Sunday, 31 May 2009


It was a good day today. Went to church this morning and lead the music with the youth. It was great to be back amongst the people again. We went to the Hamptons for lunch, then home for a nap. To Mom and Dad's to see them before I head back to Europe, then to the OT Director's house.

I'm going to stay overnight in Europe tomorrow night, but not sure which country yet. Q is coming from Grand Manan and is picking the place to stay. We'll have a grand old time, I'm sure, and I will appreciate resting in the luxurious accommodations.
Tuesday morning I will drive home again to have one night home before I spend the next 1 1/2 weeks in Europe.

Well, my head feels foggy and I'm not even sure if I'm making sense, plus I'm having a hot flash. Gotta dash outside! Later....

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Radiation 'Ritings

Friday morning, Nurse Cherry and I were making our way down the corridor towards the Radiation Oncology department. We were aware of people walking behind us. Nurse Cherry's ears perked up when she heard the sound of a child. A little girl was walking along with her parents, talking in her little munchkin voice -- "I'm having fun right now," she said. I took notice of what she said, and commented to Cherry that perhaps I should try to think of myself as having fun right now, too. All of a sudden, the parents exclaimed that they were going the wrong way, and they turned around. I wanted to go with them, too, but had to continue on to the 'fun' place to have 'fun' in the sun. Why is it so hard to have fun in hard times? But we must try. I hardly had time to don my johnny shirts when they called my name, and not too long after, radiation #3 - completed! 13 more to go.

Nurse Cherry fired up the cherrymobile and after stocking up with lemon tea from Tim's, she pushed the turboboost, and off we flew towards my home country of 'Canada.' It was a great three days in Europe, looking forward to next week's adventures when I fly back.

We picked up Max and took her to Jives. But we didn't jive, we ate lunch. Then back to her house where Sam showed up, and we watched "Groundhog Day," I had a bit of a nap, and Nurse Cherry tickled Max's feet by giving her a pedicure, Carolyn showed up to visit, then Doug with a surprise. The Rehab, where he works, had fundraisers and presented him with an envelope of money, which was the exact amount we needed for major car and truck repairs this very week. God is always on time, and He truly does provide. We rejoiced over that, Nurse Cherry took off for Europe again, and the rest of us had dinner together. A truly lovely time in Max and Dale's home was had by all.

Saturday morning, we drove up to where Jon and Alicia and grandkids were staying (Alicia's parents' cottage on the lake). Doug helped Jon and Alicia's father renovate a room downstairs. I wrapped up in a blanket and basically stayed in the chair most of the day, watching our precious grandchildren play, reading books and a brief walk with the mosquitoes. I had to wave ferns to keep them from biting my bared head. After a sleep in the chair, I spent some time watching Jon do carpentry work on the stairs (he wanted me to come down and be with him -- what a beautiful son we have, so caring). Alicia prepared beautiful meals today, despite having to chase after climbing Ivy, who will not stop climbing onto chairs, upstairs and onto the couch. She needs to wear a helmet, I think. She's a going concern and truly lives up to her name.

We left about 8 pm, and when out on the highway, we saw the most beautiful full double rainbow we have ever seen in all our 33 years of being together. God's promise. A sign of His care for us. We arrived home to see that Max's son Jonathan and Shelly's daughter, Erika, had left us a pine cone message on our verandah. I stood up on a chair like Ivy (hoping I wouldn't fall), and took another picture. Blessings, blessings -- they are every day.

Having fun yet? I'm tryin.' Signing off....

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Bit of Britain, A Trace of Hope, & A Taste of Scotland

Day #2 in Europe. After an English breakfast, Nurse Cherry, a.k.a. Cheryl, (she really is a nurse), took off on a day adventure. East, west, north and south we traversed the city, hitting the high spots of my pretend land of 'England.' C. drove her cherry-coloured mobile through hill and dale, as I snapped photographs of Gothic architecture throughout the city. Katie had prepared authentic British music (Mary Poppins) to play on the CD player, which accompanied our musical tour (Anna McGoldrick, eat your heart out!). We were able to go inside the great Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which is a massive structure and most magnificent. We even had our own private tour of the Imperial Theatre, which was also magnificent (this was amazing favour to get a tour of this structure in the early morning!). A walk through the square and into the famous City Market (I got to see Pete's Frootique, at last, but not Pete, apparently he doesn't even live here), down through other massive complexes until we reached Market Square, where I stuffed myself into a European-style phone booth and had my picture taken. Then to the New Brunswick Library where I borrowed the book, What's Hair Got to Do With It or something like that… (No, really, the name of it was It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer). Wendy was reading it yesterday, and I wanted to read it, too.

We ate lunch at Sisters in the City Market – Greek salads eaten on an English day -- imagine. But we redeemed ourselves with clotted cream for dessert (a.k.a. ice cream) at the Pumpkin Patch up in the high country. By this time, it was time to go to the hospital for round #2 of radiation. Today I didn't have to wait for the treatment – I got in early; it surprised me to hear them call my name so soon, given that yesterday I waited for 1 ½ hours. Enter the radiation cave, get on the table, have a hot flash, "do you mind taking off my sneakers for me? I'm hot," place head in the donut hole apparatus, arm in stirrup, ready for take-off. "See you in a few…" Zap, move the table; Zap, "Here we go again; we'll be back in a minute;" Here, have a piece of lead for your chest and a strange looking gel pack—Zap; "All done, see you tomorrow!"

I went out and sat down with Nurse Cherry to wait for the nurse. I found out her name was Hope. I was waiting for Hope. Just last night, Cherry asked me if I needed anything else before I retired to my bed in the Oasis. "Yes, I would like another "Hope" sign," I replied, teasing her about the number of times I saw the word "Hope" in her house. So, wasn't it coincidental to find that today's nurse was named Hope. I tried to explain my fetish with the word hope to Hope, but she didn't get me, and stuck a needle in my arm to draw my blood. I think she just wanted to get on with business, and probably thought to herself, "We get all kinds here in the unit, pay them no mind." However, before I left, she did offer me a "trace of hope" – she also had gone through radiation and knew what it felt like to be in that room – all alone and anxious. She told me to get my heart checked out by my family doctor when I get home (I'm having palpitations of some sort). Today in the room, every time the radiator machine came on and that unpleasant sound started, I thought of all the bad cells being sucked from my body, so thought more positively about it and remained calmer, despite the palpitations in my throat.

Feeling like I had accomplished yet another hurdle, I left the hospital feeling more hopeful than the day before. Cherry and I took a walk down a hiking trail, then got some iced coffee, and went to Value Village because I wanted a pair of PJs. I instantly was drawn to sheep pajamas. Nurse Cherry told me I could count the sheep on the PJs and I would fall asleep easier. (I had a hard time falling to sleep last night – something to do with my restless legs and the heat in the room that I couldn't get regulated). She, too, did not sleep (and I let her drive me around today??....Doug!). Tonight, we both drank tonic water for our legs (don't laugh; it works).

We finally made it home around 4 pm, and to my bed in the Oasis I did go, to wrap up in my Linus blankie and listen to music. I rested til supper while the Chef prepared the food. How blessed I am to have people take care of me. After a concert by Katie on the piano, Cherry and I went on a little tour of Ireland (Rothesay, Scotland). A foreign red race car, something like a Ferrari, raced past us, and we raced after it down the main drag of this Irish town, trying to see what had just passed us. What a sight – both of us leaning forward, me with my bald head stuck in the windshield, trying to make out the name of the car with my myopic eyes, Cherry trying not to rear end the expensive car. At the stop sign, I saw it – "Countach." OK, someone, tell me what it is? A Ferrari? A Lamborghini? Too much excitement, so we decided to park and walk around the dandy green and down a wooded lane, then into the cherrymobile for a drive down "expensive house lane" to the Yacht Club, bordering a bonnie body of water. "I think it's time we call it a day, Cherry, let's go home and watch a movie."

Instead, Katie and I sat on the couch and listened to the first act of Hamlet on CD. She placed an humongous read-along-book on my lap, for me to try to follow along without my reading glasses. She gave running commentary and taught me this ancient play (and ancient, hard to understand language!). Becky, you should be proud of me, you being the Shakespeare teaching queen you are. Katie wants to teach Shakespeare after she gets her English degree, and perhaps I was her first student, I don't know. My eyes were getting pretty foggy by the end of it, but I made it to the end of Act One, and actually understood what happened. Oh, Hamlet, you really have your work cut out for you, don't you now? It is our plan to finish the complete play by the time I'm done my course of radiation. Hmmm, a course of radiation, and a course in Hamlet. One course physical, and one course educational. You never know what experiences you're going to have, do you?

So, that's the day – truly an English day, with a trace of hope and a bit of Irish thrown in for good measure. And Shakespeare to cap it all off. Cup of tea, anyone? Make mine Red Rose. To be or not to be, that is the question.

PS: Katie sang me this song by Kate Voegele tonight, and the words touched me so much, that I knew I had to post them.

