Sew Thankful

This week I am feeling so thankful… or SEW thankful, since I always like to mix in some sewing with cancer. What a lovely combination…

Last weekend I was in Vancouver for, yep, you guessed it… medical appointments! One of my co-workers was also in the city for the weekend, so we indulged ourselves in Gastown… Fluevog and Nuba restaurant… a much lovelier combination than the one above. If you haven’t been to Nuba, you absolutely must go and try some Lebanese cuisine. I also found these cozy reading socks from my favourite footwear designer with a message that defined my weekend.

Thankful Vog Socks from John Fluevog

So yes, last weekend in Vancouver I had the dreaded PET scan…

Interesting that these scans, PET scan, CT scan, often called a CAT scan, create images of cuddly creatures who love us and bring us joy. But these scans are anything but cuddly, cute and joyful. Rather, they are a little noisy, uncomfortable, and require the injection of toxic drugs.

PET, short for positron emission tomography, is a scan that looks for cancer in the entire body, from the top of the head to the knees. (I really hope this cancer never spreads to my toes, because they will become quite lumpy or fall off before anyone notices they are cancerous!) Prep requires 6 hours of fasting, an injection of radioactive drugs, and lying still for 1 hour (no reading allowed, believe it or not). You then get the lovely privilege of lying flat on a hard surface for 20 minutes while the machine slowly brings you through a tube and reads your body. Following the scan you must drink lots of fluids to eliminate the radioactive drug. Additionally, if you are flying or crossing a border within 24 hours you must carry a letter depicting your sad tale of being radioactive, as the metal detector WILL sound the alarm. Ask me how I know this…

The scan itself is completely bearable with no side effects. (other than filling my body with toxins… again…) The real agony is waiting for the results… which I would receive that afternoon.

Then came the unexpected call from the office requesting that I come in, despite already having an appointment (apparently it was hiding?). I knew what this meant, my surgeon NEEDED to see me, because my scan showed SOMETHING.

Prior to surgeries 5 and 6 I was told I would lose part of all of my left ear. I was shown pictures of the side of the face sans ear. I researched prosthetic ears. I imagined my life without a left ear. I was devastated. My body is full of scars, showing the transfer of body parts from one area to another. I have significant nerve damage on my left face, neck and shoulder. But looking at life without an ear was devastating. I cried and cried, and then cried some more as I came to grips with my future reality. But then I woke up from both surgery 5 and surgery 6 with a left ear, only missing a tiny part of the lobe (and my piercing). The nurse told me later he couldn’t figure out why I asked over and over if I still had an ear. The joys of post-surgery amnesia.

I visited my local ENT specialist last week concerning a lump around my left clavicle and received similar devastating news. If this was cancerous, it was right by the nerve controlling my left arm. I imagined my life without the control of my left arm. As I went about my day I considered all my activities that require two arms, especially those activities that bring me the most joy… yes, I might lose the ability to sew, crochet, or knit. I thought about learning how to paint, or draw, finding a new passion. I looked longingly at my beautiful fabrics, my sewing machine, my new-to-me serger, praying desperately that I would not lose these things that have become a huge part of my life. I realized very quickly how the loss of function was so much worse than the loss of beauty.

So when I received that call my heart started beating faster. My palms got sweaty. I was terrified. I prayed and prayed and tried to keep myself together while I waited in my surgeon’s far-too-familiar waiting room. All these emotions continued until my surgeon walked in and started feeling the area in front of my left ear, not my neck. “Your scan showed a spot in front of your left ear. It also showed this spot on your last scan in May and it hasn’t changed.” He felt some more. “But I don’t feel anything.” He then told me that my scan was otherwise clear. I felt relief rush over me. For precautionary reasons I will have another surgery to remove this area showing on the scan, but the areas of concern in my neck didn’t show, meaning they aren’t cancer. My surgeon is a big teddy bear and cares a great deal for his patients, so this news was almost as good for him as it was for me. I know my case has been difficult to watch for my entire team of doctors, including ENTs, GPs, oncologists and residents. So a little bit of good news is a relief for everyone. The scan has difficulty detecting anything smaller than 1 cm, which means if cancer remains in my body, it is not yet detectable by a scan. I am good for now. I can breathe.

So yes, my fuzzy socks define how I feel, Let’s be thankful… SEW thankful! (cheesy, I know) I am especially thankful that, for the foreseeable future, I have the function of my left arm, which means I can sew!

And here is my beautiful, creative 11-year-old daughter who loves clothes just as much as her mama, but already has a better eye for fashion than me. I love sewing for this girl and, thankfully (there’s that word again!), she loves her (largely) handmade wardrobe. This Knoxville top is my first pattern test for New Horizons Designs, and I can’t praise the pattern enough. Not only is it a quick and easy sew (the knot seems tricky, but the tutorials help), but you are given so many options for sleeves, knots, necklines and lengths. And bonus, the top is also available in adult sizes! This dreamy bamboo stretch fabric is from my local sewing shop, Nelson Stitch Lab. This mama also needs one too!

Girl’s Knoxville Top by New Horizons Designs with fabric from Nelson Stitch Lab

The Fluevog Gastown store had a mini clothesline where customers could hang their reasons for being thankful. This serendipitous moment of hanging my reason for thankfulness was the icing on the cake to an amazing weekend.