Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday, December 14th, 2007 - Oncology Report

Dearest Bloggy,

Ok, this is getting downright silly!! The last entry in the blog was December 3rd.. back when we had some snow??? But, but, but... that was 11 days ago!! I'm sooooo sorry to have been so tardy with the entries. Hmmm... maybe that should be my New Year's resolution. Forget peace and good will to mankind... I'll consider myself successful if I can just be more frequent with Bloggy entries :)

Ok... first things first... yesterday's appointment with the Oncologist staff:

Anywho... yesterday (Friday) was my visit with my oncologist to go over the results from the CAT scan I had done the week before. This was the first post-chemo CAT scan and the first of many "Diagnostic" plans for how they will keep watch over me like a hawk. The CAT scan is just one of many diagnostic tools they can use, along with blod work.

Soooo, the results from the CAT scan were very good in that they did not show any return of the cancer in the intestinal area (or surrounding organs). They also did blood work and did a "Tumour Marker" test. Now, this is not to say they are "marking a tumour"... it's just the name of the test. What this does is measures levels of a substance in your blood called CEA. Higher levels of CEA would indicate reason to believe there is an active cancer in the body. I had a Tumour Marker test a few months ago (while I was still on chemo) and the levels were very low which is a good thing. This week's Tumour Marker results showed an elevated level in CEA.

The first doctor that sat with me was an intern... and I believe they are getting "patient interview" experience at the Cancer Agency. He was nice enough, but he certainly didn't make me feel at ease. There is a huge difference between those doctors with excellent bedside manner (like my oncologist, Dr. Gill) and the newbies... who can put more fear in a patient not because of what they have to say, but how they say it. He said that the CAT scan results were good, but that the Tumour Marker results were concerning. So, after we had our appt. I asked him if I was going to see Dr. Gill today (yesterday) and he said yes.

For those who don't remember seeing a picture of my favourite oncologist, Sharlene Gill, here is a picture of the two of us. It is wonderful to feel comfortable with your doctors/specialists... but it is phenomenal to have someone on your team who is so extremely bright, super knowledgeable in her field of expertise AND is compassionate and can relate to her patients and put them at such ease....




Thank goodness!! Her whole attitude is so positive, compassionate and you know she KNOWS what she's talking about. She said that she is not at all concerned about the Tumour Marker results at this time. She says that they could be a blip in my system, a "false positive" or numerous other possibilities and nothing to get too excited about. She said that we will be doing these Tumour Marker tests every couple of months and they probably will fluctuate over time. Meanwhile, the next one I'll have done will be in February and if, at that time, the CEA levels are up even higher, then we will look at having a PET scan (which is a total body scan vs a CAT scan which focuses on one particular area).

So, the good news is that there is no regrowth of cancer in the intestine or surrounding organs (according to the CAT scan) and the elevated levels of CEA may or may not mean anything. But either way, the team at the Cancer Agency will be on top of every diagnostic tool and if they do find something, they will have caught it at an early stage and we will go back into treatment.

Oh.. and yes, she did mention the lump that was found on my adrenal gland (above the right kidney) that was actually found during some CAT scans during the surgery in 2001 (which no one told us about). They found it again with the CAT scans during the intestinal surgery last January but said they were pretty sure it was benign since it hadn't grown at all in 6 years. So they are keeping an eye on that as well. Apparently, it has grown somewhat over the last year, but even benign growths can grow, so she isn't too excited about it at this time... and it is something they will keep an eye on.

It's wonderful to know I have such a fantastic team... and that, for the next 4-5 years I will be watched like a hawk. I'll actually be in safer hands than most everyone who has no idea if they have cancer or not. They could get one and not know it... hence not be treated for it. Whereas no cancer will stand a chance of getting past my team :)

Not only that... she is thrilled that I'm going to go to Hawaii. She says that this is the best thing I could do for myself. What with our wet, chilly, gray Pacific Northwest winter... this is creating havoc with my arthritic joints. The chemo and 8 months of toxins have really done a number on them and she says that the climate of Hawaii... the moist, WARM air will do me all the world of good. She is pretty sure that the warmth will make the joints that much more comfortable and the more comfortable I am, the more movement/activity I'll be able to do without pain. So it's a win-win situation and she is so glad I am going. Hahaha... had I known she was going to be so enthusiastic about her approval, I may have tried for staying longer!! LOL!!

Now, I could have sworn I had taken some more pictures that I was going to share on here, but alas, the memory is foggy. I'll have to go searching for them and see what the heck I was thinking :)

Meanwhile... it is getting awfully close to Christmas!! For the first time that I can remember, I am NOT finished my Christmas shopping!! I am one of those people who usually have it all done by sometime in November... but not this year! I haven't even started wrapping the gifts yet (on today's agenda to get that started!). I don't think I'm going to even attempt to go to the stores on the weekend... I don't have a death wish (chuckle). I have earmarked Monday for finishing my shopping... and Tuesday if need be because my friend, Alison and I are going out for lunch on Granville Island on Tuesday. So any last minute items, I'll do on the island :)

Ok... I really will try not to be quite so long inbetween blog entries. I wish EVERYONE who is reading this entry a safe and successful shopping/wrapping/socializing week or so before Christmas :)

Hugggggs,

Cheryl

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007 - Snow and Rain!

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, I'm hoping this entry finds everyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest who is reading this blog, safe and warm and over the worst of the first snowstorm for the winter of 2007. I don't remember the snow last year, other than when I was in the hospital, I think there was a day or two when we got a light dusting... oh, yes and we got lots of ice because I remember Bridget couldn't come home when I got out of the hospital. I was not able to go get her myself since I was not able to drive for about 6 - 8 weeks after the surgery, and I didn't want to send anyone out to get her when the roads were so miserable the weekend I came out of the hospital. So yes, I guess we did get snow and ice last year... just not this early ;)

Anywho... Bridget seems to be an old hand at it... it didn't phase her at all. Here she is in her pretty pink jacket that she got from Auntie Jill this summer when we were doing Grease. It was too warm in the summer for her to wear it then and be one of the "Pink Ladies"... but it's perfect for when it's cold here in the winter.





As for me... what can I say? The last entry was November 23rd... it's now Dec 3... and it's been quite the 10 days or so. For some reason, be it a reaction to the meds, a chemo effect or who knows what but it's become quite noticeable that I have been retaining water. Actually, it started back around the 5th or 6th chemo session. They weigh you every two weeks before chemo and whereas most people LOSE weight while on chemo, I was one of those lucky (NOT!) few who GAINED weight. Every two weeks I would be up 6-8 pounds... so it didn't take too long to gain back all that weight I had lost pre-surgery.

Back around the middle of November, it was really noticeable. Not only was I noticing it in the fit of my clothes, but walking was getting really painful. My feet were swelling to the point where I could not put my feet into my shoes, not even my Crocs or my sneakers (and we all know how big Crocs are... ugly looking things but usually very comfortable to wear). And forget putting my sneakers on... my feet were so swollen the toes and front part of my foot could not get into the shoe opening. Also, my legs were swollen... the shin was ballooned out and very shiny.

Sooooo... Dr. Fay (GP) did some checking and my heart is fine and my circulation is fine (Phew!!) but he said we have to get the swelling down and get rid of the excess fluid build up.

