Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cub Scouts Get Well Cards & Cookies

Best Blog Tips
This morning my brother Ryan came by to take Faith and Myrtle to Myrtle's swimming lessons. To my surprise he dropped off cookies and cards that were made by the Cub Scout pack last night, where I volunteer. One of the Cub Scouts is Ryan's boy.

Avoiding bone fractures is a high priority for me. Sitting upright after a while is uncomfortable, as is standing and walking. So unfortunately, Cubs night is one of things I have to take a break from.

At Cub Scouts the leaders are called names from The Jungle Book. My name on Wednesday nights is Baloo.
The cookies.
I had to Google what a Yoshi egg is. 
Not too sure what the bottom is, but I like it.
Great job of replicating the Cub Scout logos.
Thanks Jaden!
An astute observation Gavin.
Outside of the card.
Inside the card. Thank you Logan!
For any of the Cub's parent's that read this, please tell them the Baloo loved that they baked him cookies and made him cards!

March Madness Indeed

Best Blog Tips
March has been a memorable month for our family. Finding out there's a large tumor inside of me that might be cancerous and then waiting 26 days to find out that it is cancerous was a real challenge. Now we're waiting for more tests and biopsies to determine whether it is plasmacytoma or multiple myeloma (both blood cancers).

It was strange to hear Faith pray tonight that I would have plasmacytoma. Multiple myeloma from what I gather is less fun between the two cancers. I've concluded earlier in the month that it's easier being the family member in need than it is for everyone else. Hearing that prayer, talking to my brothers (Andrew included) and my parents only solidified that conclusion. I'm so grateful that Myrtle is in baby bliss, unaware of it all.

Quickly I've learned that my high school biology classes 16 years ago haven't helped me understand anything about what is going on. The only thing plasma I knew of are in TV's and Star Trek episodes. Plasmacytoma? Even my spell check doesn't recognize it. Grasping that my blood is cancerous ...unfathomable. Currently I'm about as ignorant as one can be on plasmacytoma and its implications.

If I knew all of life's outcome I would have no faith, learn nothing or gain wisdom. I'm not quite yet grateful for having plasmacytoma, however I'm grateful, really grateful, for the focus I have on life and I that I get to find out what I am made of.

Some that know me, know my affinity for ice cream and my love for jalapeno chips. Those two vices got me through fifteen years of break-ups and disappointments. When I got THE CALL I knew there was not a chip bag or a tub of ice cream big enough that would bring real comfort or provide any solution.

Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food. 

Something had to change. Tuesday I met with a competent nutritionist and learned of a few tweaks and adjustments to help me be in optimal health for this new chapter in my life. Far as I'm concerned my road to recovery has begun.

Another important moment happened Tuesday. I walked in my bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror and spontaneously said loudly "Ruban you are going to beat this!" After that I felt like I just did, the doctors just don't know it yet. The rest of the day it felt like I was carrying a secret bagging to be told, so I went to my Facebook profile and broadcasted how I now felt. It was so liberating to click on the "Share" button that I let out a very loud whoop accompanied with the classic fist pump. Poor Myrtle was so startled by it she almost cried. Faith ran into the room to see what was wrong. 
Have you ever ran or exercised until you hit that mental wall, thinking in near tears that you'll die if you keep going? Mentally that is how I feel (but with full blown tears), except the difference is that I will die if I don't keep going. 

Today someone thoughtfully dropped off a gift that now graces our living room and I want to share with you too.
Thank you E.H.!
Really, truly, with all my heart thank you for all the well wishes, good vibes and prayers! Smiles, hugs, handshakes are most welcome, but please just save the sorry's and sad faces for the cancer and not me. Capiche?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Revised - Spaghetti Dinner is Waiting. Biopsy Results.

Best Blog Tips
Whoa! I reread my rushed blog entry on my Blackberry while waiting at the ferry terminal and was slightly embarrassed by my writing, but much more amazed that anyone could decipher a thing.  It's been a long emotional day and it's now 1:40am, so I doubt that my revision will be too much better. Than again, it can't be too much worse.

Here it goes:

Since I have a spaghetti dinner waiting for me that my sister-in-law Colleen and my niece Kathryn made  I'll write something short.

I'm sure a lucky guy to have anyone care about what's going on. Best of all is having Myrtle just happy to see me.

My folks, my brother Jason, Faith and Myrtle came with me today for the biopsy results. Just Faith and Myrtle waited in the office with me. Dr. Clarkson, the oncologist and the resident doctor from before came in and sat down, looked serious and somber and said I do not have osteosarcoma and the tumor is not just a benign giant tumor cell.

I have a blood cancer called plasmacytoma OR multiple myeloma. From what I understand the plasmacytoma brought on the tumor. If one has multiple tumors than its multiple myeloma. My doctor said the survival is good with plasmacytoma and with multiple myeloma not so good. I was told I'll be doing a few more biopsies and will know what I have exactly and the recovery plan in "about" the next two weeks.

So there it is. Spaghetti is best served warm.

Okay, I revised the above. Still not Shakespeare, but as good as it going to get.

Dion, my oldest brother just called and I told him that I was revising my blog. Jokingly I said "I don't want to ruin anyones day with a blog about cancer that's rife with errors." He joined in by saying "You don't want people thinking 'Gee, not only does he have cancer, but he can't spell or use proper grammar'."

Sunday night after all went to sleep I browsed the internet just tiring myself out so I wouldn't toss and turn in bed.

Monday morning was similar. My parents came to J & Colleens and we all talked about nothing. Maybe there was topics we were talking about, but I don't recall a single one. Other than a delicious meatloaf sandwich and knowing I had family around all I remember was trying to not think about my 2:45pm appoint at the cancer clinic.

When I checked in they asked me to go get my blood checked. That was my first clue something was up.

My second clue was when the nurse who took my blood sample asked me when I was diagnosed. I thought maybe she just assumed, I was at a cancer clinic after all.
After that we went into the doctor's office and waited for somewhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours. I don't know how long, close to forever I'm sure.  To kill time we opened all the cupboards doors and drawers and gave Myrtle some tongue depressors to play with.
After that she tried a little walking with the doctors stool on wheels, she'll be walking before long.

Soon after the doctor came in and gave the news. It was right to have Faith and Myrtle there, our conversation though is not for me to write about here. I will say though that this is a new chapter for our marriage, for our family and I look forward to our future.

After the doctor left my parents and Jason came in. I shared with them the diagnosis. After it sunk in my father gave me the most heartfelt caring hug he has ever given me. Never did I ever feel more of his love for me. My mother followed suit right after. Being a new parent I could feel a glimpse of how their hearts must ache. Jason then came over and hugged me as well and never have I been so happy to have the brothers I have.

We drove back to J & Colleen's place and ate a great dinner made by Kathryn and Colleen; as always Ethan provided the entertainment. We then packed up drove to the ferries. At the newsstand I bought Myrtle a new book and read it to her on the ferry ride home.
I might have not gotten my way regarding benign tumor, but that doesn't mean God didn't hear me. It doesn't mean I'm not cared about. In fact I feel very comforted and I'm ridiculously optimistic about my future.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Are You There God? It's Me, Ruban.

Best Blog Tips

We've been staying at my brothers home for eight days now, a few more days than we thought we would. I've been asked to stay off my hip completely which equals bed rest.  Day one I watched lots of TV, but by 2:30pm I had enough of Oprah and her Dr.'s. Plus, soon after my niece and nephew came home from school, they are more entertaining anyways.
One out of the three isn't hamming it up.
Through out the week I dabbled watching a little more TV. I tried reading things called books, but my attention span seems to be as long the throbs of dull pain in my hip. Every throb reminds me why I'm lying down on a foam mattress in my brothers living room. 

Right now the house is quiet as the family is at church, Faith is upstairs getting ready for the day and Myrtle's napping beside me. Now as I feel that dull pain throbbing in my hip I can't help but wonder about her future and literally what will tomorrow bring when I get the biopsy results.
Hopefully Myrtle is the only that sleeps through this blog.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Prior to THE CALL I have been more or less the praying type. Since THE CALL my prayers have increased and intensified somewhat. I certainly have had a moment or two of "Why me?" That attitude though interfere's with having faith and really living life. 

Prayer is something I have given much thought of lately. Mainly because I have never quite grasped how and why it works, just that it does. Considering the variety of responses to my request to pray for me, it sounds like I am not that only one who doesn't understand.

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.
~ Saint Augustine 
Roman Christian Theologian and Bishop of Hippo from 396 A.D. to 430 A.D. 

I was reading a book review for Promptings or Me? Recognizing the Spirit's Voiceby Kevin Hinckley. And I thought to myself "Looks like an interesting read. I wonder what the author's thoughts are on the how and why prayer works." So I emailed him and he graciously replied:

If Aunt Tillie needs a dose of divine intervention and I, in my nightly prayer, forget to mention her because I had too many other things on my ‘prayer list’, does she go without? Would a loving Heavenly Father withhold blessings He intended for Tillie, simply because I missed her in my prayer?

Again, what do we hope to accomplish in our conversations with our Creator?

The Children of Israel stood with the Red Sea before them and charging Egyptian army behind. Had they simply been content to a 1) narrow down my decision to two choices, 2) choose one, 3) look for burning or stupor, and then 4) follow, they wouldn’t have made it. Their two choices probably wouldn’t have included “ask the Lord to part the Red Sea!” More likely, it would have been: We narrowed our choices down to going North or going South. We decided on North. Can you confirm this?

Imagine Israel’s frustration when they couldn’t get an answer either way: no stupor, no confirmation, no answer at all! Doesn’t He care? They’d wonder. Can’t He see we’re in trouble here?

The truth, obviously, would be that the Lord had a completely different plan in mind. His plan included options the Children of Israel could not even conceive of.

So, in looking at our own prayers, are you more interested in your solutions or His? Do you really want to be limited by your mortal, myopic solutions to your problems or would you be more blessed by learning his panoramic perspective?

In short, why do we pray? To learn what it is He wants us to do.  We pray to be filled by the empowerment that comes from divine communication.  We pray to learn His will, not to tell Him what He needs to do for someone or something.

This might include “what would you have me do for Aunt Tillie? Heavenly Father, you love Aunt Tillie. She’s your daughter and I know you will bless her according to her needs. How can I help? Is there something I can do for her?”

I feel comfortable praying for the tumor to be benign and for a swift recovery that I may provide for my family. Additionally I pray for support that I can handle this well. 

Praying is seemingly an intangible thing. There's been plenty of times I have not wanted to pray, or questioned if there was anyone to pray to. But I've been fortunate enough to have recognized answered prayers and this makes the intangible tangible. 

For example I know myself better than anyone, so I know that the burden of the implications of the tumor for me are heavy. Prayer answered: that burden has been lifted.

My earning power this month was taken down a few notches. Prayer answered: my brother's business partner had a 50/50 draw at a bar he spins vinyl at to help out with our travel expenses. Someone at the Workers Compensations Board noticed that I was underpaid and sent me the difference. 

I can't play with Myrtle as I used to or help Faith around the house. Prayer answered: my dad comes by and cleans our house scrubs the shower and picks up groceries. Here at my brother Jason's, he and Colleen and their kids play all day long with Myrtle.

Of course there's a hip tumor the size of a kiwi weakening the bone. Prayer answered: I have one the best doctors in the whole world working with a team on my recovery plan.

I've had a few sad moments, but somehow felt comforted. Prayer might not make me invincible, but it sure has calmed my troubles, kept me focused on the positive and open to miracles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Couch Potato's Massive Missive: The Biopsy

Best Blog Tips

Meeting My Oncologist and his Posse

Monday's first appointment was at the BC Cancer Agency's Research Centre in Vancouver. Arriving there was as if I was living someone else's life. I pray several times a day for the tumor to be benign. I even say "benign" over and over again when I doubt or feel pain. So being at a cancer clinic felt just wrong.

My brother Jason came with us to help and what a great help he was. Myrtle slept most of the drive there and all through the first appointment, Jason stayed with her in the car till she awoke and stayed with her for another nap later on - Thanks J! 

The first appointment was mainly paper work ranging from my personal and family's health history to pages of questions about my physical and emotional well being since THE CALL.
Was able to be more focused answering questions in a hospital gown.
After the paperwork we met with a physical therapist who assessed my hips mobility and strength (both very low). After her, my oncologists assistant (who is a doctor) did an assessment similar to the physical therapists. 
Even Patch Adams would be confused.
Later they joined my oncologist who was being shadowed by a resident doctor and a student doctor. All five were friendly, professional and seemed to actually care. I really felt like I was in good and talented hands. What a relief.

My attending oncologist is apparently world renowned for limb salvage surgeries. He informed me that due to the tumor too much of my hip bone has been weakened to reconstruct. He requested that I get more hip X-Rays so he and his team have a better understanding of how to proceed regarding my surgery.

