MEET in Vancouver

12093459_1140075206024259_372029296_nI was in Vancouver for a few days and I finally got to eat at MEET in Gastown and it was INCREDIBLE!!!

I had the macaroni and cheeze burger. OH BOY!! It was so so so so so good.

Vegan food is the best! : )

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ugh…

12885861_10153361602756971_4658289103984281042_oYesterday was a really difficult day for many of us. I tried to remind myself that “Not guilty” doesn’t mean “innocent”.

It triggered a lot of feelings from my past experiences and made me feel very raw and vulnerable.

While the verdict in the Ghomeshi case devastated me – I also was not surprised. It just showcases what we already know… Our system (worldwide) is broken and does not support survivors – but please don’t let this stop you from speaking out. The only way to make change is to smash the system!!

Most importantly my beautiful tender-hearted friends – please take good care of yourself. Be gentle. Do what you need to do to feel safe. Reach out to someone you trust if you feel overwhelmed. You are not alone. 💔

#ibelieveher #ibelievesurvivors #ibelieveyou #itisnotyourfault

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PMAย 

  
Most days I am PMA (positive mental attitude) but there are some days where I am so overwhelmed by the collateral damage to by body, mind, spirit from my cancer treatment.

It’s like a never ending horror story… So I bundled myself up with the dog and spent the afternoon watching the clouds roll by my living-room window. #lesigh 

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Silk Road

IMG_4028Big THANK YOU to Silk Road for donating tea to the YWCA ENCORE After Breast Cancer Exercise Program!!!

One of my favourite parts about ENCORE is Circle Time where we drink tea, eat snacks and go around the circle and talk about our week. It’s amazing to be with all these woman who just “get” what you’ve been through. The support and caring you receive from other breast cancer survivors is like nothing else. 😍ย 

Thank you SILK ROAD for donating such yummy tea!

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Tooth Table

This coffee table of mine has a lot of history. img_3937.jpg

My Dad knocked his tooth out during a stage production of Macbeth and the insurance money went to buying this table.

For years we called it “The tooth table”. As a toddler my brother split his lip (it was gory) by tumbling into the corner of the table.

Me? In the 80’s I used to sit in the middle of the table after school and watch Donahue and Oprah.

When my Dad gave the table to me – the first thing I did was sit in the middle of it and watch Oprah

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Good Life Juice

Gerry and I just did another Good Life Juice cleanse. This time we just did 3 days … actually we stretched it out to 4 days. I’ll explain in a minute.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

12598988_1393977780908945_1494058692_nI have to mention first thatย Good Life Juice have supported the winters session of the YWCA ENCORE After Breast Cancer Expercise Program by donating juice to our class.

We are so thankful to them for nourishing our bodies while we get back into shape.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Andrea (the owner) also came and did a wonderful talk for our ENCORE ladies. It was called 7 Habits of Highly Successful Plant Eaters. It was awesome. Thank you Andrea!! ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the cleanse. They make it very easy to do. All the juice is freshly pressed and delivered right to your door (single bottles of juice are also available at various stores). All you have to do is make room in your fridge for all that delicious juice. Yum!!

11032987_694514027324887_480828356_nI have a wee allergy to citrus so they customized my juice special just for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ There were a few different juices to try this time (from last year when we did it).

My fav is the Kale/Apple/Pear/Spinach/Spirulina aka Supra Greens. It’s like Mother Earth freshness pressed into a bottle.

I started my day with the Supa Greens and Gerry started his day with Ooh La Latte. It’s a blend of Salt Spring Coffee organic cold brew coffee,ย creamy nut milk and other yummy ingredients (mesquite!). I had a sip of his morning drink and I was jealous. It was perfect for breakfast.

Another new cashew milk is the Mylk Chocolate. I can’t even explain how delish this is. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

886835_10153256984621971_1159123934482934565_oWe planned on doing all juice-all the time for the whole 3 days but my parents popped into town and wanted to hang out. So Gerry and I did juice for breakfast/lunch and then had food when we hung out with my folks in the evening.

No matter what your lifestyle there is always a way to adjust your cleanse to make it work for you. All the different juices make doing the cleanse really easy. There’s lots of variety and each juice is so unique to it’s self.

