Now is a terrific time to test your home for radon. Radon is an invisible odourless gas, but it should not be ignored. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Test kits are easy to find and easy to use. You can find a test kit provider at https://takeactiononradon.ca/test/radon-test-kits/. (They may cost around $35-$55, but if you have been affected by lung cancer and live in Canada, see below* to order a free one.) The best kind of test is one that you put in your basement for over 90 days then send in to get your results. The test kits are clear and easy to use. Please get one and use it! Now is the best time to test for radon in Canada since our windows and doors are generally closed during Winter. Radon action matters!
It’s exciting that Health Canada sent these radon awareness post cards out recently. According to this CBC report from November, Canada has the third highest radon levels in the world, and rates are increasing in new homes. If you’re interested in a report about radon levels across Canada, you can read the details here. Radon awareness matters.
The important thing is to use the test, send it in, and take action to mitigate the radon if levels are high. (There is some financial support available for radon mitigation.)
Radon awareness and action both matter.
* If you or your family member has been diagnosed with lung cancer, you can receive a free radon test kit. Take Action on Radon has a terrific initiative which provides free radon tests to families in Canada affected by lung cancer and covers all shipping costs. If you or your family member has been diagnosed with lung cancer, you can order a free radon test kit here. Their initiative is called “White Ribbon Radon Testing Program”, not to be confused with The White Ribbon Project, the international inclusive unbranded movement changing public perception of lung cancer.
I’m taking a moment to let you know that chemo #21 went well yesterday. My nurse was very kind, caring and skilled. She never mentioned that she was overdue for her break; she did not rush or complain. (I only knew about her break since I overheard someone else quietly mention it.) She spent over an hour warming my arms and carefully searching for a vein. She ended up finding only one, in the same spot where it worked last time. Thank you to those who prayed and sent good thoughts. She got it on the first poke! Thank you also to those who suggested good ideas like warm blankets and smaller needles. The nurses are very skilled and use those great strategies. I used to have great veins early on in treatment days, but not so much lately. Eight years of constant treatment takes its toll. While we survivors are very glad to be alive, survivorship can bring challenges.
I’m very thankful to be scheduled to get a port early on the morning of February 17, before chemo #22. The nurse should be able to use it for that chemo the same day. If all goes well, no more hunting for veins for a long time! It’s such a relief that busy nurses won’t have to spend so much of their time to insert a needle.
My oncologist, Dr. Nicholas, came to see me at chemo. He is very kind and hard working. The nurses also appreciate him and recognize that he is caring and compassionate as well as up to date with the latest research. We didn’t take a picture, but The Ottawa Hospital has posted at least three larger than life pictures of Dr. Nicholas with a fellow cancer survivor at the General Campus, so here is a picture of one of their pictures.
Compassionate and skilled care makes all the difference.
That was quick! This morning I received a call with an appointment for my port line to be installed. This is scheduled to happen on Thursday February 17 at 7am. The procedure takes about 45 minutes and is done with conscious sedation. I’ll be there for about 3 hours and won’t be able to drive myself. I should be able to make it to chemo later that day, and the chemo nurse should be able to use the port that day for chemo #22. We know that things can get rescheduled, especially during COVID, but the plan is for me to get a port in just over 3 weeks! That means that this coming Thursday may be the last time nurses need to hunt for a vein to give me chemotherapy. Very exciting! Very grateful!
What a great healthcare team! Yesterday afternoon four skilled and caring nurses give great care at my chemo appointment (you can read that blog post here), and yesterday evening my terrific oncologist, Dr. Garth Nicholas of The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre, read that blog post and reached out. We exchanged messages so I could ask questions about the pro’s and con’s of ports and PICC lines. I was pretty sure I would go with a port line before messaging with Dr. Nicholas, but it was good to hear his thoughts in addition to the information in the brochures the nurse gave me yesterday afternoon. Even before the conversation he thought I would want the port line because he pays attention and knows me well enough to know.
Yesterday evening Dr. Nicholas submitted the request for a port line, so it’s already (!) in process and I’m very thankful. There are no guarantees since the request needs approval from the appropriate team for the procedure to take place. I’m very grateful to Dr. Nicholas for submitting the request so quickly and advocating for the port line in that request. Health care providers matter. Advocacy matters. Thank you, Dr. Nicholas, for being an advocate.
It took four nurses a total of seven pokes to access a vein for chemo this afternoon. The nurses were all kind and skilled. (They say my veins like to hide, and that sometimes happens in people who have been treated for cancer for a long time.) I asked for information about ports and PICC lines, which are alternative options to getting poked so many times. One of the nurses put in a note for my oncologist requesting him to have a conversation with me about this. Another nurse brought me pamphlets with more information about both of these options. I’ll read them carefully in preparation for talking with my oncologist.
It’s not usually this hard to get a vein. Typically it takes about three pokes, but occasionally, like three weeks ago, the nurse connects on the first try. (Merry Christmas!)
Getting poked frequently is part of the rhythm of chemo life. Blood work (poke) on Wednesday, chemo (unknown number of pokes) on Thursday … every three weeks. The nurses are skilled and kind, and apologetic when they can’t get a vein. I thank them for doing their job well and remind them (and myself) that chemo and their care is saving my life, so getting poked is definitely worth it.
Today I asked what the record number of pokes was in their unit: 12. So, keeping things in perspective, it went pretty well. They found a vein, so I didn’t have to be sent home without chemo. It only took 7 pokes. It only took 4 nurses. The chemo all went in the way it should, and is working to help keep me alive. I’m now home, feeling well, and very thankful for nurses and the kind and skilled care they give.