Tuesday, 10 January 2017

An Open Letter to Not-so-"Dear" Cancer

Published on www.ihadcancer.com on January 6, 2017

Before I begin this letter, let me digress...

Funny how we have all been trained to start all letter with 'Dear...' which is such a warm and endearing term. As if implying that who we are addressing our letter to is someone who holds some special place in our hearts...Some long lost friend whom we wish to reconnect with. "Hey you. How have you been? We should meet up and catch up...".

This is the definition for 'dear' in Merriam-Webster's dictionary: "highly valued; precious; a dear friend". So let's take a step forward now. this letter I am about to write is being addressed to Cancer. With that definition in mind, I have two words that immediately come to mind - Bull. And Shit. And that is me being polite and G-rated. OK, now let me begin my open letter to Cancer. 


No, not 'Dear Cancer', just 'Cancer'. You don't deserve me beginning this letter with 'dear'. In fact, is there anything you deserve? Not that I can think of at this very moment....or ever.

I've been thinking about our 'relationship', and how as with all relationships I've ever had, we've had our ups and downs. We've encountered many roadblocks along the way, hit several different levels of emotions. One thing I can say with 100% certainty is, regardless of what happens, where I go, who you move on with, you will always be in my life, sadly. As much as I try and shake you off, tell you that it's over, scream out to you that we are DONE, you'll always be lurking there in the shadows. You can't catch a hint. You don't process the message and once and for all just leave. No, like some bloodsucking leech that won't let go no matter the amount of salt we sprinkle on you, you are there. You are super-glued in my soul. 

We first met some 9 years ago when you decided to knock on my mother's door. We tried to slam the door shut in your face, and for a brief moment, we were successful. But like the big bad wolf who blows his way through the straw house, in you came and wreaked havoc on my mother, my family and my life. You grabbed hold of my mother's physical strength and tore it apart. Then again, in 2013, as spring approached and we were once again able to open the windows to let in the fresh air, in you flew and landed in my body this time. So I put on my boxing gloves and kicked some serious ASS. I went in strong and came out stronger. WHAM!!! BAM!!! POW!!! Sucks to be you Cancer!

But again and again, you are there, in my life, in the life of others. It may not be me, but you are there. In my subconscious. In my dreams. In my thoughts. In my breath. You took my friend's husband. You took a father to two growing boys. You took my friend's mother. You took a grand-mother to her loving grand-son. Again and again, you take and take and take. You are always creeping around, waiting. You slink and snake your way in others lives. And still there is nothing I can do. Cancer, you should be ashamed of yourself. You disgust me, always and forever will. 

Cancer, I will end this letter simply with the following lyrics by a Kendrick Lamar song, "I hate you":

Let me start off this letter saying I don't like you
Scared of you, but I will fight you
I stare at the ceiling and think about you
Curiosity killing me, thinking of when I'ma meet you
You introduced yourself to so many others, mothers, sisters and brothers
Children and babies, drive me crazy, I wonder
Why you love people that love people that do right?
Is it rocket science to you, or is it just your type?
One of my biggest fears
is waking up four in the morning and gotta hear you met one of my peers
Or maybe a family member that you thought was cool
Or maybe a person that I'll never meet cause of you
You, son of a b**ch, and I wish you never existed
And I swear I'd blow your brains out if you paid me a visit
But that's not realistic, cause you'll never write
But I'ma still send this letter off, P.O. Box
and when you get it....please take it personal. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Louve de Laine - Media Release

Local Artisan Gives Back Through Her Hand Knits at Fundraise for Cancer Foundation

Ottawa, ON - Louve de Laine - Hand knit designs by local artisan Adèle Crôteau will be featured at an upcoming charity event The Art of Hope, benefitting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation on October 13, 2016.

Adèle Crôteau and her family are no strangers to cancer. In 2008, her life was overturned with the loss of her mother to ovarian and peritoneal cancer. While still grieving for her mother, she received her own diagnosis of cervical cancer a few years later at the age of 37. Now cancer-free, it is her passion and goal to educate, raise awareness and raise funds towards cancer support programs and research.

Adèle became obsessed with knitting after the loss of her mother; who was an avid knitter. It was her way of self healing and to ensure her mother's legacy lived on.

Proceeds from sales of Louve de Laine's hand knit pieces have been donated to a range of charitable organization such as Ovarian Cancer Canada, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and most recently to the Gord Downie Brain Cancer Fund.

"The Inspiration behind my work comes from difference stories of those affected by cancer. Whether I hear a famous person just diagnosed or it's someone I read about or meet online, I know I have to do something. So I am knitting!"

The Art of Hope is an evening dedicated to local arts, music and fashion from across the National Capital Region. All participants have been touched by cancer one way or another and are collaborating together to provide a fun filled, interactive evening to delight their guests.

The evening will include dance performances, live music, art exhibits, artist demonstrations and fashion show. Other artists participating at The Art of Hope include Canadian Singer/Songwriter Keturah Johnson, local designer, Rowes Fashion and visual artist Judy DeBoer.

Tickets for The Art of Hope are on sale through Eventbrite. Event details can de found at www.vixensvictorious.ca

For more information, please contact
Adele Croteau

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Cancer helped me discover my creativity

"Art is you being free from all of the world's heviness." This is one of my favorite quotes I've come across since having and beating cancer.

When cancer enters your life, whether you are a caregiver or survivor, and I've been both, your life changes on many levels from the moment you hear those dreaded words "You have cancer" or hear a loved one say "I have cancer".

These changes present themselves as quite frightening and earth shattering.
These changes bring on many unknowsn.
These changes bring many "What now?" moments.

But these changes, and cancer entering your life, can also bring about beauty. Now before you start cussing at me screaming, "How can cancer be beautiful?", just hear me out...

When I say beauty, I don’t mean the disease itself. Don’t get me wrong, cancer IS the ugliest thing out there. I mean beauty quite literally. I mean beauty as in art, something pretty to look at, something to feel in your fingers, something that you can create and be proud of. I mean beauty as something that will leave your mark on the world as well as impact your life and that of others, regardless of whether you have 1 year to live or 50 years.

For me, this beauty has been learning the art of knitting. This has become my form of beauty, of feeling something soft in my hands, of leaving my mark on the world. Back in 2007, cancer entered my life when my mother, Ginette, was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. One year later, sadly, she earned her angel wings and my life as I knew it stopped quite abruptly. My mother was a passionate knitter. Not an evening went by that she didn’t have at least a few minutes with her knitting needles in hand, a soft smile on her lips, and a sense of serenity and pride as she created something beