Kingfisher …

Just got back from a weekend away at the Kingfisher resort/spa.

I’ve been trying to get Gerry to do a little “get away” but he’s too busy with work so when my friend Jayde asked me to go I said HELLS YES!!

40cb27bca1bb11e3b4f51212a90bc89b_8Jayde and I got the It’s All About You package which included 2 nights accommodation, $100 credit (each) at the restaurant, $100 spa credit, a visit to the Pacific Mist Hydropath and a Yoga class. Woot!!

The rooms are ok. From the website I was expecting them to be a bit more deluxe but they weren’t terrible. I think “rustic” is a good description. Ha ha.

The bathroom was tiny and the whole room needed better lighting but on the plus side the room had a micro-kitchen so you can bring your own food. But with $100 credit EACH in the restaurant we ate our faces off and didn’t touch the kitchen.

e815e0d6a17311e3bf36122e6a41368d_8The restaurant was very accommodating. We called ahead and told them we were vegan/soy-free/gluten-free and they said “no problem”. Our first breakfast we had a potato hash with seasonal greens plus a GF english muffin and avocado.

I like a restaurant that is generous with avocado.  :)

The evening we arrived – Jayde and I went for our Pacific Mist Hydropath and it was other worldly. They take you to the basement of the spa that has been turned into a cave. Yes. I said a cave.

In the cave there are 8 different water features. An attendant brings you from each feature to the next but you feel like you’re alone. The first cave there was a Swiss Shower and you push a button and there are water jets from head to toe. You stand there until the jets turn off … it’s awesome.

Then the attendant takes you to a Mineral Massage pool where she brings you cool water and ice cold towels. We sat in the bubbly water and relaxed. It was awesome.

Then our attendant showed us to the Waterfall Massage. This was my one of my favourite features. There are 4 mini caves that you take turns sitting in. One has a waterfall that falls directly above your head. It looked like a tube of water. You can adjust your body so the stream touches different parts of your head/neck/shoulders. The 2nd cave waterfall – the water comes from everywhere. It actually knocked me off my seat. ha ha. The other two were just as amazing as the first two. The whole thing was awesome.

Then you are escorted into a steam cave and given fresh glasses of water and cool towels.

After that was the Glacial Waterfall. You stand under a rock and push the button and FREEZING COLD WATER falls on you for 10 seconds. I think I lasted 2. It was intense.

spa

This is NOT me and Jayde. :)

Then you are escorted to the River Walk where you walk through warm and then cool water while jets massage your legs. You walk through that one twice.

Then we were escorted to the Sea Mineral Soak while a light rain mists over you. By the time we got to the Mineral Soak we were wet noodles but there was still one last cave.

The last feature was a bath that was carved into the rock and it looked like an egg pod. We were given seaweed/salt scrub so you could scrub your whole body and then lay down and relax in the hot water. It was like being in the womb. It was awesome.

After that you take a warm shower and head up to the relaxation lounge where we lay and drank tea and relaxed some more.

Jayde and I are both water-people. Water always makes me feel better … whenever I’m stressed I hop in the bath. It’s my happy place so I walked out of the spa with a grin on my face from ear to ear. It’s exactly what I needed… It was SPAwesome.  :)

We lay around and watched bad TV on the ancient television in our room. I forgot that TV’s used to be square. In fact I think this TV was so old that it was deeper than it was wider.

I woke up the next morning confused about where I was and then I realized I had a full day ahead of me of spa treatments!! Yessss…..

256a5f5ea0f511e38e330ec216d01c99_8Jayde and I hit the hot tub/pool and hung out until it was time for my facial. I explained to the girl doing my face that I had just finished cancer treatment and that she had to be careful of my port.

I made her touch it. Ha ha. My port is under my skin and it’s not any trouble but I wanted to make sure she didn’t push on it.  :)

She was great and she scrubbed and polished my face until it was shiny and clean.

I went back to the room and had a little nap and then we went to our “restorative yoga” appointment. It was a really nice gentle class and it stretched out everything. I’ve never done “restorative yoga” before and now I’m going to look for a class in town. I think it’s what my old bag of bones needs right now.

2d27ca40a1ce11e3a84b12ec4dc1b49e_8After yoga I went back to the room to get ready for dinner while Jayde had her massage appointment. We met at 8pm at the restaurant for our dinner and the kitchen made us a delish coconut curry dish with jasimine rice and lentils. It was a very simple dish but not bland. It perfectly spiced and it was a perfect way to end the day.

Jayde and I stumbled back to our room and watched I Love You Man on the ancient TV and laughed so hard I almost fell out of bed. #slappindabass

I was telling Jayde how much I enjoyed the Hydropath and that I had been daydreaming about it all day and suggested we should do it the next morning before we left for home. She completely agreed and we booked our appointment. Weee! How wickedly indulgent.

9e0a5f4ea17311e387cc12ac8cffcf8a_8The next morning we had a simple breakfast (fruit/gf toast) and then went to our SECOND hydropath appointment. Oh man… it was even better the 2nd time around. Seriously. I was giddy during the whole thing. :)

Oh yeah!! I also got to meet Monica. She works at the resort and is a fan of my cookbooks. She was so sweet and shy … I practically had to pull her out of the office to come say hi to me. HI MONICA!!

It was a magical weekend … and it was perfect timing because I had my big meeting with my oncologist on Monday. eb0e2a48a25c11e3bc6e1239bdb24391_8

It was also great to spend some one-on-one time with my friend Jayde. We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like. Her 2 year old takes up a lot of her time. My cancer treatments take up a lot of time. You know how it is …

It was a great re-bonding trip and I am so thankful/grateful that she invited me.

All I can think about is those caves. Do you think I could start a Kickstarter so I can buy a house and build my own water cave in the basement. Would you donate??  :)

 

 

 

 

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Cough

I woke up last week sounding like Harvey Fierstein. Ended up with a stupid headcold. Ugh. I know it’s that time of year when everyone is sick… but it made me mad. I was JUST starting to feel better from my Tamoxifen reaction and then I had to go back to bed to nurse my cold.

I AM SO TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED. :(

Because of my cold I had to miss my Chemo Brain class. My Theraputic Touch. My Meditation class AND then a pipe burst in my master bathroom and I had to miss my Aquafit Class to wait for the plumber to find the leaky pipe. It’s been an annoying couple of weeks. Ha ha.

I had to go give blood today and have my port flushed. I always ask at the reception desk which nurse is doing the blood because I don’t ever want that “Frantic Nurse” to touch me again.

The lovely receptionist checked for me to make sure that she wasn’t around and then told me it would be a few minutes. The waiting room is the same waiting room where I used to wait for chemo.

mainI can hear the chemo machines beeping and smell the smells of the chemo ward. It always triggers me – so I sat and pretended to look at my phone while I did some Square Breathing to keep grounded.

As I was sitting there two different chemo nurses walked by and came over to tell me how great I looked. It was nice to see them and not have to see them (if you know what I mean).  :)

Just as I was feeling settled and calm – I look up from my phone and guess who walks in and says my name… “Frantic Nurse“!!

I asked if she was taking my blood and she (frantically) said “Yes. I am filling in for xx and xx while they are on lunch.” There was a long awkward pause while I searched my brain for the right words. It probably was only 2 seconds but it felt like 2 minutes.

“I would prefer that you don’t take my blood. Could I have someone else?”
“Why?”
“I would prefer if a different nurse could take my blood.”
Why? What’s the problem have I done something there’s nobody here until 1:30 I have to do it for you now or Blah blah blah frantic frantic frantic

I stopped listening and went into panic mode. Ugh. This woman. I can NOT handle her. Her energy makes me feel like I’m spinning out of control.

So I took a deep breath and decided I didn’t need to explain to her why I don’t like having her draw my blood. I smiled again and said “I’m going to ask the receptionist to book me another time. Thank you so much.”

Her reaction?? I have no idea. I left the room. :)

As I was walking to the receptionist someone called my name. Turned around and saw a different nurse. I asked her if she was looking for me and she was. I said “Oh good. I was about to leave because I didn’t want “Frantic Nurse” to take my blood. She stared at me for a few seconds and said under her breath “I don’t blame you. She’s terrible.” We linked arms and walked down the hallway comparing notes.

Frantic Nurse” sounds like a nightmare to work with. I told the nurse about how I had put in a complaint about my experience. She said it was good that I had done that but that because the Cancer Center is union run it probably won’t do anything. :(

I walked out of there feeling like a can of pop that had been shaken up. Ugh. It was so stressful. Thankfully Drop in Meditation was at 1:30 so I walked up stairs and lay on a mat and spent the next 1.5 hours trying to let go of ”Frantic Nurse“.

