Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's November

This month, man.

November slams me like a ton of bricks.

I've been working on this blog post for weeks.

(Settle down.
Adjust your expectations.
This post isn't going to win any awards.)


I'm not a good waiter.

Also, I've just spent two hours trying to get the photos off my phone and onto my laptop.

This post may not get published this year.



Seriously. I have issues with things that plug in.

Why was I even trying to get those pics off my phone?

I've been doing things. During this Period of Waiting.
And the evidence was on my phone.
(I haven't picked up my camera in over a month. If ever there was an indication that I am not my usual self, this is it.)

October ended with too many tears (I have no control over my tear ducts, its not that I'm excessively sad or anxious) and evening seawall walks; with VancouverKim on the 29th, and again on the 30th with SurreyHeather. Then dinner with Maureen in Aldergrove and a drive out to South Langley with Max at 10 pm to drop him off at Mark's on the 31st. (They were all going to Hawaii in the morning). Halloweens are not like they used to be. #dontdwellonthepastJane
Also I drove a million miles this fall.

King and Country were in town on Nov 2.
Amanda and I had aisle seats right next to the 'bow of the ship' stage.

Amanda gets a high 5 from Joel. Or is that Luke?

It was the first time I'd ever sat close enough to the stage to be right in the flight path of a paper-shooting cannon. It IS magical to have paper streamers (and later in the show, a shower of brightly colour paper pieces) floating down on you while the stage/auditorium has a light show going on.
(I've now spent half n hour looking online for pics of their concert, hoping someone captured the floaty paper moment.)
(Someone did; at the concert in Chicago. But it's posted to Instagram and I can't figure out how to save/download it. I have a feeling it's not supposed to be downloadable.)

So just use your imaginations. It was pretty, and spectacular, and colourful, and enchanting.

And then I sat in my truck for 72 minutes waiting for the line to move in the parking lot.

Aside from the standing under millions of pieces of floaty paper, it was an awesome concert. The music was incredible. And the stage was unreal.

I spent the rest of the weekend at the lake, by myself. Sleeping. Reading. Walking. Not-blogging. Praying and cleaning out the fridge.

My drive home was holy.

The sun was setting just as I drove past Jade Bay.

The sky was lit as I drove into Yarrow:

And by the time I got to the freeway it was on fire:

I think God really enjoys splashing colours all over the sky at the end of the day.

November has been stupidly busy at work. SO many projects on the go. Not the best time of year for my body to be getting used to Tamoxifen. Emotions are heightened, sleep is fleeting, bones are achy, and I live in a perpetual summer, on both sides of my skin. Haha. Hot flashes in a hot office. There are no deodorants strong enough. I'm wearing summer clothes to work and have a full-size floor fan on high. W H I N E.

I spent hours preparing for an annual November work event: employee reviews. I am the project manager for the creative team, so I review some wildly talented artists and am also reviewed. The process this year, had me reflective on my leadership abilities, such that they are. And who has

... oh just a sec. That song is on again. (I've got YouTube on, on the big TV and it's rotating through a playlist of assorted songs, some worship, some rock, some pop, and so far there aren't any bad songs.) (Meaning I can sing along to most of them, and they invoke feeeelings.)

Fifteen minutes later:
I'm back. Just listened to it on repeat. Its my theme song this week.

The song:

Where were we?
And leadership.

Thankful for those who've believed in me over the years, thinking I could be trusted with decisions and managing projects/people...

  • my dad (he was my biggest cheerleader. So encouraging and vocal about it.)
  • Brian, Doug and Brad. Youth workers who pushed an insecure teenager into trying new things/taking on some responsibilities, resulting in me being more confident.
  • KPMBC peeps. Mary P, in particular. I was a shy 19 yr old and she saw potential. From teaching a class of 7 and 8 year old boys, to running the mid-week girls program, to being a member on the nominating committee ... I was given chances to lead with a lot of support close by. Ahhhh. This is 'church' at its best, yes? 
  • Mark (during the dating/early marriage years, he made me feel smart, strong and capable.)
  • my mom (we were Realtors together, and years later, she trusted me to develop my marketing chops at Billie's Country by having a craft department and then a opening up 1, then 2 and eventually 3 how-to-make-this classrooms) I am who I am today because my mom believed I knew how to use my brain and heart. 
  • After a long dry spell, Derek, the guy who hired me to manage projects, saw potential in me to also lead a team. He was the first to invest in my leadership in a tangible way by suggesting/paying for me to attend a leadership training event. 
  • Clint, Max, Drew, Danica - an unexpected squad of supporters. This could be a result of this season of 'Mom Has Cancer' OR they really do believe I'm a capable leader.

