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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jenn is feeling better and stronger

Like the song says, what a difference a day makes. Actually those were Jennifer’s words today when we chatted. As soon as she picked up the phone I knew she was feeling better. In fact, Jenn said as soon as she woke up today, she knew it was going to be a good day. “I’m not a hundred per cent yet,” she said, but she was sure upbeat and said she was feeling better and stronger. She also had physio-therapy today. She said she was able to move her legs quite well and she is happy that her legs muscles responded. But she says the physio workouts really make her tired. She added that the med team has provided her with pneumatic leggings to increase the circulation in her legs. I clued into that right away because fighter pilots wear something quite similar - a G-suit - to ward off the effects of G-Forces that would pool blood in the legs. The pneumatic leggings inflate and deflate to improve blood circulation. Cool or what.
Jenn says she doesn’t have any word back yet on the results of her MRI imaging from Tuesday, but she said she’s not worried. Her doctor is a straight shooter and if there was any problem he would have said something.
The other good thing is that although her digestive problem persists, Jenn says she hasn’t had a fever in two days. She is on some new meds and she says it may be possible that they’re working better than the previous prescription. Jenn also has not needed a transfusion of platelets for two days, so that is good news as well. Keep up all the good thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This sucks... another rough day for Jennifer

It was difficult talking to Jenn today, she was so sick, weak and tired. Her system is still taking a beating from the chemo-therapy it seems and her body is fighting hard to get some strength back. But sometimes, it doesn’t happen easy. Jenn is absolutely exhausted today and feeling terrible, but she says it’s just something she will have to work through. In Jenn’s words, she is not about to ‘sugar-coat’ her situation. She said she was feeling really sick today. On the upside of things, she says she is happy that her regular doctor, Dr. Lopez, is back in town. She said he already dropped by for two visits to check up on her while he was making his rounds. She also had an MRI imaging done today. She says she hopes to find out the results tomorrow. As frustrating as I feel about my inability to do anything or say the right thing, or contribute in some positive way, I can only imagine how much worse this whole thing is for Jenn. I will only think good things for her.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Neil is coming home...

Jennifer had a relatively good weekend, thanks to a lot of people, she told me. She was really happy to hear that Neil will be heading back this way early next month. Her favourite little brother spent some time on the phone with Jenn over the weekend and that sure brightened her day. I have to admit I will look forward to seeing Neil as well. Maybe I will learn more about the business of running a brew-pub in Vancouver. Poor Neil has to manage two of these places and no doubt has to keep up on all the flavours of the new beers they produce. Sounds like the perfect job, … reminds me of Norm on Cheers! Jenn and her men (Scott and the boys) had a family weekend at the hospital. She says they all got to sit down in front of the TV and watch the Leafs game Saturday night. She was sure pleased the Leafs won. I can’t wait for the day when Scott and Jenn can go back to Toronto to watch the Leafs again. Tyler and Nathan also had their hockey tryouts and Scott was happy to go along and make sure the boys had fun. When we talked today, I said to Jenn… “He is such a good Dad.” Jenn said, “He is Grrreat Dad!”
Jenn said she also had visitors over the weekend, despite being in an isolation room, and she’s always glad to see them. Luckily, Jennifer’s cousin Candice lives in Sudbury, and is able to be there so often. Candice and Jennifer - I can’t help but think of those two as the snotty kids who were always underfoot at Grandma’s place when they were little. It’s amazing to see them as two wonderful women these days who are still the best of friends .. even if they are still basically a couple of nice beer-drinkin' gals from Timmins.
So today was a new day and Jenn had some pain in her back. The med team is not sure what it is, but Jenn says they may be able to book an MRI to find out more. That might be happening tomorrow. Her digestive system is still a worry. With all the meds, and chemicals that have been forced into her body in the past month, I am not surprised. She is still on liquid nutrients and that means she cannot eat or drink normally. That is upsetting. When we are healthy, we just take so much for granted.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another good day... so many good people

