Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the category “Life Happenings”

Symbols and Reconciliation

This was first published in The Messenger – the paper of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton.

Recently in Wetaskiwin the local Canadian Tire store rose the Treaty 6 flag over its store. There it flies surrounded by the flags for Canada. The store owner said it is necessary to move forward and to recognize on whose shared territory the store sits and to acknowledge the need for better relationships with the First Nations in that area. For those living in Wetaskiwin and in Maskwacis this is an important symbol of reconciliation in the communities.

In parishes all around our diocese you will hear someone acknowledging the traditional territory on which the church sits at the beginning of Sunday worship. A symbol that recognizes that we are all treaty people and that we are all neighbours on this land.

Why is this important you may be asking? Aren’t concrete solutions better than symbols? The answer is yes and no. Concrete solutions are important but symbols help us to change the conversation. If we all begin to think that where we live is treaty land, then we begin to think of everyone who lives here as human, for we all share the land together. We all begin to know that we are each other’s neighbours and that we are all loved by God.

In our churches we have a number of symbols that speak to us each week – bread and wine for the Eucharist, the different colours for the different seasons, the robes our clergy wear and so many more. These symbols are the ones that speak to our faith and enrich our faith, they are symbols that we would not be without and would be angry if they were taken away from us.

How many of our churches now have a smudge available before worship starts? Not as many as could be or should be, but some do. How many have First Nations art and other symbols up in their buildings? Some do and we all need to find ways to make room for more. How many of us have invited First Nations leaders to pray before an event or during Sunday worship? Some have, more could. See how the conversation changes when we make our symbols present and more concrete.

This past Christmas I was given a ribbon skirt by one of the members of the Reconciliation Team at Immanuel, Wetaskiwin. Gloria and I have become friends. Her input into the work of reconciliation is so important. Now unless you are from a First Nations community or family, and especially if you are a settler, you aren’t likely to have a ribbon skirt. Gloria’s gift to me of this beautiful symbol was a gift of reconciliation, an understanding that our relationship, our bond as women, our bond as sisters of faith, has come to the point where she has welcomed me into the community of women who wear ribbon skirts. My ribbon skirt and my wearing of it is a symbol of reconciliation, it is a concrete action of relationship, it is wearing the prayers and love that were put into the making of it.

Reconciliation and Symbols

The dear one and I on Easter Sunday. I’m wearing my ribbon skirt.

Let’s look for those symbols of reconciliation and realize how they have changed the conversation between settler and First Nations, realize how they are making concrete the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and realize that neighbours are seeing each other in the light of reconciliation. Symbols of reconciliation can and will lead us to concrete actions of reconciliation.

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Remember me?

Hi there – it’s me again – remember me? I know I have been away from here for awhile. There are lots of reasons for that, but the main one has been an ongoing flare due to my rheumatoid arthritis. This past winter and the early spring have not been great. Fortunately for me there is now warm sunshine, low humidity and high barometric pressure. I am so ever grateful for the reprise and that now I can get back to those things that really give me life.

Remember me?

Tea on the Deck

Like sitting on my deck in the afternoon sun enjoying a cup of tea and getting some writing done. It is a wonderful feeling and I’d like it to stick around a bit. I feel like my spoons are getting filled up again. Here’s a good link that explains the spoon theory. I feel like I have some energy to get some personal and work tasks done and done well. It gets hard having to explain to those who don’t have a chronic illness what is like to live with one all day, everyday. There is no such thing as a break from this – there are only good days (that are low pain) and bad days (which are high pain). Today and the last few days have been good days.

Here I am back at least for now and if I disappear from here for a bit, you will know why. I am gong to enjoy these days and hope that with good pain management there will be more to come. Now I have a garden and yard waiting for some attention and they are going to get it!

