Happy Cancer Girl

A Happy Girls Journey with Cancer

Cancer Free Trip

A few months ago a friend of mine called and asked if I would like to go to New York City. I’ve been to NYC and I don’t really like going back to the same place more than once (if I’m going on a vacation), because there are so many places in the world that I would like to see. However, I have travelled with this friend before and we had a lot of fun so I decided to go.

When I arrived at the airport I was really excited, not just the usual excitement I get when going away, but REALLY excited. My friend was a little baffled and said that it’s not the first trip I’ve been on…so what’s the deal? This was the first time since my diagnoses in Dec. ’12, that I was going away and it had nothing to do with cancer. For me, this was a big milestone. I was away from everyone I know, my hair is short, but looks normal, my skin colour doesn’t look grey and I have enough energy to last me for a few days. No one (except Denise) would know that I had been sick.

We did a little shopping, a lot of walking, learned the subway system, saw a couple broadway shows, ate some good food, went to Chinatown and most importantly the American Museum of Natural History. The Museum was amazing, if we had more time I would have wanted to go back. We would be lucky to have seen 1/4 of the exhibits.

The worst part about the trip was that it was really warm and the apartment we rented didn’t have any air-conditioning. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, but because I am still going through menopause and having hot flashes, I found the heat a little unbearable. With that being said, it was calling for rain the whole time I was there and we only got rained on one night after seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Neil Patrick Harris is in this show until sometime in July, if you are in NYC you should check it out), so I tried not to complain about the heat too much.

My time away was wonderful and it was cancer free and I’m really glad that I went. I have had a lot of pent up anger about a lot of different things, and I think I left most of that anger on the streets of NYC. I think with each new experience I am learning how to grow and move along. After the retreat I went to in May (that I wrote about last post), I came home feeling more whole. I was able to work through some of the feelings I had about recurrence and some of the loneliness I have felt. NYC (although cancer free) really helped me relax and just let go of the anger that I’ve held onto. In a couple weeks I am going back to Toronto for a conference with Young Adult Cancer Canada, and I know it will help me along with my healing process.

Todays song is featured on the soundtrack for The Fault in Our Stars called Tee Shirt by Birdy. The movie comes out in June and is based on a book by John Greene. The song is beautiful and makes me think of Owen, enjoy!


YACC Retreat Yourself 2014

Owen and I went to the Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) Retreat in Coburg, Ontario on the weekend. It was an amazing weekend, and I am going to try my hardest to share what the weekend was all about.

We flew to Toronto really early on Thursday morning. The best part about the flight was running into my cousin who was on his way back out west to work. Other than that it was your usual early morning Air Canada flight. After landing in Toronto, we grabed a cab downtown and went to The Croissant Tree for breakfast. Ummm, this place was insanely good and the prices were amazing. If you are ever in Toronto I would consider this a must go!



We met up with some of the other YACC retreaters at Wellspring, which is a cancer support centre. A guy from The Second City came and did some Improv activities with us. At first I was unsure about getting there in time to take part, but I’m so glad I didn’t miss out. It was a great space to start opening up to the people I was going to be spending the next 4 days with.

At 2:00 in the afternoon we boarded a bus to take us to Coburg. We took a school bus, I kid you not. It was AMAZING! I haven’t been on a school bus since Safe Grad ’98. Our final destination was Northumberland Heights. We were assigned our rooms, had time to unpack, freshen up, check out the building (that has the most amazing yoga room) and get ready for dinner.


This is where things get real. We are a long ways from Toronto without a vehicle. We are stuck there with no way to escape. For me, this was probably the thing that I really needed. No way to leave, because I sometimes like to run when things get tough. We all met in a big room with the chairs set up in a big circle with tissue boxes on the floor around the circle. We introduced ourselves which was easy enough. NOT easy to remember everyone’s names, thankfully we were all wearing name tags! Then we shared our stories and from that moment I will never be the same again. The raw emotion was gut wrenching, everyone was so open and so honest with their diagnosis and their lives and where they are at now. I don’t remember a thing I said that night, I know I said it through tears. I don’t know if I talked for one minute or five or if what I said even made sense. Owen’s turn to share his story was before mine, and he said he didn’t want to over shadow me because it was my story. I was so worried that Owen was going to get in the way of himself. My story isn’t just my story, it’s his story also. He may not have had cancer, nor did he have to go through treatments, but he lost just as much as I did and I really wanted him to go to the retreat and talk with someone.


