Sunday, April 27, 2008


To meet her, you would never know that my friend Judy has had to face a breast cancer diagnosis three times: originally in 1993, then four years later in the same breast, and then four years after that in the chest wall.

I’d be hard pressed to think of someone with a bigger heart than Judy. A memory I have of her experience walking a labyrinth at a breast cancer retreat really tells a story about the kind of person she is.

For anyone not familiar with labyrinths, it’s a kind of maize that you walk as a form of mediation. We were at this wonderful retreat centre surrounded by nature; there was beautiful flute music playing in the background; it was nighttime and we were walking a labyrinth by candlelight. It was the first experience walking a labyrinth for most of the women and many found it to be a spirtual and moving experience.

Afterwards, Judy commented on a woman that was struggling with a serious health setback and had become very emotional during the labyrinth walk. Judy said that as she passed her in the labyrinth, she could feel herself take on some of the woman’s pain.

When I said that I was sorry that she had such a negative experience, Judy exclaimed, “No, no, I was happy, that maybe some of her pain transferred to me and relieved her of some of her burden!

That's just the kind of person she is. Judy writes:

I look at life as a gift-full of surprises and opportunities. I feel stronger and more confident. Seldom will I refuse the offer of an adventure. In the past few years I've run a half marathon. ripped down zip lines, skied in shorts, skinny dipped, etc. Sometimes in the midst of one of these adventures, surrounded by kindred spirits and the beauty of nature I am overcome by a feeling of utter peace. In these moments I realize that I have found heaven on earth. This is the silver lining.

The most helpful thing you can do for yourself is seek the company of others in the same boat who are living life to the fullest. Surround yourself with positive energy and enjoy each day. And never say "no" to an adventure.

These pictures were taken high above the trees at an aerial park -- on Judy's 60th birthday!

(And yes, it's no surprise that Judy's one of the women skiing in shorts in my last post.)

You can read Judy's full story, in her own words here:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Skiing in Shorts!

The temperature has taken a turn for the better and my neighborhood spent the weekend barbequing, cleaning up the debris that was buried under the snow in the yard, and just enjoying the feeling of sitting in the sun after an especially long winter. I personally spent a good part of the weekend on my back deck.

How can it be that we were cross-country skiing just last Wednesday? It’s hard to believe that there is still snow in the Gatineau Hills, but it was perfect for skiing -- especially in shorts!

In the picture: Chris, Jean, Judy & Peg

What a wonderful way to end the season. Peg took this picture and sent the message below to some of our friends.Today,
Chris - being of sound mind and body!!! - willingly skied down Kyber Pass ... one of the most challenging hills in Gatineau Park.
She was still standing at the bottom - as the photo verifies!!
Thus, she finished the ski season with a great achievement and a HIGH!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Alice in Wonderland

I never noticed how blue Alice’s eyes are before. I don’t know if it was the loss of hair, or if identifying with her journey made me see her more clearly, but I’ve recently noticed that Alice has the kind of eyes that make me feel like I can see into her soul.
I didn’t get to know her all that well when we were on the Busting Out dragon boat team together, but I recognized all too well the look of shock and disorientation on Alice’s face when I saw her shortly after the recent diagnosis of bone metastasis. It’s kind of like watching a movie that I’ve seen before, only I’m seeing it through someone else’s eyes, rather than my own this time.

Just about every week since her diagnosis, Alice has shown up either to walk with our Saturday morning group or meet us for breakfast afterwards. What amazes me about her on those Saturday mornings is how often she smiles. She talks about what the doctor says and her treatments, but she continues to smile (just like in her picture). I’m sure Alice has shed her share of tears, but there’s something hopeful about the human spirit’s ability to continue to smile, and even laugh, despite the knowledge that cancer has once again taken up residence in your body.

Alice has a new wig. I think she looks hot and especially like the soft pink streak she had added to one side.

Alice writes: I look at life today with hope and joy at being alive, feeling good physically, being able to go for long walks, continuing my paddling, looking forward to the paddling outside and the festivals and the summer which is my favorite season. I have always been a positive person and love to help others and I am getting all of that back now through all the support. This is also true of my work situation where I have been very supported even though I have not been there long.

My advice to others with a recurrence is to stay positive, have someone with you when you see the medical professionals, don”t read too much that is negative, stay as healthy as you can, accept support from others, don”t work too hard and be good to yourself. Enjoy each day and don”t think too far ahead.

You can read Alice’s full story, in her own words, here:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Goodbye to Winter

This has been a long winter with record snowfall. While most people in Ottawa have been praying for spring, I wanted winter to hang in there for one more weekend of fun in the snow.

Last weekend I enjoyed great spring ski conditions at Gray Rocks with a group of friends. Some of us hit the hill, some headed for the cross-country trails, and some strapped on the snowshoes. Whatever we did, we enjoy the snow, the weather, the food, and especially the company.