Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I miss my Nurse


Last night Carman and I went to a movie just to get out of the house. We have become so accustomed to leaving the radio and light on, and giving Rudy 3 treats before we leave. Leaving a quiet dark house was hard. Then, coming home and not having Rudy casually come out of her kennel to say 'oh hi guys, your home', was hard too. Lot and lots of tears fell yesterday.


To be honest, I feel like we have suffered so much pain already this past year. I have had so much physical and emotional pain having to cope with cancer, and now to have a broken heart is really unbearable right now. And I feel so bad for Carman- here we were living a fantastic life and now he has had to watch his 'girls' go through so much and hold so much responsibility on his shoulders.


Rudy often got the title 'Nurse Rudy', and she took it seriously. Here is a picture of us cuddling downstairs. I was in the middle or radiation (I still had hair), and felt like total crap. Rudy was good at just being there for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye Rudy


Today was a very, very hard day for Carman and I. This morning we put our dog Rudy to sleep. Several years ago now she was diagnosed with Wobblers disease. - she was dragging her front paws to the point of bleeding and falling down the stairs. With chiropractor care we were able to manage her symptoms very well, but even that was no longer working. Over the past couple days she was loosing bowel control and no longer wanted to go down the stairs or get-up for her daily walks - she was loosing her zest for life.


Rudy came to us when she was only 8 weeks old with a Shriner's hat on (her ears were taped-up to a foam cup). She won over our hearts right away. As she grew, so did her personality. She loved to jump over fallen trees, roller-blade and run with our bike, peanut butter, sleeping on the bed when we went camping, sun tanning, sneaking food off the counter, giving kisses, barking at the mailman, but most of all she loved to be petted constantly.


We have met many people becuse of Rudy, and some have become lifelong friends. Rudy was also there to be sense of comfort over the past year for both Carman and I as we battled cancer. There were many days when she would just lay beside me a cuddle while I cried. And there were also days she was the best physical trainer and got me out walking even when it was the last thing I wanted to do - and I always felt better for it.


Some people are blessed with children of the human kind. Our baby had four legs, and we called her Rudy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I LOVE MY MAN!


Last night I fell even more in love with my man. First let me share that when he got home from work he made a yummy supper of mushroom gravy meatballs, mashed potatoes, carrots and peas. In our house the rule is if you cook you don't clean, but he offered to clean-up so I could finish cleaning the bathrooms before I left for my Wednesday night women's bible study. Before I left I asked if he could water the plants, dust some shelves I can't reach, and if he had time, shorten the curtains I bought at IKEA (oh those honey-to-do lists). You see, the last time I bought curtains from IKEA I tried to hem them but my sewing machine kept jamming-up. Mr. Home Economics took over and hemmed them like a pro. IKEA has improved their curtains and now you just need to iron on some hem tape and cut. When I got home, Carman had the 'game' on and was hemming curtains!

I LOVE MY HONEY!

I know all the women out there are jealous. For all the men out there who read my blog, don't make fun of my man or I'll have to kick your ass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Confession Hour

I was thinking today how much better I feel. Not just physically, but mentally. Last year at this time I was just about done radiation and my life was a total fog. These days I still gets moments of anxiousness in my day, for whatever reason I am not totally sure why. Well that isn't really true, I know why, I've got cancer. But I find now I can have the moment and then get on with it. Today when I got 'that feeling' I just stopped what I was doing, picked up my Bible and picked-up where I left off in Acts and 'that feeling' went away. I've been trying to study one chapter of the Bible a day. I'm a keener - I've got my notebook and everything! I have been guilty of calling people 'Bible Thumpers' back in my day, and now I am one and proud of it.

I have also been confessing my faults publicly. Confession #1: I have an addiction to soda. Since ending chemo it seems like I have been having a soda daily - not good. To try and kick the habit I told myself I wasn't permitted any soda until we go on vacation on December 29th. So far so good - day 5. But on day 3 I almost caved! Confession #2: I too can not stick to a shopping list. Wednesday night Carman told me he was going to go to Costco (without me). In the past when Carman goes by himself he comes home at least a couple hundred later and the newest latest and greatest groceries. So, I requested he wait until I could go with him. But then I realized I was being a hypocrite. You see, just a few days before I went to Chapters to buy a 2010 calendar book (Inuit Art theme) and came out with the calendar plus 4 books (2 on investing and 2 on marketing). Confession #3: I am guilty of being quick to judge. I really can't go into the story, but let just say I am not proud of myself. I could keep going, but these are the main ones this week.

Health Update - The swelling in my arm (lymphoma) I think is down quite a bit. I go to Edmonton next week to get it re-assessed. I think the sleeve and hand piece are working well. I also went to my Naturopath and he gave me a concoction to take orally. Tomorrow I see a Gynecologist about getting my ovaries removed and I am find my body is 'aching' much less!

