The Wrong Way to Hope

Wrong Way to Hope

Last night Steve and I watched a movie a young cancer survivor told me about called “Wrong Way to Hope – An inspiring story of young adults and cancer”.  The back of the case reads …

” A group of ordinary Canadians embark on a journey of a lifetime down one of the most remote rivers in North America.  This incredible river journey is all the more remarkable as the core expedition members are all young adults and survivors of caner.  This inspirational group of young adult survivors share their personal stories and apply the lessons they learned from their cancer struggle as together they battle a completely new set of trials on the river.  The result is an extraordinary journey of fear, uncertainty, and seemingly insurmountable emotional and physical challenges combined with strength, humor, beauty, and a rare insight into the lives of one of Canada’s more under-served and unrecognized populations.”

Other than the opportunity to hear and learn from people who went through many similar challenges as I am now going through, the greatest thing about this movie was the  daily “themes“.  Each day of their journey down the river had a theme which was discussed each morning and evening.  The themes were 1) Transition 2) Fear & Uncertainty 3) Isolation 4) Relationship 5) Identity 6) Silence 7) Reintrajectorization (the process of reconnecting, reentering if you will, your old life, or some reasonable and hopefully much more amazing version of it.)

As soon as the movie was over I turned to Steve (with a surprising amount of excitement for just finishing watching a very emotional movie) and told him that I wanted to go on my own “river journey” of sorts.  I decided that I would explore for myself the seven topics they they did.  My next seven blog posts will cover these topics and I can not wait to see where this journey takes me!  This movie not only allowed cancer survivors to connect, but also for caregivers and supporters to catch a glimpse or gain greater understanding of the life and challenges of a cancer patient/survivor and I hope that these next seven posts will allow you a glimpse into my life at the moment.  I think that it will be extremely beneficial for myself to work through and process these important emotions and topics.

I would strongly suggest that everyone watch this film and I would be more than happy to loan it to anyone who is interested in watching it.  If you would like to learn more about the movie or the Young Adult Cancer Society please visit

http://wrongwaytohope.com/

http://youngadultcancer.ca/

I look forward to my river journey and, as always, please participate in it as well!

Sunshine and Sand Cures All

We have all listened to songs, read articles or maybe even experienced the power of the sand and sun ourselves.  The day after my last round of chemo I was lucky enough to be able to head to Florida with Steve and my parents for a lovely vacation and experience first hand what sunshine, sand and maybe a few Pina Coladas can do for one’s (or at least my) mental state.  It normally takes me a good 4 or 5 days to begin to feel “normal” after stopping chemo, but this time I felt better much more quickly and I think the reason why was that I wanted to feel better quickly so that I could fully enjoy my vacation.  It is amazing what control the mind has over how we feel.  A friend of mine said to me recently “Your brain is the only thing that can tell you how to feel” and how true is that!  If you believe it to be true it will become true.  Think of the number of times that this has happened in your own life.  You decide to let someone’s mean words or poor attitude bring you down, for example.  I know that I certainly do this a lot and it usually isn’t a conscience decision to do it, but it happens.   I have decided that during and after my next round of chemo I am not going to feel sorry for myself and over analysis each time I feel a little crappy, but I am going to be thinking as many positive thoughts as possible so that I can get back to feeling “normal” as quickly as I did this time.

So . . . as it turns out I don’t think it was actually the sand and sun that made me feel better, but rather my mind that did.  But if anyones wants to go on vacation in three weeks time, my schedule is wide open ; )

Steve and I spent one day at the Magic Kingdom and I think it is the happiest place on earth!

Cinderella and I!

Health Update, April 5, 2012

Earlier this evening I returned home from what was my most stressful appointment yet… and after the very quick 4 minute appointment with my doctor I realized what I wrote yesterday is true.  Stressing about things does no good!  Regardless of how much I was worried for the past week it didn’t change the outcome of the news I received today.

As soon as my Oncologist, Dr. Neville, came into the room he said “Well, there have been no changes.  The scan is the exact same of the original scan (done November 26, 2011)”. I was relived that he got the appointment started with that, however, disappointment with the news.  I know that no change is much better than it having grown, however, I was (obviously) hoping that it would have shrunk….at least a little bit.  He went on to explain that the type of tumor I have shrinks very slowly and that he is is only expecting minimal shrinking anyways once treatment is finished. He told us (which I had somehow forgot from our original meeting in December) that the tumor will always be there and to not be discouraged by the lack of concrete evidence.  He believes that the chemo is working.  I have to say I am somewhat discouraged but am going to continue on fighting anyways, hoping that in another 3 months time we will see some better results!  One thing I found particularly interesting is that since the tumor will always be there, it will always appear on MRI scans so the only way of truly determining if it is “dead” is through biopsies.  Now that I think about it, it makes total sense, but took me by surprise for some reason.  I wonder if I will have another biopsy at the end of the year??

On a positive note, Dr. Neville said that since my blood counts are good that I can start chemo immediately, and as soon as this is posted I am off to take the first dose.  I am headed to Florida for Steve’s uncle’s wedding after Easter so I really wanted to be done chemo by the time of the wedding.  I am very happy that I have been allowed to start a few days early this round!  Will make for a much more fun celebration!

