Monday, December 31, 2007

Deadlifts, pullups, & gluten-free brownies

Went into work last night. I'm feeling pretty good after Thursday's chemo. Not as tired as round #2. Still not 100%, a little dizzy, occasional nausea, but quite functional. Yes, went into work and did a nice little workout:

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 rounds of 105 lb. deadlift and pullups

That is, 21 deadlifts, 21 pullups, 18 deadlifts, 18 pullups, etc., on down to 3 of each. Took just over 10 minutes. Quite tiring, but good to keep the veins open and push around any of the residual chemo drugs that need to get someplace important. Good too to increase circulation to my liver to help flush out whatever needs flushing.

So as the 5th man at Station 2, that means I was on Red 10, the airport crash truck. So I took it as my sacred duty to feed the other 4 guys something nice, as a way of saying, "Thank you" for going out on the pump-only calls. I made some gluten-free brownies from the Complete Gluten Free Cookbook, which Anna gave me for Christmas. I could hear the voices inside their heads:

"Oh great, gluten-free brownies, they'll probably taste like cardboard."

Well, considering that there were none left in the morning and there were a lot of comments like, "Wow! Those were better than regular brownies!" I think that I completed my duty.

Carol's Brownies (from page 276)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.

1/2 c. quinoa flour
1/4 c. defatted soy flour (recipe called for 3/4 c. soy flour only)
3/4 c. corn starch (recipe called for tapioca starch)
1 c. sugar (recipe called for 2 c.)
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I omitted this)
4 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. water
4 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in bowl and mix well. Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. See if you have the willpower to let them cool before cutting and serving!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Chicken Soup

That is what we had for breakfast today.
Chicken Soup for me - Well, today is day 2 of my being sick in bed. I have a bad cold and I am trying very hard to get better and not give it to Bob! I have been fighting something for a while now and finally succumbed unwillingly a few days ago. We are using sick protocols - I am sleeping on the sofabed, I disinfect my hands every time I get out of bed before I touch anything, I wash my hands several times while I am up and run back to bed to sneeze or cough. I am drinking lots of ginger, mint, lemon tea, staying in bed, resting, neo citran, vitamin C, smiling and laughing with Bob (from a distance!), running the air purifier full blast, and eating home made chicken soup I made yesterday.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops for Bob - Bob picked up a package while shopping during his first chemo round I think. They really appealed to him - weird since he doesn't eat bacon... They told us that his tastes would change and to be ready for not wanting to eat things he normally likes. Our chemo nurse Donna's favourite example is "don't be surprised if you think your wife put tinfoil in your grill cheese sandwich!". Ha ha. We haven't had grilled cheese in over a year! I used to make a great one with sauted onions and peppers... ah well. So Bob says tuna DOES NOT appeal to him post chemo, which is usually a staple for him, and he was so excited about bacon wrapped scallops this morning!!

Here is a picture of him in his new touque, knitted by me for Christmas, and his bacon wrapped scallop. Today I will get better and we will disinfect the house again!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cancer fundraiser

I'll turn today's post over to Jodie, my friend, regular commentator here, and cancer warrior. I hope any of you in Central Ontario will be able to attend at least one of Jodie's events. I know I will be there to cheer her over the finish line!

Hi Friend,

On June 20 - 22, 2008, I'll will be celebrating my birthday weekend by participating in a 2-day major cycling event called The Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, one of the top 5 cancer research hospitals in the world.

I'll be cycling over 200 kilometres that weekend, from Toronto to Niagara Falls, with thousands of other Riders. All the proceeds will go to The Princess Margaret to support cancer research, treatment, and services. The Princess Margaret is Canada's leading comprehensive institution devoted to cancer research and care, and the work they're doing is leading-edge.

I have dedicated this race to my mother in law, Susan Mulder and my best friend, Bob Olajos.

I've agreed to raise at least $2,500, So here's where you come in, because I need your help to do that. I know many of you have already donated money to my event which I am so grateful for! Your support has been overwhelming for this exciting event.

Please keep in mind that on January 12th from 2-4pm I am having a fundraising skate at the Ontario Speed Skating Oval site in Lakefield! Please come out pay $3 to skate, tell your friends and family.

On February 9th from 8am - 8pm Premiere Studio of Dance in Peterborough is hosting a dance-a-thon for the event. Please support your local dancer, if you don't know one you can always just sponsor me for the event. I will be there dancing my heart out!

On May 9 & 10th Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers are coming to Market Hall to do a concert for me. Come and support this event. Purchase tickets through me for $30. They are a fabulous Newfoundland group. I would love to see both nights sell out!! Tell one tell all!

Watch for more events coming up soon! If you want to donate just to the race alone please go to my website and click on the contact me page it will provide you with a link to my race page to donate on! All donations are greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!

Jodie Mulder

Thursday, December 27, 2007

That was easy

Hah! Easy to say!

Yes, we're home now. The roads home were wet and sloppy. Anna's about to feed me leftover Christmas dinner. Regardless, the day went smoothly. I was quite tired from the get-go, and napped much more than the previous two engagements. Di was there to see us off, then Anna took her to the train station for the ride to Toronto. Good move, considering the roads. There was a nice retired gentleman there, Randall, who has indolent lymphoma. Lynn said it was the first time in 10 years that she'd had two people doing the same rCHOP at the same time.

Dinner's ready. I'll write more tomorrow, after I've shoveled the walkway.

(By the way, Di gave me one of those Staples Easy Buttons as a stocking stuffer. It makes for great fun in the chemo room. It's a big, plastic button. When you push it, it says, "That was easy!" I pushed it a lot today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Chemo #3 tomorrow. I'll be 37.5% finished! Or if Dr. Herst only has me do 6 rounds, I'll be 50% finished. I'm ready for this. Chemo is my ally, not my enemy. I find myself focussing on things yet undone, dreams to pursue. This keeps me going. Anna and I want to have children, and I won't leave them fatherless at a young age. I want a new home, we've far outgrown this one. I have so many places to explore, both in Temagami and elsewhere in Canada and the world. Yes, these thoughts keep me going.

Just finished four days in a row yesterday. Thankfully they were slow days, with the exception of the 23rd. I kept up with my workouts. Yesterday I did one called Barbara (five rounds for time of 20 pullups, 30 pushups, 40 situps, 50 squats). I almost threw up. The day before I made one up, and called it Gingerbread Man (21 double unders, 21 muscle ups, 21 knees to elbows, followed by 15 of each, then 9 of each, for time). A double under is skipping with the rope going under your feet twice each jump, a muscle up is kind of a pullup and dip on gymnastic rings--very difficult, and a knees-to-elbows is done hanging from a bar and, well, bringing your knees up to your elbows like a vertical situp. My time was 20:30. I got some big blisters from the muscle ups, and one of them is now infected. Silly me, I'm not supposed to be doing things that give me infections. Oh well, as long as my WBC count is good tomorrow that shouldn't delay my chemo. Anna's got a bit of a cold today as well, so I'll be doing my best to not catch that. No workout today, I'm resting up for tomorrow. Slept 10 hours last night!

The new diet's going well. It's not really all that much different. I've just completely cut out few the gluten and dairy foods that I still consumed. After all the changes I've made over the last year, that's not much of a difference. Breakfast this morning was buckwheat-soy pancakes with agave syrup and venison sausages (and Cuban coffee).

Anna's mom is up and we're celebrating Christmas today. She'll come up to Liskeard tomorrow to see the beginning of my chemo. Then Anna will put her on the train there, which she'll take past Temagami all the way to Toronto.

That's all for today. I'll write again tomorrow night and let you all know how "EASY" the day went.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Four days to chemo. I picked up my prednisone today. I'm in Denial. I'm at the top of my game. I feel great. I've been at work the last two days, and will be there the next two (including Christmas Day). We even had a little house fire today and I felt fine, no shortness of breath, no weakness, no nausea, even while on air and hauling a hoseline and axe through the house. I've done difficult workouts today and yesterday. Today was 3 rounds for time of 50 x 75 lb. sumo deadlift high pulls and 30 x 75 lb. bench presses. Time was 26:03. I've been eating well too. I've not had any gluten or dairy in the last 3 days and haven't had any problems with that, no hunger, no dizziness. It's basically the Paleo Diet, i.e. I eat the way the cavemen ate.

All this adds up to living in denial. I'll be starting the drugs in 4 days. I'll feel like crap for a week or more. The cancer books say not to look at chemo as the enemy, but to remember that cancer is the opponent. Chemo is my ally. Chemo will save my life. But it's hard to keep that front and centre.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not our Christmas Turkey

Here is a picture of the turkeys in front of Bob's parents place. An update from Jean says that they left this morning without eating any of the feed, and haven't been back yet... maybe they thought a few days of Nikita stress was too much?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Home again

We are just home from our Christmas visit with Bob's family in Lakefield. Roads were fine and we made some grocery and eating stops. Turns out the Huntsville Independant has a great gluten free section. Since Bob isn't eating bread type carbs, we didn't buy much there, but good to know it exists! We did get some goat dairy, yogurt, cheese and milk and some gluten free soya sauce. Oh - and can't forget the gluten free walnut pie for Christmas dessert!

