And So it began

"ONCE UPON A TIME"....there came along this little lump...insignificant really when you compare it to the entire world of lumps. That is, right up to the point that it wasn't...insignificant I mean............... and so began my journey.

A NEWER SHADE OF PINK...now I more then SURVIVE...I am learning to THRIVE...

OF COURSE... we all know things are bound to get a little crazy with a surprise around most every corner...not to mention an assortment of bumps and bruises along the way...but I am ever thankful for them all...they have all made me who I am. So buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride thru what I lovingly refer to as LIFE


Friday, April 13, 2018

CAUGHT UP & CURRENT....I DID IT!!! (March 2018)

CAUGHT UP AND CURRENT....who would have thought?!!?!? 
- March 2018 - (part 2)

As you can imagine....I got home and stayed in bed for a quite a few days. When I started turning the corner and feeling a bit better you can imagine what this girl did....that's right!!!  Got myself back to the gym and into that wonderful swimming pool.  With the range of motion restrictions I have in both arms now I wasn't sure of a couple big hurdles.....don't laugh but I was really concerned with "could I remember how to swim & would I be able to back stroke with these damaged arms? So I planned to just get in the water and work my arms & try to stretch all the tight and damaged tissue.  But "Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles..." (thank you Motel the Tailor..."Fiddler on the Roof" people...please!!). Well...I fluttered around for about 20 minutes and then just went for it and swam a few laps.  Now I won't be breaking any land speed or aquatic records...4 full back stroke laps in 45 minutes...but the point is...      
🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊I DID IT!!!🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊🏊
I went again a couple of times and got up to 6 laps in 12 minutes....one stroke at a time.

My biggest problem since coming home this time is a mild head cold and that BLASTED cough which has completely side lined me and zapped any teeny weeny reserve of energy I had left.  I have been sleeping about 4-5hrs a night then another 3-4 during the day, which for me on a regular day is about 5 hrs more then usual.  The crazy times are the daytime naps...I can go from wide awake to BAM!!!  I am asleep in the chair, or wherever I can drop and shut my eyes cause when it hits me it HITS ME and I am DONE!!  The other day I had napped in my chair a good hour, staggered upstairs, grabbed the closest quilt and face planted on the mattress of my bed (sheets were washing) & slept another couple hours.  It boggles my mind.

Even...I know,  I need to get back in the game cause we are heading (yes...VoR is coming along this time) out on the final leg of the GRAND BABY TOUR first week in April then on to Las Vegas for a week, just the 2 of us...we SOOOOO NEED IT!!!!  It has been a long and stressful 10 months and now it's time for some fun adventures.  We found a beautiful condo WAY off the Strip so we can just relax, take in a show, go to the Temple and shop some outlets....no schedules, deadlines or commitments.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!  As I sit here finishing this big "BACK STORY" set of posts...we actually leave on VaCa tomorrow morning so you can only imagine my HUGE "TO DO" LIST!!!

As I have relived these past few months I have looked back thru the "PROBABLY NOT THE SMARTEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE" glasses.  Should I have given more time between trips YES!  Getting on a plane full of "who knows what bug they are carrying" 7 weeks out of chemo treatment...NO!!  Would I do it again...IN A HEARTBEAT!!!  I had great visits with my 3 amazing adult children and my little herd of cutie pie grand babies. I always make a picture quote that really states how I feel at the beginning of each cancer journey.  Each has gotten me thru a lot of quiet personal battle moments.  I shared with you once my focus quote for this cancer battle, but I feel I need to again now that we made it thru another battle.





 I have learned to jump when the opportunity is there....you don't know what might come along and stop you in your tracks & derail all your best played plans.  So nap when you need to,  go do what you want, modify your plan if you have to...just still do it, laugh when mood strikes you, cry when your heart is touched & both see & acknowledge the Lord in your life and in the world around you....miracles happen daily...watch for them.

-Etta May- 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Not so back BACKSTORY - March 2018

I CAUGHT UP!!!!  -March 2018 -
(part 1)

Okay....I actually never thought this would happen....I filled in the back story more or less...but you can't even begin to understand the weight off my chest and the incredible guilt that I have had every time I sat down at my computer to do something else.....I AM FREE!!!!   ALMOST....

- MARCH 2018 -

- Lets start this out with the MOST important day of the month...MY BIRTHDAY!!!!  It was a really great day!!!!  My day started off with my dear friend stopping by with YUMMY lemon tarts and a quick HUG!!!  The lemon squares were tartly wonderful but the hug was by far the best part. Then my other dear & oldest friend came over and kidnapped me for the afternoon. We spent a fun afternoon just "lallygagging" around then topped it off with an entire Carrot Cake.  Do these 2 girls know me or what?!?!? Thanks for making it such a fun "Mary Poppins" kind of day.

