We are long-time fans of the astrologer Rob Breszny. We read his horoscopes every week. Last week his advice for Christian (Taurus) was to ask himself what he wants but CAN’T have. He suggested he pursue these dreams for the next week or two and believes this exercise will ultimately motivate him to dream true and strong about what he wants and CAN have.
Christian’s answer, his dream, is simple: freedom from cancer, from constraint. Simple, ha! Whose life is simple? Expanded, this dream includes being able to travel widely, indefinitely, as planned. It would involve being able to live in different places in the world for periods. Being able to ship the van to Europe and travel extensively throughout the UK and the EU. And finally, it would include finding a home base in a place that makes us happy, by the ocean, such as Nova Scotia.
We want to visit places we have never been and some we have and love. We have our sights set on Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Poland, Iceland, England and Wales, India, Alaska, Yukon, Oregon and Northern California, Italy, France and Northern Africa, maybe all of Africa, New Zealand, more of Japan, possibly Indonesia and Bali, Taiwan and China, Argentina and more of Peru including the Nazca Lines. We want to attend at least one Venice Biennale. Spending time in the places our families came from, like Serbia, Romania, Ireland, Scotland, Chile and Spain is a priority. We’d love to go on an epic train trip like on the Orient Express, rent a river boat in France and cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. Name a place, and we likely want to see it.
We’ve decided we can still live our dreams, but the parameters may change. We can still live in other places or countries in 3-month stints. We could still ship the van to Europe and travel to the UK for three months, fly back to Canada, return and roam the Schengen countries in the EU for three months, and then fly back to Canada. Or we can just rent a van there!
And finally, IF the doctors are right (see below), we want to live in a place that fills us up in all the best ways. We are determined to make the most of whatever time either of us has left on this greening earth fulfilling as many of our dreams as possible.
On November 3rd, we had the most extended conversation with Christian’s primary oncologist, Dr. P, since our first meeting on August 24th. The discussion was sobering, deflating and, to be perfectly honest, depressing. It included statements like:
- Your cancer is terminal.
- You can expect to live for another 7-10 years.
- The first stem cell transplant can last up to 4 years, maybe more, maybe less.
- They will harvest enough of your stem cells this time for two transplants which is the maximum you will be eligible for
- PMH (Princess Margaret Hospital) may offer you a clinical trial instead of the ASCT (autologous stem cell transplant – this means they use Christian’s healthy blood stem cells to replace his diseased bone marrow). It is up to you, but people who choose to have the ASCT live longer, so I urge you to go that route.
- It will take up to a year following the ASCT to resume your energy level.
- You will be able to travel again, but for 3-month stints, a maximum of 4 months, and you will need to know where the nearest healthcare provider is because you will be immunosuppressed.
- I am not interested in doctoring from afar or by phone as that is not my idea of treating cancer (we asked if Christian could have blood tests in another province or country instead of returning to Toronto every 3 months).
- Travel insurance will be costly.
- Living near PMH is your best bet as they have the best treatments available in Canada, with up to 36 clinical trials available; other places in Canada have a shortage of doctors and inferior care.
- You do not want to live in the boonies; you must live in a city near a cancer care centre.
- You’ll be at PMH for about 3 months for the ASCT and then return to HRH.
- You’ll take maintenance meds and return to me every 3 months for check-ups.
Then, on November 8th, we met with a Multiple Myeloma Oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital. This doctor will be overseeing the auto transplant (ASCT). At this appointment, everything Dr. P said was confirmed. Dr. S went a bit further sharing with us that Christian has a rare and aggressive form of Myeloma. While he did confirm that Christian’s lifespan was likely in the range of 7-10 years, he emphasized it could be longer. He also supported our inclination to travel as soon as Christian is able following the transplant. The transplant coordinator felt Christian would be able to get the needed immunizations in places we travel to rather than having to return to Toronto for them. And, Dr. S thought it was reasonable to dream of living near the ocean in either Vancouver or Halifax. He agreed with Dr. P that we need to live in or very close to a city with a university hospital. So, while it was not the news we had wished for we were reassured that something close to the lifestyle we desire is possible. Possibly as early as the end of March!!!!