He put me on a heavy duty diuretic and both he and the pharmacist said that with this diuretic, I will be making a lot of trips to the loo. I didn't mind ... anything to get rid of this pain and the weight gain (which is sooooo frustrating for me). Just as an example, I had been to him 2 weeks before to get a refill of a prescription... and 2 weeks later, I had gained 26 POUNDS!! Hello?? So, he gave me the diuretic pills and wanted me to start them the next morning... not that same evening otherwise I would be up all night going to the loo. So, I started them as planned but there were no extra trips to the loo... everything was the same as normal, as was the swelling and the pain. He wanted me to come in on the Monday (3 days later) and was very surprised that the pills didn't do what they were suppose to do... then again, we do know I have this high tolerance to meds ;)

He put me on a second diuretic... another strong one. So now I'm on two strong diuretics. The first one, I take 3 pills every morning, the second one, I take 3 pills three times/day. Again, no noticeable extra trips to the loo. But OMG! Last Wednesday afternoon, it appears that I came down with a tummy intestinal flu or bug... so now I'm having to be in the loo a lot (and not just for water retention). Cramping, tummy pain, the runs... all things that reminded me of how I was just before I was admitted to the hospital. Those are definitely not the kind of feelings you want to have... too many memories! This lasted right through until Sunday morning... I really thought that I was having a relapse!

But then I also noticed... my feel looked smaller. Why, wouldn't you know, I could get them into my Crocs. I could actually go up and down stairs easier. Sure enough, come Saturday I could put my sneakers on again (thank goodness, because that's when we got out big dump of snow and the thought of going out in the snow in flip-flops was not my idea of a good time (grin)).

Today, I went back to the doctor and YIPPEEEE!! I have lost 12 pounds since Thursday (4 1/2 days). Dr. Fay said that my feet/legs look much better... and he noticed my skin colour was much better.

Hahaha... we also got talking about the movie "Spinal Tap" which he says I have to rent (I haven't seen it yet) since we found out we both are fans of Christopher Guest. Now, it may sound like we were just making light conversation about old movies, but in fact, he has done this before ... and he's really checking my reflexes and quickness to responses. We are still keeping tabs on some of the chemo reactions, IE: Chemo brain. The chemo does such a number on the whole body since it is given through the blood stream, hence it goes through the brain, heart, etc. But, I think I passed the "conversational" test (grin), even though I haven't seen the movie.

So, I'm to stay on the diuretics for the time being... to get rid of the rest of the excess fluid. It would be nice to lose most of this water weight BEFORE I go to Hawaii Jan 3rd :) I need to be able to at least walk to the beach where I can plunk myself down... then be able to walk back to the hotel :)

Well, it's once again the pumpkin hour... almost midnight here! Bridget has already gone to bed, so I'm going to do a couple more emails, then I'm off to bed too.

Next week (Monday) we start the annual Letters To Santa project! But, I will fill you all in on more of that when we get closer to the date :) HO! HO! HO!

Ciao for now!

Cheryl

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 23, 2007 - Sunny, cool days.

Hiya Bloggy,

Ok, so now we are getting to the point where entries are not weekly events. Hmmm, I really have to get a bit more diligent about these entries but I think it's kind of like email. I'm soooo far behind in email too, so I'm thinking that it must have something to do with less time being spent on the computer and more time spent out and about, as much as is physically possible.

The last blog entry I was whining about the pain in my legs. Well, I'm still whining about that! Grrrrrr!! I have since heard from others who have had long bouts of chemo treatments that they, too, have experienced pain in the legs post-chemo. Part of the reason for the pain is the swelling... my feet have swollen so much that I can't wear my shoes or sneakers. Even my crocs are not big enough for the swelling in the feet... hence I'm back to wearing flip-flops. Hmmm... not the best footwear as the weather is getting colder! Of course, there's also the arthritis in the knees, but combine that with swelling in the area of the shins, we are talking a lot of discomfort.

As of today, I have been put on a heavy duty diuretic to try and bring down the swelling. Apparently there is a lot of fluid retention, so hopefully the diuretic will eliminate that, hence eliminate some of the pain. We've noticed a lot of rapid weight gain (just what I need... NOT!). In the last 2 weeks I have gained 20 lbs!! Yikes!! And we were gaining throughout the chemo as well. This does NOT make me a happy camper at all!

But, enough whining. Apparently my circulation is good and there are no problems with my heart, so those are two good things... and two more things I don't have to worry about.

Meanwhile... have came will travel! I've been taking in a fair amount of shows this past 2 weeks. Let's see ... "Mary Me A Little" which is a Sondheim show was excellent. Tucked away in a little venue behind the Havana Restaurant on Commercial Drive... it really was a little gem of a show. Then I went to a script reading at the Arts Club Revue Stage. The script was "The Fall of Sister Judy" written by local playwright Shawn MacDonald... and was very well done and received. Also, went to see "High School Musical" out at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver with Shel, Jill and Jaime. Talk about an energetic show!! 2 hours of sheer energy! Also went to see, in the same week, "Rejection 101" which was a workshopped musical written by Grant Hunter and directed by David C. Jones. Another local show that I was really impressed with. So it just goes to show there is lots of talent in this city!!

Next on the Agenda will be to go out and see a local production of "Side by Side" by Sondheim on Wednesday and at the beginning of December, "Suessical" produced by Carousel Theatre. Then I may have to take a break from seeing shows for a bit because we will be starting the Letters To Santa project on Dec 10th... ok, so I also have a few shows scheduled to see in December, but just not as many as I was seeing ;)

Now, you all keep your fingers crossed that my legs are feeling better tomorrow. It is the Christmas Craft Fair at the West End Community Centre and I want to go check it out for 2 reasons. 1) My friend, Maddalena, is going to have a table there where she is selling her line of jewelery so I want to check that out and 2) she has put the bug in my ear that I should be doing something with my photography. I'm thinking I should combine it with my scrapbooking interests and produce local cards... and may check out ideas of other card makers at this Fair.

No other news really to report at the moment. I did break down and buy the "medium" size suitcase of the set I reported on the last bloggy entry so now I have a set of three of them in the bronze/copper colour:



Bridget and CB are doing fine... they are such spoilt pets, but then isn't that what it's all about?? All pets should be spoilt!! Here's a picture of little CB in her aquarium...



And then the Diva, Bridget... who has not only taken over her pillows on the couch buy my pillows as well...



Oh, and let's not forget those rainy Vancouver days when she comes in from one of her walkies and insists on having her rain towel...



Well, I must dash now. I'm meeting Stephanie this afternoon so had better go get ready! Ciao for now and I hope everyone has a great weekend (belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends).

Cheryl

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007 - Windy! Windy!

Hiya Bloggy!

Yes, it's me... in the wee hours of Monday morning! I was sleeping through the wind and all but was woken up after 3 hours because of my $(#)(@*@ legs! Hard to say if it's the arthritis in the knees or the crazy pains in the feet... or a combination of both. Heck, it could all be due to the healing process which is an interesting journey on it's own. Who would have known that healing, which we see as a very positive thing, can also be a physically painful thing? I didn't! For some reason, I just assumed that once we stopped the chemo treatments... and since I had done so well on them... the healing portion would be a piece of cake. Uh... I'm learning differently ;)

Soooo, here it is, 4:46am. I went to bed about 1am, read a bit, fell asleep and was back wide awake by 4am because of the pain in the $)(*)_#@ legs! So, I have taken a 400mg Motrin and a 5mg Oxycodone. 45 minutes later I think they are starting to kick in... keep your fingers crossed!