Should I complain again? Last time I complained in person to the Head Nurse but I’m wondering if I should send in a letter. I don’t want to get her fired or anything but it sounds like she needs some re-training or to be moved to somewhere where she doesn’t interact with patients.

Ugh. It makes me exhausted just thinking about it… :(

e41d11689c0311e3a9460e1ad7174570_8In other news my hair is growing … It still doesn’t feel like my hair. It’s very thin and soft.

My regular hair is thick and stiff like a wire brush BUT it’s growing in nicely and I feel like I can pass for a normal person.

Proof of that is that I had a woman come up to me at the Cancer Center today and say “You have the most amazing shaped head. Is your hair short because of chemo or is this how you wear it normally?”

I said “Yes. Both.” :)

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Happy V Day

Happy V Day!
For me Feb 14th always reminds me of the production of The Vagina Monologues I did in 2008. Our opening night was Valentines Day and I’ll never forget it. :)

Working on that production was SO much fun and the forever-friends I made in the process … the whole experience was transformative. Plus getting an entire theater of 800+ people to chant CUNT was pretty amazing.

I can’t believe how much better I’m feeling. I am 11 days off of Tamoxifen and I feel like a bright green sprout pushing through the earth and reaching up for the sun. The other night Gerry said “I’m so glad you’re back”. His chirpy happy wife had disappeared for a while there.

I went to my second Aquafit Encore Program at the YWCA today and it’s really great. The camaraderie with the other woman reminds me a little of my experience with the Vagina Monologues.

With the VMonologues – we all started as strangers with a common experience (having vaginas). Ha ha. But the deeper we got with each other during the process of doing the play – the more we started to share our personal experiences.

I think the statistic is something like 7 in 10 women (myself included) around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. As we started to get to know each other during the process of rehearsal … I began to realize that we’ve all experienced trauma of some kind or another.

screen-capture-3With this new group of woman and the trauma of cancer – you become fast friends as you start to talk about treatment, medication and share information. After the Aquafit (which is really a great workout btw) we all meet in the yoga room and have a roundtable.

Last week we talked a little bit about ourselves and about what we’d like to get out of the program.

This week they had a speaker come in and talk to us about Lymphedema (which can happen with BC patients who have had surgery/radiation).

Little by little I am getting to know these woman. Some of them I see repeatedly during the week at Therapeutic Touch, drop in meditation, and my Chemo Brain class.

I know from my experience with the Vagina Monologues that sharing with others who have had similar experiences helps heal you in a way you can’t do on your own. Even sharing with someone that you think you have NOTHING in common with can show you things you didn’t expect but desperately needed to see.

But you have to be open.

Speaking of open. I went to the locker room today with the intention of getting naked. I decided to undress completely and not worry about trying to hid my chub or my scars. I flung everything off and got naked. I mean … I wasn’t the only one naked … but I have a thing about being naked in public. I can barely be naked when I’m alone. Ha ha.

I was feeling so proud of myself for being nude in public – when a woman in her 70′s came up to me and started asking me about my tattoos. I wrapped my towel around my waist and it was such a weird awkward moment. I felt SO uncomfortable. I kept wondering if she noticed that I have a giant mastectomy scar and am missing a breast. Was she going to mention it. Ack! Everyone is looking at me.

Then I thought … Stop thinking and listen to what she’s saying! She just said you were beautiful and that your tattoo’s were amazing. I couldn’t hear anything she was saying because I was feeling so guarded about my scar. I thanked her and told her she should get one. She laughed and said “I just might!”

When I joined the VMonologues I was guarded. I had been scarred by a few friendships that had fallen apart for various reasons and I felt like I was at the age where I didn’t need any more friends in my life. Ha ha. How silly is that? Everyone benefits when you have more love in your life. It took me a while to let my guard down with the group but when I finally did … I formed some amazing friendships.

I’m so thankful for that VM experience because I now enter each new “group” I join with different attitude. My heart is forever changed. It’s open and it’s filled to the brim with gratitude and love and that’s because of my Vagina Sisters.

takeaction-3But never-mind about my vagina and my one healthy boob. :) What I’d like to focus on is V-Day.

If you’re not familiar – it’s a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.

There are all kinds of ways you can take action. Visit the V-Day website for ways you can get involved. We have to take care of each other and today is the perfect day to start doing that. ~Love you.

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Negative!

I have tested negative for the breast cancer gene. This means my chance of a recurrence is low.

The clinician who gave me my results said that science is not smart enough yet to explain how/why my breast cancer arrived. It’s just what they call a random mutation.

