One down, one more to go

Finally something good happens in the doctor’s office! Today I received the results for my eye and brain MRI. We waited about 1.5 hours to see the radiologist, who is such a lovely man that you really cannot mind the wait too much, and it had the effect of pumping up my paranoia. After all, why else do they keep you waiting that long unless they are scrambling to process the news and develop a plan before visiting your room? That was my logic at least.

While I’ll probably never get ‘no evidence of disease’ due to the cancer having infiltrated the skull of my bone (in effect growing the bone, which won’t typically shrink again even if it dies) . . . the legions have slightly decreased. Even the eye lesions have had a slight decrease once again.

Also, the MRI techs didn’t find any new lesions.

Plus my actual brain tissue still remains clear.

SO, today I received good news. Nothing ends here in terms of the threat, but in terms of improvement – it is happening. The radiation has been worth it. May it continue to help my body push back.

Even as I write this, I can feel an uncomfortable stitch beneath my left rib cage.  Just this morning I had another CT scan, and I’ll be receiving those results this Wednesday with my oncologist. (Day after my 34th birthday). If there is any growth (which I reckon is likely) we’ll have to pivot strategies – and that will start with a liver biopsy of a cancer lesion.

But even if that happens, I will try not to panic. Do not panic – just proceed. The HER2+ therapy, in my opinion, has had an impact on my bone mets – even if my lungs and liver are not responding as expected. And since bone mets can become painful if they grow, I’m grateful for any form of control. I’ll just need to see if my oncologist agrees in that it is worthwhile to continue the therapy. Sometimes I think I’m in a game of negotiations as to what can and cannot continue.

Anyhow, at least for today there is a WIN. And with my birthday being tomorrow, I’ll take it gladly.

Finally, some good news.🙂

Happy Canada Day Plus One!

Happy Canada Day + 1! As in the day after our country’s 149th birthday. I’m writing this post late because on the day itself there really was not time for blogging.

As a country, we are officially 149 years old (if you care to ignore the generations and generations of First Nation people who lived on this continent long before the Europeans arrived – but as a united & politically connected Canada, we are 149), which pretty much makes us a baby when comparing ourselves to other countries.

After witnessing the UK vote themselves out of the European Union last week (!!!! Arugggghh!!!!)  I truly felt gutted. Zsolt and I had rich lives in England while there. We met the best darn people you’d hope to meet. Some of my fondest friendships were formed while doing my MA and working in the library. Lifelong friendship were made as Zsolt studied his PhD. And while I missed Canada and family in a way that ached, it was becoming more and more my country. If I hadn’t gotten sick we would have made it our permanent home, I’m certain. I’d be English today. Instead, as it is, Zsolt is Canadian.

But it’s also the first place I ever felt like I didn’t belong. While working in England, I was referred to as a foreigner. That was weird. Me, foreign? Maybe, but not by much I reckoned. It’s the first place I witnessed an open argument between groups of people on the street – specifically Polish and English, which certainly I’d never seen in my suburban home of Kanata, Canada. It was the first time I realized that not everything was totally okay in the world, and that tensions were creeping in – seeping into some minds. Not into all people, but enough that 2nd generation polish kids felt compelled to explain their Englishness to me on more than one occasion. (at work, and once in a restaurant with the waiter). Something was certainly going on then, and it has clearly continued.

Though by living and working for an international university, you get into a lovely liberal bubble of acceptance – and most of this passed by me without noticing. So when it came to the Brexit voting, I never suspected it was possible for the Leave vote to win. Except that it did. Leaving me to worry about my international friends in England, and how they will be treated.

Remember when Quebec held the referendum here in Canada to remain or leave? Remember that? That was the damn worst. To think a 149 year partnership (okay, it was like 129 back then or something) could break apart with a simple vote – it was scary to me even as a child. Even as a kid, I knew Quebec leaving would break something very special. I’m not saying it is something perfect, but guys – we have a very special country. The more I see of this wonderful world, the more I know there’s a strong reason to love this place so much.

We are not perfect. But we are special. For one thing, we’re proof that a country can evolve its identity while maintaining important values, even as it welcomes the identities of others. (Just crash a citizenship ceremony to see what I mean, it’s totally inspiring. They do them in Ottawa.)

You know, the EU is very special too. I hope it remains an ever strengthening and evolving entity – where countries within work well together, support each other, realize each other’s worth (as if they didn’t already), and don’t leave when things are hard, or because some parties promised a vote that was really just some political tool rather than a smart way to govern.

And I cannot forget the United Kingdom, because it’s a very special place, particularly in my heart (along with Hungary). I know that it is bursting with good people – even those who voted to leave, in their minds, felt they were doing the right thing (though my frustration with them remains very high because it was a damn bad decision. In hard times, we look to blame – and they were given an easy and massive target to kick, with extremely serious consequences.) But I know there’s so much goodness in the UK – and goodness knows the more we attempt to understand and support each other, the better off we are all around.

 

Anyhow, Happy Canada Day. I love this country, and as my life grows I come to realize in how many ways I’m blessed to call it home.

P.S. I had a lemonade moment yesterday (term inspired by Mandi) when it was 9:30 and we decided to race to from our apartment to Major Hill’s Park to see the fireworks. I was exhausted, but Canada Day is only once a year. So on when the rain boots, out came the umbrella, and we went to see those big BOOMS happen in person. It was so nice, and even if I was knackered to the bone by the time we return, it was worth every ounce of energy.

The green journal

It’s rush hour here in Ottawa. Early rush hour, but now with flexible work schedules it seems from 3 pm onwards everyone is hitting the road. I’m on the porch of my downtown apartment, which has steps leading down to the sidewalk. I guess you might call it a walk-up. A very busy road it to my right and it’s clogged up with cars. I can’t hear them too much, however, because my right ear is not hearing very well lately. It may be a side effect of the radiation. It may be that my ear is full of wax. Probably it is both. My father took a look in there and said it was very waxy. He then tried putting in drops while I told him not to poke my ear drum, and gave him an all-around hard time.

 

Radiation or not, I probably need to get these ears cleaned. That and stop watching Youtube videos about people getting their ears cleaned, because it’s gross. (but cool too, because I find that weird stuff fascinating)

 

This is one of those days when I cannot stand being told to rest. Zsolt is head-deep in his new job, so cannot play with me. I’m locked out of my work email so cannot take a peek at the accumulating correspondence that need to be sorted. And project wise I’m a bit dried up at the moment.

Lost in a land of chemo and recovery and destructive anticipation.

I’ve come across videos and blog posts that made a very important point around chronic illness: stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something. Do something for your life because you are here to live it. Don’t hide behind pity (self or otherwise). Create pathways in the mind that don’t focus on the fear or pain, but rather reinforce the constructive, the creative, and the happy.  And to do all this, you must do something. Because you start feeling very sorry for myself when all you do is lay on the couch.

Some days it’s okay to lay on the couch. Sometimes I MUST lay on the couch. But when I can get up and move and not feel zombified, it’s really wrong to just stay there letting the sadness sink deeper.

 

Thing is – I don’t know what to do! So I have come out onto the porch to write a blog post.

There is a green journal in my place, tucked in amongst my other writing (stories, drafts, thesis, etc). This journal was written upon meeting Zsolt. It’s about my going to Hungary, him coming to Canada and our moving to England. It’s full of wondering about the future and love and commitment. It’s really a trip to re-read these many years later. I can see how circumstances have changed, but even more important, how much I’ve changed too.

 

I was happy but lost at 23. And actually felt like a failure – I had expected great things, and clear directions from myself. I thought I would know where life was headed. But after four years of psychology, and having dropped out of Photography to go to Hungary, I was literally floundering and without purpose.

There’s this list where I write out what I’m good at: taking instructions, helping being, listening,

AND

There’s this list where I wrote out what I’m okay at: drawing, photography, psychology, speaking

Isn’t it funny I never wrote ‘writing’ on those lists? Or storytelling? (Or project creation/management, or networking or designing or community building . . . but of course I couldn’t back then, because I’d never tried to do those things)There I was in Hungary – feeling like I didn’t fit in, couldn’t understand anyone and had no purpose – filling up my green journal with observations of life. Writing in the park about the church across the yard, and the school children, and how the tourists were watching me as much as I was watching them. It was such a natural way for me to be – the writing – and a talent too, right in front of my eyes on the page, and I didn’t even see it. Instead I felt disappointed for my lack of purpose, and my lack of money making potential.

 

It makes me wonder what I cannot see in front of me right now. What am I missing? What important element is there to notice and embrace? And is it only time and life that will reveal things, or is there a way to force it to my attention now?

(Can I pop this pimple of potential? Yeah, I’m fascinated with popping pimples too, as well as looking into ears)

This is SUCH a self-absorbed blog post. Very self-ruminating. Bumpyboobs has become my green journal.

In a way, I feel lost as I did those 10 years ago. Cancer has changed everything once again. All the projects have stopped. Even my job had to be put on hold. Heck, I’ve even published my novel. So what now? What is my purpose now? Can I get back there, do I need to reposition – and how?!

Are there new pathways I can carve into my mind that will take me away from the cancer pity? Do I need to make it a productive part of my life? And if so, how? I’m not going to become an advocate, so what is this illness forcing me to experience? How I supposed to learn from this – what can I create with this? What can I do despite this? Who am I now?

 

I am back there, like ten years ago, floating and uncertain. But I’m much, much further too. Far more confident in myself – and I know no matter what, I am not a failure and there is no loss. Just life. Just living. Just a lot of learning and experiments.

 

We’ll see what happens next.