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

Happiness Is…

Closing the oncologist chapter.

This morning, I unexpectedly graduated from my oncologist’s practice. Time to update AboutMe:

ExplorerWife. Mother. Yogini. Friend.

Happy

Healthy

Learning

Loving

Stumbling and fumbling, but getting back up.




Surviving and Thriving.
And intending to continue doing so.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm.

11 comments

Happiness Is…

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.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011 at 10:29 am.

11 comments

Happiness Is…

Jack Layton.


Look what the postman just delivered.

A cozy, upbeat reminder of our dearly missed Jack. Straight from his beloved T.O.

Peace…. Love…. Jack Layton.

Perfect.

Thank you, Kingi. Thank you, Jack.

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More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011 at 11:05 am.

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Feel Free

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 I'm running for the cure, October 2, 2011. You are invited to join me in this effort to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by sponsoring me. Just click here.Run For The Cure.

Feel free to help by sponsoring Mark, Lucy, Bayla or me.

Thank you.

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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 September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011 at 10:04 am.

1 comment

Hey. You. Get Offa My Blog.

I truly hope to reach my golden years.

And if I do, I sure hope I don’t find that I have alienated myself from every one of my children.

And if I have, I really hope that none of my children has to endure the trauma of a life-threatening illness without one iota of parental support.

And if they do, I sincerely hope I won’t be so petty and poisonous at to leave snarky comments on their blog.

But that’s just me.

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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 September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm.

7 comments

Kickin Cousins

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 first full-scale failure.

A crowd. A boat. A tractor. A rope. Susie’s mechanic-Dad gets it running.

I squeeze out the seats. Cover them in blankets. Gussy myself up and pick up my hunky ex-boyfriend for our planned boat-cruise party date.

That’s forgiveness.
That’s resilience.

Twenty-nine years later — To. The. Day. — I learned that my long-lost cousin Susie and I are both breast cancer survivors.

Good thing we’re resilient.

We’re going to be fine.



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 September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011 at 1:18 am.

9 comments

Extreme Vacationing

Unbelievably, our long-awaited cross-country train trip has come and gone.

What a wild, wild ride.

It was our longest family vacation, to date. And certainly our most intense.

Compared to the hardcore Rocky Mountain hiking, biking and camping of my youth, it was physically a cynch. But boy was it emotionally explosive.

Here’s a random smattering of our two weeks away. You can snag a bigger peek here.

3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Ottawa to Edmonton.
A happy reunion with a long-lost friend.
An afternoon of waves and water slides.
Abrasions, bruises, a broken big toe and minus-one iphone, thanks to a harrowing afternoon on the Pembina River.
Thrilling road-side views of bears, elk, deer, coyotes and mountain goats.
Gorgeous views of mountains and lakes.
Such sadness at the news of Jack Layton.
An afternoon on horseback.
A glacier tour. A boat tour. A gondola tour.
(oh my)
A double-birthday celebration.
A day of badlands, dinosaurs and hoodoos.
An afternoon at the zoo.
An afternoon of heartbreak and hope.
A weekend of walloping western hospitality.
A decadent dinner with long-lost cousins.
A blast of all-consuming news.
A day in the old west.
3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Edmonton to Ottawa.
A happy reunion with Phae and our home sweet home.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this a vacation to remember.

And especially to Janice for beckoning us out, sharing her beautiful province, keeping us safe and enjoying one billion laughs with us through all the ups and downs.



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 September 3, 2011

September 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm.

6 comments

Join Us October 2

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!

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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 August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm.

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Looking for Me

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?



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 July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm.

14 comments

A Top Notch Tenning

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.



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 July 16, 2011

July 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm.

5 comments

Up here, Michael.


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.



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 May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm.

1 comment

Forget Regrets. Enjoy the Wondrousness.

The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don’t look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same.

Derek K. Miller (June 30, 1969 – May 3, 2011)

Thank you, Derek, for your strength, your humour, your wisdom and your authenticity.

Thinking of you, Airdrie, Lauren and Marina. Wishing you healing and many years of happiness and good health.
Love,
Andrea



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm.

3 comments

Encore

A rallying cry from the reluctant hero of Zorgamazoo:

Now, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win,
but my Pop always told me: You never give in!
And if he were here now, I know what he’d say:
Morty, my son, when you’re caught in a fray,

or your travels are tough and the going is rough,
or you’re up to your neck in the slippery stuff,
or say some old robots are on the attack,
then I tell you, my son: You start fighting back!.

Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston
RazorBill, 2008.

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More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011 at 11:09 am.

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It never hurts to double-check.

Back in December, I got pretty freaked out about a line of lumps along my right arm.

I fretted. I frenzied.

And celebrated big when I got the good news.

Two weeks ago, I had the long-awaited ultrasound and left to the words “I wouldn’t worry if I were you”.

And I didn’t.

Yesterday my oncologist gave me a cheery call. She’s ordered another look at a reactive lymph node.

Lucky me. More practice at trusting my body. More practice at not worrying.

Pretty soon, I’ll be a pro.



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 February 17, 2011

February 17, 2011 at 8:15 am.

5 comments

It’s just something the body does when you shake it.

Hooping, it turns out, is perfect post-breast-cancer-treatment therapy. Almost.

It challenges my co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness.
It entirely occupies my mind.

Its frantic, erratic arm movements sneak my damaged limb into places I thought I’d left behind.

It allows me to flail and fail without drawing the attention of the likewise intensely occupied others.

And gives me ample opportunity to tame my uber frustration reflex.

It’s brand new, so there’s no kicking myself for lost progress.
It’s great exercise.
It’s fun.

And it’s my first class with Lucy in 10 years.

But last night I discovered the Almost.
Chemo’d chicks don’t spin.
Or at least they shouldn’t.
I discovered.

It’s easy to forget how disgusting chemo was.
Last night’s hoop-induced nausea was a vivid reminder.
Of how lucky I am to be healthy.
And happy.
And chemo-free.

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 February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm.

6 comments