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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at www.debilynsmith.com

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Learn A New Language For FREE

It's Mid May and things are finally starting to right themselves. I'm back to swimming, running, trampoline-hopping and the physio for my whiplash is getting positive results at last.
I am loving the dairy and meatless "trend" I am on. The scales are going the right way for a change even though I eat all day, but it's fruit or plain almonds or a protein whey powder and fruit smoothie. Dinner will be mostly brown basmatti rice topped with the organic fiddleheads and morel mushrooms we picked ourselves this week. Until they run out which may take a month. Seriously! It was a great season for both.
So now that I have my health seemingly under control, it's time to work on my mind. Cancer is said to thrive on stress. So how to relax when you're an Attention-Deficit whirlwind? Well there is Yoga. Great stretching exercises. You can feel the tone that I lost the past 8 months coming back.
But I have found something even better for my brain that I am enjoying to the MAX. And the best part is it's FREE.
The North Island Distance Education School (NIDES) of Courtney, BC offers an on-line Rosetta Stone language course. Your choice of which and how many languages you want. There's no cost for BC residents and it's taught and facilitated by certified BC teachers. It's amazing! You go at your own pace with hands on learning. Within two days my Spanish vocabulary, that after twenty years of visiting Mexico still remains below fifty words, has grown to speaking full sentences. Possibly one hundred words by now. Wow!

The link to free learning is http://142.25.8.4/node/29

 Once you fill out the registration and send it in on-line, you'll get a  reply telling you the next steps. I managed to get everything filled out and started the course the same day.

Give it a try- It's a fantastic way to give your mind matter a work out. And who knows, it could be the very thing to keep that cancer at bay.
A new word a day
Keeps the Cancer Away...

I've heard of stranger things.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hey Cancer...Suck On This!

Today I discovered the sad news that a friend of mine is following in the path of my Mother. Diagnosis: pancreatic cancer Stage IV- spread to the liver and other organs. This follows last weeks phone call that another woman I know has come out of the breast cancer program, after surgery and radiation and now needing reconstruction work. The news rattles me to the core. It's just happening to so many of us. What is going on and how do we stop this?
Yes, I admit it. I always thought it would never happen to me. I figured I was being "fairly" careful. But what I am seeing is a connection to all of us going through menopause at different stages. And when a cancer starts to turn on and reproduce itself, which means spread, there are some ways you can slow it down. Thump it on its head instead of feeding the damned thing.
How do we do that?
By making the inside of our bodies a breeding ground for the good guys- not the bad ones. Cancer thrives on dehydrated, acidic bodies. What does that mean?
Our bodies need a balance of acid and alkaline levels better known as your pH level. Health food stores sell litmus paper you apply spit or urine to to test your levels. But according to what I've read, imbalance and disease can set in when the body is dealing with too much stress and acid-forming foods. That's your refined sugar, processed products, red meat, alcohol, fries, pop, white flour, white pasta and white breads.
What keeps you alkaline? Green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains and believe-it-or-not something super simple. A half lemon  or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a cup of hot water. Lemon juice is acidic until consumed where it leaves an alkaline residue. Easy. And you're good to go for the day!

Dr. Robert Young has a book you might be interested in called The pH Miracle. In it he stresses the importance of maintaining a balance and even says it will promote weight loss, increase stamina and more important...it gives you a stronger immune system. And that's what we need. More armour for if a cancer ever does start to take off. Keeping it small will give the medical profession a chance to find it, remove it and then do everything they can to help ensure you never go through that again.
But you have to do your part as well. It's not enough to just think you're doing enough. Are you really? A few things just don't cut it.
Are you taking a multi vitamin daily to ensure you're getting everything you need? How about anti-oxidants? Getting enough of those every day? Why not take a green tea extract instead of drinking 30 cups of tea a day.
Are you exercising FOUR times a week for at least 20 minutes each time? Are you keeping hydrated with low sugared fluids? Are you eating organic or at least washing off all your fruits and vegis before cutting them or consuming them?

