Friday, November 20, 2009

Results...


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two hours...

until I meet with Dr. Ainsworth at London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP) to discuss the results of my genetic testing. Ok, realistically it's probably closer to three hours including the time I'll be stuck in an office waiting for him to saunter in, but who is counting. Other than me.

For those of you who don't remember, I went to see Dr. Ainsworth back on April 28, 2009 to provide him with the incidence of cancer in my extended family AND about 1/2 of the total blood volume in my body, so they could run tests.

The anticipation around this has been building for so long, I'm actually really excited for the answer.

I'll try to update my blog as soon as I get back from London.
Wish me luck!!

<3

Monday, November 2, 2009

Benefit Fashion Show

Everyone that knows me, knows that I am completely obsessed with Halloween.
I usually plan my outfit at least a couple months in advance, and spend a few weeks sewing and gluing and crafting until it is just perfect.
This year was no different, however, the two nights leading up to the main event weren't spent preparing.
This year, I was fortunate enough to have been asked to be a model/spokesperson at a Breast Cancer benefit show near my hometown.
I'll spare you the video of me strutting about showing off my sweet model walk (Read: I'll spare myself the embarrassment). I would like to post the little talk I gave after though. I'll warn you in advance that it is a few minutes long. Get comfy.

The show was an interesting opportunity to meet other survivors (there were 5 other models in addition to me) and share stories. Although it did cramp up my Halloween plans a little, it was well worth it.

Here ya go-




Just for giggles, I'm adding some pictures from Halloween. We were lucky enough to spend the evening with our friend Caitlin, her sisters Bonnie and Lindsay... and a bunch of their friends at a bar in Pontiac. Woooooooooo.
I'll give 1$ and my respect to the first person who can correctly identify who Adam and I are dressed as.







OHHHHHHH... and I also made Halloween cupcakes-


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Run for the Cure 2009

*In case you are wondering, I wrote this the day of my run. Unfortunately, I was unable to post it because there were too many pictures to edit. I've spent the last 3 days running around like mad attending orientations for volunteering, driving to Guelph, then Toronto for doctors appointments, then packing and flying to DC.
Excuses, excuses. *
Anyway.... here it is.


So... as you may well remember, I promised that I would post some pictures of the run.
However, as I lay in bed last night, eagerly anticipating today's run, I thought I could do one better. So far on my blog, I have yet to post a video where I actually talk.
Seeing as everyone has been so dang supportive of me, and graciously donated so much money, I thought it about time to do just that. As you will see below, I have two such videos for your viewing pleasure, in addition to a bunch of pictures.

Please be kind, as you will see that pink is clearly not my colour. Nor is rainy, cold 10° weather at 8am sans make-up. Ugh.

Anyway, the run itself was a blast. There were so many people out there, it didn't feel like 5km. The fact that my mind was constantly occupied with sorting out how to duck and dodge around the mass hoards of runners probably help the time/distance pass faster. As you can see from the second video, there were a ton of us out there.
The London site alone had about 3900 participants, raising just shy of $694,000.
The grand total raised across all the sites was $26.5 million dollars. Amazing.

As for me personally, I managed to surpass my goal and ended up raising $1548.
Thanks again to all who supported me.
You made my day!!

Ok, now on to the pictures-

Registration

Pre-race greeting Warming up Very confused at the warm up

The start line.

What happens when you give Adam control of the camera. My cheer squad.

Finish line video
Grand total raised.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CIBC Run for the Cure

So, as I'm sure you all know, the day of the run is fast approaching (A little too fast for my liking.. eek). For those of you who are interested, this is the route that I will be running on October 4, 2009.

http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/canada/on/london/125125019412880979

Yes, it is 5 kilometers.
No, I'm not entirely sure how I am going to finish it.
Yes, I will be more than happy if you are there to cheer for me if I do cross the finish line (read: if you carry me the last kilometer).

For those of you that can not attend, I know that you will be cheering me on in spirit and sending me lots of wonderfully positive vibes (10:00am, please and thank you).
Thanks so much in advance.

I'd also like to take a second to thank everyone who sponsored me!
Your support has been overwhelming, and I have exceeded my goal.
Honestly, it means the world to me, and I can't thank you all enough.

I will bring my camera along with me, so be sure to check back for a ton of completely embarrassing red faced, post-run photos.
Oh joy ;)
I figure a little public humiliation is the least I can do for everyone who donated.

Wish me luck!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumn mornings.

Morning has always been my favourite time of day.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those "up at 5am and ready to greet the sun" types (not that there is anything wrong with them).
But... to me, there is something wonderful about waking up before everyone else, making a cup of tea (coffee) and staring out the window at the streets below.

This dirty window, paint peeling off the frame, is my only connection to the world outside. A couple a great maple trees in the front yard, swaying in the breeze. The colours are just beginning to change and there are dabs of sienna, wine, and mustard painting a pale green pallet. The rain last night has left puddles at the side of the road, which children wade through on their way to school.

How wonderful are autumn mornings?!

How wonderful is autumn period.

It makes me so grateful to be here. To be able to witness the ordinary everyday events that no one really stops to think about.

To be able to sit on a patio on the last of this years warm days, with the sun on my face, reading a book that is anything but extraordinary.

To be able to put in headphone and walk along the shore, watching the waves crashing on the beach.

To be able to fall asleep with the window open, listening to the crickets singing outside my window, with a crisp cool breeze gently passing over my face.

I am so blessed.
The culmination of wondrous feelings and thoughts lead me to something that I have been intending on including in my blog for quite some time. I am blessed to have come across two wonderful charities, the first being Cottage Dreams and the second being the Kelly Shires Foundation.

The people at Cottage Dreams (http://www.cottagedreams.org/) help those who have battled cancer in an innovative new way.
The organization doesn't give money to cancer research, like most other charities. Instead it donates cottages to those who have recently completed treatments, so they (and their families) can get away from the everyday reminders of what they have been through, and begin to heal.
This is how it works, people who own cottages can donate a week (or more) of time, and receive a tax receipt for the market value of a one week "rental". Individuals who have documentation of their completed treatments are then placed at one of the cottages. It's that simple.

Kelly Shires Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.kellyshiresfoundation.org/), on the other hand, offers financial assistance to those who are struggling with unforeseen expenses. Although I am blessed to live in Canada, where I have health care, it doesn't cover all medical expenses, or expenses associated with cancer.
For example, a small part of my prosthetic breast was paid for... about $190 of the $400+. As for transportation, I had to drive about 2.5 hours everyday for 5 weeks to London for my radiation. This is the closest facility to me... pretty expensive, as I'm sure you can imagine.
Prescriptions are not paid for, and when 10 days worth of neupogen costs approximately $3000, you can see how expenses pile up (I had to take it for 5 of my 6 chemotherapy rounds - 5 x $3000 = $15,000).

Here is a list of a few other expenses that the foundation provides assistance with-
*wigs ($300+ per)
*prosthetics ($400+)
*transportation to treatments (cost depends on how far away you live)
*lodging expenses (cost depends on treatment duration)
*hospital parking cost (cost depends on treatment duration)
*counseling
*food
*household bills while under treatment
*rent

I'm not ashamed to say that I applied for financial assistance, as I was unable to work during my treatments. Had it not been for the Kelly Shires foundation, I don't know what I would have done.

Anyway, these are two very important charities that are worth donating to, if you are looking to make some charitable donations (and help yourself out come income tax time).

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this ;)
Time for me to bake some dang pumpkin pie and drink some cider.
xo

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A(nother) short one.

Soooooo....
I officially finished my physiology course today!! yipppeeee.
Arduous doesn't even BEGIN to describe it, but i'm determined to not let it get me down. That is the end of that!

... after I tell you that 25% of the class dropped out over the last 2-3 weeks. eek.
Ok, seriously done now.

I finished my radiation on Monday!!!! I was accompanied by the Warner gang.
We had a pretty lovely time, apart from the 6:30am wake-up call.
After it was finished, we went to my favourite Korean place and ate too much.

Kelly seriously knows how to celebrate!!

