Thursday, April 12, 2018


These sayings just represent what some people believe is true of most older people. As you'll learn, though, old dogs certainly can be taught new tricksThese sayings just represent what some people believe is true of most older people. As you'll learn, though, old dogs certainly can be taught new tricks. ... However, with patience and a motivated learner, older people and animals canindeed learn to do anything a youngster can do. 

There is no denying it~~adapting to new ways is more difficult for me now as I close in on my 70th year. Not only am I ageing but the many drugs taken in the past few years, including chemotherapy and more recently Ibrance, Faslodex and opioids along with other test drugs related to nerve pain, affect me physically, mentally and emotionally. Ibrance is an immunotherapy anti breast cancer medication which causes fatigue, Faslodex works with Ibrance on a hormonal level, opioids are for relief of the intense nerve pain this recent cancer has caused~~all of this has been an onslaught for me.  Almost a year ago I departed for Nepal with a bad knee, having thrown it out the night before. l was annoyed but having had a bum knee for years, it was not the end of the world and I always left for treks several days early both to acclimatize but also to make sure I was fit last minute. En route I developed lymphedema even while wearing my compression sleeve. My knee improved and the swelling in my hand went down and I had a job to do working with our team to provide a "trip of a lifetime"   Since showers are few and far ?, I honestly did not notice that the lymphedema in my arm had never resolved. A month later, once home in Vancouver the symptoms of lymphedema continued but the pain from tingling, burning and throbbing increased. The blog posts since then have described my treatment since then, treatment not really being for lymphedema, but in fact an aggressive cancer.

My last post was over two months ago and since then there has been a rapid deterioration in the use of my right hand. I am one who is considered to be dominantly right handed and with ageing and medications, it has been struggle to adapt even to activities of daily living using my left hand. I still have the use of my right thumb but the latest seems to be that I will lose that too just as I did my pointer finger a couple of weeks ago.

I was in NZ mid February to mid March and it was a wonderful 4 weeks with family in NZ and friends from Canada. I cannot say enough about how well I was taken care of while we had so much fun, mainly in the Northland and including some good sailing with friends for almost a week then 3 perfect days with just Dick as we made our way north from islands near Auckland to Whangarei. Dick's sister Claire and partner Pat know our friends from Canada (Claire and Pat trekked with mainly Canadian friends to Annapurna Base Camp in 2014 so there was a mini reunion too. My 69th birthday took place at Pat's 70th birthday and what a party it was!

It was 4 weeks away from medical appointments other than my Faslodex injections administered by an ICU RN who had not done an IM injection for 15 years. Life is an adventure and getting my IM drugs the day before my birthday was just part of it.

My return March 10th went well and I had a few more days with my sister Kathryn and her husband Wilf who house/cat sat while I was gone. We had a good time which was in addition to a week together before I left. Not sure the weather in Victoria was much better than NS where they live but they claim they enjoyed it. I do know our cats were spoiled but provided great companionship according to Kathryn and Wilf. My return also included the very sad but meaningful celebration of life for our friend with CJD. Hundreds of us gathered in Vancouver to mourn but celebrate his amazing life of strength, teaching, generosity and much more. He has inspired me in many ways and when I am down or whiny, his strength comes forth yet again to tell me to keep going no matter the hurdles.

I have hoped for a different scenario than the one I left in February but sadly it is not to be. Mid March I could still tie shoelaces and use my right thumb and pointer finger. Now only my thumb works. I suggest you try using only your non dominant hand to do everything for even a few minutes but preferably an hour or more. Add intense nerve pain (helped immeasurably by opioids) and you will find that it is quite a chore. But I am still pretty happy and despite the time filled with appointments with massage therapists (one for lymphedema and one for fascial release on my chest wall), monthly visits with my oncologist along with blood work just prior, GP appointments and more. I have seen two plastic surgeons in the past month, one for a post op checkup (surgery last June) and another Tuesday to see a team~~plastic surgeon and physiatrist who work with nerves. Sadly they had nothing to offer me and I could tell that they genuinely wanted to. I am to be referred to another specialist who does nerve blocks so there is another avenue of hope.

The most recent medication prescribed by my pain doctor at the cancer agency is Nortriptylene. Previously I tried Lyrica also called Pregabalin which works for 1/8. Poor odds and the new one is 1/2. That is not me and I am currently weaning off it. I did see a GP who specializes in Medical Marijuana and I have just started an oil twice a day, very low dose. I am impressed by the company who provides my oil and they have 24/7 phone help. I will gradually increase the dosage but for now I cannot feel any effect.

Despite these trials and tribulations, life is good and friends/family far and near are close via phone calls, emails, Skype and FaceTime, not to mention good friends who have been immensely helpful right here in Victoria. Via a Facebook group called Oak Bay Local, I have hired a lovely young nursing student who has really improved my quality of life! She will also be helping me with some secretarial work and deck gardening. Spring is rumoured to be around the corner and I am slowly stating back walking. I believe the Nortriptylene made my balance worse. I had a fall Easter Monday and thankfully my neighbour was able to take me to ER for stitches. I still look like I lost the fight but it made me more careful and has been part of the reason  I am weaning off the drug.

Adding to my happiness is the fact that Dick, first mate Maurie (a buddy from engineering school) and our older son Steven and his lovely Australian girlfriend Heidi will soon set sail from Tahiti heading for Hawaii and ultimately Victoria. I will also be posting for him on his blog set up years ago my another good friend who sailed the Atlantic leg in 2013. The link for that blog is:
On that blog there is a button you can press~~"follow" and you will receive an email any time there is a new post. I think there is also a link to my blog and another that shows you where Van Kedisi is.

One of the greatest blessings this past year is Edie, granddaughter of an old friend who I spent many hours with as she endured chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. Being flexible has meant that I have Edie sometimes once or twice a week then not for weeks. She will be here next week when Andy and Mary will also be visiting.

Now Friday, April 13th and I have added and labelled photos.

Love to you all!

My 69th birthday at Claire and Pat's in NZ.

Being presented to Queen Elizabeth on my birthday.

Dick and Suzanne in NZ

Dick, me, a friend, Suzanne and Sarah Roe (who provided awesome accommodation near Dargaville.

Sailing in NZ

Leighton family reunion on the Fleming farm~~2nd cousins of Dick.

Heidi, me and Steven

Shelley, Fred and Grady Galloway on a recent visit to Victoria

Yes, I am still fighting the battle against a Texas pipeline company!

Marian and Elaine on a lovely day last month in Vancouver.

Yet another G&T on VK~~Patti looks happy!

Van Kedisi Crew Maurie, Dick, Steven and Heidi

Beautiful NZ Kereru (pigeon)

Van Kedisi being loaded on a huge ship for transport to Tahiti.

Little Edie smelling the flowers and the Celebration of Life program for our dear friend who will continue to be an inspiration in my life.

Love to everyone 


  1. I love reading about your adventures, and yet am sorry about your pain. I hope you do get some resolution to the nerve pain. May your friends and family continue to support you.

    1. JoJo, I love it that we can share~~I am reading your blog now too. There is so much that we help each other with.