One woman's stories, adventures, observations and rants, lived through and beyond metastatic breast cancer.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
It's Scribble Lace, using a recipe from Mason-Dixon Knitting. It's the simplest of patterns, knit on big needles.
The thin yarn (for those who care) is alpaca that I bought on a crazy trip to Stitches East (near Valley Forge, PA) in October 2002, while pregnant with D. I meant to make him a baby sweater but the years got away from me and it has now become a shawl and this scarf.
The thick yarn was created by the amazing Pocketina, of D.Y.I. not D.I.E.
My kids both clamoured to model for me (and to be on the blog).
I think S. looks quite dashing.
D. was keen but I couldn't get him to stand still.
It gives you some sense of how long the thing is, though. I made it long enough to be wrapped several times around the wearer's neck but it stretched like crazy when I washed and hung it to dry.
This lovely bit of purple-ness is destined to be a present for someone near and dear. I want to keep the thing for myself, I love it so much but I will make myself give it away.
I had better see her wear it.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I can't stop thinking, though, about my friend Flippy's recent "Idiot of the Day" post. It's funny, yet pretty scary; an American stereotype, illustrated.
I can tell you, though, having had a recent taste of regular insomnia, I would be ready to string the flag flying car dealer up his own flag pole.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Monday, May 28, 2007
sleep eludes me
Nothing like insomnia to make you go a little (a lot) crazy.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
output and input
T. wisely, decided that, in order to keep things manageable, we should focus on selling books. Despite my skepticism at the potential for success (we live on the edge of the neighbourhood, surrounded by neighbours who typically don't participate), I soon got into the spirit of things.
The process of culling our books was quite satisfying, although as I type this, I am looking at about 100 books that, although they have been boxed for years, we couldn't bear to sell.
We still managed to put together a respectable assortment, though.
I was impressed with the degree to which T. and S. seemed to be in their element, as they staffed our little table. They both seem to revel in the interactions with people as much of the selling of books.
They made almost fifty dollars, too.
And I am pleased to say that T. resisted selling our backyard table, despite receiving several offers.
S. spent his share on a couple of books that neighbours were selling, along with a Godzilla video and a Good Charlotte cd.
Partway through the morning, D. and I went to check out what our neighbours were selling. People kept giving him stuff. We only went one block and he came back with more than he could carry.
I hope he uses his charisma to do good in the world and not to fleece little old ladies out of their life savings.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
dear friends i visited on monday:
You are not toxic.
much, much love,
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
And to eat some chocolate.
I'm feeling much, much better.
Monday, May 21, 2007
And to avoid those that are toxic.
Unfortunately, this cannot always be avoided.
The price I pay for this feels higher than it once did.
I am exhausted today.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
am i being unreasonable?
The Ottawa Senators just won their conference final and are going to the Stanley Cup.
I know this is a big deal.
Is it right that I am feeling really annoyed with the neighbours who are sitting on their front lawn with a sign that reads 'Go Sens Go!' and a big Senators flag and getting drivers to honk their horns while they yell?
I have closed all the windows.
But it is really annoying. And loud.
Am I lacking in civic pride?
Friday, May 18, 2007
do's and don'ts for health care professionals
Don't look horrified when I tell you I have metastatic breast cancer.
Do ask my permission before turning my test/appointment/treatment into a lesson for a student.
Don't talk about me as though I am not in the room.
Don't ask me questions about my treatment that are irrelevant to the procedure being performed and/or outside your sphere of knowledge.
Don't tell me about your aunt/friend/cousin who was unsuccessfully treated for cancer.
Don't tell me that the above mentioned aunt/friend/cousin was unsuccessfully treated with one of the drugs I have told you has been part of my regimen.
Do thank me for my patience, especially if the test/treatment/procedure took twice as long as it normally would because you are still learning how to do it.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
My son wore me out.
D. is still awake and I am ready to pass out.
I hope this means he won't be up tomorrow morning at sunrise.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
i read a book today
And I haven't included the books I haven't been able to finish (including one I dropped after 350 pages because it was depressing the hell out of me).
This totally satisfies my compulsive list-making tendencies.
I also I had an echocardiogram today.
I'll write about that tomorrow.
Monday, May 14, 2007
a beautiful day
We had a late lunch (perogies and cabbage rolls, washed down with a cold beer) here.
I am kicking myself for forgetting to bring my camera. You will have to make do with these links.
The dog and I are both tired and content this evening.
And very grateful to C. for coming up with the idea for this trip and for making it happen (and for knowing about the woods and the perogies).
And then a week off.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
i don't have cancer
My youngest son, D. and I left the house at 1:30 this afternoon. He rode in the stroller and I pushed him.
We were bound for the library, but as he announced that he was taking a nap, I took the long way and walked for an hour along the canal.
We chose movies and books at the library and then went for pizza slices. I read to him (from the books he'd brought in his backpack) while we ate.
We then moved on to our local fair trade coffee shop for iced green tea with mint (me) and chocolate milk (him). We read the library books on the patio.
Then it was time to make stops for dog treats (for the dog) and a new toothbrush (for D.).
When our errands were done, we went to the park where I chased him around for a while and then chatted with a couple of other moms I know, while he played.
Then we went home for dinner. We had been out for four and a half hours.
After dinner I washed D.'s hair (despite his howls of protest) and then sat with him as he played in the bath. Finally, I dried him off, got him ready for bed, read him two stories and kissed him goodnight.
Does this sound like a day in the life of a cancer patient?
Not to me, it doesn't.
The pics were taken on Thursday evening, when D. opened his birthday present from my mom (it was her first chance to give it to him), a jean jacket and matching jeans.
No child has ever been more thrilled at a gift of clothing. The pictures were taken at his insistence. He calls this his "gangsta" pose.
He has clearly been spending too much time with the teenagers who hang around his home day care (thank goodness they are all really great kids). His first words Friday morning were, " I want to wear my jacket and jeans to show J. and J.," (his caregiver's sons).
When we pointed out that it was going to be way too hot out for the jacket and jeans, he countered with, "But I want to look cool."
He wore both pieces that day and has worn them every day since.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
nine quick years
My first born, S., makes me so proud to be his mother. He is smart, loving, funny and empathic. And he has a wicked sense of humour.
To be his mother is to constantly be surprised, challenged and to take great joy in watching him grow up.
And we do have fun.
Getting S. to smile in a picture is a challenge but I set out to meet this goal.
Posing him with his present, the complete Season Two of Doctor Who helped to elicit his trademark half-smile.
But what really got to him was when I imitated Pearl from the Landlord ("I want my money!").
I had to throw in a gratuitous shot of my boy and his dad. I love how much they look like each other.
But S. has his mother's eyes.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
a song by d.
"I love my Mama
And she is so beautiful.
But she doesn't read me comic books
She reads me books.
I love my Papa, too.
And he reads me comic books
And he reads me books."
every third tuesday
Friday, May 04, 2007
To paraphrase my ultrasound report, I still have extensive metastasis but my condition is "essentially grossly unchanged."
My other organs are "unremarkable."
There is no fluid buildup.
"IMPRESSION: Grossly stable liver disease."
Jeez, do you you think the radiologist could have qualified her opinions any more ("Please note that it is extremely diffficult to accurately compare between 2 ultrasound studies.")?
I'll take it, though.
My liver functions are pretty close to normal again, too.
So....still don't know what is causing the stitch but it's not bigger tumours eating my liver.
My doctor who works with my oncologist is going to order another CT scan (which can provide a more detailed analysis) but doesn't feel this needs to be done urgently. It will be ordered for a couple of months from now, as part of regular testing (and in lieu of my next ultrasound).
That reassured me as much as anything.
I am very relieved.
And about to pour myself a glass of red wine.
Thank you all so much for your comments, emails and other messages.
You are my support group.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
This was greatly helped by my naturopath who walked me through a terrrific relaxation exercise. And for the rest of this week, I have been dutifully repeating, "Every day and in ever way, I am getting better and better," along with the more cumbersome, "Negative thoughts and negative feelings do not influence me at any level of my mind."
And it's been working.
Today I heard that insistent voice that started as a whisper and built to a roar, the voice that reminds me that I was pretty damn positive when I first went through treatment and before I knew that the cancer had metastasized.
A fat lot of good it did me then.
But it is not helpful to imagine my tumours growing, imagine myself sick from a more toxic chemo regimen, imagine myself dying.
Or to imagine trying to explain to my children that Mama is dying.
Not helpful at all.
Mind you, I do believe in the value of a good meltdown and wish that tears came to me more easily.
But dwelling on the unthinkable does not help me cope with stress.
And there is some evidence that positive thought can actually help with healing.
So....all together now: "Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better."
Ultrasound results tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
the laws of domesticity
This is very unlike me.
The enthusiasm will likely wear thin really soon because:
a) in my house, as soon as you turn your back on something you've cleaned, it is messy again and
b) the more I clean and attempt to organize the more overwhelmed I get by all the clutter, crap and random bits of things I do not recognize. It's as though, at some point, a giant came along and took all our stuff (and we have a lot of it) put it all in a bag, shook it up and then distributed it randomly all over the house.
I think my days as a domestic goddess are numbered.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
food, glorious food
So it is a very big deal that I roasted a chicken. I know that I have written about doing this before (many months ago) but today I seasoned the thing with garlic (lots), turmeric and thyme and threw in a bunch of potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes.
I also made my own salad dressing (by my own, I mean that I modified a recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook but since I doubled the vinegar and the mustard and added an entire clove of garlic, I would call that improvising wildly), boiled some artichokes and made an avocado, lettuce and tomato salad.
All very simple but pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And all of it organic (we were gifted with a bin of organic veggies on the week end. I am enjoying this very much and it has inspired me to try new things, hence the boiled artichokes).
When everything was done, I went for a beautiful walk in my favourite spot in Ottawa (check this link out, the photographer, Richard McGuire, does a fabulous job of capturing this beautiful city), with my favourite walking companion.
I worked up a sweat.
He chased some squirrels.
We had a very good time.
I also had a great appointment with my naturopathic doctor today. We talked about food and supplements. I feel safe with her (she takes the care to research each supplement before recommending it and is working with my wonderful medical oncologist) and she doesn't try to overwhelm me with the changes I need to make (and she thinks dark chocolate is good for me).
At the end of the appointment, we did a relaxation and visualization exercise. This is the kind of thing I am usually really bad at but it worked. It really did.
All in all, today was a pretty good day.
And tomorrow I will finish cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen.