Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30, 2008 - Not a Happy Camper!!

Dear Bloggy,

Well, now I'm po'd! The Lung Ablation surgery was canceled and rescheduled :/ Apparently an emergency came up and, of course, as we all know (and I certainly don't disagree with it), emergencies get top priority. If I was the emergency, I would hate to bump someone's surgery but would be ever so grateful that I was getting treated because it was something that required immediate attention. But what I DO have a problem with is that the departments within the hospital, that supposedly should be working together are working in total isolation.

Before I could have this procedure done, I needed to have a pre-admission appt. where they do the paperwork, and do the tests that the radiologist has ordered. I needed bloodwork, a chest xray and an EKG, as well as a consult with an anesthesiologist, and a consult with a nurse. All together, this took about 2 1/2 hours and I had this done yesterday, in preparation for today's procedure. At no time was anyone I saw yesterday aware that there was, or might be, a cancellation of the procedure.

While I was going through all these various tests that had been requested, the interventional radiology dept. was trying to reach me at home to tell me that the procedure had to be rescheduled. While they were calling me, I was actually AT the hospital that they were calling from. Not only was I at the hospital, but I was in the radiology department for awhile at one point getting my chest xray done.

This is what has irritated me more than anything. How can a system be so lacking in communication that the patient they are rescheduling is in their department doing what had been requested... not only there for the pre-admission appt. but actually in their same dept. getting the tests done that the radiologist had requested for the procedure? But the right arm doesn't know what the left arm is doing... and to me, that is scary. I am no wizard, and certainly am not a doctor, but I KNOW if I were to observe what their current systems are, I would be able to tell them exactly what was falling between the cracks and could come up with a system myself that this kind of simple lack of communication could be corrected.

I KNOW they are busy. I KNOW that working in a hospital can be stressful. And I KNOW many patients are not the most fun to work with because for whatever reason they are there, it makes them irritable, cranky and sometimes downright gnarly. But there is no reason something like this should ever have happened when I was right there on the premises for 2 1/2 hours. Had I not been at the hospital and say was just out yesterday, so they couldn't reach me by my home phone and maybe I had left my cell phone at home, then I could understand it and would have been disappointed but perfectly ok with it. But I WAS AT the hospital in the same department and I DID have my cell phone with me and it was fully charged!!

I was just talking to Dr. Halkier's administrative gal just now to get the time for the new date and I asked her why she didn't call my cell when it was obvious I wasn't at home when she did call. She apologized and said that she didn't have a cell number for me on my chart, which I told her that not only did I give it to the pre-admissions clerk yesterday so it would be in the computer, I had also given it to the radiology clerk a couple of weeks ago when I went in for my CAT scan and consult appt. with Dr. Halkier. But, for whatever reason, it was not on my file that she had.

Anywho... I am very disappointed. I was looking so forward to getting this procedure done, and let's be honest, getting it over with. I'm not nervous about the procedure itself... it looks like there's a good chance they are going to put me under a general anesthetic for it and not the conscious sedation. They might start out with trying the conscious sedation but I am going to have to hold some positions for a fairly lengthy time, like with my arms positioned out of the way, so the anesthesiologist said it might end up being more comfortable for me to be out for the procedure (also, depending on how long the procedure will take).

I guess one of the positive things I can look at... the fact I was bumped, my situation is not considered life and death. With cancer, you never know, and too often the doctors do seem to talk doom and gloom... whereas I refuse to look at the doom and gloom side, I will only look at the positive side. Another positive... I really, really liked and clicked with this anesthesiologist, but he was scheduled for another OR area of the hospital for today. But maybe one the 20th, he will be my anesthesiologist and that would make me very, very happy. I'm sure the other ones are great too... but since I've met this one and like him, I want him to be in the room :)

So, January 20th is 3 weeks today... it's really not that far away, but it was a kick in the gut to go in this morning fully expecting to have the procedure done and then to find out it isn't going to happen. Thank goodness I have a good friend, Nancie, who was just a doll... having me stay over at her place overnight so that I'd be close to the hospital and not have to worry about the weather, I could bring Bridget with me and she will take care of her while I'm in the hospital (and took her for walks when I wasn't), drove me to the hospital and back both days... and took the time off work to do this extra running around. The doll is actually going to have me back on the 19th and we'll do it all over again for the 20th!!

Ok... just thought I'd let everyone know the latest update and why it hasn't been done yet. Yes, I'm still grateful that I have the opportunity to be a candidate for Dr. Halkier to do the procedure, but there definitely are some drawbacks when he is the only radiologist in BC who does this procedure. Should an emergency come up, it's not like someone else can take over and cover his Lung RFA procedures.



Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29, 2008 - Post-Christmas/Pre-Lung Procedure

Hiya Bloggy!

Well, I've been meaning to come in all day today to post an entry and it just didn't happen. Now, here it is almost 1:30am and I have to get up at 8am! Go figure, eh? I'm wide-awake right now... but talk to me in the morning. LOL!!

Just a quick note to say that Christmas was great, although, due to the weather I couldn't make it over to my friend, Steve Street's for Christmas dinner, which is a real shame! I hated to bail out the afternoon of, but the roads were just not clearing up on the side streets and Steve lives on a hill, on a road that is considered a side street so never did get plowed or sanded/salted. And getting a cab in this city when it's snowy/icy... well, good luck!! (That's a whole other story about Cheryl and Vancouver cabs! Grrrrr!)

Anywho... for those of us who have always wished we could have a White Christmas, we got it in spades this year!! Here are a couple of pictures I took Christmas morning at Dad's/Pat and Jerry's place...

My car is the black one behind the red one. Since I had only been there since the night before, there was very little snow on it... but you can see by the others, the snow had been falling for a few days!

Jerry's truck. Needless to say, it's not going anywhere soon :)

I'm not sure how tall this tree is but it is taller than me... and as you can see, the snow is creeping up to it. If it hadn't started raining on Boxing Day, this tree might have disappeared!

This road was well traveled and had been plowed a few times over the course of the week. The reason I show this is it is in much better shape than the side streets in my neighbourhood, which never got plowed! So you can imagine what our streets were like ;)

Bridget and Pedro on Christmas morning. Normally, Bridget doesn't care for all the noise and paper crunching, Christmas morning so goes back to bed and misses all the fun. But this year, she was quite happy to be social. But after it was over... she'd worn herself out and had to go to sleep...

Sound asleep under Mommy's coat... and that's where she stayed for most of the afternoon ;)

Ok, I really better get to bed. Tomorrow (or should I say later this morning), Bridget and I are heading off to New Westminster and will be staying at my friend, Nancie's tomorrow night. I have a pre-admission appt. at Royal Columbian Hospital tomorrow morning so there's no point in me coming home after it, only to have to be back in New West on Tuesday at 8am. So Bridget and I have packed our overnight bag and will be heading over to Nancie's in the morning. While I'm at the appt., Bridget will be with Nancie. On Tuesday morning, Nancie will drop me off at the hospital for 8am and Bridget will go with her to work. What remains to be seen is whether I will be discharged later on Tuesday or Tuesday evening or whether I'll be staying overnight at the hospital after my lung ablation procedure. If I have to stay at the hospital, then Bridget will stay with Nancie an they will pick me up Wednesday when I'm discharged. If I'm discharged on Tuesday, then we'll all three stay at Nancie's :) Poor Nancie has no idea if she has Bridget and I for one night or two nights :)

Sooooo, I'll get another entry put up on the blog sometime later this week!!

Happy New Year everyone!!! Send those positive thoughts my way for Tuesday and for the new year and let's beat this monster into submission and a 30 year remission :)



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 24, 2008 - Twas the Day Before Christmas...

Hiya Bloggy,

Yep... the holidays have finally arrived!! It is Christmas Eve Day as I'm typing this and, as most of North America is aware... there's a heck of a lot of snow on this continent at this time!!! Only the southern States seem to have escaped having a White Christmas!!

Now, on the one hand, I am NOT complaining! It has been years since we have had an official White Christmas here in the Vancouver area. I love it and think it's very... well, festive!! But can we talk some of the realities here??? Here is, yet another picture taken outside my living room window (I only have pictures taken outside the window because I have been snowbound in my apartment for the past 4 days!!)

You will notice where someone has tried to clear the driveway going down to the underground parking... well, a half hearted attempt because once they got through the snow, they hit 2-3 inches of ice and realized they weren't going to get far fast ;)

Here is another view, looking to the left:

They did say that this snow that is coming down would turn to rain by noon... hello? They have 10 minutes to change... and so far, it doesn't look like it's going to stop snowing for hours yet!

But, I have got my Christmas chores and tasks done! I managed to get my gifts wrapped and they are ready to get packed into the car. I, like everyone else I know, have really cut back on the gift giving this year. Due to the economy (ok, that gives me a good excuse) and just the fact I don't have a lot of excess cash, I had to do some major cutting. But what I did buy is wrapped and ready to be delivered:

Doesn't it look pretty? A little corner of gifts all gaily wrapped :) Of course, that does not include the laptop that is sitting under some of them!! Hahahaha... have just been too lazy to find a home for the laptop so it just sits around on the chair or the couch (grin).

Oh, and let's not forget the Holiday Baking I've been doing while being snowbound at home!!

This isn't all of it, but a good chunk of it! There are 5 dozen butter tarts, 8 dozen Cheese Crisp Cookies, 4 dozen Pecan Butter cookies AND a perfect Cheesecake :)

Then, let's not forget the laundry... usually I don't get that done until after Christmas, mainly because I'm running around and have totally forgotten :D

Yep... Mommy's little laundry helper!! Ok, so she's not doing such a great job of folding and putting stuff away, but she's quite content to just supervise! LOL!!

So, there you have it. Now, as I'm typing, I'm looking out at the snow just falling, falling, falling. It's now noon, so time for me to get dressed and start loading the car... and then, I'm going to make an attempt to get out to North Delta. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the roads are doable... it's a long drive to get stuck somewhere along the way! It's times like this that one wishes Vancouver were not built on hills!!

Assuming I get out to N. Delta, I will be staying the night there at Dad's and doing the family Christmas in the morning/early afternoon. Then I will be out in the elements again to drive home and get the car back into the covered carport. Tomorrow night, I'll be joining Steve and friends for Christmas Dinner... but for that trip, I'll take a cab! :) Surely the roads will be much better for Boxing Day when I'll attempt to get out to the Piercy Boxing Day event, which is out towards UBC.

Now, I can't remember in the last post if I mentioned that I will be having the Lung Ablation procedure next Tuesday. I will be going to my friend Nancie's on Monday to spend the day/night with her. Bridget will be coming with me. On the Monday, I will have to be at the Royal Columbian Hospital for my pre-admission appointment, so while I'm there, Bridget will be at work with Nancie. Then, when I'm ready to go, they will pick me up and we'll go back to Nancie's house. First thing Tuesday morning, Nancie will take me back to the hospital.

Now, according to the radiologist, I will have to stay for a couple of hours after the procedure, for observation. According to the gal who called me about the appointment, she said I will be staying overnight. So I'm not really sure if I'll be staying overnight at the hospital or overnight at Nancie's after the procedure, but I won't be coming home until the morning of the 31st ;)

Ok... time to get a move on! Once I'm ready to go, it will be time to get Bridget in her snow gear ... is this not just the cutest snowdog??

She's ready for her walkie out in the snow!! Thank goodness for our neighbour, Toby. There is no way I could take Bridget out walking in this stuff. My feet are just not stable enough!! But Toby takes her out for their walks. Bridget, like all the other dogs in the neighbourhood, was really having a problem with the ice they use on the sidewalks. In this cold weather, it's natural for dogs paw pads to crack. But then when they walk on the salted sidewalks, well, it would be the same as us having cut feet and walking on salt!! So these little boots protect her pads from the salt... and she has no problems now!

Here she is out on her snow walkies, wondering why I can't keep up!! Hahahaha!! "Come on mom! Let's run in the snow!!" :)

Now, isn't she just the cutest?? Now that we have the "salt on the paws" problem resolved, she really does enjoy being out in the snow!! What she doesn't like is when the temps dip below -10C. Then she starts to complain about being out for more than a few minutes :D

Well, I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas, and here's to a brand new year that is almost upon us!!



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday, August 14, 2008 -- SNOW!!

Hiya Bloggy!

Yes, you heard me... SNOW!! The West End FINALLY got the snow that the rest of the city and Lower Mainland have been getting. It started last night and snowed all through the night. It stopped this morning and from what I gather, most of the roads are totally clear, although the 3-4 inches we got still remain on the grass. Tonight it's going down to -5C, but it's clear outside so highly doubtful we are going to get anymore snow for the next couple of days.

Taken outside my window once it got light out this morning!

The blackberry bushes under my window... with their Christmas lights :)

Now, the problem with the snow is my lack of confidence when walking... not to mention, my total lack of footwear!! Oy vey!! Because of the nerve damage in the feet from the chemo (my feet never did recover from that), just putting shoes on is extremely uncomfortable!! It doesn't even matter what kind. It used to be, I found sneakers to be the most comfortable footwear... not anymore. So when this latest bout of snow does leave, I guess I am going to have to go and see if I can find some kind of sneaker/walking shoe that my feet will actually allow on them.

I took Bridget out at 6am this morning (we had gone to bed very early last night so totally missed the snow starting!!) and it was sooo peaceful and quiet. Beautiful!!! But it didn't matter if I walked on the road, the sidewalk or the grass... I just had the fear of falling. So, we didn't stay out... even in the park, I didn't feel steady... and my feet were really rebelling just being IN the shoes. So we came home and later in the morning Toby came and got Bridget. Hahaha... both in the morning and the afternoon walks, she brought Bridget home and we had to do the Doggy-Dip! Dip the Doggy's feet into a sink of warm water go melt the snowballs :)

Anywho... the latest and greatest is I DO have a date for the Lung RFA procedure. It is going to be on December 30th. Bridget and I will be going over to my friend, Nancie's on Dec 29th since she lives in New Westminster, where the Royal Columbian Hospital is, and she has kindly offered for Bridget and I to stay at her place the night before, since I have to be at the hospital at 8:00am on the 30th. Bridget will stay at her place while I'm at the hospital on the 30th and there's a possibility I may be staying overnight at the hospital. If they release me the evening of the 30th, then I will spend the night at Nancie's since they won't let me drive home after having the "Conscious Sedation" for the procedure.

Mind you, I'll be able to drive home the 31st and I'll be able to resume my normal activities. That is what is so remarkable about this procedure. If I had to do the lung surgery, it is a major surgery that would take a good 4-6 weeks of painful recovery... the RFA, there is no pain involved and no recovery per se.

Anywho... 'tis the Season for Letters to Santa so I must get back to the Santa mail and distributing the incoming kiddies' letters to the wonderful team of 24 volunteer elves we have this year. I am also trying to get my gifts wrapped. I have cut waaaaaay back this year (out of necessity), but I still need to wrap the ones that I have :)

Hope all of you are surviving the lead up to the holiday season!!



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008 -- CAT scan and RFA appointment

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, it is late (2am) and I'm torn between being tired and insomnia. I have lots of information twirling around in my brain and it's going to take me awhile to absorb it and put it all on it's appropriate shelf.

I went to Royal Columbian Hospital today for a CAT scan and then a consultation appt. with Dr. Brad Halkier, interventional radiologist. It was a long day in that they could not find a vein, which they needed to set up an IV because Dr. Halkier wanted a CAT scan without contrasting dye and then one with contrasting dye. They put the dye in via an IV. Wouldn't you know that today my veins were not cooperating.

So, I had to go to be put on a stretcher and have both arms wrapped in hot towels and covered in heated blankets.. for almost an hour! Even with all of that, the IV nurse FINALLY found a small vein... and my right arm is going to be pretty black and blue in the next couple of days.

But, we got the two Scans done, and then it was off to get dressed then meet with Dr. Halkier for the consult appt. My friend, Nancie, came with me to the appt.

Well, this is a good news/bad news session, I think. This is where my head is just spinning around with the information. Dr. Halkier said that many, many people are referred to him to see about having the RFA procedure done on nodules/tumours that have been found in their lungs... but he has to turn away 50% of them. The reason being, he will only do the procedure if there's a possibility of a cure or prolonging a good quality of life that the patient currently has.

He then explained that when colon cancer has spread, this means that there are cancer cells in the body that have either settled and are now growing or are still looking for a place to settle... and there is no way of knowing how many of these cells are around. But the fact that nodules are popping up in the lungs, then there have been SOME cells that have taken root, with potentially many more to pop up. If there are multiple nodules showing up on a CAT scan, then surgery or even RFA are not necessarily in the best interests of anyone, because more nodules will pop up and there is always some risk of surgery or RFA. He says there are at least 7 nodules in my scan, that he can see.

So, I thought he was taking me through all of this to explain why he was going to turn me down for the procedure, the fact I have more than one or two nodules, puts me in the 50% bracket that he is going to turn me down.

But he didn't. He said that he would be willing to do RFA on the two larger ones (19mm and 7mm)... or for my American friends reading this blog entry (approx. 3/4" and 1/4")... but the others are too small to even be trying to find with the probe. Soooo, this is the good news... we are going to get rid of the two!

Now, the next hurdle will actually be at the time of the procedure. As most of you know, I am a full-figured gal. Now, that is not a problem with the equipment, as far as the CAT scan machine goes (I've had many CAT scans!)... but now to do the procedure, he will be inserting the probe and I have to be able to be put through the machine with this probe and his hand, able to get between me and the machine... so there has to be enough room for this to happen. We won't know until the actual day since he won't know how to best do this... from the back, the front or the side. He is going to do the largest one first and if that goes well, and I'm feeling fine, then he will try and do the second one at the same session.

If you are interested, click here to go to the Society Of Interventional Radiology Website (which Dr. Halkier is a member of) and scroll down to Thermal Ablation.

So, the next step is for his office to schedule me an appt. to have the procedure done, as well, I will need to go ahead of time for a pre-admission appt. with the hospital. He figures that I'll probably be scheduled for the procedure after Christmas, in early January, unless an opening comes up before Christmas.

In the meantime, I will be having an appt. with Sharlene, my oncologist, in the next week or two.

The one thing I just can't get my head around is this whole Stage IV and "incurable" and "procedure for better quality of life" terminology. As far as I'm concerned, I am fighting tooth and nail and am going to be around for many years to come... so when I hear a doctor talking in terms like I might not be eligible for a procedure.. that's when I have my moments.

But, I just need to absorb the information, categorize it, and then onwards we go!

Ok... it is now 2:30am, so I am heading to bed. But I did want to put these thoughts and today in writing so I don't have to send the same info over and over again in email, or talk it over and over on the phone. I can just send folk here :)



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, Dec 3rd, 2008 -- CAT scan this week!

Hiya Bloggy!

It's waaaaaay passed my bedtime!! Well, I'm not exactly sure what time my bedtime is but I do believe it should be long before 1am :) So, I better make this a quick entry.

I don't have any pictures to put in this entry... I am going to have to find a way of taking pictures.. of anything (grin)! Just so that I have some to put on the blog so it's not just boring yak yak yak :)

Well, I do have my CAT scan appointment at Royal Columbian Hospital now! This is the one that we've been waiting for... for the Radiology Dept. to get a time slot when the CAT scanner is available on a day when Dr. Halkier is at the hospital. Since he is the only interventional radiologist in BC who does this RFA (Lung Ablation) procedure, he's not often at this one hospital.

Anywho... he has reviewed my PET and CAT scans but since the last CAT scan was at the end of August, he wants an updated scan and I understand that he is going to do it himself (I could be wrong there). After the CAT scan, I am going to have the consultation appt. with him. Yayayayaya!! That means I don't have to go home and then come back next week to go over the CAT scan results. If he does the CAT scan then the idea is he can review the results right then and there... and I'm hoping at the consult appt. he can tell me whether or not it's a go for the RFA procedure.

Soooooo gang... you all know the drill (chuckle)!! Between now and Friday afternoon, everyone is to send positive thoughts towards Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster that will say "Yes, the procedure can be done on my and that it will be very straightforward... no complications or idiocynracies (spelling??) (grin)

Ok... it's now just after 1am!! I HAVE to get to bed!! I am going to be spending the afternoon at the TUTS office finishing up the database stuff I have started. It would be great if I could put a FULL day in, but not a chance. These legs and feet just don't work in the morning... I have to bribe them with drugs (grin) to get them working. Then Friday will be a busy day spent out in New West. After both appts. I'll be meeting my friend, Nancie, and we'll either do something for dinner or go to a movie or something :)

I WILL report back here when I get home on Friday... but it probably won't be until later at night since I will be out with Nancie :)

Ohhhh... and I must remember to blog about the "incident" we had in our apartment building last weekend... but that will take an entry on it's own, so will tell you all about it later :)



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - Nothing New :)

Hiya Bloggy,

Just thought I'd check in, although I really don't have anything new to report. I figure that's a good thing... no news is good news :)

I did talk to Dr. Halkier's office this week... the gal I talked to was very friendly and said that my referral was at the top of the heap this week :) She says that she is going to try and co-ordinate with the Radiology Dept. at Royal Columbian a date for me to come in and have the CAT scan done that Dr. Halkier wants to see before being able to know if the Ablation procedure can be done or not. The problem being... getting a date with the CT department... and once there is a date, whether it's one when Dr. Halkier is actually at the hospital. So, besides the usual amount of people needing CAT scans, it's a matter of juggling a time when this particular machine is available and that Dr. Halkier is there as well. So, hopefully they will be able to get that figured out and arranged before Christmas ;)

Other than that... I continue to be busy, busy, busy! Sheesh... I think today was a bit of a waste since I did schedule it to stay home and work on the eNewsletter and the Santa Letters organization. Well, I felt sluggish and slow today, so what happened? Bridget and I ended up having a LONG nap this afternoon!! Yikes! I guess that is a good thing in that I obviously needed it... but a waste of hours where I wasn't being productive!!

Meanwhile, my Insurance guy, Deep, came by around noon today and we got my car and apartment (tenant's) insurance all done. YIKES!! That was almost $2000 right out the window and I didn't even leave home!! :) Imagine if I actually went shopping???

I think my days of shopping are long gone... I knew the economy was coming to this and no one was listening to me when I was talking about the sub-prime problem etc. last spring. Of course, even though I knew we were in for a rough patch, I didn't realize just how deep and how long this rough patch would go... and how much it was going to affect us, the little guys. I had forecast the horrid gas prices by the summer... but am pleasantly surprised that they have come down. I think this is only temporary and they will climb again. Meanwhile... our Canadian dollar..."OUCH!" That is certainly going to hurt for awhile!! So now WHY didn't I buy US $$$ just last spring when the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar??

Oh well... what can you do?? It's not like it's just affecting "some" people... we all are being affected by the economy and will continue to be. So, when the world is in chaos, then all I want is for my own house to be in order... meaning debt-free and a tidy apartment!! LOL!! It's the tidy apartment I'm having a wee problem with at the moment :)

But that will change starting next week!! I have found a NEW cleaning person!! I'm soooo keeping my fingers crossed that she will work out. She is going to be doing my apartment and the boys upstairs (Scott and Tomas) next Tuesday and then will be coming over every second Tuesday after that. You have nooo idea how much I'm looking forward to this!!!

