Friday, April 30, 2010

i bought a swimsuit

And I posted about it for BlogHer.

I won't say the search wasn't traumatic:

I rejected suits that didn't cover my scars, that were two big, too small or both at the same time. I worked up a sweat trying to get tangled bathing suit straps over my shoulders, often resulting in a look that was reminiscent of a wrestling uniform. I cried a little bit. Regular suits left me feeling too exposed and mastectomy suits bagged on the chest when I was not wearing a breast form.

You can read the rest of the post here. I even posted a picture of myself, wearing the swimsuit.

I didn't get to far on my to-do list this month but these are accomplishments (the doing and the writing) of which I am proud.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

all clear

I got my CT results yesterday - via a very casual voice mail message:

"This is A. calling from the Cancer Centre. Your scans were normal. Thank you."

So there you have it. That's almost three years clean now.

And now on to making two birthday cakes (D. is 7 today), cleaning the house and doing the myriad things one needs to do before going away for a few days.

I'm not living the life I imagined for myself, but I'll take it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

really random news

1. According to an article in the Globe andMail, women and men respond very differently when they are on the recieving end of an apology:

“Women who are starved of an apology for rude or hurtful behaviour suffer an increase in blood pressure which can raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke, a study found,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “But those who hear a well-timed ‘sorry’ calm down more quickly, with their blood pressure returning to normal 20 per cent faster, the research showed. Conversely, a man’s blood pressure takes 20 per cent longer to recover after an apology – suggesting men become more worked up after hearing an admission of guilt.”

2. My sister sent me an article from the CBC web site this morning, about a colossal cookbook typo with the subject line "Oops." I've made some pretty big errors by not proofreading properly but this tops it all.

3. My friend, O. posted a story to Facebook today, with the headline "Woman with parrot perched on face arrested after throwing inhaler." Note to self: Don't throw an inhaler while a parrot is standing on your face. You will be arrested.

4. I'm still waiting for my CT scan results, which could be why I'm letting myself be distracted by all this silliness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

buckets of pink sh*t

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know how I feel about corporations selling pink crap in the name of "breast cancer." I even have a "don't buy pink crap" tag that use pretty regularly, especially in October.

There have been some pretty awful pink products sold over the years but in launching "Buckets for the Cure," KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure have sunk to what may be a new kind of low.

This stupefyingly bad idea was brought to my attention by Clergy Girl, in a post called "Buckets Of Saturated Fat For The Cure" over at Mothers With Cancer. She writes:

This was a sell-out Komen.  Did you ask anyone with breast cancer how they would feel seeing that big pink greasy bucket of chicken?  Was someone going to lose their job if you didn’t raise cash quick?  I really don’t get it?  Research also shows smoking and alcohol consumption are clear links to cancer, so why not team up with Marlboro or Bud Beer?  It’s not just about money, and quite frankly, don’t raise money on the backs of research that is clearly linking to cancer promotion.  Please!
Shame on Komen for lending it's name to this outrage.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Have you ever blogged about the search for a bathing suit?

Are charcoal barbecues worse for our health and the environment than gas barbecues?

How do you organize your time and set priorities so that the most important things get done?

Did you watch Glee last night? Did you think that it wasn't as good as you remember?

How much do you need to spend on a bicycle if you plan to use it to boot around town, a few days a week from spring to late fall and you want it to last a really long time?

How do you take care of coloured hair when you swim regularly?

Also, I dreamed that my cat came back from the dead. Do you remember your dreams? What do you think this one meant?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

how it's done

Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes things go wrong that are not anyone's fault but someone has to take responsibility for making things right.

Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize that this is a deeply held value of mine, one I am trying to share with my kids. Mistakes don't necessarily make me angry but I can get royally pissed off profoundly annoyed when anyone - adult or child - tries to shirk responsibility. On the other hand, when people step up, acknowledge their mistakes and make a genuine effort to make things right, my resentment tends to evaporate entirely.

