Tattooed and waiting….

“They” say waiting is the hardest part….and whoever “they” are, are right!!

Although I must admit, this is not as hard as it was waiting for my initial results from my biopsy, which seems like a lifetime ago.  Well…actually it was, it was my life before cancer, which is much different than my life after cancer.

Anyway, I had my BRCA blood test taken about 3 weeks ago, and they did say it would be a month till I had the results, and it’s not yet a month.  So, they aren’t late, I’m just anxious.

Last week, I went for my tattoos, yes, you read me right.  Never thought I would EVER be saying that.  Haha…I’m guessing I should listen to myself when I tell people, never say never, because you never know 🙂  I have 4 tattoos that mark me ready for radiation.  I’m all set to go.  As long as the BRCA test comes back negative.  So here’s to keeping everything in my body crossed for negative.  Then I will have 25 radiation sessions.  Another reminder that my cancer was aggressive.  If it wasn’t, then it would be 16, but I get the deluxe package. Lucky me!

I find it amazing how such a small tumour can cause such havoc in my life.  I don’t even want to think about what could have been if it was not caught.

I’m staying busy, my energy level is really good, and I’ve been getting lots of stuff done at work that I’ve not been able to do in months, and that makes me feel good.  My memory is another issue.  Chemo Fog is what they call it,  I just laugh, when I can’t remember people’s names that I’ve known for years!  Wonder how long I will be able to use the excuse of chemo brain before people start to think I’m suffering from dementia!

It’s crazy, I finished chemo over 4 weeks ago, and now I’ve been getting the side effects of everything tasting like metal, even chocolate!!!  That is just not acceptable…LOL!  I can only laugh. (I try and do a lot of that, it’s much better than crying).  Really cold things seem to be ok, but everything else just tastes yucky, and I feel like all I do is suck on really strong mints all day.  After this is all over, I will have major tooth decay to deal with. 😦

The other side affect that is really pissing me off is a bloated feeling every time I eat. Quite honestly, it’s really annoying.  I feel like I’m gaining 1000 lbs, and for those of you that know me well….well that just is not a good thing. That along with a constant nauseous feeling and heartburn makes me really cranky.  Hopefully that will all subside soon.

Other than all that….I’m doing fine.

Waiting for the phone to ring to find out when I can come in and find out my next step….  Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for NEGATIVE…and I’ll take all your prayers and wishes along with that…Please and thanks!

 

Hey G-d, it’s me Randy

Tonight marks the start of Yom Kippur, considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.  It is the Day of Atonement, the day that G-d is supposed to determine what your fate is for the coming year.  It’s the day we are to atone for all our sins of the past year.

So, I can’t help but ask, so what exactly did I do so wrong in the previous year, that I had breast cancer this year? And what is my destiny for this coming year as I wait for my BRCA status that determines my next steps.  Have I not endured enough this year?  You would think that breast cancer and 6 chemo’s would be enough in the atonement department,  that I should get a free pass for this coming year.

Getting cancer and going through chemo does make you question everything, especially at this time of year for me as a Jewish person.  Why did this happen?  and what is the divine plan for the coming year?  I keep trying to tell myself that there is a greater reason as to why this has happened to me, and I guess I will be trying to find out what that is.  

Why did this happen? Will I ever feel “safe” again?  Will I ever stop worrying that it will come back? I am told by other survivors that those are questions I will be asking myself for the rest of my life.  I still have a year of treatment, in fact I had Herceptin #4 of 18 this morning!  

I worry about my girls.  Carly is already convinced she will be getting breast cancer when she gets older.  After all, first my Mom, then me!  So it’s hard for her and Hailey.  I understand.  My response is that because of that, they will be monitored very closely, and if G-d forbid, they follow my path, then it will also be caught early, like mine was.  What else can I say?  It’s a difficult thing for a 17 & 15 year old to process.  Heck…it’s a difficult thing for a 52 year old to process 😦

So G-d if you’re reading this, I like to think, and I’m told I’m a good person, a good Mom, a good wife, I try and do good things,, and will continue to do better this coming year. I really need a break, please let this be a good year for me and my family.  

Shana Tova, G’Mar Chatimah Tova

60km with 3700 friends!

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We did it!!  I did it!!  OK, I didn’t walk all 60km this year, but I think I walked close to 35-40km.  I promised everyone that I would take it easy and not over do it.  Plus I knew my friend Ilene, and our girls wouldn’t let me 🙂  so when I even mentioned I was tired, we looked for a sweep van and off I went to the next pit stop.

