Susie is Going to Win

A blog to share with family and friends

Slow dancing

To borrow from Stevie Wonder,

 “For once in my life, I’m moving slow,

Something that I’ve never done before!

For once, I can say I’m not speedy

Because that will keep the chemo away”

 It appears that I must learn patience and trust longer than I ever thought I could last.  After the results of my last CT scan mid-January which showed some ‘disease progression’, a few more nodes and a small area in my left abdominal wall; I was ready to start chemo.  Again.  It was time!  I’ve said this before.  I was done with the waiting, the ticking time bomb inside of me, and the passivity of it all……not fighting.

I saw a GYN Oncologist, Dr. Tinker who works at the main BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.  She specializes in ovarian cancer.  I saw her in late October, to see if I qualified for a new drug trial.  I was excited about that – PARP Inhibitors using DNA to target the cancer caused by certain genes.  I didn’t qualify because my tumours were too small!  A blessing to be sure.  I asked if I could see her again to see what her thoughts were about starting treatment.  She concurred with Sasha that until my side effects (more pain, enlarged tumours) are worse and a scan shows more cancer there is no point in rushing the next round of chemo.  This is difficult to comprehend, but studies have shown that “early treatment doesn’t affect the outcome” or in other words…….; well, actually I don’t really understand it.  No one knows how long I will remain in the slow lane – I just have to keep myself from going crazy with worry and accept the “here and now”.  This is a favourite phrase that Jon Kabit-Zinn uses in his mindfulness meditations.

I see Dr. Tinker again on May 14.  I have a new list of questions.  My latest CA125 is 200.  Up 20 over 5 weeks.  Still slow.  My supraclavicular nodes are noticeably bigger and cause some pain, especially at night.  Since I started writing this 2 weeks or so ago, they’ve gone down a bit.  Inflammation?

Tragically, my friend Val Forward passed away on January 31.  Val was diagnosed about a year before me, same cancer, same stage.  She had a terrible time with most chemo drugs and didn’t get a single break after 1 year of remission.  She was so kind and helpful to me when I was diagnosed.  Val guided me through those first scary months.  We even had the same surgeon which simply delighted Val!  I don’t know why I have had better luck.  I asked Dr. Tinker why.  She knew Val and she doesn’t know why.  Cancer is still such a mystery and such a scary, scary disease.

Spring time in Vancouver – we had a lovely, mild winter.   Spring in Vancouver March 2015

I visited my friend, Adele Engel in Panorama, BC recently to get re-charged, spend some time under her John of God crystals and learn how to brew Chaga and Reishi mushroom tea.  I like it.  It tastes a little woodsy but quite pleasant.  Lemon or ginger is also good with it.  2 cups a day brewed in a slow cooker.  I am so grateful for Adele – her knowledge, passion and intuition have been a huge reason I am still relatively well.

People also wonder what the hell I do with my days since I’m not working!  I am just looking after myself – drinking Adele’s Essential Nutrition first thing in the morning with coconut oil, reishi and turkey tail powder, cinnamon, Nutracleanse, frozen strawberries, unsweetened almond milk and coconut water.  It’s delicious.  I still enjoy 1 cup of really good coffee with a small amount of organic frothed milk.  Then I will take Sophie for a good walk in the woods here in Whistler or by English Bay in Vancouver.  Lunch – thank you Roland, yoga class in the afternoon 3 or 4 times a week.  I have to drink my 2 cups of Chaga/Reishi tea during the day and then at least one large, cold green tea and chlorophyll with organic lime juice.  Also delicious!  That’s a lot of drinking during the day and I have to do all of that in time for the evening wine service, which I have not given up!  Dinner – thank you Roland!

I know a lot of you have been checking my blog for an update.   Thank you everyone for all of your support and concern.

Love Susie


This is the beginning of a post I started ages ago – I couldn’t get past it, so didn’t finish it.    Some dear friends.

