Friday, May 22, 2009

poignant and powerful

This past week end, I attended my niece's 13th birthday party. It was a really big deal (over 100 guests in attendance), with great food and a DJ. We all had a great time.

I spend a little time on the dance floor (when the era was right. Music from the 60s to the 80s tends to call my name). At one point I noticed my spouse looking over at us rather intently. When I asked him later he told me that he was having a "poignant moment."

We were three strong women, all mothers, all activists in our own way and all at different stages of cancer survivorship. And we were tearing up the dance floor. We were smoking (if I do say so myself) and not just as cancer patients, not just as women over 40. We were three women who loved to dance and who were having a great time.

I remember thinking, I really love dancing with these women. And when I was on the dance floor, I didn't think of cancer at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

back and back

I am home after a lovely, packed extended week end away.

I also pulled something in my back getting my suitcase off the train as I arrived in Ottawa. It hurts.

I have a bunch of things I want to write about here (my week end, some thoughts on this whole book promoting business, two book reviews and a couple of other things) but today, I am too sore to sit still for long.

Maybe a gentle walk will help.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

cash would be nice

The last time I checked in for chemo, I accidentally handed the receptionist my Subway card, instead of my green hospital card.

She thought this was so funny, that she showed everyone in the room. I pretended to be angry, trying to grab the card back. It felt good to laugh in that, sometimes sad, place.

I told her though, that my subconscious had been at play. I gave her the Subway card because I feel that after so many rounds of chemo, I should get some sort of bonus prize.

Friday, May 08, 2009

thank you

The book launch last night was lovely.

And at least one person had a very good time.

I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed. Thanks to all who came, helped get the word out and put up posters.

Thanks especially to the staff at the First Avenue Day Care and Octopus Books. I don't have words to what a fantastic, beautiful and loving job these women did.

The only hard thing was that I didn't get to spend as much time with every single person who came as I would have liked. I love you all.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

the apple and the tree

At about 8:30 last night, D. came downstairs.

D.: "Papa, can I sleep in your bed?"

My spouse: "Why can't you sleep in your own bed?"

D.: "There are too many books in my bed."

Tonight is my Ottawa book launch. My right eye has been twitching furiously all morning. Going to step away from the computer and take some deep breaths.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

not done yet: sassymonkey's entirely unbiased review

I need to start with a little disclosure. Sassymonkey and I have become friends over the last few years and since she has moved to Ottawa, we have spent quite a few hours (we have our own little table at a bar in Little Italy), knitting and talking over pints.

This review really moved me.

"Laurie writes about life. There are times when the book will make you laugh, and other times where you’ll want to kick someone in the shins on her behalf. There are moments, both good and bad, that take your breathe away. Laurie shares the tough stuff but she also shares the soft side of her life, like the song by Daniel on May 8, 2007 that starts, “I love my mama and she is so beautiful.”...

...I’ve learned so much from Laurie, both from her blog and from reading her book. I have a hard time putting it in words but the best I can sum it up is this - she’s taught me more about living life with grace than I ever could have hoped to learn. Life isn’t about the big stuff. Life is lived in the in-between moments. It’s the walk to the library on chilly fall morning, the skate on the canal in the winter. It’s cooking dinner. It’s afternoons with friends. It’s pints and knitting and books."

I feel very honoured to have my work described in this way.

You can read the rest of the review, here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

buzzing brain

I had a brain MRI today. I'd never had one before and it's a pretty weird experience.

I'm not worried about anything in particular. I just thought it would be a good idea, after hearing an oncologist speak at the Conference For Young Women Affected By Breast Cancer that I attended last February.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared. It turns out that I am not at all claustrophobic (and I was so relieved that the technician managed to access a vein for the contrast injection on the first try that nothing after that fazed me at all).

But boy, was it loud. And my neck is still stiff from the brace they used to hold my head steady. It's been hours since I left the hospital and I feel like I am still vibrating. It felt like a jackhammer being used right beside my head. My teeth were chattering from the vibration.

And I am exhausted (although that my be from waking up every forty-five minutes again to make sure that I didn't oversleep).

I'm not going to worry too much about the results (although I may change my mind about that in the next few days).

My CT results from last week were good (still no tumours in sight).

And besides, there were several women at the young women's conference who had recently had surgery for brain metastasis. Every month seems to bring more options for the treatment of cancer.

And it's nice outside.

I am either going to take a nap now or go pick up dog poo in the back yard.

And then I'll go for a walk.

Monday, May 04, 2009

taking care of my body in 2009: part 5

Alternative title: "a mixed bag

Alternative title: "doritos do not make a healthy lunch"

Alternative title: "time to bring in some support"

As my first alternative title suggests, I have had some mixed success this month, in my quest to "treat my body as well as I treat my mind" in 2009.

