Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear Mr. Health Minister #6

December 31, 2010

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

Today I submit another 120 signatures (98 from the paper petition and 22 from the online petition) to request that Tykerb, a Her2 positive targeted breast cancer treatment, be covered in the province of Alberta. To date, that is a total of 2528 signatures submitted.

I also submit a copy of the letter submitted to the Edmonton Journal by Tykerb user, Cecile Comeau from Leduc, AB. You will read that she was once given weeks to live, but after being prescribed Tykerb in a clinical trial, she has celebrated 6 more birthdays! Women are faced with making the decision of financially draining their families and dying when it comes to this drug! When other provinces are covering the drug for their citizens, why is Alberta denying the same opportunity for life?

This will now be the 6th package I have submitted to you. I have not yet received a personal response from my previous packages or messages. I look forward to you contacting me at 403-343-6562 when a decision has been made. You have continually given the statement: "at the end of the month a decision will be made". Several months have now passed. Please make a positive decision of grating coverage for Albertans! Please do not let breast cancer patients down - you personally hold that decision in your power.

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Health Minister #5

December 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

Today I submit another 134 signatures to request that Tykerb, a Her2 positive targeted breast cancer treatment , be covered in the province of Alberta. To date, that is a total of 2408 signatures submitted.

Since Tykerb is covered for breast cancer patients in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, I question where Alberta's compassion is for our breast cancer patients? When both our provincial neighbors cover the drug, we are dragging our 'political heals'. I realize our political system pays for our health care, but politicians are not doctors. I have heard everything from that Alberta just duplicates Ontario's health policies, to an Alberta board member sitting on both our health board and Ontario's. All I will comment is that Albertans vote for Albertans to make decision regarding our residents. Do not fail Alberta breast cancer patients simply because Ontario decides to.

This will now be the 5th package I have submitted to you. I have not yet received a personal response from my previous packages or messages. I look forward to you contacting me at 403-343-6562 when a decision has been made at the end of the month. Please do not let breast cancer patients down. Your decision can make a difference between life and death.

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Health Minister #4

December 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

Since November 4, 2010, I have submitted a total of 2271 signatures (which includes the 368 paper signatures and 24 online signatures submitted today, and the 30 signatures directly mailed to you from my friend Tasha) to request that Tykerb, a Her2 positive targeted breast cancer treatment, be covered in the province of Alberta.

I have been advised you made a statement on Global News that the government would have an answer by the end of the month. Because Tykerb is covered in 3 other provinces (Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia), I look forward to you announcing that Alberta will be the fourth province to provide this coverage for breast cancer patients.

I have submitted 4 packages regarding this topic, and have left messages at your office. I look forward to you contacting me personally at 403-343-6562 when a decision is made at the end of the month. On another note, I will continue to send you signatures and pester you until Alberta covers this drug!

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Mr. Health Minister #3

December 1, 2010

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

As of my last letter on November 23, 2010, I have submitted a total of 1598 signatures to request that Tykerb, a Her2 positive targeted breast cancer treatment, be covered in the province of Alberta.

Today, I have enclosed an additional 106 signatures from the paper petition and 45 signatures from the online petition for a total of 1849 signatures.

Healthcare is front and centre in the news these days. I recognize the province has several areas in which funding is needed (emergency care), and my hope it that my petition is not getting lost in all of the paper on your desk.

I believe you have been quoted several times stating a decision on covering Tykerb would be coming by the end of November. As we are now into December, I trust a decision will be made very soon.

Lastly, I would like to ask you the following question - How would you feel if I was your daughter? Would you be proud of your province for denying this coverage to date when other Canadian provinces are providing for the women who need this drug? I am not lying in bed clinging to life. I live a very active life considering my illness. I work as a Certified Financial Planner on a part-time basis, I represent a missions group called Caring Hands in Uganda by selling their recycled paper jewelry, I attend a weekly bible study at my church, I bake cookies and share them with my neighbors, I clean my house, I do laundry, I walk my dog everyday, I pay my taxes, and I believe my life matters.

Enclosed I have also provided you with a copy of an article written in the Red Deer Advocate about the absence of coverage of this drug in the province of Alberta.

Since I have not yet received a response since my original package sent on November 4th, I look forward to hearing from you very soon with good news. I can be contact at 403-343-6562.

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Mr. Health Minister #2

November 23, 2010

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

On November 4, 2010, I submitted a letter and 1144 petition signatures to request that Tykerb, a Her 2 positive targeted breast cancer treatment, be covered in the province of Alberta.

Since submitting this package, Kelly Mah from Edmonton has been featured in the Edmonton Journal, The Edmonton Sun, and Global News regarding this same issue. You have responded to this press by advising the drug is still under review and a decision should be made by the end of the month.

You have asked us to respect there is a process to reviewing such coverage; however, it is frustrating when our processing is months behind other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. It is also frustrating when both of our provincial neighbors are covering the drug while we are not.

I trust you will do right by Albertans and cover this drug very soon. I have enclosed an additional 219 paper signatures and 231 online signatures to have Tykerb covered in the province of Alberta. To date that would be a total of 1598 signatures submitted.

Since I have not yet received a response from my November 4th package, I look forward to hearing from you very soon with some good news. I can be contacted at 403-343-6562.

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tykerb Petition

Please sign the attached petition:

www.gopetition.com/petition/40138.html

Thanks!
Brenda

Tykerb Makes the News!

An absolutely beautiful woman named Kelly made the Edmonton Global news on Friday night. She too is trying to get Tykerb covered in Alberta. I am sooooo thankful that she wrote a letter to the Edmonton Journal which created a whirlwind of publicity.

Kelly called me today to tell me she is being featured again tonight on the 5 o'clock Global news and her doctor may potentially be interviewed on Wednesday.

Go Kelly Go!

Dear Mr. Health Minister

Following is the letter submitted to our Minister of Health and Wellness:

November 4th, 2010

Gene Zwozdesky
Minster of Health and Wellness
#208, 10800-97 Ave
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6

Dear Mr. Zwozdesky:

Another October has come and gone. Athletes have hung-up their pink cleats, and stores have taken down their 'pink' displays - Breast Cancer Awareness month is done for another year. However, breast cancer does not stop on November 1st. According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, an estimated 23,200 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. That means this week alone, 445 women will hear the devastating words: "you have cancer".

My name is Brenda Odovichuc, and on August 11, 2008 at the age of 31, I found a lump in my breast. After having surgery, it was soon discovered the cancer had already spread into my sternum - I was classified as Stage 4 (not curable). It is an extremely heavy load to bear in your early thirties, knowing that you may not have long to live. And it only got worse - in December of 2008, the cancer spread to many of my bones, my liver, and my right lung.

I have been overwhelmed by the whole cancer treatment experience. I had a lumpectomy, 30 treatments of radiation, 10 rounds of Docetaxol chemotherapy, and over 20 treatments of Herceptin. I tried Tomoxifen, Femara, Goserelin, until finally having my ovaries removed. I get a monthly dosage of Pamidornate to help protect my bones, and I am currently on my 5th round of Xeloda and Tykerb. Sometimes it surprises even me that I am still alive.

I have experienced excellent care from my oncologists and the nurses at the Cross Cancer Institute and the Red Deer Cancer Clinic, but it was very discouraging when my doctor informed me that the drug he recommended, Tykerb (a new targeted Her2 therapy), would not be covered by the government like my other cancer treatments had been. I was fortunate to have a very good drug plan at the time (100%), but I have often thought, 'What would somebody do if they did not have insurance? and 'Who can actually afford this treatment?' A 30 day supply costs $3,496.57.

My 100% coverage did not last long - two months later my husband's employer was forced to reduce their drug coverage to 80% because of my claims. An 80% plan is still good, but even with 80% coverage, the Tykerb alone still costs us almost $700 per month. I panicked and called the drug company directly. I received approval for 10% coverage, which certainly helps, but I am still not content.

You see, as an insurance broker I know how health and dental plans work. If I were to claim Tykerb for an extended length of time, I risk the small company's ability to even offer any form of substantial benefits. In September 2010, Reader's Digest featured an article called 'Map of Shame'. In the article, a woman specialized kidney drug crumbled her husband's drug plan - it was forced to reduce it's coverage from 100% to an annual maximum of $10,000. The woman died 5 months later simply because they could not afford her life preserving drug.

I have since learned that Tykerb is fully funded in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia and I feel the Alberta government is letting breast cancer patients, such as myself, down. Why isn't Alberta covering this drug when others are?

The primary drug of choice used to treat Her2 positive breast cancer is Hercpetin. In elementary terms, Herceptin attacks the cancer cell like a Pac Man and is fully funded by the Alberta government. Tykerb was just made available this year, and is now a second form of Her2 targeted treatment. The drug does not attack the cell like a Pac Man, but burrows itself in like a tic and works from the inside. Both of these drug fulfill a similar objective, yet the government only funds Herceptin - I very strongly feel this displays Medicine Discrimination.

As a Her2 positive breast cancer patient I am hopeful a drug named TDM1 is currently being researched with positive results. I realize I may never live long enough to experience the power of this drug; however, I would still like to shed light on this drug in my petition. I encourage the government to do their part in the research of this drug and to participate in ongoing studies.

In less than 30 days I was able to obtain 1082 signatures on a paper petition and 62 signatures on an online petition to demand coverage of Tykerb in the province of Alberta. I admit, when I originally drafted the petition I was very emotional as I had just discovered other provinces were currently covering the drug. If I had an opportunity to re-write the petition, I would have replaced the word 'demand' with 'urge', as written in the online petition. However, I would like to point out that to my knowledge the wording only caused two individuals to abstain from signing the petition. When the Red Deer Advocate posted an article about my petition on their website, only two naysayers did not want to see Tykerb covered in Alberta. The Red Deer Advocate printed a full article in their October 23rd issue.

I trust my letter, and enclosed signatures are sufficient to cause the Alberta government to review their policy on Tykerb. I look forward to hearing from you directly at 403-343-6562. You can learn more about me and my cancer journey on my blog at:

http://brendabreastcancer.blogspot.com/

Sincerely,
Brenda Odovichuc

cc letter:
Mr. Ed Stelmach, Alberta Premier
David Swann, Lead of the Official Opposition
Mary Anne Jablonski, Red Deer MLA
Cal Dallas, Red Deer MLA
The Cross Cancer Insitute
Dez Melenka, CTV News
Su-Ling Goh, Global News
Hana Gartner, CBC Fifth Estate
Jodie Sinnema, The Edmonton Journal
Michelle Thompson, Edmonton Sun

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playing for Change

I don't know where you were last night, but you totally missed out in a life experience if you weren't at the Playing for change concert at UofC Mac Hall. All I can say is - SUPERB!!! Even Carman got is toe a tapping and his body a swaying!!!! If you not familiar with this great band, and what they stand for, just google Playing for Change and be amazed!

ONE LOVE, STAND BY ME, GOOD VIBRATION......

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PETITION


As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As someone who has lived with breast cancer for the past two years, I wanted to make you 'aware' of a recent challenge I have experienced with getting breast cancer treatment in Alberta.


First I would like to acknowledge that I have received excellent care with my battle against breast cancer - Alberta has the best doctors and nurses! Up until recently, all of my direct cancer treatments have been fully funded by the Alberta government - radiation, chemotherapy, Herceptin (a targeted Her2 therapy), Tamoxifen (a pre-menopausal hormone therapy), Femara (a post-menopausal hormone therapy), and Goseralin (a drug to shut down my ovaries). Any drugs that are needed to handle the side-effects of these treatments are for the most part the responsibility of the patient - anti-nausea, steroids, blood boosters.....


I am currently on my fourth round of a chemotherapy called Xeloda with a targeted Her2 therapy called Tykerb. Tykerb has just recently come out of trial and is available for prescription. I was taken back when my doctor advised that Tykerb is not funded by the Alberta government. Alberta Oncologists have been pressuring the government to cover the drug but have not been successful. When I saw my doctor on September 30th I once again voiced my concern that this drug is not covered. He encouraged me to write a letter to the Premier and the Minister of Health and Wellness as the drug is fully covered in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.


A 30 day supply of Tykerb costs $3,496.57! I am fortunate to have some coverage through private insurance and the drug company has a drug assistance program, but this drug should be fully covered by the government just like it has covered Herceptin (the first line of defense against Her2 positive breast cancer).


I have started a petition to create some awareness to what is happening with new breast cancer treatments. With people donating so much money this month for a cure for breast cancer, I wanted to share that your money is making a difference and new treatments are being discovered! But new treatments are not necessarily very accessible to those who desperately need it!


Who should sign this petition?



  • Women. In 2010, it is estimated 23,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That is 445/week! That includes women of all ages. At my recent appointment my doctor shared that he recently diagnosed an 18 year old and a 25 year old. Breast cancer is not an 'old woman' disease. 100 women a week die of breast cancer.

  • For the women in your life - your grandma, mom, wife, daughter(s), granddaughter(s). I hope they never get diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer at that. But if they should, wouldn't you want them to have all the access to treatment as possible?

  • Any woman who currently has breast cancer, any woman who has had breast cancer, or any individual who loves somebody who has or had breast cancer. We need to stick together and be a force to be reckoned with. Some of us are not as fortunate to be 'cured'. And for those whose cancer will come back, you too may need a new targeted therapy.

  • For any woman who has or had Her2 positive breast cancer - drugs like Tykerb and a trial drug called TDM1 are the new drugs to help increase your chance of survival.

  • Anyone who has lost someone to breast cancer.

  • Anyone who owns or works for a company with a drug plan. Should targeted therapies be claims under private insurance plans, your plans will be greatly affected and premiums will skyrocket.

  • For anyone who does not have private drug coverage. Targeted therapies are simply not feasible on your own.

  • And lastly, for anyone who knows me personally. I need your help. So often I get people saying "If there is anything I can do" - well here is something you can do to help me.

I will be collecting signatures up until October 25th. You can either stop by my house and sign a petition (a clipboard in inside the Rubbermaid container on the front step), you can e-mail me for a copy of the petition at odoson@shaw.ca and help me collect signatures. With Thanksgiving this weekend get your family to sign. Also approach friends and colleagues. You can either drop off the signatures at my house or mail them to me at:


Brenda Odovichuc 12 McCune Ave Red Deer, AB T4 N OH2


I will post on my blog how many signatures were collected and if I am able to make any difference in the coverage of Tykerb in Alberta.

SIGN ONLINE PETITION AT: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/40138.html


I greatly appreciate your help!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Indian House Wife




Poor Carman. First the picture of him hemming curtains while watching the hockey game, and now today. Carman not only worked the morning at his sales job, then he came home and re-caulked the bathtub, re-sealed the trailer roof, then he came in the house and whipped up some Chicken Masala and rice and some homemade naan bread, yes naan bread. In addition, he made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. See all the dishes in the background, well he did all of them too. I LOVE MY MAN!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ride Video

video

Another Great Video

Concert Tickets Purchased

Last year when I was feeling awful and laying in bed, I caught the end of an interview of a guy on Canada AM. He said he had created a CD of well known songs by traveling the world and having other musicians playing along with the original recording. It really intrigued me. At that time you could only buy the CD at Starbucks or online. Quite awhile later Carman and I were near a Starbucks (we prefer Second Cup), and I ran into the store to see if thy had any CDs left. They had one - it was unwrapped and in the back. I said I would take it, and it has been my favorite CD ever since.

They have since created a Playing for Change Band and they have only one stop in Canada this fall in Calgary!!!!!!!!!!! You should seriously consider buying a ticket and joinging Carman . I KNOW you will have a memorable night!!! Concert is October 13th at the Mac Hall (at the UofC) and it starts at 7pm.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh, Hello!

I've been getting the usual flack again that I haven't blogged in awhile. To be truthfuly honest I just haven't had the urge to write. But I know people care about me and just want an update now and again. So here it goes....

I am half way through my third cycle of oral chemo and Tykerb (the expensive wonder drug). On a day-to-day basis this chemo is much, much easier than the taxal I was on. However, I still have some side effects: tiredness, cracks between my toes, the odd barff session, and the every wonderful trots. Never before have I had to take care of my feet, but it is pretty much routine now that I lather them up with either George's or Udder Cream - my heels have never looks so good. My last doctor's appointment went well. By the results from my blood test one of the liver tests was stable and the other had improved. And by visually looking at me my doctor thought I was doing great.

I admit I can't always use cancer as an excuse for my lack of productivity some days. I have been bit by the laziness bug I think which I am trying to crack down on. I've given myself a weekly TO-DO list to tackle those things that never seem to get done. This week I have to take the bottles in, take a load of paper to be shredded, make a drop off a Value Village, and touch-up paint some trim that bugs the heck out of me every time a look at it. Today nothing has been crossed off so tomorrow will have to be a busy day.

On the work front I have been taking the odd case on and it feels really great!! I am still not in the position to be working full-time, but I sure enjoy sharing my knowledge. I have been doing some research on real estate investing and dividend portfolios. I would be happy to share my findings with anybody who want to listen - tee hee!

I am also trying to turn over a new leaf. In my pre-cancer days I always looked forward to the fall as I would enroll in classes or get on a new fitness program. I wish my body could once again do a step class, but for now it likes to just go on walks with Charlee. So, this fall my 'new leaf' is I am trying to be more diligent on putting a good tasting meals on the table for when Carman gets home from work. Last week went very well! I made a chicken Tex Mex concoction in the slow cooker served over Mexican rice and then a Lemon Herb Chicken with smashed potatoes and carrots. Yes it was a lot of chicken but my body doesn't seem to be very fond of beef. This week didn't go so well so far. Last night I made the most awful Turkey Vegetable bake that it looked like and tasted like a dog's breakfast that it went straight into the garbage and we ordered in pizza. I hope to redeem myself tomorrow night with a pot roast.

We've been camping a total of 18 nights this summer and hope to get out one more time before the dreaded awful snow comes. Charlee is a great little camper and likes that she gets to sleep all night in the bed with us. I have enjoyed playing a little game which I have called interrogation with my friend Curtis - good times!

I am anxiously awaiting to find out what little bundle of joy my sister Jodi will give birth to. I am guessing a dark featured little girl since her son Jacob is blond blue eyed.

Spiritually I have been trying to get into my thick skull that God does not want me to consider my life beyond today, becuase right now is the gift he has given me. Yes I can hopes and dreams for tomorrow, but I need to live in today.

Lastly, my hair is coming in well but I still can't hold it between my fingers. Carman is already getting on my case that I should die it as the Arctic Fox coloring is fairly prominent. He also was laughing at me that I should try putting some product in because on the sides it is really flat but I get a really weird tuff in the front!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2010

Brenda has asked me to provide a little summary of this year's ride - sorry that it is so long overdue! I have been trying to personally thank everyone who contributed to this year's Ride to Conquer Cancer, either by email, phone, or in person, but it is taking far too long so I apologize if you have not heard from me yet.

I received 127 donations, totalling just over $14,000 which far exceeded my original goal of $6,000! So, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you to all who donated! All money raised during this event goes directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation and this year we raised over $7.3 million, which is a record for any single fundraising event in Alberta history, so I am very proud to be a part of it.

This year's event started and ended at Spruce Meadows, just south of Calgary, which is a beautiful venue to host the event, but proved to be a bit of a traffic nightmare, the morning of the event. Fortunately the ride was delayed approx half an hour, otherwise Brenda would not have made it in time to see me off.

Day 1 began at about 8:30 am and after a couple of pit stops to recharge and have lunch along the way, it ended at approx 1:00 pm and 115 kms later. It was a beautiful day, with a slight breeze and temperatures hovering between 25 to 30 degrees. It was a fairly enjoyable ride, except for maybe the 15 km hill just south of Nanton that lasted for about 45 minutes and came after already riding over 90 kms in the heat - I would have preferred to skip that part!

Our camp was setup at Chain Lakes Provincial Park, complete with hot showers, lots of food, cold beer, music, and two-man tents for as far as the eye could see. It was quite the sight! Just like last year, everyone was in bed by 9:30 and you could hear a pin drop by 10 o'clock. Nothing like a little exercise and fresh air to knock a person out!

The ride on day 2 began at about 7:30 am and 105 kms later ended at approx 11:10 am. My butt was a little sore for the first hour or so until it either went numb or I managed to block out the pain, and the last hour or two I counted down the kms because my knees were starting to give out, but overall I thought I faired pretty well. The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a "ride", not a "race", but for those that are somewhat competitive, it is not just a leisurely pedal through the countryside - the competitive spirit kicks in! So when I finished in the top 50 out of 1880 riders, I was really happy and proud of how I did.

All the pain and sweat was definitely worthwhile, especially when I crossed the finished line and Brenda was there waiting for me and came running to give me a big hug and kiss. I can't wait to do it all over again!

Thanks again to everyone who contributed and I still plan to contact you all one by one to thank you personally.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Never Give Up

Today I got some bad news about someone I know who is battling cancer - the cancer has spread and the next step is to get treatment in the States. We (cancer patients) can't give up because that next treatment might just be the ticket to erasing cancer from our bodies.

Oh there have been times when I wanted to give up: like when I had to make a bed in my aunt's bathroom because I was exhausted from walking the short distance from the bed to the can all night long, or when my first round of chemo landed me in the hospital and Carman had to daily bring me a supply of clean underwear, or when it was a sunny day and we were out camping and I found I couldn't even enjoy myself because I felt so crappy, or when the doctor tells you the cancer has spread and you have to try something else.

When you are Stage 4 you are competing in back-to-back Iron Man competitions, but you don't have the slick body or brains to compete with. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes you feel like you have rubber boots on and you are stuck in the middle of a mucky field in the middle of the night and other times you feel completely well and you jump on your Vespa and go buy yourself a chocolate bar.

If you read my blog you know how much I love to read. Katherine Russel-Rich wrote a book about her battle with Stage 4 breast cancer. She got diagnosed in her early 30s and she is in her 50s today! I found this video clip of her - the first couple of minutes is about her struggle with cancer. It just goes to prove to me, and I hope to you, that just because I have cancer does not mean that you should be shopping for an outfit for my funeral - it just might grow out of fashion.

http://ishare.rediff.com/video/Entertainment/Interview-with-Katherine-Russell-Rich/690467

Feelings

So my mom was telling me the other day that someone was asking her about my 'feelings'. I don't talk about my feelings much with just any body. And who I do get 'deep' with might surprise some. Sure the person I talk to the most is Carman, but I have a very select few who know some of my deepest feelings. It is very private for me to disclose my deepest thoughts - I think it is no different than just asking someone how much money they make or how much sex they are having.