Pascal Tiphine – November 23, 2013 – undiagnosed

Judy Kirkpatrick – December 1, 2013 – brain

Donna Taillon – December 5, 2013 – ovarian

Dianne Dunn – March 10, 2014 – brain

Bonny Makarewicz – March 27, 2014 – melanoma

Although we had never met in person, my friend Donna Taillon passed away December 5.  We were a mini-support group comparing symptoms and treatments via Skype and email.  Donna just didn’t get a single break from this disease; suffering with allergic reactions to most chemo treatments she had.  During this time, our friend Pascal Tiphine was hospitalized with inoperable cancer and never got a chance to fight.  He died November 23.  My friend, Judy Kirkpatrick passed away too quickly as well of brain cancer a month later.  Finally, our friend Bonny Makarewicz ‘transitioned’ (a term used by people who believe in Spiritism– John of God trip) on March 27 from melanoma.  She and I were diagnosed at the same time and we were a kind of support team, especially when we needed to talk and be understood about cancer.  All so sad – Pascal and Bonny’s memorials were as good as it gets for funerals.  I still have trouble calling it a celebration of life.

Living with cancer

The new term is “living with cancer” instead of fighting cancer.  So that’s what I’ve been doing for these last 9 months since my re-diagnosis.  It hasn’t been easy……it’s easier to go back into treatment, which means you’re doing something.

A friend of mine, Sue Ferguson told me one day about her cousin who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was understandably miserable.  One day he changed and instead of ‘dying of cancer’ he was ‘living with cancer’.  His sense of humour came back.  He still died.  “Living with cancer” made sense to me for the first time.

Challenging times for me and by extension for Roland, family and friends.  Thank you for being patient with me! The hormone blockers (to slow down the cancer) had unbearable side effects for me.  The first one, Letrozole (Femara) made me either manic or depressed – not sleeping, drenching hot flashes day and night, short tempered, aggressive…(Oh … and I nearly ran Roland over one day ….!!   L)  The second one Anastrozole (Arimidex) left me just low.  The third one, I started the end of June was called Aromasin and it seemed to be best for me, but looking back I don’t think it was much better than the other 2.  I stopped taking it on Nov 2.  My CA125 had been steadily rising since September and the bone/muscle pain along with the other side effects made it difficult to sleep.

Dr. Augusta and Medium Joao, Abadiania    In between, I flew to Brazil to see John of God in May for 2 weeks looking for a miracle.  I can’t even begin to explain the unexplainable.  It was so outside of my box and hard to believe.  I had some beautiful experiences and felt hopeful.  I will write about it in more detail another day.

The PET scan in June showed ‘disease progression’.  So many people have asked why I haven’t started the next round of chemo yet.  My oncologist, Sasha Smiljanic felt that since the cancer was metastasizing slowly, it was better to wait.  The longer between chemo sessions, the better my body will be able to handle it, the less chance I will develop resistance or an allergic reaction to it.

I went back on medical leave at the end of July.  I wasn’t coping well with the usual day to day stress of being a realtor.  Once I made the decision public I was so relieved!  My company has been very supportive.

So it will be almost 3 years since the last chemo when I will start – we talked about starting in November, but decided to wait till February.  CA125 was 223 in December.  I can say I am ready for it now – I have pain in my neck where nodes were detected in June – and down the left side of my chest.  Worse at night as is usual.  Last PET showed a bit more, nodes a bit bigger.  I will have to have a ‘port’ put in for the chemo this time which requires minor surgery.

Ovarian Cancer Walk Sept 2014

In between all of this, I have had lots of great times – Brazil, Wanderlust Yoga Festival with my sisters here in Whistler, lots of visitors, great dog walks with friends, a spectacular hot and dry summer, some golfing, a weekend at our friend’s beach house.  My sisters and friends supported me at the September Ovarian Cancer fundraiser, then Thanksgiving with my family on Vancouver Island.  Most recently we spent Christmas with friends at their home in Palm Springs – perfect!

Roland and Sophie

Now it’s time for more yoga and meditation, walking with Sophie and getting out on the cross country trails.    Jill, Lynne & Susie - Callaghan Valley, March 21

BTW – people say I look great.  I’ll take it!  :)

Breathe in!  Breathe out!

Love Susie


TRACKING MY CA125: June – 12, October – 20, January – 30, February – 40, mid-March – 48

FUCK CANCER – it’s back – but not the raging debut from October 2011…… “Just a little” …… one lymph node in fact.  Nothing to get all worked up about, right?  Wrong!  The CA125 is my warning signal and it has been a slow but steady rise.  PET scan results – I am no longer “in remission”.

