Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Blogger’s Travels

Surprise! I’m blogging on a Saturday. Truth is I just have the time this morning to sit down and write. Weekends are typically my favourite time to catch up on blogs, e-mails, and various other things. While listening to CBC radio and drinking coffee out of the largest mug I own… of course.

Anyways, I wanted to note that today, January 21st marks one month since my last chemo!! Officially the longest I’ve gone without chemo since beginning in July 2011. Before this, it was common to wait three weeks in between treatments.

A lot of people ask me how I’m feeling now that it’s been so long. The answer, as always, is complicated. I feel great and yet I don’t feel great all at the same time.

With each week that passes, I find I have more energy than the week before. I’m getting out of the house more, exercising more, I’m even doing a few more chores. But with the bouts of energy, still come the crashes. While my “ups” are much better and longer than they used to be, they are still much more short-lived than that of a normal person. And my “down” energy times are still borderline crippling.

The best way to explain it is to use the spoon theory. I’m not sure if I really have any more spoons, but instead it just takes a little more to use one up. When I run out of spoons, the feeling is no different than before. I’m stuck to lying in bed so fatigued I can barely move. This first month without chemo has made me realize what a long process recovering from the poisons is going to be. Now I really understand how people can say it takes months to get any semblance of normalcy back.

With that said however, I’m bound and determined to get some things done in these months as I recover. Namely, TRAVEL!

I would have never labelled myself as an avid traveller before, but having to go a year without going anywhere made me realize how much I really do travel and how much I rely on it! I have a few things on the horizon that I am super stoked on.

1. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Okay, so Halifax is only a 2.5 hour drive from Moncton. But my friend gave me a Garrison growler (ie. jug o’ beer) and we made plans to go to Halifax to get it filled to celebrate when I’m cancer-free. If I get a clear scan next week, the trip could be very soon! I love Halifax (my mom grew up there) and have a handful of friends there, so I think it will make for a perfect first trip.

2. Toronto, Ontario.

View from the CN Tower!

Ideally, I’d like to take a long weekend trip to my old stomping grounds in March/April depending on how I’m feeling and how work is going. I’d have taken a trip back a looooong time ago had I not gotten sick. I miss my friends there! And the food!

3. Boulder, Colorado. 

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Ever since travelling to the Canadian Rockies with Holly and Karen, I’ve had an itch to go south and see what the Rockies are like in the U.S. Coincidentally, when a group of bloggers decided to arrange a weekend of hanging out, they chose Colorado as the location! The BLEND Retreat is May 4-6 and will basically be one big blogger party. No sessions or conferences to get to, just spending time together and tackling some mountains! Some of my best blog friends are already signed up to go, but I know there are spots left. I encourage any bloggers out there to check it out! As Lindsay says, you can always make more money, you’ll never be able to replicate this kind of weekend. If you’re worried about not knowing anyone, you’ll know ME. And we can be awkward together.

4. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

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Ever since being diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been reading about these survivor retreats and wishing I could be a survivor already and go take part. Well, by July I should hopefully still be in remission so I signed up to take part in the Young Adult Cancer Canada “Retreat Yourself” on the East Coast. Registration was free and I’m lucky that it’s close enough I can drive. I’ve never been to Cape Breton, so I’m excited to check out its beauty, get some outdoor activity in, and of course connect with other cancer patients/survivors my age who will get my cancer jokes. If you’re a Canadian young adult cancer survivor, you should check this one out!

Well, I wanted to share some of the treats that have been coming out of my kitchen, but I feel like I’ve written enough, so I will save that for another post. Instead, here is a picture of Buster carrying around his much-too-big-for-him teddy bear.

Have a great weekend!

I’ll Be In The Home Gym

I went ahead and disappeared for a few days 1) Because I’ve been watching far too many episodes of The Wire and The IT Crowd, and 2) I’ve been playing in my new home gym!

“Home gym” used lightly here as it is still very much a work in progress. I set it up in an empty room in my dad’s house and there’s still equipment to add and clutter to clear out.

I’m really, really excited about it because I’m not allowed to work out in a regular gym due to my weakened immune system from chemo. When the weather was nice and I was feeling more sick, I was okay with getting my exercise with long walks. But now that we’re down to the minus double digits and I’m getting small bursts of energy again, I’ve got the bug to get some real workouts in!

For cardio, I’ve got my dad’s recumbent bike and my new elliptical. So far I am completely in love with the elliptical. It’s a real treat to just saunter downstairs and get my cardio in while watching whatever I want on television. I call it my “investment piece” based on what I’ll save on a gym membership in the long run. Plus, the equipment may come in handy down the road if I ever want to do personal training outside of a gym environment.

For strength, I got a bench, barbell, and weight plates for free from my step-dad. I already owned the confused looking dog.