At my follow up appointment on March 28th they will know what the game plan of my recovery will entail; whether the tumor is malignant or benign will of course determine much. Either way it sounds like I should be getting a new hip.

The Biopsy

My second appointment was the biopsy at VGH. I brought my camera and the doctor there said "How odd that you would want a picture" and seemed hesitant about it. I said that this was not a normal Monday for me and figured I might as well document this odd part of my life. Before I knew it the nurse and doctor were discussing the best angle to take a picture. 
Moments before being prepped before the biopsy.
It felt surreal lying there, waiting for another CT Scan. Cloths were draped over me only leaving my head and my left hip uncovered. My hip was cleaned with a pink solution and a cotton swap. 

Laying there I couldn't see anything, the doctor was good at describing what was being done. He explained that he was about to freeze the area, like a dentist does. After seeing the first needle (it was huge) I decided to not look at the rest as each one would be bigger to reach the bone.

After I was frozen the CT Scan was used to locate the tumor and map where the biopsy was to take place. The doctor then got out a scalpel and informed me that I would have an inch scar and that it would also be used later like "X" on a map for my surgery. The incision this day was for the biopsy needle.  

I didn't see biopsy being performed, and though I felt no pain I sure felt the pressure of it. Five core samples were taken from the tumor. Each time felt like the thump of a bass speaker was pounding in my hip.

I asked to see the tumor samples and they were in a small bottle immersed in a clear solution. Each one was about an inch in length and thinner the dry spaghetti. They were white with red dots through out it. 

After the biopsy my third and final appointment was back to the BC Cancer Agency for more hip X-Rays.  

Couch Potato

Due to my hip bone being so weak my oncologist said to keep off it altogether. Considering how uncomfortable/painful it was for me to travel here from Victoria the best conclusion was to stay at Jason and Colleen's till the next appointment. 

Walking and sitting hurt, it's not super painful, more super uncomfortable, but before too long it becomes painful. Moving little and lying down doing nothing are the doctors orders, which is good because it's all I can do. Mentally it's tough being so unproductive and unable to help or just do what I want.

It occurred to me today that I need to step back from a few things: being a Cub Scout leader, teaching Sunday school, gardening, going grocery shopping, taking Myrtle to her swimming lessons, etc.  

Myrtle on my lap doesn't really work well. I can't carry her, change her or do much really other than talk and interact with her until she crawls away. I'm so happy she has her Uncle Jason, Aunt Colleen cousins and their dog and cat to share her curiosities beyond the couch with.
Uncle Jason and Myrtle reading.
It's hard for me to accept my current limitations, but it's more emotionally wearing explaining this to others and even more difficult asking for help. But, if I were to get a fracture I'd be more of a burden and in much more pain.

Between now and March 28th I'll just hurry up and wait, catch up on some reading, thinking and emails. 

Even though the biopsy has been done, I still pray for it to be benign and that I will have a swift recovery and if you actually read this far why not join me?  

All I want is to have a happy and healthy family to provide for and enjoy friendships along the way.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Adductor Magnus Miracle

Best Blog Tips
The last time my voicemail was full was from two doctors calling me repeatedly asking me to call them ASAP. This morning when I woke up I checked my voicemail and heard "You're mailbox is almost full. You have room for one more message." It's amazing how quickly ones thoughts can race to the bottom. I thought for sure I was going to be told something like "Hey sorry Ruban, uh, we had another look at your bone scan and, uh, ...".  

It turns out I forgot to delete some old messages and there was a new one from my brother Jason inviting us to visit sooner then planned. I felt silly for fearing the worst, when it was just a friendly invite to hang out for a few days.  

Worrying about my what my voicemails were didn't change the reality of what it was. Thoughts are powerful, but reality wins all the time. 

It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. 
~William Shakespeare

Even though I am an optimistic person sometimes for a moment dark thoughts creep in. Like any uninvited thought I try to think of something else, sing a song, and before I know it dark gives way to light. Recently an old Tom Petty song rolling around in my head has been helping out:

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. 
~Albert Einstein 

Had I not got injured at work I wouldn't have got an MRI so quickly. I could have waited for up to a year if WCB didn't have a way to bump in line of in front everyone else. Of course there's the question of whether the injury somehow triggered the tumor. Perhaps, but groin injuries are common whereas tumors in the groin not so much. I am very blessed to have got injured at work, not only for the MRI but to spend more time with Myrtle. Who knew a torn adductor magnus could be a miracle? 