It was great to spend time with family - we saw Jean and Joe (Bob's parents-back row), Lisa and Yves (Bob's sister and brother in law- to the right of Bob with Bentley their basset hound) and Mike and Marianne (Bob's brother and sister in law - far left and right). Bob's brother Dave and sister in law Diane weren't there, though we have seen Dave a few times as he drives through on work the last few months. Nikita had a fabulous time too - watching the wild turkeys that have taken up residence outside the house in Lakefield - quite the site. We don't have any pictures, but maybe Joe or Jean will send us one and we can post it.

It was nice to be away and relax - though we were busy catching up with friends too! We visited my long time friend Anne Ryan and her husband Peter at The Yellow House in Peterborough and Bob's long long time friend Jodie and her kids Jamie and Sam (she was Best Woman for Bob at our wedding).
A good visit, though I am glad to be home. Unpacking the car took a bit though! Bob is packing for work tomorrow and we'll be crawling into bed soon. My mom will be taking the train up on Sunday.
Happy Solstice to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cheese and chive souffle tart recipe

Anna and I are down at my parents' place in Peterborough. Lisa and Yves are coming up today and we're having our first Christmas dinner. Everyone's out today, Dad getting his hair cut, Anna and Mom getting some groceries. I'm staying put, writing something for you to read.

Got a phone call from the naturopath yesterday. The results from the allergy blood test are in. Turns out I'm allergic to gluten, dairy, and garlic. I must be developing one of the world's most complicated diets: hypoallergenic, heart-healthy, cancer-fighting, low-carb, low-cholesterol, low-sodium, low-Glycemic Index, sugar-free, Paleolithic. At least he didn't say I'm allergic to eggs. I think I'd starve if I couldn't eat eggs. This time next year I'll be living in the bush eating moose and blueberries.

In celebration, we've decided to go ahead with the dish I've planned for tonight, which is a feast of gluten and dairy and garlic. Here's the recipe. It's from The Low Carb Cookbook, which Heidi lent us:

Cheese and Chive Souffle Tart

80 g (2 3/4 oz) butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup cream
2/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs, separated
1 cup Gruyere cheese
3 tablespoons chives
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch cayenne
12 sheets filo pastry

We might substitute the cream with half and half, the sour cream with organic plain yogurt and the chives with onions (Oh, Vidalia! You're so sweet, but you make me cry!)

Preheat the ontion to 375 F. Grease an 8" deep fluted tart tin. Melt half the butter in a pan. Sift in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream and sour cream. Return to the heat and whisk until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in egg yolks. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the cheese, chives, and spices. Melt the remaining butter and brush some over each sheet of filo. Fold each in half and use to line the tin, allowing edges to overhang. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, the stir a spoonful into the cheese mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the betaten egg white. Spoon the mixture into the apstry shell and fold the pastry over the top. Brush the top with the remaining ubtter and bake for 45 minutes or until puffed an golden. Serve immediately.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Anna and I are off to Peterborough for Christmas with my family. I'm off to work pronto, so I'll be brief. I had some posting problems, which is why the photo below is in a separate post from this text.

HAPPY SOLSTICE & MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone out there in blogland!

The photos is from a recent day of snowshoeing. It was taken before Anna fell through the ice, up to her thighs, in a bog! Don't worry, she survived!

I'm feeling great. I'm working out regularly (100 lb. weighted pullup yesterday, a record!). Today I'm doing Angie (100 pullups, 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 squats). Ouch! I think chemo for me entails 6 days of feeling like crap and 15 days of feeling more or less normal. Entirely bearable, especially considering the alternative!

Gotta run!

Happy Holidays

Friday, December 14, 2007


Couldn't sleep last night. Went to sleep at 10, woke up at 3, got up to read at 4, and never went back to bed. Instead I started drinking coffee at 5:30 while reading a biography of George Simpson (Governor of the Hudson Bay Company in the mid-19th century). At around 7 I started baking, first dinkelbrot (spelt bread) and then oat bran muffins. Anna was up by 8 (she says she also didn't sleep past 3). Then I started rearranging the living room. I now have a desk of my own, for the first time in the 5 years we've lived here! (Isn't it great how much you can accomplish when you get up at 4?)

Yesterday I went for a 3 hour snowshoe at Smoothwater. Nikita and I went up the Devil's Run, a very steep climb in deep snow, breaking trail the whole way. I wish I'd brought my camera, the woods were magical. We were both dead tired when we returned.

I'm working nights tonight, out of Station 2. I'll be Red 10 driver. Red 10 is the airport crash rescue truck. I hope it's a slow night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is this fatigue?

I woke up this morning after 8 hours of sleep at Station 2 last night. There was only one call in the middle of the night that Station 3 went on, so my rest was mostly uninterrupted. Yet today I've had trouble keeping my eyelids open. I was at Station 2 for the day, on Fast Attack. What a laugh. Should call it Slow Attack in my case! (Fast Attack is the guy on the end of the hose.) Thankfully, no calls for us. I can't believe my fortune. Of course, in my business that cannot last and there will come a time when I cannot reasonably expect to keep up my regular duties. I don't want to be a liability on the fireground.

Anyway, I did a workout this afternoon. Her name is Cindy. Cindy involves 20 minutes of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 air squats. I did 17 rounds plus one pullup. My record is 20 rounds, pre-cancer. So 17 is not all that bad. But I was gassed at the end (you're supposed to be at the end of a CrossFit workout, regardless of whether you're on chemo or not). Before the workout I was fatigued but don't think I could have fallen asleep. Now I'm exhausted AND I feel ready for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Today was a frustrating day of not being able to get everything done I wanted to do in the time I wanted to do it in. I had hoped to fit in a number of things, but ended up at work much later than anticipated. Tax season doesn't wait...
Instead I got home at 7 and crashed and then was convinced to get up and go to hockey practice! Wearing Bob's skates, I joined the Temagami Chicks with Sticks at the arena tonight. I had no equipment, so just practiced keeping my feet under me! A bit of a challenge considering the blades were dull and I haven't been on skates since last year and even then not very often.
Bob asked me to shave his head today to get rid of the velcro head-itis he has had. It was an emotional experience for me. I think in part it was the frustration of the day and part of it was just another piece of cancer being real in our lives. Bob is dealing with this so well and so positively as you all know. It still amazes me and makes me so thankful. I am so lucky to share my life with such a wonderful man. I think I am doing fairly well too. And I know that sometimes I just feel overwhelmed and sad about all the things going on with us right now. I never know when it will just wash over me.
I have been talking with friends about the power and importance of acknowledging and embracing the dark emotions. Our culture doesn't do that particularly well. I have learned that this year. And I have learned a lot about the power of hope and being positive and loving and putting one foot in front of the other. Thank you to all of the many, many wonderful people who have and continue to offer us support in so many ways.
Time to stretch the hockey and residual olympic weight lifting stiffness from my legs and shoulders and call it a night. Bob is in North Bay at a firefighter Christmas party and is working an additional day shift for someone tomorrow. I am glad he is feeling up to it! Go sweetie go!

Heavy lifting

Anna and I went to the Waterfront Fitness Centre in New Liskeard yesterday for a little exercise. Anna often mentions that she wants to do more exercise, and that her favourite form of exercise is dance. Now I like to dance, but living in small-town northern Ontario, there are some practical considerations. Like there's no place to dance and no one to dance with! True, we have gone to lessons in North Bay in the past, and we will again, but that does not make up for the general lack of exercise. So we came up with a little agreement to get ourselves out more--we each get to 'drag' the other out to whatever activity we choose, and no one is allowed to say 'no'. Upcoming events include horseback riding (Anna's choice) and karate (my choice). Yesterday was olympic weightlifting (my choice, go figure). So we went to the weight room at the fitness centre. I helped Anna work on her squat and front squat form. She did wonderfully, and was quite sexy. After her workout I did some squatting of my own:

5 x 45
5 x 135
5 x 155
5 x 175
3 x 185
2 x 175

These numbers are not near my 5 rep. maximum on front squat (I think my PR is 235 lbs.). But it was all I could muster. I was dizzy and a bit nauseated and didn't want to drop 185 lbs on my toes. After the workout was a sauna, followed by a potluck dinner with Anna's New Liskeard friends. A good way to spend an evening.

Today I'm at home. We have someone coming in to clean the house. I have other priorities right now, cleaning the toilet is not on the list. This afternoon I'm headed to North Bay to go to the Platoon 01/02 Christmas Party. I'll spend the night at one of the firehalls, then I'm working a trade day shift tomorrow. I hope it's a quiet day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

George's retirement party

I made it into work yesterday. That was a mistake. Well, not a mistake, really. There was a retirement party for one of the guys, 35 years as a firefighter. So I really wanted to make it in to see him off. That was accomplished. But it took a toll on me. Yesterday was my last of 5 prednisone days, which "theoretically" gives me energy. But perhaps I don't react to prednisone the way everyone else does. I woke up at 5:30 and felt ok, so made my way to work for 7:00. So far so good. Went through the morning routine (it was a Sunday and our last day of a four-day tour of duty, so there wasn't much to do). Then we had a call, electrical fire at a house just around the corner.

There were five of us on the truck, I was hydrant man. There's usually just four of us at Station 3, but the Platoon Chief is covering for me a little by having five of us there. Anyway, we all scrambled into our gear. I was trying to find a way to get my mask, flash hood, and helmet on over my velcro hair. (My hair is playing tricks on me, it's falling out and growing back in at the same time, so having anything on my head is uncomfortable.) There I was, in the back of the truck, lights and sirens, bouncing down the road. My belly started to tell me I shouldn't be there, started to gurgle. We pulled up to the house and piled out of the truck. Turns out the owner had seen smoke coming from a baseboard heater and hit it with an extinguisher. That was the extent of it. But we did our thing, searching for fire extension, making sure everything was safe. I stuck mostly to fetching things from the truck, trying to keep my helmet off as much as possible. Soon enough we were bouncing back to the station, my belly complaining again.

Station 3 is a quiet station, covering the West Ferris neighbourhood of North Bay. But it wasn't quiet yesterday morning. No sooner than we returned, we were off again, to a car-vs.-pedestrian at a nearby mall. Bouncing down the road, this time trying to weave my arms into a florescent vest. Thankfully (for me) the pedestrian was fine and being tended to by paramedics. Soon enough, we were bouncing back to the station....

I hadn't yet taken any of my anti-nauseants this round of chemo. I needed one now.

Soon we were off again, this time to Station 1 for George's retirement party. (Bouncing down the road....) It was good seeing everyone there, shaking George's hand. There was food, but I just picked at some beef and vegetables. Now, with us at Station 1, we were covering the busy part of the city. Wouldn't you know it, we got a call for a pot-on-stove fire. Thankfully, Pump 2 got there ahead of us, and thankfully the owner had it put out upon our arrival. But it was more bouncing down the road....

The afternoon was quiet. I crashed out on a lazy-boy and watched football. At 5:00, I left work and headed to the grocery store. I'd been warned that a side effect of chemo is a very finicky appetite, and I knew I didn't want to eat anything that we had at home. I must've spent 15 minutes circling the seafood before I finally descended on bacon-wrapped scallops. I don't usually eat bacon. When I was half way home, Anna called and reminded me that we had a dinner date with Heidi. I'd totally forgotten, and now we were very late. But Heidi didn't mind, bless her, she took us in and warmed up the turkey and root vegetables. We spent some time chatting with her and her other dinner guests, Sherry and Shanna, before heading home and collapsing straight into bed. I slept for 11 hours and only got up twice to pee. It was a good way to end a long day.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Haven't made it back to work

I knew I wouldn't make it in on Thursday, day one post-chemo, but had high hopes for Friday. Thursday night I couldn't get to sleep until after midnight. So yesterday I stayed home. Then I had high hopes for today. Got to bed at 8:30 and was asleep by 9:00. I figured if I slept right through to 5:30, I might just be able to make it in. I guess I wasn't supposed to go in today, though. One side effect I've noticed has become more prominent is nocturia (peeing a lot at night). So I was asleep at 9:00, but up to pee at 11:30, then again at 1:30. Then I couldn't get back to sleep. I tossed and turned, thinking about sauna construction, then mentally reviewing how to open a fire hydrant (as if I really expected to be at work in the morning!), then going through a catalogue of old friends, wondering what they're up to. At 3:30 I decided it was time to read a book. I kept reading until my eyelids could no longer be propped open--it was then 5:00. Thankfully, I slept. I woke again at 8:30, far too late for work, of course.

What does it feel like to be on chemo?

It feels like a hangover, without the headache. It feels like having the flu, without the stuffy nose. It feels "out of sorts," or "run over by a truck," or pick your favourite cliche.

Heidi just called to invite Anna and I for a ski at Smoothwater. Apparently the Emmy-Go-Round is packed and ready. Anna's away, still down in Toronto (driving back today or tomorrow). But I'll go anyway, hopefully. I guess I need to wax my skis!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Shutdown of Chalk River not affecting me

Some have asked if the recent shutdown of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory is affecting my treatment. CRNL produces a surprisingly large proportion of the world's radioactive isotopes, used in medical diagnostic imaging, among other things. An unplanned shutdown of the main reactor in Chalk River has cut the availability of these isotopes in Canada and abroad. The story is outlined in more detail here:

MDS Nordion (the producer of medical radioactive isotopes at CRNL)

I would like to reassure everyone that this incident is in no way affecting my treatment (at this time, anyway). With the shutdown extending into January 2008, it is conceivable that somewhere down the line there may be some impact. MDS Nordion does produce Gallium-67, which was used in my November gallium scan. No doubt there will be more gallium scans in the future, but at this time I have no idea when.

Going, going, gone

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quick update

Anna and I just got home from dinner with Kim and Phil. I used to work with Kim on the ambulance. Kim made a wonderful dinner for us. It was particularly nice to come home from a long day of chemo and not have to make dinner. Thanks!

Chemo started this morning with blood tests, which were all good. Lynn says that my platelets are better than most people walking around on the street. She started the line around 10, and I was in the chair until about 4. I feel like I've just stepped off a 36 hour plane ride. Tired, woozy, not sure on my feet, confused. But I'm ok. Anna's giving me some reiki right now, and urging me to bed. I've booked sick for work tomorrow, so I'll write more then.

(One of our favourite sayings: It's not a good day to be a cancer cell in my body!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chemo #2 tomorrow

I have to wake up at 6 am tomorrow to take my prednisone. Then I'll spike my hair one last time. I'm buzzing it all off Thursday. It's falling out, and I don't want to see it get patchy.

Anna and I will leave here around 7:45. Blood work at 8:30 at the lab in New Liskeard. That's for the serum copper. The naturopath wants to investigate my zinc/copper balance. Dr. Roedde (she fills in when Dr. Goddard is away and has been following my situation from the beginning--she was the first doctor to feel the lump and decide I needed to see a specialist) thinks concerning myself with micronutrients is a bit much, but was willing to give me the requisition. Then at 9:30 I check in for chemo #2. More blood work, to see where my white blood cells are at. If they're high enough, I get the go-ahead for chemo. If they're not high enough, I get to wait a few more days. Delay is not good when you're talking chemotherapy. But I feel good (fatigue is one sign of low WBC counts) so I don't think that will be an issue.

Thanks, Mom, for the encouragement! I like the thought that after tomorrow I'm 25% done the treatments!

I had my session with Aline today. She started off with a little massage (which felt great) but she said her hands were telling her not to rub me. Then she said that she was feeling that she should send me on my way, that perhaps I needed to be doing other things. She's a mystic healer, remember, so we need to pay attention to these types of thoughts and feelings. (Dr. Roedde isn't so hot on micronutrients, but she thinks Aline is right on the money--she even sees Aline herself.) Then Aline and I got talking, she holding her hands over my body, myself laying on the massage table with my eyes closed. We did some visualization work. She said she saw 'wise men' or guides standing around me, bringing me a gift that I could open later, when I am ready. I tried to keep the 'babe in a manger' idea at bay. What is the gift? Some sort of 'wisdom,' no doubt. Some days I think I've soaked in all the wisdom I can stand, and that I'd rather leave my character-building lessons for someone else. Aline told me to look at my cancer as a pebble in the road. I told her that I look at it more as a muddy stretch, with no end in sight. Maybe the mud ends just around the next corner? Maybe not? She also told me to remember that I am in charge of me. I may not be in control of all that goes on around me, but I can control my actions and reactions. Then I started visualizing myself as General and Private in a Peaceful-Army-of-One. A peaceful warrior. I like that.

And so Aline didn't send me on my way early. But she did give me a coupon for a visit to the pool and sauna at the Quality Inn. So, after running a few errands (and "living in the now" for each one) I headed off for a swim and sauna. That was nice. I sat there in the sauna, 110 C, sweat pouring out, visualizing all the toxins leaving my body. Thanks, Aline!

