The Golden Stack

I’ll keep posting this every once in a while, but this is my current preferred stack. Cloud Azure. PaaS > IaaS. Database SQL Azure. API C# WebAPI on .NET Core. Web React. Tons of momentum behind it. iOS Swift. Don’t fight Apple. Android Kotlin. Seems pretty fun. Simple Mobile React Native. For simpler projects it’s nice to share some code with your web app, and the mental leap is small.

Investment Check-in 2017

I posted the details of my investment strategy a while ago. I thought I’d give an update on how it’s been doing since then. Calendar 2010 - 4.92% 2011 - -3.32% 2012 - 7.87% 2013 - 14.37% 2014 - 10.30% 2015 - 4.04% 2016 - ??? Annualized 1 year - 4.33% 3 year - 6.45% 5 year - 8.01% 7 year - 5.91% Since inception - 5.67% Cumulative

Enterprise quality WiFi at home

What if you could get enterprise quality WiFii at home for a price that is much more closer to regular home prices? That’s the dream that Ubiquiti promises with their Unifi line of networking gear. What most people call a router is actually several devices combined into one: a router, a switch and a wireless access point. To get the best performance and have the best upgrade cycle, I strongly recommend splitting them up.

Plex and the streaming life

Lately people have been discovering how much better the on demand streaming model of Netflix is than normal cable television. The biggest downside though is the limited selection. The solution is to run your own media streaming service, and the best way to do that is by using Plex. Server The first step is to get a Plex server running. It runs on many different NAS services as well as on regular Windows/Mac/Linux computers.

Household tech

So this is happening, the Cousins family is building their house! As many of you know, this house is going to be pretty full of technology. I thought as I’m planning everything I would start a series of posts on the awesome things I’m doing tech wise. I get many questions about how to accomplish various tasks, so hopefully this will help you. Some of the highlights are going to include:

Best Body Fitness Sprint Triathlon 2013

Photos from the 2013 Best Body Fitness Triathlon in Sylvan Lake, AB are now up! We had some amazing weather in the middle of a monsoon which I’m very grateful for. Some finish highlights included the usual leaps, a great Usain Bolt impression and a Gangnam style rider. Good work all! The photos are on Shuttr at: http://mike.shuttr.com/gallery/370

Google Play Store ordering experiences (Nexus 4 & Nexus 7)

Nexus 7 Here is the timeline of my Nexus 7 order. June 27, 2012 I watched the Google event for the launch of the Nexus 7 and ordered it immediately after as soon as sales were opened. June 27, 2012 Minutes after ordering I realize that my address was my old address so I submit an address change request on my order. July 4, 2012 No updates to the address on my order so I submit a second address change request.

jQuery AJAX POSTing to ASP.NET MVC 3

Getting your model binding to work properly with jQuery takes a bit of trial and error if you’re just getting started. There are a couple ways to send your data and you don’t really know which way is going to bind properly to which C# type. Here is a quick example for reference after I got multiple photo deletion working on Shuttr. The basic gist of this is that binding an array of ints in Javascript requires an ICollection in C# to make the magic happen.

Best Body Fitness Triathlon Photos

I shot the Best Body Fitness Triathlon [http://sltc.ca/race-info/] in Sylvan Lake this morning. The photos are currently being edited, and then they will be uploaded. Hopefully by tomorrow they should be showing up online. They will be available for purchase on Shuttr at: http://mike.shuttr.com/gallery/158. It was a beautiful day for racing. Congratulations to all of the new and returning triathletes!

New Relic NuGet package: Automatic building and publishing with TeamCity

I’m a big fan of New Relic [http://newrelic.com] server/application monitoring and last year I created a NuGet package [http://nuget.org/packages/NewRelicWindowsAzure] for them. I wanted to make it easy for people to get New Relic going in an Azure environment and NuGet solves that problem. I’ve used it in production on Shuttr [http://shuttr.com] ever since. I approached New Relic when I began work on it, but they didn’t seem all that interested or maybe I didn’t find the right people to talk to.