Some examples:

1. A few weeks ago, a received a notice from the Ottawa Public Library that a digital book I had ordered was ready for download. The same day, the library's new web site went live. When I tried to download my book - one I had requested months before - I found that all my requests had been deleted from the library site.

I was extremely disappointed. I immediately (and without much hope) sent an email to the library's tech department. The next day (a Saturday), I received an email informing me that they were aware of the problem and attempting to fix it. I was impressed with the rapid response.

The following Monday, I was sent another email explaining what had happened and that the problem had been fixed and informing me that I would be put to the top of the list for this book.

I was thrilled.

2. Last week end, my family ordered takeout from the Foolish Chicken. We have eaten there many times. Every experience has been extremely positive. This time, however, there was a mistake with our order.

We had ordered a ceasar salad with our family meal. When T. went to pick it up, he was asked if ours was the order with the ceasar salad and had confirmed. When we opened the boxes at home, though, we had a green salad.

I was tempted to let it go (the salad looked just fine to me) but S. had really wanted a ceasar salad, so I called the restaurant. My call was immediately transferred to the owner. He apologized profusely, explained what had happened (an order that was virtually identical - but for the salads - had gone out at the same time) and said that if T. were willing to come back and get the right salad, he would throw in some free dessert.

We were thrilled.

3. As I wrote in yesterday's post, I have asked for and received permission to cancel my chemo and herceptin treatments for April. However, when I arrived at the cancer centre last week, I discovered that my treatment for March had inadvertently been cancelled as well.

I went ahead with my bloodwork while staff attempted to figure out what had happened. Each person with whom I spoke (the staff on reception and the nurse who was trying to contact my doctor) made me feel as though they were working hard to get things sorted. A short while later, the woman who does the chemo bookings (someone I know to be extremely competent and accommodating) came to find me in the waiting room. She admitted, in front of a room full of people, that the mistake had been hers and that she had corrected it.

I was both relieved and impressed.

4. When I had my treatment that afternoon, the nurse administered the vinorelbine (the chemo drug, known in the US as Navelbine) right after the Demerol and Gravol (US readers know this as Dramamine). I promptly fell asleep. I woke up more than an hour later, thinking it would soon be time to go home.

Then the nurse came to hang my Herceptin, which takes ninety minutes.

Since the vino only takes ten minutes, I wanted to know what had been happening while I was sleeping. The nurse (not the same one who'd set up the vino) just shrugged and looked at me like she didn't understand the question.

I was too stoned and tired to push matters but I'm pretty sure that they'd just forgotten about me for a while. No one tried to explain or apologize and I was inordinately annoyed.

Mistakes happen. How we deal with our mistakes is what matters.

Friday, April 09, 2010

pictures big and little

I woke up yesterday morning with a sore throat and a headache.

Here we go again. Having a compromised immune system is no picnic. In the last year, I missed my Toronto book launch because of the flu, got H1N1 on the day the vaccine became available, was hit by Norwalk virus when my spouse was away (and found myself crawling along my kitchen floor with a can opener to "make dinner", got pink eye and more little flus and colds than I want to count.

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells. It also destroys the cells that fight illness. Despite the fact that I try to limit my exposure to germs, wash my hands regularly, get enough sleep and eat well (not to mention the ten doses of Neupogen with which I inject myself after every treatment), I seem to fall prey to almost every little bug that passes my way (and when you have kids, lots of little bugs pass your way).

I am, literally, sick of it (I've also had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. That had nothing to do with my immune system and was mostly just an annoyance. And when I realized that I did not have a brain tumour, I was actually kind of amused in a "of course this would happen to me at this point in my life" sort of way. Also, my golden, Emma, had a couple of bouts with geriatric vestibular disease, which I think is basically the same thing).

I need a break from chemo and I'm taking the month of April off. On the day when I would normally be at the cancer centre, I will be travelling home on the train from Toronto with D. (we will have been visiting grandparents, hanging out at the Bat Cave at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Science Centre).

