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: August 2010

6 Years and Counting Part One

On August 28, 2004 I had my very first scope. After a couple of months of not being able to swallow my food and an unrelated (or was it?) trip to the ER I was referred to Dr. Sean McIlreath, a specialist in Endoscopies. He became the first in a long line of Doctors who would be instrumental in saving my life!

In a nutshell, I was diagnosed on October 28, 2004 with Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus – in layman’s term, Esophageal Cancer. At what felt like a snail’s pace back then I had a CAT scan, saw yet another surgeon, Dr. Ted Young at St, Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton and was scheduled for surgery in November. On December 30, 2004 I had life saving and altering surgery. The surgery, which was supposed to last about 8 hours, didn’t and when I hit the recovery room I was a little smart assy with Dr. Young so he sent me straight to step down instead of ICU – he told his nurse that I didn’t need ICU and did so laughing, a rarity for Dr. Young I’m sure. Into a regular room in 2 days and out of the hospital in 7 days (It would have been six but there was an ice storm and it was easier for me to stay than to get home). I had been told that I would probably be in the hospital for 12 – 15 days. I was Dr. Young’s poster girl for EC back then Each time he came to see me in the hospital (at least twice a day) he would ask me “How’s the pain?” and each time I would answer “What pain?” He would smile and say “That’s my girl”. It’s probably wrong on so many levels but I do truly miss Dr. Young!!!!

Although he left a roadmap of scars on the outside of my body, reduced the number of organs on the inside and left a flotilla of shiny clips as a beacon to the treatment to come, his most important legacy (aside from saving my life of course) was the imprint he left on my heart. If not for the amazing surgical skills of this man and his awesome team I would not be here today!

I spent the next 6 weeks at my Aunt’s home in Burlington. A home filled with love and compassion and a short distance from Dr. Young and St. Joe’s Hospital in Hamilton if the need arose. Thankfully it didn’t, my only return visit was a week after surgery to get the results from the pathology tests of my removed innards during surgery and to plan the rest of my recovery. I thought I was scared before the surgery – it was nothing. I slept through that and then spent the next week so stoned that I barely remember much of it. My trip to see Dr. Young a week after the surgery was the scariest ride I had ever been on. Until he saw the pathology report he couldn’t tell me how advanced my cancer was, nor could he tell me what I had to look forward too.

Well, as luck (?) would have, all of the 50+ lymph nodes he removed were clean – my cancer was contained in the orange sized tumour he removed from the base of my esophagus. Along with the tumour he removed my entire esophagus, approximately 12 inches leaving a 2 inch stub at the back of my throat in which he pulled up the remaining 1/3 of my stomach (he removed 2/3 of my stomach for good measure) and attached it to the stub. Dr. Young recommended that I undergo radiation and chemotherapy as “insurance”, in case any pesky little cancer cells got away or were hiding just waiting for an opportunity to strike back. I readily agreed. I could go home (to Brighton) and have my chemo and radiation in Kingston which was closer to home than staying in Burlington.

Now, let’s be real here – I loved staying in Burlington. I was pampered, taken care of, had every need and want catered to by my Aunt Joy, a woman who words cannot even begin to describe…If I could ever nominate anyone for sainthood – it would be her! But I digress (yet once again). I chose Kingston. As much as being taken care of was awesome, I needed to go home.

The first oncologist I saw in Kingston would be the doctor who administered my chemo drugs. I would be given a cocktail of Cisplatin and 5FU (a drug so aptly named it is not even funny). It would be a 4 round protocol. One week on (with concurrent radiation – the radiation helped activate the drugs) 3 weeks off the chemo but continuing the radiation, one week on during the last week of radiation. The last 2 rounds of chemo would be administered even closer to home in Belleville. The second oncologist was Dr. Falkson, my radiation onc. He went through the radiation process with me and then told me that I should go home and think about it…HUH???? What was there to think about? I was 44 years old, in good health except of course for the cancer. I had nothing to lose, everything to gain. Now, I guess this is where I should add that the stats on Esophageal Cancer are not good, at best. Back then, the average mean time of survival was 27 months after diagnosis. 27 MONTHS!!!!!! However, mine had been caught in early stages so I had a “better” chance of survival past the 27 months. So I asked him point blank – If I walk out that door now and never come back what are the odds. He replied about 15%. So, I ask, what if I stay. His reply about 45%. So I say – Let’s do it!!!!

And so it began…

(If you have read this far, I thank you. I didn’t realize when I started to type how long a story this condensation of the story really was. I suppose I am giving away all the good stuff so you won’t have to buy the book, should it ever come out! You can thank me later.)

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Veterans standing up for Colonel Stogran as he has stood up for us.

When I first heard aabout Pat’s contract not being renewed I was angry, very very angry. So much so that I started a letter to Prime Minister Harper which would have appeared here at serendopeity as “An Open Letter to…”

The letter has not been posted because I had to calm down and think rationally and logically instead of emotionally as I was thinking.  For those of you who know me, you know that when I get passionate about something I really do get upset and tend to say things that are more of a “personal” attack than what it really should be.  For example, my letter to Harper began…

“Dear Mr. Harper;

I know protocol would dictate that I address a letter to you as “The Rt. Honourable, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, however I find nothing honourable about you or your recent actions…” 

So, you can see why I had to slow down on the letter – additionally I was “warned” that perhaps I shouldn’t make it an open letter but rather send it along to Ottawa – sorry, again if you know me at all, you know that is not my style.

When the article below appeared on Facebook, with Mike’s request that it be passed along to media outlets by the members of the Facebook page, I decided to post it here as a guest post.

Please read the post and remember that our veterans are not only from WW1, WW2 and the Korean War.  Insomuch as we have not, as a country,  declared war on any other country since WW1, we are at war in Afghanistan, with veterans returning home constantly, facing the same issues that our older veterans face.

Thank you

Nancy

Guest Post by Mike Blais Rcr Cfds via Facebook.

 You can join the Facebook Group at Stand UP for Colonel Pat Stogran and for ALL CANADIAN veterans 

Veterans standing up for Colonel Stogran as he has stood up for us.

Last week, retired Colonel Pat Stogran, CO of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry battalion that led Canada’s deployment to Afghanistan, was informed by the Canadian government that his services as the Veterans Affairs Canada ombudsman would be no longer required. Veterans across the nation were appalled, fearing the important issues championed so vigilantly by Colonel Stogran would be ignored or delayed beneath the guise of Minister Blackburn’s claim of need for a new vision. I can assure all Canadians, there is nothing wrong with Colonel Stogran’s vision; the issues he has identified and condemned during his tenure are very, very real. Furthermore, during the past three years he has truly earned the trust of our veterans through action and word, a refreshing source of support for many who are living with the debilitating consequences of war and peace.

Many Canadians are unfamiliar with the hardships young and old veterans are confronting. I would like to clarify this situation with the sincere hope that once you understand how veterans are being mistreated, you might be inclined to support them at 1100 hours, November 6th, 2010 when we assemble in front of our MP’s offices to respectfully ask for support redressing five principle areas of concern.

The widow’s aka death benefit tax. Sadly, the families of the fallen, already deeply grieving the loss of loved ones are subject to a great deal of financial hardship through this unjust taxation policy. Veterans Affair Canada is not an insurance company and the pension/awards they provide are specifically for pain and suffering, not income replacement. We believe that the families of the fallen deserve the same standard and should be provided a tax exception on all VAC death benefits.

Lump Sum Award. Sadly, hundreds of Canada’s sons and daughters have sustained grievous wounds in action and/or suffer from a variety of service related physical and physiological issues. We have borne witness to the struggle of the armless, the legless, blind, deaf… hundreds of veterans are returning to Canada from Afghanistan with serious health problems. Financially, the New Veterans Charter is particularly deficient. I will demonstrate by comparing the two systems. Hypothetically, two veterans are severely wounded, age twenty-five, wife, child. One receives a lump sum payment of 276000 dollars. The other receives the standard before the New Veterans Charter implementation, roughly 3000 dollars a month. Both live to the age of 85. The new veteran receives 276000 dollars during this period, about 380 dollars a month. His colleague, on the pre New Veterans Charter, receives over TWO MILLION dollars and includes an additional supplement for his wife and each child till they reach the age of 18. This vast disparity, particularly when one considers the consequences of modern combat, is obscene.

Clawback of Veterans Affairs pension/Maritime Life SISIP program. Canadians might well imagine how difficult, if not impossible, it is for a soldier to find life insurance! We participate through a government-approved program administered by Maritime Life called the SISIP program. This is a standard LTD insurance policy that, if necessary, subsidizes soldiers other pensions to a percentage based on severity of injury. Prior to the New Veterans Charter, Maritime Life deducted the veterans VAC award from this payment even though it quite clearly states that the Veterans Affairs Canada pension is for pain and suffering and not to be considered income replacement. The New Veterans Charter rectified this injustice through legislation but inexplicably, not for all veterans. Today, 6500 airmen, sailors and soldiers continue to be adversely affected, a fact that is prejudicial and grotesquely unfair. We have all served this nation, there should be only one standard, inclusive of the financial considerations promised when we have Tread in Harms way on Canada’s behalf.

Reduction of service pension at age 65. Imagine, you served you entire career, dutifully paying into your pension fund only to discover that the government is arbitrarily going to reduce your service pension the moment you hit 65. This is fundamentally unfair, particularly in the sense that all governmental offices, only the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces are adversely affected by this financial hardship. We believe that this is a burden for veterans and Mounties; this discriminating policy must be repealed.

Agent Orange/PTSD. We respectfully request that a comprehensive program be implemented to assist those who were affected by Agent Orange chemicals at CFB Gagetown for many years. The current settlement covers only those affected over the course of one, even though it has been proven that hundreds, if not thousands of veterans through time may have been exposed. The consequences are fatal, cancers inherent with great discomfort and pain. Many veterans have already died. To deny responsibility and care for those suffering a terminal disease yet provide for others similarly affected, but only during the one-year period, is morally wrong. Post traumatic stress issues have also become an urgent issue as more and more of our veterans find it difficult coping with their wartime experiences after repatriation.

These are the facts and with these facts in mind, I would invite all Canadians to join veterans throughout Canada on the 6th of November 2010, at 1100 hours in front of your local MP’s office. We shall unite as brothers and sisters, sing O Canada, respectfully present our petition to our local parliamentarians and provide him/her an opportunity to address these issues in a public forum. Conservative, Liberal or NDP, it matters not, our veterans need the support of all parliamentarians if we are to change the Veterans Charter through legislation. Just as we, the veterans of Canada, need the support of all Canadians.

Stand up for veterans! Stand up for veterans as we have stood up for you.

Michael L Blais CD,
Niagara Falls Ontario

other media articles about this issue:

http://bit.ly/c3Q4qE Disabled soldiers angry over lump-sum payments (via Toronto Star)

http://bit.ly/bScUR7 It’s time to stand up for them (via Ottawa Citizen)

Guest Post: Dave Murphy of ThankASoldier

Today’s post is from www.ThankASoldier.net

Please visit www.ThankASoldier.net I think you will enjoy it. Dave had put a lot of heart, soul and energy into his blog.

Turning Facebook & Twitter Red On Fridays

On Friday August 28th and every Friday thereafter we will be turning Facebook & Twitter Red in support of all troops & their families, from all countries that are a part of the UN Coalition. This is not about getting on the Twitter trending topics list, selling shirts or getting donations for other charities.  It is about our service men and women and their families and helping to spread the word about Red Friday.

How you can help spread the word:

Put something like this in your facebook status :


 

It`s  Red Friday, Wear RED to show support to our troops  at home & their families #RedFriday

This is not a contest as to who can do the most #Redfriday tweets you simply post it at least once every Friday to encourage people to wear Red on Fridays, its’ as simple as that.

The Red Friday Video:

I recently had my twitter followers and group members send in “Thank You” videos and it went very well so we could possibly being doing a “Red Friday” video that is simular that just shows regular people from all over the world with photos of themselves wearing RED to support our troops.  So We’ll see how this goes and stay tuned for information about that.

What is Red Friday?

Snopes.com has it linked as “Collected on the internet in 2005″ they also report that in the spring of 2006 Red Fridays in Canada was started by two wives of Canadian forces Lisa Miller and Karen Boire.  You can check out “The Red Friday Ladies” page on Facebook.

I wanted to post the above information as when I post this and attempt to do what this blog is for I don’t want anyone to think i’m trying to claim starting this idea or anything like that.  It’s simply an idea to Facebook & Twitter RED on Fridays.

Wikipedia : Red Friday in Canada : People in Canada have worn red on Fridays to show support for troops serving in the Canadian Forces. Red is chosen because it is an official Canadian colour, and historically is a colour of remembrance because it symbolizes the red poppies in Flanders Fields and the loss of life that the country has endured.

SHARING THIS POST:

If you would like to share this on facebook  copy and paste this in to your facebook status:

http://thankasoldier.wordpress.com/redfriday

It will not set your status but put a link to this posting on your wall.

If you would like to share this on twitter simply put this in your Twitter Status:

Turning Facebook & Twitter Red on Fridays http://bit.ly/xJISt #RedFriday