Good-bye, April

That was probably the worst April weather-wise that I’ve ever experienced. The forsythia only started blooming in the last week or so and the magnolias have budded, but not blossomed. I ran into a friend last week and we were talking about this. She said there’s probably a metaphor for our lives in there somewhere, if we cared to figure it out. It would be a depressing metaphor, so I’m not going to give it much thought.

I’m looking forward to May. May is a two-treatments month (if all goes to plan). I have the MothUP anniversary at the end of the month which gives me something fun and distracting to work on. The sun will shine more often. The trees will actually grow leaves. People will go out more, which means I’ll have reasons to go out more. Staying home gives me too much time for brooding and sulking; I need activities outside the house. This isn’t a new revelation, but being house-confined on and off for five months has made it clear just how much I need to be occupied out in the world. I appreciate alone time and home time, but too much of it makes me daffy.

Next week is a chemo week. Since Kailey is headed up to Nunavut, I’m looking for people who might have a couple of hours to spend with me in chemo daycare on Thursday. If you’re available and like fetching things, doing crossword puzzles, and making inappropriate jokes, send me a message and we can make arrangements. I’ll probably do the earlier part of the morning myself because I like to sleep off the Benadryl and I think it’s creepy to sleep in front of awake people, and because I think it’s creepy, I have a hard time sleeping…it’s an awful situation. What isn’t creepy is someone showing up around 11:00 with coffee and a sandwich (caveat: not creepy if I’m expecting you).

And on that note, I’m off to enjoy the sun, eat dinner, pretend to like hockey, and sit by a bonfire in the backyard of a house that’s about to be torn down. Happy last day of April, everyone.

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About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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27 Responses to Good-bye, April

  1. Dawson McKay says:

    I hope you enjoy the bonfire at the condemned house tonight and that your May kicks the crap out of your April.

  2. Allen Mitchell says:

    You think that’s bad? We had snow in the second half of April. In the city. Not just at Big White. Sadly, my grandfather didn’t get to use his snowblower.

    When’s summer coming?

  3. Hi Alicia,
    Just catching up to your blog after seeing your write-up in the Star. I feel the same way about controlling who knows what information. I’m still waiting on the full pathology report after getting a needle biopsy indicating non-Hodgkins, indolent lymphoma. The details of your Second Verse are useful to me, thanks. I’ll try to follow your writing. If you’re interested in poetry, check out my site http://gesturepress.wordpress.com/
    All pre-diagnosis poems!
    all the best,
    Nicholas

  4. David Wilson says:

    Hey Alicia…

    What can I say except cancer sucks.. I know I have been there…

    Keep up the spirits and the communication and if the truth be told the cure is coffee first thing in the morning.. It opens the eyes so you can see the day..

    Good luck..

    David

    PS: thought you might like this.. 42 of us biked across Canada in September to raise money for kids cancer.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8coLtAk36k

  5. 2y4c says:

    Hiya Alicia;
    I’m an endometrial cancer survivor and run a Young Adult cancer support group in SW Ontario; we have meetups, pub nights and other fun things to say ‘cancer be damned; we’ll have fun anyway!’
    Feel free to join us when you’re up for it :).
    Take care!
    ~ Tara šŸ™‚

  6. Wayne Chan says:

    Hi Alicia,

    Like many others, I found my way here through the Toronto Star article. Just wanted to wish you all the best.

    On a related note, I agree about the weather. I am sorely disappointed in the effort put forth by April. I would demand a refund except there was no payment made.

  7. Barbara says:

    Alicia, I heard about your blog through the Toronto Star. I haven’t read all of your posts, but did see where your cancer has come back in the peritoneal lining. Has anyone mentioned cytoreduction surgery and HIPEC to you? It is used for both appendiceal and ovarian cancer, slow growing, low grade, that has spread to the abdomen. I don’t know anything about your pathology, but this is something you might want to research. I had appendix cancer, low grade, Stage 4, not in the lymph nodes, spread to the diaphragm, omentum, etc., and this is the surgery I had. I had to go to Roswell Park in Buffalo for my surgery – the Toronto expertise is at Mount Sinai. There are yahoo groups that have a lot of information on this, including how pseudomyxoma peritonei is often misdiagnosed and mistreated as ovarian.