 

Let’s Talk about Mental Health #bellletstalk

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In Canada it’s Bell Let’s Talk day to talk about mental health. I am not here promoting a particular communications network, what I am here to do is to share my own personal experience of living with a spouse who lives with depression, of living with depression myself for the past 2 years, and of knowing many others who daily struggle with PTSD, anxiety, mood disorders and so much more.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a situational depression related to my diagnosis and subsequent treatment for ovarian cancer. I was in tears all the time, I had lost my appetite, sleep was not happening and work was impossible. Fortunately I have a very good family doctor, a good oncology team, a listening therapist and so much support from my family and friends and my boss. However, if you had told me that I would still be dealing with a depression at this point I would have not believed you. I thought I was going to get over this, but it turns out that sometimes your brain gets changed in such a way that you don’t get over what has happened to you.

Each day I wake up and I do an assessment of how I am doing – are my feet hurting from neuropathy and arthritis or just neuropathy? are my hands achy? have I got a headache? did I get enough sleep? Every morning I wake up and do the same thing. I also check in with my feelings – am I feeling positive? am I dreading the day? That’s because, it turns out, that living with depression is like living with my other chronic conditions – it doesn’t go away, it abates sometimes, it comes on strong others, but it never goes away. I am learning how to live with it. I am learning that it is another part of myself that I have to take care of. I can’t ignore my mental health anymore than I can ignore my physical health. If I did I would not be the functional person that I am.

My dear one has lived with depression for most of his adult life and for most of our marriage. It is his chronic condition. I am not going to talk about how he deals with it but how I deal with it. I have learned to read his signals, to check in with him regularly, to make sure he eats well and to give him the space he needs to cope. It has affected our marriage, in the same way that my cancer diagnosis has, by making us more aware of the other and looking out for them. In fact both our conditions have brought us closer as a couple, which helped our family and has encouraged our friends.

Today and everyday I am going to be open about how I am doing with both my physical and my mental health. There are days when I just need to stop and rest and sometimes do nothing and then there are days when I know I will get things done. I live with both these realities.

Here’s what I also need to say. I work for a part of the church that takes care of it employees. I have access to mental health counselors. I don’t have to tell anyone that I am doing it and no one asks me either. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that there are many Canadians who don’t have the same benefits. We need to make mental health care be part of our overall health care. Most family doctors know that taking care of your mental health means that your physical health will be better. I think as Canadians we can and should do better to look after this as well. Mental health, mental wellness, matters for all of us. It is not just an individual responsibility, it is the responsibility of the whole community.

If you need help ask a family member or a trusted friend to assist you. Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your priest or your pastor. Reach out, help is there. I am glad I did, you will be as well.

Gender Based Violence

Today here in Canada is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is to remember the 14 women who were murdered for just being women at a university in Montreal on December 6, 1989. They were all engineering students and the man who killed them said that feminists had taken his life away. It is one of the biggest massacres that has ever happened in Canada. It started a conversation here about violence against women and about gun violence, it is a conversation that we are still having.

In 2009 I was asked to preach at Christ Church Cathedral for the 20th anniversary of this day. I recently found my sermon and thought that it was worth sharing here. I hope that it touches you, I hope that you are pushed to action. If you want to find out how domestic violence has affected one particular person, then please check my sister’s blog Freedom Within

Candles Day of Remembrance and Action

A Service of Remembrance: 20th Anniversary of the Massacre at Ecole Polytechnique
St. Nicholas Day

Scripture Readings:
Judges 11: 30-40
Psalm 55
1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Mark 7: 24-30

“Faith, hope, and love abide, these three: and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Here is a story of love. In a country far away and in a time long ago there lived a poor family. The parents had been blessed with the arrival of three daughters in their family. They loved their girls, as much, if not more than any parents had ever loved their children. In the time that they lived, it was up to the parents to provide a bridal gift, a dowry, to the parents of the young man who was going to marry their daughter. Unfortunately the parents did not have enough money to be able to provide for their daughters. After a long, agonizing time the parents decided that their only option was to sell their daughters into slavery. The mother cried many tears. The father became stony quiet with grief.

In the community where they lived there also lived a bishop, whose name was Nicholas. This bishop heard the story of this family. His heart was moved. Nicholas decided that he needed to do something. He gathered enough money to make three bags that would make their bridal gifts. Late one night before the girls were to be sold Nicholas threw the bags of gold over the fence. In the morning the family discovered the gift and the girls were saved.

Here is a story of hope. Twenty years ago today a young mother was holding her tiny baby girl in a small town in southern Saskatchewan. As she did most days she had her radio tuned to CBC. It helped to remind her that life was not all about babies. That day she was listening to the radio in the late afternoon as the news began to come forth that a young man a had gone through the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and that he had targeted and killed women only. This mother looked at her baby girl and tears welled up in her eyes. She thought of all the mothers who would be weeping that day. At that moment this mother determined that she would speak out about violence against women, that she would raise her daughter to be strong and able to make her own decisions.

That baby girl is now a young woman of 20, a university student in southern Ontario, an activist, a person of hope, someone who continues to make me proud to be a mother and gives me hope for the future.

Here is a story of faith. A woman lived in the region of Tyre with her little girl. The little girl had something wrong with her. It was like she was possessed by a demon. The mother was worried out of her mind. She just wanted her little girl to get well. Jesus decided that he needed a break. He went to a house in the Tyre region where he thought no one would notice him. Yet, Jesus being Jesus, could not escape the notice of the people living in the area. This mother heard that Jesus was there. She had heard that Jesus was a great healer, one who came with God’s power to save. She decided that she needed to go and ask him for help. What mother wouldn’t do the same?

When she came into the house, she bowed down at Jesus’ feet. She was that desperate. She begged Jesus to heal her daughter. Now remember, this mother was not Jewish. She was a Greek. Jesus said to her, “The children need to be fed first. It is not fair to take their food and give it to the dogs.” This mother had great grit and did not back down from Jesus at that. She told him, “Even the dogs are allowed to eat the crumbs from the plates of the children.”

At that point Jesus said, “For saying that, your daughter is well. Go and see.” This mother left and found her daughter well and normal.

Just as the women of Israel would gather to remember and lament Jepthah’s daughter, today we gather to remember and to lament. We remember and lament the 14 young women who were murdered today just because they were women, for no other reason, just because they were women. We remember Genevieve, Helene, Nathalie, Barbara, Anne-Marie, Maud, Maryse, Annie, Michele, Ann-Marie, Sonia, Maryse, Annie and Barbara.

We need to remember and lament the missing and dead women from Vancouver’s East Side – many of whom were from First Nations communities. We need to remember and lament the missing and dead women along the “Highway of Tears” – the #16 highway that goes between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia – many of whom are from surrounding First Nations communities. We need to remember and lament Hillary whose body was found this fall. A young 16 year old woman from the Miqmaq First Nation in Burnt Church, New Brunswick. If you look on the internet and go to a site called Missing Native Women, you will find name after name of missing and murdered women from all across Canada. The numbers are staggering, over a thousand women. Remember and lament each of their lives.

What many of these women have in common is that they come from small, isolated northern communities. Communities that make up the part of the church that I live and work in, the Council of the North. It is a tragedy that haunts the lives of our people, of our clergy and especially our youth. Remember and lament.

These are not isolated incidents. Looking around the world we are called to remember and lament many stories. The girls in Afghanistan who cannot go to school because they are afraid of acid being thrown in their faces. Just because they are girls who want to get an education. We need to remember the victims of feminicido – the murder of women – in Mexico; especially Alicia Gomez Lopez who was recently murdered and is the niece of a Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund partner. Remember and lament.

While it is important for us to take the time to remember and to take the time to lament before God the losses that have touched us, it is not the place that people of faith are supposed to stay. Christians like you and me are called to do something more.

Sisters, like the gritty, determined woman living in Tyre we are called to a strong and bold faith that speaks out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Sisters, who will you speak out for? Sisters, who will you speak to and change their mind just like the Syrophoenician woman did with Jesus? Be of strong and bold faith my sisters.

Brothers, like Nicholas, you are called to acts of generous, loving service for those who are in need. Brothers, who will you act for, which life will you try to save? Brothers, what life story have you heard that challenges you, makes you think, moves your heart that you need to take action on? Be generous and loving in all that you do my brothers.

Cast your burden upon the Lord,
You will be sustained,
The righteous will not stumble.
(Psalm 55:24)

A River of Women

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River of Women

River of Women

I stand still and watch the colours wave around me

I remember my mother and my grandmothers

I think about my daughters and my nieces

I hold hands with my sister and sisters of my heart

I am in the river of women

This river which holds our blood, our tears

This river of our hopes, our dreams

I move with the colours that swirl around me

I look back and give thanks to the women who walked before me

I am in the river of women

I am surrounded by the colours of grief, the colours of love

I am filled with the songs of women and the cries of women

I am in  a river of persistence and resistance

This river flows over me, around me, beneath me and through me

I am in the river of women

I hear the voices of all the different women who I have crossed paths with

I hear the women who have been abused, catcalled, murdered just because they are women

I drop to my knees on Mother Earth and let my tears fall

My tears join others in the river of women

I am in the river of women

I am lifted up by the river of women

I remember that being a woman is to be strong, to carry pain, to give birth to new things

I look to the future and see women from there beckoning to me

I see the strong women, the Indigenous women, the women of colour hold me up

I am in the river of women

I hear the prayers of women that feed the river

I am upheld by those prayers of hope, love, persistence and resistance

I add my prayer for justice to feed the river of women

I let the river flow through me and set me on my path

I am the river of women

P.S. These are my reflections for this International Women’s Day and some art work I did while reflecting. Grateful for this day that allowed those creative parts of me to merge.

Chronic Pain is not my Friend

As most of you know dear readers I live with a chronic condition – rheumatoid arthritis – I also have bursitis in my right hip. Neither of these conditions are visible so that makes them part of the invisible illnesses that many of us live with every day. This past winter has not been great for me. We have had a lot of humid days and  not enough cold, cold days. This has meant that the inflammation in my joints has been at times overwhelming and present All The Time!

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Inflamed joints – thank you RA

This picture is one I sent my best friend and my sister a while ago. My hands were so painful that I was in tears much of that day – therefore the title of this blog. The only thing I can do when this happens is to stop, take some extra pain medications (on top of the other medication I already take) and rest. Which is what I did.

I also live with peripheral neuropathy which was caused by the chemotherapy drugs for my cancer. Not everyone who has chemo has this side effect but I do. It means that my feet have constant numbness. tingling and sometimes excruciating pain. It’s hard not feeling parts of your feet and getting used to always having some kind of shoe on because you can’t feel where your toes are. Again an invisible condition and one that I am learning to cope with.

Here’s what’s been happening lately. I am dealing with a feedback loop of pain between my RA flares and the neuropathy in my feet – which means that sometimes I can barely stand up on my feet and the numbness and tingling begin to go up my legs. Chronic pain is not my friend and it is definitely not the dear one’s friend as he has to pick up the slack of what I can’t do during these times.

Now you may be asking why I am sharing all of this with you. I mean really does anyone else need to know? Obviously I think the answer is yes, but I know others may not. Here are my reasons:

  1. When I am in pain it becomes very difficult for me to engage with anyone in a good way – whether it is on social media or in real life. I am grumpy and can barely focus on what others are saying to me or asking me to do. So when I get quiet on social media this is why.
  2. This affects my mental and emotional health – it is hard to stay sunny & energetic when you just want to curl up with a warm blanket and your cat – it is hard to get past the pain. Mostly I do but often I don’t. There is a clear connection between my pain levels and my mental and emotional health.
  3. Resting because of bad pain days does not mean I am lazy it means that I am taking care of myself. I am saying that here because we all have that voice in our heads that says things like that and I am learning to give myself permission to just stop and take care of me. If I don’t take care of me I won’t have the energy to do the things I am really passionate about.
  4. So much of what those of us with chronic pain go through is invisible and unspoken. We don’t want to be seen as whining, not strong enough, not together enough. We want to be perceived as independent, strong, capable people and mostly we are, just sometimes we aren’t. I want to be able to ask for help when I need it without the added stigma of incorrect perceptions.

