Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “ovarian cancer”

#AdventWord #Renew

Today’s Advent word is renew. I have sat with this almost the whole day. The pictures above tell a story – the first is me barely 4 weeks after my last chemo session for ovarian cancer, the second is me now feeling grateful, mostly healthy, and so glad to be alive. Here is my prayer for today:

I am sick Lord, so sick

Renew my health O God

I am tired Lord, so tired

Renew my energy O God

I am scared Lord, so scared

Renew my heart O God

I am in pain Lord, so much pain

Renew my cells O God

I am improving Lord, slowly improving

Thank you God for renewal of health

I wake up ready for the day Lord

Thank you God for renewal of energy

I am smiling Lord, so many smiles

Thank you God for renewal of heart

I have learned to live with the pain I have Lord

Thank you God for renewal of perspective

 

Renewal has happened and is happening in my life. I am grateful. That is all, grateful.

 

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One Year: Or what the hell happened there?

These four pictures essentially outline my last year – from hair to no hair, chemo 6 times over, to now growing in curly hair. What a year it has been!

I woke up in the early evening of June 2, 2015 to realize with a shock that my surgery that was supposed to only take a couple of hours had gone at least an hour longer. Then to realize that I was being admitted to the hospital – it was only supposed to be day surgery. Then hearing my dear one’s voice asking me how I was doing and saying that my doctor would be in soon. She came in and told me that I had ovarian cancer, stage 2 and that I would be needing chemotherapy to make sure that we had got it all. Yep, that was a day!

Then came the summer and fall from hell. Well, not really hell, but really, really uncomfortable. I had blood taken, oh so much blood taken, was hooked up to an IV for at least 4 hours every 3 weeks, lost all my hair, lost my energy and then neuropathy in my feet happened. I have to admit, I have never felt such pain and never want to again, as I did in my feet.

Then recovery, the slow, slow recovery. I had imagined that once chemo was over, that everything would go back to normal. Silly, silly me. Here I am, 6 months post-chemo and I am still recovering. My hair is growing back, my energy is returning, but there have been and continue to be bumps along this road. I am still dealing with neuropathy in my feet and it is likely that will continue for at least the next year. I have a situational depression which is being dealt with in all the right ways.

Here are some things I have learned and wished I had known when this all started:

  1. How cold my head got with no hair – thank God for my little knitted cap which made all the difference in the world.
  2. That you need to tell your medical folks right away if you are dealing with an out of control pain incident. Took us all awhile to find what I needed to make it better.
  3. That sleep in whatever form it comes is needed. Daily naps are such a blessing.
  4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. You don’t need to do this alone.
  5. Eating good food helps, but sometimes ice cream is all you want to eat – so why not??
  6. A good therapist/counselor makes such a difference in so many ways.
  7. Having an integrated medical team is essential – thank goodness I had/have that.
  8. Losing my hair was the least obnoxious of the side effects – hair grows back!
  9. Grieving for what has been lost takes it own sweet time – don’t think I’m done with that yet.
  10. Best friends you can text whenever and about whatever are so important!! So thankful I had mine.

If you are going through cancer treatment, please surround yourself with all the love and support you can. If you know someone who is going through treatment, reach out to them, they will be so thankful you did. If your partner is going through cancer treatment, be as strong as you are able, ask for help when you need it.

Lastly I want to publicly thank my dear one. He stood by me, rocked me when I wept, sat beside me during all of my treatments, brought me flowers, let me sleep, fed me good, good food, showered me with so much love and grace. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Love you dearest. Always and forever.

 

World Ovarian Cancer Day

wocd-newsToday is World Ovarian Cancer Day it also happens to be Mother’s Day, which is kind of weird if you think about it. Many of you know that I was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer in June 2015. I have been through surgery and chemo and am hoping that it is well and thoroughly gone!

