Friday, May 6, 2016

A day in spain

i just wanted to write a quick note for 2016.  I am 7 years out from my cancer and have not really thought about it or worried about it in a long time.  This being the 60th year since I was born, I am quite excited to be going on a 500 km trek.    Or pilgrimage. I have decided to start a new blog to ramble on about whatever wild and crazy thing we are partaking in.    If interested.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Today is the 4th anniversary of my surgery for endometrial cancer, so in other words, the last time I have seen hide nor hair of that scoundrel, was 4 years ago today.
Ken said to do something special today, now what special... could I do??   So I went back to my blog and started to copy it onto my computer, the first step to make this into a book
I am sure that there is an easier way to do it but for now I want my own version on my own computer.
I am alive and well and read parts of the blog where I wondered if I would still be around this long.
Saw the oncologist a few weeks ago and at least the exam did not show any evidence of cancer. I have not had a scan in almost 2 years, but everything seems to be going well.
There is not much about our lives that is the same as it was before the cancer, some good some sad, and not all can be blamed on the cancer.
We miss our friends in Oregon, and we miss Oregon, but also feel very fortunate to be here now.  I guess our music was built around our friends and coconspirators against the war,  and we do not have the same political associations here.  I guess it is also those people who encouraged my music on. There was nothing like someone saying they loved one song or another, to getting me back working on another song.
I feel that my story here has a happy ending and though I have been afraid to say that for fear of tempting fate or something, we all need a happy cancer story to be able to help someone else believe that all is not hopeless.
WHile I read back over the blog I wonder where all that energy came from, I was doing chemo, and recording the vocals for a cd, organizing house concerts and gardening.
I had a lot more energy back then. I guess I worked less though.
Anyways, thought I would drop an note to say I am doing fine.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

an intro to the new blog

as promised I have started a new blog that is called janet and ken's next adventure
and it is at

When we were in Oregon, so many friends expressed an interest in keeping up with what we were up to so I thought I had to start a new blog.
TOday being my birthday seemed like a good day to start

much love

Sunday, June 19, 2011

the end of the journey

Hi Everyone
Well perhaps not so much the end of the journey, but I guess I am feeling more and more confident that I left the endometrial cancer behind a long time ago. With all the superstitions etc, I feel it hard to say cure, because in medicine, you never say never and never say always, and I am fine to look at it from a relative perspective. I am relatively certain I no longer have endometrial cancer.
Has the CT scan a few weeks ago and it was normal and had the CA 125 done this last week and it was 5, almost 2.5 years after my surgery, that is pretty darn reassuring for me.
I am not going to post on this blog anymore, but will begin a new one for those friends from the US who I think just wonder how we are doing. I think I will call it Ken and Janets great adventures, because we DO have some great adventures.

My other problems are still there, and still a problem, but I cannot imagine them being of any interest to anyone anymore.

This has been quite a week for us, on Tuesday the funds came through on our sale of the Eugene house and our Williams Lake house (we have owned the house my parents lived in for the past 22 years) (My mother has gone into a care facility and my father has moved into a mobile home park across from my mother's facility)
We are out of debt for the first time in many many years, and if we do not go too crazy, should have enough to build this house without going into debt again.

We are living in an RV next to where our house is being built and I am sitting here viewing my incredible garden, in total silence, except for the occasional bird........ oh and Rex's occasional bark, remember REX?
Things are not going quite as well as we wanted at work YET, but then again, you have a little more leeway when you are out of debt. Hopefully they will be just fine in a month or so.
We only want to work half time each, making one full time.
We really feel that we are living on the best place on earth. The North side of the Shuswap only has one main road leading to it and it goes all the way up to Seymour Arm, which is about 2 hours north of here.
When you come around the north side of the lake, you cross this one way bridge, and then you are in Scotch Creek, and there is something about crossing that bridge that to me feels like I am home. I never like crossing it going the other way. I really feel home.

Last night we celebrated our older son Dylan's 24th birthday, and had friends of his over. It was so special to be so close to our kids and have a chance to be more involved with their lives.
Last weekend Dylan plumbed our entire house, which was a very special day. I was so proud. He was so methodical about getting all the lines in and out.
Very special situation to be able to see your grown children's work first hand. He is being pretty darn tolerant of my "change of minding".... I decided to add a prep sink, at the last minute.
Although we really thought that having a small house we would never do the house concert thing again, somehow it has turned out that we figure the house WILL be big enough for house concerts. Just how it turned out, so looking forward to getting back into that.

