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Beyond All Imaginings – Phew!

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bai-front-coverPhew!  Beyond All Imaginings, my wildly magical memoir is published. It’s been a work in progress for quite some time. And some of that work in progress was my mind asking, “Really, Janet? Are you really going to share your story with the world?”

But then, last year, I was nagged/haunted/obsessed with the idea that it was time to put the story out into the world.  It wasn’t easy. After all, there will be some who will think me crazy. Or so I thought, anyway.

So far, nobody has claimed  me ‘crazy,’ though I suspect someone will and that’s okay now because the book is out there, doing more than I could have imagined.  Beyond All Imaginings is just my story, but it is opening doors of possibilities for others. I get teary at the beautiful stories and reviews shared back from readers.

I get teary at the synchronicities that are happening for readers, and for me as I sign personal copies. Magical connections are continuing beyond the story itself, it appears. It’s like the book has taken on a life of it’s own and I get to be a spectator.

I’m not the best at promoting (have you noticed?) – but I am very grateful this story got told and I can share it. Especially right now, when the world needs a little more magic.  Right now, if we can all open that door just a little more, perhaps we can start to make things going wrong in the world right.

What’s the story about? I’ve still not come up with an ‘in a nutshell’ synopsis. So I’m sharing the back cover story…  

This is the true story of magic and altering time and people who died and beings who introduced themselves as faeries… and this is a story of pottery.
It’s about smashed fingers, smashed dreams, smashed faeries and the value of throwing up your arms and saying “whatever.”
It’s about impossible things being possible and Rolling Stones playing on unplugged radios.
It’s about the tragic loss of loved ones and the heart-wrenching grief; and the magic of faerie-like beings showing up in my clay, on my pages, and in my home – which they did very much to my dismay, at least at first.
And a mystery; these same faeries insist on blowing themselves up!
This is the story that blurs your boundaries between reality and fantasy and leaves you wishing you could find your way into my world, albeit without the tragedies.
As you can imagine, this has not been a simple story to write. Hell, if it were fantasy it would have been easy… but this is my life.

Curious? Click here to read ‘inside’ on your favourite Amazon site.  Oh heck, I’ll share some reviews below.

If this story is calling to you and you might like a personally signed copy, please send me a message.  janet@novelminds.ca

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St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Children and Sailors

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Wishes for You this Christmas…

christmas ship copyright jlwThe stories say St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children and sailors. As the magical fella circumnavigates the world tonight, may your childlike heart and your adventurous soul be blessed.

Like a sailor on her watch, may you be especially attuned to the precious moments that surround you.

May you toss all unkind thoughts overboard, especially those you say to yourself, to lighten your ship, setting you free to sail wherever you wish to be.

And, especially, if things feel a little stormy, I wish you a peaceful energy that fills your sails with
comfort as you remember those not with you or as you navigate through changes that feel a little harder this time of year.

(Psst…St. Nick, sprinkle these special people with an extra dose of child-like magic and playfulness to brighten their holidays even more than they imagined possible. Thanks.)
He’s very good at that, you know.
Merry Christmas!  Yo Ho Ho!

Sailing Wishes

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christmas ship copyright jlwSailing wishes your way on a ship that happened a few years back.

Perhaps painting this one was the extra kick that brought the pieces together that resulted in me training as a tall ship sailor the following year.

The creative process is that kind of amazing place. It’s the place where we let our whole minds start connecting all the dots. It’s not as much about what we create, it’s about giving our minds, hearts and souls the tools to make things happen in a better way than if we were simply using left brain logic and making choices based on external factors.

Like… well, training as a sailor, just out of chemo, doesn’t appear to be a logical move. But when logic and creativity and passion come together – we find ways to make things happen.

And so, the wishes! Yes, I started out sending wishes! And here they are…
Wishing you many precious moments as we head into the holidays; moments that lift your spirits if things are crazy;  that peeks in and says, “all is well – breath;” moments that help you know the fun and love and joy that can be a part of it all. And wishes for kindness to yourself if all doesn’t feel great, because that can happen, too.  So many struggle with Christmas – maybe all of us in some way or another.

Wishes, of course, for you to have creative time – whether it’s making, thinking, or imagining – simply space that opens doors in your mind and heart.   AND Hang on!  One more wish!  May there be magic that sails in unexpectedly, giving you a shiver of awe, letting you know there really is more than what we can see with our eyes in this world – including mystical ships decorated for Christmas and the Spirit of Santa.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Seriously, WTF

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I’ve turned this page about dealing with breast cancer into a blog post, and am backdating so it disappears into the archives, but is still available to someone who may find this medical outline of my treatments helpful.  If you have been diagnosed with cancer, this is simply the updates I shared with people so they could better understand the treatments and process of the medical side of things. I have fun, magical and some funnier blog posts about other things that went on during this time, if you’d like to have a peek in the 2012 2013 year of this blog.
Mostly, though, if you are here for that reason, I wish for you that you have what you need to make this time do-able. I wish for you a healthy outcome. Don’t be afraid to ask for help -from friends, family, anyone. It is amazing how much people want to help, Ido know how hard it is to ask. But ask, anyway.  And you can ask me, too. As a coach and someone who’s been through this, maybe I can help too.