Get a book. Arm yourself with information and do whatever it is you can to make sure you'll be ready when and if that day ever does come that the cancer inside of you decides to wake up and take off with the rest of your life!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That Other Woman In The Mirror

We've been home from holidays for a week and it's like we've never been away.
 Life is a big long skipping rope- the schoolyard kind being cranked around by two pigtailed girls chanting out rhymes. You watch the rope come up and down once, twice and then you close your eyes and make your move. Whoosh, jump, jump. Did I make it? Yes, the rope is still coming down under my feet, I jump and it raises above my head. Ahhhh.
Now to keep up the jumping.

Everyone wants to hear that my life is back to normal. I say that it is but it's not really the truth. I'm jumping but life is never going to be the same again. The proof is in the mirror. There's someone else looking back at me and she's got her nose turned up in the air!

Well, she's one to talk. Look at her! Funny, her eyes look like mine. Same colour... a little sadder, perhaps. But she seems far older than my, what, 35-ish (heavy on the ish), oh wait, I'm 51 now, but she looks much older than that. Turtle aged, I say by the rings around her neck.

And her hair! I have tinsel straight hair that with the right product and wave of a roller brush and hair dryer morphs into a gossamer cloud that frames my face with golden highlights. But that poor woman in the mirror has something that looks like alfalfa sprouts standing straight in the air. It seems to swirl right at the top of her head and look, it does the same thing in the back. Reminds me of a re-permed nightmare I had to wear for three miserable months of my life. Curly, fuzzy poodle-locks. It cost me a hot boyfriend and a year of trying to lose the weight I gained after going on an extreme ice-cream sympathy kick.
And what colour would you say that was? Dyed-over grey with sun-bleached spiked tips. Wasn't that a California surfer style back in the '60's? For men?
There's fresh stretch marks around her lips. I see she's been over-eating. The pills she's on could cause that, although once a doctor tells you that might happen, you usually do make it happen. But I can tell she has no intention of slowing down the carnage or the treats. She celebrates that its Wednesday. And when it's Friday, well, that's double the pleasure day. Maybe a little ice cream with the chocolate baking chips.
It looks like it will be easy for her to say "whatever." Dive into a big bowl of whipped cream and not surface until her chin doubles and her new scars rest on her extended belly. So frigging easy to let it all go. Heck, she's old enough. She deserves a break. What does she want to keep fit for?

I don't want to look at her anymore. But I do. I take another look at that woman in my mirror. Another long, hard, good look. Could that really be me? And if it is, do I need  to start changing my perception of myself? Adjust my inner mental image to match what stands before me?

Well, pardon my language, but SCREW THAT!

That old lady and myself, we're pulling up the bootstraps and going to Plan B. In fact, we have been on the Plan for three days now. No meat, dairy, eggs, fish or chicken for a month. That's right. A little Veganism for a month to kick start that flab reversal. If the pills are causing me to feel hungry all the time, then I will let myself eat as much as I want. But it has to be vegetarian and that's the kicker. Try gorging on lentils and quinoa and see how fat you get. It will never happen! You do spend a large part of the day swinging on the opened fridge door before finding absolutely nothing you want and closing it again. It's good and it's only for a few more days, or so I tell myself.
I don't want a new wardrobe in bigger sizes. I really liked the way I was. The way I am less  a bit. A bit that I can regain with some work. It's not the first time I've had to do this.
 It is the first time I've had to talk myself into wanting to do this and that's the scary part.

And the hair, well I have an appointment on Wednesday to check out the options for this type of head covering I now have. It's like nothing I've ever seen before? More like what I figured black people's hair was like. It's thicker, coarser, wavier, stubborner, gel, wax and spray resilient.
The solution may be merely having to wear a hat until it grows enough to fall to one side or the other.

Either way, it's time to quit turning my nose up at myself. And I will tell that right to the woman in the mirror's face.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back To Normal...Almost




The sun is so hot in Costa Rica that although we feel tanned and still use a 30 SPF, we burn. You have to live in the pool between one and three in the afternoon or else you fry. This is not a problem as the wet bar has lots of water and I have a big brimmed hat that doesn't mind getting wet. We play volleyball and do aerobics in the water so we keep busy.
There are massage tables set up on the beach and for $30 I received ninety minutes of bliss. They even sand scrub your feet and legs before washing them off to continue. All part of the detox regime, I tell myself!
We snorkel on our beach and also enjoy a day trip to even better snorkeling, caving and bottom fishing with a line and fresh bait and a BBQ picnic on the beach.

