Sunday, November 29, 2009
As I looked out my window a couple of nights ago, I could see Christmas lights from a distance. Yes, some people have their tree lights already in place, presents purchased and wrapped, baking all complete and they now have the rest of the time before the Christmas arrival to partake of Christmas caroling, concerts and religious celebrations.
For those of you, who like myself are not even close to the Christmas preparations, don't worry as there is lots of time left to get everything done. I have however completed one of my annual traditions. When our children were small, I made a green felt Christmas tree for each, with pockets glued on it .......(ouch, I still remember the burns on my hands as I was trying to finish it one November 30th)...... to represent each day of December up to Christmas Eve. I put small presents in each of the pockets and I can still remember how my children's eyes would light up each morning, as they ran to see what was in each day's pouch. Even though the presents in each were very small and inexpensive, this annual tradition has continued throughout the years and somehow something would be missing if I didn't fill each child's Christmas tree at the beginning of December.
Tradition.....yes, it is important to keep up tradition if at all possible. Usually it's the simple things that families have done over the years that mean the most. I'm sure that each of you also have your own traditions every December and that's what makes it so special, because of the uniqueness we all bring in our creation of a tradition.
It's tradition in our house for our children to be at home to help decorate the outdoors with the usual lights and wreaths. It's not so much about how the decorations turn out, but it's definitely about how we all do it together. This year will be special for all of us, as the past few years have been as well. We count our blessings every year for all we have been given, but more especially as the Christmas season approaches.
I also know that the Christmas season will not be joyous for many of you this year, due to illness and probably the loss of loved ones. You WILL get through it, and you must be strong for the rest of your family members as well. Whoever said "life was easy" certainly never had to endure illness such as cancer or losing loved ones unexpectedly or after a long period of illness. Bottom line to remember is not to give up...no matter how difficult the going might become. There will be times as you listen to the more solemn Christmas carols that you will think the holidays will never end, but then again, it is a time for remembrance of those you have lost and a time for celebration of the blessings and thanksgivings for those who are still here with us.
I trust that each of you will take time during this December to continue with your family traditions, share those special moments and rekindle those very special memories of loved ones you may have lost this past year. I will have a lit candle here later in December to show my celebration of those brave heroes who have fought the good fight with cancer......those who have led the way so gallantly for so many other cancer patients.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
After we ended our telephone conversation, I realized just how fortunate our family is to have these wonderful friends. Unconditional friends who never leave, despite the way our lives sometimes change.
It's important that those who have cancer, also have very loyal friends to help them through, especially during difficult times such as receiving bad news at test results, or while undergoing treatments, and even when emotions are at an all time low. You need friends who will stick by you unconditionally, with no time limits attached and a mandate to remain "mum" if that's they way you choose things to be.
Yes, we have wonderful friends! Friends that my husband or I can call at anytime of day if we need their help and support. A true rarity for sure, and one that we realize we might never be able to repay......friends that will be discreet when needed and friends that know to respect and understand our privacy and decisions.
Most of us don't realize the true value of our friends, until a serious illness such as cancer or another crisis enters our lives. We have been truly blessed to realize the importance that our friends play in our lives and we trust that they know that.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It's been an excellent source of meeting others who share similiar paths and I have met such wonderful people on the chat......truly amazing! There's Joanne1, Bindy, KJE, Patti, Mary, Carolanne, Jane, Flo...just to name a few.......
Once I decided to put it back on the website, I could not figure out how to do it, but finally, I got it right this past weekend. Not such a difficult thing to do after all, but as I've said before, I'm not technically sauve, so it does take time.
I actually thought you had to sign in now to use it, but another viewer's comments last night indicated that you can post a comment or begin chatting just by clicking the "Guest" option at the bottom of the forum. If you want to chat by signing in, that will allow you to show a name so that we can recognize you everytime you post there. My name is registered on the chat as "dannygabs", so anytime you see me logged in, then I'm the administrator of the blog so please feel free to introduce yourself and begin a live chat. Remember, that you will remain anonymous on the chat if you prefer to do that as well.
We all have questions from time to time, along with uncertainties and it's only by communicating with others who share similiar problems and concerns, that we can find the support we all need. I trust you will take the time to use the chat........there may not always be someone else there to chat with you, but over time I'm sure the viewers will increase. If you would like to post a particular time for a live chat, please do so and I'll try my best to be there.
I'm hoping to schedule one for the first week in December and I'll be posting the date and time on another of my writings. In the meantime, don't hesitate to use it before then....I'm sure you will find long lasting friendships with other patients and caregivers as I have.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I previously mentioned how all cancer patients need advocates to act on their behalf. If it is not your spouse or partner, then maybe a close relative or friend with whom who have a very trusting relationship. It has to be someone who just does not sit by the way side and waits for the medical expert's next move, but you have to be that someone who is informed and willing to speak up for the patient whom you represent.
Today, I was informed, prepared and pleading my case.......on behalf of my client......my husband.
What is she talking about you ask? Over the past few days, I have been researching all of the latest info on kidney cancer.....new treatments, government approval of RCC fighting drugs, their availability, side effects, pharmaceutical manufacturers and how these treatments actually help to fight the cancer. I record the generic name and the trade name.....for example, Sutent is the trade name while sunitinib is it's generic shadow. I want to ensure that I'm aware of each of these names for when my husband's oncologist discusses any of them, I know exactly of what he is speaking. There are quite a few new treatments out there now over the past two to three years..such as
Torisel - temsirolimus
Nexavar - sorafenib
Avastin - bevacizumab
Afinitor - everolimus
Votrient - pazopanib
and the list goes on, with more being tested in ongoing clinical trials.........
NOTE: I have recently signed up to receive Google Alerts re: kidney cancer via my email and constantly receive all of the latest information on that topic. It is a great resource of information.......thanks Joanne for telling me about this!!!!
I always obtain a hard copy of my husband's latest test results, whether it be a CT, MRI or ultrasound. Why??? I'm no medical expert and while I cannot understand alot of the terminology, I can compare one test to the other and having a copy always allows me the opportunity to read what's happening in detail without wondering.
I always have a note in hand that I prepared the day before. I have learned that no matter how much I think I might be able to just ask the doctor a particular question or questions, if I don't have each one written down, then guaranteed, it will not get asked. There's just too much info whirling around the clinic on any given appointment day, and there's just no way I can remember what I need to ask, other than to write it down first.
We don't rush out of the clinic anymore.....you learn that over time and you take your time and ask what needs to be asked and listen to every word that your onc has to say. Ask him/her to repeat anything or explain everything that you do not understand. It's your cancer, so take lots of time at any appointment and don't ever rush through it.
Your oncologist may NOT be aware of some of the newest treatments that are out there, so don't be shy in advising him/her about them........
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It's all part of life.
Highs, lows, middles.
Had this visitor in my yard a couple of days ago. It stayed long enough for me to run into the house, grab the camera and get a couple of fairly good shots. I've never actually seen this type before, but upon further investigation and with the assistance of a quick search on Google, the mystery has been solved. It is a black and white woodpecker......not something that you see around here very often, as our woodpeckers are usually brown with a brilliant facial color.
Scanxiety is approaching and no matter how long we have been at this now, it never seems to get any easier. The night before a report is always filled with uncertainties....there's always a deep pit in our stomachs and it brings the reality of having cancer into full bloom. Not everyone would understand this, that is, unless you also have been affected by cancer. Seems only those of us who walk similiar roads truly understand the highs and lows of this disease.
Someone asked me awhile ago why I don't talk in detail about our journey....well, it's a personal decision and one that I just don't want to discuss with those who really would never understand. You have to live it, breath it and ride that emotional roller coaster to feel the gut wrenching, fear filled ride that affects all those involved. To talk about it honestly and indepth to a novice, would certainly not afflict the same understanding and compassion as it would to talk to a cancer patient or his/her immediate family.
Material things really don't matter to us now...we take nothing for granted anymore.
It's all about fighting to live each day....and finding out who and what are really important in your life.
A cancer patient staying in a cancer hospice recently told me he felt right at home...everyone there truly understood each other and what obstacles they had to overcome each day. Playing cards with them was more amazing and fulfilling than any luxurious vacation he could ever take.
You will meet exceptional people when you have cancer and create wonderful friendships along the way.
Sometimes you may feel like a white elephant when you are in a room where people talk about non-important things....other times there may be a black cloud hovering over you as you deal with difficult side effects from your treatments, but now our priorities are different....we have been given a "gift" to live each day making a difference for others.
A high percentage of cancer patients just "give up" once they are presented with their diagnosis and the grim reality by their doctors that their cancer has progressed.
In reality, it is a very difficult emotional roller coaster and no doubt as that cancer patient, trying to get youself into a positive mode is by far, the most difficult thing you will ever do......but YOU DO NEED TO DO IT!
As a child I was told and
believed that there was atreasure buried beneath every
rainbow.I believed it so much, that I
have been unsuccessfullychasing rainbows all of my
life.I wonder why no one ever told
me that the rainbow and the treasurewere both "within me"
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I assured him that things like this happen and it was no problem at all. He would just credit back the amount and make the correction. His first attempt did not work however, as the amount for which he originally debited my credit card, exceeded the allowable amount he could credit. Therefore, the only way he could reverse his mistake, was to call the credit department. He apologized for his mistake and assured me that it would soon be rectified. I smiled and said "no problem".....things like this do happen.
Now, all of us who have ever called any credit card company, can attest to the length of time it takes to reach an actual person on the other end of the line. Today, it was practically impossible, no doubt due to early Christmas shoppers. He apologized once again for not being able to connect with someone and I assured him that it was fine. As he made another attempt to call the credit company I decided to look around the store.
I found another item to purchase and had another cashier ring in the sale on one of my other credit cards......you won't believe this, but oh yes, he also entered the incorrect amount and the transaction was approved before he noticed his mistake. This time however, it was easier to correct due to the smaller amount, and he just had to enter a credit directly from the interact terminal...no calling involved. The correct amount was then transacted and my purchase was complete. Another apology and another "no problem" from me and everything was fine again.
Meanwhile, cashier #1 was still on the phone awaiting personnel from the credit department to answer. Apparently, he had already reached one agent, who transferred him to the credit department. The wait was about another 30 minutes....I was patient throughout, but I could certainly tell that the poor cashier was feeling so terrible for his mistake. I interrupted him to say that "things like this happen and that we all make mistakes....there was really no problem."
He looked at me somewhat in amazement, thinking that I was slowly becoming enraged at his mistake.....in fact, I was feeling quite the opposite. I understood how it happened and I assured him once again that this was merely small stuff. I decided to leave as I had more shopping to do and said he could call the credit card company later that day and to mail out the credit receipt once it was corrected. He commented on how I was so "ok" with all of this and I left by telling him to "have a great day!"
After all, when you have been affected with any serious illness, you realize that the things you once thought to be of importance, now are just trivial and the most important thing in life, is your health. Cancer has made me realize that the small stuff is just that.......STUFF............and nothing more. There are certainly more devastating things that can happen in life, then a cashier entering the incorrect amount on a sale.
Rule #1 - "don't sweat the small stuff....
Rule #2 - "it's all small stuff..............
Monday, November 16, 2009
- Training for each and every cancer patient is definitely intense and unrelenting and continues everyday.
- The obstacles they encounter along the way are immense and no training can ever prepare cancer patients for the unexpected events that will happen from day to day.
- Travel is a given along the Cancer Olympics trail, as the numerous visits for doctor visits, testing with CT's, MRI's, Pet Scans, radiation treatments, blood tests, oncologist's visits and test results are never ending.
- Disappointments will be many along the way....but with each disappointment there will also be advancement and encouragement to continue
- The pressure to continue will be enormous and you will want to just give up so many times, but don't relent - keep going
- Each cancer patient has to focus on what is important in order to reach their goal
- Energy levels will be at an all time low on most occasions, but despite this, you keep going
- It will most definitely be not only a physical challenge that you face against your cancer opponent, but also a mental challenge. It will be an emotional roller coaster - but you CAN do it
- You will need an exceptional COACH to encourage you on. This person will have to be tough, unselfish and mentally strong. Instead of a stop watch, your coach will have a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, appointment log and be able to negotiate and yes, even argue with your health care professionals if need be to ensure you always receive the best advice and medical treatment available. Your coach must definitely have the ability to continually inspire you to NEVER QUIT
- Cancer patients focus on what is important to reach your goals...eating healthy, resting when feeling tired, keeping positive even when the going gets very difficult to bear
- Sacrifices will be at the top of your list as a cancer patient......your schedule will be constantly rearranged depending on how you feel at any particular time of day and the things you used to do when you were cancer free, might not necessarily now be at the top of your To-Do agenda
- You WILL overcome adversity
Yes, the endurance of cancer patients along their journey is most definitely an Olympic challenge. They are AMBASSADORS for not only other cancer patients, but also for those of us who stand along the competitive trail and cheer them on.