One final note. Thanks, Jane, for the wonderful card and gift. Have a wonderful time in Columbia. Say hi to Sarah for us!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Busy week coming up

Anna and I just drove down to Toronto. It was a nasty drive. There was snow last night in Temagami and North Bay, though it had stopped by the time we left the Bay. The roads were mostly clear to Huntsville, but that's where the freezing rain started. We drove through icy conditions to Barrie, where it changed to a mixture of rain and freezing rain. But we took our time and made it here in one piece. Tomorrow Anna has a fertility appointment, and we'll do a few other things--take some of our Northern Health Travel Grants to the Mount Sinai Clinic to get filled out, maybe get some bloodwork done at Mount Sinai. We'll head north again tomorrow, but the Weather Network is calling for more bad weather on the way up. Tuesday I have an appointment with Aline, then Wednesday is, of course, Chemo #2. Thursday morning I wake up early and decide whether I'm going to work or not.

Tonight I just want to sit on the couch and relax.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Snowy day in the northland

I'm working nights right now, and have been very happy to have had no calls in the middle of my beauty rest. Two nights ago I stayed up too late planning the sauna. Last night my Captain, Gaetan, and I worked on a material list. So today I'm staying in North Bay, going around to hardware stores to get some prices. I'm not so keen on the idea of prefab anymore. Seems to me it would still be a lot of work to assemble, and the final product would be sub-par. So I'm seriously considering building it from scratch myself.

Yesterday's workout was Elizabeth. She's 21-15-9 reps of 95# cleans and ring dips. That was just over 13 minutes. The day before was 'CrossFit Total.' CFT is one rep max. of back squat, shoulder press, and deadlift, i.e. you warm up with some practice lifts in each of those lifts, until you hit your maximum. I squatted 225 lbs, a little less than my record, pressed 125, which tied my record, and deadlifted 335, the same as my record from 2 weeks ago. So my 'Total' is 225+125+335=685, a gain of 10 lbs over last time I did this in September. Today's workout will probably be a run through snowy North Bay. Brrrr....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sudbury Road Trip # 5

Sorry I haven't written in the last few days. A bomb exploded inside our house. Anna's mom came up for the weekend and helped us move Anna's office into the dining room and the dining room into the office. The result is a much bigger office for Anna and a much brighter dining room for both of us. We also did a major purge and cleaning of the basement. All in all, the feng shui in our house is better now. Change is nice too.

We are on our way back from Sudbury right now. Anna is typing, I am dictating. We saw Dr. Herst today for about 10 minutes. Left home at 9 am and will get home at 10 pm. All for a 10 minute consultation. But he had good news for us. I think we can say now, as conclusively as we'll ever be able to say anyway, that I "only" have Stage 2 NHL. The bone marrow biopsy showed, "no evidence of lymphoma in the sample provided," and the gallium scan showed, "no evidence of galliium-avid lymph tissue." We must admit that we were somewhat apprehensive going into today, so I wore my pink shirt as a talisman. I also spiked my mowhawk, which Donna the oncolgy nurse loved. After the consultation we got our prednisone prescriptions and our next appointment date, January 11. We also learned today that Dr. Herst is no big fan of naturopaths--no surprise there. I am okay with that, but I will still be taking advice from both my oncologist and my naturopath. We spent the afternoon with our friends Sarah and Dayv and their baby girl Ada. They fed us dinner before sending us on our way. The snowstorm has stopped and we are watching a big orange harvest moon rise in the east.

Feng Shui Enema

There are so many things in our lives we have no control over. And some things we do. Something shifted in me about a week ago as I tried to settle in for another winter in our small house, and my small office. My office is the end of our living room. We have done a lot to make this space as functional and compact as possible. And yet the office and work still spills into the living room, especially when I am busy and thing pile up - literally. We decided to rearrange a few things. Picture switching dining room and office, rearranging kitchen furniture and overhauling basement storage and organization. My mom is great moral, design and physical support for this kind of thing, so I called her up and she agreed to come up this weekend to help us. Bob and I have talked a lot over the last few winters about how to rearrange my office. I had resisted many of these ideas and all of a sudden it seemed like exactly the thing to do. NOW! I was feeling particularly stuck for a number of reasons... and the desire for this physical change grew fast! Within a week of the initial urge, it is done! Well, almost. The furniture is rearranged and there was a good amount of purging of old stuff. There is still a bunch of little clean up to do, but with the amount we accomplished in a weekend I felt like we were on one of the HGTV shows! In 3 hours the office was dismantled and moved and the dining room swept and set up and dinner served to my mom and Bob's brother Dave, who was driving through town! Phew! It was also great to have Bob feeling like himself and right in there with us plasticing windows, hanging new lights and hauling and sorting basement stuff. We are more than halfway through this chemo cycle! YAY Bob! Tomorrow I will finish cleaning up my new office and settle in to the new space. I like feeling and being in the new arrangement and energy of the house. It may not be a new house, but it feels refreshed! I am welcoming the change with open arms. Thanks Mom for helping us clean out the blocked up energy and space and make room for new good things!
(this post is by Anna - who was having blog problems tonite...)

Friday, November 23, 2007

New Rx's

Anna and I just got back from a day trip to Huntsville to see a naturopath. This guy specializes in cancer, one of the best around. More on him later, as it's getting late and I don't want to take too long with this post. But the thing we're most excited about is one of his "prescriptions" for us.... get a sauna! We've wanted a sauna for a long time, but it's just moved to the top of the priority list. I think we'll buy a prefab storage shed and retrofit it into a sauna. It'll go in our backyard, behind where my gym is right now. Apparently saunas are good for lymph circulation.

Oh, and I got my pink t-shirt today. Aline (the intuitive healer) told me that when there is fear, wear pink.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


All five of us were at Station 3 today, so I wanted to get a photo of my crew to share with you. Left to right we are Captain Gaetan Marcil, Steve Vibert, myself, Claude Massicotte, Terry Hargrave.

So many offers of help, from nearly everyone--friends, family, acquaintances, even people who are almost complete strangers. One example of help sent: My friend Michelle wrote today and said the usual: "Anything I can do to help?" Then she answered her own question, and sent a joke. Here's the joke:

An elderly lady goes to the doctor and tells him, "Doctor, I don't know what the problem is, but I've been farting all the time. It's not really a problem socially because they don't make any noise and don't smell. I just can't stop farting all the time. In fact while I've been in here I must have farted at least 20 times."

The doctor nods and gives her some pills, "Here take these for two weeks and come see me again when you are done."

So she takes the pills and returns two weeks later as instructed. Infuriated, she confronts the doctor, "What kind of medicine is this? I'm still farting just as much! They still don't make any noise, but now they stink terribly!"

The doctor nodded and said, "It's all right, now that we have your sinuses cleared up, we'll work on your hearing!"

Anna and I both laughed out loud (she even snorted). You know it's a good joke when Anna snorts.

Today's Living with Cancer lesson: It's important to keep up with your normal activities, so Anna and I are still dancing (though not as much as we'd like to). Click HERE for a short little video from our last dance class.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another short post

Nine o'clock and time for bed. Was up at 4:30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I just got up and left for work. I had a good day at work, perhaps a little more tired than usual. I rarely sit down during the day, always moving somewhere doing something, but I spent a few good spells in the recliners. I'll be at work again tomorrow, but will be off Friday for an appointment.

Did the workout 'Helen' at lunch. I wasn't going for gold, just going through the motions. Helen is 3 rounds for time of a 400 m run (4 times around Station 3!), 21x30 lb. dumbbell swings, and 12 pullups. My time was 11:02. That actually beat my old record by a few seconds, but the old record was set in a different location, so perhaps my 400 m measurements are off. Nonetheless, I was somewhat surprised and certainly pleased. I had considered skipping the workout, I felt so tired, but I though, "no, just go don one." The workout revived my spirits, and I was able to keep the tiredness at bay until late in the afternoon.

Thanks to Charles for the suggestion on the China Study. I'll look it up, sometime after I get through the mountain of cancer books I'm innundated with right now. I'm starting to think that I should give the research a rest and start reading either fluff or philosophy. I was on a global warming book phase just prior to diagnosis, maybe I'll get back into that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks Caryn!

A short post tonight. It took me two flippin' hours to get home from work. I was stopped for about 50 minutes by construction south of Marten River. The day at work was pretty good, I had adequate energy levels, though it did drop off a bit as the day wore on. Myself and Tim (one of the union executive) met with our long term disability insurance broker to discuss options should this progress to that. It was a very good meeting, the broker and the insurer should be very accommodating.

