Friday, August 31, 2007

Pubes. . .

Yes, they fall out! And don't even get all embarrassed from reading that cuz some of you have asked me that question, so I know that even more of you are probably asking it in your heads.

My moustache--hasn't come out. So I guess not all hair is victim to chemo. Damn!

My armpit and leg hairs--I haven't noticed that they are falling out, but they've remained stubbly since I last shaved over a week ago. And I darenot shave now, because if I get cut, the chances of infection are pretty high.

Eyebrows and lashes--should fall out but haven't thus far.

I still have thin patches of hair on my head, mostly where my brain stem is right above my neck. But mostly, my head is just one big old white itchy noggin. I've been putting tea tree oil and gel on it to relieve the itchiness.

And the hairs on my arms, fingers and toes look unfazed. So much for me being like one of those creepy hairless cats, which I swear are the work of the devil.

Poor little Chloe is trying to understand the whole "Mama is sick" thing, and keeps telling me that her hair is falling out too. I'm not sure how to talk to a four-year-old about this stuff. It's a tough age. The programs at the cancer agency for kids with parents with cancer start at age 6, nothing for littler ones. But I'm just trying to keep her involved in whatever I can, to expose it rather than hide it and make her feel a part of the treatment and recovery, but I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do.

As for Mylo, he just keeps saying this and that hurts. And he repeats it, over and over and over again. It's even tougher to talk to him, and I have absolutely no clue about how to get him involved, as his primary interest is destroying things and beating the crap out of them. At least with Chloe, she's into the whole girly make-up, dress-up type thing.

This week, I've been feeling okay, even though my WBC is at its lowest, from what I was told. It's kinda a deceptive, dangerous state to be in. Cuz I feel alright, but I know that if I get the smallest injury, I have to be really careful. A couple days ago, my finger accidentally pushed lightly on the vein where they took blood from last week. I have this routine blood work done every 3-6 months, and it always heals right up. But when my finger touched the spot--a week after the test--it hurt! I could feel the bruising from something done a week ago. Then yesterday, as I was lighting some candles, my finger touched the hot metal on the lighter for less than a second, and what normally would have been a practically non-existent burn hurt like hell and swelled up a little. So I had to put Neosporin and a bandaid on it, even though I could barely see where it was burned.

It's difficult for my mind to understand that my body kinda sucks right now cuz I'm used to being so active and running around all over the place, not giving a rat's ass if I trip or fall or be clumsy and all that. Anyway, I should rest up because my next treatment is on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy Birthday, Chloe!

On this day four years ago, I was in labour at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Eventually, I would get the blessed epidural, and hours later, during primetime television viewing hours, I would give a big heave-ho that would introduce Chloe into the world.

Last Sunday, we had Chloe's birthday party. The day started out looking like a piece of shit, but by afternoon, it was actually quite sunny. So we were able to grill up some meat and fish and let the kids run amok outside. Lots of Chloe's little friends showed up: Lily, Maia, Quintin and his little bro, Marcus, Saya, Jordy, William, and Joshua. And of course there was Mylo, who wasn't as psyched about the birthday girl's moment in the spotlight. But he will get his soon. . .

{what we always get: a fruit cake (sometimes a mango cake) from Anna's Cake House on Fraser}

{candles blown out, let's eat!}

{PRESENTS!!! of course, a girl needs help from her friends}

{Mylo's in the background, pushed out of the bubble of girl power, looking like, "OMG, what-EVER!!!!"

Happy Bday, Chloe Bean!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Hm, I used to use that word--coinkeedink--a lot as a kid, but I never saw it in print before. Anyway, I like it when weird things happen. Like today, when I was walking down Davie Street before my appointment for a CT scan on my leg...For some odd reason, I had this thought: "I wonder if I'll run into Mike C.?" Then I was kinda drawn into the Book Warehouse moments later, where, as a matter of fact, I ran into Mike C. He asked me how I was doing, and I said something like, "I'm doing. . .whatever"--which aptly describes the whole cancer thing. So we had a nice chat, after which I was drawn to the back of the Book Warehouse, where I found two extremely discounted books: The Summer of Her Baldness: a cancer improvisation, by Catherine Lord, and A Safe Place: A Journal for Women with Breast Cancer, by Jennifer Pike. I bought them both right away! You would think that because I like making handmade books and that I am a big journaler that I wouldn't dig guided journal type of books, but I actually find them to be useful sometimes. Anyway, I'm really excited about these finds! And it was nice to walk around town, just looking at storefronts and everyone enjoying the last sunny days of summer (which we didn't have much of in Vancouver this year).

Then I came home. To my parents and kids (Dude is in LA, and I wish I had gone with him, taken the risk). My parents, of course, are concerned about me and came all the way from Pennsylvania last week to help out for a couple months. But what I don't really dig is being treated like a complete invalid. At the moment, I'm feeling completely fine, but my mom kinda won't let me do simple things like heat my own food in the microwave or wash a spoon. It's driving me a little nuts, but I'm trying to keep things in perspective. She wants me to rest, but I don't want to be bedridden! So I'm trying to let her know that the best help is taking the kids outside to play or to the park. It's hard to balance out having loved ones help while also trying to maintain a certain level of independence. And despite my attempts to communicate my wishes, Mom still pushes me back to my bed.

I. Have. A. Headache.

So, what to do? I haven't played the shakuhachi in a while. Maybe now's the time.

Mifflintown, Pennsylvania 17059

My hometown is small--really small--especially people-wise. Which means that if there's any gossip, it travels faster than the speed of light, across county lines, state lines, even across the country and across the U.S.-Canadian border to here. It also means that gossip is sometimes, usually, mostly, maybe, probably, kinda connected to someone I'm directly related to or someone that I might have been related to somewhere down the line a hundred or so years ago. I think more people live along my one block in Vancouver than in all of Mifflintown. I think there are more churches than schools, and that the church to people ratio is about 1:9. This post is for Mifflintown.

I gather that my name has been passed among churches because I've been getting a lot of cards from people's whose names I don't recognize, but I do recognize their surnames. I also got some cards from people from my high school class. All this is really awesome. It's funny when people write, "I know you aren't religious, but I'm praying for you anyway. . ." I totally appreciate that and am grateful because while it is true that I don't ascribe to any religion, I am a spiritual person and believe in the spirit of life and some sort of afterlife that exists for spirits, so I do feel the positive vibes that people are wonderful enough to give out generously, even if they don't know me at all!

As for my hair, mine is almost all gone. I still have little splotches here and there that annoy the fuck out of me, but I'll just let them be for now. The tugging and rubbing on my head is getting old, and I have better things to do. Today, I'm getting a CT scan on my leg where I have a stress fracture. I'm surprised that I'm getting this scan because I think they pretty much ruled that it's a stress fracture in my leg, but I guess they want to make triple-sure, which is a weird thing for Canadians, who don't believe in unnecessary, or excessive, testing (it costs money). But hey, if they wanna scan my leg, great!

I've been wanting to eat like crazy. I guess with this chemo, at first I want to puke my brains out, and now, the steroids are kicking in or something, cuz I'm never full. But I'm trying to keep the eating normal and not gain a crapload of weight. So far, so good.

On Monday, Dude and I went to a free fireside chat session at Inspire Health, which is an integrated healthcare organization for cancer patients, which just means that their doctors and staff help you find ways to cope with the side effects of cancer treatments and optimize health and wellbeing during these times. After the fee for their two-day seminar and membership fee, access to their doctors and programs are free, but they also have a naturopath and acupuncturist if you want to take advantage of that, for a fee. I feel super fortunate that we live in a place where such a thing exists!

So yeah, thanks for reading the blog, you in Mifflintown, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Germany, California, Seattle, New York, Madison, China, Florida, and wherever the hell you are!

Rock on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wiggin' Out

Today, Chloe and I went shopping for wigs with some UBC Creative Writing peeps of mine--Jamella, Claire, Meghan, Pat, and Kellee. I was going to go sans kids, but I noticed that Chloe's been wanting to hang around Mama a lot more lately, so I didn't want her to feel left out. She had a blast (even though in the pictures, she looks like she thinks I'm a total freak)! Of course, she wanted me to go for the red, blue, green, and purple wigs. But she liked my choices in the end.

{green monster}


{one of the wigs I brought home--kinda scarlett o'hara-esque. picture taken by chloe.}

{the other final purchase...more of the everyday stylin' wig. pic also snapped by chloe bean.}

{me and mylo, pic by chloe. i also bought a hat with a skull on it...a skull cap, in other words.}

To be honest, I was kind of anti-wig when I found out I would be having chemo. But I really like the wigs. I think they kinda rock. My mom even wants to go buy some now! So I might make a second trip to the wig store. For some odd reason, I feel like putting "Red" on (as I like to call the curly red wig, though the tag says its name is "Jocelyn"...the other one doesn't have a name, but it is made out of real human hair, which makes it softer), and kick my heels up, and sing through the streets, "It's Raining Men." [I'm hoping Jamie won't read this, because he will definitely be here in two seconds to take me up on that.]

Okay, now back to tugging out my remaining hair. Up next--henna head!

Monday, August 27, 2007


At the moment, I'm kinda anti-computer. But I like showing pictures. Maybe that makes me a narcissistic bitch. Maybe not. But here's why I'm anti-computer: because you can't take the computer in the bathtub without the risk of electrocuting yourself. So until they make water-resistant laptops. . .

Here's where I spend a lot of my time nowadays:

{my home spa}

{. . .with new washcloths. . .}

{. . .and a glass of chardonnay, a pitcher of lemon water. . .}

[By the way, funny thing I discovered: lemons float, limes sink.]

{yesterday, my hair started falling out. Or rather, it started coming out easily when tugged on. I sat in the tub for an hour, massaging my head, rubbing vigorously, tugging with my forefingers and thumbs, pulling out little black clumps. Kinda like weeding, only taking much longer. Guess I have a lot of hair. Now my head just looks like a poorly clipped shrub.}

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"First-World" Fight--An American in Canada

I have to admit: I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to tie the story I want to tell at this very moment into my cancer. Maybe I should tell the story first, and then the connection will also come out of my ass. So last night, Dude was on the internet trying to find a way to gussy up one of his computers. He kinda became transfixed by it. This was because he had taken apart an old Mac G4 Powerbook by taking the screen off (it was already falling off as the hinges broke and the wires were just hanging there, exposed) and hooking it up to an actual monitor. So he was feeling proud and encouraged when he managed to get the jalopy started. Then he wanted to mess with the shiny computer we have--the one that is totally awesome accept for the fact that it is 1/32" too tall to fit neatly into our desk space. So he wanted to take it off the base somehow, and mount it on the wall. He didn't find any official word from Apple on this, but he found some other geek website that explained how to do it. I thought, There must be a reason why you're not supposed to....So I said to him, "Dear, any idiot can do anything if they try hard enough, but it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do." I was struck by the awesome aphorism that came flying out of my mouth, and wanted to set it in stone, in permanence, somewhere. Here's good enough for now.

Okay, so how does this connect to cancer? Hm, I still don't know, but I'm sure someone will think of a way. I just wanted to puff out my chest with my quotable, and if that makes me a word whore, so be it.

But let's talk about the cancer for the heck of it. I was telling my friend the other day that even though I bitch and moan about all that's going on, I feel pretty lucky because we live in a place where not only can I get some of the best cancer treatment in the world--and alternative treatments too--but I also don't have to mess with insurance companies and fight with them. I find Michael Moore kinda irritating, and I think he idealizes Canada a bit too much, but it is true that here, if you are not well and you need help, you can get it without trying to justify why you should have the right to be well! So all the stuff that I get to do--a lot of it is free! At the cancer agency, there are counseling services which include one-on-one counseling, seminars for families and caregivers, therapeutic touch sessions, relaxation seminars, cosmetic seminars for women, a Chinese-language sessions that my in-laws can go to, and other stuff--all free! Not only that, but there's a complementary therapy organization that offers accupuncture, naturopath services, and other things, that is specifically for cancer patients--not free, but I heard from many well worth the cost. So I am fortunate to be where I am with this illness.

Still, trying to find a way to justify putting that aphorism here though. Okay! I got it! I'm going to say that the chemo caused my brain to think up that brilliance, and that hopefully, the chemo will replace the tumour with awesome sayings and other fun word stuff! Yes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chemo Rollercoaster--WARNING--GROSS-OUT POST

I have to change the way I think about this. When a human being grows up, s/he is raised to think that when sickness occurs, s/he will eventually get better, and life will be back to normal. With chemo, I'm finding this truth to be absolutely false. I find myself being constantly deceived. What I mean is that once a side effect has passed--or so I believe--I think I'm in the clear. So at the end of last week (about Sunday-ish), I thought, "Okay, so the nausea is gone, fatigue is not there, heartburn still there but whatever, I'm okay." Yesterday was fine, except that I began to get a little tired in the afternoon and had a headache--and oh yeah, got my period, which I don't think is actually my period, but me just bleeding nearly black blood from the vagina as a side effect of the chemo (sorry to gross the guys out, but whatever...), especially since I'm not supposed to get my period until next week. And I also have a bad case of acne and sores, inside and out (I got sores in my mouth), which is another side effect from one of the chemo drugs. So I'm not feeling entirely okay, but yesterday, I thought I was over most of the side effects.

Then today happened. I woke up, did stuff on the computer, drank a bunch of water like I'm supposed to. Every day, I have to wait one hour before I can eat (this is from a condition that was diagnosed six years ago), because I take a thyroid medication. So I'm drinking water and all that, and then I get a massive wave of nausea. I don't mean that I feel a little urpy--I mean that I want to puke my brains out. Real bad. So I take my anti-puke pill, and try to fight it off for about ten minutes. But I really need to vomit, big time. So I go in the bathroom and start heaving. Problem is, the only thing in my stomach is water. So I'm gushing water and mucous, and I'm involuntarily crying because it's hard work to do this, but it also makes me feel so empty and frustrated because there's nothing to puke but I keep having to feel like I gotta puke up something--anything--maybe my stomach itself, I don't know.

Ah, me. So I'm done puking--for now. I need to stop saying that I'm done feeling or experiencing anything as far as how my body reacts to the chemo that continues to make its rounds. I'm just hoping that the chemo is doing what the doctors mean for it to do, which is to attack the cancer more than it's attacking me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


What's been nice is that lately, some days are like my birthday! Today, for example...a random Sunday. But who's that at the door but the nice Canada Post delivery guy with a box of stuff! From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! I took the box and bounded up the stairs and shouted to the kids, "Mama's got presents!" Of course, when kids hear that, what they hear is, "Mama got presents for US!" But it was cool--I explained that Mama's friend Auntie Lisa sent ME a bunch of stuff--and they were just as happy helping me open it all!

Lisa is awesome. Not only did she send me stuff (a tradition that we have kept up between the two of us since high school), but she got her co-workers at her newspaper to contribute stuff as well! It was so cool to see how people gave me--a complete stranger to some of these people--something meaningful to cheer me up! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE STUFF, YOU GUYS!!!

{Chloe's trying to decide which item to pilfer. . .the pencils or the lip gloss???}

{Like Mama, like daughter--she tries to get away with the mega-pack of lip gloss (I ended up giving her 2 of them).}

{just me checking out the stuff!}

{stuffies that people have given me: a breast cancer awareness bear from Vicki; a ladybug from Jamie; and a handmade doll that Kristina whipped up at a craft party, my favourite part being the tag that says, "Kristina Wong made this instead of smoking crack"}

And I leave you with this: a creepy, don't-fuck-with-me badass picture of the new Me, which DH says he actually takes a liking to quite a bit. He says that the 'do suits me well, that I have a "shapely" head. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Sorry for the maniacal laughter, it's just that no one's ever called me shapely before....


{The hubby wanted me to post a picture of my fauxhawk before I shaved my head entirely, which I plan to do today. I'm sure he'll want to get more shots later. He mentioned something about me donning camo and shitkickers.}

The fog still has not lifted. If you want to know what I'm feeling like, imagine yourself going about your business somewhat stoned, all the time. For some of you, you might think this is a good thing--a bonus! But truth be told, I'm getting pretty sick of the feeling, of moving really slowly, floating, taking forever to think or do things, being disoriented. I'll have a serious thought in my head, and then all of a sudden, I'll say out loud, "What was I thinking?" And then it'll be gone. And then there's the heartburn that never dies. I called to get another prescription to take care of it, but I guess the on-call doctor was too busy to give my pharmacy a ring. So the fire continues unabated. I FEEL OLD!!!! Help!

Yesterday, DH and I drove down to Seattle so I could hold a poetry workshop at the Wing Luke Museum. I was expecting kids and their families, but two twentysomethings showed up from Tacoma, really nice people. The dude was actually half-Vietnamese, so we chatted a bit about language and "going home"--something neither of us has ever done. I hope that he and his partner contact me so we can keep up the exchange, because they both were nice folks. We didn't actually write any poetry, but made booklets, an act that was nice and meditative. Even Dude made one! And of course, it was good to see Jamie. But it was nice art therapy all around.

{DH's booklet is the one with the red gate on it. He coined a new term, which I love but won't repeat here because I don't want no one stealing my man's new coinage! You'll just have to be intrigued. But his booklet kinda represents his neologism. My booklet is the one that looks like it has a green hat on the cover. I taught the people at the Seattle workshop, including my darling husband, how to stitch together a booklet rather than stapling! So that's what these suckers are.}

{another shot of the booklets. We all used some paper that I bought in Chinatown. This type of very thin paper is typically used at offerings and New Year's, when you burn things so your ancestors can have them in the spirit world. On the back of my booklet, I used one of those foam rings that come with stacks of DVD-R's and coloured it green so that it looks like a jade pendant.}

{inside my booklet}

Friday, August 17, 2007

Soooo Weird

I'm feeling really weird today. I don't know if this is what's called "chemo brain" but I feel like I'm moving in slow-space/time. When I got off the bus today and started the walk home, it felt like I was walking through decades. I felt so weird that I wondered if I was already dead and walking around in some deadspace. This is really effed up, and the only drugs I've taken today have been for nausea and heartburn!

I don't like this feeling. I wish I could turn my head without the room moving faster than I. What kind of crap did they put in my veins???

Anyway, I have a number of things to get through today--with or without this weirdness. So I better get moooooving.

Cool Hair!

I was walking back from my therapeautic touch appointment (which I missed--long stupid story), and this woman was coming at me from an intersection and shouted, "Cool hair!" with her thumbs pointed up. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about, so I looked around. She pointed at me and smiled. I thought she was insane. But then I realized that she was talking about my hair, and then I felt bad. I hate it when those things happen. I just wasn't feeling like, "Oh, yeah, she must be talking about how cool I am!"

I feel so anti-cool. I've got perpetual heartburn, which totally sucks. I get heartburn if I drink water, if I swallow, if I sneeze. I wear fuzzy slippers with hard soles around the house so that I go clomp, clomp, clomp. Last night, some friends came over for a So You Think You Can Dance marathon extravaganza, and it sure pooped me out. And now, I'm using the word "poop" in a nonliteral sense! I've lost my damn mind.

Went to a naturopath yesterday. He's the brother of a friend, and they don't mess around. But to be honest, as much as everything costs, you have to wonder--is this really going to work? I'm sure that level of skepticism is present for many. But in explaining how chemo cashes in on the short-term effects for the long-term costs (or something like that, I was never good at economics), it seems like the naturopath thing is the thing to do. I mean, I like my head. I'd like to keep my head working like it has been working. So we'll give her a go and see what happens.

I'm seeing an art therapist today too! You know, with all these therapies and stuff--maybe cancer isn't so bad! I wouldn't be seeing all these different people otherwise.

But no, I'd rather not have cancer. Cuz this heartburn still sucks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Family Art Project

How am I feeling today? At the moment, I'm okay. I went to see my thesis advisor this morning at UBC. He's super supportive and encouraging and kind, which is a huge relief in terms of my decision to take a year off from school. The creative writing department faculty and my cohort have been incredibly generous and wonderful, and it really makes me feel secure about this decision.

After we left school, the hubster and I went to buy supplies that might be needed at some point: air filter masks, medical gloves, neck warmer, slippers, Tylenol, and People magazine (a supply I need now). When we came home, I felt so exhausted and pretty much slept or lounged around in bed for the rest of the day until dinner. Fortunately, my nausea has subsided somewhat, and I was able to enjoy dinner with my family and my sister- and brother-in-law, who were so kind enough to order dinner for us.

Now, I'm back to feeling a bit tired. But I did promise pictures of our fun family time last night, so here they are!

{at the chemo ward at the cancer agency: pigtails!}

{the first cut}

{my technicolor mullet}

{dude takes over: photo by chloe!}

{chloe's turn!}

{mylo wanting to get in on the action}

{eek! watch the neck!}

{mylo's turn!}

{shiny happy head.}

Monday, August 13, 2007

Who Needs Hair?

I did it...we did it. My whole family, even the wee little lad, had a hand in chopping off my locks tonight. I will post a more detailed play-by-play when my camera battery is recharged, but here is the result (taken with Chloe's camera...yes, our 4-year-old has her own digital camera--so what?).

You can't really tell from this shot how awesome the haircut is, but like I said, that will come tomorrow sometime. The shortness really brings out the array of colors, so it actually looks better than when it was longer.

As far as the chemo goes, I felt fine until about 5pm, when I guess it started kicking in and a big ball of nausea sat in my stomach and I got the worst headache. I took the pills they gave me, but it hasn't helped a whole lot. Plus, my forearms are strangely numb. This wasn't listed as a side effect, so I'm going to call the number they gave me. Maybe. Or just take more drugs.

Okay, time to try to pass out.

Toxic Avenger

{the view from the chemo ward at the cancer agency}

I got home from my first chemo appointment, and I feel okay. For the first hour, I was the only patient in the room, and then an older lady came in to get her treatment. She had a "port" in her chest, which the nurse told me gives easier access to administer the drugs rather than the iv. It looked a little weird to me though. So I'll stick with the veins for now.

I'm a walking block of poison. If I puke, whoever's cleaning it up has to wear gloves and not come into contact with it. I have to flush twice when I pee to make sure the poison doesn't linger. And the hubby wants to chop my hair off now rather than wait for it to fall out so that he doesn't accidentally nick my head when my white blood cell count is low. That whole WBC thing is serious. The nurse told me I have to wear slippers around the house so I don't get cuts or scratches on my feet. Any little itty bitty cut or whatever could give me an infection. And sadly, she also told me that I can't go to LA in two weeks. But I'm going to double-check with the oncologist, even though DH wants to agree with the nurse and say I can't go. Bah!

So I'm going to cut off my hair tonight, but we're going to do it in front of the kids. I'm afraid that if they don't see me cut my hair off, it would freak them out to just suddenly appear hairless in front of them.

I swapped my California driver's license for a BC one this morning, while I still have hair. So I'm almost a full-blown Canadian! I have yet to take my citizenship test, but how much do I really need to know beyond the fact that Canada has ten provinces? It is 10, right?

Other than having the taste of rusty nail in my mouth, I'm okay. And it's a sunny day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Blast from the Past for a Laugh

My BFF's mom, Vicki, sent me an awesome picture from the early 1990s, when BFF Lisa turned sweet 16. She thought the picture would cheer me up, and it totally did! It brought back awfully embarrassing moments of being NKOTB fans to the core, tie-dyed peace t-shirts, and phasing into bandannas and flannel grunge. I asked Lisa if she would mind me posting the picture on the blog for kicks, fully expecting her to say hell no. I know how she gets mad when people post pictures of high school daze, because she thinks those days sucked and she didn't have much self-esteem. But you know what? We had a helluva a lotta fun back then. And the picture reminds me of the laughter--and I do think we look pretty damn cute anyway! Goofy, but cute too!

Much to my surprise, Lisa gave me permission to post the picture! This small gesture, I know, is actually a big gesture for her, and it really warms my heart.

So here's the picture, and here's to youth and joy and laughter and memories and cheeziness and NKOTB!

Good Taste, Bad Taste

I'm eating whatever I want today. My tastes are going to be ruined with the chemo. Or changed. So today is All the Sushi Brandy Can Eat day.

Here's a picture of me, the kiddins, and the hubster when we went to Victoria in June. Chloe, being the girliest little girl, loves horses. So we took a carriage ride through Victoria, but I don't remember what the horse's name was. Let's just call her Creamsicle. Anyway, I kinda like horses too, and we were pretty happy (minus $50), so here's one moment in time:

Last week, to be quite honest, was the lowest of the low. I know I'm all kinda happy and upbeat and silly and a big freakin' goofball on the blog, but aside from the blog, a lot of times I feel like a big pile of poo. I actually made up a word at one point: muckpile. I told my BFF Lisa that I felt like a big old muckpile. She didn't question the word, so I guess it sounded right. And it sooooo annoys me to feel like this. I wish I were one of those people who doesn't bat an eye at the word cancer and says, yeah, it's like a cold or the flu or something, I'll get over it, so who cares (not that I met anyone like this). I mean, it is *just* breast cancer (hopefully), and I'm young (even though I suddenly feel twice my age), so no big deal. But this week, Knowing and Feeling had been seriously at odds with each other. Feeling totally won out, and Knowing just sat by and said a quiet "get over it," and rolled her eyes.

So DH and I went to one of the counsellors at the cancer agency on Friday. I've been in counselling before, like ten years ago when I was an angst-ridden university student. Dude says that history professors are already amateur therapists, so he never thinks that one is necessary. But I made him go. I was looking for coping strategies, but she didn't really give us any. I guess maybe since it was the first appointment, she just wanted to get a profile of us or something. She reassured me that all our feelings were normal. But you know what? I hate it when people say that. Because when you feel like crap, being told that what you're feeling is normal is really no consolation at all. It certainly is not helpful. Do I care that the majority of patients at the same stage of diagnosis and treatment have similar emotional reactions? No. And give me a break--I think I already knew that. I'm not an idiot. It would have been better if she was all like, "What you really need is to go smoke some weed. Here'a prescription." Cause really, what I'm waiting for out of all of this is the little slip of paper prescribing me medicinal marijuana.

Some friends are coming to watch the kids this afternoon while DH and I catch a flick (and eat sushi). We haven't seen a movie since. . .I think the last movie we saw was the last Harry Potter movie that came out before this latest one. I'm not sure I want to see the latest Harry Potter movie. They've gotten to be too long. I can't last more than 90 minutes in a theatre. Anyway, I'm *trying* to look forward to it. Christ, I am so NOT FUN anymore!

So it's the last day before chemo starts. . .let's rock the casbah.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Crazy Chemo Monday

I FINALLY got the appointment to start treatment, on Monday the 13th. After a few voicemail messages and almost giving up, I called again today and actually got the woman I was trying to reach. She said, "Oh, they didn't call you? They scheduled you for Monday...." I'm all like, "Uh, no, no one called me." Anyway, I'm just so happy that it's happening on Monday.

I can't lie down anymore without being uncomfortable from the tumor. Last night, I was lying awake cuz my sleeping pill wore off at 4 am, and so I was just tossing and turning trying to find a position where the tumor wasn't bothering me. At one point, the thing spasmed and convulsed, and I saw it beat out of my chest. Freakin' alien, man. I mean, I assume it was probably a muscle spasm from behind the tumor or something like that (I hope), but it was so weird.

I think the thing is, with a lot of cancers, you have signs that you have cancer (like hard of breath and coughing for lung cancer, abdominal pains for others), but this one, you can totally touch it and feel it from the outside, which is kind of creepy. I wanted the hubby to feel the lump under my armpit, and he was all like, "Don't push on it! It might release more cancer cells." Which sounds a little ridiculous, especially since I've been having doctors push on me on all sorts of ways the past few weeks, but yeah, the thought crossed my mind.

Cancer sucks big time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Fucking Argh"

I'm going to be thinking/saying that all day. I called my main contact at the BCCA this morning--my trial nurse--and her lovely voice on her voicemail said that she's on vacation for the rest of the month. She might have told me this, but I don't remember it at all. So now I can't bug her daily about when the hell I'm going to start treatment. Instead, I called and left a message with the receptionist, but it's more difficult to bug her. G'dammit!

On a non-cancer related note, I have an article in today's Tyee (a local online newspaper that rocks):

  • Urban Angel

  • I'm taking tips from my self-professed media whore husband, and posting it here, though it has absolutely nothing to do with cancer. But you know, makes me feel like being more productive again. So it's distantly related. Everything's related, I guess. Okay, must go change a diaper.

