Saturday, 31 December 2011

A request

As many of you begin to celebrate New Year's Eve, I ask you to think about your resolutions.  Please resolve to be kinder to those that need your patience, be open with your heart not just your wallet, take joy in your family (blood or not) for they love you for who you are, remember that the best way to turn off people is to show off, and let hope, faith, and love rule you, not despair, greed, and hate.

A smile is contagious, so is a laugh.  Brighten the world, one kind word/act at a time.


See you all in 2012 xoxo

Friday, 30 December 2011

A cure for cancer found but no one cared

I won't get into a long spiel, I want you to fully read this article that I'm attaching *CLICK HERE*

I will say that this is why most people that create items that can help us avoid going to the pharmaceutical companies and try to go private.

*Edit Dec 30 14:22 AST
I was looking up info on this and found the site that would have started this, it was from 2007, and has more updates but the last one was 2010 CLICK HERE Looks like there may be signs of truth to this, but the author in the site that I have in this blog may not have researched it enough to get the proper facts before publishing.  I remain optimistic that this has several grains of truth and that the pharmaceutical side is trying to keep it "hush hush" and attempting to make it look like a hoax so people forget about it

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fears

Fear is a part of life.  We have minor petty fears that are in our minds to keep us from trying things that are dangerous, things like "be wary of some animals, they can kill you".  This is normal, we need fear to strengthen us at times, we need it to drive us, and to help keep us aware of our surroundings.  But some fears can be paralyzing.  They can be something that grips at your heart and freezes you in terror.  This can be a phobia at times, an accentuated fear that we have of something reasonable but that personally you find to be more severe than the average person, like arachnophobia.  My moment of terror, aside from those creepy spiders that are larger than a twoonie (Canadian lingo for a two dollar coin), came creeping on a three word sentence, "It is cancer."

The fear was not that the large tumour in my breast was actually ductal carcinoma, it was something else.  I did not want to die.  And in my life, cancer had become pretty synonymous with death.  Not an immediate death, but a timeline much sooner than I would ever want.  The worst fear that came with my cancer verdict?  The fear of not seeing my son grow up.  The very, very close second: not spending decades more with my husband.  That fear filled me.  The terror that something in my body could possibly keep me from my future was paralyzing.  It was also motivating.  I had to make it through if there was a way.  As long as there was a chance, I would take it.  I would undergo any treatment to be rid of the cancerous cells and bring my risk of death at 29 years old down to the normal statistics.  To quote Geoff Eaton, "1% is not 0%", if there was a possibility, I would not give up.

I would like to take a second and ask everyone to think and pray for those that fought the statistics and could not turn them in their favour.  Those that had to leave their loved ones behind.  Their fears were not stronger than those of us still here, and I know they were not weaker people.  They simply could not fight the odds and as far as I have met, they were some of the strongest people you could ever meet.  Many of them left legacies and memories of how powerful they were despite having something plaguing their bodies and emotions.  I commend them and their loved ones.  They are the best examples of courage.

Our fears may not be something that can truly be conquered, they may be something that can cause weaker souls to crumble, but fears will always bring out the true self.  They will show the strong, they will show the heart, they will show the compassion that humans can possess.  They will show the cowardice, they will show the heartlessness, and they will show the ruthlessness of others.  My hope is that when we come to face our fears that we cling to our hearts and stand boldly as we decide to be a person of value or give in to the trepidation that plagues us.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours the all the best.  Hope your holidays are filled with joy and happiness, friends and family, and pleasure and gratitude.  May 2012 bring health, happiness, and bring good friends closer, keep family at heart, and give us all the peace our souls need.

I look forward to posting my insights, quotes, pics, and quips in the new year. :)


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas songs

Here's some of my favorite Christmas songs to help you get your wrap on and spread some holiday cheer!

"All alone on Christmas" - Darlene Love

"12 Days" - Straight No Chaser

"Christmas Time (Don't let the bells end)" - The Darkness

"Merry Christmas Baby" - Bruce Springsteen & E-Street Band

Thursday, 15 December 2011

That Christmas Feeling

It's been years since I could have the kind of Christmas joy that takes over your entire being.  I've had a lot of upsets in the last decade, making one Christmas after another just not "feel right".  This isn't something that should be so complicated, but with life, is it ever anything but that?

I find that this year I have some of the joy coming to light.  My husband returns home soon, that will make it seem more like Christmas.  My son gets excited at all the items he's seen in the stores and doesn't realize they are in the room next to his, awaiting wrapping paper and a "Ho Ho Ho" from Saint Nick.  I'm in a house that I don't need to worry or even think about the neighbours pulling any form of childishness.  And soon we'll have the decorations up and bring that holiday sensation to a peak.

So why has it been so difficult the past few years?  Well, going through chemotherapy, doctors appointments, physiotherapy, grieving for those that passed away recently, among other things weighs a soul down.  Up until recently I haven't had anything lightening the load from my heart, it was always adding.  My family, my husband especially, would strengthen me, give me the ability to carry the weight I had been burdened with.  Now, I am finally starting to see some weight taken off.

The Christmas feeling isn't something that comes because you see Santa on every corner, or a Nativity scene displayed in every window.  It's not snow on the ground, it's not a decorated tree with presents underneath.  It's being with people that are honest, truly care for you, love you from their hearts and souls, completely believe in you, and respect you 100%.  There's no room for betrayal, one-upsmenship, deceit, or lies in the Christmas feeling.  Those actions actually steal from the joy and leave an emptiness in its place.  Christmas is a celebration of giving, a celebration of new chances.  Christmas is because of the gift God gave the Earth that day.  Christmas is a ray of light to brighten the darkness.  Christmas is hope.  And my hope is happiness.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

*Ahem* Mattel, here's an idea

Mattel should make a Barbie with no hair, so every little girl that is fighting cancer will realize they're beautiful.
This has been cirulating around Facebook as recommending "Disney" create a Barbie Doll that has no hair, but please correct it to Mattel, the actual manufacturers of the iconic toy.  It's a great idea though.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Happy dance!

Got a call today about my reconstruction date!!  Late February 2012 I go in for my reconstruction!  It will be the start of the process as I have opted for expanders which will lead to implants.  They'll stretch the skin so that I can have a size close to what I used to be.  I'm not about to try for DD implants lol so that's fine by me!  Wish me luck that all goes well!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

December quote

"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses." -- Taylor Caldwell

Friday, 2 December 2011

Style

I've been putting off working on my webcomic because of one real reason.  I had not found the particular style I want to use.  I know some may say to this "Just draw your own way", and to this I say, you're not an artist because you say that.  There is such a variety in formats to portray fictional characters and I have grown as an artist in learning various methods and formats.  There were a few things I made my mind on.  Things like, the style for my "were" creatures, that I was sure of, the mood of the comic, the events I wanted to have in certain areas.  But it is hard to get started when the proper way to express the characters is missing.

I have found myself looking at various webcomics, paper comics (yes, they still exist), cartoons, animes, and more trying to think of what I want and what I can convey.  Simple fact is as soon as I find it, or should I say, as soon as I found it, it would just click.  My belief in myself as an artist knows that once I found it I could do it.  It's not vanity, it's the knowledge that I have the skills to work and create the images in my head as soon as I have the format logically formulated.  And I'm glad to say, today, I became convinced that I found "the style".  Pics to follow >_>

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas is creeping closer

One thing that is always fun to deal with as a "single parent" while your spouse is sailing is preparing for Christmas.  Sneaking presents in the house and shopping is much more of an adventure.  Trying to sort and wrap them is quite the quest as well lol.  I need to sort out where we're going to put our Christmas tree, it's a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Finding a good spot that has electrical sockets is proving interesting.

The good thing is that it gives me a sense of accomplishment being able to get some of the tasks completed.  Being able to actually say "That's done" is something that is a bit few and far between with having back issues and getting through treatments for breast cancer.  I've been able to check off quite a bit, at least.  And after a scare the other day, I needed a CT scan to be sure I didn't have appendicitis and it showed no signs of cancer (take the small victories!).  With that relief I'll start focusing again on trying to get the decorations up, house sorted, and, hopefully, all the presents done up!

Hope no matter what holiday you celebrate at this time of year you have as much fun getting ready for it as the event itself. =)  And if it is Christmas that you are counting down to, get to blaring those Christmas songs (from Bing Crosy, Burl Ives, and Kenny & Dolly, to Wham!,The Darkness, and U2) and get your wrap on ;)


Friday, 25 November 2011

Countdowns

I don't know if they help time pass quicker or slower, but no matter what when we encounter dates between events we tend to make a countdown.  Like: there's 29 days till Christmas, it's 21 days till my husband is home.

I think we need to number the days so we can see the time diminish.  I did it with chemo and radiation: one more treatment, 12 days more radiation so I'm over halfway there, a week till I see my surgeon.  Seeing the days pass brings the sense of achievement when there's nothing you can do about it.  You need to get through this time, you need to feel strong enough to do that.  You tag the days and say, "One step at a time."  And, as you see those steps wash away in the sea of time, you feel fulfilled, even if only slightly.   You are doing something.

This is an important step in dealing with cancer, if you ask me, as well as various uncontrollable circumstances.  One of the struggles is dealing with the betrayal you may feel with your body trying to kill you.  There's nothing you can personally do other than take a stand with your treatments, be involved with all those decisions, and do you research.  However, after the decisions are made and you're going through 6 chemotherapy treatments, or 25 radiation treatments, or those countless doctor's appointments, you are just standing there.  Sometimes you'll be there asking, now what?  So you start counting.  As you near that glorious day 0, you'll feel more empowered.  You can look back and say, "That was a lot, but I made it!" or "That wasn't that bad, and I can actually get through this."  Or something to those extents.  =)


Thursday, 24 November 2011

A request - David Haas "Cancer Support"

As I've stated before, if anyone has something they would like me to touch base on to contact me and I will fit it in somewhere as long as I agree with it.  I was approached by David Haas about just that.  I'll have some notes to follow his blerb:

"Cancer Support for All Stages



Many people concentrate on the physical changes the cancer diagnosis brings; however, strong emotional changes also accompany doctor diagnosis and treatment. Luckily, support can be found from local community support groups and online support. These avenues offer emotional support from start to finish and beyond. Why are these support options so important to recovery and survivors? Because they team people with others who understand the emotions that come hand in hand with all stages of cancer survival, and allow peers to share valuable insight and advice.

The American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute are two such entities that provide support through networking and online forums. These services expose you to a wider array of individuals that you may not have had through local venues alone. Members are encouraged to share their feelings and thoughts regarding every stage of recovery and even after successfully completing treatment. The benefits of networking and online support can help you by providing an outlet for your worries and successes. This is important to every aspect of cancer care as it allows you fight depression and anger by promoting expression of your own emotions. When you hold your emotions in, you can succumb to the feelings of losing control and nervous breakdown.

Finding others who are dealing with general concerns as you are or are fighting and recovering from the same type of cancer can enhance your support experience by opening you up to treatment options and ways to help others that you may not have realized were available. For example, survivors of mesothelioma could form in-person meetings, exchange numbers to check on each other and share new treatment options. There are no limits what this type of support could offer. By finding others who have walked the same path, you will find comfort and the tools to beat emotional turmoil.

There are times when you may think no one understands or takes your emotions serious. This causes you to feel alone and sad. With networking and online support, each person you correspond with has been there or is going through the same thing. Many people you meet can lend insight into how to cope with side effects of treatment, and reassure others that the fight is completely worth it. Become involved, not only to gain support but to enhance your experience by offering your support as well.
"

In Canada there are support groups out there as well.  If you need help finding one let me know and I'll see what I can find for you.  There is YACC, Young Adult Cancer Canada that helps people from 15-39 years old find that connection for all cancer types.  For Breast Cancer, there is Rethink Breast Cancer and BCANS (who hosts Pink Panthers Support Group in Halifax area).  The best thing we can do is spread the word about what support structures are out there, not just financial, because what a lot of us need is just to talk to someone that truly understands. =)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Over

I'm getting annoyed, as if that's anything new.  What's got me this time?  People asking "so is it over?" or "you must be anxious for all this to be over."  Well, the answer to both is, quite frankly, no.  Even after I have my new breasts, even after 5 years of no reoccurrences, I will always have cancer on my mind.  Do people realize what they are saying?

I was supposed to be a low risk for breast cancer.  No real family history, typically healthy, never smoked/did drugs, or any of that crap, but guess what.  Found a lump at 28, had it diagnosed at 29.  I'm 30 and I'm going to be lucky to get my reconstruction done before I turn 31.  Now if I make it to that point without anything going wrong, I will still be questioning every ache and pain.  Is that sudden pain in my arm just strain or is it cancer making its way to my bones.  Is that headache just a part of the headaches I've been subject to since the car accident or did the cancer come back and metastasize?  And until I get the surgery: is that twinge of pain just nerves or is the cancer in the other breast now?..  Will I need to start all over again?

So, yes, this chapter may soon be over, but the entire "cancer experience" is never ending.  It's not the chicken pox that once it's gone, it's gone.  It's a vicious mutation that is endangering my life and we have no way to tell if they did kill everything and anything that may have left the lymphnodes that were active before chemo.  Part of why they don't know what stage I was.  Maybe stage 3, maybe stage 4.  They can't say.  I'll only know if a scan one day lights up with cancer.

It's a bleak thought but I'd rather be here wondering than not here at all.

Now, on a lighter note:


Monday, 21 November 2011

Centennial Post

Yup, this is officially post #100.  I'd like to thank everyone that has been reading, and Nadia Hohn for giving me the idea of blogging, to start with.  Hopefully soon we'll have post #500 pop up! =D

Party it up ppl!


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Just saying...

Dedicated to all those that are just pissing me off today.  I killed cancer, don't mess with me -_-

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Back, how I hate thee

Adventures with my back since the car accident I was involved in have taken a new route.  I was sent to see a doctor to get injections in my back to help with the pain...  I think they forgot they were supposed to decrease the pain because all I've experienced since they did the injections has been more excruciating pain than before.  I'm severely limited in movement and capabilities since I got them.  And, what would once help, is not anymore.  I don't know what's going on, but cringing in pain all day is not a fashion statement I'd like to continue.  One of my aunts saw me get up out of a chair to go after my son and she said how I seemed to have more difficulty getting out of a chair than she does.  So I look like I'm closer to 65 years old when I get up, not like a 30 year old... great self-image booster there, I tell ya.

