Braving the Cold

Our view of the Rocky Mountains.

We have been in the deep freeze here in Alberta this past week. In fact, news people said Calgary was one of the coldest places on earth! With temperatures of -36 C (-33 F) with windchills that make it feel like -40 C or -40 F, I have been praising God for a warm home. Oh, and I have said an extra prayer of thanksgiving for all the oil and gas workers here in our province who work so diligently to provide the product to heat our homes and fuel our cars. I will never malign the oil industry!

We are a hearty people here in Alberta when it comes to braving the cold. While schools were cancelled Wednesday, kids only had one snow day before they were sent back to classes even though there was no negligible change in temperature. One young man even wore his parka over shorts! Road crews and pipeline workers continued to work in the blistering cold, as well as first responders who tackled house fires and car crashes. Water main breaks kept road crews busy. While we did enjoy the confines of our warm home, my husband and I bundled up to go to the recreation centre almost daily so he could work out in the gym and I could walk around the track. We won’t let the cold keep us holed up, although it will be nice to walk to the car without my nostril hairs freezing up. I’m told a Chinook is on its way, with local forecasts predicting temperatures to go from the -30’s to above 0 by Monday. I’m praying the wild barometric pressure that comes with these snow-eating Chinooks will not cause nasty migraines, but I guess I will tackle that inconvenience in favour of warmer weather.

It’s been 15 weeks now since my last chemo treatment and when I think how far I’ve come in that time, I am so very thankful! My hair is coming in nicely although I still wear my wig for warmth more than vanity this week. I call it my “hair hat”. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I feel more myself every day. Certainly there are days when I fight fatigue and I still have some nagging side effects, but those more challenging days are becoming fewer and fewer. I do find however, that I frequently wrestle with negative thoughts and irrational worries. I beat myself up over things I can’t do, rather than focus on things I can do. So to combat those thoughts, I try to celebrate my little victories perhaps with more gusto than a “normal” person would. I did an extra lap around the track yesterday and felt like an Olympian!

I appreciate all the continuing prayer and well wishes during this part of my recovery. I have two oncology appointments over the next two months. I always get nervous around doctors in general, but I’m hopeful they will see I have progressed well over these many weeks. I had a genetic screening test done this week to see if I carry the high risk genes in hereditary breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. Amazingly they managed to extract six vials of blood from me with no problems and no bruising! Having this genetic testing done makes little difference to me, since I’ve already been diagnosed with cancer twice, but to my daughters, it may play an important role in health decisions they may make in the future for themselves. If I do have those high risk genes, there is a 50% increased risk (compared to the general population risk of 10 – 12%) of them developing cancer. In a way, 50/50 odds are not very definitive. ANYONE can get cancer regardless of whether or not they have an hereditary risk or not. Even the geneticists admit that heredity plays a minimal role in developing cancer. Lifestyle, weight, and fitness plays a much bigger role in reducing the risks of getting cancer, but even the healthiest, fittest person on the planet can get cancer. That’s why more research needs to be done. There is still so little we know about the disease itself and few answers as to why it continues to plague thousands of people here in Canada every year. That’s why I support the research efforts of the Terry Fox Foundation, and why I will keep praying a cure will be found soon so that my children and grandchildren will never face cancer in their future!

As I look over the mountains this frosty morning and await the warm Chinook winds to blow in, I am feeling positive about my continuing progress towards a full recovery. God reminds me daily that He is with me. I look to the mountains and am comforted by these words:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121


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