Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Exercise and Taking Control

Sorry for the delayed post! I missed a week! I apologize!

When diagnosed with cancer, and dealing with all the after effects, most of the time it feels like I don't have control. I think this is a common feeling.

There are a lot of things that cannot really be changed in that regards. Concerns over my health, check ups and concerns over relapses are things that will be ever present (or at least present for a long time). I have accepted that I can't really control those things. 

I also can't control how other people deal with a lot of these things. I know they stress people out, I know everyone wants me to feel differently a lot of the time, and it can put unwanted stress on a lot of those relationships. I have learned that because of the way I feel about a lot of these concerns, and when I decide to put myself first, it also puts added stress on a lot of people. That may not make sense but it sure is the way I feel. Putting myself first is something I don't do day to day, so I can understand when I change my routine how it can stress people out. 

I really lose my focus because of all of these things. It can add up and make my day rather hard. A lot of the time, I feel like I have no control over my life, and I am just doing what other people want me to do.

One thing I can control is my exercise routine (as long as I take my time!). I can go to the gym every day that I want to and it allows me to focus. It gives me back some of my strength (both mentally and physically). I can control my routine, I can control what I do, and I can gradually improve over time. Every exercise I add and every minute of cardio I do, is completely in my control. I have total focus when I am exercising. Whether it be at the gym, on bike, on my skis, whatever, it doesn't really matter. I am in control. It is amazingly comforting and calming. And on top of that, I get in better shape, and it encourages me to continue to eat healthy. Something I rarely feel like I have since my battle with cancer.
Me at the end of a big bike ride!

I hope I never get sick again. I don't know what I would do with that whole situation, I don't think anybody does. As I said it is a huge uncontrollable concern. At least for now, I can exercise on my schedule, and take control of that portion of my life. I hope some other cancer fighters can find a little peace in exercise as well.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How is everyone doing?

Hey everybody,

I figured I would do something a bit different this week. I am inviting guest bloggers!

I have written a lot about my experience with cancer, but I am interested in hearing about other peoples experiences and how their lives have changed. Also, I hope this can give some people a voice to the subject that they may not have felt they have had before.

So no pressure, but if you are interested send me an email ( and let me know if anyone is interested, all I can say is writing helped me!

Take care,


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Connecting with Survivors

One thing that has really helped me get through some tough times with cancer is connecting with people who have "been through it".

Not everyone goes through the same things, and not everyone has the same experience. But everyone understands what it means to be told you have cancer. It sucks. It changes your life, and the lives of the people around you. 

For me, one of the biggest connections I made was simply through email. My oncologist put me in contact with another oncologist who had actually had Ewings sarcoma a few years prior to me getting diagnosed. He used to be a colleague at the BCCA.

It was great to talk here and there with him. It wasn't often but it was often enough. He had Ewings sarcoma in his shoulder. We were on the same drugs, the same radiation dosage, and a very similar life situation. We had very similar side effects, and same concerns of life, with regards to family planning, future goals and so one.

I still have never met him face to face (he lives in New Zealand) but it made a huge difference for me. We were talking recently and he told me he had just passed his seven year anniversary of being diagnosed. He is doing great. He is married (to the lady who stood beside him) and has two little girls now. I remember him telling me when he was sick he was worried he would never be strong enough to lift his baby. Not only can he do it, but he has a second now too. They are all doing great and he is really my inspiration.

Connecting can be difficult, and intimidating to do. But when you find those connections it really can be meaningful and helpful. They sure did for me.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Hoping for an Opportunity to do New Things

One of the things I didn't really like about being sick was the healing process (ongoing), but particularly, the events that occurred when I finished treatment. Mainly, going directly back to work.

I don't begrudge people who don't have to do this, and I know I shouldn't complain because some people don't have work to go back to. But it is a difficult place sometimes.

I went back to work during radiation for two main reasons. First, I needed to get out of my house, work seemed like the best easiest place to go for this. Secondly, I was running out of money. I had to go back to work.

My doctors told me it would be beneficial to take some time off, but I really had no way of doing that. People suggested vacations, traveling, taking some time to rediscover my priorities, but the fact remained I couldn't. I have heard that it really benefits you. I needed money and people around me needed me to be "normal" and "better" again.

A lot of people (or perhaps some of the most publicized people) got to go out and travel and do some wonderful things. I have done a lot of new things that I haven't before (like volunteering, raising money for the BCCF, etc.) but I have never really been able to focus on myself or take full advantage of what seems like an almost "rediscovering" or "bettering" of themselves that many young adults get to do. And I have to say I am a bit jealous.

I haven't been able to take time away from work, travel, focus fully on fundraising, or whatever. I know that it is part of life in this regards, but it still sucks. Going back to work immediately was hard, but like everything else I have dealt with it as best I can. However, I feel like I missed an opportunity. Even now, when I look back on what I went through and how I would do things differently, or look for new things to do I feel pressure that I can't. I can't simply go off on a trip, can't try many new things. It is simply a matter of what time is available to me, and what commitments I have. 

I don't think this is a bad thing necessarily, I have done some things that I wouldn't of before, I just wish I had more of an opportunity to focus on myself and doing new things that I wanted to. But that is life sometimes!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Getting Counsel in the right Places Part 2!

