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

You are currently browsing the archives for November, 2010.

Marry me!

Due to the generosity of my parents, our two daughters had 24 hours without their parents. They had a great time swimming, going out to see a movie and (perhaps most importantly for them) no household responsibilities.

Of course, it also meant Andrea and I were obliged to find ways to occupy our time. We did commendably! We threw ourselves at the mercy of coffee shops, tea shops, book stores and forced ourselves to dine out. Oh, the humanity.

In the process, my iPhone camera was on rapid fire and I was able to capture some of the many faces of my beautiful wife. I created this collage from our weekend. Note, I’m particularly fond of the photos in the lower-right.



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 November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm.

7 comments

Free to a good home

My massive hypochondria.

Despite earnest warnings by a wide range of survivors, I truly never dreamed for a minute that I’d be constantly terrified by worries of recurrence.

I didn’t even want to finish chemo. I toyed with skipping radiation.
I just wanted to get back to being me.

And here I am. Me.
Healthy. Happy. Able to do anything I like.

Why would I choose terror?

What I hadn’t counted on were symptoms.
Aches, pings and twinges. Changes in size and shape.

Three months in a row, my terror has reached fever pitch.
My first round was squelched by my ultrasound.
My second by my doctor’s examination.

This round is up to me.



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 November 27, 2010

November 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm.

5 comments

Small price to pay for self-esteem, Michael

Not counting this
My last haircut was immediately after this photo was taken.

Two hours after my diagnosis.

Many are the times, in the 14 months since then, I had the urge to pop into the salon and give myself a little lift.


Only to remember I had no hair.

Then, suddenly, I had tonnes of hair.
Today, I had that long-awaited haircut.

Related Posts:



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 November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010 at 7:06 am.

8 comments

Nothing On The Inside

Ding! Dong! My port-a-cath is gone!

Unlike my solo insertion day, today’s happy occasion was a family affair.

And, despite my squeamish worries, I co-operated fully during the local-anaesthetic-only procedure — I didn’t once faint or kick or flail around. I must admit, though, I was highly unprepared for:

  • the pre-incision warning that there was a chance removal of the port would be impossible
  • the Interventional Radiologist‘s struggle to dig and pry and snip it out

But it did come out and it’s all done but the 6day shower-free healing.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



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 November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm.

9 comments

How A Sitcom Saved My Life

Today was my first Toastmasters speech.
My icebreaker
, if you will.

The goal was to introduce myself to the group….

Now the story of how a sitcom saved my life.

When I was a kid, there was no need for daycare, summer camps or after-4 programs.

We had TV.

Ours was minute, black and white, with an aerial on top and 2 fuzzy, fuzzy channels. But we’d rush home from school for Flintstones at lunchtime. And we’d get up for cartoons so early Saturday mornings that we’d have to stare at that black and white test screen for ages – and the sing along with Oh, Canada when the station finally started up for the day.

Eventually, my parents splurged. They bought a Jetsons-style colour-TV. With a huge 12” screen. And cable.

Now we could watch everything.
And we did:

  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • Gilligan’s Island
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Laverne and Shirley
  • Mork and Mindy
  • Donny and Marie
  • The Gong Show
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Magnum PI
  • Chips
  • Dallas
  • The Love Boat


Then – boom – University.

No Time. No TV.


When I finally did have access again, I realized I despised TV.
And, that was that.


Fast forward to 2006.

Mark ran out to rent a movie and – like Beanstalk-Jack – came home with something else.
A TV show.

I turned up my nose.

We popped in the DVD and I prepared to give it a gong.

It was the story of a wealthy family who lost everything
And the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.

It was Arrested Development.

Jam-packed with family dysfunction and subtly placed laughs.
In no time, we were hooked.

With two young kids, two full-time jobs, two sets of crumbling family relationships and the production of at least two demanding podcasts, Arrested Development became our sanity.

We’d work like dogs ‘til midnight or so then pop some popcorn, slather it with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, pour ourselves some red wine and enjoy an episode or two of non-stop laughs.

Instant, dependable entertainment.
Fee-free, effective therapy.

Night after night, we’d make our way through the two-and-a-half seasons.
Then we’d start again.

We soon spoke in AD quotes.
And bonded with others who did the same.

We realized that there weren’t too many situations in life that didn’t have a relevant quote.
And the more aggravating the situation – the more the quote made us laugh.


Then came cancer.

Life turned upside down.

The tests, the surgeries, the injections, the scans.
The nausea.  The pain.
The chemo-induced roller coaster of emotions.

The baldness.

And at night we’d watch Arrested Development.
And laugh.

Arrested Development was a taste of our old, innocent lives.
It was the craziness that made our craziness bearable.

And when the going got really tough,
And my thoughts were dark and my outlook was bleak,
A well thought-out blog post and a perfect AD quote lightened my load in a way nothing else could.

And I survived.

And thrived.

And that’s how a sitcom saved my life.



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 November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm.

8 comments

Say Good Bye To This

Take a good look, ’cause it’s the last time…



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 November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010 at 7:20 am.

