Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: The End Boss

I am cancer free!!

Today was my appointment with Dr Baliski. I was called into his office and he gave me the good news. All of my results look great and he released me from his care. I asked about the missing results that Dr Bobyn had spoke of yesterday, and Dr Baliski was pretty sure that he had them all. When I see Dr Bobyn again in 2 weeks, I’ll double check with him, but I feel confident in saying that I am now cancer free!

Dr Baliski checked the 2 incisions and was very happy with how they are healing. I’m still on light duty for at least another week, but it’s worth it to be healthy! He wants me to stay out of the water (no swimming) for another week as there is still a risk of infection. He said I can try and play volleyball next week if my arm is feeling good, but warned me to stop if I experience any pain. But other than that, everything is looking great!

I go back to see Dr Bobyn again in 2 weeks to follow up and make sure everything is still on track. My care from here on out should be limited to annual exams and follow ups with Dr Bobyn to check for any new pigmentation. Any new spots that may appear will be removed immediately. I’ll have to be vigilant with the sun and be certain to always wear sunscreen and protect myself. I dub me, sunscreen police! I don’t ever want any of my family or friends to experience this journey.

I have to give a HUGE shout out and thank you to my doctors, Dr Bobyn and Dr Baliski, for attacking this cancer so aggressively and being so reassuring and compassionate throughout this entire process. They are my warriors and my guardian angels. A BIG thank you to my wonderful boyfriend, Kerrie, who helped me and supported me through this journey. And many thanks to my family and friends, as well as Kerrie’s family, who helped and offered support whenever they could. I am lucky to have these people in my corner.

Today is a victorious day. I have kicked cancer’s butt! And to all my readers, have a happy and SAFE summer! Remember, SPF is this year’s hottest accessory! xoxo

Monday, July 26, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: Boss Fight Number 3

Today was my appointment with Dr Bobyn to have my stitches removed and possibly get some results. My appointment was at 10:00 am and to my surprise, I was actually called in a little before 10:00! Dr Bobyn came in a told me he had some good news for me. He had the pathology report. My skin and tissue sample tests showed no residual signs of melanoma! Victory number 1! Dr Baliski has successfully removed the melanoma from the original site on my arm. Next, the lymph nodes. Dr Bobyn told me that we’re still waiting on a couple test results, but that the ones that we did have were clean and clear. Victory number 2!

Next up was suture removal. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’d never had this kind of stitch before. Much to my relief, I barely even felt it. I told Dr Bobyn I was nervous and he promised to be gentle. He kept apologizing and saying that he knew he was hurting me, but I didn’t feel anything! Not until the last one, and even that was just a bit of stinging. Everything was going great until Dr Bobyn left the room to get some steristrips. My arm was bleeding a bit and Dr Bobyn wanted to put the strips on for extra security. As I was standing there waiting for him to come back, I broke into a full body sweat and felt everything going black. Dr Bobyn came back in then and rushed to help me sit down and put my head between my legs. I felt so silly! I can’t believe I nearly passed out!! Dr Bobyn finished up attending to my arm while I concentrated on my breathing and kept my head down. He assured me that this was not an uncommon reaction, but I still felt so dumb! He told me that this often happens with patients that have been faced with major health issues, and when you receive the news that you’re almost out the other side, all of that stress and nerves just hit you. He thinks that’s what happened to me. After he was finished, he called his nurse, Dawn in to get me a cup of water and told me to just relax and not move until I felt better.

Dawn came back with a kid cup of water for me. The cup had fishies on it! Haha I was still super light headed, so she got me a cool cloth for my neck too. She left me in the room to recover and reiterated what Dr Bobyn had said; no moving or standing up until I felt better. She stressed that I didn’t need to rush. That I just need to be safe. I sat there for awhile; longer than my actual appointment took! When the light headedness finally started to pass, I checked my phone and saw that Kerrie had texted. I texted him back and told him the good news and the news that I nearly passed out. I told him it’d be a bit before I could leave.

When I finally felt safe to drive, I got up and told Dawn I was leaving. She let me know that Dr Bobyn wanted to see me again in 2 weeks for another follow up exam. My next appointment with him is on August 9th. My sister’s 19th birthday!

