Friday, April 29, 2011

Penniless and Nearly Dead

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One of the most unoriginal ways to ever introduce a topic is to use a dictionary definition - it's so over used. Last night's episode of The Office Michael Scott did just that to define superlative and Dwight Schrute. Since I'm (unoriginal and) sad to see Michael Scott go, I'll use the dictionary too as a nod to him.

Verb: Engage in gossip.
Noun: Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

Though gossip is associated with harming ones character, in my scientifically unproven guesstimation it isn't usually malicious. People natter about life and who they know and everyone has an opinion. No biggie. Of course hearing back what other people say about your life can be quite weird and confusing. 
My friend called to ask if it was true of what he heard, that we were penniless and Faith was missing meals due to bare cupboards. Regarding Faith missing meals, nope, not true. She eats well and often. Fortunately when she heard that, she laughed it off and said "Nope, skinny from just breast-feeding!" Addressing the penniless allegation they say a picture is worth a thousand words...
Our financial advisor. 
Money is tight, absolutely. Almost everyone at some point has to tighten their purse strings and forgo shopping trips to Dubai. Pretty much everyone I know has had a lean time or is going through one now. We're a frugal family from frugal families and we're making it work. Myrtle is clothed, sheltered and clearly she is fed, loved and very happy.  

My friend calling didn't share the first piece of gossip I've heard in the past two months. Of course I can't address every rumour, but here's the top five:

  1. True: It was me who wrote The Book of Love. You are most welcome. 
  2. False: Ruban's tumor was not brought on by eating kiwi seeds. Though it is the size of a kiwi, it is only a giant malignant tumor cell.
  3. True: Myrtle is really cuter in person.
  4. False: I did not make my fortune sharking people in seedy underground Scrabble tournaments. I won it all fair and square.
  5. Unconfirmed: I'm the love child of  Steven Page (former Barenaked Ladies singer) and Will Smith. Maury Povich, are you reading?


It's true I'm not able to work at the moment and haven't been since I was injured at work last September. Until Will Smith admits I'm his son it's unlikely I'll have millions fall into my lap. Money does help and it does solve some problems.  

My friend calling to ask is what I'd expect a friend to do. What he heard was obvisouly from someone who felt closer to him to ask him and not me; nothing at all mean about that. It wasn't really gossip either, just someone concerned. I added a DONATE button if anyone wants to help out that way (yes it is safe and secure and it goes to our family). 

Really though, the only thing I have ever asked for is to please pray for my family. When I pray expressing that I want to live a long life, one where I contribute and provide for my family I get to add my prayer to yours, asking that I would be healed. It's humbling and encouraging that others are praying for my little family. 

A cousin wrote to me before the cancer diagnosis "I really liked your most recent post about prayer -- it made me think that in addition to praying that the tumor will be benign, I will also be praying to know what I can do for you and your family."  I can't ask for more than that, and I won't need to if that's what my friends and family are doing.

Literally while writing this blog the mail came and Faith brought me my very first "Get Well" card! Other cards have been given (thank you), but it takes faith to give a "Get Well" card to someone with cancer. I wept happy tears when I saw that. Support, love, hope and faith is what anyone ever needs and I'm so very grateful to get it. I absolutley believe I will get well. 

In summary people talk about people, nothing mean was meant and zero offense taken. I wouldn't doubt that someone has said "What?! Ruban said that about me?" It comes with the territory of being human and I'm happy anyone cares, so talk away. 

Shifting gears, my next oncoligist appointment is on May 3rd, and my bone marrow biopsy is on May 4th. I'll also be getting a bone scan, blood test and donating blood for cancer research. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nuts & Bolts

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My meeting with the radiation oncologist was rescheduled to May 3rd, so today was just with the drug therapy oncologist. He explained what plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma (MM) are and that if I have MM I'll be seeing him and if I have just plasmacytoma I'll be seeing the radiation oncologist only. How do I find out what's what? Well,  I get a bone marrow biopsy, the same one I was told I'd get a month ago. When though? Doc said to call him if I don't hear  by Friday morning. 