The week is relaxing even though I insist we march up the hill from the beach to the hotel instead of taking the packed shuttle that passes by us every fifteen minutes. They wave each time. I concentrate on what dessert I will award myself with when I reach the food "trough" at the next meal at this all-inclusive.

The week passes quickly and before we know it we're trying to cram everything back into our suitcases. I think the high humidity has weighted my clothes? They seem heavier , wider, more dense. I make up a bag for "charity" that I leave behind for the maid to sort out. Without a scale its hard to tell where I'm at weight wise so every bit counts.

We survive four flights from Liberia, Costa Rica to Vancouver, Canada via Houston Texas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With having to touch down in the United States we are subjected to a ninety minute line through customs before facing another line to get our suitcases through, then we must go through security again. Yes, even the full body scanner. I hope my scars were smiling! We have to run to make our second flight as they are boarding while we are still removing our shoes and belts. We make it but worry our suitcases won't be as able to keep up with this pace.
We land in Los Angeles and have a whole fifty minutes for a bathroom break and to decide what to buy for a take-out lunch. Back on yet another plane. The difference this time is Barry had a few minutes to spare and got our "usual" back-of-the-bus seats changed for "near the back of the bus" seats. No more dealing with the bathroom line-up or the constant roar of the toilet being flushed. We feel like we're in another class!

There is over an hour in San Francisco so we sit down for a drink and watch the planes get pushed back from their terminals to begin their take-off. The sun is hot and triggers multiple hot flashes. I am drinking only water so it can't be that?
Our last flight for the day gets into Vancouver at 10 PM. The customs officer welcomed us home and sent us through without a second look. We are delighted to recognize our two green suitcases which we grab and run for the hotel shuttle.
We overnight and don't have to return to the airport until 4 PM for the last leg North to Smithers/Houston so we have the day to walk a few miles and add another five pounds to the back pack with a new lap top.

We arrive home late and sleep like we haven't slept in three weeks. There really is no place like home. Everything is just how you left it and just how you like it.
What the heck is that? My alarm rattles me awake at 5:25 AM and I leap to dress for circuit training. No putting off returning to my old routine, something I have been apart from for nine months. It feels amazingly good to throw around some weights and run on the treadmill again. Sandi and I do our usual ab routine and twenty minute run outside after the class ends. It's a tough grind but I make it through.
My first day back to my "old life" starts with a doctor's appointment with Sandi who injects me with my second monthly shot of Zoladex. She preps the insert area with a mild anesthetic to numb the area before coming at me with the larger needle that inserts the narcotic beneath my skin where it will continue to work over the next thirty days. It's all over before I can say 'ow." I leap off the examination table and stuff my new white shirt into my jeans.
"Don't you want a band-aid over that?" Sandi asks as we both look down and see the fresh blood stain on my shirt.
I get a band-aid and take the time to spot wash my shirt.
I would say things are very back to normal. Or as normal as they will ever be again!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Time In Tamarindo



A decision has been made. Pack up and move a day early from Samara Beach and explore something different for the last day before returning our rental vehicle and getting horizontal on all-inclusive lawn chairs.
We're off to check out the hotspot surfing community of Tamarindo. We hear it is noisy and filled with Californians.
We pull in after an hour drive and it does seem quite busy with boutique shopping, condos and upper scale hotels. But we manage to find a very reasonable cereal box, with a king bed and fridge, to throw our suitcases into- complete with a Grandma and Grandpa security team that watch over your vehicle and room while you wander. The kitchen is closed as the staff needed a break after the Easter insanity, they tell us, but not to fear. They are surrounded by top eateries right on the beach.
The sunset viewing from the beach in front of our room is spectacular. A large red ball you hardly recognize as the same sun we sit beneath in Houston slowly lowers itself down to the edge of the water before seemingly plunging in.
The surf here is double what it was in Samara and the surfer dudes are all out there in a row ducking beneath the waves that threaten to crash on top of their heads. They remain out there until it is too dark to see them come in.
I forgot to mention my wrestling match in the waves while in Samara. I went in with my sunglasses on, planning to only cool off and not put my head under the water. A rogue wave had other plans for me, breaking on top of me, pulling me beneath the waves before trying very hard to remove my bathing suit as well as my glasses. I couldn't tell which way was up and before I could break to the surface, I was dragged much further out than I was happy about.
I managed to redress myself, picking my suit out of my butt and down from around my neck before realizing my sunglasses were long gone. No wonder there are multiple vendors selling them for $8-$10 bucks a pair on the beach. It takes me a good five minutes to fight the under tow back to the beach. Of course my husband had no idea the alarm I had suffered through. Too many other distractions on a beach full of bikinis. That cost him a pair of sunglasses and an ice cone called a copas (made with shaved ice, flavouring and sweetened condensed milk)before he was back to being my hero again. Lucky for him it all came to well under $12. If we'd been in Tamarindo the damage would have been far greater.
We had a superb dinner of Pacific lobster tail while I whispered for the tenth time what a great idea it was to see one more Costa Rican beach before heading to Playa Hermosa in the morning.

The hotel treats us to a typical CR breakfast of Gallo beans and rice, eggs and toast, fruit and coffee. We say farewell to our two weeks of exploring Costa Rica and return our rental car to the Liberia airport without incident. A shuttle arrives to take us to our week of pampering at the Villas Sol resort.
We're talking $20 massages on the beach, snorkeling and fishing excursions, free Joy-yah (yoga in Spanish), aquarobics, water volleyball and all you can handle pina coladas.
Oh my! What a way to end a vacation.

Easter In Samara Beach




I can't stop looking at my feet! They are actually uglier than my wretched post-chemo hair style with their patch-sized red blotches that look ready to blister or bleed at any moment. The redness on my shoulders and left knee cap are like beacons to the wandering eye of people approaching. What has that woman done to herself? Or maybe they think...man, that's gotta hurt. Which it does.

All this after a two hour session on the beach. That quick hose-down with the alcohol-based spf15 was a disaster, shield wise. Big holes in my protective armour. The insides of my arms, a swath on my belly and now my ears don't match my body anymore. I have un-accessorized myself.
The sunless tanning lotion I used the week prior to arriving has worn off in patches, the marshmallow white skin poking through that glorious rich brown shade. The hot springs at Arenal, here in Costa Rica, chipped at it enough to let the sun in. I figured I was good-to-go and today can barely stand to wear sandals. Or a bed sheet. Or a smile. Of course the pavement and sand are too hot to go without shoes, so I'm not going too far. Good thing there are lots of beach restaurants with chairs beneath wide palm tree branches. There is a place in heaven for everyone.
A decision has been made to get back into the rental vehicle that sits collecting iguana pooh and dust at $57 a day. A town only 5 km away has an excellent two table restaurant named El Dorado we are prompted to visit. Sounds a little too small for us, but what the heck. It can only go one of two ways. We get food poisoning for the few days we have left here or we don't. As I said, I can't go too far with these feet, so what else were we doing?
You must cross a riverbed that still has a river running through it to get to the restaurant or else travel another 21 km up a mountainside to come at the town from the other side. El Carmen. Population 10 by our eye count. To get there you pass by the next beach south of Samara called Playa Carrillo. The sides of the road are lined three deep with cars, vans, three wheelers, quads, tents and people everywhere. It's Easter in Costa Rica. No liquor sales at the store, restaurant or bar for two days. It doesn't look to be a problem with the stacked coolers between all the tents. A very white sand stretch with minimal surf is choked with bobbing bodies, kids running, dog's tails wagging and everyone is happy, happy. As they say here, Pura Vida! (Pure heaven)
We think we are lost a few times as we travel up and up and twist and wind around impossible but astoundingly paved roads until we reach an intersection we can't agree on. We back up to the sign hidden behind the shrub to try and read it again. Go straight, I say, so he turns right. This is Barry's new "rule." Do the opposite of what Deb figures. Unfortunately, I am beginning to see that he is right and the rule does seem to work? I don't really care how we get to where we're going as long as we get there. I do, however, care about that smug look on my husband's face.

