A Fun Day 

Yesterday was great. I went to something called The Look Good Feel Better program. It’s for women who are going through cancer treatments. When going through chemo you lose your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes ( I still have eyebrows and eyelashes but there thinning). Your skin gets dry, you get black under your eyes, water retention. Those are a few of the things. So yesterday I went with my mom to the Surrey cancer centre and participated. They thought us how to cover up some of the effects of cancer and gave each of us a massive bag of make up and skin products . They taught us about head coverings and different types of wigs. It was a really fun afternoon. 

Later on at 6 Marie picked me and Krista up and went to Milestones for dinner. There really is only about 10 days between treatment where I can eat out . I went out for the first time in my wig. I still have to figure out how to wear it but it was nice to get dolled up. It was a full day and I was exhausted by the time I got home. I loved every bit of it. 

Update, My Bald Head and a Fundraiser 

Today I went back to VGH after having 4 days off. I was hoping to have more information on what the next step will be but I don’t know for sure. It sounds like I will be starting round 3 of chemo around April 10 unless a donor has been found. I have not received a call yet that there is a match. 

Today’s numbers were  good . WBC was high, the nurse says my body is trying to fight something off. However, that means I have neutrophils and my immune system is good. My platelets are at 315. WOW! I couldn’t believe how high they were. My hemoglobin is at 104. It’s still below normal but far enough away from needing a transfusion. Having my numbers goes up means I have to start the daily injections of blood thinner again. 

I am happy that I was able to visit with a close friend today that I hadn’t been able to see. I will get to visit with a couple more friends in the next week as well. It’s really nice to reconnect with people. My friends and family keep me going. 

This past Saturday I was able to visit with my bestie Shalena. Turns out that evening there was a fundraiser to help support our family. My brother Daniel and his wife Sarah along with a friend Shannon put a lot of work and effort into this. We were not there as it was a surprise. It was held at a pub and sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. We are very thankful that we won’t have to worry about finances for awhile. Aaron may have to take quite a bit of time off when I have my transplant and Grandpa Joe says the boys can play hockey next year now. This is also what paid for our $750 fuel pump. Thank you everyone who was there . Sounds like we missed a great party! Here’s some photos I was sent. 

The cool thing about this last photo is that my mom was reunited after 32 years with an old friend “Auntie Pearl” .  So neat. They are both such beautiful people. 

Everyday I get more and more used to my bald head. I though I am finally ready to share. This is how I look now and I am thankful that I am able to be here sharing this. God has used the doctors to treat me and being bald is part of that. 

Round 2 Officially Complete 

What a turn around today . Yesterday I still needed platelets. Today my bone marrow is filling up on its own. So no more transfusions till next round. I was a bit worried because I had a fever last night. I was in a lot of pain around my lower back and pelvis. When I woke up this morning the fever was gone and the pain was minimal. So not sure what that was about. My white blood count is at 1.3 but my neutrophils are only at .1. That means I am still in isolation from my kids who have colds until Tuesday when I go back to VGH. My platelet count was at 32 and my haemoglobin was at 104. So that means that this round is complete. Just waiting to not be immune compromised. On Tuesday the doctors will hopefully have figured out if I go straight to transplant ( I haven’t heard about a donor yet) or start another round of chemo. I will keep you posted. Here’s a picture of my first class treatment. Mom has been great. She always packs snacks and never hestitates when I ask her for rides ( Don drives)  to the hospital.  I have a 4 day break and can drive myself on Tuesday.

Today Was Not A Good Day

I’m on day 15 of this round. We knew at this point my blood count would be quite low and it is. My platelets were 1 yesterday so I had a transfusion. After the transfusion they were 4 and then this morning back down to 2. I had another platelet transfusion this morning and it didn’t go up at all. ( 150-400 is normal). So they have requested from the blood bank a more true blood donor . They have to contact the person to go in and donate and then I will get their platelets. That can take time so by the time it’s done my platelets could be going up on its own. So I have something called petechiae. It’s small red bumps or bruises of blood. Doesn’t hurt it just has popped up all over the place. This is the back of my arm .

