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 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):

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:)