Baby Sam’s Battle With Cancer, and Numbness In My Hand

Baby Sam (Sammi)

Baby Sam (Sammi)

Baby Sam, my niece, has had a battle with cancer since the day she was born. Sam (Samantha) was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. This means she has tumors in her eyes. Sam is my sister’s baby, and is the newest addition to our family.

In the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, which is where we all live, there has only been one case of this type of cancer in the last 25+ years; her father’s. Sam inherited retinoblastoma from him.

Baby Sam was only two days old when my sister took her to Toronto, to the hospital for SickKids, where she ended up spending a large portion of her life during her first few months.

Sam has tumors in both of her eyes. The doctors at this hospital are specialists, and have seen Baby Sam many times since she was born. Sam has already undergone a lot of treatment. She has had three different types, so far.

When she was under one month old, she underwent cryotherapy and laser therapy. When she was old enough, she had chemotherapy. My sister refused radiation treatments for Baby Sam, as she did not want Sam to suffer developmentally. There are pros and cons to all types of treatments, and it is often difficult to make the right decisions. I think my sister has made all the right ones, though, as Sam’s battle with cancer is, for the moment, under control. However, the cancer can grow at any time. This is scary, since we do not know when it is happening.

Sam gets treated regularly. In fact, Sam has to go to SickKids every month for check-ups and treatment until she is 6 years old. At least. These frequent trips are really tough on my sister. They are hard on Sam’s big brother, too, who is now four.  He has been to Toronto twice already, but usually stays with a family member when my sister travels with Sam. His dad works, so someone needs to babysit him! He likes to sleep over at Grandma’s house, and always brings his pillow and blanket set that are covered with Sesame Street characters, with Elmo being the largest one featured. He loves Elmo!

Sam’s treatments so far have consisted of three different kinds. Chemotherapy was hard on her, but was the most effective.  Cryotherapy and laser therapy  both have side effects, too, such as damage to the retina, which can lead to blind spots. Of course, having a few blind spots is better than losing both of her eyes! Sam’s dad only has one eye as a result of a late diagnosis of retinoblastoma. Basically, having retinoblastoma is a lose-lose situation. Our family cried for weeks when we found out Sam was afflicted with this disease.

We do not know how much vision Baby Sam has, since she is not old enough to tell us. She has one eye that is “good” and one that is “bad”, since most of the tumors in her “good” eye have been shrunk down to nothing. Her bad eye, however, has had way more treatment, and her vision in it has been affected. This we know already. Although Sam does not yet have language skills, she can still communicate. She laughs when she is happy and cries when she is not. When she was about four months old, my sister was advised to put a patch on Sam’s “good” eye to help strengthen the vision in her “bad” eye, and Sam had a fit. She hated the patch. We think that she cried so much because her vision was impaired, because she could not see. This is our theory. We won’t know to what extent Sam can see until she learns to talk. As of right now, she only says “Mum” or “MumMum”!

The good news is that we know that Sam can see a bit. We do not know how much vision she actually has, but Sam is able to recognize each member of our family, including everyone’s pets. She recognizes her toys, plays with them, and has a few favorites. Her attention is drawn to certain commercials on TV, images on the computer, and games her brother plays. She is an active, happy little girl whose face is usually filled with smiles. She is loved by all of us, and is adorable. Recently she learned to walk, indicating that she is developing at a rate comparable with “normal”, healthy children of the same age. She has also started to eat a bit of human food in addition to her baby food and bottles of formula. She is learning how to use her hands to transfer food to her mouth. In this respect she may be a bit behind in her development, but she is learning! My sister thinks she may be two months behind in her development due to being at the SickKids hospital for six weeks after she was born. Since each child develops at a different rate, it is hard to compare Sam to others her age due to the cancer she has. Sam is precious, and lovely, and a sight to behold. I refer to her as “gorgeous girl” and each time I do, I am rewarded with a wide smile!

Sam has had a few other health issues, too. She is going to Toronto again next week to get them all checked out. She has three appointments in one day: at 9:30 am, at 1:30 pm, and at 3:30 pm. My sister is very devoted to taking care of Baby Sam. I commend her for her devotion. It is not easy to travel and have to go to so many appointments within the space of just two days (they are scheduled to leave Tuesday and be back Wednesday night).

