Monday, August 25, 2008

It's a go!!!

I had my appointment with Dr. George Vilos in London today. I was really anxious about this one as he was to decide whether or not I'm a candidate for laporoscopic surgery because of a large abdominal scar I have from liver surgery back in 1992.

After a very thorough adominal exam, followed by a vaginal exam, he says he can do it! YIPPEE!!!!! I am thrilled to say the least. I didn't want to have an abdominal hysterectomy as that may interfere with my planned DIEP breast reconstruction surgery and would be a much longer recovery time.

Before I left his office, he had me sign a consent form for a Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy (LAVH) with Bilateral Salpingo-Oopherectomy (BSO). He said I would be scheduled for October or November. That's quick! He said if I have any questions or concerns, not to hesitate to call him. He said his secretary will be calling about dates, etc.

I really liked Dr. Vilos...he was very nice and put me at ease right away. He had a great sense of humour and made a few jokes that really relaxed me.

Dr. George Vilos

Now I wait patiently for that phone call from his secretary!

Cancer as a Fungus

This video is a fascinating interview from Doug Kaufmann's TV show, "Know the Cause", with Dr. Tullio Simoncini, an MD and oncologist. Dr. Simoncini is a Roman doctor specialising in oncology, diabetology and in metabolic disorders.

I won't get into this hotbed topic, or theories of pharmaceutical company conspiracies, etc., etc., but just let me say, "treating" cancer is one of the most lucrative businesses on earth. I do recall having a conversation with my sister when mom was undergoing a chemotherapy treatment at the chemo clinic in Wingham..."I wonder how much money is running through all these IVs?". If cancer was actually cured (and my bet is that it can be) then there is no profit for the big pharmaceuticals. Just my 2 cents.

This video is about long, but well worth watching! Many thanks to Wendy for bringing this to my attention!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What a Fabulous Night!

This year I participated as team captain of the team, "It's a Family Thing", in the Kincardine event on August 15, 2008. My fundraising goal was to raise $1000.00. Thanks to everyone's generosity, I surpassed my goal and raised $1265.00! 36 teams participated in Kincardine's event and an estimated $80,000.00 was raised, my team contributing $2500.00!!! THANKS TEAM! AND WAY TO GO KINCARDINE!!!!!!!!

Walking the Survivor's Lap with dad.

I'm the one in the "Pre-vivor" t-shirt sporting the teal and pink "fauxhawk". What a fabulous night!

The Morning After

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kincardine Relay for Life Blog

Mike Brough of The Coast FM - 95.5 Classic Hits, who is on the Entertainment Committee for the Kincardine Relay for Life has created a web site for Relay. You can check it out at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It is with great sadness I am writing this. Yesterday morning my dear Shadow Cat left us. Shadow was with me for almost 20 years. Although she was still a frisky, spry kitty (she even caught a mouse her last night with us), her poor old body was failing her very quickly and I didn’t want her to suffer any longer.

The house seems so quiet without her. You who knew her know how vocal she could be. I keep waiting for her to walk up to me and start meowing to be petted…we will miss her dearly.

1988 ~ 2008

I stood by your bed last night
I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying,
You found it hard to sleep.

I meowed to you softly
as you brushed away a tear,
"It's me, I haven't left you,
I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast,
I watched you pour coffee,
You were thinking of the many times,
your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at my grave today,
You tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you,
that I'm not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house,
as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you,
I smiled and said "it's me."

You looked so very tired,
and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know,
that I was standing there.

It's possible for me,
to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty,
"I never went away."

You sat there very quietly,
then smiled, I think you knew...
in the stillness of the evening,
I was very close to you.

The day is over...
smile and watch you yawning
and say "goodnight, God bless,
I'll see you in the morning."

And when the time is right for you
to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you
and we'll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you,
there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out...
then come home to be with me.

~ Author unknown

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Thought Worth Pondering

"It isn't easy for any of us to transcend the past, or pain we might have suffered. Yet, there are gifts in those pains, and we can choose to let light into the dark places. We are not alone!"
~ SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)

I have found many gifts in this process...
  1. Going to the doctor has become routine and I can now go without freaking out like I used to. I mean I would try to avoid a tetanus shot or blood work I needed. Now I can't even work up a good panic attack prior to tests anymore! With a life long medical / needle phobia this is a lot to say.

  2. I now feel I get the medical care I have always felt I needed. Doctors don't tell me I am overestimating my breast cancer risk and try to talk me out of even basic screenings. This happened many times in the past when I stated my concerns of the breast cancer history in our family. The BRCA2+ result is like the gold card for excellent medical care it seems.

  3. Now I am not a paranoid person who worries too much about cancer. I am a responsible person who takes care of my health!

  4. My FORCE friends who are amazing!

  5. My sister is BRCA negative so this means the family curse on this limb of the family tree ends with me. I don't have to worry about my sister's daughter and since I don't have any children it is like the family curse is lifting for us. My sister's daughter, my niece, won't have to bare this weight; for that I am truly thankful. IT STOPS HERE!!!

I truly believe how we see things determines so much of how happy we are in our lives. Occassional pity parties are fine but allowing for the possibility of good to come from pain is a fine trait too.

Click to see full-size picture.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Random thoughts, reflections, ramblings and feelings of insecurity...

I have known my BRCA2 status for a little more than four months now and I often have thoughts that I am different and abnormal because I have this genetic defect. I know that everybody has genetic abnormalities and that I am among the lucky few who happen to have defects that can be identified in these early days of personal genetics doesn't always keep these thoughts in check. I am lucky because I can do something to protect myself from these defects - but sometimes it is still hard to feel lucky or normal.

This journey often reopens the all-too-raw wounds of watching my mom pass away from ovarian cancer last year.

I also noticed along my journey that I build great anxiety before every medical appointment and often get very down a few days afterwards regardless of how the appointment goes. I feel sure this is because each time I see another doctor it reinforces the reality of my situation and makes it more difficult to deny. I often feel trapped between the fear of cancer, the fear that surveillance won't protect me, the fear of surgeries to reduce my risk and the fear of cancers associated with this gene that I cannot do anything about to reduce the risk of. I have been seeing many wonderful doctors and sometimes seeing the fear, sympathy or empathy in their faces somehow makes me feel bad - it reinforces that these really are tough decisions and there are no easy answers or solutions. I’ve been told by my doctors I have a 40% to 60% chance of developing ovarian cancer and a 99% chance of breast cancer. Like anyone who carries the defective gene, I might never get cancer, or I might only get it when I’m very old; but I’m not a gambler; especially with those odds.

I have received varying responses from family and friends about my decision to have a total prophylactic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy and a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction…a father who doesn’t want me to have surgery, but understands and supports my decision; a grandmother who’s totally in denial about the whole thing; a sister and husband who fully support and encourage the surgeries; friends who totally support me; some who just don’t get it; others who think I’m mutilating myself; and every opinion in between. Some think I shouldn’t do anything until I get cancer and some that say cancer might be cured in a few years if I could just wait. I’ve received responses like "anyone can get cancer", "so, you have a bad gene, you'll be fine", or "you don't have cancer so what are you worried about?".

Lately, I often stare at myself in the mirror, imagining the loss of my familiar shape. I wonder, how will the man I love and married feel about breasts that will be surgically reconstructed, incapable of feeling his touch? What will happen to me emotionallly, sexually, etc. with surgical menopause post-hysterectomy?

The thought that I have this mutation is never far from my times I even second guess my doing the BRCA test. No going back now…