Two months since I have last written here - that is a record. Not one I'm proud of, geesh, blog neglect tisk tisk!
Has certainly been a busy couple of months, being back to work has really kicked my butt. In a good way for the most part - don't get me wrong - I love my new job! The people I get to work with are inspiring, caring, intelligent, and the work we do is real. We are working together to try to improve cancer care in Canada, by way of fighting for patient access to immunotherapy treatments that many people don't know are not currently provided in our country.
My last post was the night before the conference I helped to plan in Toronto, the IO Network Patient Leader Education Summit March 31 - April 1, 2017. I was nervous for it; our team had put a tonne of effort into inviting patient advocates from across cancer types to meet in person, to discuss how we can all work together to help save lives. Long story short, the meeting went well, there were two days of exploratory discussions, and a solid foundation was built for future collaboration. I will post more about it when we launch the Network website and publish the report from the conference.
From that busy weekend in Toronto, I went directly to my six-month oncology appointments at Sunnybrook: bloodwork, CT scans, exams and consult with the Boss, and another night in a hotel. Though it had been six months since my last checkup I moved through the routine as if I had just done it the week before. I fell into quick conversation with my friend the CT Nurse with the twin girls close in age to my own twins, my backpack was light, my wardrobe was CT scanner-approved, and I got a good seat in the D - E waiting area at Odette.
It was a pensive day for me, as it happened to be exactly three years from the day I first had my troublesome mole removed in Collingwood. Three years to the day of my first surgery for melanoma, I lay in the CT machine, tears streaming... I walked like a zombie through the tunnel underneath Sunnybrook, and sat quietly waiting for my consult without any desire to read or fidget, my mind racing.
I have been struggling with many three-year milestones the last little while. Three years since mole excision, three years since needle biopsy, three years since stage IIIb cancer diagnosis, three years since debilitating node dissection surgery, three years since I have become afraid of the sun, three years since my family has been burdened with my lot in life.
Strange to be thinking this way, trust me I know, and it is not intentional. Seriously - I can hardly remember my own postal code let alone random dates in April and May.... but these I remember.
In any case, I got out of the city after that round of appointments, grabbed some pad thai for the girls on the way home, and snuggled in with my puppers to rid my soul of the trauma (and vats of tea to rid my kidneys of the CT contrast dye). A couple of weeks went quickly by, I finished my post-conference tasks and got back into our home routine of being grateful to be alive (and not dwelling on the three-year mark), plus I had the distraction of facilitating a website upgrade/overhaul for Save Your Skin Foundation.
The Easter Bunny came, and though I was spoiled with flowers and chocolate, I also got a call from my beloved family physician, with the news that my CT scans were clear. No Evidence of Disease - YASSS!!! Onward an upward my friends! I got another six-month pass, therefore I get to cram as much life as possible into the time until September when I go back for the next round of tests.
And cram in life I have been, as evidenced by my lack of indulgence in personal time for my favourite pastime, namely, writing. This is a particularly busy time of year for my family anyway, with Melanoma Awareness Month being May, my daughters' pending birthday, and the end of school year rush of deadlines, events, and then... high school exams.
I have become acutely aware of my time spent on various activities, and I have noticed a change in my personal relationships as a result. Some of my closest friendships have morphed into a sort of shadow of what they were before, and I am powerless to change that at this time. I have several hand fulls of single parenting and home maintenance, work hours and physical limitations, taxi-ing to teenagers' events and jobs, not to mention my long-standing love affair with quiet alone time. I believe this will resolve itself with time - I will either get better at it, or my kids will grow up and I will have a clean, quiet, peaceful empty nest. Love you girls! ;-P
In addition to lots of inspiring work-work on my to-do list, I have a few posts planned in the coming days, one being about melanoma awareness month and the efforts I am supporting with regard to patient advocacy. I am also catching up on spring cleaning and garden work - my beloved canine has (accidentally) compounded the damage done to the flower bed closest to my front door where the driveway gets snow-plowed in winter; poor plants don't stand a chance with him running through, I think I will plant ROCKS.
I do have additional appointments on the horizon: head-to-toe with my new Dermatologist in July, ongoing thyroid surveillance, and in the second week of June I will be at Sunnybrook to sit on a Melanoma Patient Education Panel. Will keep you posted!