Sunday, December 26, 2010

Waking up in VGH with the bottle half full

Happy holidays.
Sorry that the CTTWH has been like a ghost town the past few days, but me, my Solitary Plasmacytoma, my two rods and 15 screws and my ill-willed infection have been a tad busy. We had Carol-Ann's family to our VGH room on Christmas Eve for chicken dinner and then my family -- 14 in total -- came by for your classic turkey Christmas dinner and all the fixings.
Two very good parties.
I've had a couple of very good rehab sessions the last week, which has me positive about getting home sometime soon. I had a minor surgery Tuesday, to do a partial closure on my back wound. They'll complete the closure next Wednesday, and I'll move to G.F. Strong for rehab after that.
We're still having fun. One of the many pitfalls of my current "situation," is that I need to pee in a bucket. (Don't even ask about No.2.) I woke up last night, went to roll over and had trouble moving. Sure enough, there was my bucket, half full, between my legs. Yes, I had fallen asleep peeing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Camping out in VGH for Christmas

Only in my dreams, I'll be home for Christmas.
Dr. Robert Lee confirmed this morning that I would remain in VGH for at least the next 10 days. Carol-Ann, my wife, and others, say that they had figured on that for the past few days. My walking is nowhere close normal following last Tuesday's surgery to boot out the infection that was the aftermath of a surgery seven days earlier to put two titanium rods and 15 screws in my faltering spine.
That, of course, was a side effect of the Solitary Plasmacytoma that had camped out in my t-2 vertebrae. Ah...the good old days.
At some point, I'll need to go to GF Strong for rehab. I've met some of the people there, and they seem top notch.
I'll keep you up to date...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, what a feeling: well wishers bring hope to CTTWH scribbler after recent rough patch

I am feeling better after a couple of rough days. Support is a big reason why. Check out this text from John Shorthouse. Always knew he was a Jennifer Beals fan.

Ewen, it's Shorty. Just a quick "hey", nothing more. I hope you're bouncing back from a trying week. To aid in this endeavour, I've included a shot of me and my organ.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another day, another surgery: blood infection lengthens hospital stay

Sad story: the zany Solitary Plasmacytoma that led to my T-2 vertebrae collapsing and two rods and a bunch of screws being placed in my back has led to a blood infection. I had surgery again on Tuesday to clean out the wound.
Funny story: Dr. Robert Lee, who performed the back surgery right before heading to England to visit his family, has been keeping track of my progress during his stay there. He telephoned Carol-Ann and I at the hospital Wednesday. He even had Carol-Ann poke me in the chest because he thought he saw something on an x-ray. There wasn't a problem, though.
Next story: We need to get up and walking. Once we're steady and stable, and infection free, we should be on our way home. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Look who's back: Cancer Boy gets his rehab trip on the rails once more after emergency surgery

I'm not sure if we crushed the tumour with humour, but apparently we've smashed the T-2 vertebrae to bits.
Sorry I've been incommunicado of late, but I've got an excuse. I had emergency surgery Tuesday, with two nine-inch titanium rods and several screws inserted to stabilize my spine. We're hopeful that we'll be home in time for Christmas.
It came out of nowhere. We had been through 20 of 25 rounds of radiation for that zany Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour. We were well into walking laps of the pool to strengthen the legs up. There were some struggles of late that we initially attributed to routine radiation fatigue, but, by the time my scheduled appointment with our radiation-oncologist Dr. Morris came Monday morning, my body had given out and given up.
Now, several days after this latest procedure, the doctors and medical staff seemed to be pleased. Dr. Robert Lee, our spine surgeon, graded me 5-out-of-5 on all my strength tests immediately after surgery and he had said that he didn't think I would be at that point until 72 hours following the operation. I've methodically navigated up and down the halls, with the help of a physical therapist and a walker, a few times. I am slow and pondering, but I am moving.
My take on all of this? It's varied. There have been days that I've wondered whether I had it in me to battle again. I can't lie. I know how invested Carol-Ann, my wife, has been in my first rehab. I know how invested other people have been. I was invested, too. And then my heart was broken. Crushed. Shattered.
I know that's not a happy answer. I know that's not an answer people will want to hear. Sorry.
My mood has perked up today, though. Carol-Ann offered to go get a web stick and I ended up having an hour alone in our room. I sat there in a chair (easier than it sounds after you've had a rods and screws placed in your spine days earlier) and cried.
I know this sounds familiar if you've read CTTWH before, but we have had countless people rally around us, and I responded by feeling sorry for myself because the T-2 hadn't stabilized, which at no point the doctors were certain was going to happen? (Second best putdown line surrounding this latest situation came from softball buddy Scott Rintoul, who admitted that, "Some people were floored by all of this, but I totally had it in the pool." The best putdown line comes later.)
I have the most wonderful wife in the world and I have so much I want to do. I want to adopt a child or children with Carol-Ann. Once I get healthy - and I will get healthy - I think we can provide a wonderful home. We're not looking for a baby. I could see us taking in a harder to place kid or kids.
Carol-Ann dreams of going to Wimbledon; we will do that one day. I have so many places I want to see with Carol-Ann.
We will do our charity work; we've had some wonderful celebrity types offer up support already. I talked earlier, too, about running some sort of race for pledges. Right now, I'm looking at the Running Room five-kilometre in Vancouver on May 30. I can't promise that I will run it all, but I will try. Heck, I'll crawl it if I have to, or do it in a wheelchair.
I know, for some of you, this is an old story. More importantly, I know, after a little lapse, that it has a chance to continue to be an old story.
BEST PUTDOWN LINE: "Hey, Ewen...with the rods and screws in there now, can we use your back to put up those magnet schedules? If someone wants to know when the Canucks play next, shouldn't they be able to just look at your back?" --softball buddy Carla McAloney.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cancer's getting a leg up: Radiation malaise making it difficult to get around

Radiation side effects are starting to catch me.
My legs felt gooey and weak most of Sunday. I felt a little closer to my regular saunter by the end of the day, but I awoke this morning to the same type of trouble. We called the Cancer Agency hotline, and they tweaked some of medication. I had an appointment there this morning already.
In the meantime, I came across this well-written blog (entitled by by Vancouver's Derek K. Miller. It's worth checking out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cancer conundrum: radiation treatment side effects come and go without any warning

My T-2 tumour and I are having communication problems.
I thought I had it figured out. Thursday was dreadful. My chest felt like it was in a vice, which was in trash compactor, which was being run over by a bus. They're radiating me straight through my esophagus, so it's to be expected.
Friday was much more manageable, in large part because Carol-Ann and I weren't as stubborn about using the hydromorphone, the pain medication that I'm on. We also got in to see our GP, Dr. Jennifer Rogerson, and she prescribed a longer-lasting hydromorphone.
I went to bed Friday night thinking that we had turned the corner.
I went to bed, but I didn't go to sleep. I think I got two hours. Maybe. I wasn't in pain. I just couldn't nod off.
I watched assorted Law and Orders. (Thank goodness for the Mystery Channel.) I kept going back to sports highlights. I didn't dare pass up the Bachelorette, which had the MEN TELLING ALL in a bid to set up the THE MOMENT WE'VE ALL BE WAITING FOR....THE MOST DRAMATIC ROSE CEREMONY EVER. (Oh, Deanna...why ya gotta be like that?)
Most of all, I watched the clock and wondered what was going on.
That's radiation, though. One day, you feel like you can conquer the world. The next, without warning, you're flat on your back.
It's part of what I am learning as this goes a long. I'm also learning, too, that I need to pull back when I'm not feeling well. (I can't lie -- my buddy Fiona Rintoul sent me a text that's sticking with me: "Stop trying  to be a hero, Ewen.")
Laura Hynatzsen, who I've known since we were toddlers and who I haven't seen in some time, was supposed to come over in Saturday morning. I begged off, explaining that I needed more sleep. She understood. I was slated to go to the pool with Carol-Ann's dad, Ron, too, in the early afternoon, and we postponed that, too.
Lucas and Grady Froese, Carol-Ann's second cousins, did come over Saturday night for watch hockey and some video games, and by then I had regrouped.
What will Sunday bring? It's anyone's guess. That's something I'm starting to figure out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cancer things that make you go hmmm: new doc with old ties and other coincidences

Do you remember Arsenio Hall?
Don't be like that. Don't you dare. You remember. Anyone over the age of 30 probably has some recollection of the fist-crankng, roo-roo-rooing former late night talk show host. He was Eddie Murphy's sidekick when dear Eddie merited a sidekick. He was romantically linked to Paula Abdul when she was a voluptuous vixen, rather than a deposed karaoke teacher. (I remember a TV interview where Arsenio insisted that Paula's Cold Hearted Snake song was about him. Then again, my high school buddy Biff Moffat -- not to be confused with my Cancer Coach Bif Naked -- claims the same thing, so you be the judge.)
My favourite Arsenio bit was always his "Things that make you go hmmm," as in "These aren't jokes, but things that you make you go hmmm."
It's something that my T-2 tumour and I can appreciate now.
The latest episode was Friday. Prior to THE CANCER, I was without a family doctor. Since then, Carol-Ann has coaxed her family's GP, Dr. Jennifer Rogerson, to take me on.
I visited her a couple of times and liked her. She immediately struck me as intensely detail oriented -- an obvious plus when it comes to someone with such a say in your well being.
I brought all that up in a blog, and, sure enough, emails and texts started coming in from former classmates, explaining that Rogerson went to high school with us.
Who knew?
I checked that with Dr. Rogerson today, and, sure enough, it's right. She's two years younger, so she graduated with my brother, Dennis, and assorted younger siblings of friends. She played sports growing up with tons of people I graduated with; we tossed around a bunch of names we both knew on Friday.
I'm considering connecting with her as a good omen, and, with what we're dealing with here, we'll take all the good omens we can get.
We've had more than our share so far. We first realized that something was dramatically wrong on Oct. 9, when we were at my cousin Mike's wedding. Ten days later, we were admitted to the Spine Unit at VGH. Mike's wife, Lisa, is a nurse on that ward.
To top that off, the first physician we saw was Dr. Lise Leveille. She was part of Canada's gymnastic contingent at the Sydney 2000 Olympics; I had done a handful of stories on her. Having someone there, so early in the process, that I had a connection with, gave me a boost.
Those good bounces, those good breaks, are part of why I've believed all along that I'm going to get better. Heck, I think I'm going to be better than ever.
We did rebound Friday from an awful Thursday night. I was too ill Thursday to go to the Earls Christmas party and, even though I wanted Carol-Ann to go on her own, she refused. I can't say I was surprised by that.
We did a better job with the medication Friday. That was a major part of it. I still felt a little woozy for large chunks of the day, but we're hopeful that the adjustments that Dr. Rogerson made with our medication will counteract that.
If it works out, you can be I'll be doing a little fist-crankng and roo-roo-rooing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Feeling crappy makes me scrappy: Still ailing from the T-2 tumour but ready to battle

Good morning. Seriously.
I'm done feeling sorry for myself.
Oh, the snow has been coming down for hours here in New Westminster, and anybody who's been in the Lower Mainland for any period of time knows that the most moderate of dustings can snarl traffic. Instead of leaving an hour before radiation, we're shooting to leave a full two hours ahead.
My chest feels like King Kong Bundy is splashing me two or three times in a row and before picking me up and flinging me over to Billy Jack Haynes, who is then snapping on his notorious full nelson. (Shameless old-school pro wrestling plug.)
Somewhere along the past few days, I've developed a hacking cough, and, despite the best efforts of an ice bag last night, my right knee feels wonky. (That's a shout-out to former Vancouver Giants' trainer Cory Cameron, who complained that I used wonky way too much to describe injuries during his tenure with the WHL club.)
And you know what? I feel feisty. I really want to have a good day and do what it takes to get better. It's Radiation No. 18, and we're going 25. We're closing in on getting better and helping people
I really want to battle. Ron, Carol-Ann's dad, is picking me up to today and I bet we'll have a wicked little adventure getting to the Cancer Agency. I'll get my radiation done, and we'll have an adventure getting home, too.
I'll try desperately to get a nap in when we get home, since Carol-Ann's staff party is tonight, and part of me would love to go, since all of those people have been so supportive of our situation. With the snow, and my situation, I'd doubt that we would go, though.
In interest of full disclosure (here we go again), I did sleep very little last night. I'm still on the couch in the TV room -- Carol-Ann is sleeping in our spare room downstairs, just to be close as she can while still being comfortable -- and this blustery hacking had its way with me. There was a bright spot -- I got to watch a couple of Dog The Bounty Hunters, and a couple Law and Orders. (Next up .. Law and Order: THE CANCER.) And I got to brush up on my Madden 11. (I told you I didn't sleep very much.)
I'll take off now, but I'll bring a camera and maybe get some pics for later in the day.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sick and tired and tired and sick: Radiation is kicking my butt, but I'm ready to battle

