Carpe Diem! (about this blog)

With my amazing munchkins, Tyler 12 & Kayla 15

Shine on Kayla & Shannon (SOKS)

On Sept 11, 2000 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer…I not only survived but created an incredibly beautiful life for myself & my young family.  So it was with shock & sadness that 12 years later on the same date I discovered that ‘the beast’ has returned in both my lungs and my bones.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.  Shortly after my diagnosis, my beautiful daughter  Kayla – only 15, was found to have multiple tumors in her brain and proceeded to have SIX brain surgeries over the next 6 months.

The Carpe Diem! blog is my way of sharing our journey with amazing friends, family & supporters.  [Read more...]

Kayla takes on El Savador…. Again!

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.42.03 PM

Me playing with some beautiful local children.

Hi everyone, Kayla here. Its been about a year since I went to El Salvador on an incredible give-back trip.  I loved it so much, I’m going back again and need your support (donation details at the bottom)

I honestly can’t describe how amazing it was to see the joy on peoples faces as they watch their houses being built with the help of their neighbors and our small group of teens. We built SIX  houses despite the sweltering heat [Read more...]

Cancer can be a Scrooge!

Embracing Scrooge...with my dear friend & photographer, Marie Snippa

Embracing Scrooge…with my dear friend & amazing photographer, Marie Snippa

My dear friend, Cindy, was checking in on me after a particularly challenging week with pain management and radiation side effects.  “Cancer can be such a Scrooge”, she compassionately pointed out.

Every day that I sat at the Tom Baker Cancer Center (TBCC) getting my radiation treatment (RT), I looked around and I saw it there, too.
So many sad faces.
So much pain.
A loss of hope.
No joy during a season that is meant to be so joyful.
Yes, cancer can be a Scrooge!

Yesterday was my 5th Radiation Graduation. Yes, I’ve done RT FIVE times. With all my appts, tests, chemo, RT etc, it’s no wonder I’m beginning to feel like TBCC is my second home :(

My Radiologist pointed out that my treatments are a bit like Whack-a-Mole[Read more...]

Embracing Winter

My first "Disabled Placard"

My first “Disabled Placard”

Embracing Winter

Friday morning I was given a “Disabled Placard”….sigh….

My ego has fought this day for a long time – I think deep in my psyche it is a symbol of things I do not wish to accept.  However, as I sat in my oncologist’s office – I knew it was time.   The stack of scans & doctor reports in front of me documented the rapid progression of my disease and quickly put everything in check.

The situation…My lung cancer – the primary invader, is quite stable…good news!  However, the metastatic bone cancer is now in my spine, ribs & sacrum. Very large tumors on my spinal column are creating sharp nerve pain in both my shoulder & hip.  And now a new 8X6X8 cm tumor on my ovary creates a whole new set of potential issues. [Read more...]

A broken wrist & giving back…

Tyler's broken arm

Tyler’s broken wrist :(

Today we spent the morning at Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH)…again.  But today was different in that we were there for Tyler.  After a snowboarding accident on the weekend, we found our very active young man had broken his wrist… this will sure make his busy hockey & basketball schedule challenging :(

Once again we received the utmost in care at ACH and as I sat there I realized I need to update you on some of the things we’re up to.

Our family is very proud to support the following three truly wonderful events: [Read more...]

A few words from Kayla…

Kayla sharing her story to over 800 at the KCC Dad Daughter Gala

Kayla sharing her story to over 800 people
at the KCC Dad Daughter Gala

Hello everyone, Kayla here….

This March during my Spring Break, I will be traveling with Kids Cancer Care to El Salvador to build homes for those less fortunate. 

I have been very active working with Kids Cancer Care over the past year after I experienced first hand what an incredible organization they are for kids & their families living with cancer. [Read more...]

Bustin’ outta here!

Once again Kayla astounds as she leaves the hospital only 2 days after brain surgery #6!  Rockstar status secured :)

Shannon Duke, Kayla Schewe leaving Alberta Children's Hospital

Kayla lookin’ good & leaving only 2 days after surgery #6.
Note: ACH famous Moooovin’ Out Cow cheering us on.

She is doing really well and it’s SO great to be home.  We were discharged shortly after lunch and even though we arrived home early, soon after walking thru the doors we were both nestled all snug in our beds, while visions of Maui danced in our heads.

Aaah yes, that is our Christmas gift….when Kayla’s surgery was set last fall and her surgeon gave a time frame for post-surgical travel, I booked flights for Kayla, Tyler & I to leave December 23 to Maui.  My best friend from high school, Dawn, lives there. (ASIDE: who was the smart one….I moved to Calgary & she moved to Hawaii?….seriously, Shannon, what were you thinking?!!)

We are SO excited to be spending Christmas holidays with Dawn’s beautiful family & as our kids are all close to the same age, it’s super fun for everyone!  My sis & her husband are flying over on Dec 26, as well as a couple other sets of friends so there will be lots of fun to be had on the beaches.  Kayla the adventurer wants to do paragliding, surfing, scuba diving etc – we’ll see what she actually gets approved for next week at our followup appointment. :) [Read more...]

…and heavenly angels sing…

Kayla's angel tree

I sit here writing from my wee bed in Kayla’s room at ACH, surrounded by the steady click of her vital machines & the night sounds unique to a hospital ward.  Once again, shining softly by our beds is her beautiful little Christmas tree, sparkling with angels that people are sending her (and one star….to further anchor her RockStar status! :).  The nurses often comment when they walk in at how warm & loving her room feels.

I’m thrilled to report that Kayla’s surgery went brilliantly today. After ~ 2.5 hour surgery, some morphine in post-op to combat the pain, she skipped ICU all together and is now resting comfortably in Unit 3 of the ACH.

She has battled nausea/vomiting much of the day but all things considered she is doing so well.  Her new prothetic skull [Read more...]

Christmas Deja Vu…Surgery #6 Tuesday 11

Shannon Duke, Kayla Schewe & Tyler Schewe

Family Love! ❤

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as we have TONS of snow & Calgary drops to -40 temperatures (apparently one day we were tied for the coldest place on earth along with some frozen wasteland in Antarctica).  It’s really beautiful….as long as you don’t have to go outside or drive on the roads!  Brrrrr….

As we prepare for the Christmas season, once again we are also preparing for Kayla to go in for another brain surgery…..that’s SIX in one year folks!  [Read more...]

Carpe Diem Ink!

Tattoo goddesses ♥ -  Carol (the instigator), me & Carolina with tattoo artist, Steve.

Tattoo goddesses ♥ – Carol (the instigator), me & Carolina with tattoo artist, Steve.

Carpe Diem has long been my mantra and I am continually looking for ways to live that out.  However, I never considered permanently imprinting it on my body until my dear friend Carol told me she wanted to get a Carpe Diem tattoo in honor of our journey.  I couldn’t possibly let her do this alone and immediately jumped on the bandwagon – “I’m in!”.

In true ripple effect, a mini-movement began and Carpe Diem ink is happening from Maui to Phoenix, from Tofino to Toronto.  So fun! [Read more...]

Radiation Blues meet Summer Lovin’

It’s been a while.  I made a conscious decision to take a technology hiatus this summer (no blogs or facebook updates) however, I realize it left some people wondering.    Thx for your patience – I really needed to check out and savour our summer vacation.

What a zoo!  Some of my RT drive team surprise me on my 'graduation' day.

What a zoo! Some of my RT drivers surprise me in animal print regalia on my ‘grad’ day. Yes, that is a Chicken Purse :)

My 2 weeks of daily radiation (RT) went well – I loved my team.  In a warped way, I decided to think of it like going to a mini-spa everyday. Why not – I was greeted warmly, wrapped in toasty blankets and sent off for a wee nap in a very intense ‘tanning booth’. :)

Plus I wasn’t allowed to drive so I was able to spend everyday on a date with a different fabulous friend.  We had a lot of fun with it all, sharing laughs, meeting other wonderful patients and carrying on with the weekly dress-up tradition from Kayla’s RT experience. [Read more...]