Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Mike's Grad - U of Guelph
June 2008
June arrived and with that an amazing occasion for our family.  Mike was going to graduate with his MBA!  Here was a guy that didn’t do so well at Cegep (post-high school in Quebec) because he was goofing off and now he was going to have an MBA!  On top of that he did all his studying, research and assignments while still working full time and dealing with the kids during my cancer journey.  He is truly an amazing man, husband and father and we were all so proud of him.

Going to the graduation ceremony and sitting there watching him go up on the stage to receive his diploma was one of the proudest moments of my life.  I felt such a surge of love for this man and all he has done for me and for our children.  Especially in the last year.  I was certainly glad to be alive at that moment.  Glad to be healthy again able to be there to see it with my own eyes, feel it in my heart and smile from ear to ear to see him so happy, so proud.  In my books he is a true warrior and the epitome of family.

Les Tarnowskis - Newry, Maine - Summer 2010
Family is what matters.  Warts and all.  I am not sure if you have ever seen the movie “Dan in Real Life” with Steve Carell, but it is a great depiction of family.  I watched it and thought how great it was to see this story about all of these grown siblings and their families getting together every summer at their family cottage.  Every time the Tarnowskis get together (Mike and his two brothers and sister and all the spouses and kids) somebody has to host, do the grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc…and we don’t really get to have a good visit.

So after watching the movie I proposed that we try a family weekend together on neutral territory and rent a big place where we could all stay for a weekend.  Hopefully without killing each other.  Every family has their dramas every once in a while right?  Anyway, I think having this cancer experience made me want to spend more time with family and create memories and have no regrets about what we should have or could have done.  So in 2007 we had the kick off to what would become a tradition every June.  We rented a big house and we all settled in.  All 20 of us. We had food, wine and each other and we were all safe and sound.
The Family - St.Sauveur, Quebec - Summer 2011

The first year our rental house was in Killington, Vermont and in subsequent years we have gone to Newry, Maine a few times and also St. Sauveur, Quebec.  These are always fantastic weekends and something I think we all look forward to.  Plus we have all survived every single family gathering so far.  The time we spend together on these weekends brings us all closer and strengthens the bond of family.  We always get home safe and sound with some new family memories to add to the memory banks.

Safe and Sound - Capital Cities

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


Just Me - Summer 2008 - Shawville, Quebec
At this point I was still seeing one of my oncologists every second month.  It felt good to have someone watching over me but I hated going to the cancer centre.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate how lucky I am to have access to such a centre and the amazing healthcare but I actually physically react to my trips to the cancer centre.  As I drive closer and closer my stomach gets upset and I always feel like someone has punched me in the gut.  I also start to get anxious and tense and want to turn around and head far away in the opposite direction.  It is a really horrible feeling which must be somehow psychologically related to the experience with the chemo and radiation.  Or maybe I am just a terrible driver!  Either way, it is difficult to go into the cancer center and see so many others that are going through their own hell.  I have to put on blinders and focus on getting in and getting out as quickly as possible.

Some of my favorite demons - Halloween 2008
These visits often left me feeling angry and bitter.  I would go home and feel sorry for myself at times.  It seemed that there were so many good things happening to my friends and family that were positive and although I tried hard to be happy for them it was making me feel very envious, very bitter and very angry.  The demons were coming out. I don’t know who I was angry at.  Just angry.  I remember breaking down one day and thinking that so and so was going away on a trip, so and so bought a new car, so and so moved to a new house and even Mike was getting his MBA and so many others were all getting things and what did I get?!?  I got f*cking cancer!!  I have tried my whole life to be a good person, to treat others the way I want to be treated, to be genuinely happy for family and friends when good things happen to them and to do my best to not cave into the horrible green monster of envy so why did I have to get cancer?  

I have never been overly interested in status and things and possessions but I am only human and on that particular day for whatever reason I just lost it.  I know that material goods do not make you a happy person.  Well at least not in a meaningful way.  But right then and there I just wanted something new and different and exciting.  Something for me.  Something for my family.  A little selfish?  Yep but I had this feeling that I deserved something.  I deserved something for going through this crappy cancer bullsh*t.  I just wanted something new and exciting and positive.  A fresh start.

Renos - 2008
Shortly after that we began renovations on our kitchen and main floor bathroom/laundry area.  It was my design, my layout, my ideas with everything done to suit our family to a T.  We all love the results.  Not once did I complain about living through the renos because it was not so difficult and totally worth it.  Yep that made me extremely happy.  Maybe my wallet suffered but it was a fresh start for our family.  For me.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Bye bye demons.

We spend a lot of time at home because we enjoy being together as a family so why not make our home comfortable and just how we wanted it?  After all, that time together is what I cherish the most in my life.

Demons - Imagine Dragons

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