Here’s the weird part, the thing that made me a mother was ovaries that worked well and did their job. The thing that made me sick was my ovaries that went rogue on me. They have been both my greatest blessing and also my greatest hardship. I must admit to feeling quite torn about them.

Most people think that there is a simple test to find out if you have cancer. A blood test that will show tumor markers. My blood work never, ever showed those markers and yet I had a tumor that was almost 10 centimeters in diameter by the time of my surgery. I know that some cancers have such tests & yay that they do, but ovarian cancer does not. Also this cancer is slippery. The symptoms could almost be symptoms for anything – bloating, fatigue, back ache, trouble going to the bathroom – try taking those to your doctor and having them go – I know what that is, you have ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Canada has great resources that can help and also has been my go to place during this journey.

I will say this if you have a great doctor who listens and sends you for the appropriate tests and gets you to the right specialist – you will get amazing care. Which is what happened to me and I couldn’t be more grateful. We all know that my story could have been so different and the outcomes wouldn’t have been as good as they are so far.

A shout out to all the girls and women who have gone through ovarian cancer, especially to those thousands in Canada who die each year because of this disease. Here’s to the survivors and the advocates, who keep sharing the stories. Here’s to the partners, families and friends who make it possible to continue when you just don’t think you can.

This World Ovarian Cancer Day I am so grateful that I get to be here and celebrate this Mother’s Day. I know now that this could have been so different. I know now that we need more research. I am so grateful that there are so many who get out there to raise money and awareness.

Today I will be grateful. Grateful that I have three wonderful adult children, grateful that the dear one and I are still making this work, grateful for my amazing medical team, grateful for the science and research that made it possible for me to be here. I will continue to honour World Ovarian Cancer Day and hopefully make others aware. I will also continue to celebrate Mother’s Day because my goodness I’m glad to be a mum and to have had a wonderful mum.

#AdventWord #Give

#AdventWord #Give

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back at the beginning of June I had little idea of what to expect. I knew that I would have to have chemo and I knew that meant I would be off of work for awhile. That ‘awhile’ turned into 6 months. What I didn’t expect and what overwhelmed me at times was the gifts that I would be given. There was food, prayer blankets, scarves for my head, prayers, gift cards, teacups and tea, and did I say food!

Today’s Advent word is give and I immediately thought of all those gifts that have been given to me. They were given because of love, wanting to support the dear one and I, wanting to share joy and beauty with me. The dragonfly gifts were especially important as the dragonfly has become a symbol of the resurrection for me. Dragonflies have to go through a transformation from wriggly water loving larva to become the swooping through the air beauties we see in our gardens in the summertime. These gifts all make me realize how much I have been given and remind me to give as I am able of myself to others who need them. They also remind me of the greatest gift given to the world, Jesus.

Thank you to those who gave me the gifts, here’s to recovery, here’s to being able to share my gifts with others, here’s to waiting for the gift of the birth of Jesus once again.

Thanksgiving

As you know dear reader I have been going through chemo for ovarian cancer for the last 3 months. I had chemo session number 5 yesterday and it is now Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and all of that got me to thinking about what I am thankful for. I decided that I would use a series of photos to share with you what I am grateful for this year.

Gratitude #1

Thanksgiving I am so grateful for our Canadian Health Care system. A system that does not see us paying crazy amounts of private health insurance, a system that moved into high gear when it was realized that I might have cancer and when my diagnosis came through got me into chemotherapy right away, a system that has trained such good people at all levels – from receptionists, to lab techs, to nurses, to my amazing doctors. So even though a lot of going through chemo can be quite crappy I am grateful for it because I know my life is going to be better once I get through it.

Gratitude #2

ThanksgivingMy dear one, my love, my husband, my dearest one. He has hung in through all of this journey called marriage with me – through our best times, through our worst times. We have been through sickness and health, better and worse, richer and poorer over the last almost 30 years and we still laugh, enjoy movies together, good food, travelling adventures, intellectual discussions, prayer time, snuggles, being with family and friends. My life is richer, stretched, and oh so much more delightful because of him. I give thanks everyday for him.

