We Can Rebuild Her
Better than she was before… Better, Stronger, Happier. A Breast Cancer Journal

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.

- Anonymous



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 28, 2010

February 28, 2010 at 11:44 am.

4 comments

From the Mouth of Bayla #9

When your hair grows back,  it’s really fuzzy, so you might want too keep shaving it until it gets back to normal, or if you really want fuzzy hair then that’s okay but it won’t be very warm.

When you are in chemo, you should try to stay away fron sicknesses because you could get sick and it’s not just ” Oh it’s just a normal day of lying in the bed with the flu, I’ll get over it soon.”, it’s  serious.



Bayla (Now 9!) is the youngest member of the Clan Ross-Blevis. You can read more from Bayla here.

Bayla Posted by Bayla February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm.

1 comment

Angels and Strangers

Two strangers touched my heart this week. One in the real world. One online.

A Real World Stranger

I’d trudged back from school drop-off through icy slush and beneath sombre skies. As I reached my front door a voice called, “Hey, I like your coat.” I turned to find the friendly face of a familiar but unknown neighbour. “I see you striding down the street a few times each week,” he continued, “and your bright yellow jacket always makes me smile.”

That random ray of sunshine just warmed me right up.

I loved to think of myself as “striding”. I loved to think that my sunny coloured coat brought someone a smile. And, above all, I loved to think of my little life rippling out, touching others and bouncing brightly back.

An Online Stranger

Yesterday a stranger sent sunshine by email.

“Dear Andrea and family,” this considerate stranger began, “I have been trying to write for quite awhile now and have to apologize for not doing it before…”

She thanked us for sharing our story, shared her reactions to specific posts and generously divulged the impact of our musings on her own life.

This generous and fairly anonymous gift warmed my heart.

It’s an odd feeling to pour out my thoughts each week and see hundreds of readers dropping by from around the world yet to never know who these readers are, how they found us, how our story impacts them or why they return.

This thoughtful stranger took the time to let me see my little life rippling out, touching hers and bouncing brightly back. And it felt great.

Thank you to these generous strangers for the rippling, bouncing thrill and for reminding me to take the time in my own life to treat others to the same.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010 at 6:01 am.

2 comments

Time to forgive me

It was February, 1998. I was healthy, happy, fit and in love. I was having exciting adventures. I had good friends, a great relationship and a satisfying job. Life was fine.

There was just one tiny, huge problem: I was getting dangerously close to thirty-five, my biological clock was thrashing wildly and my twenty-something live-in sweetheart was firmly rooted in Funville. Kids and commitment could wait. And for him, they really could.

I made myself miserable. Sure, our daily life was fun but when my youth had fled, he’d gallop off for kids and commitment elsewhere.

It hurt.

And my young beau didn’t get it. For “christmas” that year, he’d flippantly dug the dagger deeper, presenting me with what was obviously a gift-wrapped ring box. But wasn’t. And very much enjoyed the joke.

Back to February, 1998. My young partner becomes an uncle, again. He’s thrilled and proposes we drop in and meet the new baby.

I thought I could do it.

But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t face the beautiful new baby. I couldn’t face the joyful mother. I just sat in their kitchen. And waited. And felt wretched for doing that. And felt wretched for the envy and hurt and despair that made me.

And all these years I’ve hung onto that shame; cringed at my inability to suck it up and at least fake some happiness for the mother and child.

I’ve forgiven Mark for the engagement-ring gag. I’ve forgiven him for carting me over there.

It’s time I forgave myself.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm.

11 comments

Exhaustion

After a certain number of sleepless nights, doesn’t your body have to finally fall asleep?

Pain or no pain?

Important Update:
I finally got my pain medication to take the edge off my many complaints and was able to sleep for almost 3 hours today.

I never thought I’d be so happy to feel so rotten.

Phew!



Andrea Posted by Andrea February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010 at 11:44 am.

2 comments

Easy Anticancer Action

My friend Caroline was kind enough to loan me the fabulous book Anticancer: A New Way of Life, by two-time cancer survivor and researcher Dr. David Servan-Schrieber, M.D., Ph.D.

I’m not much for radical changes, discipline or complicated formulas so I was pretty leery.

To my delight, though, the book is an absolutely engaging true tale of doctor as patient, researcher, survivor and teacher.

Dr. Servan-Scrieber breezily explains how cancer can hijack our bodies’ natural healing abilities for its own evil purposes, and how, by making simple changes to our diet and habits, we can keep greedy cancer cells small and powerless.

I’m pretty sure that even I can tweak my habits to disarm cancer without feeling like I’m on I’m-Sick Planet.

Here’s how:

(view the original list here)

1. Veg up: Make your main course 80% vegetables, 20% animal protein.

2. Mix it up: Vary the vegetables you eat from one meal to the next, or mix them together — broccoli is an effective anticancer food, and is even more effective when combined with tomato sauce, onions or garlic. Add onions, garlic or leeks to dishes as you cook.