"Lift Me Up"
This road is anything but simple
Twisted like a riddle I’ve seen high and I’ve seen low
So loud, the voices of all my doubts
Telling me to give up, to pack up and leave town
Even so, I had to believe
Impossible means nothing to me, yeah

So you can lift me up,
Turn the ashes into flames
‘Cause I have overcome
More than words will ever say
And I’ve been given hope
That there’s a light on up the hall
And that a day will come
When the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

Somewhere, every body starts there
I’m counting on a small prayer,
Lost in a nightmare
But I’m here, and suddenly it’s so clear
The struggle through the long years
It taught me to outrun my fears
Everything worth having, oh
Comes with trials worth withstanding

Down and out is overrated
And I need to be elevated
Looking up is not enough
No, I would rather rise above

So you can lift me up,
Turn the ashes into flames
‘Cause I have overcome
More than words will ever say
And I’ve been given hope
That there’s a light on up the hall
And that a day will come
When the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

Don’t be surprised if you hear me singing this song somewhere….

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Readin’, Waitin’ & Radiation

Location: Saint John, a.k.a., Europe…..

Subject: Readin' magazines in the waiting room

Subject: Waitin' for 1 ½ hours in the waiting room, due to malfunction of the keyboard of the radiation machine. My appointment was for 10:30 a.m., and at noon, they finally called my name

Subject: Radiation – a new subject, one that I don't think I particularly like. Lie on the hard surface with head in donut hole, arm in stirrup. Stay as completely still as you can. "You have three fields to radiate." Techs adjust machine to target one of the fields, and they escape from room and to a computer screen to tell computer to 'zap' her.' "We'll be back in to see you shortly." OK, all alone again with the sound of the machine – will it ever stop? An incessant loud whirring – "I'm being radiated!" I try to think positively – this is part of my healing, it's good, it's good, "Jesus loves me, this I know…" I'm alone again in a room, Doug is outside waiting for me; I feel like I'm an actor in The Other Side of the Mountain (one of Doug's favorite movies, now I know why – he's the heroic guy who helps his sick wife hold on to her life). Finally, it's over and I go out the radiation cave in my Johnny shirt, peer out around the corner and wave at Doug who has been waiting patiently to see his bride emerge from the chamber. My life is a drama – I'm such a drama queen. I need to get hold of myself; it wasn't that bad, I tell myself. "Let's get some air" – I need to get outside into the real world again – with rocks and trees and plants and things.

We went to Rockwood Park to book a site for our RV in two weeks. Then to Wendy's to meet Wendy from Apohaqui, a survivor who has helped me through this past six months. We shared war stories and God stories. Thanks, Wendy, for being there for me.

Then to Cheryl 's Oasis Hotel, for tea and pillows in a chair. Then a sleep – me in the chair and Doug on the floor, while Cheryl prepared a feast for supper. Fiesta Chicken, Jasmine rice, corn. And for dessert, a thing she hid from me, knowing it's my favorite dessert . It's what I call Panache, it's real name being Pavlova, a meringue based dessert with strawberries and chocolate and of course, real whipped cream. Another name could be Pavlov, because your mouth waters when you merely see the dessert. Delicioso, C., and it was all homemade, and not take out. Great job. (I feel like I am very punny tonight).

Doug and I sat together on the couch before he left for Fredericton. I mused that I've never been without him one night this whole process. I kissed him good-bye (good thing we weren't standing on a wharf), feeling a bit sad. He told me not to cry that he was leaving, and of course, I cried. I had to have another hug. "I'm only 1 ½ hours away," he said. "I'll call you when I get home." "OK, I'm OK," as I regained composure. He's been my rock and I can't imagine not having him by my side. I cried a bit more as I told C. the events of the day. Natalie called and I talked with her for awhile. She's doing well and Aiden is feeling much better. Called Brenda in Shelburne to see if Mom and Dad made it there today in one piece. They did, after arguing with their vehicle's GPS (TomTom) several times, and Dad driving way over the speed limit on the Halifax Expressway. Dad said the woman on the GPS kept talking to him all the time telling him to slow down. Mom said she thinks she just may live in Shelburne now, rather than experience the drive home. Dad says that he thinks he'll stay tomorrow and drive home tomorrow night, and perhaps the speed limit will be up to 240 km/hr by then. My father is funny. Sometimes my mother doesn't think so. A bit of humour is good. Have fun with our parents, Brenda – don't we just love them to pieces?

Well, it's time to get the muffins out of the oven, Cheryl and go to the Superstore for bread, pick Katie up at youth group, come home and plug in the footbath and watch Hotel for Dogs. Then this little puppy is going to go to her beautifully furnished room here at The Oasis and have a long cat nap.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Europe, Anyone?

My suitcase is packed and I'm ready to go. Where to, you ask? To my version of Europe -- Saint John (at least that's how I want to view Saint John). Not leavin' on a jet plane tomorrow, but traveling to Saint John with Pilot Doug in my jet car. Radiation at 10:30 a.m., then planning on meeting Wendy (who is a breast cancer survivor) somewhere for coffee, then off to Cheryl's B & B (The Oasis) for the remainder of the week. I hope to be able to do some blogging while in Europe, so stay tuned.

