Monday, 18 June 2018

Catching up.. Plodding Forward.. Moving On..

It seems like an eternity since I sat down to update my blogs.  I know, I'd promised to do so regularly over the course of my treatment but it didn't happen as planned. 

I sat down at the keyboard a few times during chemotherapy planning to write something to update everyone, but everything I wrote seemed to come out part sick of the med zone part hopeful fortune cookie and I would abandon the post in mid-stream and move onto something else. 

Once I hit radiation, we were staying at the Maurice Grimes Lodge in Ottawa and for some odd reason, I could not get the Blogger site to cooperate with me for anything. I was using my husband's laptop and I might as well have been trying to crack the Caramilk Secret.  

I finished my radiation at the beginning of March, and hair hard just starting coming in.  I will laugh about it for some time to come because the hair was coming in dark and black and I was pretty sure the black shadow was dirt and tried for some time to scrub it off.  It had been just one spot on the front of my head.  It would be a few more days before more would appear and I would realize my mistake.  I had 5 O'clock shadow on my head!  Ah well, you have to laugh, right?

I'm a couple of months into the anti-hormone treatment and feeling a lot more like me these days.  Working hard to get everything caught up and back to where it needs to be. Some days are better than others, but giving myself permission to be human helps.  

I am forever grateful for a handful of close friends and family who stood by and made sure I never got to feel like I was wandering alone.  I am also very grateful for a number of folks that I talk to often but have never met -- not a day went by where at least one of them (and often more) texted to see how things were going, or just check for a pulse.  I'd forgotten how y'all panic when I'm not online for a few days.  

This last year has been BEYOND crazy.  I never imagined that I'd be celebrating 23 years post ovarian cancer by getting breast cancer.  Only me, I swear.  

We had no idea that the night after my first chemo treatment that we'd be sitting in the ER and saying goodbye to one of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure to know.  My father-in-law had been ill for some time, but we had no idea we'd lose him so soon.  I can only hope he knew how much we all love him. 

I keep thinking about the last conversations we had. Even as he lay in his hospital bed, he mustered the strength to ask me how I'd made out.  I told him better than expected. He'd smiled and said good! before drifting back off to sleep.  That's so Walter. Always thinking about someone other than himself.  

He had a knack for making people feel loved and important.  I was blessed to be welcomed into his crazy tribe. 

Barely a hiccup later it seemed, we were all gathered once again to say goodbye to our nephew Mikey.  He was only 24. His smile was one of the brightest smiles I've ever known. He gave awesome hugs.  One of the youngest of the nieces and nephews, everyone took this news hard. 

He leaves behind the most beautiful little girl. Too young to understand the weight of the loss she has suffered. She was so very proud of the necklace that Nana picked for her that has Daddy's thumbprint on the back.  Addiction robbed her of her Daddy.  Addiction robbed his whole family of a lifetime of memories.  He was more than his addiction.  He was loved and cherished.  If only that were enough to keep him here and safe. 

I am grateful she has so many strong role models in her corner.  She'll be OK. Her circle of love will #DoItForMikey.

I can't help but think of my sister and her struggles and wonder what we might have done to change the outcome.  Maybe something, maybe nothing but in hindsight, the stigma surrounding the situation is often worse than the situation itself.  Maybe if we'd been allowed to talk about it more things would be different today.  I often wander down that garden path and wonder. So many dreams and plans we made as kids that will never come to be.  It's sad, but here we are. 

So many tragic things happening lately, these are the things you always hear about happening to some far-away family, not us, not our friends, our family, our neighbors.  It's a Small World, never seemed so close.  None of us are safe, no one is immune.  I guess the bottom line is that all of us are dying, nobody is getting out of here alive.

Tragedy and hard times bring us all a little closer together and really make us look at what's important.  Don't forget to hug those that hold you up a little more closely whenever you can.  Life's too short to forget to let people know they matter. 

Smile often, laugh when you can.  Hug as many people as possible while you're here. <3  - TJW. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

So glad to be home at last.

It hardly seems like it's been 5 months since my last post, but it has. 

I started dozens of writings in that time that for one reason or another never got to "done."  

Most recently, I'd had several attempts while staying at the Lodge for radiation treatments where I couldn't get my computer to log into my blog for reasons unknown.  I'd initially thought that it was because it was to one e-mail account and I'd logged in from another.  I'd tried logging into it as well, and also tried logging out of everything and back into only that e-mail and that didn't solve it.  I'm still befuddled on that score. 

It didn't help that the laptop kept insisting on upgrading to Windows 10, which seemed to work for a short time but then after an update kept reverting back to a previous version of windows.  This process would render the machine useless for hours at a time.  By then I'd be on to something else. 

Suffice it to say that my laptop and I were not besties during much of my cancer treatments.  

I am grateful for my teddy bear who loaned me his laptop several times so that I wouldn't be bored silly, but oddly I couldn't seem to get logged in to my blog from it either.  This machine has always auto-logged me in, so it remains a mystery.  

