Western education 2013

Monday, August 31, 2009

.... emotional fallout

.... when others see you as indestructible and strong, it is sometimes difficult to notice that the ones that count the most and who count on you the most are suddenly thrown out of whack when you are not on top of your game....

This second surgery has definitely taken the wind out of my sails. I knew what to expect but was still surprised at how it zapped my energy and left me feeling like I was incapable of more than just laying around - something I do not do well at all. By Thursday, I had felt completely drained and without enough energy to even come downstairs for more that a few minutes to eat and then back up to bed..... I wasn't sure that I would make it to my boss's retirement party on Friday but knew that I needed to go to show the kind of support he had shown me my whole career there. It was unfortunate that I ended up leaving on illness before he finished his contract. Annarita came on Thursday night and we made arrangements to have her come and pick me up for Friday afternoon.

It was wonderful seeing all the retirees come out to wish Jim well in his retirement - hard to believe that he started his career there in 1971... I think I was in grade 2 back then. It's so hard to believe how fast the time has gone since I started there in 1993. Amazing what can be accomplished in a few 'short' years. Smiles, waves and hugs from those around me that had not seen me since I had left. A few tears from someone whom I have not always gotten along with but whom I respect for his work ethic and abilities - we have always been up front with each other and the respect is mutual. I hug him and assure him that it is alright and I thank him. I am now leaning on the upper railing and I suddenly feel myself start to slip and Annarita is there by my side - my head is swimming and I feel like I am going to pass out as I begin to shake. She takes me over to the stairs where I plunk myself down and brace myself against the cool stone of the railings. I am excited to see some of the people I have not seen in a while and there are waves and smiles back. I really miss this place and as I look over to Jim - I know he will too. Min is standing along the railing in front of me and she turns to say Hi - Wow, she looks fantastic!! I can remember her first week of work at the station and how I liked her quick laugh and her candidness - I smile up at her and we give a quick hug. Mary comes up next and I smile up at her - thank you for being so wonderful. I am getting emotional and fight off the tears I know that are brimming. I am humbled by the care and concern of those around me. Mary hugs me and is off. The speeches are still going on and I gaze over the crowd and catch a little wave from Cal who is standing near the front doors. He has a huge grin and nods to me when I acknowledge the wave. I miss you!!

The speeches are over and Steve has offered Kip a memento of his early years as a tech - a 2" cart cassette... just a few years before I began there.... grins all around as the retirees remember the old equipment that they knew so well. Another well appreciated gift from the station, a seasoned bottle of scotch that he will savour in the comfort of his home later. I remember years gone by when a retirement celebration involved alcohol and dinner.... that comes later when we will have a gathering with the Engineers. I will miss our chats and the sage advice that has come from his office all these years. I have learned much and have grown up in this place with his guidance. I will miss you.

Speaking of engineers - they usually gather in a tight group and I find them in front of the receptionist's desk. Smiles and hugs greet me as I say hello to each one of my co-workers. I would love to be at work, back to my life but for now I have to be OK with being where I am but it is so hard. I am looking forward to planning our annual engineering dinner but know that I won't have many work related stories to tell this year... thank goodness the focus will be on Kip! These guys have all been hugely supportive of me - thank you so much.

There is now lots of mingling and the retirees are coming over to say hello and to offer hugs. Annarita is at my elbow and is key is preventing Doug from squeezing me - he has the most incredible grip and I didn't have the heart to tell him at our early summer BBQ that I felt the last one right through the lump and into my spine but now with a recent surgery and a discretely hidden drain, she immediately warns him from hugging me. He does not know and when told, he is shocked. We get to hug anyway and he is gentle. I miss his sense of humor and his almost daily hugs before his retirement. Now he has some great stories and really knows how to tell them - I could listen to him for hours. Jack is looking tired and has his own news and we chat quietly together... he left before I started there but over the years he has had many occasions to come and meet with me - his passion is electronics and tinkering and it is something we both love. Before I had left for sick leave, he had called looking for a part..... We hug each other gently... I have always liked Jack and admired his work behind the lens - one of the first in London and he has some pretty great stories too. There is a lot of value in our elderly and you come to appreciate who they are in the short time that we are all here. Another hug and there are others to chat with. Don G. who is always snapping candid shots of people he knows all too well. He is a walking social committee and due to his diligence and love for others... he has kept in touch with everyone on a regular lunch routine for the retirees and was our go to guy in June for the BBQ invites along with Lynn who is still with us at the station and whose dedication to everyone is a testament as to why it is so great to work there. It is just a building until you fill it with people.... Don comes over and we hug - he knows and is supportive. His face is etched in the experience of time and his twinkling blue eyes are inviting to all whom he chats with this afternoon. His smile says it all and I smile back. Another hug and the shutterbug is off. Duane is there with a quick hug and hello.... he is on the clock and has come to say his bit before heading off down the hall. There is a birthday cake announcement for Sandra and would I like to go... I will come down soon. Deb W. comes to say hi... you can find me quite often chatting with the girls in the accounting office. I miss you girls!!

Helen has finally snaked her way over to where I am sitting in the lower lobby - I am still chatting with Jennifer when she sits beside me. Helen is a survivor and knows through Kelly O. that I am going through the beginnings of a journey she knows only too well. We are joined by Keri who smiles and says hello silently. It is nice chatting with her and getting to know the person that I knew so little about when she worked at the station. Intelligent and introspective would be two adjectives to describe a woman who is able to see her journey for what it is and to laugh at the crazy things along the way. We talk for a while and she listens intently - there is an event they are hosting at the Landon Library in September and she would like to invite me out. I would like to go and will find out more details in the form of a poster she will be hanging in Kelly's ice cream shop. Hugs and she is ready to go. See you soon Helen. Keri smiles at me and I smile back. She gives me a hug and lets me know she is thinking of me - thank you for being there for me and for always offering support - especially now. It means a lot. I am now off with Annarita to the newsroom to say hello to Sandra.

Mandi is in her office when we walk past and I wave - I have stayed too long and I am feeling the fatigue pulling at my every cell. Love you girl!! See you soon. We head into the newsroom and easily find Sandra - just follow Kim's laugh. :D I miss you girls in editing sooooooo much!! Hugs to Sandra who is offering me her last birthday cupcake. No thanks.... my stomach is so queasy and my head is spinning so bad that my escape comes quickly after. Annarita is guiding me back to the car. She takes me home and I am grateful for her kindness and years of friendship. Hugs and kisses - love you girl and I will see you soon!!

This is the day that is filled with a family visit from the inlaws!! Mom, Dad, Martin, Bronwynn, Uncle Paul (who is staying with us), Debbie, Brooke and Ethan are here for supper and a swim in a now very cold pool... the weather has dropped the temperature by almost 10 degrees over the past few days of incredibly cold nights. The kids do not seem to mind as they run in and out of the water with their water guns and floaties. I have an excuse - my drain is still in and causing discomfort when sleeping last night. I was up at 3 am because it was full and found instant relief when I emptied it into the measuring cup they had given me in the kit from the hospital trip and marked down the amount on a sheet of paper. The last time I saw a nurse was on Thursday but she did call this morning. She informs me that she will come and see me for sure on Monday. I am cold and tired as I sit around the firepit in the back corner of our yard. Max is lighting a fire and I ask him not to. No matter, the guys set up the fire on top of the old soaking wet wood and voila, instant smoke. I am now reeling and feeling sick to my stomach and too ticked to say anything so I leave to go lay down for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into an hour nap and I woke up feeling groggy but way better. Something is burning!! I make my way downstairs to find the lasagna is ready but what is burning is the overflow of sauce onto the cookie sheets. Supper is delicious and my energy level comes up and the evening is filled with laughter and great conversation. The time has gone so fast and we are once again in the driveway waving good bye and blowing kisses to the kids. They have grown so much!! Hope to see you all soon!! Thanks Deb for coming down - it is a long drive for you and the kids. xoxoxox

I make my way down to the grocery store in the mall and pick up items for breakfast. It is not a lot of weight - I am still on restrictions. Just this simple task has exhausted me. I was up until 2:30 am. Another crises with William. He is disappointed with his Father showing little interest in him (lives in Chatham area), a mother who is sick and a case of raging hormones. William loves Max but even this gets strained with all that he is dealing with and he leaves home in the early hours of the morning. I have called the police and the wonderful constables that arrive within minutes understand quickly that it is a case of an emotional crisis. They bring William home from where he has been waiting on his girlfriend's porch and watch as the returned son apologizes and hugs his mom and the tears she has for having worried about him. As much as you think that all is going reasonably well.... there is alway a reminder that we are all just human.

This is a quiet day... coloring with Lydia in bed... I have not regained my energy and that is so not like me. I find myself sleeping quite a bit and just manage to do some crosswords in the evening. It has been a long day.

I am feeling more myself today after an 8 hour uninterrupted sleep!!! I go to the Credit Union which is the first time I have driven in a week - I am exhilarated by the independence and the sun beating down on my face. The drain is still attached to me and I have emptied it this morning at 9:30 but have not heard from the nurse yet. I have waited all morning and have decided to get on with my day. The shirt I am wearing is a little tight and not too discrete about the package tucked in to my left side. The breast cancer logos on the strap holding the drain's pouch up is visible to the outside world and although I am aware of it I am getting on with my day regardless. I have successfully taken out all my savings for the summer mad fund which would have been a weekend trip somewhere but is now going to be used to pay the plumber and get school stuff. I drop by the station to sign Andy Mendham's retirement frame and to drop off some money to Scott L. for a drink on me. I have learned not to commit myself to anything these days, unless I am there already!! I wish he has a long and healthy retirement filled with lots of Grand Babies and wonderful memories - you have certainly earned it my friend.

