William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?

Since Andrea is at the I Can Do It! conference, I thought I’d do my best to keep publishing fresh content on the site.

While catching up on a backlog of the TED talk videos, I saw this talk by William Li on eating to starve cancer. The talk includes a look at how cancer forms and how certain foods and spices stack up against prescribed cancer treatments.

This video is definitely worth a watch. There’s also a short animated story at the end that serves as a nice dessert.

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Dad and daughters weekend

I can’t remember the last time Andrea went away for the weekend which means her getaway to Toronto is long overdue. It’s just Lucy, Bayla and me. There’s lots of fun things to do this weekend. However, like most weekends in our house, they have accumulated a mess that needs to be cleaned up before anything else can happen. I’m really hoping they can tackle the backlog tonight so we can enjoy the rest of the weekend with no pressure.

By the way, we pulled together a short video about Sylvester last night. Here it is.

Zapping Cancer

As of 7:55 this morning, I’ll have notched 19 of my 30 radiation treatments.

And — touch wood — pinched muscles and speckled redness have been my only noticeable side-effects.

In an imaginative attempt to keep it that way, I spend my 10 minutes of daily zapping assigning little shields to each of my healthy and valid heart, lung, bone, muscle, throat and skin cells.

I watch as the healthy cells, with shields over heads, deflect the harmful rays onto any cancerous neighbours.

And as any and every cancer cell is dramatically blasted into oblivion.

I’m not much for action scenes, but this one I enjoy.

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For Better or For Worse: Dear Sylvester’s Mom

Dear Mrs. Duck,

I am writing to you because I would like you to know that your duckling, the one who fell behind when you were swimming, did not drown all alone in dow’s lake. My mother went back and found him, slowly sinking into the water. When the man whom she asked to call the bird care center refused, my mom knelt by the water an hoped that he would simply, well… float over, and, wonder of wonders, he did! My mom scooped him out and gently cradled him in her hands all the way back to our home. When I got home, there he was, sitting in his water dish. We named him Sylvester, after a duckling that lived in my mom’s classroom when she was small. We each took a turn carefully holding him in our hands. Sylvester was so soft! When my dad got home, he took Sylvester to the bird care center, there, they found that his mouth was full of blood. Immediately, they stopped examining him and gave him some medicine to make him more comfortable. That night comfortable, loved and surrounded with other ducks, geese and all sorts of other birds, he quietly passed away. We all cried upon hearing this news. Anyways, I just really thought that you would like to know that your duckling enjoyed his final hours and that his life, though short, had an effect on many people. I’m sure that you are very proud of him.

Also, thank you very much for taking such good care of him while you could and for calling back for him. If you had not done that I think that he would have died all alone and his little life would not have been noticed. At least this way he knew that he was loved very much, not only by you but by my family and everyone who hears this story, Sylvester’s story. I will never forget about your little duck that little trooper, Sylvester.

Sincerely, your friend,


From the Mouth of Bayla # 22 : One less family member

I know that it sounds like a human in our family died but sad to say ;it was Sylvester. He died yesterday night after he had been given medicine. I was so happy when we had saved him and we were all convinced he would NOT die but we were wrong. Now were all crying. Sylvester I just wanted to let you know I love you, we ALL love you. Sylvester, we will always love and remember you, Sylvester there will NEVER be a duck like you. All our love, Bayla, Lucy, Andrea & Mark. 🙂

Our Little Duck Died

Our beautiful little duckling has died.

During his examination at the Wild Bird Care Centre last night, it became obvious he was injured beyond repair (he was likely hit by a bike).

The caregivers aborted the exam. They gave him medication to ease his pain.

He died overnight.

Poor sweet little thing.

It’s hard to know if I did the right thing.

From the Mouth of Bayla #21: a new pet

Plop! A poor little duckling keels over in the water, he is starting to sink, little by little. Mom, wishing, that duckling could come to the shore, somehow. Whoosh. the current pushes the poor duck to the shore. Mom picked him up and brought him home!!!!! Then mom picked us up from school and told us that we had an adventure and she told us that “I’ll only tell you if we don’t get to the house in time.” So we got to the house and little Sylvester was sitting in his water dish.

Like Water Off a Duck

A tiny survivor entered my life today.

During my daily Gratitude Walk this morning, I spotted a family of ducks: four ducklings and a mom.

One little duck was being ferried around by his mates, his legs limply hanging and his body slightly submerged.

