Good news and then…

I’ve held off on writing this post for a little while because of the “and then” in the title, but here’s the latest update on my health. I had my tenth Lutetium treatment on Wednesday afternoon, spent the night in seclusion at the Cross Cancer Institute, and underwent follow-up scans early yesterday morning. After lying perfectly still under a warmed blanket (I love those warmed blankets!) while machines whirred around me taking detailed pictures of my insides, I sat down with Dr. Kounma to review the images.

These moments always stir up a bit of scanxiety. Rather than diminishing over time, I think that this has actually increased a bit in recent months. Shortly after I was diagnosed, we read that the average life expectancy for a NET cancer patient was five years following diagnosis. Better than a lot of cancers, I know, but I’m just a few months short of that now. Thankfully, the numbers have changed since that time. Last fall, Dr. MacEwan, head of my treatment team, presented at a NET cancer conference in Europe. By then, the time from diagnosis to disease progression (in other words, the cancer begins to grow and spread again) for patients who are part of the same clinical trial as I am, was 55 months. I passed that milestone a month ago.  This, too, is an ever changing number as more and more of us are meeting with success on this treatment plan.

Once again, the news was good! The post treatment images are not detailed enough to give exact measurements, but it was clear even to me that my cancer is not growing or spreading. In fact, if there has been any change at all in my tumours over the past few months, it appears to be for the better. We left the clinic rejoicing and praising the Lord!

AND THEN…

We were back home and it was four o’clock in the afternoon when the phone rang. It was Dr. Kounma. Apparently, when the radiologist reviewed the morning’s images, he saw something that appeared to be a partial obstruction of my small bowel. This was new since the CT scan that I had in February. Though I have exhibited absolutely no symptoms, Dr. Kounma’s instructions to me were “Go to ER for further evaluation today!”

YIkes!

That must have been one of the quickest ER visits in history! I left immediately for our small rural hospital, about ten minutes away and was back home again in little more than an hour. When I explained the situation to the intake nurse, she immediately picked up the phone and called my family doctor. He came over from his office, which happens to be housed in the same complex, and immediately reviewed the radiologist’s report online. His first comment to me when he saw me was, “Well you certainly look healthy for someone with a bowel obstruction!” He quickly determined that we were likely dealing with a red herring; that this was probably simply a false alarm. He was also quick to assure me that if there really was a blockage, it had absolutely nothing to do with my cancer. That was very reassuring. In fact, I wish that Dr. Kounma had thought to mention that.

Dr. Hanton decided that rather than jumping the gun and sending me back to the city for a CT scan, we would be best to take a wait and see approach. He told me the symptoms to watch for: vomiting, belching, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, lack of appetite, lack of bowel action, inability to pass gas. All of these would be pretty hard to miss if they began to happen. If need be, come back anytime, night or day, he told me and he even gave me his personal cell phone number in case I needed to get in touch with him!

18 hours have passed since the scans were completed and I’m still pooping and passing gas. (I bet you really wanted to know that, didn’t you?) It’s possible that there might be a partial blockage, but both doctors also assured me that these things sometimes resolve themselves. In the meantime, I’m thankful that my cancer is still stable and that, other than the usual post treatment tiredness, I’m feeling fine. Praise the Lord!

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Royal wedding favourites

LogoUnlike some of my friends, I did not stay up until the wee hours last Saturday morning or get up before the sun to watch the royal wedding. It just wasn’t that important to me. I was saddened, however, in the days that followed to see women making unkind comments online about what some of the invited guests chose to wear. Why is it that women feel the need to criticize and put one another down? Does it make them feel better about themselves? Is it the voice of jealousy speaking? How very sad!

We all have different taste in clothing; different personal styles. In fact, it would be a very boring world if we all dressed the same. After reading some of the catty comments, I decided to take a look at the photos and find out for myself what they were referring to. I saw some outfits that I liked better than others, of course, but mostly what I saw we’re happy looking people celebrating a joyous occasion. I loved the vast array of colours and styles. There was clearly no one trend or colour that dominated.

After careful consideration, I’ve chosen a few of my favourite looks to feature here.

Kat Middleton - royal wedding

Always classy, Kate Middleton wore a figure-flattering silk coat dress by Alexander McQueen. The nasties complained that she wore white, considered a major wedding faux pas. Although it does appear almost white in the sunshine on the church steps following the ceremony, it was in fact cream and apparently looked much yellower in the dimmer lighting inside the church. What I love most about it, though, is the fact that this is a dress that Kate has worn several times before. We first saw it at her daughter’s christening in 2015. It’s obviously a favourite of hers and unlike a lot of women, she doesn’t feel the need to wear something brand new to every occasion.