-The next day I left to continue the "GRAND BABY TOUR"...off across the country again to spend 6 days with THE "Empress of Awesomeness" and her brew...arriving after 1am.  I was sooooo tired going into this one but THE Empress knew that my energy was in the toilet planned just planned on me resting during the day.  She too assured me that what was important was the fact that I was there.  Back during treatment VoR had gone out to see them for a wknd and my GB made me promise that when I was better I would come see her...here I came.  They had planned a great day to celebrate my Bday and let's be honest there are a lot worse men to spend it with then Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron singing and dancing in one of my FAV movies in a long time... "The Greatest Showman". The humour was not lost on me that Random Wisdom first crushed hard for Zac during "High School Musical" days and we would all have to agree, is still today major eye candy...but the fact that my GB is just as star struck over him because of this movie just cracks me right up!!!  But my day ended in my favourite tradition....PAVLOVA!!! If it isn't familiar to you....GOOGLE SEARCH IT!!!  That Empress soooooo knows her way around amazing desserts!!!! The perfect day with a couple of my favourite girls.  I had a fantastic time with Empress's little family.  GB is a game nut...but not just any game...NO..."Battleship" & "Bingo"....and can I just say...young minds never tire but I couldn't go non-stop.  Fortunately I had found an App before I left home so we were able to play both on the iPad so we could stop and go without worry of GB messing with the pieces. I can not even give you an estimate of just how many hours we played over those 6 days but be assured it was enough for me to be dreaming "B6, G56, I 30...you get the idea...but honestly, I was thrilled to be there with those 2 GBS it didn't matter what we did.

-I had to get up and be heading to the airport at 3:00AM!!!!  I finally got home by almost 5pm.  VoR was out of town for work so as you can imagine...I went & had a shower, made something easy to eat and plopped in front of the tv to catch up on my shows & didn't budge again for more then a couple hours.  It was nice to be home....for the 2 weeks I am gonna be here.  BTW...still got that lousy cough virus from when I got home from leg #1 of the tour...ARGGG!!!


-Etta May-



Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Backstory...January & February 2018

JANUARY CONTINUES....INTO FEBRUARY 2018

- Now let's just pause for a moment and remember that this point I have been sick for over 7 months and I am only 8 weeks out of treatment...so months and months of recovery are stacked up in front of me still to go thru.  I had also been fighting that blasted staph infection even longer....so to say I was not at my best as I sat and planned the GRAND BABY TOUR...I was honestly way more out of my mind then I realized at the time....not my best maneuver...but as they say..."birthing babies wait for no one" so off I trudged....fingers crossed, intentions good, hopes high and energy reserves well...just not there..but with faith that all would go well off I went on the first 3 wks of the Tour.  Honestly I thought I was tired before I left...."Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait" (thank you My Fair Lady) 

- My first plan of attack was to (as it happened) get on a plane and surprise Random Wisdom a couple of weeks before she delivered baby #2.  There had been lots of HUGE changes in her little family's life so I thought I could swoop in and be a help to her... HA HA....again, not really thinking that thru. Now moral support... I came loaded down with vats of that & hours to spend with her adorable toddler (grandbaby) . The exciting thing was that I was there for the birth of her baby #2 and it was AMAZING!!!  My experiences in birth coaching made it so I was able to be a solid help to her as she went thru the birthing process...a tender mercy for me for sure!! I have now been blessed to be with both my daughters when they delivered a child.  Random Wisdom was such a trooper and her doctor was a blessing, just exactly who she needed and it was just a really beautiful experience for everyone involved.

- I spent time with Pragmatically Speaking and my next grand baby who is growing into the most amazing child.  It was so much fun just being there.  I was told that the expectation was that I was to sit on the couch and relax and rest and not worry about not being up to doing anything.  You can't imagine what a boon that was to my spirit and the stress it relieved.  It was a really wonderful trip but it did significantly drain more out of the energy reserves...it's just the nature of travelling and being away from your own home.  

- In the end the fatigue won out but the weather was beautiful, the family time was priceless & a beautiful brand new baby....doesn't get much better then that.


