Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer is coming!

This seems better than "Winter is coming!" I have yet to see this season's episodes of Game of Thrones and wonder if permanent winter has come yet to the kingdoms. Back to the present though~~it is a rainy Saturday in June so a perfect opportunity to write blog posts. The first one today was an update for Dick's continuing adventure on our catamaran, Van Kedisi. https://sailvankedisi.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/french-polynesia/

Tuesday evening my friend Suzanne and I depart for Papeete, Tahiti to join Dick and Rick onboard Van Kedisi for two weeks of adventure. It will be interesting to see a totally new place where relatively few people I know have ever gone to.

Breast cancer has been on my mind this week as two friends started treatment for recurrences yesterday. One woman is from our breastcancer.org 2012 chemo group who was with so many of us in Las Vegas in 2013. The other was in our Cowgirls versus Cancer retreat in Montana in spring, 2014. We hold them in our hearts even from afar. Our amazing massage therapist from that retreat was diagnosed with breast cancer not long ago and she has gone through the chemotherapy part of treatment so far. My BIL, Wilf has had two surgeries and chemotherapy for colorectal cancer diagnosed with one of those simple stool sample tests last fall. Thank goodness he did do that test even though for him at the time, it was routine with no expectation of cancer. He will do 4 months more of chemotherapy once he recovers enough from his April surgery. He and my sister Kathryn continue to amaze me with their positive outlook and resilience.

As is comes up to almost 4 years since I found my infamous lump, life goes on of course. Briefly, the same old cancer take-aways persist but none of them life threatening, just annoying and daily reminders unfortunately as without them I think I could forget that this ever occurred. I think I must write a post about breast cancer and aging, since often the lines are blurred on which causes which symptoms.

Depending on who I ask~~physio, massage therapist, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, GP, or others who have similar treatment, I get many different answers or rationales for the ongoing irritants. My right scapula has been popping out and along with shoulder pain and weakness plus the cording under my arm it is clear that the symptoms are related to surgeries and radiation. But osteoporosis has affected my shoulder joint and is this due to aging or the drug I take against recurrence? Ha! Of course no one really knows. But my MT did say one day, that people of a "certain age" can have shoulder problems like this. Very diplomatic! But other professionals say radiation is the main culprit, the original scar from my lumpectomy has caused the cording, yes it is the drugs I take, nerves were cut during the mastectomy and/or lumpectomy thus the scapula popping out and so on. The good news is that yoga, walking, lots of range of motion exercises and my wonderful massage therapist and physio help and there is nothing dire going on.

I have been on a waitlist since last May for a revision that may help. My plastic surgeon says he can cut the very hard cords that disappear under the lumpectomy scar though I am aware that more surgery can cause additional scar tissue but hey I think I will give it a go.  I have gone from #26 to #19 on the waitlist in the past 6 months so it is not imminent anyway.

I did have an incisional hernia repair in April which was totally unconnected to cancer and that was successful. I had to kick back with no yoga or exertion for a month but that was OK too. Lots of time for thinking and reading and movies on Netflix. Thanks Andy for that!

In the last post I referred to my chickens. While I was recuperating from the hernia repair I was witness to our broody hen Laila's instinctual need to be a mother. It made me think back to the beginning of this chicken hobby of mine and it does relate directly to my time of BC treatment though I had never really realized it.


In the fall of 2012 while I awaiting the pathology from my lumpectomy, Dick found himself a project~~why not build a 5 star chicken coop? Though the family seems to think it was my idea, I have never really believed that. But I am glad. Dick built a masterpiece and nearly broke his back in the process as he fell off while putting on the roof and landed on his drill which hit the ground first. He was badly shaken, grey and bruised and as luck would have it, Karalee Greer who is a physio just happened to be here. She took a look at him and with ibuprofen, an ice pack and instructions to lie down for the rest of the day, I went off to the art gallery as planned with Susan Penner. I called several times to see how he was but no answer. Of course, once we left he went back up on the roof to finish the job!

Chickens did not appear that fall as chemotherapy followed by all the other nasty treatments and surgery took precedence. However the following summer when Dick was off sailing across the Med and Atlantic, Andy and I picked our first young chicks. Of course I picked a rooster and have done so more than once since they do look more attractive than hens. We did end up with a couple of lovely hens, Eva and Fluffy and though they are no longer with us, my hobby has expanded and looking back to when Dick built that coop, I am grateful for the way it evolved into caring for them and forgetting often about my healing self.

Laila went broody in March. This is something that happens to a few hens and often it is impossible to break this trance like state that has them sitting on a nest 24/7. I was going away and hoped that she would be broken of her broodiness but it was not to be. Lori, our tenant got her 6 fertilized eggs and on April 15, 5 adorable chicks were born. I was captivated and spent much of my recuperation watching the interaction between mom and chicks. I know a lot more about chickens than I had ever anticipated and can see that I would never have made a good farmer~~just a few chickens can be a lot of work! But thanks to Dick it has been amazing therapy.

This will not be the end of the story though. Laila went broody again last week and is sitting on 6 more eggs but not at my house. She is with a wonderful family who also took 3 of the chicks. I am off to Tahiti on Tuesday night and broody hens need lots of attention. I do get Laila back though as well as "pick of the brood." We are allowed 4 hens and no roosters in Vancouver and I currently have 4 hens and 2 chicks who look like they will be hens. But we do have a big lot and so far there is lots of room. The good thing too about chickens is that they are dispensable~~either other chicken lovers take them or they can end up in the pot. One of our young roosters did become coq au vin made by Lori and enjoyed by Dick and her. I am not into eating my pets!


The one thing that I am not doing this year is trekking in Nepal. I am sure I have at least one more trek in me and am contemplating Mustang (Lo Monthang) next May if anyone is interested.

Much love to everyone who has any sort of cancer or is recovering from or living with someone with cancer or who has a friend or friends with cancer. It is not easy but it is possible to have fun and keep on trekking!




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