We pass people soaking lazily in the river we are following and more flower and mango-treed properties. We ask directions of a carpenter building a house and he's never heard of El Dorado. A younger man tells him something in Spanish to which he replies in Spanish, "that's its name?"
We round two more corners and spot the sign hanging off a blue stucco canteen. An open air eatery with bright green linens draped over solid wood tables. The menu boasts mostly seafood but accommodates everyone with even a hambergesa con papas (burger and fries). For me, it's the best and biggest bowl of seafood soup I have ever seen. A whole fist-sized crab, an entire lobster tail, a 6 inch strip of dorado, a dozen or more clams and mussels, sliced octopus and calamari and two of the largest shrimp we have seen in Costa Rica. For 4000 calones (about $8). Well worth the drive and the smug face, we profess over and over. Best part is the mother and daughter team of cook and waitress try to communicate with our broken Spanglish and never once laugh at my silly touristy red blotches on my body.
On the way home, we braved the river bed after watching a dozen vehicles much lower to the ground than ours, roar through. We made it easily and were back to the hacienda within minutes.

The second best thing we did while in Samara Beach was go on a nature hike with a young man named Alvaro Teran who took us up the mountain behind Samara to his Grandfather's Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. Alvaro picks you up at your accommodation and drives you to the start of a two hour trail he has hand cleared through a dense forest of typical Costa Rican trees and plantation. He knows a lot about everything you see. The tour climaxes at a spectacular viewpoint of both the Carrillo and Samara bays. Alvaro offers fruit and cereal bars before guiding us back down the far side of the mountain. He fills up our bags with fresh mangoes and mangas from the field before returning us to the Bambula.
It was a good climb up in that heat- all part of the master detox plan. Get that fresh air in and sweat all the toxins out.
I spent a good ten minutes letting the shower water run over my head before I could get out. It was a coincidence, I'm sure but I suddenly realized I needed to comb my hair for the first time! It had somehow grown enough since my last shower to need to be swept to one side or the other so that it didn't stick up. (no, it's no-where near my eyes yet! It's still only an inch at the longest part.)

We settled in for a home made seafood pasta dinner on the deck, clinking glasses of wine in celebration of the combing mile-stone. We didn't bother to run the air conditioning to try and drown out the noisy frogs, howler monkeys, cicadas and iguanas that try to drown each other out every night. With all that fresh air and exercise we slept extremely well!

Blue Feathered Parrots and A Brown Haired Deb




Our rental car is mini shredded wheat size, but it's a 4 wheel drive at the touch of a button which within hours we have to use. The highway pavement disappeared somewhere around a corner we had to take to get to the Cloud Forest Reserve area better known as Monteverdi. Word on the street says the government does not maintain this portion of dirt road because they don't want a flood of people on it. In truth, if we hadn't been meeting Barry's daughter we might have been dissuaded by the teeth rattling three hour bounce. The posted speed limit of 25 km is a joke- you can't possibly go that fast and not end up a vegetable from shaken adult syndrome!

When we can tear our eyes from the potholes and washboard we see beautiful terrain with large gathering slopes like railings to our right. Lush and deeply scented, dotted with canopy shade trees and wooden box-shaped homes with dark skinned people fanning themselves from chairs on porches that face the view. After miles of this we spot an oasis. Pavement! Can it be? Out here in the middle of nowhere? We have arrived in Monteverdi and the tires once again feel round instead of square. We are driving on pillows.

You never stop to think how good you've got it until something is taken away!
It is such a big thing to remember as we travel through our lives.

