Thursday, September 27, 2007


That's what someone googled to find my blog today.

I love it.

And whoever you are, I hope you found what you were looking for here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

i made it out alive

Well, it was really hot and pretty buggy but we survived. The Bill Mason Outdoor Education Centre is a pretty amazing place.

It was quite the day. My son is in a class of children designated as "profoundly gifted." These kids are not only very bright but they tend to be a little quirky (or as the wonderful psychologist who did Sacha's testing said, "just a little bizarre").

There was a time when I thought I would never put a child of mine in a gifted class, since I thought of such programmes as elitist. That was before I learned about the emotional and social challenges that these kids can face. In fact, I have come to realize that the gifted programme is a form of special education that helps equip kids to function in the world. Not all the kids in S.'s class fit this profile, but a significant percentage of them do, simply because these are the kids that most need the gifted programme.

At any rate, all these lovely eccentricities manifested themselves today (like the kid who wore shorts, despite the poison ivy warning, along with a rain coat and winter gloves. Did I mention it was really hot?) along with awesome intelligence ("Actually, it's not air that animals need but the components of air") a keen level of engagement and a wicked sense of humour.

My favourite part of the day's programming? The kids played a game called "Predator and Prey". Each child was assigned the role of herbivore, omnivore or carnivore and had to hunt for food and water, while evading predators. The adults were given soft balls and told we represented bad weather, fire, pollution and other factors that might affect an animal's ability to survive. We got to spend the next half hour throwing balls at the kids in the name of education. It was a blast.

S. was so glad to have me there. He really likes to hang out with his mom. As we were leaving today, he said, "Thanks for agreeing to be a participant today."

And then, when the teacher asked the kids to thank the parent volunteers, he leaned over and kissed me.

I melted.

I'll put up with a lot, even a noisy school bus (and boy, was it loud) for one of those moments.

I am so tired now that I can barely move.

I kept it together enough to bring S. and a friend home from school, give them a snack and make a nice dessert (from What to Eat Now, my new favourite book), take the dog for a walk and read D. a bed time story.

And I only became hysterical three or four times.

Chemo tomorrow. Hopefully this will be an easier round.

give me strength

I am going on a field trip today, with my nine year old son's class.

Twenty-four kids. Twenty of them boys.

That is not a typo.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 21, 2007

ongoing or neverending?

First conversation:

Nurse, doing my pre-chemo blood-draw: "So are you almost done?"

Me: "No."

Nurse (chirping): "Yup!"

Me: "I have metastatic cancer, so treatment will continue for the forseeable future."

Nurse: "Yup!"

Second conversation:

Nurse setting up my chemo: "You must be almost done."

Me: "No, actually. I have metastatic cancer and will be in treatment for some time."

Nurse: "Well, they usually only give Herceptin for a year."

Me (Too worn out to explain that this is not the case when Herceptin is being used to treat cancer that has spread or metastic): Hmmm.

Am I wrong to hold health care providers to a higher standard?

Don't get me wrong, the nurses are, generally speaking, wonderful. And busy. So I don't expect each one of them to have read my chart.

But shouldn't oncology nurses know enough about differences in treatment protocols to not ask these kinds of questions if they don't really have an interest in the answers?

Just asking.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

seven things: my first meme

The fabulous Pocketina of DIY not DIE tagged me for my first meme the other day. This strikes me as a great way to try and shake off my habitual post-chemo blues.

The rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days, as there probably aren't many things that regular readers don't already know about me (and many of the things you don't know are things I will never tell!). I have however, managed to come up with a few....

7 Random Facts about me:

1. I had my nose pierced when I was 21. I was in India (on Canada World Youth) and a bunch of us had it done at the same time. The piercing was done with a sharpened piece of copper wire.
That is how I found out that...

2. I am allergic to copper.

3. I am the poster child for the programs of the post Lester Pearson/Pierre Trudeau era in Canada. I participated in the Terry Fox Centre (a week long session on government for 16 year olds from across Canada), attended Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (200 students - 50 from Canada, the rest from all over the world - all of us on scholarship, in residence for two years, in Victoria, British Columbia), taught French to children of francophone parents (I worked in Powell River, BC) and participated in the aforementioned Canada World Youth. All great examples of Canadian tax dollars at work (and all but CWY and Pearson College are now defunct). Many of the things I have since achieved have been due to the foundation created by these programmes.

4. I ran a half marathon in October 2000. I trained and ran it with my sister (who willingly slowed herself to my pace). I will never forget her encouraging words as I we climbed up that last hill (University Avenue, for those who know Toronto) and I whimpered that I wasn't going to make it, "You are damn well going to finish this thing!" It is still one of my proudest achievements and I never could have done it without her.

5. I admit this guiltily, but I was relieved to give birth to two boys.

6. I hated being pregnant and suffered from ante-natal depression, that lifted immediately after giving birth.

7. I am a compulsive list maker. I keep lists of just about anything you can imagine.

OK that's me all done. Now it's your turn. I tag Chris (who will hate me for this), my two new post BlogHer friends Mom2Amara (who I challenge to write 7 things that are not part of her 101 things) and Blondie (from Tales from Clark Street), Amanda (because I miss her and want her to start writing again), Scarlett (of Bone Marrow Poptarts), Babz (of LoveBabz: A Life in Transition) and finally, the guy who started a blog called Wayne's Whines but has never really written there. He also happens to be my spouse, I'd love him to start writing and I am really, really curious to know what seven things he will choose.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I really don't want to go to chemo tomorrow.

After two weeks off, I feel really good.

And I'm too busy for chemo.

Of course, I will go. But I don't have to be happy about it.

And I'll try to imagine the chemo zapping all the stray cancer cells, tomorrow. And then the Herceptin getting anything the chemo misses.

But tonight, I'm pissed off.

I think I'm going to go pour myself a scotch.

have i scared you off?

I am only planning on using a handful of comments the blook. And I promise that, if I use yours (and you did not post it anonymously), I will check with you to see if it's OK.

And more people read this blog than will likely ever read the blook anyway.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

channelling sisyphus

I have lost count of the number of bags of stuff that have left my house over the last several months. And while we have brought some stuff in, our output has been much higher than our input.

Which leaves me to wonder the following:

Why do we still have as much stuff as we ever did? Why has the clutter not diminished at all? Where does all the junk come from?

Friday, September 14, 2007

killing trees

So, I'm printing off every blog post on a separate page, so that I can more easily review and cull the bits that really aren't relevant to the blook.

I am such a linear thinker and having my posts in a neat pile makes me feel much less overwhelmed (not to mention that taking the time to do this is a terrific way of procrastinating).

I am also going through the comments and realizing that there are many of these that I would like to include as well. Who owns the rights to others' comments? Do I need to get permission to use them? Ought I to get permission?

I think pulling this all together is going to be a very emotional process (I can't believe that I did not anticipate this). Re-reading my words puts me right back where I was at diagnosis, during the worst of treatment, the recurrence and the remission. The anguish, the fear and even the joy fairly leap off the page at me. I guess this is a good thing but it sure ain't easy.

I am also fairly taken aback at how much I've written. I'm going to have to find a way to atone, environmentally speaking for the gigantic pile of paper I've amassed.

I just hope there's enough good stuff in here to build a book.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

badass superhero

Yesterday, the Junky's Wife called me a 'badass' in the comments. This made my day. She also said that I should have my own superhero.

Along with some of my online friends, I have been having fun imagining what she would look like:

super me

a one-breasted warrior
with really great boots
a rhea belle top
and some seriously funky accessories (thanks to Babz for that suggestion)
generous hips (the better to shoot from)
crows feet
and smile lines
and always compassionate
but ready to kick ass
when she needs to.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

happy, happy, happy

I saw my oncologist today. He examined me and decided that he does not need to see me for two whole months.

This means that my weeks off will be genuinely 'off' from the cancer centre.

Even better, my lymph nodes all seem normal, my chest sounds clear and he couldn't even feel the edge of my liver.

What a difference a year (or even less) can make.

The nurse was commenting on how heavy my cancer centre file is.

I answered, "That's good. As long as it keeps getting heavier, it means that I'm still around."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

spam offends me

Remember the blook? My deadline is fast approaching and I have spent part of this morning reviewing the blog from the beginning.

Boy, my little family has been through some hard stuff.

I have also been deleting spam from my archives, as I go. I really hate spam and take it quite personally (which is dumb, given that spam is, by definition, automatically generated). I mean, how offensive is it to find a link to a commercial weight loss blog at the bottom of a post describing a very recent mastectomy?

