Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13th, 2011 - A long overdue blog entry

Heloooo bloggies! Yes, it's Friday evening and the sun is just starting to go down. Actually, I'm thinking it's more the clouds are rolling in than the sun is going down. It's going to be a dark and stormy evening... the wind is already a'howling. Not sure when this started since it was a gorgeous, gorgeous sunny and fairly warm day today. Go figure?

Well, surprise, surprise... it's been a good month since my last blog entry. I am really not sure how I'm going to be able to break this bad habit I seem to have gotten into. I mean, the whole purpose of blogging is that one keeps up an ongoing dialogue, even if it is pretty one sided. hehehe.. one needs people to write comments on each entry for it to be more a "conversation" style blog... or else it's just me rambling on. Hahaha... now that is certainly not a surprise! It seems whether I'm on a "bulletin board forum", an "email list", our good old Facebook or here in bloggy-land, rambling and babbling is something I tend to do. The only one that has me limited is Twitter... with only a 140 character maximum then babbling is not a possibility.

So what's there to report in the last month?? Chemo brain sets in and seriously... the last month just becomes one big blurr! I know the term "Chemo brain" is used quite often when someone is getting chemo treatment, no matter what kind of chemo or what kind of cancer. Chemo is sort of all put in one category and all cancers sort of get bundled together, even though we all know they are so very different. Likewise, treatments for all these various conditions are very different.. hence reactions are and can be different. I remember the first chemo treatments I was on (we are going back 4 years now) and although I can't say any of it was a walk in the park, I did feel I handled them all exceptionally well. I remember going down to Theatre Under The Stars every day, then doing the box office for both shows 7 days/week. Oh, the good old days!! Taking all the challenges of handling crowds of 1100 or more, using a computerized system during the day and a manual system at night... and there I was, with a fully functioning (or so I thought) brain, while being on chemo. Yep, I would have my chemo pump attached to my port and kept the small pump (the size of a baby bottle) in a fanny pack around my waist.

It's now 4 years later... this time the chemo is different. I go in to the chemo unit every two weeks and get chemo infused into my port via an IV. It takes about 2 hours and then a couple of extra minutes to get some anti-side affects meds put in. Then I'm free to leave... no pump, nothing to take home with me. But this chemo reacts soooo differently than the stuff I had four years ago. For example... I had the chemo on Tuesday afternoon. For the rest of Tues, Wed and Thurs, I pretty much have to stay home. I'm not necessarily sick or anything (although there are times when I feel a bit on the queasy side), just lack of energy. Just the thought of leaving the apartment and either getting into someone's car and going somewhere or getting into my own car and driving somewhere to meet someone... takes way too much energy. So, the first couple of days I just hang out at home... and thank goodness I have way more to keep me occupied what with theatre work on the computer ;) But even that... I have to really watch... because it's amazing how much energy/concentration computer work actually requires. Which brings us back to the term "Chemo Brain". Chemo is a systemic toxin/drug. It does not just go straight to where you think the cancer problem is (in my case, nodules in my lungs). The chemo goes throughout your whole system, via the blood stream and the lymphatic system. Hence, it does get in the brain... and that's where the fog/memory can be effected. So when one has chemo brain, sometimes the simplest of tasks become quite the challenge. And then other days, when one gets a lot of tasks done, well, we feel we are quite the heroes :D

Today, Friday, May 13th, I had to go first thing in the morning to get my 3 month CAT scan. It's been three months since I started this particular type of chemo. It is this scan that is going to tell us whether the chemo is doing what we are hoping it will do. Obviously, we are hoping the chemo will be shrinking the tumours/nodules in my lungs. The plan is, that if we can shrink them down back to small nodules, then I will be able to have a nice break/period of time off the chemo. Since the tumours are throughout both lungs, it's not like they can go in and just cut them out. If there were only one or two and they were close together, that would be an option... but alas, that's not an option for me because they are throughout both lungs.

Now in the past few weeks, actually maybe longer when I think about it, I've been fighting a bronchial bug. It appears to be a bronchitis bug that a lot of people have gotten and had to fight off. Back in my younger days, when I was a smoker, bronchitis was something I got all the time, so when the symptoms showed up, I knew exactly what it was. What I didn't account for was this weird closing of the bronchi (??) airwaves so that when you inhaled, all was fine but exhaling produces this wheeze/whistle. Some say that is what it's like to have asthma... but I've never had asthma before and highly doubtful I have it now. But I did get the tight chest which is not comfortable. My GP put me on antibiotics and it seemed to take almost the full 10 day cycle but the chest is all clear now. Still got the wheeze but not as bad as when I first got it. Meanwhile, my oncologist ordered a chest xray to rule out pneumonia... phew! That's all I would need.

Soooo this past couple of weeks had been kind of meh! I mean, there's the usual chemo symptoms to deal with and then add on top of that bronchitis, antibiotics, chemo, anti-chemo symptom meds... come on now, a girl can only be so spunky :)

But, spunky I've sort of been... when I've managed to get out and about. I did go out for a wonderful lunch with my friend, Nelli, at Seasons in the Park up at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park. It was one of those gorgeous sunny spring days and they had just finished planing a garden full of hyacynths. OMG!! The smell was divine!! I swear that has got to be one of my most favourite flower smells!! Here are a couple of pics... and I went blonde that day :)

These are planted outside the front of the restaurant in the park. But there are also tons more throughout the park. Such a glorious smell!!

