Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Raffle tickets for a good cause

During a trip to Tanzania in early 2007, Jennifer and I visited a Masai village where we met an amazing group of women who were making beaded jewelry to sell to tourists. When we returned to Canada, we collected beads and sent them to the women to help them make money to support their village. Unfortunately they were charged a large fee by the Tanzanian Revenue Agency to receive the beads.

Jennifer and I are selling raffle tickets to cover the revenue fee. Tickets cost $2, or 3 for $5. Frances will also be selling tickets at the upcoming Busting Out pot luck.The winner of the raffle will receive a beautiful Kazuri necklace and earrings (generously donated by Frances). The draw will take place before Christmas and we will notify the winner.

Kazuri was started in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood with the social mission of making work for a few women. Initially less than 10 women were employed making beads in her garden shed. As word of the beauty and uniqueness of the Kazuri beads, necklaces and earrings spread, sales increased, as did the facility, and as a result 350 people are now employed. Many more wait in the hope of having an opportunity to join the ranks of those talented people who make small and beautiful objects. Now under new ownership, Kazuri has been able to expand whilst still retaining its philanthropic roots. The workshop is still located on a portion of the farm once owned by Karen Von Blixen, of 'Out of Africa' fame, at the base of the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.

Monday, November 24, 2008


We all know that drinking water is important for our health. There is always a lot of debate about water quality and the containers we use to store and drink water from.

I said I would share with you some of what I read in Susan Manion MacDonald’s book, Balance. Here are a few things she has to say about water:

  • Drinking water during a meal actually reduces the amount of digestive enzymes available for digestion and places an increased stress on the body to digest food. It's best to drink water a half-hour before or after meals. Adding a slice of lemon to a glass of water will aid digestion.
  • Natural spring water is best and glass bottles preferred. If you have to drink bottled water, choose a European brand (e.g. Evian) because North America’s standards for the level of arsenic in bottled water is low.
  • Do not soak in bathwater that contains chlorine because absorption is high through your skin. (I guess that's bad news for you swimmers...).
  • Charcoal filters on your taps & shower heads can remove toxins like chlorine from your water. However, they do not remove all toxins (e.g. fluoride & aluminum). Reverse osmosis filters remove most contaminants, but also remove minerals & nutrients and are not environmentally friendly.
  • She recommends a Nikken brand of magnetic energy filter, the PiMay.
(I also saw a shower head called the Wellness Shower on the Crazy Sexy Cancer site that is recommended by the Hippocrates Health Institute. )

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yolaine Madge (1955-2008)

Yolaine Madge (nee Leblanc), daughter of Charles Henri Leblanc and Gratia Leblanc; passed away at home peacefully at the age of 53 on November 18, 2008. She is survived by her husband Kevin Madge, her three children Rylan, Michelle and Kelsey, and her siblings Ghislain (Johanne Hardy), Louise (Rene Pinard), Rejean (Johanne Pelletier), Normand (Claire Matteau), Denis, Sylvie (Jacques Prud'homme), Marc, Yvon, Christine and Marie-Josee (Dominic Debay). She leaves many nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts as well as her many friends and colleagues at St. Vincent's Hospital and Elisabeth Bruyere Health Centre where she worked as a pharmacist for over 23 years. Friends may pay respects at the Kelly Funeral Home, 3000 Woodroffe Avenue, Barrhaven, Thursday, November 20th from 6 to 9 p.m. Funeral Service Friday, November 21st to St. Maurice's Church, 4 Perry St., for Mass of Christian Funeral at 2:30 p.m.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The last time I had contact with Yolaine was when I wrote about her on this blog in May. She seemed to be doing well then, so the news of her death came as a shock this week.
Being part of a wonderful, supportive community of breast cancer survivors is indeed a blessing … at least until we lose someone. It’s complicated; not knowing how to feel: sadness, anger, fear and even guilt. It’s hard to figure out why some people’s cancer returns and other’s do not; why some people do well and others don’t.

Many of my friends are at Yolaine’s funeral as I write this. I made the decision not to go - not because I didn't want to show my respect and honor Yolaine’s memory, but because a primal sense of survival and self-preservation tells me that it’s not the right place for me to be right now. I believe in my heart that Yolaine would understand. A sad goodbye to a fiesty lady and dedicated mom.

For those of you who knew Yolaine, please feel free to share a memory of her in the comments section. Add your name to the text portion if you want, but you can avoid having to log on by clicking on anonymous at the bottom of the window.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2009 Beauty of the Cause Calendar

The Beauty of the Cause is now accepting online orders for 2009 calendars. All proceeds will go toward the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, a 60 km walk benefiting the Cancer Foundation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking Care of Myself

It's hard to go from being a busy productive person to having some days where I accomplish nothing.

