Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mostly Good News

Before I record how much weight I lost since last Wednesday, let me first say that I know it won't continue to drop off so quickly and, in fact, I know it's not desirable to lose too quickly. That said, I was nonetheless VERY HAPPY to have lost 7.8 pounds!! I'll say 7 pounds because last week I was wearing jeans instead of the lighter pants I wore tonight. To see some immediate positive results is important to me and I'm so glad for the encouragement. Like I said, I had prepared myself to be happy with a few pounds this first week but I had a feeling it was more.

I rewarded myself with a trip to HomeSense to buy some natural wood conditioner and restorer by Howard that's available there right now ... good stuff ... I'm hoping to do every wood surface in the house (except the floors) over the next little while. I conditioned the butcher block a couple of nights ago with a Howard product and am very happy with how it turned out! Up until now I've oiled it regularly with mineral oil to maintain it and I'd read that adding wax is even better. I can say that, yes, it is. I've read good things about the Howard products. So that was my treat to myself!

I'm still so tired. It's a battle. I'm eating enough ... I'm definitely not starving. Not even hungry. In fact, I'm eating more at some meals than I did before. I've had a few nights of poor sleep so that doesn't help. Today I just could not keep my eyes open at work in the afternoon and had to lay my head down and snooze for a little bit. I don't think it was very long but enough to get me through the rest of the afternoon. Barely. I still have a slight cold, so that might be a factor. It also might be just "par for the course" after what my body has been through. That's what my oncological nurse suggested. I hope I my energy improves soon. When I'm especially tired, I have a much harder time maintaining my concentration.  Right now I'm working on a new website and moving information from the old website to the new one.  This is a lot more complex than it might sound.  Sorting it out so that all the pages and information link properly is a bit like taking all your jewellery, putting it in a bag, throwing it in the dryer and then trying to untangle it all. It requires a lot of concentration and some finesse. When I'm really tired, I find this kind of work much harder to do.  Hopefully I'll sleep better tonight and feel better tomorrow.

On a positive note, I'm cautiously optimistic about my joints. I'm still putting off seeing my doctor. I keep thinking I'll make an appointment and then I don't. It's because I THINK my joints are improving a bit. It's strange because the improvements aren't consistent. Just when I think I can legitimately say I feel improvements, I experience nasty pain and stiffness for a while. But overall, I think I can say that the bad bouts are less frequent and don't last as long when I have them. I think that generally I'm walking a little better. I can't explain why sometimes pain and stiffness strikes the way it does and then doesn't other times. I've given up trying to figure it out. But remember how eager I was to get some morphine to make me feel human again? Well, I'm a lot less eager to go that route now. I feel some hope. Maybe my oncologist was right and this side effect from the Arimidex will subside. Perhaps the Tamoxifen is causing some of the problem so I don't know if I can expect all the problems to go away but I would be happy with something more manageable than I've had. I feel like ... just maybe ... things are moving in that direction.

Another positive - I can touch my fingers behind my back. I can zip the side zipper on my skirt without having to turn it. I can lay on my back without any pain from the falling back of my shoulders. Little improvements. But encouraging.

Oh ... and Kevin says my bald spot at the back of my head has almost filled in.  Don't go thinking I'm hair happy yet because I'm not.  I reserve the right to be ungrateful about my hair.  While I'm glad it's growing back, I don't have to like the look of what I'm getting.  I hope time makes the difference, though I can tell it's going to take a lot longer than I initially thought. Bummer.  

Isn't it funny how the little leaves in this photo are all different colours?! Nature is endlessly interesting!
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If These Hot Flashes Continue Like They Are ...

... I might consider applying for another job ... a COOLER job (sorry colleagues).

"Welcome to the American Nudist Research Library (ANRL). The Library was established in 1979 to preserve the history of the social nudist movement in North America and throughout the world. It is a repository of material rather than a circulating library. Visitors may read or view most of the collection as long as they are in the nude Library. The Library is enjoyed most by individuals and groups who treasure on-going nudist activities, and who wish to participate in a sincere effort to preserve the unique history of the movement."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Runners and Walkers Invited for Breakfast on Sunday

Here are the details for the Run for the Cure on Sunday, October 3 at Prairieland Park.
8:00 a.m. Final Registration/Donation Drop-off
9:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies
9:50 a.m. Warm-up
10:00 a.m. Start of Run

11:30 a.m. Awards Celebration
I will host breakfast 
again this year 
at my house 
from 7:30 to 8:30. 
I'll be serving 
scones, muffins, yogurts, 
apples, and orange juice. 
Please come if you can.
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Going for Gold

It seems like I have a lot of updating to do. Life brings a new adventure every day!