I have a little extra money in my pocket and I call Uncle Paul to let him know that I am taking the gang out to lunch. Will has decided not to come but the rest pile into the car and it is off to the Covent Garden Market and Chauncey's for a wonderful lunch. There are too many wasps on the patio so we are eating in the near empty dinning room. I get a call at 1:30 from the nurse and she wants to know if I am at home and since I am not... she will call me tomorrow. It has now been 4 days since I have had anyone but my husband check my bandages. I am emptying my own drain every 24 hours and I am asking her to come tomorrow to pull it out. We'll see about that she says as she signs off. Wonder if she is getting paid for this patient's care today? Moving right along - it is now off to Thames Park where Lydia and Mitchel play in the playground. Although it is cool, the sun is warm on our backs and the sound of the splash park finally lures Lydia over. She loves water and I finally convince her to play in her shirt and underwear. This way at least she has one dry piece of clothing to go home in and with no towel... we will find a way to make her comfortable. It comes in the form of an electric hand dryer in the adjacent washroom. In 10 minutes, she is dry and very happy - she hugs me as she dances out of the washroom. Thank you mommy this was the best day ever. It is now off to the ice cream shop where the best day ever ended in a wasp sting to the lip. A quick exit without even a good bye to Kelly to head home to the medicine cabinet for the Benedryl and some pain medication. I really should carry these things in my purse... note to self.

The rest of the day is uneventful and Lydia and I play a board game out in the Gazebo. We are playing a lot of board games these days - they were always fun times for me when I was a kid....

I am missing my other life but have found a renewed interest in crossword puzzles, games and coloring.... I have also discovered that everyone around me has a story and their own journey and as Helen so eloquently put it - you are somehow nicer to people because you take the time to acknowledge that although you do not know them, you do not know what they have been through or are going through. I wholeheartedly agree and I hope that when this journey is over that I will always bear that in mind. Remembering other people's life moments such as birthdays or accomplishments makes them feel important and really in life.... isn't that how we all want to feel? I know that I will not be the same person I was going down this path but something tells me I will be better not just physically but mentally too!! Thanks to everyone who waved, hugged or said Hi to me along the way and especially those that understood their kind gestures have helped make this journey palatable. xoxoxoxoxox

Tonya and Annita will be visiting with us later this morning and I am looking forward to the company.... it has been a long time. She is going through the journey of job displacement and now finds her very busy work schedule come to an abrupt halt - we should have a lot to talk about :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

.... post operative crash

..... around the 48 hour mark, the crash begins. Sleepless and uncomfortable in any position, I am up again for the umpteenth time and poor Max is asking if I am OK... it is time to get up and come downstairs. I drained the pump about an hour ago ( 3:00 am) which relieved some of the pressure under my arm - doesn't look like it will be removed any time soon.... it was already full and 6 hours until its scheduled emptying. Frustration will set in soon and I know the tears will soon follow.... Mitchel has just peeked his head around the corner and blows me a kiss... he knows that this has become routine and is not worried as he makes his way back upstairs to bed...

Uncle Paul is so amazing - he has been keeping the kids busy and away from disturbing me when I am trying to get some down time. It is not always easy because as soon as my eyes flutter open, there is at least one set of eyes looking me over. With a household full of pets and people, it could be any one of a number of them. Lydia twirls in makes her announcements, climbs in for a kiss and is off trying to pull off a rather lengthy puppet show in the basement... poor Paul!! Mitchel is cautious, making sure that my eyes are fully open before asking me anything and then moving off quietly with his trademark kiss blowing. William is the eldest and rarely waits for me to start moving, let alone opening my eyes before marching in unannounced and plunking himself down. 'Hey Mom' is usually what proceeds the request and I shush him away if he has woken me up and ask him to talk to me when I am awake.... later. They are all so different but each one has learned to cope with our reality. I can often hear the banter between Lydia and Paul and I am jealous that I can't go out to the park today. I roll over and attempt to get another few minutes of shut eye before the pain kicks in again.

Wednesday I managed to take a short walk with Paul and the kids through the mall next door and needed to sit down... so I went and got my nails done and Lydia had her big toe nails painted with little flowers - she keeps telling me to get some little brushes so that I can do that at home for her. Great idea - she has many of them and likes to share them with me. My head was really woozy but I managed to get through that and get home. Will had not joined us on our outing and when we got home he had made sure that the plant arrangement sent from my department at Fanshawe was waiting on the kitchen counter. How wonderful!!! After a few emails sent... I was able to thank the individuals responsible for the thoughtful gift!! My sincerest thanks for such a lovely and thoughtful gift. I miss all of you and wish you all the best this semester.

Thursday - feeling not really great today and the lack of sleep is wearing me thin. I am trying to lie down but there is so much going on around me. Nurse Maureen has popped in to empty the drain and to look at my dressings. She is lovely and quite personable. After some instructions and paperwork, she is on the phone calling the next client and getting her messages - her pager has not stopped going off through our entire visit and we laugh about how short the leash she has is!! Our modern life... so quick to incorporate the technology but not easy to ignore the constant pull of our desire to answer every call and email. I have put my phone away to get some sleep and have missed a friend's request to come by... he drove from Toronto to London and off to Windsor - sorry Ron. I will make it up to you soon!! I have had some sleep but not enough to cope with. Mandi is dropping by with a homemade dinner for my family and she can see from the look on my face that I am not myself. She quickly catches herself tearing up and changes lanes by making us both laugh - you are so amazing to me and I so adore you!! She has come with the kids but stays only a few minutes as she hands off boxes and bags to the kids to deposit on the counter in readiness for dinner which will be late due to a plumbing installation later in the afternoon. Gentle hugs and kisses and she is off. Thank you so much my dear friend for your constant wonderfulness!! xoxox love you!! The phone rings a few minutes later and it is Deb D. who has dinner made and would like to drop it off if that is alright. Of course it is and thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. Deb arrives about a half hour later and just wants to drop off the homemade casserole and dash, but I have not seen her in a long time and we chat in the kitchen for a few minutes and then make our way out to the porch where she can keep an eye on Emma and Colton. They are so beautiful and full of energy as they bounce around the van and then find their way out to the front walk where we are chatting. Deb mentions that their neighbor Jack has been spoken to by Colton about his smoking and then Colton says 'he could get cancer' in a matter-of-fact way. Yes you are right!! I tell him that I have cancer and Deb and I watch his reaction - you could tell that he was mulling this over in his head. Poor Jack - I believe you are about to get a lecture from a very introspective young man in the very near future. Deb is now off with her children after gentle hugs. I miss you and it was so wonderful to see you and your children today. Thank you so much!! xoxoxox

Bruce is here to complete a number of plumbing jobs that we meant to have done a while ago but his busy schedule has finally found a slight lull and he is now in my en-suite while I am lying down. The toilet is 40 years old and is now being retired!! Bruce is always great to hang with and in his no-bones approach he has wrestled the toilet free of its moorings and now has the new one in place while chatting away about everything. The next job is to install the new dish washer we had purchased months ago and this is no easy task but thankfully Max is now home and between him, Uncle Paul and Bruce - they install a new floorboard to go underneath the new machine and get it hooked up. One more job needs to be done but it has been a long day and he will return again soon to get the new laundry tub installed. The old one is still the double sink but made of concrete which Max and Paul will hammer to pieces on the weekend. It is now 7 pm and Bruce is going home and we are serving Mandi's scrumptious chicken and rice dish. The kids have already devoured the chips as an aperitif while waiting. Thank you for dinner, it really was good... and the rice crispy squares were divine!!

Max has been invited out to the boss's house for dinner and has left before Bruce. He feels like he should stay and I tell him to go.. he is so tired these days and the break would do him some good. I have a guest coming in a little while and Miss Lydia needs to get ready for bed. She has asked me for a snack and to stay up to watch TV which she does with Uncle Paul and Mitchel. I was hoping to tuck her in but our schedule today is later than usual. Annarita has come to call and after showing her the completed pond, we sit in the Gazebo with a glass of water - no wine today... not feeling up to it. We chat and she gives me a card and some gift certificates that she has collected for at work. I am stunned by the generosity and humbled by the thoughtfulness. I will get around to thanking each of you soon. Thank you so much everyone for being there for my family and I. You have all touched us deeply with your kindness. I walk Annarita to the door and hug carefully - the drain is pulling at my side and I am uncomfortable. We laugh as I walk her out the door... she is offering to pick me up tomorrow to take me out to Jim's event and I tell her yes - we will confirm in the morning via text. You are really wonderful and thoughtful and a good friend. Thank you so much for everything!! xoxoxox

It is time for bed and I call Max on his cell to ask when is he coming home... I know he is tired and needs his sleep. He tells me he misses me and I can see that he has left me a text message earlier saying the same thing. When he does arrive home the emotion starts to chip away at his smile and the tears well up ... he is trying to tell me that it was not the same without me at the gathering this evening. He is holding a plate of goodies he has brought home for me and he leaves to wrap it in plastic. My dearest Max... life will not be the same for quite some time but we will get through this together. I love you this much........ (eternity) xoxoxo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

.... surgical visit 2

..... on our way to St. Joseph's and feeling like a deja vous - same weather, same time of day, same day of the week and not surprisingly - the same road construction even after 5 weeks!! We chat quietly and note all the similarities and I realize that my stomach is feeling the anxiety as I watch the clock.... 2 hours to surgery and counting. I had to take my wedding rings off this morning, the day of my wedding anniversary and leave them behind.....

We are met by nurse Sandra who completes paperwork and gives us all the items we will need for the home care nurse when she arrives tomorrow to decant and measure the fluid captured by the simple spring loaded drain that will hang suspended by the tubing installed through the skin and under my arm after the lymph nodes are removed. This will prevent a build-up of serum and blood in the chest cavity. In the last surgery, the fluid filled the gap left behind by the removal of the lump and sounded like a filled water balloon when I moved my breast. Still makes me smirk when I remember Max's reaction to that incident. There is a cloth bag in amongst the paperwork and it will house the drain it its huge folds when I am ready to leave the hospital... not exactly discrete. Sandra finishes up and indicates that a nurse will contact us this evening to make arrangements for a home visit. She wishes me luck and with a smile she is off down the corridor.

