Friday, January 3, 2014

It's Been 2 Years, Happy New Year



Today is my 2 year cancerversary. 2 year ago today at exactly 1pm I was told I had a rapidly growing breast cancer. I was 28 years old and scared out of my mind… fearful of the unknown, of chemotherapy, losing my boob and thoughts of potentially dying young, I had every bit of innocence taken from me. 



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear 2013 & A Note To 2014












Dear 2013,

Even though I was not in active treatment you were still a tough year:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

An October Post In December: After Cancer Anxiety & PTSD




I wrote this post back in October and never published it. 

I figure since we are coming up to the end of 2013 I would finally put it out there. 





October 2013…

I fell off the blogging band-wagon for a while. Almost two months to be exact. And there's a reason I haven't written since the middle of August. Mostly it is because the things going on in my life have been too challenging for me to want to share while I have been so IN IT. I was waiting for the storm to pass before I decided to hit the keyboard and write. There's something about being in a really tough space that makes me just want to run, hide, curl up with a cat and not blog. But partly why I haven't written in awhile is simply that I have really just had a lot going on. Some good, some overwhelming, some crazy... A lot of it still relating to the fact that I had cancer...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How I Use Facebook to Talk About the Reality of Cancer





Been a bit busy to post this (or anything for that matter!) But wanted to share an article I wrote for Facebookstories.com and Huffington Post that published November 15

Hooray for my first Huff piece! Kinda cool.

And really neat to be contacted by an Editor at Facebook - Not something that happens everyday! Didn't even know they had editors!

Links for the article are below…

How I Use Facebook to Talk About the Reality of Cancer

- On Facebookstories.com
- On Huffington Post Impact



Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Than Pink



Please watch this video that a few of my cancer survivor friends and I put together. Thanks to all 33 friends in my cancer connection community for sharing such personal photos for this important project. Thank you Shellie Kendrick who put the guts of this together. xo






Pink is everywhere in today's world. But there is more to cancer awareness than just a pretty coloured ribbon. We are more than the products being pushed for 'the cure.' We are more than the sexualization of a disease that takes so many lives. We are more than silly FB status updates showing "support". We are more than just one month. We are more than just one color. It's time to push pass one cancer having the loudest voice. It's time ALL cancers be acknowledged equally. 

Please watch and share.

#realcancerawareness

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Just When You Start Feeling Like You're Finding Normalcy




It happened again. Another horrible cancer related nightmare.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time Flies When You're Not Doing Chemo



Last sesh : July 10, 2012



!
I'm hitting a lot of milestones these days. Buying our first home, hitting my first cancerversary, getting married, just did my 50th blog post recently, turning 30 in a few weeks... Today is another one of those 'big days' for me because it is exactly one year ago that I completed my final Taxol chemotherapy session. Yes, once again, I am choosing to note any major cancer anniversary date that has meaning for me. Who knew there would be so many of them? And who would have thought I would have been able to retain exact calendar dates in my head too! (Take that chemo brain!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Best. Day. Ever.




P H O T O P H I L C R O



!
We did it! Last weekend on June 29, exactly one year a part from moving into our first home, Mike and I tied the knot! And our wedding was THEE BEST! ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY AMAZING! FLIPPIN' FANTASTIC! BEYOND AWESOME!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A + M = Together, We Rule



!!! MUSHINESS ALERT !!!

Mikey & Me : circa 2006








:)
In every relationship there are challenges. You don't always see eye to eye, you might bicker about trivial things, have some pet peeves that may drive you crazy. Even the most solid couples have their issues... it could be a difference in parenting styles, the occasional communication break down, not getting enough down time together, a recurring argument about finances or maybe a certain particular one of you is a bad back-seat driver and has a tendency to be a bit bossy in downtown Vancouver traffic... (Who? ME? Never!)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Life Update: Part 2



Yet another post where I have procrastinated long enough! I have been wanting to write down my thoughts and do a recap... but also NOT wanting to do it at the same time. I do that often... struggle with wanting and not wanting to do something. It's kinda like weeding the garden... You don't want to do it, you need to do it, and you know starting is the hardest part. But when it's all done you feel soooo much better. And you can feel good that it's done. For me, keeping this blog has been kind of like a form of therapy. In telling my story and releasing some of what has happened in my life I get this great sense of relief afterwards. I can tell when I am need of writing too because I get really agitated and nothing I am doing makes me feel at ease. As soon as I sit down and start getting things down on paper, whether through journaling or, less privately here on the Internet, I soon see that this is what I have been needing to help me chill out. It's just that bit of release of "stuff" in my brain that is in need of purging - and then I'm good.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Little Detour