But now... my calendar becomes busier than ever! I'm not complaining... I like being busy, especially if it's being busy doing stuff I enjoy doing. And ever since the diagnosis, I've decided that that is all I'm going to do ... having a life of stuff I enjoy doing :)

Tomorrow night (Wednesday) I'm going to the Vancouver Playhouse to see The Drowsy Chaperone... I'm sooo looking forward to seeing that show. It has gotten wonderful reviews on Broadway but alas, I have not been to NYC for years. But the Playhouse is putting it on and a few friends of mine are in it, so I'm treating myself to going and seeing it tomorrow night and not letting my "I'm too busy" get in the way of seeing it :)

Tonight, I am going to get into my comfy jammies and come heck or high water, I am going to FINISH the eNewsletter. Hehehe... this is one of my pet projects that I started some 7 or more years ago and it has evolved over time into an eNewsletter that reports on what is going on in the Vancouver theatre community. Of course, it's my fault that this particular issue (Dec 1) I left to the last week to put together so I do feel the pressure. Normally, I give myself much more time to put it together so the pressure isn't there to produce in a short period of time.

Also, as many of you know... the Letter To Santa project starts up soon... December 5th to be exact! From December 5th to December 23rd, our team of happy little elves will be ready and waiting to help the big old jolly man up in the North Pole with all his mail ;) If elfdom ever appealed to you and the comfort of your computer, do get in touch with me (hiyacher@shaw.ca) and you might just be right to join the merry band of North Pole elves! Pre-requisites are a jolly attitude, an imagination with no limits and being a child at heart :)

Ok... time for me to get into my work clothes... a comfy pair of jammies!!! And make the decision of do I want a nice hot cup of tea or a mug of hot chocolate??? :D

Ho! Ho! Ho!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008 - Time! I Need More Time!!

Hello Blogsters!!

Yes, it's me again... here on a mild, but gray, soon to be wet, Sunday morning. I was just mentioning to some family members... do you realize it's only about 5 WEEKS until Christmas??? HELLO??? I'm still thinking we are at the very tail end of Summer!!! I have got to get with the program! :)

Anywho... for those of you who are reading the blog and you were one of the volunteer Santa Elves for the annual Letters to Santa project... I haven't forgotten about you, and YES, we will be doing the letters again this year!! I have been soooo busy this last umpteen weeks, I haven't gotten the Elf recruitment letter out yet :) I plan on (famous last words) getting it out today sometime. So, for any of you who were on last year's team, you will be hearing from me in the next 24 hours. For any of you who have been on the team in other years but were not available last year... and you'd like to come back... just let me know (hiyacher@shaw.ca). For the rest of you... if you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about... Santa Elves are volunteers who help Santa with all his mail. If this appeals to you, then feel free to get in touch with me. It is a commitment where you also have to enjoy writing and have a creative imagination (IE: you need to let the child in you come out and express him/herself).

Hehehe... just to get you all in the festive Holiday mood, my friend, Christina from Chicago sent me the Cheryl Holiday Disco Elf clip... I'm sure you all can appreciate the extreme flexibility I am showing in all my arthritic joints to bring this dance to you...

Click Here
to see Elf Cheryl doing Christmas disco!!

Ok, next project... ack! Along with not realizing that Christmas is only 5 weeks away, December 1st is even closer! So???? So, this means that the December holiday issue of the Metro Theatre Community Theatre eNewsletter is due to be sent out Dec 1st! Uh... have I even STARTED the layout, let alone collecting the content??? Eeeek! Again... any of you that are reading this and might have news/audition info/show info, etc. about any of the groups in the Lower Mainland... send that info my way!! And SOON :)

Hmmm... health update. There isn't too much to report at this time. Nothing has really changed. My oncologist, Sharlene, has now talked to the radiologist (Dr. Brad Halkier) from Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He has seen my PET and CAT scans but before he can determine if he can actually go in and burn the tumour(s), he wants me to come in and have some sort of special CAT scan that can be done in his Radiology dept. at Royal Columbian. So his office is going to arrange for this CAT scan... and that's where I am waiting right now. I'm waiting to be told when this CAT scan is going to be.

Once he has seen that CAT scan, then we will have a consultation appt. and he will be able to tell me what he can do. I misunderstood and thought that if I was a candidate for the RFA (Radiofrequency Ablation), that in one session he would go in and zap all the small spots, whether they are tumours or scar tissue, leaving the one larger tumour to be removed surgically by Dr. Yee. Apparently I'm wrong. They can not go in and do 6 pokes with the needle in one session... too much chance of an air pocket getting into the lung or a collapsed lung. So, assuming I am a candidate and he feels he can get to the tumour... he would go in after the largest one first. He would zap away at it (with the needle and a heat probe at the end of the needle). He would only do the one in the first session. Then, we would heal from that before he would go after the second little one (under 6mm) and zap that one in a second session. At that point, we would then wait to see if the other spots grow or if they do nothing, in which case they could just be scar tissue or benign lumps.

SOOOOO... this would be fantastic if he can get at both the larger one first and then the little one second. If he can and it's a success, then it would mean I can avoid chemo AND avoid SURGERY!! YIPPEEE!!! If I have to have the surgery to remove the larger one, this would be a fairly major, intensive surgery. Dr. Yee would have to remove a whole lobe on my right lung... whereas if Dr. Halkier can burn it, it would be a day thing where I go in, have the procedure and walk out (well, someone would have to drive me since they will have given me some kind of drug for the procedure) :) But what a difference, eh?

So I think that wraps up my news for today. It is now noon and I have to get myself showered, dressed and made to look somewhat civilized since I'm off to the TUTS AGM this afternoon. Once I come home, I will get down to business, yes I will!! Elf recruitment!! Newsletter layout!! Ahhhhh... life is good!!!



Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008 - An update of sorts

Hiya Bloggy,

Yes, it has been awhile since I last posted here... since the big party, as a matter of fact! I'm not sure how many of you readers have been by since then (Helllllooooo... anyone out there?) but if you are reading this entry and wondering, "What party?" then go back to my Oct 19th entries (2 of them) and it was a wonderful party with friends at the theatre!

Anywho.. now, here we are at the beginning of November. I hope everyone remembered to put their clocks back an hour Sunday morning. Of course you did... well, if you didn't you've probably figured it out by now (grin).

Anywho... a quick (well, quick for me, which isn't saying much) update. I went to see my oncologist, Sharlene Gill, today. Last week she had me go for blood work so that we could get a "tumour marker (CEA)" test done. If you all recall from past blog entries... a tumour marker test is when they measure this substance in your blood called CEA. For the normal person who has no active cancer in their bodies, a typical reading would be 4.0 or under. Various things could fluctuate the reading so unless cancer is suspected you can't just go to your doctor and ask for a tumour marker test (grin). Anywho... this is a good monitoring tool for some people... for others, it isn't all that accurate, hence why it isn't the only tool they use to monitor how someone is doing. With me, it seems to be fairly accurate and it was this test last December that alerted Sharlene to check further as something was "happening"... sure enough, after a PET scan was ordered it showed the lit up adrenal gland and tumour on the lung.

Sooooo... to make a long story longer (grin), just before I had the surgery to remove the adrenal gland and tumour, my CEA level reading was a 30.0... a month after the surgery, it had plummeted to 1.5 (this was this past August. Excellent!! But even Sharlene was surprised that it plummeted so drastically... it was almost like the adrenal tumour was the only cancer in the body and now that it was gone, the body is not reading it anymore... even though we knew there was this small 16mm tumour in my right lung, plus a few other spots that look very suspicious but are very small.

Soooo... I had the blood work done again last week and she had the results for when I went in today. Hooooray!! I passed with more flying colours... this time the reading is 1.2!! I'm sooooo normal when it comes to CEA readings (grin).

Now, she thought for sure I would have heard from the Interventional Radiologist at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster by now... but nope, haven't heard from his office. For those of you who don't know... Royal Columbian Hospital is probably, depending on traffic, about a 45-60 minute drive from my place (which just goes to prove to those who don't understand the Canadian Health Care system... since there is one provincial health care insurance plan, we can go anywhere where the resources are that would benefit us... we are not restricted to a list of doctors/specialists). In this case, this Interventional Radiologist is the only one who does RFA (Radiofrequency Abalation for lung tumours) in the Vancouver and surrounding area. This is a rather neat procedure -- http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=rfalung&bhcp=1 -- and interesting to read about how it works.

Sooooo, Sharlene's plan for me is for this specialist to review my PET and CAT scans to see if I would be a likely candidate for this procedure. If he thinks he can do it, then YAHOO!!! It would mean that he would go in with the guidance of a CAT scanner and a special type of needle and burn out all the small "suspicious" tumours in both lungs, INCLUDING the 16mm one which first showed up on the first PET scan. What does this mean? Well, if he can successfully burn them all out and kill the off, then not only would I not need any chemotherapy, I wouldn't need to go through the major lung surgery either!! Whooooppeee!!!

Of course, until we get the news from the radiologist at Royal Columbian, I won't start jumping up and down quite yet. If he doesn't think it's possible, then we have some back up plans. You see, I'm STILL an enigma to the medical profession and I like it that way (grin)... the two spots that have lit up the PET scan (indicating there is cancer) and the other spots that are so small, they don't light up the PET scan but are considered "suspicious"... are either not growing or are growing so agonizingly slow, they don't know what to make of them. Cancer tumours in the lungs grow much faster than what my spots are doing. So there's also a chance that some of them are just scar tissue or benign growths and we won't know until they either don't grow at all, or grow bigger and don't light up the PET scan. Since they are sooooo slow growing, we might just wait and see what they do, which means I'll be scanned/monitored like a hawk every month or so. Then again, we might do chemo and see if any of the spots shrink or die off. If they do, then we know they are cancer because they are being affected by chemo... if they don't, then they would be considered benign or scar tissue. Then after the chemo... there would always be the option of surgery if one didn't die off completely. But all of these potential back up plans would be something we would discuss in detail and come up with a plan for "Cheryl"... should our first plan of the ablation procedure not be a possibility.

So, all in all, pretty darn good news if you ask me! We still have plans and options to pursue and Sharlene puts together the best teams depending on what plan we will come up with. She is going to track down the radiologist this week (he was not available today) and also talk to Dr. Yee (my lung surgeon) so that we all are on the same page. The stumbling block was she just assumed that I would have heard from the radiologist's office by now and either have had my consult appt. or had one set up. So she's going to kick butt this week and find out what's going on :)

Of course, as much as all the above is good news, positive, and I'm quite happy with it all... it seems every now and again Reality has a way of slapping me in the face. That happened today when, somewhere in our conversation I asked about my "staging" of the cancer. I told her that I knew when I was first diagnosed, back in Dec 2006, I was classified as Colon Cancer Stage III. Now, since then, we know the cancer spread to the adrenal gland (which has been removed) and at least one tumour on the right lung, possibly a second small one... so does this mean I'm still a Stage III or does this mean I'm a Stage IV? In the back of my mind, I knew the answer and even addressed it at the party the other week... but I had yet to see it in writing or have one of my doctor's tell me verbally. So yes, she confirmed that it means my staging is now a Stage IV because it had spread. Of course, the plan is to keep up and keep the cancer under control... and that's what we are doing by removing tumours, removing the adrenal gland, removing the 18 inches of intestine with the original tumour, etc. And if it pops up again, then we can always do the chemo again to shrink any tumours. It's possible what we are going to do with the RFA will then nip it in the bud and I'll be in remission for years... then again, the ugly beast could rear it's ugly head at any time, in any place... and we deal with what we are presented at the time.

