Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bad Mommy, Oncology, and Reclaiming Poo

Today is the 5th day since my Dad and Step Mom left for their vacation.  They held off by almost a month so that they could come to town and take care of me.  It was a huge help and a huge show of support, for which I am eternally grateful.  These past five days have been tough.  Is it possible to forget how to be a mom?  I mean, seriously, I've been changing diapers, feeding, bathing, and caring for my child for almost a year and a half only to have all my knowledge seemingly vanish within 3 weeks.  Let me tell you a story...

Mike, Gwen and I all went to the mall on Dec 27th to exchange a couple of items that were of the wrong size. Unfortunately, my size feet seem to be the most common, so I couldn't exchange these adorable fuzzy slipper boots that Mike had got me for Christmas.  Pooey!  At any rate, we decided that we would grab a smoothy for lunch.  Gwen loves smoothies and she hadn't had one in a long while.  As we wander up to an electronics store to check out their sales, Gwen starts fidgeting.  We're thinking she's a little bored because she's been in her stroller for a bit by this point.  We wander around a bit more, but once she finishes the smoothy, she starts getting out right cranky.  Mike takes her out of the stroller to let her walk around a bit, only to find that her bottom is wet.  Now, I'm not just talking slightly damp; I'm talking soaked-through-almost-going-down-her-legs-and-up-her-back WET.  I start thinking to myself, "Wow, that doesn't look like a simple defective diaper".  No sir-ee-bob, it was full on parental neglect!  I hadn't even thought to change her diaper before we left for the mall and then I totally forgot to check her as we did our shopping.  It had been 3 weeks where I didn't have to think about any diaper changing, food making, or bed time routine.  I had forgotten how to be a Mom!  I felt so bad, and so embarrassed.  How could I forget to check a diaper!  It's just plain silly.  The really terrible thing is that we didn't even have her diaper bag with us.  It was out in the vehicle.  Gwen had to hang out in the family bathroom semi-nude while Mike ran to get her diapers and spare clothes.  She was very cheerful about it all though.  The more I think about it, the more I am glad that she will not remember this time in our lives.  Maybe she won't hold it against me the amount of times I screwed up as a Mom during my cancer fight.

We have now started getting back into a routine.  I think it's startling Mike's system a little bit to be waking up with Gwen in the mornings.  I think it's nice that we all wake up as a family.  The fact is, I still need help (yes, laugh all you want at that!).  I need someone to help me with the daily tasks of taking care of a child.  I can't lift Gwen yet, which I proved last night.  We worked out a system where Gwen could climb up onto our bed and sleep there so that I didn't have to pick her up out of her crib while Mike was at work.  Well, that system only works if Gwen decides to go to sleep and not climb down off the bed to go play well past bed time.  Yes, she played and then became over tired and then threw a tantrum on the floor as I tried to get her back to the bedroom.  This required a small amount of Gwen lifting, which I am now regretting.  I strained something internally.  Not sure if it's muscular or intestinal.  I'm thinking muscular, but man, it hurts today.  I even had to take some pain medication, which makes me feel somewhat depressed because it feels like I'm going backwards in my healing process.  Thank the Lord that my Mom is coming out in a few days!  I can rest a bit more and heal up.

I also just received an appointment with an oncologist.  January 10th I'll be going in to the cancer clinic to check out my options.  I am very wary of chemotherapy.  I am dreading making this upcoming decision.  My thoughts are basically this: I don't want to pump toxic poison through my system, but I'm also afraid not to.  Chemo is so terrible.  It really is a harsh, harsh treatment.  I don't want to die in 20 years of something that the chemo caused when I may have lived 40 years if I hadn't done the chemo.  Now, on the other hand, I don't want to die in 5 years because I didn't do chemo and the cancer came back in a place that was inoperable.  I feel like I'm about to walk into a casino to make the highest stake gamble that there is: life or death.  In the end, we all die though.  We never know when our time will come.  I could spend all this time worrying about what the chemo and cancer could do to me, only to be run over by a truck tomorrow!  We never know, and I suppose there is no sense worrying too much about it.  I just pray that the right information and the right people come my way to help me make the best decision possible.

And, when all this "life" stuff starts getting me down, all I have to do is remember one thing:  I CAN POO!!!!   (and it feels GREAT)

P.S. I just had a thought.  I used the word "Pooey" as a negative word in my blog today.  I am going to reclaim the words "Poo", "Shit","Crap", and all their forms.  Why do we use these words as negatives when they are in fact some of the most positive things we can be doing?  Excrement has a bad rap.  It is the waste of the body, sure, but if you don't poo, you DIE.  It is as essential to our existence as breathing, eating and sleeping.  Yet, we don't say, "Oh breath!" or "Oh, sleep!" when we are hurt or angry.  Why do we use the word poo?  Is it the stench?  Has the smell given fecal matter it's bad reputation?  Whatever the cause, I say we RECLAIM the word!  Who is with me?!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I had the pleasure of spending the last two evenings with friends of yore.  I could look around the room at either event and see friendly faces; faces of people with whom I have years of history and newer faces of those connected to old friends through love or marriage.  And then there are the babies.  Wow.  All my friends are multiplying like mad right now.  It's a pretty incredible stage of life.  All the women sit around and swap birth stories, as those who are expecting or are hoping to expect listen on in great interest.  All the men shake their head at the fact that you can put 2 or more women of age 25-35 in a room and within minutes they are discussing child birth and/or parenting.  Then, the men sneak off to do whatever men do.
It's a wonderful sense of warmth and relaxation when you're around people who you've known and loved for years.

On the drive home tonight, I was talking with one of my dearest friends, the Maid of Honour at my wedding, Kate.  We don't get to see each other very often since she moved to the States for school several years ago.  We spoke about the importance of community, the importance of having a solid ground of support in close physical proximity, especially when raising a child.  Ever heard the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child?"  I am a firm believer in that concept.  I am so fortunate to have so many people in my life with whom I would trust to take care of my little one.  I value their advice and their input.  I think as a society, we have become way too caught up in our own little worlds and forget how much we can impact each other's worlds.  Us city dwellers especially forget the importance of community.  I believe that a lot of people who live in cities live in a constant state of fear, which keeps them isolated from others as a form of self preservation.  It's really a sad state of being.

I can identify though.  I don't know if it's fear so much for me, rather pride.  When I am in a place of need, I have had problems accepting help.  I do believe that I've gotten better at receiving help from others, but I do still struggle with it.  It's totally a pride thing.  I feel like I am insufficient as a person if I accept help.  I feel like I should be able to do everything, even when dealing with trying times, to prove that I am a strong, independent woman.  A very wise woman once said to me during a tough time in my life that it was simply my time to receive blessings from others and that I should allow others to bless me.  She said that when I was in a better place in my life, it would be my turn to give and that I would want the person in need to receive the blessing I offer.  It's all about the giving and receiving (very appropriate for the season, wouldn't you say?).  I do feel like I've been receiving more often than giving over the last couple of years, but I guess that just means that I'll appreciate the giving all the more when it's my turn to do so.  I look forward to the opportunity to bless others.  I just pray that my eyes will be open wide enough to see where there is a need.  In fact, I pray that all of us would have a bit of an awakening and be able to spot when others are in need.  Maybe then we can start reaching out to each other and rekindle that sense of community that seems to be so lacking in our day and age.      

