Letters

During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.

My To Do List

June 1, 2009 - I’m a big list person. I love lists. Making them. Crossing things off when I’m finished them. I have a daybook that sits by my telephone that holds my To Do list for each day and one of my greatest pleasures is looking back at the end of the day and seeing all my little [...]

Dying is hard

April 20, 2009 - Dying is hard.   I’m not sure what I thought it would be like but I think I hoped it would be easier than this. But, admittedly, I’m not that tough.   First of all, I’ve never done it before and there’s no one around who’s done it before to ask how to do it [...]

Not alone

March 11, 2009 - It has been several weeks since I wrote with our news and I know many are wondering how we are doing. I am sorry that I have not written sooner. It is harder than I thought to write these notes. Last time around there was at least the rigour of treatment that made these updates [...]

Our news

January 21, 2009 - For those who have not yet heard, my cancer has returned.   After being ill for a couple of weeks over Christmas with what I thought was a flu, I finally went in to the doctor and discovered, after 24 hours of lab-rat-ness, that the cancer has spread to my liver and bones. It is [...]

Plans that change and ones that don’t

March 27, 2006 - Funnily enough, I’m a little shy about discussing the loss of my reproductive organs and menopause – don’t ask me why. You know more about my breasts than you should (or probably want to) and although I can chalk up some of my candor to being the daughter of a doctor, for some reason it [...]

Good news

March 21, 2006 - Me again. It’s been awhile – a wonderful while – but some have been asking how things are going and so here I am.   Back in November, I had my second stage reconstruction done which is a fancy way of saying “take out the tissue expanders and put in the implants.” The surgery went [...]

“Nope. It’s better.”

May 1, 2005 - I had another ultrasound and doctor’s appointment this week and the news is good: the cysts are smaller. Well, the biggest one is anyway. And, while another one has gotten bigger, it means that they’re physiological – ie. not cancer. We are relieved and grateful at the news and that for the moment there are [...]

Wait and see

March 31, 2005 - Had my ultrasound and doctor’s appointment yesterday.   The largest cyst is still there but slightly smaller. His “gut feeling” is that it’s physiological (i.e. not cancer) and wants to do another ultrasound in 4 weeks to see if there’s any change again. The only way to know definitively what’s going on is to operate [...]

Another good sign

March 22, 2005 - Tumour markers came back normal. Another good sign. Ultrasound and another Drs appointment are next Wednesday.   Easter is an interesting time to be facing the unknown and waiting. How the disciples must have questioned, wondered and feared in the days after Jesus was arrested and crucified. Everything they had believed in seemingly at an [...]

Nothing is truer

March 17, 2005 - “Don’t panic.” First words out of the doctor’s mouth, which were appropriate because I hadn’t been able to talk myself off the ledge by noon today.   It was the best I could have hoped for. Well, second best. The only thing better would have been him coming in and telling there had been a [...]

Unbelievable

March 13, 2005 - I had planned to write one last e-mail telling about the wonders of tissue expansion and then sign off for awhile because my life, finally, had become quite boring. But then I went to my doctor’s appointment last Thursday.   I had had an ultrasound the previous Friday and they found cysts on my ovaries. [...]

Funky not pretty

January 29, 2005 - Am feeling pretty good. Last week I was in a fair amount of pain but I’m all about the drugs so it was manageable. My drains, to remove fluid from the surgical site, were removed last Friday which was earlier than normal so that was nice. This week I’m feeling well and my biggest problem [...]

Rachel’s surgery went well

January 17, 2005 - Rachel’s surgery went well.   She got wheeled into OR at 10:45 AM. I got a call from Dr. Lennox at 1:15 PM up at Rachel’s room that he and the the other surgeon were happy at how things went and that she was recovering in the post operating room. She made it up to [...]

Surgery time change

January 16, 2005 - Just wanted to let you know that my surgery time has been bumped up to 11:00 am tomorrow.   Here goes nothing…ok, well…just a couple of body parts!   love, rb

Surgery

January 14, 2005 - Surgery is only a few days away and, to be honest, I’ve gotten pretty emotional about it. More emotional than I would expect to be and definitely more emotional than I’d like to be.   I’m confident it’s the right decision, I’m not afraid of the surgery and I think (and hope) that I’ll be [...]

Hope

December 20, 2004 - It’s over.   I don’t think it’s really hit me yet but tomorrow – the day I would have my next treatment – I will wake up with the biggest smile on my face knowing that I don’t have to set foot anywhere near the cancer clinic until the end of January. I have surgery [...]

Last one

November 29, 2004 - Tomorrow is my last chemo. Am still dreading it but am strangely excited at the prospect of walking out of the chemo ward for the last time. I honestly have a hard time believing that I’ve made it through this ordeal.   My hair has started growing back in earnest. It may fall out again [...]

He hides a smiling face

November 3, 2004 - So sorry to be so long in writing. Round 5 is starting to loom on the horizon already and many of you have been asking how it went last time. So…   Best one yet. Nausea wise. But it took a full 8 days before I was able to get out of bed for more [...]

Round 4

October 18, 2004 - I get admitted tomorrow at 8:30 am. They will do bloodwork and tell me by noon whether or not my counts are high enough. They’d better be after 8 injections and 1200 bucks!   Have not felt great of late. More energy which has been good but silly (irritating) things like mouth sores and sore [...]

Eyebrows

October 5, 2004 - First things first. The eyebrows. Many are asking. They are still there – in all their low-maintenance glory. I am still holding my breath as it’s still possible that they may fall out but, even if they do, I’ve hung on to them for half of this journey. Victory.   This last round was so [...]

Home

September 30, 2004 - It’s going well.   Glad I spent the first night in the hospital as I felt quite sick and they used “everything they’ve got” on me.   Came home yesterday evening and have had almost no nausea. Just very tired and sleeping alot. Am so so grateful.   Sleeping for the next two days so [...]

Safe to say

September 28, 2004 - Safe to say that was probably the worst week of my life.   After arriving home from the hospital Friday afternoon (after getting the anti-nausea drugs and fluids) I did not get out of bed or off the couch for 4 more days. Movement = bad. Basically tried to stay as still as possible in [...]

Postponed again

September 22, 2004 - My counts are too low. Again.   My white blood cell count is 0.4 today. Nothing is wrong. 90% of people recover in time for treatment but I happen to fall into the 5% of people whose bone marrow takes longer to recover. With the odds I keep getting, I have GOT to get myself [...]

Clinging

September 19, 2004 - Another epic. Get comfortable.   I had a great meeting with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Tyldsley, last Monday. My kind of doctor – straightforward and caring. He would be the doctor who would oversee the radiation treatments I am scheduled to have post-chemo but, ironically, he is one of the doctors who is recommending that [...]

Run for the Cure

September 9, 2004 - I’m going to do it. Run (well, walk) for the Cure on October 3rd. And I’m going to do it for Kate.   So she will never have to go through what I’m going through now. So that she will have a mom to hug her for years to come.   If you’d like to [...]

Feeling better

September 4, 2004 - Was rehydrated with a couple of bags of saline and given some anti-nausea drugs by IV at the cancer clinic. Neil took me and sat beside me the whole time. They were going to admit me overnight but decided to discharge me once I seemed to be improving. I was glad as I knew I’d [...]

Light and momentary

September 2, 2004 - Today was an “I don’t want cancer day.”   Have had a couple of those lately. Not that the other days I do want cancer but, for some reason, I was especially fragile today. Nothing is normal and sometimes I just want normal.   My white blood cell count was up today – a whopping [...]

Chemo postponed

August 29, 2004 - Tomorrow (Monday) was supposed to be Round 2 of chemo but it’s been postponed.   On Friday, I went in for bloodwork and my appointment with the oncologist. My white blood cell (WBC) count is too low and so I can’t take chemo until it goes up. Basically, your white blood cells are what fight [...]

Buh-bye hair

August 26, 2004 - I shaved my head today. My hair started falling out in earnest a couple of days ago so today it got buzzed. And, well, Sinead O’Connor I’m not but at least my head isn’t ugly (at least I don’t think so and that’s really all that matters at this point). My kids didn’t freak out [...]

Love, struggling and hot water

August 22, 2004 - Well, I’m two weeks into the first course of chemo.   The first week was nasty. It felt like having a terrible flu or, for the women, the absolute worst day of your first trimester. Sick and so so tired. I had the anti-nausea drugs but only used them to manage the nausea, not eliminate [...]

Day 2

August 10, 2004 - Pretty good day.   Had a rough evening. Nausea was bad. Took two drugs and managed to get it under control. Had a great sleep…until about 3:30am when the steroid anti-nausea drug kicked in and woke me up. When the kids woke up I felt like I should get up to help with them and [...]

Day 1

August 9, 2004 - Prayer works. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.   I’ve had a great day. Was busy this morning (so I didn’t have time to be nervous) and got everything on My List done – which, for me, is always the biggest adrenaline rush. Sad, I know.   Neil and I went to the BC Cancer [...]

Tomorrow

August 8, 2004 - Ok…I’m officially scared.   Started getting nervous last night as we passed the 48 hour mark. It’s just the anticipation of being sick…I can’t imagine it being that bad but not knowing exactly how I’ll feel while knowing that “something” is coming isn’t too fun.   Also wanted to let you know the answers to [...]

Crying when you’re happy

August 6, 2004 - Today I’ve cried a few times for no real reason. No guy who reads this will understand but every girl can relate. It’s the strangest thing to be sad and happy at the same time. One moment I was joking with the nurses in the pre-op holding room (I had my port-a-cath inserted today. Sure [...]

Jars of Clay

July 27, 2004 - I always thought I was a bit of a pessimist – a “glass half empty” kind of girl – but this process is making me realize quite the opposite. I’ve been going into these appointments expecting the best and not getting it: First, I thought it wasn’t cancer…and it was. Then I thought that the [...]

Pathology Report

July 16, 2004 - Well…good news and bad news.   The good news is that my lymph nodes are negative for cancer. They got (only) 6 nodes from the tissue in my armpit (about the size of an orange, my dad says) because, as my surgeon said, “you’re not exactly fat.” But they got the sentinel node so they [...]

Home – Day 2

July 8, 2004 - Hi there.   Got home yesterday morning after a pretty decent sleep at the hospital. I was given a private room with the most incredible view of English Bay, downtown and the north shore mountains – quite the treat! (The bathroom even had floor to ceiling windows which was amazing – hopefully not too amazing [...]

Rachel’s surgery

July 6, 2004 - Surgery went well. Rach was in for about 2 hours, then a hour and a half in recovery before she was wheeled up to her room. Dr McGregor met with me briefly after surgery and was pleased at how things went. Rachel is staying in over night. I will bring her home tomorrow morning. Rachel [...]

Surgery tomorrow

July 5, 2004 - Hi everyone,   Tomorrow’s the day. I’ll be admitted tomorrow morning at 10am. Be at nuclear medicine at 11:30 for an injection into my nodes. Surgery is at 2:30. I’m expecting to stay overnight and by home Wednesday by lunchtime.   Feeling pretty good. Mom and Dad have taken Quinn and Kate up to the [...]

Prayer

June 28, 2004 - Everyone has asked what they can do (thank you) and there is not much to be done right now except pray. So I thought a few of you might be interested in a few more specific prayer requests (ie. what’s weighing heavily on my mind) so here they are (and please, pardon the stream of [...]

Update

June 24, 2004 - Hi everyone.   First of all, I want to say thank you for the many phone calls and e-mails of support over the past week. I’m sorry I haven’t had the chance to get back to each of you – it has been overwhelming the number of people calling.   It’s been a week since [...]