Oct 282004

lunar eclipse.jpg

I had a really, really good day today, and since I spend so much time belly-aching about the hard parts, I thought it was important to take some time to say, I had a really really good day today.

It started with a visit to the endocrinologist.
I made my way to the appointment in the West End, and went to the doctor’s office and the staff there were all really great and the doctor was great and it was over pretty quickly and she didn’t poke me or put me in a stupid blue gown or give me any new drugs. Basically she said that I should keep doing what I am doing and if, after I finish my chemo, I want to tweak things a bit I can go back and see her.
That’s working for me!

Since I was already in the West End, and since it was such a beautiful day, I decided to take myself for a drive around Stanley Park.
It was incredible.
We don’t have a lot of trees that give good colour here in Vancouver, not like back east. But this year I have been noticing a whole lot of really brilliant reds in the trees as they get ready to drop their leaves. Stanley Park was so lovely.
I drove around the park listening to the CBC, looking at the trees, and the perfect blue sky, and the calm, smooth ocean. It was all really good.

Then I made my way home and ran a few errands on the way.
That was great because I hadn’t been sure I could do them myself and I was concerned I was going to end up fobbing them off to my gf and I wasn’t really enthusiastic about that.
But I am feeling really good for this point in the cycle.
I think it’s because I finally broke down and saw an acupuncturist.
Elaine thinks it’s got a bunch to do with the fact that I am now on a 4 week cycle between treatments instead of 3 and I have been much more fussy about what meds I take and for how long.
Whatever it is, I am feeling way better than I have been in the past, and for that, I am truly grateful.
The last couple of cycles I have felt like garbage wrapped in skin for about 17 of the 21 days in the cycle. That really sucks and I am delighted to be feeling pretty human after only about 8 days.

After running my errands, I came home and screwed around and then did some yard work, which is something I haven’t had enough steam to do since about July, so that was incredible. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going crazy out there, just raking up some leaves, but even that is a huge thing for me.
I even managed a short walk to a friend’s place.

Then I went out for dinner and chat with an old, dear friend and we talked and watched the eclipse, which was pretty amazing.

All in all, it was a really, really good day.
And now, to cap it off, I think I will take my book and crawl under the covers.

 Posted by at 12:47 am
Oct 252004

Someone posted this site to one of the forums I am on.

From the site:

“Even if you are not a US citizen, the November 2 presidential election will have a huge impact on your life. The very idea of democracy requires that you should have a say in choosing who determines your destiny. This site therefore allows non-Americans to vote in the 2004 US presidential election.

GLOBALVOTE2004.ORG is totally neutral. You may vote for any candidate. Your vote will be kept secret. And you may only vote once.We will count the votes 48 hours before the election and submit the result to the US media. Just letting US citizens know how the world has voted could influence what looks like a tight race. ”

Now, go vote

 Posted by at 10:59 am
Oct 242004


Here’s a funny little story that has taken a few months to unfold.

Back when I was newly diagnosed, I got an e-mail from a dyke I don’t really know. I mean, we have been on a bunch of e-mail lists together over the years and we certainly know folks who have seen each of us in the flesh, but we have never met.
Anyway, said dyke e-mailed me and she said she felt awful that I was sick and she offered to buy me a t-shirt.
Now, having never met, there was no way for her to know how much I like a good t-shirt or what a push-over I am when it comes to certain marketing.
It was the perfect thing to offer. I was delighted and more than a bit touched, particularly since we didn’t really know each other.
I spent a chunk of time amusing myself at some of my favorite websites, looking at what I might like, narrowing my selection… it was great.
Ultimately, I picked a t-shirt that I had seen a friend of mine wear. It is a black t-shirt that says “Cowboy Up”, just like that logo at the top of this entry.
The term “cowboy up” means to suck it up in times of adversity.
After all my long hours of figuring and searching, it seemed like the perfect choice for the current situation. So, I e-mailed my friend and told her and she put the wheels in motion.
Or she tried, but when she went to order the shirt, it turns out that the distributor that I had connected her up with didn’t have a secure site for their credit card orders so she had to arrange to order the t-shirt over the phone.
It’s bizarre to me that they wouldn’t have a secure site, but it’s true.
So, the order was placed and then it was just a matter of time and I would be all stylishly dressed for my next chemo treatment.

