Year in Review / Update
May you be richly blessed during this holiday season and the new year beyond.
I wanted to take a moment to give a general health update as it’s been a while but mostly I’ve been reminiscing about the past year and where we are now compared to a year ago. And that is a story that can’t be told without… you. There is no Wulkan family apart from the community of friends and family that has gathered around us this past long year and a half.
Last Christmas, I made my way, numbly, through the season, sure it would be my last on this earth… or at least one of only a few left. I didn’t want gifts because they would just be a waste of money, used on someone who was dying anyway. I felt bleak and robotic, going through the motions, trying to hide my sadness from my kids especially, but mostly from everyone.
A year ago, my emotions were still raw with grief and confusion. I’d not had any kind of medical testing done since August and was awaiting my first CT scan in January. I’d given up my job, my kids were a mess, my husband was shut down and distant. It felt like living in some weird void, unattached to the world around me but at the same time striving to maintain connected in every way possible so as not to be forgotten.
January came, and with it, a positive CT scan. My chemo pills and hormone blockers were working. The cancer was stopped and my body was healing. With this, came relief and a bit of hope.
I won’t go into any more detail… there are many GoFundMe reports and Blog posts to read if you want details. But, that January scan brought even more than hope. It brought motivation. It brought emotional maturity. It brought a renewed sense of living. And by April, with the next positive scan, it brought peace.
This is my life. There will always be cancer in my life. There will always be a balance between life and death, sickness and health, joy and sadness. But, this is my life and I’m so excited to live it.
So…. finally, the medical news.
During my last conversation with my Oncologist, she said that I have entered a state of NEAD… No Evidence of Active Disease. It’s been this way for a while, but it was so wonderful to hear her say those words. For almost a year now, the cancer has been controlled through the meds and I’m hoping my hard work with running and weights.
My bones have continued to heal, my lymph nodes have all returned to normal size and Lumpy the Bastard sits quietly in my boob, unarmed.
It’s quite possible I will be in this state for a while yet… maybe years… we don’t know. In an ideal world, I would love to make it to NED… No Evidence of Disease… which is remission and is possible for someone with a Stage 4 diagnosis. But for now, I am content to let my meds do their job and keep this body going.
Along with my Dr. prescribed meds, I also take a combination of mushroom teas and capsules as well as a Mistletoe injection every few weeks. These are used to boost my immune system and as far as I can tell, they have helped to keep it stable because my Dr changed my blood work from every month to every 3 months. Go Immune System!
Our family in general is also coming to a place of more stability. We’re a ways off yet but every step is a step in the right direction… at least today.
In October, Eli moved out of our house and our town and headed to Squamish for work. He is living in his Auntie’s basement suite and working full time. A few weeks ago he bought his first car and is taking advantage of his free mountain pass, heading up to Whistler to snowboard with Grandpa and Grandma.
Maddock is in grade 10 this year and is enjoying school, especially Culinary Arts class. He will be going on a trip to Paris and Nice in the spring (providing everything is Covid safe) and is looking for a job to help fund that trip.
Koen has thrived at school this year. He has been part of the Christmas play and is loving being on the stage. Dave and I are excited to have at least one kid who enjoys our love of acting and it’s not really a surprise that Koen would be the one.
It is Koen who has struggled the most over the last year… well 2-3 years really… and this has taken up most of our time and energy. We are still working with 2 counsellors and a psychiatrist to figure out what is haunting Koen the most and how to properly treat it. This coming year will bring some more testing for him as we explore a few more options / diagnosis.
The reality is that when people ask me what the worst part of having terminal cancer is, I respond with, “having a child with severe mental health issues”. As my disease has stabilized, Koen’s has not and therefore, Stage 4 Cancer has often been put on the back burner as we help our child navigate through is very tricky world. This has been very difficult but we are hopeful that this coming year will bring some answers for Koen as well.
Abbott and Judah have turned into such fun little men. They are both doing well in school and LOVE reading. While they remain close and do most things together, it has been fun watching them slowly start exploring their own interests.
Abbott loves colouring and drawing. He has thrived in his ice skating lessons and become very silly at horseback riding.
Judah loves reading and playing lego. He also has enjoyed ice skating and loves anything to do with animals.
And my Dave…. This has not been an easy year for him between sick wife, difficult kids, covid and church… but he’s still here and he’s still standing. We have had many hard conversations this past year and I am so grateful for his strength and perspective. I am so grateful for the moments we’ve cried together or laughed until we cried.
In September, Dave and I went couch shopping and purchased a new sectional. It was a bittersweet time, thinking that this could be the last time I shopped for furniture with him. And while I’d love to believe that my fierce determination to live would mean that I’d outlast the couch, the reality is that we bought really good quality so that just may not be true. I’m temped however to let the boys jump on it so that it breaks down faster than me. (Insert tongue out emoji)
So while things remain hard, they are also heading to stable and we are discovering peace with our new normal. And we are actively seeking fun and ways to bond as family. Here’s a few of the things we’ve been working on:
Our Family Website:
Here, we (well… I…) post stories of our trials and tribulations. From big to small, this gives me an outlet to process the struggles we face. I love writing but have the attention span of a gnat so blog length seems to be my thing.
Our T-Shirt Shop:
This is a family initiative that not only helps to fund our various therapies…counselling, therapeutic riding, naturopathic treatments… but also brings us closer together. One of the silly things that we’ve always done as a family is “make a t-shirt for that”. Every weird saying that comes out of our mouths gets the response of “put that on a shirt”.
It has been so fun to watch the boys design their own shirts and be delighted when theirs gets ordered.
I’m working on a FB shop as well, but if you’d be willing to share our store / website with friends, we’d love the support.
Dave’s YouTube Channel:
Or go to You Tube and type in David Wulkan
Dave has been working on a series called How to Read the Bible Good. He is passionate about bring scripture to people in a way that’s informative and uncomplicated. He’s also been praying through the Psalms.
Dave and I have also revisited our book idea after almost 2 years… yikes… but I guess we’ve been busy just trying to stay alive. There is a plan to get this written in 2022… feel free to hold us to this! My procrastinator husband could use the pressure.
Sooooo…. I think you’re mostly up to date. Days are hard… and wonderful. Months seem to fly by in a cloud of exhaustion but there are so many more glimpses of fun and relaxation.
And slowly, it feels like we are able to stand on our own a little bit more.
This reminds me of the image of a baby learning to walk, surrounded by the loving arms of a parent and being cheered on by the aunties and uncles and friends around them.
This is us. Standing. Walking. Being surrounded by love and supported by so many arms. Being cheered on by prayers and kind notes and cookies and hugs.
And for the love and support and cheering we are ever grateful. Like I said, there would not be a Wulkan family without you. Thank you.
Bex: Continued stable (and improved) health. Next CT scan is January.
Time and energy to do some book writing and life giving activities…including running.
Dave: Calm and peace with work… there’s a lot going on between Covid and denominational issues.
Eli: Gratitude for his job and moved out status.
Courage and strength to embrace adult-hood with all it’s challenges.
Discernment for the future.
Maddock: That he could find a part-time job. For his Paris trip to go ahead and without problems, especially Covid related.
Koen: For everything! This boy has struggled with his mental health and this affected every area of his life.
For upcoming tests and possible diagnosis.
For fun! This boy could use some pure life enjoyment.
Judah: That his anxiety attacks would decrease and he would feel more confidence in life.
Abbott: Gratitude that he’s doing really quite well… a sign of the growing stability in our family.
Merry Christmas All. Thank you for walking this journey with us.
To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Has Done.