Today was a day of activity with many people here at The Soul Cafe. I love it when it's a happenin' place. Pastor Patrick brought a wonderful salmon dinner that his beautiful bride, Mercy, cooked. She certainly showed mercy to us in preparing it for us, what with her huge family and demanding schedule!

Tonight, 91 year old Sid, our neighbour who likes to hang out on the lawn of The Cafe, brought me a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley flowers. What a beautiful fragrance they send out.

Remember the 'blue light special' at K-Mart? (For those of you old enough to remember). Well, I have my own version of the 'blue light special,' and I don't have to go to K-Mart to experience it. I look out my window and see the blue-light decorated wreaths that Cousins C & W, and the Janet White #2 family display on their houses every night for me to see. I look at them every night and think, 'My light is still burning. I'm still alive. Thank you, God." Those blue lights are special to me. And when I go to bed, I look out at my lawn to see the still-living Christmas tree decorated with multicoloured lights, still burning brightly (the OT Director placed it there before Christmas).

Well, I'm in my PJ's, but we must trek across the lawn to Cuz C & W's, to wish Will a happy 'significant' birthday. I see the balloons beckoning us on their patio.

Happy Significant Birthday, Will.

Thanks to all of you for continuing to pray as I go to 'Europe' to get some 'sun.'

Monday, 25 May 2009


We went to Grand Manan for the weekend. It was refreshing to get away, and I was refreshed. We stayed at Q's (see her pic at bottom of blog). They are truly hospitable and generous people. Many other people stayed there this weekend as well. There were special meetings at her church. Dave Basson from South Africa was speaking, and he encouraged me in prayer and words all weekend long. I truly felt uplifted and encouraged by the love of God this weekend. Thanks, Q, for your generosity and love.

I went for a walk on the walking trail this morning -- from my house to the Stone Bridge. I bit off more than I could chew and didn't think I was going to make it back. I was really desiring a cell phone about halfway home, and sat down on a bench to regain strength. It was like a marathon to me (Dusty, you could relate, having just completed 22 kms of running? I can't wait to be able to do that!). But I made it home, took the clothes off the line, and now am going to enjoy a new delicacy I have concocted: a toasted asparagus, tomato and cheese sandwich with mayo. I'm sure a rest will be needed this afternoon!

One more day in town before going to Saint John for radiation. I will be staying at Cheryl's house for the rest of the week.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Hey Jude, thanks for the cards over this past few months. I received a beautiful one today from you. Deb x0

Thursday, 21 May 2009

A Series of ‘Unfortunate’ Events

I woke up with a dizzy head, so I took a Gravol and went back to sleep. I woke up after having a dream about my legs being hairier than Doug's. The hair on my legs was silver and black and would require a chainsaw to shave it off. I guess that's a good sign that hair will be growing back on my legs soon. I better not let my leg hair get out of control, but watch its progress carefully.

I was able to get my head under control and packed a bag for a day at Davidson Lake. D & L picked me up at 11:30 and we had a beautiful drive to the lake. I went for a short walk along the beach and back to eat lunch. The afternoon was spent on the dock in a lounge chair, with lots of sunscreen and a hat, being careful not to get sunburned. D. rested on a quilt and a pillow that really wanted to escape into the lake, but she managed to keep them under control – for awhile, that is. After the sun got too close for comfort, D. moved the chair for me under a pine tree alongside the water. But alas, she forgot about her pillow and quilt – they ended up in the lake, along with her Bible case and journal. Into the water she went, on a rescue mission. I watched her from my chair, and spent the rest of the afternoon resting. She spent the afternoon trying to get dry and dry out her items. Then she decided to try her hand at vacuuming the inside of the cottage, but somehow managed to suck up the eye on a deer head mounted near the ceiling. Then the beater bars on the power nozzle quit. Must have been 'some big' deer eye, I figure. I was still in the chair under the pine tree, oblivious to her plight. She gave up on that and made supper. Doug arrived and brought me some water, in case I was dehydrated. I was enjoying the wild waves, the wind and the spray from the lake and couldn't believe I could stay in a chair that long.