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cancer Bracelets

This is more of a reminder for myself than anything, but I wanted to mention that I got a really lovely bracelet for Christmas from my sister.  It's a cancer awareness bracelet.  It's very simple, but it sparkles and is full of colour, so I love it!  It's got a bunch of different coloured beads to represent the different types of cancer out there.  I am planning on asking her where she got it and how we can get them out here.  I'm pretty sure that the proceeds go to cancer research.  Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it in case any of you have been touched by cancer and would like a physical representation of your experience.  I will put the info on here when I find out!

Merry Christmas!

Well, Christmas has come and is almost gone.  I didn't win the $50 million on Friday, so I won't be taking off on my trip around the world any time soon.  There's a few other 'Bucket List' items that will have to wait as well.   As I get ready to pack it in for the night, I've been reflecting on how very fortunate I am.  Of course I've been having thoughts like, "What if this were my last Christmas?" and "Will my entire 2012 be filled with all this cancer stuff too?"  I know it's not my last Christmas; I can feel that in my bones.  But, having a recent brush with my own mortality, the thoughts still cross my mind.  If this had been my last Christmas, I think I could look back on it and feel absolutely satisfied.  I have an appreciation this year for the people around me unlike any previous Christmas season.  Spending time with my family and friends is very special.  I haven't been able to see all of my family, or anywhere near all of my lovely friends, but I can be sure that the time I've spent with those I was fortunate enough to see was well cherished.  I only wish I had more energy.

I can't believe how quickly I get exhausted.  I am feeling so much better in general, but man, I get tired fast!  No abdominal cramping, no bowel distension, no bloody stool.  I have aches inside and out from my surgery, but nothing too serious.  Besides, the pain that remains from surgery is WAY better than all the abdominal cramping that I was having on a daily basis prior to.  I am doing my best to eat a low fat, no sugar, high vitamin, natural diet which may be helping my internal issues, but before it didn't matter what I ate, it hurt!  That's probably why I lost so much weight.  I just couldn't eat.  It hurt and my brain kept telling me that I wasn't hungry.  My ribs are showing, I am smaller everywhere (darn boobs always go first), and the extra small sweater I bought for Christmas was baggy.  My stomach shrunk pre and post surgery and my appetite is not fully back, but it's slowly gaining.  I had a big plate of Christmas dinner today that I honestly didn't think I could get through, but I did!  Halfway through I had to stop and consider wrapping up the remainders for lunch the next day, but I kept trucking.  I think half of my appetite problem is psychological.  Food was so uncomfortable passing through, for so long, that I am afraid to eat a large meal.  This Christmas was one of the first in my memory where I didn't sit at the table wishing I had worn my sweat pants.

What a lovely meal it was, though.  We spent the day at my In-Law's.  Gwen came down the stairs in the morning to find a bunch of presents from Santa.  It was adorable.  We spent time opening gifts.  We all got spoiled.  We had a delicious brunch.  We napped.  Gwen kicked me in the gut while napping.  It hurt.  My Dad, Step Mom, my other Dad, and my little sister came over for dinner.  It was so great to see them all and I felt so blessed to have them all in the same location.  Any child in a split family knows how awkward it can be to have different sides of the family in the same room, but it was a house full of love and laughter today.  My two Dads get along just fine.  Always have, in my memory.  It has been a dream of mine to have my families come together for Christmas (so that I wasn't driving half way across the lower mainland on Christmas day) and I finally got it this year.  What a great present!  Do you think it was because of the cancer? Hee hee.

I asked to say Grace at dinner, which I totally fumbled through.  I think I was anxious to show my appreciation for all of us coming together.  I know I keep driving home how loved I've been feeling since I was diagnosed, but I just can't help it!  I have been taking every opportunity to let people know how much I love them now too.  Life is too short!  Why wait until someone is on their deathbed to tell them how you feel about them?  Let's do it now!  It's amazing how a relationship can be nurtured and bolstered when you share how you feel about someone and why you love them.  If there is one wish that I have for all of you out there, it's that you would tell your friends and family this Christmas Season what they mean to you.  It's hard at first, but it gets easier the more you say it.  I love you.  I love you, I love you, I love you!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm Special

I am really missing writing my daily blog.  It really wasn't possible while I was hopped up on morphine at the hospital, but I really shouldn't be having troubles doing it now.  It's just that this whole holiday season becomes jam packed with parties and gatherings and shopping and visiting and wrapping and baking and everything else you can possibly think of.  My recovery has been coming along nicely though.  I've been out and about several times in the last week.  It's been somewhat painful, and very tiring, but I've managed to get through.  Today, I didn't even take any drugs!  How proud are you of me?!!

My thoughts the last few days have revolved around numbers.  I know I shouldn't be looking at statistics.  I know I should avoid them at all cost and focus on healing and positive thoughts, but once I got my pathology reports back, I just couldn't resist.  The way I figure it (and my calculations are EXTREMELY rough estimates), I had approximately 1 in 800,000 chance of getting colon cancer between the ages of 20 and 45.  This could result in me saying, "Why me?".  I've already been there though and the answer is, "Why not me?".  I think I've written this in the past.  I figure I'm young and otherwise healthy, so why shouldn't it be me that's given this disease?  I'm probably more capable of fighting it than a lot of other people out there, especially compared to some elderly people.

What the "1 in 800,000" really does for me though is make me think about how special I am.  I know this might sound odd and somewhat goofy, but I figure I must be pretty darn special to be chosen out of nearly a million people!  I just wished it worked in reverse.  I'm thinking maybe I'll stand a better chance at winning the 50 million dollars in the upcoming lottery since I've already won this reverse luck cancer lotto.  Even out the playing field a bit?  C'mon God!  Let me have some money to play with for having to go through all this crap!  Please?!?!  If only the world worked like that...  One can dream.  Sigh.

What I do think is pretty cool though is that my body is responding exactly the way it should be since I had the operation.  I was speaking with my surgeon and she mentioned that I have beautiful physiology (a male surgeon then commented on how only a female surgeon can get away with telling a female patient that. lol).  Apparently, when she looked inside me all my organs were perfectly arranged and in beautiful condition.  What more can I ask for than top marks on my insides from a great surgeon?  It makes me blush.  My healthy insides not only look good though, they are functioning so well it makes me jump around, shaking my booty (not too hard though- don't want to bust a stitch!).  I just had my blood results back from a recent test; my hemoglobin is on the rise in a crazy way!  It's jumped from 79 to 99 in less than 2 weeks! (normal is 120)  That's without any supplements!  It's very exciting to know that my body is doing what it's supposed to be doing.  It is healing itself.  I'm very proud of me.

