…and just like that…life throws you a curve ball…it’s hard to hit, but you’ve got to try…

My family have always suggested that I start a blog. I like to write, but really couldn’t think of a subject  that I would be passionate enough about to make the effort worthwhile.

I have one now.

On Thursday 19 March, 2015, my husband and I received  life altering news: Cancer…and just like that, we went from thinking treatable gallstones to confirming advanced gastric cancer in only a matter of weeks.

Writing about this, with Frank’s support, empowers me, and helps to put things into perspective. It’s therapeutic, and keeps me focused on the prize of remission.

I want to use this blog to capture our family’s fight against cancer, and our resolve to beat it!! Like Frank keeps saying – “I’m not going to let something I can’t even see kill me”.

What follows below is our developing journey through a devastating cancer diagnosis…

**Reverse chronological order – Scroll to bottom of page to read first post in our journey – most recent posts appear at top**

One Year…

It has been a very long time since I have been inspired enough to write in this blog. The focus of my passion left me a year ago today.

Today –  August 18th – Is the one year anniversary of Frank’s passing.

It feels surreal to write that down. The ever looming one year ‘anniversary’ is today. How is it even possible that a year has passed without him?

To be honest, if I could describe living through this past year without Frank, I would say that it felt hollow.  There is no other way to really describe it. It felt like I floated through this year. I did what I needed to do, and certainly made an effort to have some fun, but there was a palpable loss of joy and excitement in everything I did. The year was dull, listless and heavy. That is the best I can describe it, and there is still a lingering element of shock that remains, and it literally takes my breath away sometimes. Continue reading

Fall – The Beauty and the Grief

For Frank and I, our favorite time of year has always been fall. Apart from the colourful beauty and clean crisp air, it also marks all of our birthdays, and our Anniversary. This is also what makes it difficult this year. This year, fall has had an odd kind of ‘blah’ surrounding it. I’m not able to see the beauty as easily as I did in the past, but I’m trying…

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Izzy

I closed up the pool earlier this year than ever before. It made sense, since neither Connor or I have even stepped out near the pool since August 1st…the last time Frank went in.

We are keeping busy though…

Connor has officially become my chauffeur now. He drives everywhere, and he’s doing really well. He has also learned how to drive a standard, thanks to my dad, and has been driving around Prince Edward County in my dad’s 1980 Triumph TR7…top down. He really loves it! Since we are now a one vehicle family, he’s very motivated, and is actively looking for a job, as he hopes to own his own stick shift as soon as he possibly can..lol.

I am back to work now too, and starting to get back into the swing of things there. I’m glad to be back at it, as I actually love my job. I’m busy and challenged there, and it’s a great outlet for me.

I have also been busy organizing things, and going through all of our ‘stuff’…room by room. When I got to going through Frank’s t-shirts, (he was a huge t-shirt guy), I hated the thought of just keeping them there folded in a drawer unseen, or worse, packing them into a box never to be seen again. They all hold so many memories for Connor and I; we can picture and remember Frank wearing every single one of them. So I had a great idea: I had them all made into a beautiful quilt. Now we will always be able to see them and remember Frank through them.

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36 t’s…The little green squares framing each large square are pieces of his most worn army t-shirt. So special.
Connor wants to keep it on his bed.
Connor wants to keep it on his bed.

The next big event to face, which I think about everyday, is our upcoming 21st Wedding Anniversary. Not sure how I will deal with that day yet…

It’s still surreal to think about, and to live in this drastically changed life. I still ‘live, laugh, love’, as the saying goes, but it’s not the same. There always feels like something is missing. Grief hits me at random, from random triggers, and it’s like tears are just suddenly there, like they were just waiting to be released. I am always caught off-guard by this. It happens when I’m alone, and it has happens in public. It is triggered by a thought, a hope, a picture, a song… One of my most recent and arresting ‘moments’ was on my first day back to work, when I typed an ‘e’ into the Outlook address box to send an email. Frank’s work email was the first to show on the list of possible recipients, but it also said ‘this email is no longer valid’. That hit me hard…I would never again receive one of Frank’s numerous daily emails from Petawawa, that always started with his cheerful ‘Sup?”. Something so simple at the time, but so painfully powerful now.

Even though I am not writing as often, I hope to keep this blog going for those who are still interested in hearing from us as we move forward through our lives.

So thanks for continuing with us…as boring as our lives may be!

One Month Gone

Today it has been one month since Frank’s passing.

Hard to believe.

As I sit down to write this entry, I am finding it hard, as I just can’t muster the same level of motivation that I had when I wrote for Frank, (with Frank), with so much hope and faith only a short time ago…

It’s been a surreal few weeks, and I find that I can go from completely preoccupied in what I am doing (a blessing), only to be brought to a complete stop when a fleeting memory or thought randomly surfaces. To be brutally honest, the hardest part for me has been the memory of Frank’s last 10 days, which were sadly spent in the hospital. When I brought him to the ER on that fateful night of 9 August, I had no clue that I would never bring him home again, no idea that he would never sit beside me in the car again, that he would never see his house again, that he would never lie beside me again…I’ll be honest, it hurts, and I am having a hard time getting those thoughts out of my head. I mostly wonder if he was scared. I try to imagine what he was thinking in contemplating his own declining health, as hope slipped further away in the uncomfortable, and unwelcome setting of his hospital room. Continue reading

Frank’s Life Celebration and Service

Well, the week of Frank’s final tribute is upon us.

