Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting.
Have you had cancer? Not that I would wish this on anybody.
Cancer creates a journey of discovery. About yourself, and others.  About life, about your body, and just about anything else you would care to imagine.
The thoughts you have put forward are heard every day by every cancer patient. They are unfortunately, far from the truth.
Cancer will not have a cure until we can tell where it is coming from. We really have little knowledge of its source and its trajectory. Is it caused by stress? Or is stress just a factor amongst many that provoke it?  From what I have read, there are a number of things that help activate cancer, and yet none are decisive. If stress were the activator, just about everybody in the Western world would have cancer by now.
Research on cervical cancer has revealed that it is a virus that helps the cancer invade the body. A virus that the person gets when they are in their teens. Having the virus does not mean you will get cancer, but not having it means you will not.

Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting.

Have you had cancer? Not that I would wish this on anybody.

Cancer creates a journey of discovery. About yourself, and others.  About life, about your body, and just about anything else you would care to imagine.

The thoughts you have put forward are heard every day by every cancer patient. They are unfortunately, far from the truth.

Cancer will not have a cure until we can tell where it is coming from. We really have little knowledge of its source and its trajectory. Is it caused by stress? Or is stress just a factor amongst many that provoke it?  From what I have read, there are a number of things that help activate cancer, and yet none are decisive. If stress were the activator, just about everybody in the Western world would have cancer by now.

Research on cervical cancer has revealed that it is a virus that helps the cancer invade the body. A virus that the person gets when they are in their teens. Having the virus does not mean you will get cancer, but not having it means you will not.  Current research in breast cancer appears to reveal a similar situation, it is too early to tell.  Could it be that the blood poisoning I got in Africa when I was 8 is contributing to my cancer? Could be. Or not. We just do not know enough.

My grandfather had stomach cancer. My mother lung cancer, and I am blessed with colon cancer and its complications. My mother had two brothers and a sister, none of whom got cancer. I have a brother and two sisters, none of whom have cancer. Why pick my mother? Why me? I am not being negative. But the question remains. Why would the cancer skip some and target others. There are no answers to these questions. It is just the way it it.

As far as I can tell, cancer cells live in your body, whether you have cancer or not. Something (s) triggers its awakening. It rampages through your body and does whatever damage it can until it is stopped. Can we stop it by mere imagination? By Faith? By believing? I do not think so. I am a very religious person. Not for a second do I believe that this some sort of punishment from God, some sort of retribution. If that were the case, all prisoners would be afflicted with cancer. I am also a very positive person in my outlook of life. By some reckoning, too positive. I do not lack the imagination to make things go away.

Cancer appears to be the only condition to evoke the emotions you have expressed.  Other chronic conditions seem to slide under the radar. I wonder if it is because there is so much cancer in the world. In every country, and it is so debilitating. There are stories of victory, of sorts. People who get back to work in four months. But the other stories, the ones of people dying, being debilitated, are far more pervasive. We just do not want to hear about them. A lot of cancer patients retreat from their community. In some cultures, shame is poured on the patient, as if it was their fault.

Cancer is also not curable because there are so many different kinds of cancer, each with its own challenges. I was taken off pain  killers only seven days after my operation. Am I that strong? Another cancerous friend was taken off pills in only 4 days. She is obviously stronger than I.  The nurses and doctors did not have answers. Our bodies are different, our reactions different, our tolerances different. We just do not know enough. What we do know, is to tell the patient that we do not know. Some cancers respond better better to treatments than others.

I tell all who listen, that I would be a healthy man if it were not for the caner.  I was walking around the bedroom this morning. Looked in the mirror, and there is this bag hanging from my waist. An unmistakable reminder of what I and so many supporting friends and relatives are going through.

There is no shortage of love, affections, thoughts and prayers in my life. I have a truly bountiful existence supported by far more people than I ever thought was possible. All helps, but none will cure, however much I or others believe. I believe I can fly and leap off a building, only to plunge to my death. Belief is wonderful and carries you only so far.

Change my life? In what way? Easy to say, easy to think it is possible. But in what direction? Everything we do has ramifications that appear to be greater than anything we could have possibly imagined. Who is to say which direction is right or wrong. I know of people with cancer who did not change a thing. Their cancer went into remission. Others changed and did not survive.  We just do not know enough.

My life has changed dramatically already. In ways I could never have foretold. What more?