I'm struggling.
I was having an OK day prior to getting home from radiation at about 3:30 p.m. My chest tightened up then, leaving me more than a little uncomfortable. I'm back to taking as much medication as I can get away with, and I haven't been like that since I left the hospital.
To make matters worse, I twisted my right knee some time over the last couple of days. I've got bruising and it gave way on me during a trip to the bathroom. I've reverted back to the walker, from the cane, for the time being.
I'm not sure exactly what I did to the knee. I stumbled on a patch of ice walking back to the car from lunch yesterday. Or it could be from something else.
I didn't have much energy this morning, but still did my pool walking, with Carol-Ann's dad, Ron, cheering me on. Considering how much I had in the tank, I hustled pretty well for the 40 minutes.
Ron and I then met up with Ann Schmaltz, she of News 1130 fame, for lunch, and had a good time, which left me upbeat for tanning.
We've been lucky with pain through this. I know that.
I also know that I'm going to fight my way through to feeling better again. I'm ready to battle.
Humour is on hiatus for now. But it won't be for long.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Short but sour: radiation rundown keeps this blog to a minimum and sends this scribe to bed

Oh, I was an artsy writer and I didn't even know it.
My line about my tumour needing a nap? Well, considering how the effects of radiation sucker punched me today and have left me woozy, we might consider that line a literary device smarty pants people like to call foreshadowing.
Yes, I'm getting sleepy. Very sleepy.
My high school buddy Arnie Sison, he of the "you're a big man baby," and "this is the worst wet t-shirt contest," drove me to radiation today, but I was too lethargic to get into any shenanigans with him. Yes, it was a waste. And J.D. Watt, one of my all-time favourite Vancouver Giants who's currently with the Calgary Flames' Abbotsford Heat affiliate, wanted to come over, and I had to tell him that it didn't work because of my energy. J.D. is good people; he'll understand. 
I just feel like I'm in a fog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Walking the talk: Cancer pool rehab features some big-name athletes and big-time events

My tumour might need a nap.
I just finished lunch (oatmeal, sausages and grapes) and I've already been for Radiation No. 15 and done 45 minutes of walking in the pool. Heck, my Solitary Plasmacytoma has done more this morning than some people will do all day.
I wasn't particularly giddy about the 8:24 a.m. tanning session when it was assigned to me on Friday, and I struggled my way through it. I didn't feel too steady on the cane this morning, and the radiation techies had trouble getting me set up just right on the table. Up until today, I feel like I had been on a run of making it easy on them by hitting my mark. (That sounds so Hollywood. I like it. Get ready to see that a few more times.)
Carol-Ann drove me to the Cancer Agency and then went to work. Pat Cooper, my editor from my Coquitlam NOW days and one of my many mentors, came into Vancouver and drove me home. I coaxed her into stopping at Starbucks. (I got a venti, non-fat Pumpkin Spice latte...I know it sounds sissy, but I'm secure in my beverage selections, just so you know.) 
Maybe it was the coffee, or maybe it was the quick chat I had with Iain MacIntyre (I've heard rumours that he might be a columnist or something for some daily newspaper in town...I'm not sure of the name of the publication) on the phone, but I had some jump when Carol-Ann's dad Ron came to pick me up for the pool. 
I walk across the shallow end at Canada Games Pool, in about four feet of water, and I felt strong today. I'm not sure what the distance is (nobody said anything about there being math with THE CANCER) but I was doing 50-second laps on Saturday, and I was routinely under 40 seconds for the first half hour today. 
Ron hung out in the bleachers, and we passed the time by talking about great athletes and sporting events we've seen. Carol-Ann's family lived for a time in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Ron, who was teaching special education teachers in training at UNC at the time, got to see a handful of Michael Jordan's college games.
Ron's sharp. Real sharp. At one point, the Kennedy family (Shameless name drop for Ron...that's gonna be hard for me to top) was after him to head up the Special Olympics. At UNC, he headed up a project which was tied to the federal legislation regarding the rights and needs of disabled people. He got to travel the nation, and, being a sports fan, he made the odd pitstop here and there to take in a game. He watched Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull all live. He saw Hank Aaron, he saw George Brett.
For me, I can't separate stuff I've seen as a fan and stuff I've seen for work. My favourite event has to be the Olympic women's hockey final, just for the feel in the building. The world junior final at GM Place is right behind it, though.
(LATE EDITION: The Vancouver Giants' 2007 WHL final series against the Medicine Hat Tigers is my third place.) 
For regular season events, I'd have to go with our trip this past August to Fenway Park. It's funny; I'm not a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, but there's something magical about the stadium, with its nooks and crannies and that 37-foot high left field wall.
The trip was my present from Carol-Ann for my 40th birthday. (My birthday is actually in February, but we had this little Olympic thing going on then.) I had always talked about Fenway being the top of my so-called "bucket list." Sure enough, not long after we get back from Boston, I got sick. I'll admit the timing freaked me a little at first, but I'm good now. I'm getting better every day. 
I'm not sure what I'd put on the top of my list now. The way things are going, it might be a swimming pool somewhere.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letter makes it better in midst of Cancer rehab

NOTE: I had planned on taking the day off completely from the blog -- I'm feeling a little run down and we had a bunch of folks over - but this email came in to me and I thought it was worth forwarding along. I'm excited that somebody would take the time to send this. Again, it's something  that makes me want to get healthy and get to helping people who haven't gotten the breaks that Carol-Ann and I have.


You don't know me, nor do I know you. I've never read any of your Province articles, but know you're a writer for the newspaper; what a way to start an email. Hopefully you haven't clicked delete (or trash) yet...

Anyways, just wanted to say that I stumbled upon your blog and find it rather comical and real. I applaud you for putting yourself out there and making your battle more than just cancer, you've provided another connection with the illness, whether people know you or not, that hopefully will raise even more awareness and one day find a cure. 

I've been fortunate that I've never had this direct connection with cancer, maybe it's good genes, maybe it's good luck, maybe it's just a matter of time, but I just wanted to say thank you, thank you and thank you for providing material that promotes awareness. 

Best wishes, and here's to a speedy recovery. 