After supper, the series of 'unfortunate' events continued. D & L went for a walk along the beach, and Doug slept on the floor, while I read on the couch, the breeze from the lake soothing and cooling us off. When D came back, she decided it would be nice to 'dangle' her feet in the water on the dock. Little did we know what was to occur next. Doug got up from his sleep and walked onto the dock in his sock feet to join D, as she sat on the side of the dock, feet dangling. I trailed behind and walked on to the dock as well. It was so beautiful, with the evening sun shining behind him, illuminating his face that I thought, "What a nice time for me to kiss him, a post-anniversary kiss," and proceeded to do so. As our lips almost met, the dock collapsed. D. went into the water again, and I grabbed onto Doug for dear life, not thinking about the fact that I'm not supposed to get my markings wet, but that Doug had socks on! I gained my bearings and we hoofed it off the sinking dock and onto dry land. But D. was in the water babysitting the collapsed dock and her husband, L., was probably thinking to himself, "Now, how am I going to fix that?" Then the black flies started to swarm all of us and we quickly hiked up the incline to the cottage, trying to avoid their little fang teeth. I was the first one to make it into the cottage, with Doug and D. close behind. As I closed the screen door, I happened to turn around to see it falling on top of Doug; it had come off its moorings. Doug was not injured in the incident but put it back in place.

L. went to the dock and spent several minutes trying to shore up the dock with a sawhorse, after slathering bug spray on his exposed skin. He didn't want any help. Doug's socks were wet. D.'s clothes were wet again. The deer had no eye. The vacuum cleaner was broken. L. ran into the cottage covered with black flies, and began to swell up with bug bites. D. attacked him with After Bite. Then she whipped up some hummingbird solution in a mason jar to feed the birds before she left the cottage. She asked if I wanted a big navel orange to take with me. "Yes," I replied, and she threw it at me, fully expecting me to catch it, but alas, it hit me square in my mastectomy site. I've never been hit in the chest with an orange before – another new experience. At least it didn't rub off my radiation markings. Doug and I decided that we better get out of there before anything else happened. We had a lovely drive home, without flies or oranges flying. D & L were no doubt grateful that we left before anything else happened, too.

Well, that was my day of rest in the day and laughter in the evening. A series of unfortunate, yet funny events.




Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

So, this is our anniversary. 31 long years. So much has happened in 31 years that I could write a book. Perhaps I will. When I get time. We left at 8 this morning and arrived close to 10 at the hospital. Lots of construction on the highway. Went to the radiation oncology unit. Another new experience. Decided yesterday that I need to think of it as an adventure. I always said that to my kids while they were growing up when they didn't want to do something. "Oh, just think of it as an adventure!" I would quip cheerfully. Now I'm eating my words.

Unfamiliar with what to do, and not given any particular instruction other than to sit in the waiting room and wait, we did just that. Here we are again, amongst cancer patients, men and women, who have no doubt gone through chemo and not looking too well -- yet anyway. I busied myself with a magazine while I composed myself. Finally, about 10:40, a woman instructed me to put two johnny shirts on and sit down and wait again. Then, another woman -- "Come with me," leaving Doug behind to wait for me. I met with Dr. Grant briefly as she explained why she was doing radiation, risk, side effects, etc., and then I signed a consent form.

For the next 1 1/4 hours, I was put on a hard table in the 'simulator' room (simulation of radiation without the radiation), while a machine whirred and whirled around me and they drew on me with magic markers, as if I was some important art project that they had to be precise about in order to get a passing grade. I had to remain completely still. (I remember the full body scan in December where I couldn't move for 30 minutes). This time, however, I just wanted to flail about and run out of the room. But yet again, I regained my composure. The Lord reassured me that He was with me. And I thought of the 'adventure' aspect of it, and how I must keep going. I'm just so tired of tests and procedures, and being tired and so on and so on. This too shall pass.

Dr. Grant, the radiation oncologist was there the whole time and drew her marks on me as well as five other people, it seemed, who kept coming and going from the room as they took their simulated radiation pictures. The radiation machine will be similar except with the radiation added, of course. You should see my chest -- all marked up in green, blue and black. The markings even extend up onto my neck, which I didn't know until I saw myself in a mirror. Great! Now people can see my bald head, my flat chest and marker on my neck (as if my grandkids got loose with the Crayolas or something). Oh well. This too will wash off eventually. Once again, I'm faced with being careful not to get that half of my body wet, so showers will be minimal it at all for the next four weeks, I guess.

They helped me from the cold table and escorted me to the CT scan room where I had to be still once again. I'm getting quite used to being still. At noon we were done, all ready for radiation.

Doug was still waiting for me in the waiting room. He immediately noticed the blue marker all over one side of my neck. Funny, Doug. I was thinking about our wedding day -- 31 years ago today -- May 20, 1978. Doug was waiting for me to come down the aisle at the church -- his beautiful bride. Who would think what 31 years later would bring? Today, May 20, 2009, he is still waiting for me to come down the aisle -- of the cancer unit, and to him, I'm still his beautiful bride. Doesn't matter what I look like. He loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I love him too, yeah, yeah, yeah, more than ever. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. We've had it all, and we're still together. That's called commitment, I guess.

Happy Anniversary, my love. Deb x0

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Back Home

We arrived back home last evening from our weekend away at St. Martins. What a wonderful campground. If you've never camped there before, please give it a try. It's right on the ocean. And the owners, Byard and Linda Moran, are fantastic!

I went to the Ladies' Retreat on Saturday afternoon. Kim Cook, one of my adopted daughters, spoke on REST. Originally, I was supposed to speak on rest, but alas, now I am actually trying to rest rather than speak on it! Kim did a great job. I was very proud of her. Angie, another daughter, created beautiful framed primitive pictures with the word REST. They made you want to rest just by looking at them. Kyla was the organizer of the retreat and she did a wonderful job. I was very encouraged to be there, and the love the women showed me. I sat wrapped up in a quilt all afternoon. At the end of the evening, I sang "Just As I Am." I never realized the beauty of the words of that old hymn, even though I've been singing it all my life. "Just as I am, without one plea..." Exactly...

Sunday morning, Doug was able to make it to church. I rested some more. It rained all day. But despite the rain, M., F., and B., came to visit me in the afternoon and we had heartfelt conversation. I was encouraged once again, and I hope I helped them. After supper, Doug and I had a sleep on the couch, as we had to prepare to watch the "Survivor" finale for three hours. Since we have no TV in the RV, we had to go up to the recreation building and watch it. I took some snacks so it seemed like we were going to the movie theatre. From 9 pm til midnight we sat and watched this crazy show. Thanks, Nat! But J.T. won and I felt like crying. He was a player of integrity, and I think everyone wanted him to win. He was the 'sole survivor.' Perhaps the show spoke to me on a deeper level, do you suppose?

Monday I slept in again and read my book, "Ain't No Valley," a work of fiction I had in the RV for the past couple of years, but never cracked it open. It is comedic yet dramatic, and I've learned quite a few life lessons so far (Sharon Ewell Foster is the author). After a walk on the beach and lunch, we had another nap on the couch, and about 3 pm headed for home.

We didn't want to leave the RV when we got home, so I prepared supper and washed up the dishes, pretending I was still in St. Martins. In July we plan to go back for an extended visit.

Now it is Tuesday. It is beautiful outside, and I want to go out and walk. I really want to go to the gym. Do I have the energy? We'll see. Tonight is Mom's spring concert (Fredericton Ladies Choir). We'll be going to that, and I'll be soaking up the songs. They are even performing selections from "Mamma Mia!" I hope I don't dance in the balcony, since I am the "Dancing Queen."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Saturday, 16 May 2009

My Visit to the Doctor

I met with Dr. Raza, my oncologist, on Friday morning.  Here's a synopsis:

1.  He put me on Tamoxifen for now, an anti-estrogen drug.  By taking this
drug, there is a 38% chance of recurrence.

2.  If I could go on an aromatase inhibitor drug instead, for
post-menopausal women, which I am not, there would be a 28% chance of
recurrence.  So the goal is to get me post-menopausal.  Therefore, I am
going to have my ovaries out.

3.  I booked an appt with my OB/GYN to start that process.

4.  I am high risk, stage 3 grade 3 (there are four stages).

5.  He gave me a consult to a psychiatrist if I want one.

6.  I have an appointment with him at the end of July for blood work and

7.  No need to have a mastectomy on the other side at this time.

Pray that I have peace and no fear as I go through the next stage....another
operation....  Today's meeting brought me down a bit -- the reality of it
all.  But, God has the last say on my life, doesn't he?  My life is not just another statistic. I must remember that God is in control, and that He has the last say – He knows the number of my days, and He is fully capable of producing a miracle in my life, and He already has! My faith is being tested at a level I have never before experienced. I must not worry, but rely on the God of all comfort. This morning, Doug and I were reading this passage:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Cor 1:3-4). I'm always relying on His comfort in 'all my troubles.' But you know what? There are many people who have more troubles than I do. I notice that all the time.

Another verse that stood out (I've only read it hundreds of times by now; you'd think I would have it memorized by now):

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life (I've felt like this most of the past six months). Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. (I can relate). Now look at this: But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. (I ask for your prayers, and I thank you for your prayers). Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many (2 Cor 1:8-11). See what your prayers do for me? God's gracious favor is granted. Thank you, thank you! Let's believe this...

So, I am fortunate to have this day to enjoy the beautiful sunshine here at Century Farm Campground in St. Martins (we traveled here last night, trying to keep it a secret, but apparently it's not!). At 1 pm, I will go up to the church for a women's retreat. I was trying to surprise them, but alas, word got out that I was here. Oh well, it will be good to see everyone.

Thank you all for your prayers. Pray for God's peace and His healing to continue.

