This may be the most important post that I have to write, and I was hoping to have it published in time for Thanksgiving.  I thought what a better time to write than during a time we are thankful, but life got in the way.
I am so grateful that I work in such a great institution! If the Canadian Armed Forces is not the best “company” to work for I don’t know where else is. They have given me the time to focus on me and my family. Everyone rallied around me to give me the support I needed and even the support I didn’t know I needed. My bosses (or CoC for those military-types) are extremely understanding in providing time for both physical and mental healing and providing me with work opportunities such that I still feel part of the team.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the medical team on the military-side that started this whole process. Who knows how long the cancer would have been undetected if I didn’t feel comfortable coming forward with the lump I found.  I had originally “complained” in 2016 about having pain in my right breast and at that time they didn’t blink an eye and they sent me for a mammogram and follow-on ultrasounds where nothing was detected.  Then, when I went back in the summer of 2018 downplaying a similar complaint they sent me again for a mammogram and ultrasound.  I always felt like I had a voice and that I was taken seriously.  The medical coverage that the military provides is amazing.  The drugs and the services that are covered are above and beyond when I compare with others that are going through or have been through similar diagnosis.
I feel so blessed that the cancer was found in Kingston.  The medical team here at both Hotel Dieu and KGH are amazing.  From the ultrasound technician who noticed the dimpling in my skin and urged me to get the results from my dr immediately, Dr Jabbs (awesome name for the radiologist who “jabbed” me with a needle for my biopsy) who used her used her connections to get me an MRI very quickly (days rather than the months I would’ve had to wait), to Dr Engel (my oncology surgeon) who is the head prof at Queens for breast cancer,  to Dr Ethier (my oncologist) who never makes me feel like I’m taking too much of her time with my numerous questions I have, and to the amazing nurses who sit with me during chemo, take my stats, and get any questions I may have ready for the doctors.
Lastly my thanks goes to you…my amazing family and friends.  I have been overwhelmed with all the ways that you have reached out and provided me with your support.  I have been blessed with care packages, flowers, helping me start this blog, walks, coming to help with the children, taking the kids for playdates, making me food, chatting with me at all times of the day/night, sharing expertise in cancer-related questions, coming to appointments with me (for even the little things like trying on wigs or learning how to put on make up, going to BRA Day), sending meal packages, praying with me before appointments or just giving me the strength when I needed it most (I know that was a run-on sentence, but I just couldn’t find a logical break).  I do have to give a shout out to the 3 special people that have to live with me day and night and put up with the side-effects that come with this diagnosis.  Both kids have been INCREDIBLE and I have THE MOST AMAZING HUSBAND.  I believe if it wasn’t for Kris this lump would have gone undetected for quite some time and I can’t let my brain go to the dark place if that was the case.  He’s the one who gave me the final push to go to the doctor.
I’m sure I have missed some of the kindness that you have provided and for that I am truly sorry and will blame my chemo-brain.
Sincerely from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

 