I have been fighting a weird headache all week and the shakes . I even have caught myself with a bit of a stutter. I only noticed it a couple times. So today my hemoglobin was at 81 . They gave me 2 bags of blood. I think it’s made me feel a bit better. The headache seems to have improved, it’s been 8 hours since I have taken a pain killer. I’m hoping that means the blood fixed it. 

Speaking of blood. My Hickman line is where the nurses draw blood. My line inside is always up againstthe wall of the vein and I have to do all sorts of things to get it to move. Lie back, sit forward, go on my side, take a deep breath, cough and the latest one is move my arms like a chicken. It is seriously hilarious. 

So not a flattering picture but if you look closely you can see how they draw blood. I never have to get poked. I guess flapping my arms is worth it then. At least it makes us laugh in a crappy situation. 

My blood cultures from my fever came back negative. This is very positive. I’m still getting antibiotics because I have no immune system. I think I may be catching a cold. I sure hope not. Once my WBC improves, it will be ok. 

❤ Tania

Canucks, Blood and A Wig!

Update on my week so far. Everything with chemo went really well. I am 7 days post chemo and the effects are definitely paying a tole on me. Friday I went in for blood work. This showed I had no WBC so I had to start my anti everything meds. So I got home, took them then layed down. I got up an hour later feeling super cold and shivering. I ended up throwing up from all the pills I’m guessing. One of the antibiotics made me sick. I took my temperature, I have to do this regularly, and it was 38.3. I did not want to see that. I called Aaron to come home because I knew I had to go back to the hospital. He came home, I called the BMT clinic and back to VGH we went. Having no immune system, they want you starting iv antibiotics right away. They took blood and started the meds and and hour later we went back home. Now we wait and see if any infection shows. So far it’s coming back negative. For now it’s back to daily VGH visits. I am greatful that God has provided me with great care. The doctors and nurses are amazing. 

Yesterday I had my first platelet transfusion this round but didn’t need blood. I’ve been extremely fatigued and light headed so I knew I needed blood soon. So today I got both blood and platelets. My platelets are at 6 . There supposed to be between 150-400. I’m predicting I will need more tomorrow. 

Brenda gave Aaron today off so he could go to church and be with the kids. It was great catching up with her. I told her we needed a selfie for the blog. 😃 you can see how ghostly I look . Thank you blood donors . 🙂

In other news . My boys and Aaron had a great night out at the Canucks game Thursday night. Madison got to go shopping  and hang out with Auntie Kim and Rachel. She had a wonderful time. While they were all out Krista came over with Olive Garden soup, yummmm! We wanted to order more. 

And exciting news, I got a wig! It’s perfect for me and I love it. 

Have a good week. Thanks for reading my blog. I’m confined to my bedroom due to 3 kids sniffling and it’s very boring. Writing is a great way to kill time. 

Fear of Death, Hope for Life

Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

There have been days where it seems fear consumes me. Everyday I don’t hear about a transplant match I fear death. I try not to think about it but it is a reality in my situation. I need a match. I fear how my kids are actually handling this trial. They do know the reality of the situation. It makes me so sad that they have to see me so sick.

Understanding my illness has taken a lot of researching , asking questions, and I still don’t understand it. Yesterday while at the BMT clinic I asked a lady what kind of Leukemia she had. She had AML and was on her last round of chemo. She did not need a transplant. I was shocked. I thought anyone with AML needed one. Myeloid Dysplasia I always thought was the beginning stages of AML. It seems I understood wrong. Myeloid Dysplasia turns into AML for a number of people but it is different. Myeloid Dysplasia is cancer, one difference I read is that in MDS the bone marrow is “injured” and then produces abnormal cells. There are also blast cells present in MDS which are cancer usually 5%-20%. AML is a malignancy that overpopulates the bone marrow with immature cells or blast cells. So even though I don’t totally understand it, I see the difference and know why I need a transplant. Sorta…. Many with AML still need a transplant though.