Tonight will be Myrtle's first time being babysat. Monday is my biopsy in Vancouver. I am more nervous about tonight than the biopsy. All I can say is that whatever the outcome of the biopsy is there's no way I'm going anywhere. I have a woman to raise.
Blogging doesn't get more exciting than this.
Till next week, please keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

UPDATE Bone Scan Results! Sherpas, Bucket List, CT Scan Results

Best Blog Tips
The Best Part of Waking Up is a Voicemail From Your Doc!

Perhaps this deserves it's own blog entry, but here's the latest update (9:00am March 17th):
Incase your reading this where you can't watch or listen to the above (like my brother who's in the Navy), my GP called to give my the test results of my bone scan. Aside from the tumor in my pelvis / hip, all is clear! There are signs of maybe arthritis in my foot. 

I was holding Myrtle when I checked my voicemail and she was all smiles and she clapped (as best as she can). I like to think she understood the voicemail, but then again I was shouting for joy and bouncing her up and down.

Googling Hip Tumor

Googling "hip tumor" I found this: 
Interestingly it has been suggested that perhaps the tumor was brought on by my mobile phone on my hip. I have also read that maybe it was from my groin injury. Also other possible causes or why's I have read are: stress, genetics, laptop, vaccines, red meat, toxins, Wi-Fi, processed foods, karma, etc. etc.. 

I've also read that there is a cure(s) but the evil pharmaceutical companies silence anyone from sharing this with the world. So somehow pharmaceuticals have a hold on every single country in the world, 6.91 billion people, just to be greedy... Who knows.

What I have learnt most from Googling the tumor and osteosarcoma is that there's too much contradicting information and everyones opinion is "right".  

Help Wanted: Sherpa

Being on crutches isn't the worst thing, but I prefer being bipedal.  Old habits die hard.

Carrying items is now a challenge. Monday I had a meeting and needed to ask someone to carry my stuff out to my car (thanks Dave). Last week I needed to make a run to Superstore at night when Myrtle was sleeping (Faith has her learners) and called a friend to come with to push the shopping cart. It's a good thing he came too because Faith had my credit card and Superstore doesn't do IOU's, but a friend does (thanks Justin).

Thankfully my mother-in-law let me know that the ferry ride to Vancouver is covered by Medical Service Plan (MSP).  This got me thinking of what is available to a fella like me.

One can get a temporary handicap parking permit if on crutches, but they can't be able to walk 100 meters. I can walk 100 meters, however I am not supposed to, hence the crutches. Since I can though, I can't have the parking pass. Which is fine, there's many worse off then me.  Still, I can't help but notice that a sherpa would be super useful, another thing MSP won't budge on.
Needed: One Sherpa part-time
Slow Thinking

Knowing there's a tumor I think slower. Almost every thought is punctuated with possible repercussions. Knowing what a fracture can do I walk a little more careful and drive less (sitting down hurts). Knowing that maybe, just maybe, my days here might not be as long as I hope, I no longer sleep in. 

I seem slower to be irritated too. As Faith has often quoted "We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions." For me that rings true. 

My Grandpa, Franklin Smith, once gave a eulogy at man's funeral who no longer was the church going type, his family left behind were. They may have expressed a little concern over the deceased's future in the eternities. Grandpa said "most believe the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That's wrong, the road to Heaven is." If our Father in Heaven doesn't know our true hearts, if Jesus Christ isn't in our corner I suppose we're all out of luck. I've got a hunch though that God knows our hearts. So who am I to be irritated or judge? It's freeing actually. That said, people sure are interesting

Being a Father, Husband and Me

Getting THE CALL wasn't a death sentence, but it sure has been quite the reminder my body is mortal and like you, my days are numbered. I've considered the possibility I might die before Myrtle is an adult or me being a grandpa. Recognizing I ought to put my life in order isn't giving up, it's being responsible. 

Questions come up like: Who gets my collections of Rolling Stones from the early 1990's? And: Have I journalized my life enough so Myrtle knows what type of man I am and that I think the world of her?  

More than anything and I mean anything, I want to be there for my family. But if I'm not I want Myrtle and Faith to have a family. Even if it's not me, I would want Myrtle to have someone to call Dad and Faith to have as husband. Life should be shared. That's all I'll write on that here.

For myself, the only two things I'd regret never doing is going sky diving and swimming somewhere tropical. So I guess that's the start of a bucket list. Living to 100 is another I just added. Now I have three things.

