Flipping Pancakes.

Rainbow after the rain.Today was one of those days that started out flat.  My spouse and our kids are visiting my in-laws on the island.  I had to work, so opted to stay home and look after the dogs – who are great roommates by the way.  I have been more achy the past few days and that has been dampening my mood.  I like to be alone when I feel this way.

I had heard a couple years after a mastectomy, one can develop upper chest and neck pain.  I guess things are shifting and pulling.  For several reasons, mostly work related, I won’t be doing my reconstruction surgery until next winter.  Somehow I hope reconstruction will take care of these aches and balance my body out again.  To be totally honest, my weight gain hasn’t helped matters.

I decided to treat myself to a mineral bath using salts I had bought from a local spa.  While languishing in the salty water I realized that I have put on a lot of weight since chemo – a lot of weight.  How did this happen?  How did I let myself get to this point?  Granted I am far from “My 600 Pound Life”, I have become my worst enemy.  However, instead of breaking myself down, I took it all as a wake up call.  My cancer is gone.  The mourning is over.  Now is the time to rebuild.  I have made these battle cries before – all I need to do is read my older posts.  The time is right.  The weather is beautiful.  I have a bike, roller blades, swimming gear, running shoes, and access to some of the best terrain in Canada.  Whatever I choose to do, it has to be fun.  I love to have fun.  If I can combine that with weight loss, then I am smoking.  Actually, I won’t be smoking, that would be the worst thing I could do for my plight, what I mean is that I will be successful.

The reason I haven’t been successful in getting my weight down to a healthy level is that I have not really tried  My heart wasn’t in it.  Looking back, I really have been in what I can best describe as a mourning period after cancer.  I just wanted to be still.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  At least I don’t feel that way today.

Something I will do differently this time is focus on joy and fun.  I won’t think about the number of pounds, the holes in my belt, my cholesterol, my cardiovascular system, etc…  I will think about getting out there and doing something fun.  All I need to do is find something fun.  What a great goal!

Is Organic Food All That and a Bag of Chips?

www.Spud.ca

www.Spud.ca

There are few topics that my spouse and I disagree on.  This topic is one that is sure to get a passionate debate going between the two of us.  My spouse believes that “Organic” is Latin for “Scam”.  While there has been widespread documentation of companies labeling items as being “organic” when in fact they are not, in Canada regulations are more robust.  When a product has a label with the word “organic” on it, the product is usually just that.

I am a believer.  I am also a believer that organic items are better for one’s health.   Ever since cancer entered my life, I started looking for ways to build my immune system.  This desire was recently bolstered after I watched ‘The Dallas Buyer’s Club”.  The story centers around “Ron Woodruff” a cowboy whose fun-loving ways catch up with him when he learns he has AIDS and just two months left to live.  “Planning to die wth lhis] boots on, he goes on a crusade to beat AIDS.  Based on a true story, a lot of the advice Ron gathers from medical professionals in the field, as well as reading everything he can pertaining to AIDS related research, teach him that strengthening his immune system will translate into living a longer healthier life – with or without AIDS.  This notion isn’t that far removed from living life with cancer.

Our immune systems come with cancer fighting capabilities.  This is the reason I had a hard time fully trusting Western chemotherapy,  as it wipes out all of the rapidly dividing cells in the body, including the good ones.  I did chemotherapy because the research supporting it was convincing when it came to my beating the kind of breast cancer I had.  Now that I am finished chemotherapy, I am doing whatever I can to build my immune system.

I make sure I get enough sleep.  I take supplements that make me stronger.  Also, I am much more discerning when it comes to what I put in my body.  Enter the organic products.

Short of growing the food I eat, I have little control about the quality of the final product I am putting in my system.  I choose to believe in companies like www.spud.ca which work directly with almost all of the farmers and producers of the food it sells.  Having just started ordering from Spud.ca, I am fairly confident that they are the real deal.  One of the easiest ways I know to tell if what I am eating consists of really good quality organic material, is how fast it goes off.  I notice that organic produce goes bad far faster than non-organic.  The size of the produce is also an indicator as to whether what I am eating has been modified or not.  Strawberries should not be the size of my fist and lacking any flavor.  The “regular” strawberries I see at my local grocer are obviously enhanced.

I would recommend anyone do a back ground check on whatever they plan to eat.  Having done that, I look forward to eating the bounty I get to order every week from Spud.ca.  I have already started to notice results in how I feel.  The grocery bill has gone up a fair bit but the results are worth it – at least to me they are.  Now I just have to convince my spouse.

Live like you are driving.

My antibullying Champion.I think about this website every single day.  Lately, whenever I start to write an article, I just seem to stop.  Not surprisingly, this place reminds me of cancer.  I created this space all by myself and now can’t seem to stand sitting here.  My challenge is to recreate this space into something that better represents where I am right now, with cancer being in my rear view mirror.