Another favourite of mine is Jessica Mulroney’s royal blue tea-length dress with cap sleeves by Montreal based designer Di Carlo Couture.

Jessica Mulroney - royal wedding

Lady Kitty Spencer, 27-year-old daughter of Princess Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, looked elegant in a green floral Dolce & Gabbana dress. Internet chatter focused not on what she wore, but instead on her uncanny resemblance to her famous aunt.

Kitty Spencer - royal wedding

There’s something about American actress Troian Bellisario’s cream coloured gown by Temperley London that caught my fancy. I particularly like the embellishment at the shoulders of its long sleeves.

Troian Bellisario - royal wedding

And then there were the hats and the fascinators! Oh how I’d love to attend an event where the women wore such gorgeous headpieces! Yes, there were some that I wouldn’t have chosen, but again, why knock another woman’s choice? Here are a few of my favourites.

 

The sleeves on American actress Sarah Rafferty’s frock took a current trend to its outer limit, but her hat was just darling! Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham’s was similar.
Victoria Beckham - royal wedding

 

The groom’s aunt, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, looked so very chic!

Sarah Ferguson - royal wedding

 

Looking at these three, one might get the impression that I favour small navy blue headpieces with veils. While I do adore them, I was just as impressed by Amal Clooney’s (British-Lebanese barrister and wife of actor, George Clooney) broad brimmed bright yellow hat.

Amal Clooney - royal wedding
Regardless of which outfits I like best and whether or not you agree with my choices, the point here is that we have nothing to gain from putting other women down for what they choose to wear. Let’s be kind to one another!

Let your beauty shine through

LogoAfter having our ceilings stripped and new stipple applied, then painting the living room, this week has been one of major house cleaning. If you had seen me in my painting duds or wearing old jeans and t-shirt while I applied furniture polish to practically every wood surface in the house, you would not have taken me for a fashion blogger. In fact, I’m quite sure I looked more like a fashion failure!

As these things tend to do, the work has taken longer and gone in different directions than we originally planned and while I try to post something on the blog at least twice a week, that hasn’t been happening. Suddenly it’s Friday again and I don’t have a new outfit or tidbit of fashion wisdom ready to share with you.

I have, however, been musing about something as I’ve applied oil to wood and polished it to a shine. The oil enhances the natural beauty of the wood. Similarly, what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within.

Stephanie Lahart, inspirational author of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles, puts it this way:

“Her outer beauty is just a bonus, but it is her inner beauty that’s most captivating. She’s loving, caring, kindhearted, empathetic, and genuine. She’s comfortable in her own skin, therefore, she’s able to compliment, celebrate, and build up others around her. She’s a quality woman with a strong sense of self! She doesn’t need the spotlight, because she is the light wherever she goes. Smart, confident, ambitious, and fearless… Beautifully created from the inside out.”

A woman like that can be dressed in rags (or painting clothes) and still be beautiful!

Scripture tells us:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”           1 Peter 3:3-4

So, whatever you’re wearing today… pay someone a compliment, do something kind for someone else, put a smile on your face and let the beautiful woman you are shine through.

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I’ll be in the city for another cancer treatment and some scans next week, so I should have an update on that front, and I promise a more traditional fashion post next Friday.

Sleeping beauty

LogoTaking an interest in fashion is usually about wanting to look our best. The clothes we wear are definitely an important part of that, but so is taking care of the body that we put those clothes on.

I’m reminded of the repainting that I’m doing in our living room right now. If I simply put fresh paint on the wall without first mending the nicks and scrapes and the holes from the old drapery rod that we just took down, the result would not look good at all. In the same way, without eating well, being physically active, and getting adequate sleep, we can put the loveliest clothes on our bodies and not end up looking very good.

Getting sufficient sleep can be a significant problem for many women. When we’re young, the demands of motherhood or a busy work life can make it difficult to settle in and get a good night’s rest and as we age there is often a decrease in the deep-sleep stage and an increase in periods of wakefulness during the night, not to mention more frequent trips to the bathroom.

I generally get plenty of sleep, but not at this time of year. I’m not an early riser, but at this time of year, the sun is! It rose at 5:36 this morning and will continue shining in my window earlier each morning for another month and a half. Every year at this time, I think about getting darker blinds for the bedroom, but after awhile I get used to the early morning light and the need for new window coverings is forgotten. This year, I came up with a new idea. A sleep mask!