I have dropped back to 2 days a week recently, and feel that that might be perfect for me. I have been working 3 days a week and sometimes I either have a lot of pain, OR am nauseated. I feel that I can get through one day in a row like that, but not 2.
So I will ultimately be working tuesdays and thursdays.

We are leaving for Oregon on July 6th. I have an appt with the cancer agency in Kelowna in the afternoon there, and we will head south that night.
We are performing at the Oregon country Fair, on July 8th 9th and 10th, so if you are there, please come and say hello.
We are then going to Bandon on the 11th, or 12th, and performing at Bullards Beach amphitheater on July the 13th at 6:30, and then at brewed awakenings in Bandon on July 15th, at 6:30 (I think)...or maybe it was 6..? Perhaps check with them

I will post here to let you know what the new blog will be, but for now this will be my last blog.
I have to say that it has meant so much to have someone interested enough in what was going on with me to read my blog. I realize that over the past year or so my blog has little to do with the cancer, but it seemed a way, after we moved away from Bandon, to keep people apprised of our whereabouts.
Now I feel I need to call it something else

Once again thank you and do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions, I will post here to say where the new blog will be, much love


jankenb @

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the house comes up

Well Ken and I are doing well, we have made some changes to our schedules and it is getting a little bit better. We have been overwhelmed by the work. The town has not had regular doctors )(except one) for some time now and we have been really pressured to see a lot of patients, and we just cannot do that, as we can only work as fast as we can work and when we get behind we are spending the entire evenings working on charts. That is no fun. We realize with this new job we do not have the responsibilities we had when we were running our own clinics, however we also have lost a lot of autonomy, in that we cannot make all the decisions about our work like we did before. There are clearly pros and cons to this employee thing.

We might not last at it, and might end up going out on our own, but we will see.

Our house is going well, and we continue to love where we have bought. Just off the back of the property are miles of trails and I have gotten back to running 3 times a week. Up to 6 miles now.

I have been having a lot more pain lately with almost everything, and so will be having a CT scan in the next few weeks. The oncologist left it up to me, he said that even if we found something (a metastasis) there was nothing we could do about it, so why do the testing. I guess this makes some sense to me, but I guess I feel if I am going to be going out on my own with a clinic, there will be some commitment there and I would like to make sure that all this pain is not from the cancer.

I guess I also wonder if at all possible if this radiation enteritis only affected a small part of the small bowel, if it were to get really bad, if some day I could get it resected. Also not sure if that is possible, but I feel it would be nice to look forward to SOMETHING for this pain ??

The routine is for the first 3 years to get CT scan every 6 months or sooner if there were new symptoms. My last CA 125 was nice and low.

We are currently on our way to Seattle to take Josh to catch his flight to Prague on Sunday morning.

I am quite nervous about this, but also quite excited for him as it is going to be such an experience. He is going on an anthropology course 1 month, studying the gypsies. He then writes a paper on it,. There are 17 of them going. He is doing his paper on the influence of television on the gypsies. I guess even though many of them do not have any modern amenities, they ALL have satellite televisions. Sounds like it could be very interesting. So they watch all the very stupid things people in north america do with their money and lose all persective on reality..... at least their reality.

Last Sunday night one of my “cancer buddies” died. I believe she was 38. She had ovarian cancer. It was diagnosed in 2005 and she had a remission for 4 years, a recurrence in 2009 and then intermittant chemo since then. We became online friends... She was also a musician and I sent her my most recent CD and she was so inspired by me having done a cd (while on chemo), she recorded a CD last summer. (at this time she knew that she was not going to be cured from her disease) She had the most incredible voice, she had 2 small children and wrote a blog almost right until the end. Her husband wrote it right up until the end. They had both prayed that when the time came it would be fast, and she would not suffer, and it did all happen pretty quickly and she had time to spend at home with her children, and if a death could be beautiful, hers was. It was a family experience with the children and her husband reading to her and just spending time. She went into a coma about 4 days before she died.

