Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back.

Isn't this head vase bouquet pretty?! Sylvia arranged these flowers in one of my head vases. I have a small collection. This is the first one I ever got. I'd never seen them before and was smitten with it at a garage sale some years ago and it was mine for $1.00. They're at their most charming, though, with actual flowers in them. I have 3 other beautiful ones, all gifts from my Mom who keeps an eye out for them at garage and auction sales. Thanks for them, Mom. I DO love them. Thanks, Syl, for the pretty arrangement.

Two steps forward. One step back. That's how it seems to go with this chemo drug. It's best not to anticipate what might or might not be a good or bad day. Just wake up and see what happens. What starts out as a bad day might turn into a good day.

We'll see what today brings. Yesterday was pretty slow. I didn't perk up until after a long, hard afternoon nap and then I felt the best I'd felt all day. We stopped by and saw Rex and Erin and did some catching up. Erin's pink garden looks pretty.

Because of my long nap I didn't get to bed until quite late and then my stomach started complaining. Anyway ... it's morning and I'm tired. Rats. Maybe I'll come alive after toast.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Little Fungi From My Bubble

I found this growing at the bottom of one of the boards that boxes in our vegetable garden. Cute.

I felt better as the day progressed yesterday. I felt stronger. What a relief!! That fatigue was getting sooooo tiresome!

I pulled myself together just in time for Kathy to stop by with a very thoughtful gift for me from the lululemon store where she works. I LOVE IT, KATHY!! Thanks bunches!

Then Dana and Kevin came back from visiting Kelly and helping Chantelle extricate him from the hospital and get him home. I hope you're more comfortable at home, Kelly. Nurse Chantelle will see to it, no doubt! She probably has one of those outfits, too!

It was nice to sit around the table with Dana and Kathy and chat. Dana, much to Kevin's chagrin, got me all worked up about the possibilities for our kitchen! It makes me want to start a reno today. AS IFF!! Rather, I would like to WATCH a reno today. That would amuse me.

Nurse Cratchet delivered my last neupogen needle for this cycle. Yeah! Nice to be done with that.

Today I feel not too bad. A little weary, but it's early. Once I eat, I'm sure I'll perk up a bit.

Enjoy your sunny Sunday, everyone! I feel and smell fall in the air.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Darrel!

This is my favourite photo of Darrel. Well ... newer photo. There are some doozies from his wilder days. Think ... hair to shoulders, tie-dye shirt, cut-offs, platform boots, sitting astride his motorbike. Mmm mmm mmm. I'll spare him the indignity on his birthday but I suggest he not piss me off!

Hope you're having a great day, Darrel. Sun is shining so it should be good for your durum crop and for harvesting lentils.


Quiet Weekend

I'm on the down low this weekend. Some things are slowly improving. My mouth is a little less scummy inside. I think I made my own saliva yesterday. Food is still tasting off but now that my tongue is a healthier looking pink colour, maybe that will soon come back.

Yesterday I spent most of the day just feeling exhausted and very weak. I was chilled, too. I had a bath and then crawled into bed at 3:00 pm and even then I had trouble getting warmed up. I did sleep off and on until 5:00, though, and expected to feel perkier when I woke up. But no. I still felt tired and weak. I wonder if my red blood cell counts aren't low or if it's an electrolyte/potassium thing? Or maybe it's just the way chemo works. Big shrug from me, but if there was something I knew I could do to improve the way I feel, I'd do it. When they did bloodworks on Tuesday, I think they just checked liver enzymes and not the rest.

My tender tissues were more tender yesterday, too. I was kind of achie all over. Combine that with fatigue and weakness and it was a bit of a "downer day" for me. You get tired of feeling tired. It's frustrating. And sleep doesn't always make a difference. More frustrating. We'll see how today and tomorrow go and if I'm still feeling like a lifeless blob, I'll put in an "is this normal?" call to the Champion Centre on Monday.

I had a big old bloody nose this morning while reading the paper. It went on longer than a bloody nose normally would with me. I wish I had the stuff to test it and see if my red blood cell counts are low.

Thanks, Syl, for the many variations of tinned fruit. Maybe they'll have more flavour-flavour for me than their fresh counterparts.

A shout out to Kelly, who recently endured back surgery. Can't be fun. We're thinking about you, Kelly!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Laurel and Ellie Enchanted

Look who stopped by today! Laurel and her new pup, Ellie.  She's soooo cute!  Laurel said she thought about bringing another one home for us, too, but then decided it wasn't such a good idea.  I wouldn't have minded.

Ron and Patty found what they think might have been a stray dog at their lake and they almost brought it home for us, too.  And if we wouldn't have wanted it, they would have kept it.  

One of these days, I'll be posting my own pup's photo.

Thanks for stopping by, Laurel.  
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Sunshine! It's Almost Like Summer!

Good morning out there! So nice to wake up to sunshine!

Kevin has already left to go golfing with buddies. A good thing to do while Gerry is still in town.