Today's appointment was less informative then a Wikipedia entry. 

Maybe next blog will be more interesting. Everybody loves a mystery, perhaps a comedy or sci-fi.  Not every blog can be unnecessarily long winded and rampant with grammatical errors; sometimes life is just the nuts and bolts.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How I Merrily Cope

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An aunty of mine who has yet to venture into the realms of Facebook, so she shall remain nameless here, emailed me the morning after my last blog "...I am very interested in your diet.  ... I could use some tips...  So if you don't want to write that "long boring blog" on this subject, I would appreciate the reader's digest version when you have a couple of minutes."

Seeing as I have a couple minutes Aunty, I will write here for you and anyone else who is interested may peek. Those who aren't can click here.

When I got the tumor news I was shaken up and normally I would grab my chips and ice cream to comort. Something in me told me that might not be such a good idea. Soon Faith noticed the change and when I turned down ice cream asked perplexed  "...Because of the tumor?" I think we all instinctively know there's truth to "we are what we eat."

Let your food be medicine and your medicine be food....
~ Hippocrates 

Being someone who has tipped the scale past 300lbs and can fluctuate 20lbs easily - I know my food vices. I know how to feel if a Ben & Jerry's container is fresh (its top and bottom of container has no air pockets). I even have, or should I say had, my method of eating a bag of chips (lick one side, flip it, then put in your mouth = maximizing the flavor). 
During my Rubenesque period. 
Okay, getting off track here with memory lane. What I'm getting at is even with no formal dietician training, I was able to deduce that what I eat has an impact on my well being, including mental and spiritual. Googling "food health codes religions" we see on the top three results are Hindus, Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists. One doesn't have to look long to find a few words of wisdom that when adhered to can improve ones spirit and health.
I'm not really wanting to go deep into my diet, but I did see a reputable nutritionist and got some tests done and was recommended a few adjustments. 

What have been the results? Well let's start with me on my bathroom scale prior to the change in diet:
Now I am about to get up and take a photo of me on it now...
I'm not dieting to lose weight, it was just a byproduct. Dieting might not be the right word either, rather I have adjusted my eating habits to what my body needs instead of what my emotions want. I haven't gone hungry in the slightest and my cravings for junk have pretty much disappeared. 

I'm eating organic where and when possible. Monday we just started receiving locally grown and organic food delivery program. For anyone in Victoria interested here's the link and it's cheaper than buying at the store, plus their bread is apparently fantastic. I don't know how much meat I was eating before but now I try to keep it around 10% of my intake. 

In summary how I merrily cope with this diet change in eating whole unprocessed foods is that it has aided in my mental clarity. My attention span has increased, my mood has improved (slower to get annoyed, even Will & Kate talk rolls off my back), creative thinking and comprehension has improved. My mom has noted that I've gone from a pasty white to having more color in my cheeks. 

All I wanted was to eat better to increase my likelihood of optimum healing from cancer, much more important than weight loss. Other benefits have been new recipes to try out and the discovery of sugar/dairy/gluten free coconut milk ice cream has been fantastic. 
I would write more but I have this to eat. nom nom nom
Please, if you have any gluten/dairy/sugar free recipes, tips or websites please share them! I'm a newbie and can use some guidance. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Serenity Now

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My personality has usually been somewhere between a people pleaser and "I want it my way" attitude. Not quite a dynamic combo on a good day and now that doesn't serve me at all. 

On Thursday I was feeling good and I wanted to have daddy daughter time, that would allow Faith to go run errands easily. "Go, go, go! I'll call if we need you" I said to Faith knowing Myrtle and I would be fine. "Besides, Myrtle is ready for a nap."  Faith went and before I knew it I was too exhausted to pick up Myrtle. I mustered all I had to put in her crib for a nap and sat down on the recliner wanting to nap too. Myrtle cried and her cry was that of a need not being met (later learned she just needed a diaper change). We needed momma. I called Faith, left a voicemail then texted her.
I then called my parents to come, by that time I was in near tears - exhausted, frustrated, confused and betrayed by my body. In the meantime I brought Myrtle to her to toy box and laid there while she climbed over me until my folks came and minutes later Faith. 

How very frustrating not being able to give Faith some time to run the home, or to bond with Myrtle and needing to call my parents for help. This is not how I pictured the life of a man in his 30's. My body seemed to have ditched me. I couldn't "people please" or get my own way. NEVER have I felt more useless. 

There have been other times where things have gone south or just not as expected, but not being able to be the father I think Myrtle needs was the worst experience of my life. Lying at her toy box I just surrendered myself - it brought me to a compelled humility - I don't regret it. 

I thought of the Serenity Prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr:   
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
Courage to change the things I can, 
And wisdom to know the difference.

Pretty wise words of wisdom to adopt, however I just ended up thinking of the "Serenity Now" Seinfeld episode; which is good as laughter is the best medicine. 
Not being able to work has lead to an interesting "hardship" that has bothered me a bit and that is people helping. I love helping people, love it. Receiving help? Uh, ...I don't hate it per se, but it implies I need help and being the provider that's big horse pill to swallow. It's a good uncomfortable feeling that people have reached out, even WONDERFUL. Ladies from church have dropped off meals (even once a husband came along too) and that provided Faith much needed relief as she has now two babies to take care of. There have been kind words given via comments on this blog, Facebook, email, snail mail, phone calls, etc. People have contributed other ways and almost without exception I'm pleasantly surprised who has shown their support. Who I can now call a friend and who is welcome in my home has been expanded.

I do accept the things I cannot change, whether its just my diagnosis or that chemo might make me lose my hair. 

My prayers include asking for courage to change the things I can and that is the golden ticket, focusing on what can be done, rather than what can't. I can be more honest with myself with what really matters to me. I now am pursuing hobbies and interests for whatever reason where not chased before.

Another change I can do is my diet. There's probably a long boring blog I could do on that topic alone. Contrary from me dropping from exhaustion, the changes in my diet have made me feel fantastic. My mood has improved, my mental clarity has changed from a mental fog to sunshine. Plus I've dropped a few pounds. I would attack tough times before armed with chips and ice cream (good-bye old friends). My father-in-law asked what I would eat once I "could have real food again" and I replied "I may never go back... But, if I would it'd be jalapeno chips."

The best change though for me is an increased optimistic attitude. I've only embarrassed myself anytime I've been negative - what a sad way to live. Not long ago someone I know was mocking the idea that one can do anything if they just put their mind to it. In my head I replied "Said the person who watches TV, has a laptop, drives a car..." We all use things everyday that are modern miracles dreamed of and built by people who were mocked for trying, but embraced the idea that one can indeed do anything if they just put their mind to it.
Armed now with prayer, modern medicine, a healthier diet and optimism not only will I live longer than otherwise, I will also live a life worth living. 

My all time favorite movie is Cast Away and it's best line is "...I know what I have to do now. I got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow, the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?" 
Watching the tide come in...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Myrtle,

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“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving

Dear Myrtle,

Last week Grandma Rebalkin asked me how I was coping with my cancer, I replied "It's been about week since I cried so I must be doing better." You might know by now that I cry easily, in my defense I am the baby of my family. But then again I also thought watching your birth was beautiful - it was.

This past Sunday you and momma were at church while I stayed home. I wanted to be there with you, watching you smile at everyone, I especially love how you're mesmerized by the singing and that you "sing" along too.  Since it's a joy to share with you things that bring me joy, I would take you to my Sunday school class. Going to church doesn't make us better than anyone, but going has made me a better person and maybe one day you too will feel that.

Tonight after momma went to bed you woke up crying. I went into your room and you stopped once I picked you up. Myrtle, when you cry I know your needs are not being met, or you think your needs are not being met, or you're just not getting what you want. You don't cry a lot and you are very, very happy most of the time.

Myrtle, I too cry when I don't get what I want or what I think I need. Just so you know you can always cry with me. But if I'm not there, you can pray for comfort and know your daddy loves you.

