A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Food For Thought

So this just occurred to me... If sugar is what cancer cells feed on, then why do those volunteers go around handing out cookies and juice? I mean, don't get me wrong, cookies are WONDERFUL and I enjoy them just as much as the next cookie monster (perhaps too much), but shouldn't we be taking as many preventative measures as possible? In these kinds of instances, is there really such a thing as being too careful? Me thinks not!
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


Sitting through treatment with momma bear right now. I'm so so thankful that these things are less than an hour! We could do it in less time, but she prefers to take her kytril through an iv and have a full saline flush, which takes about an extra half hour. But she's comfortable with that and it gives her some time to rest, so whatever works right? Since the last time we were here, the numbers that we want up are up and hopefully those we want down have gone down (I looked through her files (which apparently I am not allowed to do due to legal reasons) and was able to look at a couple of the test results hehe. Sneaky me!). Since her first treatment, she has noticed that the pressure in her back has been reduced quite significantly, so HOPEFULLY HOPEFULLY HOPEFULLY that means that treatment is working and the myeloma cells are being reduced (thus, less pressure inside the bones). The sun is shining and she's feeling pretty good today, so ill take that as a sign that today will be a good day :). There is a fundraising race/marathon for MM in the summer that I'd really like to enter. Preferably the 5k. However, yesterday I discovered just how physically NOT.IN.SHAPE I am thanks to mr.treadmill. At 2.5k I was OVER IT! Sooo looks like ill need to do a little bit of training until then. But I'm excited! Ill consider it a goal to work towards. Anyone care to join me? :)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Herrre We Go!

So today marks our very first treatment of chemo and all went well! We were quite surprised actually to the amount of time it took for the nurses to administer the chemo. Anti-nausea took about 15 minutes and the actual chemo(Velcade) took literally, like, five seconds! Then another 15 minutes for a saline flush and we were good to go! Yayyy! I had originally planned to update during the treatment (for a more "in-the-moment" kind of feel..ooh the excitement!) But I soon found out that I had to register my phone on the site to do so. Got a new phone the other day, so I feel like I should give you an advanced warning for what will surely be a ton of spelling mistakes and text talk (grammar junkies, look away!) Its probably due to the fact that my fingers are apparently OBESE and like to hit several different buttons at once. Either that or this keypad was made for pygmies as the target market... Anyways, moms spirits are up and were running into this with our heads held high :) So far, no symptoms. Hoping to god it'll stay that way!!!!
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Bring It On!

Tomorrow (or I guess, today) is our first round of chemo treatments (velcade).
A lot has happened since we were at the Tom Baker Cancer Institute (TBCI), and i'll update you later on that bit. My mom is a little nervous, but I've seen a change in her. She's... getting stronger. and I couldn't be happier. She's ready to fight and kick this cancer in the ARSE! yeeeeuh! MM can kiss it, because we're ready to rock it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Beautiful Thing

Watching Hope for Haiti right now. It’s so beautiful and inspirational to see people coming together to help others out. It just shows that, as awful as this world may seem sometimes, it is still full of so much good. Even in the darkest of hours, there will always be hope to light the way. We must help each other out. Because together, we are capable of achieving and overcoming anything.

If you want to make a donation, the Canadian federal government is matching dollar-for-dollar Canadian donations (up to $50 million!!!) to charities aiding relief efforts in Haiti. Here is a link to a site with a list of organizations accepting donations. http://www.cbc.ca/haitirelief/

We need. We must help one another. Give those in need your hope, your strength, and your love.


On a COMPLETELY random and unrelated note... I thought I would share with you a little - let's called it a "moment" - that I had a couple days ago.

Scenario: Mom is somewhere not where I am. Dad is downstairs. In other words, I am alone. Or so I thought........

Basically, I had some free time before dinner and decided to listen to some music on my ipod. Apparently, it was just THAT good that day because it pretty much "made" me start busting out into some serrrious moves. No jokes, it was basically a scene right out of "Rhythm Nation" or something along those lines (of course, to ME, that's what it felt like. To someone else, I probably looked like I was mentally unstable). Anyways, smart little me decided to set the volume to a level where I couldn't hear anything else. So, amidst one of my ultra pro dance moves, I ended up swinging around to see my DAD (yes. my FAJA) looking at me like I needed to be institutionalized (to the normal eye, that might have been what it looked like. but to the TRAINED eyeballs, a true professional was blossoming that very moment). I guess it's like that quote... How does it go again? OH YEAH, "Dance like no one is watching".


"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth." - Mark Twain.

Guess my parents will be listening to my lovely yodels in the near future!

But honestly. I'm glad he saw, because it's times like those where you realize you can't always take life TOO seriously 24/7. My actin' a damn fool is clear evidence of such. Even though we are affected by cancer, we have to live. If anything, cancer is EVEN MORE reason to do so! So, in conclusion, be free. live. love. laugh. Believe. and have no fear.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Linked!: Curcumin & Blood Sugar

Came across a really interesting post by another blogger affected by MM in regards to curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric that I mentioned before.

