October 2018 update

Well, it has been awhile since I posted.

Nothing really bad has happened, but a lot of things happened over the summer.  Complete world shift would mostly correct.
Looking back to my last post, I gave you the heads up… I called it “big changes”.  I would say that it was a correct statement.
Things that changed: (mostly in order)

– Grandson arrived shortly after the last blog post,
– house sold in Edmonton,
– flew to Halifax to buy a house at the end of July,
– movers came and packed up our house at the end of August,
– Labour day weekend, we started driving east (Mrs, myself, and 2 cats in the car), and
– we moved in to the new place around mid-September

so – now, just into the first week of October, we are “mostly” unpacked, and “most” tasks to transition (car registrations, new drivers licences etc) are complete.

Military factors not being discussed yet, one of the key factors in deciding to move was the “continuity of care” with a Urologic Oncologist.  This discussion was a make or break moment (go-no go) in the story.  My wife and I had talked about the possibility quite a bit, and concentrated on a couple of key factors – this was the controlling factor.  We had agreed that if my specialist was unwilling, or unhappy, with the transition of care to Halifax – I was willing to take the necessary steps to stay in Alberta – specifically within his catchment zone to keep him as my specialist.

The discussion with the Doc was great – not only was he ok with the standard of care available in Halifax with the move, he specifically knew exactly who he wanted me to see in Halifax.  I had been his patient for 4 years, so it wasn’t without some sorrow that we said goodbye, and of course I gave him my heartfelt thanks.  With confirmation that he would handle the referral process to his maritime counterpart, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  As luck would have it, I was able to attend the Halifax Bladder Cancer walk, and was able to meet my new Urologic Oncologist – and he had heard of me and my file – which was great to hear.  The most critical part of the move, and the most outside the military control – happened.

My challenge during all this activity – was to maintain my energy levels.  Constantly on the move, constantly running around doing different things – exhausted me physically(mentally too – but that would be an entirely different topic).  It has been quite surprising to me, as I consider myself quite adept at managing my energy, and knowing my physiology enough to recognize early signs.  The challenge became the fact that there was still tasks that needed to be done.  This resulted in me catching a cold during a heat wave….. which was a new signal from my body that my immune system (already compromised by treatments) was taking a fair hit.  The regular indicators – pain in specific places etc, were present – but this was a new one.  A couple of days complete rest were needed before I recovered from that.

Over the summer, my circle of friends was again impacted by Cancer – with a couple newly diagnosed people, and 2 people passing on.  Unfortunately, both people diagnosed in August – passed in Sept.  I don’t have much in the way of words to give to people when things happen that fast.

During the last few months, a couple of things have popped up that have made me think.  I made a spur of the moment video and posted it on a YouTube channel here.

It was surprising that around the day that I visited the Terry Fox memorial (outside Thunder Bay, Ontario) a couple of times on social media, the Facebook post that we have all seen about “cut and paste this to show your friends you don’t like cancer……..(kinda thing)”.  It made me want to do something different.  I find that post a little impersonal, and believe that if a person wanted to show support for friends that they have lost, or friends still fighting – they would reach out and talk to that person…. Ok, little tricky for those that have passed, unless you know a medium.  I don’t fault people for doing it for the reason that you can’t support a person that has passed, but – if you want to make a difference in a Cancer patients life, drop them a line to ask how they are doing. That will show that you are thinking of them – call, text, message etc.  This allows them the opportunity to tell you what they are up to – which may include awareness promotional events that could use some social media sharing – so share that on your Facebook too.

Just my opinion on that social media trend anyway – feel free to disagree and don’t stop posting it because of something I said.  But when I see it, I will reach out to someone or share an awareness event (they happen all year).  It is what I think will help change the conversation and increase awareness.

September is THE month for Bladder Cancer fundraising.  The Bladder Cancer Awareness Walk – all across Canada on the last couple weekends, walkers took to the streets and pathways of communities and parks dressed in yellow or white shirts.  You may have seen one near you, and weren’t sure what it was.  The National goal for 2018 was $600,000, and at the time of typing this – they were approaching 90% of that goal.  So, if  you are looking for a cause to donate to, and get a tax-deductible receipt – feel free to donate on this page.

As I knew I was moving, my participation in charity fundraising and other events – including the Edmonton Bladder Cancer walk (which rocked their local fundraising this year – way to go) decreased.  I supported a number of small events, but my normally high level of volunteering and helping organize – decreased dramatically.  The most interesting thing that I find now – returning to duties in uniform – is wondering how much time I will have available.  The past 4 years, and all my time in Edmonton, allowed me spend most of my surgery/treatment recuperation time on my laptop helping various events/committees.  As I don’t know what my new timetables and schedules will look like, my biggest challenge in my new location is to ensure I don’t over-commit myself.

With my military career back into being a known situation, I don’t feel like I am in limbo anymore.  I can start to build a plan towards a “normal” retirement.  This will include finally making the decision on “what to do when I have to grow up and get a real job?”  Once that decision is made (and I think I have made it – but I won’t be telling people about it anytime soon), I need to figure out what the path will be to achieve that destination.  If it looks like an achievable solution, I think I will have found my future path.
Not being in limbo is a good feeling.  I spent much of the last 4 years, not sure if I should be planning on my medical release, not knowing what that timeline would look like, so how to be prepared for something that you aren’t sure if it is coming, when will it arrive, and what condition will you be in to react to it?  It isn’t something I recommend.  For example – if I thought I was going to be released quickly, I would need to find training programs and opportunities to take advantage of, but given my health and situation we don’t know if I will be able to go into a program that requires greater than full time hours of study/training etc.  But, you can’t apply for programs until you know when you are going to take advantage of them.  So you end up researching a million things, but unable to action anything.

This year, I didn’t get a chance to do a big motorcycle ride for my “one week”.  The summer was that busy.  I did get a weekend trip with an awesome friend, who also has a Cancer journey.  Together we rode off to visit another one of my Cancer friends outside Calgary, whom I got to ride with before my departure east as well.  Visiting great landmarks as the Bomber Command museum in Nanton Alberta (which is pretty cool for an Air Force history buff like me).  I will make a point of putting together a ride next year to bring back the One week story.  I now have lots of time to plan it, and I do live in the end of the country that has the Cabot Trail in it…. So, there is that.
Other notable milestones was that I surpassed 50,000 kilometers on my motorcycle.  I captured it on video(I think), and plan on making a video to encapsulate that milestone in the weeks to come.  I managed to cross this threshold the day before my wifes birthday, and a weeklong trip to BC that all happened in the 2 weeks before the moving company showed up to start packing my house.  So, I didn’t have time to put my video together  – but I will.  Feel free to subscribe to that YouTube channel to be notified when I post that and other random videos on it.

I will be doing a video update for my other YouTube channel soon, as I am way overdue for people to see me.  I have been debating doing more VLOG style posts there, but I am undecided.

Anyway, thanks for following along on this journey, I hope you stick around as neither of us know where it is going, or when it will end.  I know that my content is a little boring right now, but I have a plan to fix that too.