When I got home I found that a food-fairy had been into our fridge. Caryn Colman, local gourmand and proprietor of Smoothwater Outfitters, dropped off three dishes--heritage carrots drizzled in birch syrup, local cheddar and onion pie, and chicken aspic. She definitely does the "neighbours-helping-neighbours" thing in style!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What to feed me when I come over for dinner

My brain is going buggy from reading about diet and cancer. Most people, doctors and the Canadian Cancer Society included, will tell you to eat a "balanced" diet. This means following the Canada Food Guide, which means lots of bread and grains, some vegetables and fruit, a bit of meat, a bit of milk, and an eensie-weensie bit of fat, candy, etc. This is also known as the "four food groups." In terms of macronutrient ratios, this is a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. I happen to think high-carb diets--the diet that most nutritionists will tell you to eat--are bunk. Homo sapiens did not eat bread and pasta and rice until 10,000 years ago. Our DNA has still not evolved to handle huge quantities of carbs. Coincidentally, cancer, diabetes and heart disease were unknown in palaeolithic humans. Sure, some say that palaeo-man didn't live long enough to die of cancer, he was eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger instead. True, perhaps, but that does not imply that palaeo-man would necessarily died of these, "old age diseases." Besides, I'm 33 and dying of an old-age disease! No tigers in sight!

Over the last year or so I've been eating a loosey-goosey version of the Zone diet. The Zone is often maligned as a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb diet, but it actually strives to provide 40% of your calories from low glycemic carbs (e.g. broccoli), 30% from lean protein (e.g. salmon), and 30% from unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil). Basically it takes the Standard American Diet (SAD) and cuts out the junk and the grains, and makes sure you get a little bit of protein and healthy fat at each meal. Between the Zone diet and CrossFit, I've lost over 10 lbs. and gone from over 20% body fat to around 10%. By our society's low standards, people have usually considered me pretty healthy (I wasn't fat, after all), but until about a year ago I was a heart attack waiting to happen. Apparently, though, I was also cancer waiting to happen.

When I started thinking about diet and cancer, I kept coming back to one basic question: What do cancer cells eat? It turns out that they eat glucose, which every diabetic will think of as blood sugar. Here comes the really interesting part. Cancer cells cannot metabolize protein or fat. Just sugar from carbs. Now, how does your body make blood sugar? It eats carbohydrates. Remember all those veggies and fruits and breads, but especially the cakes and cookies and all the other junk that we modern humans love to feed ourselves but never ate much of during several hundred-thousand years of evolution? Cancer thrives on carbs, and especially junk food.

But wait! Don't all the other cells in your body need glucose? The answer may seem obvious to anyone who has used a granola bar as a pick-me-up. But the real answer is, no. In the absence of glucose, your body switches over to something called ketone bodies. I don't fully understand the biochemistry (I was a social science student, after all). Think back to our palaeolithic ancestors. What did they eat? They ate meat, a few nuts and seeds, maybe a couple of bushes or berries in season. They did not eat WonderBread and Skippy Peanut Butter, mashed potatoes, or even Granny Smith apples! And they didn't get cancer.

So the take home message is that I might be able to starve my cancer while feeding myself. Before you think I've gone haywire, there is scientific research to back this up. I've read the abstracts. Unfortunately, none of them deal specifically with lymphoma. I've seen three studies, involving brain, prostate and breast cancers.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that I will cure my cancer by eating only chicken and almonds. But perhaps I can slow it's progression by going light on the carbs, completely eliminating the junk, and loading up on healthy fats and adequate amounts of protein. I dislike militaristic analogies, but think of my diet as the artillery, softening up the enemy so that the ground forces (chemotherapy) can go in and do the heavy lifting.

Mmmmm.... All this talk about food has me hungry. I'm off to the grocery store, then home for dinner.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why I became a firefighter

Today's my first day off prednisone. It's 11 am and I'm getting a little run down. Anna and I went out for a walk and breakfast at the Busy Bee. It's a beautiful blue sky day, mist rising off the lake, frost melting on the lawn. Then we visited Scott and Barb at the ambulance base, catch up on the gossip. That may be all the running around I can do today. Now I'm just sitting on the couch hoping the wireless internet keeps working.

I wanted to share with you all a little YouTube video on why I became a fireman. Just click HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Red Hair....kinda

Well we both now have red hair. Kinda reddish anyway...more purpley red. That was fun. We'll post a pic when Bob gets up.
He was awake for hours in the night and is sleeping in. I hope he is actually able to sleep and not just resting. The whole prednisone-high warning we got from the nurses doesn't seem to be holding true for Bob. No manic cleaning frenzy for days (well he did clean yesterday, but Bob normally gets in that kind of productive cleaning mode - though maybe that was prednisone!?) and no energy crazy unable to go to sleep stuff. Last night he wasn't sure he was going to make it through the movie without falling asleep. Though being awake so much last night didn't sound fun... It doesn't look like I expected. When do things go as expected though?? We have learned that one this year!
Today is the last day of prednisone and tomorrow we are told Bob won't be feeling great (actually we are told he will feel awful). I am hoping for merely tired.
I am amazed and thankful that Bob is so positive. It really is amazing. I am so lucky to be blessed with Bob in my life. I feel lucky for us that this has been a good week (relatively speaking). I don't know what I was expecting, but I think it was worse than this for this first chemo week. I know the down cycle hasn't started yet (where the white blood cells fall off before rebuilding). Bob has had mostly good energy and the anti nauseants are working when he needs them. It seems so weird to say and feel that it has been a good week. Am I allowed to say that? I don't want to minimize what is going on - I am just thankful for days where Bob and I are smiling and joking and laughing together! This week has had many of those moments in it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not feelin' so hot

This morning was pretty good. I was on a prednisone high. I washed three loads of laundry, two loads of dishes, did some gardening, vacuumed the house, and sorted some papers. After lunch I got a little tired. Anna and I went for a walk--initially I thought we'd make it to Pingue Lake and back, but I figured out pretty quickly that that wasn't going to happen. Picked up the mail, went to the hardware store, and then dropped by the ambulance base to say hi to Ed and Kim. By that time I was beat. Thankfully I was able to make my way home and lay down on the couch. Snoozed a little, read a little, found a radio station that plays digeridoo music. Anna made a lovely spaghetti squash and chicken pesto with steamed artichokes and garlic butter. Yum, yum. Now we're going to dye our hair red, watch a silly movie (Blades of Glory!) and go to sleep.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feelin' pretty good

Day one post-chemo and I set a personal record on the deadlift! Anna was headed up to New Liskeard for an acupuncture treatment this morning, so I figured I'd tag along and spend some time at the fitness centre. I did the workout from last Thursday (deadlift 3-3-3-3-3). That means deadlift a barbell three times, then add some weight, and continue for a total of 5 times. I started at 135 lbs. and worked my way up to 315 lbs. That tied my one rep maximum, so I decided to keep going with some singlets. Tried 335 and failed. Rested and went again at 325, got that. Rested again and tried 335 again--got it!

I'm feeling pretty good. Took one anti-nauseant earlier. I have some grumbles in my belly. But I'm not tired. Maybe that's just the prednisone talking. We'll see on Sunday. Apparently the day after you stop prednisone you're knocked down flat. Until then I'll use my energy up in the daytime so I can sleep well at night.

It's snowing outside and Lake Temagami is looking cold and icy grey.

By the way, Anna gave me a mohawk haircut last night. No photos as yet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To do list . . . Chemo cycle #1 . . . check!

Tired and nauseated. That's how I feel.

Went to New Liskeard today for the CHOP part of my chemo. The nurse there, Lynne, is fabulous. How many other places would the nurse give you her home phone number and say to call if you have any questions?

We started the day with an anti-nauseant, which has worn off now. Then came vincristine, followed by the "Red Devil" doxorubicin. Lynne actually sits there and pushes it in with a syringe. If we can get our photo posting problem resolved, we've got one of that. Finally there was cyclophosphamide. Anna drew a picture of an open fire hydrant on the bag, with the high-vol hose leading down to the IV line. I see the chemo drugs as the water used by my little firefighters to put out the cancer-fire.

After leaving the hospital we went into town and picked up some groceries and a movie. Tonight we watch SpiderMan ("He's got radioactive blood!"--just like me!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good vibes

Today was my first chemo treatment. We started the day in Sudbury with some normal saline, then acetaminophen, IV diphenhydramine to deal with nausea, and finally 56 mL of rituximab. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody (I think I mentioned that before). It actually seeks out and destroys my cancer cells, while avoiding all the other rapidly dividing cells which are often so impacted by other chemo drugs (like the ones I get tomorrow). I envisioned the little ribuximabs as firefighters, pulling hose through my arteries, sniffing out the cancer-fire, and finally attacking them, putting out the fire.

The whole treatment took from about 9:30 to 3:00. I didn't have any of the side effects I was told to watch for, but I did have occasional pins and needles. It felt like I was being pricked by a small needle two or three times in my hands. Then it would go away as suddenly as it arrived. The diphenhydramine (Gravol) did make me drowsy, which I'm just getting over now.