I guess it's just nice to have a bit of good news now and then.  Cancer can feel like your body has betrayed you.  It feels really good to know that my body is fighting back.  My mind and body are on the same page, working as a team.  I've got a long way to go yet, but a bit of positive news can take me a long way.  It's just the encouragement I need to keep my energy and spirits up to get me through the holiday season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The results are in...

The results from my pathology are in.... I HAVE CANCER!

Oh wait...we already knew that.  Ok, so the results indicate that the tumour was T3, meaning it had grown through the wall of my bowel, but had not infected any other organs.  They took 21 lymph nodes out and one, possibly two, had cancerous cells.  There is, however, no sign of metastasis (spread to other areas of the body).  I am told that overall these findings are very promising.  If my research is correct, then I have stage IIIB cancer.  I will need chemotherapy, which in all honesty freaks me out a bit.  After I received the news, I sat down and cried.  A friend from university with whom I connected tonight put it perfectly, "It offends my youthful sense of immortality."  She is currently recovering from having 3 tumours removed.

She really did nail it on the head though.  This whole situation has "offended my youthful sense of immortality."  I think about the fact that it has been just over 3 weeks since I was diagnosed with cancer.  Since then I have the cancer removed by surgery, over a week of recovery, and a complete pathology report stating the need for chemo.  It's a lot to absorb in such a short time.  I know life can sometimes be turned upside down in a moment, but it's never been so clear to me than it is now.  I suppose the same would be true if a close family member was killed by a drunk driver, or if my spouse was injured at work and left crippled, or if I lost a child.  Things can happen so suddenly, but do we ever really expect it to happen to us?  Are we constantly fooling ourselves into believing that we are the lucky ones that all this bad stuff doesn't happen to?  If we didn't live in that state of denial, then would life even be tolerable?  Could you imagine walking around for the rest of your life constantly dreading the fact that something bad could happen to drastically change your life in the blink of an eye?  I don't think I could live like that.  It's our sense of hope for the future that keeps us going.  If we lived forever in the "what if's" then life doesn't seem to me like it would be worth living.  

Chemotherapy is such an unknown for me.  I've heard stories of people going through chemo with no problems at all, but I've also heard the horror stories.  It's not so much that I fear being "sicker than I've ever been before in my whole life" (which doesn't really even happen that often with the new therapies available), it's just the simple fact that I have to do chemo.  I guess I'm in denial.  I guess I never expected it to get to this point.  When I was told that I "for sure" had to do it, the reality of my situation hit so hard that I just couldn't hold back the emotion.  The "what if's" had come true for me.  At least for this situation.

I am so fortunate is so many other ways.  As my pastor said, we need to remember that there are always people worse off than us and there are always people better off than us.  We need to keep things in perspective.  I have so many other positive things in my life that I know I'll be able to breeze through this chemo stuff.  The positives will keep me going.  The constant encouragement from friends and family will keep me going.  Chemo Shmeemo!!  I kind of feel sorry for any remaining cancer in my body, because I am going to beat it down so hard that it won't know what hit it!  Wahooooo!!  Let's do this!  Chemo, here I come!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Hope

It doesn't seem like a coincidence that all my health issues from the past year are coming to a head right around Christmas time.  Christmas is a time of hope; a time for putting our faith into things unseen, things we cannot detect with our five senses.  Think of all the faith our society puts into the "magic of Christmas".  How many movies have been made about believing in Santa and Christmas and everything that the holidays represent: good tidings to all, joy, peace, love?

 I was baffled by a verse in the bible that was presented to me several weeks ago, and just today was given a new look at that verse from a devotional that my dad, Ron, sent me.  Don't you love it when you have moments of clarity?  When a concept finally presents itself in a way that your brain can understand it?  That's what I've always loved about math and physics.  I am presented with a concept that can quite often resemble a tangled up string of Christmas lights, but bit by bit the string unravels and at the end of the day I've learned a new concept that blows me away and makes my brain tingle.  Ahhhhhh, how I miss calculus!  

Here is the verse that had me stumped: 

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  -   Hebrews 11:1

I now understand what this means.  When I apply this verse to my current life "equation", I end up with a solution.  I will be getting my pathology results on December 19th.  I am hoping for the best, but not necessarily believing that all will be good.  I am prepared either way.  The thing that keeps getting me is the amount of people who are SURE that the results will be positive.  They have the conviction that things will be fine.  They are sure that what we hope for (positive results) will come to be.  They have faith.  It's as simple as that.  Do you see how that works?  They have the "assurance of things hoped for".  They have a belief in something that cannot possibly be known, seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted.  It is a conviction!  Maybe they are just telling me this to make me feel better, but I honestly believe that most of them, if not all, truly believe that things will work out fine.  And for that belief, for that FAITH, I am truly grateful.  

This Christmas season is filled with more hope and faith than I have ever experienced before at this time of year.  It will be a magical Christmas for me this year.  Not only do I get to spend it with some family that I seldom get to see on Christmas day, but I get to have the simple peace that comes from knowing that I am loved and that faith is surrounding me on all sides.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Had to post this...

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

I just had to post this.  I nearly bust a stitch.  Seriously.
(I know, I'm a geek)


Everyone has been anxious to hear how my surgery went.  I'm finally feeling normal enough (come down off the morphine) to write a little something.  I'll try to be quick because apparently I have to go rest or something....  ;)

The surgery happened on Tuesday afternoon at the Lion's Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.  I have to send a shout out to all the staff I had the pleasure of dealing with.  My stay was as incredible and comfortable as any stay in a hospital could be.  I started with 2 pints of blood before my surgery because I was so anemic.  I kind of felt like a vampire.  Seriously, the transfusion is probably what weirded me out the most about the entire experience.  I had to ask, "What vintage is that?"  I know- Ewwww, gross!  We're talking about human blood!  I'd much rather talk about poo.  But, I'm sure we'll get to that.

I had several friends and family members there with me as I waited for the surgery time.  It was great.  We just joked and laughed to pass the time, rather than me sitting there nervous and (dare I admit it?) afraid.  Pastor Trevor was there and he suggested we pray before they came to bring me down to the OR.  They all prayed a lovely prayer over me and just as we said "Amen", the nurse comes in and in a huge voice announces to the patient next to me, "Wow, you sure have been peeing a lot!" Just what you want to hear at the end of a prayer.  Even though we were a group of grown adults, we had to giggle a little at the timing of that comment.

They came to get me and I got to walk to my gurney all by myself!  I felt like such a big girl.  Actually, I felt like I might as well do it while I still can.  They wheeled me down to the OR, I kissed my husband goodbye, and they pushed me through the doors that say "Authorized personel only".  They set me to the side of the hallway to await my imminent surgery.  It was there that nurses and surgeons passed me by, either ignoring my presence because they see so many of us daily, or smiling at me because I seemed to be in such a good mood.  I had one of them stop and comment to me, "We don't usual see people as happy as you in this area."  I told him, "I figure some of you have had pretty rough days and can use a smile."  I don't think he knew what to do with that comment.