    Monday, August 6, 2007

    Growing and Not Knowing

    This sucker is growing fast. Last week, when I went into see the trial nurse and oncologist, I told them how the pain has moved from the site where I first discovered the abnormality (on the left side of my right breast) to just near my armpit. The trial nurse straight up told me that the tumor is growing, not faster, but exponentially--which to me, just means faster cuz I mean, the sucker doubles and doubles and doubles some more. Then when I got the core biopsy done last week, I asked the technician (who was a tad clueless) to move the ultrasound thing over to my pit to check out what was going on there. So instead of just seeing the one lymph node I was expecting to see, I saw two--the bulging one that you can now feel by touch without having to look for it (before, the oncologist had to find it and push into my pit to locate it), and a smaller one beside it. So I'm like--getting this fucking shit out of me now!!!!

    But you know, the consolation is that Chloe and Mylo have no clue. So everyday, I'm just Mama. Not Mama Who Has Cancer. They make the day go by quickly with all that's involved in raising an almost-four and almost-three year old. They want to snack, go outside, destroy spider webs (I discourage this, but what to do...), listen to sea shells, make up stories about caterpillars eating ice cream and cookies and going into the cocoon and coming out fat butterflies, count and point out colours of trees and mountains and houses and cars; they want to protest naps and baths, but when they nap and bathe, they're happier. Chloe saw the big bloody strips and gauze on my biopsy site when I was changing clothes the other day, and she asked me if I had a boo-boo. I said yeah. She asked me if I was going to the doctor. I said I already went. She asked me how many doctors. I said two. She said, "Two doctors?" For some reason, it really intrigued her. Kids really have such a sense of wonderment. And then she wanted to paint her fingernails and toenails, which we did. Now, I'm really into painting nails.

    As corny as this is, I'm trying to take my lessons from the kiddins.

    Sunday, August 5, 2007

    Waiting Game

    I've gotten a number of emails from friends wondering what the latest is....which is, I'm waiting. The first clear open appointment to receive chemo is August 23rd. My trial nurse, rightfully so, thinks that's too long to wait. So I'm put on a waiting list everyday, which means that any day now, I will get the call to go in and start treatment. She said that last Friday and this Tuesday looked like the best days (Monday, tomorrow, is a holiday here), but I still haven't gotten a call for any day. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

    I had another core biopsy on Thursday, so that the cancer agency could have a baseline sample before the chemo starts. This procedure seemed more brutal than the core biopsy I had at Women's Hospital. Two differences I noticed: a scalpel was used to cut into my skin to insert the "needle," which actually looked as big as a screwdriver to me. I didn't notice a scalpel being used the last time, and the needle used last time actually looked like a needle (a long one). I'm not sure if I just didn't notice this the last time, or if the procedure was really different because they need a bigger sample from the tumor. In any case, there was also a lot more blood and tenderness this time around. My friend Emily went with me since DH had to go to a press conference. Thankfully, her dad is a vet [the kind that doctors animals, not the kind that was in a war], so she was pretty much unfazed (or at least, she appeared to be).

    I'm also getting set to see a naturopath as part of a complementary treatment to the chemo. I'm not sure if this is allowed since I'm on a trial, but I will call and ask the nurse tomorrow. My friend Shirley helped me with this, as her brother is a well respected naturopath. I'm very excited, and hope that this is all kosher with the trial. I want to do everything I can to keep my energy at a reasonable level while on chemo, as well as maintain my health as best as possible.

    Thursday, August 2, 2007

    A Negative is a Positive

    My liver ultrasound came back negative, which is good! Clean liver is a good liver. And my chest xray was also negative! Woo-hoo! I didn't find out about the mammogram on the good boob yet, but perhaps tomorrow when I go in for another core biopsy on the cancer before the trial starts.

    I think I can rest easy tonight.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2007

    Brandy's Babes!

    In case you didn't see the link on the righthand side, or read about the amazing Victoria Namkung putting together a team for the OC Race for the Cure called "Brandy's Babes," I'm flat out doing semi-self-promotion for it now, in a separate blog post. The race is a fundraiser for the Susan Komen organization, which is an amazing organization for breast cancer awareness, resources, education, and research. It's a 5K which the team is planning on walking, so if you are in the Socal area, sign up to be part of the team! If you're not in the area, you can still help by making donations--no donation is too small--on the website! If you can't make a donation, your thoughts are appreciated too!