Tag Archive | cancer humor

The Golden Years

While visiting my parents a few days ago in my home town of Lawn, a sign on a building grabbed my attention:  The 50 Plus Golden Age Club.   While I have seen this sign many times, it startled me to think that in just a few short weeks, I could technically be a member of this club.  Suddenly I had visions of myself playing bingo and card games with the other ”Golden Agers” for the coveted prize of  bucket of salt beef.  Golden age.  The twilight years.  Big girl panties.  Am I ready for all of this?

golden-age-docx

Have you ever bumped into an old class mate you have not seen for years and thought, “Wow!  She has really aged!”   Well guess what, she is probably thinking the same thing about you.  I am not suggesting that you LOOK old, but that we all age. It is just that we sometimes forget that our bodies are aging, because of our “mental age”,  which is the age that we actually FEEL.  Mentally,  I am around 25, that carefree age just before I got married, had kids and still had my own boobs.  (A problem arises however, when you try to party like a 25 year old in a 50 year old body!)

I recently overheard a colleague of mine say that she dreaded turning 50.  Not me!   After fighting cancer and narrowly escaping with my life, I cherish each and every birthday.  Besides, the way I see it, 50 is the new 30.  It has taken me this long to finally feel grown up enough to say  the word “fuck” in front of my parents. 

Oh well, you know what they say:  Youth….it’s wasted on the young. Wisdom truly does come with age and I am sure you are all wondering, what pearls of wisdom I have gained in my 50 years on this planet.   Well, you are probably not actually wondering that, but here goes anyway:

Flo’s  Pearls of Wisdom

-Your health REALLY is the most important thing in your life. (Sometimes it takes getting sick to actually feel that truth of that statement.)

-When times are bad always remember, “this too shall pass”.

-When times are good, also remember that, “this too shall pass.”  (In the ebb and flow of life, the good and the bad will come and go, so just hang in there!)

-No matter how badly you have been hurt, you will love again.

-Doing everything for your kids does NOT turn them into selfish brats.

-Money is meant to be enjoyed, not hoarded.

-Being a parent is the most important job in the world.

-The only person you hurt by refusing to forgive is yourself.

-Cherish your friendships. 

-People will come and go in your life, but you can always count on family.

-It ALWAYS pays to be nice.

-What you give out will come back to you, so be generous with your time, your love and your money.

-Living in the past causes depression.  Worrying about the future causes anxiety.  Peace can only be found by living in the present moment.

-In the grand scheme of things, your greatest assets are the people in your life.

-Do yoga.

Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness and prosperity.  Namaste.

 

 

 

The Ghostly Christmas Visitor

Back by popular demand!  Last Christmas I posted a true story about a “ghostly visitor” to my parents house, Len and Madeline Strang, of Lawn Newfoundland.  I hope you enjoy my little poem:

 

20140215_123337

Len and Madeline (Mom and Dad)

 

The Ghostly Christmas Visitor

Twas a month before Christmas

When all through the Strang’s house

Not a creature was stirring

Except for one little mouse.

Len’s long johns were hung by the bedside with care

With hopes that Madeline’s knickers, soon would be there.

But Madeline was snoring, as happy as that,

So they both settled down, for a long winter’s nap.

When all of a sudden, there arose such a clatter,

Len sprung to his feet, to see what was the matter?

“Something just touched me!” Madeline said with a fright.

“It was nothing”, Len said, “Go to sleep and Good Night!”

In a very short while, Len’s eyes opened wide,

“Something touched me too”, he said with a sigh.

All through the night, the haunting took place

With ghostly fingers caressing their toes to their face.

In the morning light, they were took by surprise

For looking right at them was a pair of mouse eyes.

“Good Fripse!” Len shouted, as he made a great clout.

But the Christmas mouse clamoured, until he got out.

“A mouse in the house, I will not have it,” he said

So he set the traps all around the house and under the bed.

To the sound of a squeal, Madeline later arose

And saw the Christmas mouse trapped, by one of his toes.

“It’s a sin to kill it, but Len must not know,”

She whispered as she released him on the fresh fallen snow.

So if ever in your travels you meet a limping little mouse

It might be the one evicted from Len Strang’s house.

Madeline has taught a lesson for one and for all,

We are all God’s creatures, whether great or small.

To live out our lives, we all have the right,

So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

mouse

Moved To Tears……(By HANGER!)

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I must apologize if you are misled by the title of this post, “Moved To Tears”. It is not about angels, butterflies, or rainbows, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my adorable son Ben.   So if you are looking for one of my sappy tear-jerkers, you may be disappointed. What actually moved me to tears this time was a recent bad case of being hangry.