I just came from yet another doctor's appointment and I fully intended to run a few errands on the way home. As often happens these days, I felt tired and headed straight home instead. I'm in the 'lost days' cycle of chemo and so many things around the house and on my to-do list are left undone.

I'm learning to let it go. I'm learning to not be so hard on myself. On days when I don't have the energy to do much more than flip through the channels, I'm learning that what I have accomplished is recovery and healing. That's my job right now: taking care of myself. If I accomplish nothing else on the 'lost days' except eat something healthy and get some rest, then I've done my job.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Balance ... nature's way to heal your body

I went to a presentation this evening by Susan Manion MacDonald, author of Balance… Nature’s way to heal your body.

Susan was diagnosed with terminal cancer (4th stage lymphatic cancer) in 2002 and soon entered into a journey of research and discovery to learn everything she could about alternative ways to heal herself. She believes that “the tumor is not the disease; it is a ‘symptom’ – a result of the disease process – a breakdown of the natural biological order”. Susan became a certified naturotherapist in 2006 and is cancer free today.
I bought the book and will try to share some of what I learn with you as a read through it. To start off, here are a few of the changes that Susan made early on:

· Removed all refined, chemically altered or synthetic sugars from her diet (to improve her immune function)
· Eliminated red meats (which the liver can have difficulty processing)
· Eliminated all hydrogenated oils (which create free radicals)
· Eliminated bleached flours (questionable nutritional value and unwanted chemical additives)
· Eliminated processed dairy products (can facilitate cellular grown, including cancer cells)
· Stopped using nail polish and hair dye
· Changed shampoos, soap, toothpast, laundry detergent & many other household and personal care products
· Introduced rebounding (to move the lymphatic fluid)
· Experimented with Espsom salt soaks, dry saunas & dry brushing
· Drank 4 cups green tea daily
· Drank 4 ounces of Noni juice daily
· Took 4 Tbsp of flax oil (an essential fatty acid) mixed with ¼ c of organic quark

Some books she studied:

How to fight Cancer and Win, by William Fischer
Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide to Cancer, by Burton Goldberg

Click here for Susan MacDonald's website.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Look Good Feel Better

Mary and I went to get 'glammed up' yesterday at a Look Good Feel Better session. The purpose of the program is to help women going through chemo learn what cosmetics and head covers (wigs, scarves, hats) to use to look their best while they go through treatment.

Here's Mary's 'after' picture. She's looking fabulous, especially for someone who just had chemo that morning!

I'm not sure how much I learned that was new, but I can draw on a pretty decent eyebrow. We had a few laughs and came out feeling somewhat pampered, with our free box of goodies.

Looking Good doesn't necessarily translate to Feeling Better today. It's been 3 days since chemo and I'm feeling a bit rough around the edges; mostly nausea.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chemo # 4

Had my latest chemo yesterday and got through it fine. Still feeling OK this morning. The worst of it seems to hit about 3 or 4 days in.

I may still feel well enough this afternoon to go to my yoga class, so I'm playing it by ear. Breast Cancer Action offers a class on Thursdays for breast cancer survivors/thrivers. It's low-challenge; gentle stretching with lots of meditation and visualization, which is ideal for those of us who are currently in treatment. Others seem to enjoy it too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Journey Through Cancer, by Jeremy Geffen, MD

Patricia posted a comment about the book, The Journey Through Cancer. In addition to her recommendation, there are lots of positive comments from readers on the website. I'm definately going to check it out.

PS - Yes, you might notice that I am posting at almost midnight. Another steroid night and I'm wide awake...

Read any good books lately?

Although I love to read, I've never been interested in joining a book club. Reading someone else's pick that I might not be interested in sounds too much like work! However, I do like to talk about the books that I enjoy and I like to get recommendations on what to read from others.

On a cottage weekend this summer, a group of us had an interesting discussion about our 5 favorite books of all time. Most of us had more that 5, and Barb was kind enough to write them down for us. You can find the lists at (or click on 'Books on the Edge' on the right under 'Light Links').

Please feel free to make comments about the books that are posted and to send me your own recommendations and reviews at

Monday, November 10, 2008

1,401 Visitors!

It's been 1 month since I started tracking how many people view my blog. I can't believe that there have been 1,401 visitors since Oct 10th! I used to think it was just my Mom that read it, but I'm hearing from lots of people that they've passed the link along to friends and relatives.

Thanks to all of you who check in from time to time to see how things are going. Please feel free to leave a comment or to email me at I mainly just post pictures and write short bits on what's going on with my treatment and in my life, but I'd love to hear any suggestions that you have.

Please take a minute to take the poll on the right. It will be interesting to find out how many people are viewing for the first time and how many are repeat visitors.

Namaste and peace out!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Play week

This is the week I get to play: the week just before my next chemo, when I'm feeling my best.
I was happy to be able to do the full hike on Friday. It was a wonderfully sunny day and we stopped at a cabin for lunch. (I think it was McCloskey, but I always forget the names).
On Saturday I took a raw food course. I don't think I'm ready to adopt the full 'lifestyle' as they call it, but I did get a few good recipes.
Only a few more days to go before chemo #4 and lots to do before I have to take it easy again...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good News! (and an update on Meridy)

I saw the oncologist yesterday to get the results of my last CT scan. The tumors on my lungs are shrinking and things are moving in the right direction. So I am continuing on the Taxotere and the aim is to go for about 9 treatments, as long as I'm tolerating it well.

Here's an update from Meridy:
I never even contemplated such a thing happening ....

After getting to the hospital at 10 a.m., getting into one of those ridiculous gowns and little paper booties, after fasting since midnight, after getting an iv inserted etc etc, I was told at 1:30 p.m. that the surgeon was running late, and at 2:45 that I would not be having surgery today - they will call me to reschedule.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers - I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Years ago I taught the Christopher Leadership Course. I met many wonderful people through the course and Meridy was one of them.

I unfortunately lost touch with Meridy over the years. She recently saw my name in an article that Alice wrote and contacted me. I was surprised to learn that she had recently gone through treatment for breast cancer herself.

Since contacting me, Meridy has been coming out to our weekly W.R.A.P. (walking, running and poling) group. Last Saturday she told us that they found two spots on her liver and she was having a procedure today to remove them (an ablation, which I had never heard of before).

Meridy has a really positive attitude and I'm putting out my own positive thoughts that the procedure will be a success. Here's a message she sent out to friends yesterday.

Hello everyone, Just to let you know that I am going in to the Civic Hospital tomorrow morning for the Radio-frequency Ablation to "zap" the cancer cells in the liver. I was there yesterday for pre-admission tests and I met the Radiologist who is going to do the procedure, so I feel very comfortable that it will go well. I will be awake but sedated. I will remain in a Surgical Day Care Unit overnight for observation, returning home early on Thursday morning. I will not return to work until Tuesday, although I will log on from home on Friday if I feel up to it. I'll let you know then how it went.

I have attached a recent photo of me - does that look like someone with cancer???? I think not! I feel very well and so I am anxious to get this over and done with and well behind me.

love to all,

Meridy - I'm thinking about you today. I hope they blast the crap out of those cancer cells. We want to see you back at our Saturday morning group soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Trio of Blessings

I've been feeling really tired and achy the last few days, so it really lifted my spirits to receive not 1, not 2, but 3 gifts from special people today.

1. My amazingly talented niece Erin, who is a student at the N.S. College of Art & Design in Halifax, sent me this portrait that she did from a picture of me taken when I was about 16 or 17. I wish I still had those eyelashes!
2. My dear friend Dorothy (aka Chuck) sent this lovely prayer shawl that she made for me (I didn't even know she could knit!). Here's what the card said:

Prayer Shawl
This shawl was made just for you to bring comfort, to know that you are loved. This shawl is to wrap you up when you just need a snuggle or a hug. This shawl was knitted with blessings and with love.

3. And last but not least, my wonderful role model Mary sent me for a massage. Given that my back and joints have been giving me trouble, it was a much appreciated gift. I spent an hour in a lovely serene setting, having all of my sore muscles massaged and kneaded and I left feeling like I was walking on air. Thank you, Mary, for an hour of bliss!

Monday, November 3, 2008

More fun with Wigs

I attended a Halloween potluck/baby shower for a co-worker on Friday. We were asked to dress like hospital staff or a pregnant woman.
I was a trailer-trash expectant mother, complete with curlers in my Broom-Hilda wig and a bulging baby bump that read "Property of Billy-Bob... or maybe Bobby-Ray". It seemed like a good idea at the time - at least until I saw the pictures!

Other wigs I've considered:

I'm thinking of knitting my own wig.
For someone who spends most of her time wearing scarves, I do seem to be wig obsessed...

An early winter in the Gatineau Hills

Although the snow in the city has melted, there is a generous covering in the Gatineau Hills and some people have already been skiing. I joined the hikers last week, but Mary and I took a shorter route and finished early. The combination of new snow, crisp air and bright sunshine was a great lift to the spirit. All of that fresh air must be doing the lungs good!