I didn’t get through to Jennifer last night because her phone wasn’t working yesterday. The hospital staff replaced it and so we had a nice long chat this morning. There is good news. Jenn’s CT scan on Friday went well. She said it was all clear and nothing was showing. The med team was worried about her digestive system and decided to have a close-up look at things. So good news is always welcome. Jenn added that she is often overwhelmed by the good thoughts, good intentions and good things that people do for her. She said she was in tears yesterday because her co-workers decided to take up a collection to help her out and it was matched dollar-for-dollar by her boss, Junior. Jenn said she couldn’t get over how generous people are. She had only gone back to Pat & Marios earlier this year, after being away for many years. Jenn had worked there before in her university days and always liked it. I remember earlier this year she said she was happy to be back because it was such a good place to work with great people. No kidding eh. We also talked today about how so many ordinary people want to be able to do nice things to help other people. What a good life-lesson that is. It was just a few weeks back that Demetrios (Christine’s partner) was able to bring holy water and holy oil from Greece that his devout grandmother had sent specifically for Jennifer! How cool is that? Jennifer was so touched and grateful for that kindness. Today is hockey tryout day for Valley East. Jenn says Tyler and Nathan are all excited and will be dropping by the hospital later in the day to talk about the upcoming season. I know she wishes she could be with the boys … actually she is more of a hockey nut than most people realize. I remember one Saturday morning around last Christmas when we went out to watch the boys at a game. Nathan scored a goal and began pumping his arm, just like the NHL guys do. Jenn looked over at me and we both laughed, it was so funny.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An interesting day . . .

Part of my job involves listening to speeches and meeting well-known people, usually at a news conference. Over the years I have met many, but today, once again, I met the man who is probably my favourite speaker. I did something I’ve never done before. I asked Stephen Lewis to pose for a photo and he was kind enough to do so. I covered Lewis back in the 1970s when he was the firebrand Ontario NDP leader. He remembered and we chatted briefly.

His speeches were so good that he was often written up in TIME magazine. TIME also named him as one of the Top 100 people who shape our lives. In later years he became Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, the deputy director of UNICEF and in recent years, has been suggested for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was in Timmins again today and I was delighted to listen to him for nearly 90 minutes. It’s a good day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A good day for my fave daughter

Today was a good day for Jennifer. I could tell as soon as she picked up the phone ... she said she was feeling a lot better than she has been feeling in the past few days. There is no fever and no nausea and she said she knew she would be feeling better from the moment she woke up.
Jennifer was losing more of her hair today, but she says it doesn’t really bother her. I am not surprised. Jenn is the type of person who quickly gets a handle on reality and sets priorities. She says she knows her hair will grow back once the chemo does its dirty work on the cancer cells … and besides, like Tasha says, Jenn is gonna be beautiful with or without the hair. No argument there … all the Maltais women are so good looking.
By the way, she sure enjoys the notes people send. She told me she was especially pleased that her Uncle Ronald took the time to write a nice letter. She really enjoyed reading and re-reading it. The Care Mail thing is one of the best things at the hospital. Scott’s Mom, Denise told me about it a few weeks back … if you want to send Jenn an e-mail just send it to the attention of Jennifer, Room 4665, Cancer Centre at . Every weekday, the volunteers at the hospital print out the messages and bring them to the patient’s room.
So that’s a good thing. Here’s another good thing.
Jenn says Denise is becoming like her own personal ‘super nurse’ because she provides such good care and just spoils her. How nice is that?
Jennifer had another CT scan today. The med team is checking on her digestive system because its acting up a bit. They’re pretty confident it’s just a reaction of the chemo, but they’re not taking any chances. Jenn will get the results on Friday. We had a discussion today about the level of care she is getting. So far, Jennifer has nothing but praise for the people at the Sudbury Cancer Centre. We are lucky to have it.
In the meantime, this means no food or drink for Jenn. She is being fed by a tube that carries liquid nutrients right into her body. I felt bad last night because I absent-mindedly told her about the steak and mushrooms I had for supper. Jennifer was jealous. She says her mouth waters when she sees a food commercial on TV. The good thing about the nutrient tube is that Jenn says she is getting her strength back. But I have to remember not to mention food when we chat. Funny how we have to be careful what we say … Jenn was mentioning to Scott just today that she felt really tired earlier in the week. She told Scott… “I felt like I’d been hit by a bus…” Nathan and Tyler suddenly looked at each other in shock, thinking their poor Mom had really been hit by a bus. Scott had to explain to them that Mom just felt that way. Jenn and I had such a good laugh when she told me about that tonight. By the way, Jenn says thanks for the cards, the e-mails and the kind comments and sends her love to everyone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carrying on...

Jennifer says the medications she is taking are making her more tired that usual. I sure believe her. She and Scott were supposed to watch the Maple Leafs exhibition game last night, but poor Jenn fell asleep when the game was on. Knowing what a hockey fan Jenn is, especially a Leafs fan, I know she would do anything to watch that game. But she says it could also be the new bed she has... she's says it is toooo comfy! We chatted a bit last night and I could tell she was soooo tired, so we ended our call early. Yesterday was interesting in that I had time to chat with an old friend whose family also coped with cancer. Terry Laporte was able to provide some helpful advice and insights. He actually wrote a very nice book about the situation in his family. I read it all before bed last night and I will be pleased to share it with Scott and Jennifer, soon. Today Jennifer sounded upbeat. I think that's because Denise dropped by for a nice visit. Jennifer also said she noticed that she is now beginning to lose some of her hair... but she says she doesn't think she will be too bothered by it. Scott has already shaved his head and Jenn says the boys are thinking of it as well. What a cool gang they are. Some things in life are sure not perfect, but they are carrying on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Something new!

Just a quick update today. Jennifer was certainly upbeat when we chatted awhile ago. She is still fighting a fever, but they’re trying out some new meds and she is hopeful. They’re also giving her extra nutrients through the I.V. which she says makes things a lot easier and gives her strength. The big news is that they’ve given Jenn a new air-bed … it’s valued at about $70,000. The nice thing is that it inflates and deflates so that the patient can adjust it to their personal comfort level. Jenn thinks it is pretty cool. Me too! I can imagine the boys will get a kick out of it once they see it too. I have to admit I am amazed at how good the treatment is at the Sudbury hospital. I know the past few days have been rough on her, but I am confident she is slowly getting her strength back. I hadn’t talked to her since Sunday… she gave me hell for that too. That was nice. I like it when Jenn gives me hell … I can tell she is getting stronger.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Round one is over...

Good news and less-than-good news to report this weekend. The good part is that Jennifer’s first ever session with chemo-therapy is over. The final dosage was administered Saturday. One dosage of chemo was a three-day dosage and the second was a six-day dosage. They were done simultaneously. Jenn didn’t have too much nausea during the week, but she did have some today. Another side effect is extreme exhaustion and a nasty fever. The fever let up for most of today, and because I was driving back to Timmins, I haven’t talked to her to find out how she has been in the past few hours. Luckily, the chemo has NOT affected her hair too much… (Knock on wood!). But the next week or so will be a time of rebuilding her strength and getting her body systems back to normal. Then there will be testing to find out how well the first session of chemo worked. Jenn says it is likely that a second session of chemo-therapy will be done just to be sure. The nurse said that Jenn’s white blood platelets were almost non-existent today. A member of the med-team explained that’s not good because we all need those platelets otherwise we could suffer unusual internal bleeding, heavy bruising and life-threatening nosebleeds. On the other hand, it means the chemo – cocktail is doing the job of destroying all the cancer cells along with the platelets. So today Jenn was getting a transfusion of new blood platelets, an I.V. solution to hydrate her and replace her electrolytes, another solution of anti-biotics to fight the fever, muscle relaxants to fight the spasms, and anti-nausea drugs. At one point today, I counted six bags of fluids on the I.V. pole! Jenn also had no appetite last night or today. Poor me, I had to eat her chicken and rice at lunchtime….. Yecchhh, not gonna offer to do that again! It was grrreat to spend time with Jenn and talk and get caught up. It was not great to see her struggling with the exhaustion and discomfort. But Jenn says she is going to get through this. She really loves the encouragement she gets from all the cards and e-mail care messages. And sometimes if she can’t answer the phone, it’s because she is sleeping or is not able to reach the phone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I think Spock (the Vulcan) had it right

Jennifer had another less-than-pleasant day on Thursday (Chemo Day 6). I spoke to her late last night and her fever was back. Things had improved a bit during the day, but towards evening, she was feverish again. Jenn says she expects it is just one of those things she will have to work through. And she says she has full confidence in the medical team looking after her. She says she has a whole new respect for the work of nurses and other medical staff. Another good thing is that Jenn says although she was weak and feverish, she wasn’t nauseous. She was happy to see Nate for first time in a couple of days. She said he had to wear a mask, gloves and a gown, but it was still nice to see him. As sick as Jenn feels, she does enjoy the Care Mail messages people send. She also admitted she watched the new Survivor program on television and says its something for her to look forward to and follow. I thought how much we take for granted being able to get up, get out of bed and so somewhere. As Jenn was talking I started thinking of Mr. Spock and the Star Trek movies and Vulcan medicine where the healthy Vulcan can place his hand on the head of the sick person and absorb all the pain and suffering. I wish it could be that easy to just reach out and take all the sickness away.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gonna miss that voice...

It was sad to hear that Mary Travers died on Wednesday. Her name may not mean much to a lot of people unless you say it was “Mary … from Peter, Paul and Mary”, the famous 1960s folk singers. Her voice, loud and pure as a bell, was the mainstay of songs like If I Had A Hammer, Blowin’ In The Wind and The Times They Are A Changin’. I miss folk music. It was so simple and meaningful. Peter, Paul and Mary made people think and it was emotional music. They performed at the famous civil rights March on Washington in 1963 when Martin Luther King spoke. I believe their sound was the sound of 1960s protest movement more than any other.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A rough day for Jennifer

Wednesday, Day 5 of the chemo-cocktail and Jennifer is feeling weak, tired, and a bit achey. If that wasn’t enough, she got a fever somehow today and they’re treating that with anti-biotics and more IV fluids. She said it was a rough day. Despite that we were able to share a few laughs tonight just chatting about daughter-dad stuff. She says the fever is making her weak and the medical staff have isolated her from most visitors. But she says she does enjoy the fact that she’s has received many, many very nice Care Mail messages. She also got a couple of very nice phone calls including a chat with her favourite little brother, Neil. She felt pretty good about that. One of the good things about the meds she is on is that she is sleeping a lot more. I am sure that makes the day a bit easier for her. She said she felt bad a couple of times today when Denise or Scott would come by the room … she would be awake for awhile and then just drift off to sleep. With that in mind, I didn’t chat long with Jenn tonight. But I knew she was awake when I told her I loved her and to have sweet dreams.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not a bad day after all : )

Today (Tuesday) was Day 4 of chemo-therapy for Jennifer and she says she was feeling sick as soon as she woke up, but says she is a bit amazed that the medical staff is giving her Benadryl to fight off the nausea. She says it seems to work okay, except for a few times when she thinks about certain foods… and then she gets woozy. But Jenn says she was happy with her physio therapy today. She said she was able to lift her legs a bit so that’s a positive sign, but like Jenn says, there is still a long way to go. She says it takes a lot of intense concentration to make the connection from her brain to her legs, but she says it seems to slowly be getting better. She said she was pleased that her physio therapist was so happy. Jenn also had some quick visitors today. John and Gerry dropped by and that was a good thing, and so did her long-time girlfriend Roberta. Roberta drove up from Owen Sound. Ontario is a big province and the drive from Owen Sound took five hours! To make the day nicer, Aunt Sue called from Timmins and Jenn said that was a really welcome call. Scott was in with Tyler today, but poor Nathan had to say home as he still has sniffles. Nathan is promising to get better real soon. But she said she really had a nice talk with Tyler. Scott is back at work and while he is glad to be back on the job, he tells Jenn it is sometimes hard to stay focussed on work. I sure know that feeling. I also had some positive thoughts today as I ran into two different people, at two different times and they each know of adults with leukemia who are survivors. That made my day. I am also feeling guilty that I have missed three phone calls from my brother Ronald … Either I am on the phone with Jenn or out of the house… or sometimes just sleeping. It doesn’t help that my phone is busy when I go online, because I still have dial-up internet service. I am sure we will connect soon.

Monday was her first rough day

Just got off the phone with Jennifer… it was a quick call because her breakfast was sitting on the table in front of her getting cold. But she sure sounded tired. She says she is pretty loaded up with meds, including anti-nausea drugs, muscle relaxants and the chemo-cocktail as she called it. She said Day 3 of chemo-therapy (Monday) was a rough day for her for the first time, and last night was uncomfortable because she has spasms in her legs. But Jenn says that could be a good thing if it means that more feeling is coming back to her legs. She was also feeling a bit down because she didn’t see her boys Monday. Nathan caught a sniffle at school, so he and Tyler stayed home. Jenn says they might able to come up to the hospital today if they wear masks. With the H1N1-flu scare in Ontario now, the hospital now has masks and hand wash stations at every door. Jenn did say the day was nicer when Scott dropped by with a dozen roses to freshen up the room and Denise, Scott’s mom, brought in an amazing salad. And then Scott came back with a feed of home made spaghetti. The best thing is that Jenn had a smile in her voice and I know she is strong. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A lot to learn

