health is a slippery slope.
you climb up.
you slide back down.
to where you started from.
even further down the hill.
to a place you have never been before.
wondering how the heck.
you got there
from where you once were.
– Brenda Johima
I’m in a major transition. Recovering from cancer while in a housing transition. It’s a bit much. Overwhelming and stressful, but Teddy makes it more FUN.
Wherever I go, my dog Teddy goes. We are a team.
Is it easy traveling with a 70-pound standard poodle in tow? While staying at other peoples homes and such?
Not so much. (but I wouldn’t change a thing about owning him. I love my buddy)
I did a fantastic job of socializing Teddy from a young age as a pup. I wanted to be able to put him into almost any situation, to take him almost anywhere, and he would be able to handle it, from farm country and rural, to big city streets and hotels.
Well, it is not all that easy having a big poodle with you … when it’s rural. (mind you, I suppose it depends on the time of year and the location)
Right now where I am, it has been very dusty and dirty everywhere, left overs from winter apparently. So on every walk that Teddy and I take together down rural roads, it has meant that dust and dirt is flicked up onto Teddy’s underbelly and legs as he walks. We walk a lot.
He is cream in colour. Ha. How do I keep him clean while in the homes of others?
It’s an interesting challenge. Once I took him to a doggie bath at a pet store in town. It was like a car wash for dogs and it worked quite well, and although not quite to my standards, it did the job in a pinch.
And then there was the place that I stayed where Teddy discovered alpaca poop. Luckily he did not roll in it, but he ran on it, through it and … yeah, I think he ate some of those tasty bits. Mildly stinky. I don’t like having a stinking dog. This is why I chose a standard poodle … no shedding, no stinky.
But alpacas and farm smells? Well, I made the mistake of showering Teddy at the residence I was staying at and … guess what? We were suddenly homeless. Ooops.
Onto the next place.
So far it is going well. Very well.
Except for the day that Teddy was ecstatic to find a friend to play with at the park! A lovely border collie.
It started raining. The grass in the park was saturated but little did I know (as I do not know the area well) that there were mud puddles, and mud, just outside of the fenced area that the dogs were running and playing in … and guess where Teddy went?
Straight for the mud, laid in it, and then straight into the mud puddles … from one to the next to the next … numerous times. He was having a grand time! The new lady that I met at the park who had her border collie was laughing and laughing. (of course, because she was lucky enough to own one of those dogs that doesn’t like to get their paws wet or dirty)
Teddy LOVES mud and water. If there is water, he is in it! He is a hunting/retrieving dog after all.
So I had to get him not only into my car, which has black leather seats, but back to the home that I am staying at … and Clean! I really did not want to drive 30 minutes into town to bath the dog and then 30 minutes back. That would be about 2 hours out of my day I wasn’t planning for.
So into the nearby river Teddy went! The water is fresh and clean (but chilly) right now, so it worked pretty well, and he thought he was swimming, so we were both happy.
Four towels later, and he was good to go have a snooze in his bed.
I had a nap.
So there is my first little Adventures with Teddy and Brenda. Hope you enjoyed it!
P.S. So far these trips have given me a stinky dirty dusty muddy standard poodle who sheds when I brush him out.
P.S.P.S. If you like this little story and would consider donating to my new fundraising campaign, Help Brenda Build A Life Without Cancer, I would be ever so grateful. This is my first story, that will help fund my breast cancer recovery, healing and major life changes. Thank you. <3
Today I am announcing a NEW fundraising campaign, Help Brenda Johima Build A New Life Without Cancer.
One special friend set it all up for me, did the writing and everything. I am grateful.
Several online friends had suggested that I put up a new fundraising page, since the last fundraiser, A Helping Hand for Brenda, ended on December 31st, 2014, and I am still struggling to get back on me feet again financially, and to regain my health, stamina and energy levels on a consistent basis.
I am still not working.
Frankly, I have been exhausted.
Energy levels are up and down and I still need partial or full days of bed rest sometimes. I wasn’t expecting this … or maybe more accurately, I thought that even though I had read about cancer fatigue, that my healthy lifestyle and good nutrition would allow me to beat it and that I would be full of energy. I was convinced it wouldn’t happen to me. Ha.
Now I know that “Cancer fatigue” and “chemo-brain” are very, very real and although I do hope that these eventually they lift, at this time, it is a daily struggle.
Putting together a few sentences into a paragraph, or a few paragraphs into a page, seems impossible on some days, so completion might take weeks instead of days. Writing, you would think, would be simple for someone like me, who has almost always been writing effortlessly. Chemo-brain makes getting organized thoughts out of the brain and onto paper or screen, a real challenge much of the time.
What were once high energy levels, are reduced to daily fatigue.
I am grateful for the online friends who took the time to suggest ideas and titles for new fundraiser, and to support and love me through this all. I have been in a crisis over the last 3-4 weeks on many levels. Yes, crisis.
I am NOT good at asking for anything and certainly not good at asking for money for myself. The topic of money makes ASKING even harder for me, when you know you that you are going to put yourself out there, the good, the bad, the joy and the ugly, for all the world to see and to read online.
The only way that I know through anything is to keep telling the truth, keep admitting the truth, and to have the courage to share it with others. This is the only way through crisis and pain for me. A shift for the better, eventually happens.
At almost 54, I am just learning to ASK, now. Maybe if I admit this here, it will help somebody else to lessen the shame, and to learn also, to have the courage to ASK, as I am just learning now.
Crisis? What crisis?
On top of recovering from cancer treatments, I am also in a housing transition at the moment, which has been extremely stressful. I am not sure where I will end up next, but am currently staying here and there with friends, with a 70 pound standard poodle in tow. Not an ideal situation for anybody who has had cancer recently.
I stumbled in my own brain for almost 4 weeks trying to write text, just only a few paragraphs. I could not do it.
I am sharing this fact to help others, to release the shame and embarrassment, of chemo/cancer related cognitive challenges, and to provide HOPE, as I know it MUST eventually get better, my memory and brain function post-chemo … and, my life. And it will get better for YOU also, if you are going through similar challenges or know someone who is.
So what about this NEW fundraising journey?
I will be doing two things:
- One, on the YouCaring page, “Help Brenda Build A Life Without Cancer,” I will be providing regular updates, and sharing regularly, my “healing walks” with Teddy along with a photo. This was Philippa’s idea. I like it.
- And here on this blog? My friend Charlsie had another great idea, and I will be implementing this right here. I will chronicle my journey from where I am now, forward to six months. I will share the adventures of Brenda and Teddy as I recover and heal, progress, change and grow, and move forward in my life.
Any dollar amount as a financial gift, a donation from family, friends and strangers, WILL help.
I hope you will join me.
Brenda and Teddy
I have not posted for a long long time. I have been tired. Very tired. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
However, I do want to keep sharing here on this journal/blog and to start sharing again, starting right now. So I will share with you, a secret Facebook post from today:
It takes COURAGE to share all of your feelings, ups and downs, emotions, screw ups and mix ups and mistakes and and the toughest of journeys.
I realize at this moment, that although I do not have a lot else, I do have a ton of courage. My stories and life challenges have pushed away many “friends” who cannot/could not cope with all of it. There has been a LOT going on all at once. It has felt like more than one soul can bare all at the same time.
So it got me thinking, that if all that I have is ME and my feelings, then at least I was courageous enough to be real and put it all out there, baring my heart, guts and soul, for many to see and to read.
Do I wish my life were different? Absolutely. I turn 54 next month and this is not where I saw my life heading at all at all.
For now, it is tough and it is a hard road.
Most people are very uncomfortable seeing and listening to someone who is not “stable” or “grounded” … but such is life, that has been me. I am working to change this, but until I get there, I hope that those who truly love me, will stick by my side through this “all over the map”“up and down roller coaster” until I am able to get off of this ride and into a new life.
At the moment, I have a teeny tiny glimmer of hope trying to creep into me. I shall let it.
May this hope, grow into huge belief in myself, and trust in the Universe an that it has far greater plans for me than what I have gone through recently.
I made the 4-hour trip on my own, in traffic, eager to hear what I thought I was going to hear from my oncologist … that I would not have to go back for more breast cancer follow-ups for at least 6-12 months. I was very optimistic as I had been feeling pretty good.
However, I was disappointed to find that my oncologist felt there was still too much inflammation and other effects from radiation, as well as trying to find the reason behind my persistent bone pain, and so that I would have to go back for a follow up in 2-months, which would be around April. I was not just disappointed, I was, to be honest, kind of devastated. Yep, it took the wind out of my sails.
So I have committed myself to write more, as it is therapeutic, and I will share some of my writings here, as I have energy to do so. I have, however, really underestimated the amount of mental energy especially, that it takes to complete tasks, and how hard it can be some days. That includes writing.
Chemo-Brain, they call it, and I hope that it lifts soon.
On another note, friends have decided and encouraged me that I need another, and new, fundraising campaign to help get me through the next few months especially, and I have agreed to do so. I will be posting a new link, to a new fundraising request in my next blog post, and hope that you can help in some way, and to at least help spread the word.
Brenda Johima and Dr. T. (Teddy)