Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The state of me

Tis the season for gifts of toffee. Fa la la la la la la la la.

You gotta lead with your best picture!

This batch is a hybrid of these two recipes:

I'd go with the first one if you're new to the toffee rodeo. It works pretty much every time. You don't need the nuts (or the fillings of your teeth.)

Listen I don't want to give you the false impression that this will be a cheerful or easy blog post so hop off now with no penalty or skip to the end for a few Lizzy pictures. I don't mind.

We got the photo booth pictures back from Brent and Joannie's wedding and I'll share more of them another day but this one reminds me of going through cancer surgery and radiation (I dressed like a pirate to remind myself to be fierce) and it has got me thinking about how I am doing.

There is no shoe to drop here. As far as I know I am cancer free so let's state that right off the bat. Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful! But I'm a long way from cancer treatment consequence free.

I have/had vulvar cancer with lymph node involvement. It would be more polite to keep quiet but I get so frustrated that no one talks about this kind of cancer and no one really knows how to treat it because it is essentially an old lady cancer and many older ladies would rather, and do, die than complain about it.

I have a skin condition called lichen sclerosis in that area which is often a precursor to the cancer. Again no research.

Bottom line is that lichen sclerosis combined with radiated skin equal, for me anyway, painful ulcers that feel more like burns. All the time. Every day. All day long. You have to believe me when I say that I am really really grateful that so far every ulcer has healed and not turned out to be cancerous but they always return and turn up somewhere else.

I think you've observed that I love life and always will. I'm not looking for pity, I just sometimes need to say that this sucks and that often going to the washroom is an extreme act of courage. If you hear someone yelling in the next stall it's me. I do have doctors that I am working with but they're just guessing. One of the weirdest and best guesses was using olive oil. When the same doctor mentioned Crisco my friend suggested that the doctor may be hungry and might simply need a sandwich.

And I need to say that sometimes I can't sleep because I am afraid that a twinge on my left side is trouble in my lymph nodes. Or that one of the current ulcers doesn't hurt enough so it might be cancer. And sometimes the thought crosses my mind that maybe this might be my last Christmas before I find out my cancer comes back.

And then I think, well what would I do differently anyway?

And I can't think of anything because I feel like I'm loving life and the people in it and yeah God as hard as I am capable of and that's really all I can ask of myself.

What do I want you to do differently? Nothing. Well maybe read up about vulvar cancer without being embarrassed and ask what's being done about it. But on a personal level you don't have to say anything, just keep on looking at my squirrel and twig pictures and being the fantastically supportive friends and family that you are. I know how much you love and or care about me and every day I am grateful for that.

And I need to say that if you know of anyone else who has painful urination for whatever reason, warm water and this baby are their best friends.

Okay back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The squirrels were not having any of it today. It was all - talk to the tail.

Though I was hopeful of a good jump from this guy...

It never happened.

Here are the "out takes" from Harry's Christmas photo shoot.

There was only one "in take" so we'll have to keep trying.

Sadly Heather's passport has still not been returned so they weren't able to come home before she heads back to work. They took a little holiday in Edinburgh instead so that's good.

Now THIS is a tree!

Turns out there are German Christmas markets everywhere. Who knew?


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