This afternoon my phone rang with an unknown number. I thought it was my mom as when she uses operator assistance to dial, that’s how it shows on my call display. It wasn’t my mom; it was Dr Baliski! He was calling to let me know that he had my results and that they were all good. I didn’t want to tell him that I already knew, so I thanked him very much for calling me. He also wanted to make sure I was coming in to see him for a post surgery follow up exam. I told him I’d see him tomorrow at 11:50 am. He laughed and said he didn’t realize that I already had an appointment and that he’d see me tomorrow then.

So tomorrow I’ll go over my results with Dr Baliski in greater detail. I still have a few questions that I didn’t end up asking Dr Bobyn with all the craziness of trying to blackout and all. = p Maybe he’ll have the other lymph node results as well and, by this time tomorrow, I could officially be cancer free!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 24

1 more sleep! Tomorrow the stitches come out and, fingers crossed, I'll get the results from the surgery!

I have an appointment with Dr Bobyn tomorrow morning at 10 am to have my stitches removed. I made the appointment to remove the stitches before I even had them! lol I've never had this type of stitch before; I've only ever had the dissolving kind. I'm a bit nervous to have them removed, but those nerves are being overtaken by irritation. Irritation that the stitches are causing my arm and the itching. Oh the itching!! I can't wait for them to be gone! I'm so looking forward to being able to wear whatever I want without worrying about the stitches getting caught and pulled. I'm looking forward to being able to wash my hair properly again. I'm looking forward to sleeping on my left side! All the small things that you completely take for granted until they're made difficult.

I'm also hoping to get the results from the lymph node biopsy and surgery tomorrow. I'm slightly nervous but also optimistic that the results will be clear and good. I think after the mix up with the initial biopsy, I'm also not getting my hopes up that Dr Bobyn will even have the results. I have an appointment with Dr Baliski on Tuesday, and I think in my mind, that's when I'm counting on getting the results. Any results tomorrow will be a bonus.

I'll be sure to make a post again tomorrow night of my latest adventure and any results I may get. Until tomorrow! xoxo

Monday, July 19, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 23

Today is a big day. It is exactly 2 months since I went in for my biopsy and 1 week since the surgery that will hopefully end this melanoma treatment journey.

Having been diagnosed with melanoma, I have become very aware of how much misinformation and misunderstanding there is about this form of skin cancer. The two most common responses I’ve heard are that melanoma won’t happen to them and that it’s “the best kind of cancer.” Both of these responses are scary. Melanoma can happen to anyone and can be one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

What is melanoma? Melanoma is a cancer that initiates in melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin; the pigment that colours our skin, hair, eyes and forms moles. Most melanocytes are found in the skin making melanoma of the skin the most common form of melanoma. Melanoma can also be found in the eye, brain, digestive tract and anywhere else melanocytes are found.

What makes melanoma so serious? Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer as it is more likely to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Melanoma can spread anywhere but the most common areas are lymph nodes, liver, lungs, bones and brain. If not caught early, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Survival rates drop to less than 20 percent when melanoma has spread to other organs. People in advanced stages of melanoma are often given less than a year to survive. Early detection is key.

Who is at risk to develop melanoma? EVERYONE. Yes, there are factors that can increase your risk but the bottom line is EVERYONE, no matter your age, skin colour, or family history is at risk. One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is to believe they are immune.

What increases the risk of developing melanoma? UV exposure is the biggest factor in increasing your risk of developing melanoma. It does not matter if the UV exposure is from natural or artificial sources; all UV is harmful. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, approximately 65 percent of melanomas are attributed to ultraviolet ray exposure.

Other risk factors include:
Skin tone: Melanoma does occur more frequently in people with fair skin tone. Fair skin tones have less protection against UV rays then darker skin tones. However, this does NOT mean that people with dark skin tones are not at risk. Bob Marley died in 1981 of melanoma.

Light hair and eye colour: People with blond or red hair and people with blue eyes are also at higher risk. This is again due to less protection against UV rays. Again, this does NOT mean that those with dark hair and/or dark eyes are immune.

Personal and Family History: If one or more immediate family members have been diagnosed with melanoma, there are now studies that show your risk is increased as well. Also, those who have had a previous diagnosis of melanoma are at a higher risk to develop melanoma again in their lifetime.

