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Meet Lorna

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This month, we're pleased to introduce you to Lorna- better known on our community as MedHatLorna. You may have read Lorna's caring responses on here, and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her a little bit more. Here's more about Lorna in her own words. 

Hello.  My name is Lorna Scott and I’m humbled and honoured to share my caregiver story with you.
 
Why I Joined This Community:
I initially joined the Cancer Connection community as a way to get support while I was a caregiver for my husband, Callum.  I was inspired to come back to the community now so that I pay it forward by helping others.  I have found it to be a very engaging, caring, compassionate and respectful place to be.
 
About Me, Us and Cancer:
I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba and started dating Callum in high school.  We raised our family, a daughter and a son, there before taking the leap and moving to Alberta in 2001.  Callum’s career in the newspaper industry was on the rise and over the next 10 years we lived in Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Saskatoon, and, once again, Medicine Hat.  Each move brought with it excitement about a new city, new job, and new opportunities. We had been young parents and worked hard over 20 years for everything we had.  We were just starting to relish in the fruits of our labour.  Future possibilities were endless.
 

Cal fishing
 

Then it happened.  September 30, 2005.  After his first appointment with a specialist, which I thought would only lead to more testing before getting any diagnosis of any kind, Callum, 44 years old, walked through the door of our apartment and said “I have cancer.”  Saying we were stunned and shocked would be an understatement. It took my brain 2 full hours to comprehend the full impact of what he said, and the uncertainty our lives now held.
 
Callum was diagnosed with Stage 3C rectal cancer.   His initial treatment was 5 weeks of pre-surgery radiation and chemotherapy, surgery, and 4 months of  post-surgical chemotherapy.  We were hopeful for nearly 2 years that he would be 100% cured even though it looked like the cancer may have metastasized to one lung. The oncologists were encouraging, saying that once surgery was done there would still be hope. Sadly, this was not the case. 
 

Callum with Nana Campbell and Fiona

 
In April of 2008, we found out the cancer had metastasized to both lungs and no cure was in the cards for him.  Over the next 3 months, there were metastases in the brain and he developed a large and severe blood clot from his PICC line.  He had Gamma Knife radiation in Aug/08 and scheduled whole brain radiation for later that fall. By September 2008, he was facing, at best, a few months left to live.  So they told us. 
 

Family pic in the hospital

 
About Being a Caregiver:
While Callum was busy dealing with the cancer physically and emotionally, I struggled with figuring out how best to support him as his caregiver.  I didn’t even think of myself as a caregiver!  Most spouses/parents/children/siblings of cancer patients don’t consider themselves caregivers.  They just find a way to do whatever needs to be done.  For example, I had to reschedule one dental appointment 3 times over about 9 months, because of medical appointments or tests for Callum.  I never worried about me.  How could a regular dental check up compare to medical appointments for him?  I’ll tell you how.  I didn’t continue with my regular checkups and ended up with a locked jaw and 4 cracked teeth, one of which needed a root canal.  The tooth pain and almost $2000 in dental bills told me that caring for myself was important – even when it seemed it wasn’t.  Cancer can be seen on x-rays, CT’s and MRI’s.  A caregiver’s stress is often invisible until it shows up and becomes a serious health concern. 
 
The pivotal point in my caregiving experience happened when I was feeling lost and scared I was losing myself in this big quagmire of cancer treatment and palliative care world.  In 2008 I came across something called The Passion Test®, and found out that the only way I was losing myself was resisting my natural tendency to jump into caregiving with both feet.  The #1 most important thing to me at that time was caregiving for Callum.  I embraced my role – and even more important, Callum lovingly let me embrace my role – and over the next 2 ½ plus years we lived and enjoyed life.  Of course, this was in between the many treatments, diagnostic testing, additional metastases, one near death experience from septic infection, and all the side effects and illness that came with the territory.
 

Callum in Porsche


Jamie and Callum in golf tourney
 

I supported Callum through every test, treatment and doctor appointment.  I kept track of test results and provided diligent (some might call it harassment, but it was Callum’s health I was worried about!)  follow-up calls for test results and checking out any changes in his health to see if they required a doctor’s visit. 
 
I supported Callum in living his life.  Family is important to both of us, and one highlight was taking our children to Scotland to meet his 93 year old grandmother, and the rest of the “Scotland” family.  We saw U2 and AC/DC live in concert.  We made many, many memories with good friends and family.  Whether it was 8 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, or 3 am in the middle of the night – I was there with him. 
 

Jamie, Callum, and I at the U2 concert


Callum and Cade on Skype
 

How I Coped:
Writing was the main thing I did to cope.  It came in various ways and with different goals.
 
Not long after Callum was first diagnosed I started an email update list to keep family and friends up to date.  I was getting exhausted telling the story over and over.  The 2 years between the initial diagnosis and the start of treatment of metastases was fairly uneventful and I learned to keep my worry to a minimum. My goal was to not think about cancer except when we were going to the appointments. 
 
After we found out the metastases were no longer curable, I started a blog: www.calupdate.blogspot.com   It helped me deal with my feelings and I used it for the emotional release.  I wrote regularly for 3 years.  The comments and feedback I got from it inspired me to write a book: Walking the Journey Together Alone … Finding Peace, Hope, and Joy in the Middle of the Sh**, which was published in March 2014.  I’m proud to say it became an Amazon best seller on April 14, 2014.
 

 
The rest of my life is now filled with spending time with my family, including 2 adorable grandsons, playing flute in a community band, golfing in the summer, and building my coaching and training business.  I have stayed active supporting and advocating for caregivers by participating on the Caregiver Coalition of Southeast Alberta; as a member of the Caregiver Advisory Council for the national project: Mobilizing Action: Family Caregivers in Canada, and through various training and speaking opportunities.
 

National Caregiver Week

 
Words of Wisdom
Two pieces of wisdom shared with me that I share with others:
 
  1. Remember to breathe.  If you haven’t yet experienced why this is important to tell yourself, you will one day.  You may have to remind yourself more than once.
  2. A quote:  "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, "I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Radmacher

Callum and Cade, Team Canada

 
What Superhero power would I want?
 
I would love to have the superhero power of going back in time.  One practical reason is to replay the doctor visits to confirm what the doctor said. The personal reason is to go back to the happy moments and replay them, so I could see, hear, smell and touch Callum again. Even for a few minutes.
 
     
Vanessa and her Dad on her wedding day


 

Family Portrait

 
May you find peace, hope, and joy in every day.
 
 
 
 
 




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