You play so well with older children that I have said to mommy that "It's too bad Myrtle doesn't have older siblings." You would be such a great big sister too, you already smile at and hug other babies, you're full of love.  People ask me and momma how many children we want and the truth is there is no number. You're perfect, I'm thrilled to be your daddy and I would also LOVE for you to have sisters and brothers too.

Myrtle sweetie, I'm sick, so your daddy's doctor said for me to get better I would need radiation. Since the radiation will be on my hip it might stop you from having any brothers or sisters. I thought about this while you were at church with momma. Being home alone I felt very alone and I cried, really cried "like a baby."

Even though you fight bed time and diaper changes, after it's done you know that you're still loved. Myrtle it's because you're loved it's done. I trust in my Father in Heaven, like how you trust me. My cancer is tough on the family but when it's done, maybe years or several decades later, we will know why it happened and we'll be better for it.

Trust that your Father in Heaven knows what He is doing and that your daddy here is doing his best with what he knows.

Myrtle you are loved, wanted, prayed for and you can wake me up any time.

With love,


March 19th 2011, Goldstream Park

Monday, April 18, 2011

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

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When I was around twelve years old and maybe a little older then I'd like to admit, one of the '80's glam hair bands I listened to was Poison. Like most everyone else, I grew up and stopped listening to them. Then there was some news in 2010 that their lead singer Brett Michaels had a brain hemmorage. Out of nowhere some of Poison's old songs popped in my head and I found myself reminiscing their hits on YouTube.  Like magic his fans and the media shone the spotlight on him once more. 

I have no idea whether Brett Michaels is back in good health and that's where I feel I can relate. My road to recovery looks to be long, perhaps the toughest days are ahead. I wonder who will care when Myrtle and Faith need support the most and 'Ruban having cancer' is old news. That's not to say people don't truly care now (they do) and won't later (they will). Plus it might be unfair to compare my families life to an '80's glam hair band. I'm hopeful that unlike Poison, our little band's best days are ahead of us.    

Actually the outpouring of love has been overwhelming. I'm stunned and speechless to who has reached out and how. Thank you for all the email and snail-mail. 

It's humbling to be in this position. Any distance walked longer than our home I need to use crutches. Anywhere I drive I need someone driving me. My ten month old girl is beginning to move faster then me. Sitting down on a regular chair is best kept under 30 minutes. I could go on, but suffice it to say it has been an adjustment physically and emotionally since my oncologist said "There's no point to go back to work."

Being home the vast majority of the time must be a peek into what it's like living in a seniors home. Like them I spend most of the time in a recliner, read the news, scoff at idiot politicians, and I wait for people to come visit and try to talk them into staying longer (mental note: must buy more Werther's Original Hard Candy). Fortunately, as of now Myrtle is the only one in a diaper here. 

Recently I read a story worth sharing:

There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.
He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.
On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.
Of course I'm on a different journey of sorts, and it's much too early to have a farewell party. Recently I have focused too much on what I can't do thus ignoring what I can do.  Before the tumor I planted on my window sill several seeds to be transfered when they were big enough and the weather was favorable. Thinking about how that man missed out his journey of a lifetime I decided to transfer those plants from pot to soil. Faith brought Myrtle outside and we mucked in the soil. The girls soon went inside to eat dinner and get ready for bed, but I kept on.  
Canada has lax child labour laws.
As cars passed by me I could hear them say (in my head) "Isn't that the guy on crutches with cancer? He should be resting." My reply back was "I am that guy, I'm not dead and mind your own business!" When done I surrendered to a long hot shower and decided to no longer live beneath my privileges. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Enquiring Minds Want To Know

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The oncologist in Vancouver said I would know what my bone marrow biopsy results were in a week or two and I haven't had a bone marrow biopsy yet. That was exactly 2 weeks ago. What can I say, he gave bad info.

