never gets easier. I have little patience during these times and it simply causes me to question my mortality. Every. Single. Time.
  • 4 Zometa infusions=strengthen those bones!! 
  • 4 Zoladex & Lupron inj to suppress my premenopausal ovaries=hot flashes that make you want to spontaneously combust and resort to air conditioning in the winter! My body just can't adjust to this and my wardrobe now consists of tank tops and cardigans. The cardigans allow for a quick and panicky removal of layers and then an easy and quick way to layer back up. 
  • I resorted to gluing my thumb back together at the end of this year as the HFS got so bad that I'm left with a gaping hole on my thumb. Happy to say it's very effective:).
  • This was my first year with Mets where I managed to stay on my current regimen and not have progression. This is bloody AMAZING & I am fully aware of how immensely lucky I am to have lasted this long. Pleeeeaaaase keep on working into the new year and on...and on...and...
  • Mouth sores galore & blisters on hands and feet
  • I got to have 5 weeks off treatment at one point. This was the longest time I got to go without taking meds everyday. It was soooooo good!! I think once a person has to live with this for the rest of their life, we seem to forget just how much of an impact these meds have on our quality of life, and it isn't something we recognize until we finally get a much anticipated break. To feel normal!! Not the whole "new normal," but NORMAL like every other person in their early 30s gets to experience!! 
These were all meds from this past year alone, and it doesn't even include everything. It's crazy to think that these prescription bottles are the reason I've been able to have the year I have had. Although there's many side effects, I must say it was all very well worth it to experience all that I had the opportunity to experience this past year.

Overall, I'd say I had a good year. Yes, my life continues to revolve around scans, appointments, and meds, but I have a wonderfully supportive hubby, I have an amazing family, and I have the best friends I could possibly ask for, and I continue to have far more good days then bad. I want to continue to advocate for MBC in 2017, and hope that new and promising therapies hit the market, not only for my own life, but for my many friends who are running out of options. I hope more funds will be dedicated towards RESEARCH. Moving forward, my one goal for 2017 is to be happy...find at least one reason to be thankful love with all my heart...and to do all the things that bring me happiness. That's it. I wish good health for all those I love and care long as we have our health, everything else is simply a choice. Don't ever forget how lucky you are, and hold onto any, and every ounce of goodness that this life offers. Here's to a new year...may it bring good health and lots of reasons to smile.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

This Year Was ALMOST Uneventful...ALMOST

I realized I haven't updated my blog in a while, but with all honesty all has been good! Treatment has been working, & life has been chugging along. Scans change in treatments (yaaaay)....overall I'd say peachy peach. After having a nice busy little weekend I developed a cough as we were driving home from an outing. I literally looked at my hubs man and said: "I hope this doesn't turn into anything." I think that statement sealed my fate!

The next morning I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. Cough, everything aching, head pounding, nillo appetite, and a fever. Peachy. I quickly diagnosed myself with some nasty cold. Yes, after four years of post secondary education to become an RN, these days I use that education simply to figure out what the heck is wrong with me! The first day I took Advil, expecting to be fine by the next day. Ya, nope. The next day I woke up and felt even worse! However, my fever went from low grade to high. At this point I tried to think logically about what I should do. I decided not to take Advil (as I am on chemo and didn't want to mask it) that day and see if it would come down on its own. The answer to this was nope. My temp stayed at 39.3 all day, so I decided to call the cancer centre to see if someone could call in some script. Easy peasy. Ya, nope. I was told to go to either emerg or urgent care. Firstly, if you know me I like to take care of things myself and I don't like all the hoopla of needing to go to emerg, so after I was told how long the wait was at emerg I decided to go to urgent care instead. At this point, I just wanted to get bloodwork to make sure my counts were good to fight whatever this infection was, and then the go ahead to pop some Advil as I was starting to get miserable from the aches, but mainly the head pounding! 

