Sunday May 31st, 2015 update from Saskia and Bill

To date, Natasha has had 8 treatments, with # 9 happening tomorrow.  Some have been good, some not.  More on that later.

First, a quick note about Bill’s Facebook page: Thanks to all the Friend requests, but please understand that Bill has a Facebook page only so that he can have admin access to Natasha’s page.  We both set time aside to view the comments on Natasha’s page, as well as the comments on this site.  The well wishes from around the world bring us strength.  Thanks for your continued postings!

Oh, and about posting on this website – We’ve heard from some that it’s not clear how to post here.  And Bill agrees!  He had to ask to find out how to see postings on this site.  The answer is to click on the title of the article.  Then within each article you can post a comment and see other comments.

Next, a huge thank you goes to our friends at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel for an absolutely fantastic weekend.  We each had a massage and enjoyed the spa and other hotel facilities.  The level of customer surface was phenomenal.  We felt truly special and completely pampered.  The change of scene from last week’s radiation treatments was most welcome.

And now, about the treatments.  On a positive note, the folks at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre have been very accommodating.  We are able to park close to the door, the wait time is minimal and the treatment time is pretty quick – about 15 minutes.  The staff there very much want the experience to be as pleasant as possible.  We are also grateful that we live only 20 minutes from the hospital.  We know that others have to travel long distances, some staying away from home, in order to get treatments.  How wonderful it is that we can be back in our home only minutes after each treatment – unless Natasha directs us to the nearest restaurant!

There has been a challenge though.  At our initial orientation to the facility, we were told that a minority of people report sensing odors during treatment.  As it turns out, Natasha is one of this minority.  The odor she smells is terribly unpleasant.  As we understand it, there isn’t actually anything that is giving off the smell, but it’s the radiation that is activating sensory nerves in her brain.  Be that as it may, perception is reality, and the reality for Natasha is that she must endure a terrible odor throughout the treatment, with it becoming progressively worse towards the end.  Saskia got Natasha some essential oils to put on a surgical mask, which is placed over her treatment mask. (You see, she wears a treatment mask, form fitted to her head, which is attached to the table during treatment.  This ensures that she is in the exact same position for each treatment, and remains in the exact same position throughout each treatment)  The oil helps but does not completely mask the foul odor that Natasha is experiencing.

Natasha was progressively more anxious before treatments last week.  On Wednesday the nurse provided some Ativan. On Thursday and Friday we gave her some as we left for the hospital.  It was breaking our hearts to see her level of anxiety, as well as having to medicate her to make the treatment doable.  We are hopeful that we can continue to find ways to make Natasha more comfortable and reduce her anxiety so that we can avoid medication like Ativan.

We are also looking at what else we can be doing to help Natasha be as healthy as possible.  We have been exploring nutritional and other approaches to treatment.  More to come on that in future posts.

We have also been realising many blessings.  A short list includes:

  • Our weekend in Banff

  • the excellent level of medical care available to us

  • the support of family, friends and strangers,

  • amazing connections with others around the world

  • Experiencing Liam and Natasha in this new reality – they have both given us reasons to be so proud.

The list goes on and on.  Thank you very much for your ongoing interest, support and prayers for Natasha!!