Friday, July 31, 2009

The Early Morning Drudge Report

Well, yesterday turned out to be a write off. I spent the day on the couch wishing for sleep but only getting in a few, short naps. I'd wake up thinking, "YES! I SLEPT!", to find I'd only slept 20 minutes. Cheryl, Carol and Sylvia stopped by to find me in my semi-comatose and rather unattractive state. Friends and family are okay with that, thank God! Thanks for the cheery, rose Gerbera daisy, Carol.

I was in bed by 10:00 last night and mercifully slept from 10:30 until 2:30. Okay, there was one bathroom break in there but I fell back to sleep right away so it doesn't count. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get back to sleep after the 2:30 pee break and I finally dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 5:30 because ... well ... what's the point? I think I'll try going back to bed after this little update.

Good thing I still have some back-up flower photos to post. I haven't had the energy to fire up the camera. How sad is that?! I'm glad I have pretty flowers to post because they seriously contrast how un-pretty I'm feeling right about now. Like Anne said, "I feel like a dork"! This, too, shall pass, I remind myself.

One other thing ... I have a little occasional stabbing pain about 3 or 4 inches to the left of my belly button. Does anyone with more anatomical knowledge than I know what lies under there? I felt the same pain for a day or two after I was so sick last weekend and attributed it to the sudden workout my unprepared stomach muscles got. But it's odd that it started up again yesterday. Hmmmm ... If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear. I haven't had the energy to do any research myself. Maybe later.

If anyone's wondering, I hope to get a lot of sleep today. I hope. I hope. I hope. Syl (aka: Nurse Cratchet ... though that doesn't sound nearly as nice as she really is) will be giving me my first of 5 Neupogen injections this morning ... but after that, I hope to be in lala land as much as possible.

PS to Nora: I could sure use your editing skills. Already I've edited this entry for typos about 6 times! Every time I look at it, I see another mistake! And I've probably still missed some!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chemo Ain't For the Lily-Livered, Either!

Ha Ha Ha! Aren't I funny at 6:00 a.m.?!

The Heather Report indicates that all is going quite well. A few minor side-effects came and passed already but no biggie. For the first time I actually felt like I might throw up so I kept a bucket handy during the evening and through the night but nothing came of it, I'm happy to report, and the feeling passed a couple of hours after I took my bedtime anti-nausea drugs. At about 9:00 pm, that tingling, numbness, weakness thing started in my arms and slightly in my legs but it passed, too, around 2:00 am. All in all ... that was about it.

Well ... except for the sleeplessness. And that's a drag. I went to bed at 10:00 last night because I was so tired I was going to fall asleep again on the sofa and I might as well fall asleep in bed at that point. I could hardly haul my body up the stairs to go to bed, I was so tired. But ... no sleep. Judging by the times I looked at the clock, I had a few half hour or so naps but that was about it. Good thing I slept a lot during the day yesterday. So here I am talking to you at this uncivilized hour.

My Mom arrived last night with fresh raspberries from her garden at hand. She's going to stay here for a while to see me through these next few days at least. Kevin's Mom, Syl, sent over a very nice dinner last night including a peach crisp that I was able to eat because it's fruit and not too sweet. It all went down well, Syl, and tasted great. Thanks so much. She also sent the prettiest bouquet gathered from her garden, anchored by lots of roses, of course, but with all kinds of other pretty blooms tucked in here and there. I'll take a picture for later. It's stunning!

I must say a special thanks to my husband who sat with me through chemo yesterday and stayed with me during the day. Every time during the chemo treatment, the pharmacist comes by toward the end of treatment to give me lots of detailed instructions about my medications and the medication schedule. It's a lot to take in and by then I'm so drowsy and groggy, there's no point talking to me. This time he woke me up and started firing information at me right away and I basically had to say "talk to the hand"! And then I directed him to Kevin and I just listened picking up bits and pieces here and there. Kevin knows all the right questions to ask and even asked some questions about the next treatments which provided us with some valuable information to prepare with. More about that another day. Anyway, Kevin takes very good care of me and I'm lucky that he takes the time to be with me during these treatments. He's very reassuring and attentive. At one time, Kevin had planned on being a medical doctor and so he takes to medical stuff quite naturally, unlike his totally medically-wussy wife.

Also, thanks to Karen for stopping by to visit two nights ago and for the funky hat she brought for me! It was just the perfect and warm thing (not to mention, tres chic) to wear to my chemo treatment yesterday. It was so nice to see you, Karen! And a shout out to Carol who has a sick Milo (their beloved dog) to attend to. I hope Milo is on the mend by now.

And now I'll down a bunch of water, try a little breakfast, and see how my day unfolds. So far so good, I can honestly say, though I don't know that I can say much has "unfolded" at 6:00 am.!!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chemo Ain't For Pansies!

Actually, today's dreaded chemo treatment wasn't as bad as previous ones.  I was warm enough this time.  I wore socks (thanks, Cheryl) and my heavy, cotton wrap (thanks, awful law firm pals), my soft, black hat that can cover my ears (thanks, Karen), had my own fluffy, down pillow and a down comforter.  That all made a big difference. Plus, the drugs made me so drowsy, I mostly slept the time away.

Now we're home and I'm about to have a little bit to eat and then I'm hitting the couch because sleep is beckoning.

It sure helps to feel surrounded and buoyed by all the support coming through the cosmos from my team. Thanks, everyone. 
Posted by Picasa


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bloodwork Day - Good to Go for Tomorrow

This is a close-up of our blooming foxglove from the rainy day. Pretty. Note that it's hairier than me!

I've been for my bloodwork this morning and all is a go for my chemo treatment tomorrow. My oncologist finds my liver enzyme reports puzzling - he's not sure why they were normal one week after chemo, high two weeks after chemo and then almost in the normal ranges again this time. He thinks I must have a very sensitive liver, though how would one ever know that? I don't think I've ever had my liver tested at any time in my life. I don't think they run any tests during physicals, do they? I worry a little for my poor liver now. I've never given it a moment's thought in the past.

My oncologist recommends we follow the same course of treatment as last time --- reduced "E" by 25% followed by neupogen injections (to help white blood cell counts). They were happy to hear I hadn't suffered any bone pain from the neupogen. I guess many people experience horrible bone pain grief. I'll count myself lucky in that regard and hope I continue to be so lucky. Otherwise, Nurse Cratchet will feel awful injecting me. Can't have that.

As much as I'm glad we're able to go ahead with chemo, I really dread the appointment. Kevin and I will work at making me more comfortable than last time. We'll bring a pillow this time, MORE blankets, MORE warm clothes ... my new wrap from my awful law firm friends (it's just the law firm that's awful ... my friends from there are aweSOME!). It will be good to get it over with in the morning. We should be home noonish where I will crash on the couch and, hopefully, sleep.

Time to stop thinking about it. How about the Bachelorette finale last night??!! She picked Ed!! Shocking return of Reid, though. You gotta give the guy credit for trying. I think Jillian handled herself as respectfully as anyone could during the course of the show, given the circumstances, and she did Canada proud. These are the guilty pleasures I distract myself with. Now that it's done, I still have "So You Think You Can Dance". It's almost done, too. Then what?? Any suggestions?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Busy as a Beaver ... but ...

... must post another pretty flower from yesterday after it rained. A geranium just getting started. So pretty with the rain drops.

I'm wearing my red hair today. Don't you wish you could say that? Granted ... without the cancer part.

Must say "Congratulations!!" to the Saskatoon Scorpions who, for the 2nd year in a row, won the Adrenalin Shoot-Out Field Lacrosse Tournament in California! Good show, boys. I understand that some of the games were very close and that the refs did all they could to keep the Canadian team from winning ... again. It must have been exciting! Here's the link to the news report if you want to read about it. Here's the report about their opening game and about their quarter-final. Like last year, the Scorpions won all of their games.


Ramping Up for Chemo #3

I feel good. You know that I should now! I feel good. You know that I should. Of course I feel good. The weekend is over! Sour grapes? Maybe a little.

Anyway ... I do feel good and it's time to start prepping for Chemo #3 at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. I have a bloodwork appointment tomorrow morning and I'm sure it will signal that I'm good to go for Wednesday. I'm glad my chemo appointment is in the morning. Good to get it over with. I hate the chemo appointments because, so far, they are so uncomfortable. Even though I thought I really prepared for feeling cold last time, I was STILL cold. This time I'm taking even more blankets. And even if I were warm enough, I think I'd still be uncomfortable. I was told by a nurse that some of the first anti-nausea drugs they give before the actual F, E and C (the chemo drugs), can cause restlessness.

The good thing is that after this appointment, I'm half way done chemo and that's cause of celebration of some kind.

Today I start drinking LOTS of water. It's advised that a couple of days before chemo you drink lots of water and keep that up for several days after chemo, too. Today I also do some extra house cleaning to keep germs at bay and to get it done while I can.

Aren't the white lilies pretty? Have a wonderful day, everyone.
Posted by Picasa


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

I know you're having the time of your life in New York! Here are pretty, damp, gerbera's from our backyard just for you!
Posted by Picasa



After spending all of yesterday on the couch, I feel better today. My stomach muscles have made themselves known. Actually, it was probably good for them to get a little workout! Thanks, Brenda, for the potato soup that I thought I'd save for post-chemo days. It turns out it was good for my stomach yesterday.

So ... better today. Up, Up and Away ... as long as I stay in my bubble ... which includes my backyard, which I'm going to now check out since I didn't see it yesterday.

It was so pretty outside after the light rain that I had to take flower photos. There are so many I like, I'll start with this one.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hey You! Get Back Into Your Bubble!

That's the message my body gave me loud and clear last night. I had such a great day with Mom, Jodi, Meghan and Dawson. I felt "normal" and we did "normal things". They left around 8:30 and I was really tired so I hit the couch and was pretty much a vegetable from then on, as Lynn can attest to because she stopped by and I hardly remember a word we said. She wisely went to the basement to visit Kevin instead while he was doing water changes.

At 1:00 a.m. I was soooooooo sick to my stomach. GROSS!! I made it the bathroom in time but holy yuck! I got a bucket after that and good thing I did because next time, at 5:30 a.m., I would never have made it. My poor stomach muscles have been on "cancer vacation" for a while now and they are certainly feeling the sudden action they were forced into. Then, to top it off, my other bodily holding tank felt the need to be completely purged as well. Suffice it to say, I was completely drained after that and only started feeling semi-alert half way through the Rider game (we won't talk about that, will we? Erin's bobble-head will be wearing his paperbag over his head by now). Only now do I feel well enough to type.

Being so sick after feeling so well was a real disappointment, especially today because we had fun plans! We were invited to the lake to watch the Rider game with Rex and Erin. It would have been such a good time and so nice to get out of the city before next Wednesday's chemo treatment. We were sad not to be able to go.

By now I'm feeling a little stronger all the time. I don't think it was the chemo and I don't think it was food-related. I think I picked up a flu of some kind, which is just a reminder to me that I have to be very careful and that I'm best off remaining in my little bubble world. Feeling "normal" doesn't mean I should be tripping about town. I must remember to stick close to home and avoid germs. Remind me of that next time I start feeling normal.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Properly Manicured!

Of course, the annual princess shopping trip includes manicures.
Posted by Picasa


Dawson Visits

Dawson helped Kevin garden this afternoon. Shopping isn't his "thing".  Apparently flowers are.
Posted by Picasa


Princesses Go Shopping

Meghan, Dawson, Jodi and Mom visited today and Meghan and I were able to go on our annual princess shopping trip!  Here's Meghan's new dress and purse! What a beautiful colour on her!

Posted by Picasa


Lilies Busting Out All Over the Place

So many of our lilies have started blooming in the past couple of days. Love them.

Yesterday was great! Cheryl and I had a lovely lunch at John's. She's on "surgical vacation" and I'm on "cancer vacation" (as Carol dubbed it), so we were able to linger.

Thanks, Syl, for dinner with ALL the fixin's. Luke and I both really enjoyed it and are happy to be your recipe testers any day!

This morning, as expected, I feel AWESOME! Good thing, too, because my Mom is coming in with my sister-in-law, Jodi, and my neice, Meghan, and nephew, Dawson. Meghan and I usually have a summer "date in the city" and I'm happy that we're able to do that this year, especially because last year didn't work out. We're going shopping!

Now, must tidy house and water pots.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

To My Mates at the Awful Lawless Firm

Hi pals! I told you I would post a photo of what I got with the gift certificate you gave me at the hat/scarf party.

This is a cotton knit wrap. See those big buttons? There are three of them. There's a button hole on the other side of the wrap, so it can be secured. It feels so nice and stays on so nicely. What I find is that I'm often needing something warmed than my lighter pashminas wrapped around my shoulders. There are a lot of long-sleeved things I don't wear because of the discomfort of the all the bulge of junk around my PICC-line on my arm, so something like this is cozy warm and covers my arms where the PICC-line is without disturbing it. Even though it's summer, there are a lot of afternoons where I'm curled up on the couch with a big feather duvet ... but this around my shoulders at the same time will be so nice. It's perfect and I love it and I thank you all very much. They had them in lots of colours and it took me very much deliberating before I finally settled on the "natural" look.

I also bought a pair of green blingy earrings. Most of my earring collection is quite understated but now that I have either no hair, just a hat or a wig, I find my new look is just SCREAMING for bold earrings. So, thanks for them, too.


A Dog for the Actons?

Kevin and I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog. We're dog people who just happened to have ended up with cats instead. Now that both cats are gone (RIP Olivia and Tito - I miss them both), we are open to the possibility of getting a dog.
Australian Cattle Dog
We had Kooma, a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog, like the one pictured above), for 8 years when we were first together and she was a super pet. Man, I loved that dog. She was such a spectacular frisbee catcher and such a good dog-nanny for Hannah and Luke when they were wee. Very mothering.
Spanish Water Dog
Now we're thinking about breeds we might want to consider. While I would be open to getting another Blue Heeler, I'm also enchanted with the Spanish Water Dog (as pictured above - click on any of the photos to read about the breeds, if you care to). It's not the "Obama Dog", theirs being a Portuguese Water Dog, but they're very similar. Trouble is, they aren't readily available here.
Bearded Collie
Kevin is also fond of the Bearded Collie (as pictured above). Our friends, Dwayne and Shelley, have one that Kevin adores. Kevin also likes Chocolate or Silver Labs (a black lab is pictured below) and those are easier to come by. I'm open to either of these possibilities. I'm glad Kevin and I have similar doggie interests.
Labrador Retriever
Any suggestions? Anyone know where we could get a Spanish Water Dog? I think there is only one registered breeder in Canada and that's in Atlantic Canada and there aren't very many in the States either. Hmmmm ... they are soooooo cute, aren't they?

Then again ... do we really want to dive into all that comes with having a dog? Do we? Do we really???!!

Lovely Day!

This perfect, little flower is for Erin who, while touring our garden last night said I need to post a photo of it. So here it is. I can't remember what it is. Sorry.

Yesterday was a good day! YEAH! I even cooked supper. Kevin and I went for a walk down to Rex and Erin's and toured Erin's pink garden and then they walked us back to our place and toured ours. It was nice to have a social outing in the evening. It was also nice to talk to my cousin, Lori, last night. I wonder if she's out painting her garage yet?

This morning I feel good, too. I really do think these will be all good days until next Wednesday's chemo treatment. It doesn't seem right to prefix that word with the word, "treat". While I'm glad there is chemo to kill cancer cells, I would hardly call it a "treat".

This morning I had a nice chat with Cindy. I'm having lunch with Cheryl, who is still recovering from foot surgery and is enjoying the freedom of finally being able to drive again.

Have a great day, everyone!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wasn't That a Tear Jerker?!

Are there any other "So You Think You Can Dance" fans out there? It's my favourite show year after year. I know Alexa watches it.

Tonight two of the dancers performed a dance for breast cancer and I don't think there was a dry eye anywhere. Even Nigel could hardly speak and I didn't think Mia Michaels would ever get a word out. Kevin and I were both weeping.

If you didn't catch it and you want to, I know they run repeats of the show during the week on Much Music.

It really was beautifully danced regardless of the theme, but the message of the dance was especially touching and effectively conveyed, I think.

July 22 Blood Count Report

Liver Enzymes:
  • ALT = 152 (normal is 5-45)
  • AST = 88 (normal is 10-35)
Other blood counts:
  • White Blood Cells = 4.31 (normal is 4-11)
  • Neutraphils = 2.38 (normal is 1.5-7.5)
  • Platelets = 127 (normal is 150-400)
  • Hemoglobin = 102 (normal is 110-160)
Last week, my liver enzymes were well within normal. It's disappointing that they're above the normal range now, though they're not nearly as high as they were after my stay in the hospital (ALT was 698 and AST was 675). It must be the chemo causing that unless the medicine I take for shingles has any impact at all. Another question for my oncologist.

Otherwise, I think the blood counts aren't too bad considering it's been exactly 2 weeks since my 2nd chemo treatment. Numbers should be on the rise now.

Anticipating Good Days Through to Next Wednesday

Don't you love this flower from our backyard? I don't know what it is, but it sure is showy!

After a slower day yesterday, I'm back to feeling very good today. Yesterday wasn't awful by any stretch, but my body told me to take it slow and so I did. Today I feel like I can be productive and that's a good feeling for sure.

This morning Kevin took me to the Champion Centre for bloodwork. This time they're monitoring my blood and liver enzymes weekly instead of just the day before chemo. I expect everything to be good and will probably get a phone call about the results later today or tomorrow.

My only worry about having "good" bloodwork results is whether that means the chemo isn't working as well as it would be otherwise. This is a question for the professionals. Maybe they'll bump my "E-chemo-drug" back up to 100% next round? Questions. Questions. All in good time.

I was finished at the Champion Centre very quickly today so I was able to pop in at the office and say hi to Norma, Patty, and her daughter, Kayla. It was so nice to see them and see some of the panels that are being prepared for an exhibit we've been working on. Notice how I said "we"? Okay ... not so much "we", but "they". It's looking, good, Norma and Nora!

Now ... my oatmeal/raison/blueberry/banana breakfast. Thanks Syl, for dropping off blueberries from your "secret source".


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Living Vicariously ...

... through everyone else's vacations. Keep those photos coming! This is Ross and Milo.

No Rhyme. No Reason.

Tuesday. Not quite as perky ... YET ... as yesterday. How can it be that I can have such a lousy day with those aches and pains, feel perfectly great the next day and then, the next day again, back to boa constricted ribs? I don't understand this? This morning I woke up to feeling that tightness around my ribs and a slight ache in my chest where the PICC-line ends. Why did it skip a day altogether? Not that I'm complaining about having had such a good day yesterday, but I just don't understand it.

Mostly, I can't stop thinking of the Underhill family and really wishing them the strength they're going to need to get through this tragic time.


Shopping? Me?

Aren't these roses from Don and Sylvia's garden beautiful?! Sylvia brought this bouquet. She knows the names of each rose and the particulars about them. They smell heavenly.

By the way, something I can do that none of you can do ... when putting on mascara, I can just shift my wig up high on my forehead so I don't get mascara in my bangs. It looks pretty funny, but very convenient. I try to make note of the benefits that come with being bald as a billiard ball.

I had a great day today! Carol dropped by at 11:00 prepared to give me another pedicure but my feet are still looking and feeling very good from last week's pedicure. So, since I was feeling so good, we did a little shopping along Broadway and met Leslie for lunch at Calories. It felt great to be out and about and we had a lot of laughs, which is the usual state of affairs when out with Carol. I won't type here what she said about her new Gladiator Sandals, but trust me, I laughed my face off!! It was such a spontaneously lovely day but, when you have cancer, spontaneous is the only way to be. It's not for everyone, you know.

We shopped at Sandbox in the City and at Hats and That, where I have a gift certificate from my pals at that awful law firm that I once dedicated my time and skills to, unfortunately. The only good thing I can say about having worked there, aside from personally enjoying the work itself, was meeting some wonderful and treasured people there. We always had so much fun together and I do miss them. Anyway, I found something I love at Hats and That and I'll post a photo of it soon, with many thanks to my pals at the awful law firm.

Sylvia took me on a little excursion shortly after that but I was pretty much toast by 3:30 and was fast asleep on the couch by 4:00. Napping is goooood.

My day, like that of so many others, was overshadowed by horrific news and our hearts go out to Jim Underhill's family.
Posted by Picasa


Monday, July 20, 2009

On this day last cycle ...

... I ended up in the hospital! That won't be happening this time (knock on wood). I have no fever, I feel pretty good.
Actually, I feel better this morning than I felt all day yesterday. I don't mean to be ungrateful, but I wish I could have opted to feel like this yesterday while Kevin was around. Kevin is such a social animal, I think it's particularly hard for him when I'm having a less than great day on weekends and he's itchy to be getting together with friends, running errands together ... doing things ... seeing people ... things we would normally do. I'm not nearly as fun at home as I used to be. I feel badly about that, though Kevin is great about it. I was feeling particularly tired of being a "fighter" yesterday.

My chest bothered me all day yesterday ... the place where my PICC-line ends. It didn't hurt badly but it was just a relentless aching that was very wearing and demoralizing. Thankfully, I was able to sleep well last night and, for whatever reason, it's not bothering me this morning. Even then, Kevin and I did get out for a wee outing yesterday. A particularly exciting one for Kevin. Can you guess where we went? I'll bet you can't ...

We went through Kevin's favourite car wash!! The Co-op carwash at Preston Crossing! Kevin says it's the best one in the city and he should know. He gets all excited about the car wash. His favourite part is when it sprays the rainbow coloured sudsy stuff all over. He loves the bubble-gum smell of it and the pretty colours. Then again, he loves the fireworks effect on the windshield made by the vaccuum dryer sucking all the water off the car. You should see him. His eyes sparkle!! As he says, it doesn't take much to make him happy! That was the highlight of our little excursion.

We also stopped at Petland to look at puppies. Another very exciting stop for Kevin. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), none of the puppies were the kind that especially appeal to us. Good thing the SPCA is closed on Sundays. We did admire all the fish at Petland (the one at Stonebridge ... they have the nicest store fish tank setup I've ever seen) and we looked at a "corn snake", which I didn't want to look at very closely though the petstore guy REALLY wanted to get it out and let us get a better look. My nephew, Dawson, really wants a corn snake. I just wanted to know what he was talking about. I'm glad my kids didn't want snakes.

So, that was our exciting outing.

It doesn't look nice out this morning (though a multitude of birds seem to be having a frolicking good time in our back yard), which doesn't jibe very well with my feeling better today. I hope to walk to Broadway ... NOT the hospital! YEAH!! If it's not nice enough out for walking, I'll be doing a lot of back and forth walking to the washing machine.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Toes by Carol


Sunday FunDay?

I'm still sleepy this morning but couldn't get back to sleep.  It looks like a nice day and I can see dew shimmering on the foliage outside. 

This morning I can feel that "constricting pain" around my ribs and again, I'm very "aware" of the PICC-line in my chest. It aches a bit.  I seem to remember some of this rib-pain from the first round of chemo.  Chemo.  Odd stuff.  It's still in there working away.  I guess that's a good thing.  Feeling shitty and getting various discomforts must mean it's doing something, at least.  I hope it's doing it's best to target cancer cells instead of just my good ones, though.

Yesterday was a nice day. I could celebrate my last neupogen needle for this go around.  Nurse Cratchet (Syl) was by to deliver it while she was buzzing back and forth between all of her other busy duties.  It didn't even hurt at all this time, though I can't complain about the other ones either. Sylvia has a gentle touch and a "patient first philosophy", that's for sure.

Kevin got some yard work done and even I pulled a few weeds.  It felt good to dig in the dirt a bit.  We gave up on the Rider game and went for an excursion. We took a drive out to the strawberry-picking place and bought some Saskatoon berries and then got groceries.  It's so pretty out there.  We treated ourselves to ice cream.  A big day!

It was nice to catch up with Jim and Brenda as they were on their way to Taste of Saskatchewan.  These are the things I love most about summer ... seeing our neighbours out and about ... catching up ... getting together for impromptu deck visits, etc.  I love summer and all that comes with it ... except for mosquitoes and weeds.  I haven't really seen any mosquitoes yet but the weeds are more than abundant.

Kevin cooked up a great steak on the barbie last night.  It and a couple of salads made for a nice meal to enjoy on the deck ... just the two of us.  Very nice. I was pretty much wiped after that, not having had my afternoon nap. 

Luke was busy all day yesterday coaching at the lacrosse tournament and he's off to coach again this morning.  He's wearing sunscreen this time.  Lesson learned, I hope.

We chatted with Hannah, who is having a blast with her friends at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.  She's there with a bunch of friends and she's the only one who has never been to a big music festival before.  I'm sure she's soaking it up.

So today ... today still has the promise of being a good day mentally and physically.  I hope it holds true.
Posted by Picasa


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beautiful Day!

It's beautiful outside today! I can't wait to get out and enjoy it. Bonus for me is that after feeling ungreat yesterday, I feel pretty darn good this morning. I took tylenol a few times yesterday to ease me through a terrible, throbbing lower back pain (probably from the shingles ... I never get back pain). But I woke up this morning with the tylenol surely worn off and I feel fine!
I'm going to made Luke an egg McActon. I can hear him stirring. He has to coach the stingers in a lacrosse tournament this weekend and I think the game is at 11:00. I'm going to eat mine on the deck. It's calling my name.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Sleepy Day

Today is a sleeping day. It feels like someone slipped something into my orange juice! I can't keep my eyes open. I remember feeling like this in the hospital. I wonder if my potassium and electrolytes are low? I'll do a little research.

After a soak in a hot tub with epsom salts, I took some tylenol for my lower back pain and that helped a lot. Just sleeping ... sleeping ... sleeping the day away. Could be worse.

Shingles ...

... not the ones that blow off our garage and litter our yard on a windy day.

More adventures in Chemo-land. I have shingles. Apparently this is not uncommon for people undergoing chemotherapy, which suppresses the immune system. It's another kick in the backside, in my world. So now I'm on drugs for that, too.

I don't feel nearly so super-dooper as I did yesterday but I don't feel horrible either. I have an ache in my lower left sacroiliac but that might be because of the shingles. I might take some tylenol if it persists, now that I know my liver enzymes have recovered. I noticed the pain during the night last night and it's not getting any better this morning now that I'm moving around a bit. Rats.

I think I'll have a quiet day today. Quiet. Not depressed. NOT depressed.

Anyway ... yesterday was pure joy!! Ahhhhh ...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What is Your Favourite Famous Voice?

While watching tv tonight, one of those Olympic ads narrated by Donald Sutherland came on. I was thinking about how much I love his voice. I also love Leonard Cohen's voice. I think they're my two favourite voices (aside from voices of comfort from my childhood). For a moment I almost added Sean Connery's but as much as I love his voice, I'll stick with Donald and Leonard. I just realized, too, that both of my choices are Canadian. Hmmmm ... I didn't plan that. Interesting. Ponder ... ponder ... ponder.

Who has your favourite famous voice? Surely someone comes to mind.

Lacrosse on TV tonight! BONUS!

Okay. So I didn't cook tonight after all. Sue me!!