 It was soon after that a male nurse came running out of an operating room, nearly tripping on his own feet, as he barrelled toward the crash cart in the hallway.  It was only about 10 feet away from me so I got to see his expression of worry and anxiety as he called for back up.  It seemed like every person in the whole area headed toward that room.  I sat there, somewhat in shock, not sure whether I should laugh or cry.  Is this going to happen to me?  Are they going to go running for the crash cart while I'm in the OR?  It kind of freaked me out, to be honest.  So.... I laughed.  One of the two remaining nurses looked at me funny so I explained, "Not exactly what you want to see 10 minutes before you go in for your surgery."  I suppose I shouldn't have laughed.  The person in there could have been dead as I laughed.  They could have been wheeling a corpse out of that room.  I have never been that close to the "act" of death.  I've never witnessed it or even been in the next room.  Fortunately, I saw them wheel the man out of that OR and he looked fine.  A little red and swollen, but fine.  I'm sure we all look a little red and swollen when we're being wheeled out of the OR.

My favourite part is being in the actual OR.  I become the centre of attention! Those of you who know me well will roll your eyes and laugh knowingly at that comment.  They start asking all sorts of questions about me: what I do, how old my daughter is, etc...  They took my glasses off at that point, hooked me up to the drugs and I drifted off....

I don't really remember waking up.  It happened slowly.  I don't really remember much of the rest of Tuesday other than Mike got to come in and see me in the recovery room, then they wheeled me out and I had a whole bunch of familiar faces greet me, then I was upstairs in my room sleeping again.  I woke up every 45-75 mins that night.  Not a very restful sleep, but lots of attention from the nurses (who were great!).  I had a morphine pump, which I did my best not to overuse.  The darn thing wasn't working right though!  I would press the button, which I hadn't pressed in a LONG time, and it would say I was still locked out.  Then sometimes it just wouldn't give me any response at all.  No noise of rejection or anything!  I swear it recorded me pushing the button way more than I actually wanted drugs.  The first nurse I told about the machine didn't believe me.  I could tell.  Then it stopped working for my other nurse, Sophie (who I love!), so she didn't think I was crazy.  At least not for that reason...  I'm sure I gave her many other reasons to think so.

I set little goals for myself each day.  The first was to walk around.... and I did!  I don't quite remember what day it was, but I had set myself the "lofty" goal of passing gas so that I could start eating solids.  I knew it would happen that day, I just had to get it out!  Things were starting to build up and make all sorts of noise, so I figured it was only a matter of time.  I did a LOT of walking around that day (which really did make me feel much better as a whole- give it a try if you are in recovery, even if you don't feel like it).  Finally, late that evening, I was walking around with my husband and Mother-in-law, and it happened!!!  I wanted to jump for joy, but settled for giant smiles and a sigh of relief.  Don't you cherish those intimate moments you can share with your in-law's???

After a bit of a scare with low hemoglobin, I did eventually have a bowel movement, they weaned me off the hard core narcotics and then sent me home.  I no longer feel like a pin cushion being pricked every morning as some form of a deranged wake up call.   I no longer have to suffer an all liquid diet or the broth that they call "beef" (shudder).  I had a lovely room mate for the last couple of days.  She is a breast cancer survivor (yes, the 'pretty' cancer), and just had to have the rest of her "lady bits", as she put it, removed as a precautionary move.  She was encouraging and great fun to talk to.  Overall, I feel very blessed with the experience I had.  I don't think it could have gone any better.  Sure, I'm sore now and tired, and will be for awhile, but I do feel like all this came together in a way that is beyond what us humans can do on our own.  Thanks, God, for taking care of your little one!

P.S.  The actual surgery went fantastic; they got it all.  We still have to wait for the pathology results to see how advanced the cancer was and if I will need chemo or not.  Should have those by the end of next week, could be a bit longer.  I will post it when they're in.  Love to you all for the continued support!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Surgery Is Here...Early!

A colorectal surgeon sort of fell in my lap yesterday.  I wasn't looking.  My mind was set for surgery on Thursday.  I was prepared for that day, but after speaking with this new surgeon, I was suddenly faced with a crazy choice!  I could have surgery the NEXT DAY and it would be done laparoscopically, which would speed up my recovery time by a minimum of 2 weeks.  I was a little unsure at first, so I did my due diligence and checked everything out.  Soon enough, I discovered that this would, in fact, be the best route for me at this time given my age, health (outside of the cancer), and life situation (being the mother of a 17 month).  I am very excited!  A little unprepared mentally, but hey, that could be a good thing.  I always feel more alive when I am surrounded by chaos, and that is what yesterday was.  Waking up this morning, I still can't really believe that I may be 'cancer free' by the end of the day.  I could be walking into the Lion's Gate Hospital a cancer patient and in a few days be walking out a cancer survivor.  It gives me goosebumps!  I feel like I should be making some sort of acceptance speech as I leave the hospital...

"I'd like to thank all my fans out there.  You mean the world to me.  I'd like to thank my family, my friends, and all those who stood with me through these trying weeks.  Most of all, I'd like to thank God..."

People always thank God in their acceptance speeches and I definitely wouldn't miss out on that.  I had so many comments yesterday about how this is His hand at work.  My GP even said to me that she felt like this was "meant to be".  I think the peace I feel today is a testament to that.

So everybody, wish me luck!  I may be away from the blog for a few days, but I'll keep you updated somehow, I'm sure!  Many blessings to you all and I'll see you on the flip side!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Passing the Time

Ok everybody!  Here is your chance to help me out!  I figure I'm going to have a bit of free time over the next couple of months and I would love to hear any suggestions you might have that could help me pass the time.  Have you read any good books lately or in the past?  What's your favourite book, TV, or movie series?  Any favourite video games?  How about good music?  I am interested in it all!  I won't necessarily have the opportunity to experience all the suggestions, but I am always open to finding out what other people like.

I am particularly interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Inspirational, Drama, Suspense.  Romance is ok, but not if it's hokey.  I do enjoy history as well.  Romance mixed with history is great!  Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility- Rock on!  Honestly though, I am hoping to hear about it all!  I am always up for trying something new.  You never know what you like until you give it a go, right?  Who knew a bacon and peanut butter sandwich would be tasty? (Thanks Ron!)  I never thought cotton candy blizzards would be any good.  Boy, was I wrong! (I think I gain 10 lbs every time Dairy Queen has them in store).  Mmmmmmm, now I'm craving ice cream....

Hope you are all having a very blessed day!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Comedy and Tragedy

My favourite symbol growing up was the comedy and tragedy masks, which represent my great love: the Theatre.  The two masks exist in this perfect dichotomy that accurately reflects life in the theatre, life as an actor, life as an artist, and, well... life itself.  If we are to look at our lives, in all instances, comedy and tragedy co-exist.  Have you ever been to a funeral where someone bursts out laughing?  Have you ever been to a baby shower and someone starts crying?  Pain and sorrow co-exist with joy and happiness everywhere we look.

Today, I've been thinking about the masks I've been wearing since my diagnosis.  I went for a massage therapy session and found myself having troubles relaxing.  It felt like if I relaxed then I'd be giving into a flood of emotion that I may not be dealing with.  The tension is my mask.  Then I started thinking, if the tension is masking all this emotion then does that mean I've just been putting on a brave face?  Am I also wearing a "Brave Face" mask? (Haha, they should sell those on World of Warcraft- +100 Armor).  I do feel like I could break down at any time if I just let myself think about the enormity of the situation.  If I think about my surgery in a week, I start to get a little nervous (and a little excited that I will finally have some relief!).  Have I just been putting on a mask for everyone to see and in reality I am just this scared little girl, afraid of what's going to happen to her?

It feels like there is a switch inside me.  It can be flicked and I am either instantly in tragedy mode or instantly in comedy mode.  Never in my life have a lived both to such extremes.  I am experiencing the true meaning of those masks right now.  My cancer could be looked at as a huge tragedy; I'm only 30 years old, just getting my life started, and I've been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease.  On the other hand, the amount of support, love, and encouragement I have been receiving has filled my life with a joy and contentment unlike anything I have ever known.  My heart is filled with LOVE!  I am smiling on the inside!  How can I be afraid of what's to come when I am so incredibly loved?

It is that thought, the realization that I am truly not afraid, that keeps me strong.  I have God on my side.  He has brought me a huge group of people to support me through this.  Everyday I hear of more prayer groups rising up to pray for me.  There are people in England, Australia, the U.S., and all across Canada praying for me.  It is so incredibly humbling!  The conclusion I came to is that the only mask that I have been wearing from time to time is the mask of doubt.  It does not belong on my face.  When I feel myself putting on that mask, I will remember the strength that I have been given and I will cast it aside!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Confess...I have sinned

It's true.  I am not perfect (contrary to my previous belief).  I have sinned.  I have jealousy in my heart today...

I am jealous of all you people who have regular bowel movements.  Do you realize how LUCKY you are?  I was up all night trying to get comfortable as my body tried to move "stuff" through my bowels.  It was heavy, it was painful, it was uncomfortable.  My whole right side becomes hard, as everything tries to get past my cancer mass.  Stupid cancer.  Don't take your bowel movements for granted, People!!  Distended intestines are not fun!

Oh! Another thing!  There doesn't seem to be much awareness or fundraising going on for colon cancer.  What's with that?  Is it because it's all about pooh and passing gas?  I say we reclaim our feces!  Let's pass great wind and be proud! (oh man, I can't believe I'm writing about pooh....)

One more thing.... I found this article today and it had a very truthful and funny outlook on the whole 'dealing with cancer' thing.  I haven't had any "sympathy vultures" to contend with, but the rest rings very true for me.  I encouraged my family and friends to tell others because it was less work for me :)  Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Make a Facebook status letting everyone know you have cancer. "Ewww, but I'm not an attention whore!" Hush, you blighted body! The only thing more exhausting than chemo is having a face-to-face conversation with everyone you've ever met about your battle of wills with a murderous tumor. So after you tell the important people in your life, make a public announcement. Otherwise, a lot of your casual acquaintances will bully you into long conversations because they want to be personally affected by your disease. These are usually the types who tell elaborate stories about their bad days; meeting a cancer patient is like meeting a celebrity to them. Nonchalantly noting the state of your health online helps deflate and deflect these sympathy vultures. In that same vein, tell your loved ones to openly mourn your bad news. I think my roommate literally told 50 people the week I was diagnosed, which was therapeutic for her and also saved me a ton of work."
from “Tips on Surviving Cancer” by Rebecca Pederson

I Don't Belong Here

My husband was diligently doing his homework last night and needed the computer, so I was unable to post my blog.  He's been working so hard.  He's got so much on his plate, I feel bad for him.  

Gwen has a cold and I can't risk getting sick because if I do, my surgery will be postponed.  Cold FX, here I come!

I went to the hospital yesterday for my pre admission clinic for the surgery.  I shouldn't have gone by myself.  I had been up the whole night prior taking care of a sick Gwen who wouldn't settle.  I ended up spending half the night dozing on the floor in her room.  Needless to say, I was a little tired.  I walked up to the 3rd floor where all the surgery patients are located only to find myself surrounded by old men.  All I could think was that I was going to be spending a week with a bunch of old men at the end of their lives.  I didn't belong here.  I am a lively 30 year old woman.  I am just beginning my life.  I have a 16 month child and would like at least one more.  My career is just starting.  I've only been married for 5 years.  What happened to growing old with my husband?  To seeing our grandchildren?  I don't belong in a ward surrounded by 80 year old men!

It was the first time in this whole experience that I started feeling sorry for myself.  I had never asked, "Why me?".  I was always asking, "Why not me? What makes me so special that I shouldn't get cancer?".  They say 1 in 3 of us will end up with cancer by the end of our lives, so why shouldn't it be me?  I was of the thought that it was a good thing it WAS me because I know I have the strength and attitude to deal with this and put this cancer in it's place.  But yesterday... I went there.  I had a pity party. If I could have looked at myself, I would have been giving myself the "Pity Eyes".  Ugh.

It's a good thing I have an amazing group of people around me.  I was able to speak to my pastor right away, who could identify with the feeling of being too young to be in that ward when he had surgery a couple years ago.  He made me think about the reasons God was putting me in the situation.  Who knows who I may touch while I stay in that ward.  Who knows what lives I may touch just by going through this experience.  Who knows!  Not me.  So, I shouldn't be looking at this as a "poor me" situation, but more as a "look to see where God's at work" situation.

Thankfully, I also had a wonderful friend take Gwen for the rest of the day so I could catch up on sleep (and fight away any cold germs that may have landed!).  My pastor's daughter also offered to watch Gwen in the evening and put her to bed for me.  What a generous, caring, selfless group of people that are in my life.  I feel so incredibly blessed!

