Ann-Marie is kicking cancer’s ass

The story of my journey

This content shows Simple View

Surgery

Hi there.  It’s been a while… I actually have a happier post I’ve been writing about our trip to Costa Rica, however I haven’t finished it yet and I’m not feeling happy therefore I can’t really continue at this moment.

Instead you have the privilege (SARCASM) of reading this very anxious, melancholy post… Sorry.

I was just folding laundry, such a glamorous task that I like to complain about.  Laundry is a funny thing; it’s abundant, redundant, and infinite.  It NEVER ends.  Another funny thing about laundry; it’s the socks, the underwear, the clothes of our “people”. It is my family.  4 stacks every time; Dan, Madison, Shane and me.  I remember every time I added a new stack.  It meant so much.  Amazing how laundry could be so important, so worthy, so meaningful.  I love my laundry.  My laundry makes me cry. I never want to stop doing my laundry….

Tomorrow is surgery.  Today is the day before surgery.  If you’ve been keeping up with my progress you know I suck at everything the days before leading up to it. So I’m kind of sucking at the moment.  But I have my laundry… and it means more than I ever knew.



Still radiating…

These weeks have been so long…. every day the same routine… every day the same view. The only thing changing has been my skin. And not for the better….

My skin is angry! And my body is still angry from the chemo. Lots of angriness going on, in and on my body which is making for a sometimes cranky Ann-Marie.

Ugh, cancer really does suck. Really.

I won’t beat myself up for being frustrated. If I say that enough times maybe I actually won’t beat myself up. But the reality is that as mothers and parents we feel like we always have to be patient, kind and overall awesome. However that is far from my reality. I am the polar opposite of awesome. Who knew I was human? So I’ll try not beat myself up, because really what I need to do is survive these burns for the next little while.

I have 4 sessions left (of the 25). Supposedly my skin will continue to worsen for 2 weeks after it’s all done. But at least I won’t have to go to the hospital every day. Soon this saga will done.. soon.



Radiation

Every day… every day, Monday to Friday. That’s when radiation happens. E-V-E-R-Y day! It’s not particularly eventful. I lie on a cold sterile table, looking up at the ceiling. I have the same view, every day.

Above me is a stain glass panel, different shades of blue that I guess are meant to look like the sky. And directly above, attached to the ceiling, is the box that points lasers at me. The lasers are used to measure the depth and area that the radiation will hit.

Every morning, the lovely technicians line me up with the lasers and spout numbers and acronyms that I don’t quite yet understand. Sometimes I don’t hear them very well as the noise of the machines drowns out their voices. Nevertheless, everyday we go through the exact same routine, with the exact same tone in their voices. The lovely technicians remind me of flight attendants; using the same rhythm in their voices that I guess are meant to be consistent so the patient always knows what is coming next.

And then of course there is the snorkel. The snorkel is what I breathe through. It makes me hold my breath at exactly the right point so that my chest is expanded exactly the same every time the radiation hits me. The goal is to avoid my heart, but unfortunately because of my anatomy, this is not entirely possible… so my heart is being hit with radiation. Possible heart disease in the future, that is the risk. Lovely, now I have cancer and heart disease to worry about.

Cancer is so much fun, did you know? I love it! But that’s ok because I found this to remind me of my true nature and self!

I love it! It applies to my entire existence!

❤️💪💪💪



Spring??? 🤔

Has spring sprung??? I don’t think so!! Warmth, without the bone chilling wind, would be welcome at this point. The geese would sure like some of it too. I hear them flying towards their summer homes covered in ice. Usually their appearance means warm weather right? Not so much this year….

And Easter is already here! No light spring dresses for this Easter weekend that’s for sure. On the bright side, my hair is starting to grow but not enough to not wear a hat.. so maybe I actually want the cold weather 🤔?

Anyway.. spring will come soon. Tomorrow I start my marathon radiation treatments; 25 treatments, every week day except holidays, holding my breath.. I’m sure it will be tons of fun (said no one ever).

Hope you all have a great long weekend and enjoy the chocolate!



Spring break!

Woohoo!! A week with no lunch making, no cooking, no alarms and HEAT spent with amazing friends! Did I forget to mention the beach? Oh ya, there was one of those too, and pools! AND MARGARITAS 🍹! Who could ask for more right? I’ll come back to that question soon.

First, I have to gush about Caroline, Pat, Adrienne and Mallory – the best travel friends ever! I am forever grateful for their patience and acceptance. We are so lucky to have such amazing friends, especially since they had to put up with me 😏.

Which brings me back to the question “who could ask for more right?” Well I think I would have asked for hair… I think hair would have made the trip a little easier for me. However, the lack of it, the need to wear a hat almost always, and my mutilated body made the trip a little difficult for me. At first I was good… but over time the constant reminder of cancer became a little overwhelming for me. By day 4.5, I was starting to crack. By day 5, I was turning into a b*tch. By day 7, I was a disaster and hiding. I guess I’m used to living without really thinking of the fact I have cancer. I just do what I do with no thought. But in a bikini (one boob real, one boob a bean bag boob) with a hat on in 30 degree heat, it’s a little hard to ignore! Especially surrounded by strangers who at times could not meet my eye… it’s an eye opener.