I slept okay and feel okay this morning.

Last night, after my "rest" (I can't say "nap" because as much as I wanted and needed to sleep, I couldn't, so I just lay there semi-comatose), Nurse Cratchet swung by and was back in action with her neupogen injections. Tomorrow will be the last of those for this cycle. Yeah!

Then Ron and Patty popped by. Patty's trying me on old family recipe soup, which sounds intriguing and I hope it makes my tastebuds dance! And thanks, you two, for LEONARD! You KNOW I love Leonard and that he soothes my soul. He'll be perfect to plug in on a crummy day to get me through. He's poetry and I love him! His voice alone makes everything seem better.

I expect a quiet day today. I hope this turns out to be a beautiful weekend for all of you who are trying to get in just a little more lake time!

Oh, and I thought this was such a good photo of Lynne, that I had to include it. She looks like another flower in my garden! Lynne has been super supporter for me and I appreciate her so much!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Company From Near and Far

Here we have my Aunt Ruth from Nanaimo, Hannah (from Vancouver) and Kevin.

Then, my Uncle Norm.
Lynne and Jim (both local yocal bikers) stopped by, too. Martinis all round, except for Jim, who had to go back to work, and me, of course. By the time I got the camera out, Kevin had cleared away the evidence, so I'm ratting them all out.

I think Uncle Norm would love to be a biker, too, but Aunt Ruth doesn't look too convinced.

Norm and Ruth are on a whirlwind tour. They have many stops to make before they're back in Nanaimo. They're visiting family and freinds enroute and stopping at some old haunts, too.

And then the party was over and we had to take Hannah to the airport. It was such a pleasure having her here and I was so lucky to have that time with her before she starts back to school.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Oh ... and to top things off, I felt much better today, too. I had such a good sleep (I LOVE MY SLEEPING PILLS) and was a lot less pained, today. I got my blood work results and all is good ... liver enzymes normal. Good news. I'm sure tired now! But good tired as opposed to yesterday's yucky tired.

He's Baaaaack!

Look who just woke up after 6 hours of sleep. Kevin got home at 4:00 a.m. He let me get his bleary-eyed, unshaven photo before he headed off for a big clean up!

I just heard that my liver enzyme tests came back in the normal ranges. Excellent! They didn't test my electrolytes and potassium this time, though, and I wish they had. I think they might check them next time.
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And So Am I!

Good morning, teamsters!

I'm invoking the spirit of Batgirl today. We're kind of similar, don't you think? Okay, she has hair. But otherwise ... same.

What a good sleep I had last night. I think I love my sleeping pills. I slept soooo well! Good thing, too, because I was a bit of a wreck yesterday. I'm not sure if it was just lack of sleep of if there were other chemo effects at play, but I felt mostly like crap. I felt incredibly weak ... like I could hardly even lift an arm to eat. That was later in the day. In the morning I didn't feel very good either but I didn't want to miss out on some of the plans Hannah and I already had in place so out we went and did a few things, though I noticed I was moving slowly and feeling emotionally vulnerable. I'm glad we did get out and about even if I did feel off. It was treasured time.

We weren't out very long. Hannah made me lunch when we got home and I pretty much crashed. I was so cold and having shivers. Eventually it occured to me to take my temperature and it turned out that a low-grade fever was probably causing me to feel so extraordinarily wiped out. I did little else after that but lay on the sofa. Hannah went to her grandparents for a visit.

After ignoring the phone twice when it rang in the afternoon, something told me to answer the 3rd call and I'm glad I did. It was my Uncle Norm and Aunt Ruth from Nanaimo swinging through Saskatoon on a road trip. They stopped by briefly with plans to come back today to see Kevin and Hannah, too. Hopefully this will mean martinis on the deck this afternoon. No martinis for me, though. Yet.

By evening my temp had returned to normal (thanks, whoever you are! I was .6 degrees shy of 38 and DID NOT WANT TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL!) and I was feeling a bit better, too. New chemo side effect to report, though ... little itchy hives/blisters. Just a few scattered ones ... finger ... arm ... leg ... no explainable pattern. Also "restless foot". Last night trying to watch a movie, I could not keep my left foot still. I had to keep shifting it, flexing it. I didn't actually hurt, it just felt peculiar ... kind of like it wasn't mine. Weird.

Apparently Kevin arrived home sometime in the middle of the night (about 3:00 am). He's sound asleep on the couch. I'm so glad he's home!

Sylvia sent over an even more incredible bouquet of roses, if you can imagine! Between it and my sweet peas, my house smells so pretty!

Here's hoping it turns into another sunny day! So much for invoking the spirit of batgirl. Surely, she can do better than this!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sweet Peas! Heaven!

I wish I could say these were from my garden! They are SO pretty and the smell is out of this world! Chris brought them for me. They're from her Mom's garden. Thanks so much, Chris, and please tell your Mom how much I'm enjoying them. Thanks, too, for the magazines and your caring words.

