Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The beat goes on....

I am shocked that I've left this blog for almost two years now without a post.

Two years ago, I decided that the end was necessary for this book and I wanted to move forward. I wanted it to be a legacy about having gone through the thing called 'cancer' and walk away a survivor and not look back.

Sadly, it never goes away and maybe that's best for the things in life that happen and take your breath away for years. Does it really ever come back?

After five years, I still search out bathrooms and where they are as I need them all of the time. This is due to the radiation damage I received although I'm one of the lucky ones having had benefit of IMRT radiation. For that, I am grateful.

I have no sexual desire to speak of and for that I am sad. I miss that part of my life but accept that actually having a life is more important. I remember crying that I would have no more children as my ovaries were radiated and yet today, being with and holding my son is way more important to me now and that makes me sad too.

Complaints will not come from my doing 20-30 stalls a day for the horses that I love although its' tough sometimes and yet I've chosen this life that I lead and being able to do what I do is a wonderful thing in my soul and the souls of the people around me.

Although I don't get check-ups anymore, I listen to my body and I wonder if she will fail me once more although I don't dwell on it often. I sometimes do though.

I am now considered cured as I'm made it past five years and yet the word will never come out of my mouth as I will never say it. It might jinx me.

Cancer has made me look deep inside of my soul and ultimately, I became a wonderful human being with love that I would never have seen if I never danced with 'cancer' and for that I am grateful.

I thought that the book had been written with my blog on my cancer treatment and tonight I saw that it needed at least one more entry.

The entry needed to be about being around after five years and having a wonderful life and being one of those that saw the edge and came back and instead of getting on with their lives, decided instead to empower at least one person to think that it could be done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The last man standing.

A significant date is fast approaching in my life after survived cancer.

The 3 year mark without recurrence is a milestone of sorts although one can never be sure that 'hank' won't come back for another dance with me.

Statistically, I should have never got this type of cancer.

I am one of 3133 cases reported in North America the year that I was diagnosed. My cancer was exceptionally rare.

My tumor, "Hank" was also very rare. By the time that he was discovered and uncloaked for what he really was, he'd already developed to 6 cm which is about the size of a small lime. This is a great fighting weight for a squamous cell carcinoma.

After undergoing numerous CT and PET scans, it was determined that he liked being alone and he hadn't infiltrated into my lymph nodes or through my rectal wall.

Hank being diagnosed as a bit 'weird' allowed me to be eligible to participate in a 'gene' therapy of sorts to improve my chances of surviving. How does one say 'no' to something like that? One never realizes how much they have to lose till you see what you will lose.

I knew there were about a dozen participants although I never met any of them to share stories and expectations. Maybe the research kept it like that? Maybe we were never supposed to talk to compare our stories.

I was closely tracked till a few months back. My oncologists kicked me to the curb with a great big smile and a pat on the back. I did good they said.

Forever gone are the CT scans and doctor visits. I no longer have to 'talk' to anyone about my lack of symptoms. I only have to submit to blood-work on occasion and check-up for regular sick crap all families have to take care of. I'll never be able to donate blood or organs but that's ok with me. I can live with that.

I got a call from my doctor today just to check up on me. How was I doing?

After a bit of chat, he started talking about my 'trial' drug and and how everyone in the trial has had a 'recurrence' except for me.


How does one look at that statement? Would you choose the pessimistic route and fall apart or would you chose the higher road and look for the reason?

I've been thinking about it a lot over the last few hours as surely as I will over the next few days. Heck, I'm gonna do some serious thinking about that tomorrow when I'm listening to 'I kissed a girl' on the treadmill at the gym.

What did I do or what happened to make my 'hank' not go looking for dinner when everyone else's 'hank' did?

I'm going to take the optimistic, high-road and think that I'm still here for a reason and hopefully a really good one. I actually believe this to be true. :)

I find it really hard sometimes to just sit back almost 'in wait' for him to come back gently knocking on my door again. One never gets much notice the second time he knocks. Its so hard sometimes to believe in your body and its strength when you've been let down with 'cancer'.

I've followed friends diagnosed the same time as I and a fair amount of them are no longer here. I cried for them and I also cried for me. The lives that are lost and the families destroyed by cancer is gut-wrenching.