I'm typing this up in the car on the way home. We'll take the dog for a walk, then I hope to go for a run. It's too dark and cold to play in my jungle gym, and there is no gym to speak of in Temagami. I'll run to the playground, do some tabata sprints, and some pullups. Yesterday's workout was Nasty Girls (3 rounds for time of 50 squats, 7 muscle ups, and 10 x 95 lb. hang power cleans). My time was 10:52.

Having trouble uploading photos, in case anyone's wondering.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Well, all the sperm that I'm going to bank are on ice now. Anna and I are leaving Toronto soon and driving north again. There's a lot of driving involved in cancer treatment when you live anywhere but downtown Toronto. Drive to Sudbury, 2 hours. Drive to North Bay, 1 hour. Drive to New Liskeard, 45 minutes. Drive to Toronto, 5 hours.

Anna will drop me off at work, then go to the pharmacy to pick up some prescription drugs and a thermometre. Apparently if I get a fever over 38 C, I'm supposed to go straight to emerg. Fever means infection, means low white blood cell count, means delaying the next chemo, means the lymphoma gets more time to grow unfettered.

Tonight at work I'll do a good workout, maybe the Nasty Girls from Nov. 4. I'll feed myself well, hold the carbs. And I'll try to get to bed early. Hopefully we don't get a big call. Wake early, make some food, and Anna will pick me up at 7. Then off to Sudbury, and my life changes again.

Here's Anna and I at Mount Sinai earlier today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rocking Chair

You better believe it baby! Let me tell all of you about this rocking chair - it is a handmade double seater rocking chair. Rockers curve just right to give an excellent rock - not too far back, but far enough, just before the point where we feel we might rock over. Just wide enough for our 2 butts and a couple pillows for softness. Actually, I think the date is for 63 years from now. I believe it is set for when I am 98 and Bob is 95. So that would be in the summer...
I am scared too. All this fertility stuff still kinda feels "normal". (weird) It will feel like cancer is more real Tuesday when we walk in to the chemo room and they hook Bob up. That doesn't quite seem real yet. Any thoughts or prayers or energy for us in the moments when it becomes more real would be appreciated...
Thank you all for such great support!

60 years from now

Anna and I are heading to Toronto today for the last sperm donation. Monday we'll drive back and that evening I'll go to work. Anna will pick me up Tuesday morning and we'll go to Sudbury for my first round of chemo. Working Monday night is my way of denying what is going to happen the next day. It's my way of keeping things normal up until the last moment. Sometimes this feels very unreal, like maybe the pathology was a mistake. What makes it real is starting treatment. I'm ready, I'm strong, I'm scared. I need to keep reminding myself that Anna and I have a date in a rocking chair on our porch 60 years from now.

Finally did a workout today, after a week off. Felt like having a run, so I looked through the past few days of workouts and found this one.

Run 4 x 400 m (rest 2 min. between runs). Time: 11:48

Friday, November 9, 2007

Anna, Mom and me in Sudbury

Anna, Mom and I were in Sudbury today for a consultation with Dr. Herst. Here's what we know: The results from the CT scan may indicate a swollen lymph node in my right axilla in addition to the two in my neck. If this is confirmed on the gallium scan, then it likely means I have at least Stage II lymphoma. Could be higher yet. We're still waiting for the radiologist's report on the gallium scan. And the bone marrow biopsy results will be at least another three weeks to come in. Also, one of my blood tests showed that my immunoglobulin levels are slightly elevated. This MAY indicate that I have an indolent follicular lymphoma which has transformed to a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. What's the difference, I ask? Indolent lymphomas are common. They are slow growing and often simply monitored. They may never require aggressive treatment. However, some will transform into the more aggressive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The diffuse large lymphomas are curable. The indolent lymphomas are not.

The intent of treatment of a diffuse large lymphoma is cure. The intent of treatment of an indolent lymphoma is palliation.

Cancer was more fun when I thought I had a curable disease.

This blood result does not mean for sure that I have an indolent lymphoma transformed to diffuse large B-cell. But it may. Regardless, the treatment is the same. I start chemo on Tuesday, with a full day in Sudbury. They'll give me rituximab, a monoclonal antibody, and watch me closely for side effects. Rituximab sounds really cool, it is a protein that specifically targets tumour cells. This means it has very few systemic side effects. If I tolerate the rituximab well, I'll get the full course of CHOP chemotherapy on Wednesday. CHOP is a cocktail of three drugs given IV (cyclophosphamide, doxyrubicin, and vincristine), as well as one drug given orally (prednisone). Assuming my white blood cell levels remain high enough, I will get CHOPped every third Wednesday for eight cycles, or until mid-March.

I'm kinda bummed right now. Should I hope I have the deadly-but-curable diffuse large lymphoma alone? What is the silver lining if I have an incurable indolent lymphoma?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gallim scan, interpretation please?

Finished the gallium scan today. The results are below. My liver and kidneys are clearly taking up the gallium, as they show bright white in the scan. Other white areas include some of my groin and armpits and abdomen, all places where there are lymph nodes. I hope this scan doesn't show that I've got tumours throughout my abdomen and torso. I guess we'll get the whole story from Dr. Herst tomorrow.

No workout today. Actually, it's been four rest days in a row. I'm feeling a little too rested. Monday we were in Toronto. Tuesday and Wednesday I was at work, and couldn't carve out the time for a workout. This morning I was in North Bay finishing up the scans. This afternoon should've been better, but I spent my time putting the winter tires on the car instead.

Last night the three of us (Anna, Mom and I) went out to Heidi's for dinner. Nice to catch up with her, and she did a good job of accommodating our respective cancer and fertility diets. Thanks Heidi!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm radioActive!

Who say's you can't have a little fun with cancer? This morning I was injected with the radioactive isotope gallium. Then I went to work and started playing with our 'geiger' counter. It's from our haz mat trailer, for use in case Osama succeeds in exploding a dirty bomb in North Bay (or in case a truck carrying radioactive material crashes on the highway, a much more likely occurrence). The counter showed a background radiation of less than 10 microsieverts, but when you point it at me you get about 20 microsieverts. When the counter was placed on the right side of my neck (where my tumour is), it shot up to about 40 microsieverts. That shows that the gallium is doing it's job, going to the tumours so that they will show up on tomorrow's x-rays. Maybe tomorrow I'll run the counter over my whole body--anyplace the radiation levels rise above 20 microsieverts should indicate a tumour location. On the other hand, maybe I'll just wait for the oncologist to go over the x-rays with me!

Rainy day

Sometimes the rain refreshes me. I am ready to be introspective and mellow and inside. Other days it drags me down. I am truly solar powered. it is raining and I find myself exhausted. I know there are lots of really good reasons to be is all a bit much going on.... but it doesn't make it any more fun.
I need to be able to concentrate on work. I am working on two different jobs right now and both are me alone at home working away. I am normally VERY good at this. Since the C word entered our lives, I have been a little less productive and a lot more tired. I need to be able to relax and have fun when I am not working.
It also doesn't help with the grumpies! Thanks for the reminder Jodie that grumpies are normal in normal life and to be expected in this intensity we are in right now. Hooray for being able to work it through!
Bob and I are doing pretty well with the silliness and good humour. YAY TEAM! Thanks sweetie - I am so lucky to have you too! And we can do this. We will come out the other side stronger than ever.
Well, lunch and then back at it. I need to get things done this week before Friday. Friday we will hear results from the oncologist and I think have some decisions to make about how this unfolds. Need to be as rested as we can for that.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Third deposit at the bank

Anna and I are in Toronto today. I have a third appointment this morning at the Mount Sinai reproductive centre's sperm bank. They want as much from me as they can get, which might mean a fourth trip there about a week after the gallium scan is done (as long as I haven't started chemo by then). I guess you don't want spermies too soon after having radioactive gallium floating around in your body. We'll have lunch today with Anna's mom, Di, as well as Dan, a teacher at Di's school who has a non-agressive form of NHL.

We drove down last night, both grumpy the whole way. First I was grumpy about stupid things, then Anna was. It seesawed like that for four hours. I'd like to blame my grumpiness on cancer, but I get like that sometimes regardless. Sorry, Anna, that I take it out on you. You don't deserve that. You're the most wonderful woman and I'm incredibly fortunate to be sharing this life with you.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Fall Back

Ten hour days at work, plus an hour drive each way. Tiring. Just enough time in the evening to make and eat dinner, write a quick blog post, then off to bed. I know I will use my extra hour of sleep to its fullest. (Still have to be up at 5:30 though.)

I'm following a near-ketogenic diet. This means about 50% of my calories come from fat, 30% from protein, and 20% from carbohydrates. Fats include healthy oils, nuts and seeds; proteins are lean (chicken, fish, hemp, soy), and carbs are low on the glycemic index (e.g. cruciferous vegetables, berries, a little fruit, and almost no grains). You can check out my FitDay account to see what I'm eating. I'm not able to post here every day, but it gives you an idea.