On the diet front ... I'm definitely losing weight. That is very encouraging. I don't want to hazard a guess on how much I'll have lost when I weigh in tomorrow night, but I would think at least 4 pounds. Maybe? I'd be happy with three. I'd best not get ahead of myself.

I haven't had to make BIG changes in my diet but some shifts require extra effort. So far. I haven't found it hard at all - yet. I'm usually pretty good at resisting the bad stuff anyway but I've had to stop reaching for a snack when I have a hot flash and I think the increase in protein in my diet helps with that. I always feel full and I think that's preventing that sick feeling that sometimes comes with a hot flash. I continue to drink lots of water. I drink a lot less diet coke - I rarely have any during the week.

In addition to giving up snacks, I have to make sure I have enough protein in all three meals. I like having the same breakfast every day and I LOVE breakfast foods so that's been very easy to manage. Usually I have cereal or oatmeal with some skim milk and fruit but now I'm having a bigger serving of oatmeal (the old fashioned kind) with skim milk. At the end of blueberry season when large packages of them were on sale, I bought a couple of those and froze them. I wish I'd bought more. They are perfect for mixing into my oatmeal. Before I add milk, I stir in half a cup or so of frozen blueberries and by the time I sit down to eat, they've cooled the oatmeal and the oatmeal has thawed the blueberries to the point that they're still nicely firm - not mushy - and they are an absolute BURST of flavour and sweetness. It's taken me a few days to figure out how best to conveniently add protein. The first few days I prepared an egg or two. Making oatmeal and THEN making an egg feels inconvenient and I know I won't stick with that regularly so I needed to find another way. Plus, I would like to reserve the eggs for lunches. I saw a suggestion on the internet - stir some protein powder into oatmeal! Brilliant! I had some hormone-free protein powder from when I was on chemo so I stirred some in. But I didn't like it. Then I found what is working for me so far. I had recently read about a journalist's lifestyle changes in her experience with breast cancer and one of her recommendations was "chia seeds" as a better alternative to flax seed because they're higher in omegas and protein as well as many other good things, plus they have a long shelf life and don't need to be ground to reap the benefits. I hadn't heard of chia seeds but amazingly enough, when I was at HomeSense on Sunday, there was a package of chia seeds. So I picked them up. I sprinkle a couple of teaspoons full on my oatmeal and it's just great! Apparently, chia seeds absorb something like 12 times their weight in water so they really make you feel full for a long time. Read about them at the Montreal Gazette and at CTV News.

Lunches are my biggest challenge because I love sandwiches. They're convenient and yummy. I just like them and I hate giving them up. And this is where a bigger effort in planning comes in. So far I'm using eggs, quinoa, garbanzo beans, or leftover chicken for lunches - dumped on a bowl of various greens and vegetables. I miss sandwiches. Sometimes I'll give up the carb I'm allowed for dinner so I can have some at lunch. I find it easier to skip the carb at dinner than at lunch.

Dinners are pretty easy. I eat much the same as I did before, I just have to make sure I keep my carb portions small. Everything else is the same.

So far I never feel hungry. If I get a craving for a taste of sweetness, I've been allowing myself a few dark chocolate covered goji berries (also found at HomeSense - they have some pretty interesting food items).

I started my exercise program last night. A whole 2 minutes on the cross-trainer and some stretches and weights. Then, because I was feeling good to go and curious, I spent about 20 minutes on the Wii. I jogged, hula-hooped, skiied, snow-boarded ... lots of things. It's quite fun! At least it was fun ... until I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with cramps in the calves of my legs. They persisted most of the night and finally subsided around 4:30 or 5:00. I don't know. Finally I fell asleep. I couldn't think of what to do about them ... I drink lots of water, I get lots of calcium ... I was too tired to go downstairs and look it up on the computer. I slept in this morning. The cramping hasn't come back but my calves feel like beat with a baseball bat! They're not stiff from exercise - they're sore from muscle cramping! A work colleague reminded me that Tamoxifen can cause muscle cramping. I haven't experienced that side effect so far. Maybe the combination of it and overdoing the exercise caused the cramps. No exercise tonight. Back at it tomorrow, though.

