Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
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.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
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.
Friday, October 30, 2009
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
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
- 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
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
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
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
Friday, July 24, 2009
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
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
This week the following clip just gave me so much hope that I hope you watch it. Enjoy!
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
Monday, April 20, 2009
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
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.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
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.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
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
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.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
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!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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
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.