Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still Waters

I just realized that my laptop power cord wasn't plugged in this whole time I've been on the computer. I thought it was. I hate it when shit like that happens. Like, you think things are as they should be--time to power up--but actually, the energy is draining. I think you might know where I'm going with this.

Part of me being a bad blogger here is that I feel embarrassed and ashamed. The whole time I was going through chemo, radiation, and then the lead up to surgery, I was kind of my own best cheerleader. I remember thinking, "I will get through this, and I will laugh at cancer, and I will kick its ass, and when it's over, I will get back to my crazy old self, except even crazier--and it will be so...so...FUCKING CRAZY! but in a good way."

Also, when the shit's over, everyone who loves you wants to be happy for you that you're done with the bullshit and the pain, that you can move on, and everyone thinks you will, and everything will be fine.

But yeah, it's not fine. In some ways, it's worse. Look, this is how it goes. I'm
suppose to be better. I fucking beat cancer! But...but. I feel like shit. I'm tired all the time. I want to do nothing; I have zero motivation. This, then, makes me feel guilty. I got a second chance, and what I do want to do with life? A lot of times, nothing. But I should be getting out there, writing like crazy, living life and loving it.

In terms of how my emotional/spiritual/motivational/inspirational state of mind goes, I can't deny that there's no constant--and I'm a big fan of denial. I want to do so much, but I'm so freakin' tired! I want to get out there, but I want to hide. I just want to sleep...a lot.

And I still have my nice little fatty marble stone thing. It's okay. I'm only 10% worried about it.

When I was at Inspire Health a couple weeks ago, I was looking at their library. They switched it up and rearranged everything, so suddenly, the books I looked at for almost a year seemed new. As I was scanning the shelves, I saw two books sitting side by side: Picking Up the Pieces: Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer and Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer. My immediate thought was, "Okay, okay, I get it. I see the sign." Here's why: when I had what I thought would be my last appointment with my oncologist, she went to great lengths to prepare me for the post-treatment crap that is typically experienced--the funk that no one anticipates. She wrote down these two books and said that they would help me greatly on my journey after cancer. But being stubborn and cocky like I can be on the rare occasion, I put the paper away and didn't bother with the books. But lo and behold, there they were, sitting there, just waiting for me at Inspire, telling me to take them.

So I've been reading them in chunks, trying to make sense out of why I still feel like shit. Why do I have anger, bitterness, fatigue, depression, unmotivation, survivor's guilt, bullshit and puke? But I also have happiness, gratitude, and drive. All this together is one big mushy yuck blah. And a lot of times, I just want turn it all off.

Alas, next week, I have to end the pity party and get back to business. School starts--for everyone in our household. Chloe's off to kindergarten, Mylo's off to daycare full-time, Dude's back to being his academic rockstar awesomeness (not like he ever quit), and me--I'm back to the MFA program. Life must move on. I'm terrified, but it's all systems go.

Despite my whining, I will admit the summer has been quite rockin'. We've gone to many wonderful places and done a lot of amazing things, and to wrap it all up, we went on a grownups-only gourmet kayaking trip last weekend. The trip was organized and offered through Edible BC and Blue Planet Kayaking Adventures. It was freaking awesome!!!! You know how I like to bitch and complain? I cannot complain about one single thing on this trip. We were even blessed with gorgeous weather the first two days and, yes, BLESSED, with rain on the day we had to paddle back and catch the ferry. I was glad we got some rain so we could experience the excitement of choppy waters, almost-killer waves, and feeling the rain beat down on our heads.

We started off at 5 am on Friday. We took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo at 6:30 am. We got to Nanaimo at 8 am, where we met James Bray, our gourmet chef/kayaking extraordinaire tour guide. He packed us all into this full-sized van, towing a trailer of kayaks, and we drove to the boat launch site, where we met up with Kirsten, his assistant. Everyone was all smiles and eager to begin our adventure!

Two of our friends had the most experience kayaking, and the rest of us had little or no experience at all (I'd belong to the latter category). But as the sun shone down on us, we were all confident we'd do alright.

We paddled for about 3 hours to the campsite at Pirate's Cove Park on De Courcy Island. We passed gorgeous sandstone caves and cliffs. A lot of the cliff faces looked alien and mysterious yet undeniably beautiful.

Here's one of those alien formations.

Our guides, James and Kirsten, go by the "boob" rocks. Boobs of all shapes, sizes, and ages!

We check out the boobs. After all, that's what this trip was about!

When we got to the campsite, James whipped up a delicious and delicate tuna sashimi nicoise salad, or something fancy like that. It was good.

Then we set up our tents, got settled in, and started in on the wine. Mind you, we managed to bring 5 bags of wine with us in those kayaks (cuz we're classy), not to mention the legit bottles of wine that James brought with him for dinner, and our bottle of Dead Arm. That added up to, like, 30 LITRES of wine. In case you don't know how much that is, it's a lot. It's obscene.

After a nice hike through the park, we ate dinner. And part of the dinner was this lovely cheese plate. Unfortunately, I was too busy getting plastered to eat any cheese, but my kayak mates finished the whole thing off.

When dinner was finished, we engaged in a furious game of Uno. Even in my extremely drunken stupor, I managed to lay down cards as I was passed out on the picnic table. At one point, I had to go #2 in the outhouse. I was pitch-black dark, and I had my headlamp on. So without telling anyone where I was going or what I was doing (I later found out they thought I was leaving the table to pass out in the tent), I headed off toward the outhouse. In order to get to the outhouse, one had to go down a path, go down a considerable flight of stairs, go up another path, and go up a ramp to the potty. So I did all this, but when I got to the ramp and looked up at the outhouse, my immediate thought was: "I can't go in there. There's a serial killer in there. I've seen the movies. I will be hacked up into little pieces and eaten." Fear--no, terror--struck, and I started telling myself, "Stupid! How could you come down here by yourself! Now you're going to be killed!" So I turned to go back to the group and get Dude, but all of a sudden, I had no idea where I was! I looked left--there was a path. I looked right--there was another path. I went with my gut, and--whew!--there were the stairs to go back up to the tents.

When I got back to the picnic table, everyone was laughing at me. They were watching my little bobble light the whole time and wondering what the hell I was doing, especially when I turned around without going to the bathroom. Anyway, it was time to call it a night (yeah, after I took the husband back down to the outhouse with me and did my business).

The next morning, I was the first one to wake up despite my killer hangover. But thanks to James's delicious cheese-stuffed French toast and coffee, we were all ready to go to our day's destination, Blackberry Point on Valdes Island.

Here's a group shot of us enroute:

Yes, I did the single kayak thing on the way to Blackberry. Let me tell you--it was so hard! You definitely can't sit back and cruise and let someone else do the work for a bit when you're by yourself. Good thing the water was calm and the weather was nice.

And here are some logs on the beach, including DH as a log.

When we got back to De Courcy, James whipped up a lovely halibut dinner.

We definitely ate, drank, and were merry that night. And luckily for us, my sister-in-law had the foresight to buy TowTabs. Yes, her husband made fun of her for buying these, but he was soon singing her praises, as you can see in this video. And as asked on their website, "How do you TowTab? On a hike, with your bike, when you fish, when you wish," we TowTabbed like crazy. It's like a Dr. Seuss invention.

If you think TowTabs are weird, hold on. This is even weirder. So we're all guffawing our asses off (GOAO, I believe the cyberspeak would be), when this cute young couple passes by. We saw them before but never chatted. So we started talking and invited them for a drink. Then the young man, Eli, and I were talking about why our group was on this trip. I said it was because I was diagnosed with cancer last year and we were celebrating life, so he said that his mom goes to an acupuncturist named Gerard! I said that I do too! And then I realized that I've seen him and his mom before at Inspire! Freakin' crazy!!! It was like totally full circle at that moment.

We had a lovely time with Eli and Adrienne, and eventually, we got them sufficiently wasted, and they went back to their cabin to do what I imagine young people must do.

And other than Lou-Anne rolling down a cliff and hurting herself, but not too much, thank god, we had an awesome time! We want to do a reunion trip! Incredible!

Here are some souvenir shells from the trip, holding our own home-raised, organic cilantro-fed caviar d'escargot. Yes, that's right. I ate my pet snails' babies. They were good.

So the moral of this epic story: life can be shitty; just don't go to the outhouse alone in the dark, and you'll be okay.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not-so-Dead Arm

First, I want to thank everyone for keeping up with my blog, even when I haven't been so good at keeping up with it myself. You know how yappy I've been...well it seems that the recovery process has been silencing me. Odd. Or perhaps not so, I suppose.

As an update on the annoying lumps that have appeared on my chest--all the medical professionals I have seen said that they are 99-105% sure it's fat necrosis. So that's excellent news. My oncologist has retired, but I got another nice oncologist to replace her. Basically, if it gets bigger, I will go back to the cancer agency. Hopefully, it will just melt the fuck away. Enough said.

So this is the cool part: last week when I saw the plastic surgeon to discuss my nipple reconstruction, she took a look at me and said coyly, "Would you like to be bigger?" I said, "Who wouldn't?" She said, "You look nice and athletic now, but I could make you look more feminine. It wouldn't add much extra time to the surgery to give you implants." So...WOO FUCKING HOO! I get to have knockers! Yay! Not only did I get a tummy tuck from the tram flap surgery, but I get honking tits to boot! Fuck yeah! So in the next couple months, I will go back in for a "size consultation" and then get prepped for surgery, which will be out-patient. Dang. Oh, Ca-na-da...

This weekend is our awesome gourmet kayaking adventure. We are taking a special bottle of wine with us called "Dead Arm." I could go into the significance of this, but I'm tired. I'll just say it's a good, tasty metaphor for the shit I went through this past year.

I'm back to school in a couple weeks too. And that freaks me out, but I'm going to just do it. Move on with life, and enjoy it all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh yeah...


RIP Betty

For once, I'm finding it hard to write.

A good friend of mine passed away. Betty Ho. Her son Arnie just called to tell me the news. Betty was fighting lung cancer. She was diagnosed earlier this year. Years ago, she fought breast cancer and won. When I was diagnosed, she quickly came to my door with hugs, tears, some head coverings, a cheque, and her support.

I met Betty through the Chinese Canadian Historical Society. She was one of the 24 participants in a workshop that I organized and facilitated. She had such an incredible passion for writing and learning. Despite our age difference, she was like a sister to me--a kindred spirit. My heart is breaking right now.

When I was ending my chemo and beginning radiation, Betty was beginning her chemo. She wanted to take me to the labyrinth at St. Paul's Anglican Church as a meditation exercise. Sadly, I never got to go with her as we both had such busy schedules. I'd like to go now, for her and with her in spirit.

Here's a picture of our workshop way back in March 2007. Betty is standing beside me in the front row.

Rest in peace, Betty. I love you.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I get to keep my new hair.

This is just one of the trivial and not-so-trivial thoughts running through my mind.

Things look good.  The ultrasound images didn't look like cancer.  The mammogram was inconclusive, as the lump was too far up my chest for them to get a good picture of it.  They squooshed and smooshed me as much as they could into the machine, but alas, it wasn't happening.  I see the oncologist again in a couple weeks, so I suppose she'll decide then whether or not to biopsy the lumps, just to be 100% certain it's just tissue.

I see the plastic surgeon next week to talk about nips.  I'm super psyched for this.  I miss having nipples.  I like nipples.  They command attention and for whatever reason are provocative.  They're like little jewels.  And they're coming from my inner thigh.  I like the idea of that as well.  My pokies will actually be thigh tissue.

I feel like I'm entering a new phase of my life.  Watch out:  Diva Brandy is loose and on the prowl.  I got cute new hair, I'm gonna have some hot little titties, and I've got attitude to spare.  ROWR!