My friend Tasha lent me the book Memories of a Geisha which it such a good read. I am trying to take my time becuase it is the type of book you just don't want to end. I saw the movie in the theater, but I am looking forward to renting it again. If you are looking for a good read this winter I highly recommend this one.

Is anybody out there going to be in Pheonix Jan 1st? Carman and I will be and would welcome any invitation of a place to sleep.

Treat or Treat


Carman looked so creepy our dog Rudy didn't even want to be around him.

Patience


I just love this picture! Watching the turkey in the oven.

Thanksgiving


Me, my sister-in-law Mel, niece Ande and nephews Kade and baby Tobi. The sign of more hair!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Great News!

Yesterday morning my doctor called with my test results. Both Carman and I were getting pretty anxious because we thought he was going to call the week before. However, the news was good: clean lungs and liver and stable bones. Of course, I want them to tell me - No Evidence Disease (NED), but I feel like this is the direction my body is heading. PRAISE GOD!

You would think such great news would make me feel fantastic, but yesterday afternoon I started feeling sluggish, and today I feel awfully tired. Maybe a release of stress, or a combination of getting this bug that is floating around. I'm still heading to the Craft Sale this afternoon regardless. I remember last year walking around feeling like a zombie. I've gone to the sale every year since we moved here, but last year I made myself go and felt totally numb with the shock of having cancer. Today, even though I'm not feeling that great, I am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simple Pleasures

So I have had many people get after me for not writing on my blog as often as I used to. Take this as a good sign that I am feeling better and resuming to my life. However, I admit posting on this blog is therapeutic to me and it is something I should be doing more often. Several times a day I get flooded with emotions and fears - what will my next set of scans read? how long do I have? will my death be ugly? will Carman remarry a hot tall blonde who is an excellent cook and loves football? will my arm movement improve? will I always get these feelings?

And then I stop the 'stinking thinking' as my sister Tara calls it because I can't control many of these things. God is in control and he loves me so I need to hold on tight to that. Plus, it isn't healthy to think negatively so I try to think positively and not look to far into the future. For example, I'm not looking to much past November 14th - the date of the Certified Financial Planning final. I am soooo not ready, but I'm going to challenge it anyways - I better go hit the books.

Today I share a list I made on day I was feeling really crappy and low - I should have dated it.

Simple Pleasures in my Life (in no particular order):
- cozy blankets
- chocolate
- dancing
- flowers
- hot cream corn after a day of hiking
- long hot baths
- walking to good tunes
- good books: The Outlander Series, The Shack, Purple Cow, Princess Sultana, Not Without My Daughter
- Good Gravy
- Riding behind Carman on his motorcycle
- Root Beer floats a the Delburne Soda Shop
- Rochelle's Ship Skin (she has a large sheet skin on her couch at the lake)
- hot chocolate and Baileys
- Singing around the campfire
- Coke on the rocks in the right glass
- french braids
- The York Chinese Food (they are now closed but we went there lots as a family.

That's the list - the phone must have rang because I would list much more. Here's to enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Soul Mates

One thing I am certain of is that Carman is my soul mate. God brought us together. I totally believe God brings people into our lives to love. He displays this in many ways, even in the animal kingdom. I love this video, I hope you do too. Especially the hugging scene.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A New Kind of Normal


My mother-in-law Heather gave me the book A New Kind of Normal by Carol Kent. In it she quotes a statement made by author Ken Gire. I share it with you because it is making me think. Think what? I am not sure yet - it's pretty deep.

"When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But he doesn't put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, he sifts through the rubble and selects some shards of raw material for another project - a mosaic that tells the story of redemption".

Carol Kent comments to this statement: "It usually takes a long time to find meaning and purpose when you are living in the middle of devastating circumstances',

In response to her statement, I wonder if I have even reached the 'middle' of my circumstance.
To lighten things up, attached is a picture taken about 4 years ago at our friend Taryn's 30th birthday party.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Skin Heads


Josh, Mitch, Me, and Carman. Are we not the most attractive group! Mitch wins for least amount of hair - tee hee!!!!
Cancer still sucks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bike Trip


Almost a year ago (Aug 25) Carman and I set out on our bike to 'runaway' to Radium Hot Springs. I had my biopsy on Aug 22nd and we were advised it would take about a week for the results. I remember being hopeful that it wouldn't be cancer and we thought getting away would help make the 'waiting' go faster. Unfortunately, we made it is as far a Rocky Mountain House Tim Hortons when we got the call to come back. The results were not good and instead we were on a trip up to Edmonton to meet a surgeon.

