Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Hi Everyone

We are now 300 miles north of the border (or 500 KM). The temp is 58 degrees (15 degrees celcius), speaking Canadian. The air is crisp and clean and there is highway construction going on everywhere?? Perhaps in preparation for the olympics, all roads leading to Whistler, or Vancouver are being widened or improved, I guess. Spending two days at Whistler was spectacular, I guess I had forgotten (or never really noticed) how incredibly beautiful it really is.

We had a great time going to the farmers market, lots of vendors with very unique items. Last summer (2008) I bought a very beautiful toque (Canadian for wool hat), from a lady who was bald, having just completed chemo for breast cancer. I had bought it to wear at concerts. (little did I know I would be in the market for hats for a different reason soon after that)

I stopped in to see her again this year, and she was fully recovered and said that breast cancer was the best thing that had ever happened to her. She had left her husband and now she was enrolled in college taking textile related courses, meeting with like minded people and having the time of her life. The lady at the booth next to hers was also selling hats, and she said she had been bald the year before the other lady, also chemo for breast cancer. They both made the most beautiful hats, I unfortunately had already spent WAY too much on a merino wool hat from a third hat place before theirs.

We were pretty nervous, to say the least, not knowing where my white blood count was. I got the neupogen on Friday, but it does not always work with just one shot, and I had no way of knowing the blood count was not just continuing to fall.

We got a doctors appt on Monday AM. Interesting cost. I think it is great all Canadians are covered as far as health care, because it was extremely expensive.

To see the doctor and ask for a blood count, was 125 dollars, and to have the very simple blood test was 109 dollars. Paying by cash this visit would have been about half in the US and for the blood test, they bill my insurance about 57 dollars for that.

Not sure if this was just because it was Whistler (one of the most expensive places in Canada) or whether the costs are the same everywhere for foreigners.

ANYWAYS, my white blood count was 2.8 and the ANC was 1600 which was a huge relief, but it seemed still quite low having just had a neupogen shot. Last time my blood count went to 19 the day after neupogen. I contacted Dr Cooks office and they said that the 2.8 was likely where I was at, and that the neupogen had likely worn off by 3 days. So that means I should be fine from here on in. I am now at a level that is still half of what is considered normal, but is adequate for fighting infection.

I will likely try to get one more cbc toward the end of the week to make sure it is still going in the right direction.......towards normal.

I am still short of breath, I guess because I am still anemic. The thing about anemia and your red blood cell count is that as you go to higher elevations, you need a higher red blood cell count as the air is "thinner". I live at sea level, and so can tolerate the lowest blood count there. This is why people who go to climb Mt Everest have to" acclimatize" at base count, or let their blood count come up, prior to ascending to the next level. People who live up in Nepal, would have blood counts much higher than ours.

Ken and I were trying to figure out whether the higher elevations would stimulate my bone marrow, or just tax my system. I guess we will find out.

I think my bone marrow is just slowly recovering. The platelets were down at 40, and gradually have made it up to 152, which is normal.

Well we have just arrived in Williams Lake and one of the first "establishments" we come across is "chemo RV", glad we have someone's yard to camp in whilst here. Who would want to stay in a place called chemo RV?

Love and peace

Janet Bates

jankenb @ gmail.com

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