I'm not losing sight of the bigger picture, though. I have a CT scan today (abdominal and thoracic) and I am worrying about it. 

Because I always do. 

I'm fretting about my veins and how many times (and where) they'll have to poke me before they can inject the contrast but I'm also anxious about what the pictures will show.

Hopefully, everything will look normal and healthy, except for the scars that cover my liver. Hopefully, I can add this to my least of clean scans. And, hopefully, I can keep going through this routine, with the same results for years to come.

I haven't started to take the clean scans for granted. I doubt that I ever will.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

10 things to do in april

This month, I actually wrote up my 10 things and posted them over at BlogHer on April 1st. And then, I let chemo and the long Passover/Easter weekend sidetrack me. I seem to be somewhat lacking in motivation on the blogging front these days. 

I have lots to say but I don't always feel like saying it.

Perhaps blogging should be on my list of May 'to-do's.

For now, though, here is how I did in March (completed in blue, partially done in green and not even started in purple):
1. Finish re-reading the draft of my novel (carried over from February). I discovered when I reached the end of the document that I had just stopped writing when I'd written the required 50,000 words. The story has no end. And needs some serious editing. That will be a goal for a future month.

2. Organize my clothes and my closet (carried over from February).

3. Graft the toes on the socks I'm knitting for my sister (carried over from February). It barely took an hour to finish these suckers. Should have done it ages ago. Now my sister will  have some nice wool socks, just in time for summer.

4. Do an average of 5 hours of cardio exercise every week (Revised from February).Really, this should almost be in blue. I fell short by less than an hour, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.

5. Make soup once. Sweet potato, spinach, red lentil. It was a recipe from my nutrionist (see below) and it was yummy.

6. Spend an average of 10 hours writing per week. I permitted myself to write this in green because I did do some writing in March but I didn't even come close to reaching my goal. I blogged 10 times and wrote in my journal with reasonable consistency but that was pretty much it.

7. Make and keep an appointment with a nutritionist to work out a plan to improve my diet, then follow it. I did do this one and have begun to make some changes to my diet. And, although I fell pretty much completely off the wagon over the long weekend, that was in April so it doesn't count.

8. Get my bike back on the road. It's been tuned up and ridden. When the weather is nice, I am going to continue to make my bike my main form of transportation.

9. Mend/wash/block my hand knit scarves. There are five of them. Three are mine and one is an unfinished present. None of them should take very long and it would give me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Update: After stepping away from this and considering what I have on my plate, if I get two scarves done, I will be happy. I finished one. Now it needs to be delivered to the recipient.

10. Buy a swimsuit that fits (ugh). I tried on a couple of swimsuits but didn't find any that comfortably fit my long torsoed, plus-sized, one breasted body. I initially thought I would carry this one over to April but have changed my mind. This one's traumatic and will be a longer term project.
So that makes (more or less) 5 finished tasks, 4 partially completed and one not yet begun.
I'm really enjoying this process. I'm getting things done that I might not otherwise. It's gving me a sense of structure and accomplishment. 
Here is my list for April:
1. Write a first draft of the short story I've been kicking around (I have a writing buddy now, who's going to give me feedback. I have promised to deliver something for her to read by the end of the month).

2. Spend an average of eight hours writing per week (I'm already behind but it's not too late to catch up).

3. Do strength training at least once a week and continue with the five hours of cardio per week (I am on track with the cardio but have done one set of situps exactly once, so I need to get moving on the strength training).

4. Sort through my clothes (carried over from February and March).

5.Make summer plans for my family.

6. Brush my big (shedding) dog once a week and my smaller (non-shedding, tangling) dog every other day (the little dog has been brushed twice, which is probably twice more than she was groomed in March).

7. Update my Ravelry project page.

8. Finish another scarf.

9. Make soup twice (I have a jambalaya stew in the slow cooker right now).

10. Get a hair cut.

It's not too late to play along!