Tag Archive | breast cancer

Perk # 64: Home Alone

My Favourite Room: The Sunroom

I love solitude.  However, a hectic work schedule combined with three children left very little “alone time” for me.  Most nights I would drop into bed shortly after tucking Ben in for the night and fall asleep mid “Hail Mary.”  Since my diagnosis, I have had more time to myself than ever before in my life.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Once the kids have left for school, I have six glorious hours to myself every weekday.  Sometimes I will pre plan my day, as I have to be sure to include the boring stuff, like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and paying bills.  Most days however, I awake to a blank slate which I can fill in any way I want.  Here are some of my favourites: go for a walk; do a meditation; cook a healthy pot of soup; sit in my sunroom with a cuppa and watch the seabirds; read; garden (in season); and catch up on emails to my friends.   As I pursue these stress relieving activities in complete silence, I know that I am creating an environment which is most conducive to healing.  Now, where did I put my seed catalogues?

Tip:  “Learn to enjoy your own company. You are the one person you can count on living with for the rest of your life”. (Ann Richards)

Perk # 63: A Surprise Visitor

The Strang Sisters (L to R): Lessy, Florence, Juana,Sherry. (Missing from photo: Lynette)

I am very fortunate to be one of five sisters.  I am especially blessed that two of these sisters, Sherry and Juana, live close by.  They have been an integral part of my support team.   Although sister Lynette lives in Florida, she was able to come visit with me soon after my diagnosis, and I enjoyed an awesome stay with her in January.  However, sister Lessy lives in a land far, far away (Calgary), and I had not seen her in nearly two years.  It is never easy to be away from your family, and this becomes even more true when you are facing cancer.

Last week, I got the surprise of my life when she unexpectedly strolled into my kitchen!  Normally when Lessy comes to visit, I see very little of her, since she has so many other relatives and friends to see.  But this time, she devoted her entire visit to spending time with me and transporting me to my medical appointments.  What an unexpected and delightful perk! As an added bonus, Lessy is in to various alternative healing modalities, such as Reiki, so I took advantage of a few freebies.  My aura has never been cleaner and my chakras are completely balanced.

Tip:  It is ok to take advantage of your siblings when you have cancer, that is what they are there for. (Besides, you would do the same for them.)

Perk # 50: The Use Of Medicinal Marijuana

Bong Shop in Key West, FL.

Let me make one thing clear, I am not the type to scrimp on drugs.  When it comes to natural childbirth, for example, I am completely against it.   If there is a drug out there to ease pain and suffering of any kind, you can give it to me (I’m talking legit, prescribed meds of course).  After all, that is why God created pharmaceuticals.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of my biggest concerns was about the side effects of chemo.  I was fine with losing my hair, but just the thought of being sick, made me sick.  I was so relieved when my Oncologist explained to me the variety of drugs available to cancer patients: steroids, diuretics, and anti-nausea pills, to name a few.  If all else failed, she could even prescribe medicinal marijuana!

Suddenly, I had visions of myself in a long, flowing skirt, my arms weighed down with bangles, puffing  contentedly on a joint as I listened to Bob Marley tunes. I even briefly considered getting the peace symbol tattooed to my ankle.  However, my daughter Kaitlyn put an abrupt end to my fantasies when she said, “Mom, don’t even think about trying to be one of those COOL cancer patients, you can’t pull it off.”   And so, my friends, I am sad to say that while the use of medicinal marijuana is a perk of having cancer, for me it was a missed perk.  Although I do think I AM cool enough to pull it off!

Tip:  Cancer treatments can have some nasty side effects, but there is no need to suffer in silence.  Explore with your doctor the many options available to ease unpleasant symptoms and side effects.



Perk # 44: Cancer Gives Me A Great Excuse To Shop

I have finally come around enough after my last chemo  to get  back into shopping mode. I think I may have gone a little hog wild though, spending my “hundreds” like there’s no tomorrow.   It all started with a new Nikon camera, which I decided to gift to myself for Christmas.  Shawn gave me “the look” and said, “Darlin’ are you really going to pay that much for a camera?”  And my sombre response was, “Now Shawn, I could be dead this time next year, so I am not depriving myself of a good camera!”  (Not that I really think I am going to be dead this time next year, or the year after for that matter, but it didn’t leave a word in his mouth!)  Next it was off to the Bath and Body shop at the Avalon Mall.  As I loaded the packages onto Shawn’s arms he said, “What are you going to do with all of this stuff?”  And my response was, you guessed it, “I could be ……” “Stop”, he yelled, “Don’t even say it!”   Did I really need another pair of black boots?  Well, ya know, I could be dead this time next year………..