Because of that, after the first week I was very anxious to hear from someone and I started calling my family doctor and he was away sick. I left a voicemail at the oncologist's office in Vancouver whose assistant called back to say they faxed it to my doctor who was away sick. Then it was faxed to the doctor who found the tumor and he didn't bother calling me for 3 days. After me calling 4 times he finally called last Thursday as he was driving and had no info in front of him and said that I had only plasmacytoma. 

I realized a little later that I couldn't put much stock into his unprofessional reckless "diagnosis" because one needs to have a bone marrow biopsy to determine that it is only plasmacytoma. 

This afternoon I saw my family doctor who was generous with his time and went over what was faxed over by the oncologist. The fax had no certain diagnosis of plasmacytoma, rather it said they think I have it and I would need a biopsy to find that out if it's also multiple myeloma.

My GP said the reason why the biopsy wasn't done yesterday or sooner was because the nature of plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma is that its not really urgent as treatment within a month or two doesn't make a difference.  

Fortunately lots of people have cared to ask details. So it makes sense for me to give a few details from what I understand in a nut shell:
  • Plasmacytoma is a blood cancer, I have plasmacytoma. The tumor is about the size of a kiwi, it's malignant and was brought on by the plasmacytoma.
  • If I have multiple tumors then that means I have multiple myeloma.
  • Plasmacytoma can later become multiple myeloma.
  • There is no cure for multiple myeloma, just treatment.
My GP said today I could live from anywhere from a year to a decade and treatment progresses all the time and who knows it could be decades before I die.

My next meetings are on April 27th and after that there would be some type of timeline of when the biopsy is to see if I have multiple myeloma and begin treatment. The treatment would probably be radiation based mainly and all done in Victoria. 

Imagine answering and repeating all the above each and every time you talk to someone. It can wear thin. I am so very, very, very glad that anyone cares enough to ask, I really am. Please understand though if I referred you to my blog it's not that I'm being short with you, in fact it just means I'd rather have a conversation about Myrtle, the Royal wedding, the weather, politics, Oprah and Gayle (are they?), is Regis Philbin retiring too young?, trade waxing techniques, how amazing your dog or cat is, whether Donald Trump will really run for president, the benefits of jazzercising, hormone free meat, or if man really did walk on the moon (nope).

But if I bring up cancer you will know I'm needing to talk. If you read this and you bring it up then I know you need to talk about it and I'll be game. It's not a taboo topic around me (I am blogging about it after all), however I am well read and can talk and learn about other topics too.

Another fun topic is how I am doing physically:
  • sitting down hurts in about 20-30 minutes most of the time
  • standing for about 5 minutes I begin to ache and would rather sit
  • lying down on my back is uncomfortable pretty quick unless its a thick foamy or comfy couch
  • the tumor causes muscles spasms and I get a lot of twitches in my left leg
  • the side of my left thigh sometimes "falls asleep" and sometimes it feel like its on fire
  • my spine sometimes feels like its creaking like an old lady
  • when I turn my neck or whip my hair back and forth it can hurt and I can hear it crack like knuckles
I can and do:
  • walk without crutches, but can walk much further with them
  • get up and shower & shave, dress myself and am awake all day
  • empty the dishwasher, do laundry, get the mail
  • stand and hold Myrtle briefly or walk carefully around the room with her
I'm not on my death bed or anything. Well if I do die right here and now, it would be my death recliner. But I'm pretty sure I'm not on my death recliner either. 

My GP said it is best I stay on crutches, not to travel (fly, road trips, Tour de France, etc.) and to look at working maybe in maybe 5 months to a year.

Most importantly I feel more mentally alert then I have in the past month. My body is sure appreciating me eating healthier and ironically I am feeling healthier too.

I know that not everyone has something to say or knows what to say and that's okay. That said, those that have expressed something I greatly appreciate it. Anything from "I read your blog" to "We're thinking of you" helps me to stay focused and cheers me up to know you're in my corner. Every little bit is a huge help.