We are waiting for our pre-op nurse while I change into a hospital gown and cover my feet with the oven warm blanket left for me at the end of the bed. I have Sue's OR bear with me and in a matter of minutes, Max has turned on his iPhone and is taking pictures of the bear and myself and because it is our anniversary, I suggest we take a few of ourselves. He leans in to kiss me and clicks the button on the camera..... when I look at the picture he has taken, the tears well up immediately and Max begins the process of putting the smile back on my face.... we laugh like idiots at our private jokes and now he is walking around like Mr. Bean looking around the curtain to see if anyone has noticed. He sits down when he hears footsteps heading our way and we both beam when we realize that the face that has popped around the partially drawn curtain is Nurse Susan!!! She laughs when she recognizes us and then apologizes for my repeat visit.... we chat like old friends and her warm sunny smile helps to dissipate the knots that have formed in my belly. She finishes up the paperwork and we look up to see the porter waiting to take me to surgery. She assures me that she will come and see me after I return to post-op.

The doors open and I am the only gurney in the hallway.... I secretly wish that my Urologist is on, I want to ask him how his wife is doing. I am approached by a nurse who quietly wheels me to lucky OR number 7 - must let Max know that this is just another deja vous, one of many today. She asks me a few questions and then leaves me to help prepare the surgical suite. I am met a few minutes later by the anesthesiologist's intern. He is satisfied that the paperwork is up to speed and assures me that I will be fine and that they will make sure they minimize the dizziness after surgery. I then meet with the Anesthesiologist who immediately recognizes me and assures me as well that I am in good hands. He smiles and says that he will see me in the suite when the clean-up is completed. A patient in a gurney across from me is waiting for the kidney stone blaster which we can clearly hear pounding away on another patient behind the double doors... this is his second visit in the past month. This is also my second visit but not for kidney stones... I do not answer his next question as the nurse comes to roll me into the surgical suite. Best of luck I call to him... he wishes me the same.

Maria is the scrub nurse and she is getting all the instruments ready. She is jovial as she questions me as to what we are doing .... she is prepping the tray and needs to know if she has missed anything? I laugh and indicate to her that I am just there to hang out and possibly pick up a few tips.... she mentions the air conditioning must be very cold and we all start laughing about the menopausal woman in the add that rips off the air-conditioning cover after plowing her way through a snow bank. She has a few funny stories about being completely covered by special laser glasses, gowns and masks when having a menopause moment. I swear I can see my breath. They are now transferring me to the operating table and on go the seat belts to secure me into position - hard to operate on a patient that falls off the 2 foot wide table. Here we go.......

I am waking up in recovery and I can feel the slightest hint of nausea coming on and let the nurse know to start with just half a bag of gravol.... cannot turn my head without wanting to throw up. I am in recovery for a few minutes when I see my Urologist coming up to me. "I couldn't believe that your name was up on the roster today so I thought I would check in with you", he says with a concerned look on his face. I fill him in on what is going on and he lets me know that his wife is back in tomorrow for another breast surgery... this is her second in 7 weeks. I ask him to give her my very best and let him know that I am sending good vibes her way. He is off and running and I am grateful that he thought of me. The weight of the world is heavy on his shoulders and I watch him disappear through fuzzy eyes. Please let her be OK. A nurse approaches me and says that she will be taking care of me until my nurse comes back.... she says that she is recovering from cancer herself and that she knows that my positive attitude will carry me far. We have a chance to talk for a few minutes until the porter comes to take me. She waves to me as I head past her 'good luck' she says and I smile back when I wish her well.

I have been in recovery for about 2 hours and I am now being rolled into post-op where I will be evaluated further, given fluids by mouth and released with paperwork and prescriptions. My post op nurse gives me more information and heads off to find my husband. Max comes around the corner and gives me a kiss - he stands back and looks at my face. When he is satisfied that the color has come back to my cheeks, he heads over to the chair to sit with me. Nurse Susan pops her head in and smiles from ear to ear and comes over to take my hand. She cradles it in hers and gently speaks to me, letting me know that my positive attitude, sense of humor and infectious grin will heal me and that she knows I will do well. I smile up at her and thank her for being so lovely to us through both our visits. She sees the nurse approach that has been assigned to me and squeezes my hand and when I thank her again she replies 'Ok blah blah blah'.... I have made her blush and she smiles as she strolls off waving to us both. The IV is removed and now Max has been given instructions to go and get the vehicle while I get dressed.

The task of getting dressed is a challenge and Max stays long enough to help me get my shirt on. I joke that my nipple is now showcased behind 'glass' as we look at the transparent bandage covering it. Yes, I have definitely had more of my breast removed and it looks deflated next to its twin. Not worried about that right now.. more important things to do and my surgeon is letting me know that he will see me in two weeks with hopefully the pathology report ready to go. I will be heading to Oncology after that and yes Chemo and radiation seem the obvious choice. I take my journey one day at a time, do not read anything of note online and keep my sense of humor with me at all times. Ready to go, Luke takes me in a wheelchair to our waiting van. He was our porter weeks ago and smiles as the two of us shake his hand and thank him.

More traffic and road construction but we make our way to McDonalds on our way home at about 3 in the afternoon. We make it home and the kids are excited to see us. Thanks Paul for taking them to the park today. In an hour I have my first guest - Brenda M. climbs into bed beside me and the two of us chat about my day and catch up with hers. Max has brought me chocolates and gummy bears for my post op sweet tooth and my children now join us on the bed. It is relaxed and fun. The phone rings and its the nurse looking to make an appointment for the morning to empty my drain. Brenda leans over and kisses my cheek and is off - be back soon she whispers as I finish up the call and hang up. She arrives back a few minutes later with a stash of early halloween chocolate bars - Oh Henry and Reeces!! Thanks Brenda - hugs and she is off to make dinner. What a wonderful visit.

The evening was filled with a phone call from my soul friend Jilly whom I love to pieces... we get to chat about her new job!! Sue who has learned to text on her cell phone and we send funny messages..... I miss you!! Eileen instant messages me on the CrackBerry and it is a good night..... only the kids are still up and the pain killer is just taking the edge off. I have bile in my mouth and I cannot lie down anymore. It has only been a few hours and I get up to get a glass of water and tums. I am going to take a Melatonin pill now and pray for sleep.

..... surgical day, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MAX

..... yesterday had some really magical moments and came at a good time.

I have received the call this morning from pre-admission. We are going over all my information on the phone due to my recent surgery, it is not necessary to come in for any testing. I am thinking that I have put on a few pounds in the past 5 weeks but nothing of significance. The nurse is informative and makes sure that she has all my items in order and packed in a kit for me to bring home when my surgery is done. It is a day surgery and requires a drain to be installed. She is making arrangements to have home care come and see me when I get home and every day after that. Please make sure you check how much mobility you have in your arm and be sure you exercise every day until you achieve that same mobility. I do not stop moving so I am thinking that I should manage to do that. She wants to know if I have any further questions.... no, not that I can think of. Good luck she says before she hangs up. OK

Mom and Dad brought Uncle Paul back much to the delight of all the kids and myself. Amazing how one person can create a magical glue between people. His smile is infectious and after tons of hugs and kisses it is time for lunch. I have a hair appointment in less than an hour so I busy myself making lunch while the in laws head out to the pond to admire Max's and my finishing touches. The rain storm the other night filled the pond in nicely - no worries about filling it with tap water... all the 'leaks' have been resolved and the waterfall has attracted the local birds and we can sometimes see them standing on the rock shelves bathing themselves and singing loudly. Our cat rather likes that a great deal and he keeps us busy these days shushing him away from the pond and its visitors. Watching these colorful residents brings smiles especially when the food is brought out and they come to the surface to feed... a wonderful distraction while sitting in the adjacent Gazebo. Time for lunch... we all sit comfortably in the family room and eat a simple lunch while chatting. I am grateful for these loving and wonderful people in my life.... what is the time.... got to go and meet with Thomas at the salon.

Thomas is an incredible and rare human being whom I met in college and became friends with as a student there many moons ago. I took electronics and he took controls engineering. He is intelligent on so many levels and has an extensive talent base. I am there at his salon to get my hair done...he really is a master of many talents. I enjoy the banter of his other client as we are both getting our hair 're-touched'. We laugh and swap stories. The afternoon passes quickly and the patron leaves after giving Thomas a squeeze. Soon it is my turn to go and I am sad that it is over so quickly. We stand there in the shop hugging - there is just the two of us. I do love you Thomas. xoxoxox and thank you so much for everything... I am humbled by your kindness and blessed by your friendship.

I make my way home looking fabulous and fresh with the new highlights and cut. Time to get dinner ready and I feel torn at having to do yet another chore at the same exact time that Miss Lydia needs to play a game..... funny how they only desire your company when you have something pressing to do. The guilt is overwhelming these days and I think that the 'mother-of-the-year award' will escape me for yet another year. I try not to tear up but she is now becoming demanding and difficult to talk to and I have to send her to her room for a time out.... the guilt is building faster. Uncle Paul comes to the rescue and gets the game ready and starts to play it with her - the 'Game of Life' is complicated and they decide that perhaps another game could be pulled out for later and to put this one away. Dinner is ready and Max is home just in time to sit down and catch up with Paul and the rest of the group. Mitchel has sprained his thumb and it is still painful from playing hide and seek the night before with Lydia, William and Eryn... he caught it on the upper bunk bed while trying to swing himself over the 'barrier'. It is bruised but not broken... although you would think otherwise with the drama!!

Max, Paul and Mitchel head out to purchase a game that Mitchel really wanted. We do not spoil our children but recognize their achievements or their contributions to the family by way of gifting. It is a wonderful consequence of good or admirable behavior and the children clearly see it as earned. Mitchel is quick to help out and is our go-to guy for dinner prep and watching over Lydia... it is amazing how mature he really is. Born on Valentine's day, he really is a sweetheart.

