Sunday, April 21, 2013


One day in the fading days of fall 2006, Mike heard from a colleague at work that Dr. Marla Shapiro was coming to lecture in Ottawa and he thought I might be interested in seeing her.  I was able to get two tickets and I asked my friend Amy to come with me.  Dr. Marla is, in my opinion, an amazing woman that is somewhat of a celebrity in Canada.  She also had breast cancer and wrote a book about her experience.  The doctor became the patient.

Her current bio on the CTV News website is:

Dr. Marla Shapiro, MDCM CCFP MHSc FRCP(C) FCFP, is a family physician and the Health and Medical Contributor for CTV's Canada AM as well as the editor of Parents Canada magazine, launched in March 2007.  She completed medical school at McGill University and trained at the University of Toronto for her Masters of Health Science in Community Health and Epidemiology. She holds a Fellowship in Family Medicine and is a NAMS credentialed menopause specialist. She is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, where she recently won an award for Creative Professional Activity.  Dr. Shapiro won the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada/Canadian Foundation for Women's Health Award for Excellence in Women's Health Journalism in 2006 for her documentary "Run Your Own Race." Her book, "Life in the Balance: My Journey with Breast Cancer" was released in the fall of 2006 and is a national bestseller.  For her lifelong commitment to family medicine, Shapiro was awarded the College of Family Physicians of Canada's Award of Excellence for 2008.

When I originally got the cancer diagnosis, I bought a book about cancer.  I also had some information from the Women’s Breast Health Centre, the hospital, and the Cancer Centre.  Friends and family had loaned me books as well.  These provided some medical and technical information and they certainly helped with my learning curve.  However, when I heard about Dr. Marla’s book on TV and in magazines I decided I had to get it.  I made a special trip to the bookstore to buy it and found out that it was just newly released so I picked up a copy.  The book is called, “Life in the Balance, My Journey with Breast Cancer”.  I started reading it right away and found it fascinating and very interesting.  I couldn’t put it down.  It was written from her point of view and I could relate to it so much more than anything I had read so far.  It really spoke to me.  Of course some books were more educational from a medical perspective but this one had some emotional perspectives that I could really appreciate.  It was probably the best book I read during this time because I could relate to it on so many levels.

All dressed up with my handsome son - Summer 2012
Finally the date of her lecture arrived and I was so excited about it. When we arrived I was expecting to see more bald women like me in the audience but there were none.  Well there could have been lots of wigs but nobody was out of the closet except me.  Since I wasn’t getting out much in those days I took this as a night out so I got dressed up.  (By dressed up I mean I was not wearing a baggy old shirt and sweatpants.)  I actually wore a fitted black dress with high heeled black boots.  I even put on my false eyelashes and I looked pretty good even if I do say so myself.  It was so great to get dressed up after spending most of my time schlepping around the house in those sweats.  Anyway, the place was packed with women of all ages.

Dressed up for grade 8 graduation
with my beautiful girl - Spring 2012
Dr. Marla is an excellent speaker and I really enjoyed hearing about her experiences.  Afterwards she was available to meet her fans and sign autographs.  I had brought my copy of her book and went out to get in line for her to sign it.  Ok to be honest we actually ran out to get ahead of everyone one but that just makes us smarter and faster.  Not rude at all.  So there were about 10 people in front of us and many, many behind us in the line.  Dr. Marla was seated at a table and she kind of leaned over so that she could see me better in the line and she gave me a thumbs up and called out, “You rock sister!”  Amy grabbed me and said, “Tracy she’s looking at you!”  So that was awesome and I was so excited to get to meet her that I didn’t say any of the things that I had planned in my head that I would say when I got close to her.  Why do we always get star struck and do that?  Anyway, she signed my book, “To Tracy – You Rock – Best – Dr. Marla”.

After I had my book signed, we went into the reception, ate a bunch of free food, had a drink and then took off.  It was a nice evening out and I’m glad I went.  It felt good to realize that there is an entire community of breast cancer people and I wasn’t the only one.  I obviously knew that but when you are the only one in your usual surroundings you of course feel like the odd one out.  Although it felt good to be reminded that I wasn’t alone, it was also extremely sad that there were so many people touched by this disease.

Thank you for talking to me Dr. Marla.

Talk to Me - Stevie Nicks


  1. I love that she found you in that crowd and gave a big thumbs up. I'd be star struck too!~Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine - Well I was kind of sticking out like a sore thumb as the only baldy there. And yes I thought it was pretty cool that she said that! It really made me feel good during a bad time. Have a pleasant day! Thanks for commenting.



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