Excited! Part 1

Excited? Yes I am! Why?

Excited!! Because…we’re heading to Pittsburgh for a couple of days since it’s the Canada Day Long Weekend! According to Ike, there’s a jam-packed itinerary planned…maybe try a restaurant from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives, see Falling Waters, do a little shopping, and if possible, see a Baseball Game (Pirates vs Phillies).

Excited!! Because…since I first started dating Ike, he has gotten me more aware of sports… especially baseball! Granted, I grew up in Toronto where the Blue Jays had there triumph days during my childhood, but my parents exposed me to the Performing Arts rather than sports as a kid… so I missed out! Now, I get to relive this “lost” part of my childhood.  It’s a goal of both Ike and myself, to visit all the stadiums for a good ‘ole game of baseball in the US 🙂

Excited!! Because…I have 2 more rounds of chemo left!!!!!! Thanks for all your awesome love & support! Both Ike & I have such wonderful friends. An example? Today, a bunch of our youth group teens (aww…. you guys are growing up right before our eyes!) came over to my place and we spent time playing board games. It’s amazing how much I’m learning about letting others help & care for me. Growing up, I’ve always been a person who is afraid to bother others. I’m a type that would rather emotionally or physically  “stick it out” to the end or say “I’m OK” rather than show any sign of weakness.

Oh… the floodgates have opened 🙂 I’m not afraid to scream instead of holding my pain in. I’m not afraid to shed some tears instead of keeping it inside. I am still learning  how to live “loudly” and to take some risks instead of being “safe” all the time. This leads me to my next Excited item…

Initially, this next part of my entry did not elicit an “Excited” feeling. Let me explain. I have a secret indulgence that’s kind of nerdy. I really enjoy reading the newspaper! I literally read through every section of the Toronto Star almost every day. And for me, I enjoy the actual process of holding and flipping the paper as opposed to reading it online.

Yesterday on June 29th, a very touching story caught my eye. It was in the front of the paper and I couldn’t miss it, because it had an accompanying picture. The picture was of a beautiful bald girl with her husband beside her. I knew right away that this was an article about a cancer patient, so I was intrigued to read on. I will finish this story and how it touched & affected both me and Ike in a later entry…

Have a wonderful Canada Day & Fourth of July everyone 🙂

Cheers,

Vinci

Chemo 4 Over!

Hi M’dears 🙂

It’s already Friday…wow how the week flies by! Monday was my 4th round of chemo. My uncle & aunt drove my mum and I to PMH that morning. We tried to be in the daylab several hours in advance to see if they could squeeze me in for an earlier appointment. The commute took less time than what was typical… thanks to the G20 going on in Toronto. The highways & local traffic were pretty empty in comparison to normal. Looks like everyone is averting from the Downtown core and either staying at home or heading north!

Even though we were early, we didn’t start until 2:30. Once again, because of the G20, all chemo appointments on Friday were moved to the rest of the week. For this round, I requested Alice, my favourite nurse (who’s been very good at finding my veins) With her help, they found the vein on the first try! It was even in a spot where I thought they couldn’t use…but I was wrong! The chemo was done at around 6:30 (and I was only one of two people still left in the daylab). I was tired, but not as bad as last round.

Today, the Neupogen injections started again. This means, I can go out a little more than the first part of the week after chemo. With wedding related appointments in the upcoming month, it’s nice to get out of the house, to have fun running some errands with my mum, and to just enjoy the beautiful summer weather. It was also a nice treat to have Joyce & Syd visit yesterday 🙂 Thanks friends!

Thanks for your support 🙂 Isn't it crazy? The ribbons are in our wedding colours!

Thanks again for all your support. Ike & I would not be able to endure without your love & your constant reminder that God is Good, All the Time! I received an email this past week (Thanks a bunch, LACES!!) with a verse that DOES remind me… Psalm 121

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?

 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

 6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.”

Cheers & Blessings,

Vinci

WooHooo :)

Dear Friends & Family,

The week leading up to this weekend has been very eventful. I have many things to be thankful & happy for 🙂 Many of these good things are a result of your love & prayers…God hears them!