When I say I fear death, I think I mean I fear not having my life. I have comfort in knowing that  God is with me and will take me into eternity but Im still  scared and sad about leaving here. I don’t think my time on earth is done but it is a reality we have to keep in the back of our minds. I want to live a long life with my family.

I started off 2016 on a bit of a spiritual journey. Things have happened in my past and were happening in my present that were putting a barrier between me and God. I know I love God and I am His but never felt good enough. I always felt like a bad Christian because I didn’t do certain things or connect on a level that everyone else did. Being a Christian was not natural. Church was harder and harder to go to. I felt disconnected from fellow Christians. I spent a lot of time not really knowing what to do. Prayer was not easy. Bible studies didn’t happen. I decided one day after seeing Stepping Stones bible camp looking for older counselors that I would step up to the plate. This was the first step in God preparing me for the journey I am on now. So I volunteered as a cook and was able to scope things out and was ready to be a counselor. I was not ready for the impact a little church camp would have on me, a 33 year old mother of 4. God chose me to be there. He had work to do. I changed that week. I wish I could pin point exactly what it was but I can’t. The girls in my group, my co-counselor/ Sister, the staff, chaplain, all the kids INSPIRED me. God worked through so many of us that week. It’s one of those things that unless you are there and have experienced it, you just wouldn’t quite understand. Thank you God for restoring me. We had also moved to a smaller church in June and I was able to have a “fresh start” with a new church family. We were welcomed with open arms and continue to feel the love and support from our new church home. Everyone feels like family. I feel like its a hidden treasure.

I wasn’t done though.  I had a lot of baggage to work though. I joined a group called Freedom Session put on by the North Langley Community Church as well as a bible study at Care’s house. God continued to pave a path to this journey. I was given coping tools through freedom session and learned that things were not my fault that I held so deep inside. I started to heal for the first time in my life. I had a wonderful support group of women who were going through tough stuff too. We prayed for each other, encouraged each other and never gave up on that hope in Jesus. Hope for life!!!! Also during this time I studied Jonah with another amazing group of ladies. Discussing and learning about God interrupting our lives just as He had done to Jonah. We have to trust in the path that Lord lays before us. His way is the only way. God interrupted my life.

Jonah 2:3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.

I can relate to this text. It may not have happened to me like it happened to Jonah but finding out that you have cancer kinda feels like your drowning. Muffled voices and all. So God interrupted my life but not before he planned and prepared me for what is here in the present. I may fear death and fear the unknown but I rejoice that I have hope in this life and the next. His ways are always good. Looking back on this past year, I see His work so clearly. It makes fighting this battle easier because He made me ready to fight.


Day 3 Post Chemo

I am happy to say that round 2 of chemo is now history. So far the effects haven’t been too bad. I am nauseous but have stuff for it. I have headaches but none that aren’t manageable. My taste buds are changing and nothing tastes right. My nails have a white line across them because they have  stopped growing. Not sure if you can tell I’m the picture. 

The thing I feel the most is fatigue and weakness. I’m dizzy. Today of all days , I feel the worse. I thought maybe I already needed a transfusion but my hemoglobin is still ok. I guess it just goes with the chemo. 

So chemo is done, now we wait while it continues to work in my body killing all the fast growing cells. This should go on for a week or so. I had a 2 day break from Vancouver and had blood drawn today. My numbers are definitely dropping quickly but are still ok today. Friday may be another story. Here’s my numbers for those who understand them. 

I was quite the sight this morning at VGH with my sister in law Marie. I was walking around with a mask on and had my biohazard needle container in my hand ( had to empty it in a safe place 😊) Check me out. This is  my newest trend. 