Severe sunburns, especially in youth: Every sunburn increases your risk of developing melanoma. One blistering sunburn can double your risk of developing melanoma. Just one. Sunburns at a young age are especially dangerous. Protect yourself every time you are exposed to UV rays. It only takes 1 time, 1 burn to change your life.

How do I protect myself? Sunscreen. Every day, every time. Even on cloudy days. A sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 is recommended and should contain elements to block both UVA and UVB rays. Clothing choices is another way to protect yourself. Sunglasses, hats and clothing with the most amount of coverage are best. Now I know that telling people to wear long pants and long sleeves in 40 degree heat is not that all that likely. Cover yourself as much as possible and for all areas that remain exposed, make sure to cover in sunscreen.

Another common mistake is the thought that summer = sunscreen. The truth is that UV exposure happens at all times of the year. Just because there may be snow on the ground does not mean that you are safe. In fact, snow can increase your risk. Snow, water and sand all reflect UV rays which increases your chances of sunburn.

Be aware of your body. Know your body and be aware of any changes. Any new mole or a mole that shows signs of changing should be checked. If you are not satisfied with your first opinion, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Your health is the most precious thing you have. That’s cheesy, I know, but it’s also true. You need to be proactive when it comes to your health.

What should I look for in a mole? Any mole that you feel is suspicious or that is new should be checked out. When it comes to your health, it is always better to be safe than sorry! Catching a mole before it becomes cancerous is the best time to have it removed. Early detection is so important. The ABCDE’s of what to look for in a melanoma mole can be found here: http://yellowshoesdiaries.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-to-look-for-in-mole.html.
Remember, a mole does NOT have to meet all of these criteria to be dangerous.

Tell your doctor if you have small red, brown or flesh coloured patches of rough skin. The patches feel almost like sand paper. I had this symptom and didn’t know that it could be a cancer precursor. I had it on my chest and thought it was just dry patches. But it didn’t matter how much I moisturized, they didn’t go away. It would take a month or two for them to disappear only to reappear somewhere else. I never would have guessed that they could be related to the mole growing on my arm. It wasn’t until I read a magazine article that I realized that these dry patches might be linked to my mole.

Having an open channel of communication with your doctor is so important. If you do not feel as though your doctor is listening to you or taking you seriously, get a second opinion. Trust your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, make a doctor listen to you.

Despite a bit of a setback yesterday afternoon, my arm is healing and my range of motion is improving. One more week until my appointment with Dr Bobyn to have my stitches removed and hopefully, to get the results from the surgery and lymph nodes test.

Both my mom and my dad have struggled with why this is happening to me. In my low moments, I’ve wondered how this happened as well. I’ve never been a sun worshipper. I use sunscreen. It doesn’t make sense. But none of that really matters now. I have (or hopefully had!) melanoma and I don’t want this journey to be in vain. I want to educate people and get my voice out there. I want people to protect themselves. If I can get even a few people to change their sun habits, then it is worth it. If I can get just a few people to have their moles checked out, then it’s worth it. Rock the SPF and have a happy and most of all, SAFE summer!! xoxo

PS - For more information about melanomas, check out:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 22

Excuse me Sir, but I seem to have been bitten by an elephant....

Not too much new here. I'm still home bound and the cabin fever is setting in. I haven't reached full on crazies yet, but I'm getting there!

Last night, Kerrie helped me take the bandages off the incision on my arm. Gross gross gross gross gross!!! Okay, I guess it's not actually *that* bad, but still, ew! The good news is that it's looking very clean. Clean as in healthy. It's swollen and completely dyed blue, so that part is not so clean! haha The stitches are gross but mesmerizing. It's kind of like a train wreck that I can't look away even though it disgusts me! lol It looks like Dr Baliski did a good job with the incision and stitches though. Hopefully the scar will be clean looking, not gnarly. I have certainly graduated from a Mike Tyson bite to something much larger. Once my arm looks a little less like something in a horror movie, I'll post a pic. I both look forward to and dread having the stitches taken out. They freak me out but having them removed? Ew ew ew ew ew!! Yes, I'm a big baby! = p lol

The bandage that they put on it after the surgery was ridonkulous! It was massive!! Taking it off was a production. Now that it's off, I'm covered in glue from the bandage tape. We've tried nail polish remover, baby oil, soap, oil; nothing gets this glue off! I keep sticking to everything! My clothes, the couch, my blankets and pillow. I had to peel myself off of my bed this morning!! I'll try rubbing alcohol soon and maybe the Orange Clean soap that you use after getting all greasy working on cars. Maybe that'll work! Anyone have any other suggestions?

I can't believe it's nearly been a week already! Time sure has flown by! Yesterday was my first attempt at taking no pain medication. I used the ice pack during the day a couple times and the pain was pretty tolerable. Until this morning. I had a pretty rough sleep last night and my arm was hurting this morning. I could not get comfortable, so maybe I over used it. I'm not sure. I tried to ignore it for awhile but finally broke down and took a pain pill again. That helped a lot. Made me sleepy, but the pain is now just an ache again.

9 days until I see Dr Bobyn and hopefully get my results. 10 days until I see Dr Baliski who should definitely have my results. I'm anxious to hear them. I pray this is all done and all that's left is my yearly monitoring check ups. I'm still living the life of a shut in, but I'm keeping myself occupied the best that I can. Yesterday I spent the day going through 4x4 pictures and then posting 3 albums worth on Facebook. A few videos too. Hopefully by Tuesday I will re-join the outside world. I'm hoping to join Kerrie at our Tuesday night volleyball game. Strictly as a cheerleader of course! Maybe I can distract and gross out the other team with my scar! haha 2 to 3 more weeks until I can play again! But who's counting ;)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 21

I woke up in the post operation room very confused. Before I opened my eyes, I wondered why my arm hurt. Then I looked around and was confused again. I didn’t remember counting. How could the surgery be done already! I didn’t count! It was such a bizarre feeling. One of the nurses came over and asked me how I was feeling. I told her my arm was hurting so she put some pain medication into my IV. I was so sleepy and I’m not sure if I dozed off again or not. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re that dopey. It didn’t seem like long before a porter came to take me back to recovery.

I was fighting to stay awake. The porter wheeled me down the hall past the elevator and I saw my Dad. I waved and told the porter that was my Dad. I thought Dad had seen me as he started to follow us down the hall. The porter positioned my bed in the recovery room and I waved at Dad again. As it turns out, Dad didn’t recognize me! Lol He said later that he didn’t recognize me without my glasses. I think it’ll be awhile before he lives that down! I was very happy to see Dad there. He stayed with me for a bit and we chatted. The nurse brought me some water and some ginger ale as I was feeling nauseous. My IV was really hurting so Dad helped me drink some of the water. We chatted about 4x4’ing and family. Dad asked me when Kerrie was coming back to the hospital and I told him that I didn’t know. I had told Kerrie to call the hospital if he hadn’t heard anything after 2 hours. I know the hospital says they’ll call but I also know that doesn’t always happen. Dad asked the nurse if he could use the phone and he called Kerrie.

Dad left and not long after, Kerrie walked in. The nurse brought me some crackers and cheese to see if it would help with my nausea. The IV was still bothering me, so Kerrie helped with the crackers and cheese. I was still super nauseous and the nurse wouldn’t take the IV out until the nausea was under control. It was getting close to the end of this nurse’s shift and she was anxious to get me discharged. But I was too sick to go. After shift change, the atmosphere became much calmer. I was offered some gravol but I didn’t want to be drowsy. The nurse came back with another anti-nausea medication that wasn’t supposed to cause drowsiness. I agreed to this one. The nurse also brought me some jello to try. I was so hungry but the nausea was making it difficult to eat.

The nurse still wasn’t willing to take out the IV until I could prove that I was well enough. I got up to go to the washroom again. I looked in the mirror and I was coated in pink dye. It looked like they had spilled it all over me. It was all over my neck, up to my chin. It was all down my back. My arm, my chest, everywhere! And it was sticky feeling. I called Kerrie over to help me try and clean up a bit. We wet a face cloth and wiped as much of it off as we could. After I came out of the washroom, the nurse agreed to remove the IV. Yahoo!! Great news! I was still feeling terrible, but I wasn’t going to tell her that!

I was discharged just after 8:00 pm. I was given a prescription for pain medication so we stopped at the 24 hour Shoppers Drug Mart to have it filled. The nurse had given me an ice pack to take home as I found that it was really helping with the pain. I asked Kerrie to pick up another (so I’d always have one in the freezer) and some ginger ale too while he was there. After Shoppers, we went through the Tim Horton’s drive through to pick up some soup for dinner. We finally got home around 9:00 pm. It felt good to be home.

I had a bit of a scare that night. When I was getting ready for bed, I noticed the butterfly bandages on the incision under my arm had already come off. They were supposed to stay on for at least a week! Of course, in my overtired overemotional state, I panicked. Thankfully, when I had the initial biopsy, the nurse gave me some extra bandages as she would have had to throw them out. She told me that they were handy to have in a first aid kit. I was grateful to have them at that moment so Kerrie could re-bandage the incision. The new strips have stayed on and I have learned my lesson. No more over using my arm. I’ll be a good girl now.

Yesterday, Karen came and spent the day with me while Kerrie was with his kids. I slept for most of the morning and Karen and I chatted the afternoon away. The day passed quickly. It was a good day. I was sore yesterday, but it wasn’t too bad. Kerrie got back to my place just after 6:00pm and we spent the evening watching DVD’s and eating chinese food.

Today has been a bit rougher. I am quite sore today and very nauseous. I spent the morning in bed again hoping that the nausea would subside. No such luck. They say it takes 3 days for the anaesthetic to completely wear off. Hopefully the nausea will also leave then. I’m sipping on some ginger ale now and hoping my tummy will settle enough to have some dinner. Nothing is very appealing right now though.

It will be 2 weeks until I’ll get any test results. Dr Bobyn is on holidays and so is Dr Baliski. I have an appointment to have my stitches removed (hopefully!) on the 26th and then an appointment with Dr Baliski on the 27th. I hope and pray that my results will be good and I’ll be cancer free. I pray that the lymph nodes are all clean and no further surgeries will be needed. Three surgeries in 2 years with Dr Baliski is enough! It’s very Hollywood to have your own surgeon but I’d prefer my Hollywood style to be limited to only my footwear!

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 20

I was brought back down for my scan at noon. Amanda was the technician who would be doing the scan and I’m sure she was glad to see I was much calmer this time. She got me positioned on the scan bed and explained to me that each picture would take 6 minutes. I would have to lay still with my arms above my head for each 6 minute picture. It wasn’t the most comfortable position but I just kept thinking about how I wouldn’t be lifting my arms above my head again for awhile. I reminded myself that in a few hours I would feel lucky to be able to lift my arms! The first 4 pictures went well and the time actually seemed to pass quickly. Amanda asked me not to move and came over with a marker to mark the spot where the lymph nodes would be removed. There was a small problem though. She was about to mark my right arm! I was confused and half asked and half commented about having surgery on my right arm as well. This stopped Amanda in her tracks as she realized that she’d been scanning the wrong arm! Gah!! Thank goodness I spoke up or else who knows what would have happened! Amanda apologized and told me that we’d have to start the scan all over. That was fine with me as long as the correct arm was marked for surgery! The rest of the scan was uneventful and I was wheeled out of the scan room at about 1:15pm.

The porter brought Kerrie and I back up to 2 West to wait for Dr Baliski and the anaesthesiologist to come in and see me before the surgery. As the clock ticked closer to my 1:45 pm surgery time, a nurse came in to tell me that my surgery would be late. I wasn’t surprised. I expected that it would be late, especially being an afternoon surgery. She told me that the lady before me went into surgery 45 minutes late, so mine would likely be 45 minutes to an hour late. At about 2:30, Dr Baliski came in to talk to me. He checked out my arm, looked at the mark that Amanda had made and tried to reassure me that everything would be okay. Soon after Dr Baliski left, the anaesthesiologist came in. I think her name was Dr Penner, but I honestly don’t remember for sure. She asked me the usual questions about anaesthetic and if I’d ever had any issues with it. She explained to me that I would be brought into the operating room and she would insert the IV for the anaesthetic. I tried fruitlessly to persuade her to put the IV in after I was knocked out. It was how it was done for my gall bladder surgery, but sadly for me, this time I would be awake. However, after those radioactive dye shots, an IV being inserted feels like a tickle!

