Thursday, January 26, 2012

Genetics, Plastic and Planes

It is amazing how fast time goes between blog entries these days. I write one then bam! – a week goes by in a flash and I realize I haven’t updated everyone on my life. So I am trying to get one in before I head off on my transatlantic adventure early next week.

I am scared about the trip. I have always been pretty relaxed and fearless about travelling and took my daughter to Canada many times solo when she was a baby and managed fine. I have been around the world on a plane literally so I am at ease in the air. But this time is different maybe because I am different. After the last year and everything that has happened, I have been protected and I have not been on my own. Either my husband or friends would be there to help me out whenever I needed it but this time it will be just me. I know I will be fine but there is a tiny part of me that is scared. What if I get too tired and become dizzy and my daughter is left watching her mother fall to the ground. I am realizing how much has been done for me lately – things I maybe didn’t even think about till now. Lugging suitcases around, trying to go to the bathroom while wrangling a two year old and just making it through a very long flight without sleep. I guess I will get some comfort in the fact that someone will be waiting on the other end to help me out and the opportunity to see her is worth the challenge of getting there. I am of course talking about my mother (The Captain). It will be our first reunion in 11 months and boy what a crazy 11 months it has been. We clearly have “lots” to catch up on and many hugs to give!!

So aside from prepping for my trip I had a busy week of meeting specialists. Monday was the geneticist who really didn’t give me any new information that made me change my mind about what I plan to do. It was informative to understand things abit more clearly but I am sure about my choice and why I am doing it. I met with my surgical team Tuesday which was interesting and was my first meeting with a plastic surgeon! He was very nice and very chatty. I felt like I was on an episode of Extreme Makeover as he drew lines here and there and talked about his plans to make me look “wonderful.” They can do amazing things these days which is a good thing in my case as I want to be normal again. I would have never pegged myself to be an implant girl but here I am getting a pair for free!!! Now of course I am paying a different kind of price for them which far outweighs the monetary value of them in actuality but hey ho. We talked through the different options, time frames and recovery times. I have decided to wait on the reconstruction and do both “girls” together once my skin has healed from radiation. After what I have been through the extra pain, 4 to 8 week recovery time where I couldn’t lift or hold my darling daughter and being grounded for months just didn’t appeal. I need a break, I need a summer, and I need to be me. So I will do the most important things first which is to rid my body of the ticking time bombs and then deal with the cosmetic elements later when I am stronger mentally and physically. I also think a year or so from now, we will be able to explain things better to our daughter and how she must be careful around mama. Now she would just continue to use me for target practice which would not be good at all. So we will have a few more consults to put together the blueprint for the operation in March and get an MRI done beforehand. It is protocol to require a MRI taken within 6 months prior to this surgery but I can’t help but feel scared of it. MRIs are incredibly useful life saving tools of technology but they also reveal all and I just hope there is nothing to see. I guess any kind of test will be scary to me for a long time afterwards…something to get used to. I just need to see it as a fortunate way to see into the future and keep me safe.

So that is what is happening with OBB (I can still call myself that for now!). I joked with a friend today that I was separating from my left breast as things were just not working out in our relationship. That isn’t so far from the truth. I never thought I would be so ready to give up both breasts and have no wavering whatsoever. There was never a choice to me. It was a decision that would give me some kind of protection, some kind of relief and some kind of a chance at life. I am sure many of you would do the same. I have people to live for so this is the road I must take.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and I hope to manage a blog entry from the other side of the pond.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I aint a gambling (wo)man*

* (I am unable to figure out how to get commas on my Norwegian keyboard so please excuse the grammatical issues!).

So I got all sorts of ideas for this mornings blog while walking home from dropping my daughter off at daycare. I often find my inspiration this way as I saunter through the icy streets of my neighborhood thinking about this and that. I have alot on my mind these days. My heart always aches when I transfer my spider monkey into the arms of the daycare worker as I notice her bottom lip start to quiver and her eyes fill with tears. She tries so hard not to cry and her bravery moves me. It takes some inner strength to walk away but I am always comforted in the knowledge that seconds later she will be running around having a jolly old time.

Okay so where are we at? I wanted to thank you for some lovely comments from last weeks post about my wonderful mother. She is doing brilliantly and we are so looking forward to our reunion in a few short weeks. Writing the entry itself was so therapeutic for me and sometimes I think this blog is the best therapy i could get. It allows me to translate my fears and thoughts into something that makes sense and that makes others gain more insight into their own lives. I know I wont change the world with this blog but all the emails I have received over the past year about how a certain entry resonated with someone...well it just makes my day.

So I met with the Head of Surgery yesterday and she was great. It is funny how I can meet my oncologist and come out thinking I will surely die but meeting her I come out and feel lighter and more positive. She explains everything so well and I feel like she believes in me. We talked through my whole situation and the uniqueness of it. Being unique in the cancer world just isnt always the best thing. I have been trying to process all the different information concerning my diagnosis and subsequent risks and it can be quite confusing. And it isnt like I am deciding between buying a blue or grey car here. This is my life. I think I struggle with the fact that to gain something I need to give up another thing and that is just plain hard. I just dont feel like giving anything else up right now but as the title of this blog suggests - I am also in no mood to gamble. When you look at the odds around my original diagnosis (age, type, etc...) there were very very low - less then 5%. So when you have been utterly screwed by the stats fairy you suddenly dont feel so ready to roll the dice again. I know it can be hard for some to understand why I am choosing what I am but I just cant live in the shades of grey and the fear of something else happening is something that I think may torture me. I think alot of it comes down to the fact that I am a mother and a wife. I owe it to those two people to do what is possible to minimise risk. I cant be selfish and try to chase a dream that may or may not work out. My responsibility is to be here now and be here for the people standing right in front of me. I think I am understanding more and more what is means to be a mother. You give up things that break your heart in two but you do it out of love. You do it because really there isnt any other way. I want to be here for her. That is what being a mother is.

So it looks like things will be scheduled in month or so and then I can finally close the chapter on this awful time. I am so keen to get on with my life and really start living. It will be very unpleasant but pain is temporary and peace of mind...infinite.

So it looks like I will be going from OBB to NBB! (I have the give credit to my husband for that clever new name - jeg elsker deg alltid).


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

“A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend.” ~Author Unknown

I have something very important to talk about today but first things first. Update with me – well I am officially 32 years old now. Does it feel different? Not entirely but I am happy to be one year older, one year wiser and one year riche in life experience. I just got back from the doctor (the normal GP type) and feel a little on edge. I went to see her after having foot pain for months and of course worried perhaps my pain was due to a nasty C monster. It was unlikely I know but as I told her suddenly I feel like every ache and pain is suspect. Nothing is nothing anymore. She was very nice about it all and told me to come whenever I wanted if only to just talk. I do feel like I can talk to her more freely then my oncologist who I suddenly freeze in front of whenever we meet because I am always waiting for him to tell me something bad. When I finally admitted to him on our last meeting how scared and worried I was, he was surprised. He remarked how I always appeared so calm and in control. I think you mean quietly terrified Doctor!! So I told my normal doctor about all my fears surrounding my cancer returning and how everyone is deliberately vague about my long term prognosis. I didn’t want to know percentages about survival rates etc… how would that help me? When I have done everything possible there is to do why torture myself with a mathematical calculation? How would that number change my life? And each person and each cancer is so different - look at Lance Armstrong – odds and percentages meant nothing to him. So why limit myself to obsessing over the result of some formula and letting it define me? If you could know your chances for living or dying – would you want to know? My doctor agreed with my desire to stay in the dark but a part of me wondered if she agreed because she knew it was bad. I know it is so silly and utterly unproductive to think this way but it is also impossible to not given the situation. So here I am sitting a little uneasily wondering what sort of lifeline the fates have woven for me.

So onto happier things. Now for some of you this wont be a huge surprise but for others it might be a shock. If you recall I have intermittently mentioned a certain Captain AC who joined me on my cancer journey following her own diagnosis. I never revealed exactly who she was except that she was incredibly important to me. I felt it was fitting on the eve of her last trip to the C-Spa to give her some of the spotlight because she is also a pink warrior who has fought many a battle. Maybe the title of my blog is a tip off but the true identity of my captain is in fact my mother. Yes my mother and I have been undergoing breast cancer treatment together. What are the odds? She found out three months after me and said she probably wouldn’t have been so vigilant had I not been diagnosed 3 months earlier. Talk about the definition of mother daughter bonding however…in the most morbid way. Suddenly I was the one giving her advice on all things cancer which was strange but also oddly comforting. It was good to be able to share tips and I think it helped her to know that I indeed knew exactly how she was feeling. But this was not how either of us wanted things to be. And one of the hardest parts of this was that neither of us could physically be there for one another. I know when I called my mother at 3am in Vancouver in hysterics to tell her my news, she would come be with me and she was there 6 days later. So when she told me it was so difficult to not be able to do the same thing. I wanted to sit there, hold her hand and tell her everything would be okay. However both of us were landlocked by this cancer beast and it was so frustrating. I do think that had my mother been diagnosed when I hadn’t been through my own Big C journey, it would have been much more difficult to comprehend. But I had been there and knew she had caught it early and she would get through it. Sometimes I wonder if I have actually been able to comprehend that my mother is indeed ill. Both of us are focusing so hard on surviving and getting through our treatments that it is hard to even think about things that aren’t in the immediate present. But despite her own battle, she has remained a rock to me on this tumultuous journey and it is often her who hears my uncensored thoughts and fears. I couldn’t imagine life without her and I can safely say she shares these sentiments about me too. What we have been through has been utterly horrific but in a weird way it was good to have one another. To totally understand the emotional rollercoaster of treatment, the physical demands, the frustrations and the newfound identity of being a cancer patient. She often remarks to me how impressed she is with how I have coped with everything this past year but I would like to remind her that it is she who brought me up and helped shape me into the person I am today. I am a survivor because I learned from the best. Congratulations to you Captain on getting to this major milestone. I love you.

Your daughter,


Friday, January 6, 2012


I just wanted to write a short blog today just to get down some things down that i think are important.

It is my birthday on Monday and we are heading off to the family cabin to celebrate both my daughters and my birthdays together. Birthdays bring up funny emotions and thoughts - often reflective in nature. After the year I have had I can safely say that I have grown in so many ways in the past 12 months. I think after speaking with someone about it yesterday - who asked me how this whole experience had changed me - I realised that I had changed when I become pregnant, I changed again when I had my daughter and now I have changed again through having cancer. So as I turn 32 on Monday (and physically feel about 70 now!), I am much more proud of who I am then I was a year ago. I also know myself much better. But probably the most important thing is that I am here to celebrate this birthday. My concept of time is so different now and I feel like a year is a gift and five years like a lifetime. Once you experience having your time taken from you prematurely every second and every moment is precious. I think it might make me extra aware of my birthday this year as I often just think of it as just another day. It isnt just another day but rather the beginning of another year of living in the moment for me and another chance to do something different.

I also heard some very sad news today that my grandmother had passed away in Canada. After having recently booked a trip to Canada for my daughter and I, I was so looking forward to seeing her and having her see how much my little one had grown since I had been there last. But sometimes life takes its own twists and turns. I think she lived a long and happy life well into her 90s and her passing is very sad but also the way it should be. Everyone should have long and full lives and when their bodies are tired and their minds ready - be released. I dont think I had this depth of understanding about life, death and the ageing process before having cancer because now I too often see people being robbed of the simple act of living and be forced to submit reluctantly to this beast we call cancer. It just isnt fair and happens way too often. So i would like to give a special shout out to another beautiful angel in the sky who I hope knows we love her.

Have a good weekend everyone and please hug the people you love.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Long Road

It is my first entry of 2012 and what do I have to say? Well lots of things as per usual. Happy new year to everyone and I hope the next 12 months bring only happiness and good health for all (with a special shout to my little family!).

Since the tree has gone down, the cute decorations put away and life returned pretty much to normal, I have been thinking about how I will carry on this blog in the new year. I know I began this blog as a chronicle of my cancer journey and I guess in some ways that journey continues on albeit in a different way. I am only 2 weeks out of finishing my treatment so not long ago at all and my full recovery will still take quite some time. But to be honest after 2 days on my own, free from cancer treatment, I am feeling slightly lost. As I have written before - I have never been very successful at entertaining myself and now I have alot of time with...well me. I am trying to find new hobbies, starting back at the gym, doing my daily yoga and meeting up with different friends. But I am now finding out that cancer treatment takes up alot of your time. My days raced by sometimes without me doing very much but I think just getting through each day took all my energy. Now things are moving much slower. And with an idle brain and body comes too much time to think and thinking for me is dangerous territory. I started reading a book about how cancer patients feel post treatment and I ticked every box. Terrified of a recurrence - yup, think every ache and pain is cancer - yup, feel like I was pushed off a cliff - yup. Well I guess that makes me normal and like I have always said - normal is good. This transition is going to take alot more work then I thought. I sometimes think that maybe if i had a job to go back to perhaps I would feel more purpose right now. Of course I know my main jobs right now are to get healthy and strong, be a loving wife and a wonderful mother however I have this urge to be more useful. Patience is a virtue and I clearly need to practice it more.

So in terms of what is up ahead for me - things are complicated. The road has just gottten longer for OBB and she is tired! Due to my age and difficult diagnosis, my doctors have advised me (or rather told me)to have further preventative surgeries. Maybe OBB is going to have consider another name change eh? It kinda feels like I just played the longest football match of my life and then am being asked to play another 2 hours with no break. It is slightly demoralising and makes me of course angry. This cancer melarky just keeps going and I want out of it. But then I remind myself that my priority is to be here for my daughter. To be able to watch her start school, find her hidden talents, fall in love for the first time and eventually find herself. I also want to grow old with my husband. To travel the world together, to find the quiet moments, to reminiscense over the past and to eventually sit and watch the sunset with our grey hairs blowing in the wind (or rather mine as my husband has none!). So by wanting to give myself the best shot at being here, I must make more sacrifices at a time when I honestly dont want to give anymore. But of course I will. And I think that most people would make the same call in my situation. I love life and the fact I am so scared of having it taken from me only demonstrates how much I love living which I think is a very good thing.

I will keep you posted on the next steps as it will all happen soon. I just want to close this door once and for all and open the other one that has the rainbow on the other side.

OBB (for now)