Happy New Year

It’s a new year and I’m getting accustomed to the idea… that it will be my last.

IMG_0294It’s been a tumultuous last couple of months. I lost another friend to this horrid disease. Shelagh’s demise was slow and hard to witness. I relish our last hour together after she was admitted to hospice. We looked out over Burrard Inlet at the North Shore mountains and we laughed and cried. And talked about the fun we’d had sharing coffee, stories and disease.

And then I went into hospital for a few days for a lingering bowel obstruction that only rest and several days of starvation (no food or water or ice chips) resolved. No NG tube. No surgery. Finally lost 10 pounds.

Now I’m on not just a low fibre diet (which I’ve eaten for the last year) but a very low fibre diet. White bread. White rice. Protein is fine but I’ll never be a vegetarian again. A limited number of fruits and vegetables. Small meals.

This fall’s chemo did some good work. Tumours in my abdomen and liver got smaller. But there was a new one. It’s in my sacrum, a bone in my lower back. And bony metastasis are never good. They’re rare for ovarian cancer too. I read that only 1% of women with ovarian cancer develop metastasis in the bone.

My oncologist went back to the shelf to see what chemo might be left for me. There were three drugs I haven’t had before but two are very hard on the liver. And my liver is failing. My eyes have developed a yellow rhuemy look and sometimes my complexion too. My skin itched because the liver can’t process all the toxins. SoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA that leaves me with the last chemo… Vinorelbine. I can’t believe I’m here already.

Vinorelbine was developed from the periwinkle plant. It sounds gentle. Unlike most other chemo drugs I’ve experienced over the last 5 1/2 years, this one is tiny. It arrives in a 35.5 ml package and takes just 6 minutes to administer. Compared to the 7 hours I spent receiving cisplatin and taxol on my first round, this is quick and fast. Will it work?

My goal is to be well enough to join my kids on a Caribbean cruise we’ve booked for reading week in February. After that? We will see.



This entry was posted in Dying from Cancer, Living with Cancer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Happy New Year

  1. brendim2013 says:

    Thanks for the update. Sorry about the new (and constant) challenges. You’re probably beyond a lot of reading but two books I really liked were:

    The SuperQuack: Stories of Healing from Out of Left Field
    Hoberleigh Phreigh

    Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds
    Kelly A. Turner, PhD

    Both are available digitally.

    I’m not the crystals and mumbo jumbo type but I found them really helpful emotionally.

    Good luck and I hope you can enjoy your family cruise. We look forward to photos and a travelogue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ramy Hill says:

    When are you going on the cruise again?

    I am away in February a bit.

    Ramy 604-214-0033 http://www.ramyhill.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Constance says:

    I’m adding a Polaroid of you and Brenda to the Robert Handforth page on Facebook. He took it during expo. Friend his page okay… Up by Thursday. We have added all photos from dear friend Robert’s memorial page that were in his photo album… Died in 1988 in NYC of AIDS. You must see the photo of the two beauties. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sandi K says:

    I like the sound of six minutes of periwinkle therapy. Happy New Year, Rochelle, and best wishes for clear cruising…in all your endeavours. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. April says:

    You are the bravest person I know. Thank-you for sharing your life. You are one of a kind and I’m so thankful you have been someone in my life. I hope our paths cross this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen says:

    Periwinkle looks good on everyone…😉. So I’m praying that it will do YOU much good!
    Sending you warm, loving, healing vibes, my dear Rochelle!!! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Please know that you are loved!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kate Bird says:

    I so admire your candour and courage, Rochelle. Thanks for letting us know what’s up in your world, as your unique perspective impacts the lives of others, sick and well, close and far. Wishing and hoping that you are well enough to go on the cruise with your children. All the best, Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Susan says:

    Sending a hug and a smile. I am cheering loudly for this chemo treatment to do lots of good and keep you well enough for the cruise. I am looking forward to seeing your smile beaming from aboard a very large ship in a wide blue ocean.
    I found an interesting bit of plant lore about the periwinkle from the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
    –The periwinkle is a very sturdy flower. Once it takes hold in the garden it will last and last and last. –Periwinkle or myrtle’s tenacious root system makes it an ideal choice for controlling erosion on steep banks. (May it match your tenacity in facing this disease.)
    –It is best planted in fall or early spring. (I recall that spring comes much earlier to Vancouver than to New England. Are the crocus breaking through yet?)
    –A thousand years ago, the sorcerer’s violet, what we now call periwinkle, vinca, or myrtle, was shrouded in superstition–those who carried the plant believed that they were protected from the devil and safe from the bites of rabid dogs and venomous serpents. (Hmmm…I am no expert on either cancer or the devil, but I do wonder how this disease was interpreted a thousand years ago.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Maryann Radigan says:

    I only just found you. This is how I feel about my in-person friends with ovarian cancer: I only just found you.

    May I ask for your help anyway if you are able?

    I can’t find enough information about this curs-ed abdominal affliction. I can’t get miralax, milk of magnesia, senna, walks, low fiber (no fresh vegetables and no fresh fruit and no potato peels and on it goes) to work consistently. Sometimes I’m racing to the bathroom every hour with uncontrollable diarrhea (night and day) and other days nothing is happening. I’ve been in the hospital twice for bowel blockages over the last two years. I put myself on a pure liquid diet for a few days at home last week to try and get things going and that worked. I also have left urether stent that gets replaced every three months and now the tumors around that are growing so they hope a bigger one will work…sigh.

    It’s so hard to know when the next thing is going to knock me for a loop.

    thank you for your blog. Even tho I just found you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sandy Jakab says:

    Rochelle. I am so sorry for your loss. I know what a guiding light Shelagh was for you. Thank you for sharing with all of us your thoughts as 2016 starts. How very lucky I am that Brenda Lea and Nancy introduced you to me and to all the women of the “Eating our Words” book club. Crossing fingers I will see you tonight, and thanking you again for your allowing us to know you and witness your journey. Sending love, Sandy

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Felicia says:

    Thinking of you Rochelle! Sending good vibes. Love your blog as all your writing – sharp, witty, and real.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Terry says:

    Hi Rochelle, I hope you feel well enough to go on the cruise with your family. Thinking of you sending love and good wishes.


  14. lucyhogg says:

    Dear Rochelle, I am thinking of you. Love, Lucy (Hogg)


  15. clamberton says:

    I’m hoping for this drug to work for you…and allow your liver some healing time. The cruise sounds lovely.


  16. Stephanie Campbell says:

    I just came across this post elsewhere. Rochelle, you will be missed. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us.


    We are saddened to announce that our mother, Rochelle Van Halm passed away on the evening of Tuesday, February 23rd.

    Rochelle spent the last week of her life with us on a Caribbean cruise. We went snorkelling in Haiti, toured the historic sites of Falmouth, Jamaica, and visited the ruins of the Mayan city of Tulum in Mexico. We enjoyed delicious three-course meals, spectacular shows, and even a little dancing.

    Near the end of the cruise her condition began to deteriorate and after flying home she was admitted to hospital. Rochelle passed away surrounded by family and friends.

    Courageous and caring, she inspired many throughout her life. She will be greatly missed.

    A celebration of Rochelle’s life will be held the first weekend of April. Details to follow.

    All our love,
    Baxter Van Halm Robinson and Kate V Robinson


  17. Jacky says:

    Hi Kate and Baxter. I hope someone will put together the writing Rochelle did on this blog — she described the journey with ovarian cancer very well.


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