The next two days were filled with small group discussions, big group discussions, music therapy, art therapy, food and free time. Owen and I weren’t in any of the small group discussions together, which I was very thankful for. I was sure he would share more without me being with him. During one of my small group discussions there was another husband who was there with his wife. When he talked about his experience and everything they had been through it opened up this whole new way of seeing Owen for me. We talked about relationships, emotional well being and our fear of recurrence. We talked and we talked and we talked some more. We talked to people who wanted to listen, we talked and understood each other, we talked without a filter. We connected on a level that we couldn’t connect with other people.

Saturday night was game’s night, but before the games began we all said one word to describe how we were feeling. My word was “buzz”, because it felt like there were bee’s in my head, a whole lot of white noise. I had talked so much and let so much stuff out on the table for everyone to see. I heard stories of terminal illness, survival, loss, heart ache and although I was feeling ok I think I was having a hard time processing everything. I was so overwhelmed and confused that my head hurt (seriously I had a migraine almost everyday we were there). But, something happened on Saturday night…all of that emotion, the frustration I’ve kept to myself, all of the pain…it came busting out of me in the best way possible, by laughing. A game called Scribblish brought me back to myself. I haven’t laughed so hard and for so long in years. It was so freeing, and a little insane because once that hole opened, the emotion came out in laughter for the whole next day also…it was crazy (seriously by Sunday night my throat hurt from laughing so much..that’s not normal).

Sunday night there was a talent show, which was simply amazing. Owen did a water glass music thing with a couple other retreaters, they called themselves “Talent in Progress”, it was fantastic! There was some really great musical talent and it reminded me of my list for living and how I want to learn to play the piano, there is no time like the present!

Unfortunately we had to leave the bubble we were in. During the last day there someone said “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a YACC Village where we all lived”, and in the moment it was so true. What I would give to be close to the people I had just met. Thankfully we live in the digital age where we can connect very easily. Hopefully I will get to see those beautiful faces again, if not in this life I will for sure in the next.

YACC, thank you so much for this incredible opportunity. I am going to try my hardest to give back over the years, because your support means the world to me. To my YACC retreat family, I love you and I miss you already. When I said I don’t like hugs, it really is true, but I will hug you every single time I see you because you are all very special to me.

I am going to leave this post with a song by U2 – Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of. This was preformed at the talent show and it was truly blissful moment!



1 Year Hysterversary

Warning: This post is a little random and all over the place.

It has been a whole year since my total hysterectomy….a whole year! I think the older you get, the faster time goes. As I was going through treatments it didn’t feel fast, but to look back on the past year so much has happened and here we are again, in February.

To be honest, I don’t know what to do with this blog anymore. I know I want to keep it open so that maybe other women who need information will find it. I had the blog so I could keep everyone updated, and to share real information about what was going on with me. However, once the doctor said my scans were clean I felt like that was it. Who wants to hear from the Happy Cancer Girl who doesn’t have cancer?

I don’t have cancer. Is that really right? I had cancer, but my scans are clean…so that means I don’t have cancer? I’m a cancer survivor, at least that’s what I am today. I go back to see the oncologist in 2 weeks for my quarterly check up, fingers crossed that all is well inside of my body.

I have been having a hard time sleeping the past couple of weeks. I try to forget everything that has happened with me, but being a year ago that I had my surgery makes that hard. I still have nightmares, not blood and gore, but real life nightmares.

One of my sister-in-law’s gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a few weeks ago. She has been so kind to me and has allowed me to spend as much time with Max as I would like. My love for him is deep (likely because he is the first nephew to be born post hysterectomy), and of course he has been automatically added to my list of rent-a-kids. Spending lots of time with the baby has amazing, but it has also been hard on me. Being with him makes me long to have a baby of my own, but that isn’t possible. I know that there is adoption, but with all of the red tape and the fact that I have a type of cancer that has a high recurrence rate doesn’t make me a very good candidate. It makes it hard to not go through the questions, why did this happen to me?, what did I do to deserve this?, why me, why me, why me?? Seriously cancer can make a person really self involved!!

On a bright and non-cancer note, I am tutoring a little boy in Grade 2 reading. It was been an interesting experience for me. I love to read and really wanted to be able to share that with someone. In just a few weeks I already see an improvement in his reading, a couple hours a week can make such a big difference.