The second time is much harder to face and I have been having a really tough time telling my friends and colleagues even though I know they will give me as much support as the first time.  I don’t want chemo again.  I don’t want……I don’t want…….Why me?……the list goes on and on.

Will I stop fighting for my life?  Of course not!  I want to live!  I just haven’t found my battle gear, nor have I been able to summon my fighting spirit.  Where is it?!  What’s going on in my head?  I somehow feel like it’s my fault.  I can’t help it.  However irrational that seems!


Here are some of the reactions and responses when I have told someone ………”Susie, you just have to remain positive!”  “You did so well the last time”  “It’s not serious”  “Are you still meditating?”  “Doing yoga?”  “Get back to eating all those good green foods”!!  “It will be fine”  “You are strong”  “You’re a fighter”

Here are some helpful suggestions on what to say when someone has a recurrence of cancer (in my opinion):

“I’m so sorry to hear that”

“That’s terrible news”

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Please let me know how you are doing”

That’s really all anybody can say!  If I want advice, I will ask for it.  I just want people to listen.  Please do not judge, coach or try and pump me up!

It’s my journey and I am doing the best I can.

There – that feels better!  Well ….. it’s a start.

On the other hand, by re-connecting with you via my blog, I am asking for your support because you have supported me before.  It was really helpful and powerful to know I had everyone rooting for me.  It was also great not to blog for this time in between ……I enjoyed just living, working, laughing and sharing with my family and friends.

With gratitude,



p.s.  I might have to go to the Re-Use Centre in Function Junction and find some appropriate ‘battle gear’.


Kiholo Bay, Hawaii 9/12

Kiholo Bay, Hawaii 9/12

Since my last post in August 2012, I’ve been enjoying life – one day at a time.  Holding my breath, just a little bit before each 3 month check-up.  I just had my 1 year after chemo check-up on March 13 and I am still a 12!  (CA125 = 12)  A big sigh of relief banishing my worries for another 3 months.  I am back at work and while the first weeks were really tough – I just wasn’t ‘into it’ as they say – it has gotten easier.  It’s nice to concentrate on normal day to day life again.  My new motto for 2013 is:

I’m in remission and I need a commission!  Humour is healing!

Briefly, I went back to Ontario in September with my sisters to put my Dad’s ashes in a closet – actually called a niche.  Some tears and lots of laughter too.  We watched all of our childhood slides that Dad took over the years especially when we were young.  What great memories!  What terrible hair and clothing!  Yikes!  Then Roland and I spent a week at our friends’ beautiful townhome on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was so generous of them to offer it to us – thanks John and Penny!  We invited my friend Jill and her husband, Greg to join us – it was my way of saying thank you to Jill for looking after my business for all of those months.  We had a great time and visited Kiholo Bay where Denise and Grant wrote a my blog name with white lava rocks.  We couldn’t find the message but we wrote a new one.  The turtles were present.  Magic.  Then I wanted to take a ‘bucket list’ trip.  Somewhere really special that would be meaningful and exciting.  We chose to go to Ecuador – Quito, the Galapagos Islands and the Ecuadorian Amazon.  It was THE MOST AMAZING TRIP EVER!

Blue footed Booby

Blue footed Booby

Baby Sea Lion - Galapagos

Baby Sea Lion – Galapagos

Marinie Iguana Love

Marinie Iguana Love

Human blue footed booby

Human blue footed booby

Watching Albatross flying off the cliff - Espanola, Galapagos

Watching Albatross flying off the cliff – Espanola, Galapagos

I am really loving every minute of our Spring.  It’s a warm and sunny one and I relish every new bird chirping, the crocuses are finally poking through the dull, brown earth and last year’s leaves.  We’re going to go for a spring ski up the mountain tomorrow with friends.  Life is Good!

Love Susie

Encouraging words

Roland and I have been enjoying summer in Whistler – it’s so nice to wear shorts and sandals!  We’ve enjoyed some lunches and dinners on our deck – our flowers and herbs have thrived.  Sophie swims every day in one of our lakes.