At about 3:00 pm, I was wheeled into surgery. I said my good byes to Kerrie and gave my glasses to the porter to be put with my street clothes. The porter wheeled me into the operation department and I waited in the hallway until they were ready for me. And I cried. A few surgeons walking down the hall stopped to try and console me and reassure me. I appreciated it, but I was scared. The whole situation is scary. I was scared about the surgery. I was scared about the results. And I was tired. I’m not sure how long I was in the hallway before I was wheeled into my surgery room. I didn’t have my glasses so I couldn’t see the clock. A very nice male nurse came to speak with me and take me into the surgery room. He was a very calming and reassuring nurse. He told me that when we got into the surgery room, I was to announce to the room that they would be operating on my left arm. I was glad to do this especially after the mix up earlier! After all of the half a dozen or so people in the surgery room acknowledged that it was my left arm that would be operated on, I was asked to take off my house coat and booties and was positioned on the operating table. Being strapped to the operating table is always a terrible feeling. The anaesthesiologist came in at that time to administer my IV. She put the laughing gas mask on me to try and help me calm down. She also tried to distract me with stories of her 3 year old. After she was finished with her story about her kid, she asked me if I had kids. I think the gas was kicking in at this point because I gave her an emphatic “hell no!” Oops! Probably not the best way to respond to a woman who just finished bragging about her child and is about to poke you with a needle! I remember the nurse taking the gas mask off of me and then nothing. So weird! Every other surgery I’ve had, I always remember counting backwards. At least the 10 and the 9. But this time, nothing.

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 19

The surgery was on Monday and despite being a very long day, it went well.

My day officially started at 6:30 am Monday morning. I say officially because I was up about every 30 minutes that night. Ironically enough, it wasn’t due to anxiety about the surgery; it was due to anxiety that my alarm wouldn’t go off! I had nothing to worry about. At exactly 6:30 am, I was awoken to the lovely sounds of Mr Homer Simpson singing the Spider Pig song from The Simpsons Movie. ‘Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a spider pig does. ‘

After my shower, Kerrie arrived to drive me to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at exactly 8:00 am. Perfect timing! There was a bit of a line up at the admissions desk and when we got to the front of the line, the next two admissions ladies that came available went on coffee break instead! It was very odd! Finally at 8:30, I was checked in.

After the admissions lady presented me with my lovely jewellery for the day (hospital bracelets), I was sent up to 2 West to prep for the surgery. We weren’t in the waiting room long before my name was called. I was taken into the washroom to change into the very flattering hospital gowns and to put on my super stylish booties. Watch out Jimmy Choo!! Lol After I was changed, I washed my arm and armpit with the antiseptic soap and then returned to Kerrie in the waiting room. I hadn’t even put my earrings away in my purse before I was called again for my pre-surgical interview.

Kerrie and I walked into the interview room and were introduced to Edith. The same woman who had called me the week before to fill out my questionnaire! It was neat to put a face to the name. We went over my allergies and a bunch of questions again. After Edith weighed me and measured my height, I was taken into another room to a stretcher. Getting onto the stretcher was tough. Not physically, but emotionally. I had a few tears.

Just before 10:00 am, a porter came to take me down for my radioactive dye shots. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like being wheeled through the hospital on a stretcher to make you feel sick! We arrived in the x-ray department and a technician named Amanda came to wheel me into the procedure room. Amanda asked me a bunch more questions and then explained what was going to happen. I would be injected with radioactive dye which would take a couple hours to circulate through my system. After the dye had had time to circulate, I would be brought back down to x-ray for my next scans. The scan would take about an hour. After Amanda explained the procedure and answered our questions, she paged the doctor to come in and give me my shots. 6 of them. And oh. my. gawd. I have never had such painful needles! They hurt like hell! I fell apart and bawled like a baby. I kept my arm still but man, did I cry. Another not so proud moment. After I was radioactive, I was brought back up to 2 West.
Kerrie was starting to get hungry nauseous so I sent him to get himself some food. Just nothing that would make him smell too yummy! It was going to be a long day and he needed his energy. While Kerrie was gone, I tried to nap a bit. Kerrie came back and he tried to keep me distracted until the porter came back to take me for my scan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 18

Just a quick update as one handed typing is slow. I'll write a more detailed post soon = ) The surgery is done and every thing went well. It was a super long day but I'm glad it's all done. I'm stiff and sore today, but the pain meds and cold packs are doing their thing. Karen babysat me today until Kerrie got here. I'm being well taken care of = )

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 17

D-day tomorrow. Or maybe that should be S-day? Either way, by this time tomorrow, hopefully I'll be cancer free.