When I was taught how to drive, I was taught to scan multiple places regularly.  Scan the dash, scan the road in front of me, scan the rear view, and repeat.  Yesterday I drove home from work late.  It was 3:30 in the morning.  I was tired but clear enough to drive.  I just focused on looking straight ahead, scanning left, then right, at each intersection, regardless of whether I had a green or red light.  Early in the morning is when drunk drivers t-bone innocent vehicles like mine when they blaze through red lights.  As I drove, it occurred to me that I had not looked in my rear-view for a couple of minutes.  I glanced up and thought “I hope there isn’t a police car trying to pull me over”.  I wasn’t doing anything worthy of being pulled over.  Then it occurred to me that the way I was driving was a metaphor of how I have been living my life lately.  Head in the sand?  I am not sure.

I am just trying to learn how to live life the way anyone should after beating cancer.  I am trying to live with the balance I have when I am driving perfectly.  Live with the balance of focusing on what is in front of me but without completely ignoring my rear-view mirror.  If I all I focus on is the fear of cancer coming back, I may drive right into a post.  If I totally ignore the rear-view, I may miss the earliest clue that cancer is trying to return.  The earlier cancer is detected, the more beatable it is.  There is reward for being vigilant without being hyper vigilant.  Balance.  Like so many things, it is all about balance.  When there is balance, there is calm.  Where there is calm, there is peace.  When I am at peace, I am happiest.

So, in the weeks to come, I will endeavor to live in balance.  I will also review this website, this cyber home for my thoughts, and change it to reflect the place that I am in my life right now.  Hence the picture of my beautiful boy, Nate.  He is where I am right now.  Life is beautiful.

Thoughts through a dilated pupil.

 

Nate & I in the park.I am having trouble typing because I had an appointment to get my eyes checked.  The eye specialist put some drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils.  So now I look like I am wacked out on crack.  Dilating pupils are part of a normal eye exam to get a better look at the retina which is in the very back of the eyeball.  The results of my exam were excellent.  Other than needing a mild prescription for seeing distance, my eyes are in great shape.

The other take-home message was to lose some weight.  I used to be in wickedly good shape.  I am now in a stage of life where I keep hoping that I will miraculously wake up thin.  It is a similar kind of thinking as opening the fridge repeatedly when there is nothing inside it that is good to eat.  On that note, my bedtime snack tonight is a small stack of pancakes.  It is a reward for putting up with veiled fat comments without falling apart.  Actually, I am not the “falling apart” kind.  It takes a lot to unravel me such as not being able to find the t.v. remote control, the microwave breaking down, or the engine light in my car going on in the middle of a desolate highway.  I hold it together pretty good on most days.

I sure hope this post isn’t full of spelling errors because there isn’t anything I can do about them.  Everything in my visual field looks like someone smeared my vision with Crisco – my favorite lard when baking.  Growing up I remember the television commercials for Crisco.  If I remember correctly, their slogan was “everything goes better with Crisco”.  There are so many levels of interpretation to that statement.  Still, I disagree with the “everything” part.  For example, having a tub of Crisco won’t get me far when my car engine light goes on or when I cannot find my tv remote.  Crisco certainly doesn’t help me win the inevitable argument with my spouse when I accuse her of misplacing the remote control.

The competing ad was for Tenderflake lard.  It is funny to think Saturday morning tv was broken up by lard wars.  I preferred the Tenderflake ads.  They featured a man slowly cutting into to a flaky apple pie and sprinkles of pastry bouncing into the air as the fork cut through the mouth watering image.  Thank God I just finished a stack of pancakes or else I would be downstairs making apple pie.

Tomorrow is my last day off before going on a stretch of shifts.  I have made a small list of things to do and sure hope that I get them done.  Having an 11 month old makes everything take longer but I am catching on.  With that I will sign off and try to focus on the tv.  I hope my vision is restored by morning.

Carpe Diem Hour

Nate at the Park

I just got home from a beautiful trip to our neighbourhood park with Nate and Becca.  It is so nice outside that I only had a t-shirt on – and pants of course.  We put Nate in the swing and the next 20 minutes were pure joy.  As the swing went back and forth he laughed with delight.  We laughed with him.  The sun brought out the blue in his incredible eyes.  Nate teaches me about the beauty in even the most basic things.  In this regard, he is the greatest teacher I have ever known.

Fighting Fear.

MeFU2CA

I haven’t been writing lately because this website reminds me that I am a cancer survivor.  I just started adding that word to my list of accomplishments.  However, unlike some of the other accomplishments in my life, thinking of myself as a “cancer survivor” makes me worried that my cancer may come back.  I have never been so negative about something as I have about cancer.  Being negative is probably the worst thing I can be.  The miracle cures always happen to someone who has a fantastic attitude.  Laughingly, I feel the only people I have inspired are the ones who are kicking and screaming like I am.  I give cancer warriors permission to be less than inspiring, equally as bitter, and more ungrateful than I am.  Someone has to bring up the back end.

