Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A LOT of really good stuff!

We got the results of Ryan's MRI yesterday and once again, it's all good. The MRI continues to show no change since April and although some people don't understand why that's good, that's likely the best news we can have right now. It means it's under control, continues to respond to the Avastin and we're on cloud 9 for another 2 months. It was actually sweet that one of Ryan's doctors said it was the first thing she did in the morning, was check to see the MRI and ensure it was good. How lucky are we to have her?

Last week was our annual Rethink Romp. Although the last minute preparation leading up the event always worries me, it turned out to be a huge hit. We had about 250 guests there, raised around $30,000 and will now have the funds to start the Support Saturday's program we want to. Click here to learn more about this program that is already running in Toronto

Then on Sunday, we had our monthly Live, Laugh & Learn gathering. The topic was the Fertility Factor, which had more questions than many others have before. When women go through chemotherapy at this young age, our chances of losing our fertility are about 50%. So the concern around options before and after are huge.

Monday morning, Talyn and I went to University Elementary School to speak to about 50 Grade 1 & 2 kids. They are raising money for Breast Cancer and wanted to hear from someone who had it about what it is and how I got through. We brought some visuals to help them understand and they were really interested. Talyn also wanted to go to tell them how it was for him to have a mom with Breast Cancer. They had a lot of hard questions..."Why do you get Breast Cancer?", "Can kids get Breast Cancer?" and lots more of "Why do you get Breast Cancer?".

Monday evening we went as a family to receive our H1N1 vaccines. Both of our oncologists recommended this and it was one of the only times where it was a true blessing to have cancer. The lines were 3-4 hours, but because Ryan has immunosuppression with his chemotherapy, we were able to go right through. The hardest part about it all was to try and explain to Talyn why he had to get another needle (having the seasonal flu vaccine 2 weeks ago). He kept saying "Mommy I promise that I won't get the swine flu...please no more needles!".

Tuesday morning I woke up feeling under the weather. Who knows why this happened, but my doctors have been waiting for my body to get sick. It's actually not a good thing if you never get sick and I really hadn't since before my diagnosis. So, I guess that means my body is recovering from the trauma of treatment it's been through...or at least I have to keep telling myself that as I sit in my bed. Probably a combination of a bunch of things - having lots on the go, getting the vaccine and having been around a lot of sick people at work.

It's Wednesday now and I am trying my best to rest and drink lots of fluids as I continue to recover. I do feel better than yesterday and have kicked the slight fever I had and now am juust focusing on getting this out of my body (lemon water, warm lemon water, lemon water).

I have been touched over the last week to be a part of so many positive things. I always say that we have to do our best to turn the bad things in our life into a good thing for others. This is the positive that I have tried to take from our cancer experiences. I am a very proud mommy to be able to take Talyn along for the ride too - what an amazing difference at even 4 years old that he can help make.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2 new babies and 1 big pill to swallow

Our friends and family have been blessed with 2 new baby boys over the past 2 weeks. I have a new nephew, Cole Ryan Westerman. Ryan's oldest brother Sean and my amazing sister in law Michelle had him on September 21. They have been trying for much too long for a baby and now they finally have their little miracle. One of my best friends, Jill, also had a third baby on Sunday. This time a boy to add to her family, Levi Alan Gervais. Talyn is so happy to have two new boys to play with and can't wait until they get big enough to wrestle with him.

Even though I am so happy for both families, it also makes me a bit sad. I had always wanted to have 2 kids and it seems like there are a lot of people around me having a baby right now. I am of course thrilled for all of them, but deep down I am also a bit sad. It really hits home that we are not going to be able to have another baby. Writing that down is even hard. I am thrilled to have such an amazing son right now, but can't help but feel a bit saddened that he won't get a sibling. My cancer is fueled by estrogen, which gets increased with pregnancy. But more importantly with Ryan's delicate health, we need to focus on what we have, not what we want.

My Rethink work is continuing to amaze me. We are getting ready for the Romp on October 22 and hoping to raise enough funds to start our next support program in early 2010. I have been doing a small media outreach to get more awareness around the charity in Calgary and with time, it will come.

We went to see the Dalai Lama yesterday as well. He says everything that we already know and so simply. But when he says it, it truly resonates. Why can't this world be filled with peace? Why is the century that I grew up in going to be remembered for violence? Can the next generation change this to instead be remembered for peace? I know it sounds simplistic and there are many complexities in the world, but can't we create a dialogue to try and get past this all? Killing each other just can't be the answer.

We are also pursuing some other options with Ryan's treatments. Our application to get the cancer center to fund his continuing treatment got declined again. It is very frustrating that the treatment that is working so well for him, continues to be declined for coverage because it doesn't work for a greater proportion of people. Just because Avastin isn't something that works for the majority of people, doesn't mean that Ryan shouldn't be covered for it.

Something needs to change in our health care system to allow it to be more personalized. We can't continue to make decisions for drug coverage based on whether a large number of people are responding to it. If we didn't have assistance with paying for this until this point, Ryan might not be with us. How can this be right? And so, we continue to fight the fight that so many people are facing. Hopefully the media will help us.

We all face challenges in life. This last few weeks has continued to show me that we need to enjoy the high's and try not to dwell on the low's. We can each continue to make a difference to others. As the Dalai Lama says "start with self confidance, then you can have inner peace and only then can you show compassion to others".

If you ever ask yourself "How can one person make a difference"? He sure has.