Monday, August 31, 2009

Just like riding a bike....

Okay, so I haven't ridden a bike in, count them, over 6 years. Here is why....when you are doing fertility, they don't want you to ride a bike, then when I was pregnant they didn't want me to ride a bike, then, I wasn't pregnant, but I was going through fertility again and then pregnant again and then cancer and believe me, even if I felt like it, it wasn't gonna happen then! So, for the first time in AGES, I got on a bike this summer. Because we live on a bike trail, we have all the stuff - bikes, bike trailers, and a half of bike thingy for Mason that attaches on the back of Grant's bike. The first bike ride I didn't really like. Those seats are ridiculously small and my (now middle aged) butt is bigger than I remember. The second was a bit better only because I remember the first one being so hideous, but the third was actually, dare I say, fun? As we are riding, I am so thankful for those moments "racing Mason", the family time, and feeling good with the stamina to do it. We don't go far just far enough for a playground so the boys can play and then home. Nolan is a bit of a back seat rider. He says stuff like, "Where is Daddy and Mason? OVER THERE MOMMY! GO OVER THERE!" and "Faster Mommy faster!!" I respond nicely with, "Next time, I see you helping, I will listen!!!" (He is in a trailer.) I put him on one wheel yesterday goofing off and it scared Grant, but Nolan was still eating Cheerios when I looked at him, so what was the problem?!?!?! It is moments like these that I am reminded of how much I missed. Sometimes I think I was robbed, but I try and reframe it with maybe I was given this summer and these moments. I am grateful for them - truly truly grateful. Happy Monday, Ang

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quote from Nolan and Mason

Nolan - After eating snack at the coffee table for both snacks and making a HUGE mess, I asked him if he made a mess of the coffee table again. He looked at me with that furrow on his brow and said, "Not the coffee table. The couch." Mason - While we were playing camping and "sleeping", Nolan and I were pretending to sleep by snoring softly. Mason said, "Don't do that snoring thing. You will wake up the whole neighborhood. Just sleep normally!!!!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Base Line Scan

On Thursday of last week, I did a CT scan. This is like all the other scans I have had, but this one was going to be the new base line since my lungs have been all hacked up from lung surgery. I just kept telling myself, it is only a baseline scan. So, I did my mini fast (CT scan are easy that way), and went in. I had two other appointments after the scan. One for getting me back to normal - whatever that heck that is anymore - and the other was on my goiter (enlarged thyroid) which I have had for years. As I was driving in, my breath started to shorten, my palms became clammy, and I was getting sick to my stomach. I got to the appointment, got my yummy yummy juice (contrast) for my scan and promptly told them I was leaving to drink it outside. One said, "Technically....oh just go!" I smiled and left. I was planning on staying, but the two gurneys (sp) that came in behind me along with the smell of antiseptic, purell, and death just wasn't sitting well. So, I sat in the sun, reading my book and tried to pretend my contrast liquid