Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Only 10 days left until Cards4Cancer Day

April 10th is just around the corner and I'm still collecting Cards4Cancer. I have 48 cards for kids and 49 for adults. Let's take it to over 100 -- and beyond!

Please take a few minutes to write a note to put a smile on the face of someone going through cancer treatments. That's all it takes: just a card and a few minutes to wish someone a good day.

What I'm grateful for today: This great weather!

The prodigal son returns in: 39 days

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hope and a Smile

Here's a video about Cards4Cancer day that was posted to the Livestrong website.

Please send your cards to me before April 10th.

What to write on your cards 
Guidelines for writing your cards 
Cards4Cancer Day video

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Adventures of Adam and Tara

On a recent trip to Tuscany...
Adam's caption: Put some pants on!

What I'm grateful for today: Frances and Kent for their 'previously enjoyed' dresser which has found a new home in my guest room. It's amazing what happens when you speak up and say you are looking for something!

The prodigal son returns in: 42 days

This appeared in the Ottawa Citizen

Way to go, George!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chair-ity Cottage Dreams Online Auction

Auction ends Sunday March 28th @ 7:00pm

Beautiful, funky and truly unique with free shipping within the GTA

The chairs and paddles are on display until Sunday March 28 @ 5:00pm at the Spring Cottage Life Show

All proceeds from the eBay auction will support Cottage Dreams, an organization that donates cottage time to people recovering from cancer treatments.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Coughing and Crashing

I finally saw my family doctor about the annoying cough I’ve had for months. I was worried that it was because of the cancer in my lungs but what shows up on my CT scans isn’t enough to cause the cough.

It turns out that I have a post-viral inflammation left over from the cold I had at Christmas and my doctor prescribed a puffer to try and get rid of it. I’ve been having these coughing/hacking fits and feel a bit like a leper, but he has reassured me that it is NOT contagious.

As I left the doctor’s office, it was sunny and I was feeling good about what he told me. And then this happened…

As I was driving out of the lot, a car backed out of a parking spot into my front right fender. The other woman’s car had more damage and she was pretty shaken up, but no one was hurt. We called the police and they said that, because both cars were drivable, we should go to the Greely police station to file a report.

I called my insurance and went for an estimate. It looks like there is about $2,400 damage to my car. I take it in on Wednesday and will be driving a rental for about 5 days.

State Farm insurance was really helpful and said I won’t have to pay the deductable because it wasn’t my fault. Several members of my family are also with State Farm and we’ve had nothing but good experiences when we’ve had to make a claim.

(Sorry if this sounds like a plug, but I think when you are happy with a service you should spread the word. I also spread the word when I'm not happy with a service or product e.g. Shark vacuum).

What I'm grateful for today: Quiet mornings when I can just ‘putter’.

The prodigal son returns in: 49 days

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FAITH - The Two-Legged Wonder Dog!

Here is a story about a dog that proves that amazing things are possible if you don't let life's challenges get in your way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What to write on your Cards4Cancer card

Lots of folks want to contribute to the Cards4Cancer day but it’s hard to know what to write on the cards. Here are some ideas that I came up with. Please leave a comment with your ideas as well.

A quote. Search on the internet to find a quote that you think is cheerful and uplifting. E.g. When you face the sun, the shadows always fall behind you. – Helen Keller

A picture of your pet. Children would probably love to get a special message from Fluffy, Rover, or even Igor the Iguana. Take a cute picture of your pet and include it in your card.

Children’s drawings. If you have children or grandchildren, have them draw a picture on or in the card. A bright picture drawn by a child will hopefully put a smile on anyone’s face.

A simple message. Eg. I hope you are having a good day and that knowing someone cares brings a smile to your face.

A personal message. Eg. I know that having cancer is a challenge, because I’m also a cancer survivor. It’s a club that no one wants to join, but as ‘members’ we can support one another and take each day as it comes.

A poem. Here are 2 examples:

What is life?
Life is a gift, accept it. Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is a mystery, unfold it. Life is a game, play it.
Life is a struggle, face it. Life is beauty, praise it.
Life is a puzzle, solve it. Life is opportunity, take it.
Life is sorrowful, experience it. Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a goal, achieve it. Life is a mission, fulfill it.
Author unknown

Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities
and truths of existence, the joy of growth,
the splendor of action, the glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well-lived makes yesterday
a memory of happiness and every tomorrow
a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day!
Sanskrit Writing

I prefer humor to serious poems, but you can find something that is meaningful to you, either funny or serious.

