Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I attended my daughter's birthday party

This past weekend, I attended my daughter's birthday party at an indoor playground. I missed my son's party because I was in the hospital, so I was determined to get myself well enough to attend my daughter's party. Since I was so weak for so many days after the 2nd round of chemo, I really wasn't sure if I was going to make it.

The 2 days before the party, I made sure I ate and drank a lot, rest as much as I could and not get stressed out or rush around. On the day of the party, I rested in my bed until it was time to go to the party. I had a great time mingling with the other parents, and watching the kids having fun. Everything was going great until the 2.5 hour mark when I suddenly felt unwell. Luckily, my brother was able to drive me home quickly. But I did it! I consider it a small win out of this long journey of cancer/treatment, etc.

I think I will just continue to take these little wins each week to keep me focusing on the positive things in this journey. I'm going to have Immunotherapy tomorrow and I hope I won't get too ill from it. It is supposed to be less harsh on the body than chemotherapy. But knowing me, I'll get all sorts of uncommon side effects (e.g. vomiting, extreme shortness of breath, etc) that the nurses won't be expecting. I have prepared a list for tomorrow so that the nurses will have precautions on hand for me.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Dreaming big....

A few years ago I made a wedding dress for myself because my husband said he wanted have new wedding pictures taken. He was going through a healthy regiment and lost a lot of weight - enough to fit into his wedding suit. So I went through a fun but frenzied period of choosing gowns from my pattern stash, narrowing them down to 3 and made bedsheet muslin versions of them to see which one looked good on me:
Vogue 8285
Simplicity 2639
Eventually I settled on Vogue 2237, which was strange as I was never really big on strapless dresses. I have fairly broad shoulders and back and I thought the straplessness would enhance the broad shoulders. However, the final product was not bad at all:


I used a plain white heavy matte satin for the dress and a 100% cotton broadcloth as the lining and foundation. I wore the cathedral length veil I made when I got married the first time (years ago!) and carried the same bouquet my mother-in-law made years ago (fake flowers are good that way!). I did my own hair and make up. A good friend of ours took pictures of us. It was such a fun and exciting day!

Now I'm dreaming about to do something like that again when I have finally recovered from cancer. It's so fun just doing the planning. I don't think I'll do strapless again. I think I should try another style to learn something new. Off to Pinterest for ideas!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Still recovering from chemo......

This 2nd round of Chemo has been rough on my body during and after the treatment. I think my oncologist put some seriously heavy dosage and/or mixture this time around. She saw that my tumour didn't shrink (it didn't spread either) after the first round of chemotherapy. I guess she just wanted to crank it up to see if the 2nd round can shrink the tumour.

I am recovering from this round much slower than the 1st round. 3 days after the first round of chemo I was able to move around and my strength was not bad. Today is the 6th day after my 2nd round of chemo and I'm only started to feel better and not tired, short of breath, and weak all day. I left a voicemail with my oncologist to ask her about the 2nd round dosage but she hasn't replied.

My daughter's birthday party is this weekend. I planned it all on my laptop a few weeks ago. I am hoping I'll be well enough to go to her party. But if not, I'm not going to force myself. I will rest at home. The adults at the party will just have to take lots of pictures for me. :-)

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!

source: Elle.com
source: Pinterest.com

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:
source: FarFetch.com
source: net-a-porter.com

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!