By the time we got to urgent care I felt super crappy. After spending two days simply laying on my couch I realized this extra strain was feeling like I had just climbed Mount Everest :/. They did a set of vitals and by this time my temp was 39.8 and the rest of my vitals weren't on the stellar side of things so they called me in right away. After an EKG, a whole heck of a lot of bloodwork, and 4 pokes I finally got my Advil, 2L bolus, along with oral and IV antibiotics, and a chest x-ray. They wanted to rule out sepsis. I started to feel better after the Advil and fluids and thought I'd be on my way in no time! Then after the doctor came back he told me my Potassium was super low. Thanks to my nursing degree I'm aware that Potassium is one of those electrolytes that has a narrow window, and it is important for things such as for your heart's proper functioning. I was given oral and IV Potassium and when the doctor came back I was expecting him to say you look wonderful now and be on your way, but nope. Wrong again!! He essentially told me that although I looked better, based on how abnormal things were when I came in, he felt I needed to be admitted to the hospital. Firstly, I thought just nod and smile as if I'd go to the hospital, and then get the heck outta there and go home and go to bed. Well, he even put a pickle into those plans when he told me he would call EMS for transport!! I kinda laughed as I felt it was a bit of overkill, but this doctor looked at me totally straight faced and said he wouldn't let my husband drive me simply due to my low Potassium and fear of my heart stopping en route. In that moment, I thought my poor mother's heart would stop!!! Oh shit I thought...then I thought of my friend Mandi from out to my low Potassium buddy;). 

After waiting a while, and trying to think of any excuse to get out of this I finally realized "it is what it is" and I had to simply listen to their recommendations. So the medics came and I earned myself an ambulance ride to the hospital. I must say, why do cancer patients not have their own triage and emerg?? Having to sit in emerg around a bunch of germy people, I just left my mask on and essentially laid around for a while. By the time I saw the emerg docs, and based on how much better I felt, and considering it was after midnight; I was ready to to be discharged home. Nope...wrong again. I must say these doctors talk so kindly to a person, and seem so calm, that when I asked when I could leave they just kind of smiled and said, "No, we are definitely leaning towards admitting you." This is where I'd like to insert a distraught faced emoji because that's how I felt!!! I even asked if they had called the on call onc to consult with as I felt they would be more lenient. After consulting with oncology, and realizing what I wanted (to go home) and realizing what they wanted (admission) they were kind enough to compromise. They essentially told me that they would let me go home if I came back at 9:30 that morning (at this point it was after 3am) to see an infectious disease doc. I quickly said YES, and we compromised and I quickly got the heck out of there so I could get a few hours of sleep before coming back.

Essentially, you may be asking; what the heck was wrong with her??!! I ended up testing positive for Influenza A. Yes, this is the virus that causes the flu and what we get flu shots for!!! I will never ever again NOT get the flu shot as all this hoopla was certainly not worth it!!! Not to mention, the ultimate craptaculousness of how awful I felt!! Tamiflu and Potassium thanks for ending my miserable week. Thank you crappy immunity as I also developed a mouth sore from hell as well during this time...well...two actually that decided to merge and join sides to make my life extra miserable (insert another distraught or pissed off emoji here)!!  Here's to a low key, uneventful Christmas (minus any mouth sores) and for my appetite to pick up so I can actually feel like eating....or a lot of days being "lit" like my Christmas tree so I get the munchies....aaaand insert smiley, hungry, stoned emoji here (just kidding....but kind of not:)). 

This is the joyful face of someone who managed to compromise and go home:). There is no better place to recover then in your own home. If I didn't have cancer I wouldn't care, but my life has enough appointments, scans, and the list goes on, that the last place I want to spend another waking moment is in a hospital.  

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Five Years

Five years. Five years ago today my life changed. Five years ago today I was at a nursing conference, simply living completely obliviously, carefree, and unaware of how much my life would change later that afternoon.

I look back at this day and recognize the life that cancer robbed me of. I wish I could go back and tell my innocent self "WAKE UP!" Don't wait until tomorrow...till next month, or next year to do something you want to do. No it NOW. I wish work didn't dictate whether I was too tired to do something I wholeheartedly spend more time with the ones I be present and truly recognize that I was healthy!! My body was strong, vibrant, pain free. Why couldn't I see the greatest gift that laid before me: my HEALTH. It's funny when everything is functioning as it should, disease free, how we imagine this to last infinitely. As if young age was the determinant to a long, healthy, carefree life. Age is merely a number. Just as we like to throw this term around towards those that are elderly; to continue enjoying, and living life, it should also be our cautionary tail to the younger population that the opposite of "age is just a number," doesn't guarantee good health. It's a fickley scenario. It's the; "I should have...I could have...if only..."

At the end of the day I got into my car to go home and I got a phone call from my doctor. Her words echoed in my ears: "I'm so sorry, but it appears you have breast cancer." That was it. That was the moment that would divide my life from complete innocence into a harsh reality. Everything moving forward was now viewed as "before" and "after" cancer.