I can't believe it has been a year. I one hand it has went very quickly and I am thankful I am still alive. Should I have been diagnosed prior to 1996 I would probably have been dead by now. On the other hand, there have been times were time stood almost still. When I got diagnosed I heard people say 'cancer is hard', 'it is a battle'. I have yet to still find an adequate description of what it feels like to deal with this disease. The initial shock alone is quite something - unbearable. But you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I preferred just being in quiet environments. Usually I have the TV going or radio on just to have noise around me, but while getting treatment over the past year I preferred to have things quite and still around me.

If I can be frank and honest, I really didn't want to be around a lot of people. I didn't like how they looked at me. I've never liked people feeling sorry for me, and I certainly didn't like it now. I am looking forward to when my hair grows back because then I think people will once again see me versus seeing the disease. I am living with cancer, not currently dieing of it.

On a lighter note, our first destination on our motorcycle trip was Radium Hot Springs. It was a goal I had set to soak in the springs when I got better. The next day we made it as far as Nelson, BC. I was pretty tired so a cruise through the town and walking across the bridge for supper was the extent of exploring this great town. Carman and I would love to go back and stay a week there sometime. Can I mention that on our way to Nelson we stopped for lunch in Kimberly, or should I say 'mini Switzerland'. I tried Schnitzel and I think I'm good for a lifetime. We left Nelson in a bit of a hurry as there was a high probability for rain all day. Unfortunately we got nice a wet for about 2 hours before we reached Nakusp. Carman's hands were so cold he couldn't tell if his finger was touching the signal button or not. Getting wet and cold was certainly not enjoyable, but my comment to Carman was: "It beats chemo'. The third night was in Revelstoke and the 4th night in Canmore.

On our way to Canmore we stopped by Lake Louise and saw a grizzly bear in the ditch. Carman was adamant that we turn around and take some pictures, but I wasn't a keen. Reason #1 - we were on a motorcycle and the bear was fairly close to the road. Reason #2 - the camera was in the pack which would require one of us to get off the bike to get it. So, no stopping for bears. Future travel Rule #1 - always keep your camera on your person.

For those who read the last post, pleae note that Carman did pay-up on his bet. I got a nice pendant from the Rock and Gem Shop and a hoodie from the Hemp Store. I'll post a picture of me wearning my winnings in the future. I think an account of me being in a Hemp store may also be worth a good laugh.

This first picture is of me, my sisters, and my dad in front of Radium Hot Springs. I was probably 6 years old. Tara and I are wearing jackets my mom knit. If you look closely you can see the badges she would sew on them. It was also a family thing to give 'thumbs up' when taking pictures - especially for Tara. It came from The Fonz off Happy Days.

Not much as changed a the springs since as you can see from our current photo.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Would you do it?

Here's me feeling like a kid again. I remember going down this slide many, many times when I was younger.


You forgot to pack your bathing suit, the water is from a melting glacier, and your pride is on the line. For the guarantee of a hemp/recycled pop bottle hoodie and a piece of jewelry of my choice at the gem store in Banff, I laid my chubby, bald self down.
video



Friday, July 24, 2009

CT Results


On Sunday night we headed out to Gull Lake for some more camping. We enjoyed our time visiting with 3 other families for four nights - the men got up early and went to work and us women got to enjoy the nice weather. I spent the majority of my time sitting under the awning reading and studying (oh, and eating lots of snacks and drinking a wide range of cold drinks).

Monday we were up to Edmonton to get another CT scan and we saw the doctor yesterday (Thursday). The good news is I get a break from chemo. How long of break? Only God knows. The bad news is that my liver did not come back clean as I had so greatly hoped and prayed for. However, the doctor says that there is just a trace left and it is not worth hitting with a new chemo. The current chemo has done all it can.

About a month ago I did a special 24hr urine tests for my bones. Carman didn't like have the large orange 'pee jug' on the fridge. I would joke "make sure not to pour the special orange juice". Anyways, this test revealed that my bones are on a 'healthy' path of recovery. It will still take some time to determine the status of my bones, but I get another bone, ct, and muga scan in 3 months. In the meantime, it is back to hormone therapy - the monthly injection into my abdomen and daily pills and the continuation of Herceptin and Zometa.

To be truthful, I was pretty upset that there is still cancer in my liver. I wanted it gone! I prayed for it to be gone!! But while reading the book of John, especially chapter 11 when Jesus got word from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was sick, Jesus declared, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it." If you don't know this story, Lazarus did die before Jesus arrived. But, Jesus rose him from the tomb and he lived.