If it's not one issue, it's another, for sure :S

Not happy right now, I says!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Quote for November II

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen.” - Unknown

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Important: the "i" or the "ant"

Perhaps it is because of my last post that I have returned to this train of thought, or perhaps it is a constant in many a person's life, but either way I have.  I am constantly wondering lately (as I remember doing before in high school), who the hell would notice if I left for a day?  A week? A month?  A year?..  Forever?

Yes, everyone gets caught up in their own lives.  We've all changed and added responsibilities.  But who really pays true attention to your existence?  Many of us keep tabs of each other on Facebook, through texting, and such.  This helps bridge the gaps between friends that have been kept apart from each other due to circumstance, but we're becoming dependent on it instead of actually connecting with our friends that live close by.

The question in a nutshell is: who am I important to?  To whom am I the "i" in important and to whom am I just an "ant"?

To many I have become simply the "Bringer of the Son".  I get scolded, berated, and yelled at for not "letting" people have more frequent visits from my son.  Phrases are tossed around like, "We never get to see him," "We haven't seen him in sooooo long," "Why can't you think of us and bring him by, he's getting so big so quick."  Well guess what...  You have a vehicle, you have our address, you have our phone number.  You miss my son so bad, visit yourself.  If you don't see him enough for your liking, it's not my husband's or my fault.  But to them that is all I am.  The only reason they may notice my absence would be due to my son not showing up at their house.  To them, my husband and I are the "ant".  My son is the "i".

If I wasn't here anymore, if something happened and we moved away quickly without being able to contact anyone.  Who would notice?  And more importantly: who would care?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I miss myself

Once upon a time, in a land no-so-far-away, a land called "Nova Scotia", there was a young girl that thought the best was yet to come.  She thought her friends could never be separated by distance, they would remain as close as ever.  She thought that cancer was something to worry about after 50 years old.  She thought when someone told you they love you, it was for real.  Then, one day, her bubbles began to burst.

We all go through it at one point or another.  The ideologies that we had growing up hit a hard wall of reality and parts of our soul came to a crashing stop.  Our innocence was beaten...  Well, I think it was more mutilated and scarred for life, not only beaten, but I digress...

Being away at Conference, I realized something after the first night of it: I lost more than I had come to realize.  Over the entire length of the Conference, I would experience times that I had once been able to enjoy/express freely, constantly, almost.  People ask me to tell them about it.  The first thing I want to say and don't is that I had a fleeting moment of what I once had, and now I need to come to grips with the fact that it's gone from my everyday life.  What is it?  That part of me that could freely enjoy herself with friends.

Now before anyone starts trying to call the "well you're a mother and/or wife now" card - stop right there!  I have not lost anything of myself with adding those two parts to my life.  I have, in fact, gained so much.  I have my son and husband that are very loving and treat me wonderfully.  But the realization is that I don't see my friends anymore.  It's a part of the drift that happened after school.  You go to separate schools, sometimes in different cities, provinces, countries.  You get married, they don't.  You have kids, they don't.  You get cancer, they (thankfully) don't.  These things are not necessarily bad, but they are another hit from the hammer driving the wedge between you and your friends.

My favorite night of Conference?  Was it Karaoke?  For once, no lol.  The dance?  I loved it, but it wasn't my favorite.  My favorite night was when several of us got some drinks and played pool together, followed by a dip in to get some pizza and wings.  Why would this mean so much more to me?  Because that was what we would do.  We would enjoy each others company, we would do something simple and it would be the most glorious night.  I had three hours of sleep that night, and it was better than all the other nights' sleep combined.

I'm grateful for getting to experience it one more time.  I'm saddened to realize what is gone.  I miss the me that had those relationships.  I miss the opportunity to feel that whole again.  My isolation started before cancer, but got drastically worse after.  My hope is because of the cancer, I might get through it one day.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Quote for November

Only in your moments of pure vulnerability does your heart make the strongest connections. - Julie Michaud

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

You're not just a statistic

One of the more powerful messages that was sent to us at Conference is as simple as this: 1% is not 0%.  A doctor can tell you whatever percentages exist in his notes on your circumstances but you were not part of that study.  The numbers that made up the percentages that doctors, nurses, and other professionals use are part of the past.  Those that were in the study were not you.  You can be part of that 1%, not the 99% just as easy as anyone else.

The reality is we get too caught up in the numbers.  Yes, these stats give us greater understanding of what we're up against, but the human soul is a tough ole bird that wants to soar as long as she can.  I firmly believe "if there's a will, there's a way".  Many a time you will hear of how positivity can bring change.  It can bring hope and miracles to light.

We are the masters of our own destiny.  We may be dealt a troublesome hand in life, but it's your choice how to play it, or to fold.  As much as I feel it is a doctor's responsibility to tell us the bad news and recommend treatment, it is up to us, as patients, to research what we think is best for us.  Get a second opinion, talk to someone that has had the treatments or procedures before.  Be informed, then make your choice.  Be educated.

You are not alone.  You are not a statistic.  You can be your own miracle.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I haven't run away

Hullo all.  Just a quick blog to let you know that I will be posting about my adventure to YACC's Survivor Conference in Ottawa after the event.

I haven't disappeared, just been rather busy! :)  Hope everyone in cyberspace is doing well!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

YACC is coming to Hali!!

I'm pleased to announce that YACC has named Shali Manuel as Eastern Program Coordinator!  This means - yes!! - YACC is coming to Halifax, NS!

I hope that everyone that can help make YACC even greater than it already is and keep it's mission steady and true! "To build a community of young adults diagnosed with cancer that provides information, support, skills, and opportunity."


Soon there'll be talk of the Shave for the Brave and hopefully other forms of fundraisers that everyone can get involved in.  But you don't need to spend money to help out, either.  Spread the word!  Make sure everyone knows about Young Adult Cancer Canada.  Help us erase isolation from the thoughts of young adults facing cancer.

Keep up the great work guys!!!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Mixed Feelings

I'll be leaving Wednesday to head to YACC's Survivor Conference in Ottawa.  I can't wait to see some of the people I connected with last spring, meet some that I only know online, and make new friends.  But at the same time, I haven't had a lot of time with my husband and son lately, and saying being away will tug at the heart strings is putting it beyond lightly.  I try to think of this as an experience that will help with the tremendous feeling of being singled out here at home.  I hope to meet someone that has gone through breast cancer close to my age, perhaps even had close to the same type/experience.

I'll leave my comfort zone, I'll not have any of my family with me, and I'll try to not let me missing them interfere with the fun that will be offered at Conference.

I thank those that have helped me with trying to not have to pay the full costs of traveling to this event.  I only wish my goal for The Climb had been met.  There's still time if you can find that extra $10, $25, $50 to donate to help me get to it.  All donations over $10 get a tax receipt!  Help me and get a break come tax-time!!

I'll be posting about the Conference afterwards.  Stay tuned!