You don't start chatting it up a the mall and say: "So how much money did you make this month?" It is on this same level to ask a cancer patient: "How are you feeling emotionally?"

I have found conversations have developed just naturally. For instance, my brother and sister-in law and I had a really great and deep conversation about Heaven not too long ago. Mel (my sister-in-law) saw that I had bought the book Heaven by Andy Alcorn and the conversation just developed. Or, I was talking to a women who is also battling stage 4 breast cancer which gave me a chance to talk to someone who could really relate to some of the same issues I deal with.

I also find that I have a much easier time talking about my feelings in intimate settings with my fellow believers in Christ. You see, us Christians have been given many, many promises by our Heavenly Father and sometimes we need our fellow believers to remind us of those. I think if you are a non-believer you would sometimes think I am crazy or weird for my feelings, and truthfully I am just not strong enough right now to try and explain myself to those who don't know Christ. I still think it is rather funny that I used to think 'church people' were dull, judgemental, perfect... that couldn't be further from the truth.

So if you ask me how I am feeling I will probably just answer "really good, or a bit tired, or I am looking forward to having hair" all which are completely true. But want to see inside my heart, that's pretty personal.

The other day my neighbour came over to tell me she saw a skunk and her two babies on our front yard and she complimented me saying she thought I looked like the 'poster girl for cancer'. Now that is the way to talk to a cancer patient! She didn't ask me about my feelings!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Updates

We met with the doctor on Friday to get the results of my most recent scan. The good news is my bones are stable, the bad news there is activity on my liver again. Of course it is not the news I want to here. I want to here the ever so desired news of NED (no evidence of disease). I still believe that can happen. I believe in an awesome God who has raised people from the dead - he can handle some uncooperative cell growth!

We are waiting to hear from our insurance company to see if they will cover the drug for treatment option number one - so please help us pray for this.

Carman is so close to his goal this morning of raising $10,000 for his ride. He is at $9,030!!!! Please donate to help us reach our goal, and to help find a cure for cancer. The link to donate is in the posting below.

I have been back in the pool swimming, running errands on my Vespa, walking Charlee down at the dog park, and trying to control the weeds in my flower beds. It is nice to feel active again. With work I have never been very busy in the summer so along with getting caught up on some things I have been making a mental list on some projects I might research - real estate investing: is it all that it is marketed to be? and taking some courses toward the Registered Health Underwriter which gives a designation in specializing in living benefits (disability, critical illness, and long term care insurance).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Help!!!


Once again, I need your help! The (I) is me, Carman - Brenda's husband.


On June 26th and 27th I will be participating in the 2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer. Last year I participated as a crew member, slinging participants gear, loading water stations with 5 gallon bottles of water, and helping to set up some of the hundreds of tents we all slept in the first night.


Last year was such an amazing experience, seeing everyone pull together and persevere; 1) to raise money, and 2) to accomplish the goal of riding 200 kms in 2 days. Both tasks can prove to be difficult! Many people, including me, are not accustomed to asking for money, let alone riding a peddle bike further than the neighbourhood 7 Eleven for a Slurpee. However, last year I saw participants of all shapes and sizes, ages, and biking abilities and realized that if they could do it, so could I! I saw participants finish the ride on vintage single speed bikes, mountain bikes, and one guy even did it on a BMX bike. It became very clear that the ride came second; the driving force was the need for a cure.


My driving force is my wife. Many of you who follow her blog have gotten to know her better. You read about her struggles, the good times and the bad, and ride the roller coaster along with her. I hope that you have come to realize how wonderful she is; that you now see the person I married - with all she is going through, she still thinks of everyone else first, and has such a giving heart.


I am hoping that you can find it in your heart to give, as well. It is now projected that cancer will affect 50% of all Canadians at some point in their life. Funds from the Ride to Conquer Cancer support the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which means all forms of cancer and all forms of research - not just breast cancer or prostate cancer or lung cancer - all types.


We have seen firsthand, over the past few couple of years, how important fundraising like this is. Newer and better treatments are being implemented on a regular basis and it is definitely making a difference.


Below is a link to my personal page for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. As a rider I am required to raise a minimum of $2500. I am hoping, with your help, that I can exceed that by 2 or 3 times!




Thank-you so much for your support!


Carman

Bill & Carman

Getting ready for fundraising for The Ride to Conquer Cancer - you would think it would be easy to get a serious picture. These two couldn't stop horsing around.


video

Good Medicine

Charlee has been such good medicine for me. She is such a clown. She really enjoys playing with the sprinkler.
video

Stainless Steel Christmas


When our BBQ rolled off the deck in the last wind storm Carman was adamant that we get a new one. You should have seen him at Costco when I approved any BBQ he wanted. I don't think I have ever seen him smile so big.

Those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy one of Carman's meals (he is an unschooled amateur chef), you know I am one lucky girl.
The steaks are cooking while we speak!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Calico

My hair started falling out yesterday. I scrubbed and scrubbed my head for just about an hour in the shower before I finally gave up - my skin was pruning up! Last time I lost my hair it pretty much fell out evenly one morning. This time is different. My sides and a strip horizontally in the back has fallen out considerably. Today I was hoping the rest would be released but it is still hanging on. I don't want to be caught without a hat on, I might frighten small children - tee hee!

Carman has been calling me his Calico Cat. I don't really like cats so it can just fall out!

Wedding Band

Ever since chemo last year my hands have been puffy. I can still get my wedding band off, but I have to use soap and water or lotion to pry it off my finger. When we took our road trip from Phoenix to San Diego I had to take it off with the heat. It finally dawned on me that I could get is size larger - duh!! So I am going up from size 5 to 6 and my ring will look like new again!

When Carman and I decided to finally get married 10 years ago this August after 7 years of dating it wasn't a traditional affair. I was looking at getting my own apartment after years of living with a roommate and I asked Carman if maybe we should get married. Carman and I had always made comments 'when we get married', but to my memory I never asked him 'when are we going to get married?' until that car ride back to Calgary (after being home to both Camrose and Stettler visiting family). The whole big white dress, guest list, budget factor didn't ever appeal to us. Oh, back to the car ride. Because we had visions of eloping to somewhere cool like Vancouver Island or Ethiopia Carman didn't think the time was right. We were young, living in the city from pay to to pay cheque. Our dream elopement just wasn't feasible (because neither of us wanted to go into debt just to get married). Carman dropped me off and I was going to get a paper to hunt for a cute apartment. No less than 10 minutes later Carman called me and said "I don't want to wait anymore". And neither did I. A month later we eloped to the beautiful mountain village of Banff and it was absolutely perfect.

There was no need for an engagement ring so I bought myself (I still have the Mastercard Statement to prove it) a plain white and gold wedding band for just over $300. Aunt Rochelle gave Carman her late husband wedding ring which sported 3 diamonds (yes, Carman got the bling).

I love my ring and I can't wait until it is a size bigger next week!

