Less than two months ago my husband, Konrad, and I got back from Australia. I had given three workshops, we had built in a short holiday, driven up the beautiful coastline from Melbourne to Newcastle, seen the little penguins, arrived safely back in Vancouver and were settling down to some serious jet lag and preparation for the next workshop. About a week after my return I noticed a deterioration in my handwriting; not good news for someone who is about to co-teach a workshop called “Calligraphy and Encaustic”. With a few weeks to go I hoped that this was a temporary glitch and carried on with my preparations. When my co-instructor arrived – master calligrapher Massimo Pollelo from Turin, Italy – I had to come clean with him that my writing was impaired and that he would be demonstrating all calligraphic mark making to the amazingly talented workshop group we had signed up.
Massimo had arrived a week early so that we could prepare some integrated projects – calligraphy with encaustic – and we were able to produce some beautiful examples for the class. We had also planned some outings with Massimo; the kind of things that you should do when you live locally but never get around to. As we were walking around Stanley Park in the beautiful sunshine I noticed (we all noticed) that I was dragging my right foot. With the right hand still misbehaving we thought I might have had a mild stroke and I went to a walk-in clinic on the weekend before the workshop. I was sent for some blood tests and had an appointment made with a stroke specialist later that week.
The workshop went very well and on the Thursday the group planned to meet for dinner; I went to visit the stroke specialist, ostensibly to get my test results. What actually happened was the start of a long ordeal.
I was told to go to emergency at a nearby hospital where I underwent a CT scan and two MRIs. While this takes three seconds to say I was hospitalized for five days (needless to say, I missed dinner with the group). The second MRI showed a tumour in the left hemisphere of my brain that was causing impaired movement on my right side. By the time I was discharged from hospital this was becoming more noticeable, along with some facial asymmetry and slurred speech.
The next step was to check into another hospital with a very talented neuro surgeon who determined that the tumour was inoperable and performed a (very invasive) biopsy. I was in that hospital for another five days. The biopsy report was not good news – this is a very aggressive brain cancer, a stage 4 glioblastoma. I was discharged pending radiation and chemo therapy treatments. Control of my right side has deteriorated to the point that I am now going between a walker (on good days) and a wheelchair.
This brings me to the present day and to you, my dear reader. There is still so much that I have to share with you that I feel is of value and, with Konrad’s help, I will keep this blog going. While I have obviously been handed some challenges my feelings of love and gratitude remain undiminished. It is important to me, especially now, to find three things that I am grateful for every day. We remain optimistic and this has allowed us to share some fun times and laughter; to enjoy sunny days and time with family.
Needless to say, a prognosis like this puts life in perspective, not that we needed it to appreciate the wonderful life that we have, people we are surrounded with and amazing opportunities that come our way daily. I would like to hear what you are most grateful for; what makes you come alive. Please post some of your gratitude thoughts and I’ll use them as inspiration in the days ahead.
As I am now going into chemo and radiation the next post may be a guest post. I will write again when I’m able.
With Love and Gratitude,