Hangry (pronounced Han-gree): A state of being so hungry that it provokes an intense emotional reaction, such as anger and/or weepiness.

I recently underwent a latissimus dorsi flap surgery, which is the beginning of my breast reconstruction process. Basically, a muscle was moved from my back to my chest, and an expander was inserted beneath the skin. I will have a saline solution injected into the expander every couple of weeks, until it reaches the desired size, Double D. Just kidding, but I do hope to go from a modest B cup, to a comfortable C. (Go big or go home, I say!) Hopefully, after several months, my skin will have expanded enough to accommodate the implant and I will have the exchange surgery, where the expander is removed and replaced by a more natural, permanent implant. At the same time, they will fix up my “pitty titty” to match the new one, perky one.

Pitty-titty (pronounced pit-ee tit-ee): A state of breast sagginess, usually achieved by middle age, wherein the bra-less breast slips into the armPIT (hence “pitty”) when one is in the supine position (lying on your back).

My surgery required a three day stay in the hospital, which had some perks (see my last post, Eavesdropping on the Ward Again). But let me assure you, hospital food was definitely NOT one of them. I made it very clear to the staff before I was admitted, that I am a lactose intolerant vegetarian. Is that really so difficult to understand? No meat and no dairy. Simple.  The day after my surgery, I was anxiously awaiting breakfast, after not having eaten for more than 24 hours, and here is what they brought to me.

IMG_4946

 

Hmmmmmmm… cow’s milk, fried ham, and fake scrambled eggs, which grosses me out at the best of times. (As far as I am concerned, unless you are an astronaut, nobody should ingest anything that has a shelf life of five to ten years.) There was literally nothing for me to eat or drink on that tray. Then, with hope in my eyes, I spied a foil envelope which I greedily unwrapped, only to find a lone slice of bare, naked bread which, judging by the sogginess of it, I estimate was toasted at least two days before being served.

Ok, no food, but there is always coffee! Anyone who knows me knows that it is nothing short of insanity to expect me to start my day without coffee. However, sadly, coffee was not an option on my first day post-surgery. Not even instant, and in my state of mind, I would have settled for that. I pushed aside my tray and tried to blink back my tears. Eventually I gave in. The hanger got the better of me and I was literally moved to tears. What could possibly make me feel better after that disappointment?

“Nurse, I’m having a lot of pain. Can you please bring me a shot of morphine?” I asked as I let the tears of disappointment flow freely.

Don’t be a hater. You would have done the same thing.

It was a long four hours of stomach knawing hanger till lunch time. I know my nurse must have been getting irritated with me. Every time she came to check my vitals, I would say, “You did tell the kitchen I am a vegetarian, right?”

“Ms. Strang, please try to remain calm. You are driving up your blood pressure”, she would respond sternly.

When the tray finally arrived at lunch time, my hanger was peaking and my eyes were wide with anticipation. What would it be? Pasta, with a tangy tomato sauce? A spicy stir fry of veggies with rice? A comforting bowl of veggie soup with crackers? Or maybe a satisfying chickpea wrap? Hey, in my post-surgery haze, there was not much for me to do except stare at the ceiling, eavesdrop on the other patients, and daydream about food. So, you can just imagine my disappointment when I uncovered my tray to find this:

IMG_4960

For a starter, a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber, followed by the main, a more robust salad of the same ingredients, plus a piece of green pepper, celery and some cauliflower. No dressing. I felt a tear slide down my cheek. But I wasn’t going to let them get to me. Oh no. With a stoic air, I munched on my veggies and sipped my water, curbing the hunger pangs between bites with a few handfuls of salt and vinegar chips. (Which by the way, is definitely not a part of my cancer prevention diet. But desperate times call for desperate measures.) As I blinked away the tears, I cheered myself with thoughts that my evening meal surely would be hot and satisfying.

Five gut-wretching hours later, supper was delivered. Apparently it was leftovers day!   Yes, once again, salad for a starter, salad for a main, followed by a fruit salad for dessert, which obviously came from a can.

IMG_4965

“I said I am a vegetarian, not a feckin’ rabbit”, I muttered under my breath.   Thankfully, the innocent server did not hear me, but that is the kind of thing hanger does to you, folks. It can turn you mean.

Luckily, my very thoughtful cousin, Lil, had visited in the afternoon and brought me a large thermos of delicious lentil and vegetable soup, with a satisfying chickpea wrap (loves her, I do!).   Otherwise, in my state of advanced hanger, I could not have been held accountable for my actions that day.