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Another Quote for October

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” -  Susan Polis Schutz

Friday, 28 October 2011

The story behind The Climb

Many people are wondering about "The Climb" that I am trying to raise funds to go to Conference with.  Here's the story from none other than the executive director of YACC, Geoff Eaton.

"Climb 2011

It started 12 years ago. The first Climb wasn’t really a climb at all. In fact it was a walk from my hospital bed where I stayed to the couch, in the temporary bedroom that was my mom’s family room. It was five steps—and they were giant.

After my first transplant (from my dad) in April 1999, I stayed in Toronto for three months. Finally in early July I returned home to Newfoundland to continue my recovery. The idea to create YACC (formerly RealTime Cancer) was born many months prior to this but as I came home from Toronto I really started to think about my well documented, but private goal, to start YACC by June 2000.

I woke up late night one Saturday night—July 25, 1999 to be exact—with the rygers and a temp. I went straight to the ER where my temp continued to rise. After five hours of the worst pain I’d had in my life, I got three hits of morphine. That is the last thing I remember for a month.

I went to the ICU later that day where I continued to lose ground. My Hickman catheter, my best friend for nine months saving so many needles, had developed an infection. Unknowingly I flushed that infection into my central line earlier that Saturday night when cleaning my Hickman before bed.

It was a week before I was put on life-support and placed in a drug-induced coma. That week, I shared my plans for my funeral with my parents, which I had planned privately earlier in my journey (and yes, Sinatra’s “My Way” was on the playlist). I gave my last wishes to my parents for the few precious possessions I had in my life to that point.

My docs explained to my family that “transplant patients don’t do well on life-support but at this point it’s Geoff’s best chance to battle this infection.” Under I went.

I was on life-support for three and a half weeks, I went into septic shock, had dozens of blood transfusions, my family was called in several times as my docs confirmed “it could be any hour now.” Ultimately my chances were less than 2 per cent. Good thing for me, 1 per cent is not 0 per cent. On August 23, 1999, my docs started to wake me from my coma.

Confused and simple, I had no idea what had happened. It took over a month for me to begin to get the slightest grasp what I had experienced. I was forced to rebuild in a manner I had never imagined, and while the physical rebuild was massive it was compounded by the fact that for the first time in my journey my mind wasn’t strong. I was unsure and scared.

I did manage to get a handle on next challenge: learning to walk again. When I woke, I couldn’t do anything for myself, except breathe—a major accomplish, I realize. My body was wasted from its efforts to fight the infections.

I wanted to get back on my feet and so my simple mind focused on a not-so-simple task. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to walk, it was that I had no strength. My mom’s family room became my gym. On September 20, 1999, after two and half weeks of “work-outs,” I took those massive tiny first steps—five of them—from my hospital bed to my couch. The Climb was born that day.

The next year, after nailing my goal of starting YACC in June 2000, I wanted to mark the first anniversary of my first steps after ICU. There was no better place than to climb Signal Hill, a place I have frequented my whole life to hike, hang-out, and often reflect, especially during times of trial and throughout my journey.

It was a family/friend affair the first year; 170 of us went up the hill. We’ve done it every year since, but the event has evolved as the years have come and gone. There have been Climbs all over the world, literally: across Canada, Ireland, and Japan. For the past two years, we have brought it into the Survivor Conference. That is where it will stay for the foreseeable future.

The evolution of The Climb hasn’t just been in numbers and locations, but in purpose. It is now much less about my personal milestone and much more about beating the odds—something I know all of you know all about.

This year’s Climb will see us tackle a 5 km walk that will end on Parliament Hill as a part of the program on Saturday November 6.

In addition to the celebration of beating the odds, The Climb serves as a fundraiser to help pay for your travel to the Conference.

Raising money is totally up to you, but any money you fundraise will help offset the cost of your personal travel or that of other survivors to get the conference. The money is great, don’t get me wrong, but The Climb was always more about the message than the money. It’s just another option we provide for anyone who requires travel assistance.

Can’t wait to bring The Climb to Ottawa; hope you are up for it.

Always…
Live life. Love life.

Geoff"

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

That much closer

After meeting with my plastic surgeon, I am happy to say he agreed to the type of surgery I wanted.  I want to avoid scars elsewhere on my body so getting expanders and implants was my preferred method.  My preference is also to have the other side done and overwith at the same time so this brings one complication into the works: scheduling.  My surgeon and plastic surgeon need to co-ordinate the time that they can both work on me.  I'm hoping that it's sooner than later.  The faerytale ending is in sight, but there's still a lot of ground to cover before I can finally say I'm there.  Wish me luck!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Waiting on a Faerytale...

Cinderella got away from trudging around for her evil step-family, Rapunzel got out of her tower and found her future, Sleeping Beauty woke up to her happily-ever-after, Snow White never had to hide again, Beauty got to find her soul mate through all the lies...  I'm waiting to wake up to the final chapter of my horror story so I can start my forever-after-faerytale.

I get a lot of support and a lot of grief for wanting my reconstruction now, not later.  What people don't seem to realize is I am not able to emotionally put my ordeal with cancer behind me until I can finally say to people, "I'm done with treatment."  Like it or not, reconstruction is a treatment.  It helps to restore the woman bereft of her figure to something close to her once hour glass body.  Face it, the basis for a woman's body is hair, boobs, hips, and legs by most person's perceptions.  Don't try to give me that "it's just a breast" crap.  I want you to have something lopped off and be told, it's just a body part.  See how badly you want to rip that person's eyes out... then say "they're just eyes"...

The faerytale ending doesn't have to be perfect.  It doesn't need to be the signifier that no troubles shall ever again this way come.  It just needs to close the book on the terror that slipped into my life through my body and betrayed my being to the hands of the medical teams in town, requiring me to sacrifice my hair, my body, my independence, and, at times, my sanity.

Give me my chapter's last sentence:  With her new body, both beaten and renewed, but her soul not broken, Julie looked to the horizon; the sun was rising and with its light her future looked all the more bright.

Not the body of a model, but it was Me

Friday, 21 October 2011

Quote for October

"The mind has exactly the same power as the hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it." -Colin Wilson

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Skirting the issue

I attended the BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) seminar in Halifax, yesterday.  It was well done, but the time it was held was horrible, and having to go find parking in Halifax is always fun.  It was good to put faces to some of the plastic surgeons in the QEII, but there wasn't enough of something that they seem to trying to improve: communication.

It was a flood-the-room-with-information session.  They even had to speed things along so that anyone that was trying to take notes was pressed to write things down and would miss the next sentence trying to scribble down the last topic the surgeon/presenter last said.  They also started talking about mastectomy vs lumpectomy and treatment.  Newsflash! This is supposed to be about reconstruction not the choice we made about our surgery.  That's a different (all be it integrated) topic altogether.  We were there to talk about new/repaired breasts, not the options that come with removing the cancer.

One thing they brushed but did not go in detail is the wait times.  I wanted to know (and got to ask) what is being done to help decrease the wait times for consultations.  Not the surgeries, the consultations.  (Aim low but dream big).  The answer is they are looking into it, they were having trouble with lack-of-staff... yehyehyeh, but what NOW?