I know it sounds crazy to just drink juice for all your meals but the trick is to make a plan. A glass of warm water to start. Then a juice. Then some water. Then some juice. As you can imagine there’s lots of peeing. ha ha. I planned it (by setting an alarm on my phone) so I would have a juice every 2 hours and a big 16oz glass of water every other hour.

I feel lighter, brighter and have more energy. It’s nice to take a break from planning meals and especially to give my system a break from digesting food. I swear it re-sets my digestive tract. If you feel cranky. Drink some juice. Feel tired? Drink some water. Feel insane and like you’re going to tear your hair out?? Eat a banana. It’s not supposed to be torture.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Whenever I do a juice cleanse on Day 1 – I think “what am I doing?”. Day 2 – I usually feel a little tired and cranky. By Day 3 – I feel amazing and I think “I wish I could do this forever”.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

GREAT NEWS!!!
Good Life Juice gave me a coupon code for you!!! So if you’d like to try the juice or do a cleanse (they deliver all over BC and across Canada) use the code: govegansave15 ย and it will save you 15% off any order of 12 juices (or 2 day cleanse). You can visit their website HERE for more details. (coupon is good until April 25th). YUM!!

 

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Fergusย 

My sweet Fergus has been by my side for almost 15 years and in particular was such a great nurse-dog to me while I went through treatment for breast cancer.

As he now transitions to a senior dog – some health issues have popped up.Fergus is currently dealing with elevated pancreas numbers.

Normal pancreas numbers are in the 200 range. He is in the 900 range. At first we thought it was pancreatitis but he does not have any of the typical symptoms other then the weird elevated blood work.

We have done a ultrasound and blood-work but have yet to figure out what’s going on with him … so now we are about to embark on some more testing and finding a specialist.

Some of you have asked if you could help us out by sending donations so I have set up this page. 100% of the money raised here will go to Fergus’s medical care. If we end up not using all the money – we will donate the rest to a local animal rescue group.

Thank you for your love and support.
xoxo
SARAH & FERGUS

https://www.youcaring.com/helpfergusfeelbetter

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ENCORE gratitude!

We’ve just started another session of ENCORE at the Y Victoria!!

For those of you who don’t know – ENCORE is a free 8 week After Breast Cancer Exercise Program provided by the YWCA. I did 3x sessions of ENCORE as a participant and then was asked to come back as a volunteer. So I did the Y training and now I am an Aquafit instructor and one of the facilitators for the program.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

I have to thank some of our sponsors who have stepped up with support for ENCORE.

12598988_1393977780908945_1494058692_nFirst up is GOOD LIFE JUICE. They donated juice for this session and it’s so nice to have something refreshing, healthy and delicious to drink after a morning of exercising. Thank you so much for supporting Encore!! ๐Ÿ™‚

And also to HIPPIE FOODS for providing delicious snacks and treats for us to nosh on after our exercises.

A big thanks to SWIMCO for providing Encore with gift cards and a discount code. It’s a fantastic place to buy a bathing suit – especially for those of us who have scars, are uniboobs or have no breasts. They have friendly knowledgeable staff who help you find a suit that fits you properly. Yay Swimco.

12558757_1672549003005529_1876419215_nAnd thanks to LYMPHEDIVAS for supporting us with a discount code for our participants and for making a beautiful product for those of us who have to wear compression sleeves for lymphedema. Because if you have to wear something every day it might as well be beautiful.

If there is anyone out there with products or services that we might find useful for our ENCORE program – please send me an e-mail. We are always looking for more support.ย ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

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Patient Patient ….

I’m not a patient patient…ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

When I had my drain removed – I was so happy to be free, flat and feeling super flatastic that I really over did it the first week. I’m just so ready to PARTY but my body isn’t ready yet.

I taught my ENCORE class 10 days after my surgery!!!! I was actually feeling really good that day and thought if I went slow it would be fine but the next day I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I over did it. Whoops.

So I’ve been doing a lot of laying around. Trying to be mellow. Trying to remember that I’m only 3 weeks post surgery and of course I’m going to feel fatigue. Of course my skin is going to be sensitive. Just chill.

One of the hardest things to deal with is my skin. It’s so super sensitive and it doesn’t matter what I wear. It starts to feel irritated after a few hours. So I’ve been sitting around my house topless a lot. ha ha. It’s not painful but it’s so irritating that it makes me cranky and exhausted.

12501495_499305260271022_1091503141_nSo I’ve been meditating to help center me. Meditation is something I’ve dabbled in for a while but have really fallen in love with this last year. My other form of meditating is watching dumb movies. ๐Ÿ™‚

I can’t go in the pool yet and the only exercise I’m allowed to do right now is walk and my post-surgery exercises. Those are probably why I’m so fatigued.

The exercises are tough but are helping me get my range of motion back and because I’ve done this before – I get a do-over. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wasn’t dedicated to exercising last time and I lost a lot of range of motion in my right shoulder and had to go for physical therapy.

So I’m being religious about my exercises but every time I do them I’m gently pulling and stretching the surgical area. If you think about how much skin they remove (during the mastectomy) it causes minor irritation to the area and I have to heal from that every time I do my exercises.

If anyone has done physical therapy before … then you know how exhausting it is. My body is working extra hard right now so fatigue and a little bit of post surgery depression has kicked in. The depression is just about not being able to go out and have fun but I just have to remind myself that it’s only temporary … and to be PATIENT!!

12555947_801932306600917_1531099182_nIn other news I was officially discharged from care from the Cancer Agency. My oncologist told me I was too healthy to come to her clinic anymore.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s such a weird feeling. I felt happy-ish but mostly just … weirdly … sad. Or not sad. I felt almost nothing. I can’t explain the feeling.

It’s been a crazy 3 year roller coaster of heartache and epic change… and here I am on the other side of it alive but shaken. I think I don’t want to celebrate being discharged because once you’ve had cancer – you’re never really discharged. It’s always looming like a monster under the bed.

I still can’t really process everything that’s happened to me. Not sure how. I’m not even sure what’s next for me … time to start daydreaming.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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FLAT!!!

Oh boy … my surgery went great. I’m feeling great. Everything is great.

I got the call Monday. “We have a space for surgery. Want to do it TOMORROW?” Eeeeep!!!

I said yes and Gerry and I went into panic mode. We ran to the grocery store and stocked up on gingerale, food for the week and anything that would make Gerry’s life easier when I was convalescing.

We woke up at 5:30am so we could be at the hospital for 7am. I could not sleep. I felt all excited in side like I was going to Disneyland or it was Xmas morning.

I know it might seem weird to some of you that I was excited about having surgery to remove my breast … but I’ve lived as a 1 breasted cyclops for almost 3 years and I have never “gotten used to it” or found a way to be comfortable in my body since my initial mastectomy back in 2013.

I’ve tried every prosthetic ever made from the $13 insert to a $450 breast prosthetic. I’ve tried special $80 tank tops and I’ve tried just uni-boobing it with a Lulu bra. I’ve tried no bra (that’s a weird feeling). Everything and nothing made me comfortable and I knew deep in my gut that I needed to be symmetrical.

These are the things I brought to the hospital:

  • A top that was easy to “step into” rather then pull over top of my head -Pants that were easy to pull up.
  • Shoes that were slip-on
  • A hat – so I would feel cool and not have to worry about my hairย  ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Something for comfort. I brought my “baby” which is a baby blanket my best-bestie sent me for xmas. I’ve had many different baby-blankets in my 47 years (and I have no shame about it) but this one is the best. I was coveting my friends sons blanket when I was visiting her in Toronto and so she sent me one for the holiday. It’s a swaddling blanket by Petit Pehr and it’s the first thing I asked Gerry for when I woke up. I wrapped it around my head and fell asleep.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚
  • A small bottle of unscented hand cream. Hospitals make my skin dry …
  • A small picnic bag full of essentials: bottle of green smoothie (banana, spinach, protein powder, flax, coconut water). A protein bar, a couple of pieces of chocolate, my own personal stash of ginger-ale.
  • A good attitude. Smile and say thank you to everyone who takes care of you. Especially the nurse you puke on twice.

