3 Years – Should I celebrate or cry?

July 13th, what should have been a harmless Friday in 2012 turned out to be a life changer. It is now 3 years since my diagnosis. I should get up and dance and celebrate that I have made it this long but this day also marks the end of life as I knew it. Sure, no one truly knows what will happen once they get out of bed each day……Will today be the day the random driver busy texting schmucks me as I am crossing the street? No one really knows how their life will go so all we can do is rely on the statistics.

The median life span after a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis is 29 or 28 or 26 months depending on who you ask and I’m at 36 months. Based on that I guess today is a day of celebration. I should be breaking out the champagne but it might interfere with the meds I am currently on, but more about that later.

Since it has been a while since I have talked about the realities of living with metastatic breast cancer here is a little video with a theme song that I am planning to add to my playlist:

Ok, lemme see, my last post was in March. That was after my surgery to get my lymph nodes out and before my travels started so here goes……
In mid March I met up with my friend Laura and we spent a weekend in snowy Montreal. Trust me that it was snowy, all I have to show for it is this…..
Nutella and banana. Yum.
From Montreal we hopped the Amtrak and headed south to New York City!!!! I ❤ New York.
We met up with my friend Sarah and then Kara joined us and we had so much fun! A St. Paddy’s Day parade, The Cloisters Museum, Central Park,
 The American Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs,


 a couple of shows, the
Here’s the view from the 89th floor:



We managed to time our visit perfectly as the clouds started coming in just as we were leaving.

After a week in NYC I continued on to Toronto where Ian met me and we spent a week with my little nephew and his parents.  It was Ian’s first visit to Toronto so it was unfortunate it was still so cold.  We did do some touring around, we visited the Mill St. Brew Pub, Niagara Falls – so amazing I have never been there before, and we learned about the production of maple syrup at the Kortright Centre, a good Canadian activity.
There were also a couple of family gatherings.  It was so fabulous to see you Ilana after 18 years!! And congrats on your engagement!

After a week of Toronto cold Ian and I headed back to the balmy west coast. My gardening began in earnest while I waited for radiation to begin on my right armpit where I had the lymph nodes removed.

Radiation started on May 1st and ran for 16 sessions.  I ended up getting the lesion on my right 6th rib irradiated at the same time as I managed to aggravate it with a cough I picked up during my trip. Radiation went very smoothly, especially with the gardening help and company supplied by Keetah and Satori.  Keetah was my travel companion for half my radiation appointments and it sure made the drive to the Cancer Agency less depressing.

Once radiation was complete my life settled down and it was just me and the garden most days…..any one in need of tomatoes let me know.  I went a little overboard things grow so well here. Also tomatillos if you like green salsa.  And lettuce if you need it right now.  And let’s not think about the cucumbers or zucchinis.

There was a brief interruption of my gardening when I had my normal check up with my medical oncologist.  It was decided that since I had just completed radiation there should be a delay until my next scan even though I had not had any scans since January.  The delay will make it easier to tell if the areas that were irradiated are healing or staying the same or growing.

Ian has made jam, marionberry (similar to a blackberry),sour cherry, and raspberry so far.  We also have pounds of regular cherries in the freezer.  Mom helped me make grape juice with some of the grapes left from last year since we need to make room for this year’s crop soon.

And our blackberries are starting to ripen.

Needless to say I won’t starve even if I don’t visit a grocery store for the next month.

In the middle of June Ian and I sent the pets to Pender and we went up the island to Campbell River to visit another St. Paul’s escapee and her husband in their new home.  They rent a suite and a cottage on their property and I highly recommend it as a place to stay.  We made it to the Courtney farm market which was excellent with a fabulous assortment of produce and other farm fresh foods available.  And the northern part of the island is also wine country so we had to pop into a local winery as well.  We also had time for a fishing charter and Ian and I came home with a good sized spring salmon.  Yay! Smoked salmon in the freezer again!

After we got home from Campbell River I had my last visit with my radiation oncologist.  My skin withstood the radiation with only tan lines.  Aside from my regular herceptin,  zoladex, pamidronate, and medial oncology appointments that was the end of my extra appointments until the end of August.  Or at least that was what I was planning.

On the 4th of July I was off to Vancouver to pick up Keetah and Satori.  We had a holiday planned with Sarah on the beach at Shuswap Lake.  Lucky for us we left Vancouver just as the smoke from the Sechelt forest fire started to get bad.  We had a fantastic 6 days just outside Tappen with a lovely lake beach to visit every day

We had a very tasty Thai dinner one night in Salmon Arm, visited the local gouda farm and a tasty butcher, and tested out the breakfast offerings at a nearby native run golf resort.  All in all a lovely break from my day to day life.  Thanks for being such a great hostess Sarah!

Keetah, Satori, and I returned to Vancouver on Friday and I was noticing that my right eye felt a little dry.  It had been a little scratchy earlier in the week but I didn’t think much of it due to the drier air and the smoke that was around and the car air conditioning.  By Saturday when I returned to Victoria things were getting worse and I was noticing the right side of my mouth did not feel right.  Just when it seemed like my weird tongue had just gone away too.

Off to the Royal Jubilee Emergency we went.  Yes, other hospitals are closer but I worked at the Jub and that is the place I like the best.

As I suspected the tentative diagnosis is Bell’s palsy which happens after cranial nerve 7 sustains damage, most often after it is infected by a virus.  I did have a head CT done just in case and the good news is that there is no sign of any new mets in my brain or skull.

There were however some changes from the MRI I had in January.  The changes may be due to the differences between CT and MRI scans so I am just waiting for an appointment to be scheduled for a head MRI.  I am also going to be booked in to see my neurologist again.

In the meantime I am on a high dose course of prednisone and antivirals and I have to put the gooiest eye drops in my eye to protect it from drying out as I have lost the ability to close my right eye most of the time.  That also means I have to tape my eye shut at night so I am not sleeping with one eye open.  Eating is a bit of a challenge and I can only drink using a straw unless I want to dribble my beverage all over.

Supposedly 80% of people recover with no adverse effects within a few months so I hope I am in that 80%.  Gotta say this is freaking annoying.

Anyhoo, I think that pretty much covers everything since March…….Montreal, New York, Toronto, gardening, Campbell River, Shuswap Lake, and Bell’s palsy with the regular mixture of infusions, injections, and treatments thrown in with a couple of med oncology appointments.

Just a reminder, I am approaching my long term goal of reaching 40.  The big day is November 10th and I am planning to throw a shindig in Vancouver the following Saturday.  Let me know if you would like to attend as I hope to start the planning some time this summer.

Happy July 13th everyone! I hope your 13th is always less eventful than mine was in 2012.

One thought on “3 Years – Should I celebrate or cry?

  1. Glad to see you back, Sheryl. You are one feisty lady!
    Charlie and I have been following this blog, and we were more than a bit concerned….

    As for the tomato surplus, perhaps you could persuade Mom and Dad to throw a bag in their luggage and bring them east – haven't seen them for some years.

    We'll miss the November bash, but our thoughts will be with you!


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