My taste in music lately has been more on the folky/mellow side, here’s a couple video’s for you to enjoy!


3 Month Update

I can’t believe its been 3 months since my last post! You can probably imagine I have lots to say. 🙂

Yesterday I had my 3 month check up with the oncologist and I am happy to report that everything looks and feels as it should. I have to have blood work done to check my levels but other than that I won’t have to go back for another 3 months! So on the cancer front things are good.

I think I mentioned my mood not being great in my last post. September was a really hard month for me. After the treatments are all done, you suddenly go from being extremely busy to being alone with lots of free time on your hands. You would think that this is a good thing, but really I was tired from the many months of chemo. I slept a lot and I cried when I was awake. I did realize that I was going to need some help, so I called around (I thought it was going to be one simple phone call, but that was not the case) and found a therapist to help me. It was nice to be able to sit and talk to someone who wasn’t a friend or a family member, someone who wasn’t really invested in my future, but wanted to help with my mental health.

I also found my way to the local women’s cancer support group. It was such a relief to sit in a room with a bunch of women who understood how I was feeling. We actually didn’t even talk about cancer and that somehow made it even better. One of the things that was discussed was a women’s cancer retreat that was happening near the end of October. I knew it was exactly what I needed.

At the end of October I went to the cancer retreat and it was incredible. I have come away from that weekend feeling more like the me I remember than I have in a really long time. I met so many incredible woman. I wish I could post a picture from the weekend, but I don’t have permission so I can’t. I am so thankful to the New Brunswick Breast Cancer Network for funding this retreat and allowing me to attend despite not having breast cancer.

November was a better month for me. Owen went to Toronto for work and he brought me home the most thoughtful gift I have ever received!



He went to the Lego store and made this for me. Mark D, thank you for taking him to the store!!

I bought a Fitbit Flex which is a bracelet that tracks your steps, active minutes (the steps that you take that are actually exercise), and your sleeping pattern. I have committed to doing 10,000 steps/day. Let me tell you, I had no idea how much work it takes to actually do 10,000 steps/day. It pretty much takes me an hour on the treadmill and than whatever steps I take through out the rest of the day. On my more busy days I may only need to do 30 minutes on the treadmill, but that has been rare. I was not feeling well for a few days and didn’t make the 10,000 steps, but made up for them during the rest of the week so that my weekly total was over 70,000 steps.

Owen and I didn’t get to take a vacation this summer because of my treatments so we decided to go to Maine to go shopping the weekend before Black Friday. It was so nice to get away and spend a few days together without any distractions. Owen’s parents kept Georgia for us (thanks Beth and Udo we really do appreciate it), which was great because it gave me a chance to find good hotel deals without having to look for ones that take pets and no pet fee’s which is another bonus! We did so much shopping…bought our Christmas gifts for ourselves and for our family. I’ve wanted snowshoe’s for years so we each got a pair (which almost guarantees that it won’t snow this winter) and new winter jackets. It will be really nice to get out into the snow whenever we get some! The biggest gift we got while away was a new puppy. Owen has taken up hunting and thought it would be nice to get a hunting dog (thanks Erick), and the dog he wanted was at Kirby Mountain Kennels in Vermont. The puppy was only a few hours from Freeport which was convenient since we were already down there shopping. The drive took us through the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it was an incredible drive. The drive home was long…10 hrs, but we like driving so it wasn’t too bad. The new puppy’s name is Jake and he is an English Cocker Spaniel.



We are all getting used to each other day by day. I forgot how much work a puppy is!! Georgia is really good with him despite him bugging her all day.

So there you have it, my 3 month update. I feel better today than I did this time last year which is huge! I’m happy and am learning to deal with everything I have been through. I am cancer free and hopefully always will be.

In true Renee fashion I will leave you with a video and because it is December and the holidays are upon us I will post a holiday song. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday’s, Happy New Year….whatever holiday you are celebrating.


Post Chemo Life

It has been a month since I finished my treatments and I think I’m ready to write about my life over the last few months. I wish I could have kept up with my blog during that time, but I either didn’t have the energy or the drive to sit and type. So this post will likely be long as I want to explain what the last two months of chemo was like for me, and what I have been up too post chemo.

The last time I wrote during my treatments was chemo #10, which was also my first blood transfusion. After that first transfusion I ended up getting a couple more transfusions. One around treatment #14 and than one that replaced my last treatment which was #18. After I reached the halfway point my blood counts remained low. Almost every week I would have my blood checked on the day of chemo because my weekend blood counts were too low for treatment. I was always able to continue my treatments because my counts were always a point or two above the cut off number.

July is kind of blur in my mind now. I would say it went by in the blink of an eye, but at the time it didn’t feel that way. I slept a lot because of my low blood counts. I suffered from a bad case of chemo brain, which really bothered me because I usually have a great memory. The bone pain really started to bother me in July. The only way I can think to explain it is like this, it felt like someone was taking a melon baller and was scooping the marrow out of the bones in my legs. It didn’t hurt all the time, but when it did hurt…it hurt pretty bad. One of my knees also ached pretty bad, every time I would walk up my driveway or any place uneven ended in a bit of a limp. The numbness in my hands and feet got worse in July, I was told to use a cane when walking because I kept tripping. I didn’t use a cane, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to use the motorized carts in the grocery store either. The last thing I wanted was for people to look at me and feel sorry.

July also brought along some really hot weather. Owen and I ended up buying an air conditioner because the heat and the hot flashes were making me feel worse than I really needed. The air conditioner helped cool the house down, but I felt kind of trapped. I knew going out would make me feel sick, so I stayed home more often and had my mom do my grocery shopping.

Speaking of my mom, she deserves so much more than I will ever be able to give her. She came to stay with me back in February when I had my surgery and pretty much stayed until I was done my treatments. She went home some, but she would always come back to cook, clean and take me to the hospital. I honestly don’t know how she did it. Between all the driving, staying at my house, cleaning up after me, making sure I was eating and endless hours at the hospital watching the life drain out of me…she is a strong woman and I will always be grateful for her. I think the job of the caregiver is almost harder than the job of the person going through the treatments.

August kind of came and went with a bit of a blur also. I had a couple treatments and then I was done. I was happy, but I was so tired that I don’t think it really registered. My bones still hurt and my hands and feet were still numb. At some point during the month I tripped going up my stairs, which left me with a cut on my hand and a big black and blue egg on my shin. A couple weeks after my last treatment I got a rash on my armpits, I think my hair follicles were irritated. A few days after that rash my arms also broke out. All of the hair that fell out wants to grow back and the start of the growing is really itchy and annoying for my baby soft skin!

What’s going on now? Well my hands and feet are feeling much better. They are still a bit numb, but not as bad as they were. I did trip down 3 stairs yesterday, but I think it was because I was daydreaming and not really paying attention. Thankfully I didn’t fall and although I hurt the bottom of my foot, it’s nothing too serious. My knee still hurts, I’m going to give it a little more time and then if it doesn’t feel better I will head to my GP for a check up. My bones ache on occasion, but nothing like they did in July and the first of August. I’m still tired, but mostly cause I over do it some days. I think my recovery from chemo is moving along at a pretty good pace. Each day I am able to do more than the last. Somedays I’m really tired and I take naps and push through the rest of the day. I’m reading and doing puzzles to help with the chemo brain. My head is not as clear as it used to be, but I have no doubt that I will get it all back eventually. I had a CT Scan and it showed no evidence of disease, I am now cancer free!

For six months I was busy with surgery, healing, blood work, doctors appointments and treatments. During that time I remained positive and happy for the most part. I almost always had a smile on my face. Now that the flurry of cancer is over (for the most part), I am left to heal. What I have come to realize is that there is more to heal than just my body. The emotions that I pushed back are now starting to surface. I was right in saying don’t worry about it, I will be fine. Because it was true, I have made it out the other side of the treatments and I am alive. But emotionally I think I am just starting to realize that I actually had cancer. Not only did I have cancer, but I had the most deadliest of female cancers. I beat it, and that is amazing and I’m really glad I did, but that doesn’t stop me from randomly bursting into tears thinking about all that I’ve been through.

Having had cancer is only half of it though. I am now able to process the fact that I have had a hysterectomy and what that really means for me. I have a giant scar that reminds me several times a day that I am missing something that I didn’t ever think I would lose. My body is not the same as it used to be, it can’t produce the hormones that it once used to. I can’t replace those hormones because of the type of cancer that I had. I used to act like a crazy hormonal person, I guess now I sometimes act like a crazy non-hormonal person. I am mourning the brown haired, big eyed, glasses wearing, booking loving, nerdy children that I wanted to give birth to. The little Buerkle babies that had stolen my heart before they were ever born. This isn’t about having children, it’s about not being able to bring a child into this world that looks a little bit like me and has 100% of Owen’s brains. I know that many couples can’t have children, it often has nothing to do with cancer, and I know that we will get through it, but right now it hurts. I thought that I was ok, but now that I’m not as busy as I was, I have a lot more time to think about what has happened and what isn’t meant to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy, I am still me. I have so much to look forward to. My list for living needs to be worked on. I have started knitting, but had to stop because my fingers hurt too much. I hope to pick it up again soon. The house by the Bay, well it will be less of a dream and more of a reality next year. If building a house doesn’t keep me busy, then nothing will! I’m also going to apply to school for next fall. After all the time I have spent at the hospital I’ve realized that I like it there, and I really admire the people who work there. I want to be a Licensed Practical Nurse. Maybe someday I will even be an RN. In the meantime I would like to volunteer at the hospital, I miss it already. It will be nice to be there for something other then treatments or appointments!

Have you heard Miley Cyrus’s new song “Wrecking Ball”? I know that a lot of people are upset with her for going from a Disney princess to a young girl who doesn’t wear enough clothes and smokes pot, but as an adult without children, I’m enjoying her new music. As for the video for this song…I don’t understand why artists are expressing themselves by being naked, but whatever works for them I guess! Until next time, I leave you with Wrecking Ball.


Chemo #7 and #8

It’s been awhile since I have posted an update and I’m sorry for that. I think I am suffering from both chemo brain and chemo fog. What I mean by chemo brain is, I have a hard time talking…I will be in the middle of saying something and either stop because I forget what I’m saying or stop because I can’t get the right words out. It’s annoying and embarrassing especially when meeting new people. As for the chemo fog, I find that I can sit and stare off in space for extremely long periods of time. Whatever gets me through the day I guess!

So chemo #7 was a couple of weeks ago. It was my double drug week which means I spent lots of time in bed. However, this time it wasn’t as bad as the pervious two double drug weeks. Yes I was tired and yes I was a bit nauseous, but for some reason it didn’t seem as bad. It may have been because of the break I had between #6 and #7, but who knows. I think my biggest problem was the heat, it was really humid which made me feel terrible on the weekend, but if I was in an air conditioned car or my nice cool basement I was fine.

Chemo #8 was last week and it passed by pretty uneventfully. I was really tired so I had a lot of naps and my nose bleeds started again. I think my platelets were low again, but not low enough to stop chemo #9. I find that I wake up around 4 or 5 in the morning and I’m really hungry so I end up eating a banana to tide me over until breakfast, but then I can’t get back to sleep so I read. Sometimes I will have a nap early in the morning and then again in the afternoon but by 9 I’m wiped. It’s weird, but since I’m not working it’s ok. Another thing I’ve noticed lately is heart burn. I have heart burn almost everyday. It sucks, but I’m taking Zantac and it works for the most part.

One of the things many people ask me is “What can I do to help?”, and I generally say nothing because there really isn’t much anyone can do for me at this point. If I need something I will ask, but for the most part I’m good. When my chemo was cancelled a few weeks ago because of low platelets it got me thinking about blood transfusions. When/if my blood counts get too low I will need a transfusion. I have been aware of this since I started chemo, but I didn’t really think much about it. This week Canadian Blood Services put out a blood signal, they are in need of blood. It takes 5 donations for one cancer patient to have a blood transfusion. So if you would like to do something to help me I would ask you to go and give blood if you are able too. You can even book an appointment online here. I am going to give blood once I am able to, now that I am aware of how important it really is.

Here’s another music video for you to enjoy. It’s another song that took some time to grow on me, but now I love it! Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, I hope you enjoy it.


Chemo #5 and Chemo #6

The last couple of weeks have been my easier weeks, but I have to admit that the taxol is taking its toll on me. My hair is still falling out, which is ok, but my hair follicles are swollen and sensitive. My toes are starting to go numb, it’s a weird feeling, almost like they are asleep. Mouth sores are also common when taking taxol, I had a canker sore but I’m not convinced it was chemo related. Sometimes I just get canker sores! This week I have been really tired and have been taking naps, going to bed early and sleeping in longer.