We need to get it out in the public? FINE, tell us that, we'll get it in the public.  There's news, papers, radio, billboards, the web - it'll get out there!  What next?  We need funding?  Have you seen what a bunch of determined women can do if they really, really want something?  No?  Well watch us!!

We want answers, and if you don't have them, we'll go for what you have and go from there.  Next pls!  This isn't something we need to ask a question and then say "oh, well if that's just the way it is, that's all we can do" about it.  Hardly!  We're going to find out what's realistic and then go for what we really need.  Quiet women are not the ones that are remembered, and we're not going to let the health care system forget about us!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lemons

When life gives you lemons...

A. Make Lemonade
B. Ask for a refund
C. What's a lemon?
D. Draw a happy face on them so when you throw them in life's face the bitch learns to smile for once.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Isolation

Since I got to see the movie 50/50 (thanks to YACC), the word "Isolation" has been stuck in my head on repeat.  Kind of like when you're in a bad relationship and someone on the outside just mentioned that you don't look like you're feeling well.  Even though they didn't bring up the relationship, you start thinking about why you don't feel good.  Your mind starts evaluating everything, and if you're lucky, you'll notice that your relationship isn't a co-dependent love based one.  But that's a different story.

My jogger was when someone mentioned I looked tired.  I realized today that I am tired.  I'm tired of trying to be strong all the time, I'm tired of looking at the piles of boxes that need to be dealt with, I'm tired of getting frustrated, and I'm tired of having to justify myself all the time.  But worse than that, I'm tired of feeling alone.

Now, I'm not truly alone, I have a great husband that I love and he loves me just as much, we have our wonderful son, I have family close by, that's more than a lot of people have.  I'm lonely because I feel set apart from my friends.  I've had several situations drive wedges between us and cancer was a biggie.

My good friends are few and far between, as it is with most people.  And because of life changing constantly I rarely see them.  And if I do there's one thing that we cannot relate about, there's an elephant always reading the paper behind me.  That elephant has "The One That Had Cancer" tattooed on it's forehead and sides, always visible.  And it's not like it's easy for people to forget right now.  I am missing a breast (and the one that's left isn't the smallest breast one could have), my hair is short and wild, and I'm still scheduling around appointments.

People think I'm selfish for wanting reconstruction now, not years later, because I'm "healthy" now, and should just be grateful for that.  Well guess what.  I am selfish.  I want to look at myself and feel like the elephant behind me is starting to fade away.  I want to close the book and feel I can relate more to my friends, especially since I'm having a hard time finding other young adults in my area that have had cancer, especially my type...

I want to restart my life and I'm stuck on hold with Michael Bolton instrumental elevator music on the other end, repeating the same freaking song every time! >_<  I need tech support, not taunting!!

I guess I've slightly digressed from my point, but what I'm trying to say is my loneliness is making me tired.  I'm trying to be tough but I'm losing that battle right now.  I want to be strong but my weakness is getting in the way.  Right now I just need a hug.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Displaced anger

I need to start this rant off with first saying, I am very happy for those that have been able to get pregnant and carry their beautiful baby to term.

That being said...

I find myself very, very upset at the abundance of pregnancy photos, fetus talk, and baby growth updates that keep popping up on my facebook newsfeed.  Yes, as I said, I am happy for my friends and their loved ones, but it's a kick in the face when I get reminded that there's a good chance that I will not be able to have any more children.  I might have gotten my periods back, but there's still a chance that my eggs did get hurt or destroyed in chemo treatments.  And if I am lucky enough to get pregnant I will always, always wonder if the chemo could have injured the egg somehow that will effect the child later in life.

I have friends that cannot get pregnant, cannot carry a child, and some that are just finding out that they need their ovaries removed.  I can only imagine the pain they hold in their hearts every time they see pictures of children or the "pregnancy log" photos that are splattered on the web these days.  And, again, I don't want those that are going through this cherished time to think I'm attacking them, this is a vent session.  This is something that cancer may have taken from me, and as a young woman, it hurts my heart a lot.  I love having my son and always intended to have at least one more child.  But now with the length of time I need to wait to try again, and after all the horror stories of how cancer treatments can affect your reproductive parts/cycles, it just so disheartening.

Hopefully, I will be able to have at least one more baby.  And, hopefully they will be completely healthy and happy.  But until then, don't be surprised if you do not see me posting on many of your weekly/daily updates on your fetus' progress.  It's not that I don't support you, it's that my heart hurts too much to try to be the support you need to hear.  I'm angry at the cancer, not you or your baby.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Thankful on Turkey Day

This is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.  We will be roasting turkeys, cooking up veggies, baking up desserts, and enjoying the company of family and friends, if we are of the lucky ones that can.

I am thankful to be here, with my son and husband.  Thankful Mike is not sailing or duty this weekend, thankful our families are close, thankful we have warm shelter, food, and clothes.  Things never work out exactly how you expect them to, but God has a way of giving you exactly what you need when you need it.

A shout out to those who are not so fortunate at this time: their families are split to keep our country and other countries safe (be supportive of them and their families!), they have no money or food and need help (donate to the Food Bank and local charities if you can!!), and those with no shelter or warm clothes (donate your used items to help them year round!).  We are all in this together.  There's only one Earth, she's all we have.  Share her with each other and every living creature blessed to be on her.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Eyebrows

Going to see 50/50 I didn't know what to expect.  Would they "hollywood" the cancer experience?  Would they make it a traumatic experience?  There was a lot of old emotions and thoughts stirred with watching the character "Adam" experiencing the life of cancer as a young adult.  One thing I got really picky on was that he kept his eyebrows through out his treatment.  I know we don't all loose our hair, but it seemed to be that they were conveying that he did.. but kept his eyebrows magically.

The feelings of not knowing how to express what you're feeling inside and the frustration that engulfs you is completely true.  One sentence in the movie is the one sentence you will repeat over and over and over again, I just want it to be finished.  You want to be able to continue with your life.  You want to be independent like before, you want to be free of appointments, treatments, checkups, medications...  You want to be a regular young adult for one more day at least.

One thing that I could not relate with was the rapidity that Adam seemed to gain his self image after surgery.  My hair is still short and wild, my chest is vacant one breast, and my calendar keeps filling with doctor appointments.  I look in the mirror and I don't see Julie, I still see some lion-esk monster with a very lopsided chest.  I'm there somewhere, I think... well I am as long as I do not look in the mirror...

Scene that I most related to was when Adam was waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up after chemo.  You have the camera pan out after he assures his new "chemo buddies" he'll be fine and all you see is Adam, alone, hiding everything inside him.  You feel the need to be strong and don't want to show "weakness" aka emotions like sadness and anger.  I was him, standing there looking at the people that you reassure as you feel like you are the only person around for miles.  As Adam later battles the steering wheel and the moment in the hospital before the surgery are other relatable moments, as well.

It was a good movie.  I don't know if someone that has not been touched by the decease can fully appreciate it but they can get a glimpse into their friends/families experience.  If you have someone that went through this, it'd be a good one to take them to see.  But be prepared for them to cry, show frustration, and even hold their breath at moments that they have trigger their past.  And not everyone is up to reliving those experiences right away.  Don't pressure anyone to see it, it is very hard to take at moments, being a survivor.

