Losing Friends……and family

This has not been a good news week. We received notice of a Florida friend’s passing after a 15 year battle with cancer. The funeral is today in Mississauga where they spent their summers. We go to the funeral today.
The following day we received notice of the passing of one of my wife’s cousins. She had contracted cancer of the gall bladder in May. We go to her funeral in London on Thursday.
This morning Pat read about the passing of another Florida friend yesterday as a result of heart problems. This person was a lively, happy go lucky guy that everyone loved. He will be missed by many.

Breast Cancer

Following is a narrative written by my wife on Facebook about her recent experience with breast cancer surgery. We now have to wait for her to heal and then find out  what follow-up treatment will be required. Facebook friends have been very supportive. Their comments are much appreciated.

I had breast cancer 35 years ago last month and underwent a lumpectomy and a total axillary lymphadenectomy on my left side. I was living in Saskatoon Saskatchewan at the time and went to Toronto for surgery and radiation since the prescribed treatment from a very uncaring surgeon was a total mastectomy. I have never thought of or referred to myself as a survivor. As some stranger said to me a week ago Thursday – Well, you had a longer life and raised your children. I am still in shock that someone, whom I have never met and who I will never see again said something so totally thoughtless.
About 3 months ago I learned that I had breast cancer again – this time on my right side. It has been an uphill battle with the Ontario Health Care System – I have not experienced this level of frustration in any other Province – but a week ago today I had a modified mastectomy and a sentinel lymph node removal. Exceptionally good and caring surgeon and an excellent experience at Joe Brant hospital in Burlington. It was to be day surgery – yes that is what they do these days to avoid infection – but I was kept over night as I had some breathing difficulties. Released with no dressings but simply Steri-strips at both incision sites. I was showering 48 hours after release and wearing a loose bra the same day. Tylenol took care of any discomfort for 3 days. I feel very fortunate.
Because I have lymphedema in my left arm and torso, all vitals and treatment had to be done on my right side. One young nurse termed me as paranoid which gave me the opportunity to explain the dangers involved in taking blood pressure and using needles on the affected side. She checked with her charge nurse and came back to apologise. Hopefully the next person with lymphedema that she treats will have understanding and not scorn.
I had a manual lymphatic drainage treatment on the Friday before the surgery and one on the Thursday after. There was no swelling at the site. I will have another in two weeks. These cost $100 per treatment and are not covered by our health care but are covered only to $450 a year by my supplemental coverage. Because the swelling in my abdomen presses on my diaphragm, I have trouble breathing but this is still not covered. The useless antibiotics that my family doctor keeps prescribing for this is covered. Go figure. All of the tests for lymphedema are covered but none of the treatment is. 75% of the cost of the custom sleeves for my arm – they cost $400 each vs $120 off the rack which are not covered – are covered by a special fund but none of the compression garments – at $190 each – for my torso are covered.
You would think that if you develop a condition from surgery for cancer that the cost of treatment would be covered. There are no medications or corrective surgeries for lymphedema. It is a life long and life altering condition. Sometimes I can’t put on my socks or tie my shoes because I cannot bend in the middle. Clothes with long sleeves have to be carefully purchased and form fitting ones are out of the question. The affected regions must be kept out of the sun (makes going to the beach problematic) and protected from insect bites and cuts. No more manicures in case of infection. Can’t walk a golf course any more because of the uneven ground and walking long distances is not going to happen because of shortness of breath.
I do not see the surgeon until November 7 to find out the follow-on treatment. I am afraid of radiation since that damages the lymph nodes and so am very concerned about developing lymphedema in my right side. I don’t know how I would manage with my full upper body being affected. Others do so I would have to learn to manage.
I am grateful for a very understanding husband who has cooked and cleaned this past week, who has put my compression sleeves on for me because I cannot put pressure or weight on my right side yet, who always puts on my socks and ties my shoes when I can’t, and who is undoing and doing up my bra after my showers. He even switched sides on our bed to allow me to use my left side to maneuver in and out.
I would like to say to that thoughtless person – I am not finished with my life yet. It may not be as easy to live as yours, but I expect a few more years to enjoy the world and my family!”

I will write more in the coming days about follow up treatment that may be required post surgery and about coping with and managing the effects of lymphedema which is a major concern on its own. Unfortunately the medical profession knows little about lymphedema and how to treat it.

Western Trip

Starting August 15, we took a trip to Saskatchewan to visit family and do some genealogy research by attending a Toth family pilgrimage to Kaspovar settlement near Esterhazy Saskatchewan.

Because of bridge problems on the Trans-Canada highway near Nipigon, Ontario we decided to travel the U.S. side of the border, entering the U.S. over the Bluewater Bridge at Sarnia/Port Huron, then north on I-75 through Michigan and then west on U.S. 2 through Bemidji  MN and Grand Forks, ND and then north to Brandon Manitoba, crossing the border into Canada at International Peace Gardens border crossing.