7 comments

Share a Story

I learned early in this journey that the aggressivness of breast cancer and its spectrum of treatments is dependent upon many factors: The age and pre/post menopause status of the woman. The size, location, estrogen receptor status, progesterone receptor status and Her2 status of the tumor. Lymph node involvement.

In those early days, I was desperate to find and follow happy, healthy survivors sharing my particular permutation and combination of these factors.

I needed to know the journey was do-able. That it had been done before. That there were happily ever afters.

Rethink Breast Cancer has opened its Tell Her2 Story Gallery up to all of us.

Have a story? Leave a story.
Need a story? Find a story.

Stories are powerful.



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 November 22, 2010

November 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm.

7 comments

Back in the Saddle


If Briefly.

December 1, 2010 has been designated as Canadian National Day of Dusting Off Old Podcasts.

Our sorely neglected podcast JustOneMoreBook.com has been sitting dormant for 14 months now.

I miss it. Mark misses it. Lucy and Bayla miss it.

So, although we were completely unprepared and the audio itself is nothing to be proud of, it was huge fun to dust off that audio equipment, drink some delicious coffee in our cozy Wild Oat home, and chirp some off-the-cuff praise for a few children’s books.



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 November 20, 2010

November 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm.

9 comments

I’ll be there. Will you?

Calling all creators — anyone who cooks, sews, knits, produces, paints, writes, designs, composes, sculpts, photographs,…

The first ever CreatorCamp is taking place in Ottawa in exactly three weeks.

CreatorCamp has one organizing principle… sessions MUST be about creating something (and by CREATING, we don’t mean revenue, audience, market share, connections, Twitter-followers).

Sessions should showcase the creative process and highlight key lessons and ideas that can be applied to any creative project.

Have something to share? Have something to learn?

I hope to see you there.



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 November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm.

4 comments

What goes down…

Two weeks ago today, I silently imploded during a simple 2 minute Toastmasters role.

Today, I won best impromptu speech.

Valleys are sudden and they feel deeper than they are.

I need to remember that.



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 November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm.

7 comments

Slumpin

I’m extremely grateful to be alive and healthy.

But boy are things frustrating me this week.

Finances. Time pressures. And a whole slew of thorn-in-my-side people.

Calgon take me away.



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 November 16, 2010

November 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm.

13 comments

Happiness Is..

Healing Time.

A year ago today was my second cancer surgery (complete axillary lymph node removal).

I wish I’d known, going into those surgeries, that my right arm and upper body would be permanently damaged. And I sure wish I’d known to try breaking that scar tissue up right away.

But something else I didn’t know, back then, was whether I’d be here today.

I’m grateful that I am.
And for my resilient family, our working limbs, our healthy bodies and our joy.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm.

1 comment

From the Mouth of Bayla: Anti-Cancer Yumm!!

Yesterday, Lucy, Mom, Dad and I recived a GREAT gift.

It was sprouted lentil and burdock soup with miso, burdock root tea, black kale chips, apple crisp, raspberry blueberry banana and chia pudding, marinated red cabbage, raw curried carrot soup, raw dehydrated broccoli and pineapple salad, raw marinated mushroom and parsley salad and avocado sprout and millet sushi.YUUMMM!!!!

We would like to thank you for making the delicious anti-cancer food for us, Candice Bernes !!!!!!!

Note from Mom:
More about Candice Bernes and her healthy personal chef services at KitchenMambo.com



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

Bayla Posted by Bayla November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm.

4 comments

A Snap, A Slap and One Last Flush

Today was my final trip to the chemo unit — for one last port-a-cath flush.

To mark the momentous occasion, I snapped this photo. Then that one.

“Mrs. Ross,” someone called. I assumed it was time for my flush. But the receptionist continued, “no photos allowed in the hospital.”

I was stunned.

“No photos in the hospital, Mrs. Ross. It’s hospital policy.”

“My blog’s in trouble,” I ventured, when I’d recovered from the shock. But she didn’t see the humour. Then a feeble, “But it’s my story.”

“Hospital policy.”

At each silence, she kept on:

I have to delete any photos I’ve taken. Pause.
If I want to take photos I need to have “Security” accompany me and approve each one. Pause.
If she called security they’d make me delete them right here and now.

Yikes.

Since I learned of it on May 4, I’ve been hoping to eventually join the hospital’s Community Advisory Committee.

Today’s sweet encounter was the perfect little nudge.



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 November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010 at 9:05 pm.

3 comments

What have we always said is the most important thing?

This week, I spent two luxurious days in my first hometown — gabbing and gobbling with my lost and found cousin, Kelly.

During our wonderfully relaxing and restorative weekend, we wandered through pockets of memories from my childhood, my adolescence, my wild university days, my young adulthood and my pre-me extended family.

It felt odd to cross paths with the many versions of me. With my lost and found cousin. In my lost and found life.

Scary stats and niggling twinges of mortality can make me antsy about the quantity of time ahead.

Drifting in and out of these memory-packed spaces reminded me that life is short at the best of times. But, more importantly, that even short personal eras can pack huge whacks of life.

Here’s to great memory-making ahead.



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 November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 at 9:08 pm.

1 comment