was a double tall Carmel Macchiato or a Martini. Yeah, it didn't work. I finished up, did my scan, went to my other two appointments, and hugged my lung surgeon in the hallway between appointments. He said, "Hey, you look great. Am I seeing you today?" I replied sharply, "No, and I hope to never see you again. No offence." He quickly came back with, "None taken. I get that a lot." With his French Canadian accent, his comments were cute and haunting all at the same time. Somehow I also managed to get in a late breakfast with a old friend of mine. Her schedule (at least as far as I can tell) is pretty flexible and she always makes time for me which is very lucky for me. She laughs at all my jokes which make me EXTREMELY happy. I was supposed to work on cleaning out my port that day meaning I need to have them inject snake venom in my port and see if it can eat away where my tissue has grown over it, but I just couldn't take any more poking and prodding. "There is always next month!" I told myself. The next day (Friday), I went in for my monthly exam with my oncologist. He walked in to me chatting with the nurse about Legoland, Shuswap Lake Campground, etc. He sat down and said, "Your scan is fine - looks good." I looked at him my eyes and head swimming and said, "This was just a base line scan. You told me that." He looked at me and replied, "Ang, we are going to read it even if it is a base line." In that second, all the anxiety, stress, fatigue, etc rush through my body. It was like a really bad hangover all in a span of 30 seconds and then it was gone. Exhale. I passed. I am free (of at least that for now). I down loaded all my info from my other appointments, "Doc changing this rx because now my tissue is "fried" (and that is a technical term!), my goiter is apparently gotten 20% smaller which she is attributing to the use of Ativan during my chemo and she may write a paper on it, I have a colonoscopy on September 11th, etc. etc. etc." He was like, "Yep, okay, excellent, wow - aren't you lucky!?! You're good. Make sure they copy me on everything. What are you doing this summer?" And it was over, all the medical stuff was out the window and we were talking about camping and breakfast food. I could have worked on my port that day, but I was too busy with weekend plans to bother myself with that. I will wait for the weather to stink. As I was leaving to live my life, I thought, if I get through the colonoscopy (which is looking good now that I had a CT scan that they actually read), I will have the fall off. This will be the first fall that I may not be in pumps, no nausea, no shakes, no sweats, no treatment..(pause)...BLISS. I paid the garage attendant, wiped my eyes, blew my nose, and headed home. We camped this weekend at Mt. Rainer with Karissa and her family, then we turned around to do a BBQ in Blaine Sunday afternoon with the Canadians (one of the couples lives in Australia now and was in town for a visit). It was GREAT to see them. Some I had not seen since I got pregnant with Nolan, so pre Nolan, and pre Cancer. We didn't talk about it too much. Most follow my blog, and in good Canadian fashion they only spoke of it as much as I wanted to talk about it. We got home at midnight last night having put just under 500 miles on the truck this weekend. I could have never done that before, but I did it now and now is all that matters. Happy Monday, Ang

