Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year, new me!

I realise that I havent written a blog entry since well before my actual treatment ended! That milestone is just too important a moment to overlook so I am trying to think back a few weeks now and rehash some of the emotions, thoughts and experiences. It has of course been Christmas and I have therefore been super busy with no moment to spare to write. And when you go to bed as early as me your time is extremely limited with a busy toddler running around.

So since I last wrote I finished 10 months of a long and gruelling treatment cycle, celebrated christmas with my family and managed my first trip outside of Norway in over a year (I dont count Norby in Sweden as another country!). You could say I have been a busy bee. My skin has just started to settle down now and I am sporting quite a dramatic radiotan. I quite enjoy not having to wake up and race out the door every morning for daily sessions but it was quite weird finishing. You would think getting to the end of such an awful year would be relieving however the thing with this cancer business is that relief is often hard to come by. I know everyone will tell me to recognise getting through this hellish ordeal and that is a good thing to be done, however I cant help but feel more terror then calm. When you are going through treatment there is structure and a plan. Every day, week, month there is something to do and the pace is often dizzying. But when this extensive schedule winds down you kind of feel like the control is gone and now you must sit and wait and hope. I do hope everything goes well for me but it can be hard to really truly exhale and stop worrying. I know time makes everything easier so i hope as each month passes I will be able to relax alittle bit more. I do so want to start living again and make plans. I kind of realised I was being wishy washy about plans in the booking a trip to Canada in the summer or starting to look for a job. Why this apprehension? I was already thinking about if something went wrong which is not the way I want to think or live my life. So now I am making plans...lots of them and intend to follow them all the way through. There is no time to waffle over things because I am here and healthy and ready to go. I just need to be reminded of that sometimes as the transition from cancer patient back to me has its challenges.

So with treatment coming to an end, Christmas came to our house and it was wonderful. My daughter who is nearly 2 loved everything about it and it warmed my heart to see the joy in her eyes. It was also nice for my husband and I to put the struggles of the year aside and relax and enjoy ourselves. I love Christmas!

We also just returned from my first trip abroad as mentioned above which was great. A change of environment was just what I needed and I was so happy to get my starbucks fix! We also did a fair bit of indulging which will end at midnight tonight! January is a new year, a new start and a healthier way of living for me and my family.

I will also mention my darling daughter who will be celebraitng her 2nd birthday tomorrow on New Years day. It is hard to believe it has been 2 years since you came into my life. You are already a little lady with a warm heart, infectious giggle and sharp mind. You made me into a better person and you saved my life. In the words of Robert Munsch - "I love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I am living, my baby you will be."

So Happy New Year to everyone! Though it has been a year that literally stretched me to my physical and emotional limits, I am grateful for my new depths of awareness and my ability to really see what is important in my life. Cancer broke me but then I found the strength to put myself together again.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Goodbye 2011

“When you have completed 95% of your journey, you are only half way there.” Japanese proverb.

Hello everyone,

It is OBB checking in with 4 radioactive sunbed sessions to go and feeling decidedly “uncomfortable.” My skin is burnt now and red all over but that is not the worst part – the itching! OMG – it is driving me crazy and I can’t do anything about it. I have literally smothered myself in the one cream I am allowed to use (no fats or oils for me) and staying hydrated but nothing helps and every day it feels worse. Bit annoying for me and I am currently drugging myself in order to be able to fall asleep at night. And I know it will have to get worse before it gets better so I am feeling a little demoralized today! In some ways this is harder than the last round of chemo as I just wasn’t so “uncomfortable” nor were my side effects as visible as this. In addition, having a monkey of a 2 year old running around me when my skin is as fragile as tissue paper makes thing that much more challenging. But I do tell myself that this will all be over soon and I just need to tough it out for that extra bit longer.

So with only 4 days left of my main treatment plan to go, I have been thinking a lot about the last year and also the new one that is just around the corner. Wow it is mind blowing to think about all the things I have done – the fears I have overcome, the strength I never knew I had and the journey I have walked, at times perhaps crawled through. I started the year with cancer in my body moving at a swift speed invading my cells and my body - undetected by anyone or anything. Now 12 months later I am in theory cancer free now and have undergone one the most grueling medical treatments out there. I think the most important thing to remember is that I am here. That is a victory in itself. But in other ways I am fearful of the next 12 months that lie ahead of me. Now that we have done everything we can do to fight this beast in my body, we must now put down our weapons and wait. I of course think positively and want to imagine only the happiest of outcomes but the reality of the situation now is that I am no longer in control. No one is. I need to put faith in my treatment and hope that my body responds the way it needs to and I remain free of this poison passenger. I think in some ways the first year post cancer will be the hardest and often reveals the true personality of your disease. After such a hard year one cannot even fathom the possibility of hearing those three words again and I never ever want to hear them again. Once was more than enough thank you very much. I have so much and so many people to live for. So I must accept my lack of control over the situation and assure myself that I am surely due some good luck. I have never ever felt such a strong desire to be alive in my whole life until now – when there is something that poses a threat to something we often take for granted – you are changed by it. So though it has taken every ounce of courage, bravery and strength to get through the last year, I know it will require even more pink power to get me through the next one. Then, maybe, just maybe I can exhale and breathe a little easier.

Here’s to a year that taught me who I really was and here’s to the coming year that will show me who I can become.


Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Hello everyone,

We are nearly 2 weeks away from Christmas and we finally had some snow fall in Oslo this week. I have always been someone who needed snow at Christmas for it to really feel like the holidays so it is now starting to feel real. The twinkling lights from the windows and trees up and down the streets are one of my favorite things and it is impossible not to feel cozy and warm inside with all the decorations, flickering candles and yummy goodies all around! It is also the first Christmas that my daughter actually knows what is happening and she is awe of it. She held her first snow ball today and didn’t want to let it go no matter how numb her fingers got. Quite a determined young lady! We will be putting up the tree up tonight and I can’t wait to hear her “oohs and ahhs” as the tree comes to life with decorations and lights. It is hard not to feel down at a time of year like this even after the year we have had.

So this week I had my last visitor of 2011 and she didn’t disappoint. My lovely Peeko came to Oslo town for a second visit in less than two months (solid dedication to our friendship I say) and gave Santa a run for his money in the presents department and spoiled all of us rotten as she does. I love having old friends around me as I can just be myself and we can reminisce about life pre-C which is a nice form of escapism for me. I have been so lucky to have amazing friends like Ms Peeko take breaks from their own busy lives and come be with me. I know I don’t live in the most convenient location for visits so those ones who made the trek deserve medals and I have many to award. Since Christmas is also about being thankful and aware of the good and love in our lives – I want to again thank everyone who helped me through this past year. Some of you must be psychic because it seemed like on my worst days I would open my post to see a wonderful care package, get a phone call where I could just vent or have one of you in front of me to just hold my hand through a rough patch. It is so true when they say you never really understand who and what your friends are made of until you hit rock bottom. I am so lucky to have a surplus of love and support in my rich life.

Now onto a treatment update: I am now 8 sessions away from finishing my radioactive sun treatment and it has gone fast. My skin is holding up fairly well and my doctor informed me this week that my reaction was grade 1 bordering on -1 which is good. Finally I luck out on something! I am growing very tired though as each day goes by and finding for the first time since this all began that I truly have limitations. I was a bit demoralized when my doctor informed me he thought it would take me another 6 months to recover from everything! I want to be me again now!! But patience is clearly one of the key cornerstones of Cancer and you need lots of it to get through it. I have some appointments next week to discuss the next steps for me in the New Year which are scary and not things I am looking forward to. However by choosing to live, I must also take on board the burdens that go along with that decision. More to come on that at a later date but as it is Christmas I want to keep it light!
So that is all from me today. I hope everyone is having a wonderful December! And if I can give you any gifts in the form of advice from someone who has been through the ringer – here are a few (I so hope these don’t come out as patronizing or preachy!):

Try to stress less and enjoy more.

Don’t waste precious time arguing with those you love. It just isn’t worth it.

Tell the people who matter – how much they matter to you.

Asking for help is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

Don’t put off doing the things you really want to do because time is your most precious commodity.

When you really feel like you are being tested – don’t fear failure but relish the fact that you are in fact stronger then you ever imagined.

Merry Christmas/ God Jul to everyone!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Sometimes I Get Angry

Hi Everyone,

It has been a busy week for me thereby making blogging updates a bit more challenging to do. Between visitors, my daily radioactive sunbed sessions and a sick child - I guess a bit of real life has been getting in the way but I am here and ready to dish.

So I am officially half through radiation as of this morning and doing alright. I now affectionately refer to it as my radioactive sunbed as it sounds much better – in my mind at least. I can pretend I am working on my “base” for a sun holiday on some exotic island. I can blissfully ignore the fact that I am actually going to the cancer center every morning rather than the Canary Islands and sipping green tea instead of a pina colada! Every day I ask my radiation technicians how my skin is faring as each day it is getting redder, tighter and more sensitive. “Is it more red then most people?” or “Are you sure my skin can handle 13 more times?” I think I always think I am abnormal however I am assured that everything that is happening is completely normal. It is quite like a sunburn and every time I lie there watching the machine swirl around, emitting beeps every now and then… I still expect to feel pain. But of course I don’t. I try and imagine the rays zapping any stubborn c-cells that could be lingering and see the cell imploding on themselves like dead stars do in the sky. Radiation is easier then the C-spa but the daily commute is tough and I am really finding myself lagging in the energy levels.