I'm going for gold.
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My Aching Joints - News on the Research Front

Mayo Collaboration Finds Source Of Breast Drug Side Effect!

WOW!  It's so exciting to learn that results are coming out of the research being done into the horrible joint pain and stiffness experienced by many women taking aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex.

From the article:
Mayo Clinic researchers and their international colleagues have discovered genetic variants that lead to severe arthritis for a subset of women when taking aromatase inhibitors to treat their breast cancer. This serious side effect is so painful that many women halt their lifesaving medication. 

 "Many women stop taking aromatase inhibitors due to the accompanying joint pain," says James Ingle, M.D., Mayo Clinic oncologist and senior author of the study. "We used the latest genetic technology in a very large group of women and discovered totally new clues to the cause of the main reason women stop this potentially lifesaving drug. Our findings open the door to finding ways to identify women who will develop these side effects and treat those who do, thus allowing more women to take this therapy and decrease their chances of breast cancer recurrence."

The results [from the study] provide researchers with genetic markers for the aromatase inhibitor-induced arthritis and clues to find ways to treat it.
If they can find a way to prevent this awful side effect, I would be glad to be able to take Arimidex again, it having an improved success rate (for post-menopausal women) over Tamoxifen.  I find some of the possible side effects of Tamoxifen (aside from the hot flashes, weight gain, thinning hair, and joint pain) kind of scary ... serious side effects of Tamoxifen are blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer, and cataracts.  Comparatively, Arimidex side effects seem less serious even though I can not endure the effect it has on my bones, joints, tendons and muscles.

This research looks promising, though.  One step closer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friends. They Matter So Much!

Thank you so much, Bridget, for directing me to Kelly Corrigan's website.

For everyone, here is just one of the videos that can be found there. This is of Kelly Corrigan, one in the breast cancer sisterhood, reading from her book. This one is titled, "About Women, Friendship & Transcending".

I really do identify with this and it is a reminder ... as if I really need one ... of the value of women. The value of friends. I hope I will be as good a friend as all of you have been to me.


Size Matters

Here's another photo of my pumpkin treats. It should give you a better idea of their size. I think they're much smaller than the ones in the actual recipe but this is the size of cookie cutter I had so I went with it and I like it. They're a nice "cookie size". Not very big. Two-biters. Or one-biters for less-dainty folk.
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Cinnamon Toasted Pumpkin Pie Tarts

These are what I made today. They are easy and yummy. I only had one. Just to test.

I've never used puff pastry before, so another first.

Here's the link to the recipe I used at the Picky Palate Blog. My only variation was to stack mini-pumpkins on top.

I plan on taking these babies to work ... if I can keep them out of Kevin's mouth. Maybe I'll put up a little collection jar and see if I can raise some money for the "walk for the cure" next weekend, in which I'm actually participating this year!

Thanks to all of you who are running or walking with me this year and to those who have donated to me or to anyone. I appreciate it very much.
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Wii are ME!

On Saturday, Rex and Erin offered to lend me their Wii system. Rex hooked it all up and got me started. The Wii fit is pretty cool. I got weighed in Saturday night and it measured my BMI ... which is AWFUL, as I completely expected. That's me on the Wii in the bottom right. Notice that my character is even a little tubby, like me! ACK!!!

This morning when I got up, I jumped on the Wii and it weighed me and charted everything. I'd lost a couple of pounds just from the difference between morning and night so it was nice to get congratulated and to see the chart showing a downward trend already. Of course, the Wii did remind me that it's best to weigh in at the same time every day. Whatever!

So after that I did a little yoga, a little hula-hooping, some ski jumping, some giant slalom. I super suck at bouncing soccer balls off my head. There's a lot of things to try with different goals in mind. The hula-hooping is in the aerobic group and I must admit, I felt a little pooped afterward. And the yoga stretching I could feel, too. In a good way.