Last night I faded fast. I was exhausted. Sharon, bless her heart, came by and gave my injection. Other visitors were Marissa and Kayla, Hannah's friends. I LOVE when the kids' friends come by. I know I've said that but it bears repeating. Sweet peas are also Kayla's favourite flower, by the way. Hydrangeas and poppies are Hannah's.

I think I should have taken the sleeping pill last night (I was thinking of you, Pat, during the night and kicking myself). By the time I really thought I should, it was already a little late to take it, I think. I fell asleep quickly but then struggled a lot of the night with a case of the hokie-pokies, nausea, transient aches and pains and then a lower back pain that had me reaching for the tylenol at 5:30 a.m.. I had that same lower back pain last cycle after my last neupogen injection, so I wonder if that isn't the source. Neupogen injections can cause bone pains.

Anyway, it was an disappointingly unsettling night ... grumble ... grumble ... grumble. I suspect a morning nap with be in order. Otherwise, this morning, I don't feel too bad. I had some toast with ... eeek ... Cheez Whiz! I know ... plastic cheese ... but I seem to need strong flavours to avoid the chalky taste. More about my assocations with Cheez Whiz another day. I can't believe it's only Wednesday. Days go so slowly for me. That's not normal.

Kevin comes home tonight. I'm glad.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hannah Working

Hannah may be home but it's not all fun and games and taking care of me, though she does a fab job of that. Here she is working on an article for an art journal that she needs to have draft ready before she gets back to Vancouver on Thursday.

Today we ventured out of the house and visited the Champion Centre where my PICC-line was flushed and I had bloodwork done. While there I saw Alanna and Ron. It was so nice to have even that short chance to chat in person.

We then did some necessary drop off chores ... forms at Blue Cross ... tracked down the mouthwash I need, which London Drugs is ordering in for me and it should be here in a few days. A quick stop at Winners ... well, we were right there in the parking lot!

While waiting for me at the Champion Centre, Hannah was making new friends. A woman told her that her husband's tastebuds were off for at least a whole year but that the one thing that still tasted good for him was bacon and eggs. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and Hannah made me poached eggs on toast with bacon and, you know, it was okay. Not as good as usual but not bad either. A lot of foods that I normally like just taste plain old awful. This was okay. We'll try that again when I need a flavour fix. Then I had a big nap while Hannah worked. I'm still sleepy so back to the sofa.

Darrel, Lynn, Otto and, maybe, Kathy are coming by for dinner and later Sharon will be by to stick it to me with the Neupogen (for which I'm MOST grateful). Tomorrow Kevin comes home. I've missed him. His fish have missed him, too, I'll bet!


A Little Sunny Day Cheer!

Maybe I am on the upswing. I feel not to badly today. My mouth is still like chalk but that doesn't involve any pain and the inside of my mouth is tender but not as sore as it was. I had a few roving body pains last night but I took a sleeping pill (because Pat said I could ... and should) and slept well nonetheless.

I just tried a piece of toast with jelly and I can barely taste the sweetness. Still, it's better than total chalky taste. I guess I need strong flavours but have to be careful to not oversugar and oversalt.

Yellow pansies for Luke. They're so cheery and I like the little mini-daisies with them.

Enjoy what looks to be a sunny day, everyone!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Could Things Be Looking Up?

Just alerting the masses, so you're not feeling too sorry for me ... I felt a little better this afternoon. I just wanted you to know. I'd like to think I'm over the hump and on my way up but let's not get too hasty.

I dozed most of the morning after my tasteless breakfast, but had a hard time sleeping. I was mostly laying there trying to relax muscles, trying to eliminate anything that might be tension pain. But then my teeth started to hurt and that was the last straw. I couldn't ignore it. I couldn't sleep. So I broke down and took 2 tylenol. I'm glad I did. It helped all over and I was able to sleep for a while.

About mid-afternoon, I perked up a bit and, I must say, I feel a little better. Hannah and I made a short car excursion to Broadway where we bought her some running shoes and picked up some Coconut Water, which she tells me is the hottest thing in hydration. I also drank most of a gatorade (Luke's recommendation) because I was feeling so weak and shaky. Whatever it was, I was then able to water the garden and now I'm going to have a wee nap. I feel much less achy than I did, which is a relief.

Thanks, Pat, for stopping by with the little treats and encouragement and thanks, Betty Lou, too, for the baking and sensible words. And thanks, everyone, for your notes and thoughts. I'm keeping on keeping on ... of course. Is there any other way?

Now that Hannah is here to watch over me, Mom went home to get ready for company. The poor woman has hardly had a moment at her own home. Thanks, Mom, for your time and care.

Hannah snapped this photo of me watering in my Luke fan shirt.

Now for the Good Stuff!

Hannah is home. Mom and I picked her up at the airport late yesterday afternoon. How nice to have her here!

