Category Archives: Buster

On Betrayal Of The Body

Back in August, I wrote a post called “Radically Free.” It came about because I was feeling disillusioned by my healthy lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer.

A lot of people will report they feel betrayed by their bodies when they are diagnosed with an illness. I’m not sure if I would use such a harsh term to describe how I felt, but there’s no denying that it definitely hurt my feelings and ego.

The first thing anyone does when diagnosed with a disease like cancer is ask “why, when, and how?” It just didn’t make sense to me how I could end up with lymphoma. I exercised 5-6 times a week. I followed the food guide recommendations. I didn’t drink that much. Generally, I was a pretty happy person.

I mean sure, I’d had my party hardy days like anyone else my age. I smoked for six years, but hadn’t touched a cigarette in just as long. I cleaned up my act to be a healthier person. But I still ended up really, really unhealthy in a way I never thought could be so possible so soon in my life.

Beginning from the time I was admitted to hospital, I started to doubt what I preached as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. Did any of it really matter? My grandmother eats nothing but white bread and soup with MSG, and she’s 88 years old with no physical health issues.

Time however is a funny thing, and as time has gone on my perception of this has changed.

Cancer, illness, accidents, we can’t control these things. We can do all we want to prevent them, but in the end we don’t get the final say. We just don’t.

Instead, I’ve come to be thankful for the time spent being healthy before my diagnosis. Why? Because it’s made being sick so much easier.

Treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is no walk in the park. There’s a reason why it’s so effective. They weren’t fooling around when they cooked up the cocktail for the 14cm mass in my chest. So while I have indeed been on my ass these past couple days because of treatment, I really do think I am overall handling it okay. And I credit that fully to the good shape my body was in before I started treatment.

I hate to think what treatment would feel like if it weren’t for the healthy eating and exercise habits I’d already established beforehand. I might be weaker. I might be sicker. I might be more susceptible to infection.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m not quite so disillusioned anymore. Perhaps treating my body well won’t ever be able to prevent illness, but I’ll still treat it right if it helps me get through illness stronger. If anything, I’m happy I had the good sense to take care of my body while I could. So when the time came, it could withstand what it needed to in order to live.

Chemo #11 went as well as it could on Wednesday. Buster is feigning chemo fatigue and we’ve been napping lots. My oncologist said he can’t imagine I’d need to do any more chemo after this round, so I’ll be sitting in the treatment chair for what may be the last time in FIVE days! I don’t have my appointment for the PET scan yet, which will show if there’s any active cancer left and decide on the rest of my treatment plan. But you can tell Santa all I want is Zofran for Christmas.

Have a great weekend!

One Bright Birthday

Sometimes I feel like I am in the minority of cancer patients in that I don’t often get very upset about my situation.

I mean, I am upset. I just don’t get upset. The only time I’ve cried throughout this experience has been the result of additional stresses in my life that have nothing to do with the cancer. They just upset me more easily because I’m full of cracks from the cancer.

There are moments however when I do feel really sad about what has become of my life. As a young adult, I was guilty of thinking I was invincible. Of assuming I had a lifetime ahead of me to do things. Not that I don’t think cancer is going to cut any of that short, but the word “if” is used a lot more these days instead of “when.”

My friend Lauren reminded me the other day of my favourite Leonard Cohen lyrics, which I’ve shared on this blog before:

“There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in”

Without the cracks caused by cancer, I wouldn’t have some of the light they let in. Hands down, the brightest light of this whole thing has been BUSTER!

Call me a crazy dog lady all you want, this little pooch makes me one happy girl. The opportunity to get a dog has easily been the best thing to come out of this crazy cancer experience. Even when he mistakes the kitty litter for a playpen, or insists on going for a walk at 10pm.

And today my little Buster Bartholomew is one year old!! I got him from another owner when he was 10 months old. I guess he is now officially an adolescent dog, despite his scrawny puppy-like looks.

Please excuse the hack icing job. I whipped it up this morning while chugging back my coffee.

If you’re interested, here’s what went into the dog-friendly microwave cake:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp applesauce

All mixed up and cooked in a greased bowl for about 3 minutes in the microwave. Topped with a quick icing that got licked up immediately.

My little Buster however is a very special snowflake and isn’t blessed with the iron stomach of many other dogs. So he didn’t get to have all of his cake in one sitting.

One little piece at a time! I call him my “Dust Buster” because he likes to hoover the crumbs up off the floor.

Buddy the Boxer is here too and got to reap the benefits of the birthday celebration. My step-sister watched from the sidelines with her human baby boy, laughing at the lengths I go to celebrate my non-human child.