What got me the most were the 'notes' in my bible regarding this. In particular: He (Jesus) knew their (Martha and Mary's) pain but did not respond immediately. His delay had a specific purpose. God's timing especially his delays, may make us think he is not answering or is not answering the way we want. But he will meet all of our needs according to his perfect schedule and purpose (Philippians 4:19). Patiently await his timing.

So I am trying to patiently await. Patience is hard. From the beginning of this painful journey one thing I know for certain is that God called me to patient and to persevere. He also told me to not be afraid. These are all hard requests for a simple human like myself.

Today while at the Cancer Clinic getting my Herceptin and injection I noticed a handbag display in the foyer. For those who do not know me well, I have always had an addiction to purses and bags. Since I already bought a 'summer' purse I thought I should resist and just walk away, but I felt a strong urge to browse. Can I also write a disclaimer that I am a tight wad and not much of a shopper so stopping to shop is rare. There were lots of nice bags but my eye caught a small purple/black briefcase. Since my work life has barely been on the scale of 'work' for almost a year now I was mentally listing all the reasons why I shouldn't buy it. But I felt like with all the reasons why I shouldn't God told me to buy the bag. Okay, I know what your thinking does God tell us to shop? I think he did with me today.

The story keeps going. When I got home with my new bag I checked my e-mails. Since we have been away most the week there were 23 new message to go through. One in particular made my day. Can you beleive a total stranger from Isreal has read my blog and emailed me!!! She told me to find my passion in life. I have always loved my work and I have worked hard to get where I am today - it is my passion. I love helping people manage their money (remember my disclaimer of being a tight wad). I feel even better for buying my new briefcase!

The picture is of my friend Curtis and I at the Red Deer fair using up his free tickets on the lamest ride ever built! I can't beleive it would cost a person $5 to ride it.

Lastly, I still have all my finger nails!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pet Therapy


Last weekend we got away camping again. The original plan was to go to Red Lodge out by Bowden, but because we didn't have a reservation we missed the last campsite by about half an hour. So we kicked-it-up Wilson style and just started driving. You see, Carman has fond memories (I'm being a bit sarcastic) of being a kid driving around trying to find a place to camp and arriving and setting up in the dark. While driving I thought I saw a sign that said Pearson's Berry Farm had RV sites, but they just had RV parking (a bit embarrassing). After a phone call to a friend in Sundre, and some back roads later, we ended up at Burnt Stick Lake. I also share that at one point we stopped to let the dogs out only to have the truck not start - we were in the middle of nowhere! But, Carman is pretty handy and got us up and running again after resetting something.

It was nice to be out of the house, but this last dose of chemo sure lingered awhile and I didn't recuperate as fast. It was nice just to lay in the trailer with the dogs and read.

I think my body has had enough of the chemo though. I am at risk of loosing several finger nails and my body is just tired out. My hair is slowly filling in and I've got their weird thick dark patch on the back of my head - I guess it's better than it being front and centre. It will be interesting to see what colour and texture it comes back as. Right now I feel a bit like a calico cat.

On Monday I get another CT scan and we see the doctor on Thursday. I pray these two extra doses were the ticket in kicking the rest of this cancer's ass!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Dreaded Wednesday


With round 8 behind me I enter my 'ugly days'. From about Tuesday to Saturday the harsh side effects of chemo appears. My body aches (which is an understatement), nothing tastes right, nausea, and my digestive system is out-of-wack. Wednesday always seems to be the hardest. This round Carman insisted that I only read, watch tv, or sleep - so boring! But, I always over-do-it and pay for it later so I decided to listen to him for a change. The days have been long, but I don't feel as crappy.

If there was a reading contest this summer I think they would be putting my name on a trophy. TV has lost its entertainment value with me so reading is keeping me occupied. I'm averaging a book every other day. My friend Alvina lent me some books by Immaculee Ilibagiza who survived the Rwandan genocide. Her story deeply touched me and her faith was inspirational. I highly recommend reading her books. I would love some book recommendations - what are your favorite books?

The shock of cancer has been settling. For the first 10 months I felt totally out of my element - in a foggy other world. You just go through the motions to do what you have to do, but the pain and uncertainty is extremely overwhelming. I have forgotten what it feels like to feel 'good', but I am looking forward to chemo being over and starting the process of true healing and discovering this new life that lays ahead of me.

Carman took this picture of me last night. The 'chipmunk' look is a side effect of the steroids. When I look at the picture I laugh because I can't believe that is me - wow!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello Everyone,

Brenda doesn't think she has any new news to report, so she asked me to tell you about this past weekend.

For those of you who don't know, I was involved in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It was a fundraising event to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation. This is the first time it has been held in Alberta - last year was the first event, in Toronto, and since then it has been held in Toronto again this year, Vancouver two weeks ago, and Calgary this past weekend.

