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.

Bliss

It was October 7th, 2009.

Mark and I stood waiting for an elevator at the Women’s Breast Health Centre. We’d just left our first post-diagnosis appointment.

“Nine months of treatment, Mark. It’s a pregnancy,” I ventured hopefully.

And thus began my Me-ternity.
The rocky gestation of the next me.

Yesterday marked the end of that nine months.

The good news is, I didn’t even notice.

Happy, happy day.

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.

Related Posts:

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.

Like Water Off a Duck

A tiny survivor entered my life today.

During my daily Gratitude Walk this morning, I spotted a family of ducks: four ducklings and a mom.

One little duck was being ferried around by his mates, his legs limply hanging and his body slightly submerged.

I admired them for a while and moved along.

Not long afterward, the little family caught up to me and hopped up onto the shore. The mother faced the water, calling and calling.

They were one duckling short.

Returning to the original site, I found the injured sibling. Struggling, lopsided in the water, one little mini wing flapping.

And sinking fast.

A passerby declined my request to phone for wildlife help so I stood at the waters edge and hoped the little duck would float into reach.

He did. I scooped him up and carried him home.

(Not the passerby. The duck.)

Our Wild Bird Care Centre helped me make him comfortable while I ran to radiation. He was flopped over to one side, his eyes closed and I didn’t like to leave him.

I hoped the whole way there and back that he’d be alive and revived when I returned.

He was.

I found him sitting in his water dish, eyes open and alert.

Patiently waiting for his drive to the Wild Bird Care Centre.

Sweet little Duck.

Accented Light

The Circle of Life

The stories of cancer survivors reveal a common thread that runs through all their experiences. After the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer, their  worlds turn black. But, as they go through the journeys of cancer treatment, all the colours of the rainbow become more vibrant against the dark background.

The journey exposes the importance of family, friends, colleagues and the caring medical community. As the circle of life closes, many survivors find a need to give back to the community and begin to help others through their own journeys.

Unfortunately, there are still those who do not survive the disease. Many of these patients have tried experimental procedures that were not successful for them and the lessons learned helped many others to survive. These courageous people must never be forgotten.

This quilted wall hanging is dedicated to all those who have had cancer touch their lives. It was made by the women of the Country Club Quilters group in Beacon Hill under the leadership of Thelma Robbins and was presented to The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre on April 19, 2010.

Pattern by: Marti Mitchell
Quilted by: Grace Whiting
Framed by: Rothwell Gallery

Playing Hooky

In my 20 years of software design and 18 years of school, I often dreamed of stepping off the treadmill and spending a day at home.

Well, I’ve been home four months now and today I’m playing hooky from that.

I skipped the 7:00-9:00 ritual of chasing children, barking orders and threats. I skipped my supplements, my juicing and my morning walk. And I’ve decided to give my whining muscles a desperately needed break from what the pre-c me would have considered an extremely light exercise routine.

I do feel frustrated by my post-chemo crash. That my right eye’s still blistered. That I can no longer jog and have two limbs seized by pain. And I do feel some guilt about calling in sick today.

But I’m going ahead with radiation and, starting Monday, daily zaps will dominate my world for at least six weeks.

So, today I’m just breathing and doing exactly as I please.

It’s funny how different — and good — it feels.

Happiness Is…

Long lost family …

Found!

Born just one month before me, my cousin Kelly was my very first friend.

From toddlerhood through tweendom, we spent countless weekends and vacations playing, chatting, imagining and growing up.

I was painfully shy, socially inept and my family life was rocky. Kelly’s constant, generous friendship likely kept me sane.

Somewhere in our teens, though, our paths diverged. We did school, got jobs, found partners, and raised our own children to tweendom — without ever crossing paths.

Then, almost by accident and just days before I found that lump, we reconnected.

Luckily for me.

Kelly’s warmth, wit, wisdom, exuberance, understanding and support throughout this journey have been absolutely astounding. She has become the loving aunt we always craved for our girls — her beautiful children the spunky, loving cousins we thought Luba’d never have. And her super-hero husband rocks too.

We’re going to enjoy getting our grandkids to tweendom together. And lots of happy family memories until — and after — that.