Oh… an important detail in the story telling here… I had arranged to have the package shipped to Seattle, to my friend H’s place, because the last time I had something shipped from America, there was an extra $40 brokerage fee on top of the regular fee and the shipping and the duty, so the package I received, a t-shirt as a matter of fact, was extremely expensive by the time I got it on my body. Hoping to avoid that situation, I arranged to have the t-shirt shipped to H’s place and then another old friend who is travelling back and forth to Seattle a whole bunch said she would bring it up for me.
It should all have been extremely easy.

A bunch of time passed and no t-shirt, no t-shirt, no t-shirt, and then I hear that there is a package on the way, and I am pretty happy about that.
L drops by my place on her way home from work, she is looking a bit concerned and a bit amused and says she hopes I am not disappointed.
Off she tears and when I open the package there is no t-shirt, but there are 2 cowboy hats, from the Coor’s Rodeo, and 2 Coor’s belt buckles.
Oh… that’s odd.
I have no idea why I have these cowboy hats and belt buckles, but they do seem to fit the g-f and I and that part is okay.
I send an e-mail to V and let her know that a strange thing has happened, and I have no idea whether it is related to the t-shirt shipment or not, but…. well, I just don’t know. I wasn’t expecting any other packages, so I think perhaps there may have been a mistake somewhere along the way.
V gets on the phone and it turns out that, yes, the cowboy hats and belt buckles have been sent in error. It seems that they got the packing labels mixed up on my package. Someone hoping for a couple of cowboy hats got my t-shirt and vice versa.
V gives them a good blast and tells them they have to correct the problem and no, we will not be shipping the hats back because it is a total hassle with borders and duty and all that so they can just fix it and take the loss.
I was impressed.
And settled back to waiting.
So, a week or so ago I got the word that a package had arrived in Seattle for me.
I was doing some mental calculations about when I might take possesion of my long anticipated shirt.
L went down to Seattle and did the weekend thing and came home.
I got some e-mail from all the key players in the drama asking ‘well, was it worth the wait?’ but I hadn’t yet received the t-shirt.
And then I got an e-mail from L.
The e-mail said her car had been broken into the night before and, along with a bunch of her stuff, my t-shirt had been stolen.

So, that’s the story of the t-shirt so far.

I am thinking of getting a new shirt to celebrate the end of chemo.

I think it should look like this:

I may just do the old fashioned retail approach to getting that shirt.
That may be how I do it.

That said, I do want to thank everyone who has tried so hard to get me that damn t-shirt.
Could it get more complicated?
Thanks for trying, everyone.

And for folks following this saga from the beginning, you may recall that in one of our early episodes, the door of my truck suffered a compound fracture because of an unfortunate impact from Elaine’s (then) van.
This would be auto trouble #1 of 04, followed shortly by the pinching of the van (auto trouble #2 of 04).
Anyway, I am delighted to say that my truck door has been fixed up by my mechanic and former co-worker, Brain and I no longer have to squeeze past my gear shift like a Dukes of Hazzard loser.


 Posted by at 10:56 pm
Oct 232004

You know, since I got sick, I have spent more time thinking about how many of us in North America spent the bulk of our energy consuming things.

Here’s a piece from the CBC website about how well that is working out.


GENEVA – People are consuming the planet’s resources at a rate that outstrips its capacity to support life, a global conservation group said Thursday.

The World Wildlife Fund report, called The Living Planet 2004, shows humans use 20 per cent more natural resources than Earth can produce.

Report’s authors recommend switching away from fossil fuels.
Between 1970 and 2000, populations of land, freshwater and marine species fell about 40 per cent, according to the report.

The destruction of habitat is the greatest threat to wild species.

“Forests are being cleared to plant crops or to graze animals,” said Jonathan Loh, one of the report’s authors.

Other threats include:

River dams.
Climate change.
Overexploitation of species like fish.

Invasive species such as cats, birds and rats that are not native to a particular country can also threaten indigenous species, the report said.

Earth’s ecological footprint ? the amount of productive land needed on average worldwide to sustain one person ? is now 2.2 hectares.

Based on the amount of productive land and sea on Earth and the total population of 6.1 billion people, the planet has only 1.8 hectares available.