Now I must go outside and sit in my new zero gravity chair that Doug bought me for our anniversary. This is our anniversary weekend (May 20th being the actual day). 31 years of wedded bliss to the greatest man in the world.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Rest. That's what I need to do, I've decided. I thought I WAS resting. But I was 'getting through' chemo. Now, I think I'm supposed to be on a period of rest. This afternoon and yesterday afternoon I actually had a nap on my bed -- an official nap. I have a chest cold, and Doug has a sniffly cold. (This afternoon's nap was a nap with my hubby).

I need to lower my expectations of how much I can do in a day. I think that because chemo is now officially over, I had it in my head that my energy would immediately return and that I would be able to resume normal activities right away. What was I thinking? Now I must really listen to my body and if it says, "I'm tired," then it needs to rest and I need not feel guilty about resting. Oh, I have so much to learn. I haven't had a day without tears yet this week, hopefully tomorrow. It's been a better day today. Better than yesterday. Talked to sister Brenda last night and she had some great words of wisdom for me that I've been thinking on. She is wise, even though she is younger than I. Thanks, SS sister. I miss you.

It's hard sometimes for me to blog my harder moments, but I must -- they are part of my journey. I went into my office this morning to pray. I haven't spent time in my office since I was diagnosed on November 10th. Sometimes it's hard to go revisit the place where you heard bad news. My office used to be my favorite place in my house. I need to face that fear and get over it.

Natalie is home safe and sound and had wonderful flights -- four of them, and Aiden was the life of the party, performing for people in the airport, taking their stuff and making them laugh. I miss them and the house is quiet, but she must return to her husband and her life. I look forward to going out there when I'm more rested and visit with them awhile. And spend time with all her great friends, who she values so much. I was just talking to Josh on the phone and thanked him once again for allowing Natalie the opportunity to come home. I told him how it helped me get through the last two chemos. He said, "Not a problem." Imagine -- he shared his wife with me. I told him that he is a great man, and he is. Love you, RCMP man.

Well, Nat, Survivor is on tonight. Are you going to watch it with us? Will 'Coach' be voted off tonight?

Tomorrow morning at 9:30, we go to see Dr. Raza, the oncology doctor, for my post-chemo appointment and check-up. He will no doubt put me on an anti-estrogen drug that I will take for five years. Pray that all goes well. God is in control.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Back to Manitoba

Natalie and Aiden left this morning on the 7:00 plane. As I write this, they are still traveling home to Manitoba. What a long day for a mom and her precious baby. I, too, have had a long day. Been up since 5 a.m., and traveling all day around the perimeter of the city so I didn't have to come home to a lonely house. Since yesterday, I have shed many tears and have been trying to pull myself together. We love our daughter dearly and are so fortunate and blessed to have had her here for so many weeks during my surgery and treatment. We thank her for her sacrifice in making the huge effort to travel here with Aiden. Today I kept thinking of her as 'brave.' I want to be like her. We thank our beloved son-in-law, Josh, for allowing her so much time with her family.

Now I am waiting for a phone call to hear her voice -- that she is safe and sound. I'm sure she is tired. I know I'm exhausted, so much so that I forgot to eat since breakfast.

I need a day without crying. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

We're on the Mend

This is Mother's Day and these two mothers are feeling a bit better, after having survived a terrible bout of flu. I still have very low energy and any exertion tires me out. I'm still on a very limited diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, soft stuff and lots of Gatorade). Wow, we were sick and lost a couple of days out of our life (sleeping). We noticed today that the leaves on the trees came out while we were sleeping.

Jon and Alicia and the kids came down for the afternoon/evening to buy a piano and visit with us. They bought me a spirea for my yard. I love plants and gardens, and can't wait 'til I can dig in the soil. Doug and Jon just went to hoist their new piano on the back of a truck. Natalie and Alicia are eating rice pudding that Nat cooked. (If you haven't tried this pudding yet, check it out on the website). Afton and Jack are watching "Bob the Builder." Aiden is sleeping, and Ivy is driving a car around the house.

Natalie goes back to Manitoba early Tuesday morning. Pray that we can separate from each other again.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Under the Weather

Natalie and I are both sick with the flu and have been in our beds since last night. I guess we contracted what Doug had last week. Josh's mother is keeping care of Aiden over night. We've both had temperatures, not something I'm supposed to have, due to my low immunity, however…. I'm going to get up for the first time today and make some toast.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Aiden has been sick the past few days with an ear infection and gastrointestinal upset. We've spent a lot of time cleaning up the floor, people and furniture the last few days! He started to feel a bit better later this afternoon, but thankfully went to bed early, as he kept pulling everything off every surface he could find. When baby doesn't feel well, the whole household is a bit disrupted. Tomorrow will be better, I'm sure.