Jenn was tired, or maybe just really, really relaxed when we talked tonight. I almost didn’t get through to her. I found out that the hospital switchboard won’t take patient calls after 10:00 p.m. But I guess my plea to the switchboard person was urgent enough, yet polite enough, that I got through for a quick chat. Jenn says Day 2 of chemo-therapy seems to be okay, but she says she feels tired, likely because of the anti-nausea drugs she is taking. Anyway, she was tired enough that in the middle of our chat, she would just do a really big yawwwwn… I laughed. Then I started yawning. It happened a few times. Maybe she was giving me a hint. She usually dozes off before 11:00 p.m.
Jenn says she got a graphic impression of how powerful the chemo drugs are today. The nurse had to wear special white coveralls and goggles as he hooked the IV solution up to her PICC lines. Jenn said the nurse explained that the drugs are highly acidic and cannot come into contact with bare skin. I have the feeling that we will be learning lots about these things in the coming days.

Something different

In the past, this would be the time of year I make choke-cherry jam. But I noticed that most of the fruit on the tree has been disappearing this year. I thought it was the birds. But then this morning, when I was in the backyard putting clothes on the line, I heard something rustling the choke-cherry tree. Sure enough I surprised the furry little thief of a chipmunk and he was too frightened to get out of the tree. You might be able to see him the first photo, right in the middle. If not, I zoomed-in on the second photo and lightened it so you can see the little booger. I will have to go shopping now and get some seeds. The little guy looks too skinny with the cold weather on the way.

There he is!

I am proud of Jenn : )

Jennifer’s first day of chemo-therapy went okay, she says. She didn’t feel anything unusual but she is aware it will take a couple of days for the medication to kick in. She is amazed at the huge array of medication. There are the steroids to reduce inflammation, there are blood thinners to increase circulation, and there is vitamin-K (whatever THAT does). And she and Scott are now doing “a shot” of carrot juice each day.
She also had plenty of visitors and that sure brought her spirits up. Even when she took a nap, visitors dropped by and left gifts. Jenn was pleased with the soup that cousin Valerie brought… and she sure likes the new DVD player that Val left as well. Of course she was happy too when Candice arrived with John and Gee (Giselle) who drove down from Timmins. Gee’s sister, who is a hairstylist, sent along some scarves and hats Jenn might like when she loses her hair. The hair loss thing still bugs Jenn a bit, and she mentioned she might take the advice of a nurse and just get it cut beforehand. She is still not too sure.
We talked for the longest time last night (Which is great – but I think I talked too much after half a litre of wine) and while we talked about cancer patients we’ve known in the past, we agreed that even though chemo-therapy is not easy, it seems that they’re making it easier for patients to cope with it these days. Jenn says she sure feels grateful for the treatment and says she feels she has to do something now to “give back” in her words. I am proud of her for that. Hmmm, I’ve always been proud of Jenn.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A refreshing day for Jenn.

Tomorrow (Saturday Sept.12) is going to be an uncertain day for Jennifer. She will begin her chemo-therapy. She is a bit worried about it. But her spirits were sure high tonight when we talked. I think part of that is because she had enjoyed a refreshing shower today with the help of the nurses. She said it sure beats those bedside sponge baths. How much we take for granted eh?
Jennifer also had a visit from Denise, Line and Amy, (her mom-in-law, aunt and cousin) who were able to bring her outside to enjoy the sunshine for awhile. How nice is that? Jenn says she also enjoyed her physio-therapy session and is feeling good about the feeling and strength in her legs… it’s not complete yet, but she is optimistic. She is also practising her balance for sitting up. She says it is amazing how much we rely on our stomach muscles to do things. She doesn’t have full feeling of her abdominal muscles so that’s a challenge right now.
If you read the posting earlier today, you will have noted the information about Care Mail. Jenn says it works. She got my first message today. I plan to send more messages whenever the mood strikes me. But the best part of the day, for me, is the wonderful long talks we have. What a treat that has become.
So let’s hope the chemo-therapy does what it is supposed to do. Jennifer knows she will be feeling poorly, but her main worry is the fact that she will be prone to infection if any germs get through. Scott told the boys today that Jenn is off limits for kisses for the next two weeks; hugs only and lots of hand washing. The upside is that the side effects of chemo-therapy are said to be only temporary and will end once the treatment does. My worry is that with all this H1N1 Flu going around, somebody might be a carrier of the flu bug and not know it. Regardless, I am going to take my cue from Jennifer and keep smiling.

Care Mail!

Denise sent me a wonderful e-mail this morning telling me about an excellent service provided to Sudbury Regional Hospital patients. It's called Care Mail. It lets you send an e-mail message to a patient, which is then printed up by volunteers and the message is delivered to that patient's room. What a nice thing. So if you want to send a quick note to Jennifer you can send the e-mail to her attention at room 4665 of the Laurentian Hospital cancer treatment centre to
I already sent a message this morning to see how it works.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jenn's new room

Jennifer had her final radiation treatment today; at least for the time being … She said she was happy to do it. And she is feeling pretty good. Next is the chemo-therapy treatment. The medical staff told her that Friday is a day off to relax and gather her strength. Then on Saturday the chemo begins. Jenn says she is pretty sure she is ready for it. She says she has been eating lots and lots. But for Jenn, that’s a relative thing. Jenn was never a big eater. She weighed 120 when she was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago, and she lost a bit of weight since then. She says she is learning to like the hospital food, but she was spoiled today when Junior sent up a deluxe Greek Salad and Bruschetta Bread. If you’ve ever eaten at Pat & Mario’s you know how good that is. On the other hand, I’ve known Jenn to eat only half a dessert of chocolate cheesecake. Who could possibly do that? How on Earth can anyone stop eating cheesecake? Oh well, that’s Jenn. Good thing I like leftovers!
Anyway, she has had her PICC lines installed… they are the double-tubes that will carry the chemo-medication inside her body. They’re inserted through a vein in the arm and go all the way inside her to a point near her heart. You can read more about it here:
Jenn’s cousin Valerie and Dennis dropped by for a visit today. Jenn said she was happy to see them since they just returned from a vacation in Newfoundland. She said they helped her move down the hall to her new room.
Oh by the way, Jennifer has a new room. She is now in room 4665 at Laurentian Hospital’s cancer treatment centre. If you are able to call her, the toll-free number is 1-866-469-0822. Jenn said she loves the room because it’s the same size as the regular ward room but she has it all to herself. And she is happy that it has a window too. I know Jenn really misses being outside. She and Scott and the boys live in the country and they like it like that. If you look in the Archives over there on the right side of the page, check out September ’06 and see a photo of Jenn and Scott after a day of fishing. She was the “pickerel princess” back then. Anyway, Jenn is pleased the hospital has put an extra cot in the room so that Scott can spend more time there. She figures she will be in the hospital for another month, and so she is already planning a few movie nights with Scott and her boys.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

'Kick it in the ass' said the doctor!

Jennifer was sure upbeat tonight when we chatted. It amazing how much we can talk because anyone who knows me knows I am not much of a phone freak. Anyway, she said her Oncologist Dr. Pedro Lopez came in to her room today and had a nice long talk and Jenn says he is sure speaking positively. I sure feel good about that because I am thinking the doctor wouldn’t speak that way unless he was feeling fairly certain there will be a good outcome. Jenn says the doctor is confident the radiation treatments have done much to shrink the original tumour. Today was her fifth round of radiation. Jenn quoted the doctor when she said he told her there is a “very, very good chance we will kick this thing in the ass.” Dr. Lopez also said the effort now is not just to deal with the cancer but also to eliminate it. On the other side, Jenn says she expects the chemo-therapy will begin tomorrow or Friday. The chemo is to kill the cancer cells in her blood. She says she has been told she will lose her hair within a week. She is putting on a brave face, but I know she will miss it because Jenn has always had long beautiful hair. She is also preparing herself mentally for the challenge of dealing with the weakness and sickness of being on chemo-therapy. She also says that as soon as she loses her hair, Scott has promised to shave his head as well. That doesn’t surprise me. Scott is an amazing man. I told Jenn that she and Scott are truly lucky to have found each other in their lives. She says she was also told that her hair can grow back differently. We laughed and joked about whether she would be a chatty blonde or a wild redhead. Once the chemo-therapy begins Jennifer will be moved to an isolation room. But there will be a phone there and I will post the phone number here. By the way, she was pleased tonight when I read her some of the comments that so many people are posting and sending in e-mails. I too am so pleased at the love and kindness so many people have shown her. Let’s all keep good thoughts.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Three phone calls to get through...