We spent the evening playing Mancala and Othello.... I needed to get to bed because I was so tired. I have packed my purse with Sue's OR bear and the shoulder pouch given to me by Faceit London to accomodate the drain that will be inserted during surgery and will be my constant companion for a few weeks afterwards. I have my crossword puzzle book but no magazines... won't really have that much time to read. After kissing and hugging Lydia again, and again... I climbed into bed. The boys came in and cuddled and hugged me goodnight. I know they are worried but do not share that with me. See you when you come home tomorrow mom.... love you. I love you all too, so very much.

I am up all night and after tossing for hours have decided just to give it up and come downstairs to blog.... I note the time now and it is 5 minutes before I really have to get up. I am to be at the hospital for 8 am and my surgery is for 9:30 this morning. I will blog when I can and Max will be calling, texting and emailing as many people as he can.... he will also make a note on my facebook for all my friends. Happy Anniversary Max!!! Love you always and forever.
Love always, Marita xoxoxoxox

Monday, August 24, 2009

.... round two

.... the closer to my next surgery the less able I am to sleep, the anxiety is twisting my stomach up in knots and my head refuses to shut off. It is too close to surgery to take any medications and so I leave the sleeping pills and instead toss and turn. I have gotten up a few times in the night and suffered a bruised ankle on the rocking chair in the corner of our bedroom.... I knew it was there but shuffled into it anyway. Max reminded me of its presence as I made my way back from the bathroom. He is not sleeping well these days either and although we both know it, we do not mention it to each other - we both know the score.....

After my appointment Thursday, I made the usual round of phone calls and emails.... the responses are already coming in before I can get home. Sara wants to drop in - school is starting soon and she knows she will be busy with the new intake of students but it is quiet for now and would I like her to drop by later in the evening? I would love to see her and we make arrangements to get together. Soon after Sue calls and would like to drop in before she heads off on holidays but later calls to cancel - too much to do and she will swing by in the afternoon tomorrow. I enjoy my time with Sara and know I will miss her terribly when school starts.... I know September will bring quiet days with no children at home to distract me, no work and no students to teach this semester. Thank you for coming out to sit with me... we will keep in touch. I have let her know that if any of my past semester students should pop in looking for me that she is to answer their questions.... it is not something to be ashamed of ... it is now my reality for however long and I would be there if I could. Hugs in the driveway and I stand and wave as she disappears around the corner in her now functioning vehicle.... shame she still gets lost on her way here - I smirk at this thought and head in for bed.

Friday is the day to take Mitch and Lydia school shopping at the local mall. We find a number of bargains and Lydia is tickled that she has a more grown up shoulder bag. It has purple stars on it and is large enough to carry a number of books and the new lunch pail which looks amazingly like a purse. The new umbrella matches the book bag and she just had to have it... sheesh, she is only seven but you would think that we had a third teen in the household!! Mitch is our discerning shopper - picky as heck by most standards and shopping with him can be.... well, exasperating!! He wants to go to the high-end trendy shops at White Oaks and at some point we will take him there but we have a budget right now and he will have to be satisfied with some downsizing in the label department - not that I am a label girl... it's fine if they are on sale, but right now things are tight and he understands. He is good today and finds himself two pairs of running shoes at Payless - they are a good price and he is smiling - he is happy with his purchases and quite pleased with himself. Lydia gets a new pair of school runners but tries on slip on shoes - her feet are way too narrow and they easily slip off when she walks - sorry baby, you got your mother's feet. She usually requires shoes from specialty shoe stores but the pair we found are just perfect. We move off to Bonnie Toggs and complete her shopping with a few little extras. I get a text message and its Lydia's new friend Jessica who would like to come swimming.... the weather is hot but the weather predictors are calling for a cold weekend so I text back and say sure to a swim date. We end our shopping and head home for lunch. Lydia is feeling much better and is looking forward to her pal dropping in. We run into Sue on our way home 'check your Gazebo girl and I will pop in later just to say Hi and pick up some movies for our trip'. Sue is off to lunch with her son and Trevor. Lydia tears off after we say bye to see what Sue has left for mommy. What a lovely bunch of orange Chrysanthemums. Thank you Sue, how sweet of you!! Sandra comes to visit and has brought a little treat for us!! I have missed her so much - so used to dropping by her desk and chatting for a few minutes during the hectic work day. We have become friends over the years and I adore her - she is sweet and funny and always thoughtful... she lights up a room with her smile!! Her hubby Joel is just as wonderful. Was it just a year ago that we were singing up a storm in between shooters and visits in the pool? That was so much fun... maybe we can do it again next year? Sending you both love and hugs. Heather shows up a few minutes after Sandra and we all head out to the pool to chat and laugh... it doesn't last long, Sandra has to head back to work now that her lunch break is over. Hugs and kisses - she is off. Heather and Jessica stay until the late afternoon and promise to return before school begins.... she lives in our old neighborhood and recognizes Mitch's friend Bailey who has come to visit. Sue pops in for a few minutes after Sandra leaves and before Heather heads out.... lots of hugs and kisses later she heads off for a much needed short vacation and promises to text me when she can to see how my day goes in surgery. Love you girl!! We have a quiet end to a busy day. Max is tired and you can see it etched in his face these days.... tomorrow he will finish the Pond.

Saturday starts off with household chores and I make sure that the house is vacuumed well from top to bottom.... with a dog like Thelma... it doesn't last long. I am in a 'nesting' mode... I have two days to get my house in order. I sort through all the bills and paperwork around the desk and tidy up all my school textbooks and the brief that has been sitting there in prep for a semester that I will not be teaching. I put them down on my workbench in a nice neat arrangement and head up the stairs - Max sees the look on my face and understands that I just want to get back to my life... He is distracting himself with getting the pond completed. We have 5 wonderful goldfish that we purchased last week end at the Blooming Bog just outside of Ilderton. We also purchased a number of pond plants... most of which are annual plants which we got for a bargain because of the late seasonal purchase. Pond lettuce is fascinating because the plant, much like the soldier plant, grows its babies in the middle then sends them out on an umbilical line. In just the short time we have had them, one has managed to produce 5 such satellite juveniles and sent them outwards enlarging the plant mass considerably. A nice touch to the pond and a note to purchase them again next year but earlier. The fish give us such joy as we watch them come to the surface to feed.... they are comfortable in their new home and hang nearer to the surface. Shelly has let us know that larger birds of prey such as the Heron might see them and come fishing - we really should put a decoy heron next to the pond to deter any possibility of unwanted guests. We spend another quiet evening together.

Sunday - Max finishes the stone placement around the pond and will install the filter sometime this week in the evening. I am doing some gardening and cleaning up the yard from crabapples and leaves. The tree really has not produced enough good fruit to make jelly this year and it is just as well. I will not be canning for the first time in about 5 years and I am going to miss it. Brenda A and I get together every year to can produce for the winter months and have managed to come up with some very good recipes together. Perhaps we can still do our Christmas baking....

Max has informed me this afternoon that we are going out to the Mystic Grill this evening for our Anniversary dinner. We have always celebrated on the date of our wedding every year but this one - we will be at the hospital on our special day. I get all dressed up in a two piece - a camisole and skirt/pant suit. I am not wearing a bra because of the spaghetti straps and make a mental note that when all this is done I will buy a special one for such an occasion but for now.... I am almost 5 weeks after the last surgery and an obvious dent has begun to present itself .... one of these things is not like the other.... and soon to be even less so. I feel pretty good and excited to be going out on a date with my wonderful husband. We find parking across the street and find ourselves in a quaint Greek restaurant where the food is excellent and our waitress personable and experienced. She knows when to approach and of course how to make our stay warm and welcome. We manage to drink a bottle of Greek red wine which is wonderfully dry with a full bouquet and aroma.... mmmmm.... I am just a bit tipsy as we get through a decadent desert followed by an equally decadent coffee. The evening air is cool but wonderful on my warm skin... we love to walk and from where we are, I can see the bell tower of St. Paul's Cathedral and we meander towards it while window shopping. I want to go over and take a picture... it is where we got married 8 years ago. The evening sun is shining a warm glow across the bricks and highlighting the stonework. I take my BlackBerry out and take a picture of the two of us standing next to the oak double doors that welcomed us in all those years ago. No sooner did I take the picture, then the bells began to toll and tears instantly welled up and rolled down my face. I am overwhelmed by emotion and make my way over to the bench close by... he is holding my hand. We had those bells toll the moment we became man and wife and it was a way to announce that we had made a commitment to each other and now here was a stark reminder of those vows and it seemed as if it was announcing once again to the world that we are one. I love you so much. We decide that we would re-enact the candid photo that our wedding photographer had taken... Max and I were joking around while waiting outside the great hall in the gardens to the side of the Cathedral... the photographer needed to change the film roll and had just snapped the camera back together when she saw Max sticking out his tongue out and me trying to bite it... she wasted no time in capturing the moment which now adorns our dinning room wall in an 8x10. We giggled and held hands as we continued our walk up Richmond. We stopped for one more coffee along the way and then headed off on the side roads to look at houses - a favorite past time of ours. I love architecture and gardens and when someone gets it right, it is magical. A lot of these homes are old but have become rentals over the years and have fallen into disrepair. We note a few 3 story walk-ups that are nestled in between and find them out of place and without character. Parking meters dot the front lawns making it feel even less like a residential area. Although my new house has a much more modern and less architectural appeal, the neighborhood is beautiful with trees and gardens which are well cared for and loved... no student rentals here. I do love the large mature trees and the wonderful touches of stained glass in the bungalows we meander past. I notice the front door open on a two story and am in awe of the original wooden staircase and door trim.... they really don't make them like they used to. Our walk is coming to an end and the night is still young but we are tired these days and it is time to go home. I love you Max, thank you for such a wonderful evening.... we are now ready for round two......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

... the news

.... I have not been myself for a few days now and although I dread seeing the surgeon this afternoon, I know that the news will at least get me going on my journey.... it has been a terribly long 4 weeks.