Overall not a bad movie, good acting, I just think they could have delved a bit more into what it's like to be the only young person going to treatment and oncologist appointments, and the question of fertility after treatment.  It hints at isolation, but it's like a car driving by at night, you get the flash of their headlights for a moment, but just as quick as it fills the room with its presence it's gone.  Unfortunately, with being a young adult going through cancer, isolation is not that fleeting.

How true, how true

"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain." - Author Unknown

Monday, 3 October 2011

Quote for October

A beautiful quote from a wonderful woman:

"I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." - Marilyn Monroe

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Climb continues

Thank you so much to those of you that have donated towards me going to Young Adult Cancer Canada's Survivor Conference!  I am at 30% of what I need to be able to pay for my travel expenses to attend.  If you can help, all donations over $10 are given a tax receipt!  You get to help me meet other young adults that can relate to what I'm going through and you get something to write off come tax time, win-win! :D

CLICK HERE to get to the secure page to donate safely.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Taboo to say out loud

When did we become a society that thinks it's horrible to have beliefs?  We "can" talk about having opinions on heavy weighted subjects like religion, sexuality, and human rights.  Try saying or writing down in public that you have a religion though, and watch the fur fly!

As you may or may not know, I am Christian.  If you get into specifics, I'm Baptist.  No additions to it, just Baptist.  I have always tried to be open to learning about other religions and beliefs.  I voice my opinion, I listen to theirs.  Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.  I believe in the Bible, I believe in Jesus Christ (hence being Christian), I believe in God, and I believe in the teachings of the Bible, like the "Golden Rule" and the 10 Commandments.  Let's continue with my rant...

Some people seem to love to attack anyone the says they are Christian.  For some reason they immediately start thinking you're going to claim supremacy, demanding they convert to your religion or they will attack you in their crusade.  Because all Christians love a good crusade!..  Yes, some people in the past decided to go to war and had their sword in one hand and their other sword, the Bible (it is referred to as a sword), in their other hand and suddenly all people with beliefs in Jesus Christ are crazed lunatics.  Forget the fact that the wars that were created for reasons other than what is written in the Bible.  Someone mistook something or twisted it to suit their needs and cried out for retribution that was not even required.  I'm sorry, I forgot which Commandment said, go forth and kill all that do not think the same as you.

The Commandments are most of our justice system.  Things like do not steal, do not commit adultery, and do not lie/say false testimony.  And there's common sense things, don't lust over what someone else has, honour your parents, and have a day of rest.  Such backwards thinking, suggesting that we should be good to each other!  Yes, we Christians sure are a crazy bunch!

So when did it become taboo to say out loud that we believe in a deity that calls himself Lord, the Alpha and Omega?  I cannot say, but for me, I remember all through growing up people bashing religion.  If you do not believe, fine.  That's your right.  And it is my right to believe.  As long as I don't go around trying to say you need to convert to my religion or I'll hurt you, what is so wrong with wanting to say out loud: "I am Christian."  Technically nothing.  But having to defend myself every time I say it lessens my hope for society on a whole.  We claim that our society is a learning culture, a loving and accepting one, but because somewhere someone did some crime in the name of the Bible that had nothing to do with the Lord's teachings, we are now ostracized.

I remember people talking of Dungeons and Dragons in hushed tones because some kids claimed they had to go out and commit crimes because D&D "made" them do it.  Well guess what people, it's called a cop-out.  And I assure you, it's not a new concept.  Do you really think the kings and nobles didn't think that the best way to get support of their subjects would be to aim at something they cherished, like their beliefs.  No, of course not, no higher political power would ever try to use their people's hearts to steer them in the wrong direction.. ever...

Well, I guess this is a full on rant now.  Basically, I'm asking for people to stop attacking each other for desire to follow a religion.  Now for an image that seems to be circulating like wildfire, perhaps because it's so true...
Some of my personal beliefs:
God has many names.
God teaches love, humans figured out hate all on their own.
Just because you don't believe in Him, doesn't mean He doesn't believe in you.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Climb

I have been going over the travel expenses I need to pay for to go to YACC's Survivor Conference in November and realized I have a short time to raise what I need.  YACC is kind enough to foot the bill for the actual conference but I have to pay for my flight, a couple nights at the hotel because of when my plane gets in/leaves, and I figured I should eat while there so I need that covered, too.  There's other misc that always pop up when traveling so I hope if you have an extra $5, $10+ dollars kicking around that you would be so kind and help me out.  If you CLICK HERE it will take you to a website YACC helped me create and you can safely and securely enter your information.

Thank you for your support!! :D

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Change of heart?

I've had many thoughts come to me as the night starts to wane.  Sometimes they stay with me in the morning, sometimes I'm lucky enough to make a note somewhere so that when I try to remember and cannot, I jog my memory.  I was finally able to make a such a note the other night.

Change is a constant.  Change can be good.  Many times the change in our lives may not come across as beneficial until we are far from the point of the change.  One thing I hate to hear is "people can change".  I am not saying that someone can start to do good when all they seemed to do before was evil or vindictive.  What I am saying is that your inner self, your true self, your soul, does not. 

Think of it like a light bulb.  It shines it's beautiful light to share with whomever it can touch.  But it can be different.  It can have a shade to dull its glow.  It can be dipped in colouring to become a different hue.  The original light has not changed, it is having it's self portrayed differently.  It can even be covered so much that barely even a speck of light comes through to show it's inner beauty.

In this way we are very similar to the light bulb.  Our soul can shine through and be exactly who we are, but we can also make our intentions and actions appear to something else.  A person that is trying to fit in can start to mirror the actions of others in an attempt to be accepted.  And sometimes the light that is within one's soul is not always so brilliant and innocent.  They can give that appearance though.

You hear people say "they just changed one day", "they were always such a nice person", and they start to go on about how a person miraculously became the opposite of what they were.  But people do not change.  Desires, perceptions, presence of optimism, those can all change but not people.  One good example is those that would toss around a four letter word so carelessly to someone in order to strike awe into their heart in hopes of getting a not-so-nice four letter word that should only be given in a true soul mate's joining.  (Here's a hint, the first four letter word is l-o-v-e).

I do think a lot of good people get their light covered and hidden so much because they become afraid to show who they truly are.  We have a bad habit as a society to trample on what is different.  There is a big "bullying" campaign circulating the schools now.  I hope it helps, but bullying and teasing is woven so deep into our culture (just watch 15 mins of TV or any movie), that it gets hardwired that we have to accepted by our friends/enemies.

But I'm now on a tangent.  I hope that the point I was going for did come across.  People don't suddenly become something they never truly were.  They suddenly lose the flowery shade they were hiding behind.  And don't mock/tease/bully... take it from the person that most of my "peers" took it upon themselves to attack.  If you are the victim, there are people out there that care, and I hope you find the inner strength to get to them.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Call to art!

Yeah, getting more urges to draw and whatnot lately.  Really missed doing this to be honest.  So I'm working on a webcomic concept.  Had this idea for a while, just starting to breathe life into some of the character designs I had.  Here's some of the concept art I've made for them so far.


I'll work on the story line and more of the characters before I start getting the pages ready for the actual comic.  I might start showing it first on this blog or make another dedicated to it.  We'll see. :)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Silverlupus on the news about reconstruction wait times

Well my segment was on... They got my age wrong (29 at diagnosed, not 28) and cut out whenever I mentioned that this is affecting women of all ages with breast cancer, but I'm getting good reviews.

Click here and select on their "Housecalls" section of videos, the one you want is about breast cancer.

I'd like to note they also did not mention what I said about being able to go to New Brunswick and being able to have the surgery done in two or less months -_-

Quote for September

"We must hate the world enough to want to change it, but love the world enough to think it worth changing." - G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Breast Cancer Retreat

Just had a great time at a retreat for Nova Scotian women affected by breast cancer.  Many ladies that have had years (even decades) put between them and their original diagnosis, and also a lot of people with only a year or two behind them.

I went with a couple of my Pink Panther gals from BCANS' support group, and we had so many laughs.  It was a Mexican themed weekend, too!  Lots of information, sharing, and (of course!) wine lol.

It was held at the Tim Horton's Camp in Tatamagouche.  Great facility, great staff, great scenery.  This is held annually and I'll try to post about this event as next year's approaches.

I'll leave you with some photos of us :)




Thursday, 15 September 2011

News interview

I just participated in an interview with Live at 5 (Atlantic CTV show) about reconstruction.  It will be airing on Wednesday September 21st, 2011.  If you do not get this show at your house you can go to CTV's website and look up Live at 5 and it will be aired as one of their "housecalls".  I don't know how long it takes to go onto their website so it may not be there until the 22nd or later.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Is it the right choice?

Right now I have a difficult decision ahead of me.  I may have several options as to what I could have for reconstruction but the version I wanted is not one of them.  At least, it's not recommended.

How do you make a decision that can affect the way you live for the rest of you life when you are completely unsure on all options.  Second opinions are not an option in that I was completely and utterly lucky to even get this information given to me at this point in time.  Do you go for something that is relatively easy but nowhere near what you desire or do you go for something that may be closer to your wants?  Or do you stick to your true desire and go with what is not recommended and risk it all?

I cannot seek help from a lot of people in this instance.  Most have not had these procedures.  Some are still waiting to talk to their specialists.  I hope to find some solace in this weekend as I embark (if the nurse ever gets back to me) on a journey to my first Breast Cancer Retreat in Nova Scotia.  Perhaps I can be lucky again and find more people that can give educated advice.  Perhaps someone can recommend a better course of action.  It's one horrible thing about going through completely unknown territory for not only my life but my age group.  And no matter what, there's a risk that any procedure will not work at all.

Realizing I've been completely vague this entire blog and not meaning to, I saw a plastic surgeon today and he advised me as to what he recommends for procedures for reconstruction on my breast(s).  He also gave me some insight as to what he sees wrong in the system for getting breast cancer survivors in after mastectomies and becoming "delayed" patients.  I think I freaked him out a little with my story about my cancer.  At least he thinks I'm strong.  He didn't hesitate to tell me that I could be strong enough to endure any lengthy surgery.

Do I push for what I want, what could get, or what the doctor thinks I should do?  I guess it's time to start praying harder for answers...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Time for Young Women to Rethink Breast Cancer

Thanks to meeting up with YACC, I've been able to meet with many other young adults with cancer.  It's helped with the stress of feeling alone, given strength with knowing others are going through the same issues, and has brought a lot of laughter and great friendships.  But, there's also sometimes groups out there for individual cancers (a local one for breast cancer is BCANS).

One that I have just recently encountered and love their approach is Rethink.  They are trying to connect, educate, inform, and help young women with breast cancer and their families.  Rethink has great programs and events to help young women with breast cancer.  They are making their way into the provinces, this means they may be closer to you than you think!  Give their website a look by clicking here and see everything they have to offer!
(image from Rethink)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Quest for fitness

I've had some excess weight on me since I had my son (almost two years ago, now).  So I have been trying to shed the pounds but had nothing working for me.  Having to go through chemo, surgery, and radiation did not help matters in the least, either.  With so much out of my control, I needed to start seeing the weight going down so I could feel better about myself and have that small measure of control back.

I finally took a shot and had some sessions with a friend that does hypnotherapy.  She has a program for losing weight safely and effectively.  I finally started to lose weight.  The clothes are fitting or falling off now, and I find I just want to exercise, instead of feeling like it's another chore to add to the list.  So I have to give a shout out to Ursa Major Hypnotherapy.  And if you're in the Halifax area and would love to give it a try, just click on the link in the previous sentence to see her Facebook group.

One thing that my husband did to help me out is he purchased for me the WII Fit Plus.  I like that it feels like a game, but it is working your cardio and muscles at the same time.  I don't think it would be for people that are rather obese and need to get a lot of weight off but for toning and adding some fun to a workout you already have in place, it's a great investment.  Another thing I like about it is it shows you what it thinks your BMI (body mass index) is and helps you keep track of your progress effortlessly.  Let's see if I can get back to that size 5/6 that I was when I was my healthiest!  Wish me luck

Monday, 5 September 2011

Art craving

Had an idea come to me and finally got to paint it yesterday.  I was going for a simplified image, nothing overly perfected as nothing in life is ever "picture perfect" lol  They're a series about the experience of breast cancer.  Your experience may vary =P

"The News"
"The Treatment"

"The New Me"
"The Hope"

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Education isn't just a right it's survival

I must say the lack of education behind some sentences that I've been reading and hearing lately is quite astounding.  I know I have been guilty of voicing opinions and discovering that I did not have all the facts, but there's some matters that until I understood the ins and outs I never thought to open my mouth (or set my fingers on the keyboard).

When it comes to your health, do not be uneducated.  Know what the recorded/possible side effects are for any treatment.  Talk to your doctor about your goals and desires.  Find a regiment that suits not only your affliction but your wants and desires as best as possible.  You'll find you heal much better when you are fully confident in not only your treatment but your relationship with your doctor.

Look outside the box for safe ways to boost your treatments both naturally and through new methods.  There's a lot of things out there that can help you.  I am glad to have found one that is not only safe but 100% effective in assisting me through my treatments.

My recent decision to "not go gentle into that good night" of waiting several years for reconstruction has brought a lot of people thinking they know everything to the plate.  There are people saying:
1. we should be happy to be alive.
2. there are people that are worse off.
3. reconstruction is offered at time of mastectomy.
4. we should stop throwing a "pity party".
5. there's only TWO doctors in all of Nova Scotia that can do the reconstruction.

Well, guess what, there's answers to all these statements that are found through actually being in the system and educating one's self on the dynamics of this cause.

1. "we should be happy to be alive."
Not once have we ever stated we were not happy and/or grateful to be alive.  We are very much enjoying being able to see our family, play with our children (grandchildren where applicable), hug our loved ones, enjoy our friends, continue our hobbies, and even simply breathe.  Do not assume we take our lives for granted.  We saw the possibility of death and we looked in the eye and said "NO!"

2. "there are people that are worse off."
 Why, yes!  There are!  There are those that did not make it through their journey and did die of cancer.  There are people out there with other diseases and ailments.  But guess what, if they were offered a way to feel somewhat normal, I bet they'd fight their butts off to be more normal now and not in 5 years.

3. "reconstruction is offered at time of mastectomy."
I assure you it is!  It's also denied to most that ask for it.  And some can pressure the doctors into it, but not all.  I demanded it.  I begged for it.  I did NOT get it, like many, many others.

4. "we should stop throwing a 'pity party'."
This is not a "pity party".  We want what we were promised, what we have a right to.  And we are not going to stand idly by while someone tells us that since we are now "cancer free" we "can wait".  I'm sorry but being told that the only way I can get my breast reconstructed within a matter of months is to go to the next province over is ludicrous.

5. "there's only TWO doctors in all of Nova Scotia that can do the reconstruction."
 Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but no, there's more than two surgeons in our province that can do reconstructions.  I personally haven't counted all of them but I assure you there's well over half a dozen in Nova Scotia alone.

For anyone that has not looked into this already, please pop over to Facebook and join our group in fighting for the right to have Reconstruction Sooner for Cancer Survivors!  Thank you


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mutant Ninja Cancer

A lot of people are discussing the issue of "battling cancer" and "losing the battle with cancer".  There's a great article from the Globe and Mail that you can read by clicking here.  This brought me back to something that I have mentioned before: what cancer truly is.

Cancer is what happens when a mutation occurs in cells.  Your cells that are supposed to become wall lining for your stomach mutate into thinking they're supposed to be something else, or are missing some markers so they won't replicate proper and after several cell dividing and duplicating later, you have stomach cancer.  The cells in your mammaries starts creating a mutation that is rock hard and multiplies and multiplies.  Now in this case instead of being deadly because of it's placement, it is deadly because it has access to other vital areas of your body.  If it was a mutation in your hair, there's not a big chance it's going to make you have issues with your vital organs, but the risk of it spreading to skin cells over time would be a possibility.  You could have mutated cells now, but they are not spreading and multiplying, they're being kept at bay by your body's defenses.  But as you age and your defenses slow, the mutation can become cancerous.

Cancer itself isn't a foe that you can vanquish or lose to, it's your body not doing what it is supposed to in order for you to live in perfect harmony.  It's a wrench thrown into the gears of your body's mechanics.  The mutations can seem to have a personality of their own, just because of irony in the person's life, but it's not a predator looking for a kill.

I labeled this blog post "Mutant Ninja Cancer" because it is a mutant, it's silent like a ninja, can cause you to die like a ninja, and, well, it's cancer!  And like with the deadly assassins from Japan, they can be in any cells of your body and you may not know it until it's too late.

The person that decides to fight their cancer with treatments, surgeries, nutritional aids is a great person indeed!  And if they pass away, they fought hard and deserve to be remembered for trying their best.  They did not lose, they fought for a longer life and got every second they could after the news of having the disease.  Praise them for their bravery, applaud them for their stubbornness, but do not say they lost a single thing.  They lost nothing, they simply could not be awarded more time for their efforts, and I'm sure they were grateful for every moment they were given.

Mutant Ninja Cancer

Monday, 22 August 2011

A message from a great man

The words of Jack Layton may he rest in peace
"To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer."
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."
-Jack Layton


Sunday, 21 August 2011

What Makes You Happy?

It seems like an easy question.  What makes you happy?  Hearing a child laugh wholeheartedly, finding that extra $20 in your jeans pocket when doing laundry, coming across those photos of you and your friends from "happier times".  And there's simple things, seeing a full arc rainbow in all its glory, a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy winter night, snuggling with your partner after making love and hearing them sigh with full love and admiration.

Happiness is something fleeting lately, I find.  Pure and total "I'm completely content and happy" moments are so few and far between it grates at the soul.  And it wasn't until I was talking with an old friend from ages ago last week that I did discover something.  I do know one thing that always makes me happy.  I had left it behind.  I would bring it to the light once in a blue moon and in those moments I would be happy.  My heart would purr like a newborn kitten drinking it's mother's milk.  But I had left it for so many tiny, tiny reasons.

My art was something I did everyday.  And not just everyday, but all day.  During school (and I did get honours on more than one occasion while doings so, thank you!), after school, in the evening, late nights, while watching TV, while talking on the phone...  I always had my books of papers, sketch books, sketch pads, binders, and whatnot on me, along with enough pens and pencils to fuel the fire.

Over time, you need a job, and you cannot always draw on the job.  Then you want to see friends, and conversations cannot always be carried while doodling with a pen and paper.  You get your own place, there's more cleaning and responsibilities.  Work.. need more work to make the bills.  Relationships.  Family.  Health.  Accidents.  Life...

But I let it happen.  I have no one to blame but myself.  And it took someone saying to me "Well, it always did make you happy, your art." to realize that in fact, it did.

I have so many pieces of art that are stored away, and not just on paper, in my computers and in my head.  I really wish I knew how to work flash or some simple animation tool.. I have so many ideas.  But I think I will do this for now: I will find one of my old comics that was mine and mine alone (some had friends' contributions and ideas, don't want to take from them), and I will reinvent it to be a webcomic.  Now, can I find them, and can I find the time, my old ability, and audience?  Time will tell.  But I know it will do one thing.  It will make me happy.


"With all due ignorance"

I cannot understand some people.  They have no idea what a person is going through and they feel the need to express their own opinion, so what does the second person say to the first person (the one going through the situation)?  That the first person doesn't understand?  "With all due respect".  If they had respect for the person or their situation they would make more of an effort to understand the person's issues and not belittle their plight.  They would make sure that the opinion they are offering is valid to the plight the person is enduring.

Because of a "With all due respect" statement, I think I need to reiterate something.  I am fighting for the timely respect that Breast Cancer survivors deserve in completing their reconstruction, and thus their treatment.  Waiting 4+ years is torturous.  And if you think that is far fetched, you'd need to have something missing off your body that you would see every day to understand.  Have your ears missing, have your nose gone, no lips, four missing fingers, or both your thumbs.  See if you like being told you have only a two year wait and after 7-8 months be told it'll be another 2-3 years before you can even meet the doctor, not have the surgery that you were told would be completed in another 16-17 months, just meet the doctor.  We haven't finished our treatments until we have fully healed from all surgeries and treatments.

Now the term "ignorance" is not used in it's proper context any longer, either.  To be ignorant does not mean the person is stupid, it means they are uninformed/unknowable of a situation or feeling or experience.  It is not meant or intended to claim the person is a dolt, it is to express that they have no understanding of the matter at hand.  Telling us to just be happy we're here is not part of our fight.  We are happy we are here, we are so happy we'll fight for our rights.

A great example is the single woman/man looking at the parent with a screaming kid in tow and saying that that is bad parenting skills and they should not let the child scream like that in public, it's disturbing.  They may not realize that child has an illness, that child is overtired because they are teething and cannot sleep, the child tried to do something it shouldn't and is having a fit because it was reprimanded.  The point being the single person, unless they care for children, themselves, would rarely have any idea what is going on in the situation of the screaming child.  But they will march right over, if they are so bold, or post online "With all due respect, you shouldn't bring a screaming baby to the restaurant/theatres/mall/<insert public place here>".

Please be sure when you use the phrase "With all due respect" it is followed with respect and an educated opinion.  And remember, it is your opinion.  Opinions should be expressed but also understand when they are not valid to a situation.