Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wed 31 Oct 2007 Quiet time / Fundraiser

Today was really quiet. A few friends of my aunt popped in for tea and I had an afternoon siesta (having these daily – I am going to have a real problem with facing a full days work in the future). I felt really shitty through the night and this morning. The nausea was sitting high, joints aching and the tiredness remains. After my siesta I felt a bit better, almost as if the nausea has settled. My dear sons presented me with a gift today, bought with their pocket money, a book “You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L Hay”. I am so touched by their thoughts.

On the fundraiser:
I am posting this for Cape Town based people.
We will have a fun afternoon where you can have a haircut or hair colour. Funky bright colours. Donations will be given to Reach for a Dream.

When: Sat 10 Nov
Time: 15h00 – 19h00
Where: email me if you planning on coming and I will send address
What to bring: All your own stuff for picnic, chairs, glasses, spray hair colour, good attitude.
Provided: Venue has a swimming pool and a fire will be provided for those who wish to barbeque.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tues 30 Oct 2007 Bed rest

Yesterday I was fairly calm as we entered the oncology reception room. As it was my first visit, they whisked me off to the oncology social worker with my supporters in tow (Mom and Ian). There we had a chat for about 30 minutes and then we went to the chemo room. The room is fairly nice with about 20 reclining chairs and 2 beds. The beds are only for people who cannot sit anymore. I chose a circle of chairs that were empty, supporters still with me. The chemo nursing staff are unbelievable, you just cannot imagine a more special group of people. After some talking and explanation of the process, my left arm and hand was warmed to find a suitable vein. The needle was inserted and the first of about 10 bags / bottles of my cocktail started dripping in. I just could not contain my emotions any more, quiet a few tears were released by me and my supporters. This is so so real now, no escaping it anymore. (Maybe the pathologist made a mistake and I don’t have cancer). I guess about 2 litres of stuff was dripped into me in across a 5 hours time span. All this liquid in my body means that my bladder needs relieving. I did this twice alone but with the IV needle in my left hand, it is quite difficult to pull down your panties and pants, let alone get them up again. On the 3rd need to wee Ian goes with me and we huddle into the tiny toilet with drip stand in tow. Ian comments “we can join the mile high club now!”. I give him a sarcastic smile back…. All men think of!! Then whilst Ian is hoisting up my panties/pants he tells me how sexy I look today (see, it is still on his mind).

Saw my oncologist Dr L after the session and asked her a few more questions including asking for some paper work she needs to complete for certain work insurance policies. At home I am dizzy, really tired and all my joints aching. Had a very early dinner and was in bed by 2030.

Had a full 10 hours sleep and did not feel too bad today. I can feel the nausea brewing but the tablets keep it at bay. Just very tired with aching joints and had quite a few naps today.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mon 29 Oct 2007 Chemo Round 1

I just could not get myself to sleep. Eventually took another of the little white pills that induce sleep.

I am shitting myself, I am stressing, I just want to cry, I am going mad with my mental visualisation working overtime and this after prayers, meditation and affirmations. I shudder to think what I would be like without my tools.

Sat Sun 27 28 Oct 2007 Blessings

  • I have the most supportive network of family and friends standing up to win this battle with me. I am so grateful for all of you, for your prayers, spiritual healing and candles lit. Words cannot express what I feel in my heart.

  • For all the dinners that have been prepared and dropped at our home. Thank-you Anet and Caron. I feel really bad - as others are cooking, I am relaxing and have a little glass of wine.

  • Medical expenses that are covered by insurances.

  • My morning routine will be 30 minutes shorter as I don’t have to shampoo, condition, dry and style my hair

  • No more underarm or leg shaving

  • No bikini waxing

The week-end was quieter than anticipated, but it was most welcome.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fri 26 Oct 2007 Fundraiser

This morning I had a wonderful bath. I have never had a problem spoiling myself totally at bath times. Sean always says “Mom, you so lucky being a girl and having all those nice bath things”. Every Christmas my wish list is the same - Bubbles and soaps – enough to get me through the year so that each experience is bliss.

A very empathetic lady phoned around 13h00 today to welcome me to the medical aid oncology ‘club’. All approved!!! Chemo round 1 set for Monday 29 Oct, 11h00.

Last week-end I had a chat to Leon and Dick (brothers). Emotionally I will not be able to handle my hair falling out in chunks, so I will be shaving my head before this occurs. “Alida wants to control the process J” From the discussions came the support that they will be shaving their heads with me and we open the challenge to other family members and friends. The idea is that we do some collection of money for charity (children with cancer) and a donation is given with each head that is shaved (we will allow No 1 and No 2 cuts – no longer than a No 2!). On Tuesday evening I bounced the idea off Alan Goodway, who popped in for a visit. Alan is based in Centurion (South Africa) and will be supporting the effort. People that wish to support the effort arrive at a venue (still to be agreed) with a picnic basket (all own suppliers – snacks, drinks, glasses), have a good time, shave a head and donate some money.

Will you support the fund raiser 10 November? Please complete the poll on the site. If positive results obtained, I will post the charity details, banking details, etc. We will need volunteers to arrange venues and haircutting tools – if available for this, please add a comment on this post. If poll negative, we will still do the family ‘shaving’.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thu 25 Oct 2007 Denial ??

Often we stand at life’s crossroads and view what we think is the END, but God has a much bigger vision and He tells us “Relax, it is only a BEND”

This morning I was standing in the bathroom, naked and ready to jump into the shower. I had a real good look at my body. My tummy is fairly flat (which it has not been in months), still a bit of swelling from the surgery, my hips are slimmer than they have been in months, overall a good shaped body for my age. If you were to see my physically, you would not say that I had big surgery 10 days ago - I am moving around, look and feel good.

I cannot believe that my abdomen is full of cancer cells.

Today is a magic day in Cape Town weather wise - Anet came to fetch me and we had a stunning lunch at Hillcrest (a local wine and olive farm).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wed 24 Oct 2007 Chemo Facts

Monday was emotionally draining and yesterday was hectic as a bomb of knowledge was released into the universe. I am most grateful for all the texts, emails, telephone calls, visits, gifts and post comments. Please remember to keep them going thru the ‘quiet dark’ weeks ahead.

Back to the medical aid approval process. After phoning Oncology yesterday and getting practically nowhere, I phoned Dr V’s (gynie) assistant, C. We are on first name terms and I don’t even need to mention my surname. C has undertaken to chase Oncology morning, afternoon and night. Thank-you C. This morning an Oncology social worker phoned me and she is also chasing the process. She phoned me again this afternoon – all documents have been submitted to the medical aid…. I will chase medical aid tomorrow. All this means chemo will maybe only start next Tuesday.

Chemo treatment facts:

I need 3 to 4 sessions 21 days apart
My hair will fallout about 3 weeks after first session due to my chemo cocktail (Ian is looking forward to the natural Brazilian)
Full abdominal surgery when CA 125 under control. Each organ and abdominal wall will be ‘eyeballed’ and omentum (a lattice layer of fat in the abdominal wall - Alida’s simple understanding) will be removed as my type of cancer loves this fatty layer
2 to 3 more sessions of Chemo depending on CA 125 and full histology of omentum

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tues 23 Oct 07 Frustration

I was reminded today that I did not include my role as Cousin. Jandre, you will be pleased to see that I have changed my profile.

A hugely frustrating day….. after a few phone calls to the hospital I was told that the medical aid request is not submitted yet…. I am pulling out my hair (hehehehe only got hair for about another 4 weeks – I will explain the chemo plan in a future post). On the good side, Dr L (my oncologist) phoned me personally and told me all will be ok. I will get chemo next week. Got my CA125 (cancer count). It is 171. Unfortunately we don’t have a count before the tumour was removed – Dr L said it would have been more than double. Our target is to see it between 0-30.