Monday, August 17, 2009


I got back from Canyon Ranch on Thursday night. What an amazing experience. I almost can't describe it in words. It is more than a spa. It is like whatever you want it to be. They have medical services, metaphysical services, exercise, some of the best food I have ever had, cooking classes, spa services, etc. It is also amazing on how well trained everyone is and the details they remember. A snack when you arrive, water in the van, and lunch to go when you leave. Everything is clean, but not antiseptic like a hospital. They really listen to what you want to get out of the program and strive to have your experience flow nicely no matter how long or short your stay. I am truly impressed. What I wanted to do was relax. Now, let's clarify....I am tired of "resting". I wanted relax now that I feel well. It is WAY different. You may think it is 6 degrees from the same thing, but those 6 degrees are HUGE. I also wanted to see what I could do physically. I am so tired of being told what I can't do. I had my basic restrictions going in. Now, I wanted to learn what I could do within those restrictions. To my surprise, I could do a lot and I wasn't as weak as I thought I was. So, my strength exercises apparently weren't so wimpy. I was also pretty flexible. I have tried through my treatment to keep up my stretching. I did all sorts of classes from yoga to gyrokenisis (sp). I did Yamuna body and foot rolling, strengthening class in a pool, and deep water aerobics, but we will get to that later.......okay, maybe now, Karissa convinced me that I could do deep water aerobics. I was like, "I am going to die and no one will notice. I will just be floating around dead and that will be it....I will have survived cancer only to die in water aerobics....." Yeah, so I was a little dramatic about the entire thing. I think sometimes Karissa tunes me out just like her kids, but that is another story. So, we went, and I was doing fine until........suddenly we were choosing teams and racing. Yep, racing. So, if you have read my blog, you know that I am just a itty bitty bit competitive. I wasn't teamed up with Karissa. I was teamed up with the INSTRUCTOR. Okay, so one of my restrictions is not to allow my heart rate to go over 65% of target for cardio. My heart took a beating in chemo. You see, with a port, the chemo is pumped directly into your heart where is is distributed to the rest of your body. Your heart gets 100% of the chemo all once, so for six months after chemo you have to take it easy. I was really good all week about monitoring my heart rate. I went on walks, strengthening classes, and swimming, all monitoring my heart rate. Then, this. Well, that precautionary stuff went TOTALLY OUT THE WINDOW. I know we didn't win, but I believe that we were not last. By the end, my heart was in my throat, I was breathing HARD and I was a little cross eyed. Karissa looked over at me and mouthed, "You okay?" All I could do was nod. I was better than okay. I did it. I didn't think I could do that. I had convinced myself that if my heart rate went up my heart would instantaneously explode in my chest. It didn't. It didn't even hurt and you know if was kinda like my heart said, "Oh yeah, that is what it is like!!!! HHHEEEEHAAAA!!!" I finished the class wanting to cry I was so happy, but that wouldn't be very normal. So, I held it back. In the end, lots of barriers were torn down for me at Canyon Ranch. I can walk two miles in the morning (at 6am no less), exercise for 2 to 3 hours after that, and still be standing. So, what Canyon Ranch showed me was all that there was available to me and what Karissa did was push me to experience it. Pretty cool, uh? Two of my favorite moments were, sitting on lounge chairs with umbrellas in the rain looking for Tarantulas to get a picture for Karissa's son and dinner on the last night. Karissa and I met this great woman that really is Karissa's twin. She lives in Toronto, is totally fit, has a great attitude, and is FUNNY. Her only flaw is the authors she reads, but I won't focus on that! At dinner, we were talking about Yoga and meditation. Karissa and this woman (who shall remain nameless) don't do either. Karissa tried a yoga class being the team player that she is, but I don't think she is going back. We discussed it for the appropriate amount of time deciding that she and Karissa will never really do meditation or yoga, but that I did find a class that does all of the good things of yoga and none of the mediation. They both kinda looked at me like I had six heads. I think I refuse to understand their need for constant cadio.....whatever...but I digress, anyway, another woman joined us and we started talking about the yoga again and she turns this woman and said, "You can't do yoga. Are you kidding me?!?!?! I knew that!" This first woman looked at me, I looked at her, and we burst out laughing. I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time. CLASSIC. There are more stories, but I won't bore you anymore maybe later. AAAHHHHH. Well, now I am home hanging on to the happy happy joy joy of Canyon Ranch. I am cooking their recipes - heck I am cooking, I am going for my walks, doing my strengthening on the off days, and yes, I am meditating (but I started that a while back). If we play our cards right, we will be back next year - to Mommy Camp. Love, Ang P.S. If you decide to go, I have one suggestion, when you eat, eat all the courses because everything is very well portioned (meaning small) and you will starve if you don't. We were lucky because my Uncle Allen and his wife Kat, sent us a cheese and fruit plate welcoming us to the desert (they lived in Tucson). THANK GOD because we would have starved the first couple days without it!!! THANK YOU ALLEN AND KAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We Plan, God Laughs

