I would like to thank Accent Inns in Victoria, B.C. for making my first stay so very comfortable.

I stayed at Accent Inns Victoria during my first chemotherapy treatment at the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre. This is a pet friendly hotel and I can highly recommend it. Staff were efficient, super friendly and professional at every point along the way, from booking to check in and they worked hard to accommodate every need that I had.

I would also like to thank everybody who has been sending funds to assist with my cancer care, as this is how I paid for my stay at the hotel, through YouCaring fund-raising donations. I have also received some funds via email bank transfer and cheques in the mail. Thank YOU!

Teddy Johima the standard poodle

Teddy the standard poodle arrives at Accent Inns Victoria for his first pet friendly hotel stay.

For many of us, pets and dogs are family.

The hardest part of my first chemotherapy was going to be (I thought) not having my dog with me. Breast cancer is expensive. Accent Inns not only gave me a discounted compassionate / medical rate, but they also permitted my standard poodle Teddy to stay with me.

I stayed here because the cancer lodge was full. It ended up being an amazing alternative because I could have my dog with me.

I also saved money by having a full kitchenette in my room, and two queen size beds so that my medical escort was comfortable also. Having a kitchenette in my room allowed me to make my own meals, to bring food from home, eat healthy (I have food sensitivities so I could not eat everything at the cancer lodge) which is crucial during cancer treatment.

Staying at a hotel also saved me money and energy by not having to go driving around looking for restaurants. It also was ideal, as I wanted to avoid public places (restaurants) as much as possible during treatment.

My stay was quiet (back of the hotel)  and clean. Every staff member was friendly and appeared to love working there. One staff member came right out to the car upon my arrival as they were so excited to meet Teddy! … and greeted him in the car with a dog cookie! Now that is service. Even my dog was made to feel welcome. I could repeat it over and over, staff were super friendly. This matters to me. It made me want to come back.

And I am coming back!

I posted about Accent Inns all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and some total stranger paid for my next hotel stay, in advance, so that Teddy could once again, be by my side right after chemo. Thank you sooooo much!

I better go and pack, as I leave early, first thing tomorrow morning for my next chemotherapy treatment and I look forward to staying at my home away from home, Accent Inns!

Teddy and I will see you really soon.

With gratitude,
Brenda Johima

Good morning!

As one who prides myself on punctuality and in past, applauded myself for never missing deadlines … breast cancer has turned all of that (perfectionism and incredibly high standards) on its head and right upside down.

I am missing deadlines and I am late and I am not getting things done very quickly, if at all. Breast cancer slowed everything down, and sometimes, to a complete halt. It’s OK.

Today, I have to surrender and just let it all go and accept that it just might be that way for awhile … and ohhhhhhhh, my goodness, I just might be human!

I started this new blog/website/journal with great intentions.

My intention was to write here every day, or at least every other day. I have great ideas and I have many many posts in my head that simply never got written down and posted here.

Now, I would have to try and catch up and to remember the flavour of my words, and the intensity of emotions I was feeling at the time of the situations and events … well, you know what that is like, and how that goes. It would likely read as though somebody was trying to remember what they felt like in the moment, but are writing it a month or two weeks later. You can tell. You can feel it. (unless you are an incredibly gifted writer…those storytelling folks CAN pull it off)

So, can I catch up? Not likely. Will I try? Maybe. Ha Ha.

There are a few journal posts, blog posts I wanted to write … what the heck am I going to call this thing anyway? Blog? Journal? Website? Journey?

I am not a huge fan of the word “blog” but it is the way things are on the internet in the blogging and blogger world … and blog is how so much is indexed with SEO and all (says a past search engine optimization professional) online … blogs, blog indexes, blog directories and such.

I do love the word journal. It’s more me, and more what I intend this space to be.

So you will see me flip between blog and journal until I decide … the language of the “word” blog or journal doesn’t matter Brenda, just write. Just write. Just feel and write.

So now that I have admitted to you that I cannot catch up … I will spend my morning trying to catch up. Ha. Ha. … and get four posts written down that I really want to talk to you about and to share:

  1. Teddy, my standard poodle and the AMAZING amount of love and support I am getting from a Facebook group of almost 6000 standard poodle owners and their dogs! It IS, simply a miracle, this group of people have changed my life, literally.
  2. My hotel stay at Accent Inns Victoria and the kindness and friendliness that this pet friendly hotel exudes.
  3. My gratitude and applause for the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre (Victoria B.C.) where I get treatment for breast cancer.
  4. My stay at the  Vancouver Island Lodge, which are accommodations run by the Canadian Cancer Society (for those traveling from  out of town to treatment in the city)
  5. More more more !

So that is enough rambling and catching up for now. Am I caught up yet?

I will be right back here with more writings, really soon!

Love, Brenda

Swimming!! I went swimming and floating in the ocean!! The last paragraph will explain why I’m over the top happy!

H E A V E N. Bliss. Aaaahhhh. I was in there for a LONG time. The water is very shallow, as Fanny Bay is famous worldwide for oysters.

It’s a heavenly warm swimming spot I have, a 5 minute walk from my house.

I can’t even describe how amazing it felt to be back I the ocean! Incredible.

Warm water, floating on my back in a bay by myself! … and with standard poodle Teddy swimming around me and alongside … looking at a 360 degree view of green mountains, forest, clean and clear and unpolluted water where you can see your (water) shoes while you swim ..: all senses alive-er than ever before, it seems … bliss, gratitude, heaven.

Happy, content, Brenda

P.S. I haven’t been able to swim anywhere, no pools, nothing for months and months, from not being well, to 2 surgeries/ breast cancer biopsies under general anesthesia, recovery times and lots of laying around on couches and beds …

So today, IS a GOOD day!!

Filled up with love,
Brenda

It takes as long as it takes.

And in this case, to get me back to doing my walking meditations that I did daily, for years and years.

You know, it was one of those things that you think about everyday and that you want to do, and and are going to do, but just don’t? That.

I started!

I learned this super simple thing years and years ago when I lived in Chiliwack.

My yoga master (way back then) from India ..: Jeeva was his name, taught me so much about life and health.

Anyway, it’s super simple, and my musician friends (or anybody who likes structure and to count) will love this.

It’s in 4 beats or 8 beats or 12 … on and on. The better you get, the longer you stick at it … you can extend the practice.

It’s a walking meditation.

It’s a huge stress reliever.

You can do it anywhere! In the grocery store (I have) … shopping, in nature, at the beach, hiking, cleaning and cooking, while at work, wherever you are walking. You can be walking in a stressed out big city that rushing around at a frenzied pace but you are just walking and breathing and getting peaceful amongst it all, getting from point A to B.

What I love, is nobody will know you are doing this.

You’re just walking.

Here goes. Walk:

Each word = 1 beat (in your head) = one step with one long inhalation or long exhalation of breath:

Breathe In Life Force. (Inhale 4 beats = 4 steps)

Breathe Out The Stress (exhale 4 beats = 4 steps)

That’s it!!

And for the competitive types put there, no, the goal isn’t to get to a zillion steps on one long breath. LOL.

I found that 8 beats/steps in a cycle is good, once I get on a roll.

Soooo peaceful.

Happy Walking and Breathing!

Love,
Brenda

who is this imposter?
visiting my body
unwelcome guest
he brought
damaged goods as gifts
that
never let you forget
who you used to be
he crawls out from the rubble
presenting as me
to the public who just sees
surface deep
but not
the unthinkable pain
crushing
dizzying
writhing
grimacing
never-ending always shifting
fireworks in my bones
not the colourful kind
but the kind that burns if you touch it
by accident
thinking you might have fun
watching the view
yet you were fooled
because fireworks always hurt
when they explode
too close
to your heart
body
mind
and soul

you
you wore out your welcome

— brenda johima

popping in for a quick update. it has been the day from hell physically. the bone pain today was a 15 out of 10 on the pain scale. unbearable. disabling. all i could do is lie down and writhe around, try to shift or get up and stretch and walk around the house, sit in a chair for 3 minutes and then have to lay down again

all of this for someone who spent my early days as an athlete. my life WAS movement and sports

even over the last few years, even though i didn’t play sports anymore, the norm for me was two 5K walks per day at least … and in summer, 2 swims in the ocean or lakes … sometimes 3 swims a day …

nordic pole walking for 90 minutes was a cinch

today i am a different person. i am trying to find a new brenda out of this rubble called my body .. i don’t know where she is, or who she is

she is confused and lost and the pain unthinkable

i had a nurse come by and give me my neupogen injection … side effect … more bone pain

those white blood cells working to build new cells in the bone marrow apparently, HURT like HELL … and i never say the “H” word

i called the cancer agency again, and they are SO fabulous in their rapid response and attempts to help. i feel blessed i chose the victoria centre (for now) …. INCREDIBLE human beings who are brilliant in solutions and who care

the nurse spoke with my oncologist … and they think that even though my chemotherapy dosage was normal for the average person, it may have been too high for someone like me who is so sensitive .. so next time they will reduce the dosage of one of the drugs in the IV …. cannot remember the name of it

and … they will give me some more meds for pain … to take home … no idea what

… today they have put me back on DEX….. another long drug name, which you take right before chemotherapy for a day, and then for two days afterwards

it has steroids in it and an anti-inflammatory

I have some relief tonight for the first time, as a result, and got in a tiny nap

I had not slept for 24 hours as i could not sleep the pain was so bad

this cancer does SUCK and it HURTS LIKE HELL

but … i still KNOW that i made the right decision. this still feels like the right thing to be doing, and i only have to do it THREE MORE TIMES

i am praying for relief from pain, please, OMG, no more pain

love, yeah, love, brenda. love brenda.

I woke up feeling awesome!

And for this moment, this one moment, I’m grateful.

Everything really can change in the blink of an eye, in life and in health.

**I’ve truly become grateful for the teeny tiniest of moments and seconds.**

I always hope these amazing feelings will last, but have learned that with breast cancer and chemotherapy, no matter how much I wish and hope and pray and try everything, the good euphoric and happy feelings don’t last … they shift and change like the tides and the beach sands.

BUT.

What has been solid as a rock? Never changing, ever growing?

The LOVE and power of total strangers!

This has been overwhelmingly beautiful. Their loyalty and consistent, solid efforts to push me towards a cure, has been mind blowing and breathtaking.

I’m a happy girl.

All the social media I started doing years ago, has paid off, with new friendships and love, prayers, courage, and so much good.

My pain may not be gone (yet) but the hope that I have been given by ALL of you, from strangers to dear old friends and family … and my past Sweet Adeline’s family! I haven’t forgotten about you … You too, are solid as boulders. Thank you!

Gushing and overflowing with love and gratitude, Brenda

Actually, I am thankful. Who wants breast cancer? Nobody.

BUT.

The gifts that have come to me in a multitude of ways, the new friendships that are developing as a result, from strangers I haven’t met, and a new strength and belief in myself, a boost in confidence, bravery and courage I didn’t think I could find, a feeling of being >completely< lifted UP up up, by the LOVE and spirt and prayers of literally hundreds of people .:: that ..: yes, I AM grateful for breast cancer and the struggles it flung me into.

I'm already a new ME, and I can't wait to see who I can become, as all of this unfolds over time.

My faith in humanity and in the kindness of strangers, is stronger than ever before.

I've seen people come forward and take ACTION to help me, offering, without me asking ... this outpouring of daily love, has been mind blowing.

Yeah, I'm grateful for struggle.

Love, Brenda

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A HUGE Thank You to Accent Inns Victoria B.C., for going above and beyond to accommodate me, during tough times with breast cancer, and making it possible, as a pet friendly hotel, for my to have my best friend, my buddy, Teddy my standard poodle, with me here in my room. He is my family. A pet friendly hotel is a blessing, when one doesn’t want to be away from family I start chemotherapy tomorrow morning. My first chemo treatment. Your staff has been SUPERB. Friendly, kind, professional, efficient, organized … and has made my stay here (I just arrived a little while ago) incredibly relaxing and comforting.

Thank you for making tough times, easier. I will be posting nothing but APPLAUSE and GOOD NEWS for this hotel, all across all social networks. I’m grateful.

Teddy sends a big ((hug)) Brenda Johima

P.S. As you can see, Teddy was pretty excited to arrive for his first ever hotel stay!

Teddy the standard poodle arrives at Accent Inns Victoria for his first pet friendly hotel stay.

Teddy the standard poodle arrives at Accent Inns Victoria for his first pet friendly hotel stay.