For those of you reading the blog who live in the Lower Mainland, and/or Victoria... what about that wind we are having and have had all night, eh?? Not quite as bad over here in the West End as that storm last November that devastated Stanley Park, but still... pretty strong winds. What is really interesting is that next door to me, just outside my living room windows, they are redoing the underground parking (fixing cracks, re-insulating, etc). So they have all the entrances to the underground tarped off (you'd almost think it was a leaky condo building except it's only the underground parking that is tarped off). Well, the winds have been going all night and the huge tarps are now shattered into shreds. Being that it's a long weekend for Remembrance Day, the company that is doing the work won't be here until tomorrow (Tuesday)... so when they get here they are going to find those tarps in a real mess :) I see the rains have now started too... oooh, it's nasty out there! I sure hope it blows over by 10am or so when I'll have to take Bridget out. She is not going to want to go out if it's like it is right now :)

Speaking of Bridget... it was her birthday yesterday. Yes, the little darlin' is now 10 years old! I can not believe I have had her for 9 1/2 years!! I got her when she was 6 months old. At the time, I couldn't understand (and still don't) why anyone who got a puppy at 8-10 weeks old, could then turn around and want to give it away at 6 months. I know it happens a lot for a variety of reasons... I just have never understood how people can do it. Hahaha... and I had no intention of taking on a 6 month old puppy! I figured that there must be something wrong with the puppy... whether it was for health reasons or behavioural problems. I had seen the ad in the paper and since it was in the neighbourhood, I decided to go have a look. Not to take on the puppy, but I wanted to see what a young miniature schnauzer looked like... I had never seen one, and at the time I think I had only met one adult miniature schnauzer. I did have a list of what I was looking for in a dog... non-shedding, non-excitable, non-barker, well-behaved, etc. Hahahaha... well, as soon as I saw Bridget, she ran circles around my head when I sat on the sofa, she barked and yodeled up a storm at me while I was trying to talk to her owners and get health information from them... and she was downright hilarious, demanding I pay attention to her and not her owners! She was everything I was NOT looking for in a dog... other than she didn't shed and it sounded like she was in very good health. So, for $700 (what they were asking for her), I told them that I must have her... in that one visit we fell in love with each other... and have been ever since!

I mean... how can anyone not fall in love with this little face and little cuddler?



And fall in love, I did... at first sight! I had taken on the responsibility for looking after this little bundle of energy. This picture was a picture of her at about 5 years (I don't have any of the puppy pictures on this computer... I'll have to dig in my various disks to see if I can find them. A lot of pictures from 10 years ago are hard copy 35mm pics... I didn't have a digital camera back then).

Anywho... I have no complaints of the last 9 1/2 years. Bridget has been nothing but a source of joy from the moment she came to live with me. At first, I was a little concerned since she never did have a moment of separation anxiety from her owners. I had taken a week off work so that we could bond and I would be there for her if she went through any kind of anxiety or separation problems. The little monkey didn't have one moment of being upset... and we bonded from that first day. I do know now, she can get anxious when I leave her with friends and don't come back at night... but as long as she is with people she knows in a home/environment that she knows, she does pretty good and does settle down... but she is definitely a Mommy's girl :)

The difference between what she was like when she was a puppy and what she's like now? She tends to sleep more. She is perfectly content to stay home (where she is super secure) and she will sleep all day and all night. At the same time, if you take her out for a walk... she is raring to go and will walk forever... acting just like she did when she was young...full of spunk and perkiness! It does upset me somewhat that I can't walk like we used to, so she is NOT getting the long walks that we used to go on. I'm a firm believer that a dog remains healthy if they are exercised daily and fed a good diet.

Ok... what else has been going on this week? Yes, I HAVE actually started my Christmas shopping!! I guess I should since there's only what, 42 days left until Christmas? I enjoy Christmas shopping if I have an idea what I want to get people. It's when I don't have any ideas that it can be frustrating and I have to question why we are doing the gift thing when no one can come up with ideas of what to buy someone? It obviously means that we really don't need anything so we are just falling into the commercialism of it all. When that happens, I do not enjoy the shopping experience.

This year, we are doing something different (different for us) for the family Christmas gift exchange... and I think it's going to work well. In the past, we have always bought for each other. Since there are no "children" in our family, it meant we were all buying for adults.. .and there are now 11 of us when you include spouses and extended family. 11 gifts that you aren't necessarily able to come up with ideas for all 11 people... not to mention the expense because this does not include friends. So, we are doing the "everyone throws their name into a bucket, then everyone gets one name they have to buy for", instead of 11 people. Along with the name, the person has put together a list of things they enjoy, need or suggestions for what they'd like to have. This gives the giver an idea of what would be appropriate for that person... and since none of us are buying for all 11, we can afford to give them something they actually could use or enjoy. When we get together at Dad's on Christmas morning... the gifts will all be under the tree with the name of who it's for on the tag and they all will be from Santa... so the givers remain annonymous. Other than Dad (grin)... he will get gifts from all of us, so he will be pampered on Christmas morning from all his offspring and extended family, who he has helped out throughout the year :)

Hahaha... but, with any Christmas shopping... I fall into the common trap where the intentions are to go out and get gifts for others, and I end up buying for myself!!! LOL!! This year is no different :) While over on Robson Street the other week because I was there for an appointment... I hobbled around to some of the stores. Lo and behold, there was a luggage store. Now when I woke up that morning, I had no intention of buying luggage... nor had I thought of that on any other day. But there we had all these sets of luggage and I got to thinking (danger! danger!). When I go to Hawaii, I use a hockey duffle bag, which works great as far as enough room goes. You can get a lot of stuff in a duffle bag!! Only problem is, there is no support in a duffle bag. When you pick it up by the handles on either side, the bag collapses in the middle. Not a big deal but awkward... and you do need some physical strength to lug the thing around since it doesn't have wheels or a handled to navigate the bag.

Well, there was this set of bags that were gorgeous... a totally different colour than I have seen in luggage before. I couldn't buy the whole set, but I did end up buying the big bag and a carry-on bag that has compartments for a laptop, accessories, as well as for meds, a change of clothing, documentation, and I can put my purse in it as well. Here's a picture of the two bags I got:



I love the copper/bronze colour. There are plenty of compartments so both pieces can hold a fair amount of luggage and accessories and one can definitely be more organized than with the duffle bag that had one compartment... the inside of the duffle bag. I am seriously thinking of going back to the store this week and getting the medium size bag as well. The bigger bag (which is in the picture) is perfect for smaller trips... but I'll be gone for almost a month in January and since you can check two bags, it makes sense to have them for when you need them. If I leave it too long, there will be no way to get a matching bag... so I'm justifying the cost (grin)

Oh my, but this is a lot of early morning babble... and I haven't even made a cup of tea yet! I'm just enjoying the quiet early morning hour and watching the storm outside, while doing a major blog babble :)

I did go see a production of Sondheim's "Marry Me a Little" on Friday with Shelley and Stefan. This little production is a real gem when handled well and the group that put it on did a wonderful job with it. It was put on at a little theatre venue in the back of the Havana restaurant on Commercial Dr. I thoroughly enjoyed this show, with a cast of 2 (3 when you count Kevin Michael, the musical director who was also part of the show). The show involves 3 single people, each in their own apartment, and through song, face the angst and joy of falling in love. The director, Peter Jorgensen, and the set designer, Lance Cardinal, pulled it off real well with a single apartment set, but where the actors treated it as their own apartment... and you really did believe they were in separate apartments. The show has another week's run and is really worth seeing. I'd also advise going for dinner first at the restaurant... fabulous food!

Ok... I think this is enough babble for now. If it's still windy when it gets light, I'll try to get a picture or two... but for now, I'm signing off!

Ciao!

Cheryl

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hey Bloggy,

Remember me?? Ok, this is getting downright silly!! Am I going to have to finally face the reality that I make a lousy blogger?? What was it, Oct 21 was the last entry?? And it's now Nov 6th??

The sad thing is so much has happened since Oct 21st but, due to the faulty memory (which I blame on the chemo and on mentalpaws), I can't remember them all!! Isn't that sad?? It either means I have a very busy social life or a very faulty memory (grin).

So, I'll just babble instead and we'll see what comes up. Two weeks ago was my last chemo session. That meant I was given some chemo intraveneously at the Cancer Clinic on the Monday, then I wore the chemo pump for the last time for 46 hours until the Wednesday afternoon. Yipppeeee!!! It definitely is a good feeling to know that that part of the journey is over! 12 two-week sessions of Chemo and 6 weeks of daily radiation (3 zaps per day) are now over!

Now comes the long, slow process of healing. That is a lot of bombardment of toxins to one's body and it's amazing that I've come through it still in relatively good condition. Ok... so there are some things that maybe wouldn't be considered the best of conditions.