Let's review, shall we?

1-Walk VIGOROUSLY for an average of one hour, five times per week (300 minutes a week).

I did very well on this front, meeting my goal and exceeding it. I am especially pleased, given that I had such a terrible cold for a while. And I am very proud of the fact that I went for a long walk every day that I was at the Conference for Women Living With Advanced Breast Cancer (near Philly). I walked after checking in at the hotel, at the end of a long day on Saturday and organized a late check-out so that I could walk again before going to the airport.

2-Go to yoga once every week.

I went twice. I can definitely do better. I did have semi-valid excuses (conflicts and a head cold that made it impossible for me to bend down) but really, I can do better.

I'm going Wednesday morning, OK? I'll report back afterwards.

3. Do either 10 minutes (at least) of strength training or yoga with the Wii Fit or abdominal exercises every day (chemo recovery days excluded).

I used the Wii Fit once. I did the abdominal exercises three times (every day when I was away and then not again). Yeah, I caught a cold and then had chemo. But there were lots of days I could have worked at it and didn't.

I think I will lower the bar to 5-10 minutes and try again.

And that's the good news.

4-Cook dinner at least once a week.
5-Cut down on refined sugar.
6-Eat seven servings of fruit and veggies a day.

7- Take my vitamin D and calcium supplements daily.

When it comes to input, things have been a little out of control.

The dinners I "cooked" were as instant as possible.

I have eaten more sugar and fried stuff in the last month than I have in a very long time (Easter, Passover, travelling and my son's birthday provided the excuse). And the volume of food has vastly exceeded my needs.

The whole fruit and veggie thing has been extremely haphazard. I stopped keeping track but I'm probably averaging three servings a day (if I am incredibly generous in my calculation).

I can't remember the last time I took the lid off a supplement.

Clearly, it's time for some more drastic action.

I'm not talking about buying into the beauty myth or wanting to look like Posh Beckham. I just need to take better care of myself.

My lymphedema is worse and has started to be painful.

The bigger pants I bought are becoming tight.

I have aches and pains in my joints.

I feel sluggish and run down.

Now, I know not all of this is attributable to diet (early menopause and chemo are playing a role) but I do have control over what goes into my mouth.

I keep attending workshops on diet and nutrition, as it relates to cancer (went to another excellent one at the conference I have yet to write about) and I have years of Weight Watchers and reading obsessively about diets under my belt.

Going back to Weight Watchers might help (I tried doing the online last year and without a person to hold me to account, it was a bust) but we really can't afford it right now and the idea of dragging my ass to meetings is extremely unappealing.

So, my friend C. (who is feeling much as I have been) and I have hatched a plan. We are going to track what we eat, weigh in weekly and report in to each other. And then we'll have a little mini-meeting about what things are working for us and why other things might not be. My goals for this month aren't changing (no specific weight loss goal and I won't count points) but I will keep careful track of my promises to myself.

This kind of accountability has worked for me when it comes to my writing goals so it can only help on the health front. When I was meeting with my coach in January (without whom I would never have finished the book, started writing fiction or done so many other things that made me feel happy and purposeful in 2008), I set the following goals for the year:

I want to fit back into my pre-diagnosis pants (two sizes smaller than my current ones).

I want to have a strong core.

I want to feel fit and strong.

I think these goals are realistic and achievable. I just need to keep my eye on the prize.

Going to go throw out the empty Doritos bag and weigh myself with the Wii Fit now.

not done yet on toddler planet

"Not Done Yet is one of the good things to come out of this new approach to living publicly, to letting the light shine in on troubles and illness, and it is a very good thing indeed."

Thank you,
WhyMommy. I feel the same way about everything you write.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

what i set out to do

PJ Hamel, had the following to say about my book, in a review she wrote for
MyBreastCancerNetwork.Com (Health Central):

Wry. Real. Dealing with it. That’s Laurie’s story. It’s a personally familiar one, for so many of us. Through her week-by-week, sometimes day-by-day detailing of cancer treatment laid atop everyday life (the dog, the kids, school and work), we relive with Laurie those emotions many of us have experienced. And it’s a bittersweet feeling, this “been there, done that” comparison of radiation burns, telling your small son you have cancer, and losing your hair.

This isn’t a sad book. Nor is it a sicky-sweet, “Oh, cancer has been so good to me” book. It’s just… true. A regular woman dealing with cancer as best she can. And writing about it in an utterly compelling way.

This review made me really happy. It means a lot that PJ liked the book. She also made me feel like I achieved what I set out to do.

That's a really good feeling.

Friday, May 01, 2009

book is launching

An Ottawa reminder:

And a Toronto update:

Mark your calendars! The Toronto launch of Not Done Yet set for Thursday, June 11 at the Toronto Women's Book Store. Details coming soon.