Hennie, my moms sister, phoned me from Dubai this morning. After some chats, explanations and tears, she said something that resonated with me. My dear gran (my mom & Hennie’s mom) was diagnosed with ‘female organ’ cancer that has spread to the bladder some 40 years ago….. sound familiar ???? After quite some intensive treatment my gran lived into her nineties!!!!

Last week Tuesday while still in hospital, Dr V asks me politely if I have “passed wind yet”. I answer “No” fairly shyly. Later that evening Ian, Dylan and Sean are visiting during the permitted hour. I get up slowing and walk to the bathroom to relieve my bladder. I would not say I was walking…. More like floating with a carrot stuck deep into my behind. I relieve my bladder, and ‘gosh’ I pass wind. From my toilet seat I hear Dylan and Sean say “ Oh @#$, MOM IS BACK” (I think the whole E ward heard Alida has arrived). Fortunately I opted for a private room.

Monday 22 Oct Share the news

Had a bad night again in terms of sleep. Woke up at 0430 with a huge pain in my right side. At 0530 gulped to 2 painkillers and slept until 0700 with the pain still in my side - it was there the whole day (quite a bit to get used too.... sleepless painful nights..... uuurrrgggghhhhh )

The mission for today was to share my news personally with close work colleagues. I have now done this... It was an emotionally exhausting day.

Dylan and Sean read the posts today - it was really good for them to understand the illness and all the emotions - well done boys!

Quite a few friends popped by during the day and evening (Ally, Anet, Caron, Sanche & Ets) and I must thank all friends for the sms's and the comments on the posts. You do not realise the impact you are having on me and my family. Thank-you x x

The Oncology clinic was meant to phone me today. By lunchtime I had phoned them 3 times and on the 3rd attempt a lovely patient lady told me that they will be phoning me but they are still waiting for medical aid approval for the treatment. I want to scream "dont worry, I will pay for it myself" - I lesson in patience for myself coming thru this. I have been assured that chemo will start Mon 29 Oct. We have to starting fighting the cancer.

I have started spoiling myself on a different level. Ian bought me a few really nice PJs from an upmarket shop ( the general shops seem to target PJ's for the teens - I certainly cannot see
my 46 year old body in them.... Ian says he has no problem visualising me in them, but I will leave it at that). Also buying a few new duvet covers and a siesta blanket. Need to make my future environment really nice to be in.

(my personal email : ... for those who wish to mail )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sat Sun 20 21 Oct 2007 - Family spotlight on ME

I got up Saturday feeling quite emotionally wobbly. I decided overnight that I would create this blog and that I would create a 'ceremonial magic' display for my healing (I will explain the term more in a future post). I have created my healing ceremonial display and am very happy with it. All family and friends are welcome to add to it.

Kevin and Karen popped in for tea where more emotions where shared. Then Jen (the sister-in-law which provide the whiskey - bless her soul) popped around for a supportive visit. I had a little afternoon siesta after which Wendy (another sister-in-law) popped around to offer her support. I must mention, I have a lot of sister-in-laws..... 5 of them - fortunately we all get along, or so I think.

Saturday evening was a big night for South Africa with the Rugby World Cup Final being played. We WON!!!! Leon (my boet) and Marietjie popped around to watch the game with us. Leon is really anger with the cancer and quite some emotion was shared when we saw each other for the first time Sat, since knowing of the illness.

I have made another change in my life. For years I have really enjoyed expensive brut bubbly but have only kept it for special occasions... bull dust with that idea, from now I will drink it when I want it.

My mom phoned late Saturday afternoon to tell me that she is coming to SA for a month, arriving 28 Oct. She lives in Holland and is finding the illness quite distressing and is adamant that she is driving me to chemo and that she is going to care for me. Bless her!

Sunday, my dad and his wife popped around and my youngest brother Dick and his wife Malinda. More emotions as the siblings and parents face me physically and need to talk to me about my illness.

Sunday nite.... crash with a sleeping tablet - I am starting to depend on the little buggers.

Fri 19 Oct 2007 - Reality shock

Last night I hardly slept a wink.

