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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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I’m on a Roller-coaster

Last week I wrote about going to see the oncologist and asked you to do a happy dance because she told me the cancer didn’t spread. This week the surgeon who did my hysterectomy called me to go over the final pathology report. She told me that the original tumour was endometroid ovarian cancer, my other ovary had a borderline tumour (which is not full blown cancer, but can turn into it), and my uterus had some unusual/odd cells (which I guess could have turned into cancer if it wasn’t removed). My cancer stage is called Stage 1C Grade 1, because the cancer wasn’t contained to one ovary and the original tumour was cut into while it was still inside my body (it was also stuck to my pelvic wall). The surgeon (who is a gyn-oncologist) told me that it was their recommendation that I do 6 cycles of chemo.

I feel like I am on a roller-coaster and I’m not allowed to get off. I don’t understand why the other oncologist told me that the cancer didn’t spread when in fact it did. I am looking forward to seeing her again next Tuesday so that I can ask. I know that when I had my first surgery they sent the slides to 3 different labs, so there are 3 different pathology reports and two of them agreed while one was a bit different. This could be the case again, but I won’t know until next week.

Despite everything going on, I feel good. I don’t want to do chemo, but I was also really nervous that I wouldn’t be doing chemo. I know the chemo will kill any little cancer cells that may still be in my body and once the chemo is done I will be able to move on with my life and won’t spend all my time worrying about the what if’s.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, it’s nice to have the support of family, friends, ladies who have gone through the same thing, and also people who are following along who don’t even know me. When it’s all said and done I hope that we can celebrate together and do one big happy dance!

Have a good weekend!

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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!

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Sad Days Need Happy Thoughts

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I was feeling really sore, it kind of felt like 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I know that I will have days like that, but they really bring me down when they happen. Although I’m sure it’s normal, it makes me think my body is failing me. Thankfully I’m generally a happy person, so I laid down for 15 minutes and regrouped my thoughts…remembered the good stuff, my parents are here, I’m alive, my husband loves me, my dog hasn’t left my side, my bills are paid. What more could I ask for? (Not to have cancer, but we won’t go there).

My Saint John oncologist called yesterday, I have my first appointment with her next Wednesday. I don’t know what will happen at this appointment, but my best guess is we will go over my treatment plan and schedule. I will have the chance to ask any questions that I have. Thankfully Owen will be going with me, he tends to ask more questions then I do. I don’t know happens to me when I get in front of a doctor. I have a list of questions, but then I sit there and listen to the doctor and go blank. It’s like I forget how to read! This didn’t happen before cancer…so I’m sure it’s just nerves taking over, I guess that’s why they say to have an advocate with you!!

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend. I’m looking forward to spending a little time with Owen, he’s been working long hours so I haven’t seen much of him lately. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead, longer days are here!!!

I think I missed something when I was in the hospital, or while I have been recovering as I haven’t been on my computer much. Harlem Shake. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard the song, but what the heck is going on with these weird 30 second YouTube clips? I found a video where someone compiled the Top 10 Harlem Shake video’s. Enjoy!

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Nervous Nelly

We were hit with another snowstorm this weekend, it really looks like winter outside now. It would be better if it looked so wintery in December, but I’m sure there are some people who are actually enjoying the snow! Owen and I did manage to go to the movies once this weekend, unfortunately the movie wasn’t great. We went to see Beautiful Creatures which is based on a book written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, which I really enjoyed, but the movie wasn’t nearly as good.

The rest of my weekend was spent by me being a little bit frantic. I want this surgery to be over with because the waiting is going to give me an ulcer! I’m having a hard time sleeping (last night I had a terrible dream where I was pregnant…seemed kind of cruel), and the smell of food is making me feel sick (sounds like I could be pregnant, but I’m not), and I’m having daily migraines because of the stress. I know that I will be fine and I will get through the surgery, but I can’t seem to calm my nerves!

The video I am posting today is for the song Stutter by Marianas Trench, if you haven’t heard it you really should listen. The song is great, but it’s the beat that I really like. I feel like it is a good representation of what is going on in my head right now…remember the beat not the words! 🙂 Let the last kitchen dance party begin!

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The Day of Should Have’s

Today was the day I should have boarded a plane headed for Cuba, but I had to cancel the trip because cancer reared it’s ugly head in my body. Today should have been the day of my surgery, but it got pushed out until the 20th. Today should have been a big day wether on a plane headed for warm sunny weather and glasses of daiquiri’s or laying on a table in a cold operating room…I kind of feel let down.

However it is Friday, I’m allowed to drink alcohol until Sunday, I have a vitamix and rum, all I need is banana’s and then I can celebrate my life with Owen and that will make this weekend pretty perfect. This is also the last weekend that I will be feeling good for a while, so Owen and I are going to spend it together. We don’t have much for plans except going to the movies…maybe even going twice, which is kind of lame, but we want to see two different movies and chances are I won’t feel like going to see a movie anytime soon.

I will blog next week, but my posts will probably be short and to the point…as it will be a busy week. Monday I will be getting ready to go to the hospital, and will be taking Georgia to Owen’s parents. I hate leaving her behind, she gets so sad when we drop her off, but she does love spending time with her Grammy Beth. Tuesday we will head to Halifax and probably do a little shopping at Dartmouth Crossing, hopefully it will keep my mind off things. Wednesday will be a long day, right now my surgery is planned for 1:30, but it won’t be confirmed until the day before. After that, my posts may be funny with my drug filled brain running the show!

The song below is called Toes by the Zac Brown Band, I listened to it a lot when I booked our trip to Cuba…I will listen to it today and dream about having my toes in the water and ass in the sand! Have a good weekend!!

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Groundhog Day

Yesterday felt like spring here in Grand Bay, it was about 10C and rainy…most of our snow is gone. Today we are back to reality, it is still winter and it’s cold. Today is February 1st, tomorrow is Groundhog Day and Sunday is Superbowl Sunday. Not as exciting as Christmas and New Year’s, but hey groundhog enthusiasts and sports fans need their days also!

I am at a loss for words today. I find that when I am writing a post it comes easy to me, but today I keep typing out a sentence and deleting it.

I hope the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow tomorrow, I hope for an early spring! So have a good Groundhog day and don’t drink too much on Superbowl Sunday!

I will leave you with the trailer for Groundhog Day, I can’t believe this year marks the 20th anniversary for the movie! Below the trailer is the infamous Superbowl half time show with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake! Have a good weekend everyone.

 

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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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