December 2014

Lets see… it has been a hectic year.

My son graduated Basic Combat Training for the National Guard at Fort Jackson in April; got his American citizenship; went to Fort Lee for his AIT; graduated from that in July. He is now back in Kansas, and planning to get a job close to his girlfriend’s school.

My daughter moved in with me last December; graduated high school in May (she had finished in December); started at Niagara College (Culinary Management) in September; moved in with her boyfriend in October. She is doing well in school, I am very proud of her progress.

My mother got her own place in June; has been volunteering a great deal and seems to be doing very well.

Anthony and I adopted (well, fostering to adopt) another dog, Lisa; our oldest cat, Hiss, passed away in October; I fostered 4 kittens in November, and decided to keep 2 of them (a boy, Goober and a girl, Gabby; siblings, black short hair); moved half way through December and I am getting ready to go on a trip January 2nd.

Oh! Mustn’t forget that I started a new chemotherapy treatment at the end of May, then 5 minutes into my 2nd treatment (June) I went into anaphylactic shock, was unresponsive (code blue) and spent the next two days in ICU. That was interesting! I couldn’t continue with that therapy, which is unfortunate, because the ONE treatment I completed did wonders. Who knows, it may have gotten rid of the cancer if I was able to do the entire schedule of treatment. So the cancer is still in me and we will be discussing the next step in January. This time is has moved to below the diaphragm, which I believe takes it to another level, because it is now in a new part of my body. It has always been in the left axilla (neck and underarm on the left side); and in my lungs. This time is was seen in my pancreas, spleen and possibly liver.

Well, I am still keeping a positive outlook and hoping for the best. Lets look forward to 2015 and see what it will bring.

Lazy Unemployed Drain on Society? I think not!

There are a large number of unemployed people who qualify as a drain on society. There are also a large number of aging unemployed who are unlikely to be hired anywhere, because of their age and inexperience with today’s technology. In my opinion, they are really at no fault for not being able to gain employment.

I have been off work since November 2006, due to my cancer. Having been expecting to be off work for 6 – 9 months, this 5 year-bit is both annoying and shocking. I have gotten bored and a little stir-crazy lately.

I started babysitting the kids my daughter babysat in the summer, when their mom went back to work. Most recently, I have started a paper route. I am also building an apartment for my mom.
I have a neighbor who has asked me to paint their living room. I am trying to clean up the outside of the house I live in (the yard). I have also started some seeds inside, so will (hopefully) have a garden this summer, filled with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, turnips, red peppers, pumpkins and broccoli.

I am still doing my crocheting, when I haven’t got the physical energy to do the other things, or when I’m in too much pain.
My disability has to do with my immune system. Since I work in retail, and when people are home sick from work, they seem to enjoy shopping… meaning they are coughing and sneezing all over my work place… meaning I in turn need to take time off work because I am sick… so much so that it is not worth being back at work.
Due to my various treatments, I now have other physical issue that would now make working difficult and/or painful — carpal tunnel, arthritis, bursitis, nerve damage (those are the diagnosed illnesses; there are others that are yet undiagnosed).

Yes. I am unemployed. I am on a disability pension. But I am not lazy, I am as productive as I can be, when I have the energy.

time to go BALD

OK, So here I am again, at the end of the 1st round of this particular Chemotherapy Regime. This regime is called COPP (cyclophosphamide, oncovin, procarbazine and prednisone).It is an older regime used for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This is the first time I am doing this one. I have done various others… some of which were study regimes.
Last night, I took my elastic out of my hair, as I normally do to get ready for bed. As I did this, a fair amount of hair came with the elastic. I started stroking my hair, not running my fingers through it, just stroking it… and more hair was coming out. More and more hair, just by stroking my hair. When I ran my fingers through my hair there was that much more coming out… I ended up with a handful of hair, before I stopped. I am quite sure that I could have gone on for so much longer, continually pulling hair out, with little to no effort.
This morning, I was pushing my hair back from my face, as usual, to put it back into the elastic… AGAIN, I come away with a lot of hair… It kept coming out… I created a pile of hair that was larger than the little packet of tea cookies that I get from the volunteers when I’m in for my chemo.

I have asked Anthony to pick up a clipper set, so that I can shave my head this evening. I am hoping that my hair is long enough that I can donate it to the Locks of Love (or other such program). I will be putting an elastic in my hair (pony tail), then clipping as close to the scalp as possible, to make use of as much of the hair as possible… it takes a LOT of hair to make one wig.