Baby Sam’s battle with cancer will be ongoing for the rest of her life. Having retinoblastoma affects her the most, but also affects the rest of the family. Her dad feels guilty for passing it on to her, and is dealing with these feelings. It affects my sister, as she is Sam’s mom and main constant, Sam’s lifeline. It affects the rest of us, too, in ways that are difficult to describe. However, we have learned in the past year that the best way to deal with it is day by day.

I could go on and on about this, but I am having my own health issues at the moment. My leg for some reason has been really sore this past week, and I am experiencing numbness in my right hand. I hope the two are not connected. I think the numbness is a result of too much time on the computer! I will be going to the doctor’s soon, I think, to get my hand checked out. I am worried. My pinkie finger has been numb for about four or five days, and now the numbness is moving to my ring finger. My whole hand feels weird.

My son, who is 23 today, has advised me to massage it, stretch it and then rest it. I would like to wish him a happy birthday and thank him for his advice. He is a private person, and does not want me talking about him, so I will stop. I just wanted to let him know, if he is reading this, that I think about him a lot. I just saw him two days ago, so I know he is well. It is hard to rest my hand when I am so addicted to my laptop! Resting it seems to be out of the question at the moment, although I am trying not to strain myself.

If anyone out there has experienced this type of numbness, I would like to know how to deal with it. Do you have any advice for me? I sure would appreciate it if you do. Just leave me a comment, please. Feel free to leave a comment about Baby Sam as well. I love comments!

If any of you have had experiences with the type of cancer Sam has, I would also like to hear from you, and maybe connect you with my sister. My sister is on Facebook, so connecting to her should not be too hard.

If anyone is reading this that has experienced numbness from using a computer mouse or from typing, I really want to hear from you. Don’t forget to comment!

Thanks for listening.

Lorraine.

Repetition Helps People Learn!

Ever since I can remember, I loved the three R’s: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

(Today the three R’s are: Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle.  My, how times have changed.)

I have recently started to blog, just to see if I could. I think it may help me cope with my personal situation.

I have written many poems, a few short stories, a bunch of other stuff, and a book. I love to write, and to create. It gives me pleasure, and helps to pass the time.

I also love to read. I have developed a preference for novels about detectives who solve crimes, and can generally be found reading a mystery by Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson, or James Patterson. These three writers are awesome! I also like the books written by (and under the name) V.C. Andrews. I have read nearly all of them.

I have always loved reading. My mom told me that when I was about one year old, I would lie on the couch with my bottle of milk in one hand, the TV Guide in the other. When I was two or three, I read the backs of shampoo bottles, cereal boxes, and anything else I could find that contained words or letters. To this day, I do not know the where my love for words originated.

I think my fascination with letters begot my fascination with numbers, as I like math (and I am not ashamed to admit it).  I used to watch children’s programs on television (we did not have computers and tablets and iPads and iPhones back in my day), and I know they helped shape my inquisitive mind.

Snuffy and Big Bird, best friends

(Image courtesy of muppet.wikia.com)

“Read-a-long” and “Sesame Street” were two of my favourite shows.  I also liked “Romper Room”, with Busy Bee, and “Mr. Dress-up”, with Casey and Finnegan. I was especially fond of “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Friendly Giant”, who used to rearrange miniature furniture around a fireplace at the end of each show.

Mr. Dress-up with Casey and dog, Finnegan

(Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

The Count

(Image courtesy of blogs.westword.com)

“Sesame Street” episodes were usually centered around two different letters and one or two specific numbers. “The Count”, with his pointy nose, black cape, and monocle, would count everything, and lightning would strike, and he would laugh his evil laugh! Grover, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird or Snuffleupagus (or some other character) would close the show by saying, “this episode has been brought to you by the letters ___ and ___ and the number ___”. (Some of you will remember this, I am sure.)

Seeing as how I can recall this almost forty years after the fact, they must have done something right! “Sesame Street” is still around, too!  My four-year-old nephew plays games on the internet that use many of the same characters from the show I used to watch. However, a few new ones, including monsters such as Elmo (first appearance as a baby in 1972), Telly (first appearance in 1979), and Zoe (first appearance in 1993) have been added to the “cast” as “Sesame Street” evolved.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic were the three R’s that were taught to children of all ages many moons ago.  They were the three R’s that I learned, introduced to me first through television, via “Sesame Street”.  This show truly made (and still makes) learning fun, and uses a lot of repetition.  Repetition enables learners to store information in their brains in their long-term memory.  I am living proof.

That is why, whenever you are learning something for the first time, you need a lot of repetition.   Children AND adults alike can benefit for a long time using this method.  Yes, your kids will drive you crazy when they are repeating something over and over again, and you may get annoyed with them, but think about what is really happening.  They are learning!

Adults should learn to operate in the same manner whenever they are trying to do something new.  Do it once, do it twice, do it a third time, do it under supervision, do it on your own, and then do it again! Whatever you are trying to do, keep doing it until you do it right!  Then do it again! Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It will eventually “stick” in your memory.

Repetition is key.  Just don’t learn the words to “This is a Song That Never Ends“.  You will go crazy. (How many of you already know the words? Raise your hands! Are you still sane?)

Ok, question time: Wasn’t it nice to recall a memory from your childhood as you read this post today? (I know some of this content triggered something…) Did you enjoy the pictures? (This is my first post with pictures in it.) Did you like anything about your reading experience today? 

Please take a moment out of your busy schedule to stop for a moment to leave me a comment, share a memory, or tell me something…. I appreciate it!

(If you haven’t yet noticed, I reply to all comments.)

Thanks!

The Irritating VisualBee (VB) Toolbar is Malware!

This article tells you, specifically, the best way to remove the VisualBee (VB) toolbar from your computer. It tells how I got it on mine, and how I successfully removed it. It also tells you how you can remove the toolbar that’s troubling you!

My story:

Recently I downloaded some malware accidentally.  I had been reading different articles on improving the performance of my laptop’s battery and came across a program that would count the number of cycles my battery went through and notify me when it was time to calibrate it.  (Boy oh boy, just listen to me, the non-technical person, sounding all technical!) Figuring it would be handy to have, I downloaded it.  It is called BatteryCare, and I got it from CNET.com.  

The first step:

Once I realized I had some possible malware on my computer, I went into my computer’s control panel, went into Programs and Features, found anything related to BatteryCare and VisualBee (VB) and uninstalled them.  Then I went to the recycle bin and emptied it.

I thought this would do the trick.  It didn’t.  My google chrome browser was hijacked by this malicious toolbar.  It would not let me do what I wanted.  Fortunately, I was able to open Internet Explorer and do a search on how to uninstall the VisualBee, or VB, toolbar.  I ended up at mybleepingcomputer, where I read the problems and testimonials of others who had experienced similar problems.  My solution was ultimately found here.

Although I did not trust anything at that point in time, and was extremely upset for having malware on mybaby (my new laptop’s name!), I had to do something.  Since several people vehemently claimed that adwcleaner removed this toolbar successfully, I had no choice BUT to trust them.  So I did.

My next step, which worked: 

I had to download adwcleaner in order to get rid of the VB toolbar.  When my computer asked me if I allowed THIS program to make changes to my computer, a big yellow exclamation point popped up and asked if I was sure when I said YES, even though I was not sure of anything anymore.  However, I gave it permission, and then followed the steps I was told to follow in the posts I read at mybleeping computer.com and I WAS SUCCESSFUL at removing this unwanted toolbar.

If you decide that you want to remove the VB toolbar, also known as the Babylon toolbar (it probably goes by other names, too) then I would advise going to the link I provided, which is mybleepingcomputer, and then scroll down about halfway until you see the #7 posting by boopme, which has the link for adwcleaner, as shown below, and then follow the specific instructions that boopme gives beneath this link. I guarantee that this will work, and is the best way to remove the VisualBee (VB) toolbar. It worked for me!!!

remove vb toolbar

What I did next: 

I then did some further research.  I found that most people who downloaded stuff from CNET.com  got the present of malware that I did.  My conclusion, therefore, is to not make the same mistake twice, and to NEVER DOWNLOAD ANYTHING FROM CNET ever again.

I am writing this to warn you not to go through the hassles I went through regarding this malware.  I have also posted warnings to my friends on Facebook.  I would like to shout out to the whole world that I hate CNET for causing me all this grief, and warn you to ALWAYS LOOK AT THE URLs  of the pages you visit when surfing the net.  Forewarned is definitely forearmed.

Until next time, happy surfing!