People in the developed world consume resources at an unsustainable level, the report concluded.

An average North American consumes twice as much as a European and seven times more than the average Asian or African, according to the report.

To stem the tide, Loh suggested governments, businesses and consumers switch to energy-efficient technology, such as solar power.

Written by CBC News Online staff

 Posted by at 10:20 am
Oct 222004


Just a reminder to those of you who like to play the odds and collect the fancy prizes, the time is coming to a close to get in on the B.C. Lifestyle Lottery.
The tickets are expensive. On the other hand, it’s probably the only way anyone I know will ever live in the British Properties, so that alone makes it worthwhile.
More info can be found here.

More local goings-on…
If you live in Vancouver and you like to read, you have to go to this.

We went to the library book sale yesterday. It wasn’t a planned thing, but before you knew it, the E’s and I were heading downtown to the booksale.
It’s a great, great sale. I didn’t really expect to be able to go this year, what with being sick and all, but it worked out and the big E and I were much more moderate than normal.
See, the library fills a whole room with books they have taken out of circulation and the most they charge for any book is 2 bucks.
And historically, the g-f and I show up with rolling luggage and load up.
We were really quite conservative for us.
But you should go and check it yourself.

Other news around town, well, I decided after how hard the last round of chemo was that I would try accupuncture this time.
The guy I am seeing comes highly recommended and I already knew he was a nice guy because we used to live in the same co-op together.
At this point, I can say that *something* seems different, though it is still a little early to tell.
The accupuncture may be a big chunk of it.
I am also getting way more fussy about the meds I am willing to take and how long I am willing to take them for after each round.
And the other thing is, I am resting more this time than I did last round.
I think last time I just became aware of how easily I get worn out and now that it’s 4 weeks later and the weather is crappier, I am less tempted to go for a walk. Maybe in December, but right now, I don’t want to get stuck in the rain without enough steam in the engine to get myself home.

On other fronts, my waist continues to blossom.
I know there are some folks who think it’s kind of funny that my formerly svelte self is now squishing myself into sweatpants and whatever else I can find that fits today.
Me, I am kind of hating it.
Basically, I look like a shoe box on top of two spindley little legs.
Oh, and don’t forget the great bald head on top of the shoe box.
That’s a pretty hot image, no?
Anyway, I know my body is taking on water, just like a little row boat, and I know that in a couple of months I will have my life back and I will be able to go to the gym again and get myself feeling like myself again, but right now, it’s kind of annoying.
Any locals with old 34″ waist jeans that they can lend out for a month or two, do give me a shout.

The other thing that has been going on lately is I am having some strange feelings about the chemo actually ending.
Okay, I don’t actually mean I am apprehensive about the chemo ending.
I am nervous that I have to make the decisions now about how I live my life and how to make sure I don’t have a recurrence.

See, I guess you have to start with a basic willingness to believe that the doctors and their poison have actually done the job and wiped the bad cancer shite away.
Then the question becomes, “What do I need to do to keep it away?”, because I am here to tell you, if I can avoid the encore in this performance, I would be more happy than you could know.
And, clearly if I have been doing all these organic modifications to my diet, then I believe that diet matters.
So… what kind of diet is going to do the trick here?
On one hand, I could be macrobiotic.
Okay, I probably couldn’t, but one could make a good argument for a macrobiotic diet being a good idea to rebound after this treatment.
On the other hand, I could make a significant reduction in the fat I have in my diet.
I am kind of keen on that.
Not like I eat a lot of greasy foods, but I eat a lot of cheese and other dairy foods, and I could cut down on the meat as well.
My acupunturist says I should stay away from spicy foods because they make my body run ‘too hot’.
Oh, okay…

Then someone told me I need to figure out how I want to eat in a way that makes sense to me and in a way I will enjoy and then just forget the rest of it, because otherwise I will be miserable and I will make myself nuts.
So, I can’t see having any Hastings Steak for the remainder of this lifetime, but I don’t have to exist on wild yams and kombu.

Aside from that, I have been spending the day teaching myself how to make carrot bisque.
It’s quite nice, actually. I am on my 3rd pot.
It was sort of an accident how I came to make so much soup, but it will keep really well and soup is a nice comfort on a rainy day like today.

