Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brandy's Babes Take Vancouver by (& in a) Storm!




My hands are still thawing out as I type this. We couldn't have asked for shittier weather today--torrential downpour, windy & cold. But Brandy's Babes were still troopers and warriors, who braved the elements in support of breast cancer research. Not all of Brandy's Babes are pictured here. Among those missing (due to the weather and the crowd, we didn't quite stay together as planned all that well) are: Shirley and Steve (who walked with me for a good deal of the 5k); Heidy, Greg, Quintin and Gryphen (poor little Quintin got all wet and so they had to bow out); my sister-in-law, her husband and daughter; my parents-in-law; and Dude, who took the picture. Those who were MIA--which means they either were there and I didn't get to see them, or they were home sick or afraid of the rain--were Mary and Janice; Grace; Shirley Raibmon; Lawrence; my mom; and May. All told, 30 people were on the team, and together we raised around $3,500! Amazing.

So I'd like to thank everyone who participated in whatever way they could--and I hope everyone gets all cozy, snug, and dry today!

If anyone would still like to donate to the cause, visit CIBC Run for the Cure where in the middle of the page, you can make a donation.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Princess and the Queen



{Chloe came upstairs in one of her princess dresses, saying, "Mama likes my dress." I think she dressed up to cheer me up!}

Sick

Chloe's sick. So I should stay away from her. This is impossible--and not something I want to do anyway. At six this morning, I heard a little whimper downstairs, and it went straight to my gut. Even in the deepest sleep, I can feel my kids needing something, no matter how quiet they are. Of course, no one else heard little Chloe crying, so I went downstairs to see what was the matter. She had to go pee but was afraid in the dark. So I helped her, and she coughed all over me, and I didn't think to turn away. Then I put her back in bed and gave her a kiss.

Step 1: Remember that I have virtually no immune system.
Step 2: Stay away from crowds and sick people, including my own kids.

I think I'm fucked. I can't remember the first step, and I can't be bothered with the second one. This is too hard.

Last night, I had a bad moment. Actually, last night was good. People were dropping by to pick up their race shirts, and my friend Emilie came to hang out. But when everyone left, and I was in bed, I felt like crap. Not because of all the company, but just because of the chemo--and because of the horrific realization that I'm only on cycle 3 out of 8. Then I panicked: how the hell am I going to make it through EIGHT of these cycles? EIGHT???? I know people have done it, but it seems like a long-ass road ahead.

Sometimes, I really hate realizations.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Brandy Interview Slideshow

[i did this quickie slideshow...a bit self-indulgent, but what about this blog isn't, after all? enjoy...or not!]

video

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mysticism

Sometimes, I wonder if every little annoyance in my body indicates cancer elsewhere, or a side effect of the treatment, or a side effect of a drug that gets rid of side effects. Like now--itchy heels. Why do I have itchy heels? Or that stretching feeling in my abdomen? Or the unending tension in my temples. If I'm paranoid, I'm a hypochondriac. If I ignore the symptoms, I could end up sorry and regretful.

I keep saying the word "mysticism" when I think to myself about cancer because it seems that's what it comes down to. What do I believe in, hope for, am willing to do?

Caught

My body is becoming soft from nonactivity, while the veins in my left arm are hard from the chemo. When Chloe squeezes my arm as her sign of affection, it feels like a hose with the water on, but knotted up in the middle, the pressure building. Likewise, my mother doesn't understand that her tastebuds are not mine. What she buys for me at the Vietnamese market are delicacies to her, and on an average day, are to me as well; but now, they make my stomach roil, causing a retching reaction. She leaves the food on the table with the hopes of a miraculous recovery of appetite.

It's a bit difficult to make anyone understand what the immediate reactions of a chemo dose are. The first week is the worst; and it gets worse by the dose. It's a tug-of-war of feeling okay one second, and not feeling quite right the next. So much limbo and not knowing what to do with your own body.

Eventually, the strangeness wears away, and some semblance of normalcy reappears. But between now and then, all I want to do is hide from those who want to understand the most but cannot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Round 3

I fucking hate chemo. I'm trying to take it all in stride and be grateful for the treatment, but I've sort of developed a fear of chemo day and what happens later at night. The nausea, the full-head headaches, the uncontrollable sobbing, "dead arms" (that seem to perplex everyone), pain in my veins, insomnia. The day of chemo, I have a voice in the back of my head going, "Oh, god, why me?" I'm sick of popping pills, being poked, and now I gotta poke myself every other day! The whole length of the chemo treatment is not even half over. I've got 5 more cycles after this one. And holy christ, that shit ain't cheap--those self-injections to boost my WBC's, which by the way, will cause additional achiness in my body. Just for one cycle of chemo, I gotta pick up my $1700 prescription. Thank god Dude's got awesome extended medical healthcare and that Pharmacare kicks in a chunk too, so that in the end, we only end up having to pay $50 each time (without any of the hassle of trying to get approval for the drug that we probably would have had to go through in the U.S.)! So yeah, sitting next to our leftovers, soy milk, and almond butter are my little vials of joy.