I had my second check-up with Sasha on August 9th.  All is well!  CA125 = 11   Chest x-ray clear.  Phew!  I am grateful.  Next check-up November 8th.

    A friend of mine, Diane, who is also a cancer survivor told me about a woman she met at Lion’s Gate during chemotherapy called Bev.  She survived 21 years with Ovarian Cancer, 18 of those years were spent having chemo on and off.  Diane asked Bev if she would speak to me as she knew I was in need of a positive story.   It was so encouraging to hear of her successful fight.  I had to call several times – each time she was resting and her husband asked me to call back.  When we finally spoke, Bev was so kind and answered all of my questions.  She wasn’t feeling well as Sasha and his team had run out of chemo options for her.  She told me that all of her doctors were amazed at her stamina and they were still searching for a new drug for her.  She was grateful for the time she’d had and assured me that many of those years were good quality with travel and good times.  I felt guilty to be bothering her and I realized she was not getting better this time.  Her voice was weak but so gracious.  Sadly, Bev passed away on August 15 – she was 75.  I am humbled by her kindness and courage.  I wish for 21 years too – wouldn’t that be something?

Next is a note from a friend that I haven’t seen for a few years but is on Facebook.  She sent me this note via Facebook.

Hi Susie

How are you doing? I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy the nice weather finally!!

You came to mind on the weekend in such a strong way I knew I just had to contact you, so I apologise for the delay. I hope it doesn’t sound too weird … but sometimes I have been given things to tell people. Some call it words of prophecy or words from God. I just know it’s not from me and there is usually a huge weight and seriousness with sharing such a message.

I feel that I was given this message from God: “Susie’s got this beat” over and over. it’s always a bit stressful to share such things … what if I’m imagining things, what if it’s wrong? However, this has happened before … a barren woman gave birth, a confused boy was given the answer he needed, a lonely woman met the specific man I described. So I’ve learned not to trust in me, I just trust in God.

Ok, before I sound like a complete wacko … better go! I hope this is encouragement for the battles ahead. You already know you’ll win!!

Lots of love
Louise Bowyer-Smyth

Susie Frank

  • Thank you so much Louise for sharing and being brave enough to send me this note! I’m doing well…..anxiously waiting for my 5 1/2 month check-up on August 9th. This really means a lot to me and I am happy to have you in my cheering section!
    Love Susie


Happy toes!

I started this installment quite a few weeks ago and will just leave it ‘as is’ – except for a couple of revisions.  I’ve been slow in keeping up with my news…..I think I feel a general  overload…..spilling my guts and then clamming up because I wasn’t coping.  The support from all of you through my blog has inspired me and so……here I am.

May 9 – first check up with Sasha.  All is well – CA125 was 11 – couldn’t be any better!  We discussed some side effects from the chemo – my right arm is weak and hurts all the time.  Turns out that the chemo treatment from January (just after Dad died) likely damaged my veins and the nerves send signals all over the place in alarm!  Both my hands go numb at night – like carpal tunnel syndrome but it’s called Neuropathy.  Sasha said my vein may have been ‘fried’ by the chemo.  (I have found a really good massage therapist in Squamish who works with cancer patients and has studied the effects of chemo on the body.) The substance that allows the drugs to be soluble – at least in the case of Paciltaxol  is Ethynol……hmmmmm…….again – I refer to my love of wine………which I am sure helped me through the chemo.  They did counsel that the patient shouldn’t drive after chemo…..who knew it was because of alcohol?!  “No, Officer – I haven’t been drinking…..but I just finished a 4 ½ hour chemo session!”  Do you think I could have gotten off?

Summer on our deck!

My eyebrows are back and my eyelashes too.  It was really hard to be ‘blank’.  I was coaxing my brows back with a bit of Revitalash….works on eyebrows too!   I was able to put a bit of mascara on them tonight.  Hair is getting really thick.  I call my hair colour ‘taupe’.  It’s not grey and it’s not white and it’s not brown.  It is coming in really curly.  I think I can say – ‘ poodle head’ – not doodle which is softer.  This hair could scrub a bathtub or at least polish it.  Do you know the song, “My Father’s Eyes’ by Eric Clapton?  In the beginning when it was a bit sparse, my hair looked just like my fathers…..only not as white… was a weird feeling…..really freaked me out.