Thanks, Sharon, for taking some time out of your CRAZY (more than busy) life to stop by and give my neupogen injection. Much appreciated.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement and support. I'm finding this stretch a little rough and your words and thoughts help.


My Tastebuds Died ...

... and I'm in Flavour Hell!

Still feeling icky. The side effects with Taxotere are definitely different than with the FEC. Here's my list (though it could ... and might still get ... worse). Don't be alarmed ... all of these are uncomfortable but haven't, and hopefully won't, get to critical. It's a list for my own future reference.

1. Food tastes awful. Because my stomach has been a little unsettled at night, I opted to try a chocolate chip bagel to settle things before I went to bed last night. It tasted like chalk. Really yucky! I've heard others describe a metallic taste but I don't have that. Just chalk, which I've heard described less often.

2. My throat, mouth, tongue and, subsequently, ears, hurt. Much rinsing going on. My tongue is white and a really odd texture. Might be burnt tastebuds.

3. Nose is moistureless.

4. Transient but repeating stabbing pains in various places ... ankle, side of foot, hip, groin, knee, cheeks, forehead, surgical site.

5. Aching back and other tender tissues.

6. Headache. I'm avoiding tylenol until I know where my liver enzymes are at.

7. Occasional uncontrollable eye twitching.

8. Weakness. I feel very weak ... physically, not emotionally.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taxotere. No Fun. No Fun at All Once it Kicks In!

Feeling icky and achie. Nuff said.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chemo Crash

Well, I knew I would start feeling awful sooner or later. Today I feel pretty awful and worse as the day wears on.

The "tissue tenders" continue and are getting more uncomfortable. My mouth and throat have been getting more sore, too. My tongue hurts! I don't have any actual sores yet, but it feels like they're just below the surface. It hurts a bit to swallow, though food makes my stomach feel less queasy so I'm glad I eat even though my appetite is off a bit. Mom made me a nice, wholesome dinner. Mashed potatoes are good on a sore throat. Thanks, Mom.

I have some transient aches and pains. My ankle will suddenly ache and then stop. And then my thigh. And then my surgical site. Pains just come and go from place to place ... no rhyme. Probably good reason.

Nora stopped by, which was a bright spot in my day. She brought me some real trashy magazines to get my saliva going. Thanks, Nora. It's always nice to see you.

Carol and I had planned on a movie night tonight but I had to cancel. Just feeling too crappy. Hannah comes home tomorrow for a few days and I was so hoping to feel somewhat good while she's here, especially since I was at my very worst (in the hospital ... losing hair) the last time she came home. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

This bee butt photo makes me smile, though. Isn't it cute? You can hardly get near the globe thistles for bees!


Sweet Pea

Today I needed this sweet pea. In case you didn't know, sweet peas are my absolute favourite flower. I love a big bouquet of them that I can bury my nose in and inhale deeply. And they're just so pretty! I haven't always had the best luck growing them and was worried that they would be too late this year, but LOOK! Here's one! I'll be wishing for bunches.

I don't feel so great today. Last night I didn't perk up very much. The "tender tissues" issue started up. My face, back, neck, chest and ribs ache to touch. I endured some nausea last night for a couple of hours but, after being unable to get to sleep even though I was really tired, I broke down at 1:00 a.m. and took a sleeping pill. I'm glad I did. I slept almost 7 hours and I think I'm going to do better today having had it. My mouth is very dry so I'm going to have to be diligent about the baking soda rinses and trying to keep it moist. I have an artificial saliva I can use from time to time, too.

Anyway, it's disappointing to feel kind of crappy today but we all knew that would start sooner or later, right? Still ... not too bad. And I did have a few glorious days earlier, didn't I?


Friday, August 21, 2009

Virginia Creeper Mammoth

It wasn't until I saw this photo that I recognized the woolly mammoth in our Virginia Creeper! Pretty ominous, isn't it?! And how appropriate since I went to high school in Kyle, home of ... you guessed it ... THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH!! Enough about woolly mammoths. Some of you know the rest of the story and that's still one too many people.

Good thing we have all this Virginia Creeper covering our garage because our garage is butt ugly and is in dire need of paint. Actually, it needs tearing down but ... oh well. In the summer who notices?

I feel a little mellower today. After a good morning, I slowed down pretty abruptly shortly after 1:00. I managed to stay awake until my 2:00 neupogen injection but was in lala land shortly after that until 4:00 after which I was just a vegetable until I perked up a bit after dinner. Your chicken pot pie was soooo yummy, Auntie Anne and the bisquick topping was perfect! No worries! Mom made a crab-apple pie and even though sweets aren't my thing while I'm on chemo, the sliver I had was very, VERY good! Thanks, Mom.

Sorry I was sleeping when you stopped by, Terresa! I would have loved to have seen you. Thanks so much for the gift you dropped off. How thoughtful! I'm especially intrigued with the hummingbird feeder since Nora has awakened in me a keen interest in birds. I can't wait to see if I can lure one!

Thanks for phoning, Jack and Jodi! It was especially fun to talk with Meghan for a while!