Lucky or what, eh? So much support over the years. And it started with my family. 
Really hoping, if you're reading this, you have a cheerleader in your life. Someone who believes you CAN. 

Dear God.
Let me be an encourager to those around me. Open my eyes to those who need a nudge, or a pull, an opportunity, or a cheer. Amen. 

In the midst of Review Week, (complete with insomnia and attitude issues) (so I purposefully didn't see anyone after work for many days), Maxine invited me over for supper:

She doesn't buy canned foods. Or pre-made anythings. 
Soups are always from scratch. As are sauces and dressings. 
And everything is made fresh with a large dollop of love thrown in. 

I am blessed with friends. I know that. 

Dear God,
Show me how to be a good friend in return. Food prep is not my love language. Fill me with good ideas as to how to love on others that doesn't involve a frying pan. Amen

I hired someone to top the cedars along the front of the lake house. Now that I sleep in the room at the front of the house, I am hyper-aware of not wanting to be killed by a tree crashing down in a winter wind storm. So after work, (on the Friday of the long weekend) I drove east. Clint joined me later. 

On Saturday afternoon we stacked the rounds they left behind; then he left and I went for a walk along the Vedder. Twas a grey day. I walked 12,000 steps. Fish were spawning. Decided to stay off Facebook for the rest of the month... too many people I know are spending this sodding month in a tropical location. They're posting pics of happy faces and palm trees. I'm taking pics of dead fish. 

Wallowing in self pity is not pretty.
I'm not proud of myself. 

Dear God,
I need an attitude adjustment. And a radiation consultation appointment. And a realistic daydream. I am longing for things that will not happen, which isn't helping matters. Can you just take over my thoughts? Give me some good things to think about, k? Amen. 

On Monday, Nov 11 at 7:30 am, I drove to YVR to pick up Max. He'd been gone 11 days and had a beautiful tan. And at 7 pm that night, the rest of the kids came over to celebrate Max's bday. 

There was much laughter.

They were a happy bunch. 

(Clint was there, I just didn't get a pic.)

The next morning, Dr. Gary Chapman was at work, and he gave a short talk about love languages. He IS the expert after all. (No pics because I suck this month.) His talk was gentle and I appreciated it. Wish I'd taken notes, but from what I remember, he suggested that whatever our main love language is with our spouse/close family (quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts) that is also our easiest/fall back language when expressing love to God. Which is totes OK. And he had some ideas on how to add variety, within the love language of choice, to keep it meaningful when it gets mechanical. 

He is 82. 
And still going strong. 
So inspiring.

Hey God. 
If I'm going to live to be 82, could I be relevant and wise? Thank you. Amen. 

I had advance screening tickets to this ^ movie, so LangleyKim and I met for dinner on Thursday, then walked over to join the line up. Her and I have had a number of negative 'advance screening' experiences over the years, so we were delighted that this one was a win. (Rotten Tomatoes gave it scores of 96% and 93%, so it wasn't just us who loved it.) (To be honest, I found it a bit slow, but the story was gentle and perfect.) And Tom Hanks is a spot-on Mr. Rogers. 😀

If you haven't seen it, I'd suggest you go. (It's a SONY production, not a faith-based movie. I'm not sure who the person at Sony is behind the decision to produce/distribute these family friendly movies (Sony is distributing the new Little Women too) but I'm a fan. 

Despite my warnings that I am bloated, bitchy and blue, Faye and Sue joined me at the lake for a rainy weekend (Nov 15 - 17), which is what friends do, I guess. Enter in, even if the hostess is a bit rough. And a lousy cook. And likes to sleep the mornings away. :)

My contributions were heated accommodations, 4 pizzas (well. Actually only 3; note to self no one likes roasted veggies and goat cheese) and a bowl of leftover Halloween chocolates. Faye brought homemade turkey vegetable soup. And Sue made spaghetti with Italian sauce (from ITALY!) and it was good. 

We all had projects we were working on. So for hours at a time, it was quiet while we were busy doing thinking things. 

I took a break partway through the afternoon to observe the following:

Things I'm thankful for:

1. Logitech wireless keyboards. Especially model K360. I have three of them. One at work, one at home, one at the lake. My fingers always know exactly where to find the letter a.
2. The clicking sound when my fingers hit this keyboard.
3. The sound of anyone typing, really.
4. Soft, blue, button-up, long-sleeve shirts. Bought this one, as recommended, for my first hours post op. Now it's my fav weekend top. Thank you breast cancer for expanding my wardrobe.
5. Having a jug of ice water next to me. Because walking to the tap for fill ups is arduous sometimes.
6. Saturday afternoons at the lake with friends. Friends who all have books or projects they're working on. Friends who're all in their happy places at my happy place, doing things that bring them joy. Friends who are at peace with the quiet in this place.
7. Messages from my kids on our family chat. Any message. Any kid.
8. Friends who bake things. And share it with me.
9. Friends who cook things. And share it with me.
10. Friends who drink things. And share it with me. Errhm, right now I've got a mug with hot water, lemon and fresh ginger in it. I haven't taken a sip yet, but apparently it's good. And good for me.
11. Things that smell nice. Like this mug of lemon and ginger.
12. Sweet things. Like sugar. And honey. Which is what I think this mug of lemon and ginger needs.
13. I'm thankful there are 12 months. And November doesn't last forever.
14. I'm thankful I still have two boobs.
15. Slippers. Seriously. I've had two pairs in my adult life. They are The Best. My feets are feelin vera fine.


After supper we rearranged the furniture so we each had a couch to lay on, and settled in to watch a couple chick flicks (might I suggest you avoid Christmas With a View on Netflix? OH MY GOODNESS. Sooooo slow.) And then 2/3's of us went to bed. And by 11 the next morning, they were on their way back to Langley. I went for a walk, then came back and finished my list. (Again, other than two food pics, I didn't take any photos. Which is why I have to type words. Otherwise, how will I remember this weekend, (or any weekend, for that matter) happened?

16. Blue. My favorite sky colour. It stopped raining! Unexpectedly. I was ready for 143 days of rain.
17. Hour-long walks through this lakeside neighbourhood.
18. Even tho it was only 12 degrees; it was lovely sitting on the deck, wrapped in a blanket, reading this month's book club selection as the afternoon transitioned into evening. I love cool air on my face.
19. Thankful for books. Again and always. So grateful that writers write.
20. Watched a bit of Netflix this weekend with friends. Grateful for screenwriters who write great scripts.
21. Listening to music right now; so glad God made people who know how to make melodies.
22. Meds and treatments that fight cancer.
23. November only has 30 days.
24. Memories.
25. The wisdom of found on Pinterest:


Monday evening was Book Club. Our book this month?

Was this:

Its the true story of a guy from Romania who snuck into Hungary as a 21 year old to make a new life for himself. He's the one-time pelt smuggler, professional hockey goalie (possibly the worst in the sport's history), pen salesman, Zamboni driver, gravedigger, church painter, roulette addict, building superintendent, whiskey drinker, and native of Transylvania who's decided that the best thing to do with his time is to rob as many banks as possible.

Not our typical choice, but so good, never-the-less. Rubinstein is a great writer; he told this real-life story with humor and sass. The whole time I was reading, I kept seeing this as a movie. When I was done, I did a bit of research; turns out Johnny Depp has bought the first rights. Yay. Maybe someday this'll be in theatres.

I love that we are stretching ourselves by reading books outside our comfort zone.


I got home from book club and set myself down in front of my TV to watch three episodes of The Crown (season 3). Olivia Colman is my favorite actress at the moment, The Crown is my favorite Netflix series and I've been anticipating this binge for weeks. (I rewatched seasons one and two this month in bits and pieces. Little pockets of sunshine for my soul, hahaha.)

At 9:30 the next morning, I drove over to The Cancer Clinic at the Surrey Memorial Hospital. It was a sunny day. Thank you, Jesus. I didn't even bother circling around the cancer parking lot, the last time I did (for an appointment last month) I was frustrated with the lack of spaces, the number of us circling like vultures, and the medical conditions/age of those who were parking and walking in. I decided right then, that until the end of time, I would always park across the street, in the more expensive lot, leaving the closer spots for those who needed them more.

At 10, I met Kim, a bright-eyed, tall, slim, young, Asian student doctor who was well on her way to being an effective oncology radiologist. She reviewed my medical history and my journey thus far. And she wondered about my personal circumstances... was I married? Who did I live with? Who was supporting me? Was I on leave from work? Who do I call when I'm overwhelmed? (Told her I'm trying to manage this on my own, as much as possible, as I don't want to be a burden or make a big deal about nothing.) She did the touchy feely thing and noted how that the neon turquoise dye was still glowing bright blue on my left boob. And then we talked about radiation.

She explained the process. And outlined the risks. Then itemized the side effects.
This is serious business.
Cancer is cancer. Even if I had 'the easy one'. Even if it was caught early. Even if I recovered from surgery quickly. Even if.

This has been my struggle.
When I got the diagnosis, it was overwhelming and scary and big and life-threatening and it had me on my knees. I woke up in the midst of anxiety attacks that my body  decided to engage in, long before my mind was alert.
And then (long story short) everything was OK.