How do I know this? I have watched my husband travel the road to his own Olympics, and believe you me, I have personally seen the struggles and adversity that he has encountered along the way.......he may have not won the Olympic Gold, but he has won the hearts of all those who have had the opportunity to know him.......that is indeed such a priceless reward.
He is a true HERO of his own Olympics with cancer
There's so much strength in all of us
Every woman child and man
It's the moment that you think you can't
You'll discover that you can!!!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I really don't mean to tease anyone, but I really wanted you all to read what I'm about to say. This medicine is for my husband's soul and mental well-being, and it truly plays a very big part in his ability to keep going, to remain positive despite what the medical experts keep telling him and to have such a wonderful quality of life.
He finds it on our local television network every Sunday morning and it is the
Joel Osteen Ministries weekly broadcast. You can check out the website by following this link
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Once any serious illness comes into one's life, you definitely look at things in such a different perspective. All of the above are just THINGS......all of these can be replaced and although they may seem invaluable to you at the moment, in reality they are not what is or should be at the top of your list as IMPORTANT. No matter what type of material things you have that seem of value to you now, they can never make that serious illness go away.
Having cancer in a family most definitely puts things into the proper perspective. Your once items at the top of your priority list now for the most part, appear somewhat trivial. What matters most of all now, is to live life day by day to the fullest. Isn't that what everyone should be doing? Why do we all need that serious illness to make us realize that we all need to live life to the best of our ability every moment of every day. Cancer, just helps to push us a little faster in that direction.
I continue to keep telling my husband that having his cancer diagnosis is not something he should worry about with regards to his longevity. After all, I could die tomorrow without having an illness today, so it's important to keep that in the proper perspective. Why keep dwelling on the "what if's" as a cancer patient, as it serves no purpose, only to add stress to your everyday life. Accept your illness.....but don't dwell on how long you have left to live. No one, not even the medical experts can predict that.......
Enjoy each day to the fullest...........and as the song says, ALL of us should most definitely
This globe will show the connections that I have acquired right around the world as a result of my blog. One red dot indicates each internet provider's address where viewers originate. For example, my location will be Dartmouth, Nova Scotia based upon my internet provider's main service area. You won't actually see my home town appear, as I don't live in Nova Scotia, but if you do see that name pop up, it just might indicate that I'm on the computer "or" others from a much larger radius living in that area who also use the same provider are checking out the site.
Seeing those small red dots mean alot to me as I continue to write my posts. It means that my blog is being read, people are returning to see what I write, and most of all, it indicates that those who are affected by cancer, are being connected, being informed and together we are getting support and encouragement all around the world.
You can increase the size of the globe and take a closer look at those dots by holding down the " + " icon at the lower left on the globe, or you can use the other icons to move up or down, etc. I actually saw this feature on a fellow bloggers website last week .......instantly I had to download it so that everyone could see how our world has become so inviting to all of us via the internet and how each of us all share similiar interests and concerns about cancer.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Every cancer patient needs support....that is a given. If any of you are travelling this journey alone, then you most definitely need to step up to the plate and ask a family member, close friend or someone whom you trust explicitly to be there with you. Trying to deal with cancer is not something that you should do alone, as you will need the support of others to help get you through.
You need an advocate to ensure you are getting the best possible medical care, as well as someone who will ask those difficult questions and examine every possibility that is out there for you with regards to new treatments and options. You need someone to confide in and someone whom you trust to keep your inner most thoughts and feelings close to their heart. You need someone who will inspire and encourage you on your darkest days, someone who will keep you going when you think you just can't do it anymore, and someone to pick up the pieces and mold you back on your most difficult days. Someone who will not ask questions of you, but will listen attentively to what "you"have to say.
For those readers who are not cancer patients...take note! If you should know someone who has cancer, why don't you lend your support. You can always prepare a nutritous meal, offer to help out with chores, provide transportation to a doctor's visit or to medical tests, or just stop by to help brighten a gloomy day. The ways in which you can help are endless!!!