3. Go organic: Choose organic foods whenever possible. But remember it’s  better to eat broccoli, for example, that’s been exposed to pesticide than to not eat broccoli at all.

4. Spice it up: Add powerful anti-cancer spices turmeric, black pepper, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, mint, etc. to your meals each day.

5. Skip the potato: Potatoes raise blood sugar, which can feed inflammation and cancer growth. They also contain high levels of pesticide residue.

6. Go fish: Eat fish two or three times a week – sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have less mercury and PCBs than bigger fish like tuna. Avoid swordfish and shark.

7. Choose organic, omega-3 eggs: Or don’t eat the yolks. Most hens are fed corn and soybeans, making their eggs 20 times higher in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than in cell-growth regulating omega-3s.

8. Go canola or olive: Use only olive and canola oil.

9. Stay whole: Eat your grains whole and mixed (wheat with oats, barley, spelt, flax, etc.) and choose organic whole grains when possible, since pesticides tend to accumulate on whole grains. Avoid refined, white flour whenever possible, and eat white pasta only al dente (who’d a thunk al dante would matter?)

10. Sweeten low: Cut down on sugar. Avoid sweetened sodas and fruit juices,  skip dessert or replace it with fruit (especially stone fruits and berries) or a few squares of 70% cocoa dark chocolate after most meals. Read  labels carefully and steer clear of products that list any type of sugar in the first three ingredients.

11. Go green: Instead of coffee or black tea, drink three cups of green tea per day.

12. Enjoy life. What matters is what you do on a daily basis, not the occasional treat.

But enough about food…

1. Get physical: Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week.

2. Grab some rays: Try to get at least 20 minutes of daily sun exposure to boost your body’s natural production of Vitamin D. Or discuss with your doctor the option of taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.

3. Boot bad chemicals and vibes: Avoid exposure to common household contaminants. Air out your dry-cleaning for two hours before storing or wearing it; use organic cleaning products (or wear gloves); don’t heat liquids or food in hard plastics; avoid cosmetics with parabens and phthalates; don’t use chemical pesticides in your house or garden; replace your scratched Teflon pans; filter your tap water if you live in a contaminated area; don’t keep your cell phone close to you when it is turned on.

4. Invite hugs: Reach out to at least two friends for support (logistical and emotional) during times of stress.

5. Breathe: Learn a basic breathing relaxation technique to nip stress in the butt.

6. Get involved: Enjoy the bliss of helping someone else.

7. Cultivate happiness: Do one thing you love every day.

Grocery shopping just got a whole lot easier

Dr Servan-Schrieber even provides detailed lists of common and delicious anticancer foods as well as lists of pesticization levels for common fruits and veggies.

If you’d like the easily digested reasoning behind these suggestions, or you just really want to be inspired, be sure to read the book.

Thank you, Dr. Servan-Schrieber. Thank you, Caroline.



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010 at 4:58 am.

5 comments

I don’t know why, but that’s it

I don’t know why, but that’s it.

For the first time since my first surgery way back in October, I’m throwing in the towel and going right back to bed. No juicing, no supplements, no exercise, no shower.

I know it’s chemo and I’m grateful to be doing as well as I am.

But I’m outa here and I mean it this time.

I don’t need a justification (I’m living it), but if you do, here’s a partial list:

  • two days of throbbing aches all over, numbness, disorientation, weepiness and stomach woes – no appetite, limited taste, sore throat, tongue, ears, teeth, head
  • two nights of writhing in pain and delirium
  • one thawed canal
  • one slushy, grey world
  • two thread-bare, ten year old boots soaking two already aching feet with icy slush
  • one first ever sleeping pill at 3am this morning
  • one puffy, quickly aging, eyelash-free face
  • one transmuting port-a-cath
  • and did I mention our insurance company and broker are both robbing us blind and ruining our lives?
  • oh ya, and the police knocked on our door early this morning informing me that I’m due in court April 28 and 29 as a witness against my bully of a “father” as a result of his attempt to break in to our home on April 5, 2009?

Is that a reason? I mean, is that a reason?

Oh, and today’s my half-birthday. Which means it’s six months since this all began. Halfy Birthday to me.



Andrea Posted by Andrea February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010 at 9:01 am.

13 comments

Thank you!

A huge thank you to Sean McGaughey and Daniele Rossi for gathering good vibes for us at PodCamp Toronto 2010 and to all the fabulous friends who contributed great wishes — and favourite children’s book titles.

You can listen in to Daniele’s messages here and to Sean’s using the inline player, above.



Mark Posted by Mark February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm.

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Virtually reconnecting

Under normal circumstances, Andrea and I would be in Toronto this weekend to attend the fourth PodCamp Toronto (PCTO2010), a social media “unconference”. It’s one of two annual events we make a point of being a part of at which we reconnect with longtime social media friends, make new ones and get exposed to new ideas about connecting and engaging with people online.

These are not normal circumstances.

Andrea underwent her fourth chemo treatment yesterday. That’s right! We’re two-thirds through her chemo program. By the way, she’s doing amazingly well. Throughout most of this process, Andrea has exercised, walked, skated, baked, cooked and even organized our house. I thank my lucky stars each day that she’s doing so well.

It’s difficult for us that we can’t be with our friends or our daughters this weekend. We really need this time to recover from chemo, rest and take care of ourselves. At the same time, it’s nice that the PCTO speaking sessions and panels are all live streamed on the Internet. Andrea and I have been watching the sessions and even participating by exchanging Twitter messages with our friends at the conference.

Something that’s particularly special is our friend Daniele Rossi has been running around collecting good wishes for Andrea and posting them online under the name JustOneMoreVibe (I love it!). It’s really nice to hear our friends’ voices even if we can’t be there with them.

If only we could virtually be at the social events, too.



Mark is primary support, cheerleader and project manager of Andrea's recovery. You can read more from Mark here and on Mark's real blog, MarkBlevis.com.

Mark Posted by Mark February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010 at 7:56 pm.

3 comments

Perhaps you remember Neuterfest?

Andrea and I were married on February 6, 1999.

We had a small wedding in one of our favourite restaurants at the time, Le Panaché, with close friends and family who could show up at our door or us at theirs and not have it be a big deal. Include the minister and the two of us and you have an intimate setting with 25 people.

For some reason we’ve generally had a hard time remembering the exact date we got married. That is, we know it was around February 5, 6 or 7. So, our anniversary hasn’t been celebrated on each of those days over the years.

There have been years we were caught off guard by phone calls from family wishing us a happy anniversary. There was the year we celebrated by having Kraft Dinner with one of our daughter’s friends and his mother during a play date.

We celebrated our tenth anniversary in style, though. We had a fantastic dinner at Le Café in the National Arts Centre.

While it may sound like a cop out, I truly believe that if you don’t make your relationship count on a daily basis, there’s no reason to make it count one day each year. We’ve always made our relationship count everyday — this year in particular.

Okay… this year Andrea and her best friend remembered the date and I didn’t. It was two days ago that we all had a good laugh about.

This year we’ll celebrate with Andrea’s brother, David, who is en route right now from Montreal to spend the day with us. Like his other visits, we’ll chat and laugh A LOT and play games with Lucy and Bayla. You could say we’ll be celebrating in style, again. And, we’ll be doing it on the right day.



Mark Posted by Mark February 6, 2010

February 6, 2010 at 8:40 am.

2 comments

We’ll Rebuild Jack Too

We’ll be adding Jack Layton to our daily beamings.

You can do it Jack!

Olivia did.

And I’m going to.

Photo thanks to Medmoiselle T.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 5, 2010

February 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm.

1 comment

Happiness is…

Coffee.

This morning I had my first cup of coffee since my diagnosis, exactly four months minus one day ago.

Sure, it was take-out, tepid and left me feeling jangled and quite sick to my stomach.

I simply forgave it.

Freedom and forgiveness — it’s a very groovy time.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 5, 2010

February 5, 2010 at 11:06 am.

4 comments

The Art of Being Alive

The Artists of Being Alive (by J. Stone)

The most visible creators I know are those whose medium is life itself;
The ones who express the inexpressible
without brush, hammer, clay or guitar.
They neither paint nor sculpt.
Their medium is being.
Whatever their presence touches
has increased life.
They see and don’t have to draw.
They are the artists of being alive.

J. Stone



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 5, 2010

February 5, 2010 at 6:13 am.

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Unshun!

Baking and batter have long brought me bliss.

Before cancer took centre stage, we baked several times a week — often as entertainment or just to lick the spoon.

That stopped suddenly on December 3, 2009, when I decided to shun sugar.

In the two months since then I’ve tried dates, I’ve tried stevia and I’ve tried fruit and cheese. But what’s a treat if it’s not a treat?

Yesterday, I decided I’d had enough. Life is short.

My long-neglected muffin tins were happy to see me.

Can coffee and wine be far off?



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 4, 2010

February 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm.

4 comments

From the Mouth of Bayla #7: BULLIES

When you’re in the gym getting ready for the walk over* and one of your WORST enemies is bullying you, you don’t really want to go tell your principal because you are kind of too tired to go from the third floor to the gym to the first floor so you just yell to a counselor that he is being mean to you…again. Your mom has cancer and you are putting up with: being hit in the back, being kicked, being laughed at and when you finally get an appoligy this is what it sounds like: “I am not sorry.” WHAT? I don’t think so!

*walk over is a walk to after-care and until everybody is there, you stay in the gym of your school and you wait in line with your friends  (bullies are there in line too so they always start to bullie me Lucy and two other friends.)



Bayla (Now 9!) is the youngest member of the Clan Ross-Blevis. You can read more from Bayla here.

Bayla Posted by Bayla February 4, 2010

February 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm.

3 comments