Thank you, 2010

I absolutely adored 2010.
We were healthy, happy and together.
We had loads to celebrate. And we celebrated often.

Yet, reflecting on the year, this morning, I was shocked at its rockiness.

Where reactions and reconnections reigned 2009, 2010 was a year of overcoming obstacles. Of attempted relationship resuscitations. Of some painful — yet freeing — realizations. And relief.

It was a year of adjusting to the new me.
And of testing out the me that has been there all along.

As I reflected on 2009 and looked hopefully toward 2010, I never dreamed of the treat I had in store.

And I have high hopes for 2011.

Thank you, 2010. Welcome, 2011.

Some Zigs and Zags of our 2010:

February 6 (our 11 year wedding anniversary)

Our insurer refuses to honour my critical life and disability insurance claim.

This was a cruel and devastating blow. Not only because they robbed us but after stringing us along for 4 months but because I’d been over-insured for the twenty some years leading up to my leap from Nortel six months before my diagnosis.

April 1

Chemo ends!

And life begins afresh.

April 22

We are spared the pain of the long-awaited trial and Keith Ross accepts a Section 810 Peace Bond which prohibits him from having any contact with us for a period of 12 months..

Our world has been peaceful since.

May 20 (Mark’s 40th birthday)

The perfect storm of physical, financial, parenting and family challenges bring me to my knees.

Yet we survived.

June 15

Radiation ends.

We did it.

June 21

I take a first bite at my fear of public speaking.

I’m so glad I did. (Photo thanks to Alexa Clark.)

June 16-Sept 13

My first summer with my lovelies since Bayla was a newborn.

The most fabulous summer of relaxing, reading, biking and being with my lovelies.

August 28

Our long, long, long awaited victory celebration.

Wine, munchies and good, good people.
Pure bliss.

September 14

Back to work.

Two more days a week than I had hoped but simply grand to have an income again.

November 25

Port-a-cath gone.

Scary and thrilling.

December 22

We celebrate fifteen fabulous years of Mark Blevis.

Lucky, lucky me.

Thank you, 2010… Let’s all enjoy a happy, healthy 2011.

From the Mouth of Bayla # 31 : Christmas

OK.Where should I start? I’ll start with Christmas eve.You can’t belive how many presents were on the coffee table! Some of them even hid the tree! (we had a rosemary bush.) Dad got bed sheets, books, tea, candy and an ok go CD. Mom got tea, two pairs of funky new glasses, a box decorated as a reindeer and a scarf and hand warmers. Lucy and I got too much to remember but we got one thing that we have been asking for for five months. A Wii.

Hey, Hermano

The bannister above our stairs is home to our broken clothes. Lonely garments linger there awaiting a two-minute zip on my sewing machine — collecting dust and, often, being outgrown.

I’d rather sew three new outfits than grab those wounded wearables and stitch their gaping rips.

As I sloppily sewed up a dog-bitten seam this morning, I wondered why.

Beyond the obvious — time crunch, procrastination and the excitement of building versus the fixing grind — I realized it’s that sometimes repair’s not what’s needed.

Much-loved items are either fine with their foibles or restored in emergency fixes between breakfast and school. They skip the bannister entirely.

Other items are damaged beyond — or made worse by — repair.

And those worn out items that wait forgotten on the railing would often otherwise be drawer-clutterers.

Eventually, it gets to me. And the dusty lingerers are tossed.

This year, 2010, saw the end of all four of our sibling relationships:

My absent brother remained so.
My “close” sister turned out to be a fair weather friend.
And our efforts to repair the long-damaged relationships with Mark’s two sisters just caused pain, confusion, combustion and, finally, renewed, widened rifts.

We’re heading into the new year with a clean bannister.
It feels fine.

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Happy anniversary,

This past October marked the beginning of catalogue of anniversaries in our journey through Andrea’s cancer treatment program. At one point I’d worried the anniversaries would be hard and emotional. It turns out they’re rewarding and invigorating because of Andrea’s resilience and good health. It’s like we have a second chance at life.

Today is a particularly significant anniversary. WeCanRebuildHer was launched one year ago, today, following Andrea’s head-shaving party the night before. The party was such an important milestone in our journey that I’ve kept some of Andrea’s hair from that night as a souvenir.

To play with the text in the first post, we invite you to follow our journey through life as a family that has survived the cancer treatment process. We’ll continue to blog our experiences and thoughts and share audio, video and photographs of the process of enjoying life together.

And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video we put together from the head-shaving party. As noted at one point in the video, our then-8-year-old was the videographer.

Happiness is…

Luxurious laziness.

We’ve been lounging in our PJs, eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, playing games and thoroughly enjoying our good health and our schedule-free, care-free days of fallow.

Hoping your holiday has been and continues to be filled with happiness,  good health, delicious food and great people.

Glad I Grabbed That Brownish Area By Its Points

Fifteen years ago today, my dream life began.

It was a Christmas party in the suburbs. Both of us invited by total fluke.

He was a gangly young guy with a patchy beard, a grass green sweater and an ear-to-ear smile.

I was on a first date. But not with him.

I arrived at the party just as he was preparing to leave it.
But he stayed.
We talked.
And he left with my girlfriend’s email address.

Little did I know he’d make — and save — my life.

Lucky, lucky me.

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All is well.

The doctor assures me that the lumps are absolutely no problem at all. She has a number of theories involving muscle, tendon, scar tissue etc and has ordered an ultrasound, just to be safe.


Yes, I’m a certifiable hypochondriac. And, yes, this very good news is worth the hours of teasing that Mark is currently enjoying.

Thank you for your good, good vibes.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Happiness Is…

The Kindness of Strangers.
One year ago today, I started chemo.
Days before — in anticipation of my hairless winter — Lucy, Bayla and I had combed the annual Originals Christmas Craft Fair in search of a funky chemo cap.

An extremely generous and talented stranger, by the name of Debbie Etherington, absolutely insisted that I pick out any of her cozy handknitted toques and accept it as a gift.

That cozy toque, with its warm thrumbed lining and its even warmer history, kept my bald head warm all winter.

Today, Debbie and I met again. This time I brought good news, gratitude,…

And a set of home made pillow cases.

Mouthy Me

I’m very honoured to have been included in a powerful discussion of fear, confidence and self-esteem on this week’s edition of my friend Daniele Rossi’s fabulous podcast, Stuttering Is Cool. It’s an hour long program entitled If I Didn’t Stutter I’d Be Able To… Really?

Coincidentally, I’m also a — much less mouthy — guest of this week’s Canadian Podcast Buffet. This is a 45 minute discussion of the first-ever CreatorCamp.

Happiness Is…

Good Friends and, as it turns out,

When those lumps came to light on Friday, I spun into a vortex of terror.
I wandered like a distracted zombie for the better part of four days.

Sharing my worries here and in real-life has lightened my load but the real sand-blasting of my buzzing brain was thanks to an introductory hooping class.

My spatial ineptitude and lack of co-ordination meant my entire mind was focused on a festooned hoop.

No stabbing cancer scenarios for one solid hour.

And I’ve felt fairly human since.
A drained, dull and distracted human. But a human.

Thank you to Andree for your friendship and for the class.
And thanks to the many friends whose kind words and deeds are helping us through this scary limbo.

Hoping to be shouting happy, happy news on Tuesday.