Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lists, Bargains and Busy

 As someone who now has to fit 14 days worth of life stuff into 7 I am busy on my good week.  I still have Dr appts and such, but I am fitting in so much more.  I am so lucky where we live the pandemic is not quite as serious or I would likely be self-isolating.  But I am choosing not to, instead of being ultra-careful and having no one into my home.  I am going to quieter stores, masked up, run in, get what I need, get out. Much like the start of the pandemic.  This makes me feel "normal".  I also get to help out hubby a lot more than I will when/if I get surgery for a long time.  This week:

-We had takeout from a water side food shack.  This was our view as we ate of the Comox estuary.  It didn't suck.  While we were sitting there eating we watched a heron fishing for supper, 2 eagles fishing, and a large seal that was also fishing for supper just mosey on by a few feet from the waters edge.  I am so glad we moved here when we did and get to live in this paradise every day.  It isn't perfect (no where is) but we live a very nice life here and it gives me peace to look at this.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ghoulies

 


This scene is at the end of our street - hubby walked Buddy this week and took the picture.  Someone obviously loves Halloween.   I have no idea where they got the gigantic skeleton but it looks pretty great.  Last year someone at the same house sat dressed as a mummy bride and scared trick or treaters.  We won't be doing Halloween this year, not because we don't support it but because we can't have people coming to our house with our situation.  Buddy will be much relieved as he truly hates everyone ringing the door bell for candy every hour or so.  I think a lot of people will be doing home parties for their families this year.  Last year we only had 28 trick or treaters and the year before 50.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

An Update

 When I issued my last post I thought it was my last.  But I miss my blog friends and all the wonderful messages they have been trying to get through to me so feel I owe everyone an update.  I may occasionally post a blog here and there as life continues on - even though much different than before.  

I found out my diagnosis July 10th.  They established early on that they felt they had a good shot at removing my tumor with surgery and I was referred to one of the very best surgeons in Vancouver.  He specializes in lung transplants and pancreatic tumor surgeries.  At the same time my gallbladder which had flagged all of this needed to come out.  Surgery was scheduled for August 14th.  As this is considered critical illness hubby was allowed to visit in the hospital of which I spent 3 nights.  The night before we sat in a hotel room preparing ourselves mentally and received a call from the surgeon - due to the CT scan just a couple of days before it looked like the tumor was too close to a vein to proceed.  Instead of doing major surgery they proceeded with removing my gallbladder and did a biopsy on the tumor to confirm the cancer.

On my 51st birthday I found out that yes indeed it was cancer as we had all believed.  September 1 I had my first chemo treatment.  I get it every two weeks and I go for a full 8 hours and then have a bottle on IV I take hope for 2 more days of treatment.  Not everyone who has chemotherapy has similar treatments.  It is different for every person and every type of cancer.  It turns out that the first chemo bag I get (I get 3 then 1 takehome) I am allergic/hypersensitive to so every day of chemo is now multiple hours of antiallergy meds then chemo then more allergy shots as more issues come up.  This drug is the very best drug for shrinking my tumor so we continue on.  The hope is that by the end of November we can do surgery to remove it and surrounding tissue and possibly my spleen as it shares the same blood vessels as the pancreas.  As it stands right now they think it has not spread and I have a very good chance at living many more years if we can do surgery.  Not as good if we can't.  Only 10-15 percent of people with pancreatic cancer qualify for surgery.  You have to be healthy enough to withstand both the surgery which is major surgery and chemo.  If I do get surgery then I have another 3 months of chemo afterward.

Nothing has gone to plan exactly here(always day to day with cancer) but I do feel I have the very best team of surgeons, oncologists, and nurses taking care of me.  Some appointments are done by phone thanks to Covid (a plus in my books) and some in person.  Every time after chemo I lose about 5-6 days then I perk up and have about 8 good days where hubby and I try to live our lives to the fullest.  Yes, I am tired but I am relatively healthy and now can eat a lot more without my nasty gallbladder which was apparently blocked with a really large stone.  I've just gone through my 3rd treatment and will have 2-3 more before a decision and more ct scans will be made regarding surgery.

My husband has been the most wonderful man in the world.  We already had a really great relationship and this has brought us even closer together if that is even possible.  He truly is the kindest and loving/caring man and takes really good care of me on those days when I need it.  We just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and we are both hoping for more wonderful years together. 

Buddy has also been my little hairy rockstar - those days when I am in bed after chemo he doesn't leave my side.  Only when he understands I am feeling better he turns into his normal fun playful self.  Thank goodness for these two, they truly let me keep my sanity.


One thing I am ever so grateful for is that we got to see 3 of our 4 kids in June - something that is now not possible due to exposure and my lack of an immune system for likely 6 months.  The second you have your first treatment you become immune-compromised overnight.  One day at a time is all we can plan right now but we communicate with them very regularly and they are all very supportive of me. 

We are still running our company but only with existing customers, not new ones.  Strange to turn down business but new clients would be impossible at this time and our existing customers are flexible and understand what is going on.  Luckily financially we can retire anytime but the company does give hubby something to do other than worry about me and without new clients to onboard my work is much less and can be done when I feel good.  While all of my actual care is taken care of through our free healthcare we are still spending about $500 a month on medications for after chemo (mostly anti-nausea drugs that work very well, thank goodness).  All of our planning and saving has paid off but I really don't know how people with debt/COVID loss of income/no savings do it.  There is some financial relief for these pills called Pharmacare in BC depending on your income.  We don't currently qualify but may next year with reduced salaries this year.  In the meantime we are fine.