Name Withheld

Saturday, November 20, 2010

To whom it may concern: Cancer made him do it

An open letter to the woman miffed at my friend Marc Weber because he's had to put in some extra hours at work and hasn't be able to spend time her,

Hi. First off, I heard that a dinner date with Marc a couple of weeks ago went askew because he was late getting away from the Vancouver Giants' game.
He's too good a guy to say it, but it was because he was babysitting me. He wasn't simply tardy.
What I'm trying to say is don't the hate player, hate THE CANCER.
Since I'm on the Province's disabled list (Solitary Plasmacytoma, week-to-week), Marc has taken on covering junior hockey as well, along with the growing demands of the MLS-bound Vancouver Whitecaps and our new web-based Soccer Academy.
Everyone at the plant (I've always wanted to use that term about the office...yes, I'm in a better mood today) would understand if Marc phoned it in on the hockey, did the bare minimum. He's that busy right now with the Whitecaps and the Academy. He has too much pride to let that happen, though. That's a big part of it. I think, too, he knows I'm emotionally invested in the beat and I think he wants me to not worry about the coverage.
That Friday, too, he wanted to drive me home, instead of Carol-Ann coming to get me. He wanted to give my poor wife a little time off.
He's a good guy. I'm very lucky.
Lots of good people have been checking in on me. Vancouver 2010 gold medal women's hockey coach Melody Davidson (Shameless name drop) read my snarly Friday blog and fired me off a long email about her awful Friday was. A flight snafu meant that she missed being in Ottawa to accept the prestigious Jack Donohue Award -- it's a huge deal for any coach, but particularly a women's hockey coach.
Yes, she made a guy with THE CANCER feel a guilty.
My buddy Gary from Abbotsford, who's battling away with his own stuff,  also managed to track me down. Sounds like he's too pretty well -- had dinner at the Keg. Good for him.
As for me, I'm swollen and sore in the shoulders, but it's standard radiation stuff. (Friday was No. 14. We're going 25.) I'm been taking extra pain killers for the past two or three days. I hadn't had to do that for a couple of weeks, but we've been told all along that something like this was on the horizon.
The plan is to go to the pool again today, with Carol-Ann and her father.
And, Miss Whateveryournamemightbe, I'm going to track down Marc and see how he's doing. Hopefully you're there when I call and you can put a voice to THE CANCER.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Angry and bored: my Thursday with Cancer

Thursday was one of the crappiest days of my life.
How's that for a jumping off point, eh?
Please don't get up on a soapbox and rip off a passionate plea that begins with "You're entitled." Trust me. I know I am.
I also know that we've had a great run compared to most people with cancer. Bif Naked is a buddy of mine. She's immersed in the cancer world. She tells stories of husbands leaving wives upon diagnosis, she tells stories of people losing their jobs.
I know the fog in my brain I felt during the day and the searing pain that ripped through my shoulders once I got home that night is completely natural, considering the circumstances.
It doesn't mean that it doesn't suck. It really sucked Thursday. I wanted to slap the whole day in the mouth.
I should have planned the day better. That was a major part of the problem. I had a 3:10 p.m. radiation session. I had gone to the pool on Wednesday, with Carol-Ann's dad, Ron, and felt like I worked my tail off. Ron would have taken me again if I had asked, but rest made more sense.
I figured instead I'd just hang out at the house and wait for my cousin Mike and his wife Lisa to come get me for radiation. (I remember when I used to drive myself places. That was cool.)
I just couldn't get into anything. I've got a pile of books to read, but I couldn't concentrate. There was nothing on TV. I'm tired of video games. Heck, the cell phone went dead every five minutes and the house phone is on the fritz -- the numbers are sticking.
When I did get it work, I figured I'd call Province colleague Gord McIntyre, since he was in an airport somewhere, coming back from a Vancouver Canuck roadtrip. And I figured if I couldn't get him, Iain MacIntyre, of that other daily newspaper in town, was also coming home and undoubtedly trapped in a waiting area, just dying to talk to somebody familiar.
I got Gord on the first ring. Sure enough, he was sitting with Iain. They didn't need anyone to talk to.
Just my luck.
I had Mike and Lisa pick me up early for radiation, since we had gotten in ahead of the schedule on Wednesday. Sure enough, we had to go at the slotted time this time around, and then we got caught in rush hour on the way back. (I don't do rush hour. That's one of the joys of being a sports reporter. If I wanted a real job, I would have gotten one years ago.)
The day did pick up by the end, though. My dad came over and made dinner, BBQing up some salmon to go with potato wedges. Bif stopped by, too, to check in.
She was in a mellow mood. Seems she had a mediocre day, too, as did my dad and Carol-Ann. In a strange way, it worked for us. We were all good with staying low key.
And that's really all I have to say.
The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I drove her crazy; she drove me to radiation

My second solo car ride with my cousin Kristi Drinovz went much smoother than the first. Granted, there were 20 years between the two events.
I am walking better by the day, but this little Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour thing is keeping me from driving. Carol-Ann and I have been very lucky, because we've had tons of folks offer rides to the Cancer Agency. (Radiation No. 13 of a slated 25 today, for those scoring at home. And, if you truly are scoring at home, I thank you.) 
Kristi, my mom's sister's 24-year-old daughter, wanted a turn. The only other time that we had been in a car, just the two of us, I was 20 and she was four. She and her family had helped me move from my folks' house in Richmond to a suite in Maple Ridge. We were heading back to Richmond for dinner, and she wanted to ride with me.
At least initially she wanted to ride with me.
I don't know what changed. I drove safely. Still, she started sobbing by New Westminster. She was crying as we headed into Richmond. By the time we got out of the car at the Boston Pizza on No. 3 Road, it was full-blown, volume-at-11 wail.
"Where is my mom?!?," she said. "I want my mom!!!!"
People were staring at us. I was panicking, flailing my arms and blurting, "Cousin," and "Mom coming," and "it's OK."
Luckily for me that day, it was a different era. If it happened today, I'm sure people would have gotten involved. Instead, Auntie Vic and Big Al showed up a few minutes later, and everything was fine. 
Fast forward to Wednesday. Kristi and I had obviously been in a car together since that inaugural trip, but always with at least one other person. It's just the way things had worked out.
I don't want to suggest that she was a little worried that I might do something a tad wacky (insert diabolical laugh here) on this journey but she had a Coke Zero in the cup holder (in this bid to healthy up, I've been off the pop...that one was so good...I think I had gone 10 days without any soda) and a Hockey News in that storage compartment in the door.
It was uneventful. The radiation techies took me early, and we were out the door and heading home before my actual appointment time.
Now that is over, next on the Babysitting Fence Mending agenda is my nephew Cameron.
He's seven. When he was about three, I agreed to take care of him for a couple of hours at his brother Tyler's lacrosse game in Cloverdale. Ty's 10 now. My brother, Dennis, has always been one of his coaches. Denny's wife Cathy was playing lacrosse that season and had a game.
When Ty was getting ready, Cam and I went across the street over to 7-11, and, like any good uncle, I bought him about $35 worth of candy and stuffed it into his pockets. It was a short walk back to the rink, but he was well sugared when the game began.
The opposing goalie was having a tantrum, and was lying face down in the crease, kicking his feet.
Cameron asked, "Who's that?" 
I knew I had two options. I could explain to him that I didn't know and risk him wanting me to go find out, or I could lie.
"That's Billy," I said.
I thought that would have been enough. Not a chance.
"What's Billy doing?"
Again, I could explain to him that the poor kid was frustrated and having a bad day and so on, or I could lie.
You guessed it.
"Billy's looking for candy," I said.
I guess I had candy on the brain after the 7-11 visit. Cameron, unfortunately for me, had candy running through his veins, because after a quick pause he started racing toward the end where that poor, little goalie was and started screaming, "No candy for you, candy for you!!!!"
Part of me was mortified. Part of me couldn't stop laughing. I eventually caught him and calmed him down. Cathy showed up soon after and took over.
He's still a hoot, that kid. I can't wait to see what he becomes. Of course, he's a major reason why I need to get better, I must get healthy.
I did my second pool walk Wednesday, with Carol-Ann's dad, Ron, coaching me through it. It's liberating mentally, just to be able to move around without any sort of cane or walker. I was thinking about going to the pool again today, too, but I'm trying to pound into myself that we're early on in the process and I need to be patient. Wednesday only marked our three-week anniversary of a cancer diagnosis.
It's not like it's been 20 years. Right, cousin Kristi?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Radiation schedule times not always on our side