I do not need, require or want a wig, but I understand that it is a very emotional thing for others. THIS is why I donate the hair that I have… and hey, if I’m losing it, I might as well make use of it!

I will update this post either this evening or tomorrow, with pictures of the before and after…. stay tuned….

Relay #2 of the year

OK, last night, my daughter (T) and I attended and volunteered at Relay for Life. This was my 2nd Relay event of the year, 1st for T.

We arrived, officially, at 1:15pm. Our first task was to assist in setting up the Food & Beverage tent. We got that completed pretty quickly. We did have to wait on the arrival of a few items to really complete the job, but for what we had on site, the job was completed quickly. Then we (along with about 6 other volunteers) rested, while we waited for the arrival of the remainder of the items to set them up.
T’s next job was from 4pm to 7pm to be taking pictures of the Relay teams and various things… Things seemed to be running behind schedule, so she sat with me for most of that time.
I was off duty from Food tent at 5pm. My next job wasn’t until 8:45pm, but we (a couple of us volunteers) re-arranged schedules and I started around 6pm, was selling food & beverage tickets.
T’s next job was from 7pm to 10pm, helping in the Smart Shop tent. They did not need her right away, so she kept going back to see if they had anything for her to do. They eventually found jobs for her, and she was there until about 9:45pm.

From there, we both went back to the Food Tent, and started on the soup & hot water for tea; same job we did last year… Then we had to add in popping popcorn! We were on a roll and were belting out instructions for other volunteers… At about 3am, we decided that if we were to continue, we needed chocolate; she & I went on a chocolate run. It took a bit to find a store open at 3am… we finally stopped at a gas station, then decided that since we weren’t too far from the 24hr grocery store that we would run over there and buy some hot chocolate, since someone seemed to forget that for this year’s food tent.

I bought 6 boxes of 10 envelopes of hot chocolate, and we went back to Relay and within 10 minutes… there was a swarm of people wanting hot chocolate. Apparently, they could SMELL it, when we made ours. We felt good about providing that for the people who don’t drink tea or coffee…

BUT at that point, T decided she was done for the night… so we signed out, piled ourselves into the car, drove home… shower, fresh jammies and then it was time to fall into the bed to drift off….. BUT the drifting part didn’t seem to want to come so easily. So we talked and laughed about Relay. We eventually drifted off, but that wasn’t until about 5am, after I put a pillow in the window to block the rising run….

Here I am now, at 1pm, and T is still sleeping… My body aches all over, but I feel good about the work we did. Of course, we will do it again, next year.

Can’t wait for the email, telling us how much we raised at last night’s event!

Inspiration? I don’t think so, but what do I know.

I had a conversation the other day with the ex-Volunteer Coordinator at the local Canadian Cancer Society office, she told me that I am an inspiration. I feel awkward when people tell me that, because I don’t see the things that I do as anything special. I am a stubborn person, and I rather smile than frown. To me, this seems logical.
She explained to me that for her, seeing me giving back (through my volunteer work) through being sick & doing my Chemo, she re-evaluates the difficulties in her own life that are so much less, than mine. Again, this makes me feel awkward, because, yes, I have cancer, but it isn’t a difficult cancer (in my opinion). I have met SO many people who have had worse cancers than mine, and I can understand when they are depressed or down, to me, I feel like I’m whining about nothing, in comparison, when I do whine and complain.

I feel like I have something to live up to, when people tell me that I am an inspiration or that I am an “amazing woman”. I don’t think I am, I’m just me. I know so many others who deserve the “title” of Inspirational or Amazing. I feel uncomfortable & awkward when people come to me saying these things, but I have learned to graciously say “Thank you”, because I realized that they sometimes need someone else to look at, to compare their problems to, in order to keep them in perspective.

