Serendopeity

The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

Monthly Archives: May 2009

I DID IT!!!!!!

A while back I posted that I was a chicken to get a tattoo…

Well, that was then and this is now…

Last Friday night I went and had MY TAT DONE!!!!!

Ok, so it hurt like hell, but you know what I always say, a little pain never hurt anyone.

So, without any further ado…

 

EC Awareness Tattoo

EC Awareness Tattoo

It is on my back right shoulder.  I already know what my next one is going to be LOL.  Someone told me that once you had one,  addiction followed.  I don’t think I am going to get more than 1 more…well, maybe 2.

So for all you doubter’s who were sure I would chicken out once again, sorry to disappoint you.

I LOVE MY TATTOO.

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Happy Birthday to you…

Today, May 22nd is my mom’s 75th birthday.  In a “Carol cute” moment this evening we were sitting around discussing her birthday party on Saturday afternoon and I asked her how old she was going to be.  This has become somewhat of a little family joke because mom has no idea how old she is.  For the longest time she has always put up a boatload of resistence to the fact that she was in her 70’s.  She was adamant that she was no more than 50 years old.  Logic and reason failed to make an impression LOL, so humouring her was easier than arguing so I told her that if she was only 50, then that made me 22 and I could live with that. 

One afternoon I picked her up after her “Ladies Group” and asked her if she had a good time.  She said it was all right but she hadn’t realized that all the women there were going to be “so old”.  When I asked her what “so old” meant she got rather indignant and said “Well, anyone older than me, that is old!”

Today we went to the Lake for a picnic with the “BINGO brigade”.  It was such a beautiful day out Sue asked if we would like to go out somewhere instead of playing BINGO this afternoon.  I agreed readily because it was too nice a day to pass up and spend sitting indoors.  I think the fresh air must have gotten to mom.  Her “Carol cute” moment  – when asked how old she was going to be she said she didn’t “rightly know”, so I told her to guess.  She took a couple of minutes to think, at which time I was tossing out random numbers and finally she decided that she had to be at least 80 or 90!! Sometimes she is just too cute.  When I told her that she will be 75 she just shook her head and said “I had no idea I was that old”.  Perhaps it was one of those you had to be there moments but I laughed so hard that my chest hurt. 

Come Saturday afternoon the house will once again be filled with laughter and frivolity, BBQ’d burgers with all the trimmings and of course Birthday Cake.  If the rate of her Alzheimer’s progresses as quickly as it has in the last 3 months or so, by this time next year she won’t be able to even guess at how old she is…

So, Happy 75th Birthday Mom.

I love you

Nancy

AWESOME NEWS!!!!

Today has been a great day for good news.

Let’s start with my lunch date today!  I had lunch with Jean today.  Jean is my friend in addition to being my ex-employer.  A while back I asked for some prayers for Jean because she was undergoing surgery.  A lot of you answered that request and today, at her appointment with her surgeon, he told her the good news.  After two, yes two surgeries, she is fine.  All tests came back negative.  She is cancer free and able to just get on with it!!!! 

The most awesome part of this story – Jean had her original surgery and when the pathology report came back she had not only one type of cancer but TWO different types of cancer, one inside the other.  As someone who has done mega-research on cancer I can tell you that two different types of cancer at the same time is not something that happens every day.  So when someone is declared cancer free of BOTH it is an awesome thing.  I am so happy for you Jean and for the rest of your family who have managed to hold it all together in the face of such adversity. 

 

And now for the other awesome news today…

 

I have another friend who recently underwent surgery for EC: the same cancer I had.  Steve also saw his surgeon today and was pronounced cancer free or in cancer survivor terms – NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE!  I have never met Steve and yet we have become friends through our  wordpress blogs and our own experiences with EC. 

 

One thing I can tell you – both Jean and Steve had amazing attitudes all the while battling what could have been terminal illnesses.  Neither of them ever gave up or saw themselves as victims.  From the onset, both of them were survivors and will continue to be.  As a survivor myself I know that not all days are good days, that is to be expected because the bottom line in all of this is that we are human. And as such, we are entittled to bad days just like everyone else.  However, as survivors we sometimes see our bad days in an not so favourable light. Those days conjour up all the horrible things we let ourselves think while we were in a fight for our lives.  I would never wish any of this on anyone – not even my worst enemy.  As a survivor I know how precious each and every day is and although I have been told I am cured there will always be that nagging little thought in the back of my mind if “it is back”.  So if someone you know is having a bad day and that someone is a Cancer Survivor, cut them a little slack. The best thing for bad days is a hug – and the best part – they are free.

Update Time!

I spent most of the day sleeping today, a luxury usually unknown to me.  I did get up this morning but mom and dad had aready been fed so I made something to eat (grapefruit, peanut butter and toast, coffee) and then went back to sleep. Not intentionally, my breakfast didn’t sit well so I thought I would just lie down for a minute and it would pass.  No such luck, lying down for a minute that is the next thing I knew it was noon and it was time to make lunch.  But I didn’t have to do that.  Craig is fitting in so nicely that I could sleep while he fed mom and dad. I got to stay in bed with the dogs – both of them – and sleep some more.  When I finally did wake up it was 3:00.  I asked Craig to make sure that I was up by 4 but I really didn’t need to as I didn’t fall back to sleep. Took my shower and then it hit me!!!  I felt like death warmed over.  Stupid me, in all my glory of sleeping the day away I forgot to eat.  By suppertime my stomach was in total revolt having nothing in it other than bile.  Not a pretty picture I know, but that’s what happens when I don’t eat. 

See a normal person can go without food in their stomach with not much trouble.  I, on the other hand, need to have something in my stomach at most times – otherwise the bile.  You would think that I would know this by now but no, I totally forgot.  Making dinner was a chore.  I was so out of energy that I had to sit down every couple of minutes or wlse I would have fallen down.

I truly believe that the reason I was able to slep is that I am finally getting comfortable in my roll of co-caregiver and that my body is finally catching up on all the sleep it has missed.  Thank God for Craig.  He has saved my bacon so to speak.  He is always right there when I need a break from mom and dad and it is so nice to not have to worry that they are not getting into trouble or danger.  Having him come in here and help me with them is the best thing ever.  Thanks Sue for suggesting it !  I am also going to bed earlier at night.  Last night it was 1:30.  That is about 4 hours earlier than I am used to.  Holy Cow!!!!!

Maggie (the dog) and Bosco are getting along famously.  I was a little worried at first.  Maggie is so adorable but as a little dog she was very intimidated by Bosco on the ocassions that she ran into him.  Now it is really cute to see them together.  Bosco, for the most part, ignores her,  but then he goes and does something chivalrous and I have to laugh.  He no longer stands directly in front of his water dish. Instead he stands to one side so that she can drink too if she wants.  I think he purposely leaves a little food in his dish so that she can have it.  The first time she stuck her head in the water dish I had to laugh.  She looked at me, looked at him, and then started lapping at the water. LOL.  He just looked at her as if to say, ya, whatever LOL.  She is also really cuddly. I have put off having her in my lap too much lest he get jealous, well more jealous than he is but today when I was laying down he jumped up on the bed, settled in at my feet, ok so on my feet and before I could move she jumped right up and snuggled in beside me.  I thought he would get annoyed but he didn’t.  LOL.  When you rub her stomach and stop, she takes her paw and paws at your hand to keep going.  She is just like Bosco was when he was young LOL – only about 1/20th of the size.  Which by the way, Bosco is shrinking.  He is on a diet (well as much of a diet as he can be around here) and so far has lost 2 pounds.  He has a wayto go but this is a good sign.  He is also on medication now for the rest of his life as his thyroid is not working properly.  I am glad to know this because I thought his weight issues were just because of the litany of food that mom and dad were feeding him but apparently not.  Taking his pill twice daily is one of the few times he gets people food.  To get him to take his pill I have to put it in liverwurst LOL.  Tonight I put it in a little piece of meatball and lo and behold I got the stare and the bark until I brought the liverwurst out.  He certainly does know what he wants, especially when it comes to food. The barking is driving me crazy but I know it is just because the poor thing is starving to death. LOL.  He will survive but I don’t know if I will.

Two weeks today and I will be in sunny (I hope) Lake George, New York for Americade’s Bike Week.  Right now I wouldn’t care if I was going to the next town over as long as I got some peace and quiet and a vacation.  I haven’t really been on a vacation since having cancer.  It will be nice to get away for a whole week.  I have also made my plane and hotel reservations for the end of June in Minneapolis for my cousin Kate’s wedding reception.  There is no turning back now.  I have to get a dress and shoes but will do that in Lake George.

I get my tattoo this week. Friday night to be exact.  I am looking forward to this.  It will be a permanent acknowledgement of being a survivor of cancer.  I go see Gastro Guy this coming Thursday for my annual scope and heading into the summer I see Rad Onc in Aug after a CAT scan in July.  The good news is that unless I hear back from Gastro Guy I won’t be nervous waiting to hear about the CAT scan from Rad Onc.

Things are most definately looking up…at least for me. However, my favourites on Dancing With The  Stars might not think so for themselves.  I really want Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas to win and before tonight I thought that they would be the ones leaving tomorrow night before the winner was announced but…Melissa and Tony didn’t do as well in the Free Style as I thought they would so it could come down to Shawn and Mark, and Cheryl and Gilles.  If that happens then I really think that Cheryl and Gilles will take it but who knows what will happen in TV land.  All I know is that next Monday night will be a “What do I do tonight” night because DWTS will be over 😦

Bowling is also over for the season.  We won’t be back in the lanes until September.  So, what the hell am I going to do on Thursday nights?  I won an award this year – the “Best Effort/Least Reward” award.  I get a nice placque for the wall and I netted some coin.  Basically the award is for the person who tries the hardest but still sucks at bowling – that would be ME!  But that’s ok, I had the best time this year and will most certainly be back in September.  My team tied for First Place, which is an acheivement in it’s own right.  Consider, I am a bad bowler – avg of 96; we lost one of our best bowlers when she had to have surgery (2) for breast cancer (Jean).  So net net we did pretty damn good tying for first.  My team is obviously very awesome and carried me most of the time LOL.  Thanks Guys, it was an honour playing with you.  See you in September.

Amazingly enough I am quite tired now so I am going to bed and it is only 12:30.  A couple more nights like this and I will be a “normal” sleeper once again.  I am not looking for miracles though, sleep was never one of my strong suits.

Have a great week.

 

Nancy

Happy Birthday to You…BOTH

Today marks the 14th year of existance for my twin neice and nephew Jamie Lee and Michael. 

I still remember the day they were born.  And I also remember how well they were “feed” before they were born. LOL

Jamie can probably still tell you how she “took all Michael’s food” and because of that when he was born he had to spend some time in an incubator at the hospital.  Every two hours someone would head over to Credit Valley and gently take him out of his warm little home and feed him.  Meanwhile at home, little Miss Muffet would be scarfing down her bottle.

Funny thing tho, with twins.  If Jamie was having a fussy time at home, Michael was having one in the hospital.  Once one settled down the other would even though they were a couple of miles apart.  Although very different they are still very much alike, although they would never admit it. When Michael finlly got to come home, neither of them would settle down until they were in the same crib.  Once that was the case they were fine.  I remember babysitting them one night before they were in the same crib.  Oh my…I would just get one settled down and the other would start crying and we would start all over again.  It was a long night.

Between feedings and diaper changes I am not sure how my brother and sister-in-law did it. LOL One baby is a lot of work, two was…well it was a job well done.  Both Jamie and Michael are awesome young people in their own right.

There are some noticable differences (apart from the fact that they are of different sexes).  Jamie is our athlete.  She plays Ringette and this coming season will be playing in Richmond Hill.  That is a little cool because her grandmother, my mother was born in Richmond Hill.  I hope that one day when she is there she will get her dad to take her to Harding Road…I also hope that somewhere in her busy summer whe will be able to keep a week or two open and come and spend them with her Aunt Nanc.  (LOL I can hope can’t I Jamie ???)

I can remember when the two of them were just toddlers and mom babysat them.  True to gender calling Jamie would pick up little things and put them in their place.  Michael, on the other hand, would kick them out of the way and just move on.  That’s when I realized the true difference between girls and boys and that it was purely genetic.  My mom never treated either of them different from the other based on their sex.  And yet, they both had charateristics that are considered gender specific. 

Michael is our Techie, which is awesome because if I have a puter problem I know who to call.  He came and spent a couple of weeks with me last summer and it was one of the best summers I ever had.  We had a great time, even if he didn’t catch as many fish as he had hoped to LOL.  When are you coming back Mike???

Whatever you both do today I hope you have a great day.  You only get to be 14 once so use it wisely.

Save me a piece of birthday cake.

 

I love you, happy birthday

Auntie Nanc.

Mike and Jamie having fun!

Mike and Jamie having fun!

Thought for the Day – May 14, 2009

Save the Earth…. it’s the only planet with chocolate!!!! 

nuff said!!!

 

Nancy

Reader’s Digest – Here We Come

I tell my EC story to whomever will listen.  I don’t “preach” about it, well not really, but I think it is very important to let people know certain facts.  For instance, heartburn is not normal.  Most people think that a slight cause of indigestion or heartburn is.  Well, I am here to tell you that it’s not.  (Granted there are some instances that insomuch as not being “normal” they do happen – like being pregnant.) Prolonged heartburn, or it’s proper name, Acid Reflex ot GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) can indeed be fatal.  Yes folks, that’s right.  HEARTBURN CAN KILL YOU!!!!!  Antacids may relieve the symptoms but unless you seek out and treat the cause you may be doing more damage than you think. 

Heartburn is the back up of stomach acids into the esophagus.  In a nutshell, chronic heartburn causes the lining of the esophagus to take on the characteristics of the stomach lining.  Once this happens heartburn may disappear.  But the damage has been done.  The esophagus is lined with specific cells for a reason.  Once these cells become mutated from stomach acid it is very possible that they will begin to mutate further.  Cancer is a mutation of cells.  So, one plus one equalling two equates to mutating cells equalling cancer.   Bottom line; Heartburn is not normal. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, like I did (Rolaids was a food group to me for 20 years) then please see your doctor and ensure that they are aware of your problem.

Once diagnosed with AR or GERD there are medications that can help and in some cases heal the damage that has already happened.  But, once diagnosed it is important to always follow up with the doctor.  Endoscopies are a  fairly simple procedures, it’s about 1/2 out of your day and anyone diagnosed with AR or GERD should have one.  They don’t hurt and believe me, there is alot more pain and suffering with EC than there is with a scope.

You can always take a copy of this coming July’s Reader’s Digest with you to show your doctor because RD is finally printing the article that my awesome writer friend Cheryl Hawkes wrote.  If you are a dedicated reader to this blog you know that Cheryl’s husband Bill Cameron passed away a short time after being diagnosed with EC. 

Cheryl amazes me.  She works tirelessly to promote Esophageal Cancer Awareness to ensure that more of us do not suffer the same fate as Bill did.  She instituted EC Awareness Week in the City of Toronto, a yearly event.  In addition to all she does for EC she is also a mother and did I mention, an awesome writer…

In addition to writing about Bill’s battle, Cheryl has also been kind enough to write about me.  Yes, that’s right – I will again get another 15 minutes of fame.  The article will also include someone else who’s battle also ended.

The July edition of RD will be out sometime in June.  I think everyone should have a copy.  Not only because I am in it (LOL), but also because the more people that know about EC the more people who will perhaps see themselves in the article and see their doctor.  Trust me folks, EC is not a disease you want.  I know, I know no one wants any cancer but given the stats on how many people will at sometime in their life have some form of cancer, forewarned is forearmed. And the stats on EC are brutal. From the number of cases that are now being diagnosed annually to the survival rates, the numbers are not pretty.  In fact, they are scary and getting scarrier.

I will be gathering up as many copies as I can find around here and be distributing them, to my doctors,  family, friends whoever I can.  So, do yourself a favour and grab a copy before I thrust one at you and tell you to READ THE ARTICLE!!!!!!

Hopefully the article will also be available in the online edition of RD.  If and when it is, I will post the link so no one misses it.  I know that I do sometimes (OK a lot of times) go on and on about EC.  Those of you who know me personally know, for the most part what I went through.  Surgery, chemoradiation that almost killed me and lingering side effects that will always be a part of my life.  At 48 years of age I am unable to work full time, eat a regular meal or go through a day without some form of painkiller.  Don’t get me wrong, life is good and I live everyday to it’s fullest but if one person can be spared what I went through because they know about EC then the better off we all are.

Ok, I am off my soapbox now.  Have a great day.

Nancy

For my EC Readers – and my Non-EC readers too!!!

I have added a new page to Serendopeity.  It is one man’s story of his journey with EC.  Bill Cameron was a much respected and well loved Canadian broadcaster and journalist.  I can remember watching him on CITY TV and CBC but I never had the pleasure if meeting him in person.  However, through my own journey with EC I have been priviledged to meet and become friends with his wife, Cheryl Hawkes. 

Cheryl is an amazing woman and I consider myself very lucky and most proud  to be able to call her my friend.  Thank you Cheryl for allowing me to reprint Bill’s article here at Serendopeity.

Through Cheryl’s tireless efforts the City of Toronto annually recognizes Esophageal Cancer with an EC Awareness week in May.  This has grown from the first year of it’s  inception from a day to a whole week.  It starts tomorrow May 10 – May 16, 2009.   See the Proclamation by the Mayor of Toronto here.

 Additionally the City of Toronto also named a street in Bill’s honour in the neighbourhood that Cheryl and her children still call home. 

Also through Cheryl’s efforts there is now a fund at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto that is specifically for research into EC.  Many people ask how they can help – here it is.  To my knowledge it is the only EC specific fund in Canada.  You can make a donation here if you so wish.  You can also read a special message from Cheryl by following the link on the left hand side of the page.

If you have a minute, please read Chasing the Crab.  It was the last piece Bill  wrote and truly captures the “realness” of battling Esophageal Cancer.

Nancy

How many for dinner???

With this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I figured that I would hold my Mother’s Day dinner on Saturday night.  That way, if my brother and his family who live a far distance away wanted to come they could without having to worry about hurrying back after eating.  Additionally it is my sister-in-law’s birthday on Saturday, so we could celebrate everything at one time.   Well, apparently my brother and his family are not coming.  They have other plans.

My youngest brother and his family who live here in Brighton were also invited but I uninvited them late this week.  No, we didn’t have a fight or anything like that.  His daughter is coming home this weekend and surprising her mom.  She is also bringing dinner with her and since she has to leave on Sunday dinner will have to be cooked on Saturday night.

With all those unable to attend my table has been reduced to…see that’s the problem.  I cannot for the life of me remember who else I invited for dinner LOLOLOL.  I suppose that when you live with people with memory loss problems it is bound to wear off on me sooner rather than later.  Also, given my predisposition to having Alzheimer’s at some point in my life, it’s not a far stretch to think that perhaps it is starting mow.  No, I know it’s not.  I keep my mind far too active for it to rear it’s ugly head this soon in my life, but sometimes I have to wonder…

I do know some of who I have invited but I keep thinking I am missing someone.  I did thesame thing at Easter and it wasn’t until about an hour before dinner that I remembered that I had also invited 2 other people.  After a bit of scrambling to rearrange a seating arrangement we were good to go. 

The good thing is that we are having lasagna, garlic bread and ceasar salad so there will be enough no matter how many people show up. So I guess it really doesn’t matter how many I invited as long as everyone who does show up has food to eat and a place to sit.  I don’t know why I stress over these things. 

Now, what’s for dessert…I knew I forgot something.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Nancy

Help is on it’s way!!!!

I have taken some initiative and I will have live-in help coming soon. This will ease my stress levels immensely and will also allow for me to take some time off when I need it.

My ex-neighbour Craig’s job was cut short, as are many others in this economy, and it looked as though he would not be able to stay in his apartment much longer.  He is not from around here, but would like to stay in the area as his daughter is near by and he she’s her every other weekend. I have an extra large room available (it’s almost as big as the living room, except it has 5 feet cut off for a large walk in closet. It’s about 17″ x 15″)  On Friday I took Craig out to lunch and asked him if he would consider moving in here.  I will not be charging him rent or board (until he can find a job), instead we are trading off.  He gets a place to live and I get help with mom and dad.  Additionally we get another dog and a Gecko lizard LOL.  The dog is so cute, and I know that when I tell my neice Jamie she will be thrilled LOL.  I think she will also like the lizard as she used to have one of her own!

This means that I will be able to go out for an evening and not worry about what mom will “put away” while I am gone.  It’s not so much the “putting away” that aggravates me, it’s that she doesn’t remember where she put anything except that “if I did it” (which a common response) it would have been put in an “approriate place”.  Since mom’s cognitive function is, at best, non-existant, appropriate takes on a whole new meaning…

I already fell as though a tremdous weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I realize there will be an adjustment period – change is a big deal to anyone with any form of dementia, but I am hopeful that within a week or two, his living here and being here all the time will the “norm” for all concerned.

I never thought that I would need help with mom and dad.  Hell, I am 48 years old, I should be able to do most anything.  Unfortunately surgery, chemo and radiation for Esophageal Cancer has left behind some issues that make things impossible for me to do.  I am confident that now that I have help things around here will be alot smoother, less arguments and a whole lot less stress for me. YAY!!!!!

I wasn’t too worried about my trip to Lake George.  I had enlisted in the help of my Aunt Betty who lives here in Brighton and she had agreed to come and stay with mom and dad while I was gone.  She will still spend time with them while I am away, but she will be able to sleep in her own bed at night and rejuvenate for the next day LOL.  For someone her age, 77, she is awesome.  A year or two ago she went skydiving!!!!!!!  And loved it !!!!!!! LOL.  Each winter season she drives to Tennessee to her daughter Sandra’s.   It used to be Florida but Sandra and her family moved to Tennessee, a move that Aunt Betty claims “ruined her life” LOL.  She likes the warmth and the sun and from what I have heard, this past winter in Tennessee was anything but. Oh well, I think 40 degrees is much better than -40, but that’s just me.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about my trip to Minneapolis the end of June.  I hadn’t gotten anyone to look after them for that period of time.  It is very difficult to ask anyone to do it, I know what it is like and what it entails and it isn’t a fun job.  Craig is well aware of both mom and dad’s condition and is confident that he can do this.  I am too.  And if, when I return the poor man has left for parts unknown I will understand LOL.  However, I don’t think that will happen.

SO, it is a beautiful, sunny day here.  Still a little cool, but the sun makes it not so bad. 

Have a great week

Nancy