(If you’ve been here before… the latest update can be found by sliding a ways down this page to the May 2018 entry

Okay..if you read my bio.. you can see how much I’m in love with so much of my life.   I don’t love the part that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I love some of the amazing things that have happened as a result, but really, I’d much rather not be doing this particular journey. For those of you who’ve had or are dealing with cancer.. the details and type matter. And for some, perhaps you have an interest in understanding more.  I’ve learned that now.  This is the page that tells more about those details and updates the experience so far.

It all seemed easy peasy at the start.
It started with a routine mammogram and then I was diagnosed with simple DCIS (non-invasive cancer) in a needle biopsy.. I was relieved. NO, actually I first said to my doctor, “WHAT THE FU^K? SERIOUSLY?”  He said he’d said the same thing.

You see, my daughter had had  a rare cancer, a type of germ cell,  involving an ovary –  diagnosed less than two years earlier. She is doing awesome now. Really.  (Update: She has since had two children!!!! Purely beautifully amazing!)

But it was a very difficult time for her.  Think.. a number of critical days and two strokes through chemo, virtually needing 24/7 care,  and that gives you a bit of the picture.

Not long after her chemo treatments were over, my granddaughter then age 3, had lumps in her neck. Several months later it was finally diagnosed as Cat Scratch Disease. Yes.. also not common, but not cancer, and she is doing very well.  Some of you who know me may be surprised to read we went through that too.

So, the “WTF? Seriously?”  was well deserved.  The next words out of my mouth were “How the fu*k do I tell my daughters this???” The F word was suddenly rather prominent in my life.

And next was “I need to know everything about this before I tell family.”   The usually accepted ‘simple’ ,’ this percentage’, etc.. wouldn’t work for us. We’d heard all the ‘great’ percentages of ‘not serious’ with my daughter and then watched as she was chronically hit with worse and worse and rarer and rarer news and rare reactions to chemo, etc, etc, etc.

But an almost instanteous visit with the surgeon assured me that this was simple. THEN, I was relieved. Protocols are well known. Remove the tiny bit. Probably radiation. No chemo.    It felt easy peasy. And I could tell all the family and we could feel confident.  I know it sounds crazy to say ‘easy peasy.’  In perspective with what my daughter went through, and given that we’ve had a number of losses in our lives that I won’t begin to go into here…  this seemed ‘easy peasy.’

That went badly astray though…

It all began February 2012

A suspicious mammogram.. led to a biopsy.. led to a diagnosis of DCIS: a non-invasive type of cancer.

April  2012
A lumpectomy.. that resulted in discovering another type of cancer: mucinous carcinoma. Not large. Rare. Invasive but not very aggressive. At the time, it looked like ‘if you have to have invasive, this is a good one.’  My daughters whisked us all off to a spa for the weekend after this report.. a wise move – it kept the ‘nightmarish’ feeling that can happen from setting in.

But a masectomy was required.. so… my dear artist friends painted my breasts beautifully and that’s when I shared what was going on more publicly. I wouldn’t have actually easily done that, but one friend posted a photo of the paintings on facebook.. so what I shared is below.  I want to say I am ever ever so grateful that photo was posted because sharing what is going on has resulted in support I could never have imagined. That support has fed my soul and kept my spirits lifted.

“On this journey,
I will use creativity.
 I will use magic.
I will use laughter.
I will use adavan …
I will hang out in nature
But most of all, I will bask in the love and support
and wonder of those around me
For all of that, I feel blessed.”

ps. The adavan is for the times the ‘f’ word events keep me up at night.
Although, melatonine is working now.

May 2012

Masectomy with sentinel lymph nodes removed.  Included in surgery beginnings of breast reconstruction. (Tissue expander inserted and it is gradually filled with water to stretch skin in preparation for an implant further down the road)

Results: Lymph nodes clear, only small amounts of DCIS found and no more invasive.

Soooo.. we’re thinking still this is simple. No chance of chemo with this diagnosis. Won’t need radiation. Likely tamoxifen to lower risk of recurrence with this likely estrogen receptor + type of cancer.

Healing has been curious.  My healthy breast actually would feel the pain of the other. I’d simply say, “no, you’re fine” and the pain would stop.   If you’ve nursed a child you know how ‘connected’ those breasts are and this seemed to prove it.   As it turns out, I haven’t had a bad reaction to losing one breast… I’m strangely fond of the new one in the making.