And I felt guilty/embarrassed for making such a big deal about nothing. (Especially during October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month... so many articles and opinions popping up on my Facebook feed written by bitter women who had issues with the organizations who were behind the Awareness campaign and hurting women who weren't getting support from their churches or friends when they had serious diagnosis's other than breast cancer. Like, why do Breast Cancer women get all the attention and love?) I wasn't expecting any of that...
But my GP reminded me, (at the end of October), I've been through A Thing.
Cancer is A Thing. Surgery (twice) is A Thing.

And on Tuesday, DoctorKim, was reminding me too, that Breast Cancer is Something. Radiation is serious. She didn't scare me, per se, but she did remind me to respect this journey I'm on. And suggested I call the BC Cancer Society for some support.

When she was done, Dr. Casey came in to talk with me. She is a tall, slim, intense, young female doctor with long dark hair and glasses. She was earnest in going over the same info that young Kim just had. She explained, in detail, what I could expect each appointment to look like, what my body would feel like, how long the after-effects would last, what the risks were ... and she ended the appointment by saying, "please take your time with your decision to proceed or not. I want you to talk this through with the people who love you. Consider the impact this will have on everyone. Make a plan for support. This treatment is going to leave you feeling fatigued and exhausted. Prepare yourself for that. Call me in a day or two when you've decided. We won't make any decisions today."

They gave me pamphlets, booklets, info sheets and website references for radiation and another sheet with BC Cancer Support Group info.

I drove home then went for a long walk through the neighbourhood. (It was sunny...) And talked to God about everything.

Then I drove over to Langley to see my GP about something not cancer related.
And found out, when he didn't walk into the examining room, that he'd gone home to South Africa for a month. His replacement was going to look after me.

His replacement was a she. A young, dark-skinned, tiny, raven-haired, exotic looking beauty. I just needed a prescription refilled. But she wanted to talk. (Right?)

Her: Anything else?
Me: Nope. I'm good.
Her, reading my chart super quickly: Do you want a full blood panel done?
Me: I usually have that done once a year. I think I'm fine for now.
Her. double checking chart: Oh right. Yes. You had this done in Nov 2018. It's 2019 ...Do you want to go have this looked after?
Me: Arrrgh. To be honest, I'm a little done with all the needles. I had about a million vials removed in October. I may wait a couple months before I have my annual physical and all its associated tests...
Her: Any particular reason?
Me: Uhhh, I have breast cancer and am dealing with that right now.
Her: Tell me.
Me: We found a clump of suspicious cells on my left breast last year at this time and decided to wait six months to see what'd happen. In May I found a lump. Turns out I have breast cancer, so first I had the lump removed, then I went back and had the margins and a couple lymph nodes removed this fall. I just met with an oncology radiologist this morning to talk about radiation... and I'm probably going to start treatment in January.

This visit, her last appointment of the day, just got real. Haha. She sat down next to me, and doctored me. Did I have someone? (She noticed the lack of a wedding ring.) Who were my support people? Who did I talk things over with? Who helped me with decisions? Who accompanied me to appointments? Had I met with other breast cancer survivors? Was I part of a support group? How was I feeling? Did I have any questions?


My GP is male. In my life I've had two doctors. Dr Robertson before I got married, Dr. Methven after. I had no problem with this, totally comfortable with having a man look after the medical part of my life.

But since May? I've seen at least half a dozen female doctors. And I'm a fan.
So proud of them. Haha, especially on Tuesday, when I saw three in a row, I wanted to tell each of them how proud I was of them for their dedication to a never-ending education, the sleepless nights, the long hours, the huge financial debt, the seriousness of the profession they chose... so many difficult obstacles on one's path to becoming a doctor.

And even though they were all younger than me, I had complete confidence in their ability. Not once did I wish for someone older/more experienced. Cheers to girls who grow up to do hard things.

Anyway, that appointment ended at 4:30 pm and as I drove away, after a whole day of holding it all in, I let myself cry. Not for any one particular reason, but I needed the release. After a few minutes of stupid sobs, I pulled myself together because I wanted to wander through a happy place; Chapters.

I picked up a new book. Retail therapy?
And bought some Chinese Food for myself and anyone who I live with. Comfort food: garlic and honey boneless pork and chicken chow mein. Ribs and noodles for the win.

And then?
I set my life aside and immersed myself in 20th century England by watching seven episodes of The Crown. I? Know how to binge-watch. It's a super power. I'm also good at compartmentalizing my life. I'd had enough cancer for the day. I was done.

Seeing that Wednesday was supposed to a beautiful day, I took it off. A vacation day. I didn't go on holidays this year, (other than a quick 5 day birthday getaway in June), so I have a fair bit of vacation time to use up.

I spent the day sleeping, calling doctors, making arrangements for radiation and by noon I was ready to go outside. I walked along the seawall for a couple hours loving the feeling of having the sun on my face.

I walked across the Cambie St Bridge, so I could catch the sun from the other side...

Then, at 4, I drove over to Kits so I could be on the beach as the sun set.

To warm up, I popped in to the Starbucks on Cornwall to people watch. Had a few sips of the hot beverage and guzzled the cold one. Then, feeling grateful, made a list of things I was thankful for in that moment.

At 5:30, I got ready to head home, but on a whim, I sent Clint a text wondering if he was around and free for supper. 

He said he was downtown, Max was working with him, and yes, they both were free to get together.

I drove over to Clint's office, (I haven't been to this business's office before) and had a quick tour. It's an older building on Pender (used to be a bank) made into many, many small office spaces. 

The lobby is impressive. 

SO MANY MOULDINGS. My dad would've approved.

Marble everywhere:

And their space: (Insight Global

I be a proud momma bear. 

We walked through Gastown ...

and had supper at the super hip Flying Pig and my heart was full and happy.

They wondered why I hadn't worked that day.

Me: Mental health day.  I needed some Vitamin D today ...
Max: Uhhh.
Me: I'm getting used to the meds. They're making me a bit blue. And I had a bunch of appointments yesterday.
Max: You need to get into a support group. Talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Going off by yourself is not good. You need people to talk to. People who understand and care. I'm sure if you go online you'll find a cancer support group.
Clint: That's good advice.

Hahaha. The universe has noticed I don't have A Person, and has joined forces to get me to join a Breast Cancer support group.


Back to work on Thursday, then out to Abby afterwards to have supper with Shannon. We worked together years ago, when she was a SFU student and I was a friend who had an office with a door that closed. We logged in a fair bit of time, talking, crying and praying during her coming-of-age season. :)
She was the first person who prayed for me/my kids in my truck while I drove her home one day. And she? Was incredibly patient when teaching me something I.T.-ish. So, basically, she's kinda awesome.

She's married now, has two little girls and lives on the other side of Canada. But she was in town, so we caught up.

AND haha, by the end of the evening we were both weepy. Some things never change.


Unexpectedly, I had another appointment-filled day on Friday (got the calls on Thursday afternoon, setting these up.)

At noon, I met with a radiology therapist who set me up in a private video-viewing room. They had 4 chairs ready for family members who wanted to be informed. Oy. I couldn't imagine asking my kids or anyone, really, to take a day off work to watch a 20 minute info-film.

At 1, I met with the team (two young women) who mapped my chest. They made marks, added stickers, adjusted the equipment to make it perfect for me. I'd read all the material, watched the video, and they kept me informed every time they touched my body or moved the equipment. They measured everything and when I was slid into the CT machine, they talked to me over the intercom the entire time.

I realized that when someone tells me to 'breathe normally' I get weird and forget how to breathe. Also, I discovered that 'take a deep breath in and hold it for 30 seconds' isn't as easy as I thought it'd be. Always learning new things about myself. Most not very pretty.

The session ended with me getting three freckle-sized permanent tattoos on my chest. This is to line-up where the beams will be targeted. The radiation will pass through my left lung and a few of my rib bones but if I can keep my chest inflated with a deep breath, it should miss my heart. So I am very motivated to practice breath-holding.

After a hill-focused walk through the neighbourhood, I grabbed my laptop, a change of clothes, and drove out to the lake, not bothering to stop for groceries.

Thank you for smart doctors, kind doctors, attentive doctors, female doctors, healing procedures, radiation equipment, cancer days, not-cancer days, my kids, this place, this week's sunshine, next week's sunshine, good walking days, thank you for hills and flat plateaus. Thankful for Your hand of protection on me. If this experience is supposed to grow and change me, please help me to learn the lesson well. And quickly. Ok?

And those other August First Ladies? How're they doing? Praying Your will be done in their lives. Amen.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Treatment will start in January. A bit of break in medical things in December.

2. A sweet message from a friend of Clint's letting me know they were having dinner together. Tonight. In Toronto. Seriously. Grateful for people who let me know where my kids are at.

3. Bubble baths. A day of listening to music. A hill-walk this afternoon. An assortment of foods left here in the fridge and cupboards. I'm not starving. Online sermons. Bright pink gloves. Extra large monitors. I am loved.

Shalom, friends.

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