I admired them for a while and moved along.

Not long afterward, the little family caught up to me and hopped up onto the shore. The mother faced the water, calling and calling.

They were one duckling short.

Returning to the original site, I found the injured sibling. Struggling, lopsided in the water, one little mini wing flapping.

And sinking fast.

A passerby declined my request to phone for wildlife help so I stood at the waters edge and hoped the little duck would float into reach.

He did. I scooped him up and carried him home.

(Not the passerby. The duck.)

Our Wild Bird Care Centre helped me make him comfortable while I ran to radiation. He was flopped over to one side, his eyes closed and I didn’t like to leave him.

I hoped the whole way there and back that he’d be alive and revived when I returned.

He was.

I found him sitting in his water dish, eyes open and alert.

Patiently waiting for his drive to the Wild Bird Care Centre.

Sweet little Duck.

Happiness Is…

Psychosocial Oncology.

Again and again I’ve been bowled over with gratitude for the skillful and compassionate nurses, technicians and physicians who have cared for me during this journey…

As I’ve been rolled in and out of surgeries, cared for in recovery rooms, carefully injected with chemo and positioned to the millimeter for radiation.

And for the health care system that has foot the bill.

But some of the most spectacular, gratitude-invoking work to date happened last Friday.

I arrived at the hospital cracked open with despair and found my way to Psychosocial Oncology. I cried uncontrollably as I awaited an initial, impromptu meeting with a social worker. I was barely coherent as I unloaded my long list of troubles to the patient, level-headed young health worker who had generously squeezed me into her day.

And somehow, she put me together again.

She listened, she made notes, she spoke gently and logically. She divided my troubles into chunks and assured me we’d work each chunk, together.

And I was able to go on.

With immense gratitude.

The most lavish party this town has ever seen

Some months ago I didn’t think there was going to be a birthday party for me this year — my 40th. The truth is, I wasn’t sure I wanted a birthday party what with everything that was going on in our lives. Andrea insisted she would arrange a party for me.

Imagine that. While going through chemotherapy, Andrea was committed to arranging a party for me. And she did.

Then came last week — the week from hell. Without going into details, our family situation and stress level was such that neither Andrea nor I felt much like celebrating. In fact, my actual birthday was a real bust. We canceled party-time care for our two daughters… twice.

Then, things turned around. Andrea, Lucy, Bayla and I escaped Ottawa for the day yesterday. We had a fantastic time being together away from our troubles and away from our usual surroundings. During lunch, Andrea suggested we bring Lucy and Bayla along to the party.

It was a perfect suggestion.

And… my party ended up being better than I could have ever expected. I was reminded how great my friends are and my family had a chance to meet others who are important to me: Rick Claus and his wife Kelli, Bob Goyetche, Jay West and his wife Ann, Bob Ledrew (OtherBob) and his wife Cat, Jamie O’Farrell, Julien Smith, Robert Farrell, Maurizio Ortolani and his wife Jacinthe, and Franc Epton and his wife Lisa. Thank you for being a part of my life, being at my party and for the incredible gifts!!!

I’m an amazingly lucky guy!

And that’s just off the top of your head

We’ve learned the hard way there are people who have no idea that what they say to cancer patients and their support systems is inappropriate. Andrea published a brilliant post about this, I See Dread, People, and I’d like to offer a refresher with five helpful hints of my own.

AT TIME OF DIAGNOSIS: Upon learning about the diagnosis, be supportive and keep your own horror stories about the disease (or any other less than positive stories) to yourself.

HELP: If you offer help, be specific — for example, ask when you can have the kids over for a play date or offer to send a meal over on a specific day (bonus: ask about any food alergies, nutritional needs and dietary restrictions).

DURING TREATMENT: Check in during the treatment process and renew (or offer new) specific offers of help. Make it known you’re thinking about the person and their family.

AT MILESTONES: When a milestone has been achieved, be a part of the moment by celebrating with the person and their family. Something like, “Congratulations!” is a very good start. You can freestyle that by acknowledging the difficult journey it’s been for the person to get to that point and how thrilled you are for the person that they’ve made it to this milestone. “Be there.”

SHOW GENUINE INTEREST: If you know the person has a blog, follow it. It’s a great place to stay up to date and even leave messages of support and positive thoughts at regular intervals. It’s also a great tool to know when help is needed the most. If you know the person has a blog, catch up before you contact them. It shows you care and their health and journey is important to you.