Oddly I still have kept my hair after 3 treatments.  It is thinning and has slightly changed colour to reddish-brown.  Apparently, the drugs I am on aren't as harsh on the scalp as some (most breast cancer drugs take your hair right away).  I am trying to be super delicate with it as my scalp is itchy and I have been adding oil treatments and only washing it every couple of days with baby shampoo.  I am fine if I lose it but for now, it is nice that it has stayed after a full month of treatment.

We spend a lot of time with Mom and try to have her for supper at least once a week.  My first round I couldn't drive as an anti-nausea medication was making me dizzy but I cut back on that and could drive the second week after chemo so have been able to spend more time with her getting groceries etc.  I am limiting my exposure to the public by ordering groceries online but can still act as taxi for Mom and hubby picks up whatever we can't get by ordering online including many trips to the pharmacy.

We have taken more selfies lately as we try and get out to the ocean at least once every two weeks.  Here are some of those:


The first two were taken in August at the beach with Buddy - before my operation.



A shot of Buddy on one of our walks last weeks.  The gigantic maple leaves are falling.  Buddy weighs 15 lbs - Vancouver Island holds the record for largest maple leaves in the world.  These are medium sized ones compared to some on the island.
On Monday we went to the beach - the day before round 3 of chemo started.  Yes, we have bags upon bags under our eyes now (it's as hard on hubby as me) but we are still trying to do our best to live our life together.  


We had a lot of smoke from the fires from California, Oregon, and Washington a few weeks ago but then had wind and rain and most left.  Unfortunately, the day after we took these shots it has come back.  

Anyway, thank you all for your sweet thoughts of me and I will try and keep future updates every few weeks.  I still may occasionally comment on your blogs (yes I am still reading them) but sometimes I just don't have the willpower or know what to say.  So at this point - stay safe, wear a mask,  be sure to get out and vote (and remove the orange maniac from the Presidency) and live your life to the fullest each day.  As they say, YOLO - you only live once.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Final Post

We came back from the funeral and received some difficult news about my health.  Apparently after an ultrasound and a CT scan it has been determined that I have pancreatic cancer.  There will be an emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder and a spot on my pancreas but in all likelihood they will then determine how much time I've got.  I am taking this healthcare fight private.  To all my blogging friends, I may still read your blogs but please forgive me if I don't comment, I am just numb and have no more words left.  Hugs to all and please, stay safe.  Life is worth living.  I have been blessed with a full and wonderful life, a sweet husband, a family who loves me and a sweet dog who is my constant companion.  Can anyone really ask for anything more?   I am not permitting comments on this post but would just ask that you keep me in your prayers if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Blogging Break

Hubby was 3 hours away from home waiting for the ferry when he got the call.  His Mom passed.  No one actually expected her to pass so soon.  So right now we are organizing our life to leave again on Friday to make the 2 day journey back to Alberta to lay her to rest in a private immediate family only funeral.  We certainly never expected to be traveling in a pandemic but it is what it is.  We will wear our masks to protect others and ourselves and be ultra careful.  We are returning a week from today home but will need some time to get life back in order.  Back in 2 weeks.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Success



Just a quick update.  After raining every day almost all day for many days in a row and all morning before hubby's intended final visit to his Mom who has Alzheimers and is in a care home in Alberta, the skies quit pouring and he and his brother had a very peaceful nice visit with their Mom.  The home had asked them to come in fear that due to Covid and the fact that she is declining they would not get another chance to see her after this due to no inside visits being permitted.  She was very agitated as they were wheeling her into the courtyard for the visit.  As soon as they started talking to her she quieted and just sat there peacefully for the entire hour.  It was what everyone needed and wanted.  Hubby is so very glad he made the trip and the weather finally cooperated so the visit could take place as if it was raining it would have been cancelled and he would have had to extend his stay or not visit at all.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

All About The Raspberries




Yesterday was a good day.  It was almost like old normal - and I needed it.  Hubby has now made it to Alberta and today is trying to visit his Mom and the kids subject to lousy weather.  We are all hoping for the best.  He was good about texting me every time he stopped somewhere along the way so I wouldn't worry about him.  

Friday, June 26, 2020

This and That



Well, hubby left on his 3000 km to Alberta(there and back) road trip at 7am this morning.  I hate that he is driving so far by himself and I hate being away from him for five days.  I used to rejoice when he had to go away for a few days on a business trip as I got some alone time, but now after being constantly together for 3 months I hate it.  The Province did go into phase 3 of our reopening plan which includes the allowance for people to vacation/travel within our own Province.  He would have gone anyway as saying goodbye to your Mother qualifies as essential travel which was still permitted.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

All The Planning

I hate having workmen at our house - it drives me bananas.  Yesterday we had more workmen at the house, this time removing moss from many wet winters from our roof.  We have no large trees around our house and yet the moss still grows.  We've never had it cleaned and if we didn't get to this maintenance job, a reroof would be likely much sooner.  It cost $785 to have this done.  We likely could have done it ourselves but there is no way either one of us is going on the roof in a pandemic.  This is one time where you just pay people to do it.  They scraped off the moss, cleaned the gutters, sprayed, and have a 2-year guarantee to come back for free if we see anything growing in the next 2 years.  A new asphalt shingle roof costs around $18,000 to $25,000 for our house so prolonging the existing 14-year-old roof is super important.  Other than the moss, it is in good shape.  This was a planned expense although we did underestimate by a couple of hundred the cost.  At least now it is done.  


Friday, June 19, 2020

A Day Out


So yes, we did go kayaking yesterday.  All the stars aligned into good weather, high tide (a must for kayaking the estuary as it is too shallow at low tide), and low wind.  We committed to booking off from work at 1pm and hit the water.