I am sure I have lots more to tell you. In fact, I probably owe you an e-mail, that seems to be the current trend.
If I am behind on answering you, please be patient. I will probably answer soon, and if I don’t, feel free to nudge me.

I want to say thanks to everyone again.
This has been awfully weird and hard and awful, but I know some spectacular people who have made it so much better.
There are also those spectacular people who I don’t know who have made it way better too. To all those kind strangers from Alberta, thanks so much.

All right, it’s late, it’s cold, and it’s time for a fire in the fireplace and some Buffy reruns.

Keep the faith.

 Posted by at 6:41 pm
Oct 162004

Well, who knew that the chemo floor was open on the weekend?
Not me.
But on Thursday they were still scrambling, trying to find me a time to do chemo on Friday. Then they called and said my appointment was on Saturday.
Well, okay.

And now I have gone to the appointment and I am home.
Today I am feeling pretty okay and in pretty good spirits.
Elaine points out that this has a lot to do with all the drugs they have pumped into me and that it gets a bit different.
That’s a bit of a bummer, eh?

Today’s treatment was kind of interesting for me.
I won’t mention the part about opening my eyes as the woman sitting directly opposite me almost barfed.
I think it was homophobia.
Okay, I don’t think that.
I think it was really unfortunate timing on my part and really an unfortunate situation for her.
Luckily her treatment was over really quickly. I only came close to seeing her barf one more time.

Anyway, today felt different.
For one thing, I was one of the very few bald people doing a treatment today.
There were maybe two other bald people, and everyone else was new enough that they still had their hair or they were coming back for follow-up treatments and their hair had grown back.
So, that part was different.

And I think it’s just kind of different because it’s a weekend and so it feels less busy around there.
A bit less crazed.

But I also think on one level, I am sort of mentally packing my bags and getting ready to say adios to my pals on the chemo floor.
And I have to be careful with that.
It can be really hard for me to just stay in the moment and not rush ahead. I find myself making a lot of future plans in my head, way more than I did before I got sick. I hope I follow through on quite a few of them when I get better.

It’s that fine line between optimism/determination and denial.

When I started the treatments and I would be feeling really confident about making it through everything, I would wonder about that and whether that was just some elaborate denial thing.
If it is, I seem to be able to inspire it in others, because quite a few people have said they are confident I am going to make it through all this. I agree and appreciate the feedback.
And anyone with a dissenting opinion could keep that opinion to themselves, okay?
Anyway, over the last few months I have struggled with ‘what *is* the difference between optimism and denial?’
I don’t think I am in denial because I get so goddamn cranky about all my aches and pains and pokes and jabs and general inconveniences.
I don’t think I am dealing with a little thing.
I think I am in the middle of the most important battle I will experience in my life and it’s a dogfight.
But I plan on winning. And I have a great team of people helping me get there. With Elaine in the coxswain position.
I have had a lot of love and support along the way in this weird ride and I feel really lucky.

And, even with that, I was sitting there at chemo today and there was a woman sitting across from me. She had a bit of a dykey feel to her, and so did the woman who was there giving her morbid support, so I may have paid a bit more attention to them than I normally do.
Anyway, the woman who was the patient seemed to be getting her first chemo treatment; she was one of the hirsute ones there today. Her partner/support system was asking all kinds of questions about her meds and that was smart.
And then the woman who was the patient started having a bit of a rough time.
You could tell she was feeling dreadful by looking at her. Her face became blotchy and flushed and her shoulders were slumped down a bit and it looked like no fun at all.
And I looked at her and I remembered my first treatment and how I crashed and it made me realize, in some ways, how far I have come since then.
I don’t think you can do this much chemo and not become a bit of a natural with the whole system they have down. And, all things considered, I kept my contact level with the BCCA at a minimum. There are lots of supportive things they want to do for me, and mostly I just come home and get my support from my own people.
But still, I remembered how freaked out I was the first time and how sick I got, first in the chemo room and then when I got home. And how I spent an entire week on the couch and thought that was how I would be spending my life for the next 6 months and being pretty sad about that.
And then we changed some of the meds and added a bunch and it’s different now. It’s no party by a long shot, but it is so much better than the first time.
But when I saw that woman feeling like crap and being afraid and being at the beginning of the process, I also caught a glimpse of this wild ride I have been on and how long it’s been like this.

