Tuesday 10 November 2015

Bambi legs and Neverland

After more than two years of tolerating the cancer-killing drugs, I can only blame Murphy’s Law for the complications that I’m having now with merely 3 months to go. Yes, despite my complaining about the ghastly side effects, my body thus far has had no real unexpected issues with chemotherapy – until now.

But of course, it’s nothing I can’t handle and something that I probably incited with my own ignorance. One of my maintenance chemo drugs, prednisone (the one that I can thank for giving me moon face, weight gain, ridiculous-pregnant-like cravings and a bottomless stomach) also has warning for side effects of weakening the joints. Woopdy-frigen-doo, I have mutating killer cells threatening to take over my body and here I am supposed to be worried about a little achiness in my knees?

“POPPYCOCK!” – I respond to this dust-bunny of a side effect like Mr. Darling does to stories of Neverland. So much so that when I began to take notice of “my weak knees” it was such a pitiful issue that I may have put off mentioning it to anybody.. for a little longer than I should have … Being in maintenance and only having monthly hospital chemo visits – with very tolerable after-effects of nausea and fatigue – I was really starting to feel a bit like myself again. I guess somewhere along the way I started to overestimate the physical state of my body: Taking on regular day-to-day activities, full course load at school, exercising every day; It was easy to overlook my (still) current state as a “chemo patient” because the reality was practically in reach. But nonetheless, this ignorance was most likely to blame now for the severe weakness of my joints and thus, I take two steps back: reduced course load, no exercise prioritizing rest, and no exercise. I say that twice because, as an athlete who seemed to be at least inching toward recovering the physical state that I was once in, hearing that I have to cease all attempts at reviving my athleticism has led to frustration. POPPYCOCK. ABSOLUTE POPPYCOCK.

Of course with three months to go (everyone knock on wood) All I have to say is that once that finish line has been reached, this body better make up for its years of dormancy. I have a build-up of athletic energy you would not believe.

So now I wait – more impatiently than ever before – sitting on my butt and resting my useless bambi-like knees. I guess I should be grateful that this has been the only major side effect that’s required unexpected attention (Overworking my joints now could lead to severe long term damage: knee replacements, etc.) I go in tonight for an MRI, assuring that no further medical attention is needed. I’d tell myself not to worry, “you’ll break a leg!” but some jokes are better left unsaid.

Hopeful that the MRI shows no permanent damage while trying to put this POPPYCOCK of a side effect in perspective. 
Apologies for the gap in postings, but I promise that I am – as always – breeding optimism.   

Thursday 3 September 2015

Forza Italia

Feeling like a true Italian at heart lately.

Steroids (Predisone to be exact) have been a focal chemo drug during this extensive maintenance phase. I’ve been taking the high dose medicine each month for five consecutive days, but for some reason, the effects never seem to wear off.

But as I’ve mentioned in the past, this powerful-food loving drug has just as many pros as it does cons. The constant need to be satisfied by each consumption of food is as strenuous as the demand for lengthened slumbers and rest. In fact, since taking this drug not once have I gone to a restaurant without first inspecting its menu. Not once have I left a morsel of food on my plate after scarfing down my thoroughly calculated order. And as I once expressed this love of food through my cravings of Triple O’s burgers’ and pickles and cheese, I once again cannot stress how much Prednisone makes me love food. It’s hazardous.

Even though I lack gauge of fullness, thanks to these steroids, and have had to deal with crazy weight inflation's, I find that it is all justified when I take a bite of my meal, and am brought to a place of satisfying bliss. No exaggeration, the consumption of my next meal is what gets me out of bed.

“How do you ‘forget’ to eat? My entire day is planned around what I am going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and in between.” – The Diary of Nonna’s

With only 5 months left of treatment (knock on wood), I am wondering how I’ll adapt to life without food obsession and cravings – or if I even want to... All I know is that the most prominent side effect I’ve experienced over the past several months of Maintenance has been hunger. Appetite. Incessant snacking.

Probably the most fortunate side effect I could ask for.

Feeling like a true Italian with a bottomless stomach, mangiare mangiare, keeping Nonna happy, breeding optimism,

-        Serena Bonneville J  

Sunday 9 August 2015

Disarray and Plot Twists

Pray you never feel the abrupt rush of panic when looking back on your life – as an eighteen year old - and already finding yourself asking what if?. That feeling when your story line doesn’t fall parallel to that of Boyhood or your coming of age experiences don’t meet up to the standards of John Hughes. I was always a long-term planner who did whatever it took to mimic the happy life of a Molly Ringwald character, and live out all my passions through into my golden years. I knew what made me happy and If I found myself veering even slightly off my home-grown plan, I’d simply stop what I’m doing and change it.    

So looking back on an unaligned, inconsistent and scattered storyline has left me with nothing but sheer fright. A horrific reminder that no matter how adventurous or innovative your friends are, YOU WILL NEVER LIVE OUT THE PLOTLINE OF THE GOONIES. Its a slap in the face.

I hadn’t realized how detrimental life’s curve ball of the past 2 years has really been on my story. How much it has shattered my allusion for what I thought would be my future now. But regardless of the panic I feel as I look back and wonder what if, I have in turn come to worry less about the future and how to control it. Like how Robin Williams stands up on his desk in Dead Poets Society to “look at things in a different way”, I can now look at tomorrow - and the day after, and after – without fear of disorder and turmoil. Hell I welcome lack of structure.

Because the coming of age story lines that throw massive curve balls, are always the best ones anyway.

Realizing why fiction movies are called "fiction," and as always, breeding optimism,

- Serena Bonneville :)

Monday 9 March 2015

Girl, Interrupted

This month in Film studies (words I find myself saying much too frequently…) I learnt how director Alfred Hitchcock incorporates his iconic MacGuffin’s into his films and how they impose distinctive significance to storylines. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a MacGuffin

 “…is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation; a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot.” – Wikipedia

I like to think of a MacGuffin, therefore, as a mere distraction: Something put forth by the director to distract the viewer from the driving purpose of the film; something that offers no explanation or reasoning; something that the film could still subsist without and that’s existence only helps develop the given story.

As my first year at University comes to a close (only a month left of school before exams) I can’t help but believe that these upcoming months will be yet another step into the real world and my new life as an adult. Although I am still in treatment, I feel the healthiest that I have since being diagnosed and can better anticipate the experience of my “adult-life” that lies ahead. However, I can’t help but wonder how heavily my diagnosis has influenced this future – where I’d be now if it weren’t for this MacGuffin that some higher-power (for the lack of a better word) decided to throw into the middle of my story. How much has it really affected the overarching purpose? How dominant has this distraction become? As Alfred Hitchcock purposely imposed his MacGuffins without reasoning or explanation, I can only assume that my inexplicable cancer mutant’s similarly exist as a mere development within my story.  

What I have lost as a result, and in some cases gained, are forms of this device which will ultimately contribute to an overall end goal. Cancer is my MacGuffin. With my finish date of January 2016, I hope that this wavering detour will finally come to a close and that the story can move along as it once did – without interruption or distraction.

--> Side note, my weird obsession with food continues as per usual. Recently it's justified cause for a new social networking profile on Instagram: @postcansir.eats
Those of you who have undergone chemotherapy can sympathize with me and this inexplicable obsession. Since force-feeding myself chemo-chemicals for over 2 years, my body seems to have built up an undeniable craving for natural nutrients (My body’s words, not mine). In response and respect to these instincts, I have decided to create this yummy foodie Instagram account. If you would like to be reminded of how yummy food is or want to muster-up some cooking inspiration, checkout my feeble attempt at documenting various food consumptions. Follow on Instagram! @postcansir.eats

Breeding optimism while I wait for this MacGuffin to bid adieu,

-          Serena Bonneville