I can still remember after those words were spoken, simply sitting in my car, in tears, and trying to comprehend the magnitude of what all this meant. I looked around and felt like my world stopped while everyone else's around me continued. It's a weird thing to try and explain because it's kind of indescribable. This happens to OTHER people, but I had become one of those people. I sat in my car for a while before heading home. The thought of telling my loved ones was almost harder to bear. I knew I would need surgery , but didn't know the details of the extent of treatment I would require. I called my brother in shock, and I'm surprised he even was able to coherently hear what it was I was saying. The drive home was a complete blur.

I went to my mom's house to tell her the I so wished I would never need to burden her with. My mother had lost her husband, my dad, when I was a child from cancer and now me?! I still remember walking up her driveway and her greeting me with her friendly, loving smile. The same way she had greeted me for 26 years when I walked into her house; with open arms and a hug. She knew something was terribly wrong as I had been crying the whole drive home. I was never much of an emotional wreck, but cancer had already turned me into one! I remember sitting in the living room, trying to make sense of a completely senseless situation. Seriously, what's there to do other than cry?

I then had to tell my fiancé, who is now my husband, about it. This would be the true test to our relationship and whether he wanted to remain with me. He was a keeper as he never left, and trust me, at times, I know I was an impossible person to be around. I even told him, flat out, at one point that he could use his "get out of jail card" as I was most certainly making life seem like we were confined to a prison. An emotional roller coaster prison mixed in with hell. It was bloody hard. No, that word doesn't even do it justice. It was as though a snake was grappled around my neck, constricting the life out of me. This is not the way people in their late 20s typically live.

Today, 5 years ago, I thought it would be the worst day of my life, but I'd have to say my stage IV diagnosis trumped that by a million. 5 years ago today my life became divided. My cancer diagnosis froze me in my tracks. Everything stopped. My career was put on hold, and my life revolved around chemo , treatment, appointments, and scans. I had no control. I was forced to stop. My wedding had to become an afterthought, and survival became my only priority. I had to stay afloat if I ever dreamed of making my wedding a reality. And I did. Treatment came and went and it was almost like a new beginning. I understood the true fragility of life, the horrors of cancer, but also the beauty of living. I realized how loved I was through the unending support provided to me by not only my family, but my collegues and friends.

5 years ago my innocence, my naivety, and my very sense of who I was disappeared. Actually it was ripped out from under me.

As we approach October, AKA breast cancer awareness month I ask all who read this to understand one thing: early stage breast cancer/mammograms, etc... Play little bearing of what cancer will decide to do. I'm that prime example. I was deemed "curable" with this. I was "curable," or so I thought.

5 years ago today everything changed, and I was forced to recognize that cancer has the last word in regards to what these asshole, rogue cells in my body decide to do, but I'll be damned to ever allow it to take over my soul. So today, like every other day since, I'll give thanks to the beautiful people in my life, to the fact that I can breath, have minimal pain, and that I'm still here to see the beauty in this world.

Today, I'm sitting by a pool with someone I love dearly; my mom. Today is different from five years ago, although my health may not be better, I am genuinely happy. I'm happy because I'm relishing this very moment. I'm not waiting for tomorrow, or the next day to enjoy something in the foreseeable future. I've realized that by constantly waiting...waiting for the weekend or until next month I am simply robbing myself of the beauty of this moment. Nobody knows what the future holds, but I know what this moment holds, and it's pretty darn sweet so I refuse to let cancer rob me of anymore moments of pure bliss. We get one chance at this life, so I'm going to make it the most beautiful this moment my life is perfect. Here's to many more years of finding the beauty that took me 26years to find.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Disney Attempt Number Two..And Some Pondering...

Hubby and I got away to California in July. It was a repeat of Disney that we tried to accomplish over two years ago to which we found out we couldn't find overnight accommodations, so here we were at attempt number two. I'm happy to report we planned this vacay this time and we had no issues of "oh Lordy where are we going to sleep."

The last time I went to Disney was as a child. I am now 31, but I feel we (hubs and I) are young at heart, so we dove right in with all our expectations and headed to Disney as soon as we were up and planned to spend our entire day there. Sounds fun, right? Holy crapola we quickly learnt we are not denture old, but old as in our ability to tolerate some of these rides!! Firstly, I LOVE the heat, sunshine, etc... However, I typically lay on a beach or by a pool, hence how I tolerate and love it. When we were down there they had a heat wave, which would normally excite me, but not so much when you are on the grounds of Disney, with herds of exhausted, hot, screaming children and crowds galore. I HATE crowds. I like my least my arms length as that's my personal comfort bubble. My bubble burst quickly...actually a bubble never existed as people would literally rub up on me as we stood in 100degree + heat, sometimes for hours to get on a ride! I kept telling myself "this is the happiest place on earth...this is the happiest place on earth.." But there's so much rubbing up I could take from strangers. Firstly, it's not necessary as there's more then plenty of room but add the heat to it and it is pretty unbearable. I also realized that the heat combined with many 3D rides made me feel not so at all. I really thought I would be fine as I was off of chemo during this time period due to toxicity but my "ideal" health scenario was a bit less then ideal:/. At one point, while standing in line, I felt super unwell. You know when you get a feeling of complete doom and gloom and you are simply trying to tell yourself mentally that you won't pass out, while your head feels like it is being crushed in a vice, while standing in a line for hours for a ride that proves to be anticlimactic, and you eventually end up on the floor voluntarily to prevent an involuntary collapse on the floor? Ya, that was me! The headaches I got from the 3D rides were pretty close to unbearable and I quickly realized that I had limitations. I refused to ever stop, so instead I stood in lines for hours with the hubs man while he would ask incessantly; "are you ok...are you still ok?" To which I always responded; "I'm great." Between Disney and Universal we were kept busy but I have no regrets and we did have fun. With the hot flashes and the heat wave I'm surprised I didn't spontaneously combust into a raging inferno...i'd be a one woman show! We purchased those misting fans which I used constantly to the point that it ran out of batteries...there just wasn't any other way to get through the heat!!

We also went to the Comedy Store one evening because we absolutely love stand up comedy, and to say we laughed our heads off would be an understatement. It was vulgar but sooooo good!! I think we both actually liked this better then Disney (likely because we were in an air conditioned room, sitting, eating, and laughing our heads off). My other favourite day was our beach day. If you are that close to the ocean then you MUST go to the ocean. We went to Newport and Laguna Beach, and the day we sat on the beach was just perfect. The sound of the ocean...the sun...the vastness of the water is truly one of my favourite things. It's as if everything else in my life, such as the dark cancer cloud that looms over my head everyday was kind of an afterthought because in that very moment my life was perfect, and I mean just completely calm and wonderful. The ocean water proved to also be beneficial for my toxic, Xeloda feet. I honestly couldn't remember the last time my feet looked so good...this was a plus as I can use this as a very convenient excuse to go on more ocean vacations:). I felt so good and refreshed and that's probably why this was one of my fave days. 

Overall, I'd say we had a fun packed, busy, relaxing, and wonderful vacation. We did everything we wanted to and saw everything we wanted. 

Once we were back I caught up with friends, including my cancer peep who is also stage IV and in her early 30s. It's funny how my conversations are so different with my healthy peeps because I only have a handful of non-cancer friends that truly understand this life and what it entails. One of the things we discussed, as she has a toddler, were people in society and how clueless many are who have never experienced a real life traumatic event, such as cancer. My heart broke because the mundane, relatively easy things we do in life become monumentally hard when you have cancer. She mentioned watching other mothers pick up their children with ease. This was something that she would love to be able to do without a second thought, but thanks to cancer it becomes a task that needs to be thought out. When you hear healthy people go abouts their days we agreed that they seem to take everything for granted. We discussed how we can plan for one thing a day, otherwise we suffer and require double that amount of time to recover. Who else in their early 30s needs to deal with this??!! Recently I Saw someone post an article about how "hard" it was to be a parent, and then others commented by complaining about their own children, and I just wondered...seriously?? I've come to realize that life is a series of choices, intertwined with some random shit that we don't choose (ie: diseases, accidents, etc...). The random shit that intertwines is just plain crappy, and the only choices we are left with are how we choose to deal with it. Children to me have always been viewed as the ultimate gift, and the best choice someone could make in life would be to have their own little miniatures running around, happy, loved, and healthy. At this point we all know I wasn't privileged enough to be able to have children, but my friend who has cancer does have a child and she stated that after getting stage IV cancer she realized how incredibly easy it was to have a child when HEALTHY. When I browse Facebook and realize my many beautiful young mama friends, and realize they are dying or deteriorating due to cancer I see their desperate pleas to have more time, not for themselves but for their children. They don't complain about their babies as they get it: having children is a privilege and the things healthy mothers would view as complaints they view as another day and another moment they got to experience, not as a burden, but rather as a gift. Then I watch these beautiful kids grow another year older, without their mothers by their side, and wonder how proud their moms would be if they were still alive to see it...reaching milestones that I remember their very own mothers pleaded to be able to live to see, but life had other plans and the randomness of disease took them from getting to be able to live to see the things that others continue to complain about.

I suppose when your life is stripped to the core, and you have a disease that slowly, or abruptly, changes and the simplest tasks require thinking about then my views of "hardship" are very different. Sure, children can be challenging, but I don't care to hear about how hard something is when you CHOOSE to have children...the last I checked there was only one Virgin Mary and I have yet to meet another, so let's just admit that there is no such thing as a "surprise" pregnancy. I can't tolerate parents who don't realize how truly blessed and lucky they are and I'm at that point in my life that I may actually call you out if you choose to bitch and whine about the very life you chose to bring into this world. I know many will not agree, but until you have a terminal disease please don't mention how "hard" your little blessings may be. It's odd to live in this parallel universe where you remember being well and how carefree and easy life was and then to recognize that that life is over and never coming back. Now it's all about living strictly in the moment...the moment is all I am guaranteed, so I choose to embrace and enjoy this moment, and whatever tomorrow brings will still remain as that; tomorrow and not a reflection of my today. 

Apologies in advance for the loads of pics...

Laguna Beach with the happy place:)

A pic of our big ole heads with the castle in the background and some random with Minnie ears (this is the best we could do, but the pic below will explain why)

We were happy in this pic and the background was visible!! However, right after we took this pic with our selfie stick some not so friendly Disney employee came to kick us out as selfie sticks  are considered prohibited items!! Seriously, they wanted to escort us out. I honestly wanted to take the selfie stick and use it for other means as this young guy was insanely rude!!! Note to self: Don't bring selfie sticks to Disney!!

This was one way to beat the hot flashes but my hands couldn't waft this fan quick enough to cool down. As well, by the end of our trip I had broken this fan too. If anyone knows of a good place to purchase some cute fans, both battery powered and ones without please let me know!! I'm hot as hell!!

Driving to our beach:)

It's hard to see in the pic but this was some massive ahi tuna that was sooooooooo good!!

There's really nothing like a sunset over the ocean

California Adventure

Cars ride...we bailed out of this line not long after this pic. We chose our sanity on this one

This sign made me laugh. Hmm any of those parents who complain about their kids want to drop them off...we will happily find and keep them:)

We really are so tiny in the grand scheme of things

Harry Potter Land!! I'm not even into Harry Potter, but this was pretty darn cool and fun!!

Who doesn't love minions??!!!

When we got home I had scans and this just shows our pure elation to have received some more good news: STABLE. Now onto the next adventure...

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Its Been a While

I realized I haven't updated my blog recently, so thought I'd pop by to say I'm still alive!!! Yaaay. Come on, I know whenever we follow a cancer blogger and their posts suddenly stop, the sad collective mentality is always what we all fear: death. Seriously, how warped and completely fu*k#d up is that!!!