 So first, An update about my grandpa. He had a hip surgery the day after my last post. Thanks to your prayers for him and for good doctors & nurses, the surgery was very successful! He is currently still in the hospital recovering, and will need to move to a rehabilitation centre in order for him to recover and to gain more mobility with some physio. Please continue to pray that he recovers well, that God will provide an appropriate place for my grandpa in this period of time and for my grandma who has to cope with him being away.

Ike & Iwent to Wonderland last weekend for his yearly work sponsered day at the amusement park. It was POURING rain pretty much the whole day, but it was refreshing for what it was worth & it was nice to be out of the house. We went on a total of one ride…and it was a simple wooden rollercoaster, the Minebuster. It was a good test for my wig, because by the end of the ride, it was still on my head! Coming of the rollercoaster, we both realized we were getting old. In the past, this rollercoaster was child’s play. That day though, it took the wind out of me! As for Ike, he felt dizzy coming off the ride….. signs of aging? Yah, I think so! haha We decided to skip out on Behemoth…for fear my wig would fly off!

This week was also full of wedding related things. We had a tasting on Tuesday & another tasting on Wednesday. The tasting for our banquet food was a lot of fun & very tasty! We had a little bit of everything and really enjoyed the experience. The catering manager & sous chef were very accomodating & friendly. My favourite part of the tasting was definitely the cod and the dessert 🙂 Hope those of you coming to the wedding will enjoy the food too!

On Friday, I went in to see my hematologist for the results of the bloodwork from that morning along with the CT Scan and Mugascan from the prior week. So…. some good news….

Praise God for listening to Prayers! The tumour has shrunk substantially since the last scan. This means that the chemotherapy regiment is working, and that I don’t have to start another type of chemo from scratch. My hemotologist also said that my tumour has shrunk by at least 50% ! Hearing the news, my spirits were definitely lifted, my hope renewed, and my mind ready to trust in God & ready for battling this cancer until I win. I’m nervous for the “vein-finding” process tomorrow, but I have more confidence when I get my treatment tomorrow…knowing that it’s working and that God is Definitely with me.

With today being Father’s Day, it was an opportunity to spend time with family to celebrate and reflect on how the “men in my life” have made a significant impact. Ike & I were able to visit & spend some time with my grandpa at the hospital after lunch. We went to the cemetary to remember my grandpa Sam & to leave some nice flowers on his plot. And in the evening, we celebrated with all the “dads” in the family (and to celebrate my cousin Caleb’s birthday:) in the way Chinese people know best… through food, and I mean LOTS of food. We ended off the night with a family prayer time (which we have started once a month with my parents, grandparents, ike, aunts & uncles and cousins) once a month before my chemo. It was during this time in prayer & in lieu of Father’s Day that I was reminded of the Father that knows me Best…My God Up There 🙂

Cheers,

Vinci

Prayers for my grandpa…

Hey Friends!

Wanted to upate with another entry prior to this one…but my grandpa (on my dad’s side) was sent to the hospital last night. My grandparents went on a Seniors’ trip with the church and my grandpa fell when a little kid zipped by and startled him during dinner at a buffet restaurant. My dad, uncle, my cousin, and my aunt brought him to the emergency room and waited for the x-rays to be done.

He stayed overnight in the hospital and is still awaiting the surgeon today to see when he will have his surgery for his leg/hip area. Please pray for patience, for wisdom of the doctors and nurses that are taking care of him, and for his pain to be minimalized. This makes me feel so helpless and worrisome cause I can’t go to visit!

As for me, I had my CT Scan on Monday Night and had a nice dinner afterwards to celebrate a good friends’ birthday 🙂 Prior to the Scan, I was given this white/semi-opaque/thick/orange-tasting liquid to drink throughout the day. It wasn’t great tasting, but anything beats Chinese Medicine! (…I found a “bug-looking” head in the remainders of the medicine yesterday… and I found out it was a scorpion head! So… eat that! Andrew Zimmerman… I think I’m ready for his Bizarre Foods Show on Food Network).

I also had another MugaScan & EKG test this morning at TGH. Thank the Lord that he continues to answer prayers when I ask for courage when it comes to needles & injections. Although I can tolerate them… I find I can never really get “used” to them… 

So… it’s “poke-free” until next Friday when I get my blood test in preparation for Round 4 the Monday after Father’s Day! 

