Whoooeeeeee I Made it Five Years!!!!!!!!!

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
ChillHouse Buenos Aires
Read my review - 5/5 stars

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Whooo hoooo I made it! Five years this weekend:  well five years a few weeks ago but that was just the opening chapter of the journey and it was so fast and furious and confusing that I hardly can remember much about those first few days in emergency – coded 'FOS' – ‘Full of Shit’ and just waiting for the pain to subside and for the big blowout to occur.

So many of you were there with me for this chapter of my life – some very close by, literally holding my hand and many more, far away, holding my heart and sending me waves of wishes that washed up carrying hope.  I remain grateful for all of it:  the friends, the family and the whole experience.  Believe it or not, I really believe I am a stronger, better person for having heard the ‘you have cancer’ words from that socially inept young surgeon. 

Yup – it has been five years!  On the one hand, it still seems surreal:  like it was a story I heard or read and not one I lived, but those words did come tumbling out of the guy looking down at me on the gurney – the guy who just minutes before had performed an emergency surgery to find out why on earth I was even more "FOS" than normal.  And you all know – my ‘normal’ carries a pretty big ‘shit’ load.

So even though that emergency surgery was a few weeks before the really big one, I am choosing to celebrate/honor/remember the date of the second one – the one where, as it seems now, the carefully assembled group of talented surgeons really did get all those nasty cancer cells that formed a tumor that blocked my colon and eventually spread into the rest of my abdomen. The wonder of surprises!  So maybe it was the right decision, albeit one of the most difficult ones I have ever had to make, to leave six,  pretty personal, organs behind.  I still shake my head every time I think of how much of me was cut out that day (colon, uterus, ovaries,  fallopian tubes, appendix, 23 lymph nodes) and how the body is to be able to relearn/reroute or re something and just move on and heal.  Simply amazing and the credit goes to the skill of that team and the luck I had all the way through.  Lucky to have my blockage in Calgary and not a few months earlier in the middle of the Egyptian desert or while floating down the Nile, lucky to have friends insist I stop sucking up the pain and actually go to the emergency, lucky that the first surgeon wasn’t a cowboy who may have tried to do more than he did, and so, so lucky to have had the functional recovery of my bowel.  I give thanks with every single poo!  Serious thanks.

With that shocking news five years ago, and believe me it was shocking - I was really fit and healthy....I thought.......I was forced to access everything.  At first I just wanted to live, then I wanted a life without a colostomy bag, then a life without diapers, then a life without the side effects of the chemotherapy…… when you are faced with loss – loss of function, loss of control, loss of power:   you really learn so much about yourself.  My fifteen months of recovery – yeah it took me that long - the two surgeries and then the six months of chemo and then the recovery from the chemo……I had so much time to think about what I really, really wanted.  That time was a gift – ok, an unexpected gift, but nonetheless, I know very few people get the opportunity to lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the most basic things in life.  Without getting all philosophical, all you really want is more time – time to do what it is that makes you happy.  Happy some days was rolling over or being able to read a sentence…..really…..the chemo ate my brain for a very long time……but what I remember most as I celebrate this milestone is that I made it to 5 years and nearly everybody else around me,  in my treatment group – including a couple of other cop friends who also desperately wanted more time, didn’t make it.

So, for those of you reading this, many of whom travelled this past five years with me, both through the journey of cancer and now with me on my other journeys, I really hope you will take the time to reflect, take the time to stop and think:  if tomorrow you went, like I did and so many others do, from your crazy, busy, autopilot lives, to total helplessness, what would you miss?  What would you have wished you had spent more time doing?  I had the gift of time to figure that one out for myself and then the incredible gift of recovery that has allowed me to be here – tonight in Buenos Aires, in a really beautiful little boutique hotel I am splurging on….with a bathtub!!!!!  Buenos Aires was a city I was worried that I might never see. And it is so beautiful and stunning and exciting – one of my favourites for sure.  Missing this would have been just wrong. 

Five years ago – looking ahead five years, seemed impossible.  So much seemed impossible, implausible and still, looking ahead five years from now, I have no clue where I will be or what I will be doing.  I do know that my promise to myself to ‘live without fear’ and ‘live without regrets’ has paid off handsomely with a lifetime of amazing memories, amazing friends and a continued yearning to see more, do more and be more.  I feel a bit of a ‘push’ not to waste the time I’ve been given.  I am forever conscious of those who didn’t have my luck.

 So I am again grateful for all of you travelling with me, grateful for getting to do what I love and getting excited about the next big adventure……which starts on Wednesday.  But in the meantime, tonight I have a bubble bath, then maybe out for some Tango, tomorrow - Sunday markets which I love,  going to Uruguay on Monday, packing on Tuesday and on Wednesday…flying to …… Madrid!  Got a great reallycheap flight so por que no????  Why not?  No fear - no regrets.

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Nancy on

I don't know if you are aware of how much you have inspired the rest of us- the voyeurs on your journeys- with your courage during your fight and with your mindful approach to life ever since. I am so grateful that you've had this second chance at life, so we, consequently, have had the past five years with you in OURS. Safe flight to Spain and keep this blog going- it's as if you drop by every few days with stories and pictures, and we look forward to every visit so much...you are one of the 'wonders' of our world!

verna brink@telusplanet.net on

Hi Deb:

we miss you at the tennis, a lot of seniors playing, some
new ones also.

Donna on

All I can say is "big hug!" Love you lots.

nariko on

Congrats on the milestone. Hard to believe its been 5 yrs. You certainly are clocking the miles and living life to the fullest. Keep doing what makes you happy. Hope we connect soon.

Jane MacLellan on

Hi Debbie,

I am so happy for you and for all of us that you have reached the five-year mark!


Luisa on

Hi Deb - 5 years!!! Way to go - you had me in tears when reading this. Because of your positive attitude and gutsy personality I just knew you would be ok. I am really enjoying your travels and have had some good giggles. Take care and lots of Love!! Luisa & Dan

Cathy Light on

HI Deb,
Welcome to the Plus 5 Club! Seeing your blog reminds me of the journey we never thought we would have to walk in our lives. Indeed a journey of hope and grace....and living life to the fullest! Happy trails to you and a Big Congratulations! on this magical number 5!

Mary Noreen Farrell-Hyland on

Wow... awesome. Just awesome.

Hilary Ramsey on

Such wonderful news - sooooo happy for you!!!! x

Barbara on

You sure know how to make a girl cry Deb! Your recovery and desire to really, really live your life is a wonderful testament to what you're made of - pure steel! Love your stories - so glad you have this opportunity to take the world by the horns! Safe journeys you sweet girl!
Barbara xxx

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