I will write about my radiation treatment in a bit. I'm too tired to right now.
I just spent far too much time editing pictures for the radiation blog. ugh.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell everyone that I am FINISHED!!!
AND... that I signed up for "Run for the Cure" taking place in Toronto in October. Here is the link to the web page, just in case any of you feel the need to donate, and help me raise some $ for a good cause ;) I even get a sweet pink shirt, as I am a survivor!

https://www.cibcrunforthecure.com/html/p.asp?t=3351635&l=1

Thanks in advance!!
xoxo

Monday, July 20, 2009

Probably...

about as famous as I will ever be...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Just a quick one to let everyone know that I did decide to go ahead with radiation treatments and I am now officially over half way finished ;)
My uneventful initiation into the world of radiation treatments began on June 15th, 2009. I have completed 14 of 25 sessions, and am very excited to announce that I will be finished all cancer related treatments on July 20th. Yippee!!!

I will write more about the whole radiation process in a bit, but for right now, I just wanted to express my joy and gratitude (especially gratitude to my mother, who frequently joins me on the 3 hour round-trip excursions to the hospital for radiation).

I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel ;)

Oh... and little by little my hair is growing back!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I mean...

...how can I complain about anything after this?!



Yes... that IS Jon Knight.

Don't get me wrong, I will still complain.
But... oh dang.

(errm.... I love you Adam)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm ready to be new again...

but there may be a small problem.

I went to visit the radiation oncologist on Thursday afternoon, before heading up to my cottage for a much needed mini-vacation.
In keeping with tradition, our 2:45 appointment (which we had to be there 30min prior to) was pushed back to 3:20-ish.

The meeting was worth the wait, however, as both Dr Read & her nurse were very pleasant and professional. The nurse took my medical history (which I think I could recount in my sleep at this point), and assured me that Dr. Read was very honest with her recommendations. If she thought I didn't need radiation, she would come right out and tell me.

I changed into a gown and Dr. Read came in to perform the standard physical exam. Upon completion, I was left alone to change and ponder the outcome of the meeting. The pondering was short lived, however, as Dr. Read returned moments later and explained to me that my case was borderline. She referred to cases like mine as "controversial", due to the inability of the professionals to agree on the proper resolution. The pros and cons of the treatment were laid out before me (below) and the final decision was put to me.

One would think that if radiation reduced the likelihood of my cancer returning, it would be a no brainer. My mentality going into the meeting was something like "cancer bad, radiation kills cancer, no more cancer, no problem. Let's do this".
However, as I have indicated in the title and first line of this blog... it's not that cut and dry. You will see why shortly.

I would like to briefly relay to you the reasons for/against treatment,
and then the pros and cons of treatment before discussing how I feel about it.

Why I don't necessarily need radiation-
*Only one node involved
*Cancer in the one node was completely encapsulated (it hadn't progressed beyond that node)
*my margins were clear (meaning that the cancer hadn't progressed/into toward the chest wall)


Reason why I should have radiation-
*I'm young, therefore I have a longer time for the cancer to return
*My cancer is very aggressive, therefore more likely to return


Pros of treatment-
*Radiation would effectively shrink/kill any cancer cells that are
still present in the chest area (* see note below)
*Local recurrence without radiation is 15-20%, and with radiation it is only about 10%
*A little more piece of mind, knowing that I have done everything I can to get rid of this horrible disease.

Cons of treatment-
The side effects, which I will list below.
Please note that these are not guaranteed side effects. Depending on how my body reacts to treatment, I may experience none of them at all.

*Darkening of the skin on the breast (or lack thereof)
*Development of superficial blood vessels on the skin
*1% chance of a rib breaking easily
*1-2% chance of lung scarring and development of a cough 6-8 weeks after treatment
*The chance of lymphadema jumps from about 5% to 10% with radiation
*remote chance that it could injure the nerves that work the arm
*slight increase (2-4%)in the likelihood of developing an additional form of cancer
*radiation can only be done once to that region of the body, so if the cancer comes back, radiation is no longer an option
And the big kick in the face-
*radiation could lead to scarring of the tissue in affected area, making implants impossible. If I were larger, this wouldn't be a big deal, as I could
utilize other methods of reconstruction (TRAM flap etc). However, because I have little fat on my body, the only option open to me would be implants.

I'm at a loss as to what to do.
I imagine that most people are thinking "If it's going to save your life, who cares about reconstruction".
Well, being that I'm only 27 years old, I guess I care about reconstruction.
Let me lay out the best/worst case scenarios for you, so you have a better idea of what I could be facing.