I called the hospital on Friday to get my surgery instructions. The lady I talked to was not the most pleasant, so I'm still in the dark about some of tomorrow's happenings. I do know that I have to be at the hospital at 8:00 am to check in. At 10:00 am, I'm scheduled to get my dye injection. I'm kind of expecting this to be done via IV again, but I'm not sure. At noon I'm suppose to be going in for another scan. I asked if it was another CT scan, but the cranky lady didn't know. The actual surgery is scheduled for 1:45 pm. Being that it's an afternoon surgery, I'm fully prepared for it to be late. The surgery will take about an hour to complete and then I'll be in post op for another hour or so before heading to recovery. If everything goes well, I should be released tomorrow night. Fingers crossed!! I want the IV gone STAT!

Today has been a busy day of prepping for tomorrow and the next little while following the surgery. I did a bunch of errands and got some grocery shopping done. Some healthy food and of course, some mandatory comfort food! Tonight I have a bunch of chores to get done before my arm becomes off limits. Laundry, vacuuming, and organizing. Woo hoo!

I found a mesh beach cover up for after the surgery while I was shopping today. It's long sleeve so it'll hide my gnarly arm but the mesh should keep me cool. If that doesn't work maybe I'll just tell the kiddies at the beach that this is what happens when you don't do your homework! Ha! = p

I've been too busy to really think about things too much, but as the day wears on, I am getting more anxious and scared. I'm looking forward to this being done! I want to heal up and move on! I miss volleyball and I haven't even missed a game yet!! I am also looking forward to a movie marathon in the coming days. Kerrie got me the new Alice In Wonderland (he picked up on my not so subtle hints! hehe Thanks hun!!) and a Monty Python marathon is certainly in order! If laughter is the best medicine, then a dose of the Holy Grail is a must!

Well I'd best get back to some quality time with the vacuum. I won't be able to lift it again for awhile. Hmm, maybe surgery isn't all bad!! ; p

Rest up Mr Cancer; tomorrow I'm coming for you! And I WILL win!! You can count on that!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 16

The Canada Day test run went off perfectly! We were ready for our big outing!

The next morning, we got up and played a game of Tetris with the truck. Trying to get 3 days worth of camping gear in there was a challenge but we made it! We headed into town to pick up any last minute things and meet Mike.

Our destination was Nickle Plate Lake, in the hills between Penticton and Hedley. After a bit of head scratching, cursing the backroads mapbook, and some direction from some dirt bikers, we finally found our home for the next few days. The recreation site was packed with a 4x4 club who were in the area preparing for an event they host on the August Long weekend. They took up the entire main area of the campsite, but we managed to find a spot to stay on the other end.

After camp was set up, we headed out to explore for a bit. Once again, the backroads mapbook got the best of us. There's been a lot of logging in the area lately which has created many trails that aren't on the map. We had hoped to find the trail to the top of Lookout Mountain, but alas we were out of luck. It was still fun to explore though!

We woke up to beautiful sunshine on Day 2 which was most welcome after freezing our buns off the night before! After a yummy bacon breakfast, we headed out. There were a few mine sites marked on the backroads map, and we wanted to see if we could find them. We were in luck! We found one of the old abandoned mines and it was such a cool thing to see!

After thoroughly investigating the mine, we carried on exploring through the hills for awhile before making our way towards Hedley for a gas and marshmallow supply stop.

After our pit stop to the great metropolis of Hedley, we tried to find a second abandoned mine but ended up running out of daylight before we could find it. Oh well, just an excuse to have to go back! = ) We headed back to camp before it got completely dark and relaxed around the campfire.

Day 3 was wet and cold!! After breakfast, we packed up camp and went to explore a bit more before it was time to start heading home. The weather was a complete opposite from the day before. We climbed Mt Riordan, but all we had was a view of fog. The wind was incredible and the cloud was whipping past us. It was quite the experience to see the clouds move so fast. Part way up the mountain we found what is either a new site for a chair lift for Apex Mountain or, more likely, an old site where a chair lift use to be.

The 4x4 excursions were a great success. We saw so many cool and interesting things and had a great time all around. And I learned that I am definitely my father's daughter. Every nook and cranny in the truck was filled with interesting looking rocks when we got back! haha The best part of the trip was that is was a fantastic distraction. My life has been such a whirlwind of appointments and tests that it was nice to be able to get away and escape it all for awhile. This next week will be spent preparing myself mentally and physically for the surgery with hopefully a little fun thrown in. I have my last volleyball game for awhile tomorrow night, and with any luck, the weather will hold out. Thursday is my Dad's birthday and we'll go and see him that night. Friday, I call the hospital for my final instructions and surgery time. This week is going to go fast!!

Queen Awesome's Adventures in Cancerland: World 15

T minus 1 week until surgery! Wow, the time sure has passed quickly!

I'm back from a successful weekend of camping and 4x4'ing. This entry isn't so much cancer related, but I talked about this trip in my previous entries, so I thought I'd share how it went! It was so nice to get away for a few days. The weather was all over the place; sun, rain, crazy wind, cold, warm, and snow. Yes, we hit it all! We had a few problems with the truck during the trial outings, but hey, that's what test runs are for!

The first test was a trip up to the Big White Area. My sister, Kari, wanted to go check out some basalt columns that are in the area, so off we went.

We found the collumns in no time, so we decided to explore the area some more. We found some beautiful creeks and waterfalls, some gorgeous views and after A LOT of time and effort, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Boy that place was tough to find!

After Uncle Tom's Cabin, we ran into a water crossing and decided to play a bit. Of course we got stuck. And the truck got wet! My poor sister! Her first taste of 4x4'ing was certainly an exciting one! Between making our way down some crazy angled hills and then having water pour into the truck, yes you could say there was some excitement!

In the creek, we were really stuck! We couldn't go forward or backwards. We hooked up the tow rope, and a few tries later, our friend Craig pulled us out. None of us realized right away, but the truck had gotten a few pounds lighter. The next day, Kerrie and I realized the skid plate was missing!! You were a good skid plate, but now you sleep with the fishes. It did it's job though and took one for the team! Much better that the skid plate get ripped off than the front axle!! I think that a log must have gotten jammed in there and that's why we couldn't move forward or backwards. When Craig pulled us out, the log must have ripped the skid plate right off. Ah, good times and great stories = ) Pulling the carpet out at 12 am when we got home, those memories are priceless! LOL

The next day, we got the still kind of wet carpet back in the truck, put the seats back in and headed towards Enderby for Day 2 of the test run. This day packed it's own excitement as well. During day 1, we noticed the brand new temperature gauge was reading a high temp. Day 2, it was reading worse. We now know that my shiny new temp gauge is faulty, but at that time, we didn't. It meant for a lot of stopping and throwing water on the engine. In hind sight we now know we didn't need to. But better safe than sorry! The big excitement on Day 2 was snapping the alternator bracket. Yes, thank goodness for test runs!! Craig was with us again and had some bailing wire, and the boys managed to mickey mouse the bracket back together enough to last the day. They did a fine job too! That wire concoction held perfectly until Craig was able to manufacture a new bracket for me. Day 2 ended up being a beautiful day with some sun and some snow!!

The snow marked the end of our quest to the top of Mara Mountain, but it was fun to play in it for a bit! And my poor little Toyota with the broken alternator bracket was Queen (King) of the Hill. We made it farther through the snow than Craig in his Tracker or Mike in his FJ! Kerrie was pretty happy.

After Day 2, it was time to regroup and repair in preparation for the big multi-day outing. A new alternator bracket and a bunch of new fluids and parts later, we were ready for the next adventure! Our plan was tweaked a bit when we decided another day trip/test run might be in order. So, we spent Canada Day putting the truck and the new parts to the test!

Mike joined us in his FJ and we headed out into the hills behind Winfield. The plan was to make our way through the hills to Vernon and cross over to Falkland to see a basalt column. That was so cool!! Definitely worth the trek!

This was such an incredible sight to see. I'm not sure the pictures really do it justice. After we marveled in the wonder of Mother Nature, we decided to head off and check out Pinaus Lake, in the hills behind Westwold. I've wanted to go there for years and finally got the chance. And let me say, Pinaus did not disappoint! What a beautiful area! I'd love to go back and camp there some day.

Day light was fading so after checking out the recreation site at Pinaus Lake, we navigated our way through the hills and out onto Westside Road. We made it to Vernon just in time to see their Canada Day fireworks. It was a great day. No better way to celebrate this great country of ours than to go and explore and enjoy all it has to offer!