Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 -- Scan/Test Results

Hi all... as I mentioned on Facebook, I would come and put a blog entry up to explain my CAT scan and blood test results here in more detail. Of course, I did say I would do it when I got home from the auditions for Fighting Chance Productions "The Wedding Singer", but that turned into us stopping at Maxine's, then getting home shortly after 11pm and taking Bridget out between downpours. So, here I am, just after midnight and am going to attempt to explain here.

The Scan/Blood tests were a good news/sobering news kind of result. My oncologist eased my fears by starting with "Not to worry... the results are good news, but I will explain what that really means". A double edged sword!!

For starters... the good news is there are no "new" growths on my lungs. When cancer has metastacized (IE: has spread from the original organ to another, or other organs) it means that it is now "systemic" and once it lands and takes root in an organ, then the expectation is that it will multiply in growths. So, the fact it had spread to my adrenal gland, it couldn't multiply there because we took that gland completely out. But then it also had spread to my lungs, and there were "multiple" growths (12 to be exact) sprinkled throughout both lungs. The largest growth/tumour, we had ablated back last Feb., which left 11 smallish "nodules" or growths/tumours. The expectation is that once colon cancer spreads to the lungs, then it will grow rapidly. One treats this with chemo... in the hopes that the chemo will slow down the speed of the growth, as well as the number of growths.

But I am an enigma ;) The speed of growth in my lungs is "excruciatingly slow"... to the point, my oncologist and her team have never seen such slow growth in a colon cancer spread.

Since last March, there has been no new growth/nodules at all. And with the nodules that are there, two of them have grown about 2mm (about .07 inch) since July. That, apparently is incredibly slow... and she says that there is no need for us to even attempt treatment since the treatment would be chemo and the whole purpose of the chemo would be to try and slow down the growth. But there is no way chemo is going to slow it down to any slower than it currently is because it is so slow now.

So then there was the blood test which measures the CEA level in my blood. CEA is just a measurement of metabolic activity... it doesn't pinpoint where there might be cancer, but if there is active cancer in the body, then the CEA (in some patients) will rise, which indicates there is active cancer somewhere in the body. Any reading under a 4.0 is considered normal, inactive activity. In July, my CEA reading was 1.6... a decent reading quite below the "normal" active reading. Now, in November, my CEA reading is 2.2 ... a slight rise of .6. This is not concerning my oncologist because it is still well below the norm of 4.0 ... but it is going to be worth monitoring.

Sooooo... I am absorbing this information. It usually takes me a day or two to absorb, compartmentalize, and arrange it so I can go back into denial :) When I was labeled as being "stable" back in July, I absorbed this info, compartmentalized it and managed in my mind to relate "stable" with "benign" or "no longer active", which of course isn't quite true. So now, here I am where I'm still considered somewhat "stable" with a small amount of growth on a couple of nodules... which of course has surprised me because I had talked myself into being inactive/benign ;)

So what's the plan?? Well, it's actually good... Sharlene is going to schedule my next scan for 6 months from now! SIX MONTHS!! That's incredibly good news because it is very rare for a Stage IV cancer patient to be decreasing their scans rather than increasing them.... but she's going to schedule a CEA blood test 3 months from now to see whether the reading goes up or falls back down to the 1.6 range. IF the CEA goes up, then she will bump the CAT scan back up to the four month (which I was expecting two more at 4 month intervals). If the CEA remains the same or less, then we'll keep the CAT scan at 6 months.

So as you can see, there isn't any need to panic, or be too worried since the growth is so slow, but it is still something that we have to monitor. She says that at some point they will get large enough that we will want to treat them, whether we ablate them if there's only one or two larger ones, or if they all start growing, then we treat them with chemo. The purpose of the chemo would be to shrink them and slow down the growth... but she would just as soon leave chemo to a last resource and not put me through it unless she feels there would be some benefit. I agree.

Meanwhile, she is going on a six month sebatical (besides being a clinical oncologist, she also is a researcher). But she said that, although she won't be at the oncology office and seeing her patients, she will keep in touch with me. When I have the blood work done in 3 months, I'm to send her an email... she will then look up the results and we'll either talk on the phone or in email. As for the CAT Scan... if we keep it at 6 months, then she will be back for the results from that one... but if the CEA test indicates I should have an earlier CAT scan, then she will re-arrange it and have one of her colleagues see me to go over the results of the CAT scan. In other words, just because she will be on a 6 month sebatical, I won't be losing my oncologist :)

Sooooo, onwards I go. It certainly is an enigma that my cancer is not acting like it's suppose to... on the other hand, thank goodness it's not :)



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Long time no read, blogmates!! I'm not even going to look at the last date I did a blog entry because I know it's a long, long time ago . And every time I say I'm going to be better and put up more consistent, regular entries... something always happens and then weeks go by with no new entry. I'm beginning to think I would be lousy at keeping a diary!! LOL!

So, rather than come up with the various events that I've been involved in, I think I'll just ramble here. I think that's part of my problem is that I keep telling myself, "Oh, you should blog about this event" or "that particular production" or what I'm currently involved in... well, the list goes on and on and before you know it, I have way too many things to mention in one blog entry, so I don't blog anything . Hahaha... so I'm going to try a new concept... I'm just going to babble about whatever on the day I blog. Some entries will have very little to talk about and other entries may be talking about something that will be happening in the future. Who knows.. I'd say this will be a potpourri of things!

Well, obviously, there will be lots to talk about as we get closer to the Olympics. I'm of two minds about the Olympics. On the one hand, like everyone else, I have grown up watching the Olympics on tv because they were always happening in some city far away from Vancouver. The coverage of the sports themselves was always great, but I also loved the coverage of the host city... the different climates, environment, and cultures. Well, now they are going to be happening here in Vancouver... a city I know very well since I was born and raised here... and still live here! My "out of town" friends have heard for years about this city... some of you have visited here in the past and others have said they'd love to come here to visit. I have to admit, without a word of exaggeration, Vancouver is one very beautiful city that is sitting in a very beautiful province. BUT, (there's always a but), I can't say I'm as enthusiastic with the political scene here in BC... I just can't agree with decisions our politicians make on behalf of the people living in this gorgeous province. Yes, I know... with the recession and global financial crisis hitting everywhere, BC is not immune. And since we have committed to the Olympics, of course we have to go through and put on the best show we possibly can... along with security and everything that comes along with an event this size. BUT, can anyone really justify the billions of dollars that is being spent on a 2-week event, while the same hands that are pumping money into this event, are devastating sectors in BC by cutting funding that is going to destroy jobs and dreams for a lot longer than 2 weeks?

Now, having said that, I certainly don't want to rain on the parade and excitement that the Olympics brings to a city. Hahahaha... there is the excitement on the one hand, that same excitement that we all have grown up watching from afar on TV when it happens in other cities... and then there's the reality, how does one get tickets when there are no tickets to be had? Hmmm... I'm suspicious of that. The tickets are very expensive, so us average folk can't afford the majority of them, yet, even when they go on sale, there are very few to be had. WHO is buying all these tickets??? When the events actually happen, we better see full audiences because that would really make me mad if there actually are tickets to be had and no one was able to get them.

Hahaha... mind you, I will be perfectly content to be watching the events from the comfort of home and tv. I like the fact that on tv one has a commentator(s) who can tell me what's going on and where one athlete stands compared to the others. As for the outdoor events, like the skiing, snowboarding, etc.... no thanks! I would FREEZE up on the mountains!!! Not only that, I don't think it would be a good idea to wear flip flops up to watch one of the skiing events... standing in the snow in flip flops :D Shoes/boots won't work with my feet, since the skin is waaaaaaay to sensitive because of the nerve damage. Sometimes even just wearing a pair of socks in the apartment is a challenge and I can't wear them for long, that's how sensitive the feet are ;)

But, I am hoping to get downtown at some of the Olympic partying and free events that will be happening all over the core area of downtown. I just have to figure out how I will get down there... or better yet, get back home. I won't be able to drive since the area will be shut down to traffic, so there's always public transit. Mind you, everyone will be using public transit, so we shall just have to see how mobile I can be :)

Well, on Thursday, I had my quarterly CAT scan and blood work. This time, I drank copious amounts of water Wednesday night and Thurs morning, before the scan. I'm not sure if that was what worked but the technician had no problem finding a vein this time for the IV for the contrast dye. YAYAYA! Then I had to go to the lab across the hall and give blood for my CEA and Creatinine tests and the "student" technician had no problem getting a different vein... and here we are, two days later and not a bruise to be found!! The last time I went, they all had a heck of a time, and I ended up having a very black and blue arm for weeks!!

So, although I am planning on just having a relaxing weekend at home, I have to admit it's a bit nerve-wracking while I wait until Monday afternoon when I go to see Dr. Sharlene Gill, my oncologist, to get the results from the scan and blood work. I know it's going to be even more nerve-wracking while I wait in the waiting room and then wait for Dr. Gill to come in and let me know how they went. Of course, the whole reason for doing these is to see how the nodules on my lungs are doing... whether they are remaining stable, or if they are starting to grow... or if new growths have shown up. The blood work is just to back up whatever they find. So, if the scan shows no new growth and no growth in the existing nodules AND the blood work confirms this finding by no elevation in my CEA level, then this is grounds for them saying I'm still stable.

Hahaha... so once again, I'm asking everyone to give me a few seconds/minutes of your thoughts and just send some happy, positive, healing thoughts out to the universe that say, "Cheryl is fine! Cheryl is healthy! Cheryl's health is totally stable!" It's worked for almost 3 years now... let's take it for a few decades :) :)

Ok, that's about it for now. Bridget is doing fine... she is just a bundle of love and terrier :D On Nov 11th, she turned 12 years old. On the one hand, yes, she certainly does enjoy her sleep and she sleeps through the night snuggled up to me... and then sleeps all day long. But, when she goes out for her walkies, she is a bundle of energy and loves to go for long walks with Toby. Likewise, if she decides she wants something, she will get up and come tell me off until she gets what she wants (usually in the form of a treat or raw veggie). If we are at home, it's not unusual for her to wake up at some point in the afternoon and come out to the living room and sit on the back of her Squirrel Watch chair to monitor the neighbourhood :)

Soooooo... I will be happy once Monday afternoon is over and I have the results that say I'm stable!! Then, I will come home, feed the little four-legged diva, and then head downtown to help with Fighting Chance Productions' auditions for "The Wedding Singer" :)

Ciao for now!!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009 - Road Trip to Seattle/WICKED!!

Hiya Blogmates!

Yep, yep, yep... long time no post!! It's a pattern with me... or had you noticed?? :D

Lots of stuff happening, or has happened and don't even get me started on the politics in this province!! We have the classic case of why politicians are stereotyped as liars, cheats and untrustworthy people.

But... let's start with the good stuff. Bridget and I had the most marvelous 2-day adventure this week! I was soooo excited! I managed to get tickets to see WICKED which is currently playing at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. Now... it is playing in NYC on Broadway and probably in other major US cities but for the time being, flying is not an option for me. Too much trouble with the feet and legs... I just don't think tempting deep vein thrombosis would be a good idea ;) BUT, Seattle is within driving distance... so my dream of actually seeing Wicked is now a possibility.

Wicked Official Website

What is WICKED?? This is a musical that first opened on Broadway on Oct 30, 2003 and is about:

"Long before Dorothy dropped in, two other girls meet in the Land of Oz. One, born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for the most spellbinding new musical in years."

So, you get the picture... it's all about the witches, the two main ones, plus NessaRose, the sister that Dorothy's house fell on. It's based on the book by Gregory MacGregor and tells the story of Oz from a totally different perspective. Many say that the Musical does not follow the book, but I beg to differ. I think it did a very good job of following the book, considering the time limits putting on a stage musical has, whereas the book is a thick book that covers many, many years in Oz.

Suffice it to say... the musical was fantastic!! It was everything that I was hoping for and then some. I was enthralled with the whole show from the moment it started until the curtain came down. It was so magical for me and during the number, "Defying Gravity" I seriously thought I was having an out of body experience. Now THAT is the magic of theatre... to be so swept up with what is going on on stage and to feel like one is part of the story ... well, it doesn't happen often and when it does, it's something you'll never forget. I can't help but tell everyone, if you have a chance to see this show, do not hesitate or ponder whether you should see it or not. GO! You won't be disappointed!

Meanwhile, this little road trip was a huge accomplishment in my journey. I packed the car, including the little four-legged diva and we headed south. From where I live to Seattle, depending on how long the wait is at the border crossing, it usually is about a 3 hour drive (if one is keeping to the speed limit). When I got close to the border, the readograph said there was a 60 minute wait at the Peace Arch crossing and a 25 minute wait at the Truck crossing. So it was a no brainer.. we went to the truck crossing.

Hehe... I was giving status updates on Facebook, until I lost my connection with my cell phone. I did get a message from my service provider (Rogers) that said since I was now in the USA, I had to turn my "roaming" on and it gave me instructions on how I was to do this. I did it, but still didn't seem to have a connection. So onwards I went... from the border, it took about 1 1/2 hours to drive to Lynnwood where my friend, Bonnie, lives. She gave me great directions in an email on how to get to her place... and I found it with no problem.

She and her husband, John, have a lovely house which is so Pacific Northwest! Lots of windows to let the light in and it sits on land surrounded by lots of trees and greenery. It is sooo quiet and is a true PNW environment. They also have a lovely black lab whose name is Maggie. Maggie LOVES her tennis balls and would love for you to throw them oh, 24/7 would be fine with her :) As with all labs, they do not get tired easily when doing what they consider their job :) Both Bonnie and I thought it might take a few minutes for the two dogs to tell each other off and figure out who was the Queen of the house and who had to settle for Princess. But it was the most amazing thing... from the moment Bridget waltzed into the house, her and Maggie had a sniff or two of each other and both accepted each other as if they had lived together since birth. They got along so well, that there was no problem leaving both of them in the house together while we went out for dinner and the theatre.

When we came home, both were settled in and doing just fine. Although, there was one very funny moment. Bonnie and I sort of just settled in the living room and were talking about the show and whatever else we came up with and Bridget went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, she would bark.. just a single bark, but one that obviously was a command for us. We ignored it but she did it again. So we both got up and there she was, staring at Maggie's water bowl, which was like the size of a large salad bowl. Bridget just stared at it and barked. So I told her... "Yes, that is Maggie's waters... you can have some" But not a chance... she then turned to Bonnie as if to say, "Help me!" It was soooo obvious that she was not going to drink out of that big bowl. She knows that water comes in small Bridget size bowls. Hahaha, so Bonnie got her one of the cat's bowls, filled it with water and Bridget drank as if she hadn't had a drink in months. It was so darn funny... she was adamant she wanted water but there is no way she was going to be conned into drinking from a salad bowl... she knows that her water comes in smaller, princess-doggy bowls :)

So Bonnie and I had a lovely visit and I was thrilled that I could make the trip down AND go out for the evening. Then, in the morning we yakked some more and next thing we knew, it was noon! So we packed up my stuff and Bridget's stuff and it was time for us to hit the road. I was wanting to get back to Vancouver before the rush hour started... and I did! It was a great trip down to Seattle and a great trip back. And the weather was absolutely perfect, although a little warm for this time of the year! When I arrived at Bonnie's on Tuesday afternoon, it was 95F (about 33C). When I got home on Wednesday afternoon, it got much cooler once I was at the water... at my place it was about 81F (hmmm about 25C), which is still lovely, especially for this time of September! I LOVE Fall!!

I am so very pleased with myself. This is the first "road trip" I have made in THREE YEARS!! Seriously, I have not been able to drive that far, or be that far away from doctors/treatments, etc. and it was just like the days pre-diagnosis! Oh sure, I was tired when I got home. Driving is a challenge for my feet/legs. With the nerve damage in the feet, it is impossible to keep them in one position on the long drives (like on the gas pedal), but in city driving, it is very painful to be in rush hour, bumper-to-bumper traffic because one has to keep their foot on the clutch and brake while waiting. The nice thing with highway driving... I refreshed my memory on how to use the Cruise Control!! Aha!! Now that is the secret to highway driving! It means I can flex my feet and change position, without interfering with the speed I am going at.

Soooo, going anywhere that requires a lot of city driving is out still... but I'm thinking I might be able to master the highway driving trips :) Not sure if I had to do it every day... I definitely was tired when I got home. And I did stay home today to work at home... even though it was another gorgeous day out!!

Tomorrow, I'm off to Granville Island (just over the bridge from where I am). I am meeting my friend, Alison, for lunch and then we are heading to the Arts Club for a meeting on what the various theatre groups that belong to the GVPTA (Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Association) are going to do about the current government's lies and plans to cut 91% of funding invested in Arts and Culture.

Hehehe... I'm not going to bore you all with all the lies and condescension of this current BC government. But if you are interested, check out some of these links...

What the Arts Teach Us About Business and Life

BC Government Cuts $20 Million for Arts Groups

Submission to Vancouver City Council

Kim Cattrall takes a shot at BC arts funding cuts

(for this one, the comments under the article are very informative... more so than the article itself)

Anywho... the list goes on and on. This is the first time I've actually turned into an Arts Activist and have attended some of the meetings and protest rallies against this government and what they are doing to this province. Obviously I can't put the whole story here in this blog entry... I don't know if there's enough room :)

Besides, it is after 1am and I do have to get up in the morning and get ready to meet my friend, Alison, for lunch down at Granville Island and then we are off to another meeting regarding these government cuts to Arts funding.

Ta ta for now!!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday, Sept 6, 2009 - Procrastination

Hey Blog-mates!!

Is anyone still out there?? Hahaha... I wouldn't be surprised if you all have deserted this blog! I don't know what it is... I really and truly do have good intentions of keeping it up to date and then I blink and poof... weeks have gone by! And the problem with that... the very same reasons that have prevented me from writing regular entries, end up piling up and then there's way too much to write about and impossible to include all in one blog entry!

So, let's see... what should I include? Well, to say I've been busy this summer is a bit of an understatement :) Yet, it's the strangest thing... no matter how busy I am, I always think that I'm mostly lazy and everyone else is much busier than I am. I don't know why I think that, but have thought that for as long as I can remember. Maybe it's because there are people out there in the world doing really important things... saving lives, finding cures for diseases, fighting great causes... and what am I doing that is so busy or important? It'sa dilemma!

Well, TUTS is over for another year. I haven't heard yet how we did, I think it's going to be nip and tuck if we made costs and then what is going to happen next year... well, I guess that bridge will get crossed when the time comes. Who knows what is happening with this recession. Personally, I don't think we are anywhere close to rebounding. I think it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better... especially under the current government we have in this province :/

I am still reeling over the roller coaster of the past 10 days or so and the outright lies and cheating this government is giving the public! Of course, I'm talking about the funding to the Arts, but it's bigger than that... it's the Gaming funding for charities that the government is slashing and burning to try and cover up their pre-election lies about the budget. We are talking them slashing funding that they have no right to slash or re-allocate elsewhere. The gaming monies were set up years ago. Here's a good explanation/summary of how/why this was done - -- and it was to make gaming legal, but where it would put the proceeds of gambling back into the communities. This money that is going to the Arts, to charities, to non-profit organizations, etc. is NOT tax money, coming out of the taxpayer's pockets, but money that was specifically set up for these community organizations. Now Campbell and cohorts want to take it away and are using the age old classic lie -- to give the money to poor, starving children who show up at school, hungry. Give me a break!! For those of you not familiar with what's going on here, here's a good summary that was done in the Province... the newspaper who normally loves to blame the underdog, but this time is actually speaking up against the government! Check it out here -- .

Ok, I started this blog Friday night and it's now Sunday! Sheesh! I don't know why it takes me so long to get an entry done other than I keep telling myself "Don't forget to mention this" and "Don't forget to mention that" and before you know it, there's too much to mention and I can't remember it all.

So, I'm not going to even try. Suffice it to say... all is going well in the health department. TUTS is over for another year and even I have to admit maybe I took on more than I could chew... more so emotionally I think, than physically. I'm not going to go into it in detail here but suffice it to say, it's taken me the last two weeks to just rest up and even now, I don't feel totally rested.

Here we are at the long Labour Day weekend and I don't have the energy to go out and do anything. Hahaha.. I guess it's to my benefit that we are having a wet, rainy weekend here in Vancouver-land, which is kind of sad since we know the rains will be coming soon enough. It would have been kind of nice to send summer out with a bang!! Then again, the forecast for next week is for the sun to come back so we may have another kick at the can yet :)

Besides, I have soooo much organizing to do with the Publicity schedules for Metro Theatre's shows. The first one of the season, Up and Coming, opened last week. I was feeling pretty exhausted and emotionally spent with the closing of TUTS and only had one week between the closing of TUTS and the opening of Metro. Now, it's on to organizing the PR for the second show which opens Oct 3.

Meanwhile, this past week has been a little rough in that my darling diva, Ms. Bridget, came down with some kind of gastro-intestinal bug. We still don't know what it was and all the tests have been inconclusive. She stopped eating Tuesday night and only started again on Friday (phew!). I was so worried about that little monkey-head but she seems to be fine now.

Now, if I could just manage to get some energy together and get the friggin' laundry done!! LOL! I don't know why it is but the laundry just piles up rather than me get it done to the point where, whenever I get one load, just do it! Grrrrr!

Well, I'm going to send this off before I come up with some other excuse for not finishing it. Oh, but before I do, I must include a couple of pictures of the raccoons at the park this summer. These little bandits decided to go backstage and watch the show from the wings. This is NOT a safe thing for raccoons or cast... but they stayed out of the way and then eventually left the stage area :)

All three photos were taken backstage by a friend, Robin Richardson.

Ok... off I got to either do something productive... or not :)



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wed August 19th, 2009 - Proper Entry to Follow!

Ack!! My poor bloggy readers!! I have been so remiss in not keeping bloggy up to date!! And there's a very good reason for that that is NOT health-related!! I have been working (ok, volunteering) for TWO different theatre jobs... Theatre Under the Stars and Metro Theatre, which keeps me going about 18 hours/day between the two of them!

But seriously... I promise to come back and do a proper blog entry, with pics! Today is my day off from TUTS. This morning I'm off to my doc to get some prescription refills (of which I've run completely out of), then I'm going to treat myself out for a late breakfast with a book!! I'm going to be lazy and read a book while having a leisurely Wednesday Brunch. I will be home for this afternoon then it's off to meet Nancie for a quick dinner and then off to Presentation House to see RENT (the musical). So this is my "I don't have to do anything day today"... then it's back to the 18 hour days. BUT, TUTS closes this weekend... so come Sunday, I will crash for one day, then get organized on Monday to what having a normal life is like :)

I will try to get the more detailed entry done this afternoon... between brunch and dinner

Hope everyone is having a terrific summer!!



Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday, July 20th, 2009 - The 3 Month CAT Scan/CEA Check

Hello Blogsters!!

I know, I know... it's been ages since the last entry! But as most of you know, I am practically living in Stanley Park these days . Bridget and I come home to sleep... for a few hours and then we are up and at it again. Hahahaha.. I knew I maybe have overdone it over this past few weeks getting ready for the Opening of both shows. The last couple of nights I've been a little lightheaded and dizzy... and had that cotton batten feeling in my head like one gets if they've stayed up all night ;) Amy told me to take yesterday off since I really haven't had a day off in about 20... and sure enough, it was the best thing I could do. I napped during the day and puttered around the apartment. I wasn't out to accomplish anything... but just relax and nap. By evening yesterday, I felt 100% better with no more dizzies or cotton batten head :D

Of course, I did create a mailout and scheduled it to go out to 8000+ people for the two TUTS shows ;) Plus answered a couple of emails that were enquiring about the TUTS Musical Theatre Camps that we are having in August. So, ok, I answered them too .

Basically, I was trying to keep myself busy at home, while still taking the time to relax, rest and not be on my feet. I had to keep myself busy and distracted because today was the day I was going for my Lung CAT scan and blood work. No matter how things have been before, or how I'm feeling, one still gets "Scan Anxiety" wondering what the scan is going to find. Will the nodules in my lungs have started to grow? Will I have to start chemo this summer? All these types of questions run through one's head which is totally understandable.

Anywho... what a long, exhausting day!! My scan was scheduled for 8:15am, which mean I had to be there by 8:00am. Keeping in mind, it takes a good two hours (on a good day) for my joints to be flexible enough to leave the apartment. That meant getting up at 6am and taking my pain meds early (which I did).

When I got there, they had to put an IV in for the contrast dye. This was the first problem of the day... of course my veins were not going to cooperate. It took a good half hour for them to finally get one in my left arm. My right arm has so many bruises now from where they tried, they got it in and then the vein collapsed or blew. Even the one they did finally get in... while I was in the CAT scan machine, the vein blew and they had to stop everything immediately since the contrast dye was now going outside of the vein. But at least enough dye was in my system for them to have finished the picture of the lungs. Phew!

Then it was off to the lab (across the hall) to have some blood drawn for the CEA test. They measure the CEA in your blood, as a tool/indicator if there is any active cancer in your system. Unfortunately, CEA is not a good indicator for everyone. Some people it works great, other people their readings don't change whether they have active cancer or not. Lucky for me, it's always been a good indicator.

Once the blood was taken, I was free to go. It was now 10am and I didn't have to be back until 1:45pm to see my oncologist to get the results from both the scan and the CEA test. So I headed downtown and did a bit of retail therapy. Nothing to get excited about... just so much needed things lie a mattress cover to go over the foam topper and the mattress itself. I then went home but that was kind of silly because I only had 45 mins before I had to turn around and go back to the Cancer Agency.

When I went back and checked in, I was told, "Oh Cheryl, you don't have an appt. with Dr. Gill today. I said, I most certainly do... it was on the same card that said I had a CAT scan appt. and blood work appt. But no, they were insistent that my appt. with Dr. Gill was booked for July 28th and then it was canceled and re-booked for July 31st. By now, I'm getting downright annoyed... if they are making all these changes to the appt. when were they planning on telling me?? They said that I should have gotten a notice in the mail... I didn't. How about a phone call? Nope. Oh, dear... well we are terribly sorry but your appt. is now for July 31st. I very quietly said that they are mistaken... I was told the appt. was this afternoon. I have booked my whole day off to be available for all these appts. of which I was given a card with the date and times. I am here and I would like to see Dr. Gill, who is my oncologist and whom I had an appt. with today. Had someone taken the time to tell me the appt. had changed... twice... then fair enough. But no one did, so I would like to see Dr. Gill today, while I'm here.

Of course, that got them all in a flap and one of them had to go find their supervisor. So I sat in the waiting room and waited until the gal came back and said Dr. Gill would see me but it wouldn't be until 4pm (at this point, it was 2pm). I said fine... I will wait here at the Cancer Agency until the appt. (ok, but I did go downstairs to the cafeteria for a coffee because by now my nerves are getting a bit frazzled). At this point I had no idea if I was going to get good news or if I was a walking time bomb and would have to go back on chemo within a week or so.

Finally, I got to see Dr. Gill at 4:15pm!! By then, I was feeling a tad emotional, although managed to keep it together. Sharlene (Dr. Gill) apologized for the mixup and had no idea how that had happened... then explained that she always would have them book an appt. for a couple of days after the scan and bloodwork so that she had time to get the reports back. So, technically she had nothing to tell me since she didn't have the results... but told me to wait just a little longer and she's going to see if she can get someone down in radiology to give her a verbal report over the phone... likewise, the same with the lab who was doing the CEA test with the blood.

FINALLY, we got to talk... just her and I. When I'm in her presence, I calm right down... she just has that way about her. She is calm, compassionate and knows how to discuss without sounding all doctor-like.

The results??

I'm THRILLED with them!! Ok, the 11 metastacized nodules (aka "mets") in my lungs are still there. But there has been no growth with them since the last scan in March!! Yayayayaya!! AND, there is absolutely no new nodules or mets which is huge!! So, they can officially say that the mets in my lungs are "stable".

As for the CEA results... the reading is 1.6. Anything under 5.0 is considered a "normal reading". So I'm well within the "normal" zone. If one's reading was above 5.0, then they would take another reading a month later. If it was still above 5.0 and showing signs of going higher, then that could be a good indicator that there is active cancer somewhere in your body. It won't say where the cancer is, just that there is cancer activity (aka metabolic activity) in your body. My reading of 1.6 means that there is no metabolic activity at this time.

So I am very, very happy today. It means that I get to have another 4 months treatment-free!!! No chemo for me yet :) Yippppeee!!

Dr. Gill said she was extremely pleased with this and that I have certainly not followed the pattern of a Stage IV Colon Cancer patient. She did remind me that the fact these mets in the lungs are not active right now, that does not mean they won't become active at some point. It's a given that they will and at that time she says she would recommend chemo to try and keep them in check and under control. But when they will become active is anyone's guess. It could be in the next 4 months, or it could be 20 years from now (says I ).

So the next decision we had to make was about the upcoming scans. She says that she wants us to keep tabs on the mets, on the other hand, she doesn't want to subject me to unnecessary scans/radiation. So she suggested that for the next year, we do the scans every 4 months (that means 3 more scans between now and next July). If next July I am still stable with no growth and no need of chemo or treatment, then we will change the scan schedule to every 6 months.

The fact she's even talking there's a possiblity that I will only need scans every six months is incredible!!! Yes, we know Stage IV is incurable, but if we can get to the point where I'm only being checked twice/year...that's as good as being cured as far as I'm concerned. Being cured but having someone keeping tabs on me that it doesn't start up and I don't know it ;)

Sooooooo... I beez one heck of a happy camper tonight!!! :D It's like walking around in a dream and I have to keep pinching myself :) :)



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 - Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, blogmates!

Well, for those of you who live in Canada, I hope you had a fabulous day! I did... and I didn't even go anywhere :) It was the first actual day off I've had in a few weeks. Well, let me backtrack... I have had weekends off and the occasional day during the week from TUTS, but when I'm not at TUTS I'm working on Metro Theatre's publicity and ideas. Today was the first day I stayed at home and was not going to lift a theatrical finger.... but that didn't quite happen. I actually got a lot of computer stuff done for Metro's first show of the new season, Up and Coming, which opens at the end of August. Granted, I'm doing stuff early... and there's a good reason for that. Once the TUTS shows open down in the park, I am going to have even less hours at home... and when I am at home, I will more than likely be sleeping :) So the more I have done ahead of time for Up and Coming, the better because then I just have to send out News Releases and Opening Night invitations... I won't actually have to create anything :)

But the next two shows are TUTS productions of Annie and Thoroughly Modern Millie. For those of you in the Vancouver area, or within driving distance to Stanley Park, I highly recommend you come catch a show. And no, I can't even say which one I would recommend first... they both are going to be excellent!

The casts moved into the theatre this past weekend... and that's when it hits you that we are actually going to mount two full Broadway musicals at the same time... with them playing on alternate nights. Two totally different casts, two totally different Production teams, and two totally different sets!! For anyone with any theatre techie experience, imagine not only having the sets for one show where you have to have somewhere to put the different pieces/wagons/flats/scrims, etc. while the show is going on... but now you have TWO productions of sets to work around. While Annie is being performed, the Millie set is stored backstage and vice versa.

Ok, to show you what I'm involved in, I'm going to upload a bunch of photos I took this past weekend. Saturday was Annie and yes, we got rain, so it was a tad chilly to say the least. Sunday was Millie and the weather was gorgeous! On Saturday, I took my camera with me but forgot to pack the spare battery. When I went to take the first picture, I found out I only had a 1/4 cell of the battery left. Grrrr! So I'll be going back to an Annie rehearsal to get more photos.

Here we go...

Here we are.... where the magic all happens! The stage is called Malkin Bowl, because it's situated in a bowl/dip in the park. Thank goodness for the tech tent... it works for protecting people from the hot sun during the day, or in the case of Saturday, from the rain :)

This one cracked me up. It's like Terry (blue/white shirt), the Production Manager is asking James, the President/GM if he thinks things are going alright, and James thinking about it and saying, "Ya, I think it's going good". Meanwhile, Francesca, who is my heroine, is ignoring both and keeping an eye on the movement of the sets. Francesca is the Set Designer for BOTH shows, so not only does she have to design fabulous sets, she has to design them, knowing there's only so much space backstage and both shows sets have to be there, no matter which show is on. Yayaya Francesca!!

My Buddy, Shel, who is the director of Thoroughly Modern Millie and also is the Vice President of TUTS, is being interviewed for a television program (I forget which one).

The orphans in Annie!! Are they not just too adorable?? But don't let their cute factor distract you... they all are super talented young girls!

Here we have the household help in Daddy Warbuck's mansion. Notice the front of the stage is wet? That can be very dangerous for the cast if/when they have to play down front. But they are trained to fudge it when they have to.

Yes, here she is! Our wonderfully talented Michelle who is playing the title role of Annie. This little 9-year old girl is a powerhouse of talent and is going to do the role justice.

Here Annie is with Daddy Warbucks and Grace. She looks soooo small compared to them!

Ok, this is a somewhat artsy shot... a picture of the stage, lit up with stage lights, but with it quite wet outside.

Ok, it's now Sunday. The rain has gone and the sun is out... and it's now warm again! Yayayaya! Here are two of my favourite kids and since there is a group of us who are all one big happy family, these are my kids too :)

Chris and his orchestra... who are all in the orchestra pit under the stage. Chris is the Music Director and conductor of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Naveen, Treasurer of TUTS, hard at work (grin) either texting me, or emailing... even though I'm right there beside him (chuckle).

Young Emily and young Stephanie... both in the cast of Millie :)

Ahhhh... and this is what is going to be so special about this show! Even without the proper sets/lighting yet, the number is fantastic. Diana, who plays the role of Millie is perfect! Mind you, she played the role of Dorothy on Broadway and when the show went on tour, she played the role of Millie, which is the role she's playing for us :)

Here's a close up of the lovely, adorable Millie (Diana).

Another somewhat artsy photo... I took this from the orchestra pit. This is the view the conductor would have, although he also has a monitor or two in the pit to watch them on the screen since he can' see the whole stage.

And then there's the comedic characters in the show (played by Aaron, Sarah and Danny)

This is also very cute! Chris, the Music Director/Conductor, had to play the piano after the orchestra was let go for the evening. So Chris got on the keyboards and Danny, one of the leads (he plays Jimmy) jumped in to conduct (grin).

And then there's Miss B. Hehehe... she was being a bit of a brat earlier... she didn't want to sit on a plastic chair but she also didn't want to sleep on the grass. That was beneath her... only dogs lay down on the grass and she does not see herself as a dog! So, back up to the office I went and got her bed. Once she had her bed and blanket, she was perfectly happy to behave and watch the rehearsal.

There's no business like show business full of glitz and glamour! Nancy (as Muzzie) and her guys and gals :)

Well, I think that's more than enough pictures for one entry... but there are so many fun ones! I, of course, have tons more :) But this is just to give you a taste of why you will never find me at home and it's not just a couple of days a week but has turned into 7 days/week and will continue to until Aug 22nd :)

Do I have anything else to report? Hmmm... nothing that I could fit in to a couple of sentences. There's the whole media circus around Michael Jackson's death. I know everyone has an opinion and some do not feel at all sorry for him and others who do not believe the tabloid circus that has surrounded that man/child all his life. I'm in the camp where I just don't believe he did what he was accused of. I'm not saying he wasn't odd/eccentric... he certainly was. His idea of "appropriate" and society's were very, very different. But to go into the why don't I believe he's guilty of child molestation would take a whole blog entry on it's own. Suffice it to say, I think the world has lost a mega talent and yes, I think he definitely is an icon... one that is as big as Judy Garland, Princess Di and Elvis Presley... maybe in some ways he is even bigger because not only has he had the media around him since he was a child (like Judy) he also has the scandal and oddities around him as well. It's amazing the media are going on and on and on about him... more so than other celebrity deaths. But I really do think it's because he has all this mystery around him, mystery and scandal and his extreme talent. I don't think the media are going to let go of this for some time to come.

Ooops... it's after midnight now. I guess I'm not going to get the baking done that I was going to do ;) Oh well!!

Cheerio for now!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009 -- Here I am!! :)

Hello Bloggy-mates!

I know, I know... it's been awhile! And I knew it had been awhile when people started sending me email reminding me that the last entry was June 5th. Oops! Sorry about that :)

Yes, I'm still around and busier than ever! Who would have thunk it, eh?? Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) is getting closer and closer to opening... and the closer we get, the crazier it gets down in the office. I swear, at times it's like we have 10 things on the go at any given time. Why, it's been so busy down there that it just hit me today (Monday) that tomorrow, I'm training a few new box office volunteers on the Tickets Tonight ticket system... and do you think I have any training materials put together? Nooooo... I haven't had time! LOL! Ok, does this mean I literally am going to do a Box Office training session on the fly? It's looking like it might be so since it is already 10pm and I've just finished dinner. Bridget and I didn't get home until 8:30pm, and then I had to make dinner. So the chances of me actually starting tonight to put something together are pretty slim indeed.

Speaking of Bridget... for those of you not on Facebook, you probably have not seen the little Diva's newest pictures. We aren't exactly sure what she did to her front right paw, but it has been bothering her for about 2 weeks. Dr. Joan thinks she may have stepped on something sharp or, it's possible there is a sliver of glass that managed to get embedded. The skin between her pad and toes is a little on the inflamed side, although there's no puncture wound. So, Dr. Joan applied a poultice with the hopes that this will soothe the inflamed area and if there is anything embedded, will draw it out. Meanwhile, the poultice is wrapped in gauze and then cotton and then more gauze and then the stretchy tape that they use on animals. Bridget LOVES her blue sock and let me tell you, she really does milk it for all it's worth :)

"Look at my owie, Mommy!!"

And then there's the, "Oh, poor Bridget... do you have a sore paw?"

Of course, if you don't make any mention of it, she runs around as if it's totally natural to have one foot in a blue bandage. It's not until someone says, "Oooooh, poor puppy!" or "Ohhhhh, poor Bridget!" that she then remembers and goes into "poor me" mode :) She is such a little diva actress!! :)

The other week, both Bridget and I had our headshots done by our friends, Mike and Lisa who are setting up their photography business for people in the Arts. So here are a couple of pics of my headshots, followed by a few darling ones of Bridget :)

And then there's Bridget.... she is a natural in front of the camera! Always has been and she played right up to Mike's camera :)

Hehehe... well, as you can probably see, the two of us had a fun afternoon with Mike and Lisa, out in the park having our pictures taken :)

Oh, and I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not in the last blog entry... but I've taken on the role of doing Publicity for Metro Theatre. I know, I know... I'm totally crazy!! :D I look at it two ways... 1) If I keep myself busy, then I'm just too damn busy to be sick. And in all fairness, I do feel like I have a lot of energy... certainly a lot more than when I was recovering from surgery and going through the 8 months of chemo. Now, I don't know if it's totally fair to Metro Theatre, not knowing when or if I'll have to go back on chemo and if I do, then how much can I actually do. BUT, no one knows when something might happen in their lives that disrupts their routines, family life, work life, etc. So I don't want to be sitting on pins and needles, not taking on any of the things I really enjoy, on the off chance I won't be able to do them. Since both theatres have been so supportive of me, I have decided to continue on and just go for it. And the 2) I'm in denial :) I know that I've been diagnosed with cancer and I know I've had a heck of a journey with it so far... but I refuse to believe that it is going to win. And if I am going to win, then I have to make plans for what I'm going to be doing with my present and future.

One of my all time daydreams has always been that IF I had enough money to live comfortably, the I would totally immerse myself in my passion for theatre. I would be involved during the day and evening... and in many capacities. I'd like to be involved with the administrative side, the box office and training of box office staff/volunteers on a ticket system using the computers, publicity, promotions, and basically promoting theatre and the arts. But the reality has always been that I couldn't be immersed in theatre because I needed to work at a job that would pay the bills and put some away for a rainy day :) Well, guess who is officially retiring Feb 1, 2010 (just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics)? Lo and behold, my retirement pension will see me comfortable, financially... not wealthy but definitely comfortable. So, my daydream actually is about to come true!

Right now, I'm feeling perfectly fine! Other than the arthritis/joints (which will be ongoing), I feel great! Like I said above, I feel like I have more energy... and I can take on more than I have been doing. My next scan will be July 20th. On that day I'll be having my CEA blood work done, as well as a CAT scan of my lungs.... and then that same day will have an oncologist appt. to go over the CAT scan and blood work results. I have to be honest... leading up to that day and until I get the results, it will be nerve wracking. Even though I feel great, I won't be totally breathing a sigh of relief until we know that all is still status quo. If it is and there is very little to no growth, then I'll be free to relax for another 4 months :) So hey, even though it's not July yet, if you all could start sending those healing, positive thoughts out to the universe on my behalf, I would be forever grateful! Just send thank yous to the universe for keeping my lungs healthy... and the more grateful thoughts that go out, the more that will come back tenfold :)

Ok... I think this is plenty long enough, don't you?? LOL!! And I just know I've missed out on a whole lot of stuff. If I remember what, I'll be back :D :D



Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5th, 2009 -- I'm meltinnnnnggggg!

Heya Blogmates!

Ok, I'm going to start off this blog by stating I am NOT complaining about the heat wave Vancouver is going through right now, at the beginning of June. Personally, I much prefer being warm than cold and this winter we certainly had our periods of ice and snow. So not only was it cold out, but I learned very quickly that I can't walk in the snow or, definitely not on ice. So definitely, I prefer sun and hot and being able to walk outside without having to layer oneself in coats, vests, scarves, mittens, etc. Now, having said that... can I have one little wee complaint about the hot nights (and I'm talking purely temperature here!)?

As most of you know, I live right by the water. And what people who live by the water take for granted is, in the evening there USUALLY is a nice sea breeze off the water. This breeze in the evening is actually quite lovely... it's not a cold breeze, but a lovely cool breeze that stirs up the air and even sucks out the hot air in an apartment depending on which way it is blowing. Welllllll, we have still been getting the breeze most days, but it is the hottest breeze that I've really ever experienced here in BC. Granted, it is stirring the air around so we don't get that still, hot, heavy air around us, but it is not a refreshing breeze at all. And what is really bad... most buildings in our 'hood are cement buildings. So the sun is baking these buildings, the sidewalks, the roads, etc. all day long and when evening arrives and the temp drops a degree or two, there's no hope for the interior of the buildings. They just seem to get hotter and hotter. And before any of you are wondering why we just don't turn on our air conditioners, the reality is, most apartment/condo buildings here in Vancouver don't have A/C. There really is no need for it... normally speaking. This heat we are experiencing right now is usually something we can expect in the middle of the summer and only for a couple of days... so why have A/C when you only would use it for a couple of days of the year? Instead, I have a fan going 24/7 in the living room and another one in my bedroom and I just have to make do with the temps being around 28C (approx 84F) in the apartment at night... and even warmer during the day.

Ok... so enough of the whining about the weather but at the same time, being thrilled that summer has finally arrived :) There's always a trade off. We may be uncomfortably warm at night, but it really is gorgeous... one can take the dog for a little walk anywhere in the 'hood at midnight and it truly is gorgeous outside! And just look at the pretty sunsets we get. Here's one tonight at 9:15pm:

A lovely time of the evening... and like I say, soooo warm. I, unfortunately, can't go strolling like I could before the nerve/muscle damage from the chemo, but it's evenings like this that are perfect for walking along the seawall. Perfectly safe because there are hundreds of others with the same idea ;)

This next one is the same angle, but at 10pm. Now the lights on the bridge are on as well:

Ok... since I'm putting up pictures, I may as well continue and put up a few more. Last weekend, a bunch of us gathered at Naveen's for a "the rhodedendrums are in blossom so this is a good excuse for a party", so we had a Rhodie Party :) I consider the people in the following pictures to all be my extended family. We are not related by blood, but we are all so close and they are all extremely supportive of me. I have no idea how I got so lucky in this life to have these folk be a huge part of my life... as well, I have the most incredible friends in the world. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you fall into this category. And for any of you who were at my Celebration of Life and Friendship party back in October, you would have met some of the people I'm talking about. Ok... more pictures before I get to sentimental and mushy ;)

A couple of these pictures of single blossoms, I'm posting them here to show how gorgeous the rhodies are, but also, how wonderful my camera works with really showing the detail. Isn't the pink in this particular blossom stunning?

Likewise with this one... I just love the pink rhodies and am planning on playing with these various flower pics and turning them into B&W photos, then adding a touch of the stunning colour back.

I think out of the three pink Rhodie pics, this is my favourite ;)

Here are three of my favourite girls... Natalia, Jaime and Juliet. Natalia and Juliet are Troy and Inga's daughters, Jaime is Shel and Jill's daughter. In the next picture, there will be the group of us, but we are missing Troy who could not be at the party since he was down in Virginia.

Ok, this is not a good quality picture... I'm not sure why the camera took a weird picture. It's like it wasn't adjusting well in the artificial light. But this group of people are my extended family -- starting with me with Juliet on my lap and going from left to right -- Me/Juliet, Janet (Inga's Mom and grandma to Juliet and Natalia), Fergus (Janet's nephew who was visiting from Australia), Jaime sitting on her dad, Shel's lap, Naveen, Inga, Natalia, Jill and Stefan. Missing is Troy who was in Virginia and Shelley who is taking the picture ;)

Hahaha... I know, I know... why take a picture of a bowl of berries? I couldn't get over the colour of a huge salad bowl of fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries). Just looking at them, it made you want to dive into them... all of a sudden you get this craving for them! Naveen made this bowl and I can't imagine how long he must have been slicing all those strawberries. But it was unbelievably delicious to eat these berries with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream!

Ok... enough with the pictures for now. It's 1:44am, so time to head to the bedroom and see if I can fall asleep in the heat ;)

I have so much more to yak about... but, I will have to leave that all for now. Maybe this weekend I'll be able to write some more, depending on how much I'm at home. LOL!! It seems I'm always on the go, with Bridget coming with me, only to curl up and sleep wherever we go, as long as we have a little bed for her to curl up in ;)

Hahaha... I did think tomorrow was Saturday, but when I looked at my calendar I realized "oh oh... good thing you looked at the calendar!!" Tomorrow afternoon I'll be at TUTS and I'll be staying through the evening because Live Nations is doing a concert on our stage. Blue Rodeo will be playing Friday and Saturday night. I'm only going to be working the Friday night show... where we will be handing out our TUTS information rack cards to the audience as they leave. Our rack cards are double sided, with information about Annie on one side and information about Thoroughly Modern Millie on the other side. Oh, what the heck... here are the images for the rack cards (I LOVE them and it's a new look for our advertising this year):

Is this little raccoon not just the most adorable little critter, wearing the lopsided Annie red hair'd wig?

And, of course, here is the other side of the card, which is the info for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Both shows are going to be absolutely fabulous this year so if anyone is within driving distance to downtown Vancouver, you will want to catch BOTH shows!!

And since I have her picture handy on my computer, here is little Michelle who will be playing the role of Annie:

Isn't she a cutie?? And she has a voice and look that should tear at everyone in the audience's heartstrings ;)

Ok... I must go to bed... it is 2am and tomorrow is going to be a fun, but LONG day. I still haven't decided if I'm going to take Bridget tomorrow since there is the concert and it might get loud, inside and outside of the office. I may just leave her at home and Toby can feed her after they go on their late afternoon walk. I'll decide in the morning.

Ciao for now... and if I don't get back to the blog on the weekend.. have a great weekend!!



PS: I forgot to mention... I love the comments some of you leave! I can't actually answer them, here on the blog, short of just answering them in a post or writing my own comment. So I keep them in my inbox when they are sent to me in email, with the intention of responding to them. Hahaha... but we don't even want to talk about the 2500 emails in my inbox that I thought I would get to at one point . So keep those comments coming!! And know that I see and enjoy every single one of them!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009 - Gorgeous Weather!

Hiya Bloggy!

Ok... I dare anyone to complain about the weather over the next couple of days or longer! It is gorgeous these days and the long range ... ok, 7 day forecast is for sun, sun and more sun!! Yippeee!

Now, you may be sitting back, pouring yourself a coffee and settling in for a long blog entry. Ha!! Well, it won't be this one :) I realized that the last blog entry was 10 days ago, so I wanted to touch base with everyone to let you know that all is going well. But since it is 11:30pm, it's time for me to crawl into bed with my little diva schnauzer who has already taken over my side of the bed ;)

No real news to report. I'm feeling great today... although, for the past week I was wondering what was up. I felt lethargic and low on energy... but the biggie was I had no appetite. It's not that nothing taste good... I just wasn't hungry. And then on Tues night I seemed to have this dry cough... which got me very paranoid. Every time I see my oncologist, she always asks if I'm having any issues with breathing (answer is always no) and then she asks, "Do you have a dry cough at all?" Again, the answer is always no. But Monday night... ack! A dry cough. And then when I thought of it... why did I have no appetite? The last time I had no appetite was just prior to being diagnosed!! So yes, I was freaking out a bit.

So Wed morning I went to see my GP. I told him that I probably was being paranoid, but it was freaking me out... so he did a thorough check of my lungs and pronounced me just fine. The lungs are healthy, no sign of any fluid on them and no signs of any rattle. He said my skin tone is totally healthy and normal looking... and my eyes are looking just fine. I then told him about the lack of appetite for 6 days and how I had hardly eaten a thing, not because I felt sick... I just wasn't hungry. Well, so much for the starvation diet... I hopped on the scales and I didn't lose even one measly pound in 6 days. Seriously, I was eating next to nothing... a piece of toast in the morning and maybe a half pear or banana in the evening. And for that... I lost nothing!! ::: SCREAM :::

Anywho... once he declared that I was not suffering from anything serious, I left his office feeling a whole lot better!! Today, I had my energy back and although I'm not really showing any serious hunger pangs, my appetite has definitely come back.

Ok... hopefully next blog report I'll have more to report... but all is going really well and I'm busier than ever as we get closer and closer to the summer shows!!

Nighty Nite!!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11th, 2009 - A short one? :)

Hey Bloggymates!

Yes, you heard it hear... this is going to be a short blog entry! Not because I lead a short and boring life... no siree, bob! I've been soooo busy that I seriously haven't had time to keep up the blog entries to yak about all that's been taking up my time. But suffice it to say, I've been busy in a good way and now I'm seriously thinking of actually scheduling some "down" time in my calendar... think I'll be successful?

Anywho.... it's a rainy Monday morning (gee, isn't there a song about that?? Rainy Days and Mondays?? Carpenters??) and it's really quite amazing. My mind is awake and ready to go... my body, well, it's quite a bit slower than the mind ;) But, today Bridget and I will be going to the TUTS office to do some hours there. Actually this week I am splitting my time between doing work for TUTS and doing work for Metro Theatre... AND starting the June 1st issue of the Community Theatre eNewsletter. The eNewsletter is definitely a pet project of mine. It started being an eNewsletter about Metro Theatre, but trying to fill a whole newsletter about one theatre when it's hard to get content... I expanded the concept of the eNewsletter. It is now a electronic newsletter about what's happening in the Community Theatre scene in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland... and sponsored by Metro Theatre. So all in all, everyone wins! So hey... if any of you out there belong to a community theatre group, or theatre co-op, etc.... send me your news! Deadline for the June 1st issue is May 15th... which is coming up pretty quickly :)

Oh... and another new exciting thing in my life... I decided to buy myself a pre-retirement gift (grin)! I got myself a new camera... the brand new Pentax X70 with a 24 optical zoom lens. It is unbelievable... the quality and sharpness of the pictures compared to any camera I've had before. I also ordered (via eBay) a spare battery for it... for $9.99, includes shipping from Hong Kong, and sure enough, the battery arrived in my mailbox within 10 days of ordering it. It doesn't get any easier than that!!

Anywho... you know I will be bombarding everyone here with pictures... and I'm planning on getting into my photography a little more seriously than before. But just to show some of the incredible detail this camera picks up...check out these pictures. Yes they are flowers, but the colour and sharpness is quite amazing!

There's my poor lonely car, sitting all by itself... in the land of paradise :)

This is the door to our TUTS office. The weather lately (until today) has been quite lovely! But check out the colour in this picture... the tulips vs the greenery.

Is the yellow in these pansies not incredibly rich?? These are starting to be one of my favourite flowers. They come in so many colours, but these yellow ones are particularly brilliant.

This is one of my favourites. For starters, pink is my favourite colour and these pink tulips were such a brilliant pink!! But aren't they all just gorgeous???

Ok... the pictures made this entry longer than a short post :) Right now, I have got to get my butt out of the computer chair, get dressed, throw together some lunch and veggie snacks for Bridget and we are heading to the office (the one in the picture above) :)

Tomorrow is Election day here in BC! So, Bridget and I will hobble down the street to the Best Western Sands Hotel where our voting station will be. I'm not sure why it's not at the school where it usually is, but what the heck... it's still close by :) Bridget will come with me unless I decide to treat myself to which case she will stay home ;)

Anywho... I'm in practice mode for retirement and guess what?? I LIKE IT!! More so, I LOVE it!! I have no idea why some people hate retirement and are bored. Are you kidding??? If anything I still complain that there isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do!! Health-wise, I think I'm feeling and doing great!! My next CAT scan is July 20th. That's when I'll also have blood work done to measure my CEA, get the CAT scan done for the lungs and then meet with my oncologist. She will check how the nodules on my lungs are doing and if my CEA is normal... if that's the case, then I'll get another 4 months of freedom before the next CAT scan :) So even though July 20 is still a ways away... keep sending those positive thoughts that the nodules are nothing! No growth, no activity... or if you can send out the thoughts that the nodules just shrink and go away, that would be even better :)



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009 - Retirement Options!