I ate my soup and wrap, ordered a shot of morphine and took out my coloring book and crayons. Hey, in case you haven’t heard, therapeutic coloring is all the rage now, and as I learned, it can be quite fun when buzzed on prescription narcotics!

As for the perks, let’s just say, be careful what you wish for. What middle aged woman wouldn’t want the boobs of a twenty year old? But if it takes a diagnosis of cancer to get them, you can give me back my pitty-titties any day!

 

 

Eavesdropping On The Ward…..Again!

gas

For those of you who have read 100 perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving it, you may recall the amusement that I got from eavesdropping on the hospital ward while undergoing cancer treatments in 2012.   Well, as luck would have it, I just had the opportunity to spend 3 more days on a hospital ward, and once again, one of the perks of my hospital stay was eavesdropping on the conversations taking place around me. (More about my hospital stay for breast reconstruction in an upcoming post.)

First of all, to appreciate my story, you have to be able to picture what the ward looks like: a large, sterile room with four hospital beds in close proximity, each enclosed by a thin curtain, falling one foot short of the floor. Just imagine if you will, a jail cell without the security. And like inmates, us patients chat away without ever seeing each other, and swear about the crappy food, and the slow response time of the guards….ummmm, I mean nurses.

The real entertainment begins around 11:00 a.m, visiting hours, when kind hearted family and friends arrive with bags of treats and out-dated magazines, all clamouring for the one chair that is shared by the entire ward. (Eventually, visitors just end up wrestling for space alongside the patient on the narrow hospital bed.) And then, the conversations begin. Here is a verbatim script of a conversation that I overheard from the curtained bed next to me, as I lay staring at the ceiling:

Visitor: How are you feeling today, my dear?

Patient: Not good at all. I have the absolute worst case of stomach cramps.

Visitor: Oh my. That’s terrible. What did you have to eat today?

Patient: Well, you know I can’t tolerate the food at this hospital, so Fred brought me in bacon, eggs and coffee for breakfast, and fried chicken with mashed potatoes for lunch.

Visitor: I know the food is disgusting here, that’s why I brought you in this Big Mac meal, but I guess you won’t be wanting that now.

Patient: Are you kidding me? Hand it over, I am still starving! I would murder for a glass of wine right now. Do you think you could sneak me in a sippy cup full of wine when you come back for evening visiting hours?

Visitor: Sure, that’s what friends are for. I will bring in a red to compliment the philly cheese steak that I am making for your dinner.

Patient: You are going to make me dinner?

Visitor: Of course. I can’t have you eating the garbage they serve in here.

All in all, not an unusual conversation to overhear on a hospital ward, I thought as I lay still staring at the ceiling. But as soon as the visitor left, in came the doctor to talk to the very same patient, and this is when the conversation became really interesting. (I am not making this up!)

Doctor: How are you feeling today?

Patient: Not good. Not good at all, doctor. I have had very bad stomach cramps all day long. I can’t bear the pain!

Doctor: Although we haven’t gotten a positive diagnosis yet, we are pretty sure that we are dealing with bowel disease here. Are you sticking to the diet that we gave you?

Patient: Yes doctor, I eat really healthy foods every day. I haven’t had any kind of meat in months and I’ve really cut back on the fried foods! (I shook my head and thought, “What a blatant lie.”)

Doctor: Do you drink alcohol?

Patient: OH MY GOD! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I would NEVER drink alcohol!!! (She seriously could have gotten an Oscar nomination for her dramatics in answering that question. I rolled my eyes.)

Doctor: We need to know if there are any bowel obstructions. Have you passed any gas today?

Patient: No, doctor, just a few burps.

Well that is when I really had to restrain myself from jumping to my feet, pulling back the curtain and yelling “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Because if I had had a match, I seriously could have set fire to the sulphuric gas that was coming from the arse of her pants that afternoon.

Just another day on 4 North B.

liar

Sometimes Cancer Hurts

 

No doubt about it, I managed to sail through my year with cancer with flying colors.  Despite the discomfort of all my treatments and procedures, the cancer itself did not cause me to be sick, or to be in pain of any kind.  Which is why it grieves me so that I have been suffering so much from this lingering infection!  It has caused me pain, weakness, weight loss, and an overall sense of unwellness.  For a while there, it even broke my spirit.  Yes folks, the positive attitude took a hike, and I found myself thinking, “If I ever came across a blog about the Perks of Having Infections, I will hunt down that b**tch and choke her with my IV cord!”