Thanks, Rex and Erin.
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Fruity Dessert

This is what I made for dessert Saturday night. It was okay but the bottoms were a little too crispy, making it a bit challenging to eat. I'd do that differently next time.

It's very simple.

The base was mini pitas placed on a cookie sheet brushed with melted butter with a mix of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmet sprinkled on top. Then you crisp them in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Then you drizzle melted chocolate over them. On top of that you put some marscapone cheese (with some liquid honey stirred in for a touch of sweetness), then top with fruit.

If only the pitas hadn't been too crispy!
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Red Quinoa Salad

What a busy weekend! A good weekend ... following a difficult week. I really struggled this past week with fatigue! It was AWFUL! Spending so much time at work just trying to stay awake is hardly productive! Friday morning I slept in a bit and woke up feeling better. I looked forward to a better day only to find myself dropping off again by 1:00. It's so frustrating!! I had to lay my head down every now and then just to make it through the rest of the day. I thought I'd perk up after the walk to the parking lot but within 15 minutes of walking in the door at home, I just had to go to bed. I slept from 6 to 8 ... woke up, had dinner, watched some tv ... and then back to bed at 11:30 and dragged myself out of bed at 8:30 Saturday morning so I could get to a 9:00 meeting with Barb, my personal trainer.

On a positive note, I felt quite a bit better on Saturday for all the extra sleep I got and that was MOST welcome. Before I saw my radiation oncologist a couple of weeks ago, his nurse assistant covered some preliminary things. She asked about all the various side effects. When I told her that I find myself still very tired, she said she had just attended a seminar where a physician who had undergone cancer treatments himself spoke and he really emphasized to his audience that the fatigue is truly awful and can be very long lasting. I was glad to have how I'm feeling validated but also dismayed. I don't know how long I'll feel this way.

Anyway. Enough of my being tiresome!

So. Saturday. I met with my personal trainer and she worked out a little exercise routine for me. It starts with 2 minutes ... yes, you read that right ... TWO minutes ... on the cross-trainer (elliptical). We have one. Two minutes sounds ridiculous but I'm breathing heavily by the end of it, I'm embarrassed to admit. Then some stretches, weights ... 10 of these ... 10 of those ... some extended stretches and then a couple of more tens of these and those. And that's about it. And as silly as that sounds, I do believe that's about right for me right now. Anything more would seem mentally overwhelming. When I said, baby steps, I didn't think we were talking baby turtle steps!

After that I hit the grocery store and then did some house cleaning. I was quite productive and very proud of myself. Kevin was at meetings most of the day and didn't get home until mid-afternoon, after which Rex and Erin came by to watch the Rider game (YEAH, RIDERS) with us and have dinner. It was SO fun! I very much miss having fun and getting together with friends. Saturday was one of the few days I could almost forget myself for a moment. I felt almost normal! That doesn't happen very often. And the weather was fabulous all weekend, too!

Kevin barbequed bison burgers and I made a red quinoa (pronouced KEEN-wah) salad. I'd never made one before ... had never cooked quinoa ... but had liked the salad Hannah made when she was home. I found a recipe on the internet but phoned Hannah to get the details about hers. I was very happy with that way it turned out. I'll definitely make it again. I think you can pretty much throw anything into it and the quinoa cooks very quickly so it's easy peasy. It's also super good for you. Read about it here.

Tonight Kevin and I had leftovers (it keeps well, by the way) and threw it on a bed of mache. Again ... very yummy! If you wonder why the photos look so different, it's because the top one was with flash and the bottom one without.

Here the link to the recipe I basically used ... Red Quinoa Salad.

And here's the recipe with the variations I used.

Red Quinoa Salad

For 6 servings: (I halved everything because I only had one cup of quinoa and we still had plenty).

2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
4 cups water or broth (vegetable or chicken) (I used water - Hannah used broth last time - good either way)
1 teaspoon salt, optional or less (I used Earl Grey sea salt)
1 large English cucumber, seeded if you want, and diced small
1 small red onion, peeled, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced (I used halved cherry tomatoes instead)
1 bunch green onions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
1/4 to 1/2 cup feta cheese (flaked), optional (I used chopped avacado instead because I didn't have feta and it's what Hannah had used)
freshly ground black pepper to taste


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I just used "a splash" and the juice from half a lemon as per Hannah's instructions)
or you can use white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Too Many Apples

I'm often bewildered by the many varieties of apples in the store. I can't always remember which are good for eating as opposed to good for baking. And there are new varieties that I don't know about. Maybe I'm missing out on the very best apples!

If you're like me, you might like these apple guides. It just now came to mind that there's probably an "app for that" that I can load onto my iPod Touch (speaking of "Apple"). It would be handy to just whip out my iPod in the store and call up a chart describing the apple varieties. Hmmm ...

Anyway, in the meantime, here are some guides to apples:

This is the first basic one I saw but I noticed that it doesn't acknowledge the Spartan apple, which is quite a Canadian apple as I've since come to understand, so this guide is not complete enough for me. It's the Eipicurious Guide.

This is a more comprehensive guide with just enough information to make picking an apple less of a mental chore. It's at The Cook's Thesaurus.

This guide is more likely to list the varieties we see in stores, it being from the Okanagan. It has good information about each variety of apple, too. Find it here at the Okanagan Vacation Guide.

And this is the penultimate guide! Just click on a variety and see all the information! And yet it's very accessible. Fascinating. I love it! Find it here at Orange Pippin: the comprehensive resource for apples and orchards.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pins and Needles

Yes, this adventure will be in my future. During my research I sometimes see studies suggesting that acupuncture can be an excellent complimentary treatment to help one's body endure cancer treatments and the side effects. It's supposed to be a good thing. Still, not a single medical professional has mentioned it to me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Everyone, for the most part, only talks about their narrow little area of specialization. They don't work well together. They should all go back to kindergarten.

Anyway, dear Norma phoned me tonight, quite excited because she had been speaking with her physical therapist who also does acupuncture. Norma very kindly described my frozen shoulders, etc. to her therapist and asked if she had any recommendations. She did. One was acupuncture. She also said it can offer relief from night sweats and hot flashes. It might help with my other joint issues, too. I think it's worth a try. I'll make a call tomorrow, though I'm sure it will take a while to get in.

Thanks, Norma, so much!

I had my first meeting with a personal trainer last night. All went well. She didn't shake her head and say, "I'm sorry. You're hooped." So, with her enthusiasm to guide me, I have embarked on my quest to lose some of the weight I've gained during this whole breast cancer mess. I meet with her again on Saturday to establish some kind of exercise program that takes into account my particular limitations. With her nursing background and particular experience, I think I'm in good hands. Still, I'm gravely aware that I will have to do the hard work myself. Harrumph. Today I followed my diet plan quite easily. My stumbling point is mostly during hot flashes. The bad ones make me feel a little sick and I always eat something to settle my stomach. I have to stop that.

I'll keep you posted with, I hope, happy progress reports.
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What are the odds?

Look what I got! I NEVER get mail from Sports Illustrated. It can only mean one thing. It's surely an invitation to model for their swimsuit edition. They'll want to fly me to Tahiti or somewhere like that.

I'm not going to open it yet. I'll wait ... and let my imagination wander.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

First ... much thanks to Chris and Sue who directed me to Barb. I'm registered and have my first appointment tomorrow night and a home appointment on Saturday morning. I'll have a personal trainer for a little while. As Roger said, "You and Madonna!"

So I've begun. To WORK at getting my life back ... since it doesn't look like it's going to be handed back to me. I can assure you that this is going to be SO hard for me and I will need regular attitude adjustments. I feel less depressed and hopeless having taken this step and I wouldn't have done so already without the prompt and knowledgeable suggestions of my friends who amaze me always. I can't believe anyone is still reading this!! Aren't you sick of me yet??!! God, I am!!!

Tomorrow I phone my family doctor and talk about trying a new medication to help with the joint/bone/tendon/muscle pain and stiffness. I've been putting it off for too long. Hopefully the next thing I try will work. Is it too much to ask for no unpleasant side effects?

I have other things to ask him about after having seen my radiation oncologist yesterday morning. He gave me a little tough love in his speech to me on my "graduation day". It was my last appointment with him. From now on I see my family doctor for follow-ups. Every 4 months for the first year, every 6 months after that until ... already I can't remember when ... I KNEW I should have put that on my calendar immediately. I wish they'd provide written information since that's very standard ... just a handout would do. I tell you, all those studies about the loss of "verbal memory" from chemo and Tamoxifen are so true! I really feel it.

Anyway, he also told me that it's "too bad about your frozen shoulder but you're going to have to stretch that arm over your head even though I know it will really hurt a lot". Great. I can't even imagine. I can't even make my arm go higher than it does. I think that's why they call it "frozen". My feeling is that it would snap off if forced higher. He explained that the radiation continues to create scar tissue as it works for up to 18 months after treatments are finished and that scar tissue builds on top of the scar tissue from surgery. He tells me that if I don't stretch those tissues and muscles out regularly and now, my left arm could become "crippled" ... which is kind of what it is right now. I'll talk to my doctor about it and will probably be going back to a physical therapist to whom I'll explain what my radiology oncologist has advised and see where that gets me. I don't know how much my rad onc knows about frozen shoulder. He did scare me a bit, though, and that's probably a good thing.

Kevin drove me to work today and picked me up. Thanks, Kev. That really did make my day a little easier, though I get less exercise that way. Not to worry, my Personal Trainer will put me on track ... somehow ... I hope.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Time To Turn A New Leaf

I'm starting to face up to some realizations. I've been fighting them ... hoping I wouldn't have to deal with them. But it doesn't look like these things will just take care of themselves.

I'm going to have to really do some hard work. Hard, physical, slow-going, time-consuming, work. I'm not happy about it. I've been having a lot of inner-tantrums lately ... the inner me has been kicking and screaming and crying and raging and I've been a little bit gloomy and depressed. Having a cold doesn't help and taking drugs that are possibly contributing to weight gain and depression certainly doesn't help either. Nonetheless, something has got to give. After all this body has been through, it isn't going to just snap back to form, which (as stupid as that might sound) is kind of what I expected to happen ... at least kind of ... eventually. The fact is I won't likely ever get back to the body that was mine before breast cancer. It's not an easy fact to face. It will take time to learn to love myself again. To love this new, changed body I have. I'm not there yet. And I don't want to yet accept that this is the body and condition I'm stuck with. I want to get at least closer to normal and that will take a lot of work. A lot of work that nobody can do for me. I'm going to have to buck up and do all that work all by myself.

I've never had to really work at maintaining a normal weight. I was always active enough without working at it. I ate reasonably to maintain a normal weight. My body worked with me that way ... functioning like a pretty good machine. But my machine is kind of broken now ... rusty, falling apart, the spark plugs are kaput. Imagine all those broken down, has-been car analogies and apply them to me. That's my situation and I'm not at all okay with that. I don't want to a "kicked to the curb" kind of car. And while I don't expect to be a racing model, I would like to at least be an average older-model sedan.

I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around how I'm going to make the necessary changes in my life to help me get to a "happy place" in terms of myself. The energy I have is pretty much taken up already just fitting in full time work, the usual daily and weekly routines that one must undertake for both self and home. I have trouble enough fitting all that in. I feel like I've already had to give up a lot of my social life just because I'm still too tired a lot of the time. How can I commit to a gym routine? Especially going into winter. By the time I make the walk from the office to the parking lot at work and then get myself home, I do NOT want to leave the house to struggle with a parking challenge outside the PAC Centre on campus just so I can get in there and walk the track ... or use the machines with all those healthy, fit university students. I'm so far at the back of the pack right now that working out with "normal people" is like a kick in the stomach. I don't need that. Getting out to any kind of gym environment is just not likely in the cards for me. Not at this point.

I remember there being a class offered last year at the field house called "Bosom Buddies" and it was designed specifically for people who have been through breast cancer and are trying to get themselves back in shape. At the time I thought, "I won't need that". I was thinking my body and my life would magically return to it's former self soon after the end of treatment! HA! AS IF!! I didn't see that class listed in this year's leisure guide but I saw posters up about at the Cancer Centre last month so I called about it only to learn it's not being offered this year. Rats. That would have been perfect for me. You see? I'm trying! At this point, if I'm going to do an exercise class, I would just as soon be in one with people who truly understand what I've been through and the challenges I'm facing. I was even prepared to talk to the powers that be at work to see about making arrangement to fit such a class into my work day because mornings and evening just will not work. But since the class is no longer offered, I'm back to square one.

I'm not so good at exercising at home but I think that's my best option. I can't do it in the morning because I need as much sleep as I can get just to make it through the day. I still have trouble staying awake in the afternoon as it is and it takes me longer than it used to to even get up and get myself ready for work. There's all that extra sweatiness to deal with ... I move slower and with less ease ... with my joint issues and frozen shoulders, I have myriad little difficulties getting myself dressed. I sometimes need to sit for a while just after the struggle of getting into my bra and panties! It takes time and effort and it's kind of exhausting. By the time I get ready and then get myself in and out of the car and then walk the 3 or 4 blocks from my parking spot to my office, I'm often all sweaty again and I'm definitely a bit frazzled. I actually dread leaving the office at the end of the day because it means I have to go through it all again but in reverse.

I do need to get more than exercise, though, and I need to lose weight. What I think I need is a trainer who comes into my house one evening each week and guides me, keeps me on track, encourages me and offers hope, measures improvements, and pushes me a little. If you know anyone who offers that kind of individualized service, please let me know. I'm going to start looking for someone like that asap.

So, yes, I have to turn a new leaf. Not an easy thing to do, especially in the fall when new leaves aren't so easy to come by.
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2nd Annual Boob-A-Q

Alyssa ... sweet as pie ... hosted another Boob-A-Q at her Mom and Dad's house. She puts it on as a fundraiser for the Run for the Cure. What a wonderful girl she is. Here she is with her beau, Tyler.

Of course, after boob-a-qued chicken breasts in buns, there were krispie boobs for dessert. We all noted that they weren't quite as big as last year's!

We were pleased to meet some of Carol's neighbourhood friends and to see some of the usual friends and relatives there and thanks, Patio, for riding along with us.

Thanks so much again, Alyssa, Carol and Ross!
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Remembering Dad

On this day every year I spend more time than usual remembering my Dad. Here he is with "his gals" at the Champion Centre. He was so grateful for their kindness he had wanted a photo of them. He thought the world of them and of his doctors, there. And his surgeon at St. Paul's, Dr. Lawlor.

Thanks, Sylvia, for the rose.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010


It didn't look like I was wearing a straight jacket to anyone else, but for me it was one.

On Monday morning when I went to work, it was chilly. I wanted to wear a jacket but didn't want to go with a winter one. That would be a little much. I have several suit jacket weight jackets but I can't wear them because of my frozen shoulders. I thought that maybe ... just maybe ... I could get into a black safari style jacket I have that would look alright with what I was wearing.

I got it on with relatively little trouble but I had a niggling feeling that I might have trouble getting it off. No worries, though. I knew that if I needed it off, I could ask someone at the office to help me. After that, I'd be home and Kevin could help me. No problem.

I didn't have any nasty hot flashes at work on Monday so I didn't need to take my jacket off. And then, just before I left the office to come home, Kevin phoned to say he'd been invited out for a business dinner. After I hung up the phone, I thought about my jacket. Hmmm ... maybe I could get it off on my own once I got home. I considered taking it off before I left the building with someone's help but then I looked outside and decided I would be too cold walking to the car without it.

So I get home and was doing okay. Until a hot flash struck. Then I wanted that jacket off NOW! I tried. I really tried but there was no freakin' way it was coming off. I would have had to be Houdini or the Incredible Hulk. I considered calling a neighbour but then the hot flash passed and I had survived so I just kept my jacket on until Kevin got home. I was very glad to get it off when he got home, though! Apparently I'm not yet ready for jackets. Bummer.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Normal Sick

I'm sick. Normal sick. I haven't been normal sick for at least 2 years. A few sniffles here and there and the feeling that I've been on the edge of being sick don't count. Now I'm full out fluish / coldish for the first time in a very long time. It's kind of strange to be some kind of sick that isn't related to cancer or the drugs one takes in an effort to survive it.

I've been so afraid of getting sick that I've taken very special care to avoid germs. Whenever I've felt like I might catch something, I've taken very good care of myself with the hope of preventing a cold or flu from taking hold. Up until now, I've been successful, which I think is pretty amazing considering how low my blood counts were at various times.

I felt fine on Monday except that for the past several weeks I've felt like I've been on the verge of catching a cold. Every now and then I would think "this is it" only to have cold symptoms retreat again. But Monday night I got a headache. I rarely get headaches. And then I could feel my head starting to feel stuffy.