Hello Blogey-mates!!

I was reminded today that the last blog entry I have done was April 11th! WOW! I could have sworn it was just the other day that I had reported about poor little Bridget's dental woes but I actually reported about them 2 weeks ago?? Unbelievable how time just whizzes by!!

Well, I'm happy to report that Miss Bridget is doing just fine. I don't think she has any traumatic memories about her dental adventure at all. Of course, she was put under anesthesia for the procedure so it's no as if she knows who did what to her. For that matter, she has no idea that anyone did anything to her. If anything, she might remember that her mouth hurt, but highly doubtful she even thinks of that now since it is all better and there's no pain or infection. She's even been back to see Dr. Joan and the clinic and had no problems with that until she had to be put up on the slippery table... she doesn't like that table at all because her feet slip on it ;)

She also has been to the groomers yesterday. Hehehe... well, I'm on to her tricks now! Toby, who normally takes her for her morning walks, took her up to the groomers. Bridget did a little bit of a "don't leave me" dance, but nothing like she does when I drop her off. Likewise, when Toby picked her up (I was at the hairdresser's myself when Bridget was ready), she didn't get near the greeting that I get. You know the one... "Ohhhhh Mom!! How could you leave me here!! They beat me, starved me and chained me up as soon as you left this morning!!" Uh, right... this is the message she would like me to believe even though she is put in a crate, with a blanket and with the door left open should she want to come out and socialize with the other dogs ;) The groomer gets a big chuckle out of Bridget's shenanigans and he told Toby that Bridget is the most well-behaved schnauzer when it comes to grooming. But as soon as her "people" come to pick her up, she does the big production number! She is such a little diva/actress!! :)

Anywho... all is going well in my world. Of course, there won't be anything to report as far as the lungs go until July 20th which is when I next go in for a CAT scan, bloodwork and then see my oncologist. That scan/bloodwork is to do a check of the lungs to see if any of the 11 nodules have grown at all and if so, how much.

Let's see... I did see my GP last week. My biggest complaint is a combination of the arthritis joint pain and just general overall pain that comes and goes but is always somewhere. I have been diagnosed with CPS (Chronic Pain Syndrome). This is caused by a few different things but the two most common are if you have had a trauma/wound, or cancer treatments. CPS will show up months after, which is why it is hard to diagnose and once it has shown up, it isn't actually diagnosed until you've had the chronic pain for at least 6 months. Well, I've had the arthritis prior to knowing about the cancer, so that isn't new... but the other pain in and around joints, or the area between one joint and another... that has basically surfaced in the last 9 - 12 months. Unfortunately, the majority of the causes for this chronic pain is nerve damage. I haven't really had any trauma that I can think of, except for the surgeries... but definitely, we know I've been bombarded with chemo, when I was getting the treatments for 8 months.

So, we are trying two different kinds of meds to see if we can short-circuit the messages from nerves to the brain that say "Pain". I have been on Gabapentin ever since the Oxipilatin chemo did the nerve damage to my feet and heels. That med, combined with the pain med Tramadol, hopefully will calm the pain down. So far, it is doing an ok job with most areas that I've noticed, but alas, it is not touching the pain in the lower back. So, we shall give it some more time before we try something else.

Meanwhile... the big news this week is I went to a "BC Public Service Pension Seminar" with a co-worker of mine. I have been to one or two of these in the past but since I was not close to retiring, they really didn't mean too much to me. But this time, it was a real eye-opener for me! I was actually thinking that I probably wouldn't be officially retiring, but would be staying on Long Term Disability insurance... mainly because, not having any idea what the future is going to bring, I wanted to make sure that I would be covered with my Medical Services Plan (MSP), my Dental Plan, and my Extended Health Coverage (prescriptions, chiropractor, acupuncture, glasses, etc).

So, as long as the doctors say I'm not able to go back to work, then it seemed that staying on Long Term Disability was the answer. From a financial perspective, with Long Term Disability, I get about 69% of my salary. No matter where my income comes from, I'm only entitled to the equivalent of 69% of my salary. Of course, the insurance company wants me to apply for anything else that I might be entitled to so that they can then deduct that from what they pay, with the end result being all totaled, my income would still equal 69%/salary. I also get CPP Disability which is $1053/month... which is fine, but it gets deducted from my LTD, so I get two deposits to my bank account every month... the CPP Disability and the LTD.

Well, what we found out at the Pension seminar - since I have my 35 years of service, I am entitled to a full pension. A full pension with the provincial government is 70% of your average top 5 years salary. Ok... so that is pretty much the same as my LTD payments. BUT, and this is a big BUT... since I am eligible for CPP Disability, I would be able to have that payment as well as my retirement pension. So I would have 70% of my salary PLUS the $1053/month CPP Disability pension. The CPP Disability is valid until I turn 65 yrs old, in which case it changes to regular CPP (Canada Public Pension). So, the long and short of it, I would end up being on retirement pension, getting $1053 more than my co-workers who might have 35 years and retiring ;)

Ok, so the next biggie is medical, dental and Extended Health insurance. Another eye opener... if I retire, Extended Health is part of the retirement package. I would have to pay my own MSP and Dental, but as a "retiree" I get them at subsidized rates. My medical insurance would cost $18/month and my dental insurance (where I'd be getting the same coverage I have as an employee) would cost $40/month.

Sooooo... it's a no-brainer!! For $58/month in insurance expenses, I will actually see $1600/month MORE than what I'm seeing/getting now (ok, $1600-$58=$1542 more per month)

Hahaha, now I have to start the paperwork! My official "early" retirement date is Feb 1, 2010. I already have my 35 years of service, but the earliest one can retire from the provincial government is at age 55. I will be 55 on Jan 7, 2010, so retirement starts on the 1st of the month following your birth month.

It all seems so surreal! Imagine that... I'm actually eligible to RETIRE!! To become a retiree!! All my working life, I have stayed with the provincial government, even though I was tempted on numerous occasions to try something different. For years, I really did want to work in the film industry, which had a booming period here in Vancouver in the 80s/90s... but no, I stayed where I was. I then thought it would be exciting to move to a different province, or even to get my green card and move down to the States and just experience working in another country. But I didn't. Then I really was tempted to move to Japan to teach English. I had a couple of friends who did that and they really enjoyed the work and the experience. But alas, I didn't do that either. In hindsight, I could kick myself for not following some of my dreams... on the other hand, it's actually payback time now. Not too many of my friends can say they are in a job that offers a company pension, let alone, do they have the maximum years of service to make them eligible for early retirement. Freedom 55!!

There is something to be said for the feeling of relief to know that you are going to have income for life, especially when you are in a situation such as mine where your #1 job is to look after your health and get on the road to recovery. Statistics are against someone with Stage IV colon cancer, but then I am not a normal Statistic. I have the luxury of having medical insurance AND being able to retire at 55 with the luxury of a decent pension! So I am one very happy and relieved camper this week and will be for some time to come :)

Well, that certainly is a mouthful of babble, now isn't it?? I have been keeping myself busy by spending afternoons down at the TUTS office. Yikes! I can't believe that both shows start rehearsals in May and we are getting closer and closer to production. That means summer is just around the corner and yes, it better start getting warmer soon because I plan on spending my summer down at the park :)

Okey dokey... it's now just after midnight! Time to sign off and once again, I will try and be a little better at putting up entries a little more consistently... and more often :)