I started my chemo regime on Friday 7 September 2018.  I have to admit that I was pretty nervous heading into it, not knowing what to expect in terms of reactions to the treatment were weighing heavily on my mind. I decided that I was going to wear something fun, but I ended up looking like a camp counsellor. We brought way too much stuff with us.  It looked like were going to be there for a week.  We both had backpacks with blankets, pillows, and every device and charger to go with said device and we barely used our phones…
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The first infusion I had to suck on something cold because it is suppose to minimize mouth sores that can come with the drug, so I chose to have ice chips in my mouth. I found that a lot of people wanted to talk to me during this time which was very difficult because my mouth was filled with ice chips and was numb. HAHAHA! The second drug had to be supervised that meant the nurse sat next to me during the entire infusion and double checked that the infusion was going well.  This drug, is one in which some people call the “red devil” because this is the one that gives you the most yucky reactions (nausea, hair loss, etc), but my good friend Jordana put a great spin on it calling it the Angel because it gets the cancer out of us 😃. 7HraJo7LSgSYYIeUDBiFKAThis drug hurt going in for some reason, which meant they slowed down the infusion so as not put put too much strain on my vein. The last drug caused a slight headache and sinus pressure, but for the most part it went well.  The medical team there are absolute angels and they made me feel like the most important person in the world. I have to admit I was quite surprised at how many young women were going through chemo at the same time as I was.  One lucky woman got to ring the bell to celebrate the end of her chemo treatments.  This ringing made my heart swell and it gave me even more hope and showed me the light at the end of the tunnel.
The first day of chemo went pretty well until about the evening.  I was pretty restless and nauseated.  The second day (Saturday) was pretty good throughout the day, I even felt well enough to go for a short walk but the nausea set in right afterwards. The third day (Sunday) wasn’t great.  I mostly felt nauseated and even lost control of my bowels and bladder at one point (sorry if that’s TMI).  The third day was probably that worst, I unfortunately slept too much (the medical team’s recommended amount is 20-30 minutes at a time so as not to mess up your night time sleep) and I slept for hours…this resulted in not being able to sleep at night and feeling extremely nauseated such that I was dry-heaving several times and pacing all over the house trying to find somewhere comfortable.  I ended up sleeping a few minutes in the chair that we had bought for nursing/the baby’s room…good thing we still kept it. On the 4th and 5th day (Monday and Tuesday)  I had extremely blurry vision, even with my glasses on (which I don’t wear very often).  I ended up calling the triage nurse at the cancer clinic.  They decided to change my anti-nausea meds but I didn’t end up needing to take any and my vision finally got a little better on the 6th day.  D%K8twvIR8CXYa%pWm%DTwMy vision was so bad that I couldn’t do anything…couldn’t watch tv, read a book, do work, or write my blog.  I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I couldn’t sit, stand, or lay down for longer than 5-10 minutes. By the 6th day I was feeling much better.  My vision was still slightly blurry but I was much more comfortable.  This day came with a visit to my medical Dr though (on base) because I had found blood in my stool and was advised by my oncology team (this is what you call cancer specialists) to get it checked out by my regular Dr.  The blood was likely cause by my numerous bouts of the aforementioned TMI and I was sent on my way with some cream and as a bonus I acquired a few free face masks (so that I could go to public areas like my kids’ school). The picture below is how I showed up at my daughter’s school when she had to come home due to a sore tummy. She was a little shocked and I got a lot of weird looks, but if that means that people will stay away from me, I’m all for it.
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This session saw a lot of online shopping to make myself feel better.  Kris and I started watching the show Suits, so I obviously had to get some pencil skirts and some form fitting tops 😃

The new clothes and make up have really made me feel good about myself even when I don’t feel so great. I have really tried to minimize the amount I come in contact so I ended up staying in at home and when I did have to go out to places I knew were “higher risk” (like my kids’ school or hospitals) I ended up wearing a mask.

Here goes…

Starting a blog is both exciting and scary at the same time.  I’ve been envisioning starting a blog for years, but to actually go ahead and do it, well that’s another thing.  On one hand it is empowering, but on the other I feel vulnerable.  This is not what I’m used to doing in my day-to-day life…I’m not used to talking about myself, I normally like to take the listener role.

I’ve been asking myself many questions like: What do I write? What do you want to read? What do you definitely NOT want to read about? What if I upset you and it is too much? ….and most importantly…Where do I start??

Let’s start with, hi. I’m Elizabeth and I have breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma to be exact.  This diagnosis is what motivated me to actually start writing this blog. My vision for this blog is that it will be an outlet for me to express my journey in this ‘process’, a way to communicate to friends and family without having to repeat my story over and over, and lastly and possibly most importantly, I want to help others.  I want people to know that they are not alone.  I hope that you continue to join me on this journey of self-discovery and cancer ass-whooping!!

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