The schedule maker hasn't been overly kind to us this week.
Yes, I can sports-up just about anything.
My family and friends have been surprised that my radiation sessions aren't always at the same time every day. Today is at 3:10 p.m., for instance, while tomorrow is 3 p.m. and Friday is at 12:45 p.m.
It's hard to blame the B.C. Cancer Agency. Consider the moving parts they're dealing with.
We get our schedules on the Friday for the following week. We can put requests in Thursday for a particular time and the powers that be will try to make it happen, but they can't guarantee it.
I won't dare ask. We've gotten so many good breaks, so many bounces our way, that I'm not about to tempt fate. I'll gladly take one for the team.
Yes. No one gives 110 per cent to sports-up like I can.
We had a 2 p.m. Tuesday, with my uncle Big Al handling the driving, and I wasn't quite sure how to handle the morning. Watched a little TV, played some video games. It was a bland day.
Of course, it was a self-inflicted bland day. I had talked about going to the pool, but I was worried about my energy and told Big Al I didn't need any help until later on. Sure enough, my energy was back. My legs didn't feel as strong as the day before, but I have to remember that today is the three-week anniversary of the cancer diagnosis. I need to be patient.
The best part of the day probably? I've become pen pals with a guy named Gary. I don't know a ton about him -- he's a few years older than me, lives out in the Fraser Valley, he's battling some big-league stuff. We go back and forth about what we're dealing with via email, and on Tuesday he reported that he had a very positive check-up. It made me smile.
I also got some chuckles out of Carol-Ann gleefully watching some Professional Bull Riders tour event on the tube. There's still a lot of country girl in my girl. She actually knew the background of some of the bulls, along with the riders. Sorry...I just find it cool that's she's so not typical.
Today, Carol-Ann's dad Ron is taking me to the pool and to run some quick errands, and then my cousin Kristi Drinovz (Albert''s offspring) has the controls for the radiation ride. Hopefully, we get home in time to watch some of the Canuck game.
If not, I'm writing a nasty letter about scheduling.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Legs pick up pace but radiation has its kick, too

It was a mixed Monday for me.
Mixed, in terms of, my legs felt as strong as they've felt since my Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour, my wife and I got out of the hospital Oct. 30, and because once I finished Radiation No. 10, every other part of me felt BLAAAH.
I imagine that much of that leg confidence was mental, after that inaugural pool session Sunday, and because I am getting more proficient with the cane. No matter. I'll take whatever I can.
As for that feeling rundown, it was the worst bout of it so far. Coming out of the Cancer Agency and climbing into the SUV with Ron, Carol-Ann's dad and my chaperon for the day, I could feel this exhaustion kicking in. It's quite normal, from everything we've been told, but it's still jarring.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Amanda Atkinson, a high school friend, wants me to name the tumour. I told her that Crush The Franklin With Humour doesn't have a ring to it as a blog title.)
We got home about 3 p.m. and I just sunk into my beloved Cookie Gilchrist couch. (Yes, a couch I bought off recently retired Province columnist Cookie Gilchrist, one of the real class guys I've met in this business and one of the most popular newspapermen amongst his peers around. That's double points -- name drop and shameless plug.)
By the time Ron and I made the 40-minute drive from Vancouver and pulled into our place in New Westminster, I was done. Finished. Kaput. 
Unfortunately, when I get over-the-top tired, I apparently sound like I've been heavy into the beer. Also, unfortunately to me, I'm 40 going on eight in some regard. I don't like to miss anything going on, so I didn't want to nap. 
Verna, Carol-Ann's mom, had hung at the house all the day, cleaning up and making dinner. Carol-Ann came home, and I had them bustin' up pretty good, although I don't remember too much.
I had pretty good jump prior to radiation. I've volunteered at the Richmond Food Bank since the 2003-04 hockey season. I had covered high school sports at the Province until that point, and felt like I was giving back to the community that way. When I was moved to NHL that year, I felt like I needed to find another way of helping out. I was born in Vancouver, but raised largely in Richmond and was living there at the time. It's about three hours for me every Monday, and I usually break a little sweat and I've made relationships that I wouldn't have elsewhere made.
None of my Food Bank cohorts had seen or heard from me since this whole Solitary Plasmacytoma thing started. They deserved an update.
After that, Ron and I had lunch at Earl's (Shameless plug for my wife's employer) and just as we were leaving got a visit there from my Cancer Coach, Bif Naked. (Name drop.) As she usually does, she came with gifts. She brought these massive grapes, some of which were larger than the MRI I had sit in to get this tumour diagnosis. She also had a book on smoothies.
Oddly enough, my throat, which started acting up last Wednesday due to the radiation, has actually calmed down. I did have a smoothie last night for dinner, but that's because I was too tired to chew.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I ripped that whole Amanda Atkinson story off a Facebook conversation we had. Did I just plagiarize myself? Can I have my lawyer call my lawyer and settle out of court? Or are the voices in my head talking about me behind my back?)
For today, my uncle, Big Al, is chaperoning the radiation experience.  I had talked about trying another pool session beforehand, but I'd rather take an extra day. My energy isn't great and I don't want to follow up a great experience with an awful one and get myself disappointed.