All this blogging of workouts, diet and (eventually) allopathic and alternative treatments is my way of charting my progress. Perhaps at the end I'll have illustrated how living healthy, with a positive attitude and top-notch medical care, can see you through the big C.

Today's workout: Diane (21-15-9 reps of 205# deadlift and handstand pushups) 7:12

The photo below is of my CT scan last Tuesday.

Keep 'em coming!

Thank you so much to all of you who are holding us in your hearts, thoughts, prayers!

Thank you so much for all of you who call, visit and write.

I have been watching the posts on this blog and on the CrossFit site where Bob was featured! My famous sweetie!

I am so glad he is an inspiration to so many (myself included).

Thank you for all of the posts that have been coming across, all the stories and well wishes. They really do help me and us so much. We really are going to make a compilation of them!

Thanks for brightening my day and providing more hope and support.


We are so lucky to have this support. Thank you.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Some days are harder than others is very true. Some days are harder than others. The last few days have been hard for me. Bob is doing really well, as you can see - very positive and confident. Bob says he feels the confidence deep inside. So do I. Bob will be fine out the other end of this. I know this in my heart. And I am overwhelmed by it all. The whole year has been rough (do I keep saying that?) and this is such a big thing - lymphoma! We are still in the stage of so many unknowns. I am looking forward to knowing more about the staging and the treatment.

We have one decision made - Bob likes the New Liskeard cancer treatment room better so he will be doing chemo there (what doesn't happen in Sudbury anyway). One small hurdle crossed.

There are so many things in my mind and heart. I am focusing on organizing what I can about appointments etc. It helps me to be doing something and I have the patience and persistence for it. Turns out it is recommended that we have more sperm I set that up. It has been a VERY frustrating week of trying to get a hold of medical people. They go on holiday and no one calls back!! We have a short time frame here people!! I am still grieving our recent miscarriages and that brings a particular intensity to this whole thing as well.
The range of emotions I am feeling in any given day this last 2 weeks is amazing...sadness, deep grief, frustration, anger, bitterness, laughter, joy, silliness, amazement and awe...
Bob and I are so lucky to have each other and so lucky that we both love to be silly. I think silly will get us through this.

My 15-minutes of fame

Check out today's CrossFit posting for an interview with me taped at last weekend's Toronto cert. There's a photo and video and lots of wonderful encouragement from fellow CFers in the comments below.

Today's workout: Isabel (30 x 65 lb. snatch) 6:18
Yesterday's workout: Tabata something else 342

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mom's thoughts

I asked my Mom to write something for the blog, and this is what she sent me:

On October 21, 2007, I received the worst phone call of my life. I have received other phone calls, which have altered my life but it must be the ultimate worst to hear your son say, “I don’t have good news, Mom.” And then he continued to tell me that he had been diagnosed with B-cell Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s. I listened in silence and shock as he confidently told me what he knew so far and what he figured was in store for him in the near future. Anna was on the phone also and I was assured that they had been researching this on the Internet and that, although it was a very aggressive form of cancer, it was also very receptive to treatment and very beatable.

I had no idea how to respond to this news. How do you say something supportive and comforting and not get emotional? It wasn’t easy and I did what every mother would do . . . I cried.

Bob assured me that he was completely fine with whatever lay ahead; he was ready to tackle this hurdle and ready to beat it. It was not going to control him; he would have the upper hand.

I already knew that Bob was very aware of good health habits; he exercised, he ate well, he was strong, he had a positive attitude, he has lots of support from family and friends. I knew what he was telling me about his well-being was good and this would hold him in good stead to meet this new challenge, but I still cried.

A week later, he stopped in for lunch. It was nice to see him so confident and relaxed. His comment to me was “Don’t you worry about me, Mom. I’m going to be fine.”

And, you know what, he will be.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cancer Road Trip #2 - Bone Marrow Biopsy

WARNING! Partial nudity and gross medical procedures shown below!

Went for my bone marrow biopsy today. The purpose of this test is to determine if the cancer has spread to my marrow. Let's hope not.

(Top Left) You can see the bullseye, in the upper left quadrant of my right butt cheek.
(Top Right) Then, in addition to the morphine and lorazepam that's made me feel drunk, I get shot up with some lidocaine for local freezing.
(Middle Left) See the long drill in Dr. Herst's hand? That's about to go into my pelvis.
(Middle Right) Here's the drill, buried up to the hilt in my ass.
(Bottom Left) And this is what they got out.
(Bottom Right) This about sums up how it feels.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Muscle ups!

Today's workout: 30 Muscle ups for time: 11:50!

Working nights at the NBFD now. Rest day tomorrow for the biopsy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lunch with my parents

Woke up too early. I need more sleep if I'm to be a good cancer patient. Said 'bye' to Anna's mom and was off to Mount Sinai for the 2nd sperm banking appointment. Just in case....

After that I drove from Toronto to Peterborough for lunch with my parents. I hadn't seen them since my diagnosis. It was nice to be with them, if only for an hour. I think I was able to rub off some of my optimism and strength on Mom, she said she needed that. I'd rather be me through this whole process than anyone else, Anna or my mom especially, because they don't feel the positive energy I have inside. They just have to believe that I will beat this, while I can know it.

Left home and drove to North Bay, feeling my neck much of the way. I have a hematoma under the surgery scar, which has become smaller and more lump-like in the last few days. I'm wondering now if it's just a hematoma, or if removing one lump has simply made more room for the next to thrive. Every little headache, chest pain, belly grumble, or sore throat is now a potential symptom. My throat is quite sore, but just in the one spot, on the left side. Is that from all the yelling I did over the weekend, or is it another node?

Mad and sad

So - today is not a great day for me. I am sad and soggy and feeling really down. It has been such a hard year for us. I still know Bob will be fine...
I think things got a chance to sink in a little deeper having the weekend away. I am very grateful that I had a great weekend with great friends doing things that filled my soul!
Bob and I are so lucky in so many ways and this all so sucks! I am so sad. We had such a different picture of this winter would hold... And now we know it will be a hard winter. I am mad at the world. Why Bob?!? Why us?!?! It was a rough year before the C word...
It is so hard to watch someone I love so much have to face this (even though he is being SO AMAZINGLY positive about it). I am afraid of what the winter will bring. I am afraid I won't know what to do or how to help. I know I can only be me. I know there are a lot of things I can do and skills that I have that will be great in this kind of journey. I know a new and even stronger me will emerge to deal with this. Sometimes I am tired of discovering newer and stronger versions of me. I like being strong, but I also need to be able to be vulnerable, to be able to fall apart. I know that there is value and strength in vulnerability. I have some leadership training info about that somewhere...maybe that is part of my lesson in this. Being able to be strong and vulnerable.
It seems too weird that Bob is comforting me right now. He tells me that we have cancer. I guess that means that he gets to take care of me sometimes too and when we both need taking care of we call on the tons of friends and family who have offered help. I know I need to take care of myself to be able to be strong for him. I guess today that looks like crying a lot. There has been so much grief in my heart this year. There is more now. I guess I'll just let it out - it certainly can't do any good if I leave it in there...
I feel so mad and sad and writing this has helped... and now I just feel tired.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fran, am I sore

Finished up the CrossFit certification today. What a wonderful group of people. And what an incredible soreness I feel in my thighs! We must have done hundreds of squats, with near-perfect form. Now I can barely walk down the stairs. In the photo above, I'm in the front row, 2nd from the right.

Today's workout:

3 rounds for time
21-15-9 reps 95# thrusters and pullups

My time: 5:48 (but I had to scale the thrusters to 65# in the middle of the set of 15, I just couldn't lift that much one more time.

Evening was spent chatting with Anna's mom (I was staying at her house in Toronto), and reading some of the pile of material the Cancer Centre has given me. Funny how a week ago I had a completely different "To Do" list. I can barely remember now what was on it, it's become irrelevant. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about cancer, lymphoma, and chemotherapy now, while avoiding the dog's breakfast of information on the internet. I have enough printed material from reputable sources right now without surfing aimlessly for who-knows-what online.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fight Gone Bad

I'm in Toronto this weekend for a CrossFit certification seminar. I hope to have some photos up tomorrow. For those of you new to me and/or this blog, CrossFit is the fitness program I follow. It involves, "constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity," (IIRC from today's class). Basically very intense workouts. I plan to keep this up through chemo. Of course, I won't be doing it at the same level of intensity that I am now, but that's the beauty of CF. As Coach Glassman says, "The needs of our grandmothers and Olympic athletes differ by degree, not kind." In other words, functional fitness is just as important for the elderly as it is for a firefighter. If you doubt this, take a tour through a retirement home sometime.

So I said to the Coach today, "Thanks for inventing CrossFit, it's changed my life. And about a year from now, I'll come up to you again and tell you that CrossFit SAVED my life."