    • Alicia says:

      I had optimal cytoreductive surgery, but IP chemo or HIPEC isn’t really an option that makes sense for me to pursue at this point given that the tumor load was low and optimally debulked, and because my initial response to chemo was so good. Best to stick with the least invasive treatments for now. My pathology is a mid-grade serous papillary epithelial ovarian cancer. I know people who have had IP chemo in Canada, but they had much more advanced disease than me; likewise with the women in the U.S. I know who’ve had HIPEC.

  8. Jane Bruce says:

    Hi Alicia,
    Read your last post and had to respond from Calgary, Alberta my husband and I are looking at acreages (on my bucket list to OWN one) so that my horse (he was on my bucket list too) can come and live with us rather than me driving all over god’s green earth to get to him…and when we headed south at 11:00 am in the morning the sun was shining, the birds were singing, life was a pretty little thing…then at 11:35 we hit a blizzard. And I mean a blizzard. Complete white out. Waited for ten minutes and drove in about 3 cm of snow to our final destination. Went inside to view the house and came out to a rain shower. Five minutes later the sun came out. Fifteen minutes later had to turn on the air conditioning. So my dear, for us, SPRING HAS ARRIVED.
    :~)

  9. Cheryl says:

    Hi Alicia,

    I found your blog by way of the Toronto Star and it’s absolutely amazing. After reading your entries, I get the feeling that you might shy away from this kind of praise but I think that blogging is an important communication tool and I applaud all that you’ve done here.

    As someone who has been touched by cancer and who works – in a roundabout, once-removed kind of way – in the field of oncology, I’ve taken a special interest in your site. I’ve bookmarked it and will be visiting again.

    And now a bit about me: I do PR for a medical publishing company; our flagship journal being Current Oncology. We’re trying to create a special website dedicated to cancer patients, revolving around the theme of “life after cancer.” If you feel up to it, I would welcome your participation in this project. Please do email me if you’d like to learn more. I sincerely hope to hear from you.

    Thanks — and all the best to you and yours.

    – C

    • David Wilson says:

      Hey Cheryl

      Looks like you are in the GTA area.. I do a lot of volunteer work and fund raising for pediatric cancer… I am also a survivor.. I can introduce you to some incredible kids and their families that might be great for your web site.. david@wilwoods.com

    • Alicia says:

      Hi Cheryl, I’d be happy to learn more about the website. I’ll send you an email in the next couple of days. Feel free to follow up with me if you haven’t heard from me by the end of the week.

  10. susyguidolin says:

    Hey Alicia,

    Most recent favourite t-shirt caption: Of course they’re fake. My real ones tried to kill me.

    Happy Second of May.

  11. Linda says:

    I love your blog. I too found it after the Star article, which I read at Princess Margaret while waiting for my most recent CT scan. I suspect my cancer has “woken up”. I have endometrial cancer and had the exact same chemo routine last spring/summer and went into partial remission. We may have seen some of the same docs in the Gynie clinic.

    You have captured the experience so well – thank you for sharing with the world. I write a daily email journal and email it to some friends and family, but you are brave exposing yourelf to the universe. Thank you, thank you. It validates exactly some of the same feelings I have had but have not been able to verbalize. I am looking forward to your next postings.

    Oh, my favourite T-Shirt sighting was “my oncologist does my hair”

    Linda B.

    • Alicia says:

      Are your doctors in gynie north or gynie south? I’m seen in the gynie south clinic (usually).

      • Linda says:

        it depends whether I have a morning or afternoon appointment. I usually go Tuesdays or Thursdays. Mornings in North, afternoons in South. But tomorrow aft (Wed) I am seeing another doc for CT scan results – initals S F. I have seen her before, and will see her in Gynie North.