Jen (my alcoholic sister-in-law) smuggled a small cooler bag into the hospital for me yesterday and Ian and I had a few whiskeys to settle the emotions. I had big ones and Ian was only allowed to have little ones - my goodness, he can go home after visiting hour and have many more, besides which he still has to drive home !

After visiting hours the nursing trolley came past with the usual painkillers and sleeping tablets as options - I go full house - Need them all tonight! And from 2200 it is "Nil Per Mouth" as I need to go for full abdominal scan with a full bladder. Eventually at 0430 I get an injection, but still sleep evades me.

I get up at 7 to wash my face, brush teeth and shower. Have you ever tried to shower with a full bladder..... it is bloody awful. At 0800 the porter comes to fetch me and we take a trip to radiology, with plenty speedbumps to cross with my full bladder - urgh The hospital staff are all in a great mood, the foyer is decorated and all staff members are wearing their Springbok supporter jerseys, the folks are placing bets and everybody is joking around. South Africa is playing in the final on Saturday evening - Rugby World Cup fever has infected the whole nations.

The abdominal scan show that my lungs, speen, liver, kidneys are all clear of visible lesions - excellent news !!! That means that the cancer cells have not yet had time to adhere themselves and to grow into something that the human eye can see. (Dr V did mention that he removed a little growth, like a mole, from my bladder) .

Back to my ward to checkout as I want to go home now. My heart is heavy but I manage to smile. I forgot to mention, one of the nurses, Charlotte, was absolutely stunning with me yesterday and she popped around at the end of the day with a PS chocolate for me, with message "never give up". What more can I say.

I had a little afternoon nap at home and then Margie and Roza (two friends from work) came around to provide emotional support. It was wonderful drinking bubbly with the girls and to talk about non cancer stuff and to laugh, tho it hurts my tummy when I laugh, but what the heck.

We had a quiet family dinner, Dylan (16) went out and Sean (14) stayed home to watch the Rugby World Cup games for 3rd and 4th place. I went to bed around 2030 and just sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed, those raw emotional sobs.. .. all the questions 'why me?' I am just so so scared of the road ahead... and I am going to lose all my hair... I just cannot handle it all at the moment.

Thu 18 Oct 2007

How a persons whole life can be shattered within a few minutes. It is a sure fact that we are all going to die, but when death stares you squarely in the eyes, it is a very emotional matter to get to grips with !!

The background:

End July I went to see my gynie Dr V for my annual checkup. During this visit I explained the problems I had been having with intermitted bleedings.... probable cause being my age (46) and the onset of menopause. Dr V did the internal examine and found some things not being ok... so off we went to the scanning room where we found an ovarian cyst on my right ovary. It was about 7cm in diameter and looked quite normal with clear liquid. We agreed that I would go onto the teenage pill Yasmin for two months as ovarian cysts are fairly normal and they come and go naturally - the extra hormones would just assist this process.

About 5 weeks later I go see Dr V again. The cysts is still there and has now grown to about 8cm. Not much growth, but the content has become toxic and it was starting to make more ancilliary cysts. After discussion with Dr V we agreed that I needed surgery to remove the cyst. Surgery was planned around my working schedule for 6 weeks hence.

Monday 15 Oct 2007 I went to see Dr V again quickly before the planned surgery. The Cyst was still there and had grown into a healthy 13cm diameter presence. Monday evening Dr V said the surgery had gone very well, he removed the complete right ovary, my womb and quite a few smaller cysts from my left ovary. The left ovary looked very healthy and the balance of my internals looked great! (good stuff to know :) )

All the daily checkups with Dr V went well until Thursday morning. I was sitting in my hospital bed, quite happy after a lovely shower waiting for my 5 star breakfast to arrive. About 0745 Dr V phones me and asks if I am alone and can he come chat to me..... oh dear that means not good news!

And the news: Ovarian cancer Stage 3B This means the cancer has spread from the one ovary to the other but has also spread into the abdominal cavity where lesions smaller that 2cm can be found (technical description from wikipedia). I must get Chemo.

The balance of Thursday was a blur with various doctors visiting my bedside and all sorts of scans / x-rays and blood tests.