It was kinda funny yesterday though. While I was getting my chemo, a nurse walked in and stared at me and DH a little. Then she said, "You're Brandy, right? I heard you on the radio yesterday! I recognize you from your blog except you're wearing glasses!" So I guess she read this little blog here after listening to the CBC interview and saw that I was getting chemo, and came into the room to say hi! That was neat! (She also said that my kids were cute too--just in case you didn't know that for yourself.) The other nurse who was giving me my chemo said, "What's the website?" There were two other older people in there, so the nurse said, "Oh, I'll email it to you." And then she said to me that she agreed with the URL. So to the nurse who reads the blog--HELLO and thanks for reading!

Anyway, don't get me wrong. The whole cycle doesn't suck for much of the time--just about the first week. After that, I try to build myself back up by doing things and getting outside and everything. But I just felt like whining a little bit just now. The blog is the Good, the Bad, and the Stupid (stupid in a good way sometimes, stupid in a bad way). Many things are worse than this, but right now, I'm wallowing in the suck.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bright Light, Dim WBC's

I went on CBC this morning and gave an alright interview: CBC Brandy Interview . . . It's hard to think of what to say that early in the morning. Oh yeah, and you need Real Player to be able to listen to the interview.

Anyway, then I had my usual lab work done this morning to check how my white blood cell (WBC) count is going. After I got poked, I noticed that my band-aid was slipping off because I was bleeding profusely from the tiny prick. So I went back to the nurse, who cleaned me up and gave me another band-aid.

Later, I had my appointment with the oncologist. They told me that my WBC count was low enough to be concerned, and that from now on, I'd have to inject myself with a drug that would help boost my WBC count. So starting with the cycle tomorrow, I have to give myself an injection every other day, and this will last through the remaining chemo treatments. Sounds like it sucks, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It was kind of a bummer though, because I was hoping that with my good energy levels and me exercising and taking good supplements, that I'd be strong and all that. But it seems that my body has other plans in mind.

Good news is that the chemo seems to be working. The oncologist said that the lump feels smaller, so that's a positive sign for sure! So the experiment that is my life continues.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Seasons

Today was a gorgeous day here in Vancouver. And my in-laws wanted to treat the whole family to brunch at Seasons restaurant in Queen Elizabeth Park. On the drive there, my mom said to me, "Don't you get any summer here?" My parents came here in the middle of August, and we've had nice days here and there, but never a substantial stretch of warm, sunny weather. I told her that this summer was particularly sucky, but she just wondered how come we've gone straight into fall.

Here are some pictures from our outing today:




Lily and Chloe--don't be fooled by their cute, innocent smiles.





Mylo in his favourite train sweater-vest!





Me and the kids--obviously, they're so into getting this picture taken.





Me and the man, coordinated.



Afterwards, we had a nice walk in the park.

Then we took the kids to the miniature train park in Burnaby, where we got to ride these cute little trains.

Then we came home, dropped Mylo off for his nap, then Dude, Chloe and I walked to Rhizome for Baby Disco. Chloe and I totally got our groove on (whatever that means anymore, I don't know. I'm getting old).

I'm so glad that I've got all this energy now, cuz I know that this week is going to suck ass cuz I'm getting chemo on Tuesday. But you know--you gotta be happy for the days that are good, and grateful that you make it through the days that bite the big one. That's fucking life, my friend.

Oh yeah, by the way, I have a blog central station: Planet Brandy The description on the new blog will explain why I created it.

Enjoy the rest of Sunday!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Broadcasting live...

me. On CBC, Monday morning. At the butt crack of dawn.
  • CBC Early Edition


  • Yeah, go figure.

    This weekend, Victoria and her O.C. team of Brandy's Babes will be running in the Komen Race for the Cure! Let's cheer them on, congratulate them, and thank them for their time and donations! And next weekend is our run/walk here in Vancouver! We have 27 people signed up so far, and over $1300 in donations! Holy crap, that's awesome!

