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.