It was a two day event, where participants rode their bicycles approximately 200 kms along the foothills of the Candian Rockies, starting in Calgary and ending just north of Pincher Creek. My friend Tim and I signed up as crew members to support our other friend Bill, who was riding in the event. There was 1742 riders and approx 200 crew members plus staff and other volunteers. Combined, riders and crew raised an unbelievable 6.9 million dollars to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

It was an amazing experience and because we had such a great time, Bill and I are already registered for next year. If anyone is interested in joining us, either as a rider or a crew member, you can find our team page at www.conquercancer.ca under the team name "Brenda's Bravehearts and Wild Pigs".

Our three member team raised $9935 this year and we are setting our goal even higher for next year. Thank-you to everyone who contributed this year and we look forward to your support for next year's event.

Carman

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sharing Some Good News


I had much anxiety waiting for today's appointment, and I am happy to share some good news. The chemo continues to work and the tumors are shrinking. I sure wished I could announce I was cancer free, but I will take shrinking tumors. They have prescribed 2 more rounds of the same chemo. But after that they will only continue with Herceptin and Zometa (non-chemo drugs). Due to the number of total doses (8), my body will not be able to handle any more. I am starting to puff-up (Michelin Tire could be contacting me to be their new spokeswoman - look out Michelin man you may be fazed out!).

Fraggle (my pic-line) may also be out of a job. He continues to do his job as required, but he may be fazed out for a more high-tec system - a portocath (a line surgically inserted under the chest wall). This would allow me much more freedom to just jump in the shower (versus uses elastic bands and a ziploc bag), and the freedom to go swimming (we really want to make it to Radium Hot Springs before the end of summer. And, it takes away the 'visual' look of the bandage around my arm. Sorry Fraggle, we all have to face that sometimes our job is done.

This may be un-humbling (is that even a word?), but I share one of my favorite pictures of myself. It was taken when were out exploring an island in the Philippines.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

When You Need Hope


I admit, in the past I have scoffed at Christian television assuming it as hokey and over-the-top. But I find myself drawn several times a week to watch 100 Huntley Street. It is very good television - I know, I know. I have to say, don't mock it until you try it. Take the 100 challenge and PVR it for a week (I should publicly admit that we still don't have a PVR and my husband feels like he is deprived). I am confident you will not only be touched, but encouraged and amazed on some people's stories. Not every day is the show life changing, that is why you have to watch it for a whole week. Then you too will be eating crow.

This week the following clip just gave me so much hope that I hope you watch it. Enjoy!
http://100huntley.com/video.php?id=SZ6ki9Ssh6g
This is the second of three clips if you want to watch more.

I have gotten several comments on the last 'Bad Ass' picture my sister took. I think she did such a good job so I share another one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chemo #6


When I started chemo and herceptin my doctor wanted me to get six rounds in. I am thankful that my body could do it! I am physically and emotionally tired and worn-out, but if more chemo is needed I know I could do it. However, I won't like it (nor do I think I have to)!

I spent this past Friday-Monday up in Edmonton for another round of tests (CT, Bone scan, and MUGA scan). I will get the results on June 4th. Then I will find out if I need more of the same chemo, a new type of chemo, or a totally different type of treatment (hormone therapy...).


My sister Tara has taken up photography and I was her first subject. Canada's Next Top Model won't be scouting me out, but she did a great job in making my 'hairless' shots original. Although I am okay with not having hair, I am really ready to have it grow back. The odd time it is hard to look in the mirror and see this sick person looking back. Although I recognize her, I don't always know who is looking back. I will never be the same Brenda I was prior to cancer and I am not quite sure who the new Brenda is either. I was reading an article in Success Magazine about Lance Armstrong and he was sharing that after cancer treatment when I he got on his bike it felt really foreign to him, and he didn't really know what he was supposed to 'do'. That's me. Right now I am just trying to be still and know that he is God and that he has a great plan for my life.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Susan Boyle Effect

I think we are all guilty of it, I know I am. You assume you know the outcome, how the situation will unfold. But then, someone like Susan Boyle reminds us we truly don't know what the next moment of our lives will provide. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY


My forth round of chemo has been the easiest thus far. When I say easy, I have thrown up less, had less nausea, and a prescription for Adivan is allowing me to have some restful nights when my insomnia is in full force. My second round of Zometa was also was easier - no fever or leg cramping!

I would also like to provide a little lesson on what NOT to say to people who have cancer. On the weekend we were at a fundraiser for Camp Silversides out at Gull Lake. An older lady approached me and asked if I just shave my head or if I had cancer. I shared that I had cancer. She then proceeded to tell me about a family member who shaves his head because they had 3 people in their family die in one year from cancer. Are you kidding me - are you really that rude!!!!! When you see someone struggling with cancer tell them about someone who is a survivor; we all know enough stories of people who have died from it. Class it out.

