Sunday, February 18, 2018

Best Before Dates

I was reading a blog written by a cancer surviver who, twelve years ago, was given two months to live.  Her motto is "No one should be given an expiration date!"

I think I will adopt that motto for my own, too.

"No one should be given an expiration date." (Some people deserve best before dates, though!)

Happy Sunday! 

Three days left in my chemo countdown.

Monday, February 5, 2018

What I did this morning...

Feeling a little radioactive now!   But I'm feeling equally confident that this morning's CT scan is going to be much more positive than the one I had in December.  Just another small hurdle in the path to health.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The C-word

So... I have cancer.  Or, I did have cancer.  I'm not sure which.  Does someone ever really go from being a cancer patient to being cancer free?  Depends which websites you google.  If you google.  I'd advise not to, but then I'd be a hypocrite because I find myself googling cancer. Every single day.  Symptoms.  Prognosis.  Side effects of chemotherapy.  It's all very sobering.  Did you know that Stage 4 colon cancer (cancer that has spread to other organs) has an five year survival rate of 11% ?  I didn't know that. Until I googled the damn thing.  But a stage 3 colon cancer has a survival rate between 53 and 89%, depending on how many lymph nodes were impacted.   Cancer and math.  Not a good combination, if you ask me.

So it's been one month and 13 days since my diagnosis.  If I'm being honest with myself, though, I self-diagnosed this months before that.  But denial is strong in me, so I had myself convinced that it was something else.  Anything else.  IBS.  Diverticulosis. Crohn's. Anything but the C-word. It wasn't until the pain started to accompany the other more vague symptoms, that I really took notice and said, "Okay, something is seriously wrong."

And so here I am.  Spending way too much time googling and not enough time enjoying this reprieve from work that I suddenly find myself with.   I'm in a funny kind of limbo right now.  I had surgery to remove two tumours from my body six weeks ago.  One in my colon and one that had metastasized to one of my ovaries.  While they were removing body parts, they found cancer in two of my lymph nodes, too.  I technically have Stage 4 colon cancer, but my oncologist (how weird that I have an oncologist; not everyone can say that) was quite pleased with the surgery and the very small amount of localized lymph nodes that were affected, and feels that we can consider it a Stage 3 colon cancer instead.  Stage 3 colon cancer is typically treated by surgery followed by 12 rounds of a FOLFOX chemotherapy regimen.  Google that.  Fun symptoms on the horizon.

So I am six weeks post surgery and officially allowed to "vacuum" and lift heavy stuff again.  I'm starting my chemotherapy regimen in three weeks, so I figure I have about three weeks to feel human and get a functional "stay-at-home" mom routine figured out before I start to feel like a cancer patient again.

Or, I could just hang out on the couch all day, like I've been doing, watching crappy daytime television (the 'who's the baby daddy' cliff hangers on the daytime talk shows are so compelling), drinking my easy to digest smoothies, and avoiding reality. I have every right to give myself permission to do that.  I've earned it.  But I think it makes me feel worse. Guilty about not accomplishing anything. Guilty about not enjoying all the free hours to scrapbook or organize those cupboards I've been meaning to tackle.  Or walk the dog. Or plan menus and crock pot meals for future use.  Instead, it allows me to spend too much time in the dark recesses of my brain where the "what if" zone lies. 

What if I had gone to the doctor earlier?

What if I had been more assertive when they told me that I didn't need a colonoscopy until I was 50?

What if I had gone to the hospital in August when the pain first started instead of waiting until September, after it happened again?

What if I had eaten healthier for the last several years?  Or got more exercise?  Or slept better?

What if I don't beat this?

What if I die?

These are all questions that I try not to dwell on.  But sometimes I want to ask them.  I don't expect answers.  I just want to be able to ask them.  I want someone to say, "Yes, what if you don't beat this, how are we going to move on?"  instead of always hearing, "You've got this.  You're not going to die. Everything will be alright." End of subject.  No, not the end of subject.  I want to talk and to vent and be angry and self-absorbed.  Or sad and scared.  I don't want to always protect everyone else's feelings.  After 40 + years of being the positive, kind, considerate good girl, I want to be mean and miserable for a while.  Or not.  Maybe not. I just want that option.

So, I guess that's what this blog is going to look like for the next several months. I can't promise not to be too negative, but I won't always be.  I'm pretty good at keeping things positive. But occasionally the blues kick in and I go dark.  You're welcome to go dark with me.  Or ride it out until I can be funny again.  My "Laura's Family", oft neglected blog, will be less about my children and the funny things they say and do, and more about me needing an outlet to record my thoughts about how my body has betrayed me.  A rambling, unedited, written diarrhea of thoughts.

Now... speaking of diarrhea...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sugar Free September - Day 1

So, I'm doing this!  The Canadian Cancer Society is a worthy charity that is very dear to my heart.  And I donate to it more than any other charity.  Sometimes through walkathons, sometimes just because someone asks.  This is the first time I've heard of this particular fundraiser, but it intrigued me so I signed up.  So... here's my first update:

Sugar Free September, day 1! So far, so good. I didn't do a grocery shop prior to this morning, so I haven't really planned my meals out too well. But, I did manage to navigate the day without succumbing. I started out with scrambled eggs for breakfast and I took some roasted almonds and an orange to work for a mid-morning snack. Lunch was salad with chicken and homemade salad dressing (oil, vinegar, and mustard --- thanks for the idea, Kathleen, it was delicious). I hit that 3pm workday lull when I often pop over to the bakery or to 7-eleven to pick up a sweet "pick-me-up." Today I went across the street to the grocery store instead and picked up a bag of nectarines (I felt silly buying just one, so I bought 6, I guess I'll share the bounty with my kids). It did the trick. Supper was steak, potatoes, and onions. And tonight, my greatest discovery of the day... tucked in the back of the cupboard from another well-intentioned diet plan, those Ryvita rye crackers. They have NO added sugar. Why they barely have any ingredients at all. So, yeah, aside from the natural sugars in the fruit I ate, I consumed 0 grams of added sugar today!

Thanks to my two recently departed neighbours  for being donor numbers 1 and 2! You two are incredibly generous and I really appreciate the support.

Something I learned that I really knew all along but didn't actually consider; there isn't a single loaf of bread in the grocery store that doesn't have added sugar. I know... I looked! Yikes! In my pledge to go sugar free, I didn't actually anticipate going bread free, too. Who in their right mind would ever agree to that? If I "cheat," it's going to be because I really want a piece of toast! With peanut butter. OMG, toast and peanut butter! I miss you already! What was I thinking? So, there are definitely breads with less sugar than your typical cheap(ish) run of the mill whole wheat, so maybe a simple switch is what I need to do. They cost a lot more, though, and for the amount of bread this family goes through (oh no, are school lunches really on the horizon again???), I can't justify spending $6 a loaf. Maybe I'll hide the $6 loaf in the back of the freezer just for my own purposes. The other thing we learned, which surprised my children, was that there is almost the same amount of sugar, gram for gram, in their Dad's can of coke as there is in the same amount of their apple juice! Milk, on the other hand, has naturally occurring sugars, so I won't be making the kids give that up.

Thanks for coming along for the ride, on to day 2. No withdrawal symptoms yet...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Testing...  The last few times I've tried to blog, I've lost everything I finished typing when I hit the "publish" button.  I think somehow, blogger has decided that I no longer exist.  So, before I pour my heart into another diatribe of random motherhood thoughts, I'm going to press "publish" and see if this works. :)  Wish me luck!  Laura

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Miss Jean Louis --- the lost years

       Miss Jean Louis has been on my mind a lot, lately.  I haven't seen her in years, but I still think of her with fondness.  We went to high school together, in Djibouti, class of '77.  Go Hyenelks!  After we walked down the dirt path to the podium to receive our diplomas, she turned to me and said, "It's been a slice, see you around."  I thought we'd connect up later at the after party down by the tar pits, but I never saw her again.
       Fast forward twenty years to the late nineties when life was simpler.  I was sitting at my desk, hunched over a bowl of Ramen reading through a book about a boy who goes off to wizard boarding school, terrible script that will never go anywhere, under the dim light of my single bulb, when the familiar "Uh Oh" of the ICQ screen interrupted my thoughts.
     I hadn't been called that in years!   JEAN LOUIS?  I typed.
     HOW THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN? I typed again, a rush of excitement flooding me as I fondly recalled my old friend.  AND WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
     I was scratching my head at this point, staring at the tiny little conversation box at the top of my computer screen. The most fantastical, far-fetched tale began to unravel as Miss Jean Louis filled me in on what I have now come to refer to as her "lost years." She described each discovery in great detail, explaining the location that she spotted each of them, their habitat, their natural instincts, their mating rituals.  They way they fought one another for dominance.  She'd been living among these hybrid animals for years, carefully documenting them in a book she was writing called The Absonome Almanac.  She subsisted off the generosity of others, doing good deeds in exchange for food and shelter in, what she called "random acts of goodwill."  She explained that she had come into town for a vacation from living in the wild, and had looked me up on a library computer while waiting for the glue to dry on a 6 foot replica of a Chinese dragon sporting the face of a little boy she used to baby-sit.
      I must have been quiet for some time because she typed:
      I wasn't sure how to answer her.  It all seemed so far-fetched at the time.  Finally, I typed what I'd been thinking for the past several minutes.


I haven't heard from her since.

Friday, April 1, 2016

What? It's April already?

April... National Poetry Writing Month.  I am NOT committing this year.  It's too easy to beat myself up when I fail.  Last year I didn't make it through April OR November.  So this year I'm keeping my expectations low.  Maybe I'll write 30 poems... maybe I'll write one.  Maybe I'll write a novel in November, maybe I'll just read one.

Having said that, I was curious so I headed over to the National Poetry writing month website to check out the prompt for the day.

 Today, I challenge you to write a lune. This is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. There’s also a variant based on word-count, instead of syllable count, where the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again. Either kind will do, and you can write a one-lune poem, or write a poem consisting of multiple stanzas of lunes. Happy writing!

A "Lune" huh?  I can handle that!

Warm spring days are here,
Feels like shorts...
Time to shave my legs!

Happy National Poetry Writing Month!  And Happy Unseasonably Early Spring!