Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Bucket List Item Crossed From The List

We are the proud new owners of a new Volvo. So often when driving up and down the island, we would see a Volvo XC 90 and Ron would say...'damn, they are driving my car'. He has always admired the style and the safety of the Volvo.

A new vehicle had not crossed our minds for a number of years. We were perfectly happy with the car that Mom had left us. It was luxurious, leather and all the bells and whistles. Mom's 2001 Oldsmobile embraced us as we lowered ourselves into the driver or passenger seat. We had decided to drive it until we retired and headed to Mexico via SV Ta Daa. It was a reliable car but was starting to cost is for repairs. Given Ron's cancer we will not be sailing to Mexico.

It was probably late September or early October, we had mentioned an AWD vehicle would be nice for heading up and down the island. I said, if we get another vehicle, I would also like to be able to pick up all our little girls; Rayna, Makayla, Juliet, Amelia and Gracie. So these two criteria, AWD and 7 passenger, suited the XC 90.

Now, having always said he would like one, Ron had never driven one. The simple act of driving one's s dream car could change everything. We dabbled at shopping by browsing the papers, rubber-necking the dealerships and then finally setting up a test drive. We started by test driving an XC70 but it does not come 7 passenger. We test drove a five seater XC90. It seemed basic and abused. Having said that, each of these two vehicles were extremely comfortable for both of us to drive.

Me being the shopper than I am, insisted on doing due diligence, to exhaust the possibility of missing the best deal out there. We were looking for used. We set up an appointment with our favourite car salesman - Wade Wallie - at Metro Toyota. Unfortunately he didn't have anything for us. If you are shopping used, I highly suggest you try Wade. We scoured Nissan, Honda, Range Rover, Wheaton, Subaru, Mercedes and Volvo to name a few. We wanted to deal with a reputable dealership for obvious reasons.

We narrowed our look to an R350 AWD Mercedes Benz at Three Point Motors and a 2007 Volvo XC90. Having test drove the Mercedes we headed to Volvo to test drive the 2007. We liked both very much. There is much more to write about our vehicle buying experience but I won't bore you here. If you want to know, please ask. I will share.

Suffice it to say, I am trying to squeeze everything out of the Volvo dealership that I can. Ron was sitting there with his cheque book in hand. We looked like Ying and Yang purchasing a Volvo. Bottom line is we purchased a 2010 XC90 with 70 kms. We are happy with the deal based on our homework. Ron is a happy camper who grins from ear to ear and beams enough to make a full moon look dull. Bottom line... this vehicle embraces us and it feels good.

As his wife, I can do little about the cancer; I can hold him, I can cry with him. Happily, I can do much more to put a smile on his face, to comfort him, to encourage him and to love him. Above all I can help him with his bucket list.

Good News Is Welcome

We left a couple of posts ago with Ron finding out the tumour is growing. We had doctor appointments lined up for November 8, 9 and 10. I actually had to visit the doctor for my own little problem - seems that I have an allergy to something that affects my breathing. Inhaler time for Janice.

To summarize, it was set up a number of days ago for Ron to have chemo therapy. He had his blood work done. We had a chemo introduction session and a tour of the chemo therapy lounge. It was an eye opener, not because of the chemo therapy, side affects and tips and tricks but because of the amount of young people actually in the lounge getting chemo therapy as we toured. I am beginning to believe that the amount of people with cancer in this province is obscene.

Ron was scheduled for chemo on Wednesday but first he needed to visit his oncologist. Dr. MacPherson was away so Ron was introduced to a substitute. My god, he was just a bambino. I almost laughed when he said he was the oncologist. I think this kid was a brain in his high school years - he just had that look about him. Very knowledgeable and a straight shooter.

The chemo Ron was going to receive was to treat some symptoms he had been having; sleepless nights, shortness of breath, fatigue and night sweats. As these symptoms had lessened, we learned there was no need for Ron to have the chemo. This news delighted Ron. It did me too but I did have some questions to ask this bambino.

I learned that Ron's cancer will not just pop up in other areas of his body, the brain, for instance. This tumour will just keep growing - something like orange peel around the lung and throughout the chest cavity. Ron reports back to the Doctor when symptoms rear their ugly little heads. Each time it will be decided whether to do chemo or not. The side effects of the chemo could be a lot worse than the symptom... Ron and the doctor will decide.

These ups and downs are extremely emotional and draining. It causes us to wonder how much longer we have together; how do we best use our time and resources for the best future possible. As positive and happy as we are, there is still a cancer cloud that shrouds each day. We just have to look beyond it; live beyond it and not let it darken our days.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cancer Speak 101

It has come to our attention via our own observations and experiences plus, people asking and admitting they do not know what to do or say when it comes to communicating with a cancer patient. This, keep in mind, is not all of you and not all people but some of you are struggling with it. Where to start?