I had a bit more energy today and went for a few walks – by myself in the strawberry fields this morning, with S. this afternoon, this evening with D. Although I find I have to pace myself and try and not go too far. Thankfully there are benches on the walking trail. S. told me she always had to rest on a bench when she went for a walk with her mother, too. Thanks, S. Funny. Someday, I'll be walkin' with the best of 'em!

Afton told me on Saturday that I was going to have "clogs of curly hair." Not sure what a clog is, but I guess I'll find out. I asked her what colour it would be and she said, "brown and black," but not orange like her other grandmother's (her other grandmother's hair is not 'orange' but she does have a bit of 'red' in it). She also emphatically told me on Saturday before the concert that I couldn't go to 'church' without hair. I explained that I went everywhere without hair, but she seemed to find it hard to grasp how I could possibly go to church without hair. She stood by the side of my bed and flailing her arms out, exclaimed, "Well, just get a wig and wear it!" I told her it was too expensive and besides, I would be too hot wearing a wig. She just rolled her eyes as if to say, "Oh, Gram Deb, you just don't understand fashion, do you?"

I have my date for starting radiation – Wednesday, May 27, finishing on Wednesday, June 17th. I have to go to Saint John on May 20th to get markings done on my skin with magic markers or something. That happens to be our 31st wedding anniversary. What a way to spend it! Maybe I can request that they write the number "31" on my chest along with the other markings, just to celebrate it in a unique way. I'm starting radiation earlier than I expected, so that's good. I'll be done mid June rather than the end of June. Then it's summer! I'll be done before the first day of summer! Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Doug had a dream

Last year, Doug had a dream. Well, actually, a few significant dreams. I want to briefly tell you about three of them.

Dream #1: I was pushing a baby carriage down a street when I suddenly collapsed in the middle of the road. People gathered around me, concerned. Doug came along in his van, got out, picked me up and put me in the van, as well as the baby and carriage. The people asked him, "What's wrong with her? Why did she collapse?" He replied, "She'll be OK; she just needs to rest." He took me home to rest.

Dream #2: Doug was washing the dishes in the kitchen sink (which in itself is very unusual). I came down the stairs and into the kitchen, when suddenly, the whole house fell down like matchsticks around us. I began to cry. Doug took me in his arms and reassured me that all would be well. That it didn't matter that our house fell down, that we were still together, and that we would rebuild our house – somehow, some way (as we have rebuilt our 'house' SO many times throughout the years, trial after trial). As we stood holding each other in the middle of our house without walls, wondering what to do, people started coming from everywhere towards our house. "We've come to help you rebuild," they declared.

Dream #3: He had yet another dream about our house collapsing. Doug went up the road to enlist the help of a couple of carpenters. By the time it took them to walk back to the house, it was completely rebuilt.

Last November, I 'collapsed,' and it seemed like our whole house came tumbling down. Life as we knew it changed, and we stood holding each other, wondering whether we could 'rebuild' the shattered pieces. I had to stop work and rest. But then, the people started to come – from everywhere… their cards and letters, visits, and prayers – encouraging and supporting us, as I began the process of healing – the surgery, the chemo, rest, and on to radiation. I knew for sure that Doug's dream was fulfilled when, on Saturday night, people from everywhere came to support us at a benefit concert held in our honour. I was astounded and overwhelmed at the number of people who came to encourage us. I was totally blessed just to see the people, but then to have all the performers give of their time and talents on top of it all. They made us laugh, they made us cry. I wept all evening, as I sat with Doug and our family at the front. Afton was wedged between Doug and me, and she kissed my hands all evening, trying to comfort me.

The event was hosted by Sisters' Act (a group I usually sing with, but decided to let them sing to me). Other performers were Paul Thompson, Dawn-Marie Allaby, Ryan Legere (a piano student), Leah Thompson (another piano student), Afton, her Daddy Jonathan (our son), Jonathan and Natalie together, Seekers of His Heart Quartet (of which my "Mum" is a part), Janet White #1, the McCready Family, Jeff Page (the Pirate from Coldstream), a speech from Doris, and of course, Q's powerpoint presentation of my 'life' over the past few years. They all brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I was in a movie about a woman who had cancer who came to a church one night to find a couple of hundred people gathered in her support….Oh, I guess that was real, wasn't it? I could not believe that the event was taking place on my behalf. Max asked me to sing at the end, which I did by the grace of God. I was actually speechless, unusual for me. I thank Maxine, Doris, Janette and Sandra for organizing it, and for all the 'girls' and 'guys' that assisted. It was truly a blessed night and everyone that was there was blessed, I believe. I felt so loved by the people and by all the songs they sang for us. Thank you, thank you. Doug and I felt so encouraged.

"We've come to help you rebuild," they declared. Doug had a dream….