I think everyone has such varying degrees of difficulty in their lives, and as they say, God does not give us more than we can handle. I am not an overly religious person, but I have my beliefs, and they do me well ☺

A couple years ago, I heard the quote from Joan of Arc: “It was for this that I was born!” I believe that we all have a reason for being born, no matter how small or extravagant our purpose. We may go our entire lives never knowing our “reason for being”… but that doesn’t mean we have no reason. Our reason may only be to slightly assist someone else with their purpose, and that is more important than we’ll ever know. The significance of our being may not be made known until years after we no longer exist, but make no mistake, your existence is important — often in more ways that any single person will ever realize.
So maybe, this is for what I was born

Relay for Life vs My Chemo Life

Sigh

Last night was the 1st Relay for Life event in Mississauga for this year (next one is in 2 weeks).
I accidentally got onto the Committee for Relay for Life, in charge of running the Smart Shop at the Living Arts Centre event (last night); with only a month to prepare. They pretty much start preparing right after the event, for the next year’s event… MOST of the work was done, and it was agreed that since I came in last minute, that I wouldn’t do a silent auction. At the beginning of this week, I get an email, telling that a participant was bringing me a gift certificate for guitar Lessons, for the silent auction!!! Oh MY! I scrambled, and pulled together 2 gifts from stuff my sister had donated for a prize pack, plus three items I had sitting around, that I had crocheted. For a total of 6 items for our “last minute” Silent Auction. OMG! can you believe that the only two items that got bids were two of the items I crocheted! I am so pleased with this. Everyone loved my items, but I resisted the urge to pass out my business cards. I did not want to make it about my products, this is an event to raise money for Cancer Research & Cancer patient programs. I did give two business cards out, but they were to friends. I brought some, so that IF I was asked for one, I could give it.

Now, this past Monday (May 31st), I started chemo — not to battle the cancer, but to control the symptoms, which have been causing more havoc than the cancer itself. Friday morning, I woke at about 4:30am in some major pain. There was shooting/stabbing pain in my hips & upper thighs, as well as (less severe) in my right shoulder. As I moved around, I felt pain in my lower back as well. Laying on either side increased the pain, as well as on my back. Laying on my stomach wasn’t so bad, except that I can’t sleep fully on my belly, I lean to one side or the other, which was still increasing the pain. I would fall back to sleep briefly, but waken shortly in pain. I took some over the counter meds, but they did not help. So around 9:30 am, I took some prescription meds and eventually felt better. Then I was able to take the OTC meds to maintain the pain control.
This morning I woke up in the same way, although much later, as I didn’t get to bed until after 4am (was at Relay from 3pm to 3:30am).

So, I will talk to my doctor on Wednesday, when  I have an appointment scheduled. There’s no sense trying to get in sooner, cause I likely won’t be able to get in, and going to a walk in clinic or Emerg, is just a waste of time and patience.

I feel great about the role I payed in last night’s Relay for Life event. My daughter & I will be volunteering at the next one (in two weeks). And I look forward to (hopefully) being better prepared to run the Smart Shop next year, as I will be able to get an earlier start on the preparation.

[note: even though I indicate that I got on the committee ‘accidentally’, I by no means meant that I didn’t want to, I just hadn’t planned it to happen the way that it did, ha ha… but I loved it, and look forward to continuing]

This is the entry that won an Energizer Prize Pack

Last fall, I got a call telling me that I won an Energizer® Prize Pack, for something I wrote as an entry to a contest benefiting Canadian Cancer Society, sponsored by Energizer®
I was thrilled to win because a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society was made in my name, and my story was to be published in a newsletter. Then I learned that I was to also receive the Prize Pack! The Prize pack came in handy to help with Christmas gifts.
Well, here is my entry:

“I have experienced Hodgkin’s lymphoma 3 times! I may possibly be facing a fourth time. I say “experience” because fighting and battling are such harsh words. I believe that my experience has added to my life. I am more patient. I find joy in the simplest things and try to smile more and try to help others smile more! I have taken my time since my second experience to start crocheting again. I crochet gifts for friends and family as well as items to be sold to raise money for breast cancer research. I have also made random gifts to give to people, who just look like they need something to smile about. I love to help others and do so in my own small ways. I am too lazy to walk and I am a poor fundraiser so I crochet and donate those items. I recently volunteered for the first time at Relay For Life and this year my daughter and I were there for 14 hours! We loved almost every minute. It was a bit of a bummer when we had to head indoors due to a thunder and lightning storm. I do not allow my cancer to control my life. It does control my energy level, my ability to fight off a cold and other such things, but that doesn’t mean it controls ME. When I have the energy to do things, I do what I can. After recuperating for a couple days, my daughter and I plan to visit the zoo, which will call for another day or two of recuperating but it will be worth every minute. Because I spend my recuperating time online, finding patterns to crochet and crocheting various gifts for friends and family. YES, we have cancer… but we’re LIVING with cancer… so let’s LIVE!”