Walking is now definitely a bit of a challenge and I am currently using a cane for balance issues. It's hard to say if the problem is the nerve damage in the feet or the arthritis that has now been really aggravated by the chemo. During this past 8 months of chemo, I have not been allowed to take any arthritis meds because they are considered anti-inflammatories... which would react with the chemo. Anti-inflammatories (Advil, Ibuprofen, Arthrotec, etc) + Chemo is NOT a good combination. But what this means is that I have been 8 months without arthritis meds and, well, let's just say there are more joints than ever that a feel arthritic ;)

While actually getting the chemo, I was also taking a steroid called Dexamethasone. I have to admit that this steroid did seem to be a wonder med... while on it, there was no nausea from the chemo and no pain from the joints. It works great on arthritis and keeps the inflammation down... but alas, apparently one can not be on it long term. It is strong and can, over the long term, cause osteoporosis and/or diabetes. It also (rats!) can cause weight gain... which I have noticed to be true. Now that I'm no longer on the steroid, I guess the body is now missing it, so it's sort of like going through a withdrawal. Every joint and muscle in my body aches... and the "tireds" can hit when I least expect them. Of course, along with this comes insomnia, so it's hard to know when I am actually going to get sleep... I just have to take it when I can, and rejoice when I actually sleep through the night. I'm not sure how long this will all last. I was told that the symptoms get worse before they start getting better because of the accumulation of chemo in the body. Oh well, one day at a time, I guess... I've made it this far so on to phase II which is the recovery/healing phase!

Meanwhile... I seem to be going out for lunch here and dinner there with friends, so that has kept me distracted while going through that last two week session.

Also, this is where we start to really have to juggle. Starting next month, the annual Letters To Santa project begins. I really did think I'd have to cancel it this year because my friend and assistant, Melinda, couldn't do it this year. Lucky girl is going on a cruise at that time. I figured, with my energy levels not being reliable, there is no way I could do my own tasks with the project as well as take on Melinda's... on the other hand, I couldn't disappoint that many families, let alone my team of 22 volunteer letter writers. So we have tweaked the project somewhat and another friend from Oregon, Diane, has volunteered to cover for Melinda. So it looks like we are going to go ahead with the project! HO! HO! HO! I will definitely be putting more about it here in Bloggy when we get into the thick of letters and answers :)

Oh... and then there was the next crisis. If you all recall, my desktop computer up and died on me in early September. I ended up getting a brand new 20" iMac, which I love!! What a beauty of a computer!! So all has been going well with Molly Mac, when, for no reason, my laptop (iBook G4) up and died last week!! HELLO??? Am I jinxed?? It's not like I have a lot of money coming in to deal with these crisis', being that I'm on Long Term Disability. On the other hand, I am planning on going to Hawaii in January to recover where it's warm and the warmth is always good on the achey joints and muscles... and I MUST have my laptop with me while out of the country!! That is one of my favourite things to do when on vacation... after a day in the sun and sand, to come back to the room and relax with the lanai door wide open and check on email and what friends are doing back at home :)

So, I'm panicking about having a dead laptop and where am I going to get the money if I have to buy a new one? I took the laptop into the shop yesterday and the techie there took the battery out, plugged the machine in and held down the power button for about 5 seconds and VOILA!! The sound of the bong when a Mac powers up! So Maggie Mac is as healthy as ever...and it didn't cost me a cent. Yippppeeee!! So Molly and Maggie Mac are just fine :)

Next... my little darling diva, Bridget. She, too, is as fine as ever. As a matter of fact, she is soooo used to having me at home now, she actually thinks she can order me around! Can you believe that??? Here is a prime example. She has her "Squirrel-Watch" chair which the back is covered in her sheepskin and she will sit up there and watch for outside squirrels. That is her chair and she will spend hours up on the back of it either watching for squirrels or just napping. There is another matching chair that is not covered on the back but Bridget knows that's not her chair so ignores it. Today, she decided she was going to go up on the non-Bridget chair and I told her "No". Did she listen to me?? Of course not!!



Here she is being defiant and sitting up on the chair even though it is not convenient for her... but she is going to do it just because she can (grin).

Oh sure, I could be stern an make her get down... but sometimes she just cracks me up! :)

Oh, some of you who are reading the blog, I had sent samples of my Fall 2007 pictures I took the other week... so you may have seen these, but I'm going to put a couple here for those who haven't seen them. I really enjoy being able to go out with the camera and spend time taking pictures. The frustrating part right now is I can't walk more than a block... and even then, with the cane. Sure isn't like the old days when I could take Bridget out for a few hours while we would wander about and take pictures. But hopefully that will all come back with time. Here are some of my pictures I took the other week:





















Ok, I better stop here. Blogspot is going to be bringing Bloggy and all her friends down for maintenance in about 20 minutes, so I better get this uploaded before they do that :)

You know I will be back... I just never know if it will be in a day or two, a week, or like this time... a couple of weeks :)

Ciao for now!!

Cheryl

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, Oct 21, 2007 - Rain, Rain and what? More Rain!

Hiya Bloggy!!

And a wet soggy Sunday this is!! Actually, it's been a wet soggy week with more rain on the way!! Arrrrrgh! I don't mind "rain" per se, but every day?? Where are those gorgeous Fall sunny days that are crisp and you can go kicking leaves when you are out for a walk? Not to mention, I'd like to take my camera and get some shots of the pretty leaves and stuff! I miss being able to just put Bridget on her leash, grab the camera and just head out! Since I'm now (temporarily) relying on the help of a cane when out walking... we don't get to go too far. But still, if it was sunny, I could still find things to take pictures of ;) And I do plan on getting back into my puttering around with photography!

Well, now speaking of photography and Bridget. I think I mentioned last time that Bridget was finally going to get her haircut... which she did!!! So let's have a recap... here's a picture of her just before her grooming:

Poor little bedraggled doggy!!

But then, here she is AFTER a good bath and haircut:

Now doesn't she look more like a schnauzer?? :)

Soooo this is Bridget, looking more like the breed she is... not to mention it always looks like she's lost 5 lbs after she's been to the groomers (grin). Hmmmm...maybe that's the key... maybe I should be going to a dog groomer!!! LOL!!

Ok... continuing on the picture theme... I was playing with my new computer and the built-in webcam late last night. Greg and I had gone out for dinner and then to the Applause! Musical Theatre's fundraising Cabaret. Before we left the apartment, he had flat-ironed my hair ... and since I still had some makeup on, I figured I'd get a few pictures before I headed to bed. I wasn't expecting much from a tiny webcam that's built into the top of the monitor, but hey... all things considered, the pictures didn't turn out so bad...

In no particular order...















There we go... not too bad, eh?? I think my favourite one is the black and white one. The photo software that comes with the new iMac is the updated version of iPhoto, and I really like it. I would like more features but of the features it has, it's pretty ok in my books :)

Well, this past week was spent going to theatre things and catching up with some friends... as well, catching up with sleep! It was also the week that I had to finally admit that the pain in my heels/feet was enough that it was causing me to have problems with my sense of balance. So, I am (temporarily) having to use the assistance of a cane when I go out walking. Not all times... this morning I was actually feeling quite ok and Bridget and I went out for our morning walkie sans the cane... but if I am tired or just having one of those days, then I now have the cane to assist me so I don't have to do the "I've fallen and can't get up" commercial :)

Well gang... tomorrow is IT!! Ok, tomorrow (Mon) and (Tue, Wed) will be my LAST chemo session!! Yep... this will be the 12th session of my chemo therapy and the final one!!! Yipppeee!!! I never thought we'd get to the end of them!! Originally I was told there'd be 12 of them (but found out later that most people with this type of cancer can only get through 6-8 of them before their system indicates that that is all they can tolerate. Since I was getting 5 1/2 weeks of radiation, my oncologist wasn't sure how much my system would be able to tolerate. Just before the radiation in the Spring, Dr. Gill said that she thinks with the amount of chemo I had gotten (4 sessions) plus the radiation (25 sessions of 3 zaps each), that she thought my system probably would only be able to handle 4 more chemo sessions after the radiation... so we were aiming for the 8 sessions in total. Well, come #8, my bloodwork was still doing fine, so she said we'll go for the 10 sessions. Hahahaha... I thought I was finished come #10 and she said the bloodwork was still showing great cell reproduction so we'll go for the full 12. HELLO?? I will have completed the full cycle!!! With the accumulation of the chemo, I can be found looking sleepy at times... ya, I can get tired easily (grin)... so another two weeks and then I start the full recovery process... and healing from the inside out.

SOooooo... wish me luck on this last session!! I'm so looking forward to starting the healing process which I'm assuming is much easier than the actual chemo process :)

Well, I'm about to sign off now because, even though the rain has not stopped, I'm going to have to drag Bridget out in it to go for her afternoon constitution. But, before I go.... I want to wave (wave wave wave) to my friends, Doug and Marilyn, who were over this weekend from Shawnigan Lake!! "Great to see you two again, even if us gals did see men hanging from signs and they weren't real men!! (grin). See you in Hawaii!!!!"

Ok... I know I've forgotten to mention lots of stuff this week... but I've learned to just go with the flow :) I'll be back later!

Ciao!

Cheryl

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 - It's AUTUMN!!

Hiya Bloggy,

Ok, this time it's been even longer than a week since I last posted and the funny thing is... I was going to post MORE often, not LESS often... how did this happen?? :) Let's see if I can make up for it!

For starters, before I get blabbing, I just have to share this adorable video... any pet owners will love it :)



Ok... moving on after that touching little pug... where I last left off, I had come down with a nasty, nasty intestinal flu bug and on the same day, a bronchial bug. Trust me on this one when I say, this did NOT make for a pleasant few weeks. On top of that, the decision was to go ahead with Chemo #10 two weeks ago... so I had a system fighting bronchitis. In the short term... it was probably one of the most miserable couple of weeks I've had to go through in a long, long time. In the big picture, it just goes to show how amazing my system is. Here it was fighting two nasty viral bugs, bugs that antibiotics would not be able to help because they were viral and not bacterial ... and at the same time, my system was dealing with the chemo killing off the good cells that normally would be fighting these bugs. Go figure, eh?? Kind of expecting and asking my system to do the impossible. But it did come through. The intestinal nasty flu bug lasted 48 hours, which is pretty standard for anyone who gets it... the most horrid 48 hours but once it's run it's course it's over. The bronchal bug is a little different... back in the old days when I smoked, I would get bronchitis that could last upwards fo 6-8 weeks. Well, I'm pretty much over it now and so it took 3 weeks... half the time it used to take and I wasn't on chemo back then! Before I was given the chemo, I had to do blood lab work to see if my system could tolerate the chemo... sure enough, my blood work was excellent... showed that all the red/white blood cells had been replenished, even with these two bugs.

Ok... that was two weeks ago. For the past two weeks, I have to admit, I was much tireder, especially during the second week which is the week I usually get back to normal. Of course, was this the bugs that were keeping me down or the chemo? My oncologist said that I'm doing a phenomenal job because the accumulation of the chemo over 10 sessions is enough to bring the strongest person down, so she is not surprised at all that I am more tired. She, again, reminded me of what is going on in my body. My GP keeps reminding me, but I guess it hasn't really sunk in and I keep comparing my energy levels to that of how I was before the journey began.

Ok... so in this two weeks, one of the things I did was go to Steve Oben's parents for a family Birthday celebration (birthdays in Sept/Oct). I just have to share some pictures here... not that most of you will know any of the people but I am still playing with my NEW iMac (Mac Molly) that I just love!! I really am getting to quite like the new version of iPhoto that comes with the new Macs. Here are some of the pictures and little Stephanie does NOT like getting her picture taken, so I had to be sneaky and would tell someone else at the table to smile while pointing the camera at her... and she thought I was taking a picture of the person I told to smile. Gotta love child psychology!! :)

Isn't she adorable?? 3 years old and talks up a storm... she just doesn't like getting her picture taken

Hehehe.. this is the one that is priceless. I was telling Don to smile, so Stephanie didn't realize I was actually taking her picture. Of course, Don didn't clue in and asked, "Why do you want me to smile, you aren't even looking at me??" Men!!

Here are the birthday kids!! On the left, Elise who turned 12, Sandra, her mom (who didn't reveal her age) and Don, who had his 40th birthday.

This is a picture of Steve, which I turned into a B&W. Steve is one of my best friends and definitely head caregiver/organizer when I needed it... and if I were to need organizing/caregiving again.

Isn't this sweet?? Bridget and Elise were in the family room, away from the noisy crowd and watching TV. It's this picture that I realize how badly Bridget needs a haircut... her head looks bigger than Elise's... and really, under all that hair, Bridget has a tiny head!

Ok... moving on. This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. I did not make any plans this year because I really didn't know how I was going to be feeling, or how far from home I could go. Not to mention, I had no idea if I was going to be able to shake the two bugs I had. Well, the weekend came very quickly and when I decided that I was feeling ok, I had no plans... and most everyone had left town! Yikes!! But, Greg and Jo and I got together and went out for dinner... and I did have some quality time at home with friends and neighbours in the 'hood. But it did take me by surprise!!

The forecast for the Thanksgiving was suppose to be rain, rain and more rain. So what a pleasant surprise when Thanksgiving Day was a beautiful sunny Autumn day. Bridget and I went out for a walkie, just in the immediate neighbourhood since the feet have started acting up again. Hahaha.. so here are a couple of pictures of my little diva who soooo needs a haircut!!





Hehehe... two things that I think are funny about these pictures of Bridget. Notice her droopy ear?? The hair is weighing it down more than usual!! Usually just the tip droops, but now the whole ear is drooping!! Also, look at the second picture... she is balancing on the very corner of the water fountain... she cracks me up!

So, fast forward to today... I guess I better type fast because Bridget is talking to the door handle, telling the door to open up, she wants to go out for her nightly quick-quick in the back lane, and then go to bed :)

Today I was at the Cancer Agency just before 10:30am for Chemo Session #11. I asked which chemo room my friend, Rita Wong was in... but she was in a different room than I was scheduled for. Not only that, our favourite chemo nurse, Leanne, was in a different room. So, since I was early, I went to Rita's room to say Hi. We were yakking and her nurse said that she would see if she could get me changed to her room. Rather than redoing the paper work, the nurse I would have had (Franciska) came down to the new room and hooked me up... then she kept coming back to rehook the new bags then hook up the chemo pump that I'd take home.

When I was finished, Rita said, "Is an hour up already??" Actually, it was about an hour and 20 mins. but it sure went fast. We had a lot to talk about, even though we had only met 2 weeks ago. We have been keeping in touch in email :)

As expected, I've got a doozy of a headache. When I came home, I did have a nap this afternoon, but the headache is still there. Of course, that is not new... it happens every session. It's the med Odansteron, which is used to make sure I don't get the ugly nausea, etc. It works great for that... so I'm not complaining.

BUT, someone IS complaining right now!! Bridget is now really yodeling at the door, so this is her telling me she wants to go out now. She is such a stickler to routine... she knows she has to be taken out before she can go to bed for the night... so out we go!!

Ciao for now!!

Cheryl

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007 - Another week goes by

Hiya Bloggy!

Well, I guess it has been about a week or so since the last update. I guess we are just not going to get into daily updates no matter how good the intentions... time just goes by too fast.

A little recap since last Thursday's entry... if you recall, I was hit by two bugs... an intestinal flu bug and a bronchial bug. Well, it was the intestinal flu bug that made me feel like life couldn't get any worse, but luckily that little bug only lasted 48 hours. It's the bronchial bug (that I still have) that appears to be knocking the wind out of my sails. Well, that combined with the chemo treatment this week. I've been very good and laying low this week, but even though I don't have any energy, I'm already starting to feel cabin fever. Like I just have to get out and do something, yet, I don't have the energy to go anywhere or do anything. I know as soon as I can kick this bronchitis, I will feel much better!!

Anywho... perkier days to come, I'm sure! I know my doc wants me to just let these bugs work their way out of my system but I'm thinking I may go in to see him tomorrow and tell him I want some help to kick them out of the house...they've overstayed their welcome ;)

Well, let's see. Last weekend, on Sunday we had another little Gal Pal get together at Nancy Herb's. Arranging these can take some juggling because us gals all have such different schedules. But we eventually find a day/time that we can all meet up... and yes, we will include our token favourite gal pal guys too. Greg couldn't make it this time because he was in NYC, but John could, so we did have our token gal pal for the occasion. I definitely was not feeling my usual perky self but well enough not to miss out on the fun, laughter and medicine that having good girlfriends together to share the bonds of friendship. Here are some pictures that I took and played around with on my new iMac :)

This is Truman... is he not adorable?? He is a Giant Schnauzer that Nancy is now his new Mom. He is a rescue dog and is the most gentle giant! Even Bridget, who is scared of big dogs, loves Truman. I would steal him in a minute if I knew I could get away with it!


Hehehe.. a goofy, cute picture of Nancy and Lynda. I'm not sure what we were doing that caused these faces but they were funny!

Awwww... sicko Cheryl and John. He's not afraid of any old bronchial bug!!

My long, lost buddy... Teryl! Teryl and I were best of buddies back in our younger days. We were inseperable! Then, for some reason, we drifted off on separate paths and lost touch. Lots of years have gone by where we both tried to reconnect and find each other but kept missing each other. We re-connected just a couple of weeks ago and it's WONDERFUL to be back in touch!! Just like the good old days!!

Here is a picture of Kim... laughing because she was in the washroom when I opened the door and said I needed her picture (grin)!!

Jill and Maddalena! These are friendships that go back 25 years and more!

So, that was Sunday's fun. On Monday, it was back to the Cancer Clinic for Chemo treatment #10. I really wasn't sure if they would be able to go ahead with it or not because of feeling so lousy with the two bugs I had come down with. First thing in the morning I had to go to the lab and get my blood work done. This would be the deciding factor, depending on the test results. Then it was up to the 6th floor to the chemo unit. I had to explain to the nurse about my symptoms and she got in touch with Dr. Gill (oncologist). They went over my results which, once again, had come thru with flying colours and figured it was worth the risk to go ahead with the chemo rather than throw the schedule off. I had orders that, over the next few days if I were to come down with a fever I was to get in touch with Dr. Gill immediately.

Soooo... I got hooked up to a bag of the Fluoroucil as a booster which takes 40 mins, and then hooked up to my chemo pump. Meanwhile, the chemo nurse, Leanne, is one of my favourites. She has a great sense of humour! Another patient, Rita Wong, showed that she had a great sense of humour too so the two of us had a great time yakking, teasing Leanne and just making the time pass by quicker. It turns out, Rita has the same type of cancer as I did, was taken to the same hospital, ended up having the same surgeon and now has the same oncologist. So we have a lot in common... and got along great! We are now keeping in touch in email.

On Wednesday, Nurse Andrea came by the apartment and unhooked my chemo pump. I was expecting that today, Fri, Sat and possibly Sun will be rough because my system will have to fight the chemo fatigue as well as the bronchial bug. Well, no sign of the "queasies" or stomach upset... and I didn't even think I was tired. But (grin), I must have been because Bridget and I didn't wake up until 10am... and then went to lie on the bed and read a book at 2pm and don't even remember falling asleep, but when I opened my eyes it was 6pm! So much for Thursday, huh?? Of course, here it is almost 11:30pm and I'm wide awake!! :D

This weekend I have kept my social schedule clear just because I know I have to give enough time to kick this bug. And kick it I better because I do have some plans for next week. Then the following week which will be Chemo #11 week, I already have 3 social commitments lined up... so there's no room for bronchitis or flu!

Well, I have to tell you all... I am having an absolute hoot with Facebook. I know, I know... yet another site to keep track of and who has the time?? But it is a neat site in that you can make your community as big or small as you want. I love it for finding old friends and keeping in touch with them because let's face it... I'm having a heck of a time keeping up with email! And yes, I know I owe a bunch of you out there who are reading this blog, email. I don't know how I got out of the habit because I used to be soooo good with it but now I just can't seem to keep up. But I LOVE receiving email so don't give up on me yet!! :D

Ok... I think I'm going to close this entry for now and actually go to email and see if I can get a few more out to people. Meanwhile, I shall be baaaaack!!

Ciao!

Cheryl

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday, September 20th, 2007 -- FLU!!

Dear Bloggy!

I have a good excuse this time why I'm late with any bloggy updates!! I have actually been meaning to for the last week or more... but one thing after another has cropped up and prevented me from doing it.

At first... things were going really well. I had a good weekend where my friend, Amanda and I went to see some Fringe shows on Saturday. What a great day!! We saw three shows and all three of them were great!! Hahaha... now if I were really good, I would get up and go get the proper names of the productions, but I'm going to guess at them... after all, it was almost a week ago (grin).

Fluffy... Confessions of a Dirty Puppet.

This show was hilarious and brilliant at the same time!! And then I found out a gal I worked with at the Waterfront Theatre when we did Honk!, Chorus Line, Ruthless and Suds was the head puppeteer (there were two of them). What a treat!!

If Tap Shoes Could Talk

I really enjoyed this show! A cast of two (married in real life). The man was an agrophobic and couldn't leave his apartment... but he could see his neighbour across the courtyard in her apartment, practicing her tap dancing. She was going to have a show and invited all her neighbours by leaving a flyer under their door. End result, you don't know if he went to the show, or he dreamed that he went ;) Very good show!!

The Kenny Rogers Experience

Now, I'm not a big fan of Kenny Rogers, but this was a wonderful show about him, his life and his music... with so much humour thrown in, you couldn't help but enjoy yourself, even if you don't care for Kenny Rogers.

Here's my friend, Amanda!! We had such a good day on Saturday!!


Here I am on Saturday. See the great colour on my hair?? I was starting to feel quite depressed with the mousey gray colour and although I'm not allowed to use colour chemicals on my hair while taking the chemo, I went to an Aveda salon and had them use their productes which are 97% chemical free :)

PS: In hindesight, I can see that I'm not looking my usual perky self. This was 2 days before I came down with the Flu/Bronchitis bug. So although I was feeling ok here... I had no idea that I be hit so hard in 2 days :)

Now... about 10 days ago (give or take) my desktop computer up and died!! Yikes!! This is the computer that I have all my data on for the web pages, etc. It also has all my photos which I have not backed up yet (about 2400 of them). It just up and died... and wouldn't boot up.

To make a long story short... it turns out that it will cost about $600 to repair the computer... more if they find there are problems with the mother board. Even $600 seems a little steep for me to be sinking into a 6 year old computer... so I've decided to go ahead and buy a new one. I am now the proud owner of a 20" iMac (all in one). What a brilliant machine!! I have left it at the shop and they are going to transfer all the data from my old desktop to the new one. For those of you who haven't seen the new look of th new iMac, you can see it here:

http://www.apple.com/imac/design.html

I am also getting them to put in an extra GIG of RAM so it will have 2 GB of RAM. I should not have any memory problems with the new machine :) It should be ready for me to pick up tomorrow sometime :)

Of course... this week just had to have it's downs too!! It was only a week ago Tuesday that I had to go to Emergency. Well, this past Tuesday I came down with the most vicious, nastiest intestinal flu bug and a horrible bronchitis bug. I really had my doubts I'd make it through both bugs this week. Tues, Wed and Thurs (today) were horrible!!! I went to my GP and he said that there is a nasty bug going around and because my immune system is compromised, I am feeling the nasty effects even more than the average person who gets it.

