Update on Catalini

I’ve just about abandoned this blog, so much going on these days, but I got a delightful email from Catalinni that I wanted to share with you. That woman is such an inspiration to me! (I’ve altered some names to protect privacy)

I’ve had so many emails asking for an update I thought I had better get on with it and bring every body up to date on what’s been going on in my life since the last one.

As you know I am undergoing my third round of 6 chemo treatments and my 2nd treatment was February 7th. I have had 10 chemo treatments all totaled thus far.

The nurse pre-treats me by running different drugs through the IV to prevent allergic reactions and nausea and other side effects all of which have done their job so far. Then she gives me 3 hours of taxol ( the first chemo drug) followed by 45 minutes of carboplatin. This web site explains it all for the curious who want to know all the gory details.

But on this 11th treatment my body decided to develop an allergy to the carboplatin. It’s not the cancer that kills you — it’s the kill or cure treatments. First my hands started to itch and then they went hot pink and so did my face. I had trouble breathing. They ran for a doctor who tried a couple of different antidotes before they found the right one. They continued the treatment without incident.

They say if your palms itch it means you are going to get money but I am still waiting for my ship to come in.

March 7th I had my 3rd chemo treatment. This time they pre-treated me with benadryl before each drug, but that didn’t work either. This time the rash spread over my whole body and it took 3 doctors and 3 drugs before they were able to clear it up. By this time it was 7pm and the nurses were supposed to go home at 5pm so they did not continue with the carboplatin.

Dr. Hoskins ( I call him Dr. Faulty because he is a dead ringer for John Cleese on that British TV show – Faulty Towers) phoned me yesterday and said they will not be continuing with the carboplatin in future.

He said it is not safe to administer it anymore because it could be fatal. He said he has done a good job of keeping me alive this far and doesn’t want to see me drop off from the drug. He said the taxol will do its job without it, it’s just a little better when they use them both together. I asked does that mean my life will be shorter now?. He said “about 15 minutes shorter.”

Anyway I trust his judgment because – as he says -he is doing a good job of keeping me alive so far. I told him my short term goal is to be here to welcome the new grandboy in July, and my long term goal is the 2010 Olympics. My nephew Dr. Don has promised that if I am still here, he is taking me to the Opening Ceremonies. Dr. Faulty says he can promise me the July deadline. As for 2010, he said “I’m not so sure but I will do my best.”

Other than a few side effects, and a chronic bladder infection, I am enjoying my life immensely. The highlight of my life was the night my son John took me to a real live Canucks Hockey game at GM Place in Vancouver.

I watch all the games on TV and I go to a lot of John’s hockey games. He plays in an adult league in his community. But this was the most exciting evening I have ever had. Just being part of the crowd and the yelling and screaming and seeing the players in person was just a fantastic experience. They have giant TV screens way up over the rink and they keep the crowd riled up with signs “NOISE” “LOUDER” and they play loud raucous music and hands clapping to get the crowd clapping their hands. It’s just so crazy to see all these adults letting their inhibitions go and just making absolute fools of themselves. Some of them dress up and paint the Canucks logo on their faces. And every time the Canucks scored a goal the whole audience of fans stood up and cheered and whistled and waved flags and towels and banners and whatever else they had in their hands. Just wild and crazy. I loved it so much.

Last Saturday, Sid and By came over and took me out for sushi lunch and then came back and cleaned my apartment – vacuumed and tidied and did a whole bunch of little jobs that I can’t do. Put up the shower curtain, changed light bulbs sorted out junk, organized shelves and carried the junk to the dumpster. My house feels so clean and tidy. About a month ago John had sent in a carpet cleaner who steamed cleaned the whole apartment. That was my Christmas present from John and Sarah.

George comes over often and does little jobs and keeps my computer running smoothly.

Spring Break is this week and next, so my grandkidz are having turns visiting me. Tuesday I had such a busy day. I took my grandgirlz to the mall and spoiled them rotten. I let them empty my piggy bank of the dimes nickels and quarters and share the money.

Rosie had her red pyjama bottoms on. All the teens go out in their pj’s these days. So I said , “does that mean i have to wear my red satin pyjamas to the mall too?” She said yup. Then she went thru my hoodies and picked a red one for me to wear. And I had to wear my red wig, because Roxx is a redhead. I said people will think I’m your sister. So here I am walking around the mall dressed like a teenager in my red satin pj’s. And nobody even noticed. Lotsa people looked at my red wig with a curious look but nobody noticed my pj’s.

George drove us to the mall on his lunch hour. We lunched at the Food Court, after which we went to the dollar store and shopped up a storm. Luv those Dollar Stores. Becca, age 9, bought make-uppy things and Rosie (age 13) bought incense and an incense holder for her bedroom.

Then we took Becca to Go Bananas – the indoor playground. The rule is that your child cannot be left unsupervised, so Roxx stayed with her while i went shopping at Walmart. and then when i came back she went shopping.

George came back for us after work and they all had dinner with me. Then they had to rush off to Rosie’s guitar lesson. All in all it was a very tiring but wonderful day.

I had one day to rest up because Thursday the grandboyz came for lunch.

Their amazing Super Nanny, Maddy, brought all 3 of them on the skytrain, seabus, and bus all the way from Surrey. And she was still smiling when she got here. Come to think of it I did that for a lot of years with my 3 sons and lived to tell the tale.

I always do theme meals for the kidz so we had a St. Pat’s Day lunch party. With hats, and decorations, green tablecloth and napkins, green slurpies and the Irish Rovers music.

Then Maddy trooped Harry and Jimmy back the way they came, leaving Tommy for his sleepover. Hurricane T. that is. Can’t wait til he’s 7.

We watched old Our Gang movies and Harry Potter. On Friday I took him to see the Shaggy Dog and we took our own popcorn and drinks. Sarah picked us up from the theatre. When Tommy was leaving he said “bye Grandy, I love you, even if parts of you are missing. I still love what’s left of you.” Out of the mouths of babes.

I looked out the window this morning and said “Thanks for this beautiful day and thanks for letting me live to see it.” It’s just like Easter Sunday out there. I went to the Noorouz Bazaar with my Iranian friends and her two daughters. Walking up the bus people were stopping and smiling and saying “isn’t this a beautiful day ?”

So all in my life is still running smoothly except for the few side effects. I just keep plodding on. I’m gonna live, live, live til I die.

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Forty Days of Lent

I heard a little when I was growing up about Lent, those forty days preceding Easter, from friends who always “gave up” something. Or at least, they would talk about giving something up. I never saw the point, thought they were being silly.

Now I see the point.

Lent is a penitential season preceding not only Easter but Holy Week, the Passion drama. We take on certain mortifications, voluntarily, to try to do a couple of things. First, we want to bring our bodies, wills and egos into a greater conformity with the Gospel. Careless self-indulgence can make us spiritually insensitive; the Lenten absinence is a good antidote. We also want to identify ourselves with the sufferings of Christ, Who suffered all so that we could be reconciled to the Father.

It isn’t as bad as it sounds. Some people give up red meat — I am going to do that this year. Others give up habits, like smoking, that are detrimental but have a strong hold on them, a strong attachment. We are also encouraged to add to our lives — through extra devotional reading, or works of mercy that we would normally avoid.

The point is to move further away from our comfort zone so that we can become more pliable in the Master’s hands. I want to encourage my non-Catholic friends to adopt some act of self-sacrifice during this time, and offer it up to God, as an experiment. See how He transforms you through the offering.