Calgary condo parking limits are backwards

We’re currently in the market for a new place to live. We have a rental condo and are looking to either purchase a condo or build an infill somewhat near downtown. We like walking to work, and we like the atmosphere of downtown living. The hottest new project in Calgary is the East Village [http://www.evexperience.com/]. We stopped in on the weekend and had a great talk with the developers of the first two condos going up: Evolution [http://www.

Where's the Azure focus Microsoft?

I moved Shuttr [http://shuttr.com] to Windows Azure a year or so ago and I’ve been very impressed with the platform. It’s been fast, stable, reliable, etc. There have been numerous reductions to their pricing model which have made it a lot more palatable. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2012/03/08/announcing-reduced-pricing-on-windows-azure-storage-and-compute.aspx http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2011/10/27/microsoft-lowers-storage-cost-for-blob-and-table-storage-in-windows-azure.aspx http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2012/02/14/announcing-reduced-pricing-on-sql-azure-and-new-100mb-database-option.aspx With these new pricing reductions we now have a full testing environment up in Azure permanently with a 100MB SQL Azure database and an extra small web role.

Office 365 ActiveSync fail, again

When Office 365 launched the mobile server address was m.outlook.com [http://m.outlook.com]. This was a great address: easy to remember, pretty short, etc. A couple months ago my phone stopped syncing my mail. I went to the Office 365 forums and found that for some reason m.outlook.com [http://m.outlook.com] was now broken and everybody had to switch to an address found by going into Options -> See All Options -> Settings for POP, IMAP, and SMTP access… Mine was pod51009.

Silverlight 5 + Internet Explorer 9 using old Content-Type from POST in a subsequent GET

We’ve been running into a super annoying problem at work. After our Silverlight application makes it’s login POST the next GET that we send fails with a NotFoundException. This only happens when using the Silverlight 5 runtime and only happens in Internet Explorer 9. I have tested now with Silverlight 4 as well as Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari, and IE9/SL5 is the only bad combination. Here are the headers of our login POST:

Canadian investing made lazy

It’s Easy One of the most common complaints that I hear about investing is that it’s too complicated and that people don’t have time to learn about how to do it. The good thing is, it pays to be lazy in investing! Canadian Capitalist - Lazy Man’s Portfolio [http://www.canadiancapitalist.com/the-lazy-mans-portfolio/] Almost every stock or mutual fund will lose to it’s respective index. The concept of the “lazy” portfolio is just to buy something as similar to the index as possible.

Localizing a Silverlight DatePicker control, a study in pain thresholds

For shame Microsoft. There is currently no way to localize a DatePicker. Instead of letting us simply specify a format string or any of the other beautiful conventions we are forced to basically re-template the entire control. In our application, at my day job, we support many different languages/cultures. This was becoming a mess with the various date formats so we decreed that all dates would be in the ISO standard format (yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss).

Mango App Challenge winner!

So a little bit ago my second Windows Phone app was approved. http://blog.shuttr.com/2011/11/20/shuttr-photographers-now-have-a-windows-phone-app-too/ Here are my two apps up on the Windows Phone Marketplace: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-CA/publishers/Shuttr Once the approval came through I filled out the form on the Mango App Challenge page. https://www.microsoft.com/canada/offers-promotions/mango-app-challenge/Default.aspx I didn’t hear anything back for a while, so I contacted Paul Laberge (@plaberge) on Twitter. He got back to me immediately and before long I was declared a winner!

First Windows Phone 7 application published!

Well, my first application has been published. http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=e995f3ee-9fd4-4e60-bdba-a30168099cd1 My first attempt was a bit of a probe to see what the process is like. I whipped the app together in about an hour and it was quite basic. I wanted to see: If I would be rejected What I would be rejected for What the timelines are like Turns out I was rejected in about 2 or 3 days for two reasons.

