Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Cancer Story 3.0 - the saga continues

The past week has been a bit of a blur for us.  We sent this message out to our family and friends last night.

Hello everyone,

It’s taken us a full week and a bit to get our heads and hearts around some news we received last Monday, concerning Mark’s health.  Apologies for not getting this out to you all earlier, we just needed a few days to process everything.

On June 15, Mark had his six-month check up at the Cancer Clinic.  His last appointment, in December, was okay.  At that time, his liver looked good.  The chemo had done it's job.  They are also keeping a close eye on his lungs.  We were told that he had a few spots on his lungs but considering his age and the fact that he’d smoked for a long time when he was younger, spots on a lung are not too concerning.

Last week, we were hoping for status quo.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about his lungs.  Neither of us had any reason to expect that there would be any problems with his liver.  He’d had the surgery, he’d done the chemo.  All should be good right?  Wrong.  We were told that he had a grape sized tumour in his liver.  Surgery was not going to be an option this time.   Our next step is chemo, again.  This time, he’ll do a similar type of chemo (presented in a similar fashion, 2 hours in the clinic, then carrying the chemo bag for 48 hours – once every 2 weeks).  Big difference this time is that he’ll be doing it for the rest of his life.

It felt like the words “the rest of his life” were hanging in the air, like inside a bubble, in a comic book.  Mark and I looked at each other, wide eyed and frankly pretty upset and Mark asked how long that would be.  The doctor said that Mark could probably have 3 good years but 5 years good years was probably not to be expected.  Gut punch.  I just wanted to crawl under my chair and cry.  I could tell Mark wanted to do the same thing.  We had not anticipated this kind of news, never ever.  In between, we heard that he still had healthy liver tissue (good news) and his overall health is very good (they seemed surprised that he was feeling so well).  We walked out of the clinic in a fog, completely in shock.  I don’t remember much about the ride home but we were pretty upset.

Once we got home, we made a few phone calls to folks who needed to know right away.  I’m not sure that anyone even understood much of what I was saying, I was that upset on the phone.  Of course, we didn’t really sleep that night.  The next day, Tuesday, we went to see our family doctor and share the news with her (she’d not yet received a report from the Cancer Clinic).  She seemed as shocked as we felt.  Fortunately, on Tuesday night, we both slept a bit better and awoke with a plan in mind.  It’s a good plan, we’re still working out the details of it but for now, we think it’s a good plan.

Plan A

Regarding Mark’s health and the immediate future, he’s “taking the summer” as his oncologist suggested to enjoy himself.  He’ll have another scan in July and we’ll be able to see how quickly the tumour is growing.  Chemo will start in the fall.  The health part of the plan is two-fold:  let the chemo control the tumour and we’ll control the rest of the liver.  We’re going to do our very best to feed his liver the best kinds of foods and supplements that it needs to stay strong.  We’ve decided, and I don’t think this sounds na├»ve, to treat this as a chronic liver disease.   3 years, 5 years, 7 years, 10… no one ever knows for sure how long someone is going to live, whether or not they have cancer.  Cancer survival rates are a numbers game and someone has to beat them, sometimes.  Our job right now is to keep his liver as strong and healthy as we can, for as long as we can.

The other part of the plan involves simplifying our lives.  Over the next few months, we’ll be purging stuff at home and getting ready to put our house up for sale.  It’s just a little too big, a bit too much maintenance and too far from the hospital for us.  As much as we have enjoyed it, we feel that it’s time to get back into town, possibly into an apartment, something that is low-maintenance.  Like I said, simple.  We want to spend our time with friends and family and each other, not worrying about projects around the house (not to mention keeping 0.5 acres of lawn mowed).

For those of you who might be wondering what you can do to help, we have some ideas and will keep you posted.  It’s not easy to ask for help and so far we haven’t had to.  So many of you have offered help through Mark’s previous surgeries and chemo and for the most part, we wanted to do it on our own.  I think we’re going to need lots of help to get us through the next few months and we won’t be afraid to take you up on any offers.