Luckily, tonight I'm feeling a bit better... well, quite a bit better. I'm now convinced that I'm not going to die :) But it will take me a few days to kick both bugs, at a minimum. I'm hoping the worst is gone by Monday because that's when I get more chemo (#10).

Which leads me to an interesting thing that my doctor (GP) said today. He said that he is amazed at how stoic I've been through this whole journey and he can't tell if I'm bluffing or not. I asked him what he meant because as far as I know, I'm not bluffing. Other than this week with the flu and I really thought that I may not make it through this horrid flu/bronchitis, I have felt pretty good throughout the whole thing. The days that I've been hit with the fatigue or tireds, I stay home and sleep :) And I do have my neighbours and friends who will take Bridget out for her walkies if I'm just too tired to take her out myself. But his take on it is that I am being bombarded with the toxins (Chemo) and then there was the 5 1/2 weeks of radiation... that my insides will be a war zone, and yet I keep on truckin' on as if it's nothing. Heck, I give more attention to the flu/bronchitis than I do to the heavy duty treatment I'm on. I told him that I really and truly think I must be feeling ok because if the treatments were anything like the flu this week, I would probably have quit months ago... and if not quit, I'd certainly not be a happy, friendly camper (grin). He said that he has had many people go through chemo/radiation for various cancers... but most of them have gotten a lot less than what I'm getting and their particular chemos have not been as intensive... and his other patients have not been so normal and positive. So that's why he's not sure if I'm just being very very stoic or if I'm in a lot of discomfort and despression and just bluffing when he sees me.

Hahaha... so I'm not sure whether to take this as a compliment or a criticism!! LOL! I'm going to give him a little benefit of the doubt because a lot of my friends have said how surprised, shocked, amazed they are when they see me and I'm just my usual self with no indication of a serious illness or cure. But I must admit, maybe it's not working in my favour :) Those who see me might not believe I'm going through a journey because I don't make a big deal of it. Oh, the confusion :)

Cheryl

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday, Sept 12th, 2007 - Pumpless :)

Hiya Bloggy,

Yep... I'm finally pumpless for the next 11 days or so. But what a trip this has been this week! Last night (Tuesday), I ended up in St. Paul's Emergency. I was watching Canadian Idol (yayayaya Brian!!) and just before the end of it, I noticed the site where the needle goes into the portacath was leaking. Well, that could only mean one thing... it's leaking chemo because that is what goes from the pump thru the catheter to the portacath via the needle. Well , I did have to watch the ending of Canadian Idol... after all, it has been going on all summer and this was the big FINALE!! :)

Once it was over (10pm), I called Mimi and Nathan who live upstairs and asked if they could drive me to Emergency. I figured that it probably was just not right that the chemo was leaking ;) Even though the pump was going to be coming off today at 1:30pm... that was still over 12 hours away and having the chemo not going where it was suppose to didn't seem like a good idea to me.

Soooo, off we went to Emergency. I told Mimi and Nathan not to bother waiting around with me. After all, we had no idea if I'd be there for 10 minutes or 10 hours. I could always take a taxi home since the hospital is only 7 blocks away :)

Well, I ended up being there 2 1/2 hours... but most of that is sit and wait. The staff were concerned about the leaking chemo but it was obvious that they do not get a lot of chemo patients coming in via Emergency and they had to have doctors look up the drug and figure out what they should do. Heck, I could have told them... lock off the catheter, take the needle out and replace it with a new one, then turn the chemo back on. Hey, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but that made sense to me ;)

Apparently not to them. They had to look up the drug and see how toxic it was for skin contact. That's all fine and dandy, but meanwhile it is still leaking so if it IS toxic to skin, it's not going to get any better leaving it. Duh!

Anywho... eventually they got an IV nurse to come and unhook me. Then she wanted to rehook me up but couldn't find the portacath which is right under the skin because there was so much build up of fluid (chemo) that the portacath was under all the fluid.

Finally, she found it, put in the new needle/cath and rehooked up my pump. I then had to wait for the Emergency doc to come and check things out. He was very nice and wrote down everything which will go to my GP and Oncologist. I finally was set free and could go home :)

Today, I went to see my GP (Dr. Fay). He pretty much has the same attitude as I do. What's done is done, so will this have any affect on the future treatments or should we be doing anything different? Naaaa... he checked my skin and I am having absolutely no reaction to it having been exposed to the liquid chemo. I beez a tough old bird!! :D The fluid build up of last night is already being absorbed so there is nothing to indicate any problems.

He did give me a prescription for Cipro (antibiotic) which is for my back which had that infection flare up last session when I got so run down and feeling so sick because of the Oxaliplatin... so that will clear that up lickety-split, but I do have to finish off the cycle which is a 7 day supply. But, what the heck... if the chemo leakage was going to cause any problems, the Cipro will prevent any infection.

Soooo, here I am tonight, catching up on the blog and figuring out how to try and update the laptop with information that was on the desktop. Hehehe... I figure, the more I put on the laptop and get it up to date (hahaha... that could take forever!) then you know the desktop will come back all fixed up with everything intact :)

Okey dokey... guess I should wake the little diva schnauzer up and get her outside... hahaha... she likes this working with the laptop in the bedroom... she can sprawl out on the bed and snooze!

ta ta for now!

Cheryl

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday, September 10th, 2007 - Computer Crash!

Dear Bloggy,

Oh the worst has just happened!! My desktop computer has just up and died. I have no idea if it is the power source (which would be a relatively easy, although not cheap, problem to solve) or if it is something more serious... like the fact it is a 6 year old computer!

Right now I'm on my laptop, but I'm having problems with connecting it to the internet with my home cable hookup. I have no idea what THAT is all about!! Arrrrrgh!!

So this is not turning out to have been the best of days. I did have a fabulous girls' chat with my good friend, Jill... we went for coffee and ended up chatting for 3 hours. Then I had to dash to get hooked up to the chemo pump... but first, Leanne, my nurse had to put me on a 30 minute drip of a solution before she hooked me up to the pump.

Then I had to come home to the disaster of the desktop computer. I'm fit to be tied! It's not like I have the money to run out and buy a new computer... and even if I did, that wouldn't solve the problem of all the information that is on the crashed desktop being needed to put on a new computer. ARrrrrgh!

Well, I guess tomorrow I'm going to have to figure out how I'm going to get the sick desktop to the Mac Hospital and see what they have to say about it.... then take it from there.

Meanwhile, the laptop will only work in the bedroom by hooking up to Nathan and Mimi's internet connection since they are upstairs and Nathan had originally given my laptop permission for using his wireless.

Can it get any more complicated than this??

Cheryl

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007 -- Glorious Fall!

Hiya Bloggy,

Ya, ya... I just sat down to do an update and I realize I better take Bridget out for her last constitution of the day. She looked at me earlier as if I should jump at her beck and call but I ignored her, so she went to bed ;) She is not going to be a happy camper when I go to wake her up to take her out. Be right back.

.... 15 minutes later....

Ok, I'm back, but cracking up!! Bridget just seems to run my life and she has no idea the power she has over me. I called her from the living room, but got no response (what an obedient doggy... NOT!). So, I got her leash from the back of the door while slipping into my shoes... and again I called her. Nothing. So I went to the bedroom door and this just cracked me up! No wonder she wasn't coming when called.... she was very comfortable where she was, thank you very much!!

Hahahaha... well, I just couldn't let her have the last word so I told her to get her little butt out of bed and let's go outside. I also made her do two big stretches before I put the leash on... just because she's so darn cute and gets away with far too much :)

Ok... now where was I??

