Friday, January 21, 2011

Life is short but sweet for certain

To say that the last few weeks have been challenging would be the understatement of the century. You know, I have to admit that when I first received the big scary diagnosis of stage four cancer I thought, okay i can do this. I'm determined, I'm brave, I'm motivated, let's go! I had this incredible circle of support that just grew out of control with momentum. I felt so strong. I felt so in control. And then on Christmas morning I felt a lump. It was in my side, a hard, rigid lump. My immediate reaction was obvious concern but I was able to talk myself down because I had been taking Tylenol 3 for my back pain and one of the hard side effects of codeine is that it causes extreme constipation, so it wasn't unrealistic that this lump in my side was just a blockage in my intestine, no need to get all stressed, right?
I decided to ignore the lump, which became easy to do because shortly after Christmas I was taken off of the hormone therapy I was on and my back pain became my main focus. This pain was all consuming, it was nervy, it was exhausting and excruciating. I related the back pain to going off of the drug, I assumed that I was going through either withdrawal or detox and just kept telling myself, it will get better tomorrow. Well sure enough, time passed by and after a week and a half I was still waiting for the pain to get better. Also, in the meantime I had been trying to get my intestines moving and so I was loading my self up with laxitives and dried fruit. Finally, after what felt like forever I managed to relieve my system. Exhausted and weary, I rubbed my poor belly and once again felt that gruesome panic crawl up the back of my throat, the lump was still there. Unbelievable.
I went to visit my doctor the next day. He felt my stomach and watched my face as I squirmed through the pain, he pulled up my last CT scan report on his computer and confirmed my fear. The two enlarged nodes that were found on my aortic artery during my surgery are located midline, and he believed that the pain I had been experiencing was probably due to the fact that these nodes are growing and therefore pushing my organs around and causing a lot of pressure and pain. Jenn, he said, we need to get your pain under control. In the time I was in his office my body did not stop moving. The pain was mind bending, my teeth were clenched, I was exhausted because I hadn't slept for more than two hours in a row in weeks, I hadn't eaten anything solid in about a week and a half, I was literally losing my mind. He put me on morphine and registered me in the palliative home care program, a program I would have balked at a month before, I graciously nodded my head. That was last Monday.
On Tuesday, I went to my naturopathic doc appt to receive my first IV treatment. When i came home that afternoon I didn't feel well, my body was working hard to adjust to the morphine, I was exhausted and I was so nauseated that I couldn't keep water down. I went to bed, defeated, depleted, empty. That Tuesday night will remain engraved in my mind for the rest of my life because that night I had the moment. I woke up at roughly 2am, the house was silent, I looked at Dave sleeping peacefully beside me, I could hear Coady breathing softly in his room. I felt my hips, they were sore to the touch, my morphine dose had worn off. I looked out the window for what might have been five minutes. I was frozen and I thought, this is it, I'm dying. This is it, this is the beginning of the process. How did I get here? Where is my muster? Why am I not screaming? Why am I okay with just lying down with this? At that point I must have just dissolved into sleep. The next morning I went back to my naturopathic doc for another IV treatment, thank goodness, because the personal interaction I had that day with a very special individual was nothing short of divine intervention.
Im not a religious person, but I do have a very strong faith of my own that is a bit of a mish mash of everything. I was raised in the catholic church, and so I believe in heaven, although I don't have a real clear picture in my mind of what it looks like or how long it takes to get there. I do have a very strong belief that when the time comes and I do crossover, I will be reunited with spirits I have loved in this lifetime. I also firmly believe that people are brought into my life at very intentional times for very intentional reasons. And so on this wednesday morning, this beautiful woman, felt compelled to come to me and give me the words I needed to hear. For her privacy I won't share her name or position but she was in the office and noticed that I was sitting in the IV room by myself and thankfully she grasped the opportunity to talk with me.
Jenn, she said, I have something I want to share with you. First of all, she said, I think you are going to do well, and I'm sending you all of my positive thoughts but I wanted to tell you, that my mom died when I was three and a half years old, and what I want you to know is that, I remember her, and I know that she loved me. Also, I want you to know that I have been around here for a long time and I have watched many people come into this office and various stages of health, and I have watched so many of these people get the treatment you are getting from Dr. K. and I have watched them walk out the door and live their lives. You're going to do great.
In a matter of fifteen minutes, this woman impacted my life in a way that I can't even describe with words. When I left that office, I could feel my feet firmly on the ground, I could breathe deeply, I found my muster. It was as though the sky opened up and I was stepping back into the light for the first time in weeks.
I AM BACK. I'm not dying, what heck was I thinking? Do you know how much stuff I have to do?!
I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself. My pain is under control, thanks to my incredible doctor, I'm sleeping, my appetite is slowly coming back. Here's the best news, Dave bought me an iPad today because I'm going to be spending three days a week at my naturopaths office, each visit is going to take four hours and I am going to use that beautiful time to ...WRITE A BOOK.
I'm back on top. I want to thank my unbelievable friends for their care, they have been worrying, they have cleaned my house, they have made us dinner every night for the past two weeks, they look after Coady with as much love as they have for their own children, they listen to me, they cry with me they bring me presents and flowers. They are nothing short of extraordinary and I love them all so much. I want to apologize to my family for causing so much concern, please rest assured (mom) that I am okay. The final and most important tidbit of information I have is that I have made a firm and very positive decision in my treatment plan. I will be working exclusively with my naturopathic doctor who will be treating the cancer aggressively with various substances including high doses of vitamin C. His goal is to stop the growth of the cancer. If he can stop the growth, I feel very confident that within my own constitution, using effective visualizations, a healthy diet, ensuring that my immune system becomes bulletproof, my support network, sleep and a positive attitude, I can take care of the rest. I will either come to find a balance in my body that will allow me to live with the caner or I will simply will it away. Either way, let it come. What I want to be clear about, is that I will no longer be seeking the advise of a medical oncologist in Victoria. I have a lot of concern about the treatments being offered to me from there because they seem more concerned about killing the cancer that about the harm that may come to my body. And life is short but sweet for certain and I will be LIVING out my days. Thank you for your love and light, go tell someone you love them. I love you.


