Dream Creator

Dream Creator
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Just a small town Canadian dreamer... This started as the diary of a young woman's experience with breast cancer and continues 5 years later as the diary of a woman, like many other, who has decided to take her lemons and make lemonade. **If reading this blog for the purpose of learning about my breast cancer experience, PLEASE START AT THE OLDEST POST (October 2009) AND WORK YOUR WAY FORWARD**

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Surgery Preparation and Distractions

Well if you ever read this blog, you would be quite aware that I have been struggling with great anxiety over my upcoming TRAM FLAP surgery.
This surgery is an 8-10 hr surgery involving 2 surgeons. One removes my breasts, the other gives me a tummy tuck, removes one of my stomach muscles and transplants it onto my chest making new breasts from my belly fat and muscle.
Over the last week, I have come a long way with over coming my fear.
I bought a "Pre Surgery" CD by Martin .L. Rossman M.D and have been meditating with it.
Relaxing and visualizations of my body healing fast and efficiently.
It works so well, that I think I am actually healing my hemorrhoid that I have had for the last 2 months!
I feel a lot more calm, less panic attacks, more peace about it all. At moments, even an excitement about the closure and of course a new body.
It will take a lot of strength to walk into that hospital Wednesday morning, get marked up with a bic marker, knowing it is where my cuts will be, and of course, laying on the metal slab calmly before they knock me out for an entire day.
I will focus on being relaxed and calm as I go under.
I will focus on trusting my body. Trusting that it knows how to react under the knife.
Trusting my vessels to keep the blood away during the cutting and drawing the blood back to the site, once I am sewn back up.
Trusting the surgeons and medical team that have trained their entire lives to aid me in this obstacle.
I may or may not blog before I go in to surgery...so if I don't PLEASE, PLEASE pray for me on Tuesday night and Wednesday during the day.
I will post an update at the earliest time possible post-surgery...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Repetitive Words

I haven't been writing as much as I used to.
The main reason for that is, I haven't been experiencing any new thoughts or feelings.
I didn't want to bother you with repetitive words.
But this blog is not just for you to read, it is, and begun as my personal journal.
Therefore, I will pour out my feelings over and over again until it feels better, even if they are the same feelings for 5 years straight.
I found this girl on the Young Canadian Cancer website.
She had a profile explaining her ordeal with breast cancer at a young age.
I instantly liked her and could relate to her attitude on the disease.
We have emailed a bit since I read her profile and when I was explaining to her the "sometimes lack of enthusiasm" I have for being done treatment, she put it into perfect words for me...

"I think from diagnosis to end of surgery/chemo/rad treatment, i was a soldier and just did what i was told and didn't think about it.. but as soon as they were like "okay, all clear!"
I let myself realize what had happened (cancer) and had a mini freak out.

This is the epitomy of what has been going on in my head.
No offense to my friends and family, but everyone keeps high fiving me like I just got over a flu and now I can be totally normal again, and it just isn't like that.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I can celebrate being done chemo and that, but in general the fear is still real, my body has been beat down....(did you know, I could barely carry my groceries in the other day? And at the relay, I couldn't walk for longer that 30 min at a time??)
This disease had affected me, it has taken it's toll on my body and my mind. It has changed me forever.
I know it's a lot easier for my peers to deal with it by just pretending it's over with (like "thank god, now we can just go back to normal, that was akward!) but the reality is the post traumatic stress from cancer has been referred to as being a significant as someone who has been to war or raped.
Now I am not saying what I have been through is as bad as that. I have never experienced either. What I think this doctor was getting at is that, if you pluck a soldier out of war and his violent horrific surroundings and bring him home, it doesn't mean he is going to be back to normal.
What he experienced is real. He will have emotional scars from fear and trauma. He will have physical scars from the battle. He will forever be changed.
It will take time for me to feel fully like myself again. Maybe I will never feel the same as I did pre-cancer. Maybe that's a good thing, because for the most part, I feel like I have become a better person from it.
But sometimes, I just want to feel normal again.


Massages Make The World Go 'Round'

I was given a gift certificate for a massage quite a while back, from my in-laws.
I didn't use it for months because a massage therapist once told me that massage can spread your cancer.
Still not sure if that is true or not, everyone says something different...
All I know is massage feels good, and I am living to "Do what feels good!"
However, I did wait until chemo was over with and I called up the massage therapist.
She is very well known in our town for her outstanding contribution to almost every cause in the city and she has now specialized in palliative massage and massage for people with health issues, or people just out of surgery who cannot lay down....she even does massage for dogs!
Anyway, I had a fantastic massage from her and since have been booked in 3 more times.
We both agree that massage will relax and loosen up my body which will prove very beneficial for my surgery. As well, it has been a consistent hour of relaxed meditative time for me to focus on healing and having a healthy, successful surgery.
Last night she came to my home and taught my kids how to do massage on me. She really believes that as soon as I get home from Kelowna I should be receiving massage in order to keep blood flowing, prevent blood clots, relax the tight muscles that I will be using to avoid using the others...in general it is just a good idea.
So not only have my kids learned how to massage (they could use a little muscle power) but she has a group of students that will be coming out to my home on a regular basis, post-surgery, to work on me.
In some ways, I feel apprehensive about this...will it be too painful, do I want a bunch of strangers in my home seeing me all bandages up...
but, I think, in general, it will be very therapeutic, and in a way, is something to look forward to!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Relay part.1

Well, the Relay was a success.
More support than I could have ever hoped for!
Our team raised over $4300.00!
The rain stopped for the day and the sun shone full force,
God wouldn't have had it any other way...
It was inspiring, full of hope and even at moments, heart breaking.
Very emotional.
I will make a post about the day, with photos, in the next day or so...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


When you have cancer you can find yourself having many "down" days...justified!
You can soothe yourself with hot baths, yummy foods, retail therapy and so on...
When you know someone with cancer, you may feel helpless as to help them feel better...
Obviously gifts make everyone feel better....

Here are a few organizations I stumbled upon over the months, that offer heart felt gifts to cancer patients/survivors and sometimes even their caregivers!!
Remember, don't just use these sites, DONATE to them also, to keep them going!!!

This is a volunteer group based in the U.S that hand makes beautiful tote bags filled with a few "comfort items"...I received one of these totes from a close friend/cancer buddy and I was so excited! They are high quality and made of beautiful, neutral patterned fabric. You can send one to anyone, anywhere in the world...FREE SHIPPING! You can also request a prayer, for yourself or others...

Victoria's Quilts has hundreds of volunteers all over the country, who hand stitch beautiful quilts for people with cancer. Choose the location which is closest to your recepient and follow the ordering instructions on the right hand site of the site...you can request certain colors, but they cannot guarantee anything. I left it up to fate and received the most beautiful twin sized quilt, that will always have special meaning!! It is one of my favorite things...THANKS MOM for requesting one for me!!

This site offers BEAUTIFUL silk scarves and/or head wraps of your choice FREE! However, if you reside outside of the U.S, you must pay shipping, but these scarves retail at $70.00 a pop so it is well worth it!! Look for the "good wishes" link on the top right of the home page...

On this site, you can request a hat package...for those of us with no hair, or thinning hair due to illness, you will receive an assortment of handmade hats...the only thing is you cannot guarantee if you will oke the styles or not, however, if you don't RE-DONATE to your local chemo room!! You can specify what type of hats you like and your age and gender, so it should help...this is an American site, so you will have to pay shipping if requesting from Canada.

Unfortunately I stumbled upon this one too late to actually try it out.
These volunteers adopt you through your chemo process...they send you cards, letters, and small gifts throughout the months to help encourage you to keep fighting...

I know there are other sites out ther if you just look hard enough. There are a lot of American sites that offer free mastectomy pillows and so on...just google away!

These are the best ones I found.

So, please use these sites to cheer yourself or someone else up!
And, if you can...donate or volunteer thru one of these great groups!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Herceptin Day

Wednesday was my first real Herceptin.
I was given a dose a while back but it had to be discontinued due to a change in my chemo regime.
This past Wednesday was my first trip to the chemo room for JUST a Herceptin treatment (post chemo) sort of a glimpse into what my year is going to look like (as I have to get this treatment every 3 weeks)
To tell you the truth I am not thrilled about this.
I want to be DONE with the chemo room. It doesn't bring in good memories for me.
The thought I have to be stuck with and IV every 3 weeks is nauseating in itself.
As soon as I stepped foot in that room (by myself I add) and heard the beeping of the IV machines, I felt sick. That sound will forever trigger a churning in my belly....like Pavlov's Dog.
My oncologist was on holiday this day and so I spoke with his subsitute who was very kind.
I was toldI could possibly have a reaction to the Herceptin (great) though because I had a previous treatment without any effects, they felt confident I would be fine.
I was still nervous.
She also told me I could be ill after treatment, especially if I had nausea from chemo.
(great) but seeing as I didn't the last time, I should be fine.
I didn't feel all that confident, only because I was pumped up on steroids and antinauseants the last time I had Herceptin and this time I was going in naked.
It all turned out fine.
I did feel a little queasy during the infusion and for an hour or so after but all in all, it was fine.
The worst part was that it took 3.5 hrs from start to finish. It's extremely annoying that I will have to book an entire day off of my life to have this treatment every 3 weeks for the next YEAR!
I would be a bit more grateful for this (what-they-call miracle drug) if only I was sure I was HER2 positive. The fact that I am (after 2 tests) BORDERLINE gives no proof that this year long commitment with benefit me in any way.
But I may as well give it a go eh?
So that's about it...no real side effects from the drug. Just a yucky day spent in the chemo room, reminding me that I had cancer and am capable of a relapse.
Wha, wha whaaaaaa....
I know, I know....Debbie Downer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pre-Surgical Screening

The drive from Nelson to Kelowna is 4hrs.
I spent about 95% of that time thinking about my surgery.
It is starting to become obsessive.
I worry and feel sick about it and then I calm myself down and reason with myself...
back and forth
back and forth
for hours, days and WEEKS now.
It can't be good for me,
in fact, I am exhausted after a day of that.
Sometimes, I don't even know what I am afraid of.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is the amount of time I will be under.
That is freaky to me.
Not sure why, I think a loss of control?
But that seems to be what sets me off, is when I think of 7hrs, 8hrs, or I have even most recently been told (thanks for telling me) 10 hrs!
When I am reasoning with myself, I try to tell myself, "People do this everyday, for vanity! They sign up and pay for this....you can do it."
or I try this approach "There are people that would kill to have this done, people with terminal cancer that have no choice to have surgery because surgery won't help, feel blessed you can take this step to heal your body."
or "Be happy and celebrate this surgery, it is your last step in this journey, this is closure!!"
All of these thoughts help temporarily, but somehow the fear sneaks back in.

When we got into Kelowna for my Pre-Screening appointment, we went to Chapters.
There I found a book called "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life."
It talks about how certain deficiencies in your brain can cause anxiety, obessesions, depression and so forth. He then gives exercises on how to fix these problems.
I hope to finish reading the book today while I am receiving my Herceptin IV.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was first sent to get an ECG (eco-cardio-gram?) for my heart.
Easy Peasy, done it a million times, no pain, just lay there with wires attached to you for a minute...
Next I was sent to get blood work. CBC they call it, where they check my counts of everything, white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin and so on....
When the girl was done taking my blood, she put a bracelet on me and said "Don't take this off until after surgery is over and you are discharged."
I said "Oh, no I am not having surgery for 2 more weeks!"
and she said " I know, you have to wear it until then."
So now I am officially sporting a number 92957!! (just another daily reminder of my surgery to come)
Next I went into the Pre-surgical Screening area and waited for a bit.
There were 3 nuns sitiing there beside us. One of them was going to be having surgery.
I thought to myself "I bet she doesn't have fear with stuff like this, because she has such a strong connection with God, if she can be at peace, I can too, it's all in my heart and my head."
When it was my turn, I was weighed (YIKES!!!!!!!) and my height was measured. Then I went into a cubicle with my husband and a nurse and she began asking me questions....
"Have you ever had a stroke, do you have false teeth, do you agree to a blood transfusion if necessary..." that last question kind of took my breath away until the Anesthetist came in and told me that there is pretty much 100% chance I will have to have a blood transfusion during my surgery.
I am not grossed out by this necessarily, however, it sure highlights the intensity of this kind of surgery. "Mrs. Simpson, you are going to be cut open for so long that you will bleed out so much that we will have to fill you with some random persons blood to keep you alive."
I mean, that's really what they are saying....
But! I am glad they have the means to keep my heart pumpin'...
This same guy also loved to tell me how long my surgery was going to be...
"Wow, so this is a REALLY long surgery, it is very serious..." and then he looked at me like I had a fricking choice, like I am crazy for signing up for such a thing....not really the peace of mind I was hoping for.
But in general, he was very nice. He kept telling me I had the best surgeons, and how phenominal they both are. That was reassuring. The other bad news he gave me was that I am not to take an Adivan before I come in on the day of my surgery...(my only saving grace)
How on earth was I to stay calm (and not throw up everywhere) without an Adivan. I need a bloody Adivan just THINKING about my surgery!!
So this is something I am going to have to work on from now until then, meditation, breathing exercises and so on....(this just got harder)
All in all the trip was fine. On the way home, I broke down and sobbed like crazy for a good 30 min. I had a lot to release...it felt good to let it out. Then I slept, all of this fear is extremely emotionally exhausting.
The day after we returned, I woke up to a phone call.
It was the Kelowna hospital, apparently the anesthetist looked at my blood work and my counts were too low for surgery. I knew they would be, it was only 3 weeks since my last chemo. They told me that I would go into my hospital next week and have my CBC redone. If my counts weren't up at that point, they may have to postpone the surgery.
Minutes after I hung up with that call, I received another from my plastic surgeon.
They told me they were moving my surgery back a week from the 23rd to the 30th.
They said they can't take any chances and it is just safer to give my body that extra week.
So here I am, 3 weeks til surgery, keep riding the rollercoaster.
More time to work on wrapping my head around it all.
Though, right now, as I type this, I am looking forward to getting it over with. I feel like if right now, they called me in to have it done, I could do it.
Now I just need to find that mental strength everytime I think of my surgery.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This past 8 months has really compared to a roller coaster ride of emotions for me (and I am sure all those around me as well).
Since my last chemo, I think my brain and heart don't know what to feel.
Initially I didn't feel any different...but lately it has felt frickin marvelous when I am doing things like cleaning up and come across my ENORMOUS bag of meds...and realize I can put it away, I could even throw it out if I wanted to, because I won't be needing it again.
Same with my needles....I can't wait to take the bucket FULL of needles back into the hospital for good to have them dispose of them. I actually want to light them on fire. That would feel best!
Then I would stop and think about my surgery, and I would get a wave of panic...I don't know why...loss of control I guess, fear of the unknown.
Pain, blood, all of that.
Until a lovely woman contacted me yesterday. She is a local woman who has had the exact same surgery as I will. She told me her story and eased about 40% of my fears.
She said her cesarean scar was worse than her scar on her belly from this surgery.
She said her body looks amazing, her breasts look nice and real, and she has washboard abs.
She said there wasn't any pain in the hospital, they masked it all from the get go!
All of this was a relief to me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Now I just need to be sure I can walk in there calmly as they say if you are tense going under, you wake up more sore.
I am ready. I am ready for this to be over with. I can't wait to wake up and know the worst is over. What a feeling of accomplishment that is.
Speaking of other feelings...
Last night I began reading a new blog. An amazing blog of a man's battle with brain cancer. He wrote entries up until he couldn't even speak and he could only write. It was AMAZING and very emotional.
But of course reading something like that brings in a few fears of..."What if the chemo didn't get all of the cancer....Why did they do chemo before surgery, isn't that only for extrememly aggressive cases?.....Do I truly understand the potential of my cancer?....Should I be more worried about dying?"
All of those things. I especially worry about what they may find when they do my mastectomy.
How much , or is there any cancer left?
I guess I just have to listen to my heart.
My heart tells me I will be ok.
Because, even if it won't be ok, there is nothing more I can do about it. I certainly wouldn't waste time wallowing over something I can't control. I have too much to do and too much fun to have!
So I will wait, because the roller coaster ride is almost done and I am getting ready to get off.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Quite often I have believed that harboring anger in the past has been a big contributing factor to my cancer coming forward.
I know that being angry and not letting go is unhealthy...

If a simple thought will make the muscles of your arm go weak or strong, imagine what it must be doing to all of the other muscles and organs of your body! Your heart is a muscle that's weakened by thoughts that disempower (dishearten) you. Your kidneys, liver, lungs, and intestines are all surrounded by muscles that are affected by your thoughts. -Wayne Dyer

I have avoided any feelings of anger since my diagnoses. In fact, I have let go of anger I had been holding for years prior, all with the thought that "I just don't care, all I want is to live" going through my mind.
That is until just recently.
I had someone in my life, mistreat one of my dear friends from my breast cancer support group.
This someone, took advantage of a vulnerable situation in order to feel powerful and in control.
How sick.
And all I want to do is march into his office and tell him how low that is and basically hold a mirror in his face to make him see himself and what he has done from my perspective.
But it is useless,
he has been this way for years, and he either likes it or doesn't care or my guess, doesn't acknowledge it as a problem. I think he doesn't see that is is in the wrong ever and I think that makes it a real illness.
So even though the thought of me just sitting back and letting him get away with this, makes me feel horrible, I don't think I could ever make him see what he has done wrong.

There was also a woman lately, who I purchased something from.
Who has basically ripped me off.
She sold me something broken and won't return any of my money to help pay to fix it.
The BEST part! She brags about being a Christian. This REALLY pisses me off.
The Christian card....it has been played on me so many times in my life.
I was SUED by a "Christian family" for quitting my job and moving to another salon that was too close to theirs, when I was a poor mom trying to feed my child!! I did nothing wrong other than that, but they lost it and began bullying me, they did so for a full year making me cough up thousands of dollars in legal expenses in order to defend myself and prevent myself from having to pay them $100,000.00!!
And this lady now tells me she is a Christian woman but she won't cough up a cent to help me out. Instead she lets greed take over. She sells me something that is broken and then says it is my fault for not checking it out better.
Crazy people.
I know that a true Christian is someone who would act GOD-LIKE
and God would never cheat anyone, and if he accidentally did, he would do what it took to make things right. He would not base his actions on holding onto as much money as he could.
So, the bottom line is, I don't like being angry, I know it is VERY bad for me.
I wish I could let it go...but it is seeming to be very hard.
I believe in standing up for myself and my family.
I believe in preaching what is right and wrong.
But, I guess some people you can't change.
And those people are a lost cause.
I guess with those people...
I need to just walk away,
and be glad,
I am not like them
and hold peace with who I am.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kootenay Time: A Brag Book.

So I have had a lot of fun lately.
When you live in the Kootenay's, even a days worth of errands consists of sight seeing, exciting discoveries and sometimes even a Ferry Ride!
How could I ever complain.
Here are some of the fun things I have experienced in the last few weeks...
Starting with Kaslo May Days.
There are all sorts of events taking place during this 3 day celebration...we only had time to catch the parade and head down to the grounds for some YUMMY food!

These funky ladies are the Grans to Grans
They represent the Stephen Lewis Foundation and fund raise to send money and help to the Granmothers in Africa, who have been left raising their grandchildren, due to the immense AIDS problems that has been in Africa over the years.
An amazing organization, I have experienced a lot of over the last year thanks to my Mother In Law, who is a Nelson member!

Can't be in the Kootenay's without some sign of a "Rastaman!"

Not an Army advertisement, THIS IS THE KOOTENAYS afterall!
It was an ad for Paintball.

These cool stilted ladies were down at the park.
There were tents with people selling local crafts, pottery and jewelry.
There are so many talented people in our area.
Artisans are a plenty, which makes any type of drive to any surrounding town an event as there are dozens of places to stop all along the road on any route, and explore the unique handmade items.

The above and the next few photos are taken from our local Ferry.
The Osprey 2000.
A 30 minute ride from our side of the lake to the small town of Crawford Bay.
This town is occupied mainly by artists and artisans making a living by selling their wares.
There are glassblowers, potters, and there is the famous Broom Lady!
She is known for hand weaving straw brooms and selling them.
She was the woman who provided some of the brooms for the Harry Potter movies!
On this side of the lake you will also find the famous Glass House (made entirely out of enbalming bottles) and a reputable golf course called Kokanee Springs.
This day, we were headed to Riondel, a small town 10 minutes from the ferry landing.
We were on an errand and just reveled in the fact that we get to experience such beauty and peace on an errand where we live. No traffic jams or aggressive people for us here!

You can see me thru the window of the ferry!

My son, sitting in the ferry.
Cool Osprey chair!

View from the ferry deck

We made our way to Riondel. It was an old mining town.
After completing our errand we had time for a short Geocaching hike.
This is a photo from the start of our hike.
This spot was below what used to be a mining site.
This was where they would bring the ore down and put it on a boat to ship it off.
The ore consisted of Galena, Pyrite, Silver and others that I can't now remember...

It was amazing there were chunks of sparkly rock everywhere you turned!
Pink sparkles, silver and gold sparkles!

Following the path....

There were so many cool rocks in the area!
Quartz, Galena and Pyrite (fool's gold)

This was beautiful. A bald eagle perched in a tree watching for fish....
A common site here in the Kootenay's

Found the Geocache!

So fortunate to be able to raise our kids in a place like this...
everyday feels like a vacation...

Just one of the many creatures seen on the hike.

A little critter living amongst the rocks!

After the mining hike we went to another short hike near the ferry landing...
The Lighthouse Trail is a quick uphill climb thru the mossy woods to an old lighthouse.
Once there, you can climb inside the lighthouse and take in the view.
I realized how terrified of heights and small spaces I was, on this hike...but I DID IT!
Since cancer, I feel there isn't much I can't do!
There was also a cache planted up near the top of the trail.

The Old Lighthouse.

View from the top.

The steepest stairs EVER!

A family pic!

I know small town mountain living isn't for everyone and some people enjoy the hustle bustle of the city.
But I feel so fortunate to have found my paradise.
It only took having cancer to be able to SEE it!!