Ok. It is pretty much impossible for me to write a blog about my own reconstructive 'journey' without first touching on the somewhat controversial news of Angelina's BMX (BMX = that's super cool short-form breast cancer lingo for bilateral-mastectomy). I decided to hold off on my part 2 blog and make this its own post since the tone of this one is a bit more punchy than the story about my nipple recon, hence the 'detour' headline. I'm going to try and not ramble on about the Angie subject because I am actually really tired of hearing and reading about it. I shall explain why...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life Update: Part 1



Whenever I go for a long period of time without writing I tend to avoid posting a blog. Not because I don't want to write... I have tons of things to say and share, but because there is just so much ground to cover, summarizing really quickly feels rushed and going into detail seems like a bunch of work.

A lot has happened in the last 4 weeks. And while I often day-dream about writing about recapping it, I also feel it is a bit overwhelming to go back. So I am thinking of dividing this up into a two-parter. I just decided that right now and I feel the weight lifting off of me.

So here goes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

There's Beauty In The Breakdown



My heart is heavy today. I am sad for all of my cancer buddies going through tough times. All of my brave friends recovering from or preparing for surgeries... My courageous cancer peeps waiting on test results... The ones in and out of the ER and those who are dealing with relapses. Everyone facing fears, loss and grief. I am sad for the girl I only was acquainted with through Facebook who passed away last week. Devastated for her family and all who knew her. Upset for all who are hurting and are in pain. Saddened by the senselessness that occurred in Boston today. (Seriously, world! Why!?)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Chemo Anniversary & First Flu Since Cancer



Exactly one year ago today I was sitting in the chemo chair for the first time. It feels like yesterday that I was tasting the nastiness of the 'Red Devil' drug as it was being pumped into my veins. I remember it like it was last week. How terrified I was. The nausea before I even had my IV put in. The panic I had. My chemo nurse Allison giving me Ativan. The smells of the drugs and that room. My Mum looking shell-shocked. Mike, white as a sheet. Tanis trying to find things to keep me distracted. I remember so much and yet I have forgotten a ton of it too. Because a lot of it was like one big drugged up hazy hangover. But magnified and worse multiplied by a thousand.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Kicking Cancer Interview: Lauren Trigge



I met Lauren as I have connected with many other cancer buddies, through the powers of social media. Lauren and I had three things in common: Cancer being the obvious one. We both were very fortunate enough to do fertility preservation before chemo. And both of us are happily engaged to fantastic men who have stood by us during the chaos. (I think she will agree with me that it is nice to have something like planning a wedding as a distraction from everything cancer-related.) 

Please enjoy this wonderfully candid interview where Lauren shares the depths of what it is like for a young adult to have cancer. From emotions, side-effects of treatment to the different kinds of help she received ...and the new meanings she found for her life. Her inspiring outlook is nothing short of amazing.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Blame, Shame, Guilty Game



This post was originally titled "The Good, The Bad & The Guilty" but after reading it through I thought I'd jazz it up a bit with a good ol' rhyme. How cool and smart am I? :P

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Chillin Babes Can Stay Put







Just a quick post to say that the results for the BRCA gene came back NEGATIVE baby!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kicking Cancer Interview: Ann Marie Otis



Since this is the first of its kind on my blog, I must issue a warning of graphic content in the following post. Nothing to be alarmed about, it's not violent or disturbing in nature - It's just the raw honest reality of one woman's post-mastectomy journey being shared. Anyone who has an issue with this may kindly access the X on the top of their browser, click it and this page will promptly disappear. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

And May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favour



Six months ago I had blood drawn to do a genetic test to determine if it was a gene that resulted in me getting breast cancer. The call came today that the results were in. And in typical Canadian medical system fashion – I have to wait to find out they are positive or negative.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Kicking Cancer Interview: Michelle Pammenter Young



It was roughly 12 years ago that I knew Michelle from my Squamish days working as a barista in Brackendale (when Bean Around The World was still Eagle Run Coffee Company). Michelle was a regular who often came in with her two small children. We didn't really 'know-know' each other but I knew her enough to say hi and, at the time, most likely remembered what type of drink she ordered. 