Another cancer patient, and a musician I know from my house concert series, Anne Feeney, was just diagnosed with brain metastasis. She was diagnosed last summer with small cell cancer of the lung, and underwent chemo and radiation. SHe had opted at the time not to do a form of radiation to the brain that was a low dose form. I guess since so many of those with small cell cancer of the lung, get mets to the brain they do some form of generalized radiation to kill off any cancer cells in the brain. She is now undergoing gamma knife radiation treatments to the tumour in the brain, which are high dose treatments to a very specific area, in fact like surgery without the scalpel. She seems to be doing well as the last I heard, she was off in Oakland , California at a conference, so here’s hoping that the Gamma knife was successful.

Our family has been absolutely devastated this week by an accident our neice has been in in Australia. It was a head on accident in which she seems to have bore most ot the brunt.

She was treated at the scene by a helicopter ambulance crew, with blood transfusions and chest tubes. (apparently she and the other lady injured at the site were the very first patients to revieve blood at the scene, via air ambulance) In the past they have brought blood to the scene, but they have just started carrying blood in the ambulance.

She sustained a serious head injury, and a fracture of the sternum, which caused her lungs to collapse (which is why they put in chest tubes at the scene) She also had internal injuries, fractures of her lower spine, and her femur. My sister and her husband caught a flight on Sunday night midnite to fly to Australia.

It is truly amazing that she survived this accident, but it seems as though she was in the best possible place, she was airlifted to a trauma center that specializes in head injuries. She was placed in a drug induced coma right at the accident scene and they began breathing for her right away.

Since this blog is taking me so long to write (2 weeks thus far), my neice is definately getting better, she had a second surgery 2 days ago to repair a fractured femur and elbow, and though there have been a few concerns post op, she seems to be doing well.

She has an enormous amount of challenges ahead of her, including a few more operations to repair broken bones.

An interesting tidbit about Australia health care. I do not know a lot about their system, but my sister tells me that they have this system whereby all drivers have to renew their licences annually, and the money from this goes towards paying for the costs of motor vehicle accident injuries. So all of her care is paid for, despite that it might be a very long rehab etc. Interesting.

We have just heard that we have been selected for a stage at the ORegon Country Fair.

We will be playing on the Shady Grove Stage at noon on Saturday the 9th of July.

We have been planning this trip since we left, and we will also be performing at Brewed Awakenings on the 15th of July at 6:30 pm, in Bandon. I have been trying to get ahold of Bulllards Beach campground as well, but since our cell phones have changes, we have likely gotten off of their list. (we have been playing there for 4 years now)

Our land is a 1.67 acre lot and it is pie shaped with the small part opening onto a cul de sac.
The large part opens onto the forest at the back.
We have to build the house up front because there is an archaeological covenant preventing us from building at the back. The place the house is sitting is basically on the edge of an ancient creek. (Our street address is Ancient Creek lane.... cool eh?)

so the back part of the house where I am standing to take this photo is almost directly west, and also opens towards the forest.

Well I have been writing this for way too long
Bye for now
jankenb @

Sunday, April 10, 2011

a garden interupted

Hi everyone.
We are out on our property now, we purchased a Park Model home, which are RVs made more for semipermanent parking. It is an older model 1998, and we got it for less than more RVs cost. It is 36 feet long with 2 slide outs. (These slide outs are the old fashioned kind that you have to slide out by hand, it took Ken and I a day to get them out)
We just came back from my first official run since being in Canada. We just headed off the backside of our property onto a trail that made a 2.5 mile loop, which for me is........ priceless.
Our property is at the end of a culdesac that then goes into a big forest, and I am essentially 2 blocks from the tiny clinic I work at in Scotch Creek. (more on that one later)
I will try to post some pictures later when we get back to Chase.
We still have the rental house in Chase, until the end of May, but we JUST LOVE IT OUT HERE!!!!
I cannot wait until our friends Mark (our drummer) and Linda come to visit us with their dog, we will just be able to head off the back with dogs and NO LEASHES.... priceless.
After the Bandon house sold and we got the money, the US dollar had dropped so far that we were only able to purchase the land, and really have nothing left to build. So we will have to borrow from the bank, just to start the foundation
HOWEVER, anyone who knows my music, the first song on the first cd......... we have a home, we have a garden AND we have a place in the woods...
Guess we do not need much else. I wish I could remember the name of the song, I guess I did not put the first cd on the website......
HERE IN YOUR ARMS on the CD a time has come.....

