Friday, December 13, 2013

I AIN'T MISSING YOU AT ALL


Lake Como, Italy - Fall 2009
I guess I never really thought that I would miss having breasts.  All I cared about was getting rid of the cancer.  That to me seemed so much more important.  I had tried to imagine what it would feel like and what I would look like.  That’s a very hard thing to do when it is completely unknown.

Before I had the mastectomy I really started to think about it a lot.  It was a very stressful time.  One night I even googled images of mastectomies and it scared the crap out of me.  I remember closing my eyes and then looking at the images and wanting to look away but then always coming back to it.  Like a car accident.  Why on earth was I doing this?  Then I would look again.  Then it really hit me that soon I was going to be like one of those images.  I remember putting my head down on the desk and sobbing.  It was really scary to try to think about how I was going to look afterwards.  What scared me more was how it was going to make me feel.  I didn’t know what to expect.

My Friends - Brockville, Ontario - Summer 2013
I knew that my husband and my family would love me no matter what.  I knew that I was not going to be a different person because I had no breasts.  I was not defined by that.  However, no matter what, I was indeed going to be different.  I would look different and I would feel different.  How would my clothes fit me?  Would people be able to tell?  Would others stare?  What if I had to wear a bathing suit?  Would I still feel like a woman or would this make me feel more masculine or something?  Like some kind of a freak.  All of these things went through my head but I suppose I knew that it had to be done and being alive was certainly a great incentive.  So I took a big breath, swallowed that lump in my throat and decided that I was strong and I would get through this next hurdle.  I turned off the computer and went to bed.  I would deal with everything one day at a time.  What else could I do? 

Now that I was on the other side of the mastectomy, I was adjusting to the new reality and still not too sure how I felt about it.  Several months had passed but each day brought mixed feelings and physical challenges.  However, I was determined to focus on the positive.  The cancer was gone.


I Ain't Missing You - John Waite


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Thursday, December 5, 2013

CALL ME MAYBE

It started happening all of a sudden.  People started asking me questions about this whole cancer experience to try to understand and figure out how to help others in their lives that were affected by cancer somehow.  I guess they wanted some first-hand info from someone that had been through it.  Everyone seems to have a personal connection to cancer with somebody in their lives.  So many of us simply don’t really know much about it.  Sure you hear about it and hear the words cancer, chemo, radiation, pathology and so on but how many really know what all that stuff is?

Alex & 1 - Fall 2011
One of the first times that I was asked about my personal cancer experience was one night at my son’s hockey practice.  One of the fathers asked me if he could talk to me about something kind of serious and kind of personal.  So I said sure.  It turned out that one of his close friends at work had just got the results of a biopsy that indicated she had breast cancer.  I guess she was in a bit of shock and really didn’t know what to think.  I told him that by all means he could give her my phone number and email address.  I would be more than happy to talk or listen or share with her.  I know I would have liked to have had more people to talk to when I was first diagnosed.  I only had one friend that had been through her own breast cancer experience and we didn’t live in the same city.  We spoke by phone a few times which was amazingly helpful to me.

Perfect Day - Larose Forest, Winter 2013
I was also able to speak with a relative of my father-in-law at one point by phone which was comforting.  I also had my sister-in-law’s mother to talk to a bit but we didn’t see each other often during that time either.  So, I sort of got what I could from them and from books and the internet and always had a lot of questions for the times I would see the doctors.  That was for the physical stuff.  The emotional stuff was something else.

I really had no interest in a support group because that’s just not really my thing.  I didn’t want to share in a big group.  I also didn’t want to hear all of the issues that they might be dealing with because that was not going to make me feel better.  However, talking to someone that had been in my position and had made it through to the other side would definitely be much more my thing.  These people have experience and could explain what to expect, offer some advice, and maybe explain what they would have done differently.  That’s the kind of stuff I would have liked to know.

So, if I could be that person for someone else then I would certainly make myself available should anyone want to ask questions.  Little did I know how many others there would be in the coming years that would ask me about my breast cancer experience.

Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen




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Sunday, November 24, 2013

ALONE TOGETHER



Mike & I - Bethel, Maine-Summer 2009
Some days I was so, so tired.  And you know that when you are tired you get cranky and start feeling really disconnected from the people around you and all the positive things going on in your life.  The focus often switches to the negative and everything looks worse than it is and you start feeling so alone.  Then all of a sudden something happens that snaps you back.

I remember one day near the beginning of hockey season when I was feeling like that.  However, there was no way I was going to stay home and rest when one of my kids had a hockey game.  We were sitting in the arena and I saw this pretty young woman walk by.  She was wearing jeans, gorgeous boots and a pink down vest over a sweater.  She had on a pink and white Nike cap and she looked really stylish.  Like she had just walked out of a magazine.

Tasza & I - Montmercy Falls, QC-Summer 2013
However, I also noticed that she had no hair.  Actually it was the thinning, falling out kind of hair that I recognized as all too familiar.  She was walking with her daughter and probably had a son on the ice.  That was me a year ago.  I wanted to go to her to talk to her and tell her that I was her last year.  I wanted her to know that I made it through and look at me now.  I wanted to hug her and tell her that as hard as it might seem that she’ll get through it.  I wanted to tell her that each day might seem like an eternity but the year would go by fast.  I wanted to tell her daughter that her Mom was going to be okay and if they all stuck together they’d come out on the other side stronger and closer than ever.  But I couldn’t say a word.  I just stared at her and my legs wouldn’t move.  I couldn’t bring myself to walk towards her.
Alex & I - Percé Rock, QC-Summer 2010

I kept thinking what if someone came to me a year ago and said all of those things to me?  Would I have been happy about it and encouraged or would I have pushed them away and thought “who the hell are you to tell me anything?  You don’t know me or my family or what we are going through.”  I mean really I don’t even know if she had breast cancer.  It could have been chemo for any other kind of cancer.  I just assumed it was breast cancer.  Anyway, I never said anything but then again maybe it is better I didn't.


I guess in the end it made me feel like I had some experience to share.  I felt that I had been through the wringer and could now talk about it to others.  It also made me realize that I was not alone and that none of us that go through this horrible experience are alone.  There are way too many of us.

Alone Together - Fall Out Boy


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

PAUSE FOR PLAYLIST #3

 Well here we are at post #94 already!  I am really enjoying being a part of the blogosphere and I especially like the comments that I get from people I know and those I have yet to meet.  We are now at the point in my journey where I have completed the chemo, bilateral mastectomy, radiation and the hysterectomy.  That is quite a lot of stuff in a short time.  Sometimes I still have a hard time believing that all of this actually happened.

With our friends at the 60s, 70s & 80s  Disco Dance Night - Embrun 2012
 As I have been doing since the first post, all of my blog post titles are actually song names.  Searching for the right title is fun because I find myself listening to a wide variety of songs that I haven’t heard in ages or that I might be hearing for the first time.  There is something about a song that might remind you of a certain person, or a time in your life or a place you have visited.  Music is simply special.  It can make you laugh or cry or simply to just feel something.  Sometimes it makes you drive too fast and sometimes it makes you slow right down.

Today I am taking a break from the story and making a third playlist of the last 30 song titles I have used.  As I said for the first playlists 1 and 2, every journey needs music.  A road trip is synonymous with music from 8 tracks to cassettes to CDs to iPod and Bluetooth.  I love music.  All kinds of music. 

Anyway, here is a recap of the last 30 song titles for you.  Please enjoy!

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Rascal Flatts)
Private Eyes (Hall & Oates)
Carry On (Fun)
My Next Thirty Years (Tim McGraw)
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Diana Ross)
Brave (Josh Groban)
Outside My Window (Sarah Buxton with Jedd Hughes)
Ring My Bell (Anita Ward)
My Funny Valentine (Frank Sinatra)
I Will Walk 500 Miles (The Proclaimers)
Sign of A Victory (R.Kelly)
Next To Me (Emeli Sandé)
Celebration (Kool & the Gang)
Poor Poor Pitiful Me (Linda Ronstadt)
I Wanna Be Sedated (The Ramones)
Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke)
Alone Again (Alyssa Reid)
Handle With Care (Travelling Wilburys)
Pink Houses (John Mellencamp)
Quiet Your Mind (Zac Brown Band)
Mirrors (Justin Timberlake)
Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
Freeze Frame (J. Geils Band)
This is How We Do It (Montell Jordan)
Good Vibrations (Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch)
Life is a Highway (Tom Cochrane)
Raise Your Glass (Pink)
Man I Feel Like a Woman (Shania Twain)
Waiting on theWorld to Change (John Mayer)
I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)