Oh, I just have to mention a little "God Moment" that happened a couple days ago.  An old friend and mentor was messaging me on Facebook to give me some encouragement.  She wrote a certain verse out of Psalms to encourage me.  It just so happens that it is not only my favourite Psalm, but my absolute favourite verse in the WHOLE Bible!  Wow!  I told her that and she wrote back stunned, saying that she wasn't sure why she wrote that verse and that she was thinking she should have written one a little more cheerful or having to do with healing.  But, she listened to what she was supposed to do and left me Psalm 73: 26 "My heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hold, Please

As some of you may or may not know, I have a production company called EVE Entertainment.  We have made one film; a short for the 168 Film Festival in L.A.  We were nominated for best international film and for best actress at this year's festival.  For our first production, and for my film directorial debut, it was a huge success.  We're actually currently waiting on several other film festivals to which we submitted to find out if we've been accepted.  I am very proud of this film.  Our company has been in pre-production for our second film, for the same L.A. film festival, which is going to be shooting in February.  My business partner is going to be directing this one and I am supposed to be acting.
Our hearts have really been on fire lately for children and teens who have been subject to abuse and exploitation.  While we were looking into that, we came across the subject of human trafficking.  It is a terrifying thought, as portrayed in the movie "Taken" with Liam Neeson (who I've met- no big  What was more terrifying was to find out that Guildford Mall in Surrey is the number one pick up spot in Canada for human traffickers.  Another scary thought is how poorly educated the public is on this subject.  We decided to base our film around the subject of human trafficking to help shed awareness on the subject.  There is also a campaign brewing that would use this film as an educational tool in schools.  We are very excited about the possibilities that this film holds.

It takes a LOT of work and planning to make a film.  Now, let's throw some cancer in the mix.  All of a sudden my plans for the next 2-3 months are completely up in the air.  As it is with any major injury, surgery, or illness, we must put our lives on hold and focus on healing.  Christmas is coming up and I'm not sure if I'll be able to make our annual Discovery Church Christmas event.  It will all depend on how I feel 10 days after surgery.  I don't even know how I'll be feeling on Christmas day!  Will I be able to eat turkey?  I had also been hoping to audition this thursday for one of my favourite plays of all time, "The Importance of Being Earnest", directed by a friend and colleague whom I have been eager to work with.  The rehearsal period will coincide with my recovery period.  I could maybe do the show despite my recovery... unless I need chemo, which I won't find out until after Dec 15th.  

 All of a sudden, this film that I've been planning and raising money for is also in danger.  Thankfully, I have an amazing business partner who is working double time to make this happen.  I want nothing more at this point for that film to be made.  I want the world to know about human trafficking.  I don't care if I'm acting in it anymore.  I don't care how big my involvement is.  I just want it to be made.  If, Heaven forbid, this journey should end in a bad way, I would like to have this one final push at affecting change in the world.

I guess where I'm going with all this is that I am ready to drop it all if need be, but I really don't want to.  Why should I accept putting my whole life on hold?  Just to get better?  Just to beat a life threatening disease?  Bah!  I can do it all!  I am super woman!  And yet, I can't.  Nor will my lovely husband, family and friends let me risk my health just to act in a play or make a movie.  I wouldn't let any of my sisters do those things if they were fighting cancer.  No way!  I would make them focus on themselves.  So why, oh why, is it so hard for me to focus on self?  I feel like it's my will versus God's will.  I don't know why I bother fighting, He always wins in the end (see yesterday's blog), but I am clinging onto this despite His imminent victory. This is going to be one of the hardest parts of my journey; seeing all the things pass by that I could have been involved with, but was unable.  I will have to surrender myself to the fact that I will miss out on these things.  But, it doesn't mean that God doesn't have bigger and better things for me to be involved with afterwards!  I look forward to the possibilities.  I love possibility!

(To read more about EVE Entertainment or our next film, go to:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Grey Cup Victory... is MINE!

Today is Grey Cup Sunday.  The day where hundreds of thousands of Canadians are glued to their TV set to see the outcome of two sets of men beating each other into the dirt.  Or in this case, because it's being hosted in Vancouver, into the mushy, soggy ground.  Oh, wait.  That won't happen either now that BC Place has a new roof!  Personally, I don't watch football.  Not even athletic men in tight pants is enough to keep me interested in that sport.  I am a hockey girl through and through.  This does not mean I won't be recording the game on my PVR while I'm at church.  There is something about the last minute of a championship game that is incredible to watch, no matter what the sport.  It is a magical moment when those final seconds count down and the victory in won.  The players have a massive group hug, the coaches are ecstatic (even if they try to hide it), the media is in a frenzy, and the fans go wild!  An enormous ROAR can be heard across the city.  And, best of all, everyone is smiling and happy.  It is a moment of complete joy for the victors. to get real.  I have been having doubts.  One of my biggest fears is that I don't have enough faith to be healed by God.  Mark 5 : 25-34 holds the story of a woman who was healed by faith...
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

 30 At once Jesus realized that healing power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked,“Who touched my clothes?”
 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her,“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

It was her reaching out in faith that healed her.  I know I have faith, but I sometimes doubt that I have enough faith to deserve healing.  Sometimes I doubt that I will get better.  When I repeat to myself and others, "I will get better.  I can beat this," do I truly believe it?  I don't know.  I know I am strong willed and otherwise quite healthy.  Logically it makes sense that I can get better, but I believe that if it's not God's will to get better, then I won't.  At the same time, if it is His will that I get better, then I will.  These doubts could eat a person up inside.  

I was at a dedication for my friend's son this morning and the Pastor just happened to be speaking on Faith vs Doubt.  Coincidence?  I think not.  (I love how God throws us exactly what we need, when we need it).  He spoke of how we are either feeding our doubts or feeding our faith.  What I need to do right now is feed my faith by reading, hearing, and obeying the Word of God.  I need to starve my doubts by being careful what words are coming into my life.  I need to leave out the negative, both when speaking and hearing (does that mean I should delete the previous paragraph?).  Our words either work for us or against us and I plan on making mine work for me.  Words are our servants and I will command mine to only speak the truth that God has given.  This truth is that even if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, it is ENOUGH!  Thank goodness for that!  The truth is that the Greater One, the Lion of Judah, Christ himself, lives inside me and He has already won!  I will continue to feed this Lion within until he arises with a mighty roar; a roar that makes mountains tremble!  ....even bigger than the roar arising from BC Place when another group of Lions won their victory today!

1 John 5:4
That's because everyone who is a child of God has won the battle over the world. Our faith has won the battle for us.

1 John 4:4
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

 Psalm 68:1
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
   may his foes flee before him.

Hebrews 11:1
 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Proverbs 18:21
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
   and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"I have cancer. How are you?"

Today was my first day out and about running errands since I was diagnosed.  I have been consumed by phone calls, doctor's appointments and emails this past week.  Not to mention trying to plan my entire 2 months of recovery, shop for Christmas, and prep mentally for surgery.  I had an extremely productive day today, which left me exhausted to the point that I had to ask someone to put my daughter to bed for me (thank you Brooke!).  My fatigue seems really bad as of late.  I'm thinking it's due to the fact that I really don't have much of an appetite.  I can go half the day before realizing that I haven't eaten anything.  This is very odd for me because I am a HUGE breakfast fan.  I am usually nauseous within an hour of waking up if I haven't eaten anything.  Not anymore.  I think my brain is trying to protect my bowels from the aggravation and discomfort of food passing through them by telling me that I am not hungry.  What a thoughtful brain I have!  But, I digress...

My "Cancer Brain" is still active.  I seem to walk into a room and forget why I am there.  I needed to read my shopping list 3 times before I actually understood what it said.  It took me so much longer than it should have to complete the simple act of buying groceries.  Mind you, I am eating differently so there were a few unfamiliar products that I had to investigate.  It's strange being out in the world when you have something big going on.  People continue on their day to day activities completely oblivious to the fact that anything is wrong with you.  I remember thinking this when I was recovering from my c-section.  I would go out, in pain, and people would be cutting me off and would just generally be their inconsiderate selves.  It drove me crazy!  I wanted to tell them everything that was wrong with me so that maybe they'd be a bit more considerate.  But we don't think that way when we're out and about.  We are focused on what we need to do.  We don't have the time to be thinking about the different situations that all these humans around us are experiencing.

Today, the checkout girls asked me their typical, "How are  you?".  Being the honest and forthright person that I am, I almost replied with, "I was diagnosed with cancer this week.  How are you?".  I don't mean it as an attention grabber or an attempt to gain sympathy.  They asked!  But, I stopped myself from replying that way because, really, who wants to hear it?  Most people don't expect an honest answer when they ask that question.  Especially people who are paid to say those words and get in trouble if they don't follow the 'script' (I know this from experience).  It kind of makes me sad that we are all wandering around out there, rubbing shoulders and interacting, but are so closed in by the walls we put up that we can't really have an honest relationship with each other.  It makes me value those people in my life with whom I can be truly honest and free.  The people who don't judge me for my craziness, or for my eccentricities.  The people who accept me, ego and all, despite all my failings.  It would be nice if we could be that way with everyone, but in reality, there simply isn't the time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kleenex and Real Booze

I had the privilege of witnessing one of my daughter's firsts today.  We rode the Vancouver Sky Train for the first time together while my husband drew the inside of the train for one of his art classes.  Gwen and I sat there (well, she stood- better for looking out the window), watching as all the buildings, trees, birds, and cars went by.  Her new favourite word is "sky".  It's mildly mispronounced, coming out as "kai", but we both know what she means.  She points up to the blue, or in Vancouver's case, grey sky above us and looks at me with pride as she identifies an element of her surroundings.  It is adorable.  I am so in love with my baby girl that every smile she gives me makes my heart melt.  When the train started moving for the first time, she looked at me with these giant eyes that expressed so much: excitement, apprehension, wonder, and trust.  She knew that everything would be ok because I was there with her.

There is a comfort that we cannot get anywhere else on this planet other than from our Mothers.  I am blessed to have 3 mothers in my life.  I have my Mom, who brought me into this world, my Step-mom, who has been a part of my life since I was 5, and my Mother-in-law, who I have had the pleasure of being joined to through my husband (it's always a relief when you get an awesome Mother-in-law).  Despite my love and respect for my Step-mom and my Mother-in-law, there is just no greater comfort in the world than my Mom.  The beautiful woman who birthed me and fed me from her body; who took care of me when I was sick; who sacrificed sleep, money, time, and sometimes sanity to raise me up into the woman I am today.  I was speaking with two of my older sisters this evening, Katie and Pam, and we had an amazing moment of honesty.  I broke down as I told them how much I want my Mommy with me at the hospital. I am very prepared mentally for my surgery, but there is no greater comfort here on Earth than a Mother. Pam reminded me that when I was in labour with my daughter, I asked for my Mom.  I remember a time when I was so sick during my 4th year of university that all I could do was cry for my Mom.   I am a strong, independent, competent woman, but when times are tough I am not too big to admit that I want my Mommy.

All this talk of motherly comfort really got us all tearing up pretty well.  Katie was silent for a bit and we asked her, "Hey! You still there?".  "I am," she replied, "I'm just grabbing a kleenex and some real booze..."

(Don't get me wrong.  I find a lot of comfort in others as well.  I love my Fathers and need their comfort.  I love my husband and I need his comfort.  I love my siblings and I need their comfort.  I love my God and I couldn't survive without His comfort.  Apparently I have a great need for comfort...)

I hope you are having a Blessed Day!  Call your Mommy and tell her how much she means to you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pity Eyes

I woke up this morning after an incredibly deep sleep (thank you Katherine for the lavender!), feeling almost normal.  Until...duh duh duh....the abdominal cramping started.  Oh crap.  It's 8am, I'm alone with Gwen, she's needing food, the dog needs outside, and I'm having troubles moving.  The waves of pain and discomfort keep coming, getting worse as the time slowly moves by.  I can tell that I've got some sort of partial blockage happening.  I can feel a hard lump on my right side and some other areas that are distended from the gas in my intestines.  I was in the ER a few weeks ago because of a complete blockage (graphic content alert!) where my stool was not passing through the area of my bowel that has the cancer mass.  I ended up having an enema done so that I could get everything through and continue on with my life.  (It was kind of funny.  The nurse doing my enema walked through the curtain and started giggling.  I'm all like, "What's up?  What's so funny?".  She looked at me and laughed some more.  She said, "I'm sorry.  I really shouldn't be laughing.  I just thought you'd be 80.  I'm not used to doing this to young people."  I found that particularly amusing.)  At any rate, the enema made me feel quite a bit better, so I hopped into my vehicle and headed to the pharmacy in hopes of doing a home enema, thus avoiding the whole ER ordeal.  I've seen WAY too much of that place lately.  I get to the store, grab the box and read the directions.  Do not use if experiencing abdominal pain, bowel blockage, etc...   Oh, bother!  I wait for the pharmacist to finish with a client so that I can ask him about my particular case.  I explain to him that I have a partial blockage because of colon cancer and that I am experiencing abdominal cramping, probably because of the gas trying to get through the partial blockage.  Can I use this product?

That's when it happened... Pity Eyes.

This is a new phrase I've coined for my journey.  It's that look of complete  dread and sorrow and pity in someone's eyes when they are looking at someone who is terminally ill.  I found it almost insulting.  He looked at me as though I was already gone.  Then he said in a sombre tone, "I'm sorry.  I don't know.  There's no way to tell, "... more pity eyes..."I'm sorry."  I wanted to shake him and say, "I'M NOT DEAD!  Not even close!  I am a fighter and I have so many people and resources available to me.  I'm in an age where cancer doesn't kill everyone.  I am young and otherwise very healthy.  I am going to BEAT THIS!"  Instead, I turned and said, "Ok.  I'll just call my doctor."

I guess my lesson from this is that I need to impart to people that I don't want a pity party.  I appreciate sympathy and empathy, but pity isn't necessary.  I've been so fortunate in that everyone I know has been responding to me with love and encouragement.  I haven't had to deal with pity until today.  I didn't like it.

The enema did make me feel better, by the way.  Everything is working itself out, if you catch my drift. ;)   (Haha, I just put two puns into one sentence.  OH, clever me.)

And for those of you praying for specific things, please pray that the mass will shrink before my surgery.  It's looking like there are some lymph nodes that have been affected, which may mean chemo, but we won't know for certain until the surgery.  Let's pray that those nodes are CLEAN AND CLEAR of all cancer by the time the surgery happens.  YEAH!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today's theme is... the difference between men and women!

I went to a women's group this morning and the pastor was speaking on men's and women's purposes in this world.  Men are here to lead, provide, protect, and to love.  However, they are prone to loneliness (because they tend not to reach out much), compulsive competition, and emotional timidity (the inability to process and/or deal with their emotions).

Women, on the other hand, complete men.  Our purpose is relationships.  Women connect; we have intuition, we are peacemakers, communicators.  We are filled with tenderness, we are great friends, we are amazing nurturers, and, best of all, we are BEAUTIFUL.

I identify with this example of a woman.  I am a communicator.  I have been in awe of the amount of people who have reached out to me as I reach out to the world through this journey of mine.  The words of wisdom, the sympathy, the empathy, the support, the cheers to stay strong and positive, the outpouring of love, it has all been overwhelming.  I quite often get asked how my husband is dealing with all of this and, to be honest, I don't really know.  I've tried probing, but have had mixed results.  My husband is a great leader, provider, and protector (I would add 'lover', but my parents might be reading this and that's just weird).  He is, however, prone to not reaching out.  He is very much a man in the way that he compartmentalizes everything.  Men have this amazing ability to put life situations into different little boxes and then proceed to focus only on one box at a time.  In Mike's case, I believe his boxes look like this (in no particular order): Hunger, School, Job, Bills, Chores, Daughter, Wife, Cancer.  Right now, the need to get through the semester of school is of the utmost importance in his life.  I believe that his thought process is, "Get school out of the way as quickly as possible so that I can focus on the Wife and the Cancer."  We have discussed at length the value that this new education will bring to our family.  I understand his mindset, but as I deal with my own emotions I find myself longing for the attention and love of my husband.  I want the words of encouragement to come from him.  I want him to be asking, "What can I do for you?".  I want him to be the one hugging me when I break down.  I have this man who is incredibly hard working and focused, but right now it's not on the thing I want him to be focusing on.  At the end of the day, who is to say which is the better route?  If he quickly gets his school work done then he will have more time to focus on me later.  I've never been the most patient of people.  I'm still working on that fruit of the spirit.  But, my perspective has changed of late and I just want to drop everything and bask in love and positivity.  I don't care about the day to day at the moment.  I want to cherish the time I have, no matter if I live 6 more months or 50 more years.  I want to drop it all and LOVE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is There Such Thing As "Cancer Brain"?

We've all heard of "Pregnancy Brain" and "Mommy Brain".  I've personally experienced both within the last 2 years.  I stand firm that these states of mind do in fact exist.  I wonder today, is there such thing as "Cancer Brain"?  Let me tell you a funny story...

The day started with a power outage.  Gwen (my 16 month daughter) wouldn't eat any food that didn't require cooking with the electric stove.  She also seemed lost without the morning dose of cartoons that she had become so accustom to.  My fatigue and other symptoms seems worse in the mornings (and I'm allergic to caffeine), so I have been relying on the TV as a babysitter for the first hour or so of the day.  (This is not how I had hoped to raise my daughter and, believe me, I feel a LOT of mommy guilt for it.)  After speaking with my friend, Katherine, we agreed that I would come over for the day.  She did a marvelous job of caring for and feeding Gwen and me.  We spent a lovely day together only to have it cut short by my sudden realization that I was going to be late for my Worship Team rehearsal if I didn't leave right then.  I rushed out the door with Gwen, put her in her car seat, threw the keys into the front seat so that I could have both hands free to do up Gwen's seat belts, covered her with a blanket, then closed the door.  I reached for the front door and pulled.  It wouldn't budge.  I'm thinking, "Oh shoot, I must not have unlocked all the vehicle doors.  I'll just have to open Gwen's door and unlock mine."  So, I pull on the backseat door handle.  It's locked.  Oh pooh.  Now, you have to know that I cannot recall I time in my life that I have ever locked my keys in the car.  I may have, but it has happened so infrequently that I have no memory of it.  It sucks to lock your keys in the car, but there is no feeling in the world to describe locking your baby in a car!  I didn't panic.  Katherine called a locksmith, who promptly told her he had no one to send out and to call 911.  The fire department ended up responding to our call, only to tell me that the only way they had to get into the vehicle was by breaking the window.  Fortunately, my husband Mike was on his way home from school and could be there within 20-30 mins.  The firemen ended up entertaining Gwen with a flashlight and a stuffed dalmatian in a fireman's hat until Mike drove up and unlocked the car.  Wow.  

I felt like a complete idiot.  I was embarrassed that the fire department had to respond to this call right in the middle of rush hour.  The firemen seemed to have a pretty good time with it, entertaining Gwen and all, but I couldn't believe I had been the cause of wasting the peoples' tax dollars.  I immediately blamed the cancer.  I'm starting to think that I can get away with blaming a lot of my forgetfulness and lack of focus on this cancer thing.  If you think about it, I've been dealing with the symptoms of this disease since at least last March.  That means that all this time that I thought I had prolonged "New Mommy Brain", I actually had "Cancer Brain".  What a relief!

Now, all I have to do is keep this a secret from Gwen so that she can't hold this incident against me in the future. "Mom, remember the time you locked me in the car for 40 minutes?  I'll have that candy now..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day of Diagnosis

The facts:

Today I was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I am 30 years old.  I am scheduled to have my entire ascending colon removed, along with the surrounding lymph nodes, on Dec. 8th, 2011.  It will be at that time that they can assess what stage of cancer I have.  I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter.  I am a business women, I am an actor, I am a director, a producer, a Worship leader, a friend, a smiling face.  I am a story teller and this is my story.... :

So, where do I start?  How can I blog about something when it feels as if it's happening to another person? I'm going to live forever, right?  Well, maybe not.  There is an expiration date on this planet and when you are face to face with yours it changes your perspective.  That stain on one of your favourite shirts from the spaghetti you had for dinner doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore.  Peoples' facebook statuses don't seem so witty or, well, even worth reading.  I want to scream at them, "Stop your inane writing!  People are dying all around you!  I am dying! Can't you see?  Don't you care?".

But I'm not...dying.  Not yet.  It's all about attitude.  It's all about facing the challenge knowing that you are holding hands with Jesus and that you have an army of family and friends marching behind you into battle. There is no better feeling in the world than to know that you are loved.  That's what it's all about.  LOVE.  That's what it's always been about and will always be about.  Don't let anyone tell you different.

I am starting this blog to tell the story of my fight... and of my victory.  I have always loved a challenge and I walk into this one knowing that God never gives us more than we can handle.  God must think that my family and I can handle quite a bit, given the circumstances!  I look on this as an honour and an opportunity to trust that God is faithful.  I will come out on the other side of this a changed woman.  I will be stronger, more compassionate, perhaps even a bit more wise.  My character will be molded, some weeds will be pulled, and some flowers will be planted.  I know it will be a tough journey, but I believe that my spirit is prepared.