In the meantime, know that Mark feels great, he looks healthy and, except for a grape-sized tumour in his liver, is doing just fine.  We’ll continue to keep you posted as we carry on with our plans.

Thanks so much for your continued support, we love you!

Mark and Peggy xo

Friday, May 22, 2015

Because the 90's

Feeling a little nostalgic today, for no reason in particular.

Shocks me a little bit that these songs are now 20+ years old.  Listening to them makes me feel like I'm still 20+ years old but alas, that's not true.  The songs are still good.  Hell, the songs are still GREAT.  90's indie rock rocked.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

gift

Saw this video last week and it's powerful message has stuck with me for days now. 

I urge you to watch it.  Please stick with it until the end and share it after you have watched. 

So often, messages like this seem to be "preaching to the choir" - this is a message I would love to see shared far and wide.

Friday, April 17, 2015

good to go

Sam is extra fluffy after visiting the groomer this morning #eskie #americaneskimodog #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #ilovemydogsWe took a vacation day today.

All week the forecast was crappy but the day turned out to be gorgeous.  The sunshine was lovely and being outside without a jacket on for the first time this year felt amazing.

This afternoon, the doggies had their annual check up at the vet.  We're sort of broke after that but they are both healthy and happy and up to date on their shots, have their worm medicine (to take next week) and we are stocked up heart worm preventative for 6 months and glucosamine supplement. 

Tuckered girl, a morning of pampering is exhausting! #sheltie #shetlandsheepdog #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #ilovemydogsA couple of years ago, when we moved house, we switched vets.  Our old vet was okay.  The techs were amazing the we were always being given the hard sell on their prescription food by the vet and it felt really gross.  We feed our guys a very high quality food which is suitable for their food sensitivities and is made in Canada from human grade ingredients.  It smells so good, I swear you could eat it.  We always felt a little insulted by the way the vet tried to undermine our decision.

We now see Dr Jack at the Sydenham Veterinary Clinic and the dogs love him.  They are always nervous to go to the vets but he's wonderful with them.   The vet techs and reception staff are amazing too.  It's a great location as well because it's situated on a large lot and you can have a nice walk around the property before your appointment.

Fortunately, there is nothing dramatic to report about their check up.  Both dogs are snoozing right now as the drive up there and the shots have zonked them both out.  We're very lucky to have such healthy pups!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Super Sam

Smiley Sammy, Easter Weekend 2008
7 years ago today Sam came to live with us.

7 years!! How did that happen?? It feels like yesterday and forever at the same time.

He was a 7 month old puppy who was being re-homed by his original guardians.  They had a baby on the way and didn’t feel that they could adequately care for two dogs and a baby.  We sure lucked out.

We picked him up, after dark, the Thursday of Easter Weekend.  Looking back, we had purchased a bed, blanket, collar, tags, leash and food for him (and some toys) to prepare for his arrival but we seriously had no idea what we were getting in for.

Unbeknownst to us, Sam had never worn a collar or been on a leash.  I put his collar and leash on him and as soon as we got outside, he slipped out of it and took off.  Across the icy lawn, in the dark.  Fortunately, he came back to us with very little coaxing.  I held him in my lap for the ride home.  The dark and the passing lights seemed to frighten him during the 15 minute drive to our house.  It could have been the car ride too, or the fact that some folks he didn’t know very well were taking him away somewhere.

Mark carried Sam into the house (we were not taking another chance the collar/leash until we were in the daylight again) and Sam proceeded to take a giant poop in the middle of the living room.  I’m not surprised, he must have been terrified.  After the poop though, he wandered around the house sniffing everything he could.

That was a long night for all three of us.  I don’t think any of us slept.  We spent the rest of the weekend trying to figure each other out.  We sure made a lot of mistakes along the way but Sam didn’t seem to be too bothered by them.  Lucky for us.

We love you sweet Sammy and are so happy to have you in our family.  Thanks for 7 years of fun and tummy rubs and white hair everywhere.