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Our Lovely Sheryl – Be At Peace

It is with a heavy heart that I must write this post to announce that Sheryl passed away on May 25.

Sheryl always wanted this blog to be an accurate account of the struggles of dealing with stage 4 breast cancer. Stage 4 breast cancer is not a disease that can be fought; fighting implies that winning is possible, which is not true for Sheryl’s diagnosis. Sheryl didn’t fight and lose a battle against cancer. Instead she endured cancer, by attending countless appointments, taking innumerable pills, injections and infusions, following medical advice intended to maximize the duration and quality of life, and putting up with the side effects of treatment and the symptoms of cancer. Sheryl documented all of this in her blog over nearly five years.

The battle Sheryl did fight, where she was undeniably victorious, was to make the most of the uncertain, limited time she had after her diagnosis. She traveled extensively, to Europe, to Mexico multiple times including to the baptism of her beloved nephew, to New York and to Toronto. She made a beautiful new home with an expansive garden in Victoria. Most importantly, she spent as much time as possible with her cherished friends and family. The outpouring of love for her, particularly in the last few days at the hospice, is a testament to the powerful impact Sheryl had on the many people she knew. Sheryl was able to say goodbye to her family and many of her friends in her final days. She remained positive, brave, loving, iron-willed and funny. This outlook was simply inspirational to all who knew her.

The care at the hospice was fantastic but changed from symptom management to pain management. The hospice allows pets and we had our cat, Orchid, stay around the clock for the final few days to help comfort Sheryl while Jasper, our dog, came for morning visits. The end came quickly and unexpectedly, but peacefully, with me and her parents at her side. Caring and practical even in death, Sheryl’s eyes were donated to give someone else the gift of sight.

Sheryl was always particularly impressed and grateful for the care she received from the BC Cancer Agency, especially her oncologists Dr. Sofie Sun in Vancouver and Dr Joanna Vergidis in Victoria.

Sheryl had requested that any service held for her be a positive, joyful event celebrating the good times. There will be a wake held at our house on Saturday June 3, 2017 at 2:00pm.   Please contact me or another family member for more information. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to either the BC Cancer Foundation or the BC SPCA. If anyone has any photos or written memories of Sheryl they would like to share and leave for the family, there will be a wall where they can be posted for viewing during the wake. Digital photos would also be appreciated.

A spot of bother

I, Ian, am writing this blog post on behalf of Sheryl as she is having difficulty typing.  It has been a rough few weeks.

The lymphedema in Sheryl’s right arm and shoulder has continued to get worse.  We have been to the Saanich Peninsula ER twice for the pain that her swollen arm has caused.  The lymphatic fluid has broken through the skin on her arm.

She has been pulled off the Capecitabine by her oncologist.  We had to go to emergency at Royal Jubilee Hospital at 1:30 am on May  8th.  She was prescribed hydromorphone pills and hydromorphone injections to break through when the pain of her arm became too bad.  Sheryl’s oncologist advised that the she needed to come off the Capecitabine as it was no longer working. Her right lung has also been filling with lymphatic fluid. Sheryl, always the fighter, asked if there were any other possible treatment options that could be attempted.  There was one but the Oncologist did not recommend it.  The treatment would require Sheryl to attend a private injection clinic for one drug and the Cancer Agency for another. She did want to attempt this but needed to stay out of hospital in order to qualify.

At home Sheryl had lost a lot of mobility.  Her left arm needed to be dressed and cleaned at least twice a day.  A home care nurse was visiting every two days and Sheryl’s mother, Joyce, was a great help during this time helping to change the wound dressing and care for Sheryl.

On May 16th we had an appointment at the pain and symptom clinic at the cancer agency.  It was a busy day for Sheryl as we had to give her a pain injection then clean the wound on her arm, get dressed and in the vehicle down to the Cancer Agency.  Sheryl has been too weak to walk any distance for the last few days prior so we got a wheelchair to go into the Cancer Agency.  Once in the room Sheryl felt nauseous and then had great difficulty breathing and was hyperventilating.  I hit the emergency button and the fantastic staff at the Cancer Agency jumped into action to get Sheryl Oxygen and medications to stabilize her. She was then transferred to the ER at Royal Jubilee in a short 1 block ambulance ride.

On Tuesday Sheryl was transferred to palliative care a the hospice.  They are managing her pain and have adjusted the dosages to help Sheryl be able to be alert and present. She would love to see all her friends and family that have always been so important to her throughout her life.

Please wish her the best while Sheryl goes through this difficult time.

The Fun Continues

I’ll start with some good news. I got my brain MRI results. My brain remains clear and the lesion on my skull was stable!! Thank goodness as I was concerned about it growing as my scan was done during my last break from Capecitabine when things appeared to be progressing a bit.

Alright, on to the fun stuff……..after I figure out where I left off last time.

Right, it was Easter weekend. On the Sunday Ian and I picked up my parents and headed out to Metchosin to a tasty ham dinner hosted by Sarah and her dad. It was a great meal with excellent company as another university pal, Kara, and her hubby were there as well. I went hopped up on Nortryptiline and Tylenol so I made it through the evening and could actually enjoy myself.

Ian had the next couple of days off then my wonderful bud, Keetah, and the pooch, Satori, arrived on Wednesday bearing gifts. Most awaited were the Cannabis candies. The candies are made from cannabis tincture of the low THC, since THC makes me ill, and high CBD content to work on pain and if I’m really lucky will help me sleep.

Sorry, I started this post a couple of weeks ago. Everything has gone haywire since. I’ll be back once things are a little more under control.

The week that wasn’t

Sooooo…….two weeks ago was either the worst week or second worst week I have had since I started this whole cancer adventure. It is in competition with my very first week of chemo.

During that very first week my fatigue was so bad I could stand up for only a couple of minutes at a time and there were periods that I didn’t have the energy to hold my head up.  Continue reading

Double the median

When I was originally diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in July of 2012 my oncologist didn’t talk to me about life expectancy.  She was realistic about the situation as she told me there was no cure, that treatment was officially classified as palliative only.  At the same time she wanted to treat me aggressively, partly because I was young and partly because, aside from breast cancer, I was so healthy.  Her hope was that I would respond really well to treatment and while I would not be cured, I would be lucky and beat the statistics. Continue reading

Brain MRI result

Doh……I forgot this bit.  And the last post was so long I decided just to make a separate post.

Brain MRI is clear!!  Yay!

I dread the thought of having something pop up on my brain.  Sadly, it isn’t even because I don’t want anything growing in my brain but because I don’t want to go back on the horrid dexamethasone that is used to control swelling during brain radiation and keep side

Continue reading

Not quite puppies and kittens

I saw my oncologist last Thursday and I told her about my experience at the Pain and Symptom Clinic consult.  I started with the bit about not getting any medals.  Let’s just say she was a little stunned that a doctor would say that to anyone.  I suspect that she didn’t want to believe me but she knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t make something like that up.

I told her the rest and she said she would talk to the nurse that I knew that had been at the Continue reading