.... the waiting room is busy and a lineup has formed - the secretary is just returning from lunch and she notes the growing line and attempts to answer questions from a patient who is just leaving.... a young man is interested in my tattoos and we share stories for a few minutes while waiting and then I am in my seat occupying my time with a crossword magazine....

Number 2 is called and I refrain from calling out 'Bingo' in my usual humorous self - I am smiling today but not feeling all that humorous - still tired from being woken up again a number of times through the night. Miss Lydia is still a little under the weather but on her way to a full recovery. The timing isn't great but it is what it is and a snuggle from Dad gets her to sleep again.... I wasn't so fortunate. I make my way into the exam room which has a great view of the north side of the city... four weeks ago, I remember standing in the window before my first surgery and now here I am again. The haze from the humid mid-afternoon is clinging along the top of the tree line like a fog and the wind is bending them to and fro just like the grasses below that have filled in the gardens nicely since the last time I viewed them from this vantage point. I put the gown on front open for the surgeon to see and I wait until I hear him knock and then enter...

He has such a great smile and I like him.... he is happy that the pathology report is finally done and comments on how long it took - no kidding!! We smile at each other and then he exams me. 'You heal amazingly fast', he exclaims as he inspects his handy work. Yes, he has done a tremendous job but he now informs me that he must open me up again but this time I need all my lymph nodes removed from the upper breast and under-pit. He will be inserting a drain so that we can minimize or avoid any edema (swelling) in the limb and I will likely be numb in the underside of the arm.... oh dear did I just say that I could have another tattoo and not feel it?! Not a great time for humor but now I am in response mode and am making a pathetic bid at lightening a situation.... I am to take my folder over to his secretary and he is sure that she will have me pencilled in for next week. Once the surgery is completed then we are talking chemo and radiation. Oh fun fun fun!!! I am now talking to Trudy who has pencilled me in and I will be back into the surgical suite for next Tuesday the 25th. She smiles up at me and wishes me good luck... deja vous!!

I am now on my way out of the hospital and thinking that I need to call the dentist office to inform them that the Tuesday appointments will have to be cancelled and could we rebook? Tanya says its no problem and is concerned that I am OK... perhaps she can hear it in my voice, I know I detect a quiver and I can feel the tears coming up. Talk to you soon and say hi to everyone. I pay for my ticket and make my way to the car... call Max and let him know that I have cancelled the appointments and that he now must cancel our wedding anniversary plans for Tuesday because we will be at the hospital. We have been married 8 years on Tuesday and how ironic that it is the day we made our vows for better or for worse.... I hang up because I now desperately want to go back home.

I am keeping the tears at bay but I am weaving through traffic and road construction on Wonderland Rd South when this young woman cuts me off in traffic and then has the nerve to give me the finger.... dammit, my day is already tough enough so why does she have to really take it down another notch... now she is pulling up beside me and giving me the finger for the third time!!!!! I tell her 'look, you already cut me off and now you are giving me the finger - you really are stupid'. It did not make me feel any better but between the tears and now the anger I am relieved that I can turn onto another road to avoid any further digit swaying..... if she only knew.... we sometimes forget that we really do not know what is going on in others around us. I am so glad that I did not show her the finger but still not proud of reacting at all. I am shaking as I turn into my driveway... another quick call to Max but the tears are starting and I just can't speak....

I have four days to get ready for the next chapter and hope that I can heal just as fast as before... the phone rings and I am talking to admissions - wow that was fast - and pre-admission will be calling me on Monday to ask me questions... after all, it hasn't been that long since my last surgery. Oh, Sue... I will be needing your OR bear again... he has been patiently waiting beside my desk still wearing my ID tag and I can see him out of the corner of my eye as I type in this blog at 2:30 in the afternoon. I am scared but relieved that we are on our way....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

.... a lot can happen while you wait

.... I have not blogged in a while and after a number of worried phone calls, emails and texts all due of course to the waiting game that we have been dealing with for weeks now... about 4 to be precise. My original surgical consultation was supposed to be for the 1st September and I think about how long that wait would have eaten away at me and what it would have done to my mental well-being.... thanks to Annette, I did not have to do that and with 4 weeks to wait for pathology reports my temper is shorter and my patience thin. I feel withdrawn and isolated from the rest of the world which is why this weekend was such a great respite from that.....

The morning was spent at the Faceit photo-shoot which went well and made me feel like a million dollars. Lydia finished reading camp in the late morning and the evening was spent with the family at the JLC for the 'Walking with Dinosaurs' show with tickets I had purchased in early May through Scouts Canada!! I sat through the show completely amazed that these creatures expired long before we even existed yet here we were in the 21st century watching a facsimile of these incredible creatures before us..... in the big scheme of things.... we are all so temporary and all so equally amazing. Afterwards, instead of going home, we went to see the fountain at the fork of the Thames and Lydia ran about from one play structure to another exploring and giggling and then sad to have to leave to go home.... we will go and play another time in the day when we can pack a lunch and bring the swimsuits to dance in amongst the water park fountains. The summer is fleeting and will soon come to an end but for now, we enjoy the days we have together and enjoy the heat.

Lydia, Mitchel and I spent lunch and the better part of the afternoon over at Sue's house with Brenda M. and as the girls and I were floating around on the warm waters on the sunny humid afternoon, the phone rang.... I am still in limbo but with the news that the cancer is not HER2, I am relieved and feel some of the weight lift off my shoulders. Sue brought out the champagne and we all toasted to life and the next step in my journey. Lydia is acting out and although I am not sure why, I can see that she is not herself... she wakes up in the middle of the night in pain and keeps us up most of the night. She gets a restful few hours and find her ready to go on Saturday.

Lydia is cheerful and helps me shop for her Daddy's party in the morning and then spends the afternoon playing with a new friend from reading camp and later hangs out with the girl's over at Sue's house.... she is looking tired around the eyes and loses her appetite. I can't get her to drink very much and by the early morning hours she is in pain and is constipated. We sit up with her and get her something to sip on. I crawl into bed with her and exhaustion takes over and we both crash.... Max has had a great day which started with a round of golf with a friend and then a BBQ for his friends later in the evening.

Lydia is feeling a little under but takes some time out to play with friends in the afternoon and sits with Eileen, Anna and Sarah who have come over for a swim and dinner. Max puts her to bed after trying to ease her constipation but it has become quite clear that she is ill and very uncomfortable.... it will be another night cuddling with her after trying to ease her constipation with a suppository.

Lydia has stopped eating and has taken few fluids despite my best efforts and now we are headed to emergency at Victoria Hospital where the only drink she will get will be an intravenous that she will have through the night. Max and I head over to X-Ray in the late evening and will wait until a few minutes after midnight for the on call ultra-sound technician to arrive.... she cannot find the 2 cm long appendix and searches for what seems eternity until she is positive that it is hidden beyond reach. It is now 1:30 am and I send Max home with the Visa card - he has to go to work and needs to leave to get any kind of restful sleep. According to the surgeon I will meet with next, there is a pocket of fluid near the area of the appendix, swollen lymph nodes and an extended bowel. She is sleeping restfully and makes no complaints of pain even though I know she is very uncomfortable. The nurses have attempted to feed me while she rests with a few sticks of cheese, crackers and juice. They have given us a cloth sack containing some toiletries when Lydia wakes up at 2:30 and we are off to brush our teeth and go to sleep in the private room they have provided for us within the emerg department. A gurney is not necessarily the most comfortable place to lay your head but the alternate would have been an armchair. I rest but wake up every few hours when they come in to check her to make sure she is still doing well. By 8:30 we are told by the head Surgical resident that she will be going home but they have given instructions to come back should she complain of pain or experience fever...... We manage to leave in between downpours at about 9 am and head out to Mcdonald's where she wants to eat some breakfast. Still little food and drink but she is happy and plays in the tubes - we are there all by ourselves and leave when a mom and her three boys show up. At home, Shelly knocks on the door - she has some plants for our pond area and we set about digging them in to the soil. Looking good, thanks Shelly!! Lydia and I spend most of the day cuddling or trying to capture rest but the phone is ringing and my BlackBerry is constantly beeping in my ear.... I am still waiting for my own surgeon's office to call and they do.... I will finally get to see him on Thursday afternoon and get to find out what will come next. It is only a few days away but the fatigue, stress and waiting is finally taking its toll and I find myself yelling..... Max does not understand sometimes but then it is easy to see that I take everything in stride and when my guard is up I am predictably strong and able - easy to forget for a moment what I am going through..... please just leave me be and don't engage when you see me aggravated.... oh and the hormones - do we even need to go there??!!

Thank you to all my friends who are showing their support, love and concern!! Thanks Deb for your call from Ottawa - I am fine.... just a little thin in the patience department but will get there!! Sue, the champagne was fantastic and a great way to ring in the week end - it is moments like these that I hold on to in the dark.

..... time for bed....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

..... invasive

On Monday morning.....

I can't sleep and after rolling around in bed trying to find a comfy spot, I have given up and come downstairs. It was pouring again in the wee hours of the morning and at times hard enough to conjure up memories of camping in a canvas tent and hearing the relentless beat on the roof. I didn't take anything before bed and so my mind is busy grinding away with a multitude of thoughts and feelings ..... a walk down memory lane, only not all the memories are pleasant and I push them away only to find them returning like a vengeance. I peer out the back door and see a light shining down on the deck and know that it is the reflection of the moon and I carefully open up the door and peer up. The moon has an orange ring around it and in its almost half shape it is bright. I notice a line of white moving rapidly across the sky and in no time it has covered the moon and put out the light it had cast moments before on my face. So reflective of what I am feeling these days..... It is just after 4 am and my cat has come to cuddle in my lap as I begin to type. My daughter is fascinated by the pets in our house and how I am constantly being followed around by them... she notes that even the pet rats in her room will sit and listen attentively when I am reading stories to her...... I have grown up with animals my whole life and know that it is so important for children to learn to care for others in their early years. I have also learned to trust the instincts in small children and animals and those in myself. I am intuitive and when I have my quiet moments and when I am paying attention, I often can tell what is going on around me and what is coming ahead. Our busy lives take us in multiple paths of distractions and hinder that ability in all of us to be introspective... I try to distract myself but this morning it is difficult....