Here I am in my blonde bouffant. I have to admit, I'm not too sure this is a look for me. It will do to be different, but it hasn't really grown on me. And no, I'm not fond of the double chin, which of course I blame on the blonde hair

My friend, Nelli!! Her lovely yellow blouse is PERFECT for this day we had. We were surrounded by yellow flowers and yellow is the perfect colour for spring!! Do you think I have ANYTHING in yellow?? Noooo... hmmm, and I was just shopping today! My bad... I should have been looking for some gorgeous yellow!

This is at the entrance to the restaurant. Lovely daffodils lined the entranceway, even though it is a little late for daffodils now. April is really the month for them... but I like them anywhere, anytime!

And this is the view we had from inside the restaurant. It's views like this, the flowers, being in the middle of a park, and on such a warm, spring day... well, it makes for a nice long lunch! Needless to say, we were there for a couple of hours, just catching up and having a girls' twosome lunch! Ahhh... the life of retirees!! :D

Now let's see... there was another stretch of days... this is while I was fighting the bronchitis in the chest and I really wasn't feeling all that hot. So again, better to be safe than sorry, I stayed around the old homestead. Again, bronchitis, like the chemo, really takes a lot out of the old energy system. So here we were having this stretch of lovely spring weather... the kind of weather you just want to get out and be outside. As we all know, when Vancouver has the good weather, there are so many things one can do outside. Ok, so some of us aren't THAT physical , so going for a run on the seawall, or a bike ride around the city, or taking the dog on a hike... not going to necessarily happen. BUT, one does get the overwhelming urge to just be outside soaking up the Vitamin E, and just feeling good about being in the fresh air.... but alas, I was homebound and feeling a tad on the depressed side. This is so NOT like me not to be out and about. More and more I've been having to stay close to home just to rebuild my energy reserves... and I'm hoping it's all a combination of fighting the bronchial bug along with the ongoing chemo battle... and as soon as I get over this bronchial stuff, I will be back to my usual running around self :)

Sooooo, my friend, Joan called me on one of these gorgeous days to see how I was doing and of course I whined to her about how I was missing our latest days of spring. So, bless her heart, she drove over and picked Bridget and I up and off we went to Spanish Banks to get some fresh air, a bit of sun and just the freedom of getting outside for that afternoon.

Sitting on a log over at the beach at Spanish Banks, looking back at the West End (which is where we came from since we both live in that 'hood). Hahaha... you can almost see my apartment building in this pic, but not really since it is sort of tucked behind one of the buildings on the far right of the picture.

This is showing how the tide is actually coming in (sandbars are getting covered over, but when the tide is out, you can almost (almost) walk out to the freighters sitting in the bay waiting to go into the port of Vancouver). Like I say, a lovely spring afternoon... and one where even just sitting on a log and able to get a few pictures makes for a lovely day. Unfortunately, I couldn't go for a bit of a walk because I was fighting the darn shortness of breath from the bronchitis... so I sat on a log, while Joan took Bridget for a little walk. Then we went off for a White Spot milkshake :D

I know I'm forgetting a few things... we had the big Federal Election. Don't even want to go there... for those of you on Facebook, you know what I think about that. So I won't put you through that again. Meanwhile, there have been a couple of openings of shows, some I made it to, some I didn't. But the ones I did I had a heck of a wonderful time. Fighting Chance Productions, THE WIZ was wonderful!! Metro Theatre opened 42nd STREET and had a very successful run. This past weekend, Metro opened HAUNTED which runs until June 4th, so if you get a chance to see it... please do!! We will then round up our season with the last production HARVEY, which is a play I know a lot of you have seen the movie... the fellow with his imaginary 6-foot rabbit friend?

Ohhhhh... and for those of you in town who have kids who love musical theatre and would like to take some training... have I got news for you!! Metro Theatre and Theatre Adventures (founded by Canada's own JEFF HYSLOP) will be doing two 6-Day MUSICAL THEATRE INTENSIVE WORKSHOPS. Yes, imagine being in a workshop lead by Jeff, as well as other phenomenal instructors - Mark Carter, Artistic Director for DSR Productions and Caitlin Hayes, Musical Director extraordinaire! The first workshop is one that will be 6 half days (mornings) for children 12-15 yrs. The second workshop will be 6 full days (morning/afternoon) for young folk 21 years and under. There will also be invited professional guest instructors. A workshop not to be missed!! PS: Although the starting age is 12 years old, if your child is someone we know who is under the age of 12 but has had theatre performance experience and/or training, then I'm sure we can work something out so they can attend. But you will want to sign up pretty darn quick! Once word gets out that Jeff is doing these workshops here in Vancouver, they will sell out pretty quickly!!

Ok... I think that's enough for tonight. Once again, I say with tongue in cheek... I will try to be a little more regular with the posts ... better than once a month because when I leave it that long, I forget what I've done over the past month!! And really, I think I've been pretty busy... at least, I think I have!! LOL!!




Donald J Foran said...

Thanks for sharing & keep up the good fight Cher..! xox

Kath said...

Cheryl, you're just amazing! All the things you do would be enough to tire anyone out. As one of the newly retired persons out here I have found that being retired means you don't go to work but it doesn't mean there isn't work to be done :)

Keep fighting, girl! We're with you!