Wow!

Last week, I invited you to join me in my effort to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by sponsoring me here.

In the 8 days since, you’ve raised over $2000!

Huge, huge thank yous to:

Barbara Reid-Crysler
Geoffrey Butler
Bert and Rhoda Blevis
Armeda Vanderwoude
Wilf and Barb Clavette
Clare Rogers
Denise Doyen
Garry and Kathi Tysick
Stephanie Calmenson and Mark Goldman
Carol Heyer
Diane Greenseid
Cathy Arneson
Nancy Pevey
Lane Smith and Molly Leach
William Flanagan
Orit Fruchtman
Diane DeGroat
Sally Ito
Hugh Brewster
Paul Zelinsky
Tania Carriere & Gerry Gaetz
Marla Frazee
The Sinanan Family
Carol Grannick
Coreen Corcoran
Rich Cantrell
Patricia Kahn
Sriram Venkatarman
Stacey MacNevin
Ebony Haywood
Joan Buzick
Tanglewood Books
Mary Antolovich
Jay Schmidt
Daniele Rossi
The Bonsall/Small Family
Joanne Lennon
Greg & Andree O’Donnell
Betti Stiff
Cher & Mo Willems
The Giassa/Whammond Family
Whitney and John Hoffman

You rock!!

What generosity will the remaining 68 days of sponsorship bring?

Happiness Is…

Reconnecting.

Sharing this journey online has rewarded me with opportunities to connect with friends and relatives from the distant past.

Living this journey has rewarded me with the courage to face old fears, step beyond the comfort of keystrokes and into real-time, face-to-face encounters.

My life is so much richer as a result.

And it’s getting easier.

Lucky me.

Happiness Is…

Being Me.

It’s a month, today, since my final radiation treatment.

In these four glorious weeks, I’ve been living it up and lollygagging with good friends and good family.

I’ve grown some eyelashes and some hair.
I’ve stepped up to the scariness of public speaking.
I’ve coasted obliviously through a significant earthquake.
I’ve enjoyed schedule-free summer days with Lucy and Bayla.

I’m now two weeks into my five years of hormone therapy and — touch wood — its been blissfully imperceptible.

My white blood count is still low (I had a good cry over that news this morning). And various muscles and joints are still struggling with the effects of chemo.

But I feel like myself again — only better, stronger and happier. Really.

I am the rebuilt me.

And, with every thought and every choice, I’m working to stay that way.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Reboot You

PAB2010 was an unforgettable weekend.

Thought-provoking sessions, amazing food and, most importantly, passionate, intelligent, interesting, friendly, fabulous people.

If you’re creative, online or off, you’ll want to catch the full schedule of sessions as they are rolled out at PABconf.com.

In the meantime, I can’t help sharing Sylvain Grand’maison‘s 5-minute Jolt, below.

Cancer crashed and auto-rebooted my life. Wiping out my routines, habits and friendships and leaving me with a fresh, if physically diminished, slate.

And the opportunity to start anew.

As Sylvain suggests, below, we can reboot our lives any time.
And we’re better off for it.

Contested Irrelevance — My PAB2010 Jolt

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Honourable Mentions (Thank you!):

Thank You

Today’s my first full day of freedom.

No needles. No zaps. No waiting rooms. No tests.
Looming or current.

When I discovered that lump, way back in August, I couldn’t have dreamed what lay ahead.

When I heard my diagnosis, way back in October, I couldn’t have dreamed what lay ahead.

I’ve had my share of bad and good news this year.

Sharing with you has brightened both.

Thank you for getting me through the bad.
Thank you for being and celebrating the good.

I still can’t dream what lies ahead. But with the support you’ve given me I’m striding towards it.

Thank you.

One Rawkin’ Reaction

At a 40th birthday bash last night, Mark and I ran into an acquaintance from our early days of parenting.

She asked about JustOneMoreBook! and I told her we’d replaced it with a breast cancer blog.

“When did you have that?!” was her shocked response.

That beautiful, knee-jerk, past-tense reaction swelled me with glee. And it’s been echoing in my head ever since.

Cancer in the past tense.
The distant past tense.

Like a bad cold
or a fall
or a notch on my belt.

Thank you, Ashley. For being the first.

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Happiness Is…

A Fresh Start.

Just days before that lump jumped to centre stage, Mark presented me with this birthday card.

Its message so maddeningly trite but true.

Since then, life has seemed a series of countdowns. To surgeries, celebrations and ends of various treatments.

Escaping to the I Can Do It! Conference this weekend reminded me of the importance of choosing :

  • flexibility
  • happiness
  • openness to new perspectives and new possibilities
  • self care
  • healthy thoughts and habits

Above all, it reminded me that every breath can be a chance to start fresh.

I think I’ll take a few.

And that’s just off the top of your head

We’ve learned the hard way there are people who have no idea that what they say to cancer patients and their support systems is inappropriate. Andrea published a brilliant post about this, I See Dread, People, and I’d like to offer a refresher with five helpful hints of my own.

AT TIME OF DIAGNOSIS: Upon learning about the diagnosis, be supportive and keep your own horror stories about the disease (or any other less than positive stories) to yourself.

HELP: If you offer help, be specific — for example, ask when you can have the kids over for a play date or offer to send a meal over on a specific day (bonus: ask about any food alergies, nutritional needs and dietary restrictions).

DURING TREATMENT: Check in during the treatment process and renew (or offer new) specific offers of help. Make it known you’re thinking about the person and their family.

AT MILESTONES: When a milestone has been achieved, be a part of the moment by celebrating with the person and their family. Something like, “Congratulations!” is a very good start. You can freestyle that by acknowledging the difficult journey it’s been for the person to get to that point and how thrilled you are for the person that they’ve made it to this milestone. “Be there.”

SHOW GENUINE INTEREST: If you know the person has a blog, follow it. It’s a great place to stay up to date and even leave messages of support and positive thoughts at regular intervals. It’s also a great tool to know when help is needed the most. If you know the person has a blog, catch up before you contact them. It shows you care and their health and journey is important to you.

Andrea Needs to Care Less

During my twenties, I had the coolest boss. Handsome, hard-headed, capable and curious, he was a windsurfer, a motorcycle-driver and an incurable devil’s advocate.

For our seven years as colleagues, I was a star resource, but Steve often bemoaned two of my big failings: my need for confidence; and my need to chill.

This week, on this blog, Steve may have helped with the latter.

When I’m dithered by diet decisions or fretting over family fiascoes impending or past, I’m going to repeat my new Steve-supplied mantra, “Andrea needs to care less”.

Its third-person perspective seems to squeeze issues down to a less scary size.

Maybe I’ll be chill yet.

Of Mending and Manners

No Lifeguard on Duty

It is difficult
when one is drowning
to wave to the people on shore

one wants to be
friendly, of course

but perhaps it is
more important
to keep
swimming

Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad, 1990. Fine Black Lines: Reflections on facing cancer, fear and loneliness.

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