.... I am still in limbo and occupy my waking moments with children, laughter and domestic chores - it is the quiet time in the night when I cannot sleep that I wonder why I have not come up with a bucket list - after all, I am still mortal and yes, I have cancer but my thoughts always stay positive and look to the future... maybe not as far ahead as I would have a few months ago. I do catch myself saying ... I hope to watch my daughter marry some day and have her own children.... I wonder what my children will be like when they are adults? Did I do a good job as a Mom? What if I don't quite get there.... will they remember me? Will their memories be good ones? What kind of people will they be to others? to themselves? Will they be friends with each other? I realize that we are all here for such an incredibly short time in the scheme of things and that no one will really care about me in a few short decades after I leave and when those around me have forgotten me.... but what I leave behind in the time I spend between birth and my end date will be how I lived my life and what I thought important enough to leave to the next generation and how I hope that it is better than my own. I hold no animosity towards anyone and am incapable of holding a grudge. I am disappointed in those that do. My bucket list, if I ever get one would likely be about spending more time with my children and not sweating the little stuff. Being kind and doing a random act of kindness towards others every day because they have their own problems too. Reminding my friends on a regular basis why they are still my friends and to always let them know that I love and appreciate the people that they are. To send warm hugs and love to the sister who does not speak to me, to be caring and loving to the one that does and to always let my brother know he is always loved and appreciated. To understand that my parents really did do the best they could and that I appreciate the things they taught me that have become important in my life. To always be a good and loving partner to the one I vowed my life to and who has walked with me into uncharted territory all these years and especially now........

On Thursday morning..

... the word 'invasive' conjures up all sorts of images depending on your perspective and experiences and in my world I imagine it as being a difficult and prolific weed invading a garden.... my garden. I will call my cancer a weed, one which will need to be pulled from my garden without leaving behind more than a hole and a dim memory ....

I am reminded by my 7 year old daughter almost daily that she will streak her hair pink if I have to lose my hair and that she doesn't want me to die.... I know that she will take my lead and look to me for answers that right now, I clearly do not have. She grabs for my hand and walks with me now instead of running ahead unless Max already has it and then she runs ahead twirling as she puddle hops. She cuddles more often and tells me she loves me. She is trying to cope with something that she knows she has no control over. She tells us that she thinks about it every day and she worries.... she is as candid and as honest as I am with her. I am aware she is a child and as much as I want to protect her, I will not lie to her when she asks me a question to something she needs to have the answer to. She trusts me implicitly and I will not compromise that and so it becomes a debate with Max into the late hours of the evening. He tells her that I will live to be old and grey and I tell her that I have no plans to leave any time soon. It is a debate that no one wins and it amounts to what each of us believes to be right. I do not want him to make her promises that will later haunt him and destroy any trust she has for him and he wants me to tell her as little as possible so as not to worry her..... it is a dilemma. After much soul searching, the only conclusion that I can come up with is to love her as much as I can and to calm her fears by telling her that I will always love her and conduct our days as normally as possible. We will find something to laugh about and look forward to every day. We do not know how long any of us will be here and so maybe we should all be doing that anyway..... live, love and laugh Lydia!!!

It was great going into work the past few mornings and seeing people whom I either have not spoken to since I have left or have not seen in a few weeks. I miss being there and being busy in a connected way. Since I can't sit still for very long anyway... I am sure I can find stuff that I have pushed aside for a rainy day - like the kids scrapbooks and getting the pictures printed off for their photo albums. I will enjoy the rest of the summer with my children and the company that comes over to swim now that the days have warmed up enough to want to take a dip.

This morning I went downtown for a photo shoot with Faceit London at a photographer's studio on Dundas St. I found parking easily on Clarence just after the morning rush and minutes after dropping Lydia off at Reading Camp. The sun promises to kick up the heat for this afternoon and I smile as the beggar standing outside the studio doors politely lets me know that there were other people who have come before me and graciously hits the buzzer. I am let in to the studio - I will be having my make-up done by an artist this morning and will return later for the shoot... one of the ladies is at a medical appointment - can I do the shoot after make-up. No sweat, what great timing. I am standing in the back room talking to Annette near a window that has cast its light on my face and I notice the photographer, a slight young woman who has aimed her camera and begins to take candid photos - she likes the way the light falls across me. I am wearing my gardening gear not having planned my wardrobe for the morning make up but the clothes are comfortable and a soft blue which shows off my eyes. The cut off sleeves showcase my tattoos which would be part of the photographers focus. One of the ladies breezes past and stops to admire my artwork. She has a lovely face and a gentle way about her... I like her. After her shoot she drops in to make-up to wish me well - she knows that I am only part-way through my journey and she tells me she is near the end of hers with cancer. I wish her well and thank her for her kind words..... she is off and it is now my turn. The photographer likes what I am wearing and takes full advantage of my casual attire and captures my easy going attitude. She is great and her gentle guidance gives her the photos she needs. I hug her when it is over and away I go...... Annette is by the door and she says she will talk to me tomorrow - we both know that the news is not great but it will be the jumping off point for what is to come and what we have been waiting for. Hugs and a see you and I exit the building into the bright sunlight and as I put my sunglasses on I reach into my handbag again and extract what change I have left for the polite beggar outside the door. 'Bless you and have a nice day'..... 'you too' I quietly respond as I make my way to my car and back to my reality.

I wish to thank everyone for their laughter and their kind words.... these will take me far in my journey and to my husband who put together a picture from WALL-E showing him holding hands with Eve who at this point in the movie is shut down and is just there physically - he carefully put a well constructed Koi tattoo on her left arm and placed a pink ribbon on her chest adjacent to the light string that the WALL-E had place over her "shoulders". He is holding her side.... if you look closely, he has put his name on the character MAX-E. I must have cried for 20 minutes - Lydia came running to me and when I showed her she just smiled and said 'Daddy really loves you'...... and I love him too - the picture really says about a million words and really is very telling of our relationship and where we are in our lives right now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

.... girls night rules

.... ah the weekend ... the summer weekends are shorter and the weather a lottery when it comes to party planning and you always just work around whatever comes your way....

Friday was the day that Uncle Paul finished the yard work by removing the unsightly pile of dirt that was marking the lawn beneath brown... he carefully removed the clay and raked out the earth then seeded the whole thing. The sidewalk leading to the front of the house was then tackled and completed by Uncle Paul and assisted by Mitchel. He then began the arduous duty of finishing the deck and ran out of wood which meant a trip to the hardware store for us. The deck was finished by early evening while I continued to clean out the pool and get it ready for Saturday and my annual girl's night by the pool. This is the third annual gathering and ironically planned very strategically for the weekend that I am able to swim.... I planned this party 3 months ago and decided to do it on the second week end in August as opposed to the third weekend in July. Friday proved to be a rather stressful day and my frustration spilled over in the form of griping. It is always fantastic when your mate wants to get all these projects done.... please just remember to finish one before you start another and to clean up as you go!!

Saturday began with a dense covering of clouds that would soon begin to pour copious amounts of precipitation on Max and Uncle Paul while they struggled to get the pond completed.... it was a muddy mess and required an equal amount of hose water to wash off the deck and the sidewalk. Our wonderful neighbor Shelly had offered to have Lydia drop over to her house to catch some fish from her pond - Lydia adores Shelly and she jumped at the opportunity to spend time with her. They added 5 little goldfish babies to our pond along with the Stratiotes Aloides 'Water Soldier/cactus' plants that Shelly had given to us the day before. Thank you for always being so wonderful to us and especially to Lydia. The pond finally completed, Max and Paul went in to shower and get ready to vacate the house for the evening - my guests should start to arrive within the hour.

Brenda A is the first to arrive and she looks fantastic with her new hairdo and make-up and I am excited to see her!! She gets down to the business of helping me prepare tonight's feast - ribs and chicken with salad and mashed potatoes. Carrie comes next followed by Sue, Shelly, Jan, Ameeta, Andrea, Nancy and later by Brenda B, Sandra and Kim. Carrie is my out-of-town guest and has already stashed her gear in my son's room and is preparing drinks with a special concoction she has devised - finding Nemo.... you have to drink what looks like the color of an angry ocean to find the cherry hidden beneath the ice floes.... yum! With dinner finished and desserts coming out, the ladies quickly clean up the mess. Thanks Jan for coming!! It was so nice of you to drop in. My gratitude for the great job in clean-up!!

Shelly, Carrie and I are going to brave the obnoxious weather and cold pool water - note to self - time to get a pool heater - but first I have to say bye to Andrea who has come to visit from Toronto and I tell myself not to tear up... it is so hard to see her go, I miss her so much!! I love you girl!! The beautiful Gerber daisies she gave me will remind me that she was here. Back to poolside it is Carrie and I that jump in to the cold water together and laugh like idiots when we surface!! Shelly has paced around the pool and is determined to get in despite the chilly temperatures and we again laugh like idiots when she comes up and tears out of the pool!! You are so brave. Ahhh, the rain begins again and we get out to get changed and join everyone now gathering in the gazebo. The rain has now reached torrential proportions and the gazebo begins to leak in places... time to go into the house. Brenda B has been knocking at the door and is unaware that we have been out back - I call to her as she is turning to leave. Lots of hugs later and she has joined in to the conversation at the kitchen counter. I have known her quite a few years and her son and my son are having a sleepover at her house... they are now old enough to watch each other.... they grow up so fast. Joel, Sandra and Kim drop in and I am thrilled that they are able to make it.... Joel is cutting up the sweet treat he has made for this occasion and hands it out to the women while the girls get their drinks... time for him to go back to his guy gathering but will return to pick up the girls. With more of the ladies on their way out I am able to play catch up with Sandra and Kim - I miss not being at work with you gals... so used to saying hi every day. Joel returns a few hours later and after admiring all the hard labour put in by Max and uncle Paul, it is time for the girls to head out. Thank you so much for coming out and I will see you soon :)

It is now just Carrie and I and we head out to the pool with our towels and premixed drinks in a jug to sit poolside while we float on the inflatable chairs I purchased for the event. With the stereo on and the floating lit flowers we can feel the heat of the front moving in. We float about chatting into the wee hours.... the school year keeps Carrie and I busy with little time to get together and I have missed her dearly. The tears would flow later when I have to say bye in the morning.... amazing how fast the time goes by and how little of it you have. We promise to not let the time slip by us so fast in between visits. We marvel at the sheet lightening in the sky and life is good. Thunder, although in the distance warns us of things to come and we make our way out of the pool... it is early in the morning and we know that we need our sleep.... not 17 any more!! Thank you Carrie for being such an awesome friend!!