The Beechwood obituary (link below) has been updated and now includes the information about the new Trust Fund that has been so thoughtfully created and set up for Connor by the Canadian Association of Forces Lineman.

http://beechwood.permavita.com/site/WarrantOfficerFrancisEvansCD.html

Such a kind gesture, and I am so very thankful to all who were involved, as I am sure Frank would be as well.

Please don’t hesitate to share your stories or photos of Frank through the guestbook. I love seeing them, and they always put a smile on my face!

As stressful as this week will be, I am looking forward to this great celebration of Frank’s life & service.

I am in the midst of deciding whether or not I will keep our blog going…in any case, my plan is to continue to write for now…I think Frank would have wanted me to.

Thank you all for your continued love & support. It has been especially appreciated during the last few (difficult) weeks.

Frank’s Obituary

Here is the link to Frank’s Obituary:

https://beechwood.permavita.com/site/WarrantOfficerFrancisEvansCD.html?s=1

A shortened version will be placed in the  following newspaper later this week:

Ottawa Citizen, Pembroke Daily Observer, Sarnia Observer, Borden Citizen & Petawawa Post

I am also planning to upload some additional pictures in the near future.

You can share your condolences, or any stories/pictures of Frank here.

Thank you all for your continued love and support. It really helps.

Preliminary Funeral Details

Pls mark your calendars:

Frank’s Funeral will take place on Thursday September 3rd at The National Military Cemetery: Beechwood, in Ottawa.

Gathering with start at 1100, with Funeral Service held in the Sacred space at 1 p.m., followed by interment with Military Honours at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces. Following the internment, a reception in Honour of Frank will be held in the Borden & Fleming Suites at Beechwood.

There will be a formal obituary posted in several papers, as well as online, shortly.

Thank you all for your continued support. We have been thoroughly overwhelmed at the outpouring of condolences, stories and pictures that have been shared in numerous places on Facebook, and through this blog.

Frank was much loved by many. That gives me warmth.

The Hardest Post

Friends & family,

My best friend, Frank, passed away peacefully tonight at 7:28 PM.

I just wanted to get the message out quickly so you can all start celebrating his life.

I want to thank you all for your cards, messages, emails, texts etc…over the last while. I want you all to know that I read every single one of them to Frank, right up to the end, even the comments on Facebook posts…they meant a lot to us.

Frank will be buried at The National Military Cemetery (Beechwood) in Ottawa in apprx. 2 weeks time.

There will be more from me to come, including further funeral details, but tonight I only have time for this short note.

Thank you all for all your love and support.

One day at a time.

The Second Hardest Post I’ll Ever Write…

Between distractions and just plain writer’s block, this update has taken me all day to write.

It has been a busy, tiring and emotional 4 days since my last update.

I’m sad to report that Frank is still in hospital, and has not been able to turn that corner, despite a very aggressive treatment plan.

When Frank first came to Emerg last Sunday they were thinking sepsis, a possible blood clot in his vena Continue reading

Mini update

Frank is still putting up a strong fight against this latest challenge…to put it in the Doctor’s words “he is a very very sick man”…

He was not able to get his abdomen drained yesterday, but is now rescheduled for later today, and he’s watching the clock.  Frank NEVER complains, so when he tells me he is in pain, I know how bad it must be. He has put on another 5 pounds since yesterday, so it’s getting very tight. He’s about 17 pounds heavier than he would be without the ascites right now.

On the good side of things, his blood pressure is up this morning to 110/60 (much better than 80/50), and he is able to find a few comfortable positions. Also, he will be transferred to the Cancer unit soon (he was in the respiratory unit, because that was only bed available at the time). This will be better, as it is where he should be, although we want to take his Nurse with us on the transfer because he has one hell of an awesome Nurse today! Only had him for 3 hrs, but he anticipates all of Frank’s needs, and has been such an awesome advocate.

I just found out that you can send Frank a message through the RVH website, which is delivered to him in the form of a card…it is a free service.  Here is a link…just click on the blue box in right hand side ‘send best wishes’

http://www.rvh.on.ca/smrcp/SitePages/SMRCPHome.aspx

As always, I will update as things change…hopefully for the better!

Hanging out in hospital…

This is just a very quick and brief update for you all on Frank.

I had to bring him to the ER on Sunday, as he really started to feel unwell…he was very weak, slightly confused, his blood pressure was low, and he was vomiting. He has since been admitted to hospital (RVH). A few things going on: Infection (probable sepsis), possible pneumonia, possible blood clot, partial kidney failure (due to blood pressure & infection) and, of course,  a growing amount of fluid in his abdomen).

While this all sounds horrible, and Frank is quite sick, he is already doing better today. After giving him a blood protein (albumen), his blood pressure is up enough now to allow him to have his ascites drained today (this will make him so much more comfortable). He is also on a heparin drip, to bust out any clot, and his white blood cell count is down, indicating a good response to antibiotics. We are just waiting for his kidney function to improve.

While he is still weak and tired, he is comfortable and pain free. Most importantly, he still has his remarkable good attitude, and is smiling and cracking jokes…

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Pls keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he fights through this latest challenge…