We enjoy our one night stay to the max, sadly waving farewell to Lindsay and Richard as they head south and us east on our separate holidays.
We continue to bounce and bumble to the "swinging bridge hike" within the reserve where we spot black cats they say are jaguars. Exciting. Even more exciting is the grinding noise our rental now makes every time we turn the wheel slightly to the left. Try that on hairpin, "don't look down that steep bank" turns. It gets you to worrying about the brakes as its all downhill from here! Literally.
Something is very, very wrong with our vehicle.
We decide to try and keep going as we'd rather be held up at the hot springs versus the Cloud Forest.
We reach pavement two hours later with audible sighs and continue to the next hotel which is the amazing Arenal Lodge. Here the sight of the Arenal Volcano is all encompassing. It fills your sight, your head your dreams and you can't stop looking at it. It hasn't had a lava flow for six months now but it will again from this side only, they tell us. We can't stop looking at it. Our room isn't ready so we get upgraded to the cabins on the highest ridge. The entire front of the room is glass, filled with the majesticness of the volcano. A couch and easy chair face the giant "A" so you can sit and stare to your content. Bright green and blue parrots fly past which reminds me it is finally time to do something about this grey hair! They advised me to wait a minimum of two months and I think, as I eye up the cabin's dark green towels, that the time is close enough.
There are two ground level hot tubs on the lawn in front of the reception/restaurant area. They are surrounded from behind with fragrant privacy bushes and both face the volcano. It reminds me of our hot tub with our view of the Telkwas. Each wonderous in their own right.
The next morning we find a much younger (and happier) looking Debi with patchy brown hair ready to attend the free nature hike with our guide Miguel. We see a butterfly farm, a deer, a hidden tarantula hole and an ant that removes a sliver Miguel has jammed into his thumb for us. Amazing. They use these same ants for closing wounds during ancient times, he tells us and shows us how the ant clamps onto his skin and won't let go until he manipulates her mandibles.
Our second rental vehicle seems to have the same problem as the last rental, but not yet to the same degree. As we only have a twenty minute drive to the next stop at the Baldi Hot Springs in La Fortuna, we decide to chance it. What the heck. I now have brown hair and feel like a million bucks.
What more could possibly happen, right?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Contact Your Doctor ASAP



(Watching the sun come up at the Houston Texas airport. Part of the 29 hour trek to Costa Rica)


My eyes are crossed from lack of sleep and there's a large kink in my neck. We have been travelling all night but here we are in San Jose, Costa Rica. The heat slams you like a hot wall the second you step out of the plane. We become sheeple following the persons in front through the customs line-up, afterwards to the suitcases, then to the line-up of taxi drivers and shuttle drivers with names written on white sheets of paper they flap in the air like flags. We see our name and feel the relief. We meet Jose from Hermedia who packs us into his van before whisking us off to his hotel for the next two nights. We whiz past palm trees and flowering bushes, past signs in Spanish and I feel the flood of words from past trips to Mexico come back to me.
Jose is a good guide and sends us down the street to the university quarter for cheap cervazas and seafood cerviche once we get settled in.

Tomorrow will be an all-day tour which includes a coffee plantation, a waterfall park with a zoo filled with long, nasty snakes, poisonous frogs and white-faced monkeys and the highlight- a hike to the live and smoking Poas Volcano. This is a dangerous and exciting country.

My lap top refuses to co-operate and give me my mail so I use the public computer supplied by the hotel. I see a letter from the technician at the Finlandia Pharmacy where I had the thermal imaging done on my breasts two days ago. The results must have come back. I don't realize I am holding my breath until I read the words "please be advised that you should contact your doctor as soon as possible." The air trapped in my lungs comes out in a loud "ooof" like I have been hit by a baseball bat. I bend over for a second, wondering if I am going to throw up.
It passes. My brain starts hollering I knew it, I knew it! This isn't over. The nightmare continues!
I fire off a letter to my girlfriend, the doctor. It reads "panic, panic, freak-out, distressed, over-stressed, what now, why me, panicked and frightened. Love Deb."
I then fell apart.
What did they find? Has the cancer spread? Is it in my bones, my brain, my organs? Will it be quick? Should I go home? Should I go to the hospital here? Will I have time for a shot of tequila? Do they have tequila in Costa Rica?
My husband thankfully points out I should calm down a bit, possibly with a glass of red wine in my hand?
It takes more than a glass.
Okay. Back to the world of cancer. So what am I afraid of? They've already put me through every thing they could dream up, except a torture rack, which maybe will come next. So I'll be taller. But thinner, I quickly add!
Come on, Deb.This will be dealt with the same way as last time. Analyze, cut, poison and nuke. I can do this. I will do this. In fact, I absolutely refuse to go anywhere, if possible, before I have grandkids. And at the rate our kids are moving, that may take years. We will just have to deal with this. I'm almost back to full steam again. I have enough energy to kick some more cancer butt!
And look at the positive side. Here is another license to go ahead and eat multiple pounds of chocolate bars again. Yeah! Like a five-year-old. What...go through all that cancer crap again? But I can eat lots of chocolate again? Okay!"
And just like that, as I prepared to hit the little mini super beside the hotel, a message appeared from Sandi. Like two arms coming from the sky to wrap around me and whisper, "shhh, shhh, it will all be okay." Sandi went searching for more information on thermal imaging and told me that any results the imaging company had was not a diagnosis. Only a biopsy after a mammo, ultrasound or an MRI could give me that. And there were lots of false negatives and positives with thermal imaging, not to mention my breasts were still healing from surgeries and radiation. Healing promotes rapid cellular growth which would look similar to a cancer growth. She assured me we would book more tests after my holiday. She also said she was sure there wouldn't be a recurrence that fast. Along with other very re-assuring things.
The breath comes out. The breath goes in.
The chocolate stays on the shelf at the store.