Purge

Carman and I share an 1970's bedroom closet. With a well designed his and her's organizer we surely maximize our space. However because of this, I rotate my Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter wardrobes - if you could call them that. It only takes up a Rubbermaid container. Monday I finally switched my 'wardrobe' over, but I purged a lot of stuff. You see, because of my 1/2 right lopsided breast, my scar, and my port-o-cath, I am uncomfortable wearing many of my shirts. So I packed them all up for someone else to enjoy. It is amazing how many women's shirts are fairly low cut. Hey, if I had a nice rack I would probably accentuate it too. Last year I wore anything from a size 4-10 pants - so the lower sizes had to go. My mother-in-law commented on how she didn't want me to ever get that skinny again (nor do I) so some skinny, shorty out there gets to enjoy my skinny pants!

So this I-don't-really-enjoy-shopping-gal has been on the hunt for shirt style that are not too low cut. I did find some styles at R&W Co, but I sure had to scour the mall to find them. For all those women out there who like to shop, I commission you to keep an eye out for shirts that fit the bill - higher necked.

Shopaholics, I give you permission to use me an excuse for you husbands - your helping a woman in need!

Yes, Top With Whipping Cream

Women are women. Who doesn't want Brook Burke's figure? Pre-cancer I channeled my will power not to eat my daily dose of chocolate (preferably dark chocolate), and my Coke on the rocks, but after cancer I have had periods where it took great will power to eat. During radiation my appetite was very limited and I had to really focus just to eat a small plate of veggies or Auntie Rochelle's rice pudding.

Today I do try to watch what I eat, but I really enjoy food. After my 4 days post-chemo of spewing some really great meals, I want to eat. Sure I would like to reduce the flab I have acquired since cancer - my toned arms and legs are pretty weak, but food is worth savoring.

Today I was at the Cancer Centre getting my blood checked for tomorrow's chemo and I recognized one of the ladies in the waiting room. I couldn't remember from where, so I simply said: "I know you from somewhere!". She pegged it faster than I did - from the church's women's bible study. We had a lovely (doesn't that sound so British) chat. We both voice how thankful we are for our appetites - we both have suffered times where eating was not appealing. We both agreed and laughed about our instant, non-hesitation to top drinks with whipping cream.

I think your hot Brook Burke, but I think I am going to enjoy my vanilla bean hot chocolate topped with whipping cream!

Why I Blog

Initially I started my blog to limit the amount of phone calls we were getting. We know we are well loved, but it was getting too much to repeat the same news over and over again. And often times Carman was the one answering the phone because I just didn't have the mental energy to do it.

However, today I blog for different reasons. I still use it to keep people updated on how I am feeling, but it feels very different now. We greatly appreciate our Christian brothers and sisters who use the blog as an update on how to pray - we believe in prayer and greatly appreciate those who petition our Saviour for healing. We without a doubt believe God can still heal my body completely (here on earth). If he can raise people from the dead, he can erase some misbehaving cells!

I write this post because of a conversation I recently had with my sister Jodi. Just like the Will Farell skit on Saturday Night Live: Give me More Cow Bell, I get the comment: You haven't posted in a while. Jodi said "Give us more blog". I hadn't realized I had a quota to fill - tee hee! But I don't write so my mom can call Jodi to ask her if she read my new blog post, nor do I blog to necessarily have an open conversation about my feelings. I have never been very private, obviously. But, I often want my posts to be a private one sided conversation. I write some personal stuff simply to share with that other cancer survivor about my experiences, or to the family members of friends to that person.

Carman sometimes comments on my spelling or grammar mistakes like an editor, but I always get after him that I am not writing to be graded or published. I know an English teacher would be appalled by my punctuation, but I was never the best student.

Side story: When my college diploma arrived in the mail I was telling my younger sister about it. She asked me to read her what it said. I shared that it said Diploma in Business Administration with a major in Marketing (Hons). I then commented that I didn't know what Hons meant. Tara being the 'brains' of the family laughed and said I got honours. Shows how smart I am!

It is pretty cool when a stranger who lives in a far away land like Israel, UK, or Ontario emails me to encourages us. I have especially liked when people comment on Carman. He is truly a very, very special man. When a complete stranger recognizes it through my writing it brings me deep joy

I also blog to be a testament to my faith. I know so many people say "What kind of God does this?" or "Why God?", or "Where is he?" I don't have the answers, but I trust him. I have to believe that my life has purpose and my existence isn't just because or chance. As my therapist Sherri said to me once, "God is weaving an amazing beautiful tapestry with my life woven into it". What color do you think my thread is? I'm thinking a Scarlet Red, Aqua Blue combo. Or maybe a combination of leaf greens.

There is life with Stage 4 breast cancer. It is not a solace, rose colored life, but there are times of joy and laughter and peace. I also have hope for a long life. I have read many stories of years, and years of continued treatment in different shapes and form, but life. The Lord wants me to choose life so I do. Yes there has been physical and emotional pain, tears, more tears, distorted taste buds, vomit, a dripping nose, pokes and prods, baldness, weight gain, loss of energy, but I love my life.

Totally enjoying my Vespa! Carman ordered my an orange scooter helmet to help complete my dorky scooter look. I'll post a picture when it arrives.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cuddle Time


I'm a pretty strict dog owner - well, I used to be. With Rudy we never allowed her on the furniture or on the bed (except for camping). With Charlee I have become soft. She is still not allowed on the couches, but I broken down and let her cuddle with me a bed. Can you beleive it!
Once again I am sporting the Sinead O'Connor. When Carman shaved my head again my hair

Vespa-ing


I've wanted a Vespa for some time now. I've had a pictures of them on our fridge for several years. So when I heard I had to do more chemo, I decided I wanted some fun in my life. I know, I look pretty darn cool!

ER

When you are on chemo you have to constantly monitor your temperature to make sure you are not running a fever. On day five during my first round of chemo in January 2009 I ran a fever and spend 5 days in the hospital being pumped with antibiotics. Those five days were some of the hardest days of my life. So when I started running a fever on day four during this second time with chemo I was not looking forward to a trip to the ER - I did not want another stay in the hospital.

Unfortunately what 'I want' did not come true. Because of the bed shortage I had to spend the night in the ER and it was brutal. It took until 5pm the next day to get a bed and I admit I had some breakdowns during that time. Between the babies crying, sounds of people wretching, large carts being pushed, the toilet flushing, and the construction I found myself on the verge of walking out many times. But, refusing care really isn't an option when you are on chemo and running a fever.

When I finally got my bed I was past tired and it took 2 Ativan and a sleeping pill to knock this girl out.

On Thursday night Carman and my dad delivered the care package you all helped with. Travis just so happened to be about 3 doors down. Travis and Jamie were both pretty taken-back with the unexpected gift. To my surprise it was Jamie birthday! Jamie stopped by my room several times and we got a chance to get to know each other. It is like I've known Jamie a long time. I also got a chance to visit with Travis a bit too.

I can already picture Carman and I riding out to Travis and Jamie's for Lincoln's sixth birthday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Everyone is probably wondering how Brenda made out collecting for the couple that she met during her recent chemo treatment at the hospital so I will update you briefly and let her fill in the blanks when she is home and able to again.

Firstly, I am posting for her because she has spent the past 48 hours in the hospital due to a chemo related fever and low blood counts. The same thing happened after her very first chemo treatment last January, so it is clear that it is just too much of a shock to her system. Fortunately she was a lot stronger physically this time around, so she will be out fairly quickly and back home where she is a lot more comfortable and has her nurse, Charlee (our dog) to comfort her.

Her parents were here the past couple of days helping out while Brenda was in the hospital, so last night her dad and I took everything that had come in over the past few days, to the hospital. There was four extra large gift bags and three cardboard boxes packed full of clothes, blankets, toys, diapers, and gifts, and another gift bag stuffed full of gift cards and cash. We are very thankful to everyone who was able to contribute - it will go a long ways in helping this couple out and just make things a little bit easier as they struggle through their current situation. It was not a coincidence that Brenda met them last Friday - it is quite obvious they were brought together to change each others lives and that has already become quite apparent.

Some of you have emailed the last couple of days to ask if you could still contribute and the answer is yes! We had more dropped off today and can take more to them next week - it is all very much needed and very much appreciated!

Carman

Saturday, April 17, 2010

HELP!

First let me clarify that I don't need any help. On Friday I had my second round (9th session of Doxetaol and 19th of Hercpetin. I was happy to get my favorite nurse Chris (he is the best)

Since I had a Caring Hands jewelery party the night before I brought in one of the stands in for 'show-and-tell'. While Chris was taking a look at the jewelery another patent's wife (caring her new born baby) bought a couple of necklaces and we got taking. Right before Christmas her husband (age 27) got sick and has been in the hospital ever since. They are from a small town a ways from Red Deer. Because she was always up the hospital, and she was was getting close to delivering their baby she too was admitted. Their baby boy is a month old now and his dad is still very sick in the hospital.

I just can't stop thinking about them. I need to help them some how. I am certain as they were planning for the birth of their baby, and the joy he would bring, it would not have been under these circumstances. You can just see it in her eyes how overwhelmed she is - who wouldn't be.

So I call out for help! May I humbly ask you to considering contributing to a care package in a small way. Here is what I would like to assemble:

  • Tim Hortons Gift Cards (there is one right by the hosptial she could go eat at).
  • Safeway Cards - Is the nearest grocery store to the 2 bedroom apartment she is renting.
  • PetroCanada Cards - the nearest gas station
  • Chapters or Scotts Parables Gift Cards (I encouraged them to read - he is reading the Lance Armnstrong book right now).
  • Their baby boy is one month old - I am not certain if there has even been a shower for him. Little boy clothes over 1 month and up to say 9 months would be great . Small toys would also be nice - please nothing big. I think small books that focus on being a family would be something they could all snuggle up in his bed and read together
  • And of course, Cash is always needed.
  • Please pray for healing and peace.

Talk to your co-workers, neighbours, your church to see how you could all contribute. If each gives even $5 it can go a long way when you are living under their circumstances!

I know he is going down for more extensive chemo again this week. So I would like to get these care packages up to them as soon as possible - time is of the essence!!!!!!!! I would like to send a package up on Wednesday or Thursday (April 22nd).

Please drop of or mail your contributions to my house:

Brenda Odovichuc

12 McCune Ave

Red Deer, AB

T4N 0H2

If I am not home, or if I am stuck in the bathroom, please just leave your envelope in the mailbox or your gift between the front door.

This couple needs to be shown that they are not alone, and that they are not forgotten. Please, oh please, help me show them this

Brenda

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weeds

That's what is growing in my bones - bad weeds. Unfortunately, I got bad news on Friday and I am going back on chemo this week. Carman always likes to focus on the positive so I share that my heart is still in great shape (all those laps in the pool weren't for nothin') and my vital organs are clean. It is just the bones that have flared-up again. In a way I was surprised about the news as I have been feeling pretty good most days. I have been achy, but I thought that was just a side effect of one of my drugs. I am thankful that it was caught early enough because bone pain is no fun.

My doctor is going to put me back on the same chemo as before so it should be familiar. My last chemo was only in July and I have erased much of that time from my memory - or maybe it is still my 'chemo brain'. I remember I have a delayed response so by about day 4 I have 3 really bad days. I remember I didn't care much for meat and my sweet tooth went of vacation. I remember that I struggled with the 'runs' and was caught on many walks with Rudy thinking I was going to have an accident. If any of you see me on my walking route with messy pant please don't laugh!

Nurse Charlee (our new dog) is being promoted to Dog Therapy Nurse. Because she loves to cuddle I think I will be well taken care of. And, she puts a smile on my face with her antics. I still really miss Rudy though. I still have hope of having a future. I've recently had visions of me wearing a 'I'm Cancer Free' t-shirt. So please don't think 'this-is-it' for me.

To balance out this really crappy news we've decided I should make my Vespa driving dreams come true. Carman has already found one in Calgary and will call tomorrow to put on hold. I plan on buying a fun new leather jacket (because you can't wear a Harley Davidson jacket on a Vespa) and my riding boots are going to be some cowboy boots. Stay tuned for some pictures.

Once again I will loose my hair so before it falls out Carman buzz my head. I think I will also treat myself to some comfy clothes and pajamas.It is disappointing to be on chemo again as I have enjoyed getting back into the swing of things with work. Like last time, I will continue to work on a limited basis. Because my immune system will be thrashed face-to-face contact will have to be limited. Recently I was telling my sister Tara that I would like to try writing some 'industry' articles to try and get published. This 'chemo' time might just be the time to attempt this.

It sucks rocks that I have to do chemo again, but I continue to trust in the Lord.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back in the Pool

In August last year I started swimming to try and get back into some sort of shape. Prior to getting cancer I was in some of the best shape of my life (well, let me rephrase that - since getting married). I certainly wasn't on the cover of Fit magazine, but I could hold my own in a step class and my lung capacity was pretty darn good. Cancer treatment completely zapped me and at the end atrophied the muscles in my legs. Even going up and down the stairs was uncomfortable. I decided to swim because it is something I loved to do growing-up, and I thought it would be the best thing for my joints - my physiotherapist agreed.

I still remember the first time in the pool. I was bald and my lung capacity was horrible. The physiotherapist warned me to just do breast stroke (now isn't that amusing) because my shoulder was so stiff (from radiation and lymphodema). I remember thinking 'what does she know'? She was right, I could barely swim one length my lung capacity was so bad and my arm barely moved me through the water.

I am happy to report today that I am swimming 10 laps of breast stroke and 10 laps of front crawl in about 35 minutes. I try to get in the pool three mornings a week! And I thought I was doing pretty darn good until I was talking to one of the ladies on Wednesday morning. I asked her how many laps she swims and she swims 60! I guess I will be trying to swim 25 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympics


I've been telling people since I have the privilege of being home so much that I am trying to watch the Olympics as much as possible. Yes, I am working in my home office, but I am allowing myself to slowly get back into the game of 9-5. I probably will never work like I used to. Between still actively getting treatment, physio, massages, acupuncture, and just exercising, I enjoy helping out in my friend's grade 2 class once a week. I have also taken on the endeavour of selling Caring Hands jewelry which I will share more about in another post.


Back to the Olympics. Today I couldn't help but think about my friend Saugen. Actually, her name is Kristine, but I always thought the name was too 'girly' so I have always referred to her by her good Norwegian last name. Saugen and I met in high school and hit it off right away. We both liked camping, athletics, and of course partying. She now lives in Nova Scotia and I haven't seen her in years. Back in the day she was a great biathlete and trained continuously. Today a German won gold in biathlon and she was pretty and blonde just like Saugen.


Isn't it awesome that Canada has won 2 Gold metals!!!! Go Canada Go!


The picture was taken of me and Saugen when we were 17 or 18. We were out camping somewhere getting into no good. Oh, to be young again. Love and miss you Saugen!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome Charlee!


Sunday night Carman and I got a new puppy who we have named Charlee. She is so sweet and soft and it is nice to have the pitter-patter of feet in our home again. She is a boxer, but I think she looks more like a Gremlin.