Baha’is believe that science and religion are equals. Neither reigns supreme over the other. They are equated with being the wings of a dove, balanced and equal allowing the bird to fly. I had my Chemo session last Thursday. Apart from brief excursions, I have been in bed since exhausted from the experience. I should be alright by tomorrow morning. I will lunch with a friend on Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday. All friends helping, doing their part.

My oncologist believes in wellness. He pointed out that he can only do so much. Up to me to do the rest. I should say, up to us. I could never do it on my own. I repeat that it is the support of friends and relatives that keep things moving along. I agree with my oncologist. I try to stay as positive as is possible. I try and stay active. I try.

I am ranting a lot. I am afraid that is just the way it is.

This was a good week overall. A bit of trepidation getting mentally ready for the chemo session. Not sure why there is any trepidation. This has become an almost routine event.

Janet had to work this week, and Devin had to go to his piano lesson. I drove to the hospital for the 10:00AM appointment. Registered. Their systems had been down all morning and they were running behind. The front desk personnel were nice enough but not exactly brimming with information. I did not even ask how long the delay would be. They have never given us a straight answer in the past, why bother now?

They have this system where they give you a pager if you want to wander off. I had to go outside to burp my bag. They gave me a pager. It works only within the hospital. It works well as a system. It does allow you to wander a bit. I got to sit in a different more comfortable lounge. The only downside is the incredible volume the pager is set at. There is no way to shut it off, or lower the volume. Once it goes off, the whole world is alerted.

My pager goes off and I report dutifully to the front desk. They tell me to report to station 12. There is usually a nurse who greets you and takes you to the station. Have I become such a regular already that I get to usher myself in? A bit unnerving.

The Chemo Daycare has a large number of stations, some are beds, some recliners a la Lazy-Boy, and then they have these recliners that turn into beds. Almost flat. Just enough of an incline to be comfortable. The latter is the one I usually get. Station 12 happens to be a bed. I always wondered why some people got beds, and others not. They even two beds in private rooms. Who decides who gets what? I am the lucky one I guess, got a bed and a nurse I like, Jessica. I asked her why I was privileged, and whether we should close the curtain and have some fun. She laughed me off.

I overheard three nurses discussing the shortage of beds. Turns out they have a new patient, a first-timer, who should have a bed. I gave up my bed. Really don’t need it. Are you sure, the nurse asks. No really, I am just as comfortable in a recliner. The fuss they made over this very normal gesture. Love my nurses. They gave me a recliner in a lovely spot. I can sleep or watch the goings on of the daycare.

This is the second chemo session that I have slept through. Once the main drugs are attached to me, I put on my music, get a blanket, and start dozing. If the turn the music high enough, you cannot hear anything at all while quietly going deaf. Magic.

Devin got my a sandwich for lunch. I have no idea when he showed up. Suffice to say that I woke up just as my drug regimen ended. Ate my lunch. The drug regimen, as you consists of three drugs. The firs is Avastin which takes about ten minutes to administer. The second takes about 90 minutes to administer. The third takes 46 hours. I get to go home once the bottle is attached. A nurse comes over and detaches me sometime on Saturday morning. She happened to come early today, which allowed me to take a shower and get on with my day. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Even Chemo is becoming a routine experience. Devin drove me home. He went about his business, I went to bed to rest. Had supper, and was soon back in bed. Had a bit of a restless sleep. My bag kept inflating to dangerous levels. I had to get up and burp the damn thing every hour. Somehow managed to go back to sleep in between. That lasted until about 6 in the morning when the maniacal BooBoo Long Paws decided it was time to play with anything and anyone who was available. Janet got up to get ready for her exercise class, I got up soon after. No point in trying to go back to sleep.

Took a welcome shower. I cannot take a shower while the pins are stuck in me. Basically, from Wednesday to Saturday. You can imagine how anxious I am to have the pins removed early so I can shave and shower. Janet and I went to eh market, and decided to wander along Queen Street to look at furniture. We are desperate for a new couch to replace the one we have that has been decimated by the wonderful Busbee.

Good plans that don’t last long. We went shopping for furniture, and ended up buying clothes for Janet, and a couple of prints for the house. Cheered us up, but no couch. We wandered into a couple of furniture stores, but decided to head home instead. I was starting to lose my energy. It was a very good morning.

My reactions to chemo are a bit confusing, to say the least. I still have my hair, so all baldy jokes are put on hold. It is thinning out every day, but still there. My appetite is amazing, which I am told is due to some steroids that I have been prescribed to handle the nausea that accompanies chemo treatments. And no, I am not bulking up, just always hungry.

I do not have any nausea or other bad effects from the Chemo, except for fatigue. It is continuous and very frustrating. Just the way it is going to be from now on. Not much can be done about it.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening.

Yesterday. You read all abot it in the newspapers, saw the press releases. No? Surprisingly badly supported day.

I was at the Chemo Daycare yesterday, and nary a mention of this. Janet tells me the CBC morning show mentioned it o Wednesday, but I saw nothing in the rest of news stories. Follow this link to the WHO website and its abundant amount of cancer news.

The number of people dying from cancer ins increasing even as new control measures are discovered. Also on the horizon are discoveries as to where cancer starts and what causes to become active. We know several things already, as in food, stress, environment, all play major parts in the growth of cancer. What we do not seem to have a grip on is the relationship between all these factors.

Will cutting out red meat, eating organic foods, increasing the intake of vegetables, increasing exercise, reducing stress, reducing the intake of white sugar and white flour, reduce the risks of getting cancer? All signs point to a resounding yes. But in what combination remains to be seen. How do you reduce stress to a level that would thwart the cancer cell? Not eating red meat unless organic and grass fed is reasonably easy. Just don’t eat it. White flour and white sugar is a much harder restriction to enforce. How much fruit is enough, what levels of what? The book AntiCancer provides a guide to what foods are beneficial to stopping different forms of cancer. The trouble is you don’t know if you are going to get cancer or what type of cancer you are going to get. So what to eat? This information is worthwhile once you have cancer, but not as a preventative measure.

The WHO also prescribe getting vaccinated against cancer. This is a new discovery. Cervical cancer is the first major breakthrough. They have just finished giving vaccines to 20 million teenagers in an effort to prevent them from getting cervical cancer. Will it be successful? We will only know in about 40 to 50 years when these tenagers are of an age to get the cancer.

Research is also making inroads in showing that breast cancer might also be caused by a virus. Different that the one for cervical cancer. Not that the viruses cause the cancer, but absence of the virus means no cancer. Does this mean we will be giving 2 vaccines to women? What about all the other forms of cancer afflicting both men and women? A vaccine for each? Will someone come up with a test that will determine which viruses are lurking in your body requiring a regimen of vaccines? They better, or we will see a plethora of vaccines and their requisite side effects flooding the market.

We had our piano fixed the other day. The keys were unresponsive. The piano fixer was blind. He had cancer of the eye at the age of three. Cancer of the eye? Who knew. The age of three would be pre-vaccine. Probably his diet caused it. Seriously, this is the sort of news that throws a wrench in the best of intentions. Yet, the research must go on, and preventative measures put in place.

In my very short experience, I have discovered that cancer is not curable, but controllable, It is a chronic condition that is better prevented than dealt with after the fact. Much of the emphasis of the documents on the WHO site.

Too bad it is not better publicized.

We have three cats in our house. You should probably skip this post if you are allergic to cats.

Our cats have all been trained to come when you whistle. All we have to do is stand on the front porch at night and whistle, and they come running. If they feel like it. For some reason, they feel like it more in winter than in summer.

Monkey the Alpha Cat

Monkey the Alpha Cat

The first is Marble, or as Janet calls him, Monkey. Don’t ask. He is the alpha cat, not only of the house, but of the neighbourhood. He is moody, and struts around the neighbourhood like he owns the joint. Which apparently he does. He comes in at night and sleeps between Janet and me, always at our head. He has been doing this for ten years. Regular as clockwork. If we are both in bed, he cries plaintively waiting to be invited into the bed. This is really irritating. Either one of us taps the bed where he sleeps, and he jumps in. If Janet taps the bed, he jumps in from her side; if I tap the bed, he comes around and jumps in bed from my side. He is a very peculiar boy.

He has been sleeping between us for ten years, and for ten years, he will not hesitate to attack my hand when I move it out from under the covers. I swear to God, this happens at least once a week. He is very defensive of his place.  I rested my hand on him the other day, as a sign of affection. He waited a couple of minutes to see if I had lost my senses or something. Then used all four paws to push my hand away. It was quite funny. Ornery, yet affectionate. He loves me these days because I go to bed early.

He also seems to take great pleasure from attacking my hands if I even hint at moving them out from under the covers. Nothing wakes you faster than four cat claws digging into your hand at three in the morning.

She Busbee - El Rotunda

She Busbee - El Rotunda

The second is Busbee, so named because she used to buzz around the house when we first rescued her from the Humane Society. She now has a second name: El Rotunda. You can guess why. A furball that can no longer buzz around anything. The extent of her exercise is to climb o top of the chair to sleep. Oh yeah, also getting off the couch to make her way to the food bowl. She goes outside, only to ask to come back in. Dumb cat.

But she is lovable. Loves anyone who is willing to spend whatever amount of time to pat her. She is ticklish. Whoever deigns to pat her has to keep this in mind. She will attack your hand if you tickle her. But she is El Rotunda, which affects the speed of her movements. She lies on me to get patted and is terribly offended if I don’t spend at least half the day patting her.

Rumpus aka BooBoo Long Paws

Rumpus aka BooBoo Long Paws

Finally there is the dastardly BooBoo Long Paws, or Rumpus. See, two names. BooBoo has a habit of waking us up at around 5 in the morning. He just cries until someone gets up and plays with him, or lets him out, or feeds him. We oblige by locking him in the basement. That seems to quieten him down for a couple of days.

BooBoo got stuck in a tree a week before my operation. I had to climb the tree to bring him down. His back seemed paralyzed. He could not move his back paws. We had to take him to Veterinary Emergency. He regained connection to his back paws within about three hours. We took him home and had to put him in a cage for a few weeks. He was then stuck in the house for a couple of weeks. He has not forgiven us for the imprisonment. His character also changed from being really lovable, to being a bit wary.

He is a smart cat in so many ways, and dumb in so many others. He knows his name, and knows to come when we whistle. He does not respond to his name, though every once in a while, there is a glimmer of recognition. He will not come to you when called, pointedly ignoring you when summoned, and yet is very demanding when he wants attention.

BigHead Angelic

BigHead Angelic

No mention of our cats would be complete without a discussion of BigHead.

The most gentle and adorable cat ever. Gentle to the core. He adopted us when we moved in. He kept coming to our house to eat and run. He did not come over the first winter, returning in the spring having lost a ton of weight. We found out he had been abandoned (through no fault of their own) by his owners. We took him to our vet who charged us a nominal amount to fix him and make sure he was OK. Turns out he was FIV positive (the HIV version for cats). The FIV finally kicked in to full blown something and we had to put him down about a year ago. He weighed between 15 and 17lbs at his prime. (Between 6.8 and 7.7Kg). Not an ounce of fat on him. He was just BIG. Hence the name. We miss him terribly.

Upi now know about our cats. Our friend Judy Elder user to call our house cat heaven. We spoil them terribly and lose too many hours of sleep over them.

This is a turning point in the Art Therapy blog posting. I was expecting this to happen. The only unfortunate part is that the objections have come form people who have not read the blog.

The sessions are a safe place where people are encouraged to speak their mind. Someone taking notes might appear intrusive. I take notes to ensure accuracy in my posts and thoughts. The wording of what is said is so important. Did they say angry or upset? I have an excellent memory for these things. Is there a difference between taking notes inside the sessions, or jotting down similar notes after I walk out? There is a difference in how people feel as you are taking notes in front of them. I would have hoped that the openness which I showed would have been reassuring, but it appears not to be so.

No pictures either. I am allowed to take them outside the session but not inside. Not sure how that works. It doesn’t. So no pictures. I made a point of letting everyone know I was taking notes. I gave them the blog address. I asked before being allowed to take pictures. What happened between the second session where people were so open about letting me take pictures of their thoughts, and today?

I have made a major point of being discreet in my postings. This has not been difficult. Not an imposition by any means. A given under the circumstances. I have been very careful with the information I divulge. There has been nothing of a personal nature, for instance. The participants will recognise themselves, but no one outside the group will be able to tell who is who. The nature of the blog has also been positive. At least I hope it has. Am I surprised that people are uncomfortable? No. I was hoping for a bit of largess considering the huge amount of good this is doing to so many people.

The comfort of the group is of paramount importance. The nature of the post will change starting with this one. You will still benefit from the highly polished and amazing art that I paint, but there will no references to others, or a description of what they have painted. There will be comments, or more likely questions opened for discussion based on what was said. These will be of a more general nature. Human beings being what we are, there will also be cross fertilization going on. There is really no way of holding back a thought process that was provoked by what was said in the sessions. These might be used to start a fresh posting based on that thought. No offense intended to anyone. No judgments. No recrimination. No antagonism. The reactions of one and all are fully understandable and do not need either explaining or defending. It is what it is. A bit like having cancer. It is what it is.

The choice of colours in our paintings is interesting. Mine are pretty stark with a dash of colour. Others exhibit much more lively or darker colours. I have mentioned the liberal use of blue and green. The first dealing with water and its attributes, the second with new life, and freshness. Both dealing with coolness and calmness. Using darker or lighter colours reflecting our mood or state of mind. Even within a painting, starting with darker colours and somehow gravitating to lighter ones brings up a host of questions. Is your mood getting better from painting? From attending the sessions? From talking? From being around people you feel safe with? Why did you feel darker at the beginning?

A thought that crossed my mind at one point that had nothing to do with anything in particular has to do with interpretation. I have had a lot of trouble with art in general. How do you know if something is good or not? Does it matter? I often look at art and wonder if this is a piece that will be famous in 10, 15 or more years. And I missed the boat by not buying it now. I was talking with a friend about this, one day, oh so many years ago, and they said that I should stop torturing myself. Art is what I make of it. What I see. Nothing more or less. We bought a piece from a student at an art show a few years ago. It is a narrow piece painted on wood showing a clothesline from which hang a number of t-shirts that are a bit torn, with an inscription in Arabic. Second from the right is a perfect t-shirt with the Roots logo on it. I asked the girl about the political message behind it. Much to my surprise, she said there was none. She just painted it. She designed those t-shirts and like the look of it all strung together. I was shocked to say the least, and based on that premise alone, had to make the purchase.

All this to say, is there a possibility we are over-analyzing or paintings? Seeing convenient truths or perceived truths where there are none? I am not sure, but at some point, felt that sometimes, the message is pretty clear. Or we just painted for the fun of it. Let it be. Not sure.

My Painting

Cancer Thistle

Cancer Thistle

The painting depicts a thistle growing inside the body of a person, well OK, a man. The thistle represents cancer with its amazing roots invading the body.The thistle has some medicinal purpose. I chose it because the thistle is full of thorns that hurt when touched or come into contact with.

I played rugby while in boarding school in England. One of the fields we played in was full of thistles. It was so bad that you were careful to tackle someone only if there was no thistle around. Added a whole new dimension to the game.

The person is balancing Anger and Tranquility on the two scales neither winning the battle but equalising each other. Anger wells up in our bodies and is quelled by tranquility.

The person is standing on a bed that gives him strength. The list includes: Steadfast, Friends, Support, Hospital, Drugs, Food, Alternative, Meditation, Visualization, Safe Place, Prayers, Faith, Strength, Attitude, Perseverance, Humour, Depression, Self Pity, Exercise, Lies, Truths, Family, Insurance, Finances, Travel, Rest, Sleep, Guilt, Participate, Cook, Clean, Shop.

There was little doubt that the moderator was moved by the piece and thought it was very powerful. But again, no discussion. We had run out of time.

The eye is not red, contrary to what it looks like, but brown. No idea why it looks red.

The Real Thistle - with Bee

The Real Thistle - with Bee

I am saddened by the events of the day. Love the people who attend. So it goes.

Last week was bad. Slept badly in spite of not feeling guilty about it. A whole bunch of side effects, which we believe to be from Avastin. My skin has felt hot all week. No temperature or nausea or or feeling hot or anything that is usually associated with hot skin. Just very hot skin. [...]

Fear of Death

Fear is so debilitating. Most are such a waste of emotions. Not having fear would ruin a good horror movie, mind. The static pages section on the right has a list of over 600 fears and their scientific terms. 600! The title of this post is fear of death and I hope the conversation leads [...]

I have been neglectful, as Sharon has so kindly pointed out. Last Thursday was not a good day. As I have said many time, not sure why some days go good and others fail to impress. Devin and I went shopping at the St Lawrence Market. We were out of fruit which means I have [...]

The full import of the situation is slowly settling in. Hard to avoid the issue now that you have a shit-bag connected to your stomach. The word useless asshole has taken on a whole new meaning. A colostomy bag is front and centre on my stomach, a sure sign of a changed way of life. [...]

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha