Saturday, December 26, 2009


Here's a picture of my great-nephew on Christmas morning, wearing the fireman hat I made him. His grampa is a fire fighter; maybe he'll follow in his footsteps.
What I'm grateful for today: Finding a drugstore that's open on boxing day to stock up on kleenex & other supplies to treat my Christmas cold.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Wishing you the most special Christmas ever and the very best for 2010! Love to all from Chris and Katey

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peace on earth

Sometimes the universe brings you exactly what you need.

Two days on the road with questionable weather, too many Christmas treats, and family members with a wide range of very different expectations of how to celebrate the holidays all left me feeling stressed and exhausted.

This morning, while on what I thought would be a short stroll with Katey, I discovered a magical trail through a wooded area just outside Halifax. The water from an icy brook along the path was so much more soothing than mall music and Christmas bells. There were no shoppers bustling or cars speeding on the slushy roads; only fresh deer prints in the snow and a hoot-hoot from a far off owl. I felt like I was right where I needed to be, in the woods with my dog, a reminder of what’s really important, letting go of stress and negativity.

As we walked, I felt the joy seep back into my heart and the calm that I strive to achieve becoming part of this Christmas Eve day.

I wish you the same joy and peace throughout the holidays.

What I'm grateful for today: Those small and sometimes overlooked moments of joy each and every day

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What not to feed your dog

These Purdy chocolates from Jennifer are wonderful!
Unfortunately, Katey the wonder dog thought so too.

I left them on the coffee table and they proved too tempting for her to resist. She ate 3, which doesn't seem to be a lot, but that much chocolate can cause serious health issues in a small dog, including seizures and even death.

This was a VERY expensive treat. Katey spent a few hours in the vet emerg getting a drug to make her vomit the chocolate up. Her mom spent a few hours in the vet emerg and $258.00.

Lesson learned...

What I'm grateful for today: That Katey is now fine, unlike a few of the other pets we saw at the animal hospital last night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In search of a better metaphor, by Julie Mason

In search of a better metaphor: Who says people with cancer must 'battle' and 'fight'?

By Julie Mason, The Ottawa Citizen, December 13, 2009

I thought I knew a thing or two about living with cancer. But I'm completely baffled by the Canadian Cancer Society's latest advertising and fundraising campaign called Fight Back.

Read the full article

What I'm grateful for today: Katey the wonder dog. She is the best little dog in the world. My apologies to other dog owners... but she really is. :-)

What to say and what to do to help

As often happens, I was surfing the net this morning and ended up reading sites on topics unrelated to where I started. I came across some articles on how to talk to and support people who have cancer. (See links below).

You would think that I would know what to say to other people with cancer. After all, I’ve been there myself. Yet sometimes I struggle, mainly because I know that we are all so different. What may be comforting to me may be upsetting to someone else. It also depends on the day and how the person is feeling.

Because I’m pretty open and practical about my prognosis, my honesty can sometimes make others feel uncomfortable. A friend (who also has metastatic cancer) and I have established a signal; if one of us crosses the line too far over to the ‘dark side’, the other person will simply hold 2 fingers up to form an ‘X’. We haven’t had to use it yet, but I feel better knowing that there’s a way out for my friend if I unknowingly babble on about something that is upsetting to her.

Keeping in mind that every person with cancer is different (and can have a different reaction on any given day), here is a list of what has personally been helpful to me in the past:

Appointment partners. I no longer feel the need to have someone with me, even when the news isn’t the best. But back when I first found out that the cancer had returned, I was grateful for the friends who came to appointments with me, first when I had a biopsy and then when I saw the oncologist and got the news that it had spread. (Thank you Anka & Peggy!)

Food. When I was going through treatments last time, I ended up with the most wonderful assortment of soups and meals in my freezer and some friends even came and cooked for me in my own kitchen. (I’d list them here but there were so many that I know I’d miss someone). Containers that don’t have to be returned are appreciated.

Muscle power. My next door neighbors kept my walkways clear all last winter. They didn’t ask – they just did it. (Thank you Marisa, Dale & boys!)