July 17 – Severe soaking wet, bright red hot flashes continuing…..hard to sleep.  My friend, Sue suggested laying a towel on the bed and pillow, then ditching it during the night – much better!

I visited my friends, Foster and Tracy in Palm Springs (sans Roland) in April.  They have a beautiful home in the old part of Palm Springs complete with tennis court and swimming pool.  It was great to get away and they treated me so well!  I felt completely looked after – is that another way of saying spoiled? I think so!

In May, my sister Bobbi and her daughter and new yoga teacher, Darcy came up to Whistler for a Yoga conference.  I did 4 classes in 2 days…..and got to meet Vishva-vi who is Darcy’s Yogi from the Ashram she went to in February for her teacher training.  It was really good and fun to have them here.  Darcy gave Bobbi and I some private instruction at home.

      I finally got to visit my great nieces and nephews and family in Abbotsford for the Relay for Life in June.  It’s a 12 hour fundraiser where    you walk around a track – someone from the team is supposed to be on the track at all times.  We stayed for a few hours – too old to stay all night.  It was more to support and encourage ‘the great’s’ – there is a memorial walk ‘for those we’ve lost’ and we have a banner with Kristie’s photo that the kids carry.  They sell Luminaries – a paper bag you can personalize with the name of someone who lost the fight or someone who is a survivor.  When it’s dark, they light all of them and they line the whole track.  Quite moving.  It was surreal to see one with my name but there you are.

We also visited our friends/neighbours who have a magnificent property on Hornby Island at the end of June.  This is paradise – one of the most beautiful beaches in BC – what a setting!

I’m having trouble quieting my mind…..I am not meditating as much and not laying on my Biomat either.  I have to get back to it.  June was miserable weather wise here in Whistler – cold and wet every day.  I have been seeing a counsellor (through my niece, Darcy) who works with cancer patients/survivors and also teaches yoga.  She is quite lovely and so far has used a different approach from other counsellors I have seen in the past.  I will be attending a 1 week retreat at the end of July to address and conquer my FEARS (well not all of them) – but around the cancer issue……then a week after that I see Sasha for my 3 month check-up.  I actually wanted to have another CA125 test a few weeks ago and my family doctor talked me out of it.  Another month won’t hurt.

I am getting stronger, day by day.  Walking, some biking, some golf……would really welcome a good night’s sleep.

Love Susie

Emails from friends

Here is a note from my new friend, Donna who was also diagnosed with Peritoneal Ovarian Cancer and was about a month behind me in treatments in Cranbrook.  She was introduced to me by our mutual friend, Adele in Panorama.  Although we haven’t met in person, we’ve spoken on the phone and kept in touch via email.  I’ve also included an excerpt from another friend, Jacqui who has completed surgery, chemo and radiation for breast cancer.  Both identified with my last blog post!  Reprinted with their permission!

Hi Susie,

I can’t believe your recent blog; it was like you were in my head and writing exactly what I’ve been going through.  Thank you for putting it in writing and doing so eloquently – you nailed it!  My last chemo was April 19 and I know I should be celebrating but like you am still quite physically fatigued and psychologically feeling lost and scared that it will come back.  I think the best analogy I have is for the last six months I’ve been a passenger on the journey and know I’m in the driver’s seat but have no idea where I’m headed.  The surgeon whom I recently had a consult with in Vancouver has recommended not doing the debulking surgery “at this time” as he doesn’t know what to remove.  CA-125’s will be taken quarterly and I’m to have a check up on my blood counts mid June (2 month mark).  I still have periodic pain which is likely IBS but who knows.  Apparently, I am officially in remission.

I have registered to take the two day workshop from Inspire Health out of Kamloops the first week of June and am hopeful it will help both Con & I with some direction and some tools to move forward and start living again.  I have managed to get out for a couple of social engagements but find I end up talking about my treatment, mainly because folks keep asking.  And besides what else do I have to contribute to the conversation being cloistered for 6 months.  Oh….the journey!!!!.  I managed to order one of the books you suggested and hope to receive it in a week or so.  I’ve just finished reading Anti Cancer – New Way of Life. 