  12. Lynda says:

    Hey Alicia
    Heard about your blog at The Star, and I think you are so very brave to put yourself OUTTHERE! I wish I had been as brave as you. So many times I was down, sad, pissed off, moody. Yes- I also got sick of hearing that I should be postive. Whatever!!! I felt like telling those people to do a round of chemo with me and then they can tell me all about it and their positive attitude~ My sister in law would actually count the days after my chemo and call to tell me that I SHOULD feel better already!!! If it was not for feeling pukish and tired, and the fact that I have to have this person in my life, I would have said so much more! I applaud you. You have courage that I never had the guts to embrace. I’ll tell you a bit about me. I am 43 year old mom of 2 boys who are 7 and 2, and was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer early in 2010. Everyone asks how I found out….can you beleive it was a routine checkup? I figured I should get a physical after being home on maternity leave and since I was due back at work soon. My doc decided I should do a mammo. They called me back for a retake because they saw calcifications in the right breast. Fine needle biopsy showed atypical cells. Second biopsy was more like a lumpectomy, and I was told I had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ…basically a bunch of abnormal cells that could become cancer. The 3rd biopsy left me very lopsided, but came back with a spot of cancerous tissue…but more of those dang DCIS cells…without clear margins they could not start treatment, so I was told the best thing was to remove the breast. I felt like I was on a slow moving bus that suddenly went out of control. I made the decision to remove the left as well, and had immediate reconstruction….BAD IDEA. Two bouts of infections and the tissue expanders had to be removed in May. My 6 rounds of chemo started in June 2010, every 3 weeks. Never felt so horrible in my life- they gave me injections ($$$) to boost my white cells, and made me ache terribly. More infections landed me in the hospital 2 more times, and they finally figured out to pull out my PICC Line. I spent summer 2010 cooped up inside. I did not want to be out in the heat because of the nausea, baldness, and hot wig. I just had no enthusiasm for anything. In late 2010 they did follow up on thyroid nodules they had spotted in routine CT scan prior to chemo. They never jumped on it, as they said it was not pressing. had to wait a couple of weeks to see an Endicrinologist, who then ordered a Thyroid Ultrasound, which lead to the discovery of more nodules, and then 2 needle biopsies in Feb 2011. Results? You guessed it! 80% chance cancer. Here I was, almost 1 year since my nightmare started, and the bus was out of control again. Thyroid was removed a few weeks ago. They did not order thyroid meds since they want to find out the results in case I need to take a radioactive iodine pill. They thyroid helps your body absorb calcium, which without, you are left with tingling in your face, hands/legs, muscle spasms…who knew? They sent me home with a prescription vitamin D, and told to take 1gm of calcium 3x day. Fun. Well, I just heard back from the surgeon a couple of nights ago. he told me Great News..there was no cancer!!! I was silent…happy, but my first thought was…You took out my thyroid for nothing? Well he explained that its a funny gland that you really need to dissect in full to really determine if there is cancer. The biopsy did come back with 80% possibility so it could not be left alone, especially with by breast cancer history. So now I am left with a scar on my neck, and hair that is not long enough to hide behind. I may sound vain, but its such a visible thing. I see a psychologist for counselling….and frankly I still feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am grateful that there is nothing new to worry about, but I am always wondering if they got it all, has anything travelled to my lymph nodes (never removed).

    I look forward to reading more of your blog, and I cheer you on in your battle. Sorry for the long winded story, but I just wanted to share a bit of me. Keep on fighting the fight Alicia!!!

  13. browngrl says:

    Hi,
    I found your blog via the Toronto Star. I’ve read all your posts and I thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading more. Hope May is nicer to you than April.

  14. Des Young says:

    Alicia,
    I applaud and salute your effort and strength sharing your story with the world. Like everyone else, I came across your blog through the Star. I too shared the battle my wife and I went through recently with her Liver Cancer, in a series of email updates to friends and family so I am aware first hand what you are dealing with. That said, Sue and I were there for each other until the end and sadly, you seem to be toughing this out alone, which is beyond unfair. Send me an email when you get a second if you like. I will continue following your story and cheering for you!

  15. Gabrielle says:

    I read your blog. You are inspiring and courageous and real. And a wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. George says:

    Alicia,
    I admire your good spirit in the face of such adversity. I don’t think I laughed once during my year of cancer treatment.
    The best advice anyone gave me was to focus on what I could control. What can I do to make the best of this situation? I think it helped. I got out for a walk almost every day, ate as well as I could, and so on. I also spent a lot of time making plans for what I would do at the end of treatment.
    I think you should cultivate your writing. I think you may have a talent for humour. I recommend David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. He’s hilarious and has a similar sense of humour in describing his experiences. Here’s a link to a funny video of him on Letterman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBdymtyXt8Y
    Best of luck! Try to keep that sense of humour!

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