Keltie and Phil said...

Jenn, I have been following your blog since the 1st time you started writing, when I learned of it through Karen Mckinnon's blog a few years ago. Since that time you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I pray that you find peace, and healing, and can embrace each days blessings that are brought before you. You have been such an encouragement to me, and I'm sure many other people. Blessings on you!!!

Michelle said...

You are incredible, Jen. I'm so glad that woman took the time to sit and chat with you. She probably has no idea how much she impacted you. She's an angel on earth for sure. You're positivity and grace are amazing. Much love to you.

lisalou said...

I have faith in the light. In life. In love. In you.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to that book Jenn!!! and the many more to come.
Sending you love and light. XO

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing woman, Jenn. I just wiped away my tears after reading that. Not tears of sadness, but of joy for you. I'm so glad that you have found this new strength and that it will carry you forward through your long and healthy life.
I'm sending you all my positive thoughts. All the best to your family.

Michelle said...

Oh yeah!!!

Christa said...

Beautiful post, Jenn. Sending good vibes from down the street! -Christa, Garrett & Emmit

barbara said...

You are a fantastic writer, Jenn. I love reading your blog and so appreciate you continuing to share it with all of us, so very generous of you:)

continuing to send you much Love and Light, and cheering you on intensely!

and REALLY looking forward to your book:)

many blessings

Anonymous said...

wooooohoooo, I am sooo excited. Everytime I read your blog(my sister does too) I think wow she should wright a book. My sister also said she wished she could wright like you.
Many Blessings

Anonymous said...

You are an unbelievably strong woman. You inspire me and I thank you for that. Keep positive!!

Anonymous said...

I am speechless. I always tell you how much you inspire everyone, and how strong you are, but today, I have no words. I have feelings in my body that make me smile. I know you will do well too. I have always known that. There is so much love for you Jenn, and please feel comforted that you have prayers being said each night, with you and your family included.

Keep on going, keep on loving...
We love you .
Erin Springford :)

Anonymous said...

I think the world is ready to read your words...I know I've been loving reading about your commitment to living since you started this journey. The impacts continue to ripple with each blog you write. I"m sending you only the most powerful thoughts of light and healing, love and laughter, friendship and kindness. Going to do my best everyday to pass these things forward and love the people that support me as well... much love
ann marie

Anonymous said...

Jenn, I have followed your post sice I heard about it this past fall. You are such an inspiring writer, and I am totally supporting you and your family on the way to life and light, and your courage to write a book.
You may already have seen it, but a movie crossed my mind you might be interested in seeing: Guitar. There is always hope!

Anonymous said...

woooo hoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm doing my happy dance for you!!! you are unbeatable!

Jeanne Epstein said...

You don't know me, but I felt compelled to leave a comment. I found your blog through a friend of mine - apparently you two live on the same street.

They say it's darkest before the dawn, and I feel as if I've just read the personification of that phrase in this blog post. Reading about your decision to live feels intimately familiar, as I was sick, very sick, at one point. The doctors didn't know what else to do, so they simply stopped all my medication in a symbolic throwing up their hands sort of gesture. And it was then I decided I was going to get well. It was a strong decision - no doubt in my mind - and through who knows what (coincidence? sheer will and determination? blatant refusal?) I got better. Completely better. That was 14 years ago now. So, stick to your decision - it has incredible influence over your body.

Also, I want to read that book you're writing. I don't know what it's about, but I know I want to read whatever you have to say.

Much love from an American Stranger,

Kateřina Veselá said...

sending love :)

Anita said...


you are in my prayers every morning when I wake up and I see your body is healing with the love that is in you and all the love that surrounds you.


Anonymous said...

Jenn, each and every word you write is pure and utter inspiration in my eyes. Your family,friends and more importantly your son, is blessed to have you in their lives. Keep it up, and I am looking forward to reading your future award winning book.

Anonymous said...

Jenn it was a pleasure to meet you and Dave I thank you for giving me the blog address as I read your blog I feel blessed to have crossed paths with you. As a breast cancer survivor I can say you are a real inspiration thank you for sharing your story.