I have been back in Canada for two days now. The test results from the Thermal Imaging was in the mail, and contrary to what the tech wrote, it says that the findings seem to concur with the surgeries and radiation. It welcomed me to return, no charge, to establish a base line from which future thermal imaging will be compared to. There was a list of vitamins to consider which I see I am already taking. Again it said to try and keep an alkaline rather than an acidic body and to drink plenty of fluids at all times. Cancer likes acidic, dehydrated bodies.

Not to create a panic, but I think I'd like to head out and find some seaweed to chew on. I can follow it with a big glass of BC's finest water. And possibly a teaspoon of baking soda just to be on the safe side. Those grandkids seem like a really long ways away.

Holidays Start With Some X Rated Photos

Booking a holiday on points at the last minute has its problems. But they seemed small in the face of my life, lately, so it was with this frame of mind I booked the nine times we would take off and land seated in the very back of a weaving overgrown metal bread box. Welcome aboard Air Canada, Continental Air and United Airlines. Go straight to the last row of seats, get as uncomfortable as you can, try to ignore the spontaneous regrowth of the line-up to the bathroom in the aisle beside you making the claustrophobic noose even tighter. Jump at the sonic sound of the toilet flushing fifty times an hour. You got this flight for free and we are going to make you very, very sorry about that.
But at the time, that sweet moment after you've booked everything and all you can imagine is the white sand between your toes and the smell of palm trees and salted green water, deciding what to wear seemed the hardest thing I faced. What can a 3000 watt woman wear for 28 hours of travel? From snow covered tarmac through an eight hour stop-over in Vancouver before three more airless seating procedures, the blazing sun through the secure airport windows in Oregon, Texas and Costa Rica, through the shuttle and suitcase-dragging ordeals? A bathing suit would be my first choice, a space suit with regulated air conditioning a high second. Yet it was my hiking zip-off pants with socks inside sandals (yes, I know, how gauche but at least I wore some the same color as the pants), that finally won, with a base tank top beneath a sweat-wicking long sleeved t-shirt. About as sexy as a grave-digging uniform. To combat this, I put on the "good" new underwear. I bought a softer, more forgiving sports bra with yes, an underwire, but it's well padded and does not rub anything the wrong way as the rest of my old bras still do. Add some matching bikini wear and at least I feel a little less manly (as I absent-mindedly pull at the visible growth of white peach fuzz on the sides of my jaw!).

Vancouver was only beginning to see a few daffodils and tulips popping their heads from their dirt beds when we got scooped up by a best friend who whirled us downtown for my appointment with Finlandia pharmacy. I was booked for a 3PM thermal imaging of my breasts- the first test I have had since surgery in August. In luck with a half price special on ($142.), I was seated in a small room facing the thermal imaging camera, told to strip to my waist and instructed on how to pose, arms over head in five different positions. My own porn shots for Barry. Good enough for a Fathers day gift, although the final photos are very psychedelic in greens, oranges and reds? The camera picks up any hot spots which may indicate a cancer growth as cancer accelerates and grows so fast that it causes friction and heat. This will show as a certain colour on the final imaging which will be sent to a specialist who can properly read the the photos and send the findings to us.

I am very emotional during the entire procedure. Possibly because I am terrified they will find something. This comes from the past year when every test I took seemed to end with more bad news. I have no faith in anything and so wait with bated breath for that carpet to once again be pulled out from beneath me. I'm like a beaten dog that cowers at the sight of a raised broom, at another professional administering a "test."

