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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 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

2 steps forward, 1 step back

Or maybe 1 1/2 steps back, I’m really not sure.

My current pill schedule is 2 weeks on, 1 week off the Capecitabine and the Lapatinib I take daily.  I started my week off Capecitabine a week ago Friday – the 10th of March.  Everything seemed fine, but on Sunday or Monday I started to notice the lump at my neck was bothering me a little bit.  Up to that point I knew the lump was there, I could feel it and feel it pressing on my neck tendon but it wasn’t hugely disturbing.  The area started to

Continue reading

Capecitabine cycle #1 done

I wasn’t quite sure where to go with this post.  I was planning to do a quick catch up on how things have gone since I completed my 1st set of Capecitabine pills and I am finishing up my week off.  Then I had an appointment yesterday that really did not go the way I expected.

This is the post I will share on Facebook as I am going to keep it focussed on how treatment has been.  That is the most important stuff.  I am going to write another post discussing yesterday’s appointment and if you want to read about it and probably see me Continue reading

I’m not winning any trophies 😢

So this is the random post that is about an appointment I had yesterday.

Last time I saw my oncologist she was feeling bad about how quickly the TDM-1 failed me.  I’m not sure if I had posted this previously, but she told me that she has been disappointed in some of the results she has seen amongst her own patients that have been on TDM-1.  The patients that moved directly from Herceptin to TDM-1 after a treatment failure often had long-term success of 1-2 years.  Patients that switched from the Herceptin/Pertuzumab combo, the last combo I was on, my onc has only seen 1 patient of Continue reading

Come back 2016

I’m sorry, 2016, you weren’t so bad.  Can’t we just pretend the last 10 days didn’t happen and go back a year?  🙈 (This is new in Blogger, they finally have emojis……or maybe it is just that I’m using Windows 10 rather than an ancient Mac.  Apparently this is face with look of triumph 😤.  I always thought it was super angry face.  Hmmmmm.)

Right, back to this whole 💩 2017 thing…….

Last….Wednesday?…..maybe Tuesday, yes, Tuesday, my amazing elephant arm seemed to be a little more swollen than it had been.  It does go up and down a little bit, but it seemed Continue reading