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Back at Toronto General E.R.

1:00am. Thursday August 7th 2014. 

How I’m feeling: Disheartened, frustrated, angry, sad. 

After the Van Fam’s annual cottage trip and after last week’s epic No Good Woman Left Behind Fundraiser (#NGWLBFundraiser), I fled to my good friend Danielle’s cottage. And today (err..yesterday – Wednesday), I arrived back home. I was supposed to come back to Toronto on Thursday night to make it to an appointment with my oncologist to discuss next treatment steps – but the discomfort I felt throughout the week up north now has me here in Toronto General E.R.

After the first night at the cottage, I woke up with puffy eyes. We thought it may have been some sort of an allergy – and while I was quite certain that I am not allergic to anything, I popped some Claritin to see if it would relieve some of the swelling. As the day went on, I did start to feel better but I couldn’t confidently accredit the relief to the Claritin. I immediately started to get back on to my post-cancer diagnosis diet that I was on throughout chemotherapy (I cheated a little bit while on vacation) of no (cow) dairy, no gluten, no preservatives, no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol – just incase the allergy was food related. After eliminating so much from my diet since mid-March, I figured that light spread of butter or that tiny dot of ketchup was what may have set me off.

As the days went on, the swelling moved towards my entire face (hello double chin!), my neck, chest, shoulders and back of neck. The swelling in my face and veins in my neck felt similar to that of which I noticed back in February and March when I had no idea what the hell was going on. I had thought the veins were just from dance-related muscle tension and the swelling was from temporary medication I was on while my chest X-ray scan results came in.

Neck veins

Instagram post from February 2014 – a month before diagnosis

Swollen sad face

Instagram post from March 2014 – a few days before diagnosis.

Every morning over the past week became increasingly uncomfortable. It wasn’t until Tuesday night before bedtime when I took some quiet time away from the group to really focus on what I was feeling. I sat up in bed and did a careful mental scan of every inch of my body, documented it in my mind and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning (Wednesday), I woke up puffier and felt even more uncomfortable. As usual, I got up to make breakfast for everyone (making breakfast is my jam!) but this time around, I didn’t wake up with that usual natural spring in my step! Admittedly, I struggled through my morning regime this time around. My mind was so pre-occupied with whatever was going on with me that it took me extra time to get things done. Everyone was still sleeping even by the time I set the table and plated everyone’s breakfast – and so I decided to clean the home and pack to keep myself busy. Meg eventually woke up and I immediately told her that something was not right and that I needed to head home. Thankfully, Meg and Mack offered to drive me back to Toronto. The plan was to sneak back in to Toronto, not tell anyone I was back yet, to hide out in my Liberty Village home for some alone time and to take a breather before my appointment on Friday.

Knowing it was our last day at the cottage, Meg and I threw on our bikinis and spent a good couple of hours on the dock sun bathing, chatting and laughing. I also had some alone time to dangle my legs off of the dock in to the cool lake water, study the rhythm of the ripples and do some thinking. It was then when I decided that I should probably head straight to Princess Margaret Hospital. What I was feeling was a feeling that was too uncomfortably familiar to me. While, it wasn’t nearly as severe – it was a feeling that was similar pre-diagnosis back in March. I went back inside, looked at my swollen self in the mirror and texted the plan to Mama Van and a friend whom had recently texted me to find out if I was back in T.O. as of yet.

The entire ride back in to Toronto, I was either sleeping or worried about what was about to happen the moment I checked in to PMH. Mack and Meg dropped me off, and my mother and father were already there waiting for me. I quickly learned that PMH did not have emergency – and so I was sent to Toronto General Emergency. After about 4 hours in the waiting room, I was transferred in to E.R. where I had multiple tests and blood work done. And as of a few hours ago, I was told that they are not releasing me. I’m here overnight. The last time I was here and was admitted, I was here for 2 weeks and received a flurry of news faster than I was able to process. I’m really hoping this won’t be a repeat of that. Fingers crossed!

The concern is the swelling in my throat as it may affect my breathing if not addressed soon enough. The plan is to give me steroids with the hope that it will help relieve the compression against my main vessel. If the steroids do not work quick enough – I may have to have emergency radiation – of which I didn’t know was a thing until a couple of hours ago.

Right now, I’m sitting here in the dark in a wardroom with 3 male patients as my neighbours whom are crying and groaning with pain – waiting to be transferred to my overnight room of which I assume is going to be more comfortable and private. I’m exhausted but in no shape to sleep – or sleep well at least. My mind is focused on really trying hard to not be angry. The plan was to get back from the cottage, meet with my oncologist about my radiation treatment plan, begin radiation, continue to tingle about how incredible #NGWLBFundraiser was and how thankful I am, move back in to my downtown home and be able to grind through towards my next exciting professional (and personal) chapter. Just as I was trying to prep for for all of this – I get this blow in gut. Similar symptoms (but way less severe – thankfully) as I had PRE-chemo? Pre-that hell-ish 4 months?! F%$!ing cancer. What an asshole.

What I’m replaying in my head at the moment are the emotions I felt this time last week. It was this time last early Thursday morning when I was heading home from #NGWLBFundraiser, tingling with happiness and so incredibly in love with my friends, family, colleagues and – humanity. I am still so overwhelmed by the hundreds and hundreds of those who packed the Virgin Mobile Mod Club venue to support me. I hope you all had an incredible time! The organizers, sponsoring organizations, volunteers, performers and fellow dancemates who made it happen and threw it down on stage hard – I cannot thank you enough! The one thing I “regret” was not having enough time to hug every single person that was there. I know – it’s not a terrible problem to have. But trust me, I likely saw your face and just wasn’t able to make my way on over to you before being pulled aside. Consider my closing remarks as my way of making love to all of you for playing such a huge role in my healing process. If you missed it, well – you should have been there  🙂 Hopefully somebody recorded it? Anyways, the #NGWLBFundraiser event is what’s keeping me smiling right now. Thank you for it. Really.

Wish me luck. Keep those everythings crossed for me, please? I want to get out of here so so badly. Let’s hope none of you get the chance to come visit me at Toronto General.

At this point, while this feeling of uncertainty re: this cancer is no stranger to me – the one thing I CAN feel certain about is that there is no way in hell I’m done fighting. As much as I have my dark moments when I feel like I’ve been defeated and am seconds away from throwing in the towel – I know better. Since when have I ever backed down? Nothing – even this asshole cancer won’t rob this spirit of mine. He doesn’t stand a chance – especially with all of you backing me up 😉

Love all around! Wish me luck. xxo


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