For now I don’t have much more to say. We are on spring break over here. Gavin went snowboarding with the school, Madison spent time with a friend and today they are all visiting at my friends house. Tomorrow is the Canucks game for the boys and Madison gets Auntie Kim time. I will continue to keep everyone posted on how I am doing . 

I rest comforted knowing that I have people praying for me and for my family . God is always good no matter what bumps we come across. ❤

Chemo Day 5 and My Ramblings

Only 2 more doses of chemo this round. Hopefully no more than 1-2 more rounds before my transplant. ( no match yet but we remain hopeful)

Things are going well so far. Minimal problem. I notice my nail beds changing. I also have dry skin . I am always very tired. I come home from chemo usually in mid afternoon and by that time I’m exhausted. I lay down and get up by dinner time and am usually sleeping again by 9:30. Everyday I feel a bit more tired. I have been getting up early from my alarm going at 5 am for eye drops. They protect my eyes from the chemo. Another awful side effect of the chemo is night cold sweats. It’s awful. 

Next 2 days I get to go in with Aaron. I’m thankful to be able to spend time with him even though it’s in a boring hospital. He’s so busy at home doing double duty, it seems we don’t get a lot of time together. 

Couple other happenings this past week . My van broke down. Fuel pump. Ugh! Not cheap but at least the van will be reliable again. I was on my way to chemo with Mom and Don and thankfully we were only 5 mins from home. Someone gave Don a ride back to my house to grab his truck and Aaron came and felt with the rest. 

Kids had French plays yesterday. My kids were really wanting me to go. So I masked myself and put some gloves on and was able to watch. It was overwhelming. I get so emotional when I’m reminded of what life used to be like. I miss the school, the kids , the staff. I really loved my job. So it was hard. Didn’t help I came straight from chemo. 

Gavin had his first science fair this week. I wasn’t able to go but heard there were some great projects. 

We are starting spring break now. Thankfully chemo will be over but unfortunately my body takes the greatest hit after the first week of chemo. It will be about 2-3 weeks to recover and I say that loosely. I really don’t know what to expect. I only have to travel to VGH every other day unless I get a fever ( which will probably happen) or need blood transfusions ( which will for sure happen). Hopefully despite all the hardship, the kids can rest and have some fun. 

Thanks for reading. Not much new but I’ve been up since 5 am and needed something to do. 

Enjoy your day. 

Elle est Forte 

Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed in dignity; she can laugh at the things to come.

Day 2 of round 2 is done. 4 more to go. I can tell my body feels different. My head is not great and migraine pills aren’t working. Doctor said I can take Tylenol until I’m neutropenic. However that worries me because my liver enzymes are quite elevated. All this fun stuff that happens with cancer. I will be ok though. 

Some cool things. I got the coolest gift. A box of cards. Not a clue who there from. There are 23. Yes Marie, Madison added 2 more today. Anyways everyday I get to open one. I’m on day 2 . It’s hard not to jump in and open them all. However I received 3 cards in the mail yesterday and it was a wonderful treat to open. Here is the box …

Aaron and the boys were gifted Canucks tickets. So next week Thursday they get to go have fun! The 2 youngest have never been. I was so excited to tell them the news. Good exciting news for once! Madison will get to do a girls night instead which she loves. 

Do your probably wondering about the title of my post. I was gifted a shirt from a dear friend of my brother and sister in law Sarah. Shannon brought tears to my eyes. Elle est forte means she is strong. I don’t normally feel strong in any way and my lack of hair has weighed heavy on me. Another dear friend took me wig shopping and expressed to me how beautiful my head was. It shows many features you don’t normally see that are beautiful. I did find a wig ( it rocks) . But when I got the shirt I felt like maybe I could try to share my true appearance. I tried. Only got about halfway. But I was strong enough to get there. Baby steps. 

Happy international women’s day! 

For all those being strong with me and walking on this journey with me. Thank you. ❤️