Gardening, I have found this blog quite useful to go back and find out what I did wrong gardening last summer. I have JUST as many tomato plants maybe more, but I have not yet planted any of them, in fact I have not planted anything in the ground yet. I have a makeshift greenhouse with big lawn chairs and plastic draped over them.
I have already lost most of my basil seedlings, but they had been started too early anyways, so have restarted them.
I have pepper plants and tomato plants up to 4-5 inches spinach, arugula, asparagus, endive.
The area I am in has about an average last frost day about 2 weeks later than Eugene.

Our property is 1.6 acreas and we are on a street that all the other lots are 1 acre. We have one house on our left and another on our right that seem to have owners that are TOTALLY obsessed with mowing their lawns, as well as all the OTHER things that people do with lawns t his time of year, between the two of them there has been a mower going almost all weekend and the guy on the left is just heading out with a gas can.
I am certain we are going to be a big disappointment to the neighborhood. CHAOS!
Our vegetable garden is going to be out by the road, likely bringing down the whole neighborhood.
The guy on the left has already offered to loan us his bobcat (I gather to get our yard in shape to look just like his)
The little clinic I work at, it seems that everyone who comes in is a gardener. One patient I was just showing out of my office one day and in the hallway, he was asking if there are any plants I would like, I said, it would be great to get some Rhubarb starts, if someone is dividing their plants and all of a sudden three people said "I can get you rhubarb", the nurse, someone in the waiting room and the patient I was seeing.
So I have offers of strawberries, raspberries, chives, rhubarb, and a guy down the road has offered us all the apples we want in the fall (he has about 50 trees and nothing to do with them all), have I said how much I love it here????
There is this one thing about the neighborhood I really do not like, one of the guys on the cul de sac has two large flags in his yard and Canadian and American
Ken and I will get our peace flag out there

I HAVE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE! as of April 1st, it is SOO reassuring to know that if something happens we are not going to be destroyed financially. Between my biopsy and my visit to the cancer center, I have spent 800 dollars in the past 2 months. In Canada the amount they charge non residents is exorbitant. At the cancer center they were going to charge me 1050 dollars just to see the doctor, until I showed them my passport, and proof that I was on waiting list to get bc health insurance. Then they charged me 400. I think that if I would have had insurance they would have billed the insurance 200. I believe this is done to discourage americans from coming to Canada for their cancer treatments. I found the whole debacle kind of embarrassing, that a cancer center would be like Canada.

I am doing well, I believe I have been losing weight, as the foods I can eat are so limited, and so I tend to snack less because I just end up getting pain and nausea half an hour later. (it took me a year to "get it") The rectal bleeding is always there too, but I don't worry about it anymore because I know it does not affect my blood count too much. (I guess this also took me a year to "get it")
So I am 2 years and 1.5 months post surgery, and it is looking more and more like I " beat the dragon".... I really do not think about it much, and almost never worry about it anymore.

Bye for now

jankenb @

Sunday, March 27, 2011

nursing homes

Hi Everyone

I just got home from Williams Lake, my mother was admitted to a long term care facility this weekend and my sister and I went up to be there for this very difficult time. In Canada there is a shortage of long term care beds and so there is a waiting list,

so approx one year ago her name was put on a list for long term care. We thought it would be approx a 2 year wait for her to get in, and while we did not think the time was right when we applied, we felt that the time might well be right when 2 years came around.

I should also point out here that the waiting list are for the totally government sponsored beds. Someone with the funds can go into facility right away.

My father has been the primary caregiver for 4 years now, my mother had a stroke in Feb 2007, while having an angiogram. The angiogram was part of the work up for open heart surgery to replace her aortic valve. She went through 6 months of rehab and went home with a walker. We purchased a modular home that was set up for a person with handicaps, so that she could sit to work in the kitchen and we felt that she could be much more independent. In August of that year, the time came for her aortic valve surgery, and since she was getting very short of breath (due to Aortic stenosis) she decided that she still wanted to have the surgery. BUT.... a week before she was to have surgery she fell and broke her hip. She was flown to Victoria and both the hip surgery and the open heart surgery were performed within a few days of each other.

She did well after the heart surgery, but that she had had open heart surgery, she could not do the normal rehab that a hip fracture patient would undergo. (when the chest is split open with open heart surgery, the sternum takes a good 6 weeks to heal and you cannot put weight on your arms)

So she in essence ended up in wheelchair.

Last September my father admitted he was burning out from this, and we had a family meeting to find out how we could help and from this, she was started on a once a month week of respite care as well as twice weekly caregivers in the home to help with bathing. Then a few weeks her name came up, and we were in the position of either taking the bed, OR going back to the bottom of the list. (another possible 2 year wait)

So the decision was made to take the bed now.

My mother has some memory problems, but does seem to know what is going on right now and is seeming devastated and extremely sad. As one might expect, this has been an extremely difficult weekend for my family. We are all extremely sad to see her so sad.

In the two weeks or so of planning for this trip I have been trying to figure out a way to somehow make this all better. I have a certain amount of guilt for having been gone from Canada for so long, and only having seen my parents once a year or so. Now in coming back I wanted to try to make it up somehow and had hoped to be able to take her for periods of time to add to the respite and to make it easier for Dad to be able to care for her at home. BUT the bed came up before I was physically able to do any of that. So the decision now is not whether I can care for her for a week a month, but can I care for her full time?

We ARE hoping to break ground in building our home here in the next few weeks, and the plans we purchased we chose with the plan in mind that Mom would be coming for weeks at a time, so with mainfloor bedroom and wheelchair bathroom.

Ken and I spoke before I went up and have agreed that we CAN take her on full time with hiring care aids to look after her when I am working etc.

Although it is a very big step to take, I presented this plan to my family this weekend, and the consensus was to see how she does for the first few months. This will allow us time to get the house set up and ready for her. It is just breaking my heart though to know she is there and she does not want to be there, and when she asks, will I have to stay here forever?? I really do not know what to say.

I have told her about our house and that she is going to be coming for a visit and I guess we will start there.

This is clearly not something that every family has to deal with, as many people live out their lives without ever needing long term care. Several years ago my parents were visiting us in Bandon, and I took my father to the Wellness center to show him a bench I wanted him to copy for my yard. We had to go right through the Alzheimer's unit and my usual confident father was visibly terrified. He said on leaving to "shoot me if I ever get like this", implying he would never want to go into a place like this. I guess its just something most people hope to somehow bypass. I would say having worked on the other side of this issue for years that it is never easy and never straightforward.

I have to include another interesting tidbit I found out this weekend. I stayed the weekend at my parents house, I stayed in the van.

Looking for a book to read, I noticed a very plain book on the bookshelf titled “1906 fruit growers report”, which caught my interest.

Somewhere in reading about my mothers family a few years ago I read that my great grandfather, (my mothers paternal grandfather) has been commissioned by the BC government at the turn of the century to go into the Okanagan to determine the feasibility of growing fruit there.

(any Canadians reading this will know that the Okanagan has been one of the main areas that fruit has been grown in western Canada, but in more recent years, grapes.....)

I guess I was unsure of the validity of the statement until I started reading this book tonite. The book was essentially a meeting of the fruit growers of the "dominion of Canada", in Ottawa. He was a delegate from BC. There were several Canadian government officials who attended including the minister of agriculture, “the minister of Militia” and the governor general of Canada.

What is even more fascinating about this book is that a one of the primary objectives of this meeting was to address the “adulteration of foods”

There is a good deal of discussion of the impurities that were being added to the foods, such as preservatives, colour dyes and glucose. The minister of agriculture was essentially saying that we have preserved food without these substances for many years, safely why allow these substances now. (in 1906)

I have really only skimmed the book, but was extremely proud to read my great grandfathers comments. I guess I always knew that my love for gardening was so strong it MUST be genetic. I certainly will write more about it.

On my last CD the song I wrote, “with this seed” was actually about this, knowing my grandfather was a farmer, and my grandfather was a horticulturist.



jankenb @