Sunday becomes a hot and lazy day and as I wave at Carrie from the driveway, wiping tears from my eyes, I am happy and blessed by those that have come into my life and have been my friend over the years.... I just can't believe how busy life has been and I am sad that we only see each other on occasion.

William arrives home first and he agrees to float in the pool with me but chickens out when he realizes how cold it is. Instead he hands me the dog's rope and pulls me around the pool from the water's edge.... we giggle and I remember pulling him around in the same fashion as a small child in a blue bin with yellow nylon rope handles and hearing him squeal with delight as I towed him around the house behind me. My, how he has grown so tall and handsome and how I sometimes see that little boy in his face. He always could make me smile and today was no exception. I love you so much Will!! He turns to me and says ' love you momma' and smiles that charismatic smile that the girls love so much.

Brenda A and her family arrive soon after - they are here for dinner and a swim - the pool is now refreshing in the oppressive heat and we are able to float in the chairs while watching her daughters swim about. Lydia and Daddy arrive with Mitchel, whom they have picked up on their way back from Stratford where they stayed the night with family. Uncle Paul will come back next week. We will miss his company for now but have plans for fun outings when he returns. Brenda helps with dinner and I enjoy her company - always there helping out and just being sweet. I love you!! I miss not living just around the corner... you would have joined me on the porch watching the storm roll in later in the day. You leave before the storm hits and lots of hugs later I will see you tomorrow afternoon for the facial I have booked for the two of us!!!

The storm hits and its power is incredible.... the lightening lights up the sky and the streetlights below shut off with the temporary brightness. The winds are whipping the trees about and the rain slashes at the windows. Lydia is scared and gets into our bed while Mitchel attempts to console her with hugs. Mommy is here and I crawl in next to her.... she coils her body around mine as we fall fast asleep. Mommy loves you Lydia - always and forever. Mommy loves you Mitchel for always being sweet and kind and forever you will be in my heart. I am blessed with three beautiful children and a husband who keeps trying to be his best no matter what. Love you all.

Thank you to everyone who shared in this weekend!!! Sending out special Birthday Wishes to Dr. Annette Richard for Saturday and to Sara J. who has birthday today. Love and hugs to you both.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

.... surgical follow up

..... despite the lack of sleep I am clearly awake and preparing myself mentally for the day and smile when I see that I am not the only one up so early in the morning.... my Facebook is online as usual these days and my friends are offering their support and love .... easy to see some days where I draw my strength when my reserves run low. Max is taking Lydia to reading camp this morning and we have made arrangements for our ever wonderful Uncle Paul to pick her up in the event my Surgeon's appointment runs long. I am mentally ready, dressed and leaving the house. I take note of the beautiful clear morning and I draw in a deep breath in the unusually cool August morning. I am going to University Hospital and now know the way to the out-patient surgical clinic on the 8th floor. I no sooner get comfortable in the waiting room which on a previous visit was empty, but my number is called and I am led to an examining room with the Surgeons name on the door..... this tag has moved from its previous door front... there are many surgeons who share this clinic and this simplifies where everyone will be this morning.

The nurse inspects the steri strips and gently removes them... the scar is slim and from my vantage point looks like a frown - it will soon fade in time and leave a reminder of these days... the other scar is under my arm and because of the sensitive location, my arm feels like it is pulling tight on a muscle when extended and I grimace with the discomfort. The other scars are from other incisions - biopsies and large gauge needles are a stark contrast to the white skin surrounding them. Each scar has tough lumpy tissue beneath them and this too will diminish with time. The nurse is surprised by my range of motion and comments that most women will stiffen up and experience long term problems. I never stop moving and now I see the advantage of that..... from the second day after surgery I would push myself to move carefully but constantly despite the pain... a warning I received from a woman I met going through chemo who made sure I was aware how important this was. I learned years ago to take advice from those who have travelled before.... saves the effort of learning the hard way.... I also do not take pain killers because I need to know what hurts and to not push beyond what is tolerable.

The surgeon enters the room and smiles at me... he recognizes the tattoos and remembers that my husband's opposite arm is also tattooed. He asks what I do for a living and is interested in the answers... this is the small talk while he attempts to get Pathology on the phone. He is only across the hall and asks me to call him if the phone rings... he is training an intern and will use the time he has wisely as I get dressed. He checks in with me a number of times before the nursing station phone rings and he is called over to take it. I can only hear his side of the conversation but get the idea that the report is not complete and he is given very little information. I hear the polite thank you and he hangs up the phone with little more than a preliminary report. There seems to be something found in the minutest of scales that would indicate that perhaps cancer has been located in the lymph node - out of the six harvested in surgery, he is not told which one. He only knows that according to the report on the carcinoma removed that it was complete..... a mystery that Pathology has decided requires further investigation and more testing. They want to be sure before issuing a formal report and have indicated that this will take a few more days. My surgeon feels positive about having removed the tumor and will call me as soon as the report is submitted. He has a very gentle smile and I can see his eyes are warm and friendly as he lets me know that I am free to go. Through the short wait time in the exam room, I have been texting Mandi - she is concerned and wants to know if I am OK.... I am fine and will face this another day by hoping for the best. My friends have all been texting and emailing with their concern and support. Today I was not alone and I am grateful for the love. xoxoxox Thanks Shelly for the hysterical humorous relief this afternoon.... still finding it funny!! :D

Today I felt really good - physically strong and able to play with my beautiful daughter - I am teaching her how to shoot baskets and I have enough range in my arm to shoot and score but not quite up to playing 3 on 3 even with the spanky new sports bra.... I realize that I am out of shape. I will resolve to do something physical every day even if it is just a walk.

While Max and Uncle Paul get closer to finishing the pond, I am replacing the damaged gasket from the pool filter.... our pool has turned slightly green and my party is 2 days away - my plans never changed and I am determined to continue regardless of the path I am on. I am looking forward to seeing the girls and laughing - enjoying the life I have been blessed with.

Special thanks to all my friends for the wonderful messages and the time you have taken to show your kindness and support. I wish to congratulate Norm and Melissa - Baby #1 will be arriving soon into the new year if I calculated out the right time frame!!! So exciting!!

.... beach day

..... I went to bed late and took no Melatonin - I figured I could go to sleep and stave off the nerves that have been at me all day...... I must have fallen asleep at some point through the night because my molars ache from being ground but I am now wide awake and it is 4:15 am. My breast is still swollen and pains me as I roll over and I can feel my heart beating through my ribcage as if it could get away if it weren't for the ribs keeping it in check..... the hardest part of this journey seems to be the waiting.

Wednesday 5th August.....

Today is Lydia's second day out at the summer reading camp and she is liking this newest adventure in her summer. She is missing Day Camp and her many trips and adventures but this is just great with her because she is once again amongst her peer group and able to spend afternoons with us. I am so grateful that her distractions are keeping her busy and giving us something to talk about. Uncle Paul waits with us by the doors to pick her up but I get to drop her off in the mornings - just the two of us. We hold hands as we walk to the doors and take the opportunity to chat about anything and everything. She plays on the climbers this morning wearing her skirt and I watch as she gingerly picks her way across the ancient bars on flip flops. The conversation near by is between a woman my age and one much younger - the older woman can't understand why some women get married multiple times and she spits out her disdain for those of us who have..... I am glad for my second marriage because it was to my soul mate and I watch my daughter, our daughter smiling up at me as I walk away from the ladies. She is done playing and it is time to go to the classroom - she grabs my hand and pulls me to her upturned face. ' I love you so much mommy' she says gently and wants me to kiss and hug her all the way to the door and I oblige with just as much enthusiasm.... 'I love you too baby!'

We are going to the beach right after we pick her up at noon and she is asking us as soon as she sees us and squeals with excitement when we tell her the car is packed and ready - we go through the check list of every item and when satisfied that we have everything - she sits back in the seat and smiles. Uncle Paul is with us and so is Mitchel, big brother William is already at Canada's Wonderland with his friends. My children are busy and the summer is going by fast. The day is perfect at Port Stanley and I miraculously find a parking space in the busy lunch hour outside of Mackies. A light wind plays across our face and the water sparkles in the sunlight - life is good!! Uncle Paul is ecstatic and can't believe that we have a beach so close to us... I get to see this day through his eyes. I play on the shoreline with Lydia because the steri strips are still on and I do not want to get my incisions wet in the lake water, at least not yet. We get to eat Mackie fries on the beach and the picnic lunch I have made. We will buy our vegetables for dinner on the way back but forego the trip to Shaw's Dairy for another day. Uncle Paul is so grateful for the wonderful beach day and I am eternally grateful to him for taking the children swimming.

