Saturday, 15 October 2011

Just some day-to-day stuff

As I originally promised in my first blog entry, this is to be about common Day to Day things.  I never knew that it would become a medical journal. With any luck, this will be my last medical-related blog entry.
About two weeks ago, I went "girl shopping" with my dear friend Louisa.  We went up to London to visit "Just Between Friends", a shop that carries under-things for ladies who are current and former cancer patients. (As well as bras for extra well endowed ladies). They carry a wonderful line of wigs, nice hats and mastectomy bras. Thanks to John's insurance coverage, and OHIP coverage, I am now looking like I looked back in March before all this started. (I'm keeping this brief because of the number of gentlemen friends who read my blog - sorry guys)
Over the few weeks, we have been time travelling. The first weekend of October we took part in a War of 1812 Education day, and Saturday/Sunday was the public event at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. As expected, the weather decided to be part rain and lots of cold. Pooka came along with us on Saturday and served as ambassador. John decided both day to stay in town instead of the long hike for the dam battle, and "guard" the town.  He stood on the main corner and greeted visitors to the Village and gave information, directions, and talked about the period and his uniform and especially the musket.
I also got to a "first-time" of my own. My friend Sue Spencer, owner of Spencer's Merchantile, had a meeting on Saturday afternoon, and gave me the opportunity to watch her shop as a part-time volunteer. It was fun experiencing life as a merchant.  (Any time you need more help - just yell)
At the end of the merchant stands, Katie and I are in the grey capes with  Pooka  making friends.

This is John on "his" corner visiting with Katie and Pooka

John on duty.
Under our awning, Pooka is on top of a storage bin covered with a blanket. He's got a white hunting coat over him. Yes, it was COLD!
Our SCA friend Tyler and his son Thomas joined the unit for the day, staying in camp and acting as a "wounded" soldier.  After the official activities, he, Katie and Robby got in some fencing 1812 style. They got quite a few comments from passing people.

The 17th U. S. Infantry on the firing line.
Tyler (left) and Robby (right) En Guarde

The following weekend, we travelled to 1917 for a World War I education day, again at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Robby was spending the day in the trench as a medic, John was videographer, Katie was the Time Travelling Alchemist Artist, and I was learning a new role - as a presenter of the role of women during the war and on the homefront.  Of course, because this was not the 1812 weekend, it was warm and sunny. I did get my new blouse finished, but I don't have pictures.

Robby as a medic with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

The next day, we were off for Amherstburg (about 2.5 hours away) for a SCA event.  We went from 1917 to 1570s. John took his turn throwing axes and knives, I was on the archery range for the day, and Katie and Robby were fencing. It as a long day, but loads of fun.
Robby and Katie waiting for their turn.

Tyler and Robby again, this time a different era. Note the point of Tyler sword against Robby's neck!
We are now at the end of most of reenacting season. Our next 1812 will be the first weekend of May, WWI ed days are in mid-May, and the SCA has a few events scattered over the winter.
For me - it's heavy duty research and sewing time. I have promised Katie her own fencing armour instead of the loaner set she's using. She also is getting a new jacket that will look like a kimono to go over it. My friend AJ, who is in the middle of a job search, is helping me make a 15th century kirtle and jacket. I have a beautiful piece of blue twill fabric, and a plaid to match for the jacket.  Since it's difficult to find a proper pattern, she's going to help/teach me to make a pattern from scratch.  It will be a wonderful winter project for us.

The center piece is what I'm going to be making.

In the meantime, life is going on.  Most of my blogs will contain some more common things.  Feel free to comment if you want.

In the meantime - we'll take things DAY BY DAY.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

And the newest report is....

It's now been 4 weeks + since my latest surgery, and things seems to be progressing.  I have a 11 inch scar that is healed, but is still tender to the touch. This seems to be "normal" (don't cha just hate that phrase!)
Last Thursday (Sept 22), I met with an oncologist in London. The short answer is that I am considered low risk for any kind of recurrence (factoring in family history and my lifestyle). I will need NO radiation or chemotherapy.  On the other side, I will need to be very careful about getting my annual mammograms, and will need regularly scheduled bi-annual MRIs of the right side just to have a double check in case something does show up. I go to see Dr Black (the surgeon) on Wednesday for what should be a "see ya" visit.  He's also going to give me a referral for a plastic surgeon. I'm going to go talk to the replacement surgeon, but we'll have to see how that goes.  From what I saw online, that would be two, yes two, more surgeries. Maybe I'll just become good friends with "Been-a-Boob" (YES-that's the name of a prosthetics maker!)

On other fronts - I've been sewing like crazy on two blouses for WWI (1914) for Katie and me.  We're going to be helping with Education Days, i.e. school field trips, where students come and learn about the war. For my friends south of the border, WWI is emphasized in schools in Canada.  That war represents the first time that Canadian forces showed their stuff after Canada became an independent country in 1867.
So for the next few weekends Clan Goldsworthy will be time travellers. This coming weekend, we're taking part in an Education Day on Friday and a public event on Saturday and Sunday for War of 1812. John and Robby will be ambushing grade 7/8 students in the woods, Katie will step out of her TARDIS to photograph the day, and I will be representing Canadian heroine Laura Secord. (Don't ask-just hit google!)
The following weekend, we'll be in 1914 on Friday, then mid 1500s on Satuday.
Sunday is church, then Thanksgiving dinner. Monday - quiet family day!

We're still waiting on Immigrations Canada to send for our passports for our visas. When that happens, we take a quick shopping trip across the border and come back as permanent residents.

For Susan and Wendy - I got in a trip to Ikea with my friend A.J. We had a wonderful time shopping for her new, and empty, apartment.  My big purchase was a inexpensive but fun curtain for the front window. (see the pictures below).

So for now, life goes on. Even with my health issues settled for now, I'll still try to keep the blog going with reenacting stories and pictures of my various sewing, embroidery, weaving and sewing projects.

This is the front window with the curtain half opened. (notice Pooka in his chair.)

This is the detail. It's very tempting to grab a box of crayons! 

Friday, 26 August 2011

A Day to Celebrate!

We are now at day 8, and I had my follow up with Dr. Black.
We met him in the clinic at the hospital, and while waiting in the exam area, he peeked in and said "I'll be right back. I have good news."
When he came back, he said that all the test had come back negative - no cancer of DCIS cells. After a moment of smiles and laughter, he went on with a further explanation.  It seems that the two spots with suspicious cells were actually very small, and would have been able to be removed with minimal surgery. However, as with this whole experience, nothing was that simple. It seems that the lab found two more separate spots - neither of which was seen on the other diagnostic tests. This means that had I just went with the minimal surgery, these spots would have been left behind.  They would have eventually become the fast-moving, very, very aggressive cancer that he feared. These are the cells that would pop up and spread through my body with very little time to find them and treat them.  (i.e. - the person who is diagnosed with cancer and given 3 months to live) YIKES!!

So it seems that we did make the right decision after all!

When I saw him today, he removed 9 stitches, the drain, and told me that I can drive. He also is referring me to the cancer clinic in London (a standard procedure) so that they can confirm everything he said. I go back to see him next Friday for removal of the 31 staples that are left.

