Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cancer. Day One.

Wow wow. Totally blown away by the support from not only my blogging community and friends, but friends of friends, distant relatives, and even people who just stumbled across my blog to say “hang in there.”

I wasn’t originally going to blog today, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests for updates, and my brand new Macbaby is now with me at the hospital, so what the hey. I’m going to have a lot of spare time in the coming months, so why not spend it blogging. And writing that great novel of course.

First, the basics of how I got to today can be read in this post. I am not going to go over it again, it’s a day I would like to move forward from.

It was a rough day. The first day where I woke up with the knowledge that I have cancer. That somewhere in this innocent-looking chest of mine is a sickness that is out to get me.

There were two things that really made today the pits:

1) I had to go until 3pm until I could eat or drink anything for the entire day. Two times I was told I couldn’t eat, both times I broke down sobbing. I become this crazy person when I don’t eat, pair that with the stress of my current situation, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

2) My biopsy. Oh, my biopsy.

I know many people who have had biopsies before, but this experience scared me. I’ve been able to put the whole “cancer” thing out of my brain fairly successfully, but looking down and seeing a radiologist stick a long needle into my chest cavity made it so real. Not just real, but a really scary reality. They froze my chest but it still hurt like crazy. A hurt deep down into my chest when they stuck the needle in. The radiologist said he was able to get a lot of samples though, which is good for getting a specific diagnosis.

Today I also met with my oncologist for the first time. He’ll be my go-to guy throughout all of this. I guess the “bad news” is that the mass takes up 40% of my chest. The “good” is that he’s confident it’s Hodgkins based on statistics, his knowledge, and my situation. But I probably won’t know my diagnosis until next week.

Even if it isn’t Hodgkins, from what little research I’ve been able to do, non-Hodgkins lymphoma seems to respond fairly well to chemotherapy and radiation. This is what I keep telling myself anyways. They’ll blast those suckers into oblivion.

I still can’t wrap my head around anything long-term at this point. All I can do is think ahead until tomorrow and mentally prepare myself for what tomorrow has in store. Right now, it’s all about getting through the tests. They’re doing everything to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread.

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I’ll be travelling to the next city over for the PET scan, which is kind of nerve wracking. Not looking forward to the hour-long ambulance ride.

I had a long chat with my nurse today too, who prepared me for all these tests. She said I should expect to be at the hospital for about a month until my treatment is sorted out.

Right now I’m set up in the oncology ward in a shared room.

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Thank you soooo much to Morgan and Karen for the beautiful flowers. The hospital room isn’t very nice to stare at all day, so the floral additions help keep my cheery.

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Me, after a day of tests. I actually feel pretty good right now, despite my harried look.

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I’m not in much pain. I still have that “kink” feel in my neck because of the blood clot. My chest hurts from the biopsy. Most of all, my arms kill from the IV and gallons of blood they’ve taken from me. I don’t have much use of my arms now because of it (not like that left one was very useful anyways).

Best of all, my view for much of the day:

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My sisters travelled from Ontario and Quebec to be with me. At first I didn’t want them to go through the hassle, but I selfishly loved having everyone here with me today. Yes, there were tears, but there were also some laughs thanks to our shared sense of offbeat humour. I really am a true believer that things happen for a reason, and I now know I moved home so I could be with my parents when all of this happened.

Thanks again for all the kind notes, they truly are what get me through when the severity of the situation starts to hang heavy over me. I am slowly working on responding to people. Now that I’m on and off bed rest, it will give me a project to do :)

A long, hard road

This is something of an “emergency” blog post. That’s why it’s coming to you at an irregular time. That’s why I’m blogging from my iPhone in a hospital bed with two concerned parents next to me, and two sisters in transit to come see me.

Remember that pain in my neck? And how my mother forced me to the doctor? Who then thought it was something with thyroid and ordered a cat scan?

Well, I had that cat scan at 1:30pm today. By 2:15 my family doctor called me and told me to go straight to his office because the cat scan showed a blood clot. My mom picked me up and took me right over. It was there he said the clot was in the main jugular vein in my throat and I was to go straight to the emergency room to get heparin, a blood thinner, and another CT scan to check for more clots.

My family doctor came to the hospital shortly after and made a serious sounding phone call I could only slightly hear. After hanging up, he grabbed a chair so he could sit down when he talked to me. Any suspicions I had that something even more serious was at play were confirmed in moment.

The second CT scan showed a large mass around the main vein that goes into my heart. It’s lymphoma. In other words, cancer.

They’re taking a sample from my chest tomorrow but I won’t get results until next week. The best I can do is hope for Hodgkins Lymphoma, which has a 98% survival rate. Once I get my diagnosis, I’ll start on chemotherapy right away, then radiation.

For now, the number one concern are the blood clots (I also have a few more in my chest). I’m being moved to the cancer ward and will likely be here for a while. My doctor says I have a very long and hard road ahead of me, but for now all I can do is focus on the present. It’s too overwhelming to think of the rest. Through all of this, I know I need to keep my wits, optimism, and sense of humour.

Thank you SO SO much for your friendship and support.

Why I’m No Longer A ‘Healthy Living Blogger’

There was a time when I categorized myself as a “healthy living blogger,” or perhaps a “fitness blogger.” It was a time when I worked hard at the gym and ate the cleanest foods possible. I told myself I was the healthiest I’d ever been. I could run faster and lift heavier than ever, and physically was the smallest and most “toned” I’d been in my whole life.

I thought that was the epitome of health. I thought that health was something you could choose. But my definition of health is changing. Because of this, I no longer classify myself as a “healthy living blogger” and believe what is commonly thought of as healthy living is not the true definition of healthy at all.

Health is something you can strive for, but it is not something you have full control over. Health doesn’t stop at good food and exercise. It goes much, much deeper than that.

I really hate the hospital. I know that is a cliche, but there is something about that place that makes me want to turn in the other direction and run as fast as I can.

In the past few months, I have spent many hours a week at the hospital working with my physiotherapist, getting x-rays, cat scans, meeting with surgeons, and of course, sitting in waiting rooms. It makes me feel like a sick person, when on the inside, I don’t feel sick at all. Sitting in those waiting rooms, watching people wheel in and hobble out, it occurred to me that I’ve had this “health” thing all wrong.

It’s not about marathons.

It’s not about calories.

It’s not about how many push-ups you can do.

Because when something really happens to your health, when you are facing a much larger power with no control over your body, everything else feels so small.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t still try our best to eat well and exercise. But I’m also saying that to be truly healthy requires a lot more than that. It’s treating your body well. Not starving it or beating it up by running too much. It’s about knowing when to sleep and knowing when to stay up chatting with your best friend all night. It’s about not letting the little things stress you out. It’s about being with loved ones, getting outside, and doing the things that mentally stimulate you.

And if for some reason, health is still taken away from you, you’ll know you’ve at least fulfilled all of those needs.

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