I am looking forward to this evening after supper. Sara and Elaine are coming for a visit at 7 pm but that time comes and goes and the phone rings at 7:30. Not only have they gotten lost but the car that Sara is driving has become uncooperative and is now showing signs of overheating. I can't help but laugh and I am trying to give instructions on how to find me and after talking and laughing with both ladies on the phone I have decided to walk out to the road and flag them down. Within minutes the ladies pull around the corner to park across the street from my house. Laughing and hugging, my friends come through the house to the backyard with Sara's dog Roxy in tow. Thelma (my dog) loves the company and the two of them are tearing around the backyard, drinking out of the newly formed pond and running around the dirt Max has piled in the yard. Across the adjoining yard walks Sue carrying baby Malakai and mommy Vanessa just steps behind..... and Brenda joins the parade through the adjoining gate - the gathering has begun. Hugs and hellos and we all sit to laugh at the antics of dogs and baby!! I am so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life that they would take time out to spend it with me. Thank you all so very much!! We talk about what is coming next and I really can't say much because I can only guess..... it is on my mind and worries me and I sometimes find myself rambling through the conversation. Sue, Brenda, Vanessa and baby Malakai have to go and we wave and hug goodbye - thank-you for coming by and now it is Sara and Elaine that sit with me through the evening. I will miss you gals this fall and the opportunity to work with you both will unfortunately have to wait. My life as I have known it has been suspended indefinitely for now - it has taken a detour and as I sit in my oasis sipping on a glass of wine, I am glad for the friendships and the distractions that the summer has brought. It is time for the ladies to leave and I find myself once again waving bye from the driveway. Gee I hope the car gets you home... Mitch, our neighbor has been kind enough to check on it while we were visiting and topped up the radiator. Even my visitors see what a great neighborhood I live in.... It really is the people that make a place a home.

I catch up on emails and Facebook before calling it a night.... tomorrow will be what it will be and although I am anxious, I will face whatever comes my way with head up and eyes forward (something that Mark always says to me) and have faith in my journey. Thank you to my visitors today, to Mark for his constant support and phone calls, to Uncle Paul for being here for all of us and to my family for being so darn lovable! Thank you to my friends for their kind notes and loving words and to those that are patient with me on days when I am not myself. My strength does not only come from within but also from around me. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Monday, August 3, 2009

.... the long week-end

.... there is always something so redeeming about a long weekend in which the weather co-operates and is spent with friends and family....

Max had an opportunity on Saturday to carefully chisel out the rest of the pond and sculpt it into a shape that followed the contours on what it was in its previous life - my flower bed.... so unfortunate that the majority of plants would not survive the spades and two men in boots. I can see that the only plants to be salvaged are wilted in their pots and chances are that the blooms would not be appearing any time soon or ever again. I manage to crawl around the garden, finally feeling well enough to garden and Lydia is running in and out of the pool for the majority of the day. Nancy appears at the door in the afternoon and we get a chance to catch up..... has it really only been three weeks.... feels like a lifetime. She if off and running... I would see her later that night at JJ's and more hugs - thanks for being such a good friend.

Sunday... Max is finished the shaping of the pond and begins the process of putting in the rubber liner. Lydia is quick to jump into the 'pit' wearing work gloves and starts placing the small rocks along the bottom of the pond .... surprised that she is not inspecting each individual one looking for fossils - a favorite pastime with the multitudes of rocks we have in our pathways that when she finds one, it finds its way into buckets, pots or really any available carrier - pockets included - these are not lawn mower friendly but then, no rocks are. Done this task, she sits on the end of the deck with the business end of the hose playing with the stream as she fills the pit. Our neighbor shouts across the yards letting us know that he is impressed with the new pond ornament - a real original and colorful addition to our already visually busy oasis, we laugh and are grateful for the humor. The backdoor opens and Will announces the arrival of our guests - Annarita and Jenn are here!!! Hugs and hellos, we take them out to the Gazebo and enjoy a glass of wine in the wonderful sunshine. I haven't seen Jenn is so long and it feels good to catch up. Hard to believe that the last time I saw her was at her wedding about 5 years ago. Thanks for the yummy chicken Annarita and for coming out to see me. I miss you. They are off and running and I stand and wave as they drive off... been doing a lot of that lately... I really miss my life but am touched by all the really great people in my life who have offered friendship and love. Dinner comes and goes and our neighbors pass through the connecting gate we installed last summer with beer in hand, and after admiring Max's latest creation, we camp out in the gazebo and talk into the evening while Lydia and their two grandchildren play around the yard. We agree to meet in the morning when I will host breakfast and Lydia can continue to play with the boys.

Monday - we rise early enough to put on the coffee, dice up some fresh fruit, cut up Costco muffins (more like miniature coffee cakes), scrambled eggs and voila - come and get it!!! Max is going golfing with Mitch and John and he is so stoked!! Finally, he gets to go out and play while I get ready for our afternoon guests - Uncle Paul is staying for another week and the kids can't wait 'till he arrives. Mom and Dad are bringing him and staying for dinner. Life is great and we enjoy a quiet afternoon... at least Mom and I do as Lydia ropes in Grand Dad and commands him to play jailer and jailed.... she is the Warden and we rein in our mirth as our 74 year old Dad is made to sit on the slide while being lashed to it with the dog rope. Amazing that he is so jovial after about an hour of Lydia time :) They are pals through and through and he would go through anything as long as it was with her. She really has a way with him... he really needs to be a little firmer.. bless him, he is as sweet as the day is long. It is a process when they leave after a visit... we walk them out to the car, more hugs and kisses later.... I stand in the road and wave again... I sense a pattern here.....

It has been a fabulous weekend and we are eternally grateful for our family, friends and neighbors. Bless you all. Love always, Marita xoxoxoxox

Saturday, August 1, 2009

.... reactions

This journey is filled with opportunities and pitfalls and I have a soul mate who travels with me and tries to navigate as best as he can but with more bad news coming, his anger bubbles to the surface and he becomes difficult without meaning to be. He is angry at what he feels is an injustice and is short with us. I manage to pull out of him slowly what is wrong but I end up pointing out all the chores that are left undone and mentioning that I have to get help from a neighbor after asking him half a dozen times. His reaction is swift and nasty and we bicker. We don't talk about the cancer and how it has inconvenienced our comfortable life and how we have hit a point in our life where we are in step with each other and are just beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labour. We have a nice house in a great neighborhood and enjoy good friendships and social outings. Our children are at varying ages of independence but are beyond the needy stages of those tot years. He is angry because I am a good person and I am his soul mate and this should not be happening and I am angry because I can not help him much beyond listening to him and being there. I try my best and I know he is trying his.... we are in the process of getting ready for bed but instead of crawling in next to him... I go downstairs to sleep on the couch - I want to be alone as I cry myself to sleep.

It is what it is and it is happening to me, to us... this illness affects everyone we come in contact with. Our children take our lead and we continue to parent as we always have, even when our oldest senses a chink in our resolve and tries to take advantage of those moments. We are on him and as a team, we stand our ground and he backs down. Oh, yes... they are still teens no matter what is going on around them but I have not left my post, life goes on as normally as possible. I took my middle child shopping yesterday and I really needed to find support for my 'girls' and some shirts to wear. I apologize in advance to him because I do not want to try on the sports bra knowing the effort would antagonize the swollen breast, I merely put the band around me to see if it would fit while we are standing between the racks. He understands and is supportive of my efforts. Thanks Mitch, I really appreciate you being there in the middle of the bra section with your Mom - now that takes guts!! Lydia is finishing up with day camp and she has made cards last night with Sue and myself to give to all her councillors. She is thoughtful and kind and always mindful that I am going through this journey with her too!! She is gentle when she cuddles in to me and traces the top of my breast where the incisions are and asks me if they hurt. Lydia would like me to play with her but most of the games are physical and require jumping and hanging upside down - we settle with books and walks... thank goodness for the new sports bra. Max and I take Lydia for a walk. We clasp hands while she rides on her big wheel. He is still brewing inside and I call him on it a few times and try to let him know that it will all work out the way its supposed to. I realize that he needs to talk to someone and not about golfing or digging a pond - he needs his friends around him. I am so fortunate that I have mine coming around and sitting with me. Men going through this are terribly lonely and powerless. He cannot do anything but be an emotional rock but I can see that his exterior is crumbling fast. He needs his friends and he needs them now!!

Max is out there making good on all his promises to clean up the yard, and to continue to work on the pond alone... this morning we are not talking.... We are both on this journey but feel very alone sometimes and although we are apart and doing our respective chores, we are still very much on each other's minds .. our souls are connected but for now we both choose to carry on with our tasks independently of each other and alone .... yesterday was one of those really rough days, which on the upside, makes the good ones really shine.

Lunchtime arrives and I ask Max to read what I have written so far... he is quiet and I can hear him from the living room where I am out of view. He comes into the living room and the tears begin to flow as his sobs get louder. 'I'm so sorry'.... it is a rare moment and I hold my wonderful husband close. It's OK to not always have to take on the world with a brave face... we are in this together and I love him dearly.

We have been invited out to a BBQ with close friends of ours whose family has become so a part of my own. We emigrated here in the mid 60's and with no extended family and my immediate family scattered about, they are as close as it gets to being family without being genetically linked. Tina brings her new baby Gabby who I get to hold... she is so tiny and within my weight restrictions. Her little arm reaches out of the blanket I have swaddled her in and the world is right again. More little kisses on her tiny head and she makes the circuit with all the ladies. As we go to leave, more hugs and well wishes from everyone. Thank you Sarah for a wonderful time and Len, you really do make the best hamburgers around. Thanks 'Mom' for being there and for always having an incredible attitude and insight.

We drop off our children at home, put Lydia to bed and head off to JJ's for a few hours to wish Emily all the very best in her new life chapter. I get to see people I have not seen in what seems like a lifetime. It is so good to be there and mingling with people I miss seeing every day at work. Nancy dropped by in the afternoon to spend time with me at home and I am thrilled that she made it out to the gathering this evening. Kelli, Janice, Joelly, Sandra, Kim, Ken, Annarita and Deborah!!! I am tired and ready for bed. We wave bye and head off for home hand in hand..... started rough and ended well. Thank you everyone.

Thanks Mandi for the hugs, lunch and great conversation on Friday - you are a good friend who needs no excuse to come by. Jilly, you are my soul friend and a source of hugs no matter how far away you are :) I love you so much. Thank you to my husband for bearing the world on his shoulders - I am here for you too and I love you more today than I did yesterday and will love you always and forever.... just remember.... it is only a part of our journey and it will only serve to make us stronger.