Here's the link!

You might know this already... I'm new to all of this, so im just learning all this stuff right now. but anyways, studies are showing the relationship between your sugar intake and cancer cells. One article makes particular mention of Multiple Myeloma, which is quite significant as, i'm sure you might have noticed, not many do when discussing cancer. Basically, sugar = BIG no no.

Anyways. Hope this, in some way, helps. If anything, to pique your interest in taking a deeper look. :)


There is no cancer that has not been survived by someone, regardless of how far advanced it was. If even one person has succeeded in healing his cancer, there must be a mechanism for it, just as there is a mechanism for creating cancer.

- Andreas Moritz

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Information Age

Tomorrow, or rather today (in about 7 hours! Need to sleep!) is our second appointment at the cancer centre. I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to be doing… More tests I’d imagine. I think we’ll probably go over the biopsy results and make a diagnosis. I’m a little scared… Regardless of the prognosis, we still have to hold our heads high. But I worry about her… She’s fragile and vulnerable right now. Understandably, she is still overwhelmed. But… I just wish she was a little stronger right now. She doesn’t really make too much of an effort to get any information about MM because she’s scared. And I know that it is scary. But what’s scarier is not being informed about a disease that you have. Not being able to make well-informed choices. She has my dad and myself to do that, but… as a patient, I believe that it is her responsibility to know as much as she can about her condition. Certain symptoms and side effects can only be noticed by her. What I mean is, she knows her body the best. My dad and myself won’t always be able to know how she is feeling or if we should be concerned about an ache here or there. I’m trying to get her to understand this. And we’re taking small steps. But it’s… it’s just all very frustrating. This whole situation. There are times where I will just catch myself in a moment. Sometimes, a moment where I can’t help but wonder, “what did we do to deserve this?”, even though I know this disease is not based on good or bad karma. I don’t think it has quite hit me completely yet. I still cannot believe that we’re in the situation that we’re in. Cancer… it’s a disease that’s only supposed to be in newspapers and movies. Not something that we have to endure. It’s incredibly unfair, but life, I guess, is not fair. You just have to make the best with what you’ve got and go from there. There are other moments where… I just get an overwhelming wave of grief. Or perhaps sadness is a better word. It’s a mixture of things. Loneliness, anxiety, depression. I look at my mom, and it just breaks my heart. You really don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s taken away. Now, the simple things are the things that we hold onto the tightest. Family time, smiles, laughter, walks. Every time I see her laugh and smile, it just means so much. I know that there are people that I can talk to, family members, friends, support groups. But I feel like I can’t talk to people. Or maybe I’m just scared to… We don’t want this getting out because if it did, everyone in this town would know about it. And that’s not the kind of attention and focus we want right now. But I wish I could just talk to my cousins or friends about it right now and just… be able to pour my heart out. Because this experience has been like no other. My heart has never ached so hard and… it’s just… I’m so afraid… I’m terrified. I try not to think about it, but I can’t live without her. She’s been the glue and sunshine in my family and has always been in such good health. This whole thing came completely out of nowhere, which is why I think it affected us so much. I mean, cancer would have quite a strong effect on anyone. But… yeah.

So, in response, I try to gather as much information as I can. In nutrition, in side effects, in whatever way I can help to the best of my abilities. Some of the books I’m reading have confused me a little. They’re views conflict with the views of the “standard of care” medical community. While chemotherapy works by destroying cancerous cells, it also takes out the good ones as well. The views and approach that these doctors and authors take is one where you use your body’s natural defenses to battle, or at least maintain, cancer. These perspectives are on opposite sides of the spectrum, and to a patient or a family member it’s all very confusing. On one hand, you have a system that has scientific backup and research going into it. On the other, you have another system that breaks it down into the basics, using nutrition to fight your battles. What irks me is that there are claims that this business of cancer is hugely profitable, and as such, the major pharmaceutical companies have no real incentive to actively find a cure. These are the pharmaceutical companies that fund and train students in med school, our doctors of tomorrow. What they say, goes. But… could people really be that.. evil? Millions of people have died from this disease, and it would be tragic if their lives could have been considerably different if money wasn’t in the picture. Are these pharmaceutical companies really looking out for our best interests? One must remember that they are running a business… All this information is so confusing and leaves you torn on which direction you should go. Because whatever decision you make will literally be a life-or-death decision.

Currently, i'm primarily reading two books: Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer and How To Prevent Getting It in the First Place by Suzanne Somers, and Anti- Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D.

Both have been incredibly informative. I think being a patient (or a family member of a patient), you have to be willing to keep your mind open. You have to be willing to listen to what others have to say. You don't have to necessarily agree with them, but at least listen. Both of these books place an emphasis on nutrition and fighting cancer with your body instead of chemotherapy. There has been a lot of backlash with this type of approach, especially directed towards Somers, but... Is trying to live healthy, organically, and as naturally as possible really such a bad thing? Even if you do decide to choose conventional methods, I think people should pause and take a moment before knocking this p.o.v down. When you really break it down, these approaches are all about leading a healthier lifestyle. Because changing our eating habits and lifestyle (this means more exercise, less t.v.), it's not going to hurt us. You don't have to agree with the treatment plans that have been highlighted, but the basics won't hurt. Anyways, there are a couple of doctors from Mrs. Somers' book that I have become interested in. Has anyone heard or had any experiences with Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, Dr. James Forsythe, or Chemosensitivy tests? Your input, comments, or even thoughts would be helpful to me and others that read this post!

So, to finish off. Here are some random facts that i've learned from reading so far:

- Tumeric (curcumin) is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent out there. Which is good because it inhibits angiogenesis (which is the formation of blood vessels). This is important because cancerous tumors NEED these vessels to supply them with blood flow in order to survive.
- "To be assimilated by the body, turmeric must be mixed with black pepper (not simply with peppers). Ideally, it must also be dissolved in oil (olive, canola, or linseed oil preferably). In store-bought curry mixes, turmeric represents only 20% of the total. So it's better to obtain turmeric powder directly"

- Cruciform vegetables (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, etc.) contain powerful anticancer molecules that are capable of detoxifying certain carcinogenic substances, promote the suicide of cancer cells, inhibit angiogenesis, etc.
- Avoid boiling cabbage and broccoli. Boiling risks destroying these powerful anticancerous molecules. Instead, cover and steam or stir-fry rapidly with olive oil.

- Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene that leads to longer survival rates for prostate cancer patients. However, they must be cooked in order to release these nutrients. Moreover, olive oil improves their assimilation.

- Soy isoflavones block the stimulation of cancer cells by sex hormones and intervene by blocking angiogenesis. However, isoflavone supplements have been associated with an aggravation of certain breast cancers, but this is not the case for soy taken in food.
- ** The genistein in soy can interfere with Taxol. While awaiting confirmation of this interaction from human studies, it is advisable not to consume soy-based foods during chemotherapy with Taxol. Stop several days before, and start again several days after treatment**

- Green Tea contains substances that reduce the growth of the new vessels needed for tumor growth and metastases. It is also a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. Note that black tea is fermented, a process that destroys a large portion of these anticancer substances. Oolong tea has undergone a kind of fermentation midway between green tea and black tea. Decaffeinated green tea still contains all its polyphenols (anticancer substance).
- Japanese green tea (sencha, cyokuro, match, etc.) is even richer in EGCG (another anticancer substance) than common varieties of Chinese green tea.
- Green tea must be steeped for at least 5-8 minutes - ideally ten minutes - to release these substances.

These facts noted above are just a few of the many that I learned from reading Dr. Servan-Schreiber's book. I highly recommend reading it, if not for alternative treatment purposes, then for tips on how to lead a healthier life.

However, on one note. I had discussed some of these with our oncologist and he had told me that a recent study was published where green tea had actually shown to COUNTERACT chemotherapy. I'm not sure what type of chemo, specifically, (we're going to be starting Velcade very soon, so I assume this is one that is affected by it) so I think it would be best to work with your doctor and see what he/she has to say.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Brothers, Sisters, Mothers, Fathers.

If their's anything that i've learned from this whole experience, it's that we have to help each other out. And that doesn't just apply to those of us affected by cancer! The impact that cancer has had on my life has been profound. Many will often think of it as an automatic death sentence when they, or someone they love, is diagnosed. But as you slowly accept your reality, accept the fact that you do, indeed, have cancer, life takes on a different perspective. It's almost like you've been walking around blindfolded your whole life, and then all of the sudden, someone rips that blindfold off! At first, you're blinded by the sheer intensity of light (incase my metaphors don't make any sense, i'm referring to the initial intensity of "the diagnosis"), but then your eyes get adjusted and you see a world full of colors and shapes that you never knew before. For me, cancer opened my eyes and truly made me see the world differently. Life, all of the sudden, seems so much more beautiful and intense. And from this new world, you draw from it strength and determination to beat the disease that would rob you of cutting such an experience (LIFE) short. This is, at least, what I felt. That being said, I am more motivated to being a better person. I've realized just how much a waste of time being negative really is. What's the point??? I want to help others and smile and laugh and just... live. If you have a chance to help someone out, to make them see a brighter world, how can you not help them out? I'm inspired to make something out of myself, to truly make a difference, as cliche as that sounds. At the end of the road, I want to know that I made a difference somewhere, somehow. Being negative, teasing, whatever may be slightly amusing for a little bit, but... when you go through an experience such as this, all that stuff just seems like such an incredible waste of time. A waste of life. Who wants to live a life berating others? I'm not saying that you should go to bed and wake up the next morning as Mother Teresa, but... baby steps. Many small goals are easier to achieve than one large one. Cancer isn't something that we can beat alone. It's a vicious force of devastation that does not discriminate. We MUST work together, help each other out, in order to beat this pain.in.the.ASS down! A great example of this is the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), which has created a consortium of resources into a centralized system that works together in order to move forward in finding new treatments and, ultimately, discovering a cure.

Recently, citizens of Haiti were devastated by a disaster that would lead an already unstable country to destruction. We need to help each other out. These people, they have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers that really need our help. Being individuals affected by a different type of devastation, i'm sure that you are familiar with that sense of helplessness and vulnerability, of fear and despair. Of losing a loved one. We, as human beings, have a responsibility to help out our global brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. So, I encourage anyone that reads this message to help in some sort of way. Do what you can, just do something. Raise awareness, raise donations, help. If you're not sure how, you can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to RedCross relief efforts in Haiti. Every little bit counts.

The "Now"

So, I guess I should bring you up to speed on what's been happening since my last entry in my journal. I've decided to take a semester off from school in order to help out, not just my mom, but also my dad. So I went up to Edmonton to get some stuff sorted out and stocked up on clothes and other necessities and comforts from home. Two days ago, on the 13th of January, we went up to Calgary for our appointment at the Tom Baker Cancer Institute at the Foothills hospital. I was feeling quite optimistic and enthusiastic about (FINALLY) getting the ball rolling, but when we arrived at the cancer ward, I couldn't help but feel a little overwhelmed. Not only was this our first time in a cancer ward period, but also a cold reality slap that the last two weeks weren't just some long-ass bad dream. This was now our reality, and we were in a place with others who shared that same reality. It was a bit depressing to see how busy the cancer ward was. Patients filled the waiting rooms and anxiously looked at their call numbers to see if it was finally their turn to take their blood tests or x-rays. The whole experience just felt so...alien to us. It felt cold and sterile and just.... not right. But the simple fact is that we would have to start getting used to this environment, because it would soon be rooted deep into our lives. That day, mom got her blood work, x-ray, and bone marrow biopsy done. We were there from 9am to about 3pm and were thoroughly exhausted by the time we walked out of there. Good news was that the blood work and x-ray came back with good, or rather, expected results. Her hemoglobin levels were still good, etc. etc. but her bones showed up to be very, very weak. A symptom of the disease. That was a little discouraging, but we were relieved to hear that the doctors hadn't, from the lab results, found any other reasons for concern (spread of cancer, etc.). We did the bone marrow biopsy, and it went fairly well at first (extraction of bone marrow). But when he took the biopsy of her bone, she was definitely in pain. I mean, who wouldn't be in pain when a doctor chips off a piece of your bone??? I can't imagine that felt lovely at all.... But she was a soldier and held her head high throughout the day. I was really proud of how she handled everything. If I was scared, I can't even imagine how she felt. Afterward, another doctor sat us down and basically gave us a Cancer101 tidbit, followed by about 9 handbooks and pamphlets, instructions, tips, and medication. I'm incredibly grateful for these doctors and everything they did for us, and i don't mean to complain because they were absolutely wonderful, but danggggg. It was an incredible amount of information in a very short period of time. We discussed the medications that my mom would be taking, and each one seemed like the pronunciation was a minute long. Dexamethasone, etc. etc. The doctor might as well have told us we were taking $*#SD$@&, 3242@#%@sdfa, and @#$@#$afa because we wouldn't have known the difference. Thankfully, now we have ourselves organized and ready-to-go with all this "stuff". It's a bit intense, the beginning of this whole process, of this journey, but I imagine that it's something we're going to have to get used to. I'm incredibly thankful and pleased with the oncologist that we have right now. I've read some horror stories about these specialists being cold and distant, treating you like a case instead of a person, but ours was very warm, gentle, and understanding. He talked to us like we were human beings, people with lives that were all of the sudden, shattered. I'm incredibly thankful. So, until our next appointment, we're at home waiting for the results of the biopsy, which should be coming shortly. We'll finally be able to get a confirmed diagnosis. We're hoping for the best, but regardless of whatever outcome we get, we'll finally be able to commit to a plan and focus everything we have into making sure we get it done (vs. wasting all our time and energy by waiting, worrying, questioning, etc.). Until then, we're at home trying to build up my mom's health to the best of our abilities by preparing healthy meals and light exercise so she'll be in good shape before treatment. Wish us luck!

Dec.28/09 - Jan.08/10

The following is a summary of my entries between the dates noted in the title of this posting. Hopefully this will help you in one way or another. At the very least, to let you know that you are not the only one that has felt what you are feeling. So here it goes...

Monday, December 28, 2009
Is it normal to think the worst when something bad happens? Or am I just fucked up. Mom was just admitted into the hospital and will be staying there for the next couple days. She went in to get meds for her cold and then found out that she had an enlarged heart, and thus, high blood pressure… The tail-end of this year has been… rough, to say the least. The stresses of a family member's divorce are seeping into the lives of those around her. It’s exhausting, but how could we not help? That’s what family’s for. But with the stresses of our concern for my aunt, taking care of the two kids, and my mom’s back pains, the most recent news of her health is…discouraging. Lately, her health has been slowly degenerating, and we can’t seem to figure out why??? Its frustrating, exhausting, and painful all together. My mom calls saying she’s going to have to spend the next couple nights in the hospital. I can hear her. She’s trying to be strong, but fails to mask the symptoms of her worry. She’s been crying. Her nose is running, her voice is weak. Granted, my mom is an emotional being, but this I can’t blame her. She’s been in so much pain since the summer began, and this new information does not help…at all. I can’t help but think, what if it’s cancer? What if it’s spread? Start preparing myself mentally to go through what will be the battle of a lifetime. Literally. What if she dies? I start to get emotional, but then realize that I’m overreacting and pull myself together again. Why is it that I think of the worst-case scenarios in times like this? Is it my mind’s way of preparing for war? It’s hard to think of the glass as half-full when all you seem to see is the empty space above the water. I hate hospitals. I’m praying to God that everything will be ok. Please, let it be ok. If anything goes wrong, I don’t know what I would do. Please.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
If there were ever a time that I needed a prayer to be heard, now would be it. Mom has cancer. I’m devastated and feel like I’m living in a bad dream. How could this happen??? My heart is broken and I feel completely helpless. There is no way I’m going to let this thing win. But I need a little help. Because I can’t do this on my own. I need you God. Please please help me. Help my mom. Please.

Thursday, December 31, 2009
I feel like I can’t breathe. My sanity is hanging on by a thread. I’m going to lose it soon. I try to put on a brave face when I’m around my mom because I don’t want to get her up set. But sometimes I slip, and she notices. I don’t know what to do. Went to hospital today and the doctor said it could take up to a WEEK until we find out results. Don’t they understand that every day is critical? Every day that passes by where we don’t do anything is another day that the cancer spreads. We need to do something. I can’t focus and I feel so utterly anxious because I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel completely helpless and useless. I don’t know what to do. I’m praying harder than I ever have before, and I just hope that God can hear my prayers. I can feel my heart starting to break into pieces, slowly. I need a miracle right now. I need God to hear me, hear us, and answer our prayers. I don’t know what else to do.

Friday, January 1, 2010
Happy New Year…

I’m hoping. Praying. Begging. That this will be a year of good health. Of strength. Of hope. And of Happiness.

My family needs it. My mom needs it. I look at her and I can see the sadness in her eyes. I know that she’s trying to wear her mask, like me, like my dad, like my brother. But I can see it in her eyes. We really need this.


If I could switch places with her, I would. I would give up everything just so she could be ok. But life doesn’t work like that. And I know I’m going to have to be stronger than I’ve ever been before. They say that God will never give you anything that you can’t handle. Well. If anything goes wrong, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it through. This is already killing me, and we’ve just started. It’s going to be a hard year and I’m going to have to figure out a way to be strong. But I need to be optimistic. It is a must. Because it’s one of the only things that we’ve got going for us right now. I need optimism. I need prayers. I need a miracle.


I wake up with a sense of optimism that comes with the new year. Let this year be one of health, happiness, strength, and hope. Im determined to make this right and fight for my mom’s life. I need to be strong. I feel like I’m bipolar. One minute I’m hopeful, optimistic. The next, I’m crying myself to sleep. During the day I put on my mask to help my family out. To keep them uplifted and encouraged. Then I take it off and cry myself to sleep every night, purely from the exhaustion when no more tears will come. I hope I can be stronger than this.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Had a scare a couple hours ago. Mom was feeling short of breath and was getting a head rush. Measured her BP. First reading was 177/110!!!! I tried my best to conceal my panic as that is the highest it has ever been. Very bad number. We told her to relax, breathe, and calm herself. Dad figured that all her coughing from her cold was causing her blood pressure to spike up. You know how you feel a lot of pressure in your head when you’ve been coughing a lot? I didn’t know what else to do and was about to get ready for a trip to the ER. But we waited 15 minutes and had her calm down and try to focus on not coughing. Took another reading, 144/90! wtf?! Best reading so far. Took another reading a couple minutes later, just in case. About the same. Good news. But when she went to sleep, I know she could still feel a little bit of pressure (even though she said she was ok). Definitely have to get this checked out tomorrow. This fucking thing could not have hit us at a worse time. It’s the very beginning of the new year and the WEEKEND. Meaning no one is open! Fucking frustrated and panicked and scared like I’ve never been before. I’m constantly living with a sense of panic and fear at the back of my head. It never goes away. I need answers and I need them NOW.