Best for Last

The results for my CT scan came in. The short of it is that the survival rate of the tumor if it metastasizes into the lungs is about 21%, not great odds. 

There was no sign of metastasis! Right now there is no better news.  That doesn't mean you can stop praying for my family though. (Hint, Hint)

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's It Like?

Best Blog Tips
It's safe to say that before Myrtle was born I knew babies existed. Now all I see is babies, babies, babies. I stare a pregnant bellies sometimes too. I'm just amazed that babies are everywhere and more are coming.

Talking to a pregnant friend on Sunday I couldn't help but ask questions like "How does it feel when baby moves?" and her husband "Have you felt baby move?" Then like everyone else I gave sneaky unsolicited advice "Everyones going to give advice, it's best to smile and nod."

I'm not  pregnant, but I do I have a free loading tumor on my hip that requires me to use crutches to elevate the pressure and avoid a fracture. Like the tummy of a pregnant women these crutches are a gateway of random well-meaning comments, questions and advice. 
Myrtle trying to get an endorsement deal with Hugo® crutches. "Anywhere you want to go!"
People who maybe don't know what to say have said:
  • Life is strange, eh.
  • Springs around the corner.
  • I read your blog (no eye contact).
People that know me enough to ask, but clearly don't know me well ask: 
  • How bad was the other guy?
  • Basketball injury?
  • Soccer injury?
People who know me well enough to know better that I wouldn't be playing sports ask:
  • What does it feel like?
  • How is Faith really doing?
  • When will you know? (Referring to it being benign or malignant.)
  • Is there anything I can do for you?
Where the tumor is it feel like a pinch or a tired muscle from exercising. My left leg feels like growing pains, an overall dull ache that varies in intensity. Sometimes my outer thigh falls asleep and there's the pins and needles sensation.

Faith is the best person to ask how she is really doing. Blogging about how she's coping might be a little too fresh and personal. It's her story to share, not mine to blog. That said she is doing excellent all things considered. Myrtle has a fantastic mother and Faith has now taken to babying me too. Faith is working around the clock going the extra mile. Regularly I'm told to stop cleaning, doing the laundry and dishes, making sure I don't over use my leg to avoid a fracture. 

I don't know when I'll know everything. Not knowing keeps me up late and wakes me up early. 

Is there anything that you can do? Pray, really pray with faith for my tumor to be benign and for a swift recovery. And please share what you do to relax, recommend a good comedy to watch, send a funny joke.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Karma is a Tip Jar

Best Blog Tips
When I was in the sixth grade the local Chevron gas station had a grand re-opening to celebrate their new convenience store addition. There was clowns, free hot dogs and a contest to win a years supply of slurpees.  I was barely listening when my name was called. I had won. It was a card for 52 slurpees, not quite a years worth. I became real popular pretty quick and within a week or so the card was used up and my popularity went back to normal.

Someone there was bound to win. Most of life is a numbers game, there's a certain amount of people who will be: diabetic; born rich; live in poverty; married; divorced; never marry; live to be 100 yrs old;  or win a year supply of slurpees in grade 6 and get a tumor at age 33.

There's not usually a particular rhyme or reason to a lot in life. It just happens.  Karma is a tip jar, not something preached in a children's hospital. 

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

“[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. …

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride"

— Jenkin Lloyd Jones

Truth is I don't know if this tumor business is harder on me or my family.  

Recently, I was talking to a friend who had a financial blow of sorts. After listening to him I wasn't too sure who had it worse between the two of us. Meaning life happens differently to all, because we are all different. On crutches people open the door for me, give me concerned looks and say "atta boy" comments. On the other hand my friend with the financial issues? No stranger would care and no friend has the money to bail him out. We all have our crosses to bear.
I prefer hanging out at home with Myrtle then at the hospital.  Myrtle somehow knows that it is not where she is, but who she is with that matters. She was just as happy to see me come out of the change room in a muumuu as she is seeing me at home. 
One day Myrtle might care what I'm wearing.
My little tumor (kiwi's are small? ...right?) might be benign (as I pray that it is). Then again I might be down a limb by years end, or the year's end might be my end. When I pray and think of my life though, I think of seeing Myrtle getting married and other milestones of life that are years down the road. I pray for everything and expect nothing.

Well, I do expect there might be a few more bumps to come. My prayer and hope is for when life knocks me down I get back up and "thank the Lord for letting [me] have the ride."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm a Radioactive Ghost. Super power(s) TBD.