Best case scenario- I have radiation and everything goes well. I get the report back from the geneticist and he tells me they have not found a hereditary component to my cancer. I don't have to take the precautions otherwise necessary. I have my other breast removed and have implants put in. I am essentially physically whole again.

Worst case scenario- I have the radiation and it doesn't go well. There is a build up of scar tissue making it impossible to proceed with implants. I
receive word back from the geneticist that they found a hereditary component. To reduce the likelihood of having cancer again, I have my other breast and
my ovaries removed (remember, this genetic component puts me at higher risk for develop ovarian cancer). This essentially leaves me an asexual human being. Pretty much all the parts that make me "female" are gone.

I honestly am at a loss as to what to do.
I don't want the cancer to return. I don't want to die. I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting and undergoing chemotherapy.
On the other hand, I don't want to live my life without breasts. I don't want to deal with the expense of breast prostheses and the accompanying mastectomy bras. I don't want to be stuck buying clothing/bathing suits that hides the fact that I don't have breasts. I certainly don't want to have to deal with the looks that people give if I don't wear the prostheses. I don't want to spend the rest of my life wanting to cry every time I look in the mirror.


When this started, I was convinced that the hardest decision I would have to make was whether or not to have the mastectomy. I took some solace in the fact that they could be reconstructed, that I could be made new again.

So what now? What decision should I make?
Have the radiation and live with the consequences if I can't have reconstruction... on the off chance that I'll be in the 5-10% that radiation actually helps.
OR
Not have the radiation, get my boobs back and pray that the ghost of cancer past doesn't decide to make a surprise return visit. On the off chance the cancer does returns, spend the rest of my life wondering if it could have been prevented.

Why do I have to make decisions like this?
Why can't I be like most people my age, who's biggest decision is what colour car to buy, or whether to look for a higher paying job.


(*Note* The radiation oncologist informed me that chemotherapy, although effective in killing cancer cells throughout the rest of my body, is not effective in the region where surgery occurred. This is due to the severing of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) leading into the area. The chemo, which travels by way of the blood, generally can not successfully make its way into the area where surgery has occurred.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I forgot one thing...

In my list of "Things I didn't expect from chemo", I neglected to mention my chemo-induced menopause and the annoying hot flashes that go with it. I've been assured by my doctor that most women my age return to a normal cycle after chemo has stopped. My fingers are crossed.

Ok... The long awaited information from my most recent appointments with my surgeon, my oncologist and the geneticist.

Dr. George visit (April 6th)-


*Highly suggested radiation

*6 to 12 months post-chemo wait before reconstruction can start (longer wait =greater satisfaction with reconstruction).

*appointment with plastic surgeon and him in July (which I have to rebook as we will be at the cottage).

*not allowed to gain weight for tram flap procedure, or ever (increases likelihood of recurrence).

*not allowed to drink...at least no more than 7 a week...and no saving up(also increases likelihood of recurrence).

*interested to see the results of genetic testing that will be done April 28th

Dr. Vandenberg visit (May 5th)-


*Also very interested to see results of genetic testing- will help to gauge if other breast and ovaries should be removed (if cancer is hereditary, then yes).

*Said ovaries don't usually give a problem until age 35 or so... so if it is hereditary, I will still have a few years to have a child before removal.

*Possibility of taking part in a clinical trial separate from the one I spoke if initially. A 10 year longitudinal study to investigate whether earlier administration of drugs given to people with bone mets (breast cancer spread to the bones) could help prevent bone mets in the first place.

*Set up a consult appointment with radiation oncologist for May 14 to discuss my radiation treatment.


Genetics testing with Dr. Ainsworth (April 28th)-


*Filled out a questionnaire regarding family history of cancer. It asked about people I didn't even know existed. This meant that my mother and I had to call my grandmothers to ask questions. I mean... there is nothing like calling someone in their 80's and drilling them for details about how their siblings/parents/husband died. Ugh.

*Spoke with the Geneticist regarding family history. In addition to breast cancer, he was concerned with the "inherited predisposition to...colon and/or endometrial cancers" on my mother's side of the family. He suggested colonoscopic and/or gynaecological surveillance for my mother and her siblings. Yippee.

*Indicated that given my young age, it is more likely that my cancer is hereditary.

*He then scolded me for my lack of (rather detailed) knowledge of DNA and mismatch repair genes (perhaps he didn't know I've been out of high school for almost 10 years).

*If they do not find a mutation, that doesn't mean that without a doubt, my cancer isn't hereditary. In fact, it could be the case that "the present technology isn't sophisticated enough to identify it." (it being the gene responsible).

*I then gave about a quart of my blood (from two different spots on my arm) and was freed to go home.

*The results should be back in 3-4 months.


Interesting facts-
BRCA1 carriers
Females- 65%(or more) will develop Breast cancer and 39%(or more) will develop ovarian cancer by age 70
Males- Increased risk of Prostate cancer

BRCA2 carriers
Females- 45% (or more) will develop Breast cancer and 11% (or more) will develop ovarian cancer by age 70
Males- Increased risk of Prostate cancer

"In addition there are reported to be above average risks for a number of other cancers which are especially associates with BRCA2 mutations including those including the stomach, pancreas, gall bladder and/or bile ducts as well as melanoma of the skin or eye."

The eye??? come on!! That's grossssss.

*In case you are wondering what I am quoting, it's a nice follow up letter that Dr. Ainsworth sent me, reiterating everything that we talked about in the meeting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The end of chemo blog entry

I am officially two weeks post-chemo and most of the nasty side effects have started to subside. As I was lying in bed last night, I got to thinking about how different chemo was from what I expected.

Way back when this all started, my surgeon, Dr. George, told me that most of the women he spoke with after finishing treatment, told him that chemotherapy was the worst part. At first I laughed, thinking to myself... "of course you are going to tell me it's not THAT bad, you are about to freaking slice off my breast". However, as of right now, I have to say he was correct. Don't get me wrong... having your breast removed is both physically AND emotionally traumatic, and the recovery is long and painful (remember they removed tissue way up into my underarm), but it was nothing compared to chemo.

In addition, I think the isolation that I've experience over the last 4+ months, has only served to worsen an already bad chemo experience. Not having a job (to occupy the mind) and having no friends living within 2 hours of you, makes life... well, dull and dreary. Especially for someone who likes to travel and keep busy.
The fact that Adam can't come to Canada to work and be with me, makes matters worse. Big thanks goes out to immigration and the Government of Canada for that!
I mean, the jerks make it nearly impossible to get a skilled workers visa, AND won't even give citizens of the U.S.A. a holiday working visa (but will to literally 20 other countries!). What the hell?!

Anyway, on to the point of this blog :)
In order to convey the differences between what I had expected, and what actually happened during chemo treatments, I've made two lists.
Here they are:

What I expected-
-nausea (this was pretty much a given, everyone knows about it)
-hair loss
-lowered immune functioning
-mouth sores
-loss of appetite
-weight fluctuation
-metallic taste in mouth (I only had it once, thank goodness)
-needles
-muscle and joint pain (from taxotere)
-chemo brain (yes, it is real... as much as I didn't want to admit it)

What I did not expect-

-50 self-injections of Neupogen to increase white blood cell proliferation (counteract decreased immune functioning)
-change in appearance (dark circles around eyes, horrible skin)
-bloody noses (only after taxotere treatments)
-runny roses and watering eyes (taxotere)
-heartburn (possibly from chemo or 1 of the many side effect reducing medications)
-painful skin (any sort of tactile stimuli felt like poking a bruise, lasted 1-2 weeks post-chemo)
-rash on hands and face
-tingling in feet
-finger nail sensitivity
-mystery bruising (usually on legs)
-sensitivity to light/sound
-swelling of taste buds resulting in extreme sensitivity
-thick coating on tongue and cheeks (lasting over 1 week post-chemo)
-food tasting awful(from above side effect)
-fatigue (to the point where the 1km car ride uptown resulted in a nap)
-6+ trips to the hospital resulting in 2 hospitalizations and/or more antibiotics
-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, depression, and jealousy.

Now, although not among my prouder moments, I do admit that I had moments of extreme jealousy. Being holed up in a house (so as to avoid infections... or due to a variety of side effects), while other people your age are living their lives, going out with friends and having a wonderful time, can hardly be said to cultivate friendly feelings. As I said, I'm not proud of it, but I definitely had moments where I had a strong dislike for pretty much everyone. So... my apologies. I'm thanking my lucky stars it's over.

On a positive note, here are three good things!
1) I'm heading up to my cottage tomorrow, after my consult with the radiation oncologist.
2)I've also decided that I will be making the trip to D.C. in June :)
3) I took my I.V. out on Monday. Yes, I literally pulled it out myself. After lugging that darn thing around for a week, it is a welcome change.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!!

This Mother's Day, I really wanted to think outside the box and do something really awesome for my Momma. Problem was, those things called epiphanies are tricky little devils, and they never seem to occur when you need them.
I was really starting to worry, until the perfect idea hit me (at 7:30 this morning).
Lying in bed, writhing in pain, I thought to myself "Self, the best present you could ever give your mom would be a 6 hour totally isolated hangout sesh with you. me. whomever."

How could I accomplish such a feat, you ask? It's easier than one would think!!
All I had to do was get myself a little fever of 38.8, and wake up my mom.
We spend almost the WHOLE day hanging out in a little room in the Emergency room completely alone.
No pesky family, no flowers, no distractions (with the exception of those coming to steal my blood and stab me with needles).
It was totally awesome. Just my mom, staring lovingly at me as a drifted in and out of a rather uncomfortable fever/drug induced sleep.

The best part is that we get to go back again tonight at 10pm and AGAIN tomorrow morning at 6am for more IV antibiotics and fluids.
(note: after that point, a home nurse will come and hook me up every 8 hours for the next 7 days)

Probably should be nominated for best daughter in the world award. Probably.

(Sorry for ruining mother's day mom)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm feeling a little bit frustrated at the moment. As you already know, I finally finished my chemotherapy treatments on Tuesday. It's been a long, incredibly trying battle. To be honest, there may have been a night or two (curled up on the chair bawling my eyes out because I had to go back to the ER), that I may have had doubts that I was gonna make it. I've been in and out of the dang emergency room with so many fevers and assorted ailments, that they know me by name. I've been poked with so many needles, I literally looked like a black/blue/yellow pincushion.

Relieved doesn't even begin to explain how I felt when I finished my last treatment. Hoping, although making sure not to say it out loud, that the worst of the crappiness was in the past.
One would figure that, after having your breast taken and being pumped so full of toxic chemicals that you literally can't function, it could only get better from here right?

Haha... I actually believed that. Man, how silly could I be?

Since January, I've been looking forward to finishing my treatments, so I could go back to D.C. to visit Adam, and his friends/family. It's been my bright light at the end of the tunnel, if you will.

Well, I'm finally going! At least I thought I was finally going.
I have my flight booked for June 2-13th, the one little problem being that no one will cover me for travel insurance.

Correction... they will cover me, but for nothing related to my cancer (the joy of pre-existing conditions).
So... if I happen to get a fever in D.C. and they deem it to be because of my cancer (regardless of whether it is or not), I have to foot the bill.
I think it is fair to say that insurance companies will do ANYTHING to avoid paying any sort of claim. I know that if I do go, and do happen to get sick, they will attempt to screw me in any way, shape or form possible.
Every insurance company that I've talked to has told me that my condition would have to be stable for at least 3 months (up to 6 months) before they will even begin to consider covering me.

Maybe I was a bit naive, but I had assumed that if I paid enough, SOMEONE would cover (which I was prepared to do). Apparently, I'm finding this isn't the case. So, here I am, left with the choice to either suck it up and pray to God that I don't get sick while in D.C. or cancel the only trip that has given me any glimmer of hope and happiness in the last 5 months.

I just don't understand. For all intents and purposes, Adam and I are good people. I just don't understand why there is always something standing in the way of us being together (i.e. Korean immigration issues, my cancer, Canadian immigration issues, distance, insurance issues, money issues) . I just feel so dang disheartened and beaten.
It's hard to try to keep a smile on your face and keep fighting when it feels like you can barely keep your head above water.


My second last hospitalization




He got nap time... I didn't

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I am now officially finished my 6th round of chemo. Both Adam and my mother accompanied me to the final round today. It was a rather frustrating and drawn out process... but it's now done, and I couldn't be happier.
As a post-chemo celebration, we went to a vegan Chinese food place for lunch and to see Wolverine tonight. I'm dead tired. Just two more things before I bid you goodnight...

1) I have a appointment with my radiation oncologist on May 21st to discuss my radiation treatments, that as far as I can tell, will be starting about 6 weeks from today.
In the meantime, I will be heading to D.C. 4 weeks from today to visit Adam, his family and friends ;)

2) I am starting a physiology course from the U of T next week and am really looking forward to it. It's a prerequisite for Nursing, which I am hoping to apply to in September 2010.

I've been up since 5:45 am. It's bed time. Goodnight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring fever, taken a bit too literally.

It's been quite some time since I've been bitten by the bloggin bug, so I apologize for my extended absence. In my defense, there have been at least 3 blogging attempts made by yours truly in as many weeks. Unfortunately, seeing as the entries couldn't even maintain my interest long enough to be finished, I abandoned them, and instead probably occupied my time by checking my facebook, or staring at a wall.

As far as this entry goes, I have accumulated a plethora of information from various recent appointments that I should impart... but probably won't. Only time (and reading) will tell.

The last few days have been a little rough, so to cheer me up, my mom took me for a ride to Sarnia to indulge my hankerin for a fries supreme from Taco Bell (stop judging me). For those of you south of Canadia (or those not familiar with the joys of Taco Bell), fries supreme is basically 560 calories of fake cheese and sour cream smothered french fries, with a few pieces of tomato thrown on top to make you feel like you haven't completely destroyed your arteries (and/or Soul). I was introduced to this dish in late high school by my old best friend and my life has never been the same since. My mom was kind enough to go in and get it for me, as I hardly had the energy to walk to the car at that point. Within the first few bites, I realized that I had made a horrible mistake. Heartburn set in almost instantaneously, but the real kick in the face wasn't that it hurt, but that it tasted horrible. Quite possibly one of the worst things I have ever put in my mouth.
How, chemo?? How can you continue to ruin my life like this? First falafel, now this?
What have I to live for??

The only redeeming moment of the trip came in the form of a revelation made not 10 minutes from my house. I've always been bothered by a unnamed resemblance between Dr. Vandenberg and an unknown individual, but I could never put my finger on who that unknown was... until now. In a moment of clarity, it came to me - Dr. Phil.
Not to say that Dr. V's personality in any way resembles Dr. P's (Thank the Lord).
Why am I telling you this, you ask? I have no idea, really. Chalk it up to the sleep deprived/Tylenol 3/caffeine haze.

I guess I should throw in a couple of more important facts and junk so you don't feel like this has been a complete waste of your time. They will be in semi-point form. Maybe. Who knows, really.

In the last month-

- I started Taxotere, the second half of my chemo schedule (cycles 4-6).

-Taxotere has completely different side effects. No real nausea, but loss of appetite, bloody noses and bruising, fatigue, rash on hands/face, sensitivity to light/sound, and extreme joint and muscle pain (controllable only with two Tylenol 3's every 4 hours).

-I ended up back at the emergency room twice (fever of 101.4 degrees).
Both visits occurred 4 days after cycles 4 and 5. Both times the ER doctor gave me two options:
1)Admit me overnight for observation and IV antibiotics, or
2)Take antibiotics at home and come in the next day for chest x-ray.
Obviously option #2 won both times.

-Adam and I had a nice (extended) week together. It was quite comforting to have him there for my 4th chemo (and at the ER). He will also be joining me for my last round of chemo (May 5th) and hopefully my celebratory dinner, shortly thereafter.

-Hayley made the long trek down to Petrolia for a lovely (although too short) visit. I made sure to feed her the worst possible food while she was on vacay. So nice to be able to catch up.

I also had appointments with both Dr. George and Dr. Vandenberg, but I don't have the energy to write about them right now.


(This was actually written over a week ago. Yup...I'm awesome.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

How are these people allowed to be on TV?