- I have a month before I leave on part 2 of the tour and I am gonna need every single one of them.  VoR had caught this NASTY throat virus & the most uncontrollable & painful cough (like coughing shards of broken glass) while I was gone but loved me enough to share with me. He's always looking for new treats for me...but this one???  YUP...I picked it up and took up residence back in my old faithful recliner with a cool mist steamer running 24/7 right beside me.  I woke up Sunday morning
it was stuck shut and oozing greenish/yellow muck out of it (sorry those weaker stomach people...but you're right..GROSS!! So off we went to emergency.  When they heard me coughing they sent me for a bunch of tests but all clear so this virus just needs to run it's course and "its a doozie that will just hang on forever"...fluids and sleep and time is all you can do.  SLEEP....really?!?!!?  Coughing took care of any chance for that.  The eye cleared up in a few days but the virus...seems to have taken up permanent residence in my throat...sigh

-Etta May-



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The BACKSTORY - December 2017 & January 2018

THE BACKSTORY CONTINUES....part 2

DECEMBER 2017

- I began making some jewelry again for the Blinging it Forward Project & some of their clients.  It feels good to get back into serving others....this is such a great cause.  I was so inspired that Christmas morning I woke up early and realized I wanted something special for church at 9am and proceeded to sit down and make earrings, bracelet and necklace set that was a mixture of new and vintage beads.  It was stunning...if I have to say so myself and the fact that I made it in a couple of hours shocked everyone...and that was fun seeing the reactions.  Sadly I still couldn't say in the building even with a heavy duty mask on. But it is the Savior's birth so I went anyway...I miss going to church and all the social aspect that includes...the Gospel is still alive and kicking in me...another blessing for me.

- We got the Christmas tree up this time....a step better then the 2012 chemo experience...it just didn't happen I was feeling so lousy.  I love Christmas and especially the tree. I will sit for hours in a dark room with just the lights on quietly feeling the peace of the season work miracles on my spirit and in my heart.  My oldest friend showed up and decorated it for me....what a service as I was just thrilled to have it up with the lights on but it was stunning when she was thru with it.

- I was even feeling good enough to think about cooking a turkey and all the fixings and to invite my dear friend's daughter and son-in-law, who had just moved into our city, and would have been on their own.  Bonus...she brought all the snacks & dessert too!!!  Now I don't for a second think that I was very exciting to be around or in any position to act "Hostess" but can I just say....I had a BLAST!!!  They were so easy and really are more like family so I just relaxed, they pitched in, VoR was amazing and we spent the day eating (yup...I really mean ALL DAY) and playing games.  Our company was even aware enough to notice when I suddenly was exhausted and my day was over.  Such a sweet gift to have her here in my life again....she was a close friend of Random Wisdom so she is such a reminder of her & with her living so far away, the reminder is good for my heart.

-We spent New Year's Eve just the 2 of us.  It was quiet and peaceful and not even sure we made to midnight.  I love the time the VoR spend together....just the 2 of us.

JANUARY 2018

- Life began to pick up speed as the new year got into swing.  Ok....nobody else would have really noticed such a tiny little increased pace...but to me, I was flying at the speed of sound...at least my mind was.  I quickly figured out that my brain was "writing cheques that my body had no intention/ability to cash". In other words....when I sat in my big comfy recliner I had ideas, plans, lists, you name it of things I "needed", okay...wanted to get done only to discover that the moment my foot hit the floor my body screamed (in my head)..."OH HECK NO!!!  What were you thinking??".  I am NOT a pacer for darn sure...I am a "getupandgoer" to the bone so these single teeny weeny accomplishments just really weren't cutting it for me.  Other were so excited cause I (for example) took my own dishes into the kitchen (cause I hadn't done that for months) had me shaking my head thinking "REALLY...that's all I got in me???  

To be clear & full disclosure even being in that much debt to the "energy bank" I still couldn't resist the MONSTER airline seat sale that passed thru my in-box.  Before I knew it I had started the plans for "GRAND BABIES TOUR 2018" and by plans I mean airline tickets bought so now the planning needed to actually begin.  Can I just say...once out of my recliner try first thought was...
"WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING" 
...so all that was left to do was take a deep breath...and start planning.

-Etta May-

Sunday, April 1, 2018

YET ANOTHER EPIPHANY...the Backstory Block

The Backstory...part 1

I am not kidding....this really was a HUGE epiphany for me.  I've thought long & hard over my resistance to actually sitting down & typing a blog entry over the last 5 months (believe me...I have written dozens...okay 5 or 6 at least) & I think it actually comes down to my over- ruling propensity with "the rest of the story" (thanks Andy Rooney) "the back story" & "the special features".  Anyone who really knows me knows that good or bad, there is RARELY a film that I don't spend time devouring the "special features"....good/bad/boring...doesn't matter...I just NEED to what/why/how things happened!!! Before & after or even during filming....all the back stories, what the actor discovered/created about who the character really was.  Now don't even get me started if the film is based on a "TRUE STORY/ACTUAL EVENTS" where I can do a bunch of digging ("research") on my own...OYE!!!  I just have this compunction to know what happened to them, where they are now & how they are doing since the end of the period covered in the film.  I know it looked like I went down a rabbit hole here....not true.  Now take all this new knowledge you have about me and apply it to this blog & my life over the last 5-6 months and you see how my HUGE issue I face.  At this point I am so "blogged" down with the these (back stories) past several months that I have been silenced by my own obsession.



