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

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

More to come.



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 2, 2011

September 2, 2011 at 10:37 am.

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Intersecting Rings

I made my very first hoop yesterday and headed, shyly, to the park to test it out.

I had hoped the park would be empty.
But no such luck.

As I stood building up my nerve, a stranger inquired about dog tricks. I answered politely, found some space and gave the hoop a timid spin.

My embarrassment subsided and I soon had the park to myself.

Then I spotted a woman and a gaggle of children. All clearly watching me from down the street.

I turned away, embarrassed, and continued spinning-and-dropping with my back to the eyes.

When I turned back, minutes later, the woman was spinning-and-dropping a hoop of her own. In her driveway. With the gaggle of children.

How cool is that?

p.s. Turns out my home-made hoop is slightly small, slightly light and slightly pointed. But absolutely dandy, for the whopping $5 it cost me.

More hooping here.



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 7, 2011

July 7, 2011 at 7:29 am.

4 comments

Happiness Is…

Hanging. Twisting. Stretching. Trusting.
Letting go…

I just experienced my first ever wall yoga.

Four students. Two instructors.
Loads of gentle adjustments and narrative.

Pure Bliss.

And to think I only joined as a personal dare.

Thank you Basia. Thank you Natalie.

For the heavenly new addiction.

Related Links:



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea July 6, 2011

July 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm.

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Happiness Is…

Hoop…. instead of Poop.

Today was a rough day.
Huge thanks to hooping (and Sophie) for the hour-long escape from care.
And to Lucy for joining me.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm.

4 comments

Happiness Is…

Good Friends and, as it turns out,
Hooping.

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.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea December 16, 2010

December 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm.

9 comments

Breakfast, Ladies?

Motivated by the promise of a “yummy breakfast” with a gaggle of interesting woman, I’ve joined Laurie Kingston’s Run For The Cure Team.

If you’re a female who can be in Ottawa on October 3rd, you can join too.

Register here.



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 9, 2010

August 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm.

3 comments

Wearing Memories … in a good way

Mark’s parents paid me a lovely lunchtime visit last week. In honour of the occasion, I had changed out of my everyday recovery-wear into my Company’s Coming recovery-wear.

At the end of the visit, Mark’s mom motioned to my T-shirt and asked “Who went to Nepal?” and I responded, “My friend Bill. Twenty-some years ago.”

Old T-shirt.

I realized afterward that not only do I recall the source and story (however banal) behind each item in my recovery wardrobe but the memories flit through my mind each and every time I put the clothes on. Which, for one outfit or the other, is at some point of every single day.

So, for the record and without the full details which flit at lightning speed through my mind each time, here they are.

Dress recovery-wear:
  • medium weight lycra tights – part of a fabulous chemo-survival gift parcel from my sister Linda, January 2010, in preparation for more stylish winter jogging.
  • purple “Trek Nepal” T-shirt – a souvenir from my friend Bill Flanagan following his trek through the Himalayan mountains, circa 1989.
  • CCKMA T-shirt (alternate T choice) – a gift from fellow breast cancer Survivor and neighbour Laurie Kingston, December 2009, on the occasion of our head-shaving party.
  • peach Lululemon hoody – a pre-surgery gift from Mark’s mom and dad, October 2009, in preparation for not being able to lift my right arm.
Everyday recovery-wear:
  • winter-weight wooly tights – my very first MEC catalog order, circa 1992 long before MEC came to Ottawa, in preparation for our bike trip across Newfoundland (2 identical pairs).
  • red fleece undershirt – Phase 2, The Glebe, autumn 1999, on the recommendation of my friend and fellow strollercizer, Caroline Coady, in preparation for winter strollercizing (3 identical shirts).

And my daily hat choice is a selection from the stash provided by my generous and talented friends Whitney, Katherine and Debbie.

And guess what, all those good clothing vibes seem to be working.
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 March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010 at 6:51 am.

1 comment

We Interrupt This Program

Ok. Maybe I’m getting bored of chemo or forgetting how absolutely lucky I am that I’m not throwing up or laying in bed moaning — but this round seems very different.

Digestive distress or no, the chemo cravings (for pizza, chinese food, big sloppy burgers) are just out of the park. Nauseating images of the chemo-pod (bleh!), the styrofoam cup of ice-chips (bleh!), the food I eat on chemo-days (bleh!) are just absolutely haunting me. And, though I’m continuing my daily walks, jog/skate and excercise, I’m feeling weak and dizzy.

Right now I seriously feel so loopy I shouldn’t even be allowed to blog.

But the sun is shining and the canal is open, so I’m heading out for a skate.

This might not be the best idea…

p.s. Dear reader in Don Mills, ON: Sorry you haven’t had a lot of luck searching here for “Josie”, “Josephine Ross”, “Keith”, “In-laws”, “Keith Ross”,”grandparents”, “Andrea’s father”, “my father”, “my mother”, “parents” etc.  This p.s. will give you some search results though!



Andrea Posted by Andrea February 2, 2010

February 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm.

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I’ll be in the hospital bar

The challenge of having a naturally positive attitude is the tendency to take for granted that things will always be smooth. It can be extremely sobering when you get a shot across the bow to remind you that, particularly where chemotherapy is concerned, you’re tinkering with the complex and delicate systems of the human body.

Today, we recognized that shot.

Even though Andrea’s receiving Neulasta injections (which help stimulate white blood cell production), subjecting herself to practical elements of an alkaline diet, jogging and exercising daily, avoiding (as much as possible) contact with people outside our immediate family, getting plenty of sleep and receiving regular energy treatments, her white blood cell and neutrophil counts have dropped significantly. Thankfully all is well and chemo number three proceeded as scheduled. However, it was a revelation that we may yet face setbacks in Andrea’s chemo program.

It was also a shock to consider what the situation might be like if the above list wasn’t true. Those thoughts rattled Andrea. We actually took a picture of Andrea in an unsettled state and had hoped to use it for this post since it was just as relevant a moment as any of our happy moments are. Unfortunately, it seems my iPhone had different plans as it chewed the photo up and spit it out when we weren’t looking.

This is where having a naturally positive outlook is particularly important.

Andrea and I talked about what the counts mean and we agreed that the counts are high enough and Andrea strong enough that she’s remained healthy to date. We also realized how lucky we are that we’re able to get Neulasta and that Andrea’s commitment to exercise and good health has played a key role in protecting her from even lower counts so far.

I’m reminded of another belief I have which I sometimes forget: celebrate every victory, no matter how small. This simple approach sustains motivation and focus, and keeps away challenges that have the potential to overtake me. With that in mind, I’ll refocus my attention from finishing the sixth treatment as scheduled on April 2, to making sure Andrea stays healthy and can proceed with chemo number four as scheduled.



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 29, 2010

January 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm.

7 comments

Breaking the Rules

Have I mentioned that I love the canal?

As I walk and jog at its edge each day, it rarely fails to share a story.

Tales of hopeful preparations and thwarted plans. Spunky students risking shortcuts. Rogue skaters and mysteries.

Today’s tale totally tickled me:

I definitely need to start breaking some rules.

ps. this is a raccoon, in case it’s tough to tell from the tiny photo, who should not only be obeying the Keep Off signs, but should be hibernating!



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 28, 2010

January 28, 2010 at 11:22 am.

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My Stay At Home Healing Routine, so far

I’m settling seamlessly into my new Monday-Friday Home Alone Healing routine. My days are actually pretty full and, so far, they’re flying by. Here’s how I fill them:

  • make and sip Flor-Essence tea
  • supervise and/or make packed lunches and breakfast for Lucy and Bayla
  • juice and guzzle: ginger, beet, celery, spinach, carrot & lemon
  • down a slew of supplements
  • bark orders at Lucy and Bayla and/or enjoy pre-school time with Lucy and Bayla
  • walk Lucy and Bayla to school
  • walk to the Gratitude Statue and back for my gratitude and affirmation meditations (5k)
  • enjoy peanut butter and toast and tea
  • catch up on email, blogging, blog reading, the news, do a little housework, maybe prepare a decent dinner
  • do a 30 minute excercise tape
  • read, dally, nap etc
  • jog to the Gratitude Statue (unless the pathways are snowed over)
  • dinner, family time
  • enjoy an episode or two of “Arrested Development”, “The Office” or “The Simpsons” (with popcorn, if possible)
  • sleep.

This coming week will be post-chemo, of course, so who knows what my routine will be. But I’m hoping my health stays fabulous and I’m able to keep enjoying this nurturing groove.



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 10, 2010

January 10, 2010 at 7:00 am.

3 comments

Perspective

As I shuffled out for my jog today I happened upon this scene.

I stood shivering in my skimpy shell and sneakers, paying my respects. A hearse, limosines and a ribbon of 4000 paramedics, firefighters and police officers snaked by. I watched swaths of red, yellow and black; took in bagpipes, drums, and trudging boots; and beamed waves of gratitude and strength to four fatherless children, a widow and the thousands who face the same possibility daily.

A two centimetre tumor and three impacted nodes is a pretty puny problem.

Photo: The Ottawa Citizen — Honouring Const. Eric Czapnik.



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 7, 2010

January 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm.

2 comments

Happiness Is…

A twilight jog by a blanketed lake
Timid flurries, lamplight, snow-clad boughs
The crunch of sneakers on a freshly scraped path

Alone.

And a happy, warm family to return to.

Mmmmm…..



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea January 2, 2010

January 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm.

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