Friday, February 20, 2015

Manicure and pedicure - Quebec winter version

Just back from chemo. It went well and believe it or not I did have a "tropical moment" just as I was starting to soak my nails. That did help at least for the first little while!  It wasn't as bad as I thought, just that moment when your toes pain because they are completely frozen and are not yet numb. After that I couldn't feel anything. Reminded me of when I was a little kid and refused to come inside on a winter's day because I was having so much fun, trying to ignore my frozen feet.  Karey kept me busy as we yack, yack, yacked. And she even set up a tropical corner with a picture of palm trees, flowers in a vase and a little flowery crown for my head, so I could imagine I was on a beach in the hot sun!!! It was a blast!!

The pictures below show us in the chemo room at the hospital: Karey, who is wearing her Hawaian shirt and me in the flowery crown! This was during my intervenous chemo treatment and soaking of my finger/toe nails. You will notice the great ziplock bags to protect my feet. Pretty chic, hey?!

Thanks, Karey for making an otherwise nerve-wrecking day, one of fun and laughter!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An over-flowing heart

This past week-end - Valentine's week-end, Daniel and I were invited to give a conference for couples in a church in Terrebonne, north of Montreal. What a joy! I didn't know if I was going to have enough energy to particpate or not. However, once again, God was faithful to renew my strength and I was able to teach with Daniel. All went very well.

I am always amazed at the truth of when we are willing to give we also receive so much in return. I was very moved to meet up again with people who were a regular part of my life when we lived in Repentigny, but who, because of distance and just plain life have drifted out of our lives. What a joy to see each other again after many years! I also received much encouragement from those people (some of whom I didn't know before) who told me they had been praying for us. So much love was communicated through a simple smile, handshake, hug or the sharing of similar trials. My heart was touched deeply. In French there is an expression which translates in English: "love gives wings" or "loves makes you soar". I feel as if I received new wings this past week-end. In a book I'm reading called "My Grandfather's Blessings", written by a doctor/psychiatristrist who works with people who have life-threatening diseases, we read a sentence that describes exactly what I experienced. She writes: "Sometimes just being in someone's presence is strong medicine." Thank you to those, who by your presence brought great encouragement to my heart!

When we arrived home on Saturday we find the house all decorated and the table set with a beautiful red tablecloth, all ready for our Valentine's Day supper as a family. We heat up a meal previously prepared for us with love by a dear friend and enjoy it together as we listen to the melodious voice of Charles Aznavour serendade us. Savouring those moments together!

Thursday, if all goes well with my white blood cell count, I will have my fourth chemo treatment. The thought of going in again for chemo does not appeal to me at all, especially knowing that this time it is a new drug and also I will have to soak my finger and toe nails for 1 hr in ice during the treatment. Sometimes I struggle with anxiety at the thought of the treatment and the unknown reactions I may have. At the same time I know that once this is over I am one step closer to the end of the treatments. So I go forward and will try to do so with serenity, wearing the new wings I received on the week-end.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Laughter is the best medicine

Well, because life is not always hard and dramatic. Actually there are some pretty funny moments too. Maintaining a sense of humour throughout my journey has been something that has helped me immensely. I once heard an interview with a lady who was over 100 yrs old. When she was asked the secrets to her longevity, one of her responses was: the ability to laugh at herself.
In one of the books I'm reading called: Living through Breast Cancer with Faith, Hope and Laughter I found the following quotes, which ring so true to me at this time:

Humour is a prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of a prayer.  -Reinhold Niebuhr

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.- Martha Washington

Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine. -Lord Byron

Give me a sense of humor, Lord
Give me the grace to see a joke,
To get some happiness from life,
And pass it on to other folk.  -Prayer in Chester Cathedral

So the following photos are my comic relief...enjoy!

See what he puts me through?!

Luckily, his assistant is more gentle

                                                  Do you see the ressemblance? 
I look into my Crystal ball and see...a bright future!

                        With the "Moms' night out" girls. Who is that beautiful blond?!

Having fun with the wigs


                    OK it is MY wig                                   My "Madame" look    

Some winter fun shots - because there are days when I am feeling good!
Downhill skiing with Rachel - Just started learning to ski last winter and I love it on the slopes!

Skating with my honey (no needle included)

A walk in the woods on a beautiful winter day

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A funeral, hot flashes and the M word...

This past week has been downright hard. There's no other way to describe it. It reminds me once again of how this thing called cancer can really come into an otherwise normal existance and reap chaos!

Saturday I accompany Daniel to his aunt's funeral in MontrĂ©al. She died of cancer. OK, this was probably not a good idea on my part, but I wanted to be there for his family. So I hear..."But your cancer is different." " Breast cancer treatment has progressed so much." "Her situation was much more serious..." But, hey, when it comes down to it, the bottom line: she had cancer, it came back, she died. I don't want to sound morbid, but I was thrust once more, face to face with my own mortality. I know we all will die some day, of some cause. And that my eventual death may not even be related to this cancer...but, well, it was just too close to home. I didn't anticipate the fallout afterwards...

Then there's the "tropical moments"! Every night now, I wake several times in cold sweats, rushing to remove the pile of blankets. Then a few hours later, freezing to death...not fun! My doctor had warned me before chemo started that one of the side effects would probably be that I would be thrust into menopause early. Well, it's here! And with a vengeance! And all that comes with it - emotional roller coaster, tears, fatigue, meltdowns and my internal combustion furnace, not just at night. And I know that this is also hard on my little family, who must wonder sometimes, I'm sure, who took away their mom and replaced her with this crazy person!?

So, I make myself look up from my black hole to God's Word and I read what the apostle Paul wrote so many, many years ago. I know he wasn't going through chemo or menopause, but hey, his life was not a walk in the park.

"We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up... So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. " 2 Corinthians 4:7,8,16 (the Living Bible. the Message)

I am so not there, every day. Some days I'm actually pretty far from this reality. But there is hope. It's real. It's out there. I just have to reach out and grasp it.