I won’t lie. This past month has been a challenging season, due to pain, nausea, fatigue and breathing challenges. Living with cancer can be very challenging, but thankfully the pain, nausea and fatigue are improving. I’ve had to hunker down and rest a lot, but am thankful to still be able to spend a little time with people, get some exercise and continue to do some advocacy work. We don’t get to choose all of our life circumstances, but we often get choice in how we respond. We can control the things we can control. Choosing to give thanks even in the midst of challenges can be a real game changer.
The upper endoscopy which happened the end of September (mentioned in the previous post) went well. We learned that my esophagus (food pipe) had narrowed to the size of a pin prick. No wonder swallowing was so challenging! The next day the phone rang with an appointment for a stent to be inserted in my esophagus the day after. A stent is a flexible tube to help keep the esophagus open to make it easier to swallow food and drink. I was very thankful for the opportunity to take advantage of a cancellation and get this taken care of quickly. That procedure was harder on me than I anticipated, and I slept for some time in the hospital afterwards. I’m thankful for Jackie Manthorne, President and CEO of Canadian Cancer Survivors Network (pictured below) who waited patiently, helped get my prescription meds and got me home safe and sound. So many people have supported by driving to and/or from appointments. What a good gift! Because this time was such short notice I put a request out on facebook, and had multiple offers within a few minutes. Thanks also to Robyn Denis who drove me to the appointment. So many have offered and have driven, and you have no idea how much it means. Thank you!
I’m very grateful that swallowing is so much easier than it was in September. In addition to liquids and puréed foods, I can carefully chew and swallow soft foods. This helped make (Canadian) Thanksgiving Dinner much more enjoyable. Very thankful for my middle child and her boyfriend who cooked a delicious vegan dinner for us. There was tons of food, mostly on the kitchen counter since it would not all fit on the table. I still eat very small portion sizes, and could not finish all the yummy veggies on my plate that evening.
I’m also incredibly thankful for the gorgeous weather we’ve enjoyed this Fall. I went out walking as much as I could, often with my youngest who I’m so grateful for, and our big sweet dog. Here is some of the beauty we’ve been able to enjoy this past month.
Today I’m especially thankful for two dear friends who popped by this afternoon. We are blessed with so many good people who generously support us. Love and support can make a world of difference, especially during the challenging seasons, and I can’t tell you how much that means.
Could I challenge you to choose a friend or neighbour to reach out to with love and support in the next few weeks? This does not need to be someone affected by cancer, but could be someone going through a difficult season. Please never underestimate the difference you can make for someone!
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What is your Cancer Centre doing to celebrate survivors and raise awareness?
Time for another health update (with a bit of an advocacy update)!
I had another regularly scheduled CT scan, and like all the scans since I started chemo it showed that the cancer has either shrunk or remained stable. Good news! Amazing news, actually! Even while on a treatment break the cancer is held at bay. So very grateful! Seems like a miracle! My symptom management (palliative care) doctor thinks that perhaps my immune system now recognizes the cancer as something to attack. Really great news!
I haven’t heard a recent update, but it seems the clinical trial I’m hoping for probably won’t open up in Toronto until maybe December or next year. Ottawa probably won’t open it until the Spring. There are many hoops to jump through, and COVID has affected cancer research which affects so many people. The good news is that it does not seem so urgently needed by me right now. Of course urgency matters tremendously, as things can change very quickly. We never know how long we may be able to wait, and there are many people who need more treatment options urgently. Survivors matter!
More research means more survivors and better survivorship! I continue to pursue a variety of advocacy efforts, including cancer research and fundraising for research. Today, among other things, I connected with the Canadian Cancer Society who want to share my story again, and people from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Canadian Cancer Trials Group. I also messaged Prime Minister Trudeau about lung cancer.
But back to the health update … I’ve faced swallowing challenges since the summer, even though I’m very careful when eating or drinking. I lean forward and place my chin on my chest when I swallow. I’m eating a lot of soup and some other very soft foods, one very small mouthful at a time alternating with sips of water. I only eat very small, very healthy meals, and try to eat four or five times per day to get as much nutrition as I can manage.
I reached out to the Speech-Language Pathologist who helped me a couple of years ago when I was having swallowing issues previously and did the swallowing study. She is lovely and we had an online appointment last week where she gave me a lot of helpful tips and reassurance.
A referral to an Ear Nose Throat doctor was made, with an upper endoscopy scheduled for this afternoon. I’m looking forward to learning what the procedure will tell us, though a little nervous about having a camera stuck down my throat. There will be sedation, and I think my kids are looking forward to seeing if I’ll still be feeling the effects when I get home. Apparently some people don’t remember anything about the procedure, so I’m hopeful it won’t be as difficult as the similar procedures I’ve had before.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. What is your Cancer Centre doing to celebrate? #LCAM