There’s also light dumbbells, mats, skip rope, exercise ball, and a foam roller that I had already acquired over the years. Eventually I’d like to get some heavier dumbbells and kettlebells. I’ve also got a road bike and indoor trainer for it, but I’m in no rush to set it up with my broken arm and all. I’m going to try the Couch to 5k running program when the ice melts.

I have to say, starting to seriously workout again after six months of chemotherapy is rough. Way more rough than when I first started getting into fitness after years of smoking and drinking too much beer.

Among the many awful things chemo does, it also breaks down muscle mass. I used to shoulder press with 25 lb dumbbells, and now I’m struggling with 5 lbs! It’s really quite remarkable. And not in a good way.

I also suffered from lung toxicity over the course of chemo and I don’t feel like my lungs are quite where they were when I was healthy. My cardiovascular fitness has gotten pretty bad too. But I can’t push it too hard in case there is still a tumour wrapped around the vein that pumps blood into my heart.

Of course, there’s the added issue of my left elbow looking like this the last time we checked:

I’ve gained a lot of strength and movement in that arm over the past several months, but it’s nowhere close to being where it was before the skating accident. I still can’t bear a lot of weight on it. A push up for example is impossible. Even doing repetitions with light weights can be painful.

With aaalllll of that said, I’m really quite excited. Fitness used to be my life, and participating in it again makes me feel like me. It gives me a sense of normalcy that I so desperately crave. Plus, the endorphins do wonders for my mood. I’ll keep you updated as time goes on in the quest to get my fitness back. Maybe I’ll even update that ole’ workout page with some new workouts again!

Notes on the Week

Happy Friday the 13th! It was a pretty a good week around these parts. I love waking up every day and for the most part feeling better than I did the day before. I’m going on my FOURTH chemo free week. For the first time since before I started chemo six months ago! It’s weird, fun, and frustrating all at once.

Anyways, here’s some bloggable highlights from the week!

1. Chicken and Waffles.

First, can we discuss where this combo originated? Was it in the Southern U.S.? For all the times I’ve eaten waffles, I’ve never had this combo. Healthified since I was making it at home. I started by slicing a small pre-baked chicken breast, dipping the pieces in egg whites, then coating them in a mix of coconut flour and ground flax seed. I then stuck them in the toaster oven until they browned.

For the waffle, in a bowl I mixed:

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • almond milk until desired consistency (thicker for waffles than pancakes. sorry! I never measure it!)

I’m not quite sure what people put on chicken and waffles, so I drizzled syrup on top and it was GOOD! Chicken is so bland that the sweetness worked nice, and the coconut coating was the perfect flavour to add. Traditionally, the chicken is battered and deep fried. I will have to try that version another day!

2. Homemade pasta.

My friend Becca has an Italian cookbook filled with humorous notes from an Italian on how to make the recipes authentic (such as “no!” to garlic in tomato sauce). Half of the book is pasta recipes and we decided we needed to attempt the homemade noodles in there since neither of us had done it before.

It was actually incredibly easy. For two servings, mix 1 cup flour (durum preferably, but we used all purpose with a splash of water) and two eggs. Roll it out paper thin and hang to dry for 20 minutes. For fettuccine, we rolled up the sheet of dough then made  <1cm slices all the way down it. Unravel, then drop in a pot of boiling water for a minute. The hardest part was flattening out the dough with a beer glass.

We agreed on a lighter sauce to let the noodles shine. Becca whipped up a basil walnut pesto with roasted garlic. Everything was DIVINE. I want homemade pasta again tomorrow, and the next day.

3. I got an elliptical!

Fancy, eh? I cancelled my gym membership when I was in the hospital and have been working out at home because of my weakened immune system. Instead of rejoining the gym, I decided to slowly get a home gym going instead. For a long time I planned on getting a treadmill, but I like running and walking outdoors when I can. I thought the elliptical would be something different for my muscles and good for crappy days outside. I’m ridiculously excited about it.

4. Buster had surgery!

Okay, so he just got fixed like every other dog out there, but I still worried about him! Above is a photo the vet snapped when he was waking up from the anesthesia. Look at his tongue hanging out! My poor baby.

He was really groggy when I first brought him home, but the next morning he had better control of his tongue and was bounding around like normal.

As well as playing with his doggie relatives. It’s a full house whenever I bring Buster around my mom’s house with the addition of the new puppy. All dogs fighting to be on one lap at a time.

5. Tunes.

Because we all need some good tunes to go into the weekend with.

Inhaler by Miles Kane

Mayday by PUJOL

Cause A Rockslide by Badly Drawn Boy

The Bad In Each Other by Feist

Walk Away by Tom Waits

That’s all she wrote! Have a great weekend!

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