One Year, Cancer-Free!

This post is dedicated to Emma Smith, who is a brave young lady diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour nearly a year ago. She goes to one of the schools I work at in Victoria, and the way that she and her family and friends have taken on this challenge has been a constant source of inspiration for me. Emma is so strong, and one day, she too will be able to say "one year, cancer-free."

GO TEAM EMMA!!!
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I am here to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that I have been cancer-free for one year. Four more to go until I can officially say that I am "cured," whatever that means! 
I was supposed to go see my oncologist for a check up for the first time since April, but the appointment ended up falling on my first day of teaching for the fall so I had to phone and reschedule. Unfortunately, the receptionist said the next time they could get me into the Cancer Agency was November, which was a little worrisome. After all, I was supposed to have check-ups every three months for the first year of remission, and I had only been twice... total! Dr. Yee phoned me back the following day, however, and our conversation went something like this:
Dr. Yee: Hi Chris! I got a message that we had to reschedule for November. How are you doing?
Me: I'm doing great! How are you?
Dr. Yee: Fine thanks. So everything is good? Nothing has changed with your health since April?
Me: Well I think my biceps got a little bigger 'cause I've been working out lots...
Dr. Yee: You have lots of energy! Well I am not worried about you, so November will work fine. If you notice anything change with your health before then, make sure you call me and we will get you in here right away.
Me: Sounds good, doc. Have a great day!
Dr. Yee: Thanks. You too, Chris. See you later.
After I hung up I realized that I had forgotten to ask him about my memory. The only thing that has been bothering me a little bit this year seems to be residual brain-mush from the chemotherapy. It isn't bad enough that I wanted to phone him back right away, but my memory has definitely not returned to normal. I find that I am often having mind-blanks on really simple things, mostly just random words or names. I am also sometimes having difficulty multitasking, comprehending things I've just read, and focusing on the thread of a conversation. You know how it feels when you've just woken up in the morning, and you're not quite "all there" yet? It's kind of like that, and is exacerbated when I'm tired. 
Perhaps if I do some sudoku and word games I can help myself. 
When I described this to my parents in more detail, my dad's response was "that sounds like me when I turned fifty!" All joking aside though; if my brain is still like this in November, I will definitely need to talk to Dr. Yee about it. When I did a quick search on Google, I learned that longterm "chemo brain" is a problem that does indeed affect some people, and that the solution is often referral to a neuropsychologist for assessment and treatment. That sounds a bit overly dramatic when I write it, like I am dealing with some major cognitive problems, but I also don't want to understate what I've noticed over the last year: My brain hasn't quite returned to normal and it sometimes bothers me.
Anyways, that's about all I can muster for a cancer-related post! Most of you reading this probably already know about all my other important life-updates -- from my incessant Facebook postings -- but for the rest of you I would love to quickly share what else I've been up to since my last post back in April.
  • I got a five week (full time) contract in May and June, teaching music at an elementary school here in Langford. This was perfect timing at the end of the school year because it meant that I got a bit of seniority, as well as being bumped up a hiring category when applying for Fall jobs. Not that I was expecting to get a contract for the Fall, being a lowly first-year-after-graduating-teacher-on-call and all.
  • I applied for a bunch of jobs and ended up getting a .573 contract (three days a week) teaching music at an elementary school in Sooke for the entire 2013/14 school year! It's been great so far, because they hadn't had a music teacher for at least 10 years prior to me, which means that I am essentially building the music program from scratch... which is also kind of scary!
  • Kaitlin and I got married in July. She's the love of my life, and our wedding was PERFECT in every possible way. Nothing beats being celebrated by 120 of your closest friends and family members! We took off to Maui for 10 days following our wedding, and I want to move there now. I have included some photos at the end of this post, and you can check out the rest here (wedding) and here (honeymoon) if you have nothing better to do!
  • We went to Vancouver at the end of August to my sister's wedding. Talk about a busy summer for the Poynter family, eh? It was so much fun because they had a live band, and Kaitlin and I absolutely tore up the dance floor at the reception! Congratulations, Jean and Cory! 

Okay, that's all. This is the weakest blog post conclusion ever, but it's time to go for a bike ride with my new helmet. I'll blog to ya again in November!
Best,Christopher

Just Married!!!
Just Maui'd!!!Christopher, Jean, and Jeffrey Poynter, at Jean & Cory's wedding!

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