Friday, April 20, 2018

After 3 days of Chemo treatment

I have learned a lot about my body after the 3 days Chemo treatment. Since each person's reaction to chemo is different, it's really up to me to figure out what can ease the treatment for myself.

After the traumatic experience on Day 1, on Day 2 I decided to force myself to sit up straight with my head and back pulled slightly forward so that I didn't get into the 'I can't breathe' situation again. It worked well except I was vomiting a lot. I'd rather vomit than not be able to breathe.

Then on Day 3, I knew by then that as soon as the Chemo drugs hit my veins, the top part of my airways would tighten and make it difficult to breathe. I asked for supplementary oxygen to ease my breathing and that worked well. I also sat up straight with my head and neck tilted slightly forward. I only vomited once and the rest of the treatment was uneventful.

My husband suggested that I see a professional about my traumatic experience on Day 1 just so that I don't develop PTSD later. He had been reading up about other cancer patients who developed PTSD a few year after recovering from cancer.

I'm to have a CAT scan next week to see how the chemo had worked. My Oncologist told me that I'm a good candidate for Immunotherapy, a new promising cancer treatment. So what is Immunotherapy?

From the American Cancer Society:

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways:
  • Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells
  • Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins
I am doing more research myself about this new treatment.

I'm now resting at home and still feeling positive and grateful for all the kindness and tangible help I have been receiving. I should feel stronger in a few days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Chemo Round 2 Day 1 - a bit rough

Yesterday I had my Chemo Round 2 Day 1 treatment. It started out a rough and then it got better. I was dozing off in a very comfortable Lazyboy chair at the chemo lab. All of a sudden I had an 'I can't breathe' moment. It only lasted a few seconds. The nurses came running in to give me steroids to open up my airway. I don't think I had ever been that scared in my life. I cried for 10 minutes. I think I scared the other patients at the Chemo lab. For some reason, each time I dozed off after that, I had trouble breathing. So I straightened up the lazy boy, used a sheet they gave me to force my neck and head forward, so my head didn't flop back. And then I dozed off sideways with my elbow on the armrest. That seemed to do the trick and I was able to go through the rest of the 4 hour treatment without incidents.

The nurses also didn't know what happened. They asked me if I was anxious, nervous, troubled when the incident happened,  but I was sleeping and didn't feel particularly anxious. I was enjoying that Lazyboy! Now that I know how to prevent it from happening again, I hope my Chemo session today and tomorrow will go smoothly.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Hair loss, Hats and headscarves

I'm losing my hair due to Chemotherapy. I decided to just buzz it all off so that it's easier to clean up later.

Luckily I made lots of hats for myself during the last few years:

There are more hats that I didn't blog about. This is all good for the colder weather. But when the weather gets warmer, I think I will more likely be wearing head scarves. No problem there either! I have lots of summery fabrics in my fabric stash that I can just cut and serge the edges to make headscarves.

My daughter seems most concerned about my hair loss. She was worried that I wouldn't "be beautiful anymore". I am teaching her that a person's beauty does not only come from her hair. A person is beautiful because she is kind, compassionate, wise, sure of her own qualities and doesn't wait for others to validate her. A person's positivity can shine through an otherwise ordinary physical appearance which makes the person extremely attractive. I'll keep teaching this to her every day.

I'm also teaching my kids that just because I have cancer, I'm not shying away from society. I'm going about my daily life like everyone else, perhaps a bit slower. We went to a restaurant last night for the first time since I was diagnosed with cancer. I had my headscarf on and that invited some looks from the restaurant patrons at first, especially the children. But after a while, people got used to it and I enjoyed having my family restaurant meal as usual. I want my children to understand that just because someone has a serious illness, she doesn't have to hide from society. Unfortunately this is the same lesson I have teach to my mother. She would like me to hide from society until I have completely recovered with a full head of hair, as if I was never sick before.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Weight loss

This is another rant.

Before I was ill, I was in the higher end of a healthy weight range for my height and build. I wasn't obsessed with my weight all the time. But like most women, I was looking at my post-birth tummy and wishing it was smaller, or the love handles less prominent.

Now that I'm ill, I have lost a lot of weight. I am at the same weight I was when I was 12 years old. I'm trying to eat a lot and gain weight and muscles back so that I can be closer to my regular weight before the next round of Chemotherapy, which will knock down my overall health again.

I look back at my silly thoughts about my mommy tummy and sighed. This illness has been such an eye opener for me. It teaches me what is really important in life - overall good health, contentment with what one already has, family, friends, love, support, compassion for others, kindness, spirituality.