During my latest hospital stay, I found myself getting a bit stir crazy in my room, so I decided to take a stroll down the hallway.  Although I was wearing a hospital gown,  which was partially open in the back offering occasional glimpses of my pink granny-panties,( and I was sporting my usual cockatoo hair-do), I think I managed to pull off a certain air of sophistication by sipping on a Tim Horton’s Ice Capp as I strolled along.  In one room, I caught a glimpse of a man who looked familiar.  I was pretty sure that we had done chemo together, but I didn’t want to just barge in to his room and ask him.  (I could picture him yelling, “Who are you? SECURITY, come take this crazy lady from my room!”).  So after confirming his identity with three nurses, I felt comfortable enough to go in and speak to him.  He recognized me right away.   It turns out that his cancer has progressed beyond treatments and he is now at the pain management stage.  This made me suddenly realize that things could be a whole lot worse, and that an infection is really a minor thing compared to what could have been.   And that realization is what re-awakened my old fighting spirit.  I am going to kick infection’s ass!  (I know that does not sound as cool as “kick cancer’s ass”, but cut me some slack here.)

Medical Up-date

Recently on my blog (See: Eavesdropping On The Ward), I reported a claim, from an unidentified source, that eating corn during chemo will cause one’s hair to grow back, “yellow and curly”.   Well folks, there has been an up-date to this breaking story, as one of my conscientious followers, made the following comment (which I feel it prudent to report):

“ While going through the IV chemo there wasn’t much I could keep down only creamed corn, Guess what??? My hair never did come back ……yellow, black, white or green. Nothing.”

(Thank you, Janet for sharing this interesting fact.)

Well, I am no Scientist, but I think it is safe to conclude from this isolated case study, that eating creamed corn during chemo will cause PERMANENT BALDNESS, whereas eating corn niblets will turn you into Goldilocks.  Niblets, I repeat, NIBLETS!

As an up-date to my medical status, apparently I have some scary sounding super-bug called MRSA, which, if you google it, will scare the crap out of you.  It seems that I will be making frequent trips to the hospital in the coming weeks, so I will keep my ears open and continue to collect medical data to share with you.

Perk # 86: Cancer Re-Defined My Relationship With Food

Fries…..

OR

salad?

If there is one thing I have learned about surviving cancer, it is that I need to be very aware of what I put into my body.  When I first started my cancer-fighting diet in January, I took it to the extreme.   I bought Kriss Carr’s book, “Crazy Sexy Diet”, brushed the cobwebs off my juicer, and decided that I would subsist  on veggie juice alone.  What’s the obsession with chewing anyway?  I reasoned that it was high time I gave my teeth a break.   On the first day of my new diet, I threw every veggie I could find in the juicer, and drank it down as quickly as I could.  That wasn’t so bad…..not until it hit my gut. Let’s just say that I had pains in my stomach akin to the early stages of labour.  It just did not sit well, and eventually, despite my best efforts to keep it down, I puked.   So ended my Crazy not-so-sexy diet.

I recently met a cancer survivor from P.E.I who told me that not only does she grow her own vegetables, but she also raises her own livestock so that she can be sure her food is completely organic.  I briefly considered doing that.  But hey, I am the type of person who picks worms up off the sidewalk with my bare hands and puts them back in the dirt.  I am pretty sure that come slaughter time, I would have bonded with Ole Bessie.  In fact, she would probably be sleeping at the foot of my bed.  No, that would not work for me.

So I have taken the middle road.  I have drastically cut the amount of meat, wheat, sugar and dairy in my diet, and increased the fruits, veggies, beans and lentils.  This is a diet I can live with.  The only issue  arises when I go out to a restaurant, as was the case earlier this week.  Me and my teens, Kaitlyn  and Donovan, decided to eat out, nothing fancy, but a treat all the same.  The menu wasn’t exactly vegetarian-friendly, but they did offer a nice spinach salad which would fit with my healthy diet.  I practiced my order in my mind, “A spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette on the side and a glass of water please.”  Service was slow, and all around me I could see other people with their mounds of nachos, mountains of fries and baskets of wings.  I tutt-tutted in my mind, all the while practicing my order, “A spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette on the side and a glass of water please”, getting hungrier and hungrier as time went by.  Finally, the waitress came to take our order.  “I’ll have a large fish and chips with gravy and a glass of red wine”, I heard a voice say.  OH My God!  That was my voice, I really don’t know where it came from!  Kaitlyn said, “Mom, are you sure you want to do this? You know how finicky your stomach is.”  I gave her my most solemn look and said, “Kaitlyn, I’m willing to risk it.”   My stomach was fine, but I got a bad dose of guilty conscience afterwards.  I may even need to see a priest, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been 27 years since my last confession.”

Tip:  Eat healthy, but don’t beat yourself up if you have a treat from time to time.