Mostly I feel like the "high" is over for now. Maybe it's because I'm done with the dexamethasone as of last night. Maybe it's just the chemo. Whatever ... still ... not so bad. Yet. I'm going to continue anticipating okay days, at least, and hopefully that will increase my odds ... that and all your well wishes and prayers that I soak up through the cosmos and in person! Thanks to you all for that. I know you're there even if you don't say anything. I know this the same way you know I think of you. We just feel it or know it.

Safe and happy travels Don, Syl, et al.

Here's the other side of the mammoth avec compost bin.

Notice the yellow flowering weeds growing out of the garage eve trough here? Shabby. But cute. See how red the leaves are turning already? An early sign of summer's end. Hoping for a warm fall.


Go Fish!

Kevin left today on his fishing trip to Lake of the Woods with his fishing buddies! It's an annual event that usually takes place in June but for various reasons had been switched to August this year. Kevin had decided he couldn't go this year but I insisted that he go. He needs this vacation and he looks forward to it every year. They have such a good time and I will be just fine. They're all set up for any unlikely emergency. They have a satellite phone with them this year as well as an extra vehicle should anyone have to leave for an emergency ... which won't be mine, I assure him.

Auntie Anne popped by just before lunch and brought with her a freezer full of fresh-made goodies. What a woman! She baked a blueberry pie, cinnamon buns, a big and two small chicken pot pies and made two jars of chicken noodle soup! Kevin is so comforted to know that there's food in the freezer for me while he's away. Thanks so much, Auntie Anne! Mom also whipped up a crab-apple pie this morning. It smells delish!

Very tired now. Nurse Cratchet (Sylvia) will be by close to 2:00 to give my first of 5 neupogen injections for this cycle (oh joy!) and then I'll try to catch some winks before the Rider game.

The sunshine is sure nice, isn't it?

Go Riders!

I'll be parked on the sofa watching the Rider game today at 5:30.

Here is Rex and Erin's infamous Bobblehead who gets bobbled everytime the Riders get points when we watch games with Rex and Erin. As a reward last year, Bobblehead was allowed to go on vacation with them, so here are a couple of shots from his trip. Other years Bobblehead has not been so lucky and has had to stay home with a paperbag over his head. What will this year bring for Bobblehead? I hope it's another vacation! GO RIDERS!!


Yesterday morning there were even more blooms on our Princess Flower. The blooms don't last long but there are always lots of buds so once they start coming, they're relatively abundant. And big. And pretty. What an amazing plant.

I feel very good this morning. The sleeping pills I've been taking seem to give me a good, solid 6 hours (even with several bathroom breaks) before I perk up. I hope I can swing a sleep this afternoon, though. I'm now done with steroids unless my stomach starts acting up. Being off the steroids will soon make sleeping pills redundant (that's good) but will also probably slow me down a little, too. That's okay. I wonder if it will make a difference to my hot cheeks. Time will tell.

Enjoy your day, everyone!


Engagement Photos TOO Good Not to Share

My friend Lyn's son, Josh, is getting married to Gillian on September 12 in Canmore. A very exciting family event for them. Lyn sent me some of their engagement photos, which are just wonderful. This is just a smattering and it was so hard to choose.

By the way, I asked permission of the photographer to post them here and she approved. The photographer's name is Kirstie Tweed and she's from Banff. Check out her website at Orange Girl Photographs and enjoy more examples of her work. I love her sense of colour and time, framing and naturalness, and ... may I say ... whimsy! They'll make you want to be (or wish you had been) married in or around Banff.

There are more photos of Josh and Jill at Kirstie's website under the "engagements" category. Meanwhile, enjoy ...

I think, if you click on the photos below, they will open in a larger viewing format.

For starters, isn't this a gorgeous ring? Followed by a model-perfect couple, I must say!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Surprise Company! And A Day to Give Much Thanks!

What a day it's been! A good day, that is. I was feeling so good when Kevin got home from work that Kevin suggested we go out for dinner for a change. And so we did. Don and Syl were up for an impromptu dinner out so we and Mom met them at Original Joe's on the deck, no less! It was wonderful!

When we got home, another wonderful surprise! Lynn and Kathy were here (pictured above with Mom). Thanks for the hamburger soup, Lynn! Comfort food. I'm sure I'm going to especially appreciate it one day soon.

So nice to see Kathy again, who is just back from a summer on the cruise ship. Soon it's back to University for her.

Anyway, it's been a fab day and now I'm TOTALLY cooked! Again tonight, my cheeks and chest have started turning red. Mostly my right cheek. Isn't that odd? It's hot and red, but certainly bearable.

I got some great photos from other people to post in the next few days. Pictures just too pretty and enjoyable NOT to post. Just wait. You'll like them, too, even if you don't all know the people in them.

