It hit me during Bif Naked’s un-freakin-believably honest, poignant and entertaining address at the conference last weekend.
And it hit me hard (thanks to you).
With a dramatic roll of her eyes, Bif described how breast cancer had saddled her with the pieces-picking-upping of her inconsolable family and friends. And the survivor crowd gave a massive been-there roar.
With all the whining that I did about inappropriate reactions, complete collapse (well, even the slightest tearing up) was a possible reaction that had never crossed my mind.
I blasted the world with my news as soon as I got it. By email, SMS, twitter, blogs, newsletter, gchat and in person, I shot my message out with faith that the returning vibes would get me through it.
Not a single adult cried. Not even Mark.
And, no matter how scary things got, my close friends and family always shrugged my worries off. And I guess I followed suit.
I realize now, it was not because they didn’t care. It was because they did.
So thank you, my beautiful friends and family, for shielding me from concern.
And please accept my sincere apology for not appreciating it sooner.
I’ve been back at work for seven weeks and, while I’ve enjoyed the geeky problem-solving, the feelings of accomplishment and, best of all, the cash, my huge challenge is time.
With 8 packed and hurried work hours, bookended by the commute, delivery and pickup of Luba, and morning and evening chores, I’m scrambling through days and letting loads of life slide.
Hyper-healthy eating takes tonnes of time. And my millions of physiotherapy, oncology, port-a-cath flush appointments, plus the getting there and wait times, really put the squeeze on my already rushed ragged routine.
I had assumed that I’d be returning to a three day work week. And, given my uber-productivity, I hadn’t dreamed I’d be denied.
But my employer couldn’t oblige.
I’m just back from Body, Mind, Spirit: The Canadian Breast Cancer Network’s National Conference for Young Women Living with Breast Cancer — almost 48 hours solid of education and encouragement with 340 breast cancer survivors from every province and territory across Canada.
What a gift.
I left the conference with 14 pages of handwritten notes, a stack of books and brochures, and my brain abuzz.
The speakers and workshops were first class, the food was free, the facilities fitting.
And above all of this were the women.
340 women on journeys just like mine.
The lump-finding. The bad news. The pokes, prods and zaps.
The baldness. The isolation. The decisions.
The uncertainty. The losses, the triumphs and lingering impacts.
The crazy mood swings. The shockingly thoughtless comments.
Young families side swiped. With meals to be made and dishes to be done.
I’m back home. But I’m not alone.
Here’s a tiny sampling of my learnings:
- Newfoundlanders rock. Thanks to Yvonne Jones for reminding me.
- Cancer cultivates compassion. Thanks to Joy Smith.
- I need to start each day with lemon water, add ginger to my daily matcha, and remember to eat 2 brazil nuts, 2-4 tablespoons of flax meal, some rosemary and 1 teaspoon of tumeric each day. Thanks to Dr. Natasha Zajmalowski.
- Love heals. Death and recurrence do not equate to failure. Thanks to Dr. Rob Rutledge.
- I won’t rule survivor advocacy out of my distant future. Thanks to Ryan Clarke.
- It’s about time I explored Venus Envy. Thanks to Dr. Sally Kydd.
- I can do my own lymphatic massage. Thanks to Anna Kennedy and Pamela Hammond.
- Even a sexy, hilarious, intelligent, compassionate, super down-to-earth rock star feels stupid and isolated when she gets hit by breast cancer. Thanks to Bif Naked.
- Sleep’s much more important than supplements and therapies. Thanks to Christine Maria Gross.
- Your honesty reflects your intelligence. Thanks to Carol Anne Cole.
Massive thank yous to 340 strong young women from coast to coast to coast and to the inspiring survivors who put the conference together and shared their wisdom. And thank you to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for the scholarship that made this enriching experience mine.
I can’t wait for next year!
Don’t take my word for it….Conference talk around the web:
Way over-gelled today, but getting nice and long!
Sorry about the photo quality. We were scrambling and ended up taking the photos at the Oat. “Not my best work, though. She wanted to look 48. I nearly airbrushed her into oblivion. Ended up checking ‘albino’ in the form“