Cancer has knocked down my physical health. But it has raised my emotional and spiritual well-being. I have not known kindness and compassion from my community like this before. I think it has made me mentally a better person. I think I have become a less cynical and selfish person because of cancer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Oscar de la Renta - Ink splotches

I know that embroidery is coming back this year as a trend. I'm not really into embroidery except in ethnic clothing. However, I can see that it can add a little something to a plain dress or coat.

These Ink splotches are more my kind of thing. They are on the Oscar de la Renta 2018 Spring/Summer collection. I think they add a little something fun to the outfit. The 3 quarter length straight jacket looks very nice. I have lots of sewing patterns that can make this open spring jacket. Hey may be I can even try to do my own ink splotches!


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Thank Goodness for Publicly Funded Health Care

This is NOT a political post. It's only my personal experience of Publicly Funded Health Care in Ontario, Canada.

I have always believed in Publicly Funded Health Care. It has been part of the core Canadian Identity for a long time.  In 1947, the Saskatchewan Government, led by leader Tommy Douglas, introduced the first provincial hospital insurance program In Canada. There were many oppositions to a national publicly funded health care program: doctors, medical associations, insurance companies, big business, etc. But many fought to do the right thing, including the government.

Before I was ill, I have heard many news reports about how the Public Health Care money was being misused. I'm sure with such a behemoth system, misuse of funds and mistakes are unavoidable. Of course the parts that are not working need to fixed. But it didn't shake my believe in the concept of Publicly Funded Health Care.

Now that I am ill, I saw first hand how important publicly funded health care for all is. At my regional hospital where I stayed, all the specialists, doctors, nurses, therapists were hard working, dedicated and showed enormous compassion and kindness to me. All the intricate co-ordinations, consultations within and outside the hospital on the fly, medication dispensing, carefully tailored treatments, etc, were done with such ease and expediency. And when I was being discharged, all the necessary specialists were assembled to plan my discharge. A lot of phone calls, paperwork and arrangements were all made on my behalf, just so that I would have everything I would need when I get home. And when I got home, there were nurses who visit me daily to check my health. An occupational therapist came to check that my home is set up correctly for a patient to be as comfortable and as independent as possible. And then there are others who deliver supplemental oxygen, loaned me walkers, hospital beds, etc. All these are done at no cost to me, other than the taxes I have been paying.

And I'm just a regular Ontario citizen. I'm not rich or famous or in high power. The regional health centre I went to does this for everyone who comes to their door - whoever they are, even if they are not paying taxes. And they charge them nothing neither.

I'm also aware that there are others in Ontario that are not as lucky as me. There are not enough health services available in rural areas, First Nations regions, etc. It is not easy to distribute services to remote areas but we need to figure out something to help those areas. I'm interested in starting my research on this to understand these issues.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Plaid Oscar de la Renta Dress - the plan

The plaid dress I was salivating about yesterday doesn't seem too difficult to master. It looks to me that it's a standard princess seamed top above the waist. Then below the waist one side is an a-line skirt and the other is a larger overlapping bias pieces. A row of bias self-fabric fringe adorn the collar, while some of the edges of the skirt are frayed.

I have this McCall pattern in my stash already for the top part of the dress:
source: McCall's pattern
I'm pretty sure I can figure the bottom out with muslin and trial and error.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Plaid dress inspiration - Oscar de la Renta

See! It didn't take me long to salivate on a dress I want to make later!

I came across this OSCAR DE LA RENTA Asymmetric Fringed Checked Cotton-Blend Tweed Midi Dress while surfing. I love plaid and love these asymmetric things:

The good thing about making this dress is that one doesn't really match the plaid (because I'm lazy and because I hate wasting fabric when having to match the pattern). But where would one go with this dress? It's not really for the office (too on-trend to be taken seriously). And it's too casual for a special occasion. Perhaps I could make the asymmetric skirt less flappy so that it can be for daily use?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Long time No Blog

I haven't blog for a very long time.

That's because I have been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

I have never smoked in my life. I didn't drink alcohol. I never did recreational drugs. I ate organic foods and exercised moderately.

So it's just bad luck I guess.

I have 2 kids under 10 years old. Of course I'm fighting this cancer. I have to.

I went through1 round of Chemotherapy and that was more painful than I had expected.

2 more rounds of Chemos are planned. I feel more prepared mentally this time. Also, my doctor talked about Targeted Radiotherapy in the future.

I have been so touched and humbled by friends and family who sprung to help me and my kids without hesitation. I feel like I haven't been a good enough friend to them before my illness.

So for the near future, I won't be doing any sewing or crafting or refashioning. But I may still blog about things I want to make later when my health improves.

And I'll be reading the blogs of my sewists to see what they have been creating!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

1950s polka dot circle skirt and Happy Holidays!

I wanted to sew something for myself in December but as usual - Decembers are crazy busy months! Nonetheless, I sewed something for my daughter. Her school's Christmas concert was a 1950's themed performance. I had to make a costume for her that fit the theme. So I just quickly bought some off cut black/white polka dot quilting cotton from my local fabric store. I cut out a simple circle skirt. Then I rummaged through my stash and found some white cotton remnant fabric. I had just enough to make a petticoat. All were sewn together quickly onto a thick black elastic waist band.

I used the same polka dot fabric and tied my daugher's hair into a pony tail. She was really happy with it:

I don't think I'll have time to sew anything else before Dec 31. So I'll be able to do my review of my top 10 sewing projects this year!

Happy Holidays everyone!! Stay safe and merry!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nov MAGAM completed! A Reversible Faux Fur Vest

My health is getting better which means More Sewing! The November theme for MAGAM (Make a Garment a Month) group is 'November Needs'. I know my closet well and I know I don't NEED anything else. However, when I looked into my fabric stash, I realized there are a few winter cozy items that I would like to wear this winter.

I thrifted a piece of purple reversible faux shearling in my local thrift store a couple of years ago. I had bit more than 1 metre of it. I love wearing faux fur in the winter. It's cozy and warm and stylish too. My mom-in-law already gifted me a black faux fur vest and a beige faux fur vest years ago. I wore them both frequently in the winter. So an addition of another faux fur vest sounds like a good idea.

I drafted my own vest pattern and started cutting. The fluff was everywhere and I had to wear a face mask during the vest construction. It all came together very quickly. I used lapped seams so that the reversible vest seams looked tidy. I sewed a small zig-zag stitch all the way around all the raw edges to prevent the fur fluff from eroding.

And this is how the reversible vest looks on me:

It's a bit thick and boxy but oh so warm and cozy! I think it will look good with jeans too. And I busted some more stash! Yay!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

After the Lung infection --- Back to sewing!

I have been away from blogging and sewing......because I got a lung infection! I'm still coughing but much recovered. So there was no blogging or sewing for a good few weeks.

I entered the Pattern Review Plaid Fabric contest before the infection. So it had been a mad dash to finish my plaid project in the last couple of days. I chose this very big patterned plaid boucle tweed coating fabric that has been in my stash for a long time:

This fabric has silver threads weaved throughout (difficult to see in this picture). I have used this fabric before to make a pair of cushions that I gave as x'mas gifts. I didn't want to make a coat with this as the Canadian winters are too harsh for such a loose weave coat. So I rummaged through my pattern stash and decided on this:

It seems odd at first glance to use a pattern destined for summery fabrics to make this obviously winter garment. I have never used this pattern before but I thought the simple pull-on, a-line shape would suit my body well. I have made other pull-on a-line dresses before and I wore them frequently.

I chose to make the knee length, 3/4 sleeve version of this dress, omitting the stand collar. I didn't do a muslin but compared the pattern pieces with a tried-and-true pattern to assess the fit. I did my usual short waist and short height adjustment. Fortunately the fit was fine.

The loose weave fabric was not easy to work with. There was terrible fraying, warping, which made matching the plaid pattern a little difficult. The dress has a front chest dart so I concentrated on matching the plaid from the bottom hem to just below the chest dart.

I wanted to 'jazz' up the dress a little with interesting trim. I auditioned various trim and found a bias red poly-cotton trim and cut out some remnant houndstooth plaid in my stash.

I added the red trim first with the frayed houndstooth trim on top. I applied this trim at the bottom hem and the sleeves:

I considered added external pockets to the dress but I think the bright contrasting trims are enough in terms of embellishment. The dress is actually quite warm but heavier to wear than regular dresses. I'll need to test-wear it this week to see how practically it is.

All in all I'm pretty happy with the risks I took in making this dress: 1) using a coating fabrics for a dress; 2) using a summery dress pattern for a heavier winter dress; 3) using a bright red trim with another plaid as trim; and 4) using a big bold print on my short boxy body. Also I busted some serious fabric stash too!

Here is how it looks on me and the plaid matches on the side:

So what do you think? Do you think the trendy plaid is workable for short boxy shaped women?

My review of this pattern is on PatternReview.