Thanks, Lyn, for the magazines and the nice card and photos you delivered to my doorstep. In perfect Lyn (Martha Stewart style), the clear bag with the magazine had my name neatly written on it with a big glittery happy face sticker! Lyn always adds those extra touches which are always dearly appreciated and admired.

Thanks, Lou, for the photos you sent. A joy to see. Everything and everyone looked gorgeous for such a happy wedding event. And all right there in your yard. How personal and fitting for your family.

Nice to hear from you, too, Wendy!

Thanks for the card, Cheryl, RJ, Mikael and Alexa. So thoughtful of you! And cheering. I like the little tenacious ducklings! Must make that me!

Alyssa, you're a sweetie! Thanks for promoting the Walk For A Cure walk in honour of me and other breast cancer peeps. Thanks, Carol, too, and to my splurge buddies who plan to walk/run as Heather's Support Ho's (or something like that ... hilarious, as always). The Walk For A Cure run takes place about 4 days after what should be my LAST chemo treatment. I suspect this will prevent me from being able to walk that day but don't rule me out. Look at today. Anything could happen, right?

I'll post the link here later for anyone who would like to join the walk/run or who would like to sponsor some of the participants.

Thanks, EVERYONE, for the prayers and wishes that I'm sure have contributed to my good fortune in having such a good day today.

Now ... really ... to bed!


What a Nice Surprise!

My big bro, Jim, stopped by this afternoon. He still has a bit of time before having to be full time back at SIAST. It was great to see him and to hear about his recent travels.

This is a photo from Easter dinner at our house ... Jim and his eldest son, Graham.

You might be more familiar with his professional photo. I snagged this one from the online Car and Driver. You'll recognize him if you are an avid reader of the car reviews on the front of the Drive section of Friday's Star Phoenix. I have you know that I never get a ride in any of those hot cars he gets to test drive! RATS!! He is a busy man. *sigh*

It was great of him to stop by. Thanks, Jim! Sorry, Lynne, to hear that your MS ride in Regina got rained out last weekend. I hear you rode a bit anyway. You are a trooper!


Unexpected Blast From The Past

Look what Carol dug up out of her archives! Carol at 22 and me at 21 on our wild road trip to Ontario and Quebec. We were BABIES!!

Don't you think that Carol looks like "trouble" and I look the "innocent, naive tag-a-long"? That was pretty much it, come to think of it. I was always an enthusiastic tag-a-long, though and Carol was so much more worldly having grown up in the big city of Regina. She's the one likely responsible for keeping us alive on this trip.

Added Note: Carol suggests that this has balanced out because of all the years I have since lived in the city and all the years she has since spent living in rural Saskatchewan moving often with Ross and his Wheat Pool job. I insist it's not the same but I'll let her have this one. Still. She really does look like "trouble", and bless her for it!

Morning strawberry crop - mmm


Sunny Day Photo

Night photos are interesting, but sunnier day ones are cheerier, don't you think? And since I'm feeling sunny in spirit, here's a photo from this morning. When the blue thistles are in bloom, you can hardly get near them from the bees. It's a MAJOR attractor of bees! And here's one now. Aren't the blue thistle blooms pretty?

A Good Morning. For Real!

Good early morning everyone! I guess that 3 hour nap yesterday means I didn't need 8 hours of sleep last night. So here I am bright an early. Not my usual state of affairs unless I'm feeling steroid hungry or unless other side effects are messing with my sleep. But no. Just woke up earlier than usual.

The only side effect I'm experiencing now is very innocuous. Last night I developed a very red and hot face. The rest of me wasn't hot (well, Kevin suggested otherwise, thanks Kev) and we checked my temp a few times, which turned out to be below what my normal typically is. So no fever. Good. I took my sleeping pill and went to bed and this morning my face and chest are very red. But again, no fever. No aches. No pains. I can tolerate not needing any blush. Or, more like, I can tolerate looking like I have a painless sunburn.

I'm going to hope for another feeling good day on Taxoter. Not so taxing so far.

Have a lovey day, everyone!

By the way, this is Kevin's night photo of the canna plant blooms. The previous blooms had to be plucked because they really suffered in the rain. I hope these ones last longer. Please don't rain for a couple of days.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Glad to be Glad

Glad for today! It's 8:30 in the evening and so far I feel good. Both Kevin and I had 3 hour naps this afternoon, I had a hearty dinner and am still feeling good, if a little tired. But that's not bad. I'm sure some of what my oncologist warned us about will come to pass in the days to come, but for now I'm celebrating feeling good. YEAH!!!!

Thanks, Sylvia, for such a yummy cole slaw. I never make cole slaw and I'm not sure why. Yours was delish! So was the chicken and broccoli casserole. Thanks so much.

Mom arrived around 6:30. She brought these gladiolas from her garden and dressed them up with some berries from a tree in her yard. Very pretty, Mom. We planted glad bulbs this year for the first time but no sign of any blooms yet. Just tall green stems. I hope they make it before any frosts.