The whole weekend was filled with amazing love and warmth.  I was hugged by more people in 2 days than I thought humanly possible.  I truly felt the love of so many.  I don’t really think I realized just how many people were following me these past 6 months, and how many lives I’ve touched over the past 10 years.

I was privileged to be asked to be part of the Survivor’s Circle of 6 that represented all the Survivors at both opening and closing ceremonies.  I thought I would be an emotional mess for that, but I held the hands of the others in our small circle and felt their strength, and it kept me strong (well for the opening, closing was a whole other story!)  Even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits.

Walking with my daughters was fun, and although we had a little “drama” at the end, it was great to share this walk with them, and for them to be part of something that has been so pivotal in my life for the past 10 years.

For me, meeting people I have been corresponding with but never met, or seeing people I only see once a year is one of the highlights of the walk.  On Saturday, I spent some time at the Trade Secrets pit stop where Richard had a table, selling my Think Pink Direct items as we do every year.  Again, so many came up to me so happy to see that I was still walking even though I had just finished treatment 2 weeks ago.  I think I really willed myself to be well, and I gathered so much strength from everyone’s positive messages.

Having day 1 end at the Rogers Centre was so much better than being outside,  No mud, no rain, no wind, no rocky paths! Walking in they announce your name, and you’re larger than life, literally on the Jumbotron.  That’s twice this year that I was on the Jumbotron, first throwing the pitch out at the baseball game, and now this.  And the crazy part is that I was cheered at both times.  However, on Sat, it was from many that I knew, and that really warmed my heart.  And then when they showed a video highlighting what Princess Margaret has accomplished with the monies that have been raised, I had a part in the video and again, people cheered.  It was a little humbling, but again, made me feel amazing, and took all my “tired” away!

Sunday was a much better day weather wise, and off we went walking again.  I was for sure a little more tired, and basically sweep after lunch from pit stop to pit stop waiting for my family and friends.

Closing ceremonies were where the emotions all started.  I listened to another Survivor tell her story, and I really started to lose it.  I kept thinking, just cry “pretty”, let the tears flow, let me nose drip (a wonderful side effect of Herceptin) Our Survivor circle approached the stage, and as we were walking up, I know all of us felt the strength of so many.  We were representing Survival,  We were giving hope that cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence.  We were life!

I can’t think of who better to share that moment with that with 3700 other friends and my family.

Weekend to End Woman’s Cancers starts TOMORROW!!!!

For the 11th time, I will be walking the 60km Weekend to End Woman’s Cancers!  This year, I will be walking as a Survivor with my girls by my side.

I just came home from the Opening Ceremonies rehearsal where I will be one of 6 walking in the Survivors Circle representing all the Survivors.  I am honored to represent the most incredible, compassionate and resilient group of woman that I have ever met.

I know this weekend is going to be over the top on the emotional scale.  It’s an important weekend for me and my family.  With the Jewish New Year’s today and yesterday and tomorrow the walk, it represents a new beginning, and a victory over the past year.   Perhaps this weekend I will get a little more clarity on this journey I’m on.

I’m going to try and savour all the moments, happy ones and emotional ones.  

I’m going to see people that I’ve only spoken with, or chatted with on Facebook, and people, or people I’ve only seen once through all this, that have been part of my journey.  I’m very excited for that part of this weekend.

There will be lots of hugging and lots of tears.  And all that is good.  Feeling your emotions is such an important part of the healing process.  And that’s where I’m at right now, so the timing for the walk is perfect!

To all the walkers, crew, volunteers and staff, thank you for everything you do to help put an end to woman’s cancers!  I can’t wait to see you all! 

Chemo is DONE!

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post.  There have been so many overwhelming emotions rolling around in my head that it’s been difficult to put them into slots, and more difficult to put them into words.  So bear with me, this could be a long post, depending on where my head wonders..LOL…these days….you never know for sure!

 Last Friday was my last Chemo.  Lots of posts were of Facebook, lots of picture, and even a video of ringing the bell, and and interview after with CP24.  It was all kind of a blur, and I really needed some time to process it all,  and I think I still am trying to do that.  One thing for sure….I’m VERY happy to be finished chemo!