PS We can't leave you today without somebody chopping me down. But Kristin Reid? (Another name drop? This edition is rockin' the brackets big time.) Gilbert Perreault was my favourite player growing up, and with the Canucks in Buffalo this weekend, I fired off a text, asking Reidder if she found a XXL t-shirt with an old-school logo to pick it up and I'd gladly repay her. 
The response: "Guess who found a cool XXL Sabres top in Buffalo? I'm going to wear it as a dress to your funeral."
At least somebody is going to be dressed nice...

Monday, November 15, 2010

May I present...the tumour crusher

This is the radiation machine. To me, it looks like a big cake mixer. Ummm...cake.

Pooling my resources provides more inspiration

In interest of full disclosure (and in a bid to get this latest favourite phrase out of the way off the top), I gorged myself on six chocolate chip cookies at 1 a.m. this morning.
For a guy trying to healthy it up, it wasn't the smartest move. I know. It just seemed like the ideal capper on what was one of the cooler days of my life.
Carol-Ann and I rounded up a bunch of folks and we went down to Canada Games Pool and we all went through my first steps of rehab.
It was just a few laps walking like an ordinary, regular fella around the shallow end. It's a small victory, but it's my victory and I really needed it. Thanks to this tumour thing illegally squatting in my neck, I haven't walked for any extended period without a cane or a walker since Oct. 25. About eight days ago, I couldn't put socks on by myself.
Part of it, too, is that I don't do new well. I'm a routine guy. The first radiation session threw me bad. I was stressed for a couple of days just thinking about the idea my first pool walk.
Of course, like this whole little adventure so far, our family and friends came through and made it way more comfortable. Carol-Ann's folks, Ron and Verna, were there. Arnold Sison and Grant Moffat, guys I went to junior high with and who were in our wedding party, came, along with Grant's wife Tracey. Softball buddy Scott Rintoul and his wife Fiona made the trek as well.
Carol-Ann, Grant and Ron got in the pool with me. Rintoul walked back and forth, coaxing me on every step. Fiona, Tracey and Verna sat in the stands and gave me the thumbs up every pass by.
And Arn? He talked crap at me the whole time.
I went into the pool wearing baggy, blue shorts and a blue t-shirt. Arn didn't realize, but I had checked the fashion pages of the latest Solitary PlasmaCytoma Tumour Illustrated and it's what all the unhip, 40-something, limited mobility fellas are wearing these days.
No matter. Moby Dick was written in less time than it took for me to do that first lap. I was so scared and nervous. Arn was waiting at the side of the pool for me, though, and busted out: "This is the worst wet t-shirt contest I've ever been to."
Two words: well played.
When I finally stopped laughing, I got back to work. I got some confidence and I feel like I got quicker.
And Arn? He got slower. There was a "When are you going to get out of the water and scare the poor townspeople?" but nothing else was CTTWH worthy. (Yes, I just abbreviated the blog. Shameless plug for me.)
We were in the pool for about 20 minutes. I needed it so much. And I needed those people. It made it so much easier for me. And, yes, it's even more motivation to get healthy and helping people.
Even without the pool, it was a great day. Yasmine Klein, who used to work for the Vancouver Giants, came over in the morning, that tin of cookies in tow. I hadn't seen her in awhile, so it was good to catch up, and she's done some charity/event work, so we ran through some options. We're certainly going to be calling on her help somewhere down the line.
Arn, Carol-Ann and I watched the game. Carol-Ann was yelling and screaming and having a blast. She's adorable.
I hadn't seen Grant and Tracey or Scott and Fiona in some time, too. (The Rintoul family has had its cancer challenges, and Fiona and I slipped away to exchange information. Scott, as Team 1040 fans will know, is ultra high energy, but Fiona is a perfect match. She introduced herself at our wedding as Rintoul's paid escort in a bid to embarrass him.)
Today, it's radiation 10. Ron is on the case with me, and we might get a chance to buzz by the Richmond Food Bank. I've been volunteering there once a week for about seven years, but I haven't been able to see anybody out that way since I got sick.
I'm going to try to take the camera, too, and get some shots of what the radiation room looks like.
Don't worry, though. My shirt will be dry if I end up in any pics.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Out of the swear jar and into the pool

Woke up this morning not needing as much soap for my mouth or painkillers for my back. To me, that's a pretty good start to the day.
Disappointed with my sudden bout of cussing, I decided to do a little count Saturday. By bed time, I was at seven. Carol-Ann said it was a huge percentage decrease from the previous few days, but she wouldn't give me an exact number. (When I get back to work, I'm going to try that with my stories....ah the Giants won Something-over-Something...wonder how that might work?) 
I know I'm 40 and the swearing is not a big deal, but I don't want to be that guy. And, in interest of full disclosure (here we go again...I warned you that had become a favourite phrase of mine...could that be a drug side effect?), being a fella known for not swearing often can have its benefits. During normal times, when I do get angry enough to cuss, people who haven't seen Angry Steve are shocked and it tends to get their attention and things work out in my favour.
OK. I'm warped. I was warped before getting cancer. I'll be warped when I'm done with cancer. Don't judge. That's not nice. Remember? I have cancer. Be good, people.
(Yes, I'm having too much fun this morning. No need to call the authorities.)
Strangely enough, yesterday might have been an ideal day for salty language. My shoulder was sore. When I was in VGH, they often asked me to grade pain on a 1-10 scale. I'd consider a 6 as uncomfortable. There were a couple of times yesterday that we hit 8. 
The pain is normal from everything I know. You get a little swelling around the area, and we had some trouble on Friday at radiation getting me set up on the table, so I think I tweaked the shoulder a little bit. 
Still, we're in good shape pain wise compared to most people with cancer. I took two extra sets of two Tylenol yesterday. I took three extra sets on Friday. The previous four days combined I had taken two.
(My regular pain medication right now is Hydromorphone. I'm taking one capsule twice a day. I do have some lower dose Hydro for what my Dr. Jennifer Rogerson says is for "breakthrough" pain, but the Tylenol seems to work better for me and she's OK with it. I trust her. She gets it. She's been huge in how much better I feel these days. It's Carol-Ann's family GP -- yet another reason why my wife rocks.)
I spent yesterday morning lying on the couch, playing PlayStation, a little Madden Football. I have to admit: I had a hoot. It was nice to not worry about anything other than my cartoon men on a TV screen. 
The plan, for the afternoon, was to go to the mall and window shop and then watch my 10-year-old nephew, Tyler, at his field lacrosse game in Richmond. 
We were driving out of New West when the radiation rundown just swamped me. I had some serious jump, and then suddenly I couldn't keep my eyes open. It just engulfed me. I told Carol-Ann, and we opted instead to hang out at my parents in Richmond and then go to the game.
We came home, watched a little hockey and then the movie Valentine's Day. It was a pretty bland day but exactly what we needed. (My sore throat from earlier this week has disappeared for the time being. I've been able to get down sausages last night.) 
Today, we're going to try to get into the pool and do some walking in the shallow end after the football games. I've enlisted a couple of junior high buddies, Arnold Sison and Grant Moffat, along with Grant's wife Tracey, to help. Scott Rintoul and his wife Fiona may come by, too.
My in-laws, Ron and Verna, are on side as well.  
I'm a little panicky. I don't like new things. That's why I'm coming with a football of my own. But we'll muddle through.
Just as long as I don't swear too much.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rolling down the 'roid road