This is a title of a book that my cancer buddy, Susie, told me about. She just howled at the title and we got a good laugh out of it. Unbeknownst to her, I actually bought it and read it. If you ever followed the Oprah phenomenon on the book, "The Power of Now" this is like that book, but the "for dummies" version. I liked it. It talked about being your true self, your relationship with God, and finding your true path by showing you that you have always been on it - you just have to see it. During the book, there were times I was thinking back to the teacher on Charlie Brown, "Wha wha wha wha wha wha.". I always get something good out of those books. But, like "Eat Pray Love", I enjoyed the very last page best, when the author is talking about when you die and what will happen to you. I should add that the author is a Rabbi, so I think this is a natural question that she gets (yes, she is a female Rabbi). ANYWAY! She quotes a little story about when we die and it goes like this...."When I die, I will meet God at the pearly gates. There God will ask me, "Were you the best Angela Clarno you could be?" God will not ask me, "Did all your dreams come true? Did you make a lot of money? Did you become famous?" God will not ask me why I was not Moses, Mother Teresa, or my mom. God will want to know if I was me - divine, authentic, extraordinary, regular me. I hope that I will be able to say yes. Then God and I will laugh together." I bring this up because I have been working on this since college. I remember just starting to trust myself then. Then, I entered the work force where I got lost in what everyone else said I should be and how I should act as a "professional". I tired of that and started to trust myself again. That is when I landed at Childhaven. I thought I was bringing so much to Childhaven and I believe that I did, but that place changed me too and it was WAY for the better. And then when I left Childhaven, it was to essentially, "do nothing". People were surprised, but those close to me knew it was the right thing to do. "Professionals" couldn't wrap there head around it. Who does that at the top of their career? It was a leap of faith, reconnecting with who and what I wanted to be. It was shortly after that, Mason was born. Shortly after, Nolan. I thought I had it all, that I was done, I had arrived. Then Stage Four cancer. I remember it was Karissa's 40th birthday that year. Her birthday is close to mine, but I am two years younger. I had just started chemo for the first time. Being consumed with what was going on with me, I didn't do much for her birthday. She gave me a garden chair with a watering can decoration on it that said, "Hope" for mine. Later I asked her what she did for her 40th and I apologized for not doing more. Karissa, as she always is, blew it off and told me that I had other things on my mind. I remember saying to her, "If I ever turn 40, I am going to Canyon Ranch." She said, "Okay then WHEN you turn 40, I will go with you." A leap of faith and two years later, we leave for Canyon Ranch - just her and I. "Divine, authentic, extraordinary, regular me." My journey continues. Love, Ang P.S. Hey Susie, I got a book for ya.....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Situational Anxiety

After my "stroke like symptoms" in January that turned out to be a migraine, I have had some issues with anxiety. After being reviewed, it has been deemed as "situational" because I only experience it when my children are in my care and when I am away from the house with them. So, after my first therapy appointment, I was given homework. My homework is to something once a week with the kids that is away from the house and not familiar to me. I was to make a list of low, medium, and high risk places and work from low to high. After six weeks of that, I am to return for that a therapy appointment to discuss. The first week, I chose to go on multiple errands. I figured this was low risk because I could really bail anytime between errands. So, I went to Target, McClendons, Grocery Outlet and Costco. The boys and I managed great. Actually, we did so well, that we stopped by a park on the way home. At the park that has NO bathrooms, Nolan pooped (I had run out of diapers) and Mason told me, "Mom, I have to poop too and it is a BIG ONE!" So, I immediately had to get everyone into the car and rush them home. We made it. The funny part of that one was that it was the first time everyone else had the pooping problem. Now, THAT is a breakthrough!!!! The second week, my homework was to go out to lunch with the boys and go out to dinner. It was easy to get there because of the air conditioning. Lunch was HORRIBLE and the service didn't help, but dinner went awesome. We went to the golf course. We talked about restaurant manners, and even though Nolan was tired and hot, the boys did well. They loved watching the golfers and ran around outside a little bit since golfing was so slow. The kid's menu was awesome, the service was great, and they served good beer on tap which made Grant happy. This week, I decided that Karissa was going to get a haircut. Not because she looks bad, because she has been taking about it forever! So, my homework this week is watching my and Karissa's kids at her house and sending her for a haircut. In the end all of this is going well, but there is a story that I didn't tell you. It is the story of the truly unexpected. See homework is planned and controlled my me. But when you show up to your aunt's cabin for the night with the entire family, forget the keys and lose the spare, that is the true test of your ability to deal with anxiety. Well, on that one, I didn't do too well. Instead of working the problem, I went straight to "I am not able to care for my family. Who forgets the keys? When will I be normal again? I will never be normal again. I am a failure in the most basic sense." Well, the end of that story was Grant took control, we found the spare in the dirt in front of the cabin, and, after calming down, we had a great weekend. I think I like homework better. Enjoy the lower temperatures. Love, Ang

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Normal with a twist...