As for us, we are heading to the St. Thomas Iron Horse Festival to have some dinner and a pint of beer.  I think the best word I heard today came from Katie when I texted her about the results.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Surgery +1 day

As I promised, here is my latest update.
I went into surgery about 12.30 on Thursday. By 3.00pm I was out of recovery and in my room. Even though our insurance covers a semi-private, the only bed they had was the 4-bed "constant observation room". I was next to a window -  YEAH - and had no one on the same side with me, so it was like a private room.  I had one pain pill, a tamacet, but as of now, that's all I've had. I've got a horizontal suture line from mid chest to even with my shoulder. There's also a drain for a few days that runs on a vacuum system. I was discharged this morning after meeting with the Community Care Access Centre (home care) nurse. I'll have someone come every day until I see the doctor on Friday. They will check my dressing and my drain and keep records for the doctor. I was home and in my comfy chair by 2pm.
Since I've been home, Robby has made me a bowl of soup, and John cooked dinner with Robby cleaning up. John went to get Katie at Fanshawe, and she's been full of talk about her week of Residence Training.  She brought her dirty clothes home, so the kids are now doing laundry for us.

So far ... things are good.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

the Countdown has begun

Surgery update
So I've made it to Tuesday night. I'm scheduled for surgery sometime on Thursday at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. I will get a call sometime on Wednesday with the exact time that I'll need to get to the hospital. I had my pre-admission work last Friday, and it included a chest xray. (I mention this now, but keep reading to the next session.) I meet with my family doctor on Wednesday after lunch for my pre-op physical to make sure that there is nothing that the anesthesiologist needs to know. If all goes well, surgery take about an hour, then an hour in the recovery room, then into my room for the night. Dr. Black (my surgeon) plans for me to spend part of Friday and be home by dinner time. I have a picnic scheduled for Saturday with my SCA/reenacting group, and I really, really want to be able to make it. After surgery, it's 2 weeks of no driving, then another week of "quiet", then I should be back in form. Unless something unusual happens, this will be the end of my experience with cancer!
Fort Erie - continued
In the meantime, we got unpacked and the canvas tried out from Fort Erie. We got the dishes and cooking pots cleaned and could find the living room again.
Tents drying in the back yard - Our tent, Jeff's tent, the company dining awning.
Next in our list of life was getting Katie packed for year 2 at Fanshawe College. She has a job as a Resident Advisor and has 2 weeks of training before the student body arrives. She took a small amount of things with her on Saturday, gets her permanent room on Friday, then moves the remainder of her things up on the 21st.
Our Immigration update!
We finally have something to report on our continuing work to become permanent residents of Canada.
The quick version - in August 2010, we submitted our forms and tons of documents to Immigration Canada (ImC) to become permanent residents. This would allow us to stay and work for as long as we want.  Right now, John has to reapply every 3 years to stay and work, Robby and I cannot work, and Katie can only work on campus on her student visa. With PR, we have all the rights and responsibilities of all Canadians except being able to vote. (we can still vote in the U.S. as American citizens)
Mid October - Our packet was return.  We forgot to put our names on the money order, forgot to check the box that stated that Katie had never served in the armed forces, and required that John take an English Literacy exam.  He took the next available test in November, we got the test results back in January 2011, and shipped the packet out.
Then we waited. And waited.  And waited.  And waited. With no way to contact anyone.
Last Tuesday, we got a package form ImC with the forms for our physicals.  After some manoeuvring, we got our physicals at the government approved physician in London.We all had blood texts for HIV and syphilis and John and Katie got there chest xrays because of her working all week (long story) Then on Monday Robby and I got our xrays, and John and I got creatine tests because of our hypertension. If all goes as the doctor plans, she'll have all the results back by the end of this week. She can then send them to the Ministry of Health in Ottawa; they will review the tests and agree/disagree with her findings, then send everything on the ImC.
Then we wait again. The next step will be a request that we send out passports in for the visa to be put into them, then the final crossing of the border for reentry as landed immigrants.  What a neat Christmas gift that would be for us. (we initially came to Canada on December 13, 2007.)
Our Family Staycation
John's vacation ends today. He, Robby and I went to Kitchener on Monday for lunch with Joe and Wendy and a trip to J&J game store. Robby got a great deal on a Warhammer Wood Elf army, and John got some neat figures for D&D. We also got some neat things for Katie that she'll get on Friday.
John and I got in a tabletop game of Napoleonic era Italians (mine) vs Austrians (his). We'll finish it tomorrow evening.

