Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alberta Road Trip Continued

Not to give the impression that Alberta is all grain elevators, fields and rusty vehicles, but I guess that's what I enjoy shooting...

I'm afraid I can't explain the random prairie refrigerator.


I had my doctor's visit today and my hemoglobin was all Gretzky - in other words 99, baby!

I'll crack a hundred yet, damn it.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few more road trip pictures. This first series is of the usual point-and-click variety.

If I lived there, I'd probably find the following extremely tacky and complain to my municipality about them but, because I was just visiting, I found these ten-foot beer cans hanging out in various farmers' fields novel. So much so, that I had to get my picture taken with one (and because Grasshopper is one of Alberta's best exports, in my opinion).

At Roxann and Jeremy's in Okotoks. I wanted to post the picture I took of Roxann giving me a Wi Fit demonstration whilst drinking cocktails, but she threatened to hurt me.

I met up with my friend Lynette from uni for a wonderful lunch in Nanton. We were having wind issues while taking this picture. Can you tell?

And now a few obligatory scenery pics...those Rocky Mountains never cease to impress (me anyway).

Next time I'll post my "artistic licence" pictures shot on our digital SLR. I have rediscovered my love of photography which I studied a bit in university, but let go of over these past few years (hence the cheezy old Nickelback song - which I like, thank you very much. They are from Alberta so it seemed only appropriate).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Home Again

With Alberta behind us...

(and a brief stop in Vernon), we're back.

Now I'm off to bed as I have to be at the Cancer Agency early tomorrow morning for labs and my pre-treatment doctor's appointment. This is the second one in a row that I will be going to by myself as there has really been nothing to report lately. Last time, when I walked into the appointment and my doctor saw I was alone, she looked surprised and asked, "No entourage?"

We have always felt it important to "travel in a pack" so to speak, first, so that there is always another set of eyes and ears and, second, to provide back up/handle any issues that arise.

It has served us very well, especially at times when I have been catatonic from chemo or had some wing-nut practitioner (of which there have been many). However, as I'm currently feeling strong and quite myself, I'm going solo. I am also in the hands of a very competent trial nurse who, unlike the one I had in Montreal, isn't likely to kill or traumatize me.

On Friday I will have my seventh infusion of SGN-35 with entourage (just in case I have a reaction, which hasn't happened so far). This is the last dose before I have my next set of tests. A combined CT/PET scan on October 9th will determine whether I can continue on the trial.

I sure hope so.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Road Trippin' Southern Alberta

Gotta love a happy barn (on Highway 2 south of Calgary).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rise Again

I don't pray, although I'm pretty sure I did just now, so I'm calling once again on the power of collective thought and intention.

Please keep Adrienne, a friend who has been battling Hodgkin's for more than a decade, and with incredible strength for the past three weeks in the hospital, in your thoughts and in your hearts.

Her liver function and blood counts are struggling to keep up with her.

I am trying to focus in whatever way I can on seeing them rise again.

Please join me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

End of Summer Blues


Well it's about time you checked in.

Actually, it's me who's been playing hooky, but I felt like being passive-aggressive.

I must say, it's been difficult to let go of the summer - the weather, trips, visits and feeling so good. Not that there's any reason why this won't continue, and I do love the changing of the seasons, but I guess I'm suffering a wee bit o' funk. Hence the song on my new playlist to your right.

I've been wanting a soundtrack-thingy on my blog for ages, but every time I tried to enter the code on my seriously old blogger template, it would screw up everything else. Anyway, I finally figured it out and can now add songs to suit my mood at the time of writing a blog entry.

Hopefully it doesn't drive you nuts and my apologies to anyone working in an office who forgot to turn their speakers down. I'll try not to be too embarrassing with my song selections, but you never know. It may be an Enrique Iglesias kind of day.

So here's what was up before I got down...

Stamina. It feels like it's getting better all the time and I've been able to enjoy longer and longer walks and hikes. It's got me thinking of another marathon. This one was taken on a hike with the boys up Lynn Creek.

Visiting with Catherine from Edmonton, one of my co-conspirators in journalism school. She's marrying the lovely Stefan in December on the Mayan Riviera. I'm still hoping to go and I'm sure they won't mind if I crash in their honeymoon suite.

Two of my dearest friends, Josefine and Jenny at Ambleside in West Vancouver (Lions Gate Bridge in background)

Ditching the Cancer Agency after my last treatment to start our road trip to Seattle. Yes, I know...I'm an evil Starbucks junkie, but I just had chemo for god's sake.

One of the highlights of our trip was the opportunity to meet fellow Hodgkin's all-star, Chris, and his lovely girlfriend Jackie. Chris began the SGN-35 trial this summer in Detroit after undergoing a tandem autologous transplant in Seattle. He writes a great blog and, as you can imagine, there being so few of us refractory/clinical trial kids, it's wonderful to meet each other.

After lunch at the Honey Hole, Chris and Jackie were kind enough to give us a tour of some funky neighborhoods in Seattle including this one with a great vista. It was a tad windy, hence my bad hair.

The Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge. Down in front, dude!

After visiting the Troll, we headed to the Bumbershoot Festival in downtown Seattle. I decided to get some mehndi done, but forgot to factor in "drying time." It was a challenge to work my way through the crowd trying not to smudge. It didn't stop me from eating half a pound of fudge though.

Before I smudged...

And...the finale - Michael Franti and Spearhead. With their shows, it's always a little like being at a Wiggles concert for adults (lots of jumping around and audience participation). But we were all for that and it was the perfect way to end the summer.

Peace and love, my friends.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Write On

So the last week has been filled with good things around here: sunshine, friends and family. Today was also the first session of the third writing series I am co-facilitating at the Callanish Society.  Here's my mom as a little girl on the flyer I made.

As always, I was moved to tears to sit in the company of these friends exploring the inner-most regions of the heart and am humbled to be part of this work. It has inspired me to develop a similar workshop on the North Shore which is set to begin in October.

On a less moving note, but "moving" nonetheless, look what's been going on in our backyard...(my toes)

We're not too upset that our old neighbors have moved and the house is being demolished. Last year they cut down a large tree in our yard while we were in Montreal trying to get through my last clinical trial. Is it evil to be happy they've moved on?

They probably don't care, but I'd like to think their old house being demolished is karma. But then what does that say about my past transgressions? Here's cancer, kid. You really f*ed up!