This past Monday I went to a program for women with cancer called “Look Good Feel Better”. The workshop was 2 hrs of pampering. The volunteers showed us how to put on makeup, to help hide some of effects that cancer has on our bodies. For example, how to hide the dark circles under your eyes, how to make it look like you have eye brows or eye lashes, and more importantly how to just feel good about yourself. At the end of the workshop we got to take home a big box of cosmetics, it was truly an amazing experience. I’m not really a makeup kind of person, but it was nice spending time with woman who are going through the same thing as me. You can learn more about the program here.

Next week I start the first chemo of my third cycle, which means that I have both carboplatin and taxol…it will be a rough week for me. Thankfully I have figured out my nausea medication, which helps make me feel a bit better, but I will still have a few days that I will spend in bed.

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, I hope that you are all going to enjoy it! I am visiting my family which is really nice. I’ve heard that Daft Punk’s – Get Lucky is going to be the song of the summer. I haven’t decided if I like it or not….maybe it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just not what I would expect from Daft Punk. Anyway, here’s the song for you to decide for yourself!


Chemo #2

I had my second round of chemo on Monday. This treatment was only one drug (Taxol), and I’ve been feeling good since the infusion. Taxol is the drug that is causing my hair loss, so my scalp feels like it has goosebumps. My hair hasn’t actually started to fall out yet, but it probably will within the next week or two. Speaking of hair loss, I got an awesome package in the mail on Monday that I am going to blog about tomorrow!

I wanted to give you all an update on my first chemo session. The last time I wrote I said I was feeling pretty good, and I was at the time. I swear as soon as I was done posting, I put my laptop away and realized I was feeling really ill. I ended up being in bed and unable to eat for a few days. I am taking an anti-nausea drug called Zofran, so it helps me to not vomit, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling the nausea. Another unfortunate symptom is constipation, so I have to take laxatives every other day and then the laxatives give me stomach pains. Not fun at all! After spending a few days in bed last week I was really weak and found walking up a flight of stairs to be really tiring. On Sunday I begged Owen to not make me continue with the chemo (I think I was joking), but of course he said I had to keep going. But, like I said this second round isn’t bad so I’m sure I can handle feeling crappy 1 week out of every 3.

I am taking heavy doses of steroids every week before my treatments. I’ve never taken steroids before and didn’t really know what they would do to me. I’m still not 100% sure of their effect on me, but they are certainly causing me to have a very flushed face and terrible hot flashes! I have read that some people ask their doctors if they can lower the dose of the steroids, so when I see the oncologist again in a couple weeks I will check with her.

I have even felt well enough to dance a little bit around my kitchen yesterday. I’m loving this song, I hope you enjoy it!


My Chemo Cocktail

I have a spare hour so I thought I would finally write another post to keep my awesome followers/supporters up to date on what is going on with me. I needed some kidlet time so I went to my parents last week so I could spend time with Karston and Marlee (my sister’s children). For me it seems that no matter how bad I feel, or how sad I am the faces of the children that I love always picks me back up and gets me on my feet. I was a little down last week because I have found the back and forth between my Halifax surgeon and my Saint John oncologist to be extremely frustrating. Spending time with the kids didn’t change my situation but it did help me forget about it for a while. I was also able to have an early Easter dinner with my parents which was really nice.

*Side note – I am currently at Starbucks and am sure that the girl sitting beside me just moved to the other side of the room because I am typing too loud!!!

I returned back home in time to spend a couple free days with Owen, which was also really needed. He has been working really long hours, so most of our time together lately has been spent at the hospital. The weather was wonderful so we were able to spend time with our neighbours (we’re kind of like the Cul-du-sac Crew on Cougar Town with much less wine) and we also had a lovely Easter dinner with the Addison’s (thanks guys it was greatly appreciated).

Monday brought rain and a 24 hour urine collection (yup it’s as gross as it sounds). I couldn’t really go anywhere because I wasn’t about to bring along a jug of pee and a gross plastic hat to collect it in. I had to go to the hospital again yesterday to hand in my urine and get more blood work done. Once I got there I was told the doctor wanted to see me. Never a good sign! Turns out the oncologist talked with my surgeon and the surgeon and her team of oncologists have recommended two chemo drugs for me, carboplatin and taxol.