Is it curable? Not likely. BUT, I take that as a challenge. If something is IN-CURE-ABLE, then to me it means the only way to cure it is if you have the ABLEity to CURE it from INside (IN CURE ABLE-ity). And that's where everyone's positive thoughts, love and support come into play. That was sooooo evident when my friends all came together to support me and the strength of that love and support alone is going to carry me well into any procedure/process I have to go to keep this beast behind bars :)

Ok.... so there you have it!! As for what else is going on... I'm just loving every day as it comes. I can't really explain that but every day there is something wonderful happening... even if Bridget, CB and I stay home with the intentions of doing a whole heap of Suzy Domestic chores. Hahaha... I never get them done, but I sure have fun putzing about :)

Meanwhile... this entry has turned into a saga on it's own... so I may as well make it a bit longer and add some pictures I took last week. I LOVE the FALL and this year, the rains held off so long, we actually managed to have a gorgeous colourful Fall! Here are some pictures I took in my most favourite park... right around where our TUTS office is. So, before going into the office, Bridget and I took a quick little walk around and took some pictures :D

Aren't they all gorgeous?? And isn't Bridget just acting like her little diva self, not only sitting on the bench and overseeing her yellow domain, but sitting on a piece of cardboard, thank you very much!! Heaven forbid her little bum should sit on a wet wooden bench (grin)

Now I'm going to try doing something here that I haven't tried before. My friend, Karen Kelm, and I have been friends since way, way back when we were in high school... and have remained friends throughout all these years. Well, it goes without saying that I think she is sooooo talented! She always has been and she's only gotten better every year. Karen has written and recorded a song called "I Can Lend You An Angel" and she sent it to me as a dedication to my journey. So I'm going to try and load it here. I'm not sure if it will automatically start playing or if you have to click on the link...

Click here to hear this gorgeous song!



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008 - Part 2 Celebration of Life and Friendship

Cont'd from Part 1 Celebration of Life and Friendship (Read Part 1 first)

.... ok so now we will continue on with the party itself, after the show.

Again... what can I say! Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought that I would just be a social butterfly and bounce around from people to people... and it never dawned on me that there would be so many people that there wasn't a chance that I'd get to everyone! As a matter of fact, the party was happening both upstairs in the lounge and downstairs in the lobby and it was after 11:30pm before I ever made it up to the lounge. So I'm sure there were more than half the people that I didn't get to actually talk to, and those that I did, I was lucky if I got to talk to them for 5 seconds. Hahaha... I must have done a lot of talking because the next morning my voice was pretty hoarse.

Again... how does one even begin to describe what it was like to literally spend a whole evening from 6pm onwards with approx. 200 of the people who are a huge part of my life? Then, when I got home, there were voice mail messages and emails waiting from approx. 50 or more people who apologized for not being able to attend due to sickness, work, rehearsals, etc. Unbelievable!!

My friend, Susan, from Issaquah, WA got close to explaining the feeling. This was at the end of the show, after I had been called up to say a few words and ended my babble with something to the effect of... "Let's party!"

About the EVENT of the century - Words can only fail. The actual experience was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. Picture 200 people all singing "You've Got a Friend". Tears were flowing (not just from Cheryl) it was just so moving. I've never felt the real power of love until that moment. Cheryl had just finished her speech (quite the orator, by the way). The performers started singing then the whole audience joined in.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
all you have to do is call
and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend...

I'll write more later, but for now, suffice to say. WOW!

Love and many hugs, Susan

Soooo, in no particular order... here are some pictures that my friend, Bonnie took on my camera (the show pictures that are on the Part 1 entry, were taken by my friend and co-worker, Dan).

Amanda and I have been friends for some time now. We met, gee, in the theatre community... imagine that?? :D

Here I am with Alan Black, one of the most sweetest, gentlest, compassionate, generous men I think I've ever met... and to boot he has the best sense of humour!! Love ya, Alan!!

Wow.. here I am with Keith Fowler... and Keith, you are going to have to help me out here. I'm thinking that we met in the early-mid 70s, but I couldn't tell you when. But we were definitely part of the Metro Theatre Brat Pack :D

I have no idea what had just been said or by whom, but we both obviously found it quite funny. I was in the process of "Shave Dave" and we passed the baskets around and collected $510 for colon cancer Research!

I'm really feeling the love Sunday night!! Here I am getting a wonderful bear hug from Jay Brazeau!! I got the warm fuzzies!!

Wow.. three different friends from three different periods in my life! Kevin Bryan and I have been friends since Junior High School; Bernice White and I met just this year during the summer down at TUTS and clicked; and Phil MacDonald and I have been friends throughout our years working for the Provincial Government. It was just so fabulous to have so many different friends from different parts of my life all mixing and mingling and having a wonderful time!

Again, call it faulty memory but some friends and I just go back so far, I don't remember when we actually met. They've just always been in my life! Pat and Audrey are two of these long term friends!!

Pat Patterson and I knew each other back in the Vancouver Musical Theatre days... when we'd do shows like Hair :) Steve Oben is one of my dearest friends who has also been one of my main caregivers since this journey has begun.

Shel, myself and Naveen... can you feel the love?? Oh wait.. that's my turtle necklace... nebbermind :)

My friend, Susan from Issaquah, WA who was also on the afternoon decorating team. We are taking a wee break here before the friends start arriving :)

Here I am with one of my TUTS Box Office buddies! Val Voth and I met last season and had so much fun in the Box Office, she joined us again this year... and I've already told her she has to be with us again for the 2009 season! :)

This picture makes me laugh!! It seems no matter what the occasion, what the party, what the year... the last people to leave are always the same ones!! LOL!! Steve Oben, Pat Patterson, Jo Leary, Kevin Bryan and Erin Sweeney. Ya, I'm there too... but I'm behind the camera

Oh, but it gets worse!! We are finally kicked out of the theatre... tailgate party anyone?? Hahahaha... the last of the diehards - Pat Patterson, Steve Oben, Kevin Bryan and me behind the camera

And this just gives you a taste of what this night was all about. I'm in love with all my friends... but there wasn't enough time to talk to everyone, let alone get pictures with everyone, and then there were the people who sent apologies that they couldn't be there (which was about another 50 people) and of course, for those of you who are reading this blog but either are not in town or weren't at the party... you know that you are included in my circle of absentee friends :)

After typing up both these blog entries and uploading the pictures, I still haven't been able to come up with the proper words to really describe what this event meant to me. It was pure magic, pure love, and the air was so filled with positive energy and love, that I know I will get through the next leg of this journey with a smile on my face!!!



Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - Part 1 Celebration of Life and Friendship Party

Dearest Bloggy,

I must put a warning at the beginning of this blog entry -- WARNING: LONG, LONG POST WITH LOTS OF PICTURES! I'm not sure if Bloggy will be able to hold everything in one entry, so I may have to chop this up into two entries. But seriously... anyone reading this entry may want to grab themselves a pot of coffee and sufficient edibles to tide them over through the reading of this entry :)

I have a small problem (grin)... I don't know where to start with this entry, nor do I know the right words to describe it. To say this whole day/evening was absolutely fantastic, is not giving enough credit.. it was beyond fantastic, it was truly magical!

Let me backtrack... on Sunday night (Oct 19th), friends got together to celebrate my life, love and friendship. To say I was blown away, is an understatement! My dear, dear friend, Kevin Michael Cripps was in charge of the "entertainment"... of which he kept secret from me. The only input I was allowed to have was to send him a "wish list" of friends that I would love to invite to sing at this event... but he would not tell me who he invited, who had accepted, who was in town and who wasn't... or what they would be singing.

During the afternoon, a group of gal pals came early to the theatre to decorate the lobby and the lounge upstairs. I had supplied a heap of pictures of friends over the years. Hahaha... try as I might, there was no way I had a picture of everyone that showed up. We had so much fun doing this decorating!

My good friend, Shel Piercy, was the Emcee for the evening's entertainment... and he was delightful, funny and the perfect Emcee for the evening!

Now, this is where I'm not sure what to talk about... the incredible, overwhelming feeling of love as friends kept arriving at the theatre, or the absolute magic of the show and feeling of love from everyone involved. It was a pure fantasy of mine to have some of my dearest friends be up on a stage, singing a tribute to me, to help me along in this battle I've been fighting for 2 years. There are absolutely no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of love.

I'm going to start with the show... and some show pictures of the 20 performers who performed Sunday night. They used the set that was currently on the stage and turned this into a real, comfy, living room experience... as if we, the audience were all sitting around in someone's living room and different friends would sing or entertain.

Tracey and Janet opened the show and were absolutely wonderful as a powerful duo!

The next number was done by two of my young, young friends, Jaime and Natalie and this overwhelming sense of pride came over me to see just how much these two girls have grown into gorgeous young women and are our next generation of musical theatre people.

Natalie Aspinall
Jaime Piercy

Steve Street is an old, old friend of mine and we go back so far that I don't think either of us can really remember when we met. It would have been at Metro Theatre... the theatre where we were lucky to hold this wonderful evening.

I may have a few of these next people and songs out of order, but here goes.

Shawna and Jenn did a duet from one of my favourite musicals, "Wicked". Two best friends singing at this celebration of friendship! Perfect!

Jay Brazeau and Josh Epstein were absolutely hysterical!! I had tears in my eyes just because they were so funny... it was one of those natural kinds of wit that comes when two people just click and have the same sense of humour. They did bring the house down with their number.

The beautiful, young, gorgeous Anna Kuman who was absolutely brilliant in a recent Fringe show called "Musical of Musicals". I swear Anna is destined for stardom!

Alison MacDonald and I met a few years back when she first moved to Vancouver from the Island. There is no doubt in my mind that Alison is going to be a mega-star... how is it that I am so blessed to be friends with such incredibly talented people??

Nancy Herb and John Payne... two friends of mine who we have known each other for years... way back to the late 70s! Love you both dearly!!

My dear, dear friend Kevin Michael Cripps who not only put together this group of friends, but sang himself, accompanied everyone on the keyboards and I love him to pieces!

I LOVE tap dancing.. always have!! That is why I love the old MGM Grand Musicals. Well, dear, sweet Troy did the most phenomenal tap number to the song "Mr. BoJangles"... that blew everyone away... especially me!

Seth, who has the most wonderful singing voice, sang a song that was both beautiful and hilarious... and he did the whole thing with a straight face! :)

My dear friend, Karen Kelm!! Not only is she a wonderfully talented singer, but Karen and I go back to High School days... yep, we went to high school together!!

This was a highlight for me! Shelley Stewart Hunt is a super talented choreographer and it's been a long time since anyone has heard her sing. Well, she sang "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, with backup by both Kevin and her husband, Stefan. Shelley has one of the most marvelous voices!!

Here is my friend, Susan Skemp, who belted out her song which ended in huge applause for the whole cast up on stage.

It was at this point that Shel asked me to come up and say a few words, and to tell you the truth... I didn't have a speech prepared. I had fully intended to go up to remind people that there was a Friendship Book in the lobby for signing and that a little later we I would be shaving my boss's head and two friends would walk around with baskets to collect donations for colon cancer Research... but it seemed that the moment needed more than just two announcements. So I have no idea where it came from, but I did seem to babble out a speech... of which I do not remember what I said. I will get to hear it again since my friend, Brian Campbell, has video taped the whole show.

After I finished my babble, Kevin started playing again and the whole cast moved to the front of the stage where I was and they all sang "You've Got A Friend", and then the audience joined in. I don't know if there are even words to describe what it is like to have 200 people who show they love you by all joining in and singing "You've Got A Friend"... it is a purely stupendous moment.

Ok... this is really long and I haven't even mentioned put up the pictures of various friends, etc.... so I think that is going to have to be in a separate entry :D

.... to be cont'd.