Category Archives: Cancer

Tidbits

1. I finally felt well enough to make holiday cookies!

It feels like a while since I last baked, which is all kinds of wrong seeing as Christmas is so near. I’ve been taking chemo pills every day since last week which really drag me down, but I knew I had to get my hands in some butter before chemo #12 this week.

Donned one of my favourite aprons made by Tanya! It’s to protect me from the icing sugar that was flying around the kitchen as I whipped together some shortbread cookies. If you haven’t made all your cookies yet, you MUST make these. They melt in your mouth.

Recipe comes from the back of a Canada Corn Starch box:

  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup softened butter

Sift together corn starch, icing sugar, and flour. Blend in the butter with a wooden spoon or mixer until a soft crumbly dough forms. Shape dough into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls, place on greased pan, and gently flatten with a fork. Place in fridge for 30-60 minutes then bake in a 300F oven for 15 minutes. Makes about 20 cookies.

I topped my cookies with a regular buttercream frosting made thicker with extra icing sugar and half a maraschino cherry.

For real, make these.

2. Archie is going to live!

My mom’s poodle is going to be 15 years old in February. He’s got lumps on his body and has been coughing a lot lately. My mom brought him to the vet yesterday, and he believes the lumps are benign fatty tumours and the coughing is a partially collapsed trachea. Neither of which are currently life threatening. Vet said he could live for another couple years!! Hopefully he learns to like Buster in that time. Archie is the, ahem, jealous type.

3. I’m playing guitar again.

I’ve been playing guitar on and off for 12 years now, but could no longer do it when I broke my elbow last February. The break prevented me from twisting my left wrist so my palm could face the ceiling, or enough to wrap my hand around the neck of a guitar. But over the past several months, I’ve slowly gotten that range of motion back. It still hurts to twist my wrist for long periods of time, so practice sessions are still short. I’m also horribly out of practice. It will give me something new to work on.

5. This is just a really cute picture. 

My Baby Bear sleeping with his bear. I love when he smiles in his sleep <3

6. Hamburgers are the official food of chemo.

My food sensitivity was particularly bad after my last chemo. Even toast and almond butter sounded gross. But hamburgers ALWAYS sound good. I could eat hamburgers for Canada by now. For you Moncton folk, the above comes from Bridges in Riverview. Come to the dark side, come to Albert County for your burgers.

7. TODAY IS MY LAST CHEMO.

Maybe. I still haven’t had a PET scan to see if there’s any active cancer left. It’s just the last chemo on my original treatment plan. But I’m elated to think this may be the last time I have to go through this. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

8. I’m lucky in some ways. 

Because I kept my eyelashes and eyebrows. Sorry for the creepy eye shot. Both have definitely thinned, but both were thick to begin with. Volume mascara and a little eyebrow pencil make me look normal. It would be so cool if this was my last chemo and I got away with keeping my eyelashes and eyebrows.

The hair on my head is already a goner though.

9. I’m going to get better!

As in, getting better is not such a long term thing any more. If today is indeed my last chemo, then my recovery time will just go on and on until I feel like my “normal” self again. No more chemo sessions to bring me down again. I know that is a simplistic and obvious notion, but at this point it kind of blows my mind.

I foresee more sessions on my recumbent bike, more weight training, outdoor activities, and yoga!

I still won’t ever be able to do downward dog because of my bum arm though. I’ll leave that to Buster.

10. Santa tried to throttle my dog.

Yes, I realize getting my dog to pose with Santa has me edging closer to the crazy dog lady line – but I couldn’t help myself! I thought it would be so cute and not very harmful. Except, somehow my Santa shot looks like Santa is pulling a Homer Simpson on my Bart Simpson. “Why you little…!!”

I tried to take some cute Chrismassy photos of my little bear at home, but he was playing aloof.

And with that, I am off! “The Great Balancing Act” is on official Christmas holidays, to return sometime next week. Besides recovering from what may be my LAST chemo, I’ve got out-of-town family to see, cookies to eat, gifts to wrap and unwrap, and a puppydog to keep out of the poinsettias. Have a great holiday!! xoxo

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!

The Next Great Adventure

I feel like even though I am pretty open and honest about this cancer experience, there is one topic that I have both inadvertently and purposely avoided.

Death.

Whoa. I know. Why am I talking about death on a Friday?

Well, for one I haven’t worked in months and have no perception of weekdays anymore. Sheesh.

But please, stick with me on this one.

Death is something I NEVER thought about previously as a healthy twenty-something. Even though I tried my best to be healthy, it wasn’t necessarily to prevent an early death. It was more to make the best of my body while I had it.

Unlike what many people believe, cancer is not a death sentence. When I was told I had cancer, I didn’t automatically think “Well that’s that, my life is over.” Because I still had to wake up the next day and go through the hours. I’ve been waking up every day since. I’m still the same person with the same thoughts and feelings as I was before the cancer thing happened.

With that said however, cancer has made me realize that I will die. Like, really realize. It’s one thing to think of it as this far-off event, it’s another to wonder what it would be like if it happened in a few months. Of all the things I’ve had to wrap my head around since my diagnosis, my imminent death has been one of them.

As my friend Eden recently reminded me – “Life is a terminal illness.” I think that attitude has helped me better understand and make peace with what I am going through. It’s not about stepping down or giving in to death. It’s about recognizing it and living your life despite it. Who cares about when it will happen, today I still woke up and had hours to live.

I am not an overly spiritual or religious person, but I like to think it doesn’t end with death. I find a lot of comfort in these words spoken by the wise old Albus Dumbledore:

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

It doesn’t matter when or how it happens, it is going to happen. When it does I hope I can take it gracefully, and until then I’ll be thankful for every hour spent living.

Hey! That's me! Who needs hair when you've got a wig.

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