On Tuesday morning there was no mistaking the cold that had set in. I did a little work from home in the morning and then, chilled to the bone, I crawled into bed to warm up. Two hours later, I was still chilled. And clammy. ICK! I finally got out of bed, shivering, and dragged the big duvet from Luke's room into ours and I crawled under the double-thick mound of blankets. And it STILL took me another hour to feel some warmth. I probably had a fever though I didn't take my temperature. I think that means I probably had a flu, right? Doesn't a fever signify a flu?

On Tuesday night, after a hot bath, I curled up under blankets in the family room and watched tv. And then I was plagued with particularly nasty off and on hot flashes. One minute I'm barely visible under the blankets, the next I'm throwing them off and pulling off my sweater. And the next, I'm burrowing under everything again. So annoying! When I went to bed last night I slept the whole night through under both of those big duvets ... wearing flannel! Flannel? I can hardly even touch flannel anymore!

Today I don't feel feverish. That's good. My head feels much stuffier, though. I definitely have a head cold now. Much sneezing and nose blowing and the coughing has begun. My throat and ears hurt this morning but they're not so bad tonight. Just a plain, old, run-of-the-mill cold. How unusual!

I had a nice, long chat with Berny last night and with Hannah tonight.

Don't feel especially sorry for me. Normal sick is so much easier to take than cancer. If I don't look in the mirror and stay put in a chair, I feel normal for a change. Normal sick, that is.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Nice Weekend

Saturday morning we made a quick trip to the Farmer's Market to get our favourite bread at Organic Breads and Cereals by Clifford Wolfe. I recommend it! Awesome bread!

We got our 2nd batch of new potatoes at the Living Soil Farms booth. Red ones last time. White ones this time.

We took a quick look at Casa Wines ... just enough to know we want to go back and spend some more time. It's very nice inside and everything looks so interesting. A bonus was seeing Jerome Chomos working, there lending his expertise. We had a nice little chat.

And then I met Carol and Patio for brunch. I hadn't seen Carol for 5 months! Between her very absorbing work and my limited time, it's really cut into our social lives. After Pat maneuvered through crazy traffic to get us across the river and home again, Kevin and I walked down to what was causing all the traffic headaches ... the Broadway street fair. With both Broadway and Victoria inaccessible and access to the Freeway bridge limited, Clarence and the University bridge were traffic nightmares!

Since we were in the neighbourhood, Kevin and I stopped in to see the show suites at the Lux ... the new condo development on 9th and Broadway. VERY nice! I was ready to hurry home and grab my pj's, toothbrush and book! That's all I really need.

I was pretty much cooked after such a busy day. My feet hurt so bad by the time we got back. It was pretty slow going and it makes me wonder how I'll manage the Walk for a Cure on October 3. Hmmm ... I'm hoping that my next visit with my doctor will result in a better pain-relief drug. The Ultram helps a little but not enough. At least I'm hoping for something better still. Every step, especially on the way home, hurt. When I got home, I could hardly keep my eyes open so I went to bed and slept from 5:30 to 8:30 ... got up, watched some tv and made some yoyo's (I have over 450) and then went back to bed. It's good I got lots of sleep because I was starting to panic about only having one more day before Monday. But, with all that sleep, I felt better today than I probably would have otherwise. Poor Kevin, though. Now that he's done with all the lacrosse business, he's got more free time on his hands and he also has a very boring wife. We wanted to go to a movie Friday night but by the time we got on it, they were all starting too late for me. Poor guy.

Erin came over this morning with quiche in hand and watched the football game with us. Wasn't that an awful game?! Since it was hardly worth watching, we had more time for visiting. We had lots of catching up to do.

And now ... time to hit the sack.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Abundance of Crab Apples

There is a crab apple orchard of sorts situated between the Education and Diefenbaker Centre buildings on campus. I often hike across the grassy knoll between the two buildings on my way to and from work. It's a short cut. I notice that there are so many ripe crab apples there and different varieties, too. It seems like such a sad waste! Surely somebody in this city would be grateful for the fruit. Some of them might not be eating apples, but they would surely to good for juice, jelly, sauce ... something! There's such a growing passion about "local food" right now. I wish someone would arrange with the University to gather and use the apples.

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