The End

I wish I could tell you a happy ending. An ending to a fairytale, where the beautiful princess finally defeats the terrible monster and lives happily ever after with her prince.

I wish her prince could have done more, helped, done something to stop the monster. Instead, he could only stand by quietly, impotent and watch as the monster devoured her.

I wish, perhaps selfishly, that the story didn’t end. That the battle continued, even if there was never to be a happy ending. To at least have more years, more months, a few more days, a couple more minutes, the seconds to hear, “I love you” from her lips, just one more time.

Unfortunately, our story is over, the monster has won. It’s the same sad ending that has happened before, is happening now, and will continue to happen. Someday, the monster might be defeated. Someday, everyone might get a happy ending. But, for now it seems sad that our parents’ generation will die from it. It’s gut wrenching and depressing that our generation will succumb to it. It’s unthinkably devastating that our children will be consumed by this monster called cancer.

She fought so hard, for so long and even though her monster eventually won, she did not go easily. Cancer dragged her down kicking and screaming. She did not go quietly. She always fought to win.

We cannot give in, we can’t surrender. Fight the monster and eventually we’ll get our lives back, eventually we’ll all get happy endings.

Sabrina died January 10th 2017.
She will smile no more.

Visitation details:
Visitation Friday January 13th between 4pm-8pm at Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home, funeral home entrance at 211 Langstaff Rd East.

Funeral details:
Funeral to be held Saturday January 14th at 9:30am at Holy Cross Funeral Home chapel, 211 Langstaff Rd East (same location as visitation).

Donations to be made in memory of our Sabrina to the Terry Fox Foundation in lieu of flowers.

http://www.terryfox.org/Donate/

The husband.

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Time to be Merry

Hiya Everyone!

So I figure I owe you all an apology as I haven’t been on my blog like I would have liked. I have been having a rough time the last couple of weeks. It’s been rather difficult as I am beginning to feel more and more like a cancer patient. Literally I have no energy whatsoever and I am not really eating all that much – my appetite is really off. And my stomach is terribly unsettled.

When I feel like this, I begin to think that this may be my last Christmas and it terrifies me. I feel as if the cancer is winning. And I can’t have that happen.  I have been feeling much more emotional lately. I can’t even make it through that damn “Christmas Shoes” song without balling. And I have been dropping the f-bomb more frequently for some reason too. I guess cancer is making me a bit of a hick. Need to figure out a wiser way to channel all of my rage.

Christmas time is my favourite time of year. I love everything about this season (okay maybe not so much the frigid weather). So it saddens me when I can’t participate in Christmas activities.  No energy for baking or shopping which are two of my favourite past times. My oncologist said I should take a wheelchair with me to the mall but I choose to walk for a bit, then I sit on a bench for a bit, and so on.  I tend to get winded very easily now. How sad is it when here I am sitting on a bench resting while some grandma zooms by me with 50 gifts in hand. Oh well.

Not sure if I updated you all on my current state. So essentially that “polyp” that was removed from my stomach was indeed cancer. Some sort of sarcoma. Go figure. Everyone seemed shocked as this particular cancer is so rare and it’s even unheard of in the Li Fraumeni world so I must truly be some sort of mutant. I lost count……cancer #7?

Anyhow I was booked for a CT scan of the abdomen to see if there is anymore nasty cancer in the stomach to deal with. I had to drink some foul liquid plus I was given some sort of injection on top of contrast dye. Awful. Since that test, I haven’t been the same. Luckily the test didn’t seem to detect more cancer though I will require another endoscopy a couple days before Christmas where the doctor will attempt to see if he can remove or burn the base of the tumor, which is still inside me. Fun stuff.

It’s been quite the bumpy ride but being slightly stubborn I refuse to believe that my expiry date is up soon so I am continuing to be hopeful despite the statistics. But I am not going to lie, it’s been challenging. My oncologist doesn’t think people come out of this when they get to this stage of the disease. But she also doesn’t think I am the typical patient, so who knows what’s in store.

I definitely don’t feel like myself.  I have lost weight as well as muscle and can even feel my bones in certain places. And my poor boobies are suffering too. There are even days where I am so frail and weak that I can actually feel my body breaking down on me. I am desperately trying to reverse this so I can start getting back to feeling healthy again. Hopefully I can still turn it around.

It also makes me feel sad that I can’t really enjoy the season the way I would have liked. I love eating and sharing dinners with friends and family but now eating feels like a chore due to my lack of appetite. And I don’t feel fun. I feel as though I am the sad cancer girl who is depressing to be around. And no one wants to feel like the person that people just pity.

But then the other day it hit me. When you feel lousy and sick you tend to feel angry, depressed, isolated and easily  irritated. However thinking back on all those who lost their lives to this treacherous disease as well as all of the adults and children that are currently in hospital or very sick I become much more thankful.  I have lost people to this disease and I am sure they would be thrilled to be alive. So as frustrated as I may become, I will always be thankful for my life and for everything I do have.

As a society we are so consumed with ourselves and we have such a sense of entitlement as to what we think we deserve. No one takes the time to slow down and appreciate what they have already been given. It i quite easy to take everything for granted and always look to those that have more. But it takes  strength of character to look at those that are less fortunate and be thankful for what we have. We need to look around us and be grateful especially during this season.

Despite the aches and pains, the upset stomach, the lack of energy, the diarrhea, the lack of appetite, the fluid around my lungs, the shortness of breath, and the coughing, I still have so much to be happy about and live for.

So regardless if I am being naive or not, I cannot give up. I have too much to live for. I can still get out of bed and I can still sit and enjoy Christmas carols while I slowly work on some Christmas stuff. I can also still enjoy snuggling up on the sofa and watching Christmas movies or stare at the laser lights that my amazing husband put up to make me feel a bit more festive. I love that man.

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I think the main point I want to make from this post is that for all those brave children and adults battling cancer, especially an advanced or late stage cancer, they cannot give up. It’s rather easy to become obsessed with death when you see yourself slowly deteriorating right before your eyes. You begin to panic that this is it. You begin to recall all those around you that passed away from this disease and  how you are starting to look like what they looked like. And it’s really scary sh@t.

I just want all of you to know that no matter what people say, it is really difficult to focus on the good when you feel so bad and so scared. But cancer is no dummy, unfortunately cancer cells are quite intelligent and they will take over, especially if we make it easy for them.  As difficult as it is we have to focus on the positive and this will allow us the opportunity to try to get better. In the end life will play out as it is supposed to. All we can do is try our best. And that is exactly what I am doing.

Health, love and tis the season 🙂
Xo

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Sorry guys, I am a little late. But better late than never, right?

I just didn’t want to give up the opportunity to wish all of my loyal followers a happy belated thanksgiving. Hopefully you all enjoyed a wonderful weekend with family and delicious food. I certainly did.

In the spirit of the season of gratitude, I wanted to point out some of the things that I am grateful for over the last year.

I am thankful for my adoring and amazing hubby,

I am thankful for my loving and fantastic parents,

I am thankful for my brother who always keeps me on my toes,

I am thankful for my awesome and kindhearted in-laws that rock,

I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends who are always there for me,

I am thankful for the medical system we have access to,

I am thankful for the doctors that won’t give up on me,

I am thankful for my neighbour and my best friend’s mom for making me great little caps to wear since I lost my hair,

I am thankful for my best friend Julie as she comes over and feeds me,

I am thankful for my cousin Sandra and all the mani’s and pedi’s,

I am thankful for all my amazing blog followers,

I am thankful for the kindness and generosity of strangers,

I am thankful for everyone who generously donated towards my treatment,

I am thankful for my friend Sharon for starting a fundraising page for me,

I am thankful for the daughter of a friend of the family who decided to pass on having party favours for her confirmation and instead gave the money to me for my treatment,

I am thankful for chocolate croissants,

I am thankful for my favourite TV shows as they keep my night time TV obsession alive,

I am thankful for delicious food that makes me happy,

I am thankful for the peacefulness and tranquility of the cottage,

I am thankful for fall fashion, I mean who doesn’t love boots and pretty sweaters?

I am thankful to all those that work very hard to make things organic and natural,

I am thankful for being able to share my story publicly,

I am thankful that my brain still functions, well at least kind of,

I am thankful for everything that still works on my body,

But most of all, I am thankful to be alive in order to enjoy another Thanksgiving 🙂

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THANK YOU!

Health, love and gratefulness.
xo

Looking for Li Fraumeni Peeps

As many of you know, I have been living with Li Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS). It is a rare genetic cancer disorder that predisposes affected individuals to certain cancers over the course of their lifetime. Many, like myself, will be faced with multiple cancers, some even at the same time. Living with LFS can be frightening and isolating. Since the condition is so rare, it is often difficult to find others who share your story. We are a delightfully unique bunch.

I have been bouncing around ideas in that little head of mine to create a LFS group. I would like to hear from individuals with LFS, their affected families and caregivers if they would be interested in such an adventure. Either an online group or a group that meets in person once every month for those in the Toronto/GTA and surrounding areas. 

You can either comment on my blog or reach out to me privately through the contact page on my blog and we can chat via email.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you.

Health, love and mutated genes.

xo

My Romantic Weekend In Emergency

So for our second anniversary, Garrett and I planned a trip away for the weekend. Instead, we ended up spending the weekend in emergency. Very romantic. I was tied up to bags of IVs and could barely move, people were screaming and shouting in the hallways and someone would show up to poke me for blood every so often. Yes, very romantic indeed.  

How did this craziness come about, you might ask? Well I had a fever the night before of 40.1 and apparently when I went to the clinic Friday morning for my usual treatments, my pulse was too high so the girls suggested I go to my family doctor. I quickly was able to see my family doctor who was also frightened by my pulse. He suggested I go to emergency. There I was thinking, okay people but we really have to speed things up here because I have to get ready to go away tonight. Have some last minute things to throw into my suitcase. I was in for quite the shocker.

I gave up on the weekend when I was admitted to the hospital that day. They set me up on their stretcher bed which was crazy uncomfortable to sleep in. But who am I kidding, who can sleep in emergency anyway without narcotics and being knocked out. I spent two nights in emergency before I was transferred to another floor. I ended up spending ten days in the hospital.

They ran all sorts of tests to determine where the fever and high pulse were coming from. They even shoved something way up my nose to ensure I didn’t have the flu. No flu for me. Seems pretty barbaric though. What was bewildering was that my hemoglobin which had dropped to 76 ended up further dropping to 42 overnight. This is where they figured I was bleeding internally somewhere. But I really didn’t have any symptoms of bleeding or so I thought. When I went to the bathroom my stool was black. And I mean black like tar. For those that are squeamish, sorry. It was one of the most disturbing things I have seen. Anyway, at that point they were considering a gastrointestinal bleed. 

One test I absolutely detest is the endoscopy. Well lucky for me I ended up having 4 of these in 5 days. Apparently the doctor said that was a record for him. He had never scoped the same person 4 times in 5 days. Leave it to me to set the record. They found a blood clot with something at the back of it. The reason to keep shoving this tube down my throat was to determine what was hiding behind the blood clot. Finally, on the fourth time it was determined to be a 4cm polyp hiding out. They thankfully were able to remove the polyp. Just waiting for the results now. The team was great, I must say. Aside from the final scope, they kept me very comfortable. I was essentially knocked out for the first three scopes. I handled the conscious sedation very well. Oh and I also had a colonoscopy while we were at it, go big or go home, right?  My colon was okay. They removed a polyp which was benign. 

The biggest issue with all the scopes was I couldn’t eat. I was on fluids for practically a week. I was starving. When I finally could eat, my throat was killing. Honestly the hospital food was looking very appetizing by that point. And when Garrett bought me a Tim Horton’s croissant, I was in heaven. Although we didn’t enjoy a weekend away, my wonderful mom made cannelloni and brought them to the hospital so Garrett and I could enjoy. 
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Now just when I thought things were settled and the issue was dealt with, we had to deal with the issue of why I was so swollen. Umm perhaps the 4 litres of fluid pumped into me the first day of emergency. I looked like the Goodyear blimp. I thought the floor was thumping when I walked.  Seriously. So this was obviously major fluid retention. However it didn’t quite explain why my left arm and freshly manicured hand were so much larger than my right. Well, to keep things interesting, I ended up with a blood clot in my vein due to a bad IV in that arm. They kept it in too long. Now I am on blood thinners to try to correct the issue. I will be seeing the Thrombosis clinic shortly to determine the anti-coagulant management. What a mess! 

I am just super happy to be home. I thought the longer I remained in hospital, the more they would find issues that needed to be analyzed. I needed to get out of there and just let my body heal. Not to mention sleep for a bit. And to think it all started with a fever.

But for the record, once I am better, that romantic weekend away will happen.

Health, love and emergency rooms.

Xo

Cancer pain. 

Cancer pain manifests itself in various ways. Today I will deal with the physical pain.

The Big C is sometimes referred to as painless, in that you may have some nasty tumor growing inside of you and you don’t even know as there is no pain and there are no symptoms. Now while this holds true in many cases, which can be why cancer is so difficult to detect until it is very late in the game, it is not always the case. 

Sometimes cancer can be very painful. Typically when cancer metastasizes to the bones it can be excruciatingly painful. Additionally some cancers themselves are so large or they may impact tissues and organs in the body, therefore rendering them extremely painful.

I am lucky (which seems to be an interesting choice of words given the multiple cancers) that most of my cancers were not painful nor were they caught too late. I usually found some sort of bump in the early stages. This was both due to my mom and I’s surveillance (literally my mom would periodcally come up to me and molest me just to make sure there were no new bumps) as well as thanks to the screening as a result of the Li Fraumeni. 

However there have been times when cancer was painful for me. When I first found Oscar the Osteosarcoma on my neck I had a small bump as well as the pain of a stiff or pulled muscle. Now I have previously written a post on the negligence of the doctor that visited me, who basically would not order an MRI as it was probably ‘just a stiff neck.’ Yeah whatever lady. Thanks for nothing. Then the bump grew to the point where I almost looked like a two-headed monster and the pain was terrible. I was articling at the time and I couldn’t even hold up my neck by the end of the day. 

Aside from being poked and prodded, and of course the countless cancer surgeries which were no walk in the park, the only other cancer pain I have experienced is with respect to my lungs and the insane lung episodes I have every so often. Just the other night I experienced another one of these episodes.

I have no idea what sparks these or causes them which is frustrating because I have no way to predict when they will occur or more importantly, how to control them. They just show up without warning. When they occur I am pretty much immobilized, I cannot move or breathe. I just take very shallow, short breaths. It literally feels like a truck ran over my chest and crushed every bone on the left side of my chest as well as collapsed my left lung. It’s excruciating pain on the left side while the right side remains unaffected. They usually last a couple of hours before the pain begins to subside. And lately they are lasting longer and longer. No one seems to know what exactly causes them. The only theory suggested is perhaps the tumor on the lining of the lung is growing. 

During these episodes, given that I cannot move or breathe, I think to myself that I will try meditatating the pain away. Not so easy to meditate when you cannot really breathe. Our breath is kinda crucial to meditative states. I also think of the philosophy where you imagine yourself well and send healing energy to the affected area. Yeah, also not genius in the midst of one of these spasms. So then my mind naturally wonders to that dark place. Where all I can think of is “holy shit this hurts.” “Please show me the jackass who thinks pain is an illusion controlled by our mind because I need to beat this person senselessly, till he feels the pain of course.” 

When I slowly begin to regain a touch of movement so that it doesn’t feel like all of my bones are shattered and I can take more shallow breaths than I could an hour ago, I leave my dark place and try to rest or hopefully fall asleep. Unfortunately these episodes last a very long time and take days before you feel real improvement. And the last two episodes seem to have left a lasting impact as they never really disappeared altogether. When I take deep breaths in I can still feel a soreness or pain in my left lung. But I will take this over having more frequent episodes, that’s for sure.

So there you have it, cancer can and does hurt. And it can be much worse than what I have experienced. And sometimes it doesn’t hurt. So ladies get your boobies checked, men get your junk checked too!  And seriously whoever tells you that the pain isn’t really there needs a good ass-kicking to set things straight. 

Till next time guys.

Health, love and getting through the night pain free.

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Date night.


xo

Introducing Wanda

When people think about hair loss associated with cancer treatment they think of chemotherapy. People don’t generally make the association between hair loss and radiation treatment. And this assumption is mainly true as radiation treatment to your breasts or leg for example would not cause the hair on your head to fall out. However, it would cause hair loss in the area radiated. And therefore this is why individuals that undergo radiation to the brain will inevitably lose the hair on their head. 

I have now lost my hair twice over the course of my life as a result of cancer treatments. At the age of 3 due to chemotherapy treatments and most recently now due to the whole brain radiation that I underwent in April. 

It sucked then and it sucks now. 

Although it is much more difficult as we grow older. We are so much more attached to our hair and our appearance. Or perhaps I just had an unhealthy obsession with my hair. I loved my hair. It was long, shiny and super healthy. 

For whole brain radiation they say that the week following your last treatment your hair will begin to fall out, and that it takes about five days or so for it to completely fall out. Well, me being the exception to every rule, mine took over 3 weeks to fall out and some hair at the back of my head never actually fell out. I guess my hair is just as stubborn as me in the sense that it keeps fighting and refusing to die. 

I had quite the comb over though.

I went through various hair phases actually, anything ranging from looking like a scary white supremacist to a cute little old man with a little hair at the back and some fuzzies on the sides, and of course, the infamous comb over. Now I am at the point where there are lots of fuzzies on my head.

I guess these hairstyles helped to lighten the mood a bit. Additionally they also helped to show me that I might actually rock a pixie cut. Who woulda thought?

To be honest it was tough to see the hair fall out especially since it took so long in my case. However, I have to say that the worst part was the first time I put on my wig. I thought this was going to be fun and make things a little more normal. Instead, it felt anything but normal. 

It was this mop on my head. It felt like a foreign object each time I put it on. Very unnatural. Just looking at it made me upset. What made it worse is that I didn’t feel comfortable touching it or moving it. I was terrified of someone noticing it was a wig or having it fall off my head to end up looking like road kill on the side of the road or something. Plus in order for it to fit properly so that I wouldn’t feel like it was going to fall off, it had to be on the tightest setting. So it was squeezing the heck out of my head. And the absolute worst part is that the wig itself is beautiful. Virgin human hair in all its glory. This made me feel so guilty because I hated wearing it. Bottom line: it isn’t my hair. 

When I am home I typically keep the head bare in order to let the scalp breathe or sometimes I wear a little hat or headscarf. I only put the wig on when I leave the house to go somewhere other than Princess Margaret Hospital.

Well this past weekend I had my cousin’s wedding and although I haven’t really been going out, I did want to be at her wedding.

So I decided that I needed to make the wig my friend. And what better way to do that than giving the wig a name. You all know how much I love naming things, right? So I introduced Wanda to the world.

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Everyone cannot seem to get over how similar the colour is to my natural hair. And I think the more you wear it, the more comfortable you become in it. But it still feels weird.

I am not sure if others undergoing cancer treatments can relate to this, but for some strange reason every time I put Wanda on, I become filled with this overwhelming urge to tell everyone I see (including complete strangers) that I am wearing a wig. No clue why this happens. It’s almost as if I need to find ways to throw in that I am wearing a wig into normal conversations.

Random sales lady: “It’s been so hot outside lately, hasn’t it?”

Me: “Yeah I know. Really makes the wig I am wearing on my head right now feel very warm. You see this wig, right here on my head. Yeah that’s the one.”

This can get uncomfortable for some.

We will see how the hair will grow in. It could grow in a different colour or texture. It can also grow in sparse, in patches or with bald spots. I will be taking tons of vitamins to help strengthen the follicles, but in the end, anything can happen. I will aim to give you guys an update and some visuals on the growth process. Stay tuned!

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Health, love and baldness.
xo