Tip:  There’s nothing like a shopping buzz to lift a weary spirit.  If you feel well enough to shop, treat yourself to something new.

Perk # 39: Cancer Has Given Me The Privilege Of Having My Words Of Wisdom Quoted By Another

Tree In My Front Yard

(OK, I was quoted by Lucy Cove on Facebook….but still, my words WERE quoted!)

Well, I have decided, after completing 6 rounds of chemo, with a radical mastectomy and 25 radiation treatments still to come, that I am just going to pack it all in and accept that I am doomed.    My positive attitude can’t do a thing to save me.  Well, that’s according to a study by Dr. Coyne of the University of Pennsylvania, which supposedly found that people with a positive outlook about their cancer did not survive better than those who were depressed about their cancer.

I have a message for Dr. Coyne: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.    And yes Dr. Coyne, there is a power greater than the physical body….call it a positive attitude, the power of prayer, hope, faith, or optimism.    Can it cure cancer?  Absolutely.   There are plenty of documented cases of medical miracles which cannot be explained by modern  science.  Will a positive attitude alone guarantee a long life?  Of course not.  It doesn’t matter how positive your attitude or how strong your faith, we simply have to accept that some things are beyond our control.

So, if a positive attitude can’t guarantee a cure for my cancer, then what’s the point of having one?   It takes a lot of work, ya know.  Well, the way I see it, even if I can’t  state for certain that having a positive attitude will allow me live a LONGER life (although I do believe it will),  I can say with 100% certainty that it will allow me to live a HAPPIER life!

And here are my words which were quoted on Facebook (because when you have cancer, people think you are suddenly full of wisdom):  “If I live another forty years and I can look back on this year and say that I stayed joyful, happy and positive, that would be a wonderful thing  to say.  If I live only one year, then it is even more important that I be able to say that.”

Tip:  Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you that having a positive attitude won’t help your survival.  Instead, prove them wrong….live to be 90, that’ll show ‘em!

Perk # 38: Cancer Really Makes Me Appreciate The Good Days.

Wake me up for Christmas!

I am now lying in bed….in full chemo attack mode…..fondly reminiscing about the pre cancer days when my BFF, Jackie, would call me up to compare hangover symptoms.   She would say something like, “I’m perishing here,” and I would respond, “I’m sick enough to be prayed for in church.”  Well, not to sound morbid (since this is meant to be an up-lifting blog), but if you take your worst hangover day and multiply it by 100, then you’ve got a bad chemo day.

The thing that helps me through the rough days is my favourite mantra: This too shall pass.  It will pass, and I will feel good again!  Even on the days when I feel “normal-ish”  I can almost hear the  Alleluia chorus singing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alll-eee—luuuuu—IAAAAAA!  So I can only imagine how grateful I will be when this sickness is behind me.  I will never again take another “good day” for granted.

p.s. Wednesday, December 7th was my LAST chemo!

Tip:  When times get rough, just remember:  This too shall pass.

Perk # 36: Being Told How Great I Look



Last night, I attended a Christmas dinner with my sister, Juana and BFF, Jackie.  Everyone was dressed in their finery and the compliments were whizzing by like bullets: “You look awesome”; “Love your dress”; “Looking great!”  At one point, a lady turned to me and said, “You must be getting sick of people always telling you how good you look.”  I thought about it for a moment and said, “Naw!”

Even when I look like my “Before” picture, I still get showered with compliments everywhere I go in my small town.   Now come on folks, I know deep inside that when people say, “You look great”, they mean “For someone with cancer”, but hey I’m 44, I’ll take what I can get.  Yeah, I’m really going to miss those compliments when I recover.

Tip:  If you have cancer, get used to people commenting on how you look, and learn to graciously accept a compliment.  A simple “thank you” will suffice.