I am also still struggling with my new pills which are still giving me lots of issues. I saw one of the on call doctors this week to tell them about all my side effects and they told me I had to tough it out! I actually was unlucky enough to get the one doctor who didn’t speak English so the two of us struggled through a broken conversation about my symptoms. I guess my Norwegian is better than I thought as I clearly understand her tough love approach despite the language barrier! But I continually tell myself that I am lucky to be able to take these pills (as not everyone is able to) and they provide another line of defense against my dark enemy.
I am also now sporting a baby Mohawk this week and was able to buy an actual hair product today! It was exciting to say the least and I am now planning on coloring it this weekend. It will feel so good to shed the wig and just be me again.

Aside from that, I have been feeling a different emotion this past week that I don’t tend to feel that often or write about. Through my C-story, I have been careful to control and think about everything I say or feel. I have tried to live each day with courage, positivity and acceptance. I realized early on that I couldn’t focus on my life pre-C or wish I never got cancer because these were things I had no power to change. It would only frustrate me to battle the what if’s so I fought to focus on today. But I am feeling angry these days. If I were to think of my emotion in terms of the Kubler-Ross model – anger seems to be only number 2 in the five part grieving process so it appears I have a ways to go. I had this urge to want to smash a crystal vase a few days ago (though the mother in me even thought against it in my fantasy world as how could I ensure I picked up all the shards so as to not endanger my child!). I have also wanted to scream out into the wind and just let some of this anger go. I am angry at the situation I have been given, I am angry at the challenges that still lie ahead, I am angry at the fact I cannot just focus on being a mother and a wife, I am angry parts of my body have been taken from me and I am angry at all the things that I have been robbed of. I know I can’t change things and I rarely spend energy thinking this way but sometimes just sometimes, I long for that woman…the naïve yet fun loving one with the long brown hair, two pert boobs and a big smile who had the world at her finger tips and didn’t know what real suffering meant. I am still that woman – as I am sure many of you will say – but sometimes it just all feels unfair.

So that is a abit of where my head is at this week – just writing about it already makes me feel better and releases some of the tension. The best thing to do is recognize the emotion and then let it go so I am acknowledging and moving on.

Your friend,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Week of Old and New Friends

Hi All,

I have just bid adieu to a dear old friend who was visiting the past week and I am distinctly melancholic. I hate goodbyes. They are always tough and especially so during emotionally charged times like now. Also living in a foreign country so far from family and friends, these old friends who have known you for so long are a cherished rarity. I don’t often have the opportunity to reminiscence in person about the things I did when I was 8 or 14 or even 20! So when I do get the chance it is so wonderful and truly warms my heart. It makes me remember who I am – not just today but all of me from the beginning to now. I do feel that there is a bigger gap left behind when they leave and it maybe takes me a little longer to jump back into normal day to day life again.

So what has happened since I last wrote? Well I began one of my last “jobs” relating to my treatment plan. Seeing as I used to be a recruiter – I would call it a short term 1 month contract of radiation. I finished my 6th round this morning and it is going fast. It is kind of like a 5 day workweek for me now with daily treks to the hospital for my dose of the strong stuff. It all happens very quickly and once they get me in position, draw some more lines all over my torso in marker and cover my scar – I lie there for 3 minutes while this machine swirls around me and I am done. Not a huge deal and no needles!! I am only just starting to feel subtle changes – little tickling sensations on the skin, a bit of tightness like you get after a sunburn but nothing too dramatic yet. I am very tired though and apparently that just gets worse as it goes on. But between a tough pregnancy, newborn baby and then cancer treatment all back to back – I have been tired for about 3 years straight so no dramatic life change there for me.

I have also begun my 5 year long term relationship with tamoxifen (hormone therapy for the non pharmacists or cancer free peeps out there) last week. We are still in the “getting to know each other” stage and sorting out the kinks along the way. It is making falling asleep a little challenging at night for some reason and my joints are aching like a 90 year old! It’s funny though as I wouldn’t warrant any of my discomfort as qualifying to take a Tylenol/paracet! And here I was the girl who previously took a pill any time I felt an inkling of discomfort anywhere. I think my pain scales have changed dramatically in the last year and I am more Amazon then princess these days. And I always tell myself that things could be worse…
I also wanted to provide a hair update! My hair is growing fast and is nearly 2 cm long now. It is still looking slightly “old man receding style” on top from the lingering effects of the chemo but growing steadily. I am hoping in the next 2-3 weeks to ditch the wig. I also totally need to color my hair as it is growing in a yucky mousy grey hue that is doing nothing for my complexion and there is also a definite curl to the hair. So many people told me their hair grew in totally different after chemo and I am a believer! But not long now till I can feel more like me again and that will feel good.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I walk a little slower

Hi Everyone,

I have written two almost complete blog entries in the last week and discarded both. I just felt like they were forced and the content was just a re-hash of things and not a clear window into my soul. I am always trying to find new windows with which to let my thoughts and emotions come through to you guys and when it feels forced, it also feels disengenuine. So I finally got a hint of inspiration walking back from dropping my daughter off at daycare this morning whilst absorbing the cold fogginess around me.

I was sauntering along the street and a man walked briskly past me. He wasnt in power walking gear and was just heading off somewhere he needed to be. An everyday event but it got me thinking. I am pretty tall and have fairly long legs. I also had a very tall father with even longer legs. Whenever i was out with him, I usually had to do a slow run or skip to keep his pace. I think as a result I have always been a fast walker. I was never really aware of it until I was out walking with groups and realised I was always abit ahead of the pack and in the company of myself. I also sometimes even had to stagger my steps consciously if I wanted to actually participate in conversations. This need for speed was made even stronger when I lived in London where the pace is dizzying. In London you rush everywhere. You rush to catch your tube to work, you rush to grab your coffee before the queue gets too long, you rush down the escalator just to get ahead of those 3 or 4 people. It is a way of life there. I noticed this even more when I visited other places especially Vancouver where my mom lives (as well as lots of good friends!). I would often get so frustrated with people and cars everywhere. Why was everyone going so slowly and why did they not know you had to stand to the right on escalators, sidewalks, lane ways so others could pass. I would sigh loudly when I would get boxed in walking through the mall. What a bitch I must have seemed to be! My mother would often tell me to calm down and stop rushing through life. I brushed off her advice and just kept going.

So this man who passed me today got me thinking. I have been overtaken by many people these days. I am no longer the one pushing ahead and rushing from one place to another. I dont think it has much to do with the fact that I have shorter legs or a reduced physical capacity (though my hips do kill and I have had just had cancer so maybe a little bit!). I think it has more to do with where I am in life and my frame of mind. I am trying to live in the moment and see life as it happens rather then always looking forward to the next best thing. Of course I have goals and things I want to do but I also want to see all the wonderful things on the way there. And so I will walk a little slower because I want to.


Monday, November 7, 2011

When we were young

Hi Everyone,

It is a sentimental day for OBB. I have been in the mood to listen to sappy memory inducing music and just thinking about so many things. After having a lovely child free weekend with my husband where we ate good food, sleep in (well sorta as I never really ever sleep in), cleaned and organized and just enjoyed doing things on our own time. It was nice but we also loved having our little angel come back to us yesterday. Today is back to normal life. It is a typical autumn day and the sun is hiding behind the clouds. The leaves are starting to go brown on the ground and the trees are looking more naked by the day. Winter is coming.

So where has all this emotion and reflection come from? Well some of it came from my session with my crink (my preferred name for my cancer therapist) last week. You all know I live my cancer experience as openly as possible so very little is spared from mention. We talked about all the emotions I have been feeling as I come closer to finishing my main treatment – the relief, the fatigue, the worry and the sheer terror. A real mélange of emotions. Funnily enough we spent a lot of the session talking about my father. I am not sure how it all came about but I think it came from my wish that he could have been here to help me through this tough time. He always had the answer to everything and was great in a crisis. In speaking of him, we spoke a lot about my childhood and how idealic it was. That is what has got me thinking today…thinking about the greatest memories of my earlier life. When remembering what makes me smile to myself, or even laugh out loud? I was one of the lucky ones (a statement I rarely associate to myself these days) and really had the most amazing life. I never struggled, I never was denied love, I always had food on the table, someone to kiss my scrapped knee better or to help me figure out a math problem that I was stuck on. I had a wonderful mother, doting father, funny and cool brother and caring and brilliant sister. I can only hope that my own daughter can look back on her childhood many many years from now with the same idealism and positivity that I have.

What are the memories that really stick out for me? Well there are so many to choose from but if I had to choose here are a few gems from my childhood and my family.
We lived in the south of France when I was a little girl while my father was on sabbatical from his post at McGill University. We lived in a beautiful seaside town called Ville Franche Sur Mer. Life was different there and I fondly remember walking down the intricate series of stairs from our house all the way down to the boulangerie where my father and I would pick out our bread for breakfast and I would get my Pousse Pousse which was a type of ice cream/lollie. I loved the simplicity of life there.

My morning commutes to high school in Montreal (Sacred Heart) with my dad. I always got to control the radio stations and go in search of the best drive song to get us in gear for a full day of work. We used to chat about everything and anything and I watched all the big factories along the road and especially remember the Humpty Dumpty factory and the distinct smell of potatoes frying in oil!

The time I told my mother that she and I were going to Hawaii for a week because she needed it. She had literally had the year from hell and after she and I had sat by my grandfather’s side as he passed on, I knew we needed to paint a positive memory together and Waikiki did just that. It was a great time full of giggles and gasps especially when I locked the keys in the car while the car was still running in a small surfing town on the North Shore!!