I had a facial with Adele late last week and she tells me she is heading out your way in August for a visit. She is such a special person.  I’m still using the Essential Nutrition Mix everyday and have been taking the Optimum Multi-Vitamins recommended by Inspire Health.  I’m also going for a walk most days, doing some mild yoga & working at getting better at meditation (not very good at that).  I still get teary fairly often but the nicer weather has allowed me to get out of doors more and that does help to lift my spirits.  Also, had visits from my kids and grandkids early this month so that was special.  We have a short visit to Calgary planned the end of May and then will drive to Kamloops with a stopover in Salmon Arm to see my folks on the way home.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

My hair is quite funny, very fine and different colours and lengths (lots of white in there).  Some folks have told me I could stop wearing the head gear but except for in the house and in the yard, I’m not comfortable with that yet.  Still look like a cancer patient.  I have graduated to golf caps so it’s a start. 

It was good to read your blog, you really helped me feel that I’m not alone and despite reading that this helplessness is quite normal, it was more comforting that it came from someone I actually could put a voice to.

Take care – Be strong; be healthy, grateful and free!!!




Subject: latest blog

Hi Susie,

It was very interesting to read your latest blog. I spoke to my radiation oncologist about the feelings of anxiety now that Tx is ended and I fell as if I am cast adrift to manage on my own. He reassured me (didn’t do a convincing job) that it is very common as you feel like they have done their thing and we just are expected to pick up where we left off- Not!  I see my medical oncologist at the end of this month and then it’s go back to your GP and call me if any problems arise in future.

I had my first post Tx mammogram and was tearful when I had to go back the next day for an ultrasound – déjà vu all over again? Anyway, it was a false alarm but it has crystallized in my mind that I don’t want to go thru this every 6 months  when I have to go for a mammogram so I will ask my breast surgeon about removing the other breast when I see her in a few weeks.

Your story about the croissants was so funny. I took  a double baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas to thank the receptionist at the X-ray office.

Did I tell you I went to a fund raising lunch for Ovarian cancer? I was a guest of a friend who had made a large donation to the VGH Ovarian cancer research team. They are doing amazing work and will be rolling out a new campaign soon to launch Ovarian awareness in the public and medical fields. 250 women are diagnosed with Ovarian cancer each year in BC –  a relatively small number compared to breast cancer hence the lack of funds raised. So much work with such brilliant minds who need funding to continue their research.

Paul didn’t ski once this year as he was busy driving me to all my appointments etc. You are so right in that you get so busy with just getting though the appointments and surviving the treatments that you have no time to reflect.

Think of you often.  Hugs,



     I am strong.  I am healthy.   I am grateful – I am free!

     I am strong.  I am healthy.   I am grateful to be free!

…….I forgot to tell you that Roland baked at least 3 dozen croissants – chocolate and plain, for me to take to the Clinic for the staff on my last chemo day – March 7.  I crisped them up in the oven and put them in a nice basket.  Wow – what a great thing to do!  Everyone was thrilled to have one and Sasha (Dr.) was really happy to have one of each.  It was fun for me to go around and serve them to everyone.  Some of the patients also had them – one patient said it was the best pastry they had ever had in their life!  I wish I had done this for my first chemo – better service!  J

It has taken me 2 months to feel well enough to write another post.  The first month after the last chemo was really difficult.  I had expected to feel wonderful once the treatments were finished, but that is not how it goes.  My blood counts were really low, plus I felt as if I had been ‘let go’ without any instructions or hints on how to proceed.  On top of that, I had no energy, was unable to sleep and I found it difficult to focus on anything.  Then it hit me:  I hadn’t had time to let the ‘cancer diagnosis’ sink in.  I was busy getting through the appointments and treatments and that was all I was focussed on.  The truth is that I am scared the cancer will come back.

I found 2 books that have been helpful to me – Dancing in Limbo – Making Sense of Life after Cancer by Glenna Halvorson-Boyd and Lisa K. Hunter – both cancer survivors.  It was encouraging to read that everyone they interviewed and their own stories told of similar struggles to mine.  The first few paragraphs are telling:  “There is a cruel myth about surviving cancer.  In this myth, when medical treatment is successful, the story ends.  Having survived cancer, we pick up our lives where they were interrupted and carry on – with increased gratitude for the simple acts of daily life and the clarity of purpose that only a brush with death affords.  In this myth, cancer is a blessing in disguise.  Though the myth has some truth, it is cruel because it is impossible to live.  The real story does not end ‘happily ever after.’   Instead, we live in limbo:  after cancer, we know that we are on uncertain ground.  In the beginning, we think that limbo is only as large as our cancer:  Will I live or will I die from this disease?  Then we get the lightning bolt.  Limbo is the borderland where we will live for the rest of our lives.  Although we cannot control our fate, we must do more than wait.  We are responsible for how we live in whatever time we have, and whenever time is up, we will face our death again.  That is the awesome, awful truth of limbo.”

The other book is Picking up the Pieces – Moving Forward after Surviving Cancer by Sherri Magee and Kathy Scalzo (from Vancouver) which offers more practical advice on how to move forward with some specific exercises to work through.  The BC Cancer Agency is planning on having a one day workshop with Kathy Scalzo in the near future.

Some hints on what not to say to a cancer survivor – “What stage are you?”  First of all, that’s too personal and secondly it doesn’t always play out according to ‘the stage’.  I’m not sure why people ask…..but it’s a definite ‘no, no’.

Don’t assume that just because we look healthy that we feel great.  Although compliments are always welcome.

Signs of spring –      May 13 Whistler

Facing up to my new reality is a ‘work in progress’.   It is not ‘negative thinking’.  It’s part of the process so that I can move forward and get the most out of the rest of my life.  I revised my new mantra after several friends suggested the word ‘cancer’ shouldn’t be in it.

I so appreciate all of the support my friends and family have given me.  I feel blessed and am indeed grateful.

Love Susie

p.s.    Sorry, no humour this time!

Cancer free …….winning, won!

Last chemo!

So everybody – I’m finished my treatments!  CA125 at Chemo # 6 was 14.  I am HAPPY, RELIEVED AND ANXIOUS all at the same time.  I can also say that I had a relatively easy time of it in comparison to so many others I’ve met and heard about.  If I’d had another chemo scheduled, the Dr. said he wouldn’t have given me the chemo – blood counts were too low – but since it was going to be MY LAST – they went ahead.  Phew!

From October 11, 2011 to March 7, 2012 – pretty much 6 months from diagnosis to last treatment.  Pretty amazing and all of my treatments were covered by either BC Medical or my work plan which I’ve been paying into for 18+ years.  It’s estimated to cost about $90,000 for chemo, blood tests and surgery plus $17,000 for the 6 bone marrow shots which allowed me to have no delays due to low white blood cell counts.  The only test that wasn’t covered so far was the initial PET scan that I elected to have because my Oncologist advised me I shouldn’t delay starting chemo.

So, what are my next steps?  Why am I anxious?  I guess all cancer patients are nervous to finish treatment because it means they are not being monitored as closely anymore.  I’ll have a CT scan next week – ‘after chemo marker’ – then I will see Sasha in 3 months after blood work – then another 3 months – the crucial 6 month check-up, then the 1 year check-up etc.  I imagine that the longer you go, the easier it gets………….

My mantra during treatment thanks to my friend, Penny was:  I AM STRONG, I AM HEALTHY, I AM HEALING MYSELF.  I said this to myself and out loud, especially with Sophie on the golf course – sometimes at the top of my lungs!  It felt good.  I was always reminded of Helen Reddy’s song though…..I am Woman, I am invincible… sometimes I added that part.  My new mantra is:  I AM STRONG, I AM HEALTHY, I AM CANCER-FREE.

Now it’s time to nuture and heal my body after the chemotherapy.  I look forward to feeling better, week by week.  I am currently back on antibiotics – cellulitis again – this time in the right arm – not where the PICC line was but inside the forearm…..weird, because that would have been from the treatment I had just after Dad died in January.

Winter is back with a vengence!  Tons of snow in Whistler – good for Spring Break.  Here’s Sophie after Roland cleared some snow outside our dining room window!

That’s it for now,

Love and thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey……………Susie

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers