Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reflections on Death

There is a memorial service tomorrow at the university where I work, for three students who died in a tragic car crash. Death is something that we all have to face – the death of love ones and eventually our own death – but it’s especially hard to come to terms with when someone dies so young, and in such a senseless way.

I have stage IV cancer and I’m alive and well, and those three young students are dead. My friend Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer in the same year as me and she died three years later.

Yet I’m still here. It leaves so many unanswered questions about fairness and the purpose of life.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no answers. I do what I can to eat cancer-fighting food, stay active and remember to take my medications. But sometimes it seems that for the most part, illness and death are random and not something we can easily control.

While the topic is rather gloomy, the possibility of death makes me live my life with intent. Is it selfish to be thankful that one of those kids in the car crash wasn’t mine? Is it selfish for me to be grateful for this day, this moment, this breath?

But then again… who am I to not enjoy my life when others can’t? Isn’t that a disservice to those less fortune to not value the life I’ve been given?

I’m taking a moment to feel for those grieving families. But just a moment. Because then I’m taking another moment to be thankful for the abundance of blessings in my life.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Janice turns 70

With only 20 years between us, my mom has always been younger than most of my friends’ moms. So it seems somehow unreal that she turned 70 this month.

I know it’s only a number, but when I was a kid I thought of 70 as being pretty old. Yet, my mom is healthy and active and she doesn’t seem old to me. She goes to Curves 4 or 5 times a week. Last summer she came to Ottawa and biked the length of the canal and back. My gift to her for her 70th birthday was a pair of ice-skates.

How is it that the numbers fly by, our bodies age, and yet we are still the same person inside? While we mature and become more who we are meant to be with each passing year, our spirits don’t seem to grow old unless we let them. What a great role model I have – a mom with a young spirit!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Beauty of the Cause

What’s all the fuss about breasts anyway? Adolescent girls wait impatiently for them to appear, women get surgery to enhance their size, advertisers use them to sell products, men buy magazines featuring bare-breasted women.
It’s time that someone celebrated breasts in a way that is both beautiful and purposeful. Emilie Roberston and Nancy Davis have done just that by creating The Beauty of the Cause Calendar to raise funds for breast cancer research, services and treatment programs. The calendar features artwork by Sylvie Lalonde and photographs by Jen Davidson, along with the beautiful breasts of some of my breast cancer “thriver” friends.
To purchase a calendar email your request to : Each calendar is a minimum donation of $20. All donations go directly to The Breast Cancer Foundation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Christmas in Palm Springs

My Christmas’s as a child were magical. Gifts were piled high under the tree, there was a huge traditional dinner with lots of family, and there was always snow.

So this year was a complete shift from the way I think of Christmas. I spent the holidays in Palm Springs with my son Adam, his wife Tara and her mom and step-dad. We had a lazy Christmas day -- in and out of the pool -- and had a buffet dinner at a lovely restaurant. There were few decorations, no turkey leftovers, and certainly no snow.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. Our surroundings were lovely (if not exactly festive) and the best part was that I got to spend time with Adam and Tara, which to me is what Christmas is all about. Temperatures, environment, and even traditions may change, but family is still the thing that means the most to me at Christmas.