Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Taking Time

I haven't written in 21 days. 
That's 3 weeks.  
I have been a bit stuck, and quiet which for me is a bit rare.  

I am in limbo. 

I found out on Tuesday that my final diagnosis is Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, ER+, PR+, HER2-. I know that is a lot of gobbeldy gook, but in the end it means that  I will be getting 4 weeks of radiation and will be put on a hormone blocker for either 5 or 10 years of my life and will have many of the effects of menopause without actually being in menopause.  For the most part, it's a good diagnosis and it hasn't spread which is very positive. 

In two weeks I will make the final decision on whether or not to do chemotherapy based on the results of a test that has been sent to California which will tell us more about the possibility of recurrence.  I am seriously hoping for good results. I don't want to do chemotherapy. 

In the mean time, I take my time to think and to live. I do what is important to me.  I create art and live as fully as I can.  

But there is one thing.  Emotionally, I am exhausted.  Being in limbo for about 2 months straight is hard.  

I am a woman who some in the business world call a Quick Start. I get a gazillion ideas daily and the ones that stick I initiate as soon as possible.   After I finish that initiative, I get another idea aand want to move onto that.  So when I was diagnosed on June 17, I thought that I would immediately start treatments. I was like hup hup - let's get this underway.   But things take time.  Tests need to be done, and treatments seriously considered.  There is no jumping into an idea quickly unless the treatment plan is clear from the get go.  And that is not my situation.  

So I learn how to take my time.  How not to freak out.  How to educate myself in a way that isn't alarming but healing.  How to deal with friends who can't deal with the diagnosis and vanish from my life.  I am taking classes at the local cancer centre and am doing a few secret projects that keep me feeling creatively inspired.  

For a few days I was feeling guilty about keeping this blog.  There are so many others in much more dire situations, and that along with others telling me how great my diagnosis is left me wondering what my problem is.  My diagnosis is positive and they oncologists feel good about finding it very early.  And just a couple of nights ago,  I realized that was stupid.  I have cancer.  It's important that I don't discredit my experience, because at the end of the day this is a horrible disease no matter what stage and I do believe that it has changed my outlook on life.  For better and for worse.  

Tomorrow is my son's 6th Birthday.  We will spend the day at the beach surrounded by our loved ones.  There is no other thing I would rather be doing.  Taking time out to celebrate his life, and soak in the lake, and enjoy our time together. 

I urge you to take the time to be with your loved ones.  Do what you want.  Take your time. Because right now, it's yours to take. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pity Face Superhero: My Dad

Today marks 3 years since my dad passed away after an eleven  year battle with Multiple Myeloma, a form of bone cancer.  I miss him so much. I miss his advice, his wisdom, but most of all I miss his laugh.  

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I was in Mexico working at Rio Caliente Spa.  A very special healing place. I had planned to leave early and my dad told me to stay, to get strong because it was going to be a long year ahead.  He was right.   A week later, I returned to find my dad in a ward in Peel Memorial Hospital , hooked up to chemo and chatting with all the men in the room.  His outlook was positive. He told me he wasn't going anywhere.  He said he had too much love to give his family.  He wasn't leaving anytime soon.  

My dad had been told that he live from about 3 months to a year.  He lived for 11 years with the crappiest of cancers.  He had multiple infections, a stem cell transplant, his heart stopped for 6 minutes, and he always came back.  They called him Miracle Joe at the hospital, and he left a mark on all that he met.  

To me, my father was a superhero. Not a saving the day in red and blue tights superhero.  But a man who fought for his life in a most noble and real way.  My father was a superhero at fighting this cancer.   He proved time and time again that you just needed to take care of yourself and go through this treatment and live your life the best that you could.  I know that he had wished that it would have been different, but my dad lived his life to the fullest.  

Three days before he died, I got some time to be with my father by myself.  My dad told he how proud he was of me and my brothers, how he didn't understand my life as an artist, but that he knew I was good by the way people reacted to me.  He told me to always be kind to people and to thank people.  And he told me that he would always be in my heart, watching over me and watching over my son Max who was two and a half at that time.  I left and cried in the car as we drove away, knowing that would be the last time I would have a conversation with my dad.  

Two days ago, I was at the doctors finding out the results from the sentinel node biopsy, to see if the cancer had spread.  Thankfully it hadn't.  The surgeon was so surprised that I had even found this tumour.  The lump that I had found was NOT the cancerous tumour, it was a benign mass 2 centimeters above the cancerous one.  Of course, I will still need to do radiation, and possibly chemo depending upon some other results that are coming within the next few weeks, but that's okay.  It's a relief to find that it hasn't spread.  

Late last night, I thought about all of this, and couldn't help but know that my dad was looking over me with love, and laughter.  Throughout the past two months, I have been blessed with some of the kindest love from friends and family.  

As I left the surgeon, I thanked her for her work.  She had made me feel safe, and taken care of in a very very scary situation.  She gave me hope.  I left thanking her and remembering my dad, how he would often thank doctors even when they gave him bad news.  How he would be grateful for his days, no matter how difficult.  And how he tried to laugh, even when times were super tough.  

So today, I remember my father Jose Pijuan.  

Thanks for the lessons in life, Papa Joe, I miss you so much.  Always in my heart.