It turned out that Luke wasn't coming home for dinner anyway and since I was feeling like a million bucks, Kevin and I decided to go out for dinner. We were going to go to Avacados but, before we left, I started yawning ... and yawning ... and yawning. Kevin wisely suggested we do drive-through instead. Good idea. I was fading fast. So we rented me a movie for tomorrow, picked up some Wendy's and came home. I curled up on the sofa (in my new, comfy brain cozy from Auntie Eileen) and watched So You Think You Can Dance and then ... and THEN ... amazing ... I stumbled across the MLL (field lacrosse) all-star game and skills competition! Now there's a bonus event at the end of an almost perfect day! Lacrosse on tv. And now to bed.

Thank you somebody for such a great day!

Heavenly Day!!

What a lot of adventures I've had today! After I got myself fed, cleaned up and dressed ...

Carol phoned this morning from the lake. She, Ross and Milo are having a great time there on the waterfront.

Sylvia came by and gave my neupogen injection. While this might not be something I say, "oh, goodie!" about, I am glad that Sylvia is willing and able to come here to do that for me. I know she goes to extra trouble to make sure it's as painless as possible for me and I certainly can't complain. Thanks, Syl! Only one more to go this chemo round.

I felt so good today that I was able to do several household chores I'd been ignoring. It felt good to get some of those things done.

Cris, who is visiting here from Ontario and who is a work colleague came by at 1:00 to go over some work-related data. It was great to see her ... great to be able to do something constructive for work and great to eat poppyseed square from Traegers (her treat) with her on the deck while we worked.

Then ... BIG HIGHLIGHT! Erin phoned and offered to take me for a spin in her super-cute BMW convertible! Could there be a better day for it? She picked me up, we cranked the music and had a great chat while we cruised some riverbank streets. We looked so hot. I swear all that honking was just to get our attention! It was HEAVENLY!!

When I got home, there on the sidewalk beside our house was a HAT RACK!! Sylvia had tracked down a very nice oak hatrack to house all my hats and scarves. It's perfect!! Thanks, Don and Syl.

Auntie Eileen and Uncle Bill were in town today, too, and they dropped off some very nice turbans that Auntie Eileen made. I haven't tried them on yet, but I can tell they're just the thing for napping ... when a wig is annoying, hats are too cumbersome and baldness is too chilly. Thanks, Auntie Eileen!

I spent some time visiting my neighbours over our "friendly fence". Nicole, Ava, Hannah and Grandma Fran. And Daisy and Oscar, their dogs, of course. Daisy needed a little neighbour attention. It was so nice to be able to be out chatting with neighbours. Just feeling normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Yesssss.

I almost feel guilty for feeling so good and for being so spoiled lately! And the day isn't even done yet!! I'm too pumped to even be tired ... yet!

Soon Kevin and Luke will be home. They'll be glad to see me looking and feeling good. They'll be even more glad if I can put a meal together. We'll see what I can do ...

BloodWork Results. All is Good!

I just heard from the Champion Centre and all of my bloodwork results came back good! My liver enzymes are well within the normal range so far. I get them tested again next week.

My white blood cell counts are at 3.3. My hemoglobin is 106. Platelets are 249. Neutrophils are at 2.4. From what I understand of the numbers (which isn't much), I can be very happy with these results.

I feel a celebratory hat coming on.

The Day is Lookin' Good!

It's a beautiful looking morning out there, folks! And I'm happy to report that I'm feeling quite good. I sleep well at night now that I'm off medications and that can only be a good thing. My horrible aches haven't returned. Any little aches are very minor and some I don't notice at all unless I nudge or bump myself. No biggie. I'm going to anticipate a good day today.
I had my afternoon nap yesterday, like I said I would. A solid 1.5 hours of sleep and I felt much better for it.
Shortly after I had a very nice visit from Cheryl, Mikael and Alexa! Alexa had just picked up her new glasses, which look very jazzy snazzy, I think. They are "teal and copper (not brown)". I'm jealous. I also saw McLovin's braces, which are, coincidentally, teal coloured as well. He and Alexa match! Do you see what Alexa is holding? This is "Tiger Lily" (she chose the name and, amazingly, it's the same name as my bicycle!). Alexa designed and hand sewed it ALL BY HERSELF FOR ME!! Being a hand-craft enthusiast, I am especially impressed. She even sewed a little, pink "breast cancer ribbon" on it! I've been missing having a critter around here to keep me company when the going gets tough. Thanks so much, Alexa. I'm very touched and tickled!
After dinner, Darrel and Josh came by! I hadn't seen Josh for quite some time and it was super to see him, too. He has lots of tales to tell, having recently spent a month in South Africa where his girlfriend's family lives. He showed us some amazing photos. Makes me want to go there, too.
I must thank Laurel for dropping off such a bountiful tray of chopped fruit! Delicious and exactly what I crave most. She also left us a handy reheatable meal. If Kevin had had time he would have run down to your place and hugged you himself, Laurel. Being chief cook and bottle washer wasn't in it his initial plans this year and while he does very good, we're all very grateful for the occasional reprieve.
Since I'm feeling so good this morning, I'm going to make some plans today that include food prep as a treat for Kevin and Luke. And some floor washing. Does that sound like drudgery? Not to me! To me that sounds NORMAL. Normal sounds like heaven to me.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ahhhh ... home and feeling better, too!

Bloodwork done. PICC-line redressed. Doctors seen. Home again. Ahhhhh ...

I don't have my bloodwork results yet. I should get them by phone later today or tomorrow. They're crazy busy there at the Champion Centre (which is very sad in itself). There's hardly even enough seating in all the waiting rooms for the crowds of patients! I hope their goal is to make Champion Centres obsolete ... maybe museums that would shock and amaze future generations. Cancer? What's "cancer"?

I'm very tired and am going to have a bit of a lie down right away but I thought I would post a team update first. I may be tired but I'm now fed AND, more importantly, I'm not feeling that horrible all-over pain that I was feeling last night. What a true relief!! It's still there in places but it's much milder. MUCH milder. I hope that was the worst of it. Just in case, though, I think I'd better get as much rest as possible so I'll have the mental and physical fortitude to deal with another night like last night if I have to.

My nasturtiums are blooming. See? I love nasturtiums ... both flowers and leaves. What I also love about this photo is that it includes "the watcher" from what was our beautiful weeping birch. Can you see the face in the bit of trunk supporting the nasturtiums? That face was at about the 5 foot mark on the tree in the middle of our back yard and we always considered it "our protector". It watched over us. So when we sadly had to cut our tree down we kept this chunk of the trunk so that it could still watch over our yard. I'm very fond of it.

Above are what I call our "downward dog lilies". I don't know what their real name is. It's a grand plant!

Thanks for all of your emails, cards, flowers, prayers and thoughts, everyone. You make this challenge less daunting and your support and care mean the world to me.

Nap time.
Posted by Picasa


Nasty Business

No Suzy Sunshine comments from me about yesterday afternoon and evening, sorry. After being so pleasantly distracted from feeling "yuck" in the morning, I felt worse in the afternoon and positively awful in the evening. I hurt everywhere. My chest hurt the worst. My face ... my arms ... my back ... Okay. The soles of my feet and my upper lip and chin didn't hurt, but that was about it. My skin and the tissues all over my body just plain hurt. It hurt to have my own arms touching against my own body. There was some of this last time but not nearly as bad as this. I was a pretty miserable camper last night.

Mercifully, though, I was able to sleep. I got my pressure points all settled in one place and I doubt I moved all night ... well, except to pee once, after which I was able to sleep again.

This morning I'm still achy but not nearly as bad as yesterday. Pretty soon I go for bloodwork and to get my PICC-line redressed. I hope those liver enzymes are cooperating!

I love the sunshine this morning. It looks promising if not hot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Unexpected Treat!

Today is undeniably a crappy day for me. I just feel kind of "yuck". But, regardless, Carol came by for a visit and ... SURPRISE!! She brought everything, along with her upbeat spirit, to give me a pedicure! She gave me a spa foot soak, a foot massage, peppermint oil treatment with lotion and then painted my toes a nice, deep burgundy red. My toes look lovely and my feet feel great. And, to complete the spa-feeling, she also brought organic dark chocolate for us to nibble on. Best of all, she quite distracted me from how miserable I'd been feeling.

Sylvia came by, too, to gently deliver my 3rd (of 5) Neupogen injections. Carol was here to witness the event and she told me I was a "very big girl" about it. I'm not so sure. I'm pretty much a sucky baby about needles.

Time to relax a bit and admire my new toes! Maybe I'll post a photo of them later, though feet photos aren't really my thing.

Thanks, Carol and Sylvia!

Erin's Pink Garden

This year, in support of her friends going through this nasty breast cancer thing, my friend, Erin, has planted a pink-themed garden. It's just starting to bloom, she tells me. I can't wait to walk down and see it. Thanks, Erin! Very cool!


Thanks, Auntie Eileen ...

... for the scarfy things you made and sent for me! That was so thoughtful of you!

Chemo's Slippery Slope

Yes, I think that's where I am. I'm feeling the downslide into low white blood cell counts, I think. Sylvia says I might be missing my dexamethadone, which she calls a "feel-good pill". If that's the case, I want it back.

I never did get to "perky" yesterday, which was a disappointment after I really did get some decent sleep. I did have a nice visit from Lynne, though, and some phone chats with Carol, Eileen, Susan and Lori. Thanks, Syl, very much for the lasagna. It was very good and full of iron for me. Much appreciated. Darrel and Lynn came by with the boys (Porter and Otto, their border collies) after dinner. They were waiting to pick up their son, Josh, from the airport. Hopefully, I'll see Josh tomorrow. He's my pilot nephew.

We also talked to Hannah last night. She's having such a great time and is taking lots of photos for me. She knows I'm living vicariously through her so I appreciate her catering to my "travel needs".

After feeling decreasing energy throughout the day yesterday, I was pretty much toast by 9:30 and in bed shortly after. Lots of little annoying chemo side-effects are emerging again. Nothing truly awful, just ... just ... THERE! Things like the discomfort in my chest where my PICC-line empties and the redness that looks a like sunburn. Last night my skin and the tissues beneath started to hurt in places. Odd places, like the right side of my face but not the left side ... my ribs if I touch them ... the soft tissues of my left arm. The same places that hurt a bit last time on my scalp have started to ache a bit, too. Maybe that means my bits of stubble will start to disappear? Can stubble fall out? There's not much gravity working for it. I felt some little lightning bolts followed by blurring in my left eye last night couple of nights. I'm not too surprised by those, though, because I read about someone experiencing those and having a panic attack only to find them very temporary and non-problematic. I'm starting to get the occasional "shakes". Same as last time.

Cancer's not for everyone, you know!

On the upside, I was exhausted enough last night to really sleep. Why else would I be up and out of bed at 6:00 a.m.?!!! It's raining quite heavily, by the way, for those of you who don't know. I hope all you farmers out there are getting it, too. I'll go back to bed in a while, I think.

Uncle Norm

Above is a photo from my Uncle Norm. In particular it's of his and Aunt Ruth's black lily that has finally bloomed in their Nanaimo garden. It's stunning!
Uncle Norman is my only remaining Uncle on my side of the family. I miss those other uncle characters but am glad I still have Uncle Norm. He's got enough character for a lifetime of Uncles! He typically sends me gloating flower photos from his garden in February when we're in the midst of gloomy, colourless winter days. I let him know how annoying he is but, truthfully, I love the shots of colour that come through my email from the west coast. Not to mention that Uncle Norm takes some very good photos ... postcards really. They're a pleasure to receive. Top that off with him being an endlessly interesting character, he's a pretty great Uncle to have on my team. He lets on like I'm his annoying and tasteless neice but I know he loves me like the dickens and, when push comes to shove, he doesn't hesitate to let me know.
Thanks Uncle Norm!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Anticipating A Better Day Today

These are the tiger lilies and some hosta from our flower border in the back yard. Pretty.

Yesterday was mostly a write-off for me. I just hadn't had enough sleep the night before so I was pretty much a zombie most of the day. I made a fruit salad and had a bath. Those were my big accomplishment of the day. Woohoooo! I hate days like that. I couldn't even nap all day. Such a wasted day.

But ... yes, BUT!!! ... Things look better today. I slept much better last night. Not solid ... lots of interesting dreams and some thinking snuck in there (dreaming about a big University project Lou, our director, was cooking up ... relax colleagues - completely fictional ... and deep thoughts about unbalanced estrogen and its link to the majority of breast cancers ... wondering why women aren't being screened for estrogen/progesterone inbalances while pre-menopausal to possibly PREVENT occurrences of breast cancer ... pondering ... dreaming ... pondering ... dreaming) ... but still, I did sleep. I wish it had been longer but at 7:00 my stomach said "feed me" so I took care of that, read the paper and am now updating here. My family has all left the house and I'm home alone. Strange. I might try going back to bed since I do feel sleepy again. I'm off all of my anti-nausea meds now (unless required), so hopefully that will allow me to sleep better.

Just like my first chemo treatment at about this time, there's an increased awareness of the place in the middle of my chest where my PICC-line ends. The area is slightly raised and it looks like I have a sun-burn on my chest which, given the weather and my caution, is impossible. It doesn't hurt ... I'm just aware of it, which is annoying. The feeling should be temporary if it's like last time.

I hear we have another couple of cool days to face before things start warming up for the weekend. Still, flowers out the window are pretty, too.

And thanks so much, Helena, for the coffee beans you sent for Kevin. He needs treats sometimes, too, with all he has on his plate (mostly me and his work and all the extra stuff he's taken on). The beans are "Pike's Place" beans from Starbucks, which is cool because I was at Pike's Place in Seattle last June ... a super coastal market to visit there. I don't like coffee but I do like Pike's Place. Thanks again, wee Helena!

Shout out to Alanna who truly has far greater challenges than I right now. I hear things are going very well, all considered. Alanna, you put so much work into doing whatever you possibly can to help your family. Glad to hear things are going well. Hope. Hope. Hope.

Have a great day everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! I hope you Craven-goers took Monday off work!

Cedar WaxWings Mating Dance

Here's a great bird photo from Lori. It's of "two ceder wax wings doing their mating ritual. They would pass a mountain ash berry back and forth several times until one of them ate it."
I do like bird photos!
Posted by Picasa


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Missing Hannah!

I sure miss Hannah! She left for New York last Wednesday and is certainly having the time of her life with friends there. Some other friends from Vancouver have joined her there as well and they're renting a car together and driving to Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival for a few days and then back to New York. She might make a side-trip to Montreal, too, to see more friends. Too fun! She needs and deserves the holiday! Only one semester of school left for her and she'll be decreed degreed!

This is a photo from her November 2008 trip to New York that I doctored up a bit for fun. It's her with the statue of Hans Christian Anderson in Grand Central Park. I love it!

A Beautiful, sunny day! AT LAST!!

I wish I'd been able to get up earlier to enjoy the morning but I didn't sleep much last night. In fact, I don't think I got to sleep until 6:30 this morning and then got up just before 10:00 so I could have pills with breakfast. I don't feel very sleepy, though ... a slight fatigue headache. Hopefully, it will be a "nappy day", though I HATE to nap, especially on a beautiful day.

I don't know why I couldn't sleep. Maybe it's the medications. I wasn't so uncomfortable and I was certainly tired. Rats!!

The best part about yesterday (and it was a real treat) was that Nora stopped by for a real visit! It was so nice to see her! I'm used to seeing Nora at work all the time and she's such good company so I really do miss her and everyone else at work. They're just the best bunch of people to work with. Nora brought me a gorgeous rich green silk scarf and, best of all, she showed me how to wrap and twist it into something really very quite attractive to cover my bald head! I needed the lesson. Thanks, Nora! We also had a good laugh at some of the funny hats I have! Believe me, there WILL be photos! One in particular is toooooo funny on me not to share the laughs! You'll see!

Kevin is golfing this morning. Mom and Gary were here for a wedding last night and are going home today. A good day for them to get down to the lake. Jodi and the kids (Meghan and Dawson) are there waiting for Mom. Luke will be sleeping for a while after his late night last night.

Time to call Nurse Sylvia and schedule today's Neupogen injection. I'm feeling tres brave! I guess it helps that in Sylvia I trust.

Have a super day, everyone!

Sunrise at Clearwater Lake

Lori sent me this photo of the sunrise from her cabin window at Clearwater Lake in June. Clearwater Lake is dear to the hearts of those of us who grew up around it. Lori tells me she woke up at 4:30 a.m. (YES! IN THE MORNING!!), "looked out the window and knew that the morning was full of pictures." She was sorry that she didn't have her video camera "because the sounds of all the different birds were simply amazing." Thanks for the beautiful photo, Lori! You should get more sleep, by the way. Then again, I don't see many sunsets, so have at it and just remember to send me the pictures!