I have a meeting with my oncologist on the 7th to talk about my options now in terms of medication, etc etc.

So this is good news… Although it’s difficult to jump for joy with this kind of stuff. It always leaves me feeling cold. Probably don’t want to get too cocky. :)

Anyway… I’ll know more about my upcoming treatment plan after the 7th.
Love you guys.
xoxo
SARAH

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Release

Well it’s been less than a week since I stopped the Tamoxifen and I already feel a billion times better. My knees/joints are still aching but they are getting a little better every day.

Yesterday I went for a walk with Fergus and I didn’t even think about where I was going. This day last week I could barely make it up 1 flight of stairs. It’s crazy that a medication can do that to you …  :(

920bf204901911e38ba60e81a8941081_8I went to my first Encore Program Aquafit class today. It’s a free program offered to woman who have had breast cancer.

It’s for anyone who has had BC. You don’t have to be a recent patient and I think this program is offered all over so check with your local Y.

Best part is that I now have a free 2 month pass to the Y so I can do some of the other drop in classes if I want. Yippee.

I had SO much anxiety about going to this class. Part of my anxiety is about doing stuff I’ve never done before and the other part is about being vulnerable and bathing suits make me feel very vulnerable. Also my anxiety is SO bad right now … but I’ve read that Tamox can exacerbate anxiety so thanks for nothing Tamox. :(

Rather then hide in bed … I sucked it up and went to the Y this morning and I had a great time. :) It also helped that there are woman in my class who I see at Theraputic Touch, Guided Meditation and the workshop I’m doing for Chemo Brain Fog.

I am SO busy. Cancer treatment recovery is full time work! It’s nice to be with a group of woman who have been through the ringer just like I have. They get it. The fear. The pain. The intensity of it all … Anyway, the class was really fun and it made me feel good to be working towards getting my body to be strong again. Right now I’m like a wet noodle …

7859fb168d3611e3a01512653ae023ee_8My brother sent me this great book called Cancer Vixen. It’s pretty funny and the entire thing is a graphic novel so it’s easy to read (for someone who has chemo-brain).

I ended up donating it to the library at the Cancer Center when I was done so others can enjoy it. Thanks for sending it Ben!! :)

I also started yoga again. I realized the other night that in the last 30 days of taking Tamoxifen how my quality of life diminished and everything became very small. No walks on the beach. No hikes at the lake. No yoga or jumping on my trampoline. I could barely watch TV I was in so much agony.

So I pulled out one of my Rodney Yee yoga dvd’s and did a 20 minute Restore & Rejuvenate program. I started bawling … Not like shed a few tears but more like BOO HOO’S snot running down my face kind of bawling.

I wasn’t crying because it hurt but because I miss my old energetic body that could run around and do almost everything I wanted it too. Each stretch released so much grief. It was crazy. I haven’t sobbed like that in a long long time.

I was alone in the house (except for downward dog Fergus) and so I just went with the tears. I stretched and sobbed and wiped my snot on my arm as I reached for the sky. Rodney tells you to release and I did. I let it alllll out.

I did the same set of yoga the next day and the same thing happened. More sobbing. Today when I did yoga I had no more tears … but I am filled to the brim with gratitude that I am starting to feel better.

As of today I have 30 more free days on my “medication holiday” before we have go see my Oncologist to decide what to do about the Tamoxifen. I’m going to relish every moment.

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What the heck?

I’ve been off Tamoxifen for less than 24 hours and I feel like I could run a marathon … I’m having a Prince dance party RIGHT NOW!!

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Tamoxifen Blues …

About a month ago I started taking Tamoxifen. It’s the final piece of the puzzle in my quadfecta of treatment for breast cancer:
#1 Mastectomy
#2 Chemo
#3 Radiation
and finally #4 Tamoxifen. A daily dose for 10 years.

It’s an interesting medication and the doc told me to expect side effects. Hot Flashes and early menopause were the only two that she said I would have issue with although she listed a few more that happens in rare cases.

I’ve been trying to think of the Tamox as a vitamin. A vitamin that slows or stops the growth of cancer cells that are already present in the body. It helps keep the original breast cancer from coming back and helps prevent new cancer in the opposite breast. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer in women who have a high risk for this disease.

I did my research. It’s a medication I feel comfortable taking but I wasn’t expecting how severe the side effects would be.

