Prior to surgery, I’ve always thought it would be cool to be a contestant on the TV show, Survivor. I have watched all the seasons and figured I could pull it off. I was athletic and thought I might have a chance at the social game. However, after surgery, I’m not so sure I would do well with the not eating part of it. Recent events have allowed me to be on television in a whole different light.
A few weeks ago my mom entered us into a “Cancer Survivor Makeover” competition for the T.V. show “Cityline“. This is a Canadian National daytime T.V. show that focuses a variety of lifestyle topics. I was unaware of this until she told me she put our names forward. Next thing I knew, we were finalists, and then we were winners. We didn’t think we had a chance but I suppose our story is unique.
Our makeover took place last week Wednesday.
We arrived at the Fiorio Salon bright and early and met the show’s producer, Mary Benadiba, who let us know how the day was going to run. We would be interviewed, have our hair and makeup done, as well as be outfitted with new clothing. We got to spend some one on one time with, Bill Rowley, Kerry Battersby, Dino Dilio, and Janice Meredith (hair, colourist, makeup, and stylist, respectively). These people are experts in their fields and a few of them make regular appearances on the show. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. I received some good tips about how to dress for my new body type as well as new hair and makeup tips. There was a lot of footage taken and it is going to be spliced together for a 2-3 minute segment during the show which is taped on the 24th of March. My mom and I are also going to be present during that show and are going to do a big reveal at the end in front of the audience and cameras. I’m both nervous and excited to see how it all comes together on the 24th. If you live in Canada and want to see it when it airs, check out the Cityline broadcast schedule here. For all others, it may be posted on there webpage after the show airs.
The most important thing is that I wanted to raise awareness that stomach cancer affects young people as well as older people. Mom and I had no idea what was involved with our makeover, if there would be other survivors there as well, or that we would be on TV. We also didn’t know we would be interviewed and both wished we prepared better. I hope the final cut of the video spreads awareness about hereditary diffuse gastric cancer and the CDH1 genetic mutation. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful day to remember with my mom and definitely an experience of a lifetime. Thanks Cityline!
I was banking on our trip to Banff for my snowboarding fix for the year but unfortunately, Brandon and I had to back out of the trip last minute. The snow here is quickly melting now and I knew that if I didn’t get out at least once this season, I would be regretting it. So on Saturday we went to a small hill about an hour and a half away.
The biggest thing I was afraid of was not being able to get up after buckling myself into my snowboard bindings. It takes a fair bit of core strength to push yourself up off the ground after getting off the lift. But lo and behold, I didn’t have any issues. Big win! I also was afraid of falling going down the hill because I still feel where the incision was made with quick muscle contractions and a fall would likely feeI like I was tearing in half. So I took it easy. I did notice that my technique had to change going down the hill but that makes sense given I am 20lbs lighter than I was last year. All and all it was a wonderful day. I’m really happy I can cross another post surgery activity limitation off my list.
Whenever I try an activity I used to do before surgery but haven’t tried after, it’s almost like I’m doing it again for the first time. You are a little unsure if you are going to be okay and when you finish doing it and you are okay, it feels like another big victory.
I think the next adventure will be returning to the baseball diamond this spring. I haven’t swung a bat, pitched, or thrown a baseball since summer of 2013. I’ve played baseball all my life and I’m pretty pumped to see what the season holds.
In terms of energy level, I think it’s slowly returning. I have super energy days some days and incredibly exhausting days other times. It’s like a roller coaster. A few weeks ago I was hit with a very minor cold that lasted three days and just about put me out. Things like this never caused an issue before but now it takes a lot out of me. I’m looking forward to when I’m fully recovered and this no longer occurs.
Two weeks ago, I met up with a GI Oncologist closer to home. The appointment was arranged by my genetic counselor from Toronto almost 7 months ago. I was unsure about the purpose of the appointment but I figured it too much follow up with specialists never hurts. Plus, I may be able to educate him about CDH1 since it is less known about in my region.
I now realize that it was to connect me with a network of resources in town. I will be seeing him annually which is nice because I have a feeling I will be discharged from my surgeon’s office and that team in May.
In about a week, I will have my follow up with the gastroenterologist who performed my dilatations to make sure everything is healing well along with my colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. Again, screening is always reminds me I’m not clear of all cancer risks but at least the bigger one you can’t screen for is gone. I can tell you that I’m really looking forward to the detox that will occur before the procedure. Haha.
Recently, Dr. David Huntsman and his research team released updated stats for CDH1 and associated cancer risks. It actually lowered my lifetime stomach cancer risk but given my family pedigree and my pathology results…..I’m glad my stomach is gone.
For the article, click here.
I’m eating well and I can eat….wait for it….bread! But not all types. I’ve discovered that bread made with sprouted grains (i.e. Ezekiel bread) is one of the only few I can eat so far. I can’t begin to tell you how much money I’ve spent on various loaves of bread only to find out that I don’t digest them well. Trial and error right?
My portion size is slowly growing and now is similar to a snack size which is perfect because I can purchase a Tim Hortons snack wrap for $1.99 and call it a meal.
Besides bread the number one food that I miss and I keep trying to eat is ice cream. I tried a spoonful last week and thought I was being kicked in the gut for the next half hour. Not fun but for sure worth a try. You bet I’m going to try again later.
I still don’t tolerate large quantities of sugar well and I try to limit it to 11 grams or less. I can eat it but sometimes it results in a nice colon cleanse. Haha. Sorry if that was too much information but my fellow stomachless friends can likely contest.
On April 23rd there is an event hosted by No Stomach for Cancer in Philadelphia, PA. My mom and I are hoping to fly down there and connect with people who are also affected with CDH1. I have never been to Philadelphia so it will be an exciting getaway as well. If any of you will be attending, it would be fantastic to meet you all face to face!
Until then, keep smiling, look at the bright side, and stay awesome!