The nice weather has me planning what flowers I am going to plant this year and we have all outdoor living room all set-up out on the deck.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Support The Alberta Cancer Foundation

I have joined our friend, Bill, in his quest to ride through the Rocky Mountains in the 1st Annual Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer. Before you jump to any ridiculous conclusions, I am not riding my mountain bike over 200 kms through the mountains, however I have signed on as a crew member and will be providing support, where I can, for Bill and many of the other participants. Crew members help setup the bike route, help prepare and hand out food and beverages, setup the tent city where everyone will stay overnight, as well as many other various tasks. As a crew member, I am also encouraged to raise support, so I have set what I think is a very achievable goal of $3000. This, added to Bill's goal of $5000, brings our teams fundraising goal to $8000. This may seem like a lot, but after looking at some of the other team's goals and funds raised so far, this is definitely very achievable, and if anything, I hope that we can double or triple our goal.

We are constantly asked "What can we do to help?" or "Is there anything we can do for you guys?" and it is always difficult to come up with tangible things that people can do for us. Brenda has received excellent care and treatment at The Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton over the past eight months and that level of care would not be possible without the various fundraising events that happen throughout the year.

So, what can you do? Help us reach our goal and raise support for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which will distribute those funds to support cancer research and treatment, so that Brenda and others can continue to receive the treatment they need. And hopefully, one day, we can celebrate because a cure has been found and others will not have to live with the dark cloud of cancer hanging over their heads.

For those of you who are able, please follow the link and thank-you, in advance, for your support.

Carman

http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Alberta2009?px=1883410&pg=personal&fr_id=1282

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finally, Some Good News

Yes, we finally have something good to share! My recent CT scan shows that the chemo is providing a positive response! I've still have a long ways to go, but at least some progress has been made.

We also enjoyed a great relaxing and romantic weekend in Kananaskis at the Delta thanks to our friends Curtis & Taryn. They held a Pink Party for us back in October, and their friends and family all pitched in to send us on a weekend getaway. This gift was very generous, and we sincerely thank each and every one of them for sending us. Carman and I love being in the mountains so much, and it felt good to be amidst nature. We were spoiled with trips to the spa, tasty meals, and a suite fit for a rock star.

On our way home we stopped of in Calgary and enjoyed a great East Indian meal with 12 close friends. Thanks for the great evening!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trust

Carman brought it to my attention that it has been about a month since my last post and that many of you are probably wondering what is going on. Well, it feels like little is going on in my world yet everything. I had my 3rd chemo round on March 6th and my sister Tara was recruited to be the weekend nurse as Carman was working at the Home and Acreage Show. She did a fine job of putting away laundry and unloading the dishwasher. We also enjoyed a trip to the mall with my friend Rhonda for Yogen Fruz.

This crossroads in my life is still bringing me a lot of anguish. Prior to my cancer diagnosis I was a very motivated, productive, and fit person. I now struggle to get a small list of things done in a day and my body often feels like a stranger. Rationally I know this is because I am getting chemo, but my emotions often could care less about 'rational reasoning'. I want to be able to get outside for my 2 long walks every day with Rudy, I want to have the brain power to pick up my books again so I can write the final CFP exam (I was so close to being done), I want to feel like I am contributing to my marriage versus taking all of the time. But most of all, I want to give up my plans for the future so I can participate in the plan that Jesus has for me - I just don't have a clue on how to go about doing that. I just started reading a book on Trusting God. It is so easy to praise God and trust him when times are good, but when times are bad, for me, that ability to trust has been hard. However, when I contemplate God's sovereignty, even the painful stuff is worked into his plan for the goodness of his kingdom, and my life. I admit, my simple human brain cannot comprehend how all this can be worked for good, but I am working on trusting God that it is.

Peace Out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Weekend of Visiting




It felt really great to have the energy to get out of the house and visit some friends. Friday night we went over to Curtis and Taryn's for pizza, playing with their kids (Kius and Talissa), sitting in front of the fire, and beating the guys at Canasta. Us girls rarely win at Canasta so it was an extra special night. Talissa has a history of giving me some undesirable glares, but she warmed up to me so much that she let me play with her most prized bear 'Pinky'. Taryn even caught the special moment (see attached picture).


Saturday night we went over to Karen and Ivan's to see their new house and to get some pet therapy from their dogs. You may think they are crazy when I tell you they have 4 Dobermans, but they're not. It is survival of the fittest to see who can get on the couch - look closely at the picture and see how Kharma is all over Carman.


