Round 7

In the waiting room for Round 7 of chemo and saw this book. I haven’t read it, but I like the title.

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A few photos

Hanging out with Nate and bunny.

Hanging out with Nate and bunny.

Mitchell and Nate on the weekend.

Mitchell and Nate on the weekend.
Me in my red hat.

Me in my red hat.

Me, rocking my wig.

Me, rocking my wig.

All of the above photos were taken by T’ai. The two bottom ones, of me in the red hat and of me in the wig were taken when we decided to do a mini-photo-shoot. T’ai did my make-up for me and we played around with the light in the room. When she showed me the first few pics, I said, “T’ai, you made me look cute with cancer!” So that became the theme of the rest of our play-photo-shoot: “cute with cancer.” We took a bunch more, and a few sans wig and hat, but I don’t feel quite ready to post any of those yet. Maybe one day.

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Distillery District Walk

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My sister T’ai is visiting right now and it has been so wonderful having her here. A couple of days ago, I was feeling really strong so we went for a walk to the distillery district. We sat at a cafe, I brought a little dissertation work with me, and we had some lunch. I felt almost normal!

We were both struck with how pretty the little cafe was, so we took a few photos. I’m feeling a little more tired now, but I’m so glad we took the time to enjoy that day.

Pretty sis.

Pretty sis.

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Second Email Update

March 3, 2013

Hi friends and family,

I just wanted to share a little update with you.

First the good news – The CT scan has confirmed that the tumors are shrinking. In fact, the scan said that there were no longer any abnormalities in the neck area detected!! Yayayayay! This is the best news. The tumor in the breast and in the lymph node under the arm are still there but the mass is dispersing a bit. It no longer feels like a lump, more like an area where my flesh is a bit more dense, but not really a solid mass, which they tell me is a good thing.

So, the bad news is that I had some genetic testing done and it turns out that I have a gene that makes it more likely that I will get breast and/or ovarian cancer in my lifetime. At least this helps explain why this is happening and it doesn’t seem quite as random. Unfortunately, because of the aggressiveness of this cancer and the gene mutation, the doctors are recommending a double mastectomy (the second breast would be removed for prophylactic measures) and eventually, a preventative hysterectomy. These are things I did not think I would be thinking about at the age of 36. My surgery date has been set for May 1st.

I have a fair few good days, where I feel relatively happy and positive. The good news about the tumors shrinking keeps my spirits up in general. But I also have some really tough days. This past week I had to go to the emergency room because I had a fever. And I had a very bad rash on my feet, which made it difficult to put shoes on and to go outside. The oncologist suggested postponing this past treatment. She was worried that the rash was actually a sign of nerve damage. Thankfully, the rash went away, as did the fever and I was able to go forward with the chemo on Wednesday.

I have now completed 6 rounds of chemo, so only 2 more to go!!

I hope you all are doing well. Thanks for reaching out with support and words of encouragement.

Sending love,

xoxo

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First Email Update

January 31, 2013

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to send you all a little update.  I had round 4 of chemo yesterday. Halfway done!

Some of you will already know this info, but I figure there’s no harm in receiving good news twice:

I met with the oncologist again on Monday and she confirmed that the tumours are shrinking, which is great news. The original size of the breast tumor was 9cm x 7cm (Can you believe that? it’s insane! I couldn’t feel it because I had been breastfeeding, and this particular cancer appears to be very aggressive/fast growing. The only good thing about that is that it also appears to shrink relatively quickly too). After 2 treatments it was 5x5cm and now it’s 4×3 and 1/2cm. Much, much better. She can no longer feel the tumours that were in the lymph nodes in the neck area. (Of course, this doesn’t mean they are no longer there, but it does mean that they are much smaller.) I will have a CT scan next week that will give us a much better sense of what’s going on. I will meet with the surgeon the following week to find out more about what that will entail.

Round 3 was a bit harder than the earlier rounds, so I’m hoping this isn’t a trend. All my hair is gone now, but I’m happy to report that I’ve so far kept my eyebrows! (Some people lose their eyebrows in addition to their hair.). You know your reality has really changed when you find yourself saying, “Thank goodness I still have eyebrows!”

Otherwise, I feel okay. I’m trying to focus on all the positive things in my life: happy baby, wonderful husband and an amazing support network of awesome friends and family.  On good days, I’m still managing to work on the dissertation. It actually works as a great distraction from everything else, and helps me to feel productive.

For our friends and family in Toronto – I would love to see you all, but it’s a bit tough right now. My immune system is compromised, so I am limited in where I can go, and I feel tired a lot of the time. We are trying to be especially careful because of the crazy flu going around. Still, hopefully we can squeeze in some visits sometime soon. I know it will lift my spirits.

I also wanted to thank everyone for the phone calls/emails/cards etc. They really warm my heart. Even though I may be slow to reply, know that receiving your positive thoughts and energies really brightens my day so feel free to reach out. (But don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from me right away.) And let me know what’s going on with you too. It’s nice to hear the news (big or small) going on with you.

Also, to all my lady friends, remember to do self-exams, and talk to your doctor about your family history and about mammograms! Early detection is key.

Lots and lots of love,
xo

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The original bad news email

December 16, 2012

Hello friends and family,

This is a tough email to write. I’m writing it on the weekend in the hopes that you are at home when you receive it, or at the very least not at work. I would have preferred to share the news in person or on the phone, but time seems to be moving very fast these days.

A little while ago, I found a lump in my breast. After several tests (mammogram, MRI, biopsy), I have been told that I have breast cancer. Unfortunately, it has spread to my lymph nodes so the doctors think I am in stage 2 or 3. Everything is happening very quickly and they want to be aggressive in treating the cancer, so I will be starting chemotherapy this week (probably Wednesday the 19th). The treatments will last for 18 weeks, at which point they will perform a (single or double) mastectomy. They are also recommending radiation treatment after the surgery. So the next many months are going to be very hard.

My mother has just arrived from Vancouver so she will be here when I start the treatment and to help out with Nate. Thankfully, Nate is blissfully unaware of what’s going on. He is all smiles and laughter which gives me great comfort.

There have been some very scary and sad moments in the past little while, but, and I know this sounds cheesy, there have also been some pretty powerful moments of unexpected laughter and expressions of love. I feel well-supported and, at the moment, strong and as ready as I’ll ever be to fight this thing.

Please feel free to be in touch or ask for updates. If I don’t respond right away, don’t worry but know that any words of encouragement/support are welcome and will have brightened my day.

Love you.

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Why Everybody Hearts

Me and Nate on Family Day (Feb 18, 2013)

Me and Nate on Family Day (Feb 18, 2013)

The purpose of this blog is pretty simple.  It’s to keep friends and family up to date with how the treatment is going.  It’s to  document the challenges and the triumphs of treatment and all those moments in between. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from people via email/text/phone etc, but it does mean that when we do chat, we can focus on other things rather than the treatment update. Plus, I can post pics of little Nate here!

Mitchell and Nate on our Family Day walk.

Mitchell and Nate on our Family Day walk.

Before the diagnosis, I had wanted to start a blog just about the everyday things I was up to, but it turns out that all my everyday things keep me very busy! So, the blog fell off my radar. I had settled on a blog title, “Everybody Hearts,” because I liked the idea of blogging about things I like, pop culture, trends, design-y stuff etc. After my diagnosis in December, I thought about blogging again. And I decided to stick with the same blog title because I liked the positive spin on the song “Everybody Hurts,” because yes, everybody hurts, but everybody hearts too.

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