Treatments to get rid of your cancer are way easier than surviving cancer. The aftermath is a true judge of your gut and your character. What are you really made of now? Do you really believe in all those things that you said to everyone else? Can you walk the walk to back up everything that you've said up till now?

I'd like to think it was the green cotton camo pants that I wore to each and everyone of my radiation and chemo treatments. Yup, that's it.

Or maybe it was the donuts that I brought for all the staff? Maybe they added a bit more 'ju' to my chemo that day.

Maybe its my ability to see 'good' in any situation no matter how much bad stuff is there lurking as well. Can you see something that is not there? Do you believe in yourself? If you close your eyes and try and believe in something, will it come true? Is it really just that easy?

I considered my 'dance' with cancer to be a mere 'pause' in my life. I gave it the attention that it deserved and then I tried (still am) to file it away to where it should be placed in my life. It used to take up 80% of my time and now its dwinded to thoughts throughout the day and serious reflections and prayer at night when I'm alone and no one can see.

"Hank" will always be somewhat of a 'monkey' on my back and I've put him in a backpack of sorts. He'll always be with me and looking over my shoulder I'm sure. This is ok with me.

The 'caution' flag went up at diagnosis and still remains at top-mast today in fact.

Keep your enemies close. He's always there lurking, waiting for a time and whether its in my lifetime or not, I will never give-up my life.

If he comes back to play with me, I'll be ready. I've played with him before and maybe he saw that I rocked.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

God, are you listening?

I go to sleep tonight hoping that my blog will be there for my kids when they are old enough to read it and appreciate it.

They both know that I write but they mostly sit beside me with toys and stories of school and they don't know about the content of my blog and my wishes and dreams for them.

I want them to both grow up understanding that life is oh, too short.

My daughter is such a sweet soul and for that I am grateful. My son is a joy.

I ask God everyday, to give me the time to let Dane grow up and to let me see him get married.

That's only about 20 years. That's all I ask.

We never imagine asking for additional time unless we are challenged with the possibility of not having done that much time.

I know its a lot. 20 years is a stretch in time and I know it.

I will however, keep doing my animal rescue work if you only give me the time to see my daughter grow up a bit more and I'm also asking for a bit more time for Dane.

He's only 3 and he needs his mom for a few more years yet.

And I need a bit more time to love Curt and let him get through the barriers of me and the barriers of him.

Please God, I just need a bit more time.

I say my prayers tonight and I'm getting ready to put Dane to bed and tuck him in and I just want to do that for a few more years.

Blowing out candles.

Today is a milestone for me.

I came into this world 42 years ago today and it was 3 short years ago that 'Hank' and I became friends.

For anyone of you following this blog, Hank became the name of the tumor growing in my body. It seemed fitting in some weird sort of way.

If he was setting up house inside of me, I thought it best to give him a name so that we could get to know each other and be somewhat more brotherly.

A person told me to 'never' name your tumor. That makes him a part of your life and you should never personalize something alien.

I however, see it differently.

Hank not showing up to the party is a good thing for me and everyone involved in my life.

I woke up this morning happy to blow out the candles for another year and I indeed toasted 'Hank' who has been dormant for quite some time. I was almost ecstatic that he chose to not join my party this year.

The problem with the Hanks of our lives though is that they are somewhat devious. They can come back at anytime to join the party and it is because of this, that I always have to acknowledge his presence and his capability.

After 3 years, I am still NED. (no evidence of disease....)

The golden rule is 5 years and I've made it 3/5 of the way. Can I make it the rest? I will never really be safe in my thinking that my cancer will never come back.

We all die will die of something. Pick your flavor.

I will however, today, blow out my candles and kiss my kids and the love of my life and I'll smile knowing that I made it another year and for that, I am grateful.

Happy Birthday to me.

Hank, thank you for letting me beat you for another year. You suck.


Friday, January 30, 2009

I introduce Max.

In the spring of last year, my friend Calie called me with exciting news.

She was going to have her 'last' baby at 41 years of age.

"Will you come with me and help me bring him into the world?" she asked.

"But of course, my friend. I will be there with bells on", I said.

Last night while sitting at home, my phone rings.

Yup, its Calie and her water just broke and it was green....uh oh...Not a good sign.