First, Ron has never had cancer before and this is a learning curve for him too. His responses can be equally as awkward as your greetings or questions. Oh, I am sure there are 'how to' books but Ron and I figured we would give you a lesson from our point of view. Keep in mind, the more you practice refining your tactics, comments, questions etc, the more comfortable you will be. Ron may be the first cancer patient you are associating with but unfortunately he will not be the last.

I will tell you that, if you tell Ron you have had a bad day, month or year, or if you think things just cannot get any worse, he will suggest in a humorous way that you trade places with him.

Have courage to work through the uncomfortable stuff. Remember it will get easier. Think of Ron as your Cancer Speak Mentor. You eventually want to move on to everyday conversation; boats, cars, your plans, our plans etc. When we visit with friends and family, the whole visit is not focused on cancer - how mundane can that get. Unless the cancer conversation is enlightening, work toward another topic. Laughter is the best medicine so humour is very welcome.

There is an old saying, "If you are not prepared for the answer, don't ask the question." Having said that, it is good to ask questions. Only by asking questions will you find out where to take the conversation or perhaps how long to visit, or how long we will visit you.

If you have not seen Ron since discovering that he has cancer, it is a good idea to acknowledge that you know. That way, Ron knows you know and you know he knows you know.

You can greet Ron with a simple statement or question:
Hey, Dude you are looking great today (or crappy depending on how he really looks- hee hee)
Dude, good to see you. What have you been up to?
Dude, what have you and Janice been doing lately?
Good to see you, how are you feeling these days?
Or a plain and simple good morning (or afternoon or evening).

Sincerity is very important. Empty suggestions and promises do not translate into "I care about you as a friend." If you want to suggest coffee, suggest it with a date. If you want us to visit, pick a date and ask. We will do the same for you.

Feel free to drop a line by email ( for Ron and for Janice) Telephone works too. Some people might be waiting for us to call them so not to infringe on our time and privacy We say to these people, did you ever think that we might be waiting for you to call us for fear of us infringing on your time and privacy? Get the hint? It works both ways. This is meant to make you laugh.... telephone calls are good - especially if you have picked up the phone to call us before. No need to change what you use to do.

Please, please trust me when I say that Ron is not, and I repeat not contagious. No need to avoid us whatsoever! We love to socialize, we love company; we love our family and friends. You, all of you, are our lifeline to good times, laughter and memories.

We Will Get Through It For We Are Ron and Janice

Thursday, it was suspect that Ron had fluid return to his left lung - so the x-ray revealed. The appointment was made for Ron's return to San Pen Hospital on Friday to have his lung tapped. Neither one of us slept well, nor had we for a few nights; Ron for his reasons and me for mine. However, when Friday morning came we were eager to get to the hospital and have the procedure performed so that Ron could find some comfort breathing.

Let me say this - - Ron has not been in any pain. With the left lung operating in a diminished capacity, he is out of breath sooner than the average bear. It also leaves him with little energy. As Ron would say, he has no gas to run on.

We get to the hospital (which Ron has no patience for - OK that is a pun) and admit Ron for day surgery. I stayed with him to ensure the back of his gown was secured and he was resting comfortably as he waited for the procedure. Off I trundled but did so reluctantly. No sooner did I get to work than the phone rang and it was Ron. I knew this was not good. I immediately returned to the hospital where Ron was waiting outside.

Ron explained that soon after I left they took him to ultrasound to verify how much and where the fluid was located. This allowed the doctor to best place the drain. Ultrasound is great for revealing fluid. Contrary to what the x-ray exposed the ultrasound revealed there was very little fluid. So what does this mean? Before leaving the hospital, the doctor told Ron the tumours were growing.

Do you remember in one of the previous posts I mentioned how available Dr. Lewis would be to Ron and me. We now needed her again. Perhaps I was more desperate to speak to her than Ron. I needed to know what was to next. I also knew it was Friday, noon. Perhaps we would not have any answers until next week.

Andrea was surely surprised to see Ron sitting in her office. She reviewed the report from medical imaging and indicated what we already knew; it was not good, but we did not know how bad. Nor will we find out until the week of November 15 - hopefully.

Needless to say, Friday was a hard pill to swallow. While we do not know what it all means it is yet another reminder that this now is our life.

In the true fashion of Ron and Janice, we took some time, had our moments and yes, shed a few tears. After a spell, we pulled ourselves together to continue with our Friday as planned... we attended a social function.... and it truly was good for both of us. There is nothing like socializing with old friends and talk boating.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


For the past few days I have constantly been thinking of my Mom. She died of cancer; breast cancer that metastasised. Ironically, a very good friend shared today that his mother died yesterday morning of cancer. We talked for a good while. In doing so, the conversation turned to my Mom. I related a short story and we both laughed. I stopped short. I realized that my Mom is still making me laugh. For all of you who has lost someone very dear and close, allow yourself to let the memories warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

Now, for a little more about my Mom - Margaret Price. Mom loved Ron. Mom knew I had married the perfect man; a gem, my prince charming. Ron would do anything for Mom. Often, when visiting Mom in Comox, I would give Ron a jokingly and lovingly hard time. Mom would always chastise me. She would say, you have a good man. You be good to him; take care of him.