Thanks, everyone, for your emails and messages. It means a lot to me to know my team is here with me! Maybe the power of all your prayers and caring thoughts have chased some of the nasty side effects away! Could happen!


Princess of Darkness

I'm still here!!! And in fine form, I might add!! Truth be told, even with the ice gloves and ice boots, I was more comfortable during this chemo treatment than for some of the previous ones. We were there from 9:00 until 12:00 so it took a while but won't take quite as long for the next ones.

Nurses Ratchet (Kevin) and Cratchet (Sylvia) were with me ... being necessary eyes and ears. By necessary, I mean that after they injected the benedryl before the Taxotere, I was pretty much a vegetable. I could hardly speak and could only occasionally partially open an eye, though I didn't really sleep. I fought it. I had a tv in the room and I kept trying to peak at it because What Not To Wear was on and I always like to see the final tada moments. I missed some though. No biggie.

Mostly, I'm just glad to not have felt any of the possible immediate reactions. Now, I must have a long peaceful sleep. YEAH!! I'm leaving for the sofa immediately but I knew there were people out there who might be anxious for me. Rest at ease. All is well.

Love and hugs to you all!

PS: Kevin too this photo of our Princess Flower in bloom last night. It hadn't occurred to me to take night photos! He got a few really nice ones but he wanted this one for now because ... well ... it's a PRINCESS flower. So he named it "Princess of Darkness". But really, right now, PRINCESS of HAPPINESS is at least as appropriate.

Ready to Take On Chemo

Here I am dolled up for Chemo. I've got all my gear. I keep having to remind myself that chemo IS ON MY TEAM (he's just a real goon and has no sense of team spirit) and is NOT the opponent. I always get a little beat up when I'm on the same line as chemo, but, on the bright side, we're winning having the goon on our team. Kevin thinks that with a few tats and a little more hair all over, I'd look more like a UFC fighter (Ultimate Fighting Championship, for the unitiated, such as myself).

The weather has been so co-operative for me (unlike for everyone else) and it looks cool and cloudy. That means I don't look too silly going out bundled up for winter. Black yoga pants, long sleeved t, Luke's big, bulky lacrosse hoodie (need that hood), a Karen's soft and cuddly black velvet hat. Packed with me I have my wrap from my awful law firm pals, thick socks and slippers (for after the ice boots), a down blanket ... I'd look even sillier on a sunny day. I'm just having a healthy pre-chemo breakfast ... took my pills and I'm almost ready to go. I must say these sleeping pills are my friend. I can see why people get attached to them. I had a lovely sleep even though I got up 4 times to pee (because I'm also pumping the water, like I'm supposed to before and after chemo).

So I feel good ... feel empowered ... have a go-get-it attitude (today) and am ready to get it over with.

Okay, team! Let's go with chemo and kick some CANCER BUTT!! Thanks for fighting right along with me! GAME ON!!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Night Before Taxotere

It's almost time to go to bed but first I have to give myself a pedicure and manicure and paint my nails a dark colour. I never paint my finger nails. They're not the kind of nails one wants to draw attention to. I'm not good about troubling myself to keep them looking exquisite. Not even close. But, in this instance, I will paint them. Nora, I'll look wonderfully trashy!! Not Goth, though. I couldn't bring myself to buy black polish.

I had such a nice lunch with my peeps from the office today! It was great to see them and to catch up with what's been going on with all of them.

I ran a couple of errands but found myself pretty tired. No wonder. I was up late with no nap yesterday. I was up in the middle of the night to say good-bye to my baby and then I was up early for my 8:15 appointment at the Champion Centre. Tired or not, I wasn't going to lose this day of feeling good. I wasn't going to waste it sleeping. So I only had a brief nap and then I went to a movie with Erin and Laurie. We'd all been wanting to see Julia and Julie and it was a wonderful movie! We loved it and we all want to cook at least one Julia Child recipe (though Laurie has cooked several already) and that recipe would have to be "boof borginon". Don't ask me to spell it. Don't even ask me to look it up. I'm busy.

Don and Syl dropped off this beautiful bouquet from their garden! Isn't it amazing?! Their roses have been spectacular this year. They smell heavenly. Sylvia also dropped off baking and, as Kevin says, "a whole ton of food". Sylvia is nesting for me. Thank you so much, Sylvia. That will be so handy during this next stretch of what I expect will be considerable fatigue and, very possibly, feeling yucky.

Mom will come in tomorrow to watch over me while we see how my body responds to the Taxotere. Thanks, Nora, for your phone call. I'm sorry I missed it but will look forward to said "trashy magazine".

Now ... pedicure ... manicure. Then sleep. If not sleep ... sleeping pill and then sleep.


Time To Face The Music

Bah humbug! My boy is gone. Kevin drove him to the airport at 4:15 this morning. I got up to say good-bye. *sniff*

This morning I had bloodwork and met with my Oncologist. Time to face the music. Taxotere happens tomorrow. Time to muster strength and resolve.