Writing a JSON API in ASP.NET MVC 3

Here is a snippet of the source for the current API on Shuttr [http://shuttr.com]. using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Web; using System.Web.Mvc; using Shuttr.Domain.Abstract; namespace Shuttr.Web.Controllers { /// /// This controller provides our public API. It can be consumed by mobile or desktop applications. /// public class ApiController : Controller { private IFolderRepository _folderRepository; private IPhotoRepository _photoRepository; private IPhotographerRepository _photographerRepository; /// <summary> /// Constructor /// </summary> public ApiController(IFolderRepository folderRepository, IPhotoRepository photoRepository, IPhotographerRepository photographerRepository) { _folderRepository = folderRepository; _photoRepository = photoRepository; _photographerRepository = photographerRepository; } /// <summary> /// Returns the full list of directory photographers.

Windows Phone AppHub Developer Account Update - Day 4

Here’s the day 4 update on my Windows Phone On Friday I applied for my developer account. Filled out a couple pages of forms, paid my $100 fee, etc. I was then emailed to verify my account, I clicked that link and it said my account would be fully verified shortly. On Monday I got an email saying that Shuttr wasn’t found in their business database and that I needed to submit additional paperwork to verify my business.

Windows Phone 7 development beginning

So Microsoft just launched a cool program for Canadian developers, the Mango App Challenge [https://www.microsoft.com/canada/offers-promotions/mango-app-challenge/Default.aspx] . Basically, if you write two Windows Phone 7 apps you get a free Windows Phone. I have plans to develop mobile apps for Shuttr for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone but this contest just pushed Windows Phone to the front of that list instantly! I added some new RESTful JSON APIs to Shuttr pretty easily.

New Relic + Windows Azure package for NuGet

Installing New Relic on Windows Azure is a bit of a pain so I’ve created a NuGet package for it to make it dead easy. I’ll keep it updated with the latest NewRelic releases. Make sure you go to New Relic first to sign up and get your key. Performance monitoring will never be the same after you do! http://newrelic.com The package will be available through your NuGet package manager. You can view it on the web as well:

Telus HTC Desire HD Gingerbread Update Fail

I read the news this morning and saw that the Gingerbread update for my Telus HTC Desire HD was out. I excitedly installed it and now I’m left with a nice paperweight. If I’m connected to wifi it works fine but as soon as I’m out of range it continuously reboots. Awesome.

Shuttr - The Concept

I began taking sports photos after retiring from rowing and needing something new to fill up my spare time. I photographed several of the rowing races in Victoria and began having friends ask if they could buy the photos off of me. I was a Computer Science student at the time so I decided to go all out. I registered mikecousins.com [http://mikecousins.com], setup an e-commerce site and threw all of my photos up on the web for purchase.

5 years, cured!

I recently had my last check up at the Tom Baker Cancer Center. It marked my 5th year post-treatment. The results were perfect and I can now relax. I am done with this disease and I hope to never face it again. I sometimes thought that this day would never come. Now that it has, it feels surreal. I look back and remember a lot of extremes but they seem dulled by time.

2 Years!

Well, yesterday was my 2 year check up. It actually hasn’t been two full years but I guess each of my appointments has been a bit before schedule. I don’t really care though, I’m 2 years cancer free! Looking back I realize that the memories of my experience are beginning to fade. I don’t think about what I went through as much as I should. I’m taking life for granted again.

+16 Months

My chest x-rays are clear, my blood work is perfect and the physical exam was good! I was a bit nervous before this one, but it seems like I shouldn’t have been! My next checkup will be in October.

+16 Month Tests Delayed

My next visit was supposed to be June 5th, but it was delayed because Dr. Blahey is on vacation. I’m going in on June 12th, next Tuesday, instead. This time I’m getting a chest x-ray, bloodwork and a physical exam. I guess those PET scans cause too many false positive scares. I’m very thankful for that because I don’t know if I could handle another one!

A Year Later.....

