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

I have dreams, Lindsay. Dreams…

Well, then, Tobias… follow those dreams. Make those dreams happen.

– Tobias Funke, Visiting Ours

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.

The Princess Diaries?



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea February 5, 2011

February 5, 2011 at 7:24 am.

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Meeting Myself

Words of wisdom from Cheryl Crowe, breast cancer survivor:

I remember my radiologist saying to me, “Your mission now is to ask yourself every day, ‘Am I doing what I want to be doing?’” And  I do ask myself that, every day. I try to make the answer yes, even if it requires saying the word no and disappointing someone.

My experience was about letting go. It was about really experiencing all that was happening at the deepest emotional level, for that is where the big changes occur. That is where you meet yourself. Where you begin remembering who you are and who you were meant to be. I don’t believe you have to be diagnosed to come to these lessons, but sometimes the catastrophic moments in life force you to focus in on the immediate.

“Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips” by Kris Carr.
Skirt! Publications, 2007



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm.

4 comments

Stay At Home Me: Day #1

I’ve always envied Stay At Home Moms.
Starting today, I am one.
I’ll be home alone ’til my treatments done.

This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.



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 January 4, 2010

January 4, 2010 at 7:00 am.

9 comments

From the Mouth of Bayla #1

If  you are a parent undergoing cancer treatments, the first thing you should do is try to stop eating (and drinking): beer, wine, coffee, anything with sugar and anything with caffeine. Then there are some gross drinks you should drink (ie: beat, ginger, lettuce and/or spinach, celery and carrott juice and/or medicinal tea) after you have had all of those drinks it reduces the chances of throwing-up during chemotherapy.

Personally I think that I am getting less time with my mom and more time with my friends. It  may seem to you like a big treat but to me I like spending time with my family but don’t get me wrong I also like spending time with my friends just when you are in a situation like this you like spending time with your family.



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

Bayla Posted by Bayla January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm.

2 comments

The supporter experience #1: don’t panic

Don’t Panic. Those are the insightful words that grace the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the fictitious guide in the earthly book by Douglas Adams. I’ve tried to live by those words for most of my adult life. When our home was broken into in September 2006; don’t panic. When United Airlines lost our luggage last Christmas; don’t panic. When I discovered I didn’t have my wallet with me when I was at the grocery checkout a couple of months ago; don’t panic.

As the loved one and primary support of someone diagnosed with cancer, don’t panic is a golden rule. Throughout the process you will hear a variety of cancer experiences from people all too willing to share whether you want them to or not, whether they understand the impacts of their stories or not. Surgeons, oncologists, nurses and anaesthetists will use words you’ve never hear before and will talk about side effects and will likely allude to long term impacts from treatments.

You may even have an experience like we had a week after Andrea’s breast cancer diagnosis. Andrea’s dentist found a cyst in her mouth and suggested it be biopsied. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing (Andrea must have bitten the inside of her cheek). However, for four stressful hours, we dealt with the possibility that the cancer wasn’t confined to Andrea’s breast.

Don’t panic.

Being the primary support means you need to be rational and calm. New language, information and ideas need to considered as part of the whole and you need to remain coherent when throwing in the towel seems the logical thing to do. It’s completely okay to be emotional so long as you don’t let your emotions interfere with being an advocate for your partner, communicating with your medical team and making sound decisions.

I’ll talk more about emotions as I share more of my supporter experience.



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 January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm.

2 comments

Thanksgiving in Quebec City

Two days after Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer, we took the train for a much needed four day vacation in Quebec City. It was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

Listen in as Lucy and Bayla order our lunch in French, we share what we’re thankful for and the sounds of street musicians in the heart of Quebec City.



We’ve had our audio recorders running during a good chunk of our journey. You can hear more audio collages here.

Mark Posted by Mark January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm.

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Thank You, 2009

Mark mumbled early this morning some plans involving scotch and the ringing out of “this horrid year”.

But doctors believe breast cancer takes six to eight years to develop to a detectable size and this was the year we caught it, cut it out, clubbed it and commenced construction of kick-ass “KEEP OUT” mechanisms.

So I say, “Thank You, 2009.”

and good riddance!

Other happenings that rocked our 2009:

January 14

Nortel (my employer at the time) seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States and Canada.

Not a huge surprise but it definitely rocked our world.

February 24

We adopt our pooch, Phaedra.

After 6 years of daily pleading, coercing, negotiating and plotting, we caved in. Little did we know she would become my very own Dr. White.

March 30

I leap from Nortel, and 22 years of software development, to a 12-month term position as a Technical Writer at EDC.

It was my first time without health benefits in my entire adult life, but it was walking distance from home and a chance to swap the stress of software development for the creative bliss of writing.

April 5

My “father”, Keith Ross, attempts to break into our home, spends who knows how long smashing on our front door, screaming through our mail slot and tearing out our mail slot and curtain.

As traumatic as this was for our entire family, it marked a clean endpoint of what has been an extremely painful, life long dysfunctional relationship.

July 6

Lucy attends her very first sleep-away camp.

It was a week at Time Travellers at Upper Canada Village where she and 40 other youngsters dressed in period costume and lived the role of an 1860s child. Lucy LOVED every minute of it!

August 15

I’m reunited with my long lost cousin, Kelly Clavette.

Kelly was my favourite cousin and a constant holiday companion throughout my childhood. We lost touch in our tweens. Thirty years later, Kelly and I “almost accidentally” reconnected and our renewed friendship with Kelly and her family brings our whole family true joy daily.

October 6

My diagnosis bridges the gap between myself and Mark’s parents, Rhoda and Bert Blevis.

Religious differences, unclear expecations and my own social anxiety had made my relationship with Mark’s parents a rocky one but the minute they received news of my diagnosis, Rhoda and Bert let bygones be bygones and promptly made themselves available to support our little family in any and every way.  We couldn’t have made it this far (this sane) without their unbelievable support.

October 12

My diagnosis reunites me with my long lost brother, David Ross.

I’ve missed my little bro terribly and, regardless of the circumstances, I’m thrilled that we’re in each others’ lives again.

November 25

Mark abandons his own media endeavours and takes an exciting new position as a digital public affairs strategist with Fleishman-Hillard.

Health benefits and insurance and security, Oh My!

December 18

Our friend Caroline Coady announces she is cured of Stage 4 Colon Cancer.

WooHoo!!!

December 21

Mark’s long time friend David O’Farrell loses his battle with cancer.

December 22

I revel in 14 years of Mark Blevis.

On December 22, 1995, while on a date with someone else and thanks to a huge number of coincidences, I met Mark Blevis. Lucky me! We’ve doubled the seven year itch and I’m still itching to be with this fabulous guy.

Thank you, 2009…  Bring On 2010!!



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 December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 at 4:28 pm.

9 comments

Journey Learning #1

Whether or not we believe this disease has intentionally presented itself to do so, it’s definitely encouraging me to learn and grow in ways that my stubborn adherence to justice, fear and inertia has always prevented.

So, while the medical gurus cut, stitch, poke, scan, radiate and infuse me, it seems my role in building a new, improved, bionic me is to grasp the many opportunities for learning and then to choose and use new beliefs, patterns and perspectives that will build a stronger, happier, healthier me.

Journey Learnings.

I’ll track them here, one at a time, in no particular order.  Let’s start with a big, small one:

Journey Learning #1: I can survive without coffee, sugar and red wine.

Whodathunkit?



More Journey Learnings here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 at 8:00 am.

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Releasing the Genie

Encouraging words from Cheryl Swanson’s Busting Loose: Cancer Survivors Tell You What Your Doctor Won’t:

Somewhere in the midst of surgery or treatment or chemotherapy, your own genie is going to claw her way out of  your core. And there’s no putting her back in the bottle once she’s free. And that’s a good thing, even a great thing, because she’s going to help you sing your song and live your life for the rest of  your days.

The person you were before cancer? She suffered from an overload of personal anxiety and cultural repression.  Frankly, she wasn’t having as much fun as she could have had.

But she’s about to do something huge — survive a devastating disease

[...]

So, brace yourself [...] It’s time to bust loose.

Cheryl Swanson, Busting Loose: Cancer Survivors Tell You What Your Doctor Won’t.
Zumaya Publications
, 2009



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009 at 8:22 pm.

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Survivor hairstyles and attitudes

We prepared this short video of clips from Andrea’s head shaving party and some thoughts that we live by every day.



Mark Posted by Mark December 29, 2009

December 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm.

30 comments