Monday, December 31, 2012

2013...Another year of life!!!!!

Well made it through Christmas and I have to admit although I was not looking forward to turned out quite nice.   It was quiet, but joyful and that is what is important.   I was healthy. I had my daughter here, my friends close by and even got some really super gifts.    Have absolutely nothing to complain about but I have to admit....not calling Mom on Christmas Day was different.   I did speak with her (and Dad) but was able to do so without the use of technology......heart to heart!

So, now I sit and await the New Year....only hours away.   Assuming I will make it unless there is some terrible traumatic event before midnight.   2013, a year that I thought in many ways would have come and gone without me.  Just proves that one never knows how much time we have on this earth, so we better not waste it worrying that we might die.   I think a lot of people spend their lives like that, even healthy people.   Afraid to do this or that because something might happen.   I know the feeling, I am human and worry too, but I decided many years ago to turn that thinking around.  Instead of worrying about what might happen, I say what if it doesn't happen. 

I find that we always seem to focus on the actual things that have happened and not so much on the things that could've but didn't.   How many times in the past week or so, did an accident not happened.  Phew, that was close!....   How many times in the recent past did you almost fall but didn't....Phew!
How many times do we know of someone who was really sick and should have died but didn't.....for me I know one especially close individual in my life.....ME.   I think it is time that we make a decision when we find ourselves worrying about all the bad things that might happen if we do something, we instead think of all the good things that might happen when we do it.    Or, what about the whole myriad of things that could happen if we chose NOT to do something.

 Lately I have been reminded of the anxiety that I felt shortly after diagnoses.   I was anxious about everything.    I was scared of everything.   I was so terrified of dying that I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch life go was much too dangerous to actually go out and live it because.....OMG I might die.    I am not laughing when I say this....many people suffered from anxiety and it keeps them from actually living.   It took me a long time to admit that this was happening and to seek help after I had cancer.   When I finally did, I found out that over 40% of cancer patients suffer severe anxiety attacks and panic attacks after diagnoses.   No one told me this before hand.....might have helped but then again denial runs deep  within my veins so it might not have either.

Moral of the story, if you are anxious about life, seek help.    Their are drugs, psychologists, GP's, and even other counsellors that can help you though it.   Recently, I found myself going down that same path but today I know that I don't have to.    I have my own coping mechanisms, and so I put them in place and work at moving out of myself and living life.     Today, I put my hiking boots on and went for a nice long walk....ended up having to buy new boots b/c 10 minutes out I had a blister.   It was a great excuse to turn around and go back inside, but I knew that wasn't the answer.   I went and bought new boots and continued my trek.    Hopefully, I will keep this up and walking will  again be a big part of my life.   I love to walk, but I haven't been doing it........

Life isn't easy, it isn't even simple sometimes but it is important enough to put all our energies into living it for whatever time we this year, 2013, I will continue to live my life even though 11 years ago I thought I didn't have one to live.....who would have guessed???? Glad I didn't sit around doing nothing these past eleven years.....boy that would have made for a very long and boring life.    So here's to 2013, to whatever it brings, as long as I am on this side of the sun, I will live, live, live.....God bless to everyone and may the blessings of the New Year be more than you ever imagined!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Two sleeps to go and Santa, I mean Jesus, will be here.   Not trying to be irreverent just a little silly.

Haven't felt much like writing this week with all the sadness on the news.   Seems to have found a soft spot in my own soul so have been keeping it low and just knitting gifts for Christmas, and holding my blessings (read daughter) close as there will be many this year who's child will not be with them.

Who would have thought eleven years ago that I would be celebrating Christmas 2012!!!!   I have nothing but thankfulness in my heart that I may still wrap presents, shop for turkey, and even shovel the walk.   I look at my little shitzu, who is also eleven and remember that I got her for my daughter so she wouldn't be too lonely when I was gone.   Now, we both sit in front of the fireplace, trying to keep our old bones warm and just relax.      She having aged in many ways much faster than me of course.

Well, I will wish everyone a very Blessed Christmas with family and/or friends.   For those who are facing a difficult time this year, remember you are not alone.   It is times like these that we are given a chance to reflect on all the other Christmas' and maybe make some slight changes in our lives so that the ones we are able to celebrate might be a bit more memorable.  I remember many of my childhood Christmas' and have to smile at how long ago they were.   In my mind they seem like just yesterday.  

Merry Christmas to all........and to all a good night!!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's the Point?.... (Part II)

So to continue the saga of What's the Point .....

Well, I made the decision that it was appropriate now that the tree was up to decorate it.    It wasn't as easy a task as it normally is.     Having to go through the various decoration, many which had been given to me by my mother over the years was stressful.   I could feel the tension in my shoulders and back as I would reach for different bobbles and place them on the tree.    It was a bit of a struggle  but in the end I was happy with the result......

So this little corner of my house looks very festive.   I did also make a decision that this was all that I would do....based on energy levels I had to realize that accepting my limitations is also a choice!!!!!

Christmas is a time to reflect.   It is not necessarily an easy time because often it brings to mind, people, events, memories that are hard to think about, but ultimately it is a time to look at our lives and count the blessings.    Not something we do very often in our society.   We tend to be looking more at what we don't have, or what we can't have, rather than all the things, people, gifts that we already have.    After this past week, with the tragedy that unfolded in Newtown, CT....I think just thanking God that my daughter is safe, has been able to grown up, is in itself my greatest blessing.

I wasn't going to write about this event but I have to make one comment.   I have cancer, and I have an incredible support system in place both personally and medically in order that I can deal with this disease.   There is no stigma attached to my disease.    I cannot say the same for all those millions of people who suffer from mental illness.    Although there are people, and places that are willing to help people with mental illness, it is such a stigma in our society that many will never get the help they need.   I believe that this young man suffered from mental illness.   It does not dismiss, or trivialize the terrible acts that he did, but we must realize that he is not the Evil people talk about.   The evil  is the disease, just as cancer is evil.   This makes it much harder to just pontificate about forces us to stop, and look, and then commit ourselves to finding an answer......otherwise we just ignore it till it happens,   Again.   So I  pray for this young man's soul, that God will forgive him, I pray for his father who is grieving the loss of both his son and his wife.   I also pray for all in Newtown that they will find the strength to heal, which at this point as a parent I can't even imagine how one does that!!!!!!

So, as we come to the Season of Joy, let us hug our loved ones a little tighter, smile at the stranger on the street, and give thanks for everything we already have.     May this season bless everyone with joy, love, and compassion.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's the point?

Lately, I have a real theme in my life....choices.   It seems that every time I turn around the last little while I have been talking about choices and how our whole life is essentially made up of them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, we do is not a choice.    From getting up in the morning, to eating, to loving or liking someone, everything we do is a choice.   It may not necessarily seem that way but we are always choosing between one thing or another.   We choose what we do with what we feel not necessarily the feelings.    But doing something can change the feelings for good or for bad.   If we are nice to people we feel calm, peaceful, if we are nasty we feel unsettled, doing and feeling have a correlation.

That does not mean that these choices are easy.   Some are, like eating.....I never have a problem with choosing to eat...I love to eat and many times I eat things I know I should CHOOSE not to about you?   Yea figured as much!   There are others that aren't as simple though but by making the 'right' choice our life will be much happier, more peaceful, ultimately more joyful.

An example in point is how we look at the Christmas season.   Whatever your particular religion or philosophy, this is a time of year that we can choose to be joyful and least for a few weeks.   I haven't really felt that joyful the past few months and Christmas has been looming ahead of me.    Some of  how I am feeling is physical, which always gets my 'spidey' senses up and I do begin to wonder what is really going on.   Well next week is my doctor's appointment so we will deal with those things then.    The other is a sense of 'what's the point'??????   We all know that feeling.

For instance, do I put up a tree this year?   What's the point, I live on my own so no one is going to see it most of the time?   Well, the point is that without the tree I will be able to avoid recognizing that it is Christmas time.   So, I force myself to put the tree up.    Then the creche comes out and I assemble that.   While doing this I feel myself remembering some nice memories.   So the tree is up, not yet decorated, the manger is under the tree awaiting Jesus' birth for the 2012 time approximately.   The fireplace is on and I sit in front of it and knit.     It was glorious!!!!

Will I choose to do anymore?   Who knows, but I do know that whatever I choose to do will determine how I feel about myself.   So ....What's the point?......the point is how do you WANT to feel not how DO you feel.    If you want to feel differently then you have to do something different.
Sounds easy.....not really it might take a lot of energy and force.....but either way you are going to expend that energy so it may as well be in a positive way......DO IT and see what happens!!!!

Off to my chair, my knitting, my undecorated but lighted Christmas tree, my cats and dog sleeping beside and underneath the tree......who couldn't feel just a little bit of the Joy of the Season!!!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Miracles in the moments of your life......

OMG.....look at that a middle aged woman using Y generation language to express excitement....but I digress.   The most amazing thing happened today.   It is moments like this that I realize how blessed I am to live in the moment of my life and not get wrapped up in all the busyness of the world.   As I have said many times before, cancer is NOT a blessing, no way no how .....but there are blessings in my life because I have been taken to the abyss and know that I must live every moment that I have in order to make my life worthwhile.   Well today again proved my point.......

Sitting having coffee, quietly watching the world go by I saw the most amazing thing.    All of a sudden right past my kitchen window flies a very large bird.....I know instinctively that it is a baby hawk.    I have a huge walnut tree in my backyard and just know that he/she has landed in it.   I run to the back door, in pajamas and bare feet and look out and up and   There she is!    But she sounds sad.   She is making the most woeful (is that a word) sound.    Maybe she's looking for her mother?
 I go outside and look up and she is just sitting in the tree making this noise.   That is when the most incredible thing happens.....a little black squirrel climbs up the tree toward her.   I am a little concerned because I think that 'oh no, she's going to eat her'....not the squirrel the hawk you know what I mean....but no the squirrel goes right up beside her and just looks at her.   I think she heard that sad sound too and was going to see what was the matter.    They just looked at each other for a minute and then the hawk moved to a higher branch and sat again.   And again the squirrel began to climb....then she flew off.  I just stood there thinking this is beautiful....I have been so blessed to be a part of this moment which on many levels is so simple but so profound.

I didn't get a picture, because I have realized that running into the house to grab my camera is NOT living in the moment.   You not only don't get a picture but you end up missing the whole thing.    So I have the picture in my head, the memory in my heart, to relive anytime I want .

Thank you God for allowing me to recognize that we only see miracles when we live in the moment....each moment has its own story so live there and allow yourself to write your own blessed scriptures of your unique and special life.      Thank you hawk and squirrel I am smiling because of you today......

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reminders of the chemo days......

Well in many ways I have said there are good days and there are bad days....and that is life.   Cancer patients (I hate the word survivor, it has too many violent connotations) know this fact very well.   That is even so whether you are in the midst of treatments or you are finished and months away from them.   The lingering, often permanent effects of putting toxins/poisons into your system, have a way of rebounding back at random times.  

Well last night was one of those times.   I had the worst sleep, awful pain, and terrible dreams.    The three seem to go together on my bad nights.    I am not sure  whether the pain brings on the dreams or the dreams bring on the pain.    The one thing I know is that the pain enters the dreams which makes it even worse.

So, today will be a rough day.   I am tired, miserable and I have been in a wrestling match all night and didn't win!!!!!!   It becomes obvious on days like this that the forms of drugs etc that we use to treat cancer are hard on the body .    I mean they effect your nervous system, your muscular system and even your skeletal system.    The pain is constant, not throbbing, and it moves throughout the body not just focusing  on one place.   Its like having the flu but 10 times worse.   Even trying to move in the night to reposition yourself can be at times wonder if you really want to do it even though it might make you feel better.   I don't usually complain like this but last night reminded me of the days of chemo.   No one tells you at the time that these effects are not temporary and there will be moments when you will be completely reminded of those times when you lay in bed for days on end.    I will tell you, the second time they wanted to do chemo I had a very hard time agreeing to it...knowing what it would entail was worse than the not knowing.   Initially, I told the doctor that I wasn't going to do any chemo and he just nodded and said 'it's up to you'.   Then he suggested we try one round and see.....which we did.  He knows me well, my good and my bad, and he knows that ultimately I have to believe that whatever I do is my idea (a bit of a control freak) Then he suggested a second which I again protested....but in the end I did all six AGAIN because I decided to!!!!!.....and I am grateful don't get me wrong.   I mean I am still here to complain and bitch about it.     The thing is I remember thinking....Is it really worth it at the time.   It is nights like last night that make me wonder if it really was.

Well, I have complained enough.  That was my little pity party and for a change I invited anyone reading this to join me...not a usual affair so consider yourselves special :)

Another day and more life to live even if I would rather be sleeping today......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


In earlier posts I mentioned my affinity to mountain climbing.   Now, I must reiterate, I am an armchair mountain climber, preferring to read about it rather than actually attempt to climb any rock and stone mountains.   I believe though that mountain climbing is a great analogy to one's life.
At least to mine.

I had the pleasure recently, of actually meeting someone who has mountain climbed and who besides other mountains has summited Everest.   I was excited to meet them if only to realize that they are flesh and blood like me, not that I imagined them to be anything other, and to talk about the why's behind that kind of sport......extreme sport.    Interestingly, the one comment that resonated with me the most was that "it isn't the summitting that defines who you are as much as the ability to turn away from it when the time comes".....something that I believed all along but found very few actually could do.    The strength of a person is more about knowing ones limitations than pushing them to the point of possible no return.   The reason we do things in our lives, or struggle through, is not so that we can die a hero, but mainly to survive the experience and perhaps know ourselves better.

We all have our own Everests.....some are not of our own making...which I believe are the hardest climbs of all.  When I was il,l I found that I was drawn to this sport almost to an obsessive degree.  I read everything I could get my hands on to learn more about it.   I was interested in the climbing, but I was also fascinated by the people who would choose to do this even though they didn't have to.   I think I  was angry that someone would put themselves in danger, life threatening danger, when there was no need.    Having to fight literally tooth and nail to stay alive, I couldn't understand why someone would push themselves to the edge of a self made abyss.   The more I read the more I realized that it is through these experiences that we grow as human beings, physically, mentally but more importantly spiritually.   We come to realize that there are forces that exist outside of ourselves that we must believe we can master in order to fulfill the potential of our spirit. 

The most important lesson that one must learn when climbing is that if it is only about the final goal there is a very good chance that you will not survive the entire journey.   Either you will push yourself beyond physical/mental limits before you reach it, or you will not have the energy for the descent and die on the way down.   That is the case both in mountain climbing and in life.    The purpose of any experience is to know that the most important part of it is the journey.....potential only exists in a living person....once dead there is no longer any potential so arriving at a goal only to die seems to me to be pointless.   If we focus only on the end, we miss all the points in between that may have just as much importance as the final summit.

I climbed my Everest twice, and both times I summitted and sat there for awhile.   What I have realized over the years though has been that the descent has been really the most difficult of times to adjust to.   Coming down and having to find a new way of being in the world, giving up the old "normal" has often been the hardest part of this journey.   You see people only remember that you achieved your goal, then they move on.   For you it means that you have to figure out how to live now with all these new experiences.  Life is never quiet the same, and yet in many ways those around you haven't changed at all.....only your life has changed....only your way of being is new.

So, I will continue to find mountains to climb, some by choice and some because I have to, but always I will try and focus on the journey, both the ascent and the descent, in order that I will fulfull whatever my potential in this life is possible.........What are your Everests today???

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good coffee.......

I must be moving back into my normal mode of self as I seem to want to write and write and write.

I have had the most amazing few days!....   I have had the wonderful opportunity to go back in time and without the use of drugs, alcohol or technology.   I just spent a couple of days with a very old friend and it was so relaxing.   Old friends are great beause they know who you are at your core, and you don't have to put on any kind of pretense.   Also, there are no guards up....its a 'this is me' attitude and that means tons of laughter and fun.

Not only was I brought back to a time when we were young, but an even more recent time when I had young people all around.  I forgot how much fun a room full of teenagers can well as very exhausting.    Even trying to go to sleep was a new experience as age prevented me from staying up as late, and yet that didn't seem to deter the noise and laughter from the young ones.   Oh to be so oblivious to anything and everyone around be so self absorbed and not have to apologize for it.

The whole weekend was what I desperately needed.   It put me back into the reality that life is a place where things happen, good and bad.   It is not static or boring....if it is it ain't life people!!!!!

So Saturday and Sunday I am in the midst of family life with the crazyness of teenagers.....singing, yelling, knitting, watching t.v., playing instruments....and eating eating goodness they like to eat.  Too bad they don't have the same energy for cleaning up!!!!!   Oh well......and then  on Monday....back to an adult world.   At least I was eased with some new people. 

Nothing excites me more than meeting new people with new stories.    Also, on an aside I actually enjoyed a Starbucks coffee.....don't know if it was the coffee or the company but it was a great way to end the weekend and begin the week.

Life is good right now.........but one never knows what's might be around the I will just enjoy the moment!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 it a choice????

Have you ever noticed that those who have the most to be grateful for are usually the most unhappy??

This is really a rhetorical question but in many ways it does deserve an answer.   I have been attempting to move into a grateful mode these days because in many ways I truly do have many blessings in my life.    All in all, I don't find it that difficult to find the blessings and to focus on them but it has left me thinking about those who don't.   Many years ago I remember speaking with my father about this and saying "have you ever noticed that those who should be the happiest in life because of all the good things in their life are the most unhappy?"  

Ultimately, happiness is a choice.   It is not something that happens to you just because.   Happiness comes from a place within that springs from a sense of hope and purposefulness.   I am basically a happy person.   That doesn't mean that I don't feel sad, or sometimes have pity parties and say "poor me".   It just means that I allow the bad feelings to come and then let them go.  Actually, when I am feeling like having a pity party I put a time limit on it and I don't invite anyone.  I don't hang onto bad feelings because I find some form of weird comfort from them.   I think that is what separates happy people, grateful people, from unhappy, ungrateful people.

Maybe it's a gift.   I don't try hard to be positive.   It is actually the way I prefer to be.  It comes pretty natural most times but there have been times in my life that I have had to force myself to be positive and happy.   Maybe its a habit.   Like anything the more you do something the easier it is to even fake it.  

Anyways, the reason I started writing this is because there are people in my life who are very unhappy but by all of the worlds standards should be extremely happy.    They have their health, their family, their children, a job, a nice home and vehicle, so many things that the world tells us are absolutely necessary to a happy life.   Yet, when I look at them I know that underneath they are suffering.   They are resentful of others.   They are overburdened by life.   I feel sorry for them because in many ways I think I am more fortunate than them and yet I don't have half of what they have.   It is good for us to recognize that others struggle with life no matter what they have achieved or who they are.   Life is a journey and that means that we must travel through it with the means and ways that we have.    If our life has been too easy perhaps that makes the journey harder.   Perhaps when things don't go well, those of us who have struggled have tools that others don't have.   We have the sense of 'all will be well' no matter what......perhaps we are more hopeful and more joyful because we have been to the edge of the abyss and truly know what lies on the other side.....and no matter what this side is sunnier.

Feeling very philosophical today..........

Monday, December 3, 2012

What day is it????

I realize it has almost been a month since I was last here.   It's not that I don't think of writing, it is just that the energy it takes seems to evade me.   I realize how difficult it must be if this was one's livelihood.....whether or not you feel like it you have to do it.

I seem to be moving out of the fog and my days are returning to some form of normalcy.   I must say, I have had a longer (read harder) recovery from my recent surgery but I am not sure why that is.  It could be age.....I am getting older so therefore my cells are moving a little slower to reproduce and make scar tissue.   It could be psychological because I haven't got the mental or emotional energy to deal with the limitations it has placed on me....or it could be that the cancer is slowing things down a little and making for a longer healing process.   Whatever the reason it doesn't really matter, the outcome is still the same....things are taking longer and my frustration levels are much shorter....proportionally one might say!!!!

I have to admit at this point I am not sure what I have written about and what I haven't.   My mind seems to move between complete inability to process what is presently going on and the place of memories and past experiences.   Every thing, place, event seems to spur a memory of one kind or another and so the present moments pass by unacknowledged.   After my Mother died, I spent a couple of weeks in NS mainly because my flight was two weeks away, and the cost of changing it was exorbitant.   It was basically a good time though because it gave me time  in my mother's home to browse around and grieve.   It also had a less desirable opportunity.   I got sick and ended up in the hospital.   So about ten days after my Mother died I ended up in the same hospital having emergency abdominal surgery.   Nothing cancer related per se, but related to the numerous surgeries in the past.....partial intestinal blockage due to adhesion's and a hernia.   So that set me back by another two weeks.   The surgery took place one day before I was to fly home and then I had to wait two weeks before I could fly again.  

As the story totally unfolds, one is able to realize that when I say I am just recovering physically, emotionally and mentally, I mean that in the literal sense.   It was a hell of a couple of months.   As I mentioned in a previous blog, my mother's funeral was delayed for a number of reasons, my illness NOT being one of them.   This necessitated a return trip to the East Coast about 10 days after my return home.   That part I have no regrets.  It was at this time that I realized that everything happens for a reason.....even if that reason seems strange at the time.

The trip back was made even more wonderful because of what had gone before it.   The death, the illness it all made the moments with my daughter even more poignant....we loved every mile of the drive and made new positive memories at a very difficult time in both our lives.

So, as I come to regain some of my own equilibrium I find the need to write return.   I began this blog because of my third diagnoses of cancer two years ago almost to the day.    It seems that I am still waiting to do something about that diagnosis but in the meantime I am living my life.    I guess in the end I am grateful that I am able to continue to live my life, the bad, the sad, the happy, the glad, even if at these times it seems like it will never really get better.   I am alive to feel the pain of grief and eleven years ago I would not have believed that I would be missing my parents so much.   Life never unfolds the way we expect but it does unfold and we need to grasp hold of it no matter what!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My turn......

I so desperately want to write, but my mind refuses to allow the ideas to come together in a way that makes it possible.

I always believed that my biggest life changing event was my diagnoses of cancer, but now I know that it is the death of my mother that has had the biggest effect on my life.   I miss her so much.   How do young people deal with this loss, when I who had her for so many years can't seem to fully comprehend her absence.    I have no regrets. I feel blessed to have had so many years.   I am really glad that she isn't here because it was her time.   She had lost all the parts of her life that she so cherished and her purpose on this earth had been served.  Her children were fine, her husband had gone, it was time for her to leave and go to meet him.   I know all this.  Yet I still can't grasp that she is not at the end of the telephone.   I reach for it to tell her a funny story, share an event I know she would love to hear, and she is not there.   In reality, I don't have to phone her, she is closer to me than she has been for years, but still I feel a void.  I loved to call and tell her funny stories and listen to her laugh.  She loved to laugh.    I could always make her was my gift I know that.

I feel in many ways the fog of the past few months is starting to rise and I can see things too clearly sometimes.   The pain is more acute and the memories are harder to remember because they make me cry.   I am recovering, but in many ways that just makes it even more difficult.   I do believe I will come out the other end, but I will not be the same.   I will be changed for having her no longer in my life.   I am the adult now.   I am no longer the child, the daughter, now I am the mother and the sister....I have grown up in the past two months.    It is necessary I know but not easy.    We never really achieve adulthood until our parents are gone.....we can still be a child when they are longer though....I am now all grown up.   I thought it would feel different.   I thought by now I would have complete knowledge and wisdom.   Instead, I feel a little uneasy as if I really don't know how to be this person yet.   It will take time, but eventually I will be one of them....the way they were as they too became the next in line.    No umbrellas to scurry under....I am now the umbrella and it is my job to hold it up and cover those behind me.   I pray that I can be that person.

The legacy of a parent is not an easy one to bear....but each of us will come to that time when it is our turn....mine is here.......

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life's curves........

It has been another while since I posted but anyone who knows me will realize that I have just been too overwhelmed recently to even think about putting anything on paper (or the equivalent) .

Pictures have always spoken to me.  I love photographs because not only do they capture a moment in one's life, but they often symbolize what is going on at that point in time.   The things we decide to save often indicate where we are on our journey.   This picture was taken recently while I was driving to my mother's funeral.   It was so beautiful with all the colours of fall and I knew that if my mom had been with me she would have loved it.    She absolutely loved the autumn season! also represents for me the loneliness I am feeling right now.   There are few other travellers who I feel connected to with at this moment in time.   That is o.k. because in many ways I am not in a place to want or need others.....I am finding the solace in my memories and being alone allows me that time to reflect and to remember.   

I have had a very busy couple of months....I am still trying to figure out where September went????
In addition to my mother's death, I had to have emergency surgery while on the East coast, help clear out my mom's apartment, come back to Ontario and pick up my daughter and then drive back to the East coast for mom's funeral.   Although it seems like a lot there were some very cathartic moments in amidst all that chaos.    Nothing in this life happens that cannot be of value for one's journey upon reflection.....the key is to stop long enough in life to actually reflect.

The surgery forced me to stay much longer initially on the coast, which then allowed me to be with my sisters and brother during the closing of my mother's apartment.   It was a sad time, but there was lots of laughter and some tears and I am so glad that I was there....without my little emergency that would not have happened.   The trip back by car too had many advantages.....coming home and turning around to go back seemed way too much to do....but I wouldn't have traded that journey for anything now that I am home.   It allowed my daughter and I time to talk and laugh and reconnect which seemed very appropriate considering I had just lost my mother and needed to reaffirm my other relationships in life.   Realizing that one relationship was over but I was still very much needed as that person in my daughter's life, has helped me transition from daughter to mother.    The trip also allowed me to remember so many things about my mother and really made me happy to  see the trip through her eyes at many points.    The trees changing colours were her favorite time so it just felt like she was with me the whole trip.  

The death of my mother offered an opportunity for old friendships too.   It is often the case that where one door closes in our lives, a window opens.   That happened with an old friend.    Although we have always stayed in touch, we will now be more present to each other having been brought together over this shared loss.   I am grateful for this re-newed friendship and will work to keep it very much alive and well!   Again, no event is completely negative....there is always a silver lining.  And finally, the trip by car allowed me to visit an old high school friend, and to share our stories of survival and triumph and to give each other strength to continue on our similar yet different courses with our cancer.   That was a blessing that also will be with me because of my mother's death and my trip by car to the East never knows where the road will lead....(notice the curve in the picture - we are never totally sure what lies around the corner)

So as I sit and think about all that has happened the past couple of months, I realize that life is how you choose to see the events that really decides whether it was worth it.   I am sorry my mother is no longer with us, I am not sorry she has died.   She had come to point in her life when it was time to say goodbye....I am a firm believer that there are some things worse than death and she had arrived there.....she is happy, she is healed and she is back with the love of her life my father.   I am sad, and I will miss her terribly.    She was a force in my life and no one will be able to replace her.  But her death left me with many new blessings that I would never have even imagined and for that I am thankful to her.....and to life.

Life is an interesting combination of happiness and sadness but each has its place and neither stands totally alone without the C.S. Lewis says "the pain of today is because of the joy of yesterday"......

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Journey's......only one!

It's been over two months since my last post and I don't think I have ever gone that long between posts.    This summer has been different from any other and so I have had difficulty getting my mind around it and putting my thoughts together,   Even now I have no idea what I plan on writing I only know that I need to empty my soul and that this has become  the best way to do it.

Where to start.    The beginning isn't even an option as I don't think there really is a beginning so I will start with the most important.....My mother died this summer.   On August 13th with out a lot of fanfare and much to our surprise she went to sleep and just never woke up.    It sounds so simple when I write it but it wasn't when I lived it.    When I began this blog I thought it was going to be about my journey with cancer.   I realize now that we can't separate our lives into journey's of this or that, but rather it is one long journey of life, with the difference being how long we end up sitting on the side of the path recovering from the various events and happenings.   For me, I think this particular experience will take a long to time to 'just move on'.    Mother's are a funny lot.    You think you have them all figured out.   You think that you are all grown up and that your relationship has evolved into a adult/adult one, and then they are gone.    You realize that you were still their daughter no matter how old you are, and they were still your mummy at some visceral level.    The one person who I never existed before or after birth without is now no longer here in the physical world....I still can't quite grasp that concept.    How in the world do children deal with the loss of a mother at a young age, if when as a grown up with a family of our own we have such a difficult time?   I know that whenever I ran into this situation in my professional life, I always qualified my help by saying "I really don't understand because my mother is still alive"....boy was I right!  Mother's they are a unique species unto matter what the relationship, no matter how far away they may have lived. no matter whether you liked them or not,  it becomes necessary to completely re- examine ones way of being in the world with out them......and so I begin a new journey on the same old path.....and I don't think I will be removing a pebble from my shoe this time and continuing....I think there will always be a little limp in my step for having said goodbye to my Mother.......and now I do 'really understand'.......

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Holidays.....from realities!

Back to reality....always a hard transition after a time away.    It seems that there are a couple of ways that time away affects me.   There is the physical vacation which we all know of, but then there is the mental vacation that I find also takes place.   It is like I go to a new place, where few people actually know me, and I can take a vacation from the disease too.   I can pretend for a short time that I am the same as, or at least not different from, everyone else.   It really helps to feel normal (the 'old normal ') for awhile.

I can remember the very first time this happened.   It was just after I had been diagnosed and we travelled to the East Coast.    I was still very ill, and in between chemo, but it was like I had left all that behind for a period of time.   On the way back, as we were driving closer and closer towards home, I could fee a pall come over me.   It was like the air around me was getting heavier (it might have due to the humidity in this part of the world) and that all the problems were being placed back on my shoulders.   I started to become depressed, quiet, and felt sick again.  I even remember being asked 'what's wrong' a few times so the energy that I was giving off must have changed as well.

It still happens all these years later.    Even now, I feel the difference when I am on my way back home.    Not as bad mind you, but still that feeling that I have to pick up the burden and carry it again.   I am sure that it is the same for everyone to some degree.   Vacations give you that time away from the everyday problems and worries and we all must re-enter our own realities.

Well, I am back from a wonderful holiday of sun, sand, sea (and sea lice!!!! yuk) and am slowly picking up my burdens.....I have learnt one thing over the  years, you don't have to lift them all up at one time. I take my time and slowly move back into my reality, every once in while going back and re-living the holiday by gazing at the pictures I took......have a look and enjoy.....

Sun, sand and sea............................

Sitting and gazing...........


Celebrating ..................


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary!!!!!!

Just making a quick post to acknowledge the dates this week.   Yesterday was my 9/11 anniversary.   Eleven years ago to the exact day and date I landed in the hospital and into surgery and was diagnosed with cancer.   That day is ingrained in my memory as if it happened minutes ago.   The feelings, emotions, tears, fears, and even the conversations will never be forgotten.  I can tell you every person I spoke to in the next three days and almost verbatim the conversations I had with each.   Today eleven years ago, was the day that I told my daughter .....that is one conversation that I have absolutely no memory of and didn't even at the time.    The mind does not allow one to relive the unrelivable!!!!  (is that actually a word???)

Tomorrow it will be eleven years to the day and date that I had a second surgery in another hospital to actually remove the numerous tumours and be officially biopsied.    Ovarian Cancer would be the final word but we all knew that immediately anyways.   I was told three maybe five years at the most........and now I celebrate my 11th anniversary....

So, what happens eleven years later on that very day......I am flying away to Florida to  the sun, sand and sea and to count each and every one of my blessings.......cancer NOT being one of them.

So, to anyone going through this, may I say only one thing.     NO ONE knows how long we have on this earth except God (herself) and so never give up hope and live every moment that you have.    I firmly believe that you are not dying until a few hours before you are live, live, live.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This journey with cancer sometimes takes you places that you never imagined.   Just the other day I was feeling so good about my situation and then 'bang' life hits you in the side of the head.   One of the things that happens when you are diagnosed with this disease is you involuntarily become a member of a larger group.   Some, don't feel too attached and just go along on their own and others find great solace in being with people who know what they are feeling without any words.   My situation is a little different still!   Because of my past profession I have been privileged to journey with some in a very intimate and amazing way.   I used to be a chaplain (read minister if that helps explain) and so often I have been asked to help others with this diagnoses.    It really is a privilege, albeit a very difficult one at times.    In training we are taught to leave ourselves at the door when ministering to others, but in this situation I must bring myself, my journey, the wisdom I have garnered and sometimes the sadness with me into the room.   And then, I must sit and just listen!

Yesterday was one of those days.   It was also a very difficult one for me emotionally.   I felt guilty!!!!   It is that survivors guilt that we often hear about.   I feel like I somehow jumped the queue
and arrived on the other side less scathed than most.   I know that if I spoke of this to those who have been my companions on this journey, they would probably tell another story, but that is how I felt yesterday.   As I sat with this woman and listen to her fears, hopes, disappointments, and exhaustion, I knew that at this moment in time I was not really at that place.   I recognized those feelings, I have had those feelings, I know how oppressive those feelings are, but I am not there.   I felt guilty about that.  Also, I saw the spirit that we have as women, as mothers, as wives, have to want to do things for our family, even if it means fighting for our life in order that they don't suffer.    I don't mean that they give us the strength to fight the fight, I mean we feel the need to continue the fight amidst the exhaustion, the frustration, the lack of hope, purely to prevent others from suffering and feeling hopeless themselves.     I ask myself, why?    It is the spirit of love I realize.

The true spirit of love is to want the best for others, and to be willing to do anything in order to achieve that.   Especially as mothers, we cannot fathom allowing our children to suffer if there is one ounce of strength left in us.   In some ways I wanted to scream "this is about you".....'what you want', ' how you feel', but there was that part of me that totally understood how she felt.   I too would do whatever it takes to avoid my daughter feeling this disease has won, has taken from her the one thing that she loves more than anything.   I too will fight to the bitter end.   And yet, I felt guilty because at this moment that is not my fight.   I am not there and I feel like I somehow missed the bullet.

I guess, the guilt I feel is also part of love.   Love for another who is suffering.   Love for another who is suffering something that is as familiar to me as my own body and soul.   I know the torment, I know the emotional and spiritual pain that cancer can cause, and I know that there is no one who can change that or take it away.   I feel guilty because with all my experience, I can do nothing but listen.

Being a presence, an ear, a person to hear what is being said, and to sit quietly is the hardest part of being a friend, but in the end it is probably the most important part.   I wish I could have done more, but for now I will pray and my prayer will be a pray for peace for her.   A prayer of hope and a prayer of coming to accept whatever it is she must accept and to be at peace with it and know that 'all will be well'.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cancer....what cancer?

I am not really sure what to write.   I am a little confused these days and not just about my illness but my life in general.   In a week, it will be eleven years since cancer has essentially taken over the way I live my life.  Not in a day to day way, as I refuse to become a slave to the disease, but in a futuristic way.  It seems that no matter what major issue arises in my life, such as whether to work or not, where to live, whether to travel, etc., the first question that comes to mind is how is my health.   Or how will it effect my health, or is there decent health care.   It is a running theme, not only with myself, but with others in my life that I must some how consult my 'cancer' before making any major decisions.   It can be a very annoying and frustrating way to live.    I mean I got rid of my husband for very similar reasons!!!!!!!

Most people don't think, well what if I get sick, or what if I need to go to the hospital, etc when making life decisions.  Not that they might find they don't need to answer these questions in crises situations, but it is not the deciding factor in their life.   If it was, we would consider them 'neurotics' and tell them to get on with life and stop worrying.   For some reason, when you have cancer, it doesn't seem that you are allowed the same freedom.    I am getting really tired of it.

My latest appointment shone the light on this dilemma most acutely.   I was re-diagnosed with OVCA in November 2010.....the third diagnoses.    So, it has been 19 mos since this beast has risen its ugly head.  I know that I have always had the disease, but it has not always been visible to the eye.   Well, 19 months ago they found a tumour.   We have been following it and making decisions to leave laying dogs lie and that has been fine.    Yesterday, I received the results from my CA 125.   I hadn't had the test since last September 2011, and so was prepared to see an elevation of levels.    Although, I must admit I always consider the alternative that perhaps I am cured and it will be back down to 7 or 8 (the normal being anything under 35).    Well, neither of these situations arose.   It seems that my CA 125 is remaining relatively constant which is completely the opposite of the two previous times.    At the initial diagnosis it was almost 4000, dropping to about 6 after surgery and 6 rounds of chemotherapy.  Then in 2005, just before my second surgery, it was 3400....we watched it for 15 months rise and finally decided to go in and take those suckers out.   At that time it dropped to 14 before chemo!!!!!   So as you can see it is a relatively good marker for me (not necessarily for everyone unfortunately).   Well in 2010 it was at 39 after sitting at about 7 or 8 for four years.   I knew it meant that the cancer was growing again, and low and behold the tests found a tumour in my right lower abdomen on my psoas muscle (I had a tumour removed from that spot almost five years earlier).    Again, we decided to watch and decide as things grew and changed.   It has been 19 mos. (and they figure the tumour was there about 4 mos before we found it) so its coming up to almost 2 years of growth.....and my CA 125 yesterday was a whopping 52..??????     Not the huge increase we had seen in previous times.  

Needless to say in my books that was like finding out I was cured!    Although, my doctor doesn't like it when I use these words as he thinks I am tempting the universe to prove me wrong :)....but even he said he couldn't really tell me why this was.....I mean the tumour is there, it is growing albeit slowly but nothing like in previous times.   I have been pretty healthy, not too much pain, although I find I am alot more tired these days.   As I have said in past posts though the tiredness may be just the effects of getting old!!!!!!....or it could be living eleven years with the pall of cancer over my head and it has made me exhausted.

So, as of today, my new mantra lived without considering cancer!!!!!....I am going to look towards the future, make decisions for the future without the constant nagging of 'what about your cancer'......who knows I may not have to do anything for another two years and there are many things that I can do in that time least that is how I feel I am running with it......:)

Here's to tempting the universe....... Cancer, what cancer???????

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saying goodbye........

Its not often I feel such strong feelings of hate, but today that is how I feel.   I hate this disease...I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.      I seem to be able to deal with my own illness but it is when it come to others then my emotions just can't seem to be kept in check.   Today, another wonderful, beautiful woman has been taken far too soon because of this disease.   She wasn't young, but she certainly wasn't so old that her family didn't need her anymore.    My heart goes out to the family.   Not even a year ago they lost their father to cancer and now today they have said good bye to their mother.

As we age, life seems to become more and more unfair.   The people we love seem to leave and we are left with only memories.   I know that the circle of life is necessary but when it comes to this damn disease I have less ability to accept that this is 'just life'.

Cancer sucks, it takes away first your body, then your spirit, then your soul and finally your life.   I hate this disease........may you fly on angels wings to a better place, and may your children and grandchildren see your spirit in everything that reminds them of you......I loved you too...goodbye my friend.....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blood tests......appointments?????

Every one at some point has had to have blood tests.  The worst type are those 'fasting' ones.   First, because as soon as you know that you can't eat anything after a certain point, you are starving all night long.     Now for older Catholics this is not as hard.  We used to have to fast on Saturday nights till after Mass on Sundays so we learnt a few tricks.  The first trick is to eat an early supper, then to watch the clock and eat again right before the 12 hour mark b/f your test.   Then, as we would figure that we wouldn't receive communion till half an hour after Mass started, and similarly you don't get right  into your lab add about half an hour more before the cutoff.   The other thing is to decide to go to bed earlier than usual so the morning comes faster.....  Just a little trivia to help those younger or non-Catholics cope with this type of scheduling.!!!!!

Secondly, we are all aware that its timing, timing, timing.  We all know that if you get there early enough it will be faster.  As I have written in the past, its important to remember that a large number of the people going to these labs are elderly and so early is a very subjective term.  Arriving before the lab opens at least guarantees you a seat, and hopefully a quick turn around.   But if you want to be first I suggest you camp out the night before....trying to get up earlier than elderly people is like a dog actually catching the car.  Right?    Well not anymore........

So, I have had to get blood tests lately, and both times I have been delayed for a couple of reasons.   The first test I had to drive all the way into London, because OHIP will not cover the CA 125 test unless it is done at the Cancer Clinic....anywhere else it cost $45.00.    I could understand if the reason for the test was that the patient requested it for their own curiosity, but I have Ovarian Cancer and this is one of the tests used to give some type of idea if or how much the cancer is growing.....I mean come on I am actually a member of the club...don't I get it for free even then!!....I digress as usual.  

Well off I went figuring it would take me 20 minutes to drive each way, 10 minutes to park and walk ( I refuse to pay for parking), and maybe a minute to get the test......I was wrong.    First, they  couldn't find the requisition, then they couldn't find or reach the nurse, then I waited because maybe she was on lunch.   An hour and half later ( thank goodness I wasn't paying for parking) we decided that maybe someone else could write up a requisition for me.   I am not bitter about any of this because I have great admiration for the staff at the was just one of those days when the planets weren't going to align no matter what.   The upside to this delay was that I met up with a woman I haven't seen in months and we had a great chat.....needless to say she too was waiting for

So yesterday I decided that I would go for the fasting blood tests today.   Planning is important as I pointed out in the beginning.   I ate rather early, had a snack just before 8 and then went to bed early.  I had decided that I wasn't in such a hurry that I had to get up at the break of dawn so I figured 'how long can it take if you get there after 8?????"    WELL, let me tell you.....they have changed all the rules.  Not only that, I went to the building where the lab was to find a note that said "We've moved!"....across town.    So, now my timing is a little off, I haven't had coffee remember and I have to drive across town, avoiding all those people turning into the three Timmies I pass along the way.
I get to the 'new' place and park.   There happens to be a woman in the car next to me that I know so I stop and say hello.   It is 8:18 am at this point!    She says, I hope you aren't in a hurry cause Mom has been in there since 7:30 a.m.     GREAT!!!!!!   So I go in and there are wall to wall people....sitting and standing.   I hand in my paper work and sit down.  It is now 8:20 a.m.   

Nothing seems to be happening at one is being called.  Then I hear one of the nurses say, we are short staffed so if you don't have an appointment its going to be at least an hour wait.   GREAT!   So the guy next to me and I start talking.....we know people in common so its nice and passes the time.   Then a friend of his comes in.....he sits down with us and says....'did you know you can make apointments on line for blood tests now????? I realize that the only people being called have apointments and they are short staffed, so, the rest of us are being 'squeezed' in when there is time.....well that was it for me.  It is now 9:00 a.m. and no one who was here when I came in has been served yet.   I got up, asked for my paperwork back....left and went for a coffee.

When I got home I went online and made an apointment for tomorrow at 8:10 a.m.   Now I can eat till 8:10 this evening....because I have an alotted time........

Moral of the story, never think that some things will always remain the same.....even blood tests have moved into the 21st century......and now it doesn't matter how early you get there....the playing field has been leveled....old or not we all can make apointments.....HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sleepless nights.....painful dreams!

Life continues to surprise and sometimes just confuse me.   I have not been feeling myself lately, although I must say I don't know what that exactly means.   I don't feel like anyone else either.

 I haven't been sleeping very well, and when I do finally fall asleep, I have had the most bizarre dreams.   Bizarre in a couple of ways.    One, they are so real I am not sure if I am a sleep or not, and secondly,  when I wake I can remember everything that I dreamed  and I feel exhausted.   There was a time when I didn't remember my dreams, and it is times like this that I wish I could go back to that.   Part of the problem is that I have also been in a lot of pain lately.   I am not sure why, or what the pain is caused by, but it seems to get worse at night and has taken over my whole body and entered my dream world.....even sleep doesn't bring relief.

The other night I had such a terrible night when I was actually awake with pain, but then even falling asleep it seemed the pain became part of my dream. In the dream   I was in intense agony and  couldn't find anywhere to lie down.   There were all these people who also were not well but there were no beds left for me.   I spent the time leaning against a wall, trying to be stoic but feeling like I was going to fall over.   When I woke up, the pain was real but I was lying down in bed thank goodness:)......this seemed to last for about three days and then finally last night I got a decent sleep.

I don't understand these times, and I must admit I have no idea if it is the cancer or just the growing old that causes such night pain.   I have heard other people complain about having difficulty sleeping and being uncomfortable at night, but I am sure they are much older than me.    Or, I am in denial about how old I really am.

It is a funny situation to be in when you have a long term illness.   There comes a time when you can no longer decide whether the things going on with your body are actually normal growing old occurrences, or if the illness is the culprit.   I have to laugh sometimes because I am sure that some of what I feel day to day is just the getting old part.     Eleven years ago, almost to the day, I never would have thought that I would be complaining about growing old.    Although I must say, if this is what getting old is all about, who ever coined the phrase "the golden years" obviously never got there!!!!!!

So here's to growing old and lousy sleepless nights.   I have to admit the alternative sucks so I will just content myself with the fact that if I am feeling pain, whether asleep or awake, at least it means that I am still 'on this side of the sun'........not a bad thing at all!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Laughing at Cancer......

We live in very interesting times.   I remember when I was young and people got cancer....they died.   It was the way things were.   We accepted the fact that to get a diagnoses of cancer was  a death knell.   For some it still is and I am saddened each time I hear of someone who has died from this illness.   The reality though today is different.   Cancer is still a very serious and often terminal illness.   BUT, there are more people living with cancer today than was true 20  years ago.  

When I say living with, I do not mean cured. I mean living with cancer, some constantly, some intermittently, some having been diagnosed and never knowing when it will rear its ugly head again.  Most cancers cannot be cured, they can only be treated and stabilized, but not cured.   Very few cancers have been found to be curable.    I personally do not even see the day in my mind where Ovarian Cancer can be cured.  My prayer is that there will be some magically scientific discovery about how to detect it early enough that it won't be as deadly.   If OVCA is discovered early (which in most cases it isn't) it is 95% treatable with a positive prognosis.   Notice I avoid using the word cure.   To cure something in my mind means that it is gone forever, never to return.   I have yet to meet any medical professional worth their salt who believes that is true with most cancers let alone OVCA.   But, I digress!

What I was thinking about today is how many of us are actually living with this disease day in and day out.   Not only that but we are doing so in almost total anonymity, if we choose.    Often, I find out someone else has been diagnosed with cancer only after I have admitted to it myself.   Then the person says "oh I had ....cancer 2 years ago, five years ago, 20 years ago, whatever.   Another member of the club.    We are a group of people who continue to live, function, and enjoy life in the midst of this terrible disease.   In some ways I think that is a success and a win over cancer.   It hasn't forced us to abandon our lives.   There are some changes and for some they are major, but we still do the things 'normal' people do too.   Today, I did my yard work, visited with friends, cleaned the house, walked the dog.   To a stranger I am just another person going about a 'normal' life.  To me, I am still expected to carry on and do the things necessary to life.    I am not dead yet, so I keep on trucking!

It was good to think these things today.  It made me feel good about myself and where I am today.  I still hate cancer, still don't see it as a blessing, but I felt that in many ways I had won the battle, at least for today.   Winning one day at a time is all that we can hope for.   Recognizing that we have done that gives us hope for the next day,and the day after that.    So here's to another day of normal chores tomorrow ....God willing!    I laugh at you cancer....haahahaha...look at me I have to cut the grass, take the garbage out....I laugh at you cancer, you can't stop me from doing all these yukky chores.....hahahahah, I still have to clean the house, walk the dog, clean up her sh....   hahahaha

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Prayers of Hope and Peace

I seem to be on a theme of hope and prayer this week so I will continue in this vein.

I am going to do things a little differently in this post.  It will be some prayers and quotes  I have found that keep me centred and capable of journeying this life that I have been given.  I wanted to share them in case they speak to others the same way they have spoken to me over the years.    Take them or leave them, but for me they have had the power to carry me through some very difficult moments.......

The Power of Prayer

The day was long, the burden I had borne, seemed heavier than I could longer bear.
And then it lifted - but I did not know someone had knelt in prayer, had taken me to God
that very hour, and asked the easing of the load.
And God, the infinite compassion, had stooped down, and taken it from me.

We cannot tell how often as we pray, for some bewildered one, hurt and distressed,
the answer comes.   But many times those hearts find sudden peace and rest.

Some one had prayed, and Faith, a reaching hand, took hold of God and brought Him down that day!
So many, many hearts have need of prayer, Oh, let us pray.

Hope (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NRSV)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not
for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me,
I will hear you.
When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.....

God's Days (St. Paul's Chronicles, Claremore, Diocese of Oklahoma)

There are two days in the week upon which and about which I never worry; two carefree days
kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.  One of these days is YESTERDAY, with its
cares and frets and pains and aches.  All its faults, its mistakes and its blunders have passed
forever beyond my recall. 
It was mine; it is God's.

The other day that I do not worry about is TOMORROW.  Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its potential failures and mistakes, is far beyond my mastery as is its dead sister, Yesterday.  
Tomorrow is God's day; it will be mine.

There is left then, for myself, but one day in the week:  TODAY.   Any person can fight the battles of Today.  Any woman can carry the burdens of just one day; any man can resist the temptation of Today.  It is only when we willfully add the burdens of these two awful eternities - Yesterday and Tomorrow - such burdens as only Almighty God can sustain - that we break down.

It isn't the experience of Today that drives people mad.   It is the remorse of what happened Yesterday and the fear of what Tomorrow might bring.  
These are God's Days; leave them to Him.

I offer these words of wisdom as prayers for all who find themselves in need.   I have read these words many times over the years and they have played a big part in my journey of acceptance and faith.  I HOPE others too will find some solace in them and their journey will be lightened because of them......God Bless!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hope vs Optimism

I recently had the privilege of spending a few days with a group of people who very much live my faith.   Although I have no problems living my faith day and day out, and of course everyone who knows me knows that is a big part of who I am, this past week was such a shot in the arm for me.   To spend time, laugh, share food and stories with  people who are as invested in their faith and their lives as I am was energizing.

One thing that really hit home  was the Cardinal's homily on Tuesday.  He spoke about many things but the one thing that I took away with me was the difference between optimism and hope.  I have always felt that through this journey, I have had a good and hopeful outlook.  Not just a positive attitude or a 'pollyanna' view of things but an actually hopeful belief that 'all will be well'.   That is what differentiates optimism from hope.  

Optimism is the belief that all will work out the way we want it to.   Hope is the belief that no matter what happens we trust that it will be o.k.    A very subtle but important difference.  

When I was first diagnosed I constantly heard people tell me that a positive attitude was very important in my healing.    No one explained exactly what that meant.   Was I suppose to go around with a smile on my face, because if so that certainly wasn't going to happen.   I didn't feel like smiling and I wasn't about to do it to make everyone else feel better.    Was I suppose to pretend that the thought of dying didn't scare the 'hell' out of me?   Was I to tell people 'don't worry' I will be fine?    I had to figure out  what this so important 'positive attitude' actually entailed.    Well, it meant none of these things, that I was sure of.   If it did then I would not be having a positive attitude.

I figured out through great thought and much prayer that this elusive idea of a positive attitude was really a state of hopefulness.   I had to accept that I had this terrible disease, but at the same time I had to come to a place that I knew no matter what happened my daughter and I would be fine.   I had to find a way to 'TRUST'.....that was what it mean to have a positive attitude, to have hope not just optimism.

Trust, that I would have the strength to do what I needed to do for the treatments.
Trust in the doctors and nurses who were there to help me.
Trust, that I would have the emotional and spiritual strength to get my daughter and I through whatever was ahead.
Trust, that even if I didn't 'make it', that my daughter would be looked after and that ultimately she would be fine (the hardest one to arrive at).
Trust in my body again, that had betrayed me, so that I could live without being in a constant state of anxiety.
Trust, finally in that fact that no matter what happens 'all will be well'......
Trust in God for me...that both my daughter and I will be looked after through love.

That was the difference between being optimistic about the future and hopeful.  Optimism would have meant that I would be cured, whole again, go back to the way things were.   That the ending would be a good one from the world's point of view.   Optimistic believes that the best state of being exists in this world.    It is a way of living that would be exhausting for someone with a serious disease mainly because it demands some kind of control over the circumstances.  It would be a disappointing way to live as nothing ever goes back to the way it was, even if you are cured and live for years.  Optimism does not demand acceptance.

Hope on the other hand allows for the reality to unfold with the consolation that no matter what happens it will be o.k.   It doesn't mean giving up or not doing what is necessary.  It only takes the burden of doing everything alone and then waiting to see if it was enough.   Hope allows for you to stand back at times and rest, knowing that you aren't jeopardizing your future.  Hope allows a sense of freedom and peace in a time when everything else seems to be bound up and in chaos.  Hope brings acceptance and so doesn't need to move backwards in order to find a sense of equilibrium.

I am thankful that I have found hope and do have that necessary positive attitude.    I only wish I didn't have to get cancer to come to see that we all need to have this disposition whether we are ill or is the way we are meant to live our lives no matter what.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This moment......remembers that moment!

Haven't been able to write much lately.   Seems like all my feelings and emotions are mixed up and confused.   I feel well physically, although I do notice that I am more tired than usual.   Seem to want to nap alot and often have an idea for doing something then 'sleep' gets in the way.  Oh well, at least I am still essentially healthy.

I am feeling very sad though b/c someone I have known for thirty years is dying of cancer.   She has just sort of been around in my life all these years and I guess in many ways I never thought about a time when she wouldn't be.    It is also very close for me b/c she seems to be going down  hill really quickly.  Things can change so fast.  As I write this I find my eyes welling up and the tears starting to fall.  Life seems to just go by so quickly sometimes, and it scares me.   What seemed like just yesterday is actually many years ago. 

Eleven years ago today, I was at my 25th high school reunion in Montreal.   I was so excited!    A friend and I had driven up from Toronto (each with a child in tow) and were getting ready in our hotel room to go to the dinner and dance.    Another friend that we hadn't seen in 25 years (at least I hadn't) was due to come by the hotel to go with us.  It was such a fun time and so much to look forward to.   We felt like we were so old celebrating 25 years, but at the same time the emotions and excitement were similar to getting ready for a school dance.   Oh to get that time back!

The other side of that weekend was it was the beginning of my not feeling well.   I ended up leaving the dance early b/c I was just too tired.  I figured it was the trip and the excitement and so I didn't worry much.   The next day I spent walking around in all my old haunts with my then 12 year old daughter showing her all the childhood places and telling all kinds (albeit censored of course )stories of the things we used to do here and there.  I even went to my old house, knocked on the door and asked if I could show my daughter - the new owners were very happy to oblige.  I  remember we went for supper at the St.Hubert BBQ restaurant that was built on the old golf course that was behind my house when I was little was a great day.   Little did I know that what was coming would make that day engraved in my head because it is the last day I remember that she and I spent so care free.    39 days later I would be diagnosed with Stage 3, Grade 3, Clear Cell Epithelial Ovarian Cancer.    Our lives would never be the same again!

Life can change in a can change for good or bad...but nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try to make it.    Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and would go home to the East Coast about two months later.    This woman who is now dying would come to see me and comfort me......
I had the privilege of seeing her while I was in NS this past month and I am so grateful.   Who would have believed that so many years later I would still be here to say good bye to her.    She is much older than me and she has lived a full and good life, but still it breaks my heart to know that she will soon be gone.

As I sit here I realize that we all need to take a minute and just live now, right now, not tomorrow, not yesterday, not even a moment from now BUT RIGHT NOW......can you hear the birds, the silence, see the beauty, taste or smell the air, if so sit in it and wallow....don't move on till the moment is over and then live in the next may be your last and you will have missed it, and then again it may not.....but it may be the one moment you really want to remember and hold that day 11 years ago, feeling tired and drained, I still took the time to share it with my daughter and can sit and recall just about everything we said and in the moment then has given me many moments of joy both now and over the past eleven years.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hope in a very different way!

I have never done this before on my blog but something made me feel that this was very appropriate for anyone who is dealing with life threatening illnesses or just sorrow at how one's life has evolved.   It is always good to find hope in the world wherever that may be.   This story, for me, was a sense of hope that there is a connection between all created beings no matter what species we are.  

We must come to recognize this before we can ever have the world that is possible.   May you enjoy this story, and receive the same sense of wonder and awe that I did.    God bless Lawrence, and for me he is a saint of the stature of St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa......may we all aspire to be what we have the potential to be and learn from our own woundedness how wonderful the world really is, and the power we have to make it even more beautiful!

Follow this link to read an amazing story of love:

Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of “Elephant Whisperer” | Delight Makers

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Old stories......retold for the first time!

A most interesting thing happened to me yesterday and it still makes me shake my head.   I guess in some ways I figure everyone and their dog has heard my story about cancer and so I don't talk much about it anymore.   It has been 10 years or more and I really don't want to become that boring person who has nothing new to say and just keeps reiterating how sick she has been.....I have known of few of those in my life and really do not want to become one!!!!    Well, it seems that I have guessed wrong...esp when it comes to people who I have known for half my life but only see on rare occasions.

I was blessed to meet with a very old and dear friend the other day.....I had seen her a year ago but before that it had been some time.   Distance is mainly the reason, but changes in life stories and new chapters for both of us seemed to keep us too busy.....we facebook but that too has been mainly pictures and family updates.     Anyways, we met and as usual never missed a beat in talking about our families and the news that our children are involved in, new jobs, new partners, new grandchildren (for her).    Well, as we sat and chatted she asked me a question and I was taken back.....she had no idea really about the story of my cancer and the journey I have been on medically or personally in any detail.   This shouldn't surprise me, because I too realized I knew very little about someone and their journey with cancer recently.   It is amazing how we can talk and chat and sometimes never get the full picture.   Well, I had the courage to ask my friend to tell me her story recently, and this is the same thing that happened to me.

I filled her in on the 'story' of my journey and it was strange in many ways talking about it so completely.   It was almost as if I was listening to myself tell it but had moved on so much in many ways, I was a third party listening to my own story.   I really did think that I had told and re-told everyone, and it came to me that maybe that isn't really so.  I began to think of people in my life, especially old friends from the East that I haven't really spent a lot of time with over the past few years.   I am sure they know that I have been sick....I mean the East Coast is pretty small and nothing travels faster down there than bad news.   But, I probably have never spoken about it personally to a number of people.   Not that I am now going to contact each one, or send a completed version of my sordid struggle with cancer, but it makes me wonder if there are others who don't know the whole story.  

Why I am even talking about this is because although it was 'old' news for me, I watched her face and saw the same look I had seen so many times over 10 years ago.    It was not 'old' news for her and it was hard for her to hear.   I guess in many ways this story doesn't really get old in some ways.  The first time you hear it, it is as fresh as it was originally.    I am so glad that she asked me that question because if she is anything like me, she wanted it from the horses mouth and not just other peoples version.  

I am humbled by how much people care, and this was one of those moments even so many years later where that was the case again.   It is a real blessing when you are given the ability to see how much you are loved in life and how people really do want to know your story.....I am a very lucky person in so many ways....and again this trip has given me a new experience and something more to reflect on.!!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Difficult decision......good decisions....

So here is the follow up to yesterday's blog.   I prayed on the situation very hard last night and decided that I would sleep on it and make a final decision today.    When I got up I felt that I really needed to go and visit.   It was not just because I felt obligated to, because I didn't, I really wanted to.   I made the decision it was more important to visit and share some laughs for  perhaps one last time than to worry about how I would feel afterwards.    I knew in my heart that if I didn't go I would regret it forever.  

So, I went and in the end was really glad I did.   I had a wonderful visit and we had lots of laughs.   It was worth every minute and in the end she looked better than I had imagined.   As I was leaving I realized that the memory of her today will be a far better one than what I would have had, had I chosen to forgo the visit.   Sometimes, the imagination takes us places that reality doesn't.   I cannot express how happy I am that I took a risk.  

If I can look half as good, be almost as positive and upbeat as her when I am facing the end I will be very pleased.   I also realized that she is an amazing woman.  I have known her since I was a teenager and I don't think I really appreciated her strength of heart.   I will be forever grateful that I came to know her so much more in this short visit than I have over the past thirty some years.   To have missed this and not had the opportunity to see her in this light would have been a sad thing.   I guess the moral of this story is that sometimes we are called to do difficult things in life, but sometimes we are often surprised at how powerful these experiences can be.

Thank you God for giving me the strength and the wisdom to take a risk today and visit someone who I know appreciated the visit and who instead of making me feel scared actually gave me a sense of peace and hope for whatever comes my way from this disease.   Life is very interesting, but sometimes the experiences that are closer to death can be the most educating........

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hard Decisions.......

First Happy May 1st to everyone everywhere.....we are certainly are a very different world today and we must always take time to reflect on what work means to us and how important it is to have meaningful, just employment.

Now for a sad situation I find myself in.   I have cancer and it is often hard for me to see others who have this disease but are not as fortunate as myself.  Since I was diagnosed I have said good bye to 29 women at least who I got to know because of this horrible disease.  There came a time when I stopped going to support groups, stopped going to fund raisers etc b/c it was just too hard on me.   I felt that I was constantly realizing that one more person was no longer there.    The other part was that often I would see people suffering through the final stages of cancer and wonder if that was how I would be when my turn came.   It is very hard to be objective when you are looking at someone who is suffering through this disease and you know that possibly one day you too will be at that place.  

I now find myself trying to decide whether I have the strength to visit someone I know who has terminal cancer, or if I just have to admit that I can't do  it.   I feel terrible!    I don't want to not see her, but on the other hand I don't know if emotionally I can deal with the fall out after I do.   I can honestly say that I will be stoic and 'normal' while I am visiting but I also know that after it will be very hard to deal with.  It is a selfish way to see things but I am trying in this time to be honest with myself.   I will pray hard about what I should or should not do.     It is my nature to care for and be there for others, but I don't know if that is possible at this point.   It is hard for me to admit it but maybe that is what I am being called to do for my own sanity.

God, let me know what I should far the universe seems to be telling me to look after myself and not feel bad about it..........oh I wish someone would find a cure for cancer and then this wouldn't even be a problem.......

Monday, April 30, 2012

The body always tells the truth....the mind deceives!

Often when we are in our own environment and things seem to be predictable we think we are dealing well with life.  It is when we make changes, find ourselves outside of our comfort zones, and even go back to places that existed long before our illness that we actually get a window into how we are really dealing with life.

I have been visiting family for the past few days, and I find myself very stressed.   I seem to be very impatient and angry.   I am also tired all the time.   Initially, I thought it was because I wasn't getting enough coffee.   People on the coast here drink coffee, but not to the extent that Upper Canadians do.   The East Coast is a tea drinking society and so there are always cups of tea being offered, but rarely coffee, and even then not necessarily a good cuppa.   Anyways, that is what I initially attributed my sluggishness too.   Alas, I have had lots of coffee and still feel that unsettled feeling.   I realize that maybe I am not has hail and healthy as I think.    My body seems to be very tired, and I think the change of scenery and pace is what is making it more obvious.

It is interesting that as long as things stay 'the same' we can convince ourselves that we are fine.   Once we are called to be somewhere else on a very different schedule we realize we aren't quite as fit.   So, I have decided to be very good to myself, take lots of naps and to just try really hard not to overdo it.   Not a very easy thing for me, I tend to go go go.....want to show everyone how healthy I am.

I will pray for more patience.   I remember clearly that one of the very obvious symptoms of my illness presented itself as impatience and frustration.   I was not the most pleasant person to be around a few weeks before I was finally diagnosed.....I thought maybe I was having a breakdown!!!!!!....and in some ways it was but it was a physical one not an emotional one.   My body seems to react in that way when all is not well....maybe it is because my mind refuses to acknowledge that I am not at my best, and tries to force my body to continue at the same pace.    Our bodies are very interesting machines, and when pushed to far will find a way to slow you down.    So, I am sitting here on the East Coast, (freezing) but with very little that I have to do so I will try and just go with the flow.   Maybe that is it too, my routine has been changed and I am not the best with change!!!!  

I have learnt one thing over the past 10 years and that is to listen to my body, it always tells the truth.  So, I will work with it and not against it.....and try really hard not to be miserable with those around me.   Families are funny, I think in many ways we become very much ourselves (warts and all ) when we are with them.....cause we know they will love us no matter what.