I’m still clean! Sorry this is a bit late, I’ve been a bit busy with everything. I took on a couple contracts outside of Nortel to make some extra money and have simply run out of hours in the day. I now switch to checkups every 4 months instead of 3. My next one is just a chest x-ray and bloodwork in June. I’m pretty excited because the chances of relapse fall quite a bit after the first year has passed.

+9 Months - Clean!

I have no idea why the last one showed activity but my +9 month scan was completely clean. No cancer!!! I must have been excited or something for that last one :) I have decided that these scares are going to be no fun in the future so I hope to have few of them. I think it’s time to start enjoying life again, I was starting to get a bit down there.

Waiting.....

I had my +9 month PET scan and now begins the longest week ever waiting for the results. I get them next Tuesday (Novemeber 7th) along with my bloodwork results. I still don’t know whether I’m optimistic or not, I come and go. I really just want to know what the deal is and get on with it.

New condo!

My next scan will be on October 31st. Yes, that’s Halloween, I think I might dress up. That is probably going to be the most important scan yet because it will confirm or deny the activity shown in the last scan. Keep your fingers crossed! Last weekend I moved in to my new condo, here’s a couple shots for everybody: [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/condo1.jpg] [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/condo5.jpg] [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/condo2.jpg] [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/condo4.jpg] [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/condo3.jpg]

+6 Months

Well, I’ve been delaying making this post because I really don’t know what to say. I got my results last Tuesday (August 22nd) and my PET scan shows 2 nodes with metabolic activity in it. So basically there are two options here: It’s just an infection/cold/whatever which is causing these 2 lymph nodes to do something. The cancer is back. I have to go back in 3 months and have another PET scan.

+3 Months

Well, it’s been 3 months already. I went for my first post treatment check-up and it went pretty well. I asked about diving again and Dr. Blahey said that it would be best if I never dove again. I guess it’s time to start forgetting about it. My veins should start to get better after about 6 months. The main vein in my bicep used to be big and soft and it has now turned into a little, hard, brown wire running up my arm.

So....

I think this blog is pretty much done. I’ll keep you updated with scan results but hopefully I won’t have to use this much again. My next scan is May 30th, just bloodwork and a physical exam. I will have a PET scan near the end of the year. I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. All of the side effects except tiredness are gone. My hair is even starting to come back!

Phase 2 Begins

Phase 1 (beat cancer) - check Phase 2 (get back in shape) - starting now I’m back at work now and trying to get my sleep schedule back to something manageable. I’m hoping to start working out next week, we’ll see how that goes. I signed up for 2 volleyball leagues for the summer and I’m thinking about maybe doing something else. It’s exciting because I can do whatever I want this summer!

Finished, but crying

I can’t remember the last time I was crying, probably last year when my grandfather passed away, but I am right now. It’s been an emotional day. My chemo went well. The IV slid in on the first try, no burning in my veins, I’m not feeling all that bad right now, etc. I got home and checked the Hodgkins support website which I do often. I was all set to brag about being finished.

The last one......

I’m just getting ready to go in for my last treatment! I’m more nervous for this one than for any of the others. I just can’t wait for it to be all done.

I want to be sedated

So I get into the hospital for chemo #11 and the nurse decides to put my IV in a vein a little bit up my arm, just above my wrist. It seems to go in alright and she starts pumping saline in and walks away. It starts to hurt quite a bit and I tell my dad, the nurse comes by to check it and my arm is swelling up pretty good.

Nearing the end

I’ve had 10 out of 12 treatments now with the 2nd last one this Wednesday. I’m getting pretty confident now and am just looking forward to being done. I haven’t updated my blog for a bit, and have had a couple requests to do so, just because I’ve been feeling about average. This was my first time having 5 needles of Neupogen, I usually have 4, so I had some amazing bone pain and didn’t really sleep at all on Friday night.

Back to skiing!

I had a great day at Sunshine Village today. Dave and I headed out and were greeted with free passes and some of the best snow I’ve skiied in a couple years. Lighting was a little flat and at about 2pm I broke my pole in half, but it was still a great day. I am feeling much better now after this chemo. It really took it out of me and I didn’t even get much work done until Thursday.

Ouch

Chemo is a good way to kill your high. I’m feeling pretty crappy again, but I’m now 3⁄4 done! I can’t tell yet whether it is easier or harder to continue with treatments once you know that the cancer is gone. On the one hand you know it’s working and doing it’s job, but on the other it seems pointless. Almost done I guess….

Cancer Free!!!!!

Got the results of my PET scan back today and I am officially cancer free! As they put it they “detected no metabolic activity”! It’s kind of crappy that I still have to return for 4 more treatments, but I’m on top of the world still.

PET Scan #2

Well, I’ve now finished two-thirds of my chemo and this morning I had my second PET scan. They try to get rid of all of the cancer by the two-thirds point so this mornings test will tell us if it has worked. I’m pretty nervous about it, have been for a couple weeks now. If there is still cancer remaining I think that’s a pretty bad sign. I don’t think I’ll get the results until my normal appointment next Tuesday though.

Suprise Party!

Wow. I had no idea this was going to happen at all. I was hanging out with my old high school friends, driving all over the city and we were going to end up at the Bull & Finch, one of our old watering holes. When I walked in there was my family, co-workers, friends from school and friends from rowing. Lots of people I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Happy Holidays!

I hope everybody had a great Christmas! Ours was really nice and I’m feeling great. That’s important because there has been lots of turkey to eat around here. I think my weight is almost back to normal due to excessive turkey consumption. Enjoy your New Years and be safe over the rest of the holidays!

7/12

Number 7 is done and it’s going pretty well. I think I’m just excited because I get 3 weeks off after this one and I’m done for the year! I’m pretty busy for the next 3 weeks or so as friends start coming back to Calgary and Christmas parties abound. I’m excited for Dave and Laura’s wedding as well! My Dad took my picture yesterday at chemo: [http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/chemo.jpg]

Opening Day at Fernie!

I went skiing on the weekend at Fernie for opening day. Pretty good time, but I got tired out pretty quick. I had to stop skiing and head to the lodge at 3pm (skiing closes at 4pm). I tried to salvage my consciousness with a coffee and a Snickers, but I was passed out at a cafeteria table 2 minutes later. It was still a great time though. I’m about to head in for my 7th treatment, my last one of the year!

Halfway Done!

I have now finished number 6! They are definitely getting worse. I get this horrible taste in my mouth during the treatment and it hasn’t really gone away. The nausea has been about average this time, but I’m getting very tired. Thursday I got up at 1:30pm and was back in bed by about 4pm. That would be an ideal day for me if I didn’t have to do anything else!

Skiing Soon!

This weekend is my friend Dave’s stag and we’ve got chalets booked in Banff for a weekend of skiing and relaxing. I’m so excited to get back out on the slopes. I’m planning on trying to ski on all of my “good” weekends, so every other weekend. Hopefully 15 days this year! I’ve got a bit of a sore throat right now. I went to the doctor this morning and he did a throat swab and prescribed me some penicillin.

5/12

Number 5 is now past me. It was a pretty bad start, I normally don’t have any trouble getting the IV in and this time took 5 tries between 3 nurses. I’m so tracked up I look like a junkie. I normally don’t start feeling sick until later that night or the next morning and this time I felt sick from the second it started flowing too. Today has been par for the course though, not too bad.

Pain Day

Days 5-8 of each cycle are days that I get my Neupogen injections. They stimulate your bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. This causes the bone marrow to expand and on day 9, today, it is at it’s peak. It hurts the most in my hips because that is where you have the most bone marrow. I brought my bottle of Tylenol into work today and it’s sitting beside me.

Good News Finally!

I just got back from my appointment at the hospital. My white blood cell counts are up to a decent level so I won’t need to increase the number of Neupogen shots any more. They will remain at 4 per treatment (days 5, 6, 7, 8). My lung test shows that I have 130% of normal capacity, well above average, but I told him that I’m feeling quite a bit better without the Bleo in the last treatment.

Fasting

It’s 10:30 and I have now finished my last food and drink until dinner time. Anybody who knows me well, knows that this will be a remarkable feat if I pull it off. I have an MRI of my liver at 4:30 and can’t eat or drink 6 hours before! I just had a nice big breakfast and drank some water, we’ll see how it goes! I’m a bit worried about the results, mostly because every result I’ve gotten so far has been worse than I imagined.

Ouch

I think #3 was the worst so far. I’ve been pretty sick the entire time since chemo. The second one went well so I was hoping I might get less sick as they went, but I guess that’s not the case. I’m starting to get over it now though and I’m excited for my trip to Victoria this weekend. I’m heading out to take pictures at the Head of the Gorge, a big rowing race.

Here goes #3!

I had my bloodwork done yesterday and chatted with the doctor a bit. My white blood cells were up to 1.6 this time, still not up into the 2-8 range, so I’m going to have to do 4 shots each time now of Neupogen. Boo! I told him about my lung issues and he’s going to remove the Bleomycin this time and I have to go for a lung performance test sometime soon.

2 Down!

The second chemo didn’t seem to be all that bad so far. First couple days weren’t that nauseous then it got worse and was pretty bad for about 2 days. By the end of the weekend I was done feeling sick. Now I’m into the “can’t sleep even though I want to sleep 20 hours” phase. Fell asleep at about 3am last night and getting up for work this morning was a painful process which didn’t work too well!

Just Made It!

Our white blood cell counts are supposed to be between 2 and 8. Last week’s test put me at 0.4. My doctor said he won’t do chemo if it’s under 1. This week I rocked it and got 1.1! This afternoon is chemo #2 and I’m not really looking forward to it. I felt kind of sick this morning, I guess I’m just getting excited for the nausea!

I'm missing something...

[http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1294/1387/1600/shaved.jpg] Dawn shaved my head today. I don’t know what to think of it yet. I guess it’s not as horrible as I was imagining. To the Victoria folk, I just got the a-ok from Howie and booked my flight out for Head of the Gorge today. Dawn and I will be coming out on the Thursday afternoon and flying back Sunday night. I can’t wait to see you guys!

Just say no to your fears!

After I was diagnosed I was scared that my PET scan results would come back showing that I had a large spread of cancer. I got the results back and I had a large spread. I’ve been fearing having a low white blood cell count because that would mean I would have to inject myself with Neupogen daily. Today, the doctor told me I have a low white blood cell count and here comes the Neupogen!

After Chemo

I’m feeling pretty much back to normal now. After the first chemo I was nauseous for about 4 days. I felt like I was about to throw up all the time and especially if I tried to eat. I lost about 8 pounds during those 4 days. About Monday my stomach began to return to normal and I have put 4 pounds back on since then. I’ve had a headache pretty much constantly since chemo.

Chemo #1

It turns out they do all of the chemo through a hand IV, I hate hand IVs! It took a bit to get it in and it never really stopped hurting for the whole 2 hours or so that it was in. Everything else was pretty uneventful. The last drug they gave me made my veins burn all the way up my arm but then they mixed more sugar solution into it and it helped a bit.

Excuse me?

I have always believed that I caught this early, and I’ve always feared that I hadn’t. It looks like my fears have won. I got the PET scan results today and not only is the cancer on both sides of my lymph node system it’s also spread to my liver. So instead of being Stage 1 (the best) as they originally thought I am now Stage 4 (the worst). I will now have to have at least 6 months of chemotherapy and survival rates drop a bit.

Party!

I had a great time last night! Most of my Calgary friends showed up at the Bull & Finch and we had some food and drinks. I wanted to have a little get together before chemotherapy started and I think it was a success! Sometimes it amazes me how many great friends I have, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have so much support. Thank you to everybody!

Confirmation

Just got back from getting my stitches out of my neck. I asked for the results from the biopsy and it’s nodular sclerosing Hodgkins lymphoma. I was pretty sure I had Hodgkins all along, but I’m still feeling kind of crappy. I guess I still kept a little bit of hope that it might not be cancer. Oh well, I’m glad chemo is starting next week so that I can get this going.

A Wild Weekend

I was in the Okanagan with Dawn for the long weekend, visiting my Grandma, touring some wineries and getting some time on the beach. We stayed at a nice bed & breakfast in Peachland. It was all great except that we were going to hit the beach on Sunday but it was cool and rained a bit so we didn’t end up going. We had some excitement the first night when we almost walked right into a black bear on a dirt path by the golf course and on our brisk walk home we walked right past another one in the bushes (maybe 2-3 feet away!

PET Scan

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. The radioactive glucose was a little bit late from Edmonton. I wasn’t supposed to have surgery for 2 weeks before the scan, and this would have been fine, but since they delayed it I had minor surgery the 2 days prior! They said it was okay though because they were both pretty minor, but I was worried for a bit that they might have to delay it for another 2 weeks!

Bone Marrow Biopsy

I was really worried about today’s procedure. Had some bloodwork first (I don’t know why they have to do this every single time I go!!!) then I sat in the operating room for a bit in my gown with my Dad. Dr. Blahey showed up, kicked my Dad out (though I’m sure he didn’t want to be there), and told me what was going to happen. Two bone marrow samples and a bone core sample.

Lymph Node Biopsy

Yesterday was my neck biopsy and I wasn’t really worried about it before going in. Shortly after checking in and getting changed into my gown they came to give me an IV. They stuck it in my hand, missed the vein, moved it around some and I passed out. My Dad said afterwards that I was convulsing and when I woke up there was quite a bit of commotion going on around me, probably about 10 nurses.

I'm Oriented

Just got back from a great session at Tom Baker. My parents, Dawn and Jon all came with me which was really nice. There was about an hour long presentation, mostly on chemo side effects and how to manage them. I think it really helped and calmed us down a bit. It doesn’t sound all that bad now. We got a tour of the hospital and got to see the chemo rooms.

PET Scan Down!

The PET scanner is down today so they rescheduled me for next Wednesday. I guess I can eat breakfast now. It sucks because now I’m missing a going away lunch for a coworker. We had our first Nortel Corporate Challenge volleyball practice last night and I’m pretty excited for it. It went really well and it’s great to be playing indoor again. Our team is pretty strong, but I hope I can make it.

Getting scheduled

I’m getting most of my staging scheduled now. PET scan this Thursday, orientation Friday (my family and I can meet everybody at Tom Baker, get a tour, listen to a talk about cancer, etc.), then the neck biopsy next Monday and bone marrow Tuesday. I guess after they have the results I’ll meet with Dr. Blahey to figure out chemo/radiation plans. Dawn came home last night and it’s really great to have her back.

Cancellations

As much as I didn’t want this to affect my life, it has started to really affect it. I already cancelled on my volleyball team for the Nortel Summer Games and now my family and I just decided to cancel our Hawaii trip. It would end up delaying my treatment by about a month and none of us really felt comfortable doing that. I guess I’ll have extra vacation for next year now….

First visit to Tom Baker

I’m back from the doctor finally. I had to get a whole bunch of preliminary stuff done today, more x-rays, bloodwork, urine test, height and weight measured, met the nurse and doctor who will be doing most of the stuff with me, etc. I have my neck biopsy scheduled for the 29th, bone marrow biopsy for the 30th, a PET scan somewhere around there and then chemo/radiation will start after that.

Going to Tom Baker

When I talked to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre yesterday they were pretty surprised at how long it was taking me to get stuff going with my other doctor. They just called and told me that I’m supposed to come in tomorrow. It’ll just be an informative session and they’ll book me for orientation, the biopsy, chemo, etc. I’m glad things are moving along quicker now. It’s nice to know that I’m at Tom Baker finally too.

The wheel's in motion!

Dr. Gillis is back in the office so I can resume pestering them over the phone! Due to a cancellation at the hospital they had an opening for surgery on August 29th, so that’s when my biopsy is going to take place. It feels good to have a date scheduled now, even if it is almost 2 weeks away. The receptionist also gave me the CAT scan results and everything looks good!

Back to waiting

Visited my family doctor’s backup today. It sounds like I’ll need a referral from the diagnosing doctor (Dr. Gillis) and that I might need a tissue sample (surgical biopsy) as well before going to Tom Baker. Dr. Gillis is back next week so I’ll be able to talk to him then, but it sounds like the biopsy might not be done this month! My dad has to fully pay for our Hawaii trip (Sept 16-Oct 2) next week so I guess he’s just going to go ahead and do it.

Vacation!

No, not mine, every doctor in the city of Calgary! I need to get a referral to get into the Tom Baker Center (Calgary’s cancer center) and both Dr. Gillis and my family doctor are on vacation. Dr. Gillis’s backup doctor is also on vacation so the whole office is closed next week. I have an appointment on Monday with my family doctor’s backup who will hopefully give me a referral so that I can get into Tom Baker next week.

CAT Scan

My Dad drove me down to High River this morning for the CAT scan. It was pretty uneventful, but drinking that marker doesn’t taste too good. The IV caused a strange warm feeling all over my body, pretty weird. I called Dr. Gillis afterwards and they have to do a surgical biopsy of the lump but they have no times available for August. I guess it’s back to waiting again. I’m getting tired of waiting.

Cascade Mountain

My friend Dave and I had decided long ago to climb Cascade Mountain, and being the long weekend we set out to do it, cancer or no cancer. Looking up at Cascade Mountain, from the town of Banff: The view from the backside, we’re going to scramble along the ridge on the right: Me heading up the ridge: Dave stopping for a much needed break: The scariest part of the scramble, the rock garden:

Dr. Gillis #2

I show up nice and early, the receptionist is very happy and cheerful to me. I think something is up, but think nothing of it, content that both an aneurysm and lymphoma have been ruled out. It must be something minor I’ve convinced myself. When I see Dr. Gillis he has his little mirror on his head just like when he took the samples last time. Not again I’m thinking, this time I’ll probably pass out before he even touches me.

Results are in

Dr. Gillis’s office calls me and informs me that the results from the sample are in. I have an appointment with them the next morning to discuss it.

Dr. Gillis #1

Dr. Gillis is my new ear, nose and throat specialist and I arrive to hear the results of the ultrasound. He says that they saw the lump and that he needed a sample from it to figure out what it is. I say great, thinking it will happen another day, and am ready to leave when he starts pullling out needles. I don’t like needles and I’ve already had more than enough for the year, just this last week, so this doesn’t make me very happy.

The Ultrasound

My ultrasound which was supposed to have been done on Saturday has now taken place on Wednesday. Each day I am told that it might be able to be done the next day. Finally, that next day is today. I go to the Rocky View Hospital and have my ultrasound. I strain my neck trying to see the screen as it is happening, but I can’t make out enough of it.

Let the fun begin

I go to a walk-in clinic with my girlfriend Dawn. I show him the lump and he feels it, listens to it with the stethoscope and declares it to be an aneurysm. He jokingly adds that he’s glad it’s not lymphoma because then he would be telling me that I was about to die. Instead I only had a high chance of dying, either by a blood clot going to my brain or it bursting and causing me to bleed to death within 2 minutes.

A Lump

I feel a lump in my neck in the shower. It’s about half the size of a golf ball and it’s right above my left collarbone. I call my family doctor but can’t get in for another week so I decide to try to get to a walk-in clinic over the next couple days.