Next update - Post surgery.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Some good stuff and some good times.

Since my last entries have been less than positive, I decided to share some good stuff.
John has been on vacation since last week, and we've been having a "staycation".  Last week was full of prep work for our annual trip to Fort Erie, where John and Robby took the infantry line as part of the 17th U.S.Infantry during the War of 1812. Jared and Nick from our unit, The King's Company .  Joining us was our friend Andy and his son Steve, who are part of an American War of Independence unit. Andy wants to be part of the bicentennial of the War, so he'll be along with us for the next two or so years.
We broke with tradition, and went out on Friday afternoon.  Most of the official activities didn't take place until Saturday morning, but we had Friday to get set up, and just visit with friends. Since Pooka is now an "only" dog, we packed up his stuff and his cage and took him along.  He's never been camping, and we set up his cage in the canvas tent with Katie and me. John and Robby were in a borrowed canvas tent next door.
Katie and I were in charge of meals, and keeping the unit dining area organized. We tried to have a campfire, but    we were having trouble lighting a fire due to the wet, damp wood. So we just had a nice chat and were actually in bed early.
Saturday morning, we were woken by the sound of a fife and drum corps at 6.30am. The fort opens at 10am, and we have to be up and ready to meet and greet the civilians. The guys had to be ready to accept the British Surrender at 11am, and get on with the day.  Katie was working to complete her internship with the Ontario Visual Heritage Project, this time as a location scout.   She spent a part of the day behind her camera and making notes on the size of rooms and places in the fort.
The downside was the heat. In the middle of the afternoon, the humidex was 41C/104F.  We did get a fire going, and had a great beef stew for dinner.  The evening battle is the British forces storming the U.S. held fort, with the culmination of the battle being when the British blow up the powder magazine. In year's past, this was 3 or 4 large fireballs, but this year we only had on ok-looking fireball. What a let-down.
We had some light rain overnight, and got up Sunday morning to heat at 8am, high humidity, and not a breath of air. And this is combined with wool jackets!  We had a quick unit meeting over breakfast, and decided to pack up and head for home before the predicted storms rolled in that afternoon.
Pooka was the unit ambassador.  Often people will stop by our camp, but will seem hesitant to "interrupt" us. Pooka would start wagging his tail, they would move forward to pet him, and voila, we have the beginning of a conversation.  He was wonderful!  Most of the area didn't even know that we had a dog anywhere near.  He was quiet a night, and during the day only started to bark when a dog would come close, then he'd quiet down very quickly.
In spite of all of this, we had a good time. Lots of fun with friends from other units, with our unit, and as a family.  I have some trim work to do on John's wool coatee before our next event on October 1/2 at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London. (Most of you in the area have already received a facebook invite). We also have a few SCA events coming up that I hope to get to after surgery recovery.
I'm adding some pics, some from this year and one or two from last year.  Enjoy the picture show!
Pooka in his uniform. The men's uniform coats are blue with white, and we're the 17th U.S.
(the tail is blurred - it seldom stopped wagging)
Katie as a 1812 hipster.

The U. S. campsite.

Our tents.  John and Robby (far left), Beth and Katie (centre) and Jared (right)

The British scaling the wall.  The smoke is from the musket fire! 

This is what our unit shelter looks like. (this picture from 2010)  

The explosion of the powder magazine (from 2010)

An upcoming date with the surgeon

For those of you who I haven't talked with lately, I have a date of Aug. 18 for my surgery.  I won't know what time until the day before, but I do know that I'll have to show up early the day of, and I'll be staying overnight until at least Friday. I'll have a nurse come for 7 to 10 days for follow-up care.
According to Dr. Black, I won't be having muscles or lymph gland removed, so my recovery time should be minimal. Two weeks without driving and another week of "quiet" with no excessive physical activity.

so far, so good.....