We checked in. They set me up in my bed and then we waited. SO MUCH WAITING!! I think that’s what makes it so nerve wracking. There’s so much time to think. Poor Gerry had the worst of it – I get to sleep for a few hours – he gets to worry for a few hours.

Always remember that the partner that is awake is the one who needs the most support!

They wheeled me away and Gerry and I said our “see ya laters”. We have this cute thing we do when we say good-bye. We do it every day and as Gerry went around the corner I thought he forgot to do it. He didn’t. He popped his head back around the corner and did it and I started crying. I love him.

They wheeled me into the waiting area. This was the same operating area where I had my port installed back in 2013 so I recognized where I was. I had a nice conversation with the man beside me. We talked about how hungry we were (no food after midnight) and he told me about how he grew up in Amsterdam during the war and they had no food.

He said even though they had no food they talked about food all the time. He said “Isn’t that silly? You’d think we would try to avoid talking about food.” I asked him if he had rations but he said nothing. Then he slapped his hands together to impress upon me how little they had. “Nothing!” SLAP. “We had absolutely no food. I ate a rock once. We did have the soup kitchen where we could eat once a day. It was broth with a small piece of potato in it. That’s it…

He was lovely … it was interesting to hear about his history and then they whisked him off to his surgery.

I knew I had a few more minutes so I decided to talk to my body like I did last time I had surgery. I held my left breast in my hand and I said:

Dear Breast.
You’re so cute. Like seriously. So super super cute. With your little nipple and your perky under boob. I love you. You’ve been such a source of pleasure for so many years. I’m going to miss you.

But listen friend. It’s time to go. The right side was not healthy and left in a hurry and now it’s time for you to go. It’s not so much you but more about me. You don’t work on your own. You’re a package deal … and without your right friend – you just don’t work for me anymore. This part of my life with breasts is over and I’m ok with that. I love you breast but you’ve got to go – today we say good bye.

Then I looked around to make sure I was alone and I gave my nipple a little pinch so I could remember what it feels like. Owch!! ๐Ÿ™‚

When they wheeled me into the operating room I was ready. I said hi to all the nurses. I reminded them that I wanted to be flat. I wasn’t doing reconstruction but instead deconstruction and I wanted to be flat.

I also reminded my surgeon about wanting to be flat as well. As I drifted off to sleep I said “Remember. I want to be flatty flat flat flat.” I thought it was hilarious and when I woke up from surgery I was laughing. Weird.

My surgery was just day surgery (kind of crazy huh?) so I got to go home in the afternoon. Gerry was helping me get dressed and he pulled up my tanktop and he said “You look beautiful Sarah. You look just like you should.

Gosh … he’s amazing isn’t he?? Gerry is my hero. He has been with me for every doctors appointment, every surgery, every panic attack. I’m so lucky to be married to my best friend.

Recovery has been ok. There isn’t a lot of pain with the surgery if you can believe it … the most uncomfortable part is the drain which I was lucky to have to removed a week after my surgery. The drain makes me feel claustrophobic so as soon as it was removed I felt like a million bucks.

12383313_1233040173379064_807882812_n

Yesterday was 8 days post surgery and my first day out and about without my breasts. Who needs big boobs when you can wear big earrings??

I’m trying to think of a good hashtag. I want to empower other BC survivors to not hide their mastectomies behind scarfs and ruffles but instead be proud of the choices they made to survive cancer.

This final surgery of mine inspired me to stop chasing after my teenage body and I have decided to finally (after many years of body dysmorphia) to embrace and love this body of mine and to dress to impress!!!

My body has been to war and back… And I love myself today. Exactly as it is. Every scarred up inch of it. Any ideas for a good hashtag? Post below!! #flatfashion #flatshion #flatastic #flatbulous #flatisthenewblack #noboobsnoproblem #effyourboobystandards #55378008 #asiam

12407692_1547639495552491_1333040602_n

Day 2 of #breastlessness and I am going through my closet.

I have so many cool dresses that I never wore as a uni-boob because I found wearing a prosthetic so uncomfortable. It’s so nice to slip something on and feel symmetrical.

My friend Kimmee came to visit me when I was convalescing and she said “You have your sparkle back!

I have to agree … being symmetrical again makes me feel so good.

“I’m happy. Hope you’re happy too…”

 

 

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