Driving along the lakeshore in Pointe Claire with my older brother who I thought was beyond cool. He would cheekily smoke a cigarette and blast the latest techno beats (it was those Snap Rhythym is a dancer days!) in the cassette player. I think I was 11 or 12 and felt cool by association!

The first few months I lived in London with my brother and his wife while I was getting myself sorted. After having lived continents apart for nearly 10 years, I was so happy to be back with my brother whom I had always looked up to. We had so much fun together and the legendary champagne parties were unforgettable. We definitely made up for the last decade we had been apart and it allowed us the time to bond again and share our common sense of humour. I had my big brother back and it was great.

When I think of my sister, I think of a graceful perfect ballerina. My happy memories were of our annual Christmas trip to the ballet west production of the Nutcracker to watch her dance effortlessly around the stage in a stunning ntutu. I always wished I had her coordination and discipline when it came to dance and lived vicariously through her for all those performances.

So there are just a few examples of a much larger collection that is my life. As you can see – my memories are filled with love and fond recollection. A charmed life I have led.


Monday, October 31, 2011

The Final Phase

I first wanted to thank you all for your comments on last week’s blog. I think it garnered the most attention so far. Looking back on my entry a week on, I do see that I was probably not looking at the whole picture and instead “catastrophising” slightly (bad habit of mine!). My husband even gave me new information that I missed in the appointment! I think once you hear one bad thing, you can sometimes stop listening completely and the selective hearing kicks in. I also wanted to say that 36 is not too old to have a baby! Just that if I needed to lose my ovaries at that age, it would prove challenging however many of you have shown me that nothing is set in stone and there are still options. So thank you for your support!

I will not fear that which I can’t control.

This is what I have been repeating to myself over and over again each day through the last week or so. It has been a busy week full of major events, emotions and news. Friday was a huge day for me as I had my last trip to the C-spa. It was a great day and my daughter joined us for the special day. The cake went down a treat and the nurses were so touched by the gesture. They even put out a little Norwegian flag on my table to mark the milestone. I actually couldn’t believe when my infusion was over. It almost went too fast – I wanted to stay in this moment. Every other time I would always ask how much longer, when can I leave, how much is left? But today of course I was so thrilled to finish this part of the treatment; however I was a little sentimental about saying goodbye to the nurses and to the routine that had been my job for so long. They all said they would miss me too! There is also a slight niggle in my mind that I try to suppress as well. There are no guarantees in life and I almost feel like I am tempting fate by saying I will never have to do this again. Because the truth is going through chemo again is something I don’t want to think about but with this whole cancer business – there are no guarantees, just hope. So I hope I never have to see the C-Spa again!

Now it is Monday and the first week of my post C-spa life. How does it feel? Well not too much different as I am still very tired and have developed some strange fingernail pain and soreness. Am hoping my fingernails aren’t thinking of jumping ship especially now that I am finished and my eyebrows seem to be thinning more each day. I have been lucky I know by the fact that I still have some eyebrows and eyelashes left! And my hair is growing fast though the recent drug has ensured the top stays thin and yucky. I also have been able to see what my real hair colour is after having it lightened since I was 12 and it isn’t pretty folks. It is a grayish mousey brown mess and I plan on dying it as soon as I have enough hair! I am also hoping a month from now I can start sporting a Mia Farrow “Rosemary’s baby” style as I am sick of my wig!

So what happens next? Well next week I have some planning sessions with the radiologist where they plan and map out where they will zap me with the radiation. I am then a free agent until November 17th when I begin my daily radiation sessions. What to do with my time? Well my husband and I are having a child free weekend this week courtesy of some wonderful grandparents. It is actually the first time we will have alone together since I was diagnosed that wont involve an operation or cancer treatment! I am looking forward to going out for a meal to a restaurant that isn’t child friendly, sleeping in, getting a massage, and of course having some champagne! I am also preparing to give a talk to some nurses training to be cancer specialists next week. I will tell my story and discuss my involvement in this health and wellness project I have been participating in (what I refer to in the blog as Cancercise). I am attempting to do half of it in Norwegian so quite a lot of prep work will be done in the coming week. I will also be getting the results of my genetic test shortly and it is weighing on my mind considerably. I have a feeling about it but regardless of the outcome, I will just do what I do best and get on with it. There is some peace in knowing and not living with uncertainty.
So the next and final phase of this long ride is fast approaching and I am inching closer and closer to the end. I am realizing how much focus and strength it will take to transition from patient to person. Thank you for reminding me that I am still the same girl you knew last year, five years ago or even 15. I never want cancer to make different from who I was and who I am but as I have said before, just better.

So I will end with a special quote for everyone who has been there for me through this roller coaster ride through visits, emails, phone calls, cards, flowers, care packages, comments on the blog and FB…the list is endless. I am so lucky to have such amazing people behind Team OBB.

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love. Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr.

A Sentimental and Appreciative,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Slight Curveball

So here I am 3 days before my final c-spa trip fighting this cold that I have had for about 7 weeks now and digesting a lot of new information.

I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. It goes back to May 19th when it was my first trip to the C-spa which feels like a lifetime ago. I remember writing a blog entry the night before and being full of fear of the unknown and dread of what was to come. Now fast forward 6 months later and I have been through the worst nausea of my life, shaved my head and lost all my hair, managed to get 16 IV needles put in, struggled through all sorts of odd side effects and emotions and learnt to be fairly functional on extremely compromised levels of energy. I was actually walking to pick my daughter up from daycare a few days ago and literally had that “Aha” moment when the magnamity of the last year hit me suddenly. I couldn’t believe everything I had been through and managed to deal with. I mean I have been bald and managed to make it work! Go me! So as I look towards my last needle on Friday, I wonder how I will feel? Will I be relieved, will I be scared, will I be oddly sentimental? I mean this cancer business has been my life and there is comfort in the routine of it so I am unsure of my reaction to the conclusion of it. My daughter will be joining us for this final c-spa trip and I am ordering the cake today! I want to make sure the nurses know how much I have appreciated all their support through this process. The cake will say TUSEN TAKK CANCER SUCKS. For the non Norwegians reading this, tusen takk is Norwegian for thank you. I thought it was cute and hell it rhymed too! I really think sometimes we need to laugh about cancer as it has already had too many tears shed for it. And let’s face it cancer does well and truly suck!

Now Friday’s celebrations have been tainted slightly following my appointment with my oncologist yesterday. I seriously find these check ups terrifying and nearly started hyperventilating once we were in the room waiting for him. Once you are told you have cancer once, you can never truly rest easy when meeting your doctor because the unimaginable has already happened. I gauged his face as he walked in to see whether he would tell me something good or bad, however I think oncologists must have the best poker faces in the world. I couldn’t tell anything and he sat down and asked me how I was. Hmm… how I am? Sick of cancer, tired, frustrated and wishing none of this ever happened, terrified! We talked through the next phase of treatment which will involve 25 radiation sessions and what side effects to expect. It will be much easier then chemo in my mind as there are no needles! Radiation involves trekking to the hospital every day for 25 days straight (weekends are off) for a zap of radiation to the area where my lymph nodes were. It is an extra treatment to give you the best chance of killing off any remaining nasties lurking around the area. So according to my calendar, I will get my get out of jail card on December 20th! There will be lots to celebrate this Christmas.

Our discussion then shifted to hormone therapy which I had been dreading. In the beginning, my diagnosis was a non hormone related cancer which is one of the most aggressive but has one bonus of not requiring the five years of hormone therapy that comes with most hormone related breast cancers (which make up the bulk of breast cancer diagnoses). It was a small break amidst a lot of crap and also meant I could go on to have another child two years after my treatment had concluded. But now the fact that my cancer had a slight progesterone receptor (I don’t understand all the pathology or chemistry behind this!) meant that it was advised to do the five years of hormone therapy! I was upset to say the least as it meant taking a pill every day for the next five years, dealing with more side effects and this whole nightmare not being entirely over. Now I of course know hormone therapy is not the end of the world and the side effects are minimal compared to everything I have been through, but it feels like a continuation and it also means I cant have a baby any time soon. And when you have had cancer, time is your most precious commodity and you never know when it will be taken away from you again. I was also angry. Angry at the crappy deal I had been dealt of having this aggressive cancer whose only break was not being given to me!

And our final discussion surrounded the genetic testing of the BRCA genes which I have mentioned in an earlier posting. I bit the bullet and decided to have the test done on Friday. No sense in waiting now as it is there or it isn’t. I am getting a fast version of the test and if it is positive I will know in two weeks. If it is negative it still doesn’t mean I don’t have it but will require further genetic testing. Now the implications of a positive test are pretty major for me as the gene is passed through families. Children of parents with the gene carry a 50/50 chance of having the gene. If I carry either of the genes (there are two BRCA1 and BRCA2 with 1 being the more aggressive of the two), I will need to have another mastectomy imminently and lose my ovaries by 35. Yeah it sucks the big one people! Does this roller coaster ever stop? In my mind I was calculating numbers and 5 years of hormone therapy would take me to 36 and then the possibility of another child seemed to be slipping through my fingers. I hope I don't come across as greedy when I talk about my anger over not being able to have another child because I know many people never get the chance to even have one child. I know how lucky i am to have my daughter! Of course my husband and I want my health to be the number one priority and we are prepared to do everything possible to ensure I remain in remission. But it is a lot of information to process for anyone especially after having already been through what we have. I am praying that I don’t carry this gene but if I am then of course we will deal with it just as we have been dealing with every curveball so far. And how lucky am I to have this gorgeous little girl in my life! The doctor discussed again how strange my case was and the fact my cancer was undetectable which he hadn’t seen before. It made me thankful again for her in the fact that she truly saved my life and that I was in fact able to have her in the first place. She is my little angel and I will tell her every day how I am here because of her.

So after a bit of a shock yesterday, I had a cry while talking to Captain AC and let myself have one day of feeling upset and angry. Then I woke up today and just picked up where I left off. Life keeps going and you either decide to stand still and lament or look forward and continue walking. I want to keep walking because who knows what is around the bend. I am hoping it’s a big glass of champagne and some fabulous cake!

Thank you again for all your support through this journey.

Love to you all,

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Beginning has Become the End

It has been a long time (in blogging time) since I managed to write an entry which is a good thing because it means I am busy living life! I have again been lucky to have two of my very good girlfriends visiting me from London the past week. It is so good to spend time with good friends and everyone who visits always loves the slow and relaxed pace of my life here. Very different from their own busy lives crammed to the rim with things to do! I always miss people when they go and the quietness of the house makes me a bit melancholy. However it is back to work for me too!

I finished my 10th treatment on Friday and am now into my last two weeks of the C-spa. It is truly amazing how fast those last 22 weeks have gone. I mean when you hear 22 weeks it seems like ages especially when those weeks involve being repeatedly injected with toxic chemicals, losing all your hair, fearing even the slightest germ in your presence and just being tired all the time! It isn’t exactly a walk in the park but here I am so close to the end.

I have started thinking about how there will be some things I will miss. Crazy I know – how can anyone miss anything to do with the dreaded big C?? However I will miss the routine and structure to my week and day. There is very little time to sit around and be idle with the schedule I keep and I think it really helps me stay sane. I will need to find new activities and hobbies to fill my day while my body regains its strength and heals. I will miss everyone at C-Town who has made my diagnosis and treatment so much easier to bear. It may sound crazy but I think we managed to make those c-spa trips pretty entertaining (after the needle was in mind you!). The nurses have become friends to me who I feel genuinely care about me. They have eased this rough ride I have been travelling on for so long and they will be missed. I will miss my cancercise group that provided some much needed energy boosts and also the chance to sit and chat with people in the same position and age group. They understood my fears, the milestones and the frustrations that one can only know when living the Big C. I will miss all those wonderful people who have travelled from all corners of the world to help me, heal me and be with me during this time. I have been blow away by the amazing people who literally dropped everything and jumped on a plane to come and live a bit of this rollercoaster with me. Honestly this has touched me to the core and I know when I am better, I just might need to be the one to jump on that plane again to you! And lastly I will miss the opportunity to sit in my bathrobe till 11am in the morning on a weekday without judgment – by anyone myself included.

So I will need to go through another period of transition when I turn in my C-badge at the door in the next month or so. I am sure there will be struggles with that too as I will seek out my new identity and new definition of “normal.” However my life is a blank canvas and I have every color imaginable on my pallet to paint anything I desire and I plan on making a masterpiece.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

2 Years of living, 20 Years of experience

“Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” Ralph Blum
I have found it difficult to find a moment where I could sit down and really put some thought into my blog or even come up with a good idea for one. This tends to happen when my anxiety levels are higher than normal and I could definitely say that they are these days.
Last week was the 2nd anniversary of my move to Norway and being quite a sentimental gal, it of course made me reflect on the past two years and all that has happened and changed. Now it has been far from all bad but I think at times I have crammed probably 15 or 20 years of life experience and perspective into the past 2 years. So what has happened?
I moved to a new country where I didn’t speak the language and now can pretty manage carrying on a conversation in Norwegian which I think it is a big deal. Let me tell you – learning a new language with a slow adult brain can be a challenge. I came knowing very few people and now have a wonderful circle of fabulous people who are there to share a giggle and also to wipe away the tears. I came with a large bump for a belly which shortly turned into the arrival of my beautiful baby girl and truly changed my life forever. I learnt what it really takes to make a relationship work and also how much effort you need to put into it. There are no perfect relationships and recognizing that makes improving oneself and your partnership easier. We took an empty apartment and turned it into a home where we felt safe, warm and loved. And we finally took the steps to making our partnership legal and officially become husband and wife. Being a romantic in a relationship with an atheist/non conformist Scandinavian, I would say this could be my biggest feat!! I always joke that I had to go and get cancer for him to agree to marry me though I of course know that is far from the truth.
So if you read through this last paragraph you can see how rich and full my life has become in the last two years. Lots of big life changing events that have made me a better friend, loving mother, faithful wife and all in all a better person. Obviously I am missing one major event that happened in the last two years but we all know what that is. I have been quite anxious and scared these last few weeks and at times have become truly terrified of what will be when my treatment ends. I have also been reading some blogs from other young mothers with cancer. I know this can be a double edged sword in that it can be comforting to see how others are coping in the same situation but at the same time it can also scare you. It scares me because not all of these people are getting their happy ending and you just don’t want to even think about it because it suddenly makes it more real.
As I get closer to the end of my treatment, I have been thinking about what happens next. When I lose the structure of my cancer routine and join normal life again, how do I ever feel normal again? And how do I get a handle on my deep fear of this beast returning uninvited? I know I don’t want to be always looking over my shoulder wondering if this thing will be lurking in the shadows again because that just isn’t any way to live. But my fear is only natural and after being through this once, the thought of a repeat performance is truly unthinkable. So as I have been battling my demons, I read an entry from this one woman (a young mother) who is battling breast cancer for a fourth time and has metastasis in her lungs, bones, and liver. Even in her position she still manages to keep fighting and also takes stock of how wonderful and enriched her life still is. There is nothing like someone in a worse position then you who has a clearer and more optimistic perspective to make you think about your own situation. I can’t waste time being chained to this dark passenger just waiting to see if and when she makes a move. I have so many wonderful things to do and enjoy now. Cancer has already robbed me of enough time and I don’t want it taking any more. So little by little, I will try and break those stubborn chains and embrace the fact that right now I am alive, I am cancer free and I am strong. Live in the moment as they say and watch the past float down that river of life.
So what a wild ride I have had in the past two years – mostly good with a little mix of the bad. Yet it was this mixing that allowed me to become this new and brighter person who knows that life is precious, fragile and never to be taken for granted.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cancer Holiday Required

Hi everyone,

Well this week has been a bit of a non event for me as I still suffering at the hands of this annoying cold which has now settled in my lungs and shows little sign of moving on. As a result, I am forced to actually take it easy and not do any of things I normally do to fill my week up. No cancercise, no Norwegian class and minimal socializing. It is so frustrating because I find nothing more boring than resting!!! Yet there is no choice now as my body needs it so I comply.

Over the past few weeks, I (and my family) have been feeling slightly suffocated by “cancer” and I think my idleness could be one part to blame. It is also nearly October which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am starting to see that little pink ribbon everywhere I go. Of course I am totally behind this effort and have my own little ribbon to wear, but it does serve to constantly remind me of my current situation. This combined with my lack of activity has allowed me to stew in my own “cancerness” and possibly become slightly too self involved with every ache, pain, worry, anxiety…And as we get closer and closer to the end, all of these feelings are magnified simply by my body’s sheer mental and physical exhaustion. I am drowning in this cancer business right now and have decided I need to do something about it. I mean frankly in a few months there won’t be the weekly trips to the C-spa, the endless blood tests, or cancercise groups to attend so I might as well start thinking like a normal person again. So how exactly do I do that?

Well the first thing I have done is join a book club. It is not a book club for cancer patients and we are not reading about cancer. It is for other mothers from abroad with young children and we just read fun and interesting books to discuss. I am looking forward to it and don’t plan on letting anyone know my story until I feel it is the right time. And the right time may never come. I want to feel normal for awhile and just be a mom who complains about the elevating tantrums or the fact my child has decided she is a vegetarian at 21 months of age! Normal feels good.
The other thing I want to do is impose a Cancer free time each day. I can’t take credit for this idea as it was the brainchild of my sister. She has been so great at giving me advice throughout this process and she is much better than me at keeping the crazies at bay! Not to mention the fact I can call her with any medical question and she has the answer plus five more things I didn’t know. So I have done it already one night this week and the mood in our house was distinctly cheerier. It is good for everyone including myself to stop self narrating my cancer experience to those around me. We don’t need to know every ugly detail nor do I need to obsess about them. I am not cancer nor is it me so I must remember that and this practice may help me redefine myself as OBB – post cancer.

So that is all from me today. I am back to the C-spa tomorrow for round 8 and the only thing on my mind is the vein hunting. My doctor joked to me this week when I expressed to him my concerns over viable veins left – well they haven’t even tried your legs or feet yet, he said! Nice! Then we will be down to 4 weeks which sounds completely manageable and those weeks will be broken up with two visits from some lovely friends. I remember when I sat in the doctor’s office all those months ago and heard him say “24 months of chemo” and remember being in total shock and having no idea how I would get through it. So fast forward nearly 20 weeks later and here I am – eyebrows and eyelashes somewhat intact, peach fuzz growing at rocket speed on my head and still having the ability to see that tiny sliver of light breaking through over yonder where I can just make out the finish line. Glorious!!


Monday, September 26, 2011

A Very Busy Round 7

Hello Everyone!