Best Blog Tips
It just doesn't feel real, it's as if I'm going to someone else's appointments. But yet I know all to well it's me whom those appointments are for. 

Over the past week a line from a Springsteen song rolls around in my head. 

Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air

Before THE CALL I thought I truly couldn't care any less about reality television and celebrity gossip. However, as it turns I could and do care infinity less. So with things that do matter, like conversations (aka difference of opinions) with Faith about this and that were so important are now incredibly trivial. Really having / being a happy and healthy family trumps all. 

This morning my oncologist's office called for me to get more blood work today, before my injection for the bone scan. To get there in time Myrtle was woken up (happy) from her nap and off to the clinic we went.
With time to spare we arrived at the Royal Jubilee Hospital for the bone scan injection. I was informed that after my injection I could not cuddle, hold or kiss Myrtle for 24 hrs due to being radioactive.  First realizing I couldn't carry her around due to the crutches was deflating enough and then learning I can't hold her was and is beyond disappointing.  I'm her daddy, it felt like my life's biggest role was stolen. Even though it's "just" 24 hours, it's 24 hours too long to be on the sidelines.

Our little family was about 70+ years younger then the other patients in the waiting room. Myrtle easily provided the entertainment engaging the geriatrics with her smiles and walking with my crutches.
Myrtle entertaining the troops.
While Myrtle enthralled crowd I got a radioactive shot by a nice guy named Chris. Below is a video of that and if you turn up your speakers loud he does a great job explaining things.

After the injection we went for a drive to Cordova Bay for lunch at Café Yucatan. It was nice to have a change of scenery and see the friendly faces of Murray, Dave and Justin there. Our friend Shantel happened to pop in during her lunch break.
Café Yucatan's "Norm"
We came back the RJH for my bone scan. We arrived early and they took me in early too. The staff, not sure their titles, were excellent and gracious enough to take several photos for me.

Michael Jackson had one of these right? 

They taped up my feet to keep them still.
Tonight we had dinner at my folks. It was nice to not have to worry about a meal and since I can't play with Myrtle Grandpa and Grandma filled in. I felt like a ghost not getting in the mix and just watching. 

Tomorrow Myrtle is being smothered with hugs and kisses. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World Spins Madly On

Best Blog Tips
UPDATE: My biopsy in Vancouver is Monday, March 21st. 

The very last thing I want to be asked or think about is my tumor. However, the only thing I seem to think of or want to talk about is my tumor.  Saying "my tumor" is odd. Why do I own a tumor? I don't need or want it.  Maybe referring to it as "it" and "the tumor" is more apropos.

It's been a week now and I feel like it has taken over my life in large and subtle ways.  Hard to make plans when I don't what's going on, where it's going on or for how long.

I'm not sure if it's hereditary, but my dad at times can have the symptoms of a hypochondriac. Now those hypochondriac tendencies seem to creep up on me here and there now with my left leg.

As I write Myrtle is under my legs, crawling around and trying to reach and grab anything, just going after all she wants. I admire her, that focus and determination to just go for it and be in the moment. She has fallen down, banged her head, slipped in the tub, suffered scrapes and bruises but she soldiers on with a smile. I love that girl.

Why do bad things happen? I don't quite know why this has happened.

Like most people at one time years ago, I was heartbroken.  I thought it was the worst day of my life, well, it was. After Myrtle was born I realized the worst day of my life was actually the best day as it lead me down a path to Myrtle.

Perhaps there's something for me to learn from "it", something for my family and friends.

While writing this I received an email from a friend informing me that our friend Jean-Marie Belliveau passed away due to injuries sustained from a car accident yesterday. Jean was a friendly, happy husband, father and a cancer survivor.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

I pray for the best, that the tumor is benign and that my treatment will be swift and effective that I may live a long life and reach my potential as a father and share with Myrtle how she inspired me, her daddy.

only looks posed, Myrtle likes hanging out with me ...really
Addendum: I just came back from Tim Horton's having a hot chocolate with my friend Mark. There were other meeting of the minds there: a group of retirees in motorcycle gear (I think they might've been a part the notorious Grey Panther Gang, infamous for pirating Matlock series on VHS); and 3 hopefuls for Jersey Shore: WestShore. Anyways, Mark and I discussed life much like I'm sure Socrates had with Plato. Our conclusion was humour and positivity is the only way to live.