Friday, 15 February 2013


“Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.'
You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

I recently was fortunate enough to return to Ottawa for a visit. I had lived here for twenty years of my life. I  had grown up here in some ways even though I was twenty when I arrived. I met my birth parents, gained a large diverse family and learned how I wanted to live my life. It was here that I fell in love,  and had my heart broken. I became educated in more than just book smarts. Most importantly in Ottawa I was able to surround myself with incredible, smart, , funny women. I had left Newfoundland in 1984, with a solid base of wonderful girlfriends, they laid the foundation for what I knew I needed when I left to find my way. On this trip I knew I wanted to see some of the women who were so dear to me for so many years.  Alot had happened to me in the last year and it had been many years since I had seen many of  these women. Through the darkest times many of their voices had let me know that I mattered and that their hearts were with me. Its amazing to me the power we all have to impact the world around us if we chose to. More importantly to change the experience of someone by just letting them know you care. As I sat around the table with these women at a restaurant in Ottawa, I realised how completely blessed I was. I had not had contact with some of the women for several years and as we began chatting and laughing I observed that time is just that. That these women reflected everything I hold dear. They encompassed who I am. They taught me that evening, that you are who you surround yourself with. They brought out the best in me. They all love me for who I am. It doesn't matter that I am sometimes like the dog in the movie " UP" and distracted quite easily. " Bird"!!!!!... That I have  left and gone on with my life in another city. I knew they felt my pain of the last year and in their own ways had lifted me up to where I needed to be. There were several women who could not come that night but I knew it would of been the same feeling had they been there. Creating these life long relationships takes a alot of work, and shows me that what you put out there definitely comes back to you if you allow it to.

I have been back living in Newfoundland for six years. Many lifelong friends still here when I had returned. They embraced me back into the fold when I returned to live here again. This last year they became the backbone of my recovery. They were the ones who stepped in when family did not know how to or could not help. They just did it. What ever it was that was needed. My circle of strong wonderful women has continually expanded in my time back home. Each one bringing something to my life that compliments beautifully and how I want to live it . Showing me courage in their own struggles, and grace under pressure in trying times.
I know that all these people are a direct reflection of who I am. They teach me about who I want to be when I eventually grow up. They make me laugh, they make me cry. They make me smarter and they definitely make my life richer.
So when you see me and marvel at how well I am doing, just look around me and it won't take you long to figure out how you tell cancer to take a hike.
 Be surrounded!

Here are just a a look at some of the women who surround me...

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

Thursday, 14 February 2013


"When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse"
Fix You by Coldplay

I can hear John Mayer singing " Your body is a wonderland". That my friends is a understatement. I have come to accept that everyday can bring something new. I thought nothing could upset me anymore, which  is why I was taken aback when I realised a couple of weeks ago that my eyelashes were falling out again. It seemed to really upset me. I was having flashbacks of losing my eyelashes just after my last round of chemo. How I carefully applied my mascara to the one remaining hair left on my lower lashes. At that time I knew they might fall out and although sad I worked through it pretty fast. This time I went around telling everyone. I was so pissed. I try so hard not to sound petty with the things happening to me, cause you know it could always be worse. I should be thankful and I am but sometimes I get tired and just want to sit and feel sorry for myself. Lashes will grow back right? I got some stubbies happening now. I got three new mascara's trying to create the illusion of eyelashes. I knew this  upheaval of emotion  that was happening to me needed some reflection.

I have been taking my tamoxifen religiously like a good little cancer patient. Now there is a drug for ya! My joints continue to hurt and my hands seem to be losing their dexterity. I can't seem to grasp things like before. Its weird. I have trouble pulling the blankets up in the morning. Now this drug is interfering with my morning roll over. Not good. I do however suck it up and move on daily. I had as well started the clinical trial as I have shared and the drug came with its own bag of tricks. Mostly giving me nausea and enough gas to run a generator. At a time where being sexy is a fleeting thing, feeling like an Esso station doesn't help. When I think about things I know I have been trying to cope with all this. I think losing my eyelashes again was just another kick in the arse I didn't need. Now that I  figured out why it pissed me off, I am over it. I am not sure my eyelashes are going to come back like they were before as the hair on my legs and under my arms is not growing the same. The hair on my head of course is defiant and as thick as carpet. Although I get lots of compliments on my cropped look, I am not a fan. I need a tube of brill cream to tame it down these days. I do however love the compliments.

I had to make a decision this last week that was hard. I had been pumped to be on this clinical trial.  It would mean I would be followed by the cancer clinic and get to take advantage of the drug. What I have learned however is how it is making me feel. I am feeling sick and generally miserable at times. I have managed for two months to cope but with much reflection and consultation I have chosen to take a four week break to see how I feel. I know in my heart that if I feel better after four weeks, I won't go back to taking the pills. I felt like I had failed myself somehow at first. I did this so that if I was lucky enough to be on the drug I might benefit somehow from it. I sit here now thinking its just not worth it. I am surprised to be feeling like this, but at this point quality wins over quantity. I feel good about my decision. I will figure out other ways to help me live to be an old woman.

At almost a year since my diagnosis I realize that this journey I am on changes constantly and that figuring out one day at a time is my gift to myself.

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
Fix you by Coldplay