As a f’erinstance, my normal oncologist is at a conference right now, so I had last week’s appointment with a different oncologist. And it’s really interesting to see the different approaches and the different things people see as important.
Anyway, last week’s doctor, Dr. Pike, says that it is common for people to have an emotional crash after they finish up their chemo.
She said after months of being in the system and doing all the stuff you do, all of a sudden it ends and you have time to think about everything you have been through and you crash. And you can crash extra hard because you have been waiting and hoping and living for the day when you can stop chemo, and it arrives and then so does all that baggage.
So, I need to be careful to watch out for that.
For sure I have been dealing with this like I was walking a tightrope and I know that if I look down, I may stumble. So, I just keep looking straight ahead.

Anyway, it’s late and it’s time for me to take some more chemo day medication. I don’t have enough to share with the whole class, so I better log off and go do that alone.

More as it happens.

 Posted by at 10:17 pm
Oct 132004

okay… so there have been some really generous people who have come out of the woodwork since I got diagnosed a few months ago, and I want to say that that has been a huge help for me and for us on a lot of levels.

Late last week, we got some ‘spike-aid’ help from some folks in Alberta, most of whom we don’t know.
That is just so over-the-top sweet and kind, I don’t know what to say, except thank you, virtual strangers.
That is so amazingly kind.
You all made this weird trip a whole lot easier.

 Posted by at 12:07 am
Oct 122004

I’m sure this isn’t the last time I will end up having to wait for something in this whole great, long, draw-out cancer episode, but anyone who knows me, knows that I am, sometimes, a very patient person, until I’m not.

So, the current deal is, my red blood cell count is/was too low to do my 7th chemo treatment and I got told to go home and get better or something.
I’ve been at home for almost a week now, and it turns out that I am now ‘on the waiting list’ for chemo for this week and hopefully they can squish me in later this week, probably Friday, but hey, who knows?

I think I may personify the expression ‘mixed feelings’ right now.

On one hand I am so tired of feeling crappy and I am kind of delighted that I am not in my predictable downward spiral right now (since I should have had chemo last week.)
On the other hand, I am so close to the finish line and I just want to be done so I can get on with my life and with growing back my eyebrows (yes, my eyebrows… and my eyelashes and all the hair on my pointy little head.)
But on the other hand, which doesn’t exist on mere mortals, I don’t really have the jam to get knocked down again right now.
But I sure would like to be done…

Anyway, it seems that the chemo floor has turned into its own equivalent to a 5 star restaurant and I have to wait for them to call me and say when they will have my table by the window, overlooking the roof-top garden.
And so I wait.

 Posted by at 11:09 pm
Oct 072004

Well, I went for my bloodwork and my regularly scheduled visit with the oncologist and it seems one of the counts on my blood cells is off and they want me to wait an extra week before I do my next chemo.
So, no chemo this week, instead we will do it some time next week.
And apparently they will have me wait 4 weeks between round 7 and round 8.
I didn’t actually hear that part but my g-f did, so I reckon it’s true.

And while it’s sort of a relief to have that extra chunk of time to bounce back, I confess I was really looking forward to being done at the beginning of November. Now that will be the last treatment in the middle of November and a few weeks to recover after that.

Other news…
there are a couple of events dealing with ovarian cancer coming up.

For the local folks, there is a workshop on Oct 27, details below:

“Listen to the Whispers, An Evening of video, Q&A and discussion on Ovarian
Cancer for Lesbian & Bisexual Women. October 27th, 7 – 9pm at North Health
Unit, A&D Lounge , 2nd Floor, 1561 Commercial Drive (First & Commercial) A
free event. Registration requested. To Register call 604-684-5307.
Presented by Pride Health Services, a partnership of 3 Bridges Community
Health Centre, The Centre, AIDS Vancouver”

also, there is a one day symposium in Victoria in late November.
Here are the details for that.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that I can make it to Victoria that day but it does look interesting.