I am strongest when I am with my family. When I am with my mom. I don’t know if it’s because I have to force myself to be strong, or if my mom and my family make me strong. Am I helping my mom, or is she helping me? Hopefully both. The times when I am by myself are the times where I feel the most scared. Helpless. Vulnerable. Being around other people helps me to momentarily forget what’s going on and live in the moment. It helps ward off the ever-constant cold hand of fear that always seems to grasp my heart. I’m scared, yes. But in such simple moments as enjoying a movie or going for a walk, I momentarily forget and all seems good again. My home feels like both a refuge and a prison. It brings all the comforts of what a home represents, but isolates us from the rest of the world. When I am at home, I am just that, at home. But sometimes it gets a little depressing. When we go out, even if it’s just for a walk, it feels like we’re normal again. With normal people, living normal lives. Although it is a little painful, to see other people laughing and chatting without a care in the world, it is comforting, being among “normal” people. You feel normal, despite the very fact that you know your life will never be normal again from this point on. For a split second, you feel like everything will be ok. But the fear is always there, ever present, at the back of your head and around your heart. All I can do right now is be optimistic and strong around my mother, encouraging and supportive. The future, regardless of the results we receive from the doctor, will be, undoubtedly, tough. Right now, ignorance is bliss. Sort of. Its like a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’m trying to enjoy the good moments we have right now because I know tough times are coming up, but at the same time, we need these results as soon as possible so we can do something about our situation. I need some good news. Please let there be good news.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I’m really scared right now. My heart is literally aching and I don’t know what to do with myself. I am terrified. Losing my mind. Once my mom gets better, I think I’m going to have to see a therapist because I’m about to have a meltdown. Whenever I’m by myself, I feel like breaking down. I think the reason why I am my strongest when I’m with my family, my mom, is because I focus all my energy into making sure that she is as comfortable, happy, and healthy as possible. I need to be there for her. My energy would be wasted if I did anything else. But when I’m alone, I have nowhere to channel that energy except onto myself, and it is exhausting and painful. Look at me, complaining while my mom is downstairs (hopefully sleeping by now) in the most pain she has ever had in her entire life. The pain was especially bad today. It always comes during the evenings, during the night. Almost as if our optimism and strength go down with the sun. Fucking winter. Mom’s pain was described as a level 8 on a scale to 10. EIGHT. She was almost in tears. I feel completely and utterly useless and cannot believe the weekend isn’t over yet. These days have been the longest of my life. I’m scared to leave her side.


Coughing is really bad today. She needs to get rid of this cold so she can focus on whatever treatment she needs. Her body cannot have any distractions during that time. Warm honey water and an elevated pillow seem to make a big difference. The coughing itself isn’t that bad. But the resulting high blood pressure and pain caused on her back is the worst. She’s had a lot of medication tonight and I’m scared to give her anymore. She’s already had her normal pain meds, but on top of that, took Tylenol with codeine. Mixing and taking too much of these painkillers is very…risky. And the very last thing we need is another problem. She needs to get a good night’s rest. Usually during the daytime, her coughing is minimal and almost nonexistent. It’s like each night is a battle. I need to draw strength from others, from my prayers, from God, and direct it her way. It’s going to get harder.

My mom needs us. She needs us. And she will feel better with all of our full support. Mentally, I’m preparing myself for whatever comes our way. Preparation leaves little room for blurriness and confusion later on. When mom came home from the hospital, my parents wouldn’t tell us why she had been discharged at the hospital. As I was unpacking her stuff at home, I read a paper that had a doctor’s name, number, and the word “oncology” written underneath. My heart has never dropped so low or suddenly before that moment, and hopefully will never again. When my parents sat us down, my mom started to tear up and started by telling us that “everything would be ok”. Shit. My dad started to explain but started to cry. That was when my mom said she had cancer. My dad continued to cry and my brother cried into his hands. But me. Blank. Shock? I started asking question upon question to get a better idea, to get more information. Since I had found the note before, I think my mind was still in shock. My defense mechanism was to ask questions and to surround myself with as much information as I could get in order to prepare myself and find more information later. We don’t know any details, and actually don’t even know if she has cancer 100% yet. But, the doctor at the hospital said it was very good chance that it was. Her symptoms pretty much lead to it as well. But, I still need to be optimistic and hopeful. Miracles happen everyday, and I’m hoping with every fiber in my being, that the day we get the lab results will be such a day.