It has been over a week since my last entry and I have lots to catch up on. Oh where to begin? Well I was fortunate enough to have another visitor with me last week who came over from London. She came at the perfect time as I was experiencing abnormal bouts of exhaustion and fighting a cold and provided a much needed helping hand. Friends can really be the best medicine and it was nice to catch up and chat about the old days. When you are having cancer treatment, your life can easily become drowned with this cancer business and it becomes all you think about it, all you feel, and all you know. So these visits from the outside world really help break up the monotony of treatments and also bring back some of the normal again.

I had to have my C-spa one day early last week as I was attending this National Breast Cancer Gathering over the weekend. Considering I was hanging onto this nasty cold and was getting light headed from small walks, I really thought there was no way my white counts would be strong enough to get treatment. And to be honest I again had absolutely no desire to have it either. So you can imagine my surprise when the nurse came to me and said that my blood work was absolutely fine and had actually gone up from the week before. Our bodies truly surprise us sometimes! I met with the doctor to double check my cold was just a cold and ensure I was physically strong enough to manage chemo. Again she told me it was nothing to worry about and that the best thing is to keep going and stay on schedule. So I pushed my reluctance and fear to one side and grabbed a chair in the C-Spa! Things went ok – we did miss a vein this time and it is hard not to hit a vein that hasn’t already been used. Because chemo is so toxic, it can be tough on your veins and often they can grow hard as a result and be tougher to get with a needle. One nurse told me the veins recoil back when a needle comes a looking for them after chemo. Oh great – like I need more vein anxiety! Well we managed to get a vein going and the process began. It was round 7 and I was getting closer to the end but to be honest 5 more treatments still sounded long to me. I am now in my 19th week of chemo and I am feeling it from my head all the way down to my toes. Every treatment now feels like a throttling and can be related to being thrown around in the sea repeatedly by giant waves just coming down over and over…I am not losing sight of my finish line of course but instead of running towards it, I may be adopting more of a crawling style. I have already starting planning my last day of chemo and plan to have a cake, sparkling cider and a true celebration with me and my nurses! Let them eat cake I say!

So instead of taking the weekend easy as I tend to do after the C-spa, I got in the car with two of my friends and we drove south to the old fortress town of Frederikstad for Landssamlingen. Now for those non Norwegians this roughly translates to a country gathering as in people from all over the country coming together – in this case it was young breast cancer survivors. I didn’t know what to expect and was worried about whether I would understand anything or whether anyone would talk to me. However my fears were unnecessary as it was a truly wonderful weekend. Women of all shapes and sizes, some with both breasts, some with one breast or others with none at all in wigs, scarves or with their own hair – came together to laugh, learn and share over the one thing that united us all – breast cancer. It was so comforting to talk to women my age who had been through this and who could understand everything I was feeling. There is such comfort in knowing one is not alone in a battle like this and it also inspired me towards recovery as there were so many women there who were now healthy and living normal lives. My Norwegian also got quite a workout and I think I managed alright and definitely expanded my vocabulary.

Now I am back to reality today and still trying to shake this stubborn cold. Two week colds tend to be standard in chemo town so such is life. So it is another week, another treatment and another x to mark off on my calendar. And then there will be cake!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

OBB 1.0

So I had round 6 this past Friday and as you were all aware from my recent entries – I have been finding things a wee bit more challenging the last week or so. I had been feeling much more tired and worn out and sky high with anxiety. My fatigue was soon explained when my bloodwork came back. 1.0! WTF! I was literally on the edge of what was an acceptable white blood count (WBC) to get chemo and was in shock. How could this have happened and how could I change it? The nurses didn’t seem that concerned as I could still get my treatment this week but as my numbers had been consistently sliding downwards the last few weeks and I was relying purely on my own body’s function to produce new white cells - things might not go in my direction next week. I was also getting my treatment one day early next week because I was attending the National Breast Cancer Gathering for young women. I took my low WBC personally and couldn’t understand how my little guys could be halting production when I was young, strong and sorta looking after myself. The anxiety fairies then arrived and I started questioning why this was happening, what does it mean, is the medicine not working, is my body breaking down, how do I stay healthy with such little immunity and a child in daycare (AKA Germ Town USA)??? I think it’s time I sign up for that relaxation course eh? The annoying thing about WBC is that there is really nothing you can do to alter them (besides the shots I had to do earlier on in my treatment). Of course I googled my query and found lots of discussions on the matter. People talked about eating your body weight in strawberries, garlic, chicken livers, coconut water, etc….but doctors will tell you what your body needs its time and rest and nothing else can really work. How boring and equally frustrating. BTW – I did go out and buy coconut water today! 

So once the disappointment over the whole WBC situation cleared it was time to get down to business. My husband and daughter had joined me before my treatment as my daughter had her own appointment at the hospital that morning for her earlier peanut allergy attack, so once they were gone, it was just me flying this mission solo Maverick. I also had a new nurse whom I knew but didn’t know on an intimate -shove the needle in my vein - kind of way. She was a bit more by the book but was nice and was well aware of the crazy English girl’s anxiety over IVs. She managed to get the bugger in but she picked my poor little baby vein which we had used once before during the FEC days. It hurt and I could feel the salt water dripping in. It stung. I didn’t like it but had to channel my superhero powers and just deal with it. I was also the first patient in the room and once I was set up, I was left alone for a few minutes in silence before the real poison hit my bloodstream. I blame it on Adele and her love ballad, Someone Like You, because the strangest thing happened next. I cried. It wasn’t the pain of the needle but I think it was just the sum total of everything that caused those salty tears to flow. I was a bit embarrassed to be honest and explained to the nurses that I rarely cry and that I was indeed fine but having “a moment.” They were so nice about it and gently placed some Kleenex into my hands. I am definitely not the first to cry in the chemo chair. So after a few tears, I breathed in deeply and settled into the moment.

So a day after the C-Spa, I am battling a cold and wonder if I mentally tricked myself into getting it given my worries over my lack of a competent immune system. I am so frickin’ unbelievably impressionable! But I am trying to rest more, drink lots of tea and even guzzle that coconut water which let me tell you is not easy to locate in Norway! This week it is so important to put myself first and rest. My body clearly sent me a message this week. Time to slow things down and get myself to that finish line on time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
OBB 1.0

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bad days and moment of mad jealousy

It seems that the cloud that had been following me around during my last entry refuses to budge! I am just really feeling worn out and dreading Friday which just seems to come around faster and faster each week. I really wish I didn’t have to go but of course there is nothing optional about this journey and I must simply suck it up and keep going. I do feel my body speaking out more and more - voicing its pain, its tiredness…its fight. I have been having pain in my arm and chest where they operated lately too, made worse by an unfortunate fall down the stairs while holding my daughter a few weeks ago. I just want a pain free day to be honest. And I want to get out of this pity party for one!!! I mean seriously there is only so much complaining one can do before it gets old. But I find myself droning on about this and that. How chemo sucks. How cancer sucks? How exhausted I am? How hard it is to do this while bringing up an active toddler? These “why me” moments are brief of course and I hate them but they go with the territory unfortunately.

I have not forgotten all the good things in life but I think I have just accepted that this is going to be an off week for OBB. And if anyone’s asking – I took my superhero threads to get dry-cleaned!

Some other things I have been mulling about might only make sense if you are a member of the exclusive C-club. As a result of my membership in this club, I have gotten to know many people with the same cancer, different cancer, cancer no longer, cancer that has returned – all types. Sometimes I pinch myself when I introduce myself as … Hi, I have breast cancer and start rattling off my full diagnosis to people who genuinely are interested and understand what cell grading means or a Ki percentage. We become known by these alter-egos in the cancer world. Hello my name is testicular cancer – Oh nice to meet you, I am lymphoma, enchante. It is weird to imagine how different my world has become in less than a year. I am of course very grateful for these people as they normalize the whole experience and everyone has great advice about this and that. And at the end of the day these people understand the fear of the first c-spa experience, the loss you feel when you go bald, and all the other million things and emotions in between. I remember one of my new cancer friends telling me early on that we would probably tell each other things we wouldn’t tell our closest friends because we are bonded by the Big C. It is true. We discuss the good, the bad and the very very ugly!

So when you are in the cancer circle – you learn about many different cancers. And like people and experiences – they are good ones and bad ones. That is when I sometimes experience cancer jealousy. Yes you heard me correct – I am jealous of people with nicer cancers then me. How I would long to have a cell grade of 1 or an in situ tumour… Yes I am heading into weirdo territory I know but they do warn you about chemo brain. :) Now of course I don’t have a medical degree so I could be talking crazy here and am sure my sister would contest this (she is literally my medical encyclopedia Britannica) but there seems to be some cancers that are much more treatable, tend to reoccur less and even when they are advanced – have good survival rates. It seems like breast cancer, though highly treatable in most cases, tends to be an annoying bitch sometimes. I just hope I don’t meet that bitch again because I will seriously go Oklahoma on her butt. I know I cant change what has happened and the fact that my cancer is not what we could consider “the shy and docile type.” What I must remember every day is that I am the master of my destiny, captain of this ship, and it is how I see things that can affect outcomes. So I may not have the nicest cancer (who am I kidding – cancer and nice just don’t seem appropriate to use in the same sentence), but luckily it was caught early and I am fighting the fight every day to get closer to a clean bill of health. Thank god I have the chance to fight. Some don’t. So I will make myself and those around me proud of the pink soldier I have become. And how amazing will it feel to introduce myself as – Cancer Free.