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Life and Times of Gracie

As many of you know, we lost our dear Gracie on the morning of July 22, 2011. We made the decision of ultimate love for our girl, and released her from her pain and suffering. Here is the story of a great dog's life.

Gracie came into our lives in late July, 2002.  We had a beagle already, Pax, who was about 6 years old.  For some reason, the family decided that she needed a friend.  We searched, and up popped a picture of "Princess".  According to the shelter workers, she was found walking around the streets of nearby Nazareth, Pa and had been on her own for about 2-3 weeks.  We went by after church, took one look at her, and realized that not everyone would be willing to take her; she was not what most people would consider "cute".  Within the hour, she was sitting on a blanket, curled up next to me, in the back seat of our van.  The shelter staff knew nothing of her history, so we got to know her just as she was. She was listed as "beagle", but we guessed more beagle/basset hound or beagle/???.  Whe we took her to the vet for the first time, Dr. Gregrich pronounced her in good health, but she had very bad teeth and had, from his guess, many litters of pups. He also guessed her age to be between 7 and 10 years old. (this was in 2002).

The first few weeks were tough. It took her several days to learn that she did not have to empty the garbage can to find food.  She was also determined to be the "alpha" in the house.  She and I spend quite a bit of time with her on her back (show her belly was a sign of submission), often growling and snapping. But we finally came to an agreement, that I would be in charge.  Gracie and Pax had no issues, a quick smell of each other, and they continued on.  Where Pax was a very quiet dog, usually preferring to greet guests and then go find a nice spot to sit and watch, Gracie was quite the party animal.  She would not only greet guests, but would stay in the room, both mooching food and attention. She loved people, to "go car", get treats, and snow, but feared thunder and loud noises.

 As time passed, we lost Pax to illness, and Gracie became an "only".  Her favourite times were when I would come home from my class with chinese food.  She received the broth from my wonton soup.  She never forgot the sound of the spoon in a bowl of soup, and always received her share.
In late spring, 2006, Gracie began having urinary trouble.  Off to the vet.  She was diagnosed with bladder stone, bad teeth, 2 mammary glands with lumps, and needed to be spayed.  Her guessed at age was an issued for anethesia, but we and the vet decided that she probably had many years left, and she had surgery for all her problems.  She lost about half of her teeth, but didn't seem to have a problem.

In January 2007, Pooka the beagle came into our lives, again through petfinders.  His will be another story later.  Gracie smelled him, got slapped in the face by his very powerful and active tail.  She allowed him to stay, and even played with him. He would run around the house, and she would chase him for a while, then stop, realizing that if she stood still, he'd make the circle and come back past her.  She could stand still and bark all she wanted to.

Then came the big move to Canada in December 2007.  She spend the entire 12 hour drive (bad weather) sitting on a stack of pillows between the two front seats of the van. (Pooka was curled up between the kids in the back seat.)  She loved to "go car", but her anxiety would act up every time, resulting in non-stop panting. She was very friendly to the border guard, and was just happy to be with us.
Life in Canada was to her liking. Not too hot in the summer, and lots of snuggling places in the winter.  She explored all the snow, and got to make lots and lots of new friends.  While she was never fond of doggy coats, I found one at a craft fair that would fit her size.  One of her new friends, John A., saw her in the first time, and said she was now a superhero.  Thus began the name - "Paisley Avenger", given to her by John A.   She loved her coat.  When I would take it off to brush her or clean the coat, she'd follow me around, watching the coat, until I put it back on her.  When spring came, the coat came off.  She'd pout for a while, then go about her business.

Our Gracie started to slow down about a year ago.  She started sleeping more and more, and would wake John up several time during the night to go out and pee, or just go out and look at the stars.  They spent many night up and about together. (unfortunately, I slept too soundly to be of any help)  During this year, she still seemed happy, and loved to be with us and friends who visited.  Last August, she even attended the Iron Horse Festival, and walked the length of downtown on Talbot Street. The return trip to the van was too much, and she stopped about half way to the van. She sat on a spot of grass and refused to get up.  John brought the van closer, and Katie carried her the rest of the way.