Jenn had another busy day today. The first time I called she was on the other phone with Scott. The second time I called she was getting a bath. On the third try, I got through. Yes she was busy, but she was feeling upbeat about her physio-therapy. She says she is feeling more sensation in her legs. But the medical staff was quick to suggest not to get too hopeful too soon because there is no guarantee all feeling will come back. Jenn is hoping that the radiation treatments on the leftover part of the tumour still near her spine will eventually shrink that tumour to the point where it no longer applies any pressure on her spine. Also she is grudgingly getting used to being poked with needles. Today they took a bone marrow sample from her hip and she has to give blood samples every morning so the lab can check her blood platelets. The one thing she is a bit worried about is how well she will handle chemo-therapy. She is a strong woman, but that sort of treatment can be upsetting. We will all be there for her.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A nice Labour Day morning...

I chatted with Jennifer today and she was in such a good mood. She had her second radiation treatment this morning and is feeling optimistic. I think she is glad that something is being done and she is so hopeful that progress will be made. Jenn says she already misses the nurses at Sudbury General, but I am sure she'll soon be friends with the staff at the cancer treatment centre. I didn’t get a chance to see her this morning because I had to head out early to get back home. It was a nice quiet drive along Highway 144 and I enjoyed watching the sun come up. At one point I pulled over on the highway for a stretch, a yawn, a whiz and a scratch when I noticed how pretty the scenery was as the fog lifted off the lake. So I snapped a photo.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Busy Sunday eh.

Updated news about Jennifer. She had a radiation treatment today at the Sudbury Cancer Centre, which is part of the Sudbury Regional Hospitals (Laurentian Hospital) at 705 523-7100 Room No. 4661 (Bed 2). Or if you are out of town, call toll free at 1-866-469-0822. I tried the number and got as far as the switchboard, because her room line was busy the times I called. I haven’t seen her today, but Scott says she is doing okay. The boys and I had a good day. We enjoyed a very nice barbecue at Aunt Line and Uncle Mo’s place. The burgers and sausage were grrreat. Line’s cream cheese-caramel dip dessert was fannnntastic! The boys had fun swimming and once we got back to the house, it was such a warm day that we spent another half hour in the pool. It was also nice to spend time with Victoria, Christine and Demetrios.I also took a nice photo of the kids this morning. Tyler just read this over and says its all cool!

Saturday, September 05, 2009


It was a long, long day at the hospital today for Jenn. The nice part was the fact that Scott and the boys headed out early with Buddy in the back of the truck. Jennifer loved seeing the dog and yep, she got all teary-eyed. Later in the day Christine, Demetrios and Victoria arrived from down south for a visit. Danny and Collette arrived from Timmins as well. Candace’s husband Ron also dropped in for a quick hello. And then Uncle Mo and Aunt Line dropped by for awhile. So Jenn was indeed pleased with all the love and attention. She also had a visitor from the medical team who informed Jenn and Scott on the type of cancer she has. Jenn has something very similar to Acute Myeloid Lymphoma, which is a form of Leukemia. It’s hard to say much more than that, except it is not a welcome ailment by any means. I don’t know much about Leukemia and I am not willing to speculate on what it all means. Jenn was told it will likely mean her treatment will consist of radiation and chemo-therapy. She admits she is not looking forward to the treatment, but says she does want it to be done so she can get better. Jenn was upbeat just before supper when she was able to move her toes and her ankles too. She says when she concentrates, she is able to do it when she looks right at her feet. So as a test, we put the blanket over the feet and I held her toes. I said try to move them, and she did. It was so cool. She was upbeat enough that we snapped a nice photo when Danny and Collette were there. Click the pic, Jenn looks pretty good eh. Jenn and I also enjoyed a few moments of making smart aleck remarks about the world in general. It was so nice to have a good laugh.

More wine and a manicure please...