So, yesterday, I was busy. The boys were in daycare that day and, with the heat, I was behind on some projects. In addition, my Grandma has needed some more help. She has been a trooper through my cancer. She manages quite well on her own, but her age is getting the better of her these days. It went something like this. The kids slept in, so I had to get them up for daycare, feed them, and say good bye. I notice Grant's cellphone on the counter. I get in the truck basically follow him to preschool and put the phone in his car. Mind you, I am still in my PJs and haven't brushed my teeth, let alone my hair. I get home and start to empty all the pools and water play stuff in the back yard in case Grant wants to mow tonight. I pick the blueberries, strawberries, and weed the garden. I realized that I am now late, run upstairs, shower, dress, grab my stuff and go. I get to my Grandma's and my Dad shows up a few minutes later. We reorganize some files, write down her medications, and set up a schedule for paying her bills for her. Dad will be first in August. She is misplacing things, losing bills, tax info, etc. She is 90. Actually, if you ask her she is 91, but that story would take days. At noon, I realize that I haven't eaten breakfast and I am starting to get cranky. I tell the both of them that I am going to lunch or I am going to get cranky. My Dad informs me that I already am. REALLY? We leave my Grandma's for lunch and as we are going down the hall, I think about Dad and I swooping in and changing things of my Grandma. I tried to be respectful and not change too much. After all, if she could not find stuff before, if we move too much she will never find anything! But I also know what it is like to not have control of everything. To have people clean your house and take your kids to the doctor, school, etc. You are no longer indepentent and you truly DEPEND on these people. It is a weird combination of loss and gratfullness. I can't quite explain it. I also know what it is like to say, I have absolutely no idea when or how that happened. It is scary. Anyway, we had lunch and something very odd happened. A young man started a conversation with us, and in the end, asked if I was single. THIS IS IN FRONT OF MY DAD AND MY GRANDMA. I nicely told him no and he very nicely left. WEIRD. I thought, "If you know how damaged these goods are, you would not want me." But then, if he had good judgement he probably wouldn't have asked me that with a wedding ring on my finger AND with a 90 and 70 year old with me. We dropped off Grandma and I went on with my day. I, of course, went to Fred Meyer and picked up our stuff for the week, I went home to drop it off and returned phone calls. One from a software training company (I may need to brush up on my skills), two from cancer patients, and one from a girlfriend who needed advice. I got those taken care of and went to return/exchange a couple of things at Nordstrom before the sale was over. How is it that I go to return and it turns into an exchange, and then I buy more????? Here is a funny side note (not that this whole post isn't a side note) - earlier in the day, when I was pumping gas at Fred Meyer, a woman complimented me on my shoes. I told her I got them at Nordy's. We had a nice chat and later (when I was supposed to be exchanging) I saw her at Nordstrom buying the shoes. Clearly, she was serious! I get out of Nordstrom, remember that I have a gift certificate to Victoria's Secret, go there, find the cutest nightgown, get that, jump in the car, pick up the kids and then...............a teacher pulls me aside........."Mason really missed you today and last week when you didn't pick him up (my Mom did) he thought you were sick again." Not being there for my Grandma, cancer patient calls, seeing the scars on my back when I tried on the nightgown, being so thankful for every breath every day...........sometimes this can be quite a twist. EXHALE. Thank the teacher, get the kids, get in the car, and drive home while talking to Mason. The conversation went like this, "Mason, I am not sick anymore and I don't want you to worry about it." "Okay." "Seriously Mason, I don't want you to worry about this. Mommy is doing everything she can, but we can't control it, so we can't worry about it." "When will you get sick again?" "I don't know - maybe never." "Never?" "Maybe, but maybe not. Mason, the point is we cannot worry about it everyday. If it comes back, I will tell you. You will be one of the first ones to know. Okay?" "Yes, mama." "Okay, so let's have a nice evening, okay." "Okay!" We got home, and they were AWFUL from start to finish. The evening ended with Nolan pooping in the tub, Grant coming home and putting them to bed, and me having a glass of wine - or was it two? Enjoy the weekend, Ang