Wow... I know it's funny to make fun of Canadians, this is mind boggling.
I'm all for jokes and such, but maybe thinking about the families of our lost soldiers before opening your face.
I mean, these guys single handedly make the entire country look like a bunch of ignorant jerks.
They've honestly got nothing better to go on about?



In other news, Adam and I are having a awesome time traveling about.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This is really cute.



Notte Sento (English subtitles) from napdan on Vimeo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blessing and a Latte

Just a few little things I thought I would share-

1) The other day on one of my big outings to Sarnia (yippee), my mother and I stopped in to Starbucks to grab a latte. I wouldn't say it was a packed crowd, but when we went in there weren't any seat. Ever so easily frustrated, I complained to my mom as we picked up our drinks and looked for a place to sit. A patron vacated a huge handicapped table... and figuring I was the next best thing to handicapped, we took a seat. We stayed long enough to polish off a cookie and half of our drinks before making for the door. Then something strange happened, a man around my age approached us to give me a little pep talk and then asked if he could bless me. No trying to convert me. No long spiel about why I have cancer. Nothing. Just a simple blessing. It actually caught me off-guard, and was kind of refreshing. I think right now I could use a few extra prayers and blessings.

2) When I was looking online for support programs for people with cancer (people with good support systems tend to have better outcomes than those without), I stumbled upon this organization - http://www.cottagedreams.org/index.htm
Cottage owners actually donate their cottages when they aren't using them so individuals recovering from cancer (and their families) can escape for a week. The cottage owners can even get a tax receipt for the value of a weeks rental for donating, so it's a win-win situation. Amazing. I noticed a few other organizations offering similar programs, such as weekend fly fishing retreats for individuals with cancer. While fly fishing isn't exactly my cup of tea, it's a nice idea nonetheless.

3)I think my brother and Christine are coming home for a bit this weekend. I'm excited.

4) I think Adam might be coming to visit at the end of next week to be with me for my next round of chemo. Nothing says "I love you" like holding hands with someone that's getting pumped full of toxic fluids. I couldn't be happier that he will be here.

5) While I am hooked up to the I.V. for my next round of chemo, I have to wear special gloves and booties with ice in the ends. Apparently this helps my nail stay put, otherwise they may or may not fall out. I'll take pictures.
Wait... did I tell you guys that already?

6) I spent the majority of my day compiling receipts, medical records, proof of citizenship and Income tax statements so I can apply to a foundation set up to help aid individuals undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I figure that since a) I have breast cancer, b) I have no job and can not work because I am too ill, and c) I'm poor, I should be a shoe-in for funding. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

7) I have terrible grammar.

Thats all.
Thanks. <3

Oh wait... one more thing. Melanie is taking me to go see NKOTB on March 29. Get Jealous!!! Oh... and Hayley is coming to Canada soon. Super psyched about all of the above.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Forever in our hearts...

We miss you.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Maple syrup and Swedish Berries.
Oh, and French Fries. I don't get it. 
In the past, I've been informed by more than one source that cravings are our bodies way of saying "hey, dude, you seem to be lacking something in your diet... therefore, I will plague you with relentless, constant cravings until you smarten up."
However, I'm drawing a complete blank as to how Maple syrup, swedish berries and french fries could serve any purpose other than to make me ill.
What these foods could possibly be doing to make me better?  Why can't I crave things like broccoli or  brussel sprouts? You know... things that may actually help me in some way?

Oh... and to make life even more enjoyable, the full body skin sensitivity has returned. This kind of feels like the equivalent to having your entire body bruised... and makes being touched kind of an uncomfortable experience. 
I mentioned this to both my homecare nurse and my chemo doctor and recieved similar responses from both. Basically, anything that is out of the ordinary is due to the chemo and/or neupogen. I just kinda have to suck it up and live with it until I'm finished my treatments. 

I forgot that I promised no words in this post. 
Oops. 

Here are some pictures... and links to more pictures for those of you that can't get enough of my pretty (bald) head.


From my first shave- 





From Adams visit in Feb.- 





http://picasaweb.google.ca/meghanlbaker/Visitz#

From hospital visit while Adam was here- 





http://picasaweb.google.ca/meghanlbaker/HospitalX2#

From my second head shave - 




http://picasaweb.google.ca/meghanlbaker/Haircutz#



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