I've been reading a book called Cancer Fitness, by Anna Schwartz. I've learned that exercising through chemo or radiation helps reduce fatigue, decrease bone density loss and functional ability loss, alleviate anxiety and depression, and improve sleep, self-esteem, and body image. This is true whether you are a fitness buff like me or whether you've never exercised before. Some people have called me inspirational for committing to maintaining some sort of fitness program through my illness. I think the true inspiration would be the person who BEGINS a fitness program (even if that is "only" walking around the hospital for 10 minutes a day).

Anyway, today's workout at the seminar was Fight Gone Bad:

3 rounds for points:
1 minute 12# 10' wall ball shots
1 minute 75# sumo deadlift high pull
1 minute 24" box jumps
1 minute 75# push press
1 minute on Concept II rower
1 minute rest

Count one point per repetion, except in the rower, where you count calories burned. My score was 254.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Aline and me (and Michael)

Today's CrossFit workout: Michael (3x 800 m run, 50 situps, 50 back extensions)

22:12 (A PR, beating the old time of 24:51!)

As promised, here is the photo of Aline the intuitive healer, and me.

Trust, Love and Joy

After our long day yesterday we were both glad to have healing sessions booked with Aline. Bob will be posting a picture of her soon. She is a fabulous healer who does massage, energy work and so much more! I have been seeing her periodically for several years and LOVE to lie on her table.
It was just what I needed today. I felt calm and at peace. I know Bob is going to be fine. I know we are going to get through this together. With trust, love and joy.

Trust that we will be fine and Bob will recover well. Trust that this year and this journey are making us stronger and better as people and as partners to each other. Trust that there is enough - and thank you all for helping prove that to us - we see and hear more and more abundance of love and support each day. Thank you so much! In a world where I think we are taught to focus on lack, this in itself is a huge thing for me to see so powerfully demonstrated. I can slide into feelings of lack too easily. Thank you again!

Love. The love that Bob and I have for each other....deepened through the challenges of this year already and deepening even more through this new journey we find ourselves on. The love we feel and hear and receive with open arms and hearts from all those reaching out to us. The love we both have for being alive! Love of this beautiful place we live and the beauty of each day. Love for ourselves. Loving Bob. Loving and being in awe of the fabulous way he is embracing this journey with such strength and openness. Taking care of each other. Being strong for each other. Love in vulnerability and strength.

Joy. Feeling joy at being alive. Remembering that joy can be so simple. One of the things I love about Bob and I is how much we love to laugh together. Simple silly things are joyful. Just being together - joyful. Enjoying the moments that seem crisper now that the word cancer is part of our lives. Interesting. Sometimes I wonder where joy is in my life and it seems to me now that it is all over the place if I stop to notice it! So far Bob and I have actually been laughing a lot through this process. There have been tears, but also a LOT of laughter. Joy in each other. HOORAY!

Bob and I head off in different directions this weekend - to do things we both adore with people we are so looking forward to being with. It will be great to share all the fun we've had on Monday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our first cancer road-trip!

We spent today at the NorthEast Regional Cancer Centre in Sudbury. What an amazing place! Everyone is so friendly and it is a beautiful facility. We were shepherded through the confusing building, reception, and registration by yellow-coated volunteers to our first appointment with the chemotherapy oncologist. Dr. Herst is quietly competent while our Primary Nurse, Donna, is a blast! She is warm and funny and took lots of time make be sure we understood everything. Drs Herst and Donna explained to us two treatment options, the first being 3 courses of chemo (1 day every 3 weeks) followed by a month of radiation (15 minutes per day, five days a week). The second option is 6-8 courses of chemo and no radiation, taking a total of 4-6 months.

They booked a bone marrow sampling for Hallowe'en, and another CT Scan and a gallium scan sometime soon. These tests will allow them to stage the cancer and choose the appropriate chemo drugs. It looks like either way chemo will begin sometime mid- to late-November, depending on the test appointment dates.

We need to choose either North Bay or New Liskeard as our primary chemo site, and will have to go to Sudbury for certain appointments. Donna says we'll be going up and down the highway like a yo-yo. We have until after the second round of chemo to decide which treatment option we want to pursue.

After lunch we met the radiation oncologist. Dr. Bowen explained to us some of the pros and cons and side effects of radiation and answered a few questions that remained from the morning. Dr. Bowen is outgoing and her nurse is quiet--the opposite of quiet Dr. Herst and crazy Donna. Finally, it was blood tests and then a social visit to Estelle, the lovely receptionist who got us in so quickly! She was very pleased to have us come say hi!

Our brains are fried with all the information and choices and reading. We also haven't been getting quite as much sleep as we need. We went to Chapters with plans to pick out a bunch of books but couldn't see straight, so had tea instead. We are now on our way home, typing this update in the car. Hooray for laptops!

We know we are doing well because we were still able to make jokes and laugh through the day. (Bob looks in those funny gowns.) We are looking forward to a good sleep and massages tomorrow morning from Aline the therapeutic healer from Haileybury. We'll be posting updates etc to the blog at

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts today, Love Anna & Bob

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Posted by Anna

Friday October 19, 10:30 am our world changed forever. The doctors office called and asked where Bob was. I said away, but they kept asking. I finally asked them if it was about the results and the next thing I know I am talking to the doctor himself. He called Bob at the WMA conference and I found out the details a few hours later. That few hours was terrible. The day and a half until I saw Bob was terrible, though very good friends spent the night and next day with me.
It was SO good to see Bob that night!
We have been spending a lot of time together researching and making appointments, calling family and friends...
We are in a void - we know he has B-cell lymphoma, but we don't know what that means in terms of treatment. Tomorrow we will know.
Bob is being SO positive and optimistic. It is truly amazing.
Tomorrow we will know more.
We have spent so much time in limbo this year. It has been a truly challenging year of waiting and not knowing and false starts with 2 miscarriages and the house.
I am looking forward to knowing more tomorrow...
I know we can do this together. This year has already made us stronger and this will make us stronger yet.

Oncology consultations tomorrow

Tomorrow Anna and I make the two hour drive to the Sudbury Regional Cancer Centre. I imagine we'll get pretty used to that drive over the next few months. We spent the afternoon on the phone, setting up appointments with a radiation oncologist and a chemotherapy oncologist, as well as two at the Mount Sinai Hospital oncological fertility centre in Toronto. (I have to make a few 'donations' this weekend to make sure we have a supply of sperm should mine get zapped by whatever treatments I decide to pursue.) Also went to see my NP, who helped me go over the last few years of medical records, looking for anything pertinent that I should take tomorrow. Word has now spread across the North Bay Fire Dept, so I've got 83 more people behind me. They're great, the offers of support and encouragement have been uplifting.

After all that I knew I had to do my workout. Didn't find anything recent on CrossFit that I could do in my jungle gym, so I made up a workout:

5 rounds for time:
400 m run
6 ring dips
9 pullups


Towards the fourth round I started feeling that familiar bloating in my stomach. It feels like I've drunk too much water and now it's sloshing around. But that's not what it is, it's something to do with my cancer, I know it. That's been my main symptom so far, gastro upset, loose stools, and gas, far more constant than usual.

I hope to publish my FitDay account soon. I plan to have both my workouts and my diet posted so that people can follow my progress over the next few months.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We're going to beat this

Seems like I spent the day talking on the phone. Told my mom. She was in shock for the first 10 minutes and cried for the last 5. Told my brother, my sister, my former paramedic partner, and a few others. In the evening, it was people calling us. Anna's friend Tammy, who fought off Hodgkins and now has a baby boy. My friends Caity and Adam. Adam fought off leukemia two years ago in an epic battle that is detailed on his blog Caity and Adam's Webpage. Now they have three little girls, the twins Ara and Kayla (born just before Adam's most aggressive treatments started), and Addison (born yesterday). Can't wait for the pictures. After talking with Adam for a few minutes, he said, "You're going into this with the best attitude. I'm not even going to worry about you anymore.


Breakfast: 1 c. steel cut oats, 1 c. egg whites + 1 egg omelette fried in olive oil, licorice tea
1st lunch: 1 scoop Vega powder in water
2nd lunch: chicken thigh, 3 artichoke hearts, 1 apple, green tea
Dinner: chicken fingers breaded with almond and spelt flour, leafy
vegetables, mushrooms, and zucchini sauteed in oil, rooibos tea
Evening snack: oats, spelt, flax, sunflower seeds, cranberries with hemp milk and hemp oil
(Plus my usual cocktail of vitamins, probiotics, enzymes, and fish oil.)


Fran 4:03 (21-15-9 50# thrusters and pullups)

(Adam also told me, "You do Crossfit. You're going to kick cancer's butt!")

The long drive home

A fourteen hour drive from Wisconsin to Temagami gives you lots of time to mull things over. Here's me on the shores of Lake Superior, on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.