Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Was the Best Year Yet

No seriously. Yes, yes, I have spent half the year fighting my way through breast cancer treatment. 

To borrow a phrase “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The worst part of the quote is quite obvious. So how is the best of times? Simple - people.

In 2015 I really learned what it means to be part of a community. I’ve learned how big people’s hearts can really be.  I've been shown the true meaning of caring. Since being diagnosed, people have been coming out of the woodwork to help me and the boys.  We have friends and neighbors stepping up and yes, complete strangers who have come together to support us.

Since June, when needed, there was meal train set up so that after a day of work or treatment or just inability to move off the sofa, we were always fed. One amazing friend has an amazing mom who got us a deep freeze so that we would have space for all the food given us and always have something on hand. I sometimes get a phone call about extra soup or baked goods and would we like them dropped off.  The food has nourished our bodies, the meaning behind it has nourished our hearts.

I worked as long as I could, knowing that I needed a large buffer to carry us through the lean period of EI disability. I had planned to work longer but back to back hospital stays from neutropenia and pneumonia forced me off two months sooner. Even then, people rallied around us. One amazing group held an online craft and bake sale, to raise funds, many of these people are total strangers to us. Others just collected among themselves, wanting to help. I have enough grocery store gift cards to get us through the next couple of months, without using the last of my savings. I was blown away, I still am. And this was all done without me even asking.

Then there is the time people have spent on, for and with us. Watching the boys during my hospital stay made it easier for me to concentrate on getting well. Taking the boys out to run around and get rid of energy is such a great help. Or even working without us to find ways to help. Some of the best times are when people find ways to help me spend time with the boys without using up my entire energy store. Me being sick, having cancer, is so hard on them, and we really need to be together as much as possible. Plus I need them around me as much as they need me around them.  Being able to sit on the bench at the playground and watch them while they run around with a friend is so much better than being apart from them. Even the school has been amazing. The teachers, principals and support staff have done everything they can to help while our life is turned upside down. I know that is rare and a challenge in a school with almost 600 kids. I’m rarely alone at Cancer agency appointments. One friend has provided a ray of sunshine to me and anyone else in the room during chemo treatments. I don’t think she even gets how great it has been to have her there.

For me, and many others, it’s hard to accept help but I’m learning, by need. I’m also learning to ask for help. The amazing thing is, I don’t often have to ask for help. It’s often already there, waiting for me to use it.

There are not enough words in the dictionary or enough time in the day for me to thank everyone who has helped. I’m not done treatment yet, but the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is in sight. We are still being helped and will still need help, even after the physical needs are taken care of. I am blessed to know that help will be there. I also know in my heart that I need to “pay it forward”. I know the help was not given with expectation of it being returned but I also know that the joy, relief, compassion I’ve felt in this time needs to be passed onto other people who need help. Everyone should know the feeling of having the community that I do.

Friday, November 20, 2015

One BIG step down

It's not over but the longest step is over. I had my last chemo injection. I have to get through the 3 weeks of side-effects but the end is near.

In four weeks, just 8 days before the guy in the big red suit comes, I go in for a double mastectomy. While all surgery is scary, I'm looking forward to this one. This is where they actually cut the nasty tumor out! How much better does it get than that.

Then, 4 weeks after that I start radiation. Current mind set is daily for 5 weeks. It could go up to 6 or down to 4 but whatever, and end is in sight!!!!!

The boys are doing as well as can be expected for 6 year olds. They have up days and down days but since being off work, and after I came back from the hospital a second time, the energy normally spent at the office, is now spent on them in the evenings. This makes our time together easier and I think it's helping. It's not perfect and I expect them to get upset when I go for surgery but I'm hoping the excitement of Christmas can help offset some of it.

I'll try to post more. I have lots of thoughts and partially finished posts but none seem to make it up here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Laughter is the Best Medicine Sometimes

When they told me I could "probably" go home the next day, I knew I had to find a way to send off in style. I had spent the first 3 days leaving bed only to walk 2 feet to the bathroom. The last two I had enough energy to sit in my side chair for one of my meals. But really, I got winded doing either. So this was going to be an ambitious undertaking. 

Safety first. I did not want to slip and fall while so close to my release. 

Then I had to put my game face on. 

Then I needed to take a break to let my heart rate recover after a coughing jag. 
And now....
Watch me nae, nae

My legs were definitely stanky by then. I did this after watching the video twice and trying it once. I apologize to those who were more offended than amused. Well, no I don't but I thought I'd say that. I do apologize for the quality of the video. 

Happily I was released from the hospital the next day as planned. This was my second time in the hospital in just over 2 weeks, probably the same infection, but I was at different stages in recovery from my last chemo so my body's response changed each time. This did delay my chemo since I was in the hospital when it had been scheduled. They are trying to get me in next week, putting me 1.5 weeks behind. This will also delay surgery which sucks. I need to wait to hear from the surgeon to know if this can still be done before Christmas.