I will now have chemo every 21 days which will consist of both drugs and then once a week with just taxol. For the next 20 weeks I will be connected to poison that will hopefully kill any tiny cancer cells left in my body. Unfortunately with chemo it comes with a whole host of side effects that are mostly short term but will probably suck while my body is drinking up the chemo cocktail.

Very likely side effects that I will experience are:

Risk of infection – This is really important, or will really impact my life as time goes on. The carboplatin reduces your number of white blood cells. White blood cells fight infection and because of this I will have to monitor my temperature and will have to go to the hospital if I have a fever of 38C or above. I have a card that I have to carry to give to the ER staff if I go to the hospital with a fever after hours, that way I will get in to see a doctor in a timely manner.

Bruising and Bleeding – The drugs will also impact my platelets which help your blood to clot. So no contact sports and I need to be careful when handling sharp objects. If you know me personally you know that this is going to be an issue for me. I am clumsy! I fall on ice often (thankfully winter is over), I drop knives almost every time I use one and I get paper cuts more often then not! I will have to learn to be a little more careful with my body.

Nausea and Vomiting – I think this may be a side effect of all chemo drugs. I have been given steroids to take before I go in for my taxol treatments, to help with the pain and I will also be given drugs to help control the nausea and vomiting.

Fatigue – I will likely be tired, but I hope that short walks in the fresh air will help with this.

Hair loss – It’s true…in a couple weeks I won’t have any hair. I have hats and scarves and I may get a wig, but because it is going to start getting warmer around here I’m unsure about the wig. I’m already warm because of menopause I don’t think fake hair on my head would help cool me down any. I think I’m ok with the hair loss as I have had months to prepare for it. It sucks a little that last week the doctor said I wouldn’t lose my hair and this week I was told I would, but I will lose my hair for the extended living I will get to do.

Sore mouth – There is a chance my mouth will be sore, or get sores. Thankfully I drink a lot of water so this should help.

Diarrhoea and Constipation – Yup, both…gross! However I hope that it can be controlled by eating the right types of food. I know they have drugs to help, but if I can control it on my own naturally that will be much better for me.

Numbness in hands and feet – This is caused by taxol. People get pins and needles in their hands and feet and this is one of the most concerning side effects to me. This is one of the side effects that can be long term, but in most cases the pins and needles goes away a few months after treatment is complete.

Pain in joints and muscles – This is also caused by taxol and the pain usually lasts for a few days after treatment and then goes away.

The drugs are hard on your kidneys and because of that there is lots of blood work done to make sure your kidneys are functioning properly.

So this is what I am up against. I will be at the hospital a lot over the next four months, chemo treatments, doctors appointments and lots and lots of blood work. On the plus side I won’t need to have any hair appointments or take time in the shower to shave my legs!

My free hour is just about up, I have a jam packed day. I had a nice visit with Bruce this morning, my hour to write this post, lunch with friends and then off to St. Stephen to get Owen’s taxes done and St. Andrews to drop of medical documents. Tomorrow I get to go back to the hospital..yay me! But this afternoon will mostly be driving in the car…that means music!


Sacrifices I Have To Make

As I mentioned in my last post I am having a hard time healing. I have never had an incision so big to heal and didn’t think that I would ever have any issues with healing. So I did what I often do, I scoured the internet to find information on wound healing. I found information on protein and how eating more protein will help you heal faster. I am a plant based eater, I haven’t eaten meat since August 2011 (with the exception of turkey at Christmas). I don’t think you need animal protein to survive, but my body is in need of animal protein to heal. I’ve had chicken soup, chicken breast, fish and steak over the past week and let me tell you I am healing so much better. It makes me feel guilty because I think eating plant based is really good for me but, I have to eat meat right now to make myself better.

My weekend was packed full of company. Owen’s birthday was on Friday so we had dinner out on Friday night. Saturday was spent with Owen’s family and then Sunday was spent with some of my mom’s family. It was wonderful to see so many people and spend time with people who care about me. It was the most time I’ve spent with anyone besides my parents and Owen since I left the hospital. Sunday night I had to go to bed early because I was really tired, but it was wonderful to see so many people.

I received a quilt from St. Leo’s Catholic church last week. I was so surprised and overwhelmed by the generosity of the quilters, women who probably don’t even know me. I look forward to finding them the perfect thank you card to express my gratitude.

I have one more week until my next appointment with the oncologist. One more week to wait to find out what my next steps are!