She loves to lay at my feet when I work in my home office and is pretty much stuck to me like velcro.


Her under bite doesn't always show, but I love when her bottom teeth stick out.

Stitch-it

This totally off course, but I wanted to share with everyone what a great experience I recently had at Stitch-it in Parkland Mall. Being 5'1 I am always getting pants hemmed. Since moving to Red Deer I have gone to Stitch-it because of their great prices. The last few times I found the service not as good and the wait times a week; however, things have changed! They have a new manager, Ali, and he is fantastic. We are the same age so we found lots of things to talk about. Next time you need something hemmed or tailored please consider giving your business to my new friend Ali.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Road Trip - Florence Oregon


Passing the boarder into Oregon made me feel like it is a place I could live. The roaring ocean and quaint seaside homes were inviting. Driving into town we saw a billboard 'All rooms with ocean view', so we knew where we were going to stay. We threw our bags on the bed and set-out to walk down the beach before it got too dark. The ocean here is quite wild. Of course Carman wanted to walk as close to the water as possible. I tend to be more cautious and had a more comfortable distance. The ocean did teach Carman and lesson and at one point he found himself running pretty good from being swept away. Boys will always be boys.

Road Trip - Redwoods


Northern California was gorgeous - breathtaking canopied treed roads. I have always known I was a tree lover, but after driving through the desert in Phoenix and the rugged landscapes of California, I realized I am most happy around trees. At one point we stopped at a place that said 'Large Tree' which had a little trail for hiking. The weather wasn't that great, but we decided to do a little hiking. About 20 minutes in it started to pour; however, I think it was totally worth it - the large trees, moss, and large clover were all things we had never seen before.

Road Trip - San Fransisco


We found San Fransisco quite intimidating at first. All of the concrete and hills, and no over-the-street street lights. But then my old friend from high school Meredith picked us up for a private tour and the city really grew on us. I would love to go back! The really funny thing is when Carman and I drove in to San Fransisco we thought we were on the Golden Gate bridge when we were actually on the Bay Bridge. Can I at least state that it was extremely foggy. And to make it even worse, no matter how hard we tried we could not get on the Golden Gate to get out of San Fransisco. Who goes to San Fransisco and doesn't go on the bridge? Us!

It was really neat to see how Meredith and her family live in such a unquie city, and to see all of the scooters people drive due to the extreme lack of parking. I have always wanted a Vespa scooter, and leaving San Fransisco made me want a scooter even more. It is my goal to have one this summer.

Snip Snip

On Tuesday I went to the hospital for day surgery to get both of my ovaries removed. This allows me to forgo the nasty injection into my abdomen, and it offers me the chance of increasing survival. The morning started off with having to give myself my own enema. I know, too much information, but I want to be as candid as possible for that one person who might read my blog someday who is going through what I have had to go through. It helps to be a bit prepared walking into a situation. It can also help relieve some anxiety. Okay, back to the enema (no pun intended). The purpose of the enema is to deflate your bowel to reduce the possibility of nicking it , or it getting in the way during surgery. The actual bottle looks like a hair dye bottle. Stick it up, squeeze in all of the liquid, lay down with your arse in the air for as long as you can stand it up to 10 minutes and voila.

They also require you to come in with a urine sample to confirm that you are not pregnant - there is nothing like walking around with your little brown bag.

With my right arm off limits due to lymphoma (lymphatic swelling), I knew they would have a hard time finding a vein. The fact that I had been fasting more than 12 hours also didn't lend well to the situation. It took them six tries to find a vein. I am still not totally sure why they just didn't use my port. My arm is fairly bruised, but is healing quickly.

Coming out of surgery wasn't a pleasant experience. I remember after my lumpectomy my throat was dry, but I was really relaxed and sleepy. This time, I was major agitated (didn't know how to lay, my legs were fidgety...), I had the rigors (shaking and cold), and I felt like I couldn't breath (my throat felt closed-up).

And then it hit me. My surgery was running late and Carman was to curl at 3pm. Our friend Dr. Bud was to be my back-up to driver to take me home. I was scared. I was in no shape for Bud to take over. Carman was holding my straw so I could drink and my describing word I was using to explain to the nurses of how I was feeling was 'funky'. Some gasping cries tried to communicate to Carman that I really didn't want him to leave. He assured me he didn't want to leave me either and he wouldn't be curling.

Do you remember when I got out of my lumpectomy surgery how I came-to saying how much I love camping? This time I am pretty sure I came-to saying "I just go out of a Yoga class"! I haven't taken a yoga class in years.

Once they pumped some gravol and T3 into me it lessened the 'funky' feeling. They were going to give me morphine, but Carman was quick to suggest it wasn't a good idea.

I was amazing that an hour later I was in the truck heading home not feeling too bad - weird.

Today (Monday), my bellybutton has a colourful bruise of green and purple. With laperscopic surgery they make an incision in the bellybutton, a small one about three inches off to the left of the bellybutton and a two inch incision by the pubic bone. I was never in any paid or much discomfort. It mostly felt like some menstrual cramps and fogginess from the drugs.

I am not sure if the second wave of menopause is about to hit, but so far I haven't had as many hot flashes in the night. The joys of menopause at 32. I think there should be some type of program which provides young women going through menopause a break. Like a free spa day or cooling blanket in the mail and certainly 10% off anywhere we shop. Hey, it doesn't hurt to dream.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life

Today in the 'notes' section of the bible - Acts 20:24 - the following is written:

We often feel that life is a failure unless we're getting a lot out of it: recognition, fun, money, success. But Paul considered life worth nothing unless he used it for God's work. What he put into life was far more important that what he got out. Which is more important to you - what you get out of life, or what you put into it?

AND,

Last night I finally got back to the women's bible study at CrossRoads and Shirley said something so profound I had to write it down:

I don't need to be more - I'm complete in you (Christ Jesus).

Good stuff!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keep on Keeping On

Just a quick break from my holiday postings to let you know Dr. Joy called today. Everything still looks the same and I will keep on with my current treatment for another 3 months!

Could you please keep praying for healing. I totally believe that one day they could do a scan and not see any cancer at all. All throughout the Bible there are accounts of healing so I know God has the ability to do that for me too.

Road Trip - Sequoia National Park



Carman wanted to go to a football game and I wanted to see the giant trees. Everyone thinks of Redwoods when they think of large trees. But the largest in volume are actually the Sequoia. The road up to the top was by far the craziest road either of us has been on including our adventures in Thailand and the Philippines. We were very lucky that the park we even open. Usually they are closed this time of year because of snow fall. By the time we got to the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman, the sun was setting and our pictures were grainy. I got upset because I really wanted a picture in front off the tree so we decided to stay up on the mountain for the night. At 7000 feet the air was thin. I was pretty out of it. We got up first thing and went back down the road a short ways to get better pictures. It was pretty darn cool to be the only ones there for about 10 minutes before another couple arrive. I don't think many people can say they have had that experience. I know we were breaking the rules by jumping the fence, but we just couldn't resist.
The giant sequoia and the coast redwood are often confused as the same tree. They are quite different although they are in the same family. The giant sequoia is the world's largest tree based on volume while the coast redwood is the tallest tree. The giant sequoia grows in the mountains and the more plentiful redwood grows on the coast and is harvested for wood. (I have totally plagiarized this from the back of a postcard).












Road Trip - La Quinta (by Palm Springs)




We enjoyed a night at Larry and Sylvie's in La Quinta. We loved the Palm Dessert/La Quinta area and would snowbird here if we ever get the chance. Larry and Sylvie have a pretty ruff life (not) so we thought they could use some company. I felt like a college student just stopping in to do some laundry, be fed, and soak up some sun by the pool - thanks Larry & Sylvie.


I did not like the road from San Diego to La Quinta - too twisty and drop offs. Just ahead of us was an accident of someone taking the bend to quick. That is was freaks me out the most - not Carman's driving, but the other guy. The young punks in the picture I think were all fine. I saw one of them retrieving his precious skateboard amongst the wreckage.

I also liked seeing all of the wind farms. I wish we were accessing more 'green' energy here in Alberta.

Volvo




On a walk in San Deigo I saw this car and had to take a picture. I've always wanted to drive a Volvo! I have also wanted a VW Bus and a Vespa Scooter.

Hodad's




This chocolate malt was large enough to feed a family of 6.




They don't believe in strip of bacon on their burgers. They make a bacon pattie!

Road Trip - San Diego


We loved San Diego and look forward to going back some day soon. We stayed within walking distance to the San Diego zoo (even though we didn't go to the zoo) in Balboa Park at the Balboa Park Inn. This quaint old Inn was built for the 1915 World Fair. It was only $99/night and spotlessly clean. Yes the decor leaned more towards 'tacky', but we enjoyed its originality.


Have you ever watched the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives? Carman and I love it and printed off a list of their restaurants before we left home. Our first stop was Pizzeria Luigi. You could get two large pizzas and a imported beer for $8! The place was hopin'!


On the Sunday we went to a Chargers game. Let it be known that I can't stand football. I know I am the minority, but it really is a stupid game. For Carman's sake I tried to make the best out of the afternoon people watching. I was quite intrigued with the whole cheerleader culture. When I think of cheerleaders I think of flips, lifts, and acrobatics. High school and college cheer teams wear practically turtlenecks and could compete in the Olympics with their tumbling skills. NFL cheerleaders are nothing more than pole dancers. I know sex sells, but come on.


The second restaurant on our list was Hodad's. We enjoyed a trip to Ocean Beach to watch the surfers and to check-out their Dog beach. Hodad's has the best burgers you have ever tasted. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Road Trip - Arizona


On New Year's day we flew to Arizona to start our road trip. Don't even get me started on the whole 'new baggage' restrictions into the States. Especially because they don't have the same rules when you are on a flight in their country.


Our flights getting there were delayed so we arrived extremely hungry. This was the start of the Rules List. Rule #1 We have to be nice to each other all of the time. This rule was broken daily, but it gave us something to strive towards. Rule #2 - Carman is responsible for controlling his hunger and shouldn't take it out on others (a.k.a - me). You know how men get when they don't eat every 3 hours.


We stayed the night at Ray and Anita's. Ray plays ball with my dad. Thanks Ray & Anita for the beer and accommodations!


The large sand dunes near Yuma are quite something. It was weird to see all of the people RVing along the sand dunes with their families. But campers could look at us and think sitting around a campfire drinking beer is weird. The checkpoint for smuggling Mexicans is also unsettling - I guess Carman and I looked unsuspecting because we didn't get pulled over.

Road Trip - Kelowna


Carman and I had a great time on our vacation. We first flew out to Kelowna to visit our friend Fred for two nights. I just love his parent's house - it is about 100 years old. Snuggling up by the fireplace reading my book was better than staying at a 4 star resort. Their cat Enzo agreed.


Carman and Fred went skiing for the day while his mom and I went for a walk. Thanks again Rod and Doreen for opening your home to us. We had the most amazing meal at RauDZ Regional Table. The next time you are in Kelowna you must eat there. My mouth is still drooling from their Char fish.


We met Fred at the dog park here in Red Deer but he now lives in the U.S - his parents live in Kelowna. Fred totally cracks me up. When he picked us up from the airport and we were heading out to he car, the guy in the truck in front of us was beaking-off about how he had parked. Fred's park job was fine considering who he had parked behind when he got there, but it left little room for this 'hot head'. Both Fred and I are not good at keeping our mouths shut. Of course I was the first one to pipe-up to the 'tacky-skido jacket wearing- redneck' which probably didn't help the situation. Then Fred flew off the handle. Poor Carman. You had to have been there, but it still brings a smile to my face.

Burning off Fat


I think just about everyone starts off the New Year thinking about getting active and burning off some pounds. Just about a year ago I got out of the hospital and stepped on the scale and weighed 114 pounds. According to the BMI at 5'1 this is what I should weigh. I remember not liking the way I looked or felt. Actually, when I got home and looked in the mirror I cried because I thought I looked half dead. I told myself when I gained my weight back I wouldn't get after myself. Well, I am back to my pre-cancer weight, I feel like a whale and I am not doing very well at keeping my promise to myself. I think the difference is my body used to be quite muscular and now I feel quite flabby. So, I have told myself I need to get more active. How are you keeping active these days? Carman has been shedding the pounds at a spin class. My body can't handle that level of intensity yet, but I hope one day to join him.




The picture is of Becky and I snowshoeing on Boxing Day. The snow seems to be melting very quickly around here, but I thought of buying a pair. It was a workout and enjoyable.

Merry Christmas


I know this is delayed, but it is never too late to celebrate Christ's birth. Christmas was a bit hard because we were so sad with Rudy gone. Our nieces and nephews, along with our crazy families kept us preoccupied. We spend one night at my parent's in Camrose- eating Ukrainian food and fighting over my auntie Carol's cookies (my grandma's famous recipe). My nephew Rykan is a little shyster (I know it is not nice to call little kids names, but he is quite the little boy and his mom agrees that he knows how to 'ham' things up) really wanted to play the board game Battle Ship. My loving and patient husband agreed to play with him and I wish we had it on video. You see, Rykan is 4 and knows how to count and the alphabet so Carman thought he could teach him. Carman would say, "do you see the letters along the along the top - A,B,C..." and Rykan would start singing the alphabet. And then he would have Rykan look for the numbers and Rykan would start counting to 20. Alex (my 6 year old niece) and I enjoyed playing with her sticker book - she is so smart. Jacob really didn't like Rykan taking his toys - I don't worry about him being bullied. Jacob also liked Auntie Carol's cookies wanted to go to be with 3 of his new trucks.


Then we spent 2 nights in Drayton Valley with Carman's family. Carman's dad made Ande and Kade (2) each a rocking chair. It was cute to watch them sit on their chairs and play only as two year olds do. Baby Tobi is so good and loves to cuddle (he must get this from the Park side of the family). Becky (Carman's sister) and I got out snowshoeing to try and burn of some treats. One of the gifts in the gift exchange was a game called 'Fart'. Can you imagine! It came with a CD and everything. For over and hour we had to listen to the guys play that stupid game.


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I know this particular holiday can be quite stressful for many families. Family members not getting along, disappointments when someone doesn't attend, words said, words not said........ It really isn't worth it. It make take a compromise on your part, but family is family.


Here is a picture with me and my sisters - Tara bought me a matching sweater for Christmas

last year. Tara, Me, Jodi, Kari. FYI - Tara is 30, lives in Edmonton ans is single. If anybody has a great guy .... they can contact me to go through the application process - when we were in high school a guy came to take Tara on a date and I had him convinced that we had an application he had to fill out before they left!!!! In advance, sorry Tara for the embarrassment!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Passed!

I just wanted to share that I passed my CFP exam!!! Of the 1272 candidates who wrote, only 44.7% passed. Of those writing for the first time, 50.3% passed. Tomorrow, January 14th, my name will be on the list published in The Globe and Mail. It feels so good to finally have that done!