To think that before I came back home, my biggest worries were my final grades and telling my parents about my tattoo. HA! It all seems like such a joke now. Those are the very LEAST of my concerns. Like I said, my top priority is to make sure that my mom is as comfortable as possible. Is it sad that what I look forward to everyday is to cry myself to sleep every night? So that I can release my emotions when I am alone in order not to do it when I’m around my family? I need to stay strong and show them strength so that they can be hopeful, encouraged, and optimistic. Strength and optimism help to boost morale, and we need as much of that as we can possibly get right now. Tomorrow I’m supposed to meet a friend for coffee. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold it together, since I could barely do it when I was on the phone with her. I need to talk to someone. The stress is eating away at me and I need to be as strong as I can possibly be. I feel like a balloon that’s about to burst. I need to talk to someone and just release everything that’s been bottled up. My emotions can be seen as like a glass of water. Every night I let a little bit of water drip out, but not enough. I need to dump all the water out so I can be focused and driven to do everything that I possibly can. Is it sad that I am looking forward to this tomorrow? So that I can just break down? I feel guilty that I’m complaining about all of this when my mom is the one with all these emotions PLUS probably some other ones that I don’t want to even think about PLUS her pain. I don’t want to leave her side, ever, until she gets better. I need her to get better. We all do.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Couldn’t do it. Met with friends for lunch and coffee and I just couldn’t tell them. It was too hard for me. But I am lucky, so lucky that I have people here for support.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Life…is like a rollercoaster. Cancer…is like a rollercoaster. Life with Cancer is fucked up. It’s almost as if someone, somewhere is playing some sort of sick joke on you. Sometimes there are days where you feel…weightless. Like the weight of the world, of your world, has been lifted. There are times where you feel like everything is good, like the word “cancer” has no place in your life. You feel optimism, strength, and a general enthusiasm for life. The skies seem brighter and the bond between our family, stronger. And even though you know, at the back of your mind, that this is too good to be true, you feel like you can conquer anything. You feel uplifted. You feel like cancer isn’t that big of a deal, that, although a challenge, it can easily be beaten down and destroyed, like the seasonal flu. There is a whole community of those affected by this disease. Patients, family members, doctors, nurses, randoms. A group interconnected by the sole purpose of beating cancer while remaining optimistic, strong, and enthusiastic. It’s incredibly therapeutic, reading the blogs and comments of those who are going through or have gone through exactly the same thing as you. You feel like you can do anything and everything, knock down every single hurdle in your way until you get to where you need to be. But sometimes, like a rollercoaster, there are days where everything goes down. Where you feel completely immobilized by fear, by sadness, by helplessness. As the days have gone by, coping with this has been…a little easier. No. Maybe that’s not the right way to put it. Because it doesn’t get easier. As the days go by, we get a little stronger. The initial shock and devastation has worn off, replaced by reality and realization. Clarity. A sense of purpose, a drive, focus. Your sole mission is to beat the shit out of this thing so it won’t come back. But I’m scared… I’m terrified. At the moment, we’re in Cancer LaLaLand. That is, we don’t know much. We’re playing the waiting game because these doctors seem to be taking their sweet ass time. And as painful as it is to endure, not knowing, it also gives us a little bliss not knowing the road we have ahead of us, one that will surely be full of many trials and tribulations. We rent movies, go for walks, and try to keep each other happy, try to keep my mom happy. Because the day that we sit down with the doctor and receive an official diagnosis, no “ifs” or “maybes”, that’s the day when everything will be 100% real. Where we’ll have to suit up and get ready for a war that no one should have to fight, the war against your very own body. My mom puts on a brave face, but I know she is terrified. And I can start to see her crumble. Slowly. She sleeps with the light on, with the door open, with our childhood blankets. She clings to us and calls out to us. All of which, are breaking my heart. I can see the fear in her eyes. I need her to be the strong woman that she is and has always been. She is the matriarch of not only my family, but her own, always leading her parents and siblings in the right direction. I need her to be that woman. Understandably, she is scared. I don’t think there is a single person on this entire planet that wouldn’t be. But if there is anything stronger than cancer, it is the power of love. Of hope. Of faith. Although many times it may feel like it, We Are Not Helpless. We are surrounded by the love and support of those around us. We are consumed by our faith in God and the drive to give everything that we’ve got. And we will always have hope, a light that will always burn bright even in the darkest of times if we allow it to. I need her to realize this, to go into this battle with a running charge yelling bloody murder at the very top of her lungs. I need her to have the passion for life. I need her. Cancer. A 5-letter word that has the power to bring men to their knees and the strength to take down an entire nation. But, as horrible as the circumstances may be, it is (sadly) one of the rare things that makes us appreciate everything so much more. That inspires us to truly value our lives and those we share it with. It forces us to see, to truly see the world for what it is, Beautiful. It forces us to live our lives the way they were meant to be lived, appreciatively. Sincerely. Unapologetically. It paints the world with brighter colors, it makes the air we breathe all the more clearer, and it makes the love we have for each other, all the more stronger. The strongest. It is a test. A test to see how hard we are willing to fight for everything that we love and value. This is not a war that we will lose. If I could do this for her, if I could take this burden upon myself, I would do it in a heartbeat. In my mind, I am praying that this is some crazy disease. But I think we have all generally accepted the fact that this is most likely cancer. Multiple Myeloma, to be specific. If this turns out to be true, my mom, statistically, is one of the least-likely candidates for this type of cancer. She is below the age of 60, a woman, Asian, and has had no problems with her health in the past. It’s not fair and doesn’t make any sense. This thing has come out of nowhere. But we can’t give up hope. Never, ever give up hope. Because once you lose hope, you’ve lost everything.