On a side note… Ike & I have a wedding cake! 🙂 I went to Select Bakery with my mom on Friday to talk with Costa about the cake. I love his  bakery & pastry shop, because it’s full of such beautiful, yummy, and wonderful varieties of Greek Pastries (especially the soft almond cookies!) I also love it because of the local community that the shop serves. It’ puts a smile on my face to see grandmas and grandpas come and enjoy a date or coffee while reading their newspapers or chatting 🙂  

At first, Ike & I thought of just renting a styrofoam cake. I know, unedible… but we weren’t too serious about cakes. Somehow, our later idea of a simple 2-tier cake is now a 3-tier cake! haha… oh dear! But it’s simple & it’s strawberry shortcake flavoured (which is Ike’s favourite!) What was an even MORE wonderful surprise was that it was already paid for when I asked Costa for the price!!!!!!!! ALLEN YE, we know it’s you!!! haha… Thanks Biu Gor 🙂 We are so touched by your generosity & love for your family & friends. Thanks to Costa too (and Nick!) Have a great trip out west!

http://selectbakery.ca/home.php -> Select Bakery’s Website…

Can’t have too much sugar…but I’m still happy when I see this picture!

Have a “sweet” weekend!  – Vinci

 

Chemo 3 is NO match for me !

My Dear Friends & Family,

Thanks for your continuous prayers & thoughts as always! They give me strength to keep fighting 🙂 Going into chemo 3, my blood counts weren’t so high. I was on the borderline of having to have the treatment postponed, but my hematologist gave the go-ahead. So to even be able to continue with the treatment is a good thing!

 This round was a difficult one in comparison to Round 2. We waited a good 2 hours before going into the chemo day lab. They were really busy, so I was at a chair instead of a bed for the treatment. The vein was harder to find today. So, the first poke didn’t work (even though it was a fat & juicy vein!) The second poke was successful…Praise the Lord! Since it was a small vein, it was a little uncomfortable (the nurse really dug in!) & the IV drugs were making my arm a little poofy & sore (especially the Rutuxim). My blood pressure was at times pretty low, and they had to slow down some parts of the treatment. All in all though, it only took 4 and a half hours! So… not too bad 🙂

I guess due to the energy I exerted to tolerate the pain in my arm & just the lower blood pressure… I felt like I hit a brick wall after my treatment. Just a little zoned out, mostly wanting to sleep. I tried to eat as much as I could when I got home, but I felt nauseous already. So, I went to bed at 8:30!!! hahah… I don’t remember the last time I crashed so early. Thanks to my family & Ike  for putting up with my “bum-ness” at times. Nonetheless, I feel a little better aside from some nauseous feelings throughout the day.

the medicine story…

As I mentioned in the previous entry, there’s a story about my medicine that I’d like to share with you all. So in the last 2 rounds, all medications (aside from the actual chemo) had to be paid from our own pockets. I applied for some government programs and waited to see if anything would be approved. So this was what happened. The Trillium Government program would provide all expenses in  medications that exceeds a grand total of $1500 from April until July.  We also phoned the Victory program which makes the Neupogen injections, and they provided for injections until Round 3. Well, little did we know that God was in the midst of answering prayers!

So… because I needed injections (and neither my mom nor myself felt comfortable with administering our own injections) and the clinic near our house was too packed for us to go get my shot,  CCAC (Community Care Access Centre), an initiative funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario provided for a homecare nurse to come every morning for the injections in Round 2. The case manager reviewed my situation with me and brought up the fact that CCAC can provide medicine (oral & injections) for patients under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan (as long as they need a Homenurse) free of charge!  It proved to be a blessing in disguise because of the fact that I didn’t go to the clinic (cause it was booked) and that I couldn’t give myself injections (Cause I’m too chicken)! That means aside from paying my pharmacy fees, ALL of my medicine (excluding Heptovir) is covered!!!!!! What’s even more praiseworthy is that on the same day, the Victory program called to tell me that my case has been approved and that all my Neupogen injections would be covered until November 2010!!! God is truly a God that answers prayers & provides! 