I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter with your families and if you are on The Firecrackers team we are one month ’till race day!  WOOO HOOO

xox

Nerves

Nerves…something we all have to deal with.  They usually go hand in hand with worry. I have never been one to worry.  I never really saw the point and very much had the attitude that “what ever will happen will happen” .  I don’t know if that is the “right” or “wrong” attitude to have in life.  Through my diagnosis and treatment many people have asked me how I am so calm and positive about things and I think that this is probably why.  I am doing everything that I can to try to combat this disease (organic and natural diet,  trying to keep as active as possible, etc.) so what is the point in worrying?  Worry only causes stress and stress has been proven to increase cancer risk/tumor growth…that seems very counter productive to me !

And on that note I want you all to know that I am very terrified and have been worrying excessively about tomorrow (totally contradictory, I know).  I am more worried and stressed about tomorrow than I was the night before my biopsy.  Tomorrow is when I find out the results of my first MRI since my diagnosis and treatment.  I know that you are all hoping, wishing and praying for good news as much as I am, and I really appreciate it!  I managed to stay very busy today which was good at keeping my mind off the significance of tomorrow, but now that all that is over the reality 0f the situation has sunk in.  I don’t know what I will do if the news is bad… if the tumor has grown, or even has stayed the same size.  I know that I need to stay motivated to keep fighting but it is going to be challenging.

So, make sure you check in on here tomorrow night for the update of how things went.  Thank you as always for your continued support and love.  You all amaze me!

Amazing People are still out there…

It seems that everywhere we turn these days we are faced with horrible things happening around the world.  While I would agree that there are plenty of awful things happening, I think there are also many wonderful and great things occurring.  There still are amazing, warm hearted, caring and loving people in the world.  I know that at times it doesn’t seem like it…but the past 36 hours of my life have shown me that there are.  I am so thankful to have these amazing people in my life.  They are my inspiration to keep fighting.

This chain of good events (I am scared to even write this, as it seems that this winter has just been one bad thing after another) started yesterday afternoon.  I was, or so I thought, going over to one of my best friend, Erin’s house for a late lunch with another wonderful lady we used to work with.  Little did I know that she had planned a surprise party for myself and another lady who is just finishing up her battle with Breast Cancer.  I was SO surprised and amazed that all of these people had given up their Sunday to hang out with me!  It was such a kind and caring thing to do and it was wonderful to be able to catch up with friends who I had not seen in quite awhile.  We had an amazing afternoon of eating way to much food and maybe even having a little too much wine 😉  A huge THANK YOU to Erin for knowing this was exactly what I needed!

The smiles continued this morning when I had the opportunity to meet with two ladies, I have never met who want to organize a benefit concert in my honor.  One is a new friend of my Mom’s, who upon hearing my story went way above and beyond raising awareness, starting prayer groups and fundraising for my team.  The other women is an amazing Juno award winning singer who heard my story through a friend of a friend of a friend who has also stepped up to the plate wanting to do something.  She has an amazing story, which I was so touched I had the opportunity to hear.   I was, and am, absolutely honored to have been able to meet both of these amazing ladies who have so much love, experience and knowledge to share.  It blows me away that they would take so much time out of their very busy lives to not only meet me, but to want to plan such a fabulous event for someone they don’t even know.  Just amazing!

While I have been blessed with meeting and getting to know so many inspirational people, over the past few months (not only the ones I just mentioned) I don’t think any of them have been as amazing as Jenna.  Jenna is a beautiful 10 year old girl who is the daughter of a family friend.  I had only talked to her for maybe 5 or 10 minutes in my life before being diagnosed.  She was one of the first people to join The Firecrackers and her dedication to the team has blown me away!  Right away she knew what she had to do and set herself a very impressive goal.  She decided that she would make and sell bracelets to raise $500 for The Firecrackers and The Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada.  Since then Jenna and her mom make beautiful beaded bracelets every day after school.  Tonight, I was surprised with the opportunity to go see her in action!  My cousin Becky took me to Jenna’s end of season hockey banquet where she had all of her beautiful work for sale.  This is the first time I have seen her in almost a year and it was one of the biggest honors to be able to sit with her and help her sell her hard work.  I was almost brought to tears numerous times.  Her energy and enthusiasm is amazing!  She has already sold almost 100 bracelets.  When it was time to go, I got not one, but two of the best hugs EVER!  Jenna, you are a hero.  Not only has she dedicated most of her free time to making and selling these beautiful bracelets, but a couple months ago, totally out of the blue she told her mom that she wanted to donate her hair to cancer.  So off they went to the local salon where she chopped off her beautiful blond hair so that a complete stranger would be able to have a wig.  Talk about an amazing person!  I have attached her fundraising page with some pictures of this amazing act!

There have certainly been other amazing people who have touched my life so deeply these past few months ( I could go on and on) but these past two days have really stood out for their amazing moments.  I hope that one day I can grow into becoming half, or even a quarter, of amazing, inspiring, courageous people that you all are.  Thank you all for bringing sunshine, smiles and hope into my life.

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