Befriend Thy Neighbour

I didn’t have time to get to know any of my new neighbours, since we had just moved in, and the attention went straight to my prevailing health issues.  Certainly, I wasn’t in the mood to meet any one, and soon, didn’t feel I looked presentable anyway.  With over a decade having passed, I still feel like a stranger here, yet much serenity within this environment.  The neighbours are nice and we are each respectful of one another’s property and privacy.

We live in the first house on the street.  We share a fence with the corner house of the road perpendicular to ours.  That neighbour’s house faces the river that envelopes the city of Montreal.  We had a view of the river from the kitchen window and backyard for ten years, until the lot next to them was sold, and a house was put up soon after.

My neighbor was an older Italian couple who had built their house at the same time as we did.  We got to know them and learned that the husband was a landscaper.  He and his son shared work, and we asked them to take care of our house.  They lay down our stone walk and driveway, as well as all the grass around the house.  They also made a cement base to hold an eventual shed, a garden area, and a stone pavement for a gazebo.

When he knew of my illness, he and his wife came to visit with us and my parents.  They were always sweet to me.  She would bring me plants that she had rooted herself.  If her garden plants would grow through our shared fence, she insisted I keep the string beans that hung on my side.  Only a few years later, he died of cancer, and the wife moved out of the big house into an apartment not too far away.

 

I am pleased to report that following my annual scan last week, I am still clean twelve years later!  I have to believe in miracles, because there are no other explanations for this gift of life.

Have a wonderful day!

Patricia

Grin And Bear It!

My mother often prepared soups for lunch.  One of Isabella’s favourite is still cut macaroni and broccoli.  Marco had begun staying away from fruits and vegetables altogether.  It was always a struggle to make him eat that family favourite, so my mother would try to leave out the broccoli.  Over a decade later, we’re still trying to get him to eat fruits and vegetables, but he seems healthy and is very strong.  God bless him.

There is a joke among us that when we would go to restaurants we could order one dish for Isabella and Marco to share.  Isabella would have the salad and vegetables and Marco the steak and potatoes.

 

Some of my relatives and friends came over to visit with me on occasion.  I would head back to the couch in the family room when I felt tired or ill.  The guests would stay in the dining room with my mother.  I could hear the conversations between them as I fell in and out of sleep.

No one kissed me during that period of treatments, I think.  We had learned that when my immune system is down, I could not fight germs.  Every one understood and respected the process.

It was always great to see people.  My mother also needed some time to change her routine, so the visitors were great for her too.

Instead of entertaining family and friends in my new home, they were here visiting me for my desperate attempt to fight cancer.  Though this time should have been the beginning of many shared moments in the home my husband and I built together, and where our daughter would grow up, it may well have been the last time I would see those that were so important to me.

Pampered – Part 2

Fil, the esthetician waxed my legs on a towel on my bed.  During the treatments, my skin had become so sensitive that the wax fell too hot against my skin.  Even the pain that I usually tolerated seemed unbearable.

I had become accustomed to waxing myself, but I wasn’t able or willing to during that time.  Fil usually just took care of my eyebrows, but she did every thing for me that day.

She didn’t even want any money, but I insisted on a really good tip.  That was an amazingly sweet gesture on her part, and I never forgot it.  I’ve told her that I’ve spoken to my friends about how she went out of her way for me, and that she wouldn’t take any money.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember my hairdresser wanting to get paid either.  In any case, it was so nice to be taken care of like that to help me feel like a woman again.  The usual injection of medications had stolen my dignity, control, and confidence.

 

My mother could hear the shower as it turned off, so by the time I walked out in my towel she was there.  She could see how drained I was, and she started to dry my legs with another towel.  “Ouch!  Why are you rubbing so hard?”

She dried my lower legs and feet like she was trying to get rid of dirt.  It wasn’t funny then, but I am thankful she was there to help me get dressed.

I don’t remember whether it was my mother or me who would remove the fallen hair from the shower, but there was so much, it was traumatizing to see.

 

Continue to read… I’m on the re-read and hope to get it to an editor very soon.  Hope you’ll “Follow” and “Share” to get the word out faster.  Thanks again for your support!  

Be well,

Patricia

Pampered – Part 1

One day my sister, Susy, arranged for her hairdresser (who was also my hairdresser) and the esthetician to come to my house for some TLC.  My hair was so uneven that it needed a clean up immediately.  It felt good not having to go out, and avoided my having to explain to others what was going on with me.

I didn’t want any one to see the ugliness that was under my headkerchief.  Giuseppe cut it short and even, but I still hated it.  My face was so tiny and pale, so I still kept my hair covered because I don’t suit short hair – or balding.

Feeling unattractive became brutually characteristic during my treatments, but I really didn’t care to do much about it.  Buying a wig or putting makeup took energy, and I thought it was all fruitless any way.  It wasn’t like I was going any place special.  Enough trouble lay on figuring what to wear from a closet full of clothing several sizes bigger.  My size eight to ten wardrobe became useless, and I had to get some extra-small pieces, for when I had to leave the house for treatments.

My friends bought me a velour hoodie and pant set so I could be warm and comfortable.  There was no escaping the anorexic look though.  I learned to layer my clothing eventually, and avoid strapless tops in the summer, until I felt more confident with my body over ten years later.

 

With all the flooding across Canada, including in my province of Quebec, I just want to wish every one well.  Be safe and alert to warnings. 

As I drive along the Boulevard that runs along the water, and near my home in Montreal, there are quickly rising levels that are intimidating and can be dangerous.  Please be sure to keep your loved ones away from the edges, as there are currents in the water that can be devastating.

This Is It

Then it happened.  What I had seen in the movies came to life.  It was always sad to see, but I never imagined how horrible it would feel if it happened to me.

I don’t remember when it started, but my hair started to fall out.  I was told I would lose about twenty-five percent of it, but following the first dreadful treatments that made me excessively ill, chunks of hair would stay in my hands as I washed it.   I lost much more than expected.  It robbed me of my dignity, my sex appeal, and my hope.   I was disgusted by it and frightened of what it meant.  I cried.  What did this really mean?  Was I dying inside?  What will happen to me?

Since that symbolic event, even the little hair I lose when I wash it is a blistering reminder of facing death.  My legs get weak, a chill runs through my body, and my belly turns upside down.

As I turned the water off, I grabbed my towel quickly to keep away the chill.  I dried myself a little, and wrapped myself again before opening the shower door.

Stepping out, I rested against the wall by the shower to help regain some energy.  I continued to avoid the reflection in the mirrors ahead of me.  I wanted my mom to help me dry off, and she always seemed to arrive at the right time.  Imagine at age thirty-five not being able to take care of yourself, becoming dependent once again on your mother.

 

Once I lost most of my hair, I didn’t wash it in the shower any more. I couldn’t bare to see bunches of it laying on the ceramic in the shower.  My sister, Mary or Lisa, would insist on doing it for me.

“Come, I’ll wash your hair.”  What was left of it was gently washed in the laundry room sink.

“Awh,” I sighed.  Even though they did all the work, I didn’t feel like taking care of my hair.  I didn’t want to see it, so I wore a headkerchief.  The tied fabric around my head kept my hair pressed to my scalp, which made it look worse.  Since I kept it covered all the time, and I hated the damp feeling that left, I would let them wash it.

Looking at myself was intolerable, because I could see what the chemo had done to me and to my long curls.  I became afraid to touch my hair, for fear of losing more.

 

Me and my big mouth!  I recently announced to my family that I just surpassed my highest weight since the operation.  A couple of pounds may seem like a small feat, but they were as happy as I was. 

Although I weigh myself much less now, the following day, I weighed less – under my threshold.  Maybe the manual scale wasn’t well calibrated.  Over a week later, weight seems back up again.  Just goes to show how unimportant the number is.  I feel and look “bigger” since only two-three pounds is noticeable on me.

Be well,

Patricia