Just remember to keep it uplifting and non-religious. (Hey, I'd write "FUCK CANCER" on the cards, but that's probably not such a good idea...!).

More tips

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Early spring

I think the weatherman forgot to check the calendar. Yesterday was an unusually beautiful spring day -- in March! Anne, Dianne & I walked around the market and explored the offerings of the outdoor vendors.
Anne & Dianne both had ice cream (they said it was frozen yogurt but it looked pretty good to me). I was trying to be good so I had a black coffee and made myself feel better by buying a nice scarf -- a bit more expensive but more slimming than ice cream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Here's a video on Lymphedema from Daria's blog:

What I’m grateful for today: $20 massages at Everest College. Even better: free massages from Margot, my friend with the golden fingers.

Dog blog alert: Read about Katey’s experience at Nak North

The prodigal son returns in: 57 days

Nak North

I spent Thursday and Friday with friends on our 3rd annual overnight stay at a cabin at Nakkertok North, organized by our queen-of-ski, Peggy.

Yes, we are in shorts!

The early spring weather left the trail unfit for skiing so we strapped on our snow shoes instead.

After a challenging trek up Heartbreak Hill, we were ready for a smorgasboard of great food.
Beautiful sunshine, energizing exercise and special time spent with wonderful friends made for a lovey visit to Osterhus. If you look closely you can see the other snow shoers in the reflection of my sunglasses.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My inner nerd

Most people who know me well know that I have a 'thing' for organizing (closets, cupboards, linen, you name it). I even taught a course on the topic for the Ammas for Grammas group several months ago. I'm one of the few people I know who can get totally turned on by containers, labels and fitted sheets that are folded into a perfect square.

Below is a picture of my latest undertaking: my bedroom closet. All of the hangers match and are covered with black velvet to keep the clothes from slipping off. The white shower curtain rings separate the short sleeve from the long sleeve and so on. And yes, the bins on the shelf are labeled "white socks, blue socks and black socks".

I couldn't resist a deal (50 hangers for $14) and I now feel happy everytime I open my closet. Does that make me weird? Or just easily entertained?

I also have a 'give-away' closet (friends are welcome to take anything they want because the contents will eventually find their way to the Sally Ann). I have a friend who's coming over this morning to have a look and to go through my 'consignment shop' closet offerings as well, before I drop them off at a local shop later this month. I don't have much use for my old business clothes, so I'm happy to find good homes for my favorite items.

Organizing my photos is an ongoing project. I used to use traditional photo albums, but I found they take up too much room. So I've switched to small albums that fit nicely in a cardboard box, both from Dollarama.
What I’m grateful for today: The awesome weather we've been having! I brought a lounge chair up from the basement and did some reading in the sun on the deck yesterday.

Dog blog alert: New posting by Katey

The prodigal son returns in:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ongoing adventures of Adam and Tara: Estonia

Adam sent me a text message this weekend to say that he is in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

I had to look it up to see exactly where Estonia is.

What I'm grateful for today: That, even though he is far away, Adam takes the time to email, call or send me a text message to stay connected.

The prodigal son returns in: 63 days

Anka - Thriver Profile

I was diagnosed October 1991. Yikes, that's 19 years ago! I know that it's a long time ago but I remember it a if it was yesterday. One day I was healthy as a horse and the next day I had CANCER!

I had a lumpectomy and 25 radiation treatments.

I try to live life to the fullest. I'm so gratefull that I have my health and am able to retire and enjoy life with my husband and family and friends. Who would ever have thought that I would one day go kayaking with the manatees in Florida or hike up Tunnel Mountain in Banff, Alberta. Life is good. God is good!

To read about other women who are living full and meaningful lives after a cancer diagnosis, click on the label Thriver profiles below or on Cancer Heroes under labels on the right.

Buyer beware - Shark Vacuum from Canadian Tire

OK, here comes another rant!
This time it’s about a Shark/Euro-Pro vacuum I bought from Canadian Tire and the non-existent customer service I received from both businesses.

You can read
my full rant, but if that’s too much information, just beware. The product sucks and response from Canadian Tire and the manufacturer’s customer service has been non-existence.

The short: DO NOT BUY A SHARK VACUUM FROM CANADIAN TIRE -- unless you want a headache (and dirty floors).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Photography Not on Skis

Our Photography on Skis course turned out to be Photography Not on Skis because the trail was too icy. We had a great time just the same, testing out what we learned along the trail.

Dianne took this great shot of Jean & I lying in the snow.This is what we saw from our position. And this is what we saw when Dianne's head wasn't in the way. The workshop was offered by the Ammas for Grammas and taught by Jo-Anne, Musician on Skis. Her photo for March 4th is of the group that attended.

What I’m grateful for today: Free coffee at McDonald's until the 14th.

The prodigal son returns in: 65 days

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Status quo

I had blood work done through my port at 8:30 this morning and then had to go back again at 11:00 to see the oncologist. The good news is that there’s no change. The bad news is that there’s no change.

I would have liked to hear that the remaining spot (tumor? parasite lesion?) is gone, but I am happy that things are stable and nothing new has popped up. That means I go ahead with my Faslodex injection tomorrow morning as planned.

I was going to go to An Evening in Research at the cancer clinic tomorrow night but decided that the whole cancer thing can be such a bore. So I'm going to the Photography on Skis course put on by the Ammas for Grammas instead. We’re going to get instruction and then head out on our cross-country skis at dusk to take pictures.

What I’m grateful for today: That the annoying cough I’ve had for 2 months is just an annoying cough.

The prodigal son returns in: 67 days

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peggy - Thriver profile

Time since diagnosis…25 years this July…Yea!!
Type of Cancer: I can’t remember that long ago – or maybe I never even knew.
Treatment – Lumpectomy and 30 sessions of radiation.

Before I had cancer, my opinion of myself was that I was rather a mouse. I had a significant “No, I can’t” attitude’. After diagnosis and treatment, my attitude became “Yes, I can” and I started trying to live my life accordingly. I’m still a work in progress.

What motivation do I have for others?

I can only say what motivates me, and if it works for you too, great! Here are three ideals that I try to follow.

1. My Mom always said that it was my responsibility to use and develop whatever skills, abilities, gifts and talents I was given, making a contribution whenever possible. I try to direct my focus toward that goal, and find that it gives me positive energy and attitude. Also, it keeps me really busy!

2. Walk through doors that open and present opportunities. I find that great surprises happen when my heart and mind are open to new experiences. I also love to learn new things – art, technology, ski instructing … whatever crosses my horizon. With learning, often new challenges arise, and, when I face and succeed at something that I didn’t think I could do, I feel empowered and alive.

3. I seek to be alone and quiet for a few minutes every day. I want to let my soul listen to the music and the messages that are there.

When I stay focused on these ideals, there isn’t much time in my heart or mind to go to the ‘ Crazy Cancer Fear Place ’, also known as ‘The Dark Side’. Instead, I find myself surrounded with positive people, positive attitudes and a peaceful soul.

True confession

I'm embarrassed to admit it... but I had marshmallow fluff on toast for dinner tonight. The marshmallow fluff was an impulse buy during a quick run to the store for milk.

I think I’m just feeling unsettled because I see the oncologist tomorrow. A little over a year ago there were more spots on my lungs than they could count. Three CT scans ago there were no spots. Two scans ago there were two. My last scan showed that one had disappeared and I was down to one.

It feels like I’m riding a CT scan result roller coaster. I’m one tumor away from either being declared NED (no evidence of disease) or starting chemo again. I’m trying not to live from one set of results to the next, but I must admit that today I’m feeling a bit anxious. That probably explains the marshmallow fluff.

What I’m grateful for today: An unexpected ‘chat’ via Facebook with Adam this afternoon. We were both logged on at the same time so we texted back & forth about everything from Canada’s Olympic hockey win to tomorrow’s appointment.

The prodigal son returns in: 68 days

Monday, March 1, 2010

A dime a dozen

I was at Camp Fortune with Lynn this morning and we ran into another cancer 'thriver', Tracy, a friend from Lynn's support group. It seems that everywhere I go I make connections with other women who have had breast cancer.

A friend once joked that we're a dime a dozen. It made us laugh but it's sad just the same. Because unfortunately it's true.

What I’m grateful for today: That I know so many breast cancer thrivers who are doing well and living full, messy, adventurous, ordinary, interesting, bold and active lives.

The prodigal son returns in: 69 days