“Every soldier must know, before he goes into battle, how the little battle he is to fight fits into the larger picture, and how the success of his fighting will influence the battle as a whole.” Bernard Law Montgomery


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Round 5 - Time for a Rest

So I have now crossed round 5 off my calendar and it went ok. I definitely didn’t have as positive an experience as the week prior but I think my week had more to do with that then anything else. I woke up C-spa morning to the sound of my alarm (the real one this time and not my human one – AKA my daughter). It was still dark out which was a sure sign of winter coming and I just felt off. I was tired and had a headache and just really didn’t want to go anywhere. I was short with my husband, felt rushed and irritated which are not normal emotions for me as I pride myself on being the least moody person I know.

When I got outside and put my usual C-spa mix on, I anxiously flipped through every song as I couldn’t find one I liked. Once at C-Town, things didn’t really improve. I went in for my blood test and the silly tech missed my vein but still proceeded to stab me hard with the needle until I yelped out. We tried the other arm and had success but I left with a sour taste in my mouth as I muttered “silly cow” under my breath holding my aching arm. When the nurse called me in for my check in she asked how I was. Hmm…interesting question – how am I? Well I am exhausted, I am frustrated, my bones ache, my arm and scar hurt and I feel at full capacity in terms of what I can manage. I told her about our drama with our daughter and that as a result I felt like I never got a break since my last C-spa treatment and therefore felt like I truly didn’t want to be here today. She said she understood and that what we went through with our daughter was terrifying enough let alone going through it while dealing with cancer and chemo as well. She also said that as you get closer to the end of treatment patients grow more frustrated and are of course more and more tired by the long process so my emotions were normal. I guess after 17 weeks of chemo (and 8 more weeks to go) anyone would feel a bit annoyed, angry, irate…FED UP at this point!! I guess that was me and it was completely reasonable under the circumstances. So I embraced my inner bitch if not for an hour or so. 

So while the little cancer eating Pacmans were released into my veins, I was anxious to just get it over with and get out of there. I did finish round 5 and it is another x off my calendar and I am one step closer to the finish line. I did treat myself to a fabulous French fruit tart on the way home because heck I deserved it. So even though I didn’t come out of this round smiling and brimming over with positive thoughts, I did get through it and that is something to be proud of.
I woke up this morning feeling better though. Some new side effects that creeped up yesterday were gone today. The sun was shining, my daughter was laughing and my husband was by my side. It is amazing how your perspective on things can shift so fast day to day. I am going to try extra hard this week to take time for myself, to listen more to my body and just allow myself quiet moments. This is the biggest fight of my life and it is far from over so for once in my life, I must listen to my limits, understand my weaknesses and embrace my humanity.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Run for Life

It is that time of year again. Facebook is flooded with women raising money for the Cure and the run/walk for breast cancer is fast approaching. I have never participated in this event and ironically I think it was only last year that I first bought a pink ribbon in support of the cause. Fast forward a year later and I have a very very different view on this event and the people who bring it to life. This pink army who marches through rain and shine, for their mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins and friends, are suddenly this year marching for me. I have never been passionate about any cause which I attributed to the fact that I had never been touched directly by tragedy or illness. But when the cancer fairy dive bombed me earlier this year and then Captain AC a few months later, I (and my family) became a part of this cause. Having been through such a challenging ordeal, all I want is for others to be fortunate enough to avoid this vicious disease. I really want my daughter to grow up and not have to worry about this. So I want to commend all those women dusting off those trainers and running for a cure. My cure! I will be running alongside all of you next year and taking my spot amongst all the other pink warriors. Cancer – consider this your warning. Your time on this earth is fast expiring.

Excerpt from Melissa Etheridge’s “I Run for Life” (herself a breast cancer survivor)
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me, my friend

Keep running,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Weekend Recap

Well this is literally the first time in nearly a week that I have actually had some quiet time to whip out a blog entry. I realized I possibly had a bit too much on when I found my brief solo trip to the grocery store earlier today relaxing! I lingered through the exotic fruits and vegetable section, become engrossed with chip (crisp) selection and scouted out my beloved OK! Magazine. So what has been filling my days lately? Here is a recap.

So Friday was round 4 and it went brilliantly. I have started to have a bit of a routine on C-spa mornings and I quite enjoy it. I have always been a big fan of my morning routine and have always woken earlier then I needed to in order to never rush and enjoy my cup of coffee, shower, spot of morning news, beauty regime, etc… My C-Spa routine is decidedly different but I think it calms me down and gets me in the right mode. I always head to the hospital alone while my husband drops our daughter off at daycare. I pop on my C-spa mix on my phone (yes I have actually made a music mix for chemo day!) and try to relax on the 5 minute bus ride there. Once there I grab a number and wait for the blood test. Once done – instead of lingering in the waiting room which can have quite a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere, I now head off to the cancer gym – put my music on speaker, do some yoga, stretch, and just be in the moment. Any little thing I can do to make this huge ordeal I am happy to do and this definitely does. So after getting the good news on my blood counts and being cleared for treatment, I was all set for my favorite nurse and usual chair. But oh the horror! I am told they are under-staffed and I must go upstairs to the 4th floor for my chemo. I really freaked out for a moment as the people upstairs didn’t know me, didn’t understand my anxieties or my story. This was not my plan! My worries quickly abatted as I immediately ran into Nurse Flo (from one my earlier post-surgery blogs) and another wonderful nurse who was there the moment I found out the dreaded news all those months ago. They hugged me like old friends and they quickly got caught up on my news. I was then introduced to my new nurse who was very friendly and I proceeded to start briefing her on my “difficult veins”. She reassured me my veins looked fine and told me she had her own way of doing it which was different from downstairs. Different how I wondered? Well her way of doing things was BRILLIANT! I honestly was lost for words as the IV process was like getting a blood test and gushed to her about how amazing she was. It really took all my anxiety away and I think it was one of my nicest C-spa experiences to date. She sat by me most of the time and we talked about my story, Captain AC, my daughter, life, perspective…Obviously my blog came up and she wanted to read it for herself so if you are reading this now – please know you are a C-spa rock star and made round 4 memorable for all the right reasons. 

Nurse Flo also paid me a visit mid-treatment and we talked about my blog which she had been following over the past few months. She was touched by my tribute to her and also wanted to pass my blog onto other young breast cancer patients like myself that she has treated. That made me feel good as this is one of the main reasons I am writing this. Aside from keeping team OBB informed and down with the 411 (only Canadians will get that reference!), I also want to be open and honest about this experience in the hope it will help others out and make this journey abit easier for those walking this long often scary road. So a few short hours later, despite being weighed down by my heavy cocktail coursing through my veins, I felt quite light and happy and boy did it feel good.

My weekend continued on with minimal side effects, aside from the usual fatigue and dreary rain! Things heated up Sunday night but unfortunately not for the right reasons. I decided to give my daughter a Reese pieces (only one itty bitty candy) after dinner – little did I know I was playing with fire. It started as hives around her mouth and suddenly turned into a full on anaphylactic reaction. We rushed her to the Emergency and she was taken in immediately. As things become more serious, the doctors and nurses rushed around her with needles here and monitors there and speaking words I didn’t understand. Now I am getting better at Norwegian but the moment I am tired or stressed my ability to understand goes completely out the window. Watching your child go through something as scary as this is hard enough but then not knowing what anyone is saying around you just adds to the nightmare. It was hard and any parent knows how awful it is to see your child suffer. Maybe it is all the things I have been through recently or my weakened body from chemo but I do feel that my ability to cope is not what is used to be. This was plain hard.

I am happy to report that my darling monkey has made a full recovery and we are now a nut free family equipped with an Epi Pen. At least we know now about it (knowledge is power!) and it happened when we were there and could respond accordingly. I guess it is again taking the good out of a bad situation which is what I do best.

So maybe this is why I am feeling so exhausted this week. But everything that happens continues to give me perspective on what is important and I appreciate every good thing in my life. The rain may be pouring, my hair may look like a chia pet and my bones may feel 30 years older than they are but then again I am alive and kicking and surrounded by people I love. What more can you ask for?

Good night all,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Good news is Great news

Hi All,

Just a quick update to let you all know that I got the dreaded call yesterday morning while selecting some sumptious french cheeses at the local Fromagerie! It was the familiar voice of my old oncologist who took such good care of me in the early days of my initial diagnosis. He has such a calming effect on me and genuinely seems invested in me and my case. He said "We have some great news. Everything on the MRI looks clear and normal." I exhaled and felt instant relief. Another win for Team OBB!! Here's to many more. C-cells - you don't stand a chance against this amazon.

I realised again that being scared is of course terrifying to experience but also a completely natural response to a situation like this. It doesnt mean I have a defeatest attitude or that I am depressed or that I am weak - it simply means that I am human. I have a lot of reminders of my humanness these days not to mention my own mortality. I think i will rename 2011- My year of character building. And people let's just say I am shocker block full and I still have 4 months to go!

So thank you again for all your continued support.I never take any of it for granted.

And a shout out to Captain AC who rocked Round 2 yesterday!

This week is a definite victory. Time to eat cake! (who am I kidding - I don't ever need a reason to eat cake.) :)

More later,


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update on Round 3

Update on Round 3

Hello everyone,

This entry will be brief as I am so tired I can barely type and need to head to bed pronto. I also am lucky enough to have another visitor from Canada here this week so am extra busy playing tourist as well.

