Thank you, 2010

I absolutely adored 2010.
We were healthy, happy and together.
We had loads to celebrate. And we celebrated often.

Yet, reflecting on the year, this morning, I was shocked at its rockiness.

Where reactions and reconnections reigned 2009, 2010 was a year of overcoming obstacles. Of attempted relationship resuscitations. Of some painful — yet freeing — realizations. And relief.

It was a year of adjusting to the new me.
And of testing out the me that has been there all along.

As I reflected on 2009 and looked hopefully toward 2010, I never dreamed of the treat I had in store.

And I have high hopes for 2011.

Thank you, 2010. Welcome, 2011.

Some Zigs and Zags of our 2010:

February 6 (our 11 year wedding anniversary)

Our insurer refuses to honour my critical life and disability insurance claim.

This was a cruel and devastating blow. Not only because they robbed us but after stringing us along for 4 months but because I’d been over-insured for the twenty some years leading up to my leap from Nortel six months before my diagnosis.

April 1

Chemo ends!

And life begins afresh.

April 22

We are spared the pain of the long-awaited trial and Keith Ross accepts a Section 810 Peace Bond which prohibits him from having any contact with us for a period of 12 months..

Our world has been peaceful since.

May 20 (Mark’s 40th birthday)

The perfect storm of physical, financial, parenting and family challenges bring me to my knees.

Yet we survived.

June 15

Radiation ends.

We did it.

June 21

I take a first bite at my fear of public speaking.

I’m so glad I did. (Photo thanks to Alexa Clark.)

June 16-Sept 13

My first summer with my lovelies since Bayla was a newborn.

The most fabulous summer of relaxing, reading, biking and being with my lovelies.

August 28

Our long, long, long awaited victory celebration.

Wine, munchies and good, good people.
Pure bliss.

September 14

Back to work.

Two more days a week than I had hoped but simply grand to have an income again.

November 25

Port-a-cath gone.

Scary and thrilling.

December 22

We celebrate fifteen fabulous years of Mark Blevis.

Lucky, lucky me.

Thank you, 2010… Let’s all enjoy a happy, healthy 2011.

It’s just that I was constantly being called to the phone, or I was asked a question, or I was being resuscitated

I’ve been back at work for seven weeks and, while I’ve enjoyed the geeky problem-solving, the feelings of accomplishment and, best of all, the cash, my huge challenge is time.

With 8 packed and hurried work hours, bookended by the commute, delivery and pickup of Luba, and morning and evening chores, I’m scrambling through days and letting loads of life slide.

Hyper-healthy eating takes tonnes of time. And my millions of physiotherapy, oncology, port-a-cath flush appointments, plus the getting there and wait times, really put the squeeze on my already rushed ragged routine.

I had assumed that I’d be returning to a three day work week. And, given my uber-productivity, I hadn’t dreamed I’d be denied.

But my employer couldn’t oblige.

Hmmmmm.

Eureka!

“What is narcissism? It’s not what you think it is: It’s not ego. It’s not self-love. It’s self-loathing. Envy. Insecurity. Self-destruction.

The key to understanding the narcissism myth is not that he fell in love with himself, but that he failed to recognize himself in his own reflection. In other words, true narcissists are not self-aware.

A real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self; he feels haunted by chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and self-loathing and seeks to replace that disconnection with a sense of worth and importance fueled by others.

Narcissism is also marked by a profound lack of empathy, a fundamental inability to understand and connect with the feelings of others. Taken together, these are the traits psychologists measure in diagnosing what’s known as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).”

The Mirror Effect  Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. S. Mark Young

“Narcissistic people create images of themselves to broadcast to the world, trying desperately to have those images be loved by the general populace or by their peers. Deep down, they are insecure and don’t think much of themselves.”

Dave Roy. Curled Up With A Good Book

Picking A Productive Perspective

When your happiness depends on what somebody else does or does not do, you’re trapped, because you cannot control what they think or what they do.

You will discover a true liberation, a freedom beyond your wildest drams, when you discover that your joy does not depend on anyone else. Your joy only depends on what you choose to give your attention to.

Sarah, Book 1, Esther and Jerry Hicks, 1995. Hay House Inc.

Happiness Is…

A Successful Shopping Spree.

I had dreamed last year, while planning our Quebec City getaway, of discovering some funky new hand-made winter clothes.

My diagnosis hit just days before our trip.

As I wandered that gorgeous city, barely daring to notice its inspiring art and creatively concocted clothing, I was pretty sure my shopping days were done.

But they weren’t!

I’m happy to report that, yesterday, Lucy and I spent the entire day in the Byward Market — and boy did we have fun.

We shopped like there was no a tomorrow.

And even though I’ll never look like this gorgeous gal, I decided it was now or never for those funky arm thingies I adore.

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.

Good Times, Noodle Salad

Lucy and Bayla are having a fabulous weekend. Lots of company. Loads of fun.

And I’m 100% grateful for their good health, their happiness and our beautiful life together.

Still, sometimes I get jealous.

I don’t want to but I do. It washes over me. And sticks. Like heavy, poisonous mud.

I get jealous of other families’ carefree lives. Their athletic endeavours, financial security, freedom, vacations, hobbies and warm relatives.

If I could cut out these feelings as easily as I cut out foods, I’d be set.

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.

Happiness Is…

The Wild Oat.

I’ve had a lot of firsts since chemo ended, but the only one to make me cry was my first visit back to The Oat. And I cried just as hard at my second.

The Wild Oat was our family’s cozy oasis — every day — for more than three years.

Its earthy attitude, funky, friendly staff and unbeatable organic coffee, baked goods and meals were well worth the line-up each weekend for breakfast.

Its mellow, homey atmosphere and steaming espresso machine sang backup each weekday morning as Mark and I recorded our daily discussion for Just One More Book.

We knew the staff. We knew the customers. All four of us felt completely at home.

Right up to my diagnosis.

I cry for the pre-c freedom The Oat represents. For our lost podcast. For my lost employment. And for the carefree morning “dates” that Mark and I enjoyed each day before work.

Still, happiness is The Wild Oat.