A sleep mask is essentially a comfortable blindfold that blocks light and thus helps the wearer reach a deep and restful sleep even in situations like mine where there is a lack of darkness. There are a variety of different types of sleep masks available. In addition to the standard mask, there are pillow masks, or eye pillows, which are thicker and softer than a regular sleep mask. There are cooling masks, magnetic masks, and compression masks. There are even sleep masks designed specifically for aromatherapy. Masks come in a variety of materials with silk, cotton, and satin being the most common. Some masks use a combination of materials and some even have gel or foam inside to give the mask more structure. Some are made with raised eye cavities that allow you to open your eyes while wearing them.

I wasn’t at all sure how well I would adjust to sleeping with a mask, so I was hesitant to spend much on one until I’d given the idea a try. Imagine my delight when I found this satin beauty with a soft velvety lining at Dollarama for $1.25! There were a wide variety of colours available as well as a choice of witty sayings. It fits comfortably; not too tight, but snug enough to stay in place. I’ve only worn it two nights, so it might be a bit too soon to say for sure, but instead of waking up with the sun I’ve been able to sleep until 7:00 or later. IMG_5776

What about you? Do you have difficulty getting your beauty sleep? Have you tried wearing a mask?

 

Cultural appropriation… what do you think?

Utah teen, Keziah Daum, has been harshly criticized online and in the media for herLogo recent choice of a dress for prom. Hoping to find something unique, Keziah decided to browse a vintage store in downtown Salt Lake City. There she found a beautiful red cheongsam; a high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 11.51.55 AM

photo – Twitter

The problem is that Keziah Daum is not Chinese. The dress “gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty,” she said, but she has been accused of cultural appropriation.

What is cultural appropriation and how is it different from cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation deals with the adoption of elements of a minority culture or a marginalized group by members of a dominant culture without permission and usually with little respect for or knowledge about the original culture. In true cases of cultural appropriation, elements that may have deep meaning to members of the original culture are sometimes reduced to exotic curiosities by those adopting them. For example, decorating your home with a Buddha statue when you are not, in fact, Buddhist would seem to me to be culturally inappropriate. If you are white North American and you include items that are representative of First Nations culture in your Halloween costume, that too is clearly cultural appropriation and may also help perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I question, however, whether using the same items or garments in the ways that they were originally intended is harmful to anyone at all.

The problem, in many cases, is that there is often no agreement amongst members of a supposedly offended cultural group about what is or is not acceptable to them. While Keziah Daum’s choice of prom dress elicited plenty of criticism from both Chinese and non Chinese, scores of other people also identifying as Asian Americans, defended her choice, saying that they did not consider it offensive. One of them tweeted, “I am a Chinese woman. I support you. You rocked that dress!!”

I have a Japanese yukata (summer kimono) that I purchased in Tokyo. The shopkeeper had no problem selling it to me and showing me how to wear it properly even though I was clearly a gaijin (foreigner). In fact, I believe that many of their customers are visitors to the country looking for a special piece of Japanese culture to take home with them. I also have a traditional Vietnamese ao dai, a two piece silk outfit comprised of a long tunic and pants that was made to measure in a tiny tailoring shop in Hoi An. When I traveled to  Vietnam I had no intention of buying an ao dai, but when I visited a few of the 200+ tailoring shops in Hoi An and admired the beautiful garments, the seamstresses were all anxious to make one for me and I couldn’t resist. I also have a Chinese silk jacket from Hong Kong as well as a beautiful silk abaya from the Middle East, both gifts from friends. I have worn all of these on special occasions and meant absolutely no disrespect to the cultures they came from. In fact, like Keziah Daum, I consider it a special privilege to be able to wear such gorgeous and meaningful pieces.

I also wear a beautiful ring made to order by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett. A Christmas gift from my husband, it’s hummingbird motif in traditional Northwest Coast style is symbolic of love and beauty. I am originally a coastal girl of European descent. I do not think that my wearing a ring bearing the art of a different group of coastal people is inappropriate or disrespectful. I also have Northwest Coast and Inuit art in my home, as do many other Canadians.

On the other hand, I do think that our Canadian Prime Minister made an absolute ass of himself, roving around India recently on a highly publicized trip with his family, all of them wearing brightly coloured Indian garb. Their insensitive overuse of and excessive photo-ops wearing Indian clothing drew criticism from their host country with prominent Indian personalities referring to the outfit choices as “tacky” or “fake and annoying.”

Allegations of cultural appropriation have grown increasingly common in recent times with critics casting doubt on the legitimacy of everything from team logos to burrito shops. We in North America are privileged to live in multicultural countries where we can share in the rich heritage and traditions of our neighbours. It behooves us to be sensitive in how we do so, but I think that condemning a young girl for her choice of prom dress goes way overboard.

I realize that this is a controversial topic and that there are people with strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I welcome all opinions as long as they are offered respectfully. I am particularly interested in knowing how my readers from other parts of the world feel about this topic.