Bold Steps.I was completely honoured to be selected to read a WeCanRebuildHer.com post at Blog Out Loud Ottawa, last night. This reading followed an extremely low week for me and I had barely scraped myself together enough to attend the event, let alone participate. I'm immensely grateful to the many friends and magical powers that got me through this week of self-inflicted torment. And I'm grateful to Lynn and the BOLO gang for including me in this fabulous evening. Wishing you health and happiness. Andrea xo http://youtu.be/viduQMyhXJQ
Surviving and thriving.That's us, to the right. Two years ago today. Moments after sharing the bad news with Luba. So early in a surreal journey. Behind that smile, a big part of me thought life was over. All of me hoped it was just beginning. We headed to Quebec City that week. As planned. I tossed and turned in the hotel bed, hoping I'd somehow fall asleep before Lucy, Bayla and Mark finished watching "The Corpse Bride", "Beetlejuice", "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". I was awoken, one of those nights, by a ringing thought: This was the beginning of "The Spicy Me". Before this ordeal, my aim was to get through life. To make it to some far off end without losing any of the fabulousness I'd stumbled into. New territories and aspirations were reserved for Luba. As a matter of course. Two years ago today, I opened my eyes. I became alert. Aware. Present. Grateful plus. I started examining. And choosing. And imagining more. The two years since then have brought trauma and mourning, recovery and joy. I've made friends. I've taken chances. I've explored new territories. I've become the Spicy Me. I'd never choose cancer. I never want it again. For any one. And I'm supremely grateful for the efflorescing goodness I've been treated to since that mind-boggling beginning. Two years ago today. I'm aspiring to many, many more good years. By the way.
the month-long preparations. The colours. The crafts. The googly-eyed desserts. The rhyming, creativity-packed picture books. The manic costume creation. Two years ago today, as I prepared for those long-awaited test-results, we splurged on Hallowe'en. Filling our craft-store basket, despite the expense. I thought it was my last Hallowe'en. It wasn't. Lucky, lucky me.
Thank you so much for joining Mark, Lucy, Bayla and myself in our efforts to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. You donated $1130! Jenny Sinanan Morrie Johnson Mark and Maureen Blaseckie Val Willis Carolyn, David, Gillian and Jake Wright Lee Edward Fodi Laura Bergen Janice Toews Eden Spodek Tracy Bialecki Connie Crosby Rich Cantrell Greg & Andree O'Donnell Betti and Rob Stiff Bert and Rhoda Blevis Wilf and Barb Clavette Clare Rogers Orit, Sean, Lilly, Elliot and Jo Moore The Gupta/Gustyn Family Eden Spodek Be happy and be well. Love, Andrea xo
When I was diagnosed in October 2009, I was vaguely aware of one woman who had been through the experience before me. I felt isolated. Targeted. Stupid. Alone. Sadly, I don't feel alone now. There are too many of us. And the numbers keep growing. Most of our moms didn't walk this path. I fervently hope that our daughters don't have to. This weekend, we're doing the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run For The Cure. Feel free to help by sponsoring Mark, Lucy, Bayla or me. Thank you.
It's August 29, 1982. Five days after my sweet-17. Relatives drop in and I'm sent to the local orchard to pick up some apples. It's a 4km drive. My 12 year old cousin, Susie, joins me for the ride. We pick up the apples. Then, since we're so close, I drive us down to the Rideau Locks. Park the car. Hop out and show my little cousin around. But what's that? A rusty little Civic is floating in the water. The rusty little Civic that I just parked. Out of gear. On a slope. Facing the water. my long-lost cousin Susie and I are both breast cancer survivors. Good thing we're resilient. We're going to be fine.
If you'll be in Ottawa October 2, 2011, we'd love you to join Mark, Bayla, myself and our team mates for a beautiful 5km saunter along the Ottawa River to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. You can register for our No Pink For Profit team, here. Hope to see you there!
In January, 2009, I was a busy woman. A stressed-out Nortel software designer. A hard-working mother to 7 and 9 year old girls. A passionate kidlit advocate publishing four podcast episodes a week. I exercised tonnes. I moved fast. I hardly slept. In April, 2009, after 26 years of systems analysis, programming and design, I leapt to a short-term technical writing position. I'd never identified with my occupation but without my high-stress, high-tech job, I did kind of wonder who I was. But I was Andrea Ross of JustOneMoreBook. I was creating stuff. Life was exciting. And the twenty-minute walk to my cushy tech-writing job was lovely. I was fine. In September, 2009, in midst of that six-week diagnostic stress, I kicked our beloved podcast to the curb. Before that identity loss had time to hit, I'd been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thus began another busy year. In September, 2010, I returned to my short-term technical writing position. But the pointlessness, plodding pace and poisonous co-workers soon put an end to that too. On April 14, 2011, I quit. Ending almost 30 years of constant full-time employment. And here I am. No podcast. No job. And two tween-age kids who consistently resist me. I could cook or clean. But I don't. I could get out and do stuff. But I can't think what. I know I'm lucky. Now, who am I?
The weekend Lucy turned ten, I found that lump. Fully dressed, amidst Lucy's festivities, some tingling vibration drew my fingers. And there it was. With a puff of cold steam, a new world was born. Today, Bayla turned ten. Twenty-two months later. Today was a good day. Lucy and Bayla spent most of it on their own together, being tweens: browsing their favourite shops, doing each others' nails, exploring Bayla's new DSI, painting pottery, strolling down to DQ to split a Blizzard. And we ended the day with the end of Harry P. In 3D. Today I did a lot of thinking back ten years. And back two years. And looking ahead. Looking forward to many happy years of great memories behind and ahead for us all. And feeling very, very grateful.
It is inching towards midnight, one million degrees and humid. We are without air conditioning. Our girls are squirrely and none of us are able to sleep. So, a cranky post in response to some all-too-frequent insensitive cancer-spam.
As if anyone reading this blog isn't already doing the obvious in terms of breast cancer.
Hi Andrea,I stumbled upon your blog and I was happy to see that you also support breast cancer and I hope you're doing well. I wanted to share this infographic [linked] with you and your followers, so that we can help to educate and spread the word about the easy preventive steps to combat breast cancer. Breast Cancer: Get the Facts, ties the importance society has given to how breast look with the lack of importance women have given to their own health. The bra industry itself is a multimillion dollar business and over 400,000 women a year choose to enhance their breasts through cosmetic surgery. And it's depressing to know that only 65% of women over 40 get a mammogram regularly. We know we all want them to look great, but let's make sure that they feel that way too. Will you post this on your blog or Twitter to help women realize how important and easy it really is to prevent breast cancer? Please let me know what you think via, Stephania@flankmarketing.com. I look forward to your response! Thanks, Stephania Andrade
I'm always pleased to hear that my blog has reached people. Especially those on their own versions of this journey. Today, I heard from Alex in London, England. She asked if I had any advice for post-treatment life. I thought I'd share my response here...
Hi Alex, Congratulations on completion of your treatment and thanks for your very kind message. Hmmm. Advice for life after treatment? I guess my advice would be: lower your standards, enjoy each day, face your fears, exude gratitude and try not to stress about prevention. It seems easy to find tonnes of advice on how to try to prevent recurrence and I made a tonne of lifestyle, food, habit changes during my treatment. But the best advice I have for myself (or you) is probably to be good to myself: and that can mean to remember to be moderate about the anti-cancer stuff. Not to beat myself up because I go weeks or months without eating brazil nuts or almonds or ginger or green tea or flax meal. To accept that I drink coffee and red wine etc. That I have the occasional run of late nights. Oh, and unsubscribe from all cancer blogs! (I do check in on my cancer-friends from time to time, and catch up on their stories, but getting a steady stream of daily cancer-news was not having healthy results for the post-treatment me) And here's a great bunch of advice. Wishing you many years of great health and happiness. Andrea
In October 2009, I was desperate to have both breasts removed. Thanks to my insistent surgeon, I didn't. They're small. They're lopsided. There are scars on both. But they're here. And so am I. Lucky me.