Truth be told, I am very nervous about tomorrow's chemo treatment. I wasn't at all nervous about the previous ones, even though I didn't exactly relish the experience. This one makes me nervous even though it's only a single drug this time (the previous FEC was a combination of 3 chemo drugs). My Oncologist told me I can expect to feel worse on this drug. More fatigued. More nausea. More discomfort. More tissue and bone pain. Increasing neuropathy (nerve pain and numbness in the hands and feet) as the treatments progress. Nail brittleness and discolouration and possible loss of nails. I will probably lose even more hair. About all that's left are some eyebrows and about a quarter of my lashes. I feel like I've already faced down that side effect so no biggie there. He also talked about the possibility of an allergic reaction which isn't uncommon with this drug. The medical staff monitor me quite closely while injecting Taxotere and, if I'm going to have an allergic reaction, it is most likely to happen during the injection. They start by giving if VERY slowly until they see how I react. The whole injection should take an hour or more. Kevin and Nurse Cratchet (Sylvia) will be with me to help monitor me.

While I'm being injected with Taxotere, I'll be wearing ice boots and ice gloves. The intention is to reduce circulation in the hands and feet to prevent the drug from pooling in the extremities and, perhaps, reducing the anticipated neuropathy (in this case, often called "hand foot syndrome). In some cases it can be very painful and can even cause difficulties with balance and walking, so there's good reason to endure the ice cold if it can make a difference. You know how the cold has bothered me during chemo treatments. I can only imagine how cold this one will feel! Remember ... short term pain for long term gain. Short term pain for long term gain. This MUST be my mantra. Only two left after this one.

I've started steroids (dexamethasone) already and will take more of them with this drug. Oh joy! More Moon-faceishness and Buffalo-humpishness. I've been given a prescription for sleeping pills to help with the insomnia caused by the steroids. I'll also be taking benedryl and some other drugs to help counteract any possible allergic reactions and the edema (fluid retention/swelling) that can come with this drug as well.

Let's just pray for minimal side effects. That's all I'm hoping for. Minimal. OR ... just the strength to get through these next 3 treatments. I know I'll have it but sometimes I do wonder how. Just keep on trucking. Pecker up, as Patty W would say! If you're curious about taxotere, here is a link to information about it.

Thanks to Laura for the garden produce she dropped off yesterday afternoon. Luke and I spent the day getting him ready to go and then Luke had a bunch of friends in last night. It was great to see them all.

Aren't these mini-daisy flowers cute? They're about the only thing that looked perky in my garden after all that rain.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Me Lads

Arden, Matty and Luke. Matty's already at Bellarmine. Luke and Arden leave at 5:00 a.m.

This first photo is of the boys after their shopping trip to Value Village (or, as Carol prefers to pronounce it ... val-OOO-vill-AUJ) and before they left our house for a "short and shiny party".

The boys LOVE dressing up! Here are Arden and Luke dressed in style for lacrosse. Sexy boys!

And then, me lads ... just being their regular selves. I'm sure going to miss them while they're away and I'll look forward to seeing them play in the spring when we make the trip to Kentucky to see them.


Last Day Here for My Boy

My Luke leaves at some unearthly hour tomorrow morning. Back to Louisville. He's excited about going and I'm excited for him, but ... wahhhhh. My kids should be getting used to me blubbering every time they leave. It's just the way it is, which isn't to say they shouldn't go. Of course not. I just blubber. That's all.

Luke and I have some errands to run today.

Yesterday we had a very nice lunch at Don and Syl's. Sylvia prepared such a lovely meal. Everything was delicious and looked so pretty. We celebrated Cheryl and RJ's 20th wedding anniversary, Luke's going away, and (belatedly) Sylvia's birthday and Don and Syl's 49th wedding anniversary. A get-together with the Acton's is always a multi-celebration.

Later at home we tuned in the Rider game. Rex and Erin came by and watched it with us. I meant to take a photo of Bobblehead but forgot. Maybe Erin will send me one of Bobblehead's vacation photos. Traditionally, Bobblehead always gets his head bobbled when the Riders get points. When they have very bad games, Bobblehead has to stand in a corner facing the wall. If the Riders have a bad season, Bobblehead wears a paperbag over his head.

I surveyed my garden this morning and it's not very pretty. All the rain took a toll on my flowers. Here's hoping they bounce back. The poppies still look pretty. Here are a couple.

Carol stopped by this morning and brought me a bag of magazines and some of her "recovery wonton soup". Thanks, Carol! These will be great for my post-chemo days this week. My cousin, Lori, phoned. Her garage remains unpainted.

Very sad news yesterday is that Darrel and Lynn's dog, Porter, died. How sad. Porter was only 3 or 4 years old and the vets couldn't figure out why he was losing weight and, obviously, not feeling well. They wonder if it wasn't some soil-borne illness and they're going to run some tests still to see if they can figure out what it was because, of course, now Darrel will worry about it being something Otto could catch as well. We're so saddened about Porter who was a really lovely dog.