Friday, January 8, 2010


We need a sign from God. I need God to give my mom strength and health. The strongest woman in my life all of the sudden seems so fragile and delicate. She’s very very emotional and sensitive. And you know, it’s very understandable. She’s an emotional being. I think it’s important to have a support system outside of your immediate family. For me, my friends. For my mom, her sisters. For my dad, his brother. It’s a way for us to divert our emotions and stresses away from ourselves and out into the world. I think crying is important. It’s a way for us to release our emotions so we can regain that sense of clarity and focus. I think its important to let everything out once in awhile, or really, whenever you need to. But afterwards, I think it’s important to focus, really focus on getting better. Get motivated. Get ready to fight. I’m not the one with cancer, so I won’t 100% understand the despair and helplessness that my mother is feeling. But I need her to be strong. She’s downtrodden a lot, and I completely understand it. But sometimes, I feel like shaking her so she can wake up and focus, really really FOCUS everything she has into getting better. That’s why I think crying is good. Having a good breakdown is important because we can get rid of everything in our system and not waste our energy constantly trying to keep our emotions in check because we have so many of them bottled within us. I know she has a right to be the way she is. But she also needs to be able to motivate herself to get better, she needs to be able to gather strength from her family and friends to get better.

Today, we went to the doctor. The news we got was actually not anything bad or anything we weren’t prepared for at least. My mom’s blood count went up from 80 (which was what it was at when she was discharged. When she was admitted, her hemoglobin levels (I think that's what the nurse told us) were at 60!!!!!) to 116. Optimal/normal levels are 120, so that was incredibly encouraging. We also got notice that we would be able to get my mom in to Calgary for an appointment for next week, which was also good. It means we can get the ball rolling. The nurse told my mom that because she was so young, aggressive treatment would be the best so we could get rid of everything. Her body can handle it. We called a couple of my aunts and uncles today just to get some support and information/opinions (from those that work in the hospital). But even still, my mom started crying…a lot today. I think… it was everything bottled up inside that finally got to her today. The realization that she would get treatment soon, the fear. It got to her today and the dams broke. But you know what? It’s ok. It’s healthy. Emotional balance is very important. She’s terrified of going to the hospital. I can see the fear. I’m trying my best to do everything I can to make her feel better. I feel like I’m giving my all and doing everything that I can, but it still doesn’t feel like enough.

And there you have it. That was the last entry I made before things started to get a little busy.If it has helped you, then sharing this personal experience will definitely have been worth it. Stay strong and never give up, friends.

The Longest Week EVERRR!

When my mom started her stay at the hospital (receiving blood and monitoring blood pressure), I decided to start a journal of sorts on my computer to basically act as my personal therapist. I've never actually been very good, disciplined, diligent, or whatever else you might want to call it, when it came to keeping a journal. But I figured that since my life pretty much revolved around my computer (damn you Facebook!), i'd give it a try. With the creation of The Cancer Diaries, it's been about two and a half weeks since she started her stay at the hospital. Actually, I remember quite specifically that she had been discharged the day before New Year's Eve. Anyways, since then i've made some entries that I thought I would post up on here as a summary of what life has been like up until now. The first week (after hearing about a possible diagnosis of cancer) has been one of THE most stressful, terrifying, emotional, vulnerable times that my family and I have ever gone through in our entire lives. University finals can suck it cause those were cakewalks compared to this! In sharing this extremely intense and personal experience here, my hopes are that I can help others who are going through the same thing. I want to let you know that it's ok to feel completely helpless and terrified. I want you to know that it's ok to cry, to scream, to let it all out. I want you to know that you are NOT the only one. You are not alone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2 1/2

2 1/2 weeks. It's been about 2 1/2 weeks since the doctor first told us that my mom most likely had cancer. Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer, if you want to get into the specifics. Even though we were nowhere near, and still haven't received a confirmed diagnosis, the news hit us hard. I can't even begin to tell you how devastating that was for us. It's as if the ground beneath your feet has given away. Like the air in your lungs has been sucked right out. Life seemed surreal, dream-like. How could this happen to us?????