Over the winter, I searched for a used baby stroller, and we converted it to the Paisley Mobile.  When she went with us to the Canada Day celebrations, she rode from the van to the picnic area, had some hot dog for dinner, then got a ride back to the van.  Along the way, people were amazed to see her riding, but everyone thought she was adorable in it.  It gave her the opportunity to get out and be with her, and meet and greet new people in the park.  She also enjoyed going to Louisa's farm, and tried to chase the chickens (Pooka would run from them!).  Her last outing was to Tyler B's birthday party, where there were 4 other dogs, 1 child, 2 babies, and lots of people to mooch from.  She was very glad of the chips from Kevin M!

Last weekend, she started her downhill turn.  She started drooling from the left side of her mouth, and didn't want to eat.  We had been putting water on her food to make it softer, but now we were putting it in the blender and making "doggie puree". I hesitated to get canned food, a change of food could make her have other digestive trouble.  On Wednesday, Robby, Katie and I came home after lunch and noticed blood in her drool.  When it didn't stop, I called the vet and arranged to have her seen early Thursday morning.

Dr. Raj, at Beaver Creek Animal Hospital, spent quite a bit of time with Gracie and I.  He discovered a tumour on her left lower jaw that was open and bleeding.  Surgery would have required the removal of the entire left lower jaw.  Of course, since her age was now between 16 and 20, we were forced to consider what kind of a life she would have with virtually no jaw, and being tube fed.  Without surgery, the tumour would continue to grow and eventually block her throat from food and later block her airway.

I brought her home and we all sat with her while we made one of the toughest decisions ever.  She had been a wonderful, good hearted friend who loved us all.  We had to return that love and not let her suffer. John and I took her back.  She rode wrapped in a blanket in my lap, just as we had first brought her home with us.  We were with her to the end, just as she had, and will always be, with us.

Gracie in her bed (in our bedroom)

What a face!

The Paisley Avenger - in her hero's cape

The Paisley Mobile. (she used this to get around town)
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

The founder of the Lutheran church, Martin Luther, is said to have been working on a sermon. His dog, Tolpol (loosly translated by one source as Rascal), was sitting by him.  He is said to have looked at his dog and said - "You too shall have a golden tail."   If ever a dog has earned a reward, it was Gracie.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ready for a countdown

We're now in countdown mode. John and I met with Dr. Black last Friday and signed the papers for a "simple mastectomy". He needs to move someone else to make a spot for me, but the date range will be between the 15th and 30th of August. This does allow me some time to finish some projects, and help Katie get her stuff ready for her college semester.

We finished our week at Vacation Bible School. Katie and often John helped in the kitchen, and Robby kept the house going and did some prep work at home.

On Monday (11Jul) our SCA group helped with an author reading at the London Public Library. Afterward, one of my friends, presented me with a very special gift. Gerrard's SCA personna is a toymaker, and he made me a medieval puppet, complete with her own treasure box of hats. I've got pictures posted at the end of this. (John added the shako from our collection.)

In the meantime, I've got several sewing projects to do.

And when things get tough - I just need to remember to laugh!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The decision has been made

After much research and crying, I've decided that it seems that the best course of "treatment" is going to be the mastectomy. The upside is that there will be no further treatment needed, no chance of anything appearing in the rest of my body. We meet with Dr. Black on Friday to give him an answer and discuss dates. The procedure is called a "modified mastectomy" and does not involve the removal of any chest wall muscles or lymph glands, so recovery time will be shortened from what was done years ago, or if the cancer had spread. Next spring, we'll meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss reconstructive surgery. I recently was told that someone in our reenacting community has the same procedure, but her plastic surgeon took the tissue from her abdomen, there by giving her a tummy tuck at the same time! What a deal.
For my friends in the reenacting communities, the timing of things is going well. The surgery will be after the Siege of Fort Erie (Aug 6/7), and I'll be well into recovery by the time of the Grand Tactical at Fanshawe (Oct 1/2) {date for my non-reenacting friends} I'll be able to attend the Trinovantia Nova shire picnic, and possibly Fall Coronation.

In the meantime, I was scheduled to help with our church's Vacation Bible School. I am in charge of the food market, and we are introducing the students to first century Arab foods. My stall is called "Kosher King Foods". Katie stepped up about two weeks ago and offered to help, and she has been my strong right hand. John is there to help when needed, and Robby has been doing food prep work at home. Monday went well, but I came home very tired, and was in bed by 8.30 running a low grade fever. Tuesday I went in, but I was pretty worthless, and slept all afternoon. Wednesday (today), I stayed home. I'm physically doing better, and hopefully will make it in for Thursday and Friday with lots of help and support from Katie, John, and some of the other ladies. Robby might even show up on Thursday, as the other lady who's working with Katie and I will be out for the day.

So there it stands. I've/We've made a decision, and I've been talking to a lot of people about it, as well as online research. If you're around me, you'll find me making jokes about the surgery and other things. It's a case that if I don't laugh, I'll cry.

So.... let's all keep laughing!!!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bad news and worse news - more from the doctor

Ok, so it's now Thursday, a full week after my surgery. I went in for stitch removal and the beginning of discussion about radiation therapy.
Don't you know, there's been a change. Apparently the 5cm x 7cm glob of tissue that was removed was biopsied, along with the tissue around the edges. It seems that even with what he removed, there is still some of the "suspicious" tissue left.
I'm now facing a choice. One is to do nothing, perhaps take the radiation, and hope that none of this comes back. Again - if it does, there's a high chance that is will and it will come back very aggressive. The other choice is to prevent any chance of all with a full mastectomy. That means all the tissue gone, but muscle and lymph glands will be left. Next summer would be reconstructive surgery.
So what's next ???
I'm seeing him again next week for the remainder of the stitch removal. Dr. Black gave us (John was with me) a week to discuss it and we can give him an answer then.
So do I submit to a major surgery as a preventative of the inevitable, or do nothing as see when it will happen in the future?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Post-op report

It's now Saturday about 2pm. Friday went well, with only one nap mid-day and regular tylenol extra strength. Robby even had a Dungeons and Dragons game in the living room, while John, Louisa and I sat downstairs chatting and drinking White Russians.

Last night was a little rough trying to keep settled in bed. (I should have taken a tylenol - now I know) My plan had been to stay home while John and Robby went to the game club and Katie would be in London visiting with her friends. I was in such a down mood, I packed up and came to the club with the guys. I'm a little tired now, but I brought a comfy camp chair and can be comfortable.

Tonight I'm working with Katie to make icing flowers for a birthday party, so it's probably going to be nap time when we get home.

Overall, not a great time, but it could be worse. At least I'm out and about.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Medical stuff - Day of surgery

So I made it through the surgery. I went to the OR about 10.30 and was home by 4pm. Again, the post-op pain meds delayed my trip home. After a 3 hour nap with Pooka curled up next to me, and a bowl of chicken noodle soup, I've made it downstairs for the evening. Overall, I'm feeling ok about stuff, and so far, not in any pain.
I've gotten lots of wonderful notes of support from many of you. Thanks for all the support.
So far - so good!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Medical stuff - the Beginnings

Dear friends and family,

As many of you have gathered from my recent facebook status postings, I have been dealing with some medical problems. Now that I've been given a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan, I'm ready to share all the details. (Even if you don't know me that well, if you have a female relative or friend, it might be worth a quick read)

I have been diagnosed with that is technically called “Ductal Carcinoma in-situ” (DCIS). This is a type of breast cancer that is called Stage 0. It has not become invasive (starting to affect surrounding tissues) nor is it malignant (growing outside of the affective area).

