What the Hell?!

My husband and I walked out through the mahogany doors of our new home, trailed down the few steps, and headed straight for the car that was parked across the road.  Normally we’d park in the driveway, but it was occupied by workers.  We had moved in only a month and a half earlier and still had work to do in and around the newly constructed home.  Ignoring the men as we passed, the head bricklayer, whose team was putting up stones and bricks over the polyurethane that wrapped the exterior walls, was surprised by our inattentiveness.

He stopped my husband, “Don’t you like the work so far…”  I kept ahead and waited by the car, not realizing those brief moments my husband wasn’t behind me.

It was sunny and warm on that August morning – another pleasant day to be outdoors.  Incredibly, 2004 had a record high number of days when it was both sunny and wet on the same day – making them the rule rather than the exception.  Montreal had one hundred and twenty-eight days with some sunshine but only five without sun, yet more than half of those sunny days were wet.  During that cooler summer, the West Nile Virus that threatened us the year earlier due to excessive heat disappeared.  Water levels of the St. Lawrence River were about a half a meter higher than in 2003.

This late August day had clear skies and was warm all day – an exception.  I hoped it was a sign of good news to come.

“The job is fine.  It’s more… what we’re going through…”

“What’s wrong?”

“We’re going to the hospital to receive my wife’s pathology results.”  He continued to explain briefly about the stage we were in our investigation.

“My brother had Leukemia and came through.  Try to be hopeful.”


One night, several months before, I had a sore throat from a cold.  It was so irritated that it brought on vomiting.  What I saw next initiated a trail of events that changed my life.


N.B.  To read previous posts, click on the “Archives” menu on your screen and begin with “Now What?” from December, or click on the title below this post to read last week’s entry.  There are 4 other posts to read before this one.  Don’t forget to share livingaftercancerblog.wordpress.com on all your social media.  Thank you.

Be well,


Close To Home

My sisters helped my parents search for a home in the area we all live in now.  Renovations had to be done when they finally bought a house no more than a five minute car ride from mine.  Only my dad lived there for the first weeks since my mother was still with me when they made the transfer about two months after the end of my treatments in April of 2005.  My sisters and I all live in such close vicinity, so it’s easy to walk over to each other’s houses (except for my house, which is a half hour walk away).  A car is more practical to get to my parents house.


So why would my father choose, at such a crucial time for all of us, to add to their stress?  I think it’s because change is not intimidating for him.  In fact, I too, accept life’s transitions with pleasure.  I kind of enjoy change.  I have to if I’m going to accept the major changes in my anatomy and lifestyle following cancer.

When my father decided to sell the other house while I was in treatment, it made me think he was in such fear of losing me, he may have realized there was no reason to keep living away from his children, who had moved about fifteen minutes away.  This doesn’t seem so far, but my parents were both retired and didn’t drive.

Certainly, my father would never admit he chose to move to this new neighbourhood for us, but what was really left for him in that house?  He made it seem it was a normal transition for him, like all the previous moves that just made sense.  In most ways they were smart moves, since my Dad was always right about the choices he made for the family finances.  The housing market was ridiculously high so he took advantage – great for him.  Being closer to each other was better and easier… and nice.

My dad was going to be eighty-one that summer, so maintaining a house and rentals was becoming a big job and demanded more patience than he had.  Funny… he still bought a big house when he moved closer to us (less the tenants)!  Today, some of the children do most, if not all of the work in and around his house – the house with yet again two kitchens, three bedrooms, a living room, family room, and two bathrooms.  But that’s another story…

The Beginning of the End

It was all there in her eyes.  The look that described how much she didn’t want to let go of me.  She held my hand gently, only by my frail fingers.  She kissed me goodbye on each cheek.  But I felt she could not walk away.

The sadness and pain in her eyes on that warm, sunny, June day when my mother would finally return to her normal life – if that were possible – was tormenting me.  It was time, even though neither of us wanted it to end.

She had moved in with me and my family shortly before my chemo and radiation therapies began.  My chemo oncologist told me I would be ill, so I asked my mother to take care of my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.  I had already had a total gastrectomy (the removal of the entire stomach) along with the removal of about one third of my esophagus.

Starting at 135 pounds, I had lost twenty to thirty pounds by the time I began my chemotherapy two months later.  It was a bonus if I was able to eat anything orally.  Hunger was unrecognizable with my new anatomy.  I was constantly nauseated, and was forced to keep a bucket by my side day and night.  The annoying and troublesome tube that hung from my intestine and out my belly got fed daily with 1200 calories of a dull cream-coloured liquid for nine months to help maintain my weight.

…I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season and wish the New Year brings you health, joy, and fulfillment.  Keep reading!

Be well!