SOOOO...in an attempt to step out of my own snare, I am just gonna fill in the missing months (probably in a couple posts) in more of a "Highlight Reel" to get you caught up to where we are today.  It still feels very daunting to me but here goes...

NOVEMBER 2017

- OFFICIALLY...I finished chemo Nov. 24!!!!  Sadly it was not quite the end of that blasted IV antibiotic that had been my constant companion since June 14th.  I did jump for joy cause a week later I had my LAST of 13 injections that followed each chemo.  For a needlefobe like me....that was by far the HARDEST challenge of this chemo treatment.  I really didn't suffer many of the effects from the chemo this time which could have been exacerbated by the IV treatment and made my life horribly miserable.  I completely give all the credit and gratitude to my Saviour who I KNOW stepped in and intervened on my behalf.  I am so humbled by His love and knowledge of me and willingness to step in and remove that part of this long journey for me.  My oncologist was just baffled that I wasn't feeling as horrid as she tried to prepare me for.  The ONLY effects (beside very mild nausea) I had to deal with was the mind numbing complete physical fatigue and the deep ache in my lower back and legs.  Don't get me wrong....I didn't know a body could get that exhausted!!!  (I still battle with that in spurts during every day....but I have learned to work around them). I am just so grateful that my toes are still pointing the right direction and that we caught this blasted little Troll again before he could dig in and do much damage.  We are all aware that we may not be so lucky next time...but I love and live every single day surrounded by the love and protection of my amazing VoR and my most amazing children along with great life-long friends.  

Life just doesn't get any better than that....sigh

-Etta May-



Monday, November 20, 2017

Guilt & Exhaustion

I am really feeling awful guilt and very remiss for my lack of posts during this chemo journey.  But if I were to be completely honest....there really hasn't been much to "write home about".  This has been soooo much better then the last chemo 5 yrs ago I sometimes (in total jest) find myself wondering if they are even giving me real chemo and not just a placebo. In my total 6 cycles I spent the first 3 or 4 feeling really good...enough to continue my 1.5 mile walks every morning (at a really good pace) & cooking dinner every night...much to VoR's annoyance.  He just feels like I should be resting all the time and let him take care of things like cleaning, laundry, cooking & running errands...again, if we are being honest...he does all those things way better then me anyway.  I was thinking it's the least I could do to help him out cause he really is doing EVERYTHING ELSE!!  He is ALWAYS taking such great care of me, being that selfless steady rock for me.....TRULY MY HERO!!! xoxoxo. He even managed to not be annoyed by spending his birthday sitting thru a chemo treatment and my all day nap...not that there was anything I could do about either of those things.  I am such an airhead....I didn't even get him a card....epic fail.

(No truer words were ever spoken....just saying!)

My biggest adjustment with this chemo is the complete mind numbing exhaustion that just came out of no where, literally as soon as my infusion was finished.  I got off the bed and suddenly could hardly put one foot in front of the other and was totally winded.  I came home and started sleeping for the most part of the next two days....that has been the "norm" every time since then. I seriously mean "mind numbing"...I can't focus on reading anything of substance, always having to back track a couple of pages to remind myself where I left off.  We all know that I am a HUGE movie buff and to sit down and watch a full one is only really successful with those cheesy Hallmark Christmas ones...anything with a plot you need to follow....I just can't keep my attention or stay focused thru it. All I know is that this problem better be TEMPORARY....cause this would completely suck!!  I have loaded a bunch of mindless & ridiculous games onto my iPad & phone.  Let's just leave it at well...I have plethora of Bingo, Gin Rummy, Candy Crush type games & more then a few jigsaw puzzles taking up quite a bit of real estate on both devices.  I have been slowly working on some simple jewelry items (key chains & lanyards) for the "Blinging it Forward Project"...so that is saving me from feeling totally useless.  The biggest challenge (besides the design process) is that by the time I get upstairs to actually work on stuff, I need to rest and catch my breath and then recognizing when I have reached my limit and make my way back downstairs for a rest/nap.  It has been a real distraction and focus for me.  I had ongoing projects the first time too and it really made that chemo better.  I really believe that you need to lose yourself in doing things for others to get past huge challenges in life.  Reaching beyond yourself and seeing the needs of others gives much needed peace to your soul...and gets you thru this gong show that is CANCER & CHEMO

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WOW!!!!  It's been over a month & I feel like lots has happened & nothing has happened all at the same time.  I just completed part 2 of Chemo #3 & I'm still feeling really good.  Maybe I should qualify that a smidge....I am not nauseated 70% of the time & rarely feel horrible & let's be honest...that's all that really matters when you're going thru this mine field.  I have however started feeling some effects from my daily shots (post chemo to build my blood)...large joint and muscle pain...mine has focused in on my right hip joint.  It's pretty miserable and has put the brakes on my 1.5 mile morning walks.....that really sucks!!!  The 3rd round of chemo this week was just the same old routine...until the other shoe dropped.  IT wasn't a horrible drop...I just got smacked in the face with the fatigue!!!  I could hardly put one foot in front of the other by the time that treatment was over and it hasn't gotten much better...so I am suspecting that this is the new norm.  I will gladly take this any day over nausea and puking....just saying.  I am finding that I am feeling well enough to be distracted doing other things and not taking the time to rest when I am tired or to just sit and ponder and that is a great loss to me.  I am just not feeling bad enough to justify just sitting around without my mind going into over-drive on of all the things I could/should be doing....much to VoR's annoyance and frustration.  I am trying but I guess this time the "feeling good" is definitely a doubled edge sword.

I have also had worse & more frequent headaches.  The weather has been a contributing factor since it has been all over the map with crazy systems and pressures....If you doubt my word for it...just ask anyone from Texas, Florida, Louisiana or the Rocky Mountains...they will set you straight.  On this weather topic for a second...Harvey hit us a little close to home as my brother and his ailing wife live just outside of Houston so we were keeping pretty close eye on what was happening there too. My heart goes out to all the other victims of the other storms and fires that went on during this time too.  All this crazy weather & natural disasters are right out of control but lucky for us we were created as a resilient people.  We will learn the lessons, compassion for others, band together to help those affected, turn to the Lord, and grow stronger for the experiences.  We need to go into this recovery with nothing but love in our hearts, looking for opportunities to switch our focus and look for the needs of others not what we think we are entitled to...anger and frustration will rear their ugly heads at times...we must look beyond that knee-jerk reaction of anger and see the hurting soul inside and find a way to help and lift it.  If we look to Christ as the example and try to emulate Him in our daily interactions think how truly blessed we would all be. IN every disaster that happens there is a "hive" of these yellow hand print shirts that quietly show up without the fanfair and news coverage.  They come in ready to work and help the hurting thru physical and emotional support and loving hands to labor with loving hearts to show they care....plus a tear-filled hug or two just for good measure....but ask any victim from where they have served and they will tell you...."they made all the difference".  Far beyond the hours and hours of selfless labor they provide...they send a 
stillness to the hearts of those they help and are a true shining example of Christ's love for each of us.



Now back to my little corner of the world...One day rolls uninterrupted or changed from the day before, for the most part. Then you throw in a doctor’s appointment or a test...& on those days you get to take a “Road Trip!!!  It's pretty sad when trip to the doctor is a much anticipated outing…OYE!!  

I did have a week of excitement as Random Wisdom and her precious little family came to visit. We had a lot of fun and it was great to watch the working mind of a 2 yr old againl….fascinating really.  They actually were impacted by “Harvey” and got rescheduled and rerouted and they arrived 2 days early….I AM NOT COMPLAINING!!!  VoR took some time off work and did all the “touristy” stuff with them and got the Poutine, Timbits & Beaver Tails that are mandatory staples when any of the children visit….and not just once…numerous trips each visit.  IT WAS A BLAST!!!  

I have gotten myself involved with a local project called “the *Blinging* it Forward Project.  They collect used jewelry from women all over the country and then take it all apart and rebuild it into new pieces (bracelets, earrings & key chains) for women in battered women shelters in the city.  I don’t profess to have a ton of talent when it comes to this kind of stuff but I wanted to jump in and do my part….giving back too….I spend a few hours every day working on whatever tasks need to be done for them while I try my hand at some designing.  It is a lot of fun….keeps me occupied & they really appreciate my help. Then you throw in the  gratitude from the women on the receiving end when they get their new stuff, and it's a win win!!! You will probably hear me talk about it a lot in the future.  It is such a GREAT & rewarding project!!!  Thanks to them for letting me be involved and for allowing me to do  my small part.