Menopausal-Symptoms-21Within a couple hours of taking my first pill (which I took with food) I got gut-rot. It just got worse from there. Nausea all the time. Bloating. My mouth tastes like pennies. No interest in food. I’m SO thirsty and I can’t seem to get enough water into me even with drinking about 2+ liters a day.

I called and talked to the pharmacist and the nurse hotline a couple of times to talk about my side effects and they assured me that the nausea and other symptoms would pass if I could just tough it out for a few more weeks.

The other thing about Tamox … and I don’t know if this is true … but I feel like it’s snuffed out my light. I know when you go through menopause that things get emotional but this is beyond that. My anxiety has grown from a 4 to an 11. I’ve been bawling my eyes out every night for no reason. All my sassiness has been replaced with sour. It’s been rough. :(

When I popped into the cancer center to have my port flushed last week I bumped into one of my favourite nurses and told her all about my woes. She suggested I break my pill in half and take half in the am/pm. It helped with the emotional stuff … I didn’t feel like I was on a roller-coaster of emotions but the rest of the symptoms stayed the same. And my poor sad knees.

Well … after 4 weeks of daily Tamox … I am giving up. My knees are SO sore that I am finding it difficult to walk. I feel like I’m 90 years old.

I’m a tough chick. I take a lot of pain and suffering before I give up … but when the doctor suggested I limit my activity for a while I said “You’re joking right?”

Ummm. I need to be able to walk around the block. Or walk up a flight of stairs. I need to be able to stand to brush my god-damn teeth. Being in this kind of knee pain is not acceptable. No amount of resting or pain meds would give me relief.

So my doc is letting me go on a “medication vacation” for 30 days. She wants to see if the joint pain is from something else or from the medication. I know in my heart it’s from the meds because prior to starting them I was walking the beach every day for 45 minutes and not having any issues. I was feeling great. Sassy even.

I have an appointment with my oncologist first week in March to see how I’m doing and for us to come up with a new plan.

Any of you struggle with Tamoxifen? I’d love to hear how you managed because for the LOVE OF DOG there has to be a better way.

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Facebook … Ugh.

Facebook is getting on my last nerve.  :(

Screen shot 2014-01-24 at 4.33.27 PMI’ve noticed in the last few months that less than 15% of my 5000+ friends on Facebook were seeing my updates. WHAT!!?

I did a little investigating and it turns out Facebook is trying to extort $$ from me for ads. If I buy ads or “boost” my updates they will show my feed to more of my “friends”. WTF.

You would think that if you “liked” my page that I would show up in your feed … but sadly no. It’s beyond frustrating.  :(

I’m not going to close my Facebook page but I wanted you to be aware that Facebook is keeping you from seeing my updates.

And while The Shark has jumped on Facebook … there are still other places you can see my updates. :) I am also on Twitter, Instagram and of course my trusty blog here at www.GoVegan.net

So what’s the new Facebook going to be?? MySpace?  :)

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OPEN for business!

Hi Friends! I have re-opened Sarah’s Place. :)

screen-captureAs many of you know I had to close the retail store last July so I could focus on doing treatment for breast cancer. It was a really difficult decision to close but I’m glad I did. I needed to focus on my treatment.

Well … my treatment is over (thank Dog) and I’m starting to feel a bit like myself again. And while I don’t know if I will re-open the retail store yet … I thought I would re-open the online store so you can do some shopping! :)

As you can imagine – during packing up the store my inventory got a little messy. I am slowly re-counting everything and adding it back into the online store. Currently I only have books for sale but will slowly be adding more things.

I have a lot of books and I need your help to reduce my stock!! I know I don’t have Amazon prices … but I am able to offer you a FREE Autographed copy of How It All Vegan with every order (while supplies last).

Thank you all so much for your love and support.
I love you guys. :)
xoxo
SARAH

P.S. If you’re a local … use the code ILOVEVICTORIA and you won’t be charged shipping and you can pick up your purchase from TZ.

Posted in Go Vegan! | 5 Comments

Tompson Girl

15bfca66846d11e397ef1203099ea4d8_8A few years ago I found a 4 leaf clover …

I didn’t know what to do with it so I tucked it away for a rainy day and I had it stashed in a drawer for so many years that I totally forgot about it.

During one of my house-cleaning fits a few months ago – I re-found it. As soon as I saw it I knew exactly what to do.  :)

I sent it to Kyla at TompsonGirl.com and she turned my clover into a beautiful pendant!

Thank you Kyla!!
I love it so much.

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