Tasza & I at Mamma Mia - Ottawa 2011
 I really hope that you are enjoying my blog and that you might be learning something or gaining some perspective as to what others experience after a breast cancer diagnosis.  Please don’t be shy to leave a comment or ask a question or just say hi!  Even song suggestions would be most welcome!

Thanks to you all for your support and for continuing to read and share my story.


Alex in the Talenmania Show (he is way up top with the guitars) - Embrun 2012

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I WILL SURVIVE

Pink the Rink Tournament - Etobicoke, ON - October 2013 (see note below)
Sitting there in the doctor’s office that day I started wondering what was going to happen next?  I was done with all the treatments and surgeries.  I knew I was going to have appointments every three months on a rotation between the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist, and my family doctor.  I would also have bone density tests at least once a year.  The doctors were going to ensure that I got tested when necessary with chest x-rays or whatever else was needed.  I knew that I was in the system and would be watched for any chance of cancer recurrence.  That was not going to happen.  Knock on wood.

Grouse Mountain Hiking Trail, BC - Summer 2011
Now the next and most bothersome question that was buzzing around in my brain was this:  “When can I officially say that I am cancer-free?”  The doctor’s answer was NOW.  She said I can say it now.  I am cancer-free.  She said that everything I had done since the mastectomy were all steps in my goal to use every means possible to eradicate the chance of future cancer.  That’s pretty amazing.  I have to say it again.  I AM CANCER-FREE!!!  That day was October 17, 2007.  A date to remember.

After I left the doctor’s office I called Mike once I got to the car to tell him and he congratulated me but didn’t seem to be as excited as I thought he might.  In fact I wasn’t really as excited about the great news as I thought I would be either.  I think I just needed some time for it to really sink in.  I mean we had been going non-stop for over a year on this journey to get rid of this cancer and now that I could finally say “I no longer have cancer” it was just all of a sudden an abrupt turn of events.  Don’t get me wrong because I was ecstatic.  Just kind of overwhelmed and shell-shocked I think.

Mike & I - Little Current, ON - Summer 2013
I guess Mike was too because later that night when he was driving to Montreal he called me to say that he finally had some time to think about this news and digest it a bit and it had kind of just hit him.  He wanted to tell me how relieved he was and how proud he was of me for fighting so hard to get rid of it.  When I told the kids they had big smiles on their faces and Alex said that I should go and ring the victory bell.  I decided to wait until Mike got back from Montreal so we could ring it together.



I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor



Special Note:  Words cannot express how much it meant to me to see this photo posted on facebook and instagram.  We love the hockey community! This absolutely brought me to tears. Happy tears. A team in my daughter's league was at the Pink the Rink tournament in Etobicoke, Ontario in October 2013 and were showing their support.  Thanks to all of our friends at RSL Midget AA!!

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE


Vicky & Me - Collingwood, ON - Fall 2007
It was halfway through October in 2007.  The day started out like most other days.  I slept late, had breakfast, showered and got ready to go into the city.  I had to make a couple of stops and then I had an appointment at the Cancer Centre.

When I arrived I found out that there was a 30 minute delay.  I hate when that happens but I can deal with that.  I had gotten used to that over the past several months and I usually expected to wait about 20 minutes or so.  Then they changed the wait time to 45 minutes.  I was really starting to get antsy because I still had errands to do and the kids were going to be getting home from school soon.  Finally they called me and put me into the little room.  You know that little room I’m talking about.  The one where they move you from the main waiting room to the room where you will eventually see the doctor.  I said eventually.  They deceive you into thinking that the doctor will be right in.  Wrong.

Alex - Carter Bay, ON - Summer 2007
I waited another 45 minutes once I got in that little room.  I found myself feeling very frustrated and angry.  I almost couldn’t contain the frustration I felt about waiting for so long and I was actually pacing.  I don’t think I’ve ever paced before but I went back and forth for what seemed an eternity.  One thing that I had noticed about myself since this journey began is that I had grown to HATE waiting for things.  It would drive me crazy.  Maybe it’s because I spent so much time in waiting rooms at the cancer centre, hospitals, and clinics or maybe it’s because I felt that my time could have been better spent doing something else like living or maybe it’s because I resented the fact that I had to go to these appointments in the first place.  Whatever it was I knew that I was going to have to keep my patience and try very hard to make it through these types of waiting times without losing it and turning into a raving lunatic.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of the health care workers out there and I know that they are all doing the best they can.  I didn’t like the person I was when I was freaking out about having to wait.  It made me feel selfish and ungrateful but at the same time I just couldn’t help it.

Tasza & Me - Top of the CN Tower,
Toronto, ON - Summer 2007
Anyway, once I finally got to see the doctor I got a few answers to some questions.  I was told to get my Arimidex prescription filled and start taking the pills every second day for a few weeks and then switching to daily doses.  This was because there are potential side effects from the Arimidex that could cause me to have severe aches and pains in my bones.  Another side effect is osteoporosis.  That just sounds peachy doesn’t it?  I was also advised to start taking Vitamin D and calcium everyday to keep my bones strong and healthy.  The doctor also told me that I should continue weight bearing exercises for the rest of my life.

I was starting to see how this cancer thing was changing me in so very many ways.

Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MAN I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN

Me & My Coffee - Bromont, Quebec, Winter 2011
I was glad that this next surgery was happening.  It made me feel like I was doing everything I could possibly do to ensure that this cancer did not develop anywhere else.  I ended up having a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy.  Basically this means that the uterus, cervix, ovaries and tubes were all removed abdominally.  This was not a surgery that I had to have but it was highly recommended because the cancer that I had was hormone (estrogen) receptor positive.  This means that the cancer cell growth was fueled by estrogen.  So this surgery would ensure that estrogen production would be reduced significantly therefore reducing the chance of cancer cell growth.

Four days after I had the operation I was back at home.  The anesthetic really took a toll on me.  I was also covered in bruises from blood work, IV, blood thinner shots that I received every eight hours, etc…Although I was sore and moving much slower than usual, I did know that with each day things would get better and I would get stronger.  So, it’s not forever but just for now.  The recovery period was several weeks and I was doing my best to try to slow down and enjoy this time at home. 

So, the next step was that I would visit with my oncologist on the 17th of October to find out what would happen next in terms of follow-up.  I did know that I would be starting on a drug called Arimidex that I was going to have to take for several years.  This drug blocks aromatase which is an enzyme that changes androgen into estrogen.  Therefore, this further reduces the amount of estrogen in the body and is a preventative measure for cancer cell growth.  Are you still with me?
Tarnowski Ladies - Bethel, Maine, Summer 2011

Needless to say the Arimidex has a whole set of side effects of its own that I may or may not experience.  The worst of which is osteoporosis so I was going to be having bone scans on a regular basis and was also going to need to begin other vitamins to help combat this.  Oh yeah around this time my hair was growing back a nice rich dark brown and it was really curly.

When I left the hospital after the hysterectomy, I remember saying to my Dad that I’d had enough.  No more hospitals, surgeries, etc….for a while.  I was now awaiting the pathology report that I was supposed to get in early November when I next saw the surgeon.  I really, really, needed a break.

Man I Feel Like a Woman - Shania Twain

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

RAISE YOUR GLASS


FPU - Blue Mountain - Fall 2007
The summer of 2007 passed in a lazy blur of beach time, visits with friends and family and much reading and relaxing.  It is my absolute favorite time of year and it was so incredible to spend so much time with Mike and our kids.  Raise your glass for summer!

Cheers! - Blue Mountain 2007
My hair slowly started to fill in during the summer but was still a bit patchy and curly.  My eyebrows were taking a long time to fill in but my eyelashes were coming back nicely.  The bonus was that I still had smooth legs with no razor needed yet.

I survived the Zoladex shot in July and by August my skin that was damaged from the radiation was healed and nearly back to normal.  Or I guess a new normal.  The neuropathy was still hanging around but had lessened in my feet and legs and was worse in my hands and fingers.  The really odd thing was that the middle finger on both of my hands would tend to get stuck down sometimes.  That really created a loss of impact whenever I felt it necessary to use that middle finger to flip off those crazy drivers out there.  Lol!!
Pink Scarf Hike - Fall 2007

In the fall, nine of the FPU (my gang of high school girlfriends) reunited at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario for a weekend of reminiscing, eating, drinking wine, going out dancing, eating some more, and falling in muddy ditches and laughing until we almost peed!  The usual shenanigans and obnoxious behavior.  Since I was going to miss the Run for the Cure which was that same weekend, my thoughtful friend Trish bought pink scarves for all of us and we all wore them on a hike one day.  Okay we kinda took the gondola up the mountain and walked halfway down the mountain where we proceeded to sit on the grass and unpack our snacks of various cheeses and several wines and other goodies and just had a grand time on the mountainside.  We did make it down the hill eventually, pink scarves intact for the most part, and on to our next adventure.

Amazing Ladies - Blue Mountain 2007

I will always remember that weekend and how amazing it felt to be a part of a group of women that really have your back and that you can feel comfortable with all the time.  Although many miles may be between us and visits are rare due to our busy lives, I know that we would be there for each other anytime.  That is what friends do.  Especially ones that you have known since grade 9!  Raise your glass to old friends!  Thanks to the FPU for that wonderful weekend and great memories.


My next stop was more surgery!  The hysterectomy I told you about was scheduled for the following week.

Raise Your Glass - Pink

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

LIFE IS A HIGHWAY



My Kids & I - Manitoulin Island, ON
Summer 2007
So after the radiation was finally over at the end of June, we promptly packed up our stuff and headed up to Manitoulin Island for a much needed vacation.  We were long overdue for a road trip and a visit to see my family and the island that we all love so much.  It is about an eight hour drive but totally worth it.

I was finally done with radiation!  Although the radiation itself didn't bother me too much, the traveling back and forth to the city each day really wore me down.  I also had some tiredness and fatigue and my skin was pretty burned.  However, it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.  It was more just really uncomfortable.  

Enroute to Manitoulin Island
I was still experiencing post-chemo effects including the neuropathy.  Although I was starting to just live with it and sort of got used to it, I decided to try some acupuncture to see what positive effects that might have.  I went for a few sessions and it did help.

Later in the summer I knew that I was going to get a shot of Zoladex.  This medical treatment (translation: big scary needle in the stomach!) was going to be administered because the breast cancer I had was hormone receptor positive.  The Zoladex causes "ovarian shutdown" (sounds like a code word for some kind of covert military operation).   This shot was going to shut down production of estrogen and is very effective in stopping cancer cell growth.  It was going to make me become post-menopausal and perhaps turn me into some kind of psycho lunatic monster due to side effects from that.  I was hopeful that my husband and children would stick around though.

There were a series of doctor appointments scheduled over the summer and I was also going to find out some more information and confirm details for the surgery.   Having had breast cancer I was in a high-risk category for possible development of cancer in the ovaries and/or uterus.  So we were going to get rid of those.  I asked my oncologist if they could also take my appendix and tonsils since I didn’t need those either.  He offered to take my gallbladder too.  This was my weight loss plan – removal of body parts!

Once the surgery was done I knew that I would need to have some sort of medication for a number of years.  Also, the side effect of this medication is osteoporosis so I was going to need to have bone density testing done frequently and take calcium and other vitamins to combat that for the rest of my life.  Whew!  Did you get all that??  It's a lot to take in but I had some time to think about it and I was okay with all of it.  Whatever it was going to take to ensure the cancer never comes back was okay with me. That summer the focus for me was on rest, recovery, recuperation and relaxation until the next surgery was to come up in the fall.  Although the journey was not over quite yet, the worst was now behind me.
Carter Bay, ON - Summer 2007

Throughout all of this, I was so very thankful to my friends and family and colleagues for reading my email updates.  Their many kind prayers, positive thoughts, and encouraging words were always appreciated.  At that point I knew that I was truly blessed with the best friends, family, and co-workers that anyone could ask for.

So now I was just going to sit back and enjoy this road trip and soak up some summer.




Life Is A Highway - Tom Cochrane


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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

GOOD VIBRATIONS


Summer 2007 - Lac Simon, QC
It was June 3, 2007 and I found myself thinking that it was only one year to the day that I had discovered the lump in the first place.  I could not believe how much had happened to us over the past year!

Radiation was going to be finished soon.  Chemo was finished.  Mastectomy was done.  Summer to me was sort of the light at the end of the tunnel.  It was getting close to those beautiful summer sunshine days and the thought of a few months with no cancer treatments was really a welcome relief.  The kids and Mike and I were going to be able to use the summer to be together and really relax, heal, enjoy our time and be grateful that things were going to get better each day.

I was more relaxed than I had been in years because I knew I could just take each and every day as it came.  I was not going to have to go to work every day.  I was simply starting each day with a blank slate.  No plans.  No expectations.  Just living.  Just being.  Just loving every moment with my family and revelling in each and every wonderful day.  What an amazing feeling to feel so free.  To feel so grateful and happy to be alive.  To strangely start feeling so incredibly blessed.  I mean who really feels like that after such a horrible year and scary experience with cancer?  But that is how I started to feel.  I was having a hard time figuring it out and accepting this feeling but I knew it was real.
Summer 2007 - Kagawong, ON

Geez what was wrong with me?  Then I told Mike and he was feeling the same way.  Not that we would want to go through this again nor would we ever say that we are happy that cancer happened to us, but we were looking at the bright side.  The silver lining.  The glass half-full.  The upside.  There were so very many positives that came out of this negative.

I even signed up to play ball hockey with the local ladies group.  I am not sure what I was thinking but perhaps I felt like I had to move and feel alive and healthy again.  I had never played ball hockey before.  Man it was hard!  After my first shift I got on to the bench and really had no idea how I was possibly going to make it through this game.  After my second shift I looked at the bright-eyed energetic girl beside me and said “how old are you?” and when she sweetly said “18” I just about smacked her!  Then I just thought, okay I can do this, one shift at a time.  And you know what?  I did.  Our team even won the whole shebang that year.

Summer 2007 -  Barrie, ON
So here we were with a whole summer ahead of us to travel and visit friends and family and go to the beach and swim in the pool and soak up every day.  It was time to pack up and take a long overdue road trip. 

Good Vibrations - Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

CANADA'S NEXT TOP MODELS?


Getting set up for the photoshoot
Toronto, ON - June 2013






Today’s blog is all about something new!  So it is a bit of a diversion from my blog story but it wouldn’t have happened without the rest of the breast cancer story.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people for allowing me to cross “becoming a model” off my bucket list!  This includes the amazing folks at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Kruger Products (maker of Cashmere bathroom tissue among other products) and Totem Brand Stories Agency (a leading branded content agency).

Back in the spring of this year, I was invited by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to participate in an exciting social media campaign that their national sponsor, Kruger Products, was working on.  Kruger has been a proud supporter of CBCF since 2005 with funds going towards “relevant and innovative research supporting early diagnosis, effective treatment and a positive quality of life for those living with breast cancer.”

In 2013 Kruger is celebrating their 10th anniversary of their White Cashmere Collection which has become an annual event.  Canadian designers are challenged to create garments and accessories from – you guessed it – Cashmere bathroom tissue!  All of this is to raise awareness and funds for CBCF.

Since this is their 10th anniversary they decided to share the creations, designers and the stories of women from across Canada who have experienced breast cancer and build a campaign around it.  It is hoped that this will inspire others with hope and joy and strength.  Every design is unique and so is every breast cancer story.  I was going to be a part of this!

Getting set up for the interview
So, in June my kids and I were contacted by Totem Brand Stories and arrangements were made for us to travel to Toronto for a photo/video shoot!  Sadly Mike was left out in the cold but I do think he will get over it.  Lol!  Needless to say we were pretty excited about the trip but had no idea what to expect.  It turned out to be a day we will never forget!

From the time we arrived until the time we left we were treated like, well – models!  We had our make-up and hair done and we had a stylist to select our outfits.  Then we got onto the set and the photographer and everyone had us posing and smiling until our faces were sore.  After the photos were done then next came the videotaped interview with me by myself and then another with Alex and Tasza doing all the talking.  All in all it was just an incredible experience.  In fact, when we were done I don’t know what came over me but I just started to cry!  I was so thankful that I am healthy and able to be a part of this and grateful for the opportunity for my kids and for others to see that there is hope.  I guess I just got a bit overwhelmed.

THE FINAL PRODUCT OF OUR PAGE!
Quote is from Tasza.  Just to be clear, I haven't really  "taken up" sea kayaking but
simply tried it for the first time.  However, I would most definitely do it again!
The booklet with all of the stories and photos was distributed in late September at the 10th Annual White Cashmere Collection Gala at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.  The gala showcased 20 top Canadian designers that created some pretty amazing fashions.  You can also view the photos, stories and some video clips at https://www.facebook.com/CashmereElle Canada magazine is running the Cashmere ad in their October issue with one tiny pic of yours truly in the printed version (the one in the quote page below) and the full booklet with the above photo is available on the iPad version of Elle Canada and Elle Quebec.


So thanks again to everyone involved for giving me and my children an experience to remember for a lifetime!  Thanks also to my kids, Alex and Tasza, for supporting me on this journey.  You two are my everything.

Please remember that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so I am just making you aware!  There is no doubt that you will be seeing a lot of pink this month and many promotional campaigns to help keep this in the forefront.  Some hate the pink and some like it but no matter what your pinkpinion is I know that we all look forward to a world with no breast cancer or any type of cancer!

Also, the CIBC Run for the Cure is coming up this weekend and I certainly plan to be there!


Page from the booklet.  This is the small pic that is in Elle paper edition Cashmere ad.
The pink boxed quote on the left in the middle is from Alex.


Check out the video - the kids and I are near the end (around 2:05).


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT


My Family - Christmas 2007
You may or may not know how radiation happens but I thought I might explain it a little bit.  At least this is what I experienced.

When I arrived at the cancer centre each day the first thing I did was drive around for an eternity looking for a parking spot.  Believe me this is really exhausting when you have to do it every day for five weeks.  So when I finally actually entered the building, I scanned my pre-assigned card in the computer and that tells the technicians that I was there and in the waiting room.

Once I would get into the radiation room, I would lie on my back with my left arm over my head.  I always got my marks on my body "touched up", the technicians would make sure I was lined up and adjusted to the exact right position, and then the technicians (usually 3 of them) left the room and started up the machine.  It took about 10 minutes to zap me and I never really felt anything at all.  Except most times I was cold.  So just had to stay still and wait for it to finish.

Apparently it doesn't happen often that the radiation machine breaks down but twice in five treatments I had to wait in position while they rebooted the computer to try again.  Hmmmm, maybe it's me?!?  Perhaps I was crashing the computer system with some kind of strange virus because it happens to me at home on our computer all the time!

My Family - Summer 2013
I was anticipating the side effects from the radiation and they include fatigue and very badly damaged skin in the radiation area only.  It is supposed to be like an extremely bad sunburn complete with blistering, etc...Sounds lovely.  I was told that these things might start anytime or might not hit me until the end or even after I'm done.  The one good thing was that I didn’t need to take any sort of medications at this point so I was feeling pretty good.  My plan was to park about 2 kms away from the cancer centre and run/walk to my treatments and then run/walk back to the car afterwards just to get some exercise.  I think I actually only did that twice due to rain and other circumstances like the fact that it was really hard to keep up with it.

The neuropathy was getting a bit worse.  I still had it happening in my hands and feet and soon it started on my legs as well.  If I stopped moving for a while and then tried to walk it was like I was 100 years old.  The first four or five steps were very slow, mechanical and painful but then once I was moving it would be okay again.  It didn’t stop me from walking and riding my bike a little bit though.

This Is How We Do It - Montell Jordan

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