The following song & testimony has touched my heart & soul for the past few months. It is a slight reflection of how I feel & how the Medicine story is one that shows  God’s love & presence. I have come across this song by Hillsongs United several times through friends & even on someone’s Facebook Status. It shows of how BIG God is… how He is a Provider…how He is Worthy of Praise because of the Promises He gives not only to me, but to anyone that has felt like they have lost Hope or are struggling in hard times. Have Faith, Stay Strong & Trust in His Promises! He is bigger than our Circumstances!

”  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”- Romans 8:31

this is the story behind the song…

Tomorrow will be the start of my Round 3 Neupogen Injections. I’ve been feeling physically bummy these last couple of days. Hopefully, these injections will help my body!  (OH! and I got a HUGE BRUISE on my arm from the IV…eek!)

And…to end off on a lighter note 🙂  Here’s the Round 3 Video from my dear friends! It’s up now ! Love the scene in the elevator… that poor woman….haha

Cheerio for now,

Vinci

Feeling great… and Gearing Up!

Hi Everyone,

Hope all the Canadians had a great Victoria Day Weekend! I sure did 🙂  (and to the Americans, hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend coming up) The long weekend was jam packed with things to do that doesn’t involve being at home most of the day! Not only was I excited to be “out & about”, but I think by the end of the weekend, my body realized it was overly excited too and NOT suprisingly fatigued. After the long weekend, I felt like an old lady that just ran a race…cause I crashed pretty early every night since!  The weekend consisted of…

  • morning brunch at Oliver & Bonnicini’s
  • watched Shrek 4 with Ike & my mom 🙂 (my dad’s on a singing tour out West & in Seattle…so it was really sweet of Ike to suggest bringing my mom out for a movie)
  • dim sum with the family
  • shoe shopping with my mom, aunts, uncle & cousin for their Wedding shoes…haha 
  • strolling and enjoying the beautiful weather with Ike downtown near Harbourfront
  • BBQ with some good friends 🙂 –> Thanks for all the yummy grilled veggies & “healthy food” hahaha….

So, all in all…a GREAT weekend with the people & food I love and feeling like a “normal” person; where I didn’t feel sick at all!  (my unhealthy food quota for the next month has been met… my “cheat” weekend 🙂

As I’m getting ready for my next round of chemo (which is eek, tomorrow), I’m a little excited that after this next round, I’m HALF DONE!!! YAY! I’m scheduled for some CT Scans & Bone Scans after this round to see if they’re shrinking the tumours or not. June’s definitely going to be a busy, busy month.

On another note, there are some things to be Happy About ! I’ll write more about it tomorrow, but it has to do with medical expenses! As we’ve said in previous entries, God’s timing & providence is ALWAYS better than either Ike & I can EVER imagine. I’m in awe of how prayers are answered.

Things to pray for…

  • Where will the next IV be?  in a healthy, workable vein…please, please pretty please 🙂
  • minimal side effects after this next round (Round 2 was okay!)
  • good results showing a shrunken tumour or none at all! (CT Scan & Bone Scan) –> June 18
  • good results for an ultrasound for my liver.. that’s prayerfully  functioning okay through all this chemo -> June 21

One more prayer request… this one has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past weekend…

A family that attends our church has recently lost a loved one to cancer this past week after a courageous battle over a period of several years. Vivien was a woman who loved God and loved her family. Although I didn’t know her extremely well, I could observe that these two things were very dear to her heart. My heart goes out to Vivien’s husband and her two children whom I had some opportunities to interact with when I taught Sunday School a year or two ago. If you have a chance, please pray for peace and God’s presence to be with her family in this hard time. Please pray that God will provide wisdom for Vivien’s husband in how to remember her and how to raise the children. Please also pray that the kids will allow God to still be a part of their lives and not for them to have harden hearts towards God as they grow up.  Thanks y’all!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears it .    – 1 John 5:14 (New International Version)

XOXO & Cheers,

Vinci

PS: will upload another one of my friend’s fun videos for Round 3 later this week … but Tada!!! Here’ s one from my dear friends Jin & Kin from Round 2… they were on a cruise for Jin’s sister’s wedding….so had to make a separate video. Loved the fact that Andrew and your sisters were in it too 🙂 Thanks guys! (you made me tear up… hehe ) and you have no idea how encouraging these videos are!!