Sunday my sister Jodi and her husband Jay and their son Jacob stopped in. Jacob liked playing with my Fisher Price forks and spoons and was talking a lot of gibberish. After they left we went over to Cory and Teena's for tea and cupcakes. Their two year old twins are always so entertaining!


I'm feeling pretty good these days. I just get tired easily which is pretty frustrating. But I am learning to love my nap time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chemo Round #2 & Get Out Your Wallet


A bit of an update, my second round of chemo was delayed a week to allow my white blood cells to come-up some more, and to provide my digestive system time to heal. It is amazing what a week can do. My appetite is good and I have gained 4 pounds!


On Friday I had my second round of chemo and I unfortunately spent an extra 3 hours at the Cross. My permanent IV site (by the way I have named him Fraggle - after the'80s kids show Fraggle Rock - my two headed monster is purple, blue and red - and although we aren't 'friends' we are co-existing just fine these days). Sorry I got off track. My IV site was plugged because it wasn't being serviced properly so it took 3 hours of tests, flushing, and waiting before they could administer the drugs. Yes, Red Deer Home Care will be politely informed to review their protocol.


Last Wednesday while washing my buzzed head my hair fell out. It was really quite something to see hair just wipe off your head. I'm not completely bald, but I would say 90%. So far I am not traumatized by it all. I've got a good collection of hats and toques, and when I am around friends I just Rock the Bald.


Lastly, I would like to encourage you to support our friend Bill Woods in his commitment in The Ride to Conquer Cancer. His team name is Brenda's Bravehearts and Wild Pigs. Wild Pigs is the name of the men's group Carman belongs to. You can donate directly via the website - search by Bill Woods or Brenda's Bravehearts and Wilds Pigs. His goal is $5,000! I believe Bill is also looking for people to ride with him. If you are interested, I would be happy to put you in touch with him.



Attached picture is from my girls night - from left to right - Kelly, Kami, Jenn, and Me. Let me tell you, there is nothing like having great friends!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sinead O'connor

Monday night I got out of the hospital, and it felt so good to be back home in my own bed with my hubby. Unfortunately, I lost another 6 pounds in the hospital so I am going to try and pack on some pounds before my next round of chemo.

With the type of chemo I am receiving, my hair should start falling out any day now. I thought it would be quite traumatic to wake up and see my hair on the pillow or have it come out in clumps in the shower, so Carman buzzed my head on Tuesday night to give me time to adjust not having any hair. I have to admit, I like not having to worry about styling or serious bedhead, but it is very, very weird looking in the mirror. I've been trying to perfect my impersonation of the the '90 singer Sinead O'Connor.

I had a great time Saturday night with my 3 girlfriends from high school: Jenn, Kelly, and Kami. It was nice to have some girl talk, eat candy, and watch a chick-flick. We always have such a great time together!

It is hard to believe that 3 weeks have almost passed and that I will be getting my second round on Friday. I pray the second round doesn't put me the hospital again. I also pray that this chemo will works for me to provide me more time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hospital Stay

Brenda has now been in the hospital for about five days. Friday was by far the worst day. When people talk about hitting bottom, she definitely hit bottom on Friday. Physically and most of all, emotionally, she was worn out. Everything she tried to consume (which was very little), immediately was refused - I don't want to go into too much detail because she will give me crap, but I think you can probably use your imagination. I lost track of the numerous different forms of intravenous they had hooked up to her and the numerous different medications to relieve the stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea, etc.

Yesterday (Saturday) she rounded the corner and started to feel a little better. She looked better, sounded better, and her spirits improved a bit. Her white blood count started to climb back up and they finally allowed her to take Imodium to slow things down a bit. Today, her temperature returned to normal and she was able to eat a quarter of a bagel, some grapes, and a small amount of rice and stir-fry vegetables that I made for her - the hospital food is horrible and she joked that she couldn't even stomach the pancake that they tried to give her for breakfast. Today, at about noon, they also stopped giving her the saline by intravenous and only hooked her up to give her the antibiotics.

She has had a pic line installed in her arm, which is a semi-permanent IV hookup to make it easier for the nurses. It is basically a direct line to one of her veins, which are hard to find on Brenda, so now the nurses don't need to poke and prod to find veins for her IVs. We need to come up with a name for it because they said it can last for up to a year before they need to change it and so Brenda and her pic line need to become friends, even though she can't stand the thought of something foreign sticking out of her arm.

We are hoping that her doctor sees enough improvement to allow her to come home tomorrow. She would be much more comfortable at home and she is missing the pet therapy that she receives from our dog, Rudy.

Carman

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chemo - Round #1

I apologize that it has taken so long to give everyone an update. We really appreciate all of the emails we have been receiving from everyone with words of encouragement, offers to help in different ways, and most important, all of those who have been faithfully praying for us. I wish there were more hours in the day to personally respond to all of the emails and comments on Brenda's blog, but for now, please know that we really appreciate everyones' support and we are so thankful and blessed to have such great friends and family.

Brenda is currently in the hospital, in Red Deer, receiving treatment for an infection or bug that she picked up since having her first chemo treatment last Friday. She was doing quite well for the first couple of days after treatment, but according to her oncologist, that was mainly because of the steroids they prescribed before and after her treatment, to reduce swelling. She wasn't feeling very well on Tuesday and by Wednesday, at noon, she had an elevated temperature and needed to get checked out. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is reduced white blood cells, which provide us with our immunity to fight disease and infection, so it is fairly serious when someone undergoing chemo treatment gets sick, so we headed off to the emergency dept again.

She was admitted and has been receiving antibiotics by intravenous to fight the infection and is supposed to receive medication to increase her white blood counts. We hope and pray that the drugs do their job and she recovers quickly so that she can return home and recuperate. Until her white blood counts increase, she will remain in hospital, under close supervision - hopefully for just a couple more days!

Carman

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back in Edmonton

I've got one more day of radiation tomorrow and I start chemo on Friday. Chemo will be 3 hours every 3 weeks for 3 rounds to start.

I'm at a loss for words these days. It is hard to come to terms that I have Stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 31. Cancer is consuming my life. Since my life is now threatened I would rather spend my time doing other things, and thinking other thoughts - but it is just too damn hard!

Amongst all of the bad news I want to share with you something positive. On Sunday with just Carman and our Pastor, in our empty sanctuary, I was baptized. I have always believed in God, but it wasn't until my early 20's that I accepted Christ into my life. I have wanted to be baptized for some time, but I felt it was something I should no longer keep putting off. I need my Heavenly Father and my Savior more than ever, and I wanted him to know that even amongst the storm I am seeking His face.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year?

This is Carman writing on behalf of Brenda - for those of you who don't know me, I am Brenda's husband. I'm not nearly the writer that Brenda is so I hope I can do her blog justice. She speaks from her heart, so I will attempt to do the same and be as open as she is. Some of us guys have difficulty stating our true feelings and showing emotion because we think it shows weakness. I have never in my life been more in touch with my emotions and feelings than the last few days.

It is amazing how things can change so quickly. Brenda finished her radiation on December 8th and for the most part she felt great. Her energy was returning, the pain in her chest was gone, and the skin burning from the radiation was healing. She was starting to return to some normalcy of life, doing some work, walking Rudy, etc... On Boxing Day she started to feel sick with the flu, vomiting, feeling achy, no appetite, no energy - typical flu symptoms. She started to feel better so we went to some friends on New Years Eve to hang out, play some games and eat all kinds of great food. Brenda even lasted until about 11:30, which is the latest she has been out since my friends' wedding in August. The next day it all started again...

She was starting to feel some sharp pain, not the achy pain due to the flu, but the sharp pain she had grown accustomed to when they detected the cancer in her sternum. She spent a restless, sleepless night, Friday, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. The pain was originating in her back, side, and the lower part of her ribs. Not wanting to go through the same thing again, Saturday night, she asked me to take her into the emergency department in Red Deer to see if they could give her something stronger for the pain. They ran some tests, took some x-rays, and were concerned that she might have a blood clot that was causing the pain, so they asked us to come back the next morning (Sunday) to have a CT scan. The CT scan did not show a blood clot, but it did show more of what we did not want. Before the doctor even spoke, we knew what he was going to say. The CT scan showed cancer on her spine and on her liver and the specs that had shown up previously on her lung had now grown.

The last couple of days have been a bit of a blur. My parents came for awhile Sunday afternoon to cry with us, pray with us, and give us encouragement. Our pastor also came Sunday night to give us some encouraging words and he shared some verses from Psalms 27. Verses 1 - 3 say "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men (or cancer) advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear," and verses 13 & 14 say "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Since we have received this latest news our hope has been destroyed. We are very angry, and we don't understand why we are being put through this. We believed that the cancer was under control and that the treatments Brenda was receiving were doing their job. It is very difficult to think about the future right now and to grasp what might be in store for us the coming days or months. We just cling to our love for each other, the love and support of our friends and family, and the hope that God still wants us to have a long life together.

Our radiation oncologist, Dr. Tankel, phoned this afternoon and we will meet with him tomorrow at The Cross for more tests, an MRI, and possibly the start of more radiation. We pray that everything goes well tomorrow and that the tests performed and decisions that are made will help us move towards the positive outcome that we long for.