British Columbia Ovarian Cancer Symposium

An educational program for healthcare professionals, survivors, friends
and family members

Please join us in Victoria on November 20th for an informative and
inspiring day. The purpose of the symposium is to learn more about
ovarian cancer and also to address some of the issues relating to coping
with a diagnosis of cancer, including genetics, palliative care and
communication. One of the highlights of the day will be an inspiring
presentation by Dr Annie Smith, an art historian, author as well as
breast and ovarian cancer survivor.

Other speakers Dr Elissa McMurtrie, Gynecological Oncologist, Shelley
Gordon, a counselor on finding “Balance and Hope” and Dr Brad Nelson, an
internationally renowned expert in cancer research.


That’s all for now.

 Posted by at 8:01 pm
Oct 062004

Tomorrow I do bloodwork and talk to the doctor.
Friday I do the 7th chemo treatment.

This is gonna be quick and dirty and may not make much sense.
But here’s the thing.
I am exhausted, more physically than mentally or emotionally, but probably in those ways as well.
I’m going to take a wild guess and speculate that the same is true for my g-f right now. I don’t know why, call it a hunch.
And I never really bounced back this round, not like in the past. That leads me to think that this next round may be even worse than the last, and frankly that is a little troubling.
So, if you have been thinking of getting in touch with us to give us a hand somehow, we are more likely to accept that than in the past.
On the other hand, we may not need anything right away or we may not know what we need today.
But if you were thinking of offering, I wouldn’t want to discourage that at all right now.

And on that note, I think I will go to bed so I can get up and get poked and all that jazz tomorrow.
Stay tuned.

 Posted by at 11:14 pm
Oct 012004

well, yesterday, I did the first of the two bloodwork episodes for round 7 of my chemo.
This chemo next week is 7 of 8.

And, I know we are all in agreement that this round of chemo will be the beginning and the end of my cancer treatment, the alpha and the omega… the ‘let’s not wear out our welcome here at the BCCA’.
Anyway, the folks at the BCCA send me the paperwork that I have to take to the lab for the bloodwork. In the envelope I found the paperwork for yesterday’s appt and also for one for the 8th round.
It was such a relief to look at that and realize that it stands as the last of its kind in the series.
And with any luck, I will have smashed all the cancer to bits and it will be too scared to come back.
That’s my hope.

On other fronts, I am really worn down.
I think the chemo is really starting to take its toll on my body and not just the weight gain and the lack of hair.
The gal at the lab had a hard time finding my vein, I could tell.
Now, if you know me fairly well, you’ll know I am a bit of a sissy when it comes to blood being extracted from my arm, or any big ass needle going in my arm.
I look away and I get really tense.
So, there I am, looking away and being really tense, and my g-f is holding my hand on the non-pokey side… and it’s taking quite awhile.
And the scene in the waiting room had been completely overwhelming, with babies screaching and people spitting up their lungs and such, so I was already a little tense.
And, I could tell she was having some trouble finding the vein.
And that’s new.
I have never had that problem before, and I do have 2 more rounds of chemo to do, plus all the accompanying bloodwork.
So, I don’t know what will happen next.

I have a feeling I will end up getting some sort of shot or new pill to supplement my blood counts, because I have been so run down this time.

I am finding it hard to keep up with people when I go out for a walk lately. And that’s pretty strange. I just do my little walking thing and I chat with whoever I am walking with, and all of a sudden I wonder why they are going so very very fast. And then I realize it’s me who is going slow. That’s pretty weird because I really like walking and all of a sudden I am having trouble holding my own on a walk.
It’s weird.
And, I suspect it will continue to get bad for a couple more months and then it will start to improve around December 1.
And then hopefully I can start going to the gym again and get things back on track.

The other thing that happened yesterday is, a package arrived that contained 2 cowboy hats.
I am not really sure where it came from, or who it came from.
That may be because it’s a secret or it may be because someone had a conversation with me and I forgot about it because of the chemo drugs (yeah, they really do wipe whole conversations from my memory).
Anyway, I have a new cowboy hat and Elaine, who was very enthusiastic about the package, also has a new cowboy hat.
From the Coor’s rodeo, no less.
And 2 Coor’s belt buckles.
Holy screaming homosexual!
Good one, that’s all I can say.

Anyway, that’s me.

It’s another beautiful day here in Vancouver and I think I will try to wash the scuzz off my truck, because I can.

 Posted by at 10:03 am