Thankfully we were with Caroline and Pat. Our kids all had an amazing time and the four of us spent hours laughing over many many tasty beverages. And we ate! Omg so much!

So it was all worth it… the memories will be with us forever ❤️❤️❤️



Celebrate good times 🎵🎵

Hi! I’m so sorry it’s been so long. The last chemo went really well and I recovered much more quickly than the previous ones. I am so excited that it is over!! I’m still weak and my body is still suffering aftershocks, however the knowledge that it is finished takes a huge weight off my shoulders.

Of course we had to celebrate the end of chemo! So this weekend Nikki and Tammy and family came over for a last minute celebration. We had a great time and ended the night by throwing our (kids included) pink fluffy “phoques” up in the air and declaring “phoque cancer”! (Phoque is French for seal for my Anglo friends, but we all know what we were really saying!)

Last week I spent a lot of time at the hospital in preparation for radiation. Because nothing is ever easy with me, the technicians preparing my plan called me back in to do a different method. When they do radiation they try to stay away from the heart and the lungs. Because they are radiating my right side, theoretically my heart shouldn’t have been an issue. HOWEVER, my heart is too close… What this means is that I will have to breathe through a snorkel and hold my breath for 23 seconds 12 time’s every single time I will receive radiation therapy which is 25 I’m times! That’s a lot of breath holding… I’m not looking forward to it.. but at least it’s not chemo!

Finally, I am looking forward to our March break escape to Mexico! Next time you hear from me may be from my beach bed 😉⛱✈️.



Last chemo day

Anyone who knows me, knows that patience is not exactly my forte. As I sit here waiting… first for my blood test, now to see the oncologist, and then finally for my chemo to actually start later, I’m thinking of how patience has been forced upon me. What choice do I have right? Everyone in this room is like me. You can’t be annoyed or impatient about that. We all sit here together, strangers with a common reality, a very sad reality.

While I wait, I watch. I would say the average age of most patients is 75. Some in their 60s, a few in their 50s, and only me right now in the 40s. As much as this sucks, looking around the room I’m happy I am young enough to fight this with the stamina and strength of this age. Because most of these elderly are definitely struggling and their bodies are frail. Knowing the rigours of cancer and chemo, their reality is much more challenging than mine. When the oncologist told me in October that he was not concerned about how I would handle it, I now understand what he meant.

Also as I wait, I’m thinking of my dear friend Kevin. Today would have been his birthday… ironic that my last chemo falls on this day. Soon it will also be the 4th year anniversary of his death to this disease that I am now also fighting. Kevin was a rockstar, an inspiration, a fighter to the end. I wish he was here today, telling me to not sweat the small stuff… telling me I will survive this. I wish this disease wasn’t so deadly, because the reality is terrifying.

But Kevin wouldn’t want me to focus on the negative, he would be telling me to fight. And that’s what I’m doing. This last chemo will be as much of a celebration as it can be! We will make it so!

Great news is that now it’s over!! I received my chemo completion diploma (no joke!). I intend to burn it to ashes on the beaches of Mexico!

And I got to ring the chemo bell with Madison and Shane by my side and Dan as the videographer (clink on the link for the video of the bell ringing)! We followed with a celebratory lunch at Dos Mariachis!

http://lookwhatyoumademedo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_2647-1.mov

Finally, a huge hug and thank you to everyone who has supported me in any way through this first half of the journey. It’s not over yet, but I think the worst is behind us, or I hope so anyway!

These were pictures from my 6 chemos, with the exception of the second because we forgot to take one so I put in a substitute! Lol

Now I start the process of the chemo side effects… wish me luck! I will be out of commission for the next 10 days or so.

Oh!!! I almost forgot!!! The PICC line is out! YAY!

❤️🙏💪💪💪



Running 🏃‍♀️

The thoughts of spring have inspired me to get back out and try running. Over time chemo therapy has definitely affected my stamina. Physically working out with my trainer Carla has kept me quite strong, however when I try to run my cardio is definitely affected. This week I have slowly tried … I’m not sure I will be able to run for more than 5 minutes intervals for quite a while but at least I’m getting out and trying! It always helps to have friends encouraging me by joining me on my attempts!

Good news… only 2 more days until my last chemo!!! The next 48 hours will crawl by! Once this chemo is done and the PICC line is out, Carla has promised to kick the crap out of my other arm that has been useless for the last 4 months.. I’m a little scared 😱 😉!

Be on the lookout Tuesday or Wednesday for the big event – I will be ringing the chemo bell!!! We will record it and post it so that you can all share the moment with me 😊.

Almost there… well, until March 28th when radiation starts…




top