Truthfully, I haven't updated because I have been busy...and I'm happy to report it's not in pertinence to cancer! I've been busy living and doing the things I enjoy. My nausea that has literally lasted the past year since starting on Xeloda & Tykerb have suddenly subsided. My mornings of feeling completely nauseated and laying on my bathroom floor are GONE!! I CAN WAKE UP IN THE MORNING AND FUNCTION!! You must understand this makes me unbelievably happy and I've been slow to mention it as I don't want to jinx myself. This is HUGE in my world. Nausea for ONE YEAR EVERYDAY had really bothered me and affected my quality of life. My hands and feet are still angry at times...I take an extra week off chemo (or two) as needed and I'm not as bothered by doing this anymore as I do need to be able to walk;). I'm on a break as we speak as I knew it was becoming toxic again...not being able to walk without looking like a darn oompa loompa, cursing more then usual, waking up unable to close my hands due to swelling without having my skin tear, mouth sores, and having my appetite just completely disappear were my alarm bells to STOP. These meds can seriously cause a pretty awful spiral that just isn't worth it at this point. I can take breaks, whilst still knowing I am not causing my cancer to go crazy. I used to think I couldn't take a single break so I'd push on and then I realized once the chemo and Tykerb accumulated...well...that could kill me too!!! Death from any form is not a goal, hence I stop when needed, plus I'm happier overall when I can eat, walk, hold hot beverages without feeling like my hands are being dipped into acid and then put on a hot burner, etc... It also makes those around me happier as I'm not as bitchy either. It really is a win win for all parties involved:). And please don't try to compare the nausea that lasted this long to, no, no. With pregnancy you get to grow a little life, but with cancer we just simply grow more cancer that doesn't turn into a baby, but rather a tumor:/. The culmination of months of nausea isn't the pure joy of a baby, but rather wishing the nausea just stops so we can actually have a quality of life, whilst simply hoping the treatment that is making us so sick is actually working on our cancer. We tolerate so damn much that sometimes it really pisses me off that this is really the best we have. Cancer treatments are gruelling, never ending, and just bloody hard. It's like running a marathon with no end in site...which in our worlds is great as the end of our marathon would be us plunging down a darn cliff to our demise!! Don't ever sign up for this any of us did this willingly. I won't remind everyone about what a goody two shoes I was prior to cancer (eating right, not drinking, playing with Barbies into my early teens...yes I'm admitting to this, etc..) as I know everyone likes to think that they can control their destiny, but apparently 'randomness' seems to play a bigger role in cancerland as most the people I know with this disease were crazy healthy prior to cancer. The futility of treatments is not easy to accept, but I am very much happy and enjoying my life. I've learnt that the only way to maintain your sanity while going through this is to simply focus on the day to day, and not plan long term. The longest in advance we can plan our lives is three months. Therefore, when it comes to vacations we typically pay more as we don't have the nice convenience of planning a year or even six months ahead of time. So we pay more, but we REFUSE to stop living and doing everything and anything we love even if that means we will be broke by the end of it.

I am happy to also report that a group of us metsters in Calgary have decided to start a Canadian MBC Advocacy group. We polled others in Canada living with MBC, and I'm happy to say we seemed to have gained some momentum in tackling Canadian issues in pertinence to MBC. I'm so happy to have connected with some other fierce advocates who are willing to really dig deep to enact change! Advocacy is hard when you're on your own, and then add a terminal cancer diagnosis to the mix; it becomes almost impossible to manage advocacy and our disease. We have already met with the oncologist who runs clinical trials out of our cancer center, along with the manager, after he asked us to meet! Seriously, I love when physicians are willing to hear about the patient's perspective, our agenda, and how we seriously want to improve the number of clinical trials and early phase trials our cancer institute gets every year for MBC because, as of now, I truly feel we can do more. The door has been opened and now we press on and ensure our voices are heard, respected, and hopefully we can get collaboration with other oncologists, advocates, and just ordinary people who understand our plight. Maybe I can even push to get a grant for a cannabis clinical trial...this is a tall order, but combine this with some unrelenting advocates, align a sponsor, and honestly the impossible may actually become possible! Seriously, this stuff excites me!!! It gives me a purpose in a life that I felt was halted and simply frozen. If I can't have children, I may as well try and change the landscape of this disease with the help of some amazing advocates by my side!! However, if a baby landed on my doorstep, or even two or three babies, I would happily accept;). Really you could plop as many babies as you'd like on my doorstep and they would all be amazingly cared address is...just kidding...ya but kind of not kidding:).

At the start of July we went on our annual family girls trip to B.C with my mom and my nieces. It was nice to get away for a few days and just simply relax. The weather was a bit iffy, but we had fun regardless. I love watching my nieces simply living, carefree, without a worry. Their biggest worry is bedtime as they simply want to keep on going. Children have an innate ability to live in the moment better then anyone else. I truly feel we can learn so much from them, and I treasure their imaginative and innocent little minds.

When I wrote this I was sitting on a plane and headed to California! A trip we took two years ago, which didn't turn out quite as planned simply due to a convention that was in town which basically created a pickley situation for us as there were nillo hotels with any vacancy. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any aches and pains as the past week I have had some pain to where my bony mets are, but I am officially on vacation and refuse to care or allow it to spoil my fun. Scans are fast approaching again in August, but that's in August and right now, in this moment, I will choose not to care or allow it to erode my sanity. After all, the key is to take it day by day, and today I am on vacation and that's all that matters:).

Pics from our trip to Invermere...