So round 3 went well with no major incidents to report. Blood work was good and I rocked through the IV again. I am really starting to lose some of my anxiety over it all thanks to my superstar nurse Ingrid who really knows her way around a vein!
There was a small niggle this week though that has been a bit stressful. I had this awful back pain that started a day after round 2 and just grew worse by the day and spread down my legs as well. I also had this strange nerve pain across my back that was just plain weird. I went through the week as usual and worked out, did yoga, learnt my Norwegian, went to physio and just did my thing despite the pain increasing. By Thursday, I was told to see the oncologist to check out that all was ok in the OBB camp.

So after my Cancerxise group, I headed to the doctor and really expected them to listen and look at me and then tell me it was all normal and send me on my way. Things did not go according to plan. After discussing my symptoms and examining me, the doctor told me she wanted to admit me in as a patient that evening and book me in for an MRI the next day. OMG – time to freak out. I was alone of course and when the doctor asked if I had any questions – I told her there was no point asking now as I would spend the whole night obsessing over what could be. I so desperately had wanted her to tell me that my symptoms were nothing to worry about it and that I would be fine. But the truth is once you have been diagnosed with cancer the reality is that no doctor can ever tell you something is nothing. Of course I understand why and I know that I should be happy that they are checking every single thing out and not taking any chances. But at the same time how can I not worry? Once you have heard the dreaded C word – anything is possible. So as I walked out of C-Town late that afternoon, I put my sunglasses on despite there being no sun in sight and squinted my eyes tight to hold the tears in. OBB was not going to crack! But to be honest for the first time in awhile I really felt the weight of everything on my shoulders and it seemed like just a bit too much for me. I really felt like how much more could I take?

So after round 3 was complete, I was taken for my MRI a few hours later. This happened at a time when I was usually passed out in my bed asleep so fatigue was hitting. I actually fell asleep in my chair in the waiting area only to be roused from my dreams by the technician calling out my name and then actually fell asleep during the MRI itself! If you have ever had an MRI, you know how noisy and confined they are – so the fact I slept was miraculous and possibly a testament to my level of exhaustion.

Now I must wait. Wait for the phone call maybe tomorrow or the next. I am positive and know that things most likely will be ok and this is routine when going through cancer treatment. But there is that tiny part of me – where the fear lives – that is scared. That is the part that reminds me that I am also human and alive.


Monday, August 22, 2011

A bit of this and a bit of that

Hello again everyone. It is Monday morning and I can finally sit down in front of my laptop and type out an entry! I can never really write an entry unless I have an idea or inspiration come to me and mine came as I was walking back from dropping my daughter off at daycare. It’s funny sometimes – I can get so frustrated with my little wonder during the morning routine especially with her current resistance to putting clothing on but the moment I close the gate of the daycare, I feel a little sad. I know it sounds cheesy but I already miss her. So as I was walking home listening to Gaga, I started to think about lots of different things – people in my life, feelings in my body, past, present and future.

When I was younger I was really obsessed with fashion magazines (still am really) and had a devoted following to what I called the bible – otherwise known as Vogue. I would run out and buy it every month and devour every page. I would try to mimic some of the looks and rush out and buy the latest must have beauty products. I still buy a lot of magazines but lately have gravitated away from the likes of Vogue. It was only when I came home with two yesterday and flipped through them that I realized why. With my new look – about 75% of the magazine is obsolete to me and makes me feel either a bit inadequate or a bit sad. Page after page of glossy haired amazons’s with long lashes, perfectly groomed brows and fabulous couture heading out to exotic locals and fantastic parties suddenly seemed miles away from my life. Not that I am really that depressed about it but when I see glimpses of my old life, it is only natural to feel a bit blue. There are good things that have come out of it – I mean my grooming regime saves me not only time but money these days. And I no longer worry about the weather and how it will affect my hair because my hair looks perfect regardless of the humidity index. So it is not all bad however I think I will stick to the trashy tabloids for now and relish in other peoples misery and take the bible out again once this cloud has cleared.

I finished round 2 on Friday and it went pretty well again! It was the first time I went through it without the help of my good friend Valium. It was a feat in my books considering my anxiety around needles being poked into my veins. And seeing as the blood tech couldn’t manage to actually get blood out of my veins that day before I think I kept it together. It was funny when I walked in the next day to meet the same tech as the day before. I said “So we meet again” and smiled. She looked much less thrilled to see me and my stubborn veins again. However we were successful this time and I then anxiously y waited for my blood results. Ever since I got a shock the week before with borderline white blood cells, I was nervous. I think when you are going through cancer treatment you are so focused on the end of it that the possibility of anything that could change that end date fills you with fear and anxiety. My day is October 28th and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of me getting there. So the thought of delaying a treatment was not an option for me. Thankfully my body was good to me and I was actually in the normal ranges again! Yippee! So onto to the c-spa suite for my cocktail. My new best friend (my nurse) again had a stellar IV performance and got the needle in with minimal stress or pain on my part and we were off! My husband tells me that I often start talking a mile a minute during the c-spa which I attribute to anxiety and stress. I asked my nurse whether I was more nervous than other patients and she smiled and said “Well yes a bit but the difference with you is that you talk about it so it makes it easier to manage.” I can handle that. So a few hours later we were out in the fresh air again and even decided to walk home. I am not going to lie - there was detour via Burger King and my favorite French bakery for a post c-spa treat and it was good! So far I have again done alright on this round with the usual fatigue and now some new back and hip pain that I am not totally sure of its origins. It is so hard to tell the difference between normal aches and pains and those attributed to the C-spa experience. It can also be hard not to freak out over the slightest thing but I try hard to contain the irrational fears and also the very real ones. I am now looking forward to ticking off number 3 on Friday and getting down into the single digits baby! October 28th – here I come!

I wanted to also give an update on Captain AC and her first trip to the C-Spa. There were a rocky few days of rough weather for her but she has recovered remarkably well from her first trip. Now she just needs to channel her strength and positivity into the next round which I have no doubt she will do.

Lastly I wanted to mention two books. Now I have never plugged any products or books before as this isn’t an advert space but as many of you have told me recently that you have passed on my blog to other young women you know facing the same enormous challenge I am, I wanted to offer some advice. Now when I was first diagnosed, I thought I would order lots of books and inform myself of my disease. What I didn’t realize was how these supposedly helpful books instead instilled such fear and anxiety into my mind that I couldn’t bear to read further then chapter one. Cancer is scary enough. I don’t need more information to further heighten the fear factor thank you very much. So the two books that I found comforting and informative in a positive and empowering way were given to me by two wonderful friends. Both of these girls generally rock the house when it comes to gift giving and too often spoil me with wonderful packages filled with goodies. The first book is for anyone – you don’t need cancer to read it and it is called “Anti-Cancer” by Dr David Servan-Schreiber. If you want to live a healthy and long life read this! The other is called “Uplift” by Barbara Delinsky. This book is filled with only positive messages for real women facing cancer and truly warmed my heart and soothed my nerves.

Well that is all for me today. Quite a mish-mash of thoughts and ideas but I do hope it still proves a good read. Don’t forget to stay in the moment and not let the little things make you crazy. There are so many good things to focus on – I try and check my baggage at the door!

Hugs, OBB

Monday, August 15, 2011

Today is Different

Today is different. It is the first day in over 6 weeks that I am home on my own. My husband has gone back to work and my daughter is now back in daycare. In some ways I have missed my “me time” though I feel abit guilty even saying that as I truly savor each and every moment I have with my family. However it was nice to dive back into bed (seeing as my human alarm clock woke me at 5am) and then wake up to some relaxing yoga stretches and some chill Café Del Mar tunes without any interruption.

Before all of this C business, I was someone who was often uncomfortable in my own company and would often grow bored, frustrated or just plain antsy with a few hours to myself. But now seeing as there is so much happening in my life right now (not in a good way!), this solace and quiet is delicious and I really feel that my body needs it. Those of you who have known me awhile will read this and be shocked to hear me say I need quiet! Not only does your body get physically drained by the C-Spa but your emotions and psyche really go through the ringer as well. I am happy to report that I am still feeling good but the fatigue has definitively gone up a notch. I even made it to a friend’s daughter’s 2nd birthday party yesterday which would have been truly unheard of on my earlier regime. She was surprised to see me and I was happy to take part in the festivities. There were people I didn’t know there and those who didn’t know my “status”. I have spoken about this social anxiety earlier in my blogs when I was much more uncomfortable with my diagnosis and how it would be perceived. I didn’t want a pity party and I certainly didn’t want to take the focus away from the darling 2year old celebrating her birthday and turn it into Cancer Town USA! Things were good until a woman running after two lively boys and a foreigner herself enquired what I was doing with myself these days. I told her I was home and she coached me on getting out there in the work force etc… I know she grew more shocked when she found out that this lazy North American was not only home all day but had her daughter in full time daycare! I really felt awkward but also felt that dropping the C-bomb at that moment would be wrong timing and make everyone uncomfortable. I know to her none of it made sense but sometimes I just want to hold onto to being just me and not the pitied young cancer patient. So I left things as they were and allowed myself to come across as some housewife of the OC who idles her day away with long lunches, manis and private pilates sessions. Oh if only I could eh!

So the rest of the week is BUSY! I seriously struggle to schedule in friend time these days as my cancer is really butting into my social time. Who knew cancer was a full time job? Today is my only day with zero scheduled other then getting my butt down to a toy shop to pick up a much needed 2nd birthday present for another friend. The rest of the week is full of physio and acupuncture appointments, my cancexercise group (I just came up with that – clever no?), Norwegian class and then a wonderful C-Spa session to round out my week. Little time to catch my breath but all of this will just make the weeks go that much faster as I slowly make my way down the long road towards that big pink finish line.