I drove as calmly as I could over to her house and picked up her and her husband and calmly drove them to the hospital. I was shaking like a leaf inside but showed only confidence and caring on the outside.

At 11:00 last night, she was 3 cms dilated and feeling pretty comfy about the whole situation.

Not even 2 hours later, she was at 6 cms and her contractions were coming 6-8 minutes apart.

I remember sitting in the chair with my eyes closed at 3 am getting gently 'lulled' to sleep by the beat of her baby's heart on the monitor. Thump, thump, thump, thump.

At her 4am check, she was fully dilated and ready to push.

Its incredulous to watch a woman lose control over her body as she does something that women have done through the ages.

Her body opened up so magically and I watched as this amazing baby popped out of her body 6 minutes and 2 pushes later.

The doctor knowingly caught him as he left the warm confines of his other world and laid him gently on her belly.

I was in absolute awe. What a miracle life and birth really are.

Max was then placed in an incubator and cleaned up from his ordeal of birth and wrapped in a blanket. A hat was placed on his head to keep him warm and he was then given to me.

I accepted the baby into my arms and I held him close as I took in the 'smell' of this newborn baby. I will never ever forget the 'smell' of a newborn baby fresh out of him mom.

As I sat down with him in the rocking chair and cuddled him in my arms, he opened his eyes and I was shocked at the 'knowledge' in them.

He looked around the room and although they say that newborns cannot see at first, I swear that he looked at his new family and he smiled and then he yawned.

What an amazing thing childbirth is.

It is raw and it is powerful and it made me choke back a tear as I held this baby with 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes.

I left Calie and her baby early this morning and came to work.

They will spend the day getting to know each other and develop a bond that will last for a lifetime.

Welcome to the world, Max.

You will be loved.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I have an infection.

It has obviously been there for awhile.

I have to go on some antibiotics for a few weeks each year to get it under control it seems.

Ever since I beat the 'beast' there is a price to pay and yup, I'm paying it.

I got some weird bug and get blood tests every 90 days without visiting a doctor. Please call me if something isn't right.

They called me 2 days ago saying that some 'wierd' level of my kidney thing was not right. I hadn't actually gone for quite a few months. Why check something if you feel good right?

Today, I woke up to feeling a bit 'off' and people noticed at work today that my cheek was super puffy. I didn't...(no vanity here..hahaha)

My doctor though thinks that it is because I flew after having chemo/radiation.

Pardon me? I am invinsible? no?

So, i sit here strangely off 'my game' and don't feel so great and I briefly go to 'my cancer returning' and yet, I have no symptoms of that...hmmm..

Now, I am swallowing crazy amounts of pills knowing that 'nothing' glowed on a PET scan making me think that my cancer returned...

and yet, my whole family is 'freaked out' thinking that I'm in denial and I'm swallowing these pills and I'm hoping that my face will deviate from the 'planet of the apes' thing that is going on currently...

and I know that I will be fine and I wonder...

I thought 'everything that happened in Vegas' was supposed to stay there...

Looking under stones.

The entire world is in pure 'chaos' right now with the new economic climate created by the U.S. financial crisis.

One would think that being in Canada would make us 'oblivious' to this.

Sadly, it has not.

The company I work for had decided that they would start paying only 80% of benefits for its staff starting in March '09 due to the U.S. economy.

To date, they have paid 100%, no questions asked.

My boss gave me the 'message' to give out to others in 4 days.

I thought long and hard about 'what to say' and 'how to deliver it'. How does one go to deliver news of impending doom and try and make 'light of the situation'?....

Instead of delivering the news 4 days later, I took the purely 'optimistic' stance and instead tried to 'lessen' the blow by reducing expenses to a point where the company could still pay the 20% short-fall and still save money.

How did I do that?

I went through every accounts payable file that we had.

Did we need bottled water delivered? Do we need satellite TV broadcast into our showroom?
Do we have any employees who could take advantage of government programs under our employ that would save us money?

I am only up to the letter 'G' in our accounts and I've already saved $24,000.00/year to my company and have in effect saved the 20% of employee contributions made by the staff.

We never think of the money we can save until a time comes where we can actually 'see' what we will lose.

I will bring my own 'water' to work everyday and I will be happy to have a job and I will be grateful that I've been given a chance to make a whole world of difference in the lives of others.