So when I heard that Michelle had been diagnosed with breast cancer this year I wondered if she'd remember me or not... Either way I had hoped to meet up and it wasn't long before we connected in Vancouver on a day when we both had appointments. Michelle was in the beginning of her chemo treatments and I at the tail end. 

Having cancer in common I often feel an instant friendship connection with people like Michelle... people who have had to face cancer, who know what it's like to feel truly awful and need the strength of family around them to keep them going.

Please enjoy this interview in which Michelle talks about priorities, support from family and friends, writing, sleep issues and how playing her favourite songs brighten her mood... 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Good Boob / Franken-Boob & My Post-Mastectomy Video



It's wild to think that it has been exactly one year since this post-op video was shot. I had just undergone the first surgery of my life: Left mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, axillary lymph node removal and a breast reduction on my right side (aka 'The good boob').

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winner Of The Space-Making Giveaway



A tiny little prayer was said. A hat was filled with names. My fiancé mixed the pieces of paper up in the hat. And a winner was chosen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kicking Cancer Interview: Vera Pereskokova



I had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow young breast cancer survivor last month. Reading Vera Pereskokova's Q & A definitely hit home for me obviously due to the nature and timing of her diagnosis. She also reminded me of an important fact that is often forgotten when it comes to breast cancer. And that is that MEN can get breast cancer too!

Read on to learn about her experiences from surgery, hair loss, to receiving support and making lifestyle changes... 

Friday, January 25, 2013

In My Local Newspaper & A Contest Giveaway



I have two exciting things to share.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This Shit Is Getting Real



Like many people, before I go to bed at night I have a hard time quieting my mind. Only now the thoughts I have before I fall asleep are no longer the simple silly worries and ponderings that I would have in my pre-cancer days. At night I often have enough internal banter brewing that I could write a blog post in my head. But lately I have been so busy I just haven't had any time to write my thoughts down... which has actually been causing a bit of frustration because I have really felt like I need to get a bunch of stuff off my chest. (there is a twisted unintentional pun in that last sentence)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kicking Cancer Interview: Kristy McDonnell



Today's post is the beginning of a new series on the ashley kicking cancer blog. I will be featuring some very special people I have met along this crazy year of cancer. Each person's story is unique and I feel it is important to share them. You never know whose experience may touch and help someone else.
First interview of the year is a Q & A with my amazing cancer buddy Kristy McDonnell... She's one tough chick with a beautiful spirit!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Cancerversary & A Throwback



Today marks a year since I was told I had breast cancer. I know, I know I said I was done with 2012... but I just started to look back at my photos for the first time since the big C entered my life. I couldn't help but gather a few pictures up to document what I was going through a year ago. And of course I couldn't NOT post about my cancer anniversary date. It is, after all, a day I will never forget.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Keeping Track: My Crazy 2012



I was going to make this post about all the things I learned this year, major milestones and a list of what I am grateful for. But writing that out is somewhat of a daunting task for me because it requires actual thinking…and lately I have been so tired I haven't much energy to form meaningful sentences. Plus it would also entail some heavy duty reflection... and let's be honest, we all know 2012 was mostly one big nightmare.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Not The End Of The World. (But If It Was...)



Today is the last day on the Mayan calendar. The day that some people believed the world could come to a crashing, catastrophic end. Well, as I write this it is already tomorrow on the other side of the planet. I think we are in the clear people.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

This Time Last Year



This time last year I was waiting for an ultra sound. I was supposed to get it on December 8, 2011 but the radiology department at St. Mary's Hospital was short-staffed and they had to cancel and push me back a full week. I didn't mind. I wasn't worried. I didn't care that it would be delayed. As far as I was concerned I didn't need to rush it because I didn't believe there was reason to worry.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

La La How The Life Goes On



It's been a busy November. A few days after Mike and I returned from our mini getaway my Mum arrived from Ontario followed by my older brother Nick arriving from New Brunswick. It was kind of like a little family reunion here at our house. Nick and I hadn't seen each other in close to 9 years, so it was really an over-due get-together. It's amazing how family can go so long without visits... but I guess that's what happens when you're scattered across the country like my family.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Break Is Over



Mike and I have returned from our much needed quick 4 night post-treatment holiday and it was FAN-FRICKING-TASTIC! We had a great time in a land of happiness and I can honestly say it was just what we needed. For our peace and sanity, this was the right decision to get away.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Radiation & Cancer Lodge Living Reflection



My poor poor skin has taken a beating. A burning beating, that is. And it is now itchy, red, crispy, burnt and sore. It feels like months that I lived in Vancouver during the weeks at the cancer lodge... but now FINALLY radiation is complete. My final 28th round was last Thursday and I am SO glad it is over. My skin has had enough. I am tired. My arm is sore. The implant is a bit warped and annoying. And my chest feels tight and leathery.

So not awesome.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Business Of Breast Cancer And The Pink Ribbon Blues



As many of you may know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is the time of year where a lot of people are seen wearing pink and there are more pink products being sold in stores in the name of the disease.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Would YOU Give To End Breast Cancer?



As a member of the Army of Women I have learned about a lot of great work that the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is doing. The latest BIG news in action and the future of women's health begins today...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

She Keeps Going and Going and Going and Going...




Where all the 'magic' happens (side view/treatment)















Radiation treatment is going pretty well thus far. I have 10 sessions under my belt and now 18 to go (of course I am totally keeping track!). So far just experiencing a bit of fatigue, no skin redness or itching, although I am feeling a tightness in the skin and the implant is getting to be even firmer than before. Rock boob is not fun, nor is it very attractive... I'm sure other ladies out there who have had a recon can understand.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

People of Tomorrow - Take Action Today!



OK my lovely readers... this is some serious stuff I am going to throw your way. So get comfortable, grab a cup of tea and settle in for a bit of information that, if shared beyond this blog, could change lives.

This is about your future. Your family's future. Your friend's, your co-worker's, your neighbour's... Everyone under the blazing sun's future!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Too Much




Ever feel like there is just so much happening you can't quite figure out what you are supposed to be doing? Where to go and when? What to ignore so you can focus on the important? Confused by random events? Not even able to make sense of the happenings around you? Wondering if you have forgotten something? Or what day of the week it even is? (Or who you even are!? hehe...) This is me right now. And for that, I warn you that this is gonna be a random all-over-the-map kind of post. I will most definitely be jumping around quite a bit!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wiggin' Out!




Meet my new friend Bennett! As a caramel-kissed brunette, Bennett enjoys long walks on the beach, sun hats, strawberry sorbet and NOT having to go for radiation therapy next Monday.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Expectations & The Non-Existent How-To-Deal-With-Cancer Handbook




There's something about Summer. I've always loved it. The warmer weather, the weeks of sunshine, the flowers, shorts and dresses, pleasant evenings spent outside until late, beach walks, gelato and flip flops. If I could have my way, I'd live somewhere where the temperature never went below 21 degrees Celsius. I'm just that kind of gal.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Art as Therapy – "Lonely"



"Lonely" 

This piece of artwork was prompted by Illustration Friday's topic of the week. (Illustration Friday is an online weekly artistic challenge and participatory art exhibit)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Longer a Human Pin-Cushion & Six Weeks in Pictures



I am officially done with chemotherapy treatments and the neupogen injections that went along with it!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

To Live and Not Dwell



I am coming up to my last chemo treatment. Tuesday, July 10th is the final day and I couldn't be more ready for it. This chapter of my life has sure been a real test of what I am made of. It is said that The Universe/God/Life doesn't give you anything you can't handle and I guess that is true in a sense. I am doing it and getting through. It has been excruciatingly difficult to deal with of course at times. Cancer is a whopping pain in the ass that way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Count Down Is On



Not only are we moving in 5 days but tomorrow is my second to last chemo session. Woohoo!

Currently our little house is filled with boxes (and Abber jumping in boxes, you know... to keep them warm, I guess?)

Pretty much we can't wait to be outta here! The excitement of this is beyond what I can express. We are stoked to have something we can call OURS and have many ideas and vision for the place. Hopefully some of them will come to fruition by the end of the Summer. (Art room/Studio anyone!?) Yay!