Oh right... I think the last blog entry was a short one because I was really not feeling well last weekend. That was one nasty chemo week where, I was still feeling horrible by the weekend. I actually ended up feeling ill right through until that Sunday (Sep 2) night. This past week has been MUCH MUCH better... although, I have noticed how much easier I get tired.

Well... the ongoing saga/journey of chemo vs cancer. It turns out that the reason I was so sick last weekend was because of the "accumulative effect". All things considered, I've been handling the chemo pretty darn well, and much better than a lot of others have. The reason for this is, apparently, I have very healthy bone marrow. It's the bone marrow that regenerates the red and white cells that the chemo kills off. The chemo is used to kill off any bad cancer cells, but chemo doesn't know a cancer cell from a red blood cell from a white blood cell... so it kills them all off. If your red/white blood cell count gets too low, then you feel horrible... the lower the count the worse you feel. The majority of us just take our red/white blood cell count for granted... after all, it's not as if they do anything to us to warn us that they are important. But they are extremely important! It's the white blood cells that are the fighter cells and they are the ones that fight off infections. So if you have never had an infection, then your white cell count is at a healthy level and is taking care of you. If you have had an infection, then the speed of your recovery will depend on the health of your white cell count.

Sure enough... I was down for a couple of days (4 1/2 to be exact), which meant my fighter cells were low... so yep, you guessed it. I came down with an infection. I have this chronic lower back cyst that flares up now and again (gee, usually when I'm burnt out and tired... hmmmm). It hasn't flared up for about 2 years but as soon as I was down for the count, the infection moved in. Grrrrr!

But... the good news.... the bone marrow replaced the dead cells and I'm back up to scruff again... and those white blood cells are now taking care of the infection, so all will be good in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile... back at the ranch. I had an appt. to see my oncologist, Dr. Sharleen Gill on Friday. I so admired her and she is one of my all time heroes! Of course, I had to have my blood work done. I have to have it done before every chemo session. The results of the blood tests determine whether we can proceed with the next chemo session. Once again, I passed with flying colours. I would love to have known what my results would have been last weekend when I was so sick... probably pretty darn low! Anywho... eeek.... Dr. Gill said that my blood work shows that my system is pretty darn strong and she would like to add an extra 2 chemo sessions to my plan. Here I thought I was down to the last 2 sessions (total of 10) and now she wants to go the full 12. She says a lot of people don't get past 6 or 8, but I have held strong through the 8 I've had and she thinks I can make it through all 12. Since this particular type of cancer has a high risk of returning, she wants to bombard me with as much chemo as my system can tolerate.

What I love about Dr. Gill is she is so understanding and compassionate. When she heard that I was the sickest I had been last weekend, she said that my body is probably giving us the message that it has had enough of one of the chemos. Since the Oxaliplatin (the one I get by sitting in the chemo chair for 4 hours) is the one that is known to have given me problems (super sensitivity to the cold, headaches, lightheadedness, dizzy, unstable balance, etc) she says that this week we will NOT do the Oxaliplatin. So, I will have a 3 week break from the Oxaliplatin (Yippppeeee!!!) I will be hooked up to the portable pump tomorrow for 46 hours... but I'm expecting to ace that and for the next 2 weeks I should feel fine!! YIPPPEEEE!! I'm so looking forward to 2 weeks where I don't have any days where I feel like death warmed over :)

So that's it for my update on the chemo treatments.

Now... what else? Hmmm... the other week I went to a tap dance demonstration put on by students of a friend of mine, Jennifer Bishop. I LOVE tap and I think it's great that more and more people are taking classes just for the fun of it! And what a pleasant surprise!! About 20 years ago, I had a best friend named Teryl Rothery. We were inseparable! I don't know what happened but I think we just got involved in different interests and then, before you knew it... we had gone our separate ways. She went on to being in film and radio. There's a series that is shot here in Vancouver called Stargate... which she has an ongoing character in. I'm not a science fiction kind of gal, so I haven't watched the show. Anywho... the long and short of it is we have reconnected and I'm so happy about that. Here are a couple of pictures from the tap demonstration... not that they give the reader too much... you had to be there :)




The second picture is kind of dark so I'm not sure you can see too well... depends on your monitor. But in both pictures, Teryl is the second from the left and Jennifer is the second from the right. Ahhhh... now if only my feet would heal enough so I could take one of these classes just for fun. Of course, I would have to take a real beginner's class (grin). Way back in my younger days, I did take tap classes from Valerie Easton (for you Vancouver Theatre buffs). I have since forgotten everything I ever learned, plus I never did put it to any use. Meanwhile, Valerie has gone on to have had a family and now has two extremely talented daughters and she now choreographs for the Arts Club and Royal City Musical Theatre (just to name two).

Nothing too exciting happened this week... well, I did go out for lunch and had a lovely time. But for the most part, I kept this week free of commitments because I wasn't sure how I'd be feeling.

Oh wait... no, there was something very exciting! I was getting depressed because my hair was driving me crazy. Greg, wizard that he is, has been doing a fabulous job with keeping it cut and cut in such a way that any thin areas have been hidden. But I have not been able to get it coloured because chemo and hair colour chemicals can clash. But the mousy gray and mousy whatever the colour was that came out only made me more and more depressed. The chemo also completely dries out one's hair, so I had this frizzy dried out mess.

Soooo... I took myself off to Ego, a hair salon that specializes in Aveda products. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Aveda products... they are fabulous, although pricey! They use 97% natural product and only 3% chemicals in their hair colours. Anywho, Jody heard my tale of woe and he took me under his wing. I came out of the salon with a gorgeous, natural colour... and healthy hair!! I LOVE JODY!! :D Here's a picture, but it doesn't really do me or the hair justice. I'll try to get another one taken soon.

Look!!! NO gray!!! No frizz!!!

Well, that's about it. Hahahaha... today I went to London Drugs because once again my printer was complaining about an empty ink cartridge, so I picked up a set of them. Hahahaha... look at this car that was parked outside the store. I have seen it driving around before and it isn't advertising anything, I think it's just someone's private hobby. Amazing about all the detail!






Notice the water fountain on this last picture. Unbelievable!

Well, I'm going to leave you all with those images. Tomorrow is another chemo day, but I'm expecting it to be an easy one (famous last words!) I don't have anything too exciting planned for this week since I try to keep chemo weeks relatively free. I'll be meeting Jill for coffee tomorrow morning before I head off to the Cancer Agency in the afternoon... otherwise, I am pretty free this week, which is a first!

Again... if anyone is on Facebook... look me up and let's connect. I love Facebook!!!!

Ciao!

Cheryl

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Saturday, Sept 1, 2007

Hiya Bloggy!

Ok, this is just a quickie to check in. I've been meaning to update Bloggy for the last couple of days, but it's been a rough couple of days. Dr. Gill, reminded me that the last couple of chemo sessions could be the roughest as the chemo accumulates in my body. Yikes!! She was not kidding! Since Wed night it has been really rough and not something one wants to live through on an ongoing basis. I have two more chemo sessions to get through, which will take up the month of September. If you don't hear from me too much in September, you will know this is what I'm going through.

Tomorrow, if I'm not too dizzy or queazy, I'll be going out for brunch with my friend, Amanda. Keep your fingers crossed!

On Tuesday, I am going to be going to an Aveda Hair Salon to see if they can put some natural colour product in my hair to cover the dullness an mousy gray. A girl just can't live with this dull colour, even though one isn't allowed to colour their hair with chemical products while on chemo. I'll leave it to the experts to perk me and my hair colour up :)

Well, I have a few pictures and chit chat to add, but for some reason, blogspot is soooooo slow, it's taking me forever to type this. Talk about a delay from what I type and when it hits the screen!

So, I'm going to call it a night... and hopefully blogspot will speed up another day :)

Ciao!

Cheryl

PS: Anyone who is on Facebook.com, look me up and add me to your friends list! I hang out there to keep track of everyone :)