Call me crazy all you want, I refuse to let the light of those cracks let slip through my fingers. Without them, things would get pretty dark around here.

Happy birthday Buster!!

Odds & Ends

Well hello! I had no intention of falling off the face of the blog world for almost a week, but I guess that’s what happens when chemotherapy knocks you on your ass. Apart from not blogging or photographing things, I’ve also not been keeping on top of my inbox (sorry to those who e-mailed me), hardly twittering, and only sometimes on Instagram. Netflix however, I’m all over.

I finished off my fifth round of chemo last Wednesday. One “round” of chemo consists of two “treatments” (ie sessions of IV drips in a chair in the chemo room at the hospital). Under my new COPP/ABV regimen, I start a round with the COPP treatment and a week of chemo pills, then after a week I’m back for a session of the ABV treatment. Then I get three weeks off before the whole thing starts again. The COPP drugs aren’t that bad, they just make be feel tired and crummy for an extended period of time. The ABV treatment, the one I got last week, however made me feel like absolute shit for at least 3 days straight. I become completely useless and just wish the days away.

Scored a stretcher in the chemo room last week!

Thankfully, I am starting to come through the other side and am happy to be facing two whole weeks of NO chemo! My next round, the sixth round, will hopefully be my LAST. The only bummer is that the ABV treatment falls on Dec. 21, so I will likely be hating the world come Christmas day. But I will take it if it means the end of this cancer debacle. I’m due for a PET scan once I’m through with chemo, then my treatment “team” will decide if I’m a good candidate for radiation. So far I’ve been told I am not because they would have to radiate over my left breast, which at 25 years of age puts me at a high risk for breast cancer in the future. However, it also depends on how agressive the cancer is at its original site. We shall see! I’m hoping I’ll be able to start working again part-time in the New Year.

Seeing as I’m coming off several days of being highly medicated, and you’re probably coming off a fantastical weekend (or very filling, if you’re American), here are some completely random topics to entertain you (and me) on this Monday:

1. Fellow blogger Abby, from Abby Has Issues, wrote a book. She is hilarious. You can read about how the book came about here. The best part is that proceeds from the book go to the Humane Society. So if you would like to save a kitten whilst being thoroughly entertained, you can buy the book on Amazon.

2. The other night, I was sitting in bed and Buster came up to snuggle on my lap, digging his face into my tummy. I always think of Buster as this poor helpless animal who needs me to survive. But in this moment it dawned on me that if Cesar Millan were to come into my house, he would probably say this dog is totally the boss of me and that Buster is probably the “pack leader” in this relationship. I bet Buster often thinks he is caring for me. And let’s face it, of the two of us, I’m probably the one more in need right now. So I am now convinced that when he waits outside the bathroom door for me it’s not because he misses me, but because he’s looking out for me. He knows I’m sick, and he’s got my back.

3. Speaking of pets here is a funny bit about them:

Stand-up comedy has become one of my most-watched genres since getting sick. Because it makes me laugh! I love that moment where I uncontrollably burst into laughter and for a second, I don’t feel sick at all. No depressing stuff allowed around here. Unless it’s cheesy drama from the 1990s, obviously.

4. I made these biscuits last week and they were really good.

I followed the layering technique and loved how you could just pull them apart. They turned out wonderfully fluffy despite having no buttermilk and being made with whole wheat. The high oven temp really led to them being crispy on the outside but still mega soft on the inside.

Excuse the iPhone photos. I had an issue with my DSLR and was feeling too sick to fix it. Cancer card yo.

5. It’s been a long while since I last did a music post. Here are five fun songs I’ve been listening to and are perfect to jumpstart a Monday (if you’re reading this in e-mail subscription, you may have to click out to view the videos):

Johnny B Rotten by The Monks

Sometimes I Cry by Tricky Woo (this whole album is ridiculously rockin)

To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) by Ryan Adams (off another amazing album)

Fucking Boyfriend by The Bird and the Bee

The Letter by Joe Cocker (not the most “finessed” version of the song, but the video is worth it)

6. Last but not least, today I am going in for my third pulmonary function test in five months. The last time was to help diagnose the lung toxicity caused by chemo. This time will be to determine my lung capacity before I meet with the respirologist next week. I’m nervous! I hate having to blow through those tubes, and this time they’re going to make me get on a treadmill. I’m crossing my fingers that the damage to my lungs will be reversed, I know that my symptoms are already much better with the steroids I’m taking. I reallyreally hope the damage won’t hinder my ability to run when the cancer is gone!

Anyways, that is all she wrote. I should be back more regularly for the next couple of weeks. I’ve got a few recipes to share per usual!

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