And more curious: I developed a rare (again?!)  ‘mondor’s syndrome’… my bionic body created a whole new ‘cord’ to drain fluids. Rare. Weird. Will go away on its own. That and a seroma (swelling) were painful for a bit, but really all healed extremely well within a month.

June 2012

The shit hit the fan. Showing up to the oncologist to hear his recommendations, we did not expect to hear 6 months of chemo plus 9 months more of herceptin. Results had come back that I had the Her2+ gene…  a factor that turns things into a more aggressive type of cancer.

I went home stunned.  I relooked at the research and knew why I hadn’t expected this.  Mucinous cancer and Her2 +  do not happen. They do not go together.

I presented my evidence to the doctor who agreed that this was very  rare.   Doctor called a top expert in Canada, pathologies all relooked at, and I am impressed at the effort that has gone into figuring this out. And it looks like the tests were right and  my diagnosis is .2% of all breast cancers rare.  2/10ths of a percent rare. WTF?

And so now, I sit with a situation that doesn’t have a known protocol for treatment. But I am extremely glad I did my research, that experts were called in, that the chemo protocol was changed to at least somewhat less toxic and somewhat shorter.

The reconstruction part of things has gone well. Today the final ‘fill’ of the tissue expander took place, just in time for the rest my skin needs before next steps. .. and that works because more fills couldn’t have happened during chemo. Why did we get so far so quickly with that process of ‘filling’ the tissue expander?  1. Skin healed so well very quickly. I even have new nerves!  Many factors helping.. the bionic body maybe?, the visualizing, the healthy eating, the magic and wishes.   2. Might be because .. well, you know.. it’s not like we have to go all that big to match the little’ un on the otherside. ha!  I really wanted to post on facebook: “Huzzah, my booby is full! My booby is full!” .. maybe that’s what triggered finally writing details here. So many crazy thoughts I’d like to share seem to require some background info.

I start chemo on Monday. I’m going to get creative with this… and find a way to be pleased that chemo is curing me.  I’m not sure yet if I’ll get friends to paint my bald head. We shall see.

I plan to share some of the sketches and bad poetry.. the stories and the insights on my blog. The passion to reduce fear in our collective thinking. The healthy meal plan to optimize my body’s ability to heal. The alternative, the integrative care. The one coffee a day that I’m not giving up.  The humour. And, of course,  the magic. That’s the stuff that I want to write about. But this page… it’s here because… well, if I were reading my blog, I’d want to know the background about why this life coach is suddenly writing bad poetry about chemo!

November 7th, 2012 Update:

So. I see I did not keep the medical details updated. There have a number of related blog posts as I went on this kemo adventure. They can be found in the blog category “Healing Me – A Healing Adventure” if you’re curious.  There’s over a dozen more in drafts: insights, maybe some wisdom, the ways I used creativity and play to help me, but alas, I’ve noticed that finishing things hasn’t come easily the last 4  1/2 months. They’ll get done sometime.  (Happy to note that I’m currently working on finishing my novel in progress through Nanowrimo. November Write 50 000 Words in a Month project) Facebook turned out to be the place I updated life most… but especially for me it’s been a place to show up and celebrate what’s going right.  A good thing to focus on through kemo, I assure you.

But I realize people are curious but hesitant to ask the medical details. So here’s what’s happening, here’s what’s next.

My treatments are to reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer.  The cancer was removed in the surgery. The treatments are to ensure that if there were any microinvastion of cancer cells, they are stopped, and thus reduce the risk of recurrence.

Chemo involved 3 separate drugs, (carboplatin, docetaxel, herceptin) given intravenously every three weeks up until 2 weeks ago. A challenge in the process was my consistent allergic reactions to each one. Call me the entertainment committee of the chemo floor. Or, as the nurses say, I’m on the ‘special’ list. So, I was treated with rather extraordinary amounts of steroids, benadryl, and lipitine to prevent serious reactions, before, during and after treatments.  I would like to thank my kemo buddies… dedicated souls who picked me up, sat with me, supported me, painted, drew, played cards, made me happy, and later filled me in on what I didn’t remember.  They are Coreena McBurnie, Melanie VanMol, Una Connor, and Courtney Charlton, daughter who sat through number one..  I am sooo grateful! And my family is grateful, too. They liked that I got to hang out with you.  They were on call for other things a lot of other days, so I’m glad they didn’t also have to do chemo days.

At first, I thought the three week period between chemos would become predictable… good days, not so good days, etc. But that fell by the wayside by round two and I learned that each day was totally unpredictable as far as side effects. The good news, though, was we knew almost immediately that I was not going to go through the extreme difficulty that my daughter went through. (A different chemical protocol altogether) Having that to compare too made my treatments look pretty simple.  It’s all about perspective. I was pretty darn happy about this!

It wasn’t fun though.. but if you’ve watched facebook, I’ve definately focussed on ‘fun’ to whatever extent I could manage.

Chemo side effects for me ranged from upset tummy.. but not horrid. There’s drugs for that.  Weakness, losing hair (ugh), exhaustion, mouth sores, food tasting horrid, numb fingers and toes, (but I did not lose my fingernails and toenails, which can be a side effect. Yay)  ringing ears, leg pain, shortness of breath, bla bla bla. Tiresome, yes. But do-able.  Tricky for me was the steroids and antihistimine combinations for the allergic reactions… my body never knew whether it was supposed to be hyperactive awake, or drugged asleep.

Side effects are cumulutive, so as time passed, the side effects did worsen. September and October were rougher, and even walking across the yard could be a big deal. On other days, though, short walks in nature rocked.

My brain definitely has had focus issues.. and the same people mentioned above were awesome in reminding me of important medical appointments, once I discovered I would forget.  But I’m not so sure it is ‘chemo brain’ as much as it was perhaps my brain saying, “Wow, you’re going through a lot. I like this ‘feed my soul – do what feels good’ thing you’re doing. Really, how can you expect to focus on other details, or taxes, or energy draining stuff when there is already enough stress and when healing is the important thing right now?” So, good little brain that it is, perhaps it purposely made itself unavailable for things that might have been more energy draining, or cause me more stress in an effort to stay on top of things.

Eating extremely healthy has been a big part of my healing as well.  Again, I thank family and friends for extensive support on this… not an easy meal plan to follow, but so many people did and contributed to my efforts to eat well. Honest, I could not have done this without you.

In addition, my medical team also included my blood analysist specialist and the doctor at Inspire Health Integrative Cancer Care.  I took (take!) supplements, in addition to healthy eating, specifically for reducing side effects (and I do think they helped a ton).  The trick to all of this is to find that team. Trying to learn on your own what supplements would support the process, yet not interfere with the chemo doing its work would be very difficult. And it is KEY to ensure your supplements are not stopping the chemo from doing its work.

My intravenous treatments now continue for an expected nine months with only the herceptin. I’m a little cranky because finally I had some expectations of whoot whoot… feeling better, hair coming back, energy back.  Strangely I had an allergic reaction within a couple of days of herceptin, that we thought had been related to the other chemos:  swelling in neck, chest, shortness of breath.  And I’m still having weakness and such.  The crankiness is a direct result of leaving my realm of ‘take each day as it comes’ these past months, and having some expectations to now get a heck of a lot better quickly.  I am now practising ‘what feels good’ and some patience again. Herceptin is considered key in my treatment as it targets that HER2 gene mentioned earlier, to reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. Visualizing no allergic reactions, because steroids and antihistimines etc for 9 months is not ideal.

I’ll also be starting on another ‘hormone therapy’ (tamoxifen).. oral, daily, for 2.5 years, and a second type for 2. 5 more years. It is not hormone therapy as one might think. It is more of an ‘anti-hormone’ therapy that stops estrogen/progesterone from being a fuel that might increase chances of recurrence. Both herceptin and tamoxifen can have serious side effects… so I get regular checks on my heart as this proceeds, as well as regular follow ups on my general health.
And in the not too distant future, there will be two more surgeries to complete the breast reconstruction.  Simpler surgeries, and it will be nice to get that done.

The challenge of the diagnosis I had is that there really are no statistics about how much the treatments reduce the risk of recurrence.  In a more ‘known’ diagnosis a person might chose not to have some of the treatments if they reduce the risk only by a small amount.

I am very happy to notice that my hair is starting to come back. Yes!

I’m really tired…. I didn’t think I had this much to say here, and I must get back to the novel!!   So, I’ll press update, without a good edit. I wonder if I ought to count this as my word count for Nanowrimo. Ha!

Most of all …. I am so grateful to the support I’ve had from sooooooooo many people and in so many ways.  Physical, emotional, financial, creative, metaphysical, and kindred spiritfully. There’s actually statistics that show how a community of support reduces risks of recurrence.  Well, then, I for sure, have no risk.  Thank you precious people. One of my joys has been creating thank you cards… they are still unsent, oy… but my daughter assured me that no one would expect that I could get it together enough to send out thank you cards. I hope that’s true. But please know I am grateful.. oh sooooo grateful for the support I’ve been blessed with.

Onward. Yo ho Yo ho!

June 25 2013  Update

Oh where oh where have I been? Well, honestly… slowly, quietly meandering my way into what is now classed as ‘mildly to moderately depressed.’  I could see it happening as I began the tamoxifen treatments and slowly quietly began getting more and more side effects – with moods being a key one.  My hair all stopping growing is another tell tale ‘all is not ideal’ sign. And I was on continued ‘chemo’ treatments of herceptin up until mid June. I’m now finished those. YAYYYYYY!

Whoot whoot whoot whoot!  One year of injections finished! (My chemo buddies and I did something really fun/funny… we’ll reveal that soon.)  And ideally, the finish of that treatment may make the ongoing oral tamoxifen treatments easier. (Oh, and I did have the second reconstruction surgery in March … things are coming along prettily. Very impressed with what surgeons can do nowadays)

So, although I’m aware that things are playing havoc.. it’s okay. Supplements recommended by my Inspirehealth doctor are helping tremendously.  Anyone reading this who is in Canada….please consider making Inspirehealth part of your team. This is the only place I know where there are medical doctors who are experts in what you can take or do, that will not interfere with chemo and other cancer treatments.  Sooo important. If you are someone who is dealing with healing from cancer, on tamoxifen and herceptin, and want to know more about the side effects I’m experiencing, and what I’ve learned… please contact me!

And it’s also okay, because I stayed ‘reasonably’ true to doing things I love even if it’s been harder to ‘feel’ the same amount of joy, rush, and fun. Some days it’s been “just read a good book.”  I’ve written a little book called “The Crash, Creatively”… so far just for my doctors, but will do more with it, I think.  I’ve played on my paddleboard at Hornby Island with dear muse friends, and paddled and hiked and hit the hot springs in the Rockies. I walk regularly and hike once in awhile. (But Kamloops, cut with all the rain!)  I’m shocked to notice that I may well have become a foodie!  Sometimes I work hard at eating… but I do it anyway, and it’s all good healthy shit stuff.  I’m delighted to have one online course going and am loving doing that, as always.  Onward… small step, by small step. And yes, I sketch, and my paint sketches, as I call them, continue to give me intuitive wisdom about what I need to keep taking steps.  In amongst selling my house and financial crashes…well, I guess I can give myself credit for creatively surviving financially, in addition to so much help from the community last year.

Sounds like I’m doing awesome, when I read all that. Ha Ha!  Okay, screw the cranky.. I’m doing awesome.  But it’s not me that’s the most awesome….

Remember when I shared this when I revealed that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer?

“On this journey,
I will use creativity.
 I will use magic.
I will use laughter.
I will use adavan …
I will hang out in nature
But most of all, I will bask in the love and support
and wonder of those around me
For all of that, I feel blessed.”
The reason I’ve been able to get through this the way I have, is not so much cuz I said I’d do these things; it was because my family and friends and a whole community including people I didn’t know, believed in me. That kept me going. Thank you for believing in me, even when I had some serious doubts.
And for those I know who are also going through this difficult experience, I sit in awe of you… some are dear friends and some are people I’ve met through this process… some with diagnosis that are really very difficult… well, you inspire me with your courage, and ways of being through it all. My wishes for happiness and wellness are always with you
Cindys ship

My Ship – full colour, full sail ahead…. I can do this… with great thanks to my supporters and cheerleaders who believe in me.
Artwork by Cindy Hayden, Gifted by her and ‘everyone’ ~smile~

Now trying to kick it up a notch, now that the herceptin treatments are over. There’s more to get me moving… my daughters have given me a whitewater rafting trip as a celebration gift, – they know how to kick their momma’s butt in gear. And I applied for a two week training on a tall ship. … haven’t heard back from that yet, but hoping… won’t that just rock!  And the reminder to apply ( this was something I was going to do before the diagnosis of cancer) came within moments of another amazing gift given to me.

This extraordinary stained glass ship was given to me by Cindy Hayden, artist, and ‘everyone’.. yes, that’s what they said, this gift is from ‘everyone’ who have been supporting me.  This is my ship.. full colours, sailing forward, filling me with the energy, passion and “Oh ya, let’s rock this” feeling once again.  So grateful to Everyone!

And now… recreating life…. an overwhelm of ideas  (yes, a little slow yet on bringing those to life!)  and I am healthy and well!  If a little cranky, a little weaker, but this too shall pass. Play, create, nature, family and friends and people a priority, give back, recreate my business,  explore, dream, discover, permission to keep asking “what will lift your spirit today, Janet?”, permission to ask you ‘what will lift your spirits today?” (snicker)       … life rocks! Even if some of the YO HO YO HO’s are simply a quiet yo ho sometimes. ~smile~

Baby Emaline was born December 28th 2012. Beautiful miracle child, and my other two  extraordinary granddaughters, light up my life!!!

 November 2014  Update

A call with a young woman today who is going through treatments for cancer has me finally getting to this page. It’s been bugging me lately that I’m a bit like those events you hear on the news… the ones you hear about  because of some crisis or success or controversy, and the whole world watching cares… but you know that the media will drop it before you ever learn the outcome.  And I don’t want to be like that – not giving any updates. But it also feels a bit weird feeling like you were an ‘event’ and that people would care to know what’s been happening.  You know?  Ya, I think you get it. So, I don’t make this page leap into everyone’s inbox or anything. It’s just an update, should someone happen to be wondering and stop by.

The funniest part about this is that I laughed out loud at my June 2013 update. Only three weeks later I applied to train as a tall ship sailor on the Lady Washington.It happened like this: I stopped taking tamoxifen for five days a few weeks after herceptin treatments were finished, just to see if it had been herceptin playing havoc, or how much tamoxifen was affecting my physical and mental wellbeing.  I just wanted my body to have a few days of reconnecting to its normal. Well, on day 5 I was so high on happy I applied for the training. Then I continued my tamoxifen with it’s ups and downs’ got accepted for training’ sailed in November despite not being ideal, body and mind and soul stepped up to the job the moment I hit the ship,  it was amazing.. truly amazing, and  I made the cut as a sailor to be able to volunteer with them again. Being Canadian, I can’t work towards a paid job, but volunteering is good. I got to volunteer again in July 2014 with granddaughter in tow. This stuff is on the regular pages of my blog. Sort of. I’ve not been ideal at updating that either. Ha!

On the more technical medical end of updating though, here’s where I am at now:  I recently began my 3 years of taking an aromatase inhibitor, Letrozole. Like tamoxifen, it is a drug meant to prevent estrogen or pprogesterone from being available to fuel any cancer cells that might exist.  My tamoxifen protocol was due to end this coming December, and I had been doing reasonably well on it (It was 14 months into the tamoxifen regime that it stopped having any mood or other weird side effects), but guess what? In August, the brand of tamoxifen was changed. And within a couple of weeks I had so many strange symptoms and side effects – chronic sore throat, female and bladder issues that one doesn’t like to mention in a blog, my hair grew quickly suddenly but any body it had disappeared, etc.  Of course Doctors tested me for many things and then agreed it was the change of brand that made the difference.  I have been quite vocal about this on sites where people who might be affected are. It’s scary that a woman might be issued a brand that causes all sorts of side effects, and then expect that is what they must deal with for 2 or 3 or 5 or even 10 years, not knowing a brand change might be all it takes to make things better. (This is true of all drugs, by the way, a different brand can cause total havoc. Might be fillers, dyes.. but apparently it can also be less or more of the prescribed drug. It’s crazy out there in the pharmaceutical world, people!)

Also sometime along the way I had my breast reconstruction completed… did I even mention that? I honestly don’t remember when, in amongst all that has gone on. New implant. It’s okay. A little funny looking when I flex muscles, but still it’s my skin from my breast and that, for some reason, has always made me feel good about it.  I also got a new nipple… which it’s pretty cool how they create it from the skin on my breast. It did end up flattening quite a bit, but I will still run around braless… cuz two nipples sort of showing is so much better than just one. I postponed getting a tattoo to complete the nipple look.  I think mainly because a little research tells me that tattoo inks are not necessarily healthy, and apparently I don’t care enough to get a tattoo to fully research that before I risk putting ink on the same breast that had already been compromised at one time.

So. Am now on Letrozole for 3 years. (2018 UPDATE… that one lasted about a month. ha!) All is okay with it.. hot flashes do continue, but manageable. Some pretty severe joint pain at first, but for anyone reading this who is dealing with this: I question if that ‘start up’ joint pain was more a withdrawal from tamoxifen than going on letrozole. It’s settling so I am planning to not have the side effect of joint pain during this treatment.   Side effects of it,however,  can include bone loss, which is also simply not acceptable to me, so I continue with good supplements. I continue with follow ups with my blood analysist fella. I’ve upped my motivation more than ever to stay active… worrying a bit about staying really active through winter since I don’t do gyms (can’t be in fluorescent lights.. that’s another blog I have)  BUT keeping active is the best way to build bone…. I’m calling it a good excuse to play, me thinks.

All of those crazy symptoms from the brand change are settling.

And so, onward I go yo ho ho!

Another miracle baby is on his/her way.. due December 25th!  So blessed. Granddaughters and their moms and dads continue to be my spirit lifters. As do friends and other family.  ~smile~

I have so very much to say about all of this, medically, philosophically, spiritually, creatively, physically, mentally… ha ha.  Okay, I have a lot of thoughts about what helps, and what doesn’t help – for a person going through this, for those supporting, and for the world in general. What I do know now, though, is this:  if I get to chat with someone  dealing with cancer, and I can help them even a little bit to make it easier, or to save them research time, or especially, help them to not blame themselves, then.. thank you, Universe, for giving me that opportunity.

And my fourth granddaugher, Heidi, was born December 5 2014. A miraculous blessing.. precious child.

~~~~

AN IMPORTANT NOTE:
A tidbit for anyone going through this, besides truly paying attention to what lifts your spirits, I also know healthy eating and good supplements made a big difference in getting through all this. Not perfect eating, but a commitment to pretty darn good healthy eating. Inspirehealth Supportive Cancer Care – the site doesn’t say enough. Schedule to talk with a medical doctor (they do this by phone if you are not in a community where they are) Know they can prescribe the correct balance of supplements for you, your treatments, your side effects, and what your blood tests show.  I am forever grateful I accessed this medical care, especially through the most difficult treatments. This service is free for Canadians.

~~~~

May 2018 UPDATE

In November 2017, I celebrated finishing 5 years of what I call anti-hormone medications. Tamoxifen, Exemestane, with some ones that were too full of side-effects in the mix. None were fun. They were do-able with adjustments to versions of the medications that caused less side effects.

These drugs were harder on me than I realized: I realized only after being off the drugs for a few months. Last year my neck was in constant and often severe pain, and I tore the miniscus in one knee and had the other knee threatening to do the same thing. I ended up unable to work for quite a period of time, nor ski, nor hike, nor paddle (eek)… yet, nobody suggested that it was the meds causing such challenges. Until I met with the oncologist at the end of the five year treatment plan, and he acknowledged that the meds caused the physical problems. I suspect if I’d seen that particular oncologist a year earlier he would have taken me off the drugs. Alas, that’s not what happened, and who knows, maybe that extra year did that extra thing that is keeping me healthy from now on.  I don’t resent taking these drugs at all. Given the rare diagnosis, it seemed the wisest choice to cover all options in treatment because there simply are no statistics to say what percentage the drugs would prevent recurrence with the diagnosis I had.

And the next thing I realized after a few months of the drugs… I GOT MY BRAIN ENERGY BACK!! It’s not that it was all gone, but certainly I didn’t have the thinking energy I had in the past. I even berated myself a bit here and there to get my shit together. My usual complex and often inspired thinking just wasn’t quite all there. You don’t really notice this change drastically… you just kind of carry on making the best of things.  But with this return of brain energy, I’m finally able to take on much more. Since I won’t actually retire like most people, (all my retirement and investment funds went to getting through the really hard years), I’m putting my energy into creating my income through all that I love.  Check out Writerlykits.com… oh my gom, I’m so excited about this new business that combines all I love and all I do well in a subscription box for writers. It’s scary, I’m on a shoestring budget, but I think I can pull it off.  And I continue personal coaching with my ongoing clients, but now I have the energy to get more of that happening.  I’m on a huge learning curve with the new business, and looking forward to engaging with more kindred spirits.. and all of that can be nothing but good for this brain, body and soul of mine.

Yes, it’s been a chaotic and, honestly, very difficult time, physically and financially, and too often with ‘scares.’  You’d be surprised how often little quirky things happen in the body, and suddenly you are having a thyroid scan or a colonoscopy (ugh) or the mammogram (that one continues to surprise me how it can throw me into a very dark place while I wait for results – all 10 minutes of waiting)

But paying attention to what I love, even if I really ‘should’ be doing other things, has kept me happy and always feeling blessed. Those grandgirls, oh my, what treasures. My daughters, my small extended family, friends, coaching clients (yes, I do love coaching and being witness to my client’s discoveries)  paddling, painting, writing, publishing my book (I published my book!!)  – well, all of those beautiful things in life made the rest do-able.  I’m hoping my body gets rocking awesome enough to go back on the Tall Ships!

And on that note, I’m taking this page, turning it into a blog post, and it can just disappear into the archives – with maybe a couple ‘tags’ so somebody who does want to read this story might find it.

Tada! Yo ho ho… and onward I go! I love each and every one of you who have supported me so well, and made me feel valuable and loved.  You all know who you are. Thank you.

What the world needs now…

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You know that moment when you feel absolute unconditional love.. a love that will last forever? Perhaps when you hold that newborn baby, or the dog in your lap looks at you with those unconditional loving eyes, and you just know? You know you will love them no matter what happens. No matter how they behave. No matter whether they make mistakes or even if they ever choose not to love you. You just love them unconditionally, No. Matter. What.  Can you feel that feeling?
Today, on International Women’s Day, I wish that every woman in the world could feel that way about themselves. Pure unconditional love. A lofty wish, I know. Maybe if you just try it, somehow that energy will ripple out. Men, I wish it for you, too. Just imagine the world if this could happen.

Happy Groundhog Day! How will you celebrate?

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Really. How will you celebrate?

Use anything as an excuse to celebrate, even a groundhog. Celebrations are a bit like a gratitude journal in action. Celebrate today, celebrate your being here today, celebrate something you are pleased about, celebrate your shadow whether you see it or not.
Did I say celebrate your shadow?  Sure did. When the groundhog sees her shadow, it’s a celebration that spring is on it’s way.  Wait, no, it’s the opposite! That doesn’t make sense at all: Sunny day… seeing a shadow… you would think it would be a sign of spring. Well, good for you, Groundhog, for your out-of-the-box thinking.  And that’s okay – my point is about acknowledging the shadow we all have.  And celebrating it, as well as all the wonderful things about you.

The thing about shadows is that our shadow plays it’s most serious havoc when we try to tuck it away. It simmers into something inside that you think is dark and difficult, but honestly, when you actually look at it (pretending it belongs to good friend is a good perspective to see it differently), or play with it, draw it, collage it, paint it, turn it into a poem, or heck, take it paddling – you discover:

  1. the part of you that you thought was so …ummm… dark, isn’t.
  2. you’ve spent a lot of thought energy tucking it in – it takes less energy to have a look at it, and it frees a whole lot of energy for other things.
  3.  it’s a fabulous fuel for creative expression! You might even come to appreciate your shadow; after all, it arrived in your best interest at some time in your life. It just got turned darker as it got buried.
  4. If you happen to be practicing the art of non-judgement, exploring your shadow is a good place to see how you are progressing.

More about celebrating: 

cel·e·bra·tion: ˌseləˈbrāSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: celebration; plural noun: celebrations

1.  the action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity

2.  an action that acknowledges something valuable within us, that can otherwise easily go unnoticed.

Okay, yes, I made up the second one, just in case you are off to google ‘celebration.’

One more little celebration tip:  Keep it simple for starts. It’s very common for a client who has been invited to celebrate a success to say “I will plan a vacation in 6 months.”  Great! But, in fact, that big longterm goal won’t do the job of celebrating a success now, when you most need to acknowledge it.  Plus, it adds a new pressure to get something big done!  When I ask if there is something simpler that could be done today, things like these evolve; “have a chocolate sundae,”  “give myself permission to curl up by the fire and read for an hour,” “snowshoe tomorrow,”  “light my favourite candle and be quiet for a moment,”… these are things that are do-able, that feel good.  Just pick something that lifts your spirits or pampers you a bit. That’s enough.

And so, I ask again, how will you celebrate?

(My latest newsletter has some upcoming opportunities to explore celebrating, shadows, imagination, sparks. If you are curious, please click here: http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b5e1f9413f21b5cbe7a1b58e6&id=02dd494774 )

Want to be outrageous with me?

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This is a bit of a celebration for me… posting what I’m up to these days in my business life.  It says, “Oh, my gosh, Janet, you are getting back in full swing after a few years of healing. Yeehaw!” So, here.. here’s what I’m up to. And, of course, I’d love to have you onboard with any of these – they all provide the opportunity to find that spark and be even more of that outrageous wonderful self that you are – but mostly, thanks for being here to share the celebration! 

Way Hey Up She Rises
A crazy unique way to reach your goals

Starts February 18.  A fantastical voyage of personal discovery, sailing the high seas of extraordinary tools that reveal your strongest, bravest, funnest, most inspired self – even against all odds.

A 6 week online interactive webinar course and private facebook community, with creative experiences to play with weekly.Fair warning, there is nothing very normal about how we make these discoveries. This, however, makes it even more likely your discoveries and the tools you learn will stay with you for life.. because our minds and souls love a good creative not-very-normal adventure!
Sail HERE to learn more!


Modern Day Muse Certification Course 

Starts February 16.  Ever popular, this tried and true training provides radical awareness, creative principles, and empowering tools, in the guise of wise, quirky and entertaining muses. Based on Jill Badonsky‘s book, “The Nine Modern Day Muses and a Bodyguard.”

As a certified Modern Day Muse, you will finally understand the ways to honour your creative process and have the skills to offer workshops and courses that bring you another stream of income and joy! To register or to learn more take your curious self HERE.

One-on-One Life and Creativity Coaching 

This one… this is the best way to find your spark quickly and forever. If you are truly ready to take your life and/or your projects to new levels, one-on-one coaching offers professional support, empowering tools, a creative mind to collaborate with, and so much more. Ready, set, GO learn more!

facebook realm travellersClay Alchemy 101+ – FULL, but perhaps something of interest in the future?

Starts January 15th and 16th in Kamloops BC
The pottery studio is up and running once again in a most magical location. Join me in this 4 session introduction to pottery. From a lump of clay to a glazed creation, you will get to experience the alchemy of clay and yes, you will have finished projects to show for your discoveries.
Comes with some personal alchemy, too, no doubt!   HERE.

portal and swirl copy

OR maybe…
…just a couple creative thinking tools to play with? Or an imagination workshop in a t-shirt? 
Curious?

 

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