Happy Cancer Girl

A Happy Girls Journey with Cancer

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I had the opportunity to go see my gynaecologist yesterday and talk about my past surgery, my upcoming surgery, my scans and anything else I wanted to talk about. Each time I see a doctor I learn a little bit more about what is going on with me. Of course each doctor has their own opinion about various treatments, but I take that bit with a grain of salt.

As I said early this week, I have been having some pain in my stomach. I was sure that it was the endometriosis as the pain was very similar to pain I’ve had before. I’ve been concerned about the endo the surgeon wasn’t able to remove and what it means for me after my next surgery. Will I still experience pain? Thankfully it turns out that most of my endometriosis is on my uterus and ovary which will be removed, but I also have a lot on my pelvis and my bowel and back wall. I’m not 100% sure what my back wall is, but I guess it’s the back of my body (not my actual back). The surgeon doing my hysterectomy is also a colon specialist, so hopefully he will be able to remove some of the bowel endo. Fingers crossed that when it is all said and done the pain is gone.

I found out the results of my latest scan. Turns out in a matter of weeks I went from having a clear right ovary to growing another 6 cm cyst. The pain that I am feeling could possibly be coming from this growth. I’m not going to lie, I was shocked beyond belief. I just had surgery in November, she showed me pictures, my remaining ovary was swollen but didn’t have a cyst on it. This news also confirms  that I am making the right decision. The sooner these organs are out of my body the better. Only 2 more weeks to go!

Something a little random on the scan…they think I have a small belly button hernia. I don’t…it’s scare tissue from my last surgery.

The good news is, it looks like my lungs, breasts and lymph nodes are free of cancer!!! If this is the case during surgery and the cancer hasn’t spread outside of my reproductive system, I will only be in Stage 1 or Stage 2. I didn’t think that I would be in a later stage, because I did have surgery in November and it’s not like they were in there and saw cancer anywhere else, but it was great to hear that the scan’s look clear!

After the appointment I was left with many mixed emotions. I am thrilled that I am probably free of cancer in other areas of my body. That is a huge win for us. I am angry at my body for growing another cyst. I’m hoping that most of the endometriosis can be removed during my surgery. I’m scared about my recovery.

I was going to end this post with the Stand Up to Cancer song that came out about 3 years ago, but it’s sad and it makes me cry and I don’t need any more sad stuff, I need fun and happy stuff.

For those of you who have known me for most of my life you probably know that I LOVED New Kids on the Block when I was a kid. I think I begged my mom to take me to one of their concerts, but I never had the chance to go…I’m sure they didn’t come anywhere near NB. Back in 2008 the New Kids came out with a new album and went on tour and I took my mom. I was so excited to go and see them. It was like a dream come true. Anyway, NKOTB will be releasing another album this year and are going on tour this summer with 98 Degrees and Boys II Men! Unfortunately they are going to be on tour during my chemo so it’s not very likely that I will see them again this time, but I will remain a fan. They released a new song this week so I’ve decided to add it to my post and I will have an 80’s dance party in my kitchen!

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Rent-a-Kid

Although I have a lot of stuff going on in my life I am very lucky for many reasons. One of those reasons is because of my honorary kids. Each and every one bring a lot of joy into my life. They aren’t reading my blog because they are all to young, however I want to take this opportunity to thank them for being one of life’s many gifts.

Morgan – I cherish you like I do my own nieces’, you are growing up before my eyes which makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Your mentioning going to high school in a couple years just blows me away. I hope that you continue to visit and know that I am always here to listen to you and give advice. You are growing into a beautiful young woman and I am so very grateful to have you as one of my honorary kids!

Nick – I wish I was able to see you more often, but love that we have been able to go camping together the past couple of summers. You are so smart and so very sweet and I am glad I am able to watch you grow into such a loving person. I love that you were able to come and spend time with me last summer and hope that you will want to continue to do that!

Zach – I love having you come stay when your sister has cheerleading! I was really looking forward to keeping you for the weekend, but understand that it’s hard to leave mom and dad. Know that you are always welcome in my home and I LOVE that I can count on you to go to the movies with me when I need a cartoon fix!

Karston – My dear sweet Karston I love that you call me Antie. I cherish our time together and am amazed at how long you can stay at my house before you are ready to go home to your mom. I feel like you know how important it was for me to see many of your milestone’s while growing so you seemed to hold out until I was around. I love how you care about everyone and seem to have an old soul. Your week long visits have meant so much too me and I hope that you will continue to come for years to come!