Visits: I enjoy having company and it was great to have visits (short when I wasn’t feeling well).

Hold the pity! There is nothing worse than the ‘pity look’. I’d much rather someone say “Well, that just sucks!” than “Oh, you poor thing”.

Stay in touch. Even though he lives in Europe, my son Adam calls, emails & sends postcards when he travels. We don't often talk about my cancer; I just love hearing about what he's up to and feeling that I'm part of his life, even if from a distance.

Too much advice. In their effort to be helpful, people will pass on information about new drugs, treatments, holistic healers and witchdoctors. Most of this is old news to us. If there’s something out there worth looking into, chances are we’ve already looked into it.

Over-reactions. Everyone has bad days. People with cancer have them too but sometimes we try to hide them because it seems to worry and upset others if they think we are down.

Support of decisions. You might do something different if it was you. But you really don’t know for sure unless you’ve walked in our shoes. What’s right for one person may not be right for another.

Laughter. After my mastectomy in 1998, a male co-worker said to me “Oh well, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em both”. Someone else might have been offended but he knew that I have a twisted sense of humor and he gave me the best belly laugh I’d had in a long time.

Online articles:
How to Talk to a Friend With Cancer By Claudia Wallis
How to Talk to a Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patient By Beth Slomka
How to Talk To, or Help, Someone Battling Cancer - During Treatment and After By Nikki
How to support a loved one reeling from cancer diagnosis By Sheila Chase
Cancer survivors explain how support from friends and family was critical to fighting the disease By BETH DECARBO
Tips for family and friends By Chris Lynds

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Need a baby gift?

I was at the hospital at 9 am today for a CT scan of my lungs. The halls are quiet and kind of spooky there on Sunday morning.

I finished yet another sweater. My old bear kindly agreed to act as a sweater model.

All of the sweaters I have made are for sale, with the proceeds going to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign to help African women who are raising their grandchildren because of the wide-spread of aids.

You can see the sweaters available at I'm also taking custom orders if you would like to choose the colors and size.

What I'm grateful for today: Katey the wonder dog. You can visit her blog at

Friday, December 11, 2009


I went cross-country skiing this morning for the first time this year. We tested out our ski legs on the flats of the Gatineau parkway and it was GLORIOUS!What I'm grateful for today: Peggy, for organizing Friday hike & ski days, and all of the wonderful women who participate in these activities.

PS: I'm missing my buddy, Anka!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Latest sweater

My sweater making has slowed down to just custom orders. A friend wanted me to make one for her 2-year old granddaughter. I quite like the colors.

Death Can Wait

“Facts and details about cancer in its many forms are readily available. What is not that available is true, unvarnished insight into what goes on behind the scenes, behind the outer facade. What goes through peoples' minds when they get the shattering news? What feelings and emotions do they wrestle with as they cling onto life? What attitudes are helpful, what attitudes are destructive? This is a book that addresses these issues.”
“Death Can Wait” is a book full of survivor stories, including those written by Alice McClymont, Barbara MacIntosh, Cheryl Kardish-Levitan and local newscaster Max Keeping. All profits from the sale of this book support cancer research, with a goal of raising $1 million. You can order it through Amazon at the link above.

What I’m grateful for today: That I am able to stay indoors today and don’t have to go out and brave the storm that is brewing outside my window.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All I want for Christmas

Santa sure had his hands full this morning! After seeing the movie Amelia, the Toonie Tuesday gals stopped off at Santa's workshop to let him know what we want for Christmas. I hope he has a good memory because when I told him that I wanted a new car, he didn't write it down...

What I'm grateful for today: Honey mustard. It really is better than regular, don't you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Car break-in

This is a picture of the keyhole on the front passenger door of my car. Notice the hole in the side? That's how my car was broken into without me even noticing. I parked in the Blanchet Beach parking lot in Gatineau Park a few Fridays ago to go for a hike and locked my purse in the trunk of my car. When I went to use my Visa card on the weekend, it was missing from my wallet. I blamed it on absentmindedness and figured I had misplaced it or left it behind when I made a purchase. Nothing else was missing from my wallet, or from my car for that matter, so it didn't occur to me that my car had been broken into.