A very big thank you to my Mum (and Robert) for making this first home purchase possible :) We are eternally grateful.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Into Something Good



There comes a time where a divine balancing act must take place. There is always a constant ebb and flow in life and what we are presented sometimes can make us feel discouraged and defeated.

But as we all know, these hard times don't (usually) last forever... It can't be bad all the time!... And it can't always be blissfully fantastic either. Because really, if it were good all the time we wouldn't really appreciate it as much as we do when we have had a rough patch and things finally turn for the better.

Am I right? ...Yes, of course I am. Those peaks and valleys are just the way it is! ...A continual up and down roller coaster ride we call LIFE.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Adventures of Chemo Brain!



Things have been pretty quiet around these parts of blog land. Which basically translates to: Round 4 of the AC drug treatment I received for chemo completely suuuucccckkkkked and kicked my butt! I mean like reeeally reeeally did a number on me. Not just physically... emotionally and mentally I was a complete wreck this last one. I thought the rounds before sucked... but this one proved how much more chemo could bulldoze me.

But praise be! I am half way done now!

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Ain't No Picnic!! & Other Random Musings



Chemo is no walk in the park. It has sure showed me some rough, tough, down in the dumps, feel sorry for myself pity party times. I am thankful to not be ridiculously ill through this time but that does not mean it hasn't been completely shitty and horrible to go through.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things That Keep Me Going



I'm a list maker. I love making lists...doodling in the margins and making my list look fun and happy...So that when I cross something off I feel really good!

Ok - I'm a total geek.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Chemo Down. Seven To Go.



Oh Internet. It feels as though I have been away from you for months.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Chemo Report : Day 1 • Cycle 1



Just a quick little update to say that so far so good... I seem to be managing ok with only a few little weird things that I am noticing. Nausea has been almost nothing. I am just really tired and feel a bit nutty when I try to close my eyes to rest. It's like an inner movie in my mind that plays but I am not really asleep. When I open my eyes I expect to be seeing what it is I saw with my eyes closed. Like closed eye hallucinations or something? Strange... Making a note of it as I want to try and figure out which drugs are doing what to me. I feel like I'm on sooo many!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

There's Always a Choice



I wish it was just an April Fool's joke that I have to start chemo this Tuesday. Unfortunately that is not the case. But in the last few weeks I have really been working at being OK with it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back By Popular Demand



I'm pretty sure it goes "First comes love…Then comes marriage...Then comes the baby in the baby carriage" in that silly childhood song, right? These days not many people follow that exact order… it's often that the kidlette in the stroller ends up coming second in the grand master plan. Not uncommon to happen that way and that's cool… I had always thought that might be the way we may have done it… Well did the universe have something wild in mind for us…

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Greetings From Estrogen City



Irritable, emotional and agitated…I am a walking ball of womanly hormones.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cancer and Boobies and Needles - Oh My!



Half of my surgery pathology report was in last Tuesday when I met with Dr. McGreatness. There was only good news this time around (Can I get a hells YES!!?) ... Instead of two tumours and a benign adenoma, they discovered that there was only one tumour and an adenoma (adenomas are basically non-cancerous tumours). The single cancerous bastard measured 2.8 cm...slightly smaller than what they picked up on the MRI. All margins were clear meaning that they got it all. I had hoped and figured this would be the result... having a full mastectomy like I did gives you a higher likelihood of having your margins clear. They took all I got! And in doing this it saves me from ever having it return on that one side.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In which I emerge from Post-Op "High" Lands




Well that was a trip. And hold tight, because this post is a novel.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pre-Op Angst & Thanks



Good piece of news: Abdominal ultra sound was clean! No issues with the tummy organs at all! Yay!

Now the countdown is on!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Crazy Sexy Axillary Lymph Nodes



Ok... I found out yesterday when I met with my surgeon that the node that was biopsied on last week tested positive for the bad stuff.

Fricking cancer.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

From The Beginning



On Saturday December 3rd, 2011 I found a lump in my left boob when I was showering. I think it was the new slippery soap I was using that made me really notice it.  Finding it alarmed me. I knew it wasn't normal breast tissue so I made my way to see my GP first thing on Monday. She seemed to think it would be a cyst because of my age but she sent me for an ultra sound to check it out.