Gratitude #3

ThanksgivingThese four! My lovelies – my own adult children and the one who married into our family. I can’t imagine our lives without any of them now. They have brought me so much love that my heart often feels like it is overflowing. They love and care for each other in delightful ways, they enjoy each others company and they enjoy our company. We play board games, drink beer and wine, cook and eat good food, laugh together. They have been so supportive and there during this rough time. They make me so proud and I am so glad to call them family. They are the heart of my heart always.

Gratitude #4

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving This gratitude gets two photos, because unfortunately I don’t have a photo with the three us of together. The first photo is with my sister and the second one is with the sister of my heart. These two women are the ones who keep me going on days when nothing else will. They listen to me moan, vent, cry, laugh whenever I need them. They are always there. I am so grateful for that. I don’t see either of them often enough, because of distance, but they are always in my heart, prayers and thoughts and I know that it is the same for them. My life is richer because of them and I want to say publicly here thank you and love you both so much. Don’t cry now you two!

Gratitude #5

ThanksgivingThe dear one and i have had cats our whole married life. There have been 10 of them altogether, including these two. They have brought us laughter, comfort, grace and so much more. These two in particular have been my buddies through all of the last several months. They seem to know when I need an extra cuddle or just quiet lap time. I am so grateful for them and I know my/our life would be less without them.

Underlying all of these gratitudes is my faith. Faith that God lives in, through and acts through each of these gratitudes that I have named today. I have seen God’s grace be present in all of them sometimes when none of us were expecting that. I would be remiss not to give a honorary mention to all the church communities that I have been part of for over 40 years – they have fed me, strengthened me, encouraged me and given me some lifelong friendships. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. If you are part of one them still know that I give grateful thanks to our God for you all regularly.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers and to those of you who aren’t know that we here in Canada will be giving thanks that we all live in this world together!

Life between Chemo Sessions

I admit it, I still don’t like saying the words that I have cancer and in particular I don’t like saying the words ovarian cancer. Hard words to say, harder I think for others to hear. I keep reminding myself and others that my prognosis is good, that I will get through this, that my hair will grow back, that my energy and focus will come back, that the neuropathy pain will subside, that there will be life after chemo. Right now, however, my life is what I do or don’t do between chemo sessions.

Ovarian Cancer Canada Sunflower

This has been a difficult week pain wise. I am dealing with peripheral neuropathy pain which is a side effect of the chemo medications. This means that I am getting numbness, tingling and worst of all burning pain in my feet, lower legs, hands and lower arms. It has been hard and I have been grumpy and not sleeping well. I have been taking pain meds and am on a longer term acting med (which takes time to build up in my system) to deal with it. My health care providers have told me that it is likely that this will last for several months after the chemo treatments have finished.

Sharing all this not to look for sympathy but to let others know what it is like to live on chemo – it is hard. Be gentle with those of us who are dealing with it. Ask before hugging, it may not be a good day for it. Pray, if you pray, for those of us living with it to have the strength and courage to get through it. I have shed more tears of late than I thought I had left in me.

Life between chemo sessions right now is about managing the side effects, making sure I get enough sleep (thank God for afternoon naps), drinking lots and lots of fluids, eating the right foods, watching more TV than is probably good for me, getting some small tasks done each day, hanging with the dear one, remembering to take all my meds and supplements to deal with the side effects, small walks that get me outside, reaching out to friends and family for love and support and sometimes just being.

Rocking a scarf and earrings! Some days are good.

I know I haven’t written a lot lately, it takes a lot of energy to write. Hopefully when I am through the chemo life there will be more to write about. In the meantime, thank you dear readers for hanging in with me, thank you for your notes of support, for your prayers and your good wishes. Not doing this alone and for that I am most grateful.

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