And my eyelashes and eyebrows are finally coming out. I am mourning them slightly as I do love how nice a coat of mascara instantly wakes your eyes up and I will shortly be relying only on the glitter of my retinas for the wow factor! The eyebrow thing will be weird as I think it might be the giveaway that I am C-Spa member but then again who knows. I have learnt through this process that most of the things I worry about end up being insignificant at the end of the day. What matters is always the same – love, life, family and friends and your health.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cuz I am Feeling Good

So I am happy to report that my first round of the new cocktail went off without a hitch. Now I am not counting all my chickens yet as I know side effects can be slow to come up but I am taking this as a big fat positive! I was very nervous when I walked into C-Town yesterday morning, grabbing my number and waiting for my turn to get the usual blood test. I always people watch while I am sitting there waiting…seeing the faces I recognize, the ones I don’t, reading the emotions on everyone’s faces. You can always pick out the first timers to the C-Spa – the look of sheer terror tends to give them away. I know this because I was there before too. Holding back tears and filled with such dread over what could or could not happen. I make a point of smiling at everyone whose eyes I meet. It is my way of giving off some of my positivity or letting them know that yes I have cancer but I am also ok. So as Elgar’s divine music filled my ears, I began to feel ready for my next cocktail (or maybe it was the mixture of the valium and strong anti-histamines I took!) regardless I was prepared.

It is nice to know my way around C-Town and to be familiar with the C-spa routine but it is especially nice that I am able to say hello to so many people I know now. Most of them are nurses who know me as the “English Patient” and greet me with a warm hug. They put me at ease and I know they have my best interests and comforts at heart. Once I get the all clear from my blood work which surprisingly was just on the border of what they consider acceptable to receive chemo (damn white blood cells), I am ushered to my chair and its showtime. Most of the nurses know about me and my anxiety (or sheer hysteria) over getting the IV put in and seeing as I decided not to get the arterial port, I am facing down my fear of the IV needle. I put on my favorite song and start doing my meditative deep breathing as the nurse finds a friendly and willing vein in my hand and poof she is in first try! High five to my girl Ingrid!! So nearly 3 three hours later I am good to go – filled to the brim with my toxic cure and imagining the medicine surging through my body killing off every nasty cell it sees and literally defining cancer combat!

When I went home I felt weird as usually it is just a matter of time till the sickness hits and I am confined to my bed riding out the waves of pure hell. This time there was no throbbing headache or tsunami-esque nausea; I actually went home and ate half a pizza! It was fabulous and after a small nap I was even able to take my daughter out alone to drop by a birthday party and pick up some much needed Ben and Jerry’s ice cream from the store. It was a miracle and boy did it feel good. Things were really starting to look up and suddenly the next 11 rounds didn’t seem so difficult to get through. And despite having my usual 4am wake up (thank u cortisone) this morning, I had another great day and am really doing well. It is refreshing to feel human again minus a few eyelashes. 

And I would like everyone to send lots of happy thoughts to my dear Captain AC who is embarking on her C-Spa voyage this coming Monday. I have reassured her and told her that she will never have to go through the first time again which perhaps offers her some comfort during a very scary time. I have bestowed on her all my C-Spa secrets like never eating your favorite foods on game day, walking every day no matter how close to death you feel, sweet potatoes are yum when u feel like nothing else, sedatives are completely justified, water tastes awful the first few days so mix in some juice, and every treatment you do is one less you have to do later. What I so wish is that I could be there on Monday to hold her hand as the first drops of her cure begin to flow as I know all too well how terrifying that moment is. But as I have said before we do this to give ourselves long and happy lives and remove the worry and the cells that simply don’t belong in our bodies. In reality there is no option here because we choose life.

Good night,


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A New Season, A New Cocktail

It seems like I woke up this morning and summer seemed suddenly over. The rain was pouring down and the air was cold. It was funny that I was slapping on sunscreen a few days earlier and now was putting on sweaters and jackets today! Well this is one of the downsides of living in Norway – short summers. It makes me happy that I have done the bulk of my chemo in the warm and bright summer months as it will be tough to drag myself to the hospital every week in the cold dark winter days. I will be starting my new regime on Friday and am again feeling those first time C-spa jitters. One of the scariest things about the C-spa experience is waiting for it to actually begin as you fear the unknown and how your body will react. I am hopeful this round will be easier and the next 12 weeks will sail by. From what I hear that should be the case and the biggest thing to worry about is extreme fatigue which I am no stranger to! For those curious types some of the other side effects from my new drug include finger and feet tingling (just plain weird), hair loss (goodbye eyebrows), nail loss (yes this one scared me too!), weight gain(time to cut back on Ben and Jerrys) and just plain old body aches. So I will channel my inner warrior again and take my new cocktail with as little anxiety as I can manage.

In other news – I have started my at home Norwegian classes in my bid to become fluent before my daughter is exclusively speaking Norwegian and I have no idea what she is saying. I am lucky enough to live in a country that provides me this service for free – Go Norway! So my teacher came to my house and I got the ol’ grey matter thinking again about things other than the Big C. It feels good to learn again and do something different. As I am keen to get back into normal life and a normal job once my treatment is done, it is important to do things like this that keep me focused on the future. Looking ahead in a positive way is so important to maintaining your sanity when going through something as major as cancer.
The not so good news is about my dear Captain AC. We had hoped the Captain would only need surgery and radiation but following her operation she was given some hard news. She will be checking into the C-Spa in a few weeks time and joining this elite group of bald headed warriors fighting the Pink War. I am giving her all the advice I can but know and understand how terrified she is. However she is a survivor in every sense of the word and I know she will get through this with the same grace, courage and humor she has used to get through all the other challenges in her life. And I will be waiting at that finish line for her and we can have one heck of a celebration.

So that is the news with OBB – nothing profound from me this time around but hopefully you are up to date with what’s happening in my world.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

I choose Life

It has again been a bit of a blog hiatus for me. July is summer time for Norway so the cities are generally quiet of actual Norwegians and buzzing with tourists and the sun is hopefully shining for at least 20% of the time! We have also been on holiday and spent some lovely days by the sea following my recovery from the last FEC treatment. I now realize why I could never start a blog before – my daughter is not in daycare right now and having her home all day makes starting and completing an entire blog entry next to impossible. Instead of feeling guilty about not keeping up to date, I relished in my time with my little family.

I am sure that many of you around the world also have learnt much more about Norway in the last few weeks – for reasons no one wants. The horrific massacres in Oslo were truly heartbreaking and my hearts and condolences go out to all the victims and their families. I was in awe of how this little country stood together at a time of such horror and promised to maintain its core values of cultural openness, democracy and peace. Events such as this again put my life and situation in perspective. You really do not know what tomorrow brings so there is not point worrying or dwelling on what has happened - living life to the fullest is the way forward for me.
What things have been buzzing around in my cerebellum the last few weeks? Well apparently lots of things as the sleep fairies have been lacking from their post on my pillow and I have been struggling to get a good night’s sleep. It is a vicious circle as the more I struggle to sleep the more anxiety I have over the fact that I am not sleeping and getting the rest I need and the less I sleep! Eek! I have never been one of those people who the moment their head hits the pillow they are snoring away in an instant. I actually secretly hate those people – well maybe not hate as my husband is one of those lucky ones – but perhaps envy is a more appropriate word choice. I have been finding my mind really drifting across all sorts of thoughts when I finally settle in bed and some of these thoughts are not what we would call “happy thoughts.” I did figure out a few things while tossing and turning especially when it came to my daughter. I have found myself wanting to be included in everything she is doing and wanting to see all the new things she is discovering like swimming, new words, new dance moves, new food tastings etc…I t is almost to the point of obsessive and I couldn’t quite understand where this need to be there essentially 24/7 was coming from.

When you have a child, you think of the all the big events that will happen in their lives – the first steps, first words, first day of school, graduation, marriage, and eventually their own children. Of course you want to be there every step of the way but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I know this first hand from being on the other end and not having my dear father ever get to meet and love my husband or my daughter. He would have loved them so much and it makes my heart ache that he wasn’t able to see me so happy. After being diagnosed with the Big C, I now am all too aware of my own mortality and still fight to suppress my fears that my time will be cut short. So this fear of being robbed of a long and fulfilling life is what is making me want to see everything and insert myself into every moment. In the words of Aerosmith – “I don’t want to miss a thing.” Again I know now that I am aware of the motives behind it, I may relax a little but at the same time why not be there for everything if I can. How lucky am I to have the gift of time right now where I don’t have a demanding job to keep me away from home or other life demands other than being healthy. I know many of my friends do not have this opportunity so I will take it and savor it. I did get to see my daughter swim this past week and it was wonderful. Her loud shrieks of laughter as her father launched her in the air then back down into the cool blue water – emerging again with the biggest smile and eyes gleaming with pure joy. These are the moments I want to be a part of.
So as summer has finally arrived in Norway this week, I will continue to enjoy my moments and also look forward to my brother and his family arriving in town this week. I can’t wait to see all our little girls get to know each other for the first time as my daughter is finally able to hold her own with them. I will savor these moments but maybe try not to worry as much about missing out on things because I do not plan on going anywhere soon. Life is much too precious and I am just getting started.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder
Happy summer,