Jennifer had a good day on Friday with more visitors and more flowers she could imagine. She really enjoyed seeing everyone. Cousin Candice dropped by along with one of their lifelong friends, Carol Chamberlain from Earlton. It was a great day for those girls. Jenn says she may take Candice up on her offer of getting a bottle of wine and sitting around and doing their nails! Her CT scan on Friday went well so that the medical team could take another tissue sample of the tumour for a biopsy. It wasn’t as puzzling as expected. Scott and Jenn were told than in order to determine the exact type of cancer, the lab people needed another tissue sample. It seems there are many, many different types of cancer and knowing the exact nature of the cancer will allow them to respond in the most effective way. Scott says he and Jenn have been told that Jennifer will likely need radiation treatments. Sometime in the next week or so, Jenn will be transferred from Sudbury General over to the Sudbury Cancer Treatment Centre at Laurentian Hospital to begin her treatment. Today promises to be another good day. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The latest stuff...

I saw Jennifer last night and it was so very nice to spend some time with her. I got into town just before her bedtime, but the nurses were kind enough to let me sneak into the room for a bit. And if that wasn't enought, Jenn had saved me a piece of chocolate cake! Woohoo. What a good kid she is. So Jenn is looking well and she is in her usual good spirits, but I think she is getting tired of being stuck in a hospital bed. The physio department has provided her with a wheelchair and she also has a daily workout with the physio therapists, which she really enjoys. Scott said she was working hard enough to work up a sweat, but after a couple of hours of that she really enjoys hitting the bed for awhile. She is able to move her toes, and she has "twitching" in her legs, but other than that, Jennifer is still "numb" from the waist down. That is certainly concerning and puzzling. There is no indication how long that will last. Jenn says she will take it one day at a time. She is learning to move from the bed to the wheelchair on her own. Like Scott says, she is very independent. Also today, the medical team is taking another biopsy from whatever is left from the tumour on her spine. That's a bit puzzling, but Scott sees is as being more frustrating that worrying. That's because they have to do another CT scan so they can pinpoint precisley where to insert the needle for the biopsy. Scott doesn't like that Jenn has to endure more discomfort than is necessary.

Jennifer is also the animal lover in the house, and when Scott showed her a new movie of Buddy romping the yard, Jenn got all teary-eyed. So Scott and boys will be bringing the dog the hospital parking lot on the weekend, so Jenn can see him. If you haven't seen Buddy lately, he is a massive white husky about the size of a bear. (click the pic!) I snapped a photo of him this morning after we waited with Tyler and Nathan at the school bus stop. The boys were pleased I was in town. As usual, we honoured the tradition and we had chocolate cake for breakfast. We have to save some cake for the weekend. The boys' favourite cousin Victoria is heading north for a visit.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hoping she gets smart-alecky

What a change from this time last week! I spoke to Jennifer earlier this afternoon and she was in good spirits and feeling a bit tired after a session of physio-therapy. She was waiting for Scott to get her lunch from the restaurant. Her boss Junior says he doesn’t want her eating hospital foods so she has to order her meals from the restaurant menu everyday. Jenn’s a salad hog… wait till he finds out how much lettuce he’ll be missing. : ) . I will be visiting her soon and more of Scotts family will be heading for Sudbury as well. It’s going to be a full house. Can’t wait to see Jenn. Can’t wait for her to start getting smart-alecky again.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

She hung up on me!

Just kidding. Actually it was Jenn's cell phone battery that cut out. I spoke to her this morning and she said she has had so many calls from friends and well-wishers that her battery was just about done. She said 'Dad, if the phone cuts out, it's because the battery is dying...' Yeah, right! Jenn is still in the Sudbury General hospital and was having a good day today. She said the nurse was washing her hair and today she begins the physio-therapy on her legs.
Overall, it's a nice, nice day eh.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Much better now...

Updater! Scott just called to say that the results from the CT scans done on Monday show no more tumours and no more cancer for Jennifer. Scott was so happy. Scott said it gave him goosebumps to finally pass on some good news. We both laughed. Damn, it's great to get good news. I can't wait to chat with Jenn again.

Feeling better

We’re sure feeling better today about things. I spoke with Jennifer last night and then again this morning, and it was a great to hear her. She sounded much better than she has in the past few days and said she was feeling better too. She said she had some feeling in her toes. The best part is that she has had lots of visitors dropping by. Even her boss, Junior, dropped in with a take-out supper -- Jenn said it was much better than the hospital food. It’s kinda nice when your boss runs the biggest restaurant business in Sudbury. The boys were up to see her and she says they will be dropping by after school today as well. She also said she is grateful for the many expressions of kindness from so many people. Jenn has her cell phone with her, so if you know the number, give her a call. If you don’t have the number, e-mail me and I will send it to you.