So I have been going to a few different counseling sessions now and I think it is safe to say I haven't found my groove. 

I have tried a few different things and gone to a few different places but, as odd as it may seem. I think it might be making things a bit worse. Group counseling has basically been a disaster. I tried the online group, and as I have mentioned before that wasn't really great as everyone was older and didn't have similar issues. So I started going to a group counseling aimed at people between 25-35 years old, mainly to find people with common problems or concerns and If I am honest, I haven't really found that. If anything I have felt more like an outcast as many of the people in the group sessions seem to get along quite well, and I haven't really fit in. I am not sure if this is a common problem or not, but it is my problem at least. People seem to talk, and listen well at them, and at the end people break off in to little groups and I am left basically by myself. the outcast of the outcasts. I know I have become much more reserved as far as speaking to people goes, and I do get stressed out when talking about cancer issues, and I think people probably think I am a bit of a weirdo or something. That is the feeling I have gotten anyways.

I have also done a bit of one-on-one counseling and although that started off reasonably strong, it seems to be tailing off a bit. I am not sure I see the value in. But it has become me sitting there explaining what is going on in my head (which is hard enough to put into words when I don't particularly enjoy that) and someone saying "yeah, that is difficult". You are telling me.

I had someone tell me that finding counseling that works for you is like dating, you just have to keep going and try to find one that eventually works, so I guess that is the boat I am in now. I just want to find the right person to talk to I guess! But who doesn't want that? All I am looking for is someone I can connect with, who doesn't get tense when I talk about things and that I just feel comfortable around with this "elephant in the room".

I know part of the problem is I don't live around most of my friends, the people who would listen, and I don't want to burden the people closest to me with my problems because they have dealt with quite enough already. I want to make it as easy as possible for them.

I think maybe my problem has been what I expected from counseling. I thought I could go in, say my problems and have someone would have some advice for me. For the most part people have just told me basically "yeah that sucks" and "you are not the only one". Two things I already know. I know it sucked, I lived it, and I know I am not the only one. That I see every time I go to a group. I am a reasonably competent person, I know cancer is not just "my problem". I have already addressed my problems, I just don't know how to get past them. That is the help I am looking for.

Clearly I have not found the "right" spot yet for counsel but I will continue on trying to find one.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Writing and "Getting Over It"

I have found over the last few weeks and months while writing this blog it has become almost a kind of therapy for me.

When I was going through cancer treatments a lot of people told me they kept a journal of what they were going through, and I really couldn't understand why. Why would you ever want to go back and read about something that for me, was the worst part of my life, by quite a long shot. The physical pain was unreal and the mental stress extremely taxing. Why would you ever want to revisit that? So I buried it deep down. But I have come to the realization that I never dealt with it.

While I was sick, it was easy to push the emotional side of things out of the picture. I was in pain all the time and that took the forefront. When I got better, it kind of came to the surface and I didn't really know how to deal with it. I have tried different types of counseling but I still have not found one person that I am really comfortable talking about it all too. And i think that is just part of the process.

Writing has helped me in this regards. I can just write down what I am thinking and if nothing else get it off my chest. I can "put it out there" for the world to respond as it sees fit. My concerns and stresses began to get so intense, and I had no outlet. Writing is my outlet. I can deal and describe things as I see them, and in my own time with no rush. I can even edit them if I so choose!

For me, blogging and seeing other peoples blogs (survivors, patients, care givers) I see now that a lot of what I went through is normal, and there is support. Maybe most importantly I saw I wasn't alone.

I don't often look back at old posts, but sometimes I do. I like that I can look back and say to myself and see that one particular day of stress is behind me at least. The problem may still be there but I have acknowledged it. Writing allows me to acknowledge and concerns or fears I have, and if I choose make it public or make it private. It is helping move in a direction where I can "get over it".

I understand the journals now.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

My Heros in The Chemo Ward

When I was going through chemotherapy, I couldn't function very well and it was really high stress for Sara as she was taking care of me too. However, we thankfully had a steadfast group of people to make sure we got through each day okay.

The nursing staff.

I can't thank the nursing staff at the BCCA enough for what they did for us. They not only delivered the medicine and took care of all my many many problems but they were kind to me. They also treated Sara like gold. They were some of our heros during such an awful time.

When you are that sick it is easy to be treated or view yourself as a bit of an outcast. The nursing staff never appeared to do that. They treated you like what you were. A normal person who had an unfortunate situation happen in their lives. They took care of us in any way they could.

And that doesn't even include all the things they do behind the scene that I really have never seen. The paper work, keeping all my medicine in order. Keeping me safe and helping me heal.

They got to know me, they stayed long enough to chat, I knew they cared about what they were doing, which is all I could ask for. When I was in the chemo ward, hanging out at the nursing station was one of the few things I enjoyed.

The last thing I want to mention that impressed me with my nursing staff, was that I was only one person in that ward. There were probably hundreds of people going through there each week. And the fact remains that they treated everyone like this, every family that came through the doors they took excellent care of. You really couldn't ask for anything more.

I loved my nursing staff, they were my heros.