I Am Not My Hair… or lack thereof…

Hi 🙂 It’s been a week since the last update, but thanks to everyone who has put Ike & I continuously in your prayers & thoughts. I’ll get to why I’ve titled this entry the way I have at the end…but for now, you’ll have to read through my updates first 🙂

I feel like I’ve missed church for months! I really wanted to go yesterday, but I’m going to wait until these injections are over to make sure that I don’t catch any germs coming my way! Not being at church, I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on what God has to say to me, or on the musical aspects of worship, or even in spending time with brothers & sisters. Reflecting on this yesterday morning, God reminded me  that I can still connect with Him no matter where I am. So in turn, I had my own Sunday Worship with God that I really enjoyed… a personal retreat.  I had time to reflect, sing, play piano, pray and to just be in His presence (the good weather helped too!!)  It was very refreshing!

This quote showed up while I was reading the other day. It really describes what I’ve been feeling :

“A calmer faith. That’s the quiet place within us where we don’t get whiplash every time life tosses us a curve. Where we don’t revolt when His plan and ours conflect. Where w relax (versus stew, sweat, and swear) in the midst of an answerless season. Where we accept (and expect) deserts in our spiritual journey as surely as we do joy. Where we are not intimidated or persuaded by other people’s agendas but moved only by Him. Where we weep in repentance, sleep in peace, live in fullness, and sing in victory.” – Patsy Clairmont

So medically, since the last entry, here’s what has happened.  Last Friday, I had my first Neupogen injection at PMH. Sue was really gentle about it, and it wasn’t too bad. Afterwards, I went to see the wig consultant at PMH, who taught me how to maintain and wear my new wig 🙂 The last appointment was with Rhonda, my social worker, who’s helping me with applying for Trillium & for EI Benefits & for EAP’s with the drugs I am using. When I think of all the “money-talk” that goes with drugs & healthcare, I am so thankful that God is continuing to provide for me. I trust that He will continue to pave the way for these treatments & drugs.

Including tomorrow, I will have had 5 neupogen injections daily to help boost my WBC s. We’ve been so blessed to have a visting nurse come everyday to my house to give the injections instead of having to go to the clinic everyday. The initial idea is for the nurse to teach my mum how to give the injections. My mum though, is DEADLY afraid of needles…and come to think of it, I’m afraid of her holding the needle… trying to give me the neupogen…haha. I’ve noticed some bone pain, which is a side effect of the needles. It’s not so much in my lower back, but in my chest & upper back area.

Other side effects that I’ve also experienced after this 2nd chemo is a lack of appetite at around 6:30-7:30 pm everyday, and fatigue after 9:30. Since I’m not going out as much, it’s hard to keep active even though I would like to. Our friend, Bianca has been an amazing blessing! She’s been trying to teach me yoga for the past 2 Saturdays…just to get me moving. I’ve also discovered Wii Fit (which I’ve been doing for 30 minutes everyday) and the occasional stroll outside brings a smile on my face!

Now, on to why I’ve named this post “I Am Not My Hair”… Well, as you can guess, the CHOP-R chemo drugs have done its job to reveal my sorta round but small head! I went through the transition of the long hair-> pixie cut –> straggling fews (my Gollum look) –> and now…almost completely bald & occasionally with a hat or a wig !  Going through this, I always thought I’d be okay and reminded myself that my loss of hair is temporary and that it will grow back. Yet, being human, somehow we are attached to our hair in a weird way. For me, it was tough because I had hopes for what I would look like for my wedding, hair and all. It was also tough, because I felt bad that Ike had to see & be with a girl without hair. I had my good cry, and was reassured by Ike & my family that I am still beautiful even without my hair….that was a hard but real lesson…. that I am not my hair. 

So here in pictures… is the Hair  transition… 

                                                                                           

                                                                                               

And of course, the source of the phrase – “I Am Not My Hair” – by India Arie.

R&B first version: feat. Akon

Jazzy second version: feat. Pink

Cheers & Blessings 🙂 Vinci