This all began on Saturday, April 9, 2011, when I woke up with a soreness in my breast. This isn't unusual, as most women can agree. It's the kind of pain we've all had once in a while. I didn't give it a second thought, and went about my day. On Sunday, I went to church, taught my class, and even served at the church dinner that night. Through the day, the soreness increased and was very sensitive to the touch. On Monday, I woke up with redness and hard spots on the top of my breast. Since I was volunteering at the hospital that morning, I went in early and went into the Emerg Department to have one of the doctors take a look at it. (For my U.S. friends, Emerg Depts often act as walk-in clinics for people who don't have family doctors or can't wait until the doctor could see me the next day or so.)

After about an hour wait, the doctor on duty told me that I had a very bad infection. She started to write out prescriptions for an antibiotic and a pain med, but asked if she could get an ultrasound just to see how large the infected area was. I agreed (thanks to the free healthcare), and after the results were back about 15 minutes later, she asked if she could call in the surgeon on duty. She felt that the infected area was large enough to warrant a second opinion.

Dr. Black, the surgeon, came in shortly afterward, examined me and my records, and said “Yup, this is a biggie.” When he couldn't drain it in Emerg, he decided to admit me right away for surgery as soon as possible in the day to remove the abcess. He didn't even want me to go home and come back, he was afraid that if it ruptured, the infection would spread through my bloodstream and we'd be dealing with a systemic infection. (poison in my bloodstream). He did the surgery at 7.30 that night, I stayed the night, and went home on Tuesday.

So far – so good. Now the fun starts!

Because of the nature and size of the wound, I had to visit a care nurse every day for a month to have it packed (3.8cm long x .1cm wide x 4cm deep) and dressing changed every day. Then every other day, then every 3 days for a total of 7 weeks of care. Dr. Black had also taken a biopsy, and this came back showing the cancer cells. Now we're talking another surgery and more time.

After another mammogram (which showed nothing unusual) and another ultrasound (again-no new infection), at my visit with him two weeks ago, he told me that he is going to have to remove a section of tissue about the size of his fist. Yes, his fist! He needs to get all the affected tissue in order to prevent this returning. When we talked yesterday, I asked him for more information, and what was in store after the surgery. I then found out that I'm facing radiation therapy to prevent any further spread.

It seems that my Stage 0 cancer is a “high active” kind, which means that if it occurs, it will come back fast moving and strong. Without the radiation therapy, there is a 50% chance of reoccurance, this time as Stage 2 or 3 within 2 years. With treatment, chances are 10% within my lifetime.

So to summerize – for the next 3 months, I'm going to be a mess. I'm having surgery on June 23, with stitch removals 1 week and then 2 weeks later. Then an appointment with the Cancer clinic in London (about 30 min away) for treatments for 4 to 5 weeks, 5 days a week (M-F).

In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep my normal activites. It seems that the radioation side affects are mostly a lack of energy and a sunburn look to the area being treated. There is NO chemo involved!

As for what you can do –

John, Katie, and Robby are great cooks and know how to clean and care for pets.

What I need from all of you are prayers and good thoughts, and patience with me when I seem short-tempered or can't keep up with my activities.

But mostly – and my main reason for writing all this – is to make all of you aware of how suddenly things can creep up on you. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! If it hurts – check it out! After talking to the doctor, and reading up online, if I hadn't gone it, I would be facing a fast growing, aggressive disease. So – I've lucked out. But it's still going to take time and energy, so I'm going to take this Day to Day.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

a beginning

I'm not sure how this will all work. Follow or not follow, this will mainly be a place to share thoughts, ideas, crafting projects, foodie things, and just stuff rattling around in my head.

Some days there will be things that we've done, or perhaps a new recipe that came out tasty.

Some days, it might be new blooming things in my garden.

Other days, who knows!