Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Hi Everyone (again!),
I am so happy that so many of you enjoyed my Ode to Pinktober. I think it is one of the most read entries and it was such a special thing for me to write. 
As tomorrow is the 1st of October and the first day of Pinktober, I felt I wanted to post a few pics of my own cancer journey. It seems everyone is reflecting back on their experience with the Big C and I thought doing a picture story might be nice for all of you and for me to just reflect on the past 18 months.  Many of these have never even graced facebook so I am laying it all out there. Figure there is nothing to be ashamed or embarassed about. I had cancer - no biggie. :)
I also want to thank all of the Pink efforts happening this weekend. My dear friend Charlotte walked through Central London all night to raise money for breast cancer and no it was not a pub crawl!. I love you and hope there was minimal chaffing involved!! I also want to thank my family (mom included) who are walking or running for a Cure today in Canada. You guys rock and I so wish I could be there to run alongside you. 
So a little picture story about a girl called OBB:

A pregnant me hanging by the beach in Gran Canaria before life changed. Oh my god I look so young!!

Motherhood was a blessing and the best thing I have ever done! 

My husband and I on our wonderful wedding day which took place 3 weeks after my diagnosis and was planned in 10 days! Still managed to be the perfect day ever.

Post surgery and 2 days pre my first chemo celebrating the 17th of May. Can you see the fear in my eyes?? But how cute is my little monkey.

The mid way point through chemo. A cup of green tea with the sun coming up and not a hair on my head!

My cake to mark the end of chemo that I gave to the nurses who took such good care of me.

Waiting for some hair. Rocking my wig in the playground! I think i look pretty cool.

On the road to recovery. My Co-captain on this journey - My mom and fellow survivor.

Me today! With my best friend who continues to get me through every challenge regardless of how big or scary it is. His calmness grounds me. His love protects me. His vulnerability reminds me that we are still human at the end of the day. And his humour keeps me afloat when the seas get rough. 
Here's to many more new and exciting chapters. Happy Pinktober everyone! (I know I totally bitched about the whole pink thing earlier this week but wear your pink ribbons people! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Ode to Pinktober

Breast cancer is not just a disease that strikes at women. It strikes at the very heart of who we are as women: how others perceive us, how we perceive ourselves, how we live, work and raise our families-or whether we do these things at all. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

This entry was inspired by an article I read in the Daily Mail (yes i know some of you will disown me as a friend with that admission!) this week about an upcoming Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign to mark the month of October. October is of course breast cancer month where pink is literally everywhere. Being a breast cancer survivor myself, I flicked through the glossy heavily airbrushed photos of celebrities posing in scenarios that had literally zero connection to breast cancer. If anything it made me feel worse looking at their perfect bodies and pert breasts and than thinking back to myself and my mangled body. Now I am of course totally up for raising money and awareness of this horrific disease that affects far too many, but sometimes I think we lose sight of what it really means. It isn’t about t-shirts with slogans like “Breast cancer sucks” or putting a pink ribbon on every product around – it is about the people fighting and remembering those who have lost their fight. It is about making women take charge of their health and of increasing funding in the hopes of finding a cure.  I was inspired to write my own ode to Breast Cancer Awareness month and highlight some of my own experiences and some of others that I have been fortunate enough to meet and know through this experience. This is the real face of the disease – the raw, flawed and painful side that somehow has a beauty and grace to it all at the same time.

She is the woman who when faced with those three words thinks immediately not of herself but of her family who need her so.
She is the woman who crinkles up her eyes tight to stop the tears from flowing so she can shelter her child from seeing any of her pain.
She is the woman who puts her unborn baby’s life first over her own.
She is the woman who hides two long red scars, marking her long journey to hell and back, beneath her clothes .
She is the woman who still manages to laugh at your jokes and be herself despite the pain she hides - so much so that you forget that she is even sick.
She is the woman who longs for the gift of a child or even the chance of having another but must chose survival over fulfilling that dream.
She is the woman who acts as if nothing has changed or that nothing is wrong and remains  the person you know and love.
She is the epitomy of grace and style with or without hair.
She stares down her enemy head on and never once puts down her sword to rest.
She is the woman who is still there for you when things go wrong reminding you that no one’s problems are too small to matter.
She seems like a superhero but like all of us she sometimes just wants to roll up in a ball and cry.
She just wants the chance to grow old and have a face filled with laugh lines and a head full of grey hairs.
She is a sister, a wife, a mother, and a friend.
She is a warrior dressed in pink. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let there be light

I've decided that the stuff falling through the cracks is confetti and I'm having a party!  ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon

Hi Everyone,

I know I have been suspiciously quiet since the PET scan happened and that many of you of course worry. I am keeping my cards alittle closer to my chest right now until we know what is really happening. 

First off I want to tell you that I am okay. Strangely calm and feeling overwhelmingly positive about it all. Of course I had my hysterical moments a few days ago when my doctor called asking me to come in the next morning.Who wouldn't freak out about that? Hello alarmist! Things could be worse - I could have light up in my major organs like the liver or lungs! We take comfort where we can right. :) So they have found something that they need to take a closer look at. Super fun times for me next week as it will be biopsy time. Did you know they dont put you to sleep when they dig in your chest for some tissue samples? Crazy I know. There better be a full audience of unicorns with me on that day. But seriously I really think this is a precaution given my type of nasty cancer and that it is most likely the result of months of pain and inflammation post surgery and treatment. 

I feel good about this. I don't look sick. I don't feel sick. A good friend told me that my eyes were too clear, too alive for me to be sick again. I agree as I have got real sparklers these days. I have reminded myself that this was something we expected so we just need to relax and not panic until told otherwise. False positives are par for the course with these types of scans. I think it must come down to the fact I have such a radiant and illuminating personality. Don't you? 

So I am trying to put it all to one side and focus on the good things and boy are there lots of them. So much to be happy about it in life and celebrate. I really don't have room in my life to worry about the Big C right now so it can bugger off- I have far too much living to do. 

Have a great week everyone!!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Waiting for a sign

So it has been one hell of a week for OBB. Since I last wrote I got a cold, got a PET scan and then got an awful awful flu! Not the greatest week for me but certaintly not my worst either. I know it isnt the most interesting to read about someone´s constant flow of ailments and issues. I am sick of it myself. But being bed ridden and feeling like death on a platter was not what I needed this week. Unable to read or watch TV, I lay there in bed with my thoughts. A dangerous coupling really. And when you are waiting to hear whether you are ok or not, feeling downright lousy doesnt make you feel the most positive. To tell you the truth - feeling as bad as I did, where I could literally not find an ounce of reserve energy even for my little monkey,  it made me so scared. I didnt want my life to end up like that. Lying in a bed with little breaks here and there, watching the world go by while I was stuck. I know I am being super melodramatic but i think most people in my situation would have the same worries and fears. Cancer is a shit way to go people. It is ugly, painful, and relentless. I want to die old and wrinkled curled up in my quilt on a winter´s night with my whole family nearby or even holding my hand. That is the way to go  - the way I want to go. 

So this whole PET business went alright. It was as I expected and I had the same nice technician as before so she knew my vein dealio. We got it on the first attempt - hurrah!! The valium might have helped as well. Can you believe they have unicorns in hospitals now? Hi little pony, you want an apple? Oh maybe that was the sedative talking? :) So now we are just waiting. Everytime my phone rang this week, I jumped before I could see what number it was. Kinda like waiting for the boy to call you like so much and then when he actually does you are too scared to pick up. I know when it does happen and it is inevitable, my chest will tighten and my pulse will quicken. It always happens when I get big news and they will ask me to come in. I will look for any signs I can detect from their tone and choice of words indicating whether it is good or bad. Of course I am sure they are trained to give nothing away but I will do it anyways. I have even analysed the length of time it has taken to hear from them. If it were bad they would called right away right? Or were they taking time to take in all the problem areas? God you could make yourself mad running through every single scenario and of course none of it helps. But we do what we can to feel more in control of a situation that is beyond us.  I am getting shivers just writing it all this down - playing it out in my mind what will happen this week. I cant hide from it or run away. It is happening. It is hard because at the same there are so many great, amazing things happening in my life right now that are overshadowed by this. I want to tell you all about them but I dont want to jinx myself so I will wait. If i am being honest, I am so scared that like the last time when I had finally gotten myself established and found a job, it will be taken from me again. I was in the exact same situation as I am now - just about ready to press the start button on a new life and career. This time I dont want anyone to jump in and press "abort." I want to celebrate my wonderful achievements and start rebuilding what was lost, so cancer please please go away.

So it is shaping up to be a pretty major week for OBB and family. I will also be travelling to Bergen this coming weekend for the Norwegian Young Womens Breast Cancer conference. It is a gathering of women under 40 who have been affected by breast cancer. It is a wonderful place to come together and discuss the issues that affect young women facing this disease. The horror of a diagnosis shocks every women regardless of age but the challenges surrounding it differ dramatically. These women understand how shit it is getting through chemo and radiation with young children to look after, they understand how it can break your heart when you cant pick up your crying baby after surgery and they understand the nightmare of wondering whether you will be given the opportunity to watch your children grow up. This pink sisterhood is sacred and its members are virtual towers of strength and grace.

I hope to write an update when I get "the call" and be able to tell you all that I am 100% okay. Happy happy thoughts...everything is going to be okay. Maybe if I say it enough times, I will believe it.

I will end with a quote from Dr. Seuss. Seriously he had it right! When I re-read his stories now as an adult you see how true and real they actually are. There is alot to be learned from Dr. Seuss!

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
― Dr. Seuss

Happy Weekend,

OBB xxx


Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Moment...

mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
Agatha Christie

I have been ill with the flu all weekend which has plain old sucked but ensured I was taking it easy which is literally the pre-scan orders. I had a moment today with my daughter that just you know… got me.
I needed to lie down and rest midway through the day and my little monkey wanted to be with her mama. I told her the rules – mama needed to rest so she had to be quiet and play by herself. She assured me she could comply. She then proceeded to march back and forth between my room and hers more than a dozen times – handing me a new cuddly animal with each trip. I loved hearing the sound of her heavy sometimes clumsy bare feet in the hallway – there was something comforting about the sound. Maybe it was the loving care she showed me or maybe it was the look in her eyes when she handed me toy after toy – a look of such utter love. Whichever it was – it hit me straight in the heart and before I knew it there were tears running down my face. Tears of pride for the little girl my husband and I have raised that already knows empathy and can show so much love. Tears of joy for the gift she gave me by saving my life. Tears of pain for the last 2 years she has lived through with me. Tears of fear for what could still happen. I am trying so hard to be positive and just believe that everything is going to be okay but I only have to look into her eyes so see what could be lost. And the thought of that just literally breaks my heart right into two. I want to be there – for everything and anything. For her. For him.
And you know what she said to me when she noticed the tears streaming down that I was trying so desperately to hide? She got up on the bed beside me and rubbed my arm and softly said, “That’s better.” And yes it is when love is all around. 

OBB xx

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just Another Manic Monday

Hi there,

Today I don’t feel like being tough or being positive. Today I just feel plain lousy. I woke up feeling odd and my eyes were reacting weirdly to the daylight. I started sensing the telltale signs of a migraine coming on. Total crap when that happens and it happens often enough. I am lucky I took my magic pill in time but I can’t help but get anxious from migraines or odd feelings these days. Is it just a migraine or is it something else? And then ure mind just starts running in the direction of crazy town and you totally lose the plot. I have been sitting here under my blanket thinking about what each of my cells is doing all over my body. Who is doing its job? Who isn’t? It is so frustrating to not know but rather tell yourself repeatedly that everything will be okay. Like last night I had another freak out when my legs starting to feel swollen and heavy. Why were they doing that? What other sinister cause was behind this odd feeling? Anything odd is just so unbelievably terrifying. This sudden heightened sense of awareness may be coming from my own innate fear over the next few weeks. I am doing the big one next week – the big SCAN that I have been dreading. My doctor called last week to discuss it and told me in the nicest possible way “that you can’t hide your head in the sand forever.” Yeah thanks for that advice darling. I know this is routine for someone like me and I am fortunate to be able to be offered such an expensive and in depth scan like this but how else can you feel when your own physician warns you that the process will be “stressful.”  What I am talking about is the PET scan. Now again if you aren’t intimately acquainted with the cancer world you probably think I am talking about a place to take your dog for an x-ray or something! No not quite.

 A PET scan is (according to Wikipedia): Positron emission tomography (PET) [1] is a nuclear medicine imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image or picture of functional processes in the body. The system detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a positron-emitting radionuclide (tracer), which is introduced into the body on a biologically active molecule. Three-dimensional images of tracer concentration within the body are then constructed by computer analysis. In modern scanners, three dimensional imaging is often accomplished with the aid of a CT X-ray scan performed on the patient during the same session, in the same machine.

In layman’s terms – if there is a hotbed of cellular activity (i.e.: tumor activity) this machine will find it and find it early. The only problem with such a sensitive machine is that it finds things that look suspicious but aren’t – hence the anxiety surrounding it. You could have hot spots in your brain or lungs just because you can’t stop breathing or thinking but then sometimes they need further investigations to rule other things out. That means biopsies and biopsies are just plain shitty. And then there is the waiting involved. Waiting to find out if everything is ok, waiting and imagining the worst…waiting sucks.

So it is back to C-Town for me next week – September 11th to be exact. Nice day eh? One friend reassured me by saying that that day had seen more than enough of its share of drama so I would be fine. J This test is very different from the others as you need to actually refrain from physical activity for a few days prior (hello guilt free couch potatoing) and then on the day of you get injected with radiation then are put in a dark room by yourself (no TV, music or books) and have to try and relax for an hour prior to testing. Okay somehow that just doesn’t sound zen-like to me at all. Being alone with my thoughts…hmmm. So I again need bucket loads of positivity coming my way in the lead up to this big day. I am so focusing on the relief I will feel after the scan when everything comes back great. Then I can really move forward and feel good about it. But sometimes it is perfectly okay to be scared out of your mind. If only for a moment or two…