Here I am today, feeling mostly okay. The pain levels are at their most manageable and I have been able to get this blog post done. My commitment to myself is to give me a break and to also give others a break. We are all dealing with stuff and we are all, mostly, doing the best that we can.

 

Mental Health – mine, yours, the other persons

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Let’s all be the light!

In the Christian church today we remember Candlemas – the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also the day when we here in the northern hemisphere recognize that we are half way between winter solstice and the spring equinox. Where I live you can definitely tell that the days are getting longer. I happen to love Candlemas and the coming of more light. It reminds me to be light whenever and wherever I can.

A year ago today the dear one went away on clergy retreat (it’s where he is at the moment as well). A week before he left I had just been diagnosed with depression as a result of having cancer – still dealing with that by the way – and I had just started my medication. For those of you who have dealt with that you will know that it takes at least  3 weeks to begin feeling the least bit better. We both thought when he left that I would be okay. Well I wasn’t. I was in tears, I was afraid, I was anxious (the twin sister to depression), I was not okay. I wouldn’t be seeing my therapist for another week and I was not okay.

It meant that on the second full day of his retreat, that I texted him and asked him to call me as soon as he could. We had agreed before he left that he would check his phone regularly to see how I was doing. He phoned me and I was in tears, so many tears, ugly tears, tears that just wouldn’t stop. He spoke to our bishop and the retreat leader and they prayed with him and sent him home. I look back at that episode and realize that I was the lowest emotionally I have ever been. I couldn’t take care of myself. The competent, independent, thoughtful, caring for others woman could not take care of herself. It was awful and I hope I never go back there again.

In my family, both immediate and extended, we talk a fair bit about mental health and how we are all doing. We have all been touched by someone who is struggling, who is on the road to recovery, who seems to be coping well. We have had honest conversations with each other about how we are doing. We have leaned on each other and continue to do so. I have friends who have had similar conversations with me about my mental health and about theirs. Mental health issues has touched everyone I know. It probably has touched you as well dear reader.

You may ask why the connection between Candlemas and mental health. The Feast of the Presentation is about an old faithful man named Simeon who took Jesus in his arms  when his family had brought him to the temple and said this:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
    for my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Anglicans many of us are familiar with that prayer being used during the service of Evening Prayer. It is about God’s light coming for the whole world, a light that cannot be overcome. I think of my mental health in this way, if I am not healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually then I can’t be that God light for others. I am called to be that God light, you are called to be that God light and so is everyone that we know.

Today I am doing better, I am trying to get enough sleep, eat healthy and take the medication I need to help in that process. I have not so good days, but they are nothing compared to the dark days a year ago. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for the good care I have received from medical professionals, from my therapist, from family and friends, and most of all from the dear one. I am one of the lucky ones, I didn’t slip through any cracks and got the help I needed. My hope and prayer is that others can be taken care of in the same way.

Let’s all be the light for each other and when we can’t let others be that light for us. To that end here are some pictures I have taken recently that capture the light. Enjoy.

 

 

P.S. I promised way back at the beginning of the year, that I would try to do two posts a month, here’s hoping that this month is better than the last one.

Bye, Bye 2016! Hello 2017!

A lot can happen in a year as we all know. 2016 for me has been all about the recovery. Recovery from cancer treatment and then recovery from the depression caused by having cancer. Seeing my hair grow and finally being able to get it cut and then needing another cut and getting a colour! The two pictures above were essentially taken a year apart. I am so grateful to have made it through all the cancer rigamarole and to mostly be feeling more myself.

There has been much that was good about last year and I don’t want to forget that as we say farewell to this past year.

I am grateful for all the family time the dear one and I got in this year. Time with his folks, time with my folks, time with our adult lovelies, time to take an extra special holiday to the west coast with two nieces and a nephew. How much fun did we all have on our adventures each day! We celebrated his parents 60th wedding anniversary – have to admit that is a life goal of mine. We got almost three weeks with our younger daughter before she headed off on her big adventure overseas.

I am also grateful that this year has been a good one as far as my ministry within the church. I have met many fine folk in this diocese who are committed to the work of reconciliation between Indigenous and settler in Canada and in particular our part of Canada. They want to educate themselves, they want to build up relationships, they want the church to become part of that story. This work keeps me energized in so many important ways.

The dear one and I celebrated 30 years of marriage this year and that really is a high point for both of us. We have been through so much together – both good, bad, silly, humdrum, fantastic and boring. We still look at each other and are amazed by the others love and are ever so grateful.

Here’s the tough stuff. No one warns, or at least not in my hearing, cancer survivors of the high rate of depression following treatment. I mean, really, you don’t think that someone’s emotional and mental health are as important as their physical health. I have to say that throughout this I am extremely grateful to the dear one for supporting me through that and for my family doctor and my therapist – they both got me through the worst. So a shout out to all of you dealing with cancer and its treatment, make sure that you get the help you need to deal with the mental and emotional bits as well as the physical bits.

The rest of the tough stuff is the part of the world I have no control over. The state of politics in the world, the rise of racist, right wing ideologies that just freak me out! The state of our environment – if you are a climate change denier please do some honest to goodness research and let’s all work together to leave a better planet for future generations. The state of so many women’s lives – please hear this men, feminism is not out to destroy you, it’s out to make the world a better place for all of us. I honestly think we can all do better in this regard.

Here are some of my goals for 2017:

  1. To write here more often – it does me good to write and so I am going to commit to at least two posts a month. Oh my goodness, I just put that out there.
  2. To move more – generally this means walking for me, but I also need to get in the water more. I have to get over my ‘they will be looking at me’ fear and just move more.
  3. To drink different beers – so many good beers out there.
  4. To laugh as loudly and as often as I can.
  5. To support those dealing with cancer. It is those of us who have gone through it that can be the best supporters for those going through it.
  6. To pray each day – I know right, you’d think a Christian woman living out her faith would already do this- but you know I really need to dig down into this.
  7. Find a way to deal with my chronic pain that doesn’t spoil every bit of my life – those of you who live with chronic pain will know what I am talking about.
  8. Have more people over for meals, drinks, whatever and spread the hospitality around – it is good for me when I can do this.
  9. I am going to work hard at speaking my truth, standing up for justice, reminding others that reconciliation is necessary and possible, that a healthy environment is our gift to the future.
  10. To find beauty wherever I can – because my goodness this is a beautiful world and there are so many creative people out there, it won’t be hard to find – for me a big part of that will be found in my garden. Oh yes, I am already dreaming of spring.

Thanks dear readers for hanging in there with me. You have brought out the best in me and I appreciate that. Got any goals for 2017? I’d love to hear them. Going to leave you with some final thoughts from a hero of mine Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

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Happy New Year to one and all!!

 

 

One Year: Or what the hell happened there?

These four pictures essentially outline my last year – from hair to no hair, chemo 6 times over, to now growing in curly hair. What a year it has been!

I woke up in the early evening of June 2, 2015 to realize with a shock that my surgery that was supposed to only take a couple of hours had gone at least an hour longer. Then to realize that I was being admitted to the hospital – it was only supposed to be day surgery. Then hearing my dear one’s voice asking me how I was doing and saying that my doctor would be in soon. She came in and told me that I had ovarian cancer, stage 2 and that I would be needing chemotherapy to make sure that we had got it all. Yep, that was a day!

Then came the summer and fall from hell. Well, not really hell, but really, really uncomfortable. I had blood taken, oh so much blood taken, was hooked up to an IV for at least 4 hours every 3 weeks, lost all my hair, lost my energy and then neuropathy in my feet happened. I have to admit, I have never felt such pain and never want to again, as I did in my feet.

Then recovery, the slow, slow recovery. I had imagined that once chemo was over, that everything would go back to normal. Silly, silly me. Here I am, 6 months post-chemo and I am still recovering. My hair is growing back, my energy is returning, but there have been and continue to be bumps along this road. I am still dealing with neuropathy in my feet and it is likely that will continue for at least the next year. I have a situational depression which is being dealt with in all the right ways.

Here are some things I have learned and wished I had known when this all started:

  1. How cold my head got with no hair – thank God for my little knitted cap which made all the difference in the world.
  2. That you need to tell your medical folks right away if you are dealing with an out of control pain incident. Took us all awhile to find what I needed to make it better.
  3. That sleep in whatever form it comes is needed. Daily naps are such a blessing.
  4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. You don’t need to do this alone.
  5. Eating good food helps, but sometimes ice cream is all you want to eat – so why not??
  6. A good therapist/counselor makes such a difference in so many ways.
  7. Having an integrated medical team is essential – thank goodness I had/have that.
  8. Losing my hair was the least obnoxious of the side effects – hair grows back!
  9. Grieving for what has been lost takes it own sweet time – don’t think I’m done with that yet.
  10. Best friends you can text whenever and about whatever are so important!! So thankful I had mine.

If you are going through cancer treatment, please surround yourself with all the love and support you can. If you know someone who is going through treatment, reach out to them, they will be so thankful you did. If your partner is going through cancer treatment, be as strong as you are able, ask for help when you need it.

Lastly I want to publicly thank my dear one. He stood by me, rocked me when I wept, sat beside me during all of my treatments, brought me flowers, let me sleep, fed me good, good food, showered me with so much love and grace. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Love you dearest. Always and forever.

 

World Ovarian Cancer Day

wocd-newsToday is World Ovarian Cancer Day it also happens to be Mother’s Day, which is kind of weird if you think about it. Many of you know that I was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer in June 2015. I have been through surgery and chemo and am hoping that it is well and thoroughly gone!

Here’s the weird part, the thing that made me a mother was ovaries that worked well and did their job. The thing that made me sick was my ovaries that went rogue on me. They have been both my greatest blessing and also my greatest hardship. I must admit to feeling quite torn about them.

Most people think that there is a simple test to find out if you have cancer. A blood test that will show tumor markers. My blood work never, ever showed those markers and yet I had a tumor that was almost 10 centimeters in diameter by the time of my surgery. I know that some cancers have such tests & yay that they do, but ovarian cancer does not. Also this cancer is slippery. The symptoms could almost be symptoms for anything – bloating, fatigue, back ache, trouble going to the bathroom – try taking those to your doctor and having them go – I know what that is, you have ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Canada has great resources that can help and also has been my go to place during this journey.

I will say this if you have a great doctor who listens and sends you for the appropriate tests and gets you to the right specialist – you will get amazing care. Which is what happened to me and I couldn’t be more grateful. We all know that my story could have been so different and the outcomes wouldn’t have been as good as they are so far.

A shout out to all the girls and women who have gone through ovarian cancer, especially to those thousands in Canada who die each year because of this disease. Here’s to the survivors and the advocates, who keep sharing the stories. Here’s to the partners, families and friends who make it possible to continue when you just don’t think you can.

This World Ovarian Cancer Day I am so grateful that I get to be here and celebrate this Mother’s Day. I know now that this could have been so different. I know now that we need more research. I am so grateful that there are so many who get out there to raise money and awareness.

Today I will be grateful. Grateful that I have three wonderful adult children, grateful that the dear one and I are still making this work, grateful for my amazing medical team, grateful for the science and research that made it possible for me to be here. I will continue to honour World Ovarian Cancer Day and hopefully make others aware. I will also continue to celebrate Mother’s Day because my goodness I’m glad to be a mum and to have had a wonderful mum.

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