The woman helping me explains she was a doctor in her country (which I think is Latin America) and indeed wears a white lab coat and doesn't flinch at the sight of my battle-scarred breasts. Her English is passable but loses credibility after she spends twenty-five minutes asking me questions about the surgeries and treatments- some that do not make sense. After she hits the wrong button on her lap top and loses everything, I offer to help and together we re-fill in the on-line form. Reading the information myself helped me realize what the form was needing so it was a much more detailed and accurate second attempt that was eventually sent away with my photos. The results would be mailed to me but I explained I would not be home for the next three weeks and would be holding my breath with fear for as long. I managed to extract a promise from her that when she received the results, before mailing them out, that she would read them and send me a personal e-mail on the bottom line. Clear or not.
It turned out to be a very silly thing to do. It almost ruined our holiday.
But that is another story for the next blog!

I Resemble That Volcano





I never thought about having anything in common with a volcano before, but this picture is proof. We are both smouldering hot! The smoke behind me is actually leaking out from beneath my armpit. Between the hot flashes and the humidity of Costa Rica, I could give the phenomenon in the background a run for its tourist attraction ratings.
I am writing this on my new lap top. I got my wallet out after three weeks being incommunicado on holidays. My previous lap top was so jammed full it couldn't even defrag. At 6 years old it had developed Alzheimers and getting more memory was going to be a battle for something so "obsolete" (I still wonder if the salesman was talking about me or the computer?). I couldn't pay for a new one fast enough after having dragged that ten pounds of useless metal on and off of nine flights. It's a wonder it didn't take a flight of its own, except that I am currently able to use the two lap tops at the same time here at home. Maybe now I can get some work done! Once I get all the bugs out of the new guy who doesn't seem to want to publish the blogs I write. Sigh.
Costa Rica is a fine country. Extremely laid back. We never saw one calendar, only a few people wearing watches and even less free computer use. Phoning home required the deposit of a first born child, so when in Rome...I sent postcards that might reach my friends and family next month, with any luck?
I went to Costa Rica to put the past eight months behind. To regain my strength, renew my spirits and get ready to come back swinging (or typing as the case may be). So I rested, relaxed, ate, swam, hiked, thought, remembered, cried, mopped up and came out eager to get my old life back. Correction: my old life with some very important changes. More water, less booze, more anti-oxidants, less red meat, more stretching and yoga classes, less pounding myself into the pavement jogging three times a week.
The new pill I was given two days before we left (Zoladex which stops the production of estrogen) hit me hard at first. It is a small pill that is injected beneath the skin over my abdomen and it works on a slow release over a month before having to be replaced.
The initial reaction feels like I haven't slept in days. It's all I can do to stay awake! This morning I received my second shot. I drove home and as soon as I reached the driveway and put the truck in park mode, I sat there for a minute and before I knew it, I was waking up! I had fallen asleep. Now that's scary!
If I can recall this right, the next thing is a drop in libido, which is a listed side-effect. Of course that didn't last once in the land of palm trees, king sized beds and half naked bodies walking around everywhere. We'll have to see what happens with this second dose. At the moment it's not like I have anything against doing "the nasty", I'm just not sure I can stay awake through the whole thing. I'm writing as fast as I can so I can hit the sheets and finally close my eyes.
This might have something to do with us arriving late last night and not getting to bed before 11 pm. Then up at 6 for circuit training before running with Sandi at 7. But no, Barry remembers I went through this the last time. I am totally exhausted. Not like the old me. Not even like the "new me" which I guess I am still finding out about.
Hopefully I get the blogs caught up this next week. I'll take you through the highlights of the past 20+ day's adventures and hair growth as quick as I can without boring you to death. I need to get a new schedule going of writing the blogs and repairing the books. It's going to take some diligence, and a bit of ignoring the Skype, FaceBook, e-mails, phone and house cleaning (not that I have any problems with that!) Let the dust bunnies roll! Just don't leave any dust bunny poop behind on the carpets where others might see, please.
Now I really do need to go to bed. At least I got this done. Score...one for Deb, none for procrastination.

One small step at a time!
It's good to go away, but it's also good to come home!