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.
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.
I’m always pleased to hear that my blog has reached people. Especially those on their own versions of this journey.
Today, I heard from Alex in London, England. She asked if I had any advice for post-treatment life. I thought I’d share my response here…
Congratulations on completion of your treatment and thanks for your very kind message.
Hmmm. Advice for life after treatment? I guess my advice would be: lower your standards, enjoy each day, face your fears, exude gratitude and try not to stress about prevention.
It seems easy to find tonnes of advice on how to try to prevent recurrence and I made a tonne of lifestyle, food, habit changes during my treatment. But the best advice I have for myself (or you) is probably to be good to myself: and that can mean to remember to be moderate about the anti-cancer stuff. Not to beat myself up because I go weeks or months without eating brazil nuts or almonds or ginger or green tea or flax meal. To accept that I drink coffee and red wine etc. That I have the occasional run of late nights.
Oh, and unsubscribe from all cancer blogs! (I do check in on my cancer-friends from time to time, and catch up on their stories, but getting a steady stream of daily cancer-news was not having healthy results for the post-treatment me)
Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again… and that must mean I’m up here in the frozen north, tip-tapping my keyboard and listening, obliviously, to the intermittent vacation plans and reports of family and friends.
I’m typically teflon to travel tales. But this morning – they’re touching something.
Janice rebuilding in New Orleans. Natalie and Mike asanaing in the Costa Rican jungle. Betti, Kathi and countless co-workers counting down sleeps to the sunny south.
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.
This past October marked the beginning of catalogue of anniversaries in our journey through Andrea’s cancer treatment program. At one point I’d worried the anniversaries would be hard and emotional. It turns out they’re rewarding and invigorating because of Andrea’s resilience and good health. It’s like we have a second chance at life.
Today is a particularly significant anniversary. WeCanRebuildHer was launched one year ago, today, following Andrea’s head-shaving party the night before. The party was such an important milestone in our journey that I’ve kept some of Andrea’s hair from that night as a souvenir.
To play with the text in the first post, we invite you to follow our journey through life as a family that has survived the cancer treatment process. We’ll continue to blog our experiences and thoughts and share audio, video and photographs of the process of enjoying life together.
And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video we put together from the head-shaving party. As noted at one point in the video, our then-8-year-old was the videographer.
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.
Last week — as part of my new risky living — I joined Toastmasters. I was scheduled to present a “thought-for-the-day” at today’s Thanksgiving week meeting. But it was canceled so I’m sharing it here…
A year ago today, as I left a meeting of the EDC Charitable Campaign, I got a call.
It was my doctor telling me “I’m afraid I don’t have good news. It’s cancer.”
I listened. I texted Mark. I scrawled a few notes.
Then I excused myself from the office and walked home.
I thought that was the end. The end of me.
But it wasn’t.
I’m still here. And I’m stronger, happier and more grateful than ever.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring.
But we do know what we have right now. Our families. Our friends. Our working limbs. Our pain-free, healthy bodies. Our peace. Our freedom. Our homes. Our incomes.