So much has happened since my last post. way too much to write in the space of one blog. 

I am happy to report however that I finished my last chemo treatment just prior to Christmas.  My radiation treatments started at the end of January, ran through February and finished at the beginning of March.  

It was a long haul but I'm happy to have completed those two legs of the journey.  I'm just a few weeks into the hormone therapy now (anti-hormone therapy perhaps) and follow up with both oncologists in two separate appointments in May. 

The hair I was told would start coming back 6 months after chemo was already starting to come in as I approached the 1 month after chemo. 

I'm still laughing about how I'd seen the dark mark on the front of my head and tried to wash it off.  It really looked like ink transfer, perhaps dry skin or even dirt but I thought it might have come from one of the hats. 

 Imagine my surprise a few days later when there was a large patch on top of my head and I realized that I had been trying to wash off was actually 5 O'clock shadow on my head!  

It's funny now, but it wasn't so funny at the time.  

I thought that the medzone living would bring a slow-down, but quite the opposite.  We got home and things seemed to pick up where the left off in many respects though for sure bedtime was coming up a lot sooner.  It's amazing to me how tired you get when you actually let yourself stop moving for a bit. 

In any case, It feels great to be HOME o our grandkids and kids, to our pets, and to life in general.  Not that we ever truly went away -- being in Ottawa and working sure isn't the same as being in my home office. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Let the hat parade begin...

I have been teasing friends and family for the last few weeks that a hat parade was coming. I don't think they believed me.

I have never been one for selfies or to take/post photos of myself. James made me promise I'd try to be a bit more diligent about journalling the journey this time around and I thought that this might be a fun thing to add.
Ever since the news of my balding head broke out in town, friends, neighbors, and colleagues have been messaging me telling me they're whipping up something, others have gone out and picked up hats.
I would be seriously remiss if I didn't share this generous outpouring of love and support.
Initially, I thought I'd do a fun Friday post, but thought that in most cases this could amuse the heck out of you on your Monday morning instead so here goes!
Today's lovely creation came to me by way of my fabulously talented friend Jamie Riddell who sent me an adorable photo of a cabbage patch hat a few weeks ago and said she was going to try and make it.
Not only did she make it, but she made a second hat that was so awesome that it caused great debate on which one I liked more and which would be worn first. I'm so glad I don't really have to choose. I love Love LOVE them both!!
Sadly I wasn't here when she dropped off the package, but I hope she heard my giggles and squeals when I got them inside and checked them out. 
This one seemed like a fabulous hat for a Monday morning! 
Thanks so much Jamie! You Rock! 
PS this would have been posted much earlier but seems I haven't cleared pics from my phone in a while and it was too full to let me have it. LOL I had to do some maintenance there before I could have my own darned photo - who knew? LOL

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Spread an attitude of Gratitude

I don't know that I say it enough but I have the most amazing friends. Even when I share a partucularly goofy moment they come out in droves to show they are there to care and support me. I will never forget how fortunate I am to be here and to know so many awesome people.
I attended a service yesterday for a beautiful soul taken way too soon after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Friends and family spoke of her courage and spirit and caring for others despite what she was going through. I couldn't help but smile at a kindred spirit. I will let you in on a little secret.. caring for others and keepin on is so much better than dwelling on the cloud where you're at.. she got that.
I wish I had known her instead of only knowing of her. My teddybear has a HUGE extended family! She was truly a gem.
I too will keep on putting one foot in front of the other until the planning committee tells me otherwise..and even then I will argue the point. There is still so much to be to be done and so much I wanna do .. over is not even being entertained.
Today is about getting things done and then getting into the craftroom for a while. Tonight i will have dinner with a couple of my favourite people.
Wherever you are i hope you get to spend time with someone you love. Life is too short. Don't forget to enjoy it!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

When the muse knocks in you cannot ignore her. Let her in!

The last week has been a whirlwind of beyond crazy.  We knew that starting chemo was going to present us with some new challenges, but we had no idea what the universe had in store for us this week.  I knew the chemo nurse had jinxed us when she told me to go home and rest and plan for a quiet weekend.
We went straight from chemo in Winchester to the ICU in Brockville and before we could even wrap our heads around the concept, we were saying goodbye to one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever met -- my father in-law.

Here we are a week later and just days after his funeral and it still doesn't feel like it is real.  I keep hoping that this is another cruel joke from the universe and he is going to walk in the door Timmies in hand at any moment; but sadly, no such luck. 

As sick as he was, he asked me how I made out at chemo.  I told him 'much better than expected' and he'd said good before closing his eyea again.  I never dreamed it would be one of the very last things he would ever say to me.

The service was lovely; from the flowers and Legion service through to the funeral service and graveside prayers.  The staff at the funeral home were so wonderful to us all.  2 of his sons and one of his grandsons paid lovely tribute to a man we were not ready to part with. Our long time friend and minister and a close family friend prepared a wonderful service. Voices of angels filled that chapel. The Ladies Aux prepared a luncheon and the branch flag flew at half mast for most of the week. A wonderful tribute to one of the most selfless and amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to know.  He welcomed most everyone into his heart and family with open arms.  He was a rare breed.

Papa would have loved the piper.  Most of all I think he would have been pleased to know that all of his kids, grandkids and great grandchildren came out to see him off and show Nana some love.  He would have loved that best of all.

I dreamt about him the other night.  It was the strangest thing.  He never said a word but he had the biggest smile on his face.  I joked to my hubby that if he was gonna wake me up, at least he could have said something. LOL  His smile was so warm and bright. I cannot help but think that he was trying to let us know that he is OK.  A number of family members have seen random signs this week.  Seems like our Papa -- always making sure everyone else is ok.

I have to admit that for much of this week chemo really kicked my butt.  I tried not to make a big deal of it but at the point we misplaced the bag of chemo meds and anti nausea/acid saving graces I about lost my mind!  They have since been found.. misplaced in the shuffle of this week.

I have a hand full of chemo cheerleaders who called or messaged daily to see how I was doing and reminding me to get rest when I could.  One of my best friends surprised me by coming out for the funeral.  Her hug was one of the bigggest highlights of my week.

My amazing mother inlaw had just lost her beloved soul mate and teddybear and was worrying about me.  She is one of the strongest women I know.  We are so very grateful that our kids and grandkids get to have her as a role model. I too am so very truly blessed to have been adopted to what my in-laws affectionately call the nuthouse. 

My addled brain is still percolating on the piece that the muse gave me this morning  but I imagine it will end up here in the near future. 

I woke up just after 2 am this morning. The chemo fog seems to have dissipated and my brain seemed to be reciting a future blog post.  Try as I might I couldn't get back to sleep. It was like someone handed me the lyrics to a new song that I just had to get up and sing.  I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened. 

I cannot get to my computer until my legs are wrapped and brace on, then realized my tablet case got left in mom's car in the shuffle.  So here I am blogging on my phone which I never do.  Do you what you gotta do, right?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

In the quietest moments..

It is in the quietest moments that we remember most everything.  It could be as simple as the laundry list of things you didn't get done the day before, but it can also be the time when that little voice comes out to taunt you.  

Lately, mine's been given me hassles a-plenty.  She can be a real mean little B sometimes.  She knows all my faults, fears, and secrets, and she plays dirty.  

Sometimes she comes in the form of a familiar voice: my Dad, my mother-in-law, my teddy-bear.  All too often lately, I have to admit she's right.  I do NOT have to like it.  

This week's scrutiny has been about the ever-growing plate of "stuff" and the how little of "my" stuff is staying on the plate.  I can start out with a list of 10 things I personally want to get done in a day; by day's end I may have accomplished 30 things but the list of "my" things doesn't seem to have a dent in it.  

There is also that part of me that's scrambling to get things done before the weekend so I don't have to worry about it if I'm not up to taking care of it.  Not surprisingly so many offers of help before the big day didn't come to fruition and we're left winging it.  

I keep promising myself that I'll take time out to (fill in the blank) but then the phone rings or a message comes in with something that seems more pressing than whatever I'd had in mind and the moment is gone. I really need to be more diligent about finding that me time.  We've been looking at the calendar a lot lately and at all the things we're up to and involved in, and somewhere in the shuffle we've forgotten to plan downtime and recreation -- can you imagine? 

I am being constantly reminded by friends and family that the big C brings with it somewhat of a mandatory slow down.  My arguments that I will do as much as I can for as long as I can have not been particularly well received.  Even still, there's a fine line between taking some downtime and slipping into the abyss. A big part of me refuses to forget what feeling stranded was like.  I don't want to revert back to a wheelchair or be stuck in bed. I am aware that my attention and focus need to shift for a bit and I'm already all over that.  It will be an adjustment.  

I've been following a great group on Facebook for a while now.  I try to post regularly but sometimes the muse leaves me hanging in my tea. The group is Facebook support for Business, and is business oriented but I have found myself also applying the concept to my personal life in that Monday motivator got me in the mindset of not only choosing a business thing to tackle each week but also got me thinking of my personal honey-do list which is equally as important.  We truly do not give enough thought to self-care as we plod through our lists of things we do for everybody else every day!!

This week's project is going through a variety of blog drafts and blog tangents.  Bloggus-interuptus you could say.  The muse left mid-post or the blog went on too long.   There have been a number of comments on how I haven't posted in a while.  

I have also been contacting a variety of contacts and clients, just to reconnect and regroup as needed.  It's amazing the value of a "Hey, I thought about you today!"  to someone's day.  I've rekindled a couple of writing projects I'd been percolating in the process.  

I'm calling it a win :) 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Checking off Milestones

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Today marks the end of a week of milestones for our family. Taking posession of our home 12 years ago (August 2nd), The 1st anniversary of Bosco's arrival to our family (August 4th), My sister-inlaw's birthday (August 6th), and today our 21st anniversary.