Yesterday the president of my church's primary dropped off a "heart attack", all the primary children made cards made of hearts, 42 in all. 
I miss being in primary, singing along to the songs, enjoying the enthusiasm of the children. I would bring Myrtle with me, it was special to share her with the kids. My class (8-9 yr olds) called her the "class baby". I know not all 42 know me more than being the bald guy, but they all seem to know Myrtle. 
"we want you alive not dead" Me too Jaden!
From my nephew Caeleb, 4yrs old
From my niece Kathryn, 11 yrs old
From my nephew Ethan, 9yrs old 
From my nephew Logan, 10 yrs old
Today Nathan, my cousin, came by to visit and he he said some things that were helpful. I was trying to explain how it has been helpful to have people praying for me. Years ago while a missionary in the Philippines he contracted malaria. Like me he felt the prayers of those praying for him and said that even though it was him with malaria it felt like almost he was watching himself having malaria as opposed to experiencing it. (Nathan did I regurgitate that okay?) That's how I feel too, well most of the time. Like him I also feel bad for those that are affected by my illness, much more than for myself.

In a helpful way it's healthy to hear others war stories, no one gets through life unscathed. I'm not the first nor the last to get cancer.  As Bono sings "It's not a hill, it's a mountain / As you start out the climb / Listen for me, I'll be shouting / We're gonna make it all the way to the light"

The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Opposite Ruban

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The week has been interesting, not so much the couch potato-ing aspect, but in the whole thinking department. Though I don't entertain "wo is me" or "why me?" those thoughts do pop up, something needs to replace those pests. Usually I will "sing" or hum something, play Scrabble online, see what Myrtle is up to or watch something funny. However recently I have graduated from distraction techniques to asking things "Like what can I learn from this?" or "What can I do?"

Some of my in-laws came today (8 of them) and my mother-in-law asked me about the changes I am making in my diet. So upon mentioning what I am skipping or increasing in my diet I was sure to say that it doesn't bother me what others eat in front of me. I continued to say that I have a goal to live and no food will stand in my way. She responded "You have a higher purpose."
Some of my in-laws before going to the park.

That really struck a chord within, I do have a higher purpose now then what I had last April. It's not like  I needed to change my diet for bikini season, but my focus on why and what to eat has taken a course correction.

Everyone went to the park and I'm sitting here thinking about my higher purpose instead of my plan to play Scrabble online.

I met and married Faith at 30 years old. Prior to meeting her I felt like I spent half my life failing at relationships. So the night before marrying Faith I remember praying something like "Help me to not screw up and I'll be the best husband ever." But time goes on and I forget and then realize later "Oh wait, didn't I pray about my marriage, I don't think I'm being the best husband."

Then when Myrtle entered this world I was stunned by what beautiful moment and spiritual impact that had on me. Equally to that I realized how much I knew about raising a baby girl into a well adjusted woman, nothing at all. I soon prayed something like "Help me to not screw up and I'll be the best father ever. I'll never do XYZ again."

Of course successful family life isn't just accomplished by prayers and wishing. I've said many apologies, bit my tongue, sought spiritual and secular counsel and followed my gut.

My bargaining skills came back again with the discovery of a malignant tumor the size of a kiwi growing on my hip. Bargaining though I realized for me is the "Wo is me" mindset. I began to see a correlation to asking "Why me?" as a selfish view point.

I'm not obsessing the cancer topic, but it is a topic. Of course I don't know why me, but why not me? These sort of things seem to happen to someone else, well I guess I get to be your "someone else".

Now everything I do all of sudden has life or death consequences, coupled with a rippling effect on the legacy I leave my family. All of a sudden marriage and fatherhood is less about me trying to be the best me, rather my focus is much more on what's just best for my family.

Somethings I've being doing was right, somethings were just the opposite.
Though I no longer bargain with God, He hears me several times a day about what I want and I just trust He knows me well enough to give me what I need.

All I can do is eat the best I can, get the most exercise I can, love my family and friends the best I know how. What I read or watch on TV is adventurous, educational, funny and uplifting. Music sure lifts and soothes as well.

My mother-in-law couldn't have been more right, I do have a higher purpose. And I'm glad I do.

My in-laws are back from the park, maybe I should socialize with them instead of blogging about them.

(...and I'll proof read later)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Diary of a Couch Potato

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It's been a week since I last wrote for two or three reasons:

1) I was told I would get a call regarding when my next doctor appointment and biopsy would be and that didn't happen until today (it only happened because I called them repeatedly since Monday).

2) My life has been turned up side down and felt a need to reflect.

3) A healthy mix of procrastination and being dumbfounded.

Late last week I began to get stir crazy. If these are my final days I don't want to be living them out on a couch.  But I don't think these are my last days, so I figured I better get off this couch and live. Sunday feeling motivated to live life and pursue my interests I decided that on Monday I'd rejoin Toastmasters (something I love). Then hours later it dawned on me that "Wait I can't sit in a chair for two hours. Plus sitting an extra combined hour to drive there and back ...and I'm not really up for driving anymore." True, I knew all of that before making the plans, but somehow though it didn't register. It has now sunk in that my approach to life can no longer be same and this new chapter is a major adjustment.

Realizing and admitting what I can't do isn't being negative, it's just the reality. However another reality is there are many things I can do and pursue. Also, I can approach some things I used to enjoy differently, such as: read scriptures when I'm missing church; study to further my career/education; socialize and catch up with family and friends via Facebook and something called a telephone.

Additionally I appreciate the time I have at home, for example not many father's get this much time with their child(ren).  There might be some babies as sweet as, but none are sweeter than Myrtle. I'm one lucky daddy.

Becoming conscious of how to modify my family and mines life hasn't been instantaneous, but a rather deliberate and laborious process that is still in progress. Having optimism doesn't mean that I haven't cried myself to sleep or that this is mentally and physically easy. It has allowed me to move forward any time I've felt sorry for myself and allows me to reject anyone else's (well intentioned and placed) feeling sorry for me. "Wo is me" is a slippery slope and if I go there it will bring me and my family down.

Last Friday was emotionally rough. The past month has been a perpetual state of limbo and I hadn't heard from a doctor since being diagnosed. Faith and Myrtle went out to the market and before I knew it was in tears feeling very alone and tired of feeling needy but still needing to know I matter.  I prayed my heart out that someone would reach out to me. In 3 minutes I got a very nice email from my Aunt Lynn. Some might chalk that up as a coincidence, I knew better though, as it provided the comfort I was seeking.

I know I should have known better than to feel so alone. I have had a tremendous out pouring of love, emails, phone calls, notes and even today I received a hand written letter from my Aunt Ennyd and a card from my Grandma.
Myrtle reading Grandma's card.
Ladies from my church have been bringing meals by each day. It's so nice to have one less thing to worry about and to know that someone would care enough to give of their time and resources. My cousin Tiffany decided to show her love and support by doing an auction to raise awareness and funds for me and her friend who is also going through cancer. Please read more about it here.
Many prayers have been answered recently. It might be because I've been praying more, or others are praying more or maybe now I'm just paying attention. Whatever the reason I'm thankful. Somehow bills are being paid, gas is in the tank, food is in the cupboards, fridge and freezer.

Of course my long term health is the most important and what about those prayers? Like anything else that one prayers for, I'm doing all that I can do.  I am eating healthy and move around as much as I can to the point I worry Faith and my mom (that's when you know you're doing something right, haha).

Today I found out the my next doctor's appointments are on April 27th with a radiation and drug therapy oncologist. The oncologist in Vancouver who said I have either plasmacytoma or mutliple myeloma told me that I would be getting another biopsy to determine that still hasn't happened. However I will be giving another blood test and a 24 hour urine sample prior the appointments on the 27th.

So just 21 more days of hurry up and wait. Fortunately in addition of having Myrtle to entertain me and my order of books from and ones people lent and given ought to last me the year.
As I write my niece Kathryn is coming to stay for the week to help around the home and care for Myrtle.  How sweet is it that an 11 year old would offer such a selfless thing. The only this I have really asked for is for prayers and somehow our family has got all that we need, so keep it up!