Monday, June 30, 2014

Yeah baby yeah

Today, once the eternal rain stopped for a while, with my doctor's blessing I began my couch to 5K running program. I found a great free app for a running program for my phone that I tried out today and it worked so well. You can listen to whatever music you want to and the app tells you when to walk and run and times out the workout for you. It has a warm up and cool down built in too. Makes it foolproof for 3 weekly runs, with you running 5K by the end of 8 weeks. It is just the kinda thing I need so I can just concentrate on movement and how it feels and not stare at my watch all the time. That is so much of what I loved about running, and I am hoping that my body lets me stick with it. I hope to be back to running 5K 3 times a week by the fall. If I need to add in more weeks to get there that is fine with me...just being able to be more active and regain my fitness is what I'm really going for here.
sweaty me after 
So, yes, today I found myself out on the trail by the river today. It went really well. I blasted out some of my favourite dance music to keep me going. I didn't find it too hard -I was surprised at that. The starting "run 60 seconds walk 90 seconds" interval times were doable for me and...well... I was just so damn happy to be outside, being active and feeling, for the first time since before the snow fell last year, that just maybe this whole cancer thing HAS been beaten and I get my life back. On my terms.
It's been so long living with just dealing with what my body can cope with...to be able to feel good enough to push my body again to sweat a bit and feel alive?
Glorious.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I heart my foob

I had a stellar review from my surgeon today. I am healing up so well. I have hardly any redness from my rads either and I am already 56%done them, so I am well on the mend! I have the go ahead to do normal stuff now and (yay!) jog, so I may get some new trainers and do that starting next week...and gasp my way back to running and start a couch to 5k program. Of course this means I now have lots of chores to catch up on, but with my arm sleeve I should be able to ease into life (!!!) again.
Squee.

I also got my foob this week....and man, i can wear anything again. I honestly didn't mind being monoboob, but some clothes just do NOT fit right with only one mammary going on down there. I can wear a bra again after months of sports bras...it's pretty sweet. My hair is well into golden retriever stage, with a good 1/2 inch of fluff, so I hope to get a haircut next month and ditch the hats, and go for a punky haircut. 

But now? Now I'm off to make some supper and head out to a few Jazz Festival shows this weekend. Delhi to Dublin and Five Alarm Funk. Music heals the soul (and a bit of dancing doesn't hurt either!)

Have a wonderful weekend my good peeps! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Someone left the cake out in the rain...

It's (another) rainy day. It's been the summer of rain here. It's getting downright soggy.

I am baking my brudder his birthday cake for his birthday party tonight. It has to be gluten free and dairy free and I'm up to the challenge. He requested banana something so I dug out the old Joy of Cooking and am adapting their yummy banana cake recipe. It's a delicious cake and should be moist enough to convert over to gluten free (gluten free flour mix, guar gum and an adjustment of the flour and leavening amounts). I found dairy free "cream cheese" too, so I can make some "cream cheese" (ish)  icing and put some slices of banana between the 2 layers and doll it all up.
Should be tasty!

Later: it was :)


Friday, June 20, 2014

hugga mugga

I loves me my coffee. In university I was a baker and night manager at a local coffee place where I not only learned the fine art of perfect scones and cheesecake baking, but I got hooked on fresh delicious coffee. This place had it's own roaster and brought in beans from around the world - and I had access to the best, delicious coffee in town. From all this, I have discovered my own favourite coffee types and roasts (med roast sumatra mandeling and french roast everything else). I've decided that nothing tastes better than a nice single americano with a bit of heavy cream...a good strong cuppa quality joe doesn't need sugar.
my fave mug made by my lovely friend Toni

Last year, before I was diagnosed with the big C and was going through a lot of tests, I was encouraged by my doc to cut back from my grad study levels of caffeination (upwards of 10 cups a day...my bad) and reduce it down as low as I could. Not only does caffeination cause mammograms to hurt more, but it was just too damn much caffeine. It was a rather hellish few weeks cutting out caffeine and now, other than the odd cup of green tea I do my best to stay decaffeinated. I just don't need it anymore. I find it funny I used to be able to drink an espresso and go to bed and sleep like a rock because now more than a cup of it actually makes me jittery and high strung. Since I started taking tamoxifen post surgery I can't sleep well anyways- I don't need caffeine helping me stay up.

With my love of good coffee, despite my chemo demented taste buds, I set out on a quest for good decaf. This was a harder thing than I first thought. Not only did it have to be swiss water decaf to ensure I wasn't sucking up any chemicals, but I've gotta say - there is a lot of sh*tty decaf out there. Adding insult to injury, if you go out for dinner, often the decaf pot has been brewed and sat there all day until you arrived or they just dump a packet of stale instant into some hot water for you.
Oh the humanity.
Luckily for me there is a gem of a local place in my home town that roasts and sells it's own coffees, and they have 10 (yup 10! Squee!) kinds of decaf. They've been here over 20 years and have a WALL of teas of every variety too (including decaf) along with a bunch of scrummy syrups. It is my new mecca. My last trip there this week has led me to a lovely french roasted decaf (which I am sipping happily right now) as well as an island strawberry green tea, which I sipped on my walk in the sunshine yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed. Now that my taste buds have returned, and I drink coffee for the taste of it, I have declared that they will no longer be subjected to crappy coffee!

It's the little things. It really is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So grateful

I am so grateful for my job. Not only do I love it, but it has helped look after me. I have been able to stay home on disability and get well without worrying about work. Also, anything major I have needed to deal with this whole cancer rollercoaster that wasn't covered by our provincial health care has been covered by my work health benefits to a reasonable amount as well. A few wigs were covered and, while checking with them today, I just learned that they will pay the cost of my foob (fake boob...oh, sorry, "mammary prosthesis") and a few mastectomy bras I will need until I can have my reconstruction late next year. They will even cover the compression sleeve I will now need to wear on my right arm sometimes. When I return to work I have help towards finding a personal trainer/ physical therapist to rebuild my strength too.
So grateful right now. Feeling so blessed. :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Galaxy

For the next 5 weeks I get to get a head start on revealing my superpowers. I'm getting a daily dose of computer-targeted, carefully dosed and focused radiation treatments. The idea is to make sure that any little specks of evil left will be decimated by....SCIENCE! (*whoosh!*)
Where I live, in the lower level of the cancer clinic, there is a radiation therapy centre, with 3 radiation wards. I am in the hands of the lucky people in the "Galaxy" treatment ward. 
The sign the staff made for the ward. It has a little dangly moon. I love these people!


Everyone there has been incredibly kind and helpful and gotten me started on this trek to the end of my (yay!!) treatment. I have 25 treatments in total and with any luck I shouldn't have too many side effects to deal with. Mainly you get (surprise surprise) a sunburn and tiredness. After chemo I'm thinking things will be pretty decent overall to deal with...

I know when I wanted to know more about my radiation therapy I found there wasn't a lot of information about just what happened while you had it done, so I thought I'd write a bit about it and post a picture or two, in the hopes that someone might find this before their treatment and help them know more about what they were in for and help them be calm about what was to come (hello!). Ready freddy? OK.

Once you're healed up from your chemo and surgery (or maybe, lucky you, there wasn't chemo), a few weeks before you have your treatments start, the radiologist will take a CT scan of your chest and head with you lying on your back with your hands up above your head so they can look at where your lymph nodes hang out under your arms. If you're like me and you had your nodes removed, they will be zapping there as well as your chest. To make sure they don't hit other areas that they don't want to with radiation they use the  CT images to map out your treatments with a computer. They also gave me a few dot tattoos to use as markers for treatment. I have one under each arm on my side in line with my brastrap and one right between my breasts  (OK...breast...I had a mastectomy). Don't panic when they say tattoo-I did...I didn't know they were happening, and after everything else I was a bit miffed at yet more pokes and prods...but really it's all good. The tattoos look like a little mole or freckle. And they need them to give you the best treatment possible, so they have to be done.

When you go in to get your treatment you'll put on a sexy hospital shirt and meet your awesome team. For your first treatment they will spend extra time to get everything mapped out for the rest of your treatments. I was told to lie down on the bed of this big machine, with my chest below the big round part (and if you're lucky, there'll be pictures of cute men and animals taped to the unit to look at while you're down there like where I am treated...! ). You put your arms above your head and hold onto the white posts with your hands so you can be comfy and stable.
the Galaxy machine

To start it all they used my lovely tattoo dots to line me up in an exact position, with the dots matching up to laser cross hairs from the machine that are projected onto you. Then, they took an X-ray to make sure I was in position and all my inner bits are in precise position like the computer mapping so that the only parts that get zapped are the parts they are aiming for.  When they're happy with everything, they give you one final tattoo dot on the top of the area of where your tumour/breast used to be and finally with all that they are able to start up their machine for this and all of the rest of your treatments. (and yep -all these dots would be covered by a bikini top, so honest, it's all good).

The treatment itself is easy peasy -Once you're placed into position, all you need to do is lie very still, try and not move and let the machine spin around you and zap you a few times from precise angles (The machine makes quiet science fiction whirring noises...it's tweedley cool for a science geek like me!). The nice thing is that the treatment itself from start to finish takes about 10-15 minutes. The computer can precisely focus and limit the beam to where it needs to go and then, you're done! Then you get your appointment for the next day and go do something awesome until tomorrow.

As far as what to do to help with skin redness? Well, I've been told to put Glaxall Base lotion (a simple lotion with vitamin E and no other additives) on twice a day in the areas treated. Sadly, It smells like old people (bleh) but it is supposed to help a lot. Apparently coconut oil is a good thing too, but I'll save that for if I need more oomph and listen to my doc for now and not put anything else on the area. There are other prescription creams I could be given to try if I am one of the lucky people who get a more serious sun burn reaction, but for now I can stick to the sexy old lady lotion. I will also continue to try to get in some activity every day to help the coming fatigue and I have to continue the shoulder and arm stretches I was given as a part of mastectomy recovery to ensure that my shoulder heals up as best as it can while being zapped daily. I meet my radiologist once a week if there are any issues, and once I'm done I have more strengthening exercises with weights to start up. Having only had 4 treatments so far I can't say just how irritated my skin will get (everyone is different) but for now, after chemo, this shiz is a breeze. I know I'll get tired, but I can't believe that by mid-July I'll be done this. I'll get to walk down the hall at the cancer centre and ring that glorious brass bell and declare that I am DONE my treatments!!

I can't wait!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food fight!

I have been trying to cook healthy meals full of fresh produce and cancer fighting foods lately. With summer coming and the vegetable fruit season on the the go, it's getting delicious around here. Today I made some great cancer fighting cauliflower soup for lunch. I started with:

1 head cauliflower, diced up
1 onion chopped
3 t minced garlic
1T coconut oil

Sautéed the veggies a few minutes then added 4c of chicken stock and brought it to a boil. Then I added 1 can coconut milk, 4T tumeric, 1T cumin, 1T vegetarian fish sauce and 1 t rosemary and simmered it until everything was cooked through and added pepper and a bit more cumin to taste. Right before I served it I blended some of it and mixed it back in to cream it up a bit. You could thicken it up a bit more with corn starch if you want for more thickness, but I think it's damn tasty as is. It has a nice light flavour. Next time I might toss in some curry.

Cauliflower, coconut, cumin, tumeric, onions, garlic.
Keeping that demon away with a daily dose of the good stuff!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thoughts for today

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” 

--e.e.cummings


“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

--Hugh Laurie

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

--Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, June 6, 2014

Slow and steady

Woo!
I have the go ahead from my physiotherapist to ride my exercise bike (but not my real one since I'd grip too hard and put bouncy tension on my shoulders) and do some leg work, so starting today I am looking forward to 20 minutes on the bike, and doing the first 3 beginner exercises of this workout 3 times a week, along with my physio arm movements. I can work my time up slowly. Until radiation is done I can't run, or do any upper body stuff yet BUT I have a tension band and set of strengthening things from her to do after that that look interesting...but for now, this is a start.
I feel so much better now wirh chemo done I want to get moving a bit. I hope this helps get me going slowly and safely. I miss how I feel when I exercise!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

beautiful eyes



A few days ago I was out seeing a movie (Maleficent -it was amazing) and waiting in the popcorn line. In the lines around me (as usual) some of the children were looking shyly at my lack of facial hair and scarf on my head. Often I'll get asked about it by kids and, honestly, I don't mind most days. That particular day I was feeling a bit mopey and down, but did my best to look them in the face and smile and wait in line patiently and not feel too self conscious.

Then a cute little girl looked at me and walked over and said "you have beautiful eyes!" and smiled and walked back to her dad.

I was gabberflasted. I held back happy tears, smiled and said "thank you sweetie".

And grinned.

Sometimes you expect the same old same old form the world, and it takes a little nudge from it to remind you that there is goodness lurking out there...

Everywhere.





I've got a lot of friends, and they've got beautiful eyes....

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Time

Mumble mumble.
I am put off a nice sunny walk to the library to wait for someone who was stopping by 2 hours ago...sigh.
Luckily I can wait on the deck....so it's not all bad!
I am sitting out here rubbing my peach head and trying to think of ways to amuse myself that are ok to be interrupted...which is harder than one might think. Hence this blog post...which I imagine isn't the most exciting post to come off my fingers, but hey, that's 10 whole minutes wasted by now.
Hmmm.
Now what?