That's my least favourite word in this little cancer episode right now. It's a steroid and doctors have me on it to cut down on inflammation around my spinal cord. It seems to be working, but the apparent side effects are bothering me. (Here's a little background here and here.) 
My buddy, Carla McAloney, mentioned that I'm a little more edgy than normal. Carol-Ann says I'm cussing more than normal, and I have to agree. 
Could it be the stress of the cancer? Could it be the frustration of not walking? Could it be flat-out coincidence? All of the above. Dex could also be at play, too. 
I'm 40 years old. If I want to cuss more, I can cuss more, just along as the company is appropriate. I don't want to cuss more. I've always wanted to be looked at as a classy guy, or a classier guy. That's always been something I've strived to. Thinking about it, especially after talking to Carol-Ann last night, I don't like where I'm at in that regard right now.
It's something Carol-Ann and I are going to watch for over the next few days, and I'd like to see somebody at the Cancer Agency next week and see where they think my head is at. 
Dex may also be cutting into my sleep. That's another of the problems. I got only about four hours last night. The last few nights have been about the same. I need more, especially now. 
At least we are already into a four-week wind-down on the Dex. I'll be happy when it's over.
Carol-Ann and I have decided to take it easy today and we're going to hold off any guests. I don't think we've had a day without guests since we got home Oct. 30 and we were busy with visitors for all 11 nights there.
We're so lucky. Most people don't have our support. We're so grateful. We just need a break to re-charge ourselves. I'm sure people will get it. (Yes, this means I'm skipping the Vancouver Giants-Prince Geoge Cougars' game tonight in Vancouver. Too bad. I'd like to watch Vancouver rebound after how mediocre they were against the Chilliwack Bruins, and Prince George GM Dallas Thompson has quietly built a team that can hang.)
We'll probably watch the Vancouver Canucks-Toronto Maple Leafs, although we may go watch my nephew play field lacrosse in the afternoon, too. Carol-Ann loves her sports. Thank my lucky f-ing stars. (LOL. Even DEXED up, I've still got it.) After that, we might go to the pool and see if I can splash around a little bit. 

In parting...this has been a little melancholy by previous CTTWH (yes, we can abbreviate now) and we can't leave you with the melancholy. (Can't Leave You With The Melancholy sounds like a Def Leppard ballad.) 
So...Province assistant sports editor J.J Adams called last week and asked one simple question: "Is your funeral going to be open casket, because I'm squeamish."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Singing in a new day

Woke up in a chipper mood and with a chippy throat.
Which will win out? That will be the story of the day.
Had a blast going to the the Vancouver Giants-Chilliwack Bruins' game in Chilliwack yesterday with Marc Weber. The Bruins showed some swagger and coasted to a 5-1 victory. (I think it was 5-1. I have CANCER...I don't have to get scores right now.)
I sat in the stands, like regular folk. (Yes, I said regular folk. Again, I can do that.) I was a little freaked to be moving around in a big group. I felt OK on the cane, but I was worried about some yahoo taking me out.
By the end of the game, I was pretty drained though. I meandered to the bathroom, and I was in the stall and started to feel woozy. I thought, "Sure enough, if I'm going to take a tumble it's going to be with my pants around my ankles. That would be so me." I got it back together and carefully got downstairs via the elevator and leaned against a wall until Marc got finished.
When we got home, I told Marc we needed to put away the cane and bring back the walker to get into the house. Yes, I put the bravado away. I was that tired.
Unfortunately for him, I had invited Carol-Ann's cousin, Lucas Froese, over to visit then, because he then got stuck with Steve Lite, which is a third-less jokes than your regular Steve.
Lucas is a good kid, a fourth-year UBC student. He comes from good stock, as far as I can tell. I'm sure he understood. I'll get him back for some shenanigans. I promise.
And, again, we're a work in progress here at Cancer House. (I do answer the phone that way if I'm certain the people on the other end won't be too freaked out.) The radiation malaise is coming and we need to account for that with our visitors and planning. Next week, I'm setting aside at least two days that it'll be just Carol-Ann and I.
Still, I feel like I have pretty good energy right now. I woke up singing one of my made-up songs, "Pass the Cancer (On the Right Hand Side)" which, of course, is a take-off on the usually forgettable 1982 hit "Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth.
Yes, I know that song was about smoking pot, which is something I've never done before and, frankly, I'm violently opposed to. I don't drink (never have actually...can't say that I never will, but I'd wager heavy against it if I was you...) but I have this odd, odd penchant for drinking songs. (When I'm on my game, I belt out a mean, "One bourbon, one scotch, one beer," based on the George Thorogood version.)
As for my throat, I had some yogurt for breakfast. I had a hot dog at the hockey game yesterday, and it didn't work so well. I had a couple of smoothies, and I snuck three or four chocolate cookies. (In interest of full disclosure, of course.)
Carla McAloney, a softball buddy, is picking my up for a 1 p.m. radiation (it's No. 9 of 25 for those scoring at home) and we'll have lunch somewhere. Likely Earl's. (SHAMELESS PLUG FOR MY WIFE'S EMPLOYER.) We'll see what their soup is.
Tonight, we've got some people coming over. I'm not sure how long they're staying, but I bet I can run them off with a little Pass the Cancer.

PS We must leave on a good note today. I can be a bit of an emotional guy. (In interest of full disclosure, of course.) Arnold Sison, who I've been tight with since junior high, loves to bust me on that. He was supposed to come over to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies at our house. He was late, texted to say that he didn't want to see me sobbing and sure enough, I was misty right then. Carol-Ann still has a field day with that.  Sure enough, I make a mention in the Province about crying more these past few weeks than the rest of my life and I get this email from Arn: "About more crying in the last while than the rest of your life combined; does this account for the opening ceremonies in February, every sad movie you ever watched...etc? That would be a lot of crying."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Riding the emotional wave

Day off from radiation, due to Remembrance Day. (Please take some time to think about our heroes.)
My throat is sore still, so Carol-Ann is rounding up ingredients for smoothies. We're into that mode now. We were told it was coming. I'm going to go to the Vancouver Giants/Chilliwack Bruins game this afternoon in Chilliwack. Marc Weber, who is covering off junior hockey for me while I'm away, will give me a ride.
In interest of full disclosure (which has become one of my favourite phrases in the last couple of weeks...I'm not sure why) I had a meltdown last night. I was cleaning myself up at the end of the night in the bathroom, and just started to ball and bellow, "I'm tired of cancer...I'm tired of cancer...I just want to be a regular guy again." I am frustrated. I can't help out Carol-Ann around the house very much yet. That bugs me. I used to do our cooking and a bunch of the laundry and the grocery shopping.
I can't even get up the stairs, even with how much my mobility has improved. We have this beautiful 2,600-square foot house, and I haven't seen two floors of it since Oct. 19. Bluntly, I haven't slept in the same bed as my wife since then. (Don't panic. If you're looking for the XXX-Cancer site, you've come to the wrong place, just so you know.) I miss that. I miss reaching out in the middle of the night and finding her and doing something as simple as putting my hand on her shoulder and knowing that she's right there.
Carol-Ann got my calmed down eventually, and I actually got a decent night's sleep.
The funny thing about it all is that we had had a really fun night, and talked little about cancer. My Cancer Coach, Bif Naked (SHAMELESS NAME DROP) came over with all sorts of menu ideas and even brought a bunch of food. She and Carol-Ann worked me up a blackberry/banana smoothie which was awesome. My dad was there for a bit, and then Bob Mercer, a former Province colleague, and his gal Jackie came over.
I worked closely with Bob for four or five years when I was covering high school. He was routinely assigned editing and laying out the Thursday two-page spread. We had a very good back and forth on stories and ideas, and he's one of the guys who really took me under his wing professionally.
He's also real sharp, like Bif, and we ended up riffing on the education system and music (Bob's a former Georgia Strait editor) and books.
And then I broke down after everybody left. And you know what -- I know it's normal. We have cancer.  It's scary. You're supposed to cry. If I wasn't crying from time to time, that would be a problem. Same goes for my wife. I know that.
With that, I'm looking forward to going to the game today. I feel safe in hockey rinks. I know my way around. And Carol-Ann gets time off for her, and we've been told time and time again that you can't tax the caregivers too much.
And I could use a good car ride with Marc. Talking to him is probably exactly what I need.
I met him when I was doing high school/university and he was the sports information director at UBC. He's kind of a pretty guy (OH...THAT FELT SO GOOD) but we became buddies anyway. He's played on our softball team and was at our wedding.
We had an opening at the Province four years back. (Four years? Three years? You get the idea. Math is hard.) I recommended him, and he ended up getting the job. So, at the very least, knowing me didn't hurt him there, or at least that's how I'm playing it. (OH...that didn't feel so good.)
He's passionate about the business, about the actual story telling and just where things are going regarding use of the internet. I'm sure we'll go back and forth on those things the whole ride. I get jacked up about doing a better job after talking to him.
In closing...I have to leave off on good note. I got a text from John Shorthouse (SHAMELESS NAME DROP) stating: "Hey buddy. Just read your story online. I can't express how much I wish I was there to give you a bear hug...and hopefully steal your wallet."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We're putting the CD on hold -- for now

Just got back from Day 8 of radiation and the sore throat that was predicted by several people has started to kick in today. My singing tonight could be limited.
My dancing? It's still on.
I've been told to go hard on the water. We'll do that. People have talked about getting a blender and learning to make smoothies. We'll start that. (Carol-Ann and I got a blender at our wedding three years ago. There was no card on it. We have no idea who gave it to us. Try to keep that between us, K?)
My Cancer Coach, singer Bif Naked, is coming over tonight with a bunch of recipes. (That's the first of what I hope will be several shameless name drops during this blog's illustrious history.) We'll try to update that tomorrow, depending on how I feel.
I might go to the Vancouver Giants/Chilliwack Bruins' afternoon game in Chilliwack tomorrow if I feel up to it. Marc Weber, who is filling in for me on the junior hockey beat at the Province and also happens to be a good friend, says he's going and will pick me up. I don't know what it'll be like to get around the rink in Chilliwack with a cane; could be interesting.
At the very least, Carol-Ann doesn't have to worry about me for that time. We've been told time and time again how important it is for the "caregivers," to get a break.

And we're off...

Where to begin?
I'm Steve Ewen. I'm 40, a sports reporter for the Vancouver Province, and I was diagnosed with cancer, a Solitary Plasmacytoma, on Oct. 27. For a longer version of the story, check out this Province blog (

Yes, that's a completely shameless plug for my employer, but I'm going to need a job to come back to when I get healthy. And I will get healthy. We're doing well so far, everything considered, and have gotten the OK to start some physical rehab. And part of the reason that we're moving forward right now is that we are belly-laughing as much as sobbing, if not more.

Today is Day 8 of radiation. We're at the B.C. Cancer Agency in downtown Vancouver. My editor from my first newspaper gig, Pat Cooper, is my ride today. I worked for her at the Coquitlam NOW from ages 19-24, real formative years, and she's been an important role model for me, both as a person and reporter. 

The tumour is on my T-2, and I'm a little sore this morning, but I haven't had to take any extra pain killers. My Ladner-based GP, Dr. Jennifer Rogerson, calls them breakthroughs...I'm way down on them overall, which is the goal. And we're on a steroid cut-down right now, which I' excited about, because it seems to keep me awake. (I'll get into drug names in a bit...I'm too lazy to get up and find my pills.)

I didn't sleep real well last night, for the second night in a row. I had had a good run of about four or five days. 

That said, I haven't had any of the fatigue that people tend to associate with treatment. I have had some tickles in my throat the past couple of days, and they warned that could be coming. 

That is all for now. I may put something up later. I may not. I have cancer. I can be that way. (If you can't play the CARD, what's the point?)