Monday, September 10, 2007

it's like the night before xmas

I just found out that I am now seventeeth on the ravelry waiting list.

I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight.

update: I got my invite but I can't get in!!! How frustrating is that?

update to the update: turns out that they moved their servers last night and the login is broken! I got a really prompt response to my email, though, so I really do believe it will all be fixed shortly. It's probably just as well, though, as so far, today has been really productive....

just another mom in the schoolyard

My nine year old son told me this week end, as we were heading out for a dog walk, that I look "just like all the other moms."

He sounded so happy when he said it.

And he made me feel very happy. And proud.

He and I both understood what it meant to say that. He went on to say that he's very "relieved" that I don't wear that "fake rubber breast" and that he likes the way I look.

He's a very special kid.

Friday, September 07, 2007

women like me

Well, since it's unseasonably warm really stinking hot here today, I thought I would post something I started to draft a couple of months ago:


Women's breasts emerge in the heat of the summer.
Big ones and small ones.
Perky ones (I could fit them in my hand).
Breasts nursing babies.
Freckled cleavage.
Wrinkled cleavage.
And breasts that can't possibly be real.
I stare at women's breasts now with great fascination.
And not a little envy.
I have never seen a woman with one breast.
Except in the mirror.

As I have written before, I don't wear a prosthesis, mostly because it's really uncomfortable and I am just not willing to put myself through agony in order to blend in.

I do take great comfort in the knowledge that there are other wonderful women out there with similar experiences.

Brys of Big Grrls DO Cry (Field Notes From a Cancer Battle Ground Where Queer Life Meets Precarious Life Head On) wrote "Breastless in Vancouver":

"I spend countless time here and there scanning the crowd for boob-less chests myself, I must now confess. I want to see more people who look like me. I feel lonely in my state of exception. I keep hoping that I will look out into the crowd at the mall and see an obviously breast-less chest like mine, thrust proudly forward into the flow of life. But I don’t — EVER. In the Cancer Journal, Audrey Lorde talks about the politics of visibility of walking in the world, breast-less. Lorde is very passionate about the politics of visibility for the breast-less and excoriates those who would foist prosthetics or reconstruction on mastectomy patients."

Clearly we've been feeling some of the same things but she says it more brilliantly than I ever could.

Jacqueline of Rebel One in Eight, wrote a piece about her perspective on being known as the "woman with one breast." This is a brilliant piece of writing and a great story that has stayed with me and made me proud and happy since I read it back in July. Called peace. and quiet, it's begins with an anecdote about a woman who undergoes reconstruction because she doesn't "want to be known as the woman with one breast. It ends with a story about an altercation with noisy and grossly inconsiderate neighbours and the reflection:

"i'm just wondering which is worse:

being known as the bitch who should move into a retirement community if she wants peace and quiet.
being known as a woman with one breast.
honestly. neither reference seems at all bad to me."

Thursday, September 06, 2007


A dinner table conversation:

Son: "Instead of making us work quietly on our own, my new teacher likes to have lots of classroom discussions."

Father: "Is this a good thing? Do you like it?"

Son: "Yeah, it's great! As long as I keep an interested expression on my face, I don't even have to pay attention!"

pink eye update

So my doctor says that my pink eye is very likely viral (my eyes are just not goopy enough for a bacterial infection, if you must know). This is both good news and bad news.

Good news: No eye drops.

Bad news: I just have to ride it out, which will likely take about 10 days.

Good news: If the kids get it, I won't have to give them eye drops.

Bad news: If the kids get it, they will have to stay home for 10 DAYS, until it clears up.

This last bit does not bear thinking about.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

it figures

Blue skies,
cool days,
fresh start,
pink eyes.

Both eyes.

Back-to-school means being exposed to a whole host of communicable diseases.

No one else in my family has it. Yet.

They have stronger immune systems than I do but if the kids get it, I have to keep them home from school. For days.

And put drops in their eyes while they scream.

Before I had kids I had never once had conjunctivitis. I have now had it five times.

At least the weather is nice and pink eye won't keep me in bed.

But if you've got something else contagious, love me from afar. OK?

Monday, September 03, 2007

uneven terrain

Sometimes, my heart is so full of joy that I feel it might burst out of my chest.

Sometimes, my heart is so heavy with sadness for all that I've lost that I can barely move.

And sometimes, I feel both ways. At the same time.