Thursday, February 1, 2018


My usual opus memorandum for blog posts is to think about what I want to say over a few days with the intention of actually writing about those thoughts. What usually then happens is that my brain is so full that I end up writing a stream of thoughts which does allows me to winnow out what I really want to say. The writing is important to me~~even though I keep a journal, writing these posts becomes a barometer of sorts on my cancer and its effects over time.

For years after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I felt there was a monkey on my back. This common term has several meanings but for me, once I knew I had recurred, I felt that the monkey had gone. Not so, as the truth of the matter is that that little guy will always be with me unless I come to terms with not knowing what is next~~next being growth of my tumour or metastases in other parts of my body or ultimately death directly caused by breast cancer.

The last week or so has been very difficult as I approach the six month mark since diagnosis.

I have still not accepted the fact that I have minimal use in my right hand. Finding a good knife has been on my list for ages (not for stabbing Walkers from "Walking Dead" though I think if I had full use of my hand I could easily kill a walker, having binge watched several seasons in recent months) thinking that it would make it way easier to cut things when cooking. I went to House of Knives on Sunday and the nice young man explained and showed me how it makes no difference what kind of knife it is~~you have to have fingers along with the thumb to cut properly. "Activities of daily living" are impacted  and I am lucky to be retired since it takes twice as long to do anything. I encourage you to spend some time using only your non dominant hand. Dressing, from pulling on socks to buttoning pants and shirts to using zippers~~each activity requires some fumbling to accomplish it. I have been unable to turn a key whether it be for a door or a car for months. Try flossing your teeth with one hand using your dominant thumb and bent forefinger to hold the floss. Cancer stares me in the face every day. With my first go with breast cancer, this was not the case and life went pretty much back to normal.

Those with rheumatoid arthritis have the same difficulties and I empathize with them. I am adjusting and for the most part, feel good when I find an easier way to complete a task. What does worry me is that my tumour will eventually grow. There is that monkey again. Writing this helps me to put it in perspective and slowly work towards a way to prepare.

Also there is the morning pain which always takes time to move beyond once I have taken my long action Oxyneo. I am so blessed to have our cats Flobi and Jake with me. They often work better than my alarm clock (which I still set every night and hit snooze over and over in the morning) because their insistent meowing and purring my my ears does have an effect. They need me to get up and either feed them or let them out if I have locked their cat door. At night they always sleep with me, Jake at the bottom of Dick's side and Flobi usually curled up close beside me.

Most often I have come to think "glass half full" and even this past week when I realized that cooking is no longer easy and so not so much fun, that when Dick gets home from the sailing adventure in the summer, we can make it team work. Most of you know I have tended towards independence especially over the past years with Dick sailing across oceans and me meeting him here and there but mainly keeping up the home front. I was also planning and leading the Nepal treks with my good buddy Razzu. I had my chickens to care for, I loved quilting and was OK for longer periods of time. I really miss Dick though I am so happy that he and his crew of Maurie an engineering mate and Steven and his girlfriend are going to bring Van Kedisi home. Thankfully Dick has made the wise decision to ship VK to Tahiti so none of us have to worry about them sailing thousands of nautical miles in the roaring forties.

Before I end this post, I want to return to the concept of death. When I am thinking rationally the idea of death does not scare me. However this past while, when feeling ill and sad, I did think about the what ifs of it being sooner than later. I am blessed with my immediate family who love me and call me and listen to me when it is not always easy. When I felt I was falling apart a couple of days ago, my wise and wonderful daughter called and I was able to articulate through tears, some of my recent thoughts. Loving family and friends and being loved by them is the ultimate goal in life and when we are gone there will still be memories. I am not ready yet and that was my fear. I want to leave more positive memories in ways I am not sure about yet. We will all die some day and I can only hope that I can live up to a couple of things I thought about over the New Year. Kindness and compassion are things that we all desire in our lives and I fail often. No matter how long or short my time is, I now have the opportunity to try harder to be kind and caring every day.

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