When I called Visa to report my card missing, they said there had been a charge to the card at a Gatineau Loblaws for $140 that same Friday. I was still thinking that I had left my card somewhere and someone found it, until Jennifer mentioned that she had read online that there have been a rash of car breakins in Gatineau Park. The thieves take only one credit card, so you don't notice it right away. They mainly use it for purchases at grocery, liquor and electronic stores.

I still didn't think my car had been broken into until I noticed what I first thought was a rust spot next to the keyhole. It took a few weeks, but I've finally pieced it together and figured out how my credit card went missing.

What I'm grateful for today: That Visa covers charges made with a stolen card.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crap and what I'm grateful for

I knew that the chemo room was moving to the new building at the cancer centre but I didn’t know they are now up & running. The new digs are lovely and spacious and I actually had privacy for my injection today. (I once received my shot in the chemo room washroom because it was the only place available!)

I had a look at my chart while I was there and I was right, the tumors are in the lower lobe of each of my lungs. I thought that’s what my onc had said, but I wanted to read the report. What I missed was that the nodules on my chest are also slightly larger.

So I paid $139 today for an injection that isn’t working ... although I am hoping that it is at least slowing things down.

In the midst of crap there are always things to be grateful for. So I’m going to try and write “What I am grateful for today” at the end of my posts. Here is my first one: What I am grateful for today: Friday hikes. We had a larger than usual turnout this morning and we hiked to Keogan cabin for lunch. What a wonderful day, wonderful surroundings, wonderful friends.

Hot Chick x 3

After another look, I realize that there are 2 other ‘hot chicks’ in the picture. I’m thinking this looks like the work of Mary O…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hot Chick

You never know what little thing might brighten your day.

While looking for a bag to put something in this morning I found an unexpected surprise. I was about to throw out the ball of tissue paper from the bottom of a Starbucks bag when I noticed there was something wrapped inside. What I found was a little silver frame with a picture of me in it. The label reads "HOT CHICK" (although the picture says otherwise...).

I'm not sure where it came from, but this "hot chick" started her day with a smile on her face.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vitamin D, melatonin & flaxseed

I faithfully take 1000 IUs of vitamin D every morning.

According to a Canadian study: “Breast cancer patients with low levels of vitamin D were much more likely to die of the disease or have it spread than patients getting enough of the nutrient.” Read more…

In a recent Ottawa Citizen column, Julie Mason writes: “To D or not to D: It's not a question. The science is clear: Vitamin D is an inexpensive pill with powerful benefits. One reputable study showed a 60 per cent reduction in the incidence of cancer among people who had higher levels of vitamin D, as compared to those who were vitamin D deficient.” Read more…

It has also been reported that people with breast cancer have lower levels of melatonin. I’ve never been sure if the lack of melatonin causes the cancer, or could it be that the cancer depletes one’s melatonin (or vitamin D for that matter)?

I've been eating 2 tablespoons of flaxseed every day for about 10 years. It seems rather foolish; after all, it didn’t keep the cancer from returning.

But I keep taking it. Who knows, maybe it kept it from coming back sooner. I really don’t know, but I’m too superstitious to stop.

Pink glove dance

The employees of Providence St. Michael Medical Centre put together this video to generate breast cancer awareness ... and it looks like they had fun doing it. :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ammas for Grammas craft/bake sale

Our recent bake/craft sale was a huge success but, because we had a wealth of items donated, we still have things for sale at Ammas for Grammas.

Let someone do your Christmas baking. Bakery items are ready for pickup or delivery, from our freezer to yours.

As well, we have everything from handmade ornaments to African made jewerly for sale. All proceeds will return to African grandmothers and the orphaned children in their care through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign (part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation).

Browse the items by category at the link above or here: Contact me at if you would like to make a purchase.

Thank you for your support.