Alice – You are growing up way to fast! You are so incredibly smart and you can carry a conversation like someone many years older then you. I love that you like to paint your nails and play with your hair but at the same time you are not afraid to get down and dirty in the garden. I don’t get to see you often enough either, but hope that you will continue to come and visit with me in the summers!

Marlee – What can I say Mars Bar, you haven’t been around as long as the other’s…being two and all. BUT in the two years you have been around you have made a huge impact on my life. I was so shocked to see that you didn’t really like me, when most kids love being with me. I’m glad that this has finally passed and you like Antie, Georgia and Owen! I look forward to watching you grow and can’t wait for the day that you too are ready to come and spend time all alone at Antie’s house.

These kids are so important to me and although only 4 of them are actually family I will always feel like the other 2 are also. I call them my rent-a-kids because I can always call their parents and ask to spend time with them.

I was trying to think of a good song to post at the bottom, but actually found this trailer for a movie called Rent A Kid from 1995. I think I will try to find a copy to watch with the kids some day!!

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The Sad Reality

I am a happy person for the most part, but I do have moments when I am really sad. They come and go and I’m sure they will while I am going through all of this. On the weekend I had some sad moments that I thought I might share.

Cancer is lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had incredible support and love from my family and friends, but I find I don’t share a lot of information. I know I’ve said lots on this blog, but it’s general information and usually on how to make myself happy. You know when you see someone and they say “Hi, how are you?”, the usual response is “I’m good, how are you?”, well when people ask me how I’m doing, I always say I’m great or I’m good, even if I’m not. I feel like it’s not fair to give an honest answer because it’s heavy stuff.

The truth is, I am good for the most part, but for the past week or two I’ve been having terrible stomach pains. This is likely my endometriosis. Before I had surgery in November I only had endometriosis pain about a day or two a month, nothing serious. After my surgery I was healing so I didn’t really notice, but this month it’s been much worse with the pain lasting for well over a week. I don’t know if it’s because I had the surgery, or if it’s because of stress…but what I do know is, it sucks. It feels like a constant pulling inside my stomach and sometimes it hurts so bad that I can’t stand up straight. Today I am going to call the gynaecologist and hopefully I can see her before I go for surgery, because I have lots of questions.

The other thing that often brings me down is mourning the loss of my uterus. I think women often say “Ugh I wish I didn’t have to have a period, it’s so annoying”, but it’s said out of frustration because we are stuck with it every single month. Knowing that in 3 weeks time I’m not going to have a uterus is sad. I will never know what it’s like to be pregnant, to feel a baby growing inside of me, to give birth to a human that you love unconditionally. I have spent hundreds of dollars on books about pregnancy and preparing  for pregnancy and motherhood. I quit a great job because I thought the stress was causing my infertility. Owen and I have spent hours talking about what kind of parents we would be. Owen and I would have been great parents.

Because I have big stuff weighing on me, it’s usually the little stuff that makes it all bubble over. Finding out last week that I was a part of the student load privacy breach put me in a rage. I know mistakes happen, but I was really angry when I found out. When I call someone to talk (because I have to get some of this stuff off my chest), and they tell me they will call me back and then they don’t ever call, it hurts and then I get sad because I give a lot to those I am close to….and sometimes I just need their attention in return. Like I said cancer is lonely. Everyone has their own stuff going on and I can’t expect everything to be about me. I should probably get a therapist!!

Writing this post has made me a little sad so I’m going to crank some tunes and dance around the kitchen…I may even go play Hip Hop Experience on the Wii just cause! But first I’m going to Stompa my feet! I LOVE this song. Owen you should watch the video because there are girls with bows and arrows! Ha.

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Happy Friday!

I don’t know if it’s because of the super cold weather but I feel like this week has been incredibly long! I’ve spent countless hours on the phone trying to make sure no one can steal my identity or credit and of course hours looking up hysterectomies and the recovery from that surgery. So I’m glad it is finally Friday…and not just any Friday, today I get to have girls night with some very lovely ladies who I haven’t seen in way too long!

I came across this video the other day, I really hope that I can have this much fun when I am doing chemo! Have a great weekend everyone!

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Privacy Breach

I found out yesterday that I was one of the lucky 583,000 Canada student loan borrowers who had their personal information stolen/lost from the HRSDC. I am left trying to figure out what exactly this means for me and am spending hours on the phone trying to get this sorted out. If you haven’t heard, a portable hard-drive that contains SIN, addresses, phone numbers and date of birth for people who had a Canadian student loan between 2000-2006 has been lost. If you had a student loan you should checkout this website: http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/main/spotlighton/privacy/index.shtml

My question is…why would they have that kind of personal information on a portable hard drive? Why wouldn’t it be on a server? Why is it all of the provinces except Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories were effected? Why couldn’t they lose something better, like how much we all have left to pay? And why did it take 2 months for the HRSDC to let the public know?

The thing that bothers me is that when I called the woman was so nonchalant. She said “Oh yeah your information was lost”. Umm yay me, I’m certainly winning the craptastic lottery these days. The lady then told me they were going to send me a letter and I would have it in 7-10 days. Umm why haven’t the letters already been sent out? They know who’s information was “lost”. She also told me that there was an apology in the letter. Oh yay an apology, not an offer to pay for the credit check I had to run to make sure no one has used this information against me.

I had to call Equifax and Trans Union to get them to put a Fraud Check on my name for the next 6 years. You would think this would be a some what painless effort, but that’s not really the case. It took me over an hour talking to an Equifax computer to find out that my application had been declined. Seriously…declined. When I ran the credit report I found out they have my address as an old address as my primary….how does that even happen?

Today I get to continue my effort of making sure no one can open any accounts under my name with out me knowing…fun! 🙂

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Crazy Sexy Cancer Book Review

I am a reader, that is a fact. I read a lot of books every year and challenge myself to read more. I like a wide range of books and I always find it helpful to read books when I want to learn something new. So I bought some cancer books. I was shocked that there were so few, but I was thankful to find some really great books written by Kris Carr. I had heard about Kris’s Crazy Sexy Diet but didn’t know her story. I bought a copy of Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor and of course Crazy Sexy Kitchen because I LOVE cookbooks and wanted to know what types of food Ms. Karr has been eating!

CrazySexyCancer

Kris has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer, but thankfully it is slow moving. Her books are full of tips such as making a cancer posse full of woman who also have cancer or are cancer survivor’s, allow yourself 3 days to have a pity party but then pack it up and get going with your life (yes you can have pity parties again, but only allow 3 days each time), make sure you indulge in some retail therapy (I won’t argue there), journal (or in my case blog) and many other tips. The books are positive and uplighting and exactly what I needed when I found out I had cancer. As great as the books are there is something missing, she talks about surgery and treatments but she hasn’t actually gone through them herself. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, BUT a lot of people who have cancer do have to have surgery and will go through treatments. The other thing that was hard to relate with is the fact that she is/was a actress/model and all of her friends that she has in the book are also in the entertainment industry. However, it is her story and like I said it was exactly what I needed those first few days.

As for the cookbook, it is filled with 150 plant based recipes which is right up my alley. If you are interested in the recipes she has some one her website here: http://kriscarr.com/recipes/

I’m not going to lie, I haven’t actually made any of the recipes from the cookbook yet or her website, but they do look good! If you have made some of her recipes please let me know what your favourites are.

Kris has also done a documentary on her journey of trying to find a cure and how to live with the cancer that she has, I haven’t watched it yet, but here is the trailer:

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The Hardest Thing I’ve Had to Do

When the doctor said “It’s cancer”, I burst into tears. Once I pulled myself together and Owen and I left the hospital I realized I had to call my family. How do you tell a parent that their daughter has cancer? I decided to call my sister first and our conversation kind of went like this:

Me – So I went to the doctor today.

Rachel – Oh yeah, how did it go?

Me – Well, she told me I have cancer.

Rachel – What?

Me – She told me I have cancer.

Rachel – *tears

Renee – *tears

Rachel – Are you ok?

Renee – Yeah. I had to call you first and test out how to tell mom and dad.

Rachel – Thanks for that.

I have this way of dragging things out and trying to start from the beginning so that people know what’s going on, but usually by the time I get to my point the person is lost in my story. So I thought the best thing to do was just blurt it out. I don’t remember talking to my parents, Owen’s parents or his sisters that day. A part of me felt like I had to hurry and tell people about what was going on, but another part of me didn’t want to tell anyone. Cancer is a strange thing to talk about and I’m generally uncomfortable with crying in front of people.

What I didn’t realize was how bad I would feel when telling people that I have cancer. Almost everyone knows someone who has had cancer and I think people often remember the bad stuff and forget that maybe they too know a surviver. Unfortunately I have a few friends who have lost their parents to cancer and I had to make sure I talked to them before they found out some other way. It was difficult to know how to tell them because I didn’t want to bring up the bad memories and I didn’t want to cause them any more pain then they have already had to deal with.

It is also difficult not telling people, it feels like the elephant in the room to me. Right now cancer is a big part of my life and it’s often something I am thinking about…so it’s hard to be around people and not tell them. I have no reason to not tell people (I do have a blog and have put it out there for the world to read), but sometimes I just don’t know how to bring it up. I have a book club meeting to go to this week and some of the ladies who go are actually friends of mine so they already know, but the rest of the women I only know through book club. I know I have to tell them because in reality I will miss the next meeting because I will be just getting back from the hospital and the meeting after that I will probably be bald. I’m sure it will be awkward but I will be glad to tell them because I’m sure it would be a lot more awkward to show up to a meeting in a few months looking like Mr. Clean!

mrclean

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Surgery Date

After a long month of waiting for some news I have finally been given a surgery date. I am going to have my surgery on February 15th at 8:00 am. I was supposed to go to Cuba on the same day with my parents and Owen, I had already cancelled the trip as we knew that I would be having surgery at some point and wouldn’t be able to go. On the bright side, the insurance company should have no problem giving us back our deposits!

I am glad the hospital called with the date of my surgery, but I’m sure I will have an all day kitchen dance party to relieve some of the stress that I am feeling. I don’t regret our decision in any way, however it is terrifying going under the knife!

As I said yesterday music makes me happy and really good music usually makes me laugh. I found a song the other day that will likely be played at my house a lot today, it’s called Alcohol by The Cataracs feat. Sky Blu from LMFAO. I don’t drink often but there’s something about this song that cracks me up.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and I will blog at you again on Monday!

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Music and Laughter Make My World Spin

Many people have asked how I manage to stay happy when things in my life are less than perfect, and I usually say something along the lines of “Oh well you know I just remain positive.” This is true, but there’s more to it than that. Today I’m going to share my key to happiness and if you read to the bottom you may get a good laugh also!

Most days I laugh…a lot! I laugh out loud when I read books and then usually try to tell Owen what was funny, but it never seems as funny when I say it. If I’m going to watch tv I like to watch shows that are funny and will make me laugh. If you haven’t watched 2 Broke Girls you should check it out because it’s pretty funny.

I have a little cocker spaniel whose’s name is Georgia, she is almost always doing something that requires a chuckle. If I give her a cherry tomato she will bat it around the floor and pounce on it like she is killing her prey. How can you not laugh at a dog who will steal a cucumber and eat all the peel off?

Georgia

Music has always been a big part of my life. I have always loved to dance. So when I’m feeling down I turn on some music and I dance around my kitchen. I like different types of music, but for some reason I really like music that has swearing in it. Not hard core rap, but poppy dancey stuff that you wouldn’t expect to have swearing. I don’t know what it is, but it cracks me up! Because I don’t have kids, I don’t feel the need to sensor my music so I have a wide range of stuff and always seem to buy the explicit version. If you haven’t heard Thrift Shop by Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis you need to because the song is great, but the video is even better!!

If all else fails I will take silly pictures. I have a Mac and there is a program called “Photo Booth” and you can take pictures that distorts your face. My sister and I tend to take pictures and send them to each other and by the time we are done I am in tears because I am laughing so hard.

So if you stuck it out and read this post, here’s a few pictures to help get you through your day (Rachel and Owen I apologize for this in advance, but I couldn’t just put the picture of me on here!!).

ReneeSmush

RachelSmush

OwenSmush

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Let Food Be Thy Medicine

I want to say thank you for the amazing support and response I received yesterday! So many people shared my blog and I had more views that I would have even dreamed of.

When I first got my diagnoses all I could think about was how to fix this. Sure the doctors gave me options and yes we are in modern times so I will have surgery and I will let chemo poison the rest of the cancer cell’s, but what else can I do? I went to Chapters and I bought books (I will review the books in later posts), and I searched the internet.

Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We live in a world where it is acceptable to engineer foods and modify them so that they grow in all weather and strange conditions. The animals that we eat are treated horribly and are given medicine and hormones to keep them alive. When Hippocrates was talking about food as medicine, food was good and home grown and not likely chemical ridden.

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I don’t think being over weight has given me cancer, but it does put a strain on one’s health. So with my tail tucked between my legs I went to see Bruce Sweeney at Simply for Life. I told Bruce that I have cancer and that between cancer, chemo and menopause, I have no idea what my body is going to go through. I need nutritional help and he’s just the man to help me.

I have been eating a plant based diet for about a year and a half now. One would think that I would be healthy because of that, but it’s really easy to be a junk food vegan who eats way too much pasta! With Bruce’s expertise I will make my plant based diet better for my body and I will let food be my medicine. This for me means buying more organic and staying away from genetically modified foods. I will share with you what types of foods I am eating in future posts, but in the meantime if you are foodie (or just interested) you should check out my pinterest board, I have a ton of recipes that I have found on the internet: http://pinterest.com/reneebuerkle/

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