I was doing really well for a stretch there.  The fear monster was at bay.  I am in between kill or be killed.  However, there is no solid ground in this grey zone and I am tired of treading water.

I have to get to a place where I wholeheartedly believe that I will beat the snot out of this despicable disease.  I know I can.  I have it in me.  All I need to do is put my fists up.

Anastrazole, Fear, and an Anxious Dog.

My absence over the past couple of months has been about my own process of putting my head in the sand and forgetting about cancer.  Writing this blog reminds me of cancer.  Several months back, I was supposed to start a new anti-cancer med, for the next five years, and could not bring myself to take it.  It is called Anastrazole.  I have had lingering effects from the chemo that I finished months ago and thought I might worsen my quality of life with this new post-chemo med.  So, I waited.  I waited until today.  Today was the day I decided I am ready to at least give this med a try.

Therefore, about 15 minutes ago I took the tiny white tablet and laid on the couch.  I am trying not to obsess over “how I feel” because I am sure I can convince myself that I am having some horrible side effect.  My mouth and throat feel very dry.  However, I don’t think that is the Anastrazole as much as I think it is nerves.

I have a Manchester Terrier, Luke, who I have raised from a pup.  He is now 7 years old.  Sometimes I wonder why is he so high strung? Why is he so twitchy and anxious all of the time?  I realize now that Luke is a reflection of me.  We are both calmer now than we used to be.  But then there are days when we lay beside each other in fear of some perceived threat, something that has not happened yet and probably never will.  I like the mantra Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  I can think back to the hundreds if not thousands of hours I have wasted feeling fear.  What a useless emotion.

So, back to this moment.  The Anastrazole is in my system and so far nothing has happened.  Hopefully, as I continue to take it every day, nothing will – except for what the pill is supposed to do and that is prevent a recurrence of cancer.  I hope that happens.

My favorite pic of the two of us.

My favorite pic of the two of us.

Waiting for my stress test.

Waiting for Halloween.

Waiting for Halloween.

I am just trying to wind down after an unproductive day.  I feel guilty because I got absolutely nothing accomplished today.  Nothing.

I am in bed with my wife of eight years. Every night is the same.  First we get into bed and accuse each other of stealing the others’ pillow.

Then, we play “what do you want to watch on TV?”

Me: It’s ok hun, you chose.

Spouse:  No.  I don’t care, you chose.

I then find a TV show.

Spouse: Oh, I don’t like that show.

Me: What about this one?

Spouse: I don’t care. Really, watch whatever you want.  I’m fine.

(Go to the top and repeat for an hour).

At some point one of us starts snacking on something and the bag crinkling is too loud and irritates the other.

Somewhere around 11:00 PM, my spouse puts in her ear plugs.  She wears them because I supposedly snore.  She turns to me for a quick goodnight peck and asks me to turn the TV volume down.

Then, without fail, she asks me a question – with the ear plugs still in her ears.  I answer the question.  She asks me to repeat my answer because she can’t hear it.  This goes on for a few minutes until I tell her to a) either stop talking or b) take out the damn ear plugs.

I am waiting for my sleeping pill to kick in so that I can nod off soon.  My mind is racing for some reason tonight. I have been working on my cancer anxiety with some success.  Tonight, for whatever reason, I am feeling fearful.

I am sipping camomile tea and repeating: FEAR is = to False Evidence Appearing Real.

Rinse and repeat.

BTW, I am married to the greatest spouse in the world.  I wouldn’t trade her for anyone.  I was just wondering if anyone else has a similar bedtime routine?

xo Carolyn R.

Day a few days after day 2.

Baby Nate Hitting the Gym.For those of you who missed it, I have really turned over a leaf in my attitude towards getting in shape.  I am tired of being sick all of the time.  At present, I am waiting to have a Cardiac Stress Test.  Assuming I don’t have a big heart attack on the treadmill, I will get in touch with a personal trainer.  Somehow the image of a big elephant, on a long leash being lead around the circus ring, come to mind.  The elephant in this image is me.

Day 2 – Ice Cream Sandwiches

Last night I thought I deserved a “treat” for getting serious about getting in shape.  I bought myself a box of ice cream sandwiches.  Four in a box.  All gone.  I paced myself with them; one every six hours.  Night time is the worst for my sweet tooth.  Something to work on.  I will add it to my list.

I am waiting for my stress test.  I expect to wait for a week or two – how long these things take to arrange.  I will try to eat well and transition to a healthier way of being.