2016-08-15 16.01.48
Mackinac suspension bridge
2016-08-16 13.05.56
Lake Superior Park

After staying the first night at Escanaba, Michigan, this was a noon hour stop near Duluth/Superior in Northern Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior.

2016-08-16-19-08-25-copy

We stopped for the second night in Bemidji, Mn. and had to visit Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox to take their pictures.

The next day we travelled west on US 2 to Grands Forks and then angled our way north to the Canadian Border at International Peace Gardens that I have heard so much about. I was a little disappointed as the Peace Gardens are actually separate from the border crossing. We did not take the time to enter the Peace Gardens so this was a bit of a non-event.

We continued northward to Brandon and as we had a bit of extra time we took a detour to Carberry, Man. just east of Brandon. I worked there at BMO in the mid-sixties.

2016-08-17-16-44-28-copy

This is the house I lived in while in Carberry. Initially the single men lived here on the second floor, but as people were transferred I ended up living there by myself. Of course, the house did not look this good in the sixties as it is now a heritage site and has been restored.

2016-08-17-16-47-24-copy

This is the bank office where I worked. It is a three story buiding with the bank on the main floor, the manager’s residence on the second floor and additional residence on the third floor which was unused but previously provided premises for the bank’s single male employees. I was surprised to see the structure still standing on Main street but it has been declared a heritage site and is in the process of restoration. BMO has a new modern building for its offices just a half block south on Main street.

We stayed overnight in Brandon and continued the next day to Regina, about 4 hours away. I took a few pictures along the way.

2016-08-18-11-34-06-copy

This is typical of the landscape between Brandon and Regina – wide open spaces and huge agricultural farms.

2016-08-18-12-00-54

This is a typical town in southern Saskatchewan. The two small grain elevators on the right are similar to elevators that used to appear in every small town in Saskatchewan. Their appearance on the horizon was the indicator that you were nearing the town. Over the years these elevators have been phased out, demolished and replaced by much larger inland grain terminals as shown in the center of the photo.

While in Regina Pat and I took a day trip to my childhood farm and the Serath area where I attended school.

 

The house used to be clearly visible from the road but is now surrounded by a huge growth of trees. The old barn has been replaced which is a good thing as it listed northward as the result of a small tornado many years ago.

Exploring the area, we noticed a huge gravel operation has taken over  two pastures that we used for grazing cattle. It has also destroyed a small lake that was a popular swimming hole. Only a small pond remains.

 

 

The rock and plaque on the left mark the location of  Crosswood School where I attended grades 1 and 2. It was a one room country school for grades 1-8 with about 20 students. Wet conditions in Saskatchewan have prevented maintenance work around the marker. The Maypole on the right marks the location of the school I attended in grades 3 through 11. Serath RidgeSchool was the amalgamation of three country schools that were closed. Because of the limitation to teacher qualifications, I had to complete grade twelve at the high school in Raymore and was paid $6.00 per day for self transportation. After many years it too closed and the school structure was dismantled. Part of the school was salvaged and moved to a community near Regina where it serves as an art gallery and library.

The original grocery store structure is all that remains of the small community of Serath. The pond on the right served as the school’s skating rink when it froze over in the winter. The fuel tank holds the name Serath in bold letters. This was done by the property owner when the Province decided to remove the highway sign that denoted the community for so many years. The Province cannot touch that tank and so the name remains.

We made one more stop before returning to Regina. This was at North Southey where I attended Zion Lutheran Church. While not used, it remains in good condition and is maintained by local area residents.

My next blog will explain more about this stop.

 

 

 

 

Gardening 2016

 

We moved into a new place last year. It was a virgin property for a gardener – nothing but grass in the whole yard. This photo is what we did as a starter. We sculpted a small front garden with a featured water fountain and laid a front walkway of flagstone to give our place a Muskoka Ontario look. This spring we will add flower beds along the the south side of the house and garage and add a small patio area beside the rear deck. Watch this blog for our progress.13268310_10153508535656631_4687090468103096003_o (1)

Day Two

Previously I said I love to travel.

One of the best trips was a 16 day cruise to Asia in March 2015. The Azamara cruise ship left from Osaka Japan with 2 day stops in Hiroshima, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. I have about 900 photos to share about the sights, sounds, people and food encountered on this cruise along with the stories the photo tell.

This is why I want to blog. Here is downtown Shanghai from the cruise ship deck in the harbour.

First Day

For several years I have written in my personal diary to record daily events, special events and just about anything else that came to mind. I have also made a few attempts to maintain a blog. Each attempt went so far and then fizzled out like a light rain shower.

Hopefully this course will provide help to determine a direction and purpose of a blog.

I have travelled quite a lot and have many pictures and stories to share about people and places.

Next Cruise

006-Edit (640x480) (2)

002 (640x480)Well we have done it – booked another cruise. It leaves from Miami on January 27 with stops at Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan Porto Rico and Grand Turk Island. In between those stops we will experience 2 full days at sea aboard the Carnival cruise ship Glory. We also booked daily tours at each of the stops – we want to see the communities, see the people and experience the culture. I plan to take many photos and publish them here. Bon Voyage, soon.