Last Friday as my family and I went down to PMCC, we knew it would be a little crazy, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for it all.  It took a long time, longer than usual to get into chemo, and we waited longer than usual.  We had visitors that helped pass the time.  Finally after waiting 2 hours, we got in, and chemo was started.  Getting chemo really is the easy part!  Literally, they access my port, and plug me in and the chemicals that will ultimately kill off any mutant cancer cells go and do their work.  It’s important to remember that chemo is like poison going into your body, kind of a nasty reality, and something that I’ve had to come to terms with when it comes to recovery (which is the hard part)

Since everything was delayed, people were waiting for a long time, including my family.  The one regret I have through the whole process is that things were kind of all crazy, nurses coming in and out, checking the flow, people were coming and going, and then my hands and feet were in ice to help protect my nails from the toxic chemicals.  Through it all, I didn’t even realize that my family couldn’t find a place for themselves in my room, and felt like they couldn’t ask people to leave so that they could come in.  I didn’t think, as there was a lot going on, that there was an issue, but for my kids, it was.  I do regret not thinking of asking everyone for some private time  with my family.  But I only want to move forward, and we are doing that.

The bell ringing is an amazing ritual that symbolizes the end of chemo.  You get to ring the bell in triumph!  At PMCC because of the way the building is constructed, the atrium is open to the 5th floor, so when you ring the bell, literally everyone up to the 5th floor can hear it.  I rang it long and hard!!!  I was fortunate to have my family, many from the Foundation office, and some friends there.  The Foundation filmed it for me, and it is something I know I will treasure.  After the bell, the emotions flowed as I hugged Richard.  I do remember saying, “we did it!, I never could have done this without you”  and my girls.  My amazing girls, they have been so strong, so amazing through all this.  As positive as they have been, I can’t imagine what goes on through their heads as they watch their Mom go through all this.  They have been there through the physical change of losing my hair, my eyelashes, and eyebrows.  They’ve snuggled me when I was in my darkest moments.  They really are my heros!

After the bell ringing, we were taken to CP24 for an interview, then it back home for an very emotional ride.

I didn’t have as many of the physical issues of feeling beat up this time, which I was grateful for.  I have however been having a really tough time dealing with all the emotions that have now come forward.  It’s difficult to put it all into words, and quite honestly, I’m not sure I can, as I’m still working through them.  According to my friends who have been through this, it’s going to take a long while.

Since my diagnosis and surgery and chemo, I have been in Survival mode, literally.  You just try and get through each session, and wait for the next.  I know I was lucky, I escaped death because of early detection.  That might sound harsh, but that is the reality.  People die from breast cancer.  I have been fighting for my life!!  I really didn’t have time to think of it in those terms till I had finished chemo.

I know I’m hard on my self, I always have been.  I’m finished chemo, I want to feel better…who wouldn’t?!  I want things to go back to normal, I want my life back.  Again, the reality is that it’s going to take a long time.  I still have such little energy that I need to decide how to spend it.  My head is foggy, and although Richard says that’s normal….hahaha…I have trouble concentrating and staying focused. I don’t seem to be able to find a place for myself, or find what makes me happy.

I am so lucky to have some amazing friends, some of them survivors, some just so compassionate,Image that I’m beyond words on how important they are in my life.  I’m lucky to have Richard who keeps me even.  I know it’s hard for him.  

As most of you know, I have kept working through all this.  Work has been very accommodating.  But it’s hard, I have projects that need completing, and staying focused is difficult.  Sometimes, I feel like I put out the fires or what needs to get done, and the pile underneath just keeps growing, and I don’t even know what there. Overwhelmed, and disoriented are probably good words to describe how I feel at work.  These are strange emotions for me as I have been there 23 years!  I have always been the “go to” person in my department, so this is hard for me.

Yes, my expectations of myself are probably too high and unrealistic.  I am only 9 days out of my last chemo!!  I keep having to remind myself of that.  I still have a lot of recovery to do from chemo.  And I still have a long year ahead of me, and a few more decisions to be made.

This is a busy week.  I go for my BRCA test this week.  This determines my next steps in terms of radiation, treatment or even more surgery.    This week is also Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.  For my family, this symbolizes a new beginning.  A beginning of health and happiness!  I decided to have family  over on Thursday for lunch to celebrate the New Year.  You see I usually do a formal family sit down dinner, but this year, I didn’t think I would have the energy, so we decided on a buffet lunch instead….part of keeping the normal my family knows.  

This weekend is the Weekend to End Woman’s Cancers.  This will be my 11th year walking, but this year will be different, as I will be wearing a pink lanyard symbolizing my survival!!

I know I’ve touched on many thing in my blog today, and just surfaced many of the emotions rolling around my head.  Sometimes, its hard because I really want to pour my heart out, but some of this in so personal and it’s hard to put into words.  Finishing chemo is just part of the process, it’s the finite part.  The emotions and dealing with the realities of it are far more difficult.  But like I’ve tried to do every step along this is to take it one day at a time.

Thanks for reading.