    This week has been stellar. I've done a ton of exercising and walking, I finished the CCHS Family and Food workshop book (launches are in the works right now). It's called "Eating Stories: a Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck," and it contains the stories of 23 people who took a writing workshop I taught back in February and March. It's an amazing book, if I do say so myself. So that's really motivated me to keep working and editing and organizing.

    I'm trying to keep up the energy and spirits because I have round three of chemo on Tuesday. I can't forget how the last shot of chemo sucked, so I'm trying this approach of being as energetic and productive as possible, while listening to my body and resting when I really feel like I need to. I'm also taking Korean red ginseng, some supplements, flax seed and turmeric (in my food), so that might be helping as well. Plus, I got some smashing new scarves at Maiwa on Granville Island. I totally look the part of a tarot reader now. I should really go into business.

    Anyway, speaking of listening to my body--time for a nap. It's raining, so taking a nap is even more enjoyable, as I can listen to the rain come down on the skylights.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    While You're Here...

    Don't forget to click on the "Free Mammies" link on the right-hand side. It's easy--just scroll down a little ways, click, and then click one more time. This is for free mammograms for underprivileged women. It got an email from Mae today saying:

    "The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle).

    This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising."

    So while you're here enjoying the blog--and every time you come back--be sure to click on the "Free Mammies" link for a good cause! And if you want to put in just a little more effort, you can try to get others to click as well!

    Thanks!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    FUCK CANCER

    Today was the best day I've had since my diagnosis. I feel FUCKING KICK-ASS AWESOME!!!! I wish I haven't been so immobilized by the diagnosis and treatment thus far, but it has been the case. Today, I moved my ass...and moved it and moved it some more. I walked from our house to the cancer agency, which is about a mile and a half.

    I attended a free seminar on how to apply makeup. Really, I already know how to put on makeup, but I was just going for the mega-box of free stuff they were handing out--moisturizers, cleansers, make-up, even a nice cotton cap to wear at night (which is really appreciated since it just got really cold here in Vancouver). It felt a little weird to be there because definitely, there was a majority of women over the age of 50--and then there was me. So conversations veered toward how to diminish wrinkles and other stuff. But it was kind of fun watching the other women put on wigs and shout out their opinions on each one.

    Then I went to Tim Horton's for lunch and proofread some more of the food book manuscript. I am almost done with proofreading, and then I'll make corrections and tweak the images in Photoshop some more. Then I will start working on the cover. So I'm also thrilled that I'm getting closer to finishing the book!

    Then I went to Fitness World and did a 30-minute cardio workout on the elliptical, a 15-minute upper-body resistance workout, and a nice long stretch.

    Then I walked about two and a half miles to my appointment with the surgeon. The appointment was a little disappointing because for some reason, the cancer agency didn't send over a copy of my chart, so the surgeon couldn't give me a good assessment of my options. But she did put referrals through for the plastic surgeon, so some progress is being made. We have some time to read up on options anyway.

    All in all, I feel great! I came home, had a nice dinner with the family, took a bath and read People magazine, and I feel so relaxed and good. I'm kicking cancer's ass all over the place!

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    No Sex, Lots of Drugs, a little rock'n'roll...

    ...that's life now. but at least i ain't on no macrobiotic diet. dude and i went to this two-day Inspire seminar last week. Inspire is this nonprofit org that dishes out complementary cancer treatment (complementary, as in "in conjunction with," not meaning "free," but a lot of the stuff is free). so they had this two-day seminar about how to enhance life with cancer and cancer treatments. some of the stuff was good, but as far as the nutrition suggestions go--not our cup of tea. when you got cancer, the words "quality of life" come up often--and a macrobiotic diet isn't my idea of a good quality of life. they fed us this macrobiotic lunch, and it was like someone pulled stuff out of the dirt and served it up with beans and zero salt. fucking gross, man!

    but today we had our one-and-a-half hour appointment with one of Inspire's doctors, and the cool thing is that she gave me free vitamins that Inspire especially formulated for cancer patients. free is good.

    i'm taking a lot of drugs. it's funny how quickly the stash of prescriptions gets larger and larger. i have to take drugs that offset the side effects of other drugs that offset the side effects of chemo. i turned to DH last week on our way into the drugstore and said, "i feel like we live here." our daily trip to the drug store.

    anyway, with all these meds, i'm feeling alright. the doc today looked at my food, meds, and vitamins log and said that i'm doing better than normal because i'm doing the right things (despite my refusal to go macrobiotic). some of our friends got us some korean red ginseng extract, which looks like tar, but apparently does me a lot of good. so i mix it in with a soy chai latte a couple times a day, and it's pretty good. i've had enough energy to finish the manuscript of the book i'm editing, and i'm almost done with proofreading! i'm very excited to get this book done and out!

    dude and i booked a cruise for next month. it's kinda silly because it goes from seattle to victoria to nanaimo back to seattle, so it's not like we're actually leaving where we live! but it's three days of nonstop eating and relaxing, and the price was really cheap ($179/person!), so it'll be a nice little getaway. i'm hoping that i won't be too miserable from the chemo that i'm having a few days before the cruise.

    i won't be able to go to Pennsylvania for thanksgiving (the American one) like we wanted to because i have to stick around in case my chemo needs to be adjusted. so i told my family to not worry cuz the next time they see me, i'll probably be sporting a perky, bigger new rack. speaking of, we get to meet with the surgeon tomorrow for a consultation. so we'll see exactly how big of a rack i can get. then i can revise the title of this post.

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Jinx

    Much that comes with this condition is about wondering, superstitions, mysticism, regrets, what-if's, swc's (shoulda-woulda-coulda's), and all the abstracts that could drive anyone nuts. I was just reading my user profile on my daily poetry blog, and the description is that on Halloween Eve 2005, I made a vow to write a poem every day for the rest of my life. While I'm not all that great at posting every day, I have written a poem every day. But the thing is, when I'd read that again, I immediately felt that in writing that almost two years ago, I jinxed myself. I know it sounds silly, but I suddenly thought--why did I make a promise like that? I mean, I enjoy writing a poem a day, but to make a vow? Vows set you up for failure, ultimately.

    Anyway, those are some random, prescription-mixing-with-chemo thoughts. I would hate it if my poetry caused cancer.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    "Going to the Cats"

    I came home and picked up my mail, and there was a card in the pile. I've been getting lots of wonderful cards from friends and strangers alike, and it always cheers me up to see one. When I saw the name on this card, at first, I thought it seemed kinda familiar but I couldn't quite place the name. Then I opened the card--it was from my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor! And she wrote to tell me that she found a booklet that I made with some of my friends in the fifth grade when she was out sick. She color-photocopied the pictures that I drew for her, and sent them to me! I was so amazed that she even kept that, even after 20 years! So here are those pictures--and thanks so much, Mrs. Taylor, for remembering me for the eleven-year-old I was! The 31-year-old is very appreciate, grateful, and touched!



    Run for the Cure Update

    Hello, runners and walkers! So far, we have 17 people signed up for "Brandy's Babes" on September 30th! How freakin' awesome is that? If you want to join us and want an official CIBC team t-shirt, you have until Friday to register. If you register after Friday, your shirt won't say "Brandy's Babes" on it, and then you'll feel left out and uncool.

    So I'm scheduling a practice walk/run for this Sunday, Sept. 16th, meeting outside BC Place. Here's the route map that I stole from the CIBC website:



    We're meeting at BC Place--looks like the corner of Abbott and Pacific--at 1pm and go from there.

    Info on team kit pick-up (this is your shirt, your time chip, etc.):

    Date: September 27 & 28 
Time: 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM 
Location: BC Place, 777 Pacific Blvd (Enter at East Airlock street level off of Griffith Way)

    Hopefully, it will be sunny on Sunday. If not, we're still walking, maybe just not as far! :D So mark your calendars. And also say yay! because we've far surpassed the humble fundraising goal I set of $250. So far, you've all raised over $1,000! Bravo!

    So anyway, if you'd like to do a practice run/walk, see you on Sunday! If not, see you on race day! Our pre- and post-race meeting places are TBA, but I'll let you know closer to the date.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Rawr!

    I wasn't kidding about the cougar dress. Just for laughs, here's a pic. I doctored the pic using some cheezy film grain filter. And don't ask me why Chris is standing so far away from me--perhaps he's fearful of the Grrrl Power. Me and Jenn have a tendency to strike fear in the male species when we combine forces.




    and just cuz...here are some gratuitous cute kid pictures. they make me happy. everyone sing: "the wheels on the bus go round and round. . ."!!!



    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Betrayal (Part I)

    I was pretty sure I've used the word "betrayal" in a post title previously, but looking back, I guess I haven't. Given that this probably won't be the last time I use this word, I'm parenthetically labeling it.

    It's been almost a week since round deux from the attack of el diablo chemo (bear with me as I code switch like a brook from Babel), and it's been a tough week. On Thursday, Dude and I made a run across the border for some goody goods, and I was doing alright then, with the help of a handful or two of pills. On Friday, the big Reconciliation fundraiser dinner in Chinatown took place--almost 700 people in attendance! I donned Jocelyn (if you recall, my curly red wig) and a cougar-like dress (even had a full-on boob slip when I took the camcorder bag off my shoulder! I felt soooo Paris Hilton, except that I probably blushed when it happened and not acted like it was just what I do every day). It was great seeing so many people and getting all the hugs, but truth be told, I was painfully pooped out after an hour. I was feeling kinda whoozy, and nothing tasted right. I was lucky that I was able to get home and in my PJ's by 10:30 pm.

    On Saturday, the fun continued with Dude's conference at SFU downtown. I actually was okay for most the day, and spent the time working at the display table, content to hammer away at the food book that should have been done by now. But by the time 3 pm rolled around, I hit a big old wall of fatigue.....which has continued up until now. Yesterday, DH, the kids, DH's sister and her family and I went to a friend's brother's farm, where the kids had an absolute blast, the time of their lives. Me....again, the fatigue was nothing less than torture.

    It's hard to describe this type of feeling to anyone who hasn't experienced it. The closest I can come to is probably something remotely similar to the fatigue a woman has when she's in the first trimester of her pregnancy. But it's not the type of tired that a nap can or will cure. Actually, I'm finding it very hard to sleep when I'm feeling like this. It's like there's no comfort to be had in the body whatsoever.

    This is where the betrayal comes in. If it's true that the mind and body are one, or can be one, how can the body betray the mind so heavily to the point of it being a full-scale attack? Loads have people have advised me on visualization, that if I talk to the cancer or imagine it going away, it will. But when my body is like this--with my body betraying me in such a way--how am I to believe that? My body is doing things despite itself, and I know that's a product of the chemo. Even some of my moods are a product of the chemo. I have to say it again, even just to remind myself--I'm being poisoned. And right now, my body is not my own, that is, if my mind is still my own.

    Very recently, I've become obsessed with the name Moxie. I read it somewhere in a magazine called Craft, which was a handy distraction during my chemo session last week. I like the name, and the word, Moxie. I keep telling DH that when we have another kid, whether boy or girl, I want to name him or her Moxie. I keep telling him when. . .not if. I know that against the better judgment and advice of some people, I probably shouldn't wish for or desire something that there's a great chance I won't be able to have, which is a third child. But I just feel at this very moment, that perhaps that kind of desire is exactly what I need.

    Thursday, September 6, 2007

    Update on the Vancouver Run for the Cure

    Thanks to all those who have registered, fundraised, and emailed me expressing interest in taking part! I just wanted to let you know that I saw this on the Run for the Cure website:

    >>>Friday September 14th - Team Deadline Day
    >>>In order to be eligible for Team t-shirts, all minimum fundraising must be completed by this date. This means that each Team member must have either fundraised a minimum of $150 or paid the $35 registration fee.

    So if you are interested in joining the team and would like to get a "Brandy's Babes" team t-shirt (this is not the Cafepress t-shirt, but the one that the Run for the Cure prints up), you need to register by September 14th.

    Some of you said you'd actually like to run the 5K, which is great too! So feel free--the walking team will meet you at the finish line, and we'll all go out for some nice brunch or something like that. For those of you with little ones, I think it's totally cool to take them in a stroller with you. Dude and I haven't decided what we're doing with the kiddins just yet, but we'll see. For any Americans not familiar with the whole kilometres bit, a 5K is approximately 3 miles.

    When it gets closer to the date, I'll email everyone on the team to figure out the plan for race day.

    Round 2

    Insomnia.
    Migraine.
    Nausea.
    Numb arms.

    Okay, so that's only four symptoms. But I feel worse than a dirty rat's ass. This go-around with the chemo sucks.

    The day before my chemo, I had a check-up with an oncologist (turns out that mine is going on sabbatical for six months, which is basically the whole time I'll be on chemo), my trial nurse, and a fellow. This particular oncologist happens to be head of the trial I'm on. Overall, everyone was fine, but I got the impression--and maybe I'm being overly critical and paranoid--that because I'm on a trial, folks are more interested in what happens to me more than they are interested in me getting better. I talked about my side effects and supplements I was taking, and they jotted down notes. I even told them about the splitting headaches I've been getting on a daily basis, but they didn't really prescribe any medication. So I have to wait until Tuesday to see my family physician to try to squeeze some migraine rx out of her.

    Yesterday, the chemo session went fine. I caught up on Harry Potter and reading my Craft magazine. I also noticed how everyone in the chemo room with me were all Asian women, one of whom had a hard time communicating with the nurse because of the lack of English. I've seen this a lot lately at the cancer agency, which makes me wonder why they don't hire more translators or people who speak Cantonese, Mandarin, or Vietnamese (the three most spoken languages other than English, from what I can tell). Anyway, all went well.

    Afterwards, Dude and I went out to eat before the chemo started to set in and I got all pukey. We went to a Japanese restaurant called Asahi-Ya on Robson, which was expensive but good.

    Then I got home--didn't feel so good. I exhausted my allowance of puke pills, having taken all three prescriptions, took a sleeping pill, and put a heating pad on my head. Nothing helped. Every little move I made in bed was terrible--it was like when you've been drinking all night and then you lie down and realize that you drank too much and that you were going to vomit. Except that feeling was topped off by the feeling of having the most awful hangover headache ever. And then the numbness in my arms started. I had this the last time and told my cancer team about it two days ago, and they agreed that that was very odd. It's a numbness from my wrists to my elbows in both arms.

    Then DH went off to a meeting that he was late to, after he put the kids to bed, because he has a big event planned for Friday. I really needed to chat to someone to take my mind off the pain but it was kind of late, so I called one of my pals, who gladly talked to me for an hour. Soon after chatting, the hubby came home.

    Now it's 5:30 am, I'm up, I still have a migraine, numb arms, and nausea. My tumour is burning. Yeah, I feel like crap. I don't want to go back to bed, where I'll just roll around in torture. But I really would like to sleep and get relief from the pain. This fucking sucks big-time.

    Monday, September 3, 2007

    Project--A Book Chain

    I was sitting in my bathtub just a few moments ago, reading Catherine Lord's Summer of Her Baldness. I kept thinking to myself, Gee, I wish people would read this book, and then they might be able to understand better what I'm going through. It's been a long time since any book resonated with my thoughts and experiences page-by-page like this one does. Sometimes, I find myself disagreeing or contradicting the author, but whether or not I agree with her, I feel like I'm having a conversation with her as I read.

    Then an idea popped into my head. I could recommend that people purchase this book to read it--or I could pass along my own copy. I thought about how cool it would be so start a book chain, where people joined a list to receive my copy from the last person who read it. Along with the book, I could mail an accompanying journal, in which people could write their responses and thoughts to the book, or to anything else in their minds, or simply sign the book. So the more I thought about it, the more excited I became, and here's what I've come up with:

    1) Anyone who is interested in joining this project, email me, and I will put you on the list. Whoever emails me first will be the first person after me to receive the book and journal. Whoever emails me second, will be the second person, and so on.

    2) Whenever the first person is ready to send the book off to the second person, he or she will email me, and I will send along the second person's contact info so the book can move along.

    3) If you find that you can't get through the entire book, that's fine. Simply sign the book and journal, and email me so we can move it along the chain. You can also write your thoughts in the journal even if you don't finish the book. Your involvement in this project is entirely up to you!

    4) That said, however, the minimum involvement is signing your name somewhere, anywhere in the book, signing the journal, and emailing me so you can send the next person on the list the book. Your minimum cost is mailing the book and journal to the next person.

    I'm really excited about this idea, and I hope you'll join me. Anyone at all--even if I don't know you--if you're interested, contact me somehow. If you are reading this and you have friends whom I don't know who'd like join the chain, that's awesome! I'm hoping that this project lasts much longer than it takes for me to kick cancer's ass! I'm also hoping that people will communicate with each other, get to know one another, and have wonderful discussions about the book and other related topics and issues!

    I'm also curious about how many times this book crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, or even goes overseas!

    We'll do something amazingly special when the book finally makes its way back to me--but I'm hoping that won't be until years from now!

    So, I invite you all to join me on this project!

    Invitation to Join Brandy's Babes--in Vancouver!

    [This is the official spiel from CIBC, so if it sounds super perky, it's cuz i didn't write it!]

    Let's do something about breast cancer and have fun together on Sunday, September 30th!

    Join our Brandy's Babes team. Registration is easy! Click on this link to register online and join our Team.

    Click to Register

    Team leader: Brandy Worrall
    Team name: Brandy's Babes
    Run location: Vancouver
    Personal message from Brandy Worrall:
    Come walk with me and the gang on Sept. 30th, rain (likely) or shine (hopefully!).

    Want to sign up? Registration is easy!
    Once you register, you can set up a personal donation page where friends, family and co-workers can support you. Online donations are quick, easy and secure!

    Join the team today and reap the rewards as an individual participant and team member. For information about prizes, fundraising, your Run site and Run kit pick-up, visit www.cbcf.org often. Thank you for your support.

    We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, September 30th!

    Naked

    Yesterday, Dude, the kiddins, and I walked to Main Street to get a newspaper. It's been (surprise, surprise) gray and drizzly here in Vancouver the past few days, and this morning was the first that I noticed that the room has been much darker when I wake up at 7 am, which means that summer is petering out. When we left the house, I had a bandanna on, but as we were taking our short cut through the hospital parking lot, my head started to get itchy. DH said to just take the bandanna off because who cares. I'm all like, "Yeah, easy for you to say, you don't have to walk around without any hair." He's all like, "Do you want me to shave my head?" I'm like, "Still not the same--you could get it really really short, but you'd still have hair."

    So for the next two blocks to Main, I took off the bandanna, and the itchiness stopped. People would stare briefly, then look down quickly. When we got to the corner where my regular Starbucks hang out is, we had to wait for the light to turn to cross the street, and I was extremely uncomfortable. This is me--the girl who used to get tons of tattoos and piercings that invited people to stare. Back in the day, I wanted people to look at me. I wanted little kids to stand mesmerized by my lip ring, nose rings, septum ring, and tattoos, and then I would stick out my tongue at them so they could see the gold stud piercing it.

    Baldness is different. Especially if it's not really something you came upon willingly. First of all, I can't get over how freakish I look. I'm not rocking the baldness. I need to dress it up, make it my own, before I can feel comfortable with it. I was Googling "temporary tattoos vancouver" to see if I could find any place that sold decent temporary tattoos that I could put on my head, but what I came up with were expensive kits to do airbrushing temp tats at home. I don't know if I can justify blowing a few hundred bucks quite yet just so I don't feel so exposed, but it's an idea.

    Another issue with the baldness is that people look at me, the hubby, and the kids and quickly figure out that we're a family--then they look back at me and look sad. I guess because the rest of me doesn't look freakish (I'm not wearing bad-ass clothing or anything to do the baldness justice), they figure I'm sick.

    So by the time we crossed the street and went into the grocery store, I put the bandana back on. Which was too bad because it was nice having the drizzle wet my itchy head, but I just couldn't be out in public looking like that.

    I'm reading an excellent book right now called The Summer of Her Baldness by Catherine Lord. So if you want to know about what kind of cancer memoir I'm digging, that's the one. Within the first few pages, her story totally resonated with mine, and let's face it, there are so many cancer narratives out there, that you kinda have to pick your poison. And cancer is a self-indulgent thing; it has to be. You can't attack cancer without focusing wholly on yourself, more than ever. But Lord writes beautifully, and once I finish reading it, I'll write a complete review.

    Several people suggested I watch Crazy Sexy Cancer, and in fact, before the suggestion was made, I happened to see a blurb of it on my Google page, so I recorded it. Dude, my dad, and I watched the first half of it last night because that was all I could manage to watch in one sitting. Unfortunately, the woman in it is really freaking obnoxious. She's 31 years old, my age, and she's an actress and photographer living in New York, which by default, makes her annoying--she has to be annoying for a living. Annoying, in a dramatic way. Like, I think we figured this out in the first two minutes of the film.

    Her name's Kris Carr, and she was diagnosed with Stage IV (incurable) cancer of the liver and lungs. Instead of jumping into any traditional treatment for her cancer (chemo or radiation), she visits all these alternative medicine type people that come off as completely kooky. And all the while, she is loud--and have I mentioned how annoying she is? It could have also been her choice in the style of documentary, which reminded me of all the documentaries I had to watch in college and grad school that were trying to be hip MTV-esque type things. But yeah, so she tries really hard to be hip and funny and witty and "real" and all that, and I'm just sitting there like, "OMG, please stop!" Like when she's in her kitchen with a woman who's trying to teach her about macrobiotic eating, and she's totally mocking the woman, and the woman's trying to be serious but knows that she's not being taken seriously--I mean, yeah, the woman was kinda odd, but that's who she is, and why is Carr bringing her in to make fun of her? But the thing is, then she follows the woman's food schedule and all that religiously. So is she making fun of herself too? Maybe, but heck, that doesn't seem to surface as much.

    The best parts of the film (from what I watched so far) are when she turns the camera off herself and focuses on other women who have cancer. I actually shed a tear when I watched the part about the one woman who had to leave her family, including her little baby boy, to go stay in a hospital to receive a hardcore treatment for a month.

    But then Carr turns the camera back on herself. I mentioned before that cancer is a self-indulgent thing; Carr takes that idea all the way to the top....the whole way.

    But I'm not going to rag on her anymore until I finish watching the film. Maybe there are some redemptive qualities at the end that make the first half make more sense. I hope.

    Anyway, I could see why people--including myself--would think I would like this film. I'm kinda doing here in the blog what Carr does in her film with the "look at me! look at me!" quality. I mean, really, that's what most blogs are about anyway. But I think for me, that stuff has to be really freakin' good and beyond that "look at me!" quality on film, much more so than the kind of crap that I write here. Film assaults more senses and buttons in a much more immediate way; words....you can read and think about and process more slowly. But hey, that's just me.

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    Bandannas for everyone!


    {the kiddins wanted to wear some bandanas too, so thanks to Auntie Lisa's care package, we had enough for everyone.}




    {aw, so cute...Chloe being a hug monster that Mylo's trying to get away from...}

    At My Best, at 12:38 AM PST



    {it only took about 20 tries to get this shot. and some photoshopping to make my best even better.}

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Without Mincing Words...

    I feel like shit. This is not me complaining; this is me stating a fact. I've had a headache without interruption for a week now, with the only relief being taking a sleeping pill and passing out cold. I've tried extra strength Tylenol; I've tried other things. I'm not allowed to take ibuprofen or aspirin, so that's out. The only thing I haven't tried is a hammer to my head to at least justify the pain. This is definitely at the top of my list of things to bring up at my appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday.

    And while I'm being honest, I have to say that I'm having a bit of a difficult time dealing with not having privacy as much as I would like. It's nice having my parents here to help out, but what that also means is that the kids are here in the house more, and most of the time, when I need to have some quiet time, I have to lock myself in my bathroom, as that's the only place in the house to achieve privacy. Today, Dude took my parents and the kids out to lunch with his parents, and it was the first time since my parents arrived that I've had the house to myself for a few hours. Basically, during that time, I was able to eat lunch and take a nap.

    Taking a nap is a challenge with the kids around too because Chloe wants to be with me all the time, but she doesn't really lie still in the bed. She's humming with energy, so she likes to squeeze my arm and sing songs while I'm trying to sleep.

    Yeah, so, taking it all in stride is not my forte. I guess it never was.

    Speaking of taking it in stride, does anyone in the Vancouver area want to take some strides and form a Friends and Family team for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Vancouver on September 30th? The bummer is that I can't run right now with my busted leg, but I'd still like to walk, if you'd like to join us for the 5K! To get more info, click here: Vancouver CIBC Run for the Cure and leave a comment or email me if you're interested! Registration deadline is in a couple weeks. We have a team if we have 10 or more people.

    Okay, thanks for your attention to my head.

    Big Words

    I've been a pretty passive cancer patient when it's come to looking up info about my type of cancer and getting second opinions and researching the type of treatment that I signed up for. So everytime someone who's more informed about cancer stuff asks me what kind of chemo I'm on, I say, "Uh, a combo called FEC, then something else that starts with a D." Yesterday, Lisa asked me a question about the chemo, which prompted me to look it up on the web and see what kind of info is out there. So I thought I'd post the links here, in case anyone else wants to know what the treatment entails and its side effects.

    The treatment that I'm doing is a trial chemo course, which is seeing what happens when two different chemo combinations are administered. The first chemo combo is called FEC. FEC is given every three weeks through an IV for two hours. I will have four cycles of FEC (my second one is on Wednesday).

    Then I'll take a month off for my body to recover (sometime between October and November).

    Next, they'll start me up with the XT, which is a combination of Docetaxel and Capecitabine. XT is administered in the same manner as FEC. I've been told that it's stronger than FEC.

    The oncologist said that the drugs are cumulative, which means the build-up should cause me to feel more and more like crap as we go along. That sucks. But I hope I feel well enough to make the trip to PA for American Thanksgiving in November. I haven't been home in a while.

    During all these treatments, I get tests to see how big the tumour is and other stuff. When it's all done, the current plan calls for mastectomy and then radiation. We have a surgery consultation in September to discuss our options.

    So this isn't exactly a fun post, but I guess it could be fun if you're into looking up this stuff!