Mom was a fun and happy person to be with. I loved staying with her when we travelled to the Comox Valley. Four and a half years ago she succumbed to her cancer. One of the last things she said to me was "You have a good husband. You take care of him."

I wonder now if Mom knew something we didn't know. It's funny, we will never know. What I do know is that I miss my Mom terribly. I cannot tell you how often I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to her.

Recently I received a card from my workmates. An admirer wrote in the card:

A strong woman works out everyday to keep her body in shape...
but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman is not afraid of anything...
but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.

A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...
but a woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone.

A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future...
but a woman of strength realized life's mistakes can be a blessing.

A strong woman walks sure footedly...
but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls.

A strong woman has faith she is strong enough for the journey...
but a woman of strength has faith that it is the journey that manes her strong.

"Strong Women Versus Women Of Strength"

This, my friends, was my Mother. I truly hope I have the strength of my Mother.

A Wife Knows...

Let's say, I knew it was coming. All the signs were there, it was just a matter of when Ron would say or do something.

First let me say that Ron has the most wonderful, caring and conscientious doctor. I fear writing her name in case you all want her as your doctor. Andrea Lewis has been there for Ron ever since cancer was diagnosed.

In the last few days (and I mean few), I have noticed indications of a repeat of August 19 - the day Ron first had his lung drained - or tapped as the doctors would say. I sensed that Ron's lung was filling again. He did too. It was something that neither expressed to the other. Didn't need to. I knew that Ron would call Andrea when he needed to. That day was today.

It has been a short two months since the last tap. Tomorrow Ron goes to San Pen Hospital (the best little hospital on the south island). If you can say fortunately, fortunately this time we were able to make an appointment. They call it a slow drain. Ron will be at the hospital for several hours as removing the fluid slower rather than faster is less dangerous.

Right now, we are not sure what all this means. We are disappointed it is happening so soon. This is the second time and we wonder when it will be the third time. When it happens again, we are of the understanding there will be some options offered to control the fluid in the pleura.

Ron was exhausted by the time we got home from the doctor office and hospital for x-rays. Tomorrow will be another exhausting day. For all of you who know Ron, he didn't even finish his glass of wine!! No, I cannot believe it either. Having said that, he and Winston are snuggled on the bed having a good rest. It has been a few nights since he has slept well.

I Didn't Know

When I started this blog for me and Ron, I had no idea what it would look like: daily writings, deepest thought, personal feelings, sad, inspirational or highs or lows. I have taken a moment to read what has been written so far.

I can tell you that when I run, I think. When I think I cry. Also when I think, quotable thoughts pop into my head; thoughts that I should be recording so that I can share with you. Alas, I am running and I just keep on running as my reflective moments fade.

I can also tell you that when I am in a reflective and writing mood, more times than not, I choose to postpone writing simply because the emotion is over powering. Often I begin to weep. I choose to wait for the moment when I feel stronger.

Where is all this leading? If you haven't figured it out by now, Ron and I do not share every sentiment or emotion with you. What has evolved is an abstract; a smattering of this and a bit of that. While the postings are chronological, the information is not. It is what I, or Ron, feel needs to be expressed.

The goal of the blog may, conceivably, be for you to be inspired to live your dreams and live life to the fullest. We are not the first to be challenged with cancer, regrettably we will not be the last. Be adventurous, be happy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Is In A Touch...

Next time you are walking with your loved one, simply reach out for their hand. Then ask yourself what does this mean.

For Ron and I, we have always held hands. The first time we held hands we felt very connected - and still do. We will, on occasion, reminisce about that first hand holding experience. Back then, at the ripe old age of 39, it had the power of making me feel youthful, almost teenager-ish.

Today, what does holding Ron's hand mean to me. When Ron reaches out and gently takes my hand and links his fingers with mine, he is saying thank you for being my friend, thank you for being here with me, thank you for being my wife. He is also saying I will be here for you as long as possible; we will get through this together; and he is saying I love you so very much.

When I reach for Ron's hand and hold it tight I am telling him I love you will all my heart; I am here for you; we will make this journey together - hand in hand; I will support you with all my strength, heart and soul.

A peck on the cheek, a hug or simple hand holding, they all take us to the foundation of our relationship; friendship, trust, respect, honesty and unconditional love for one another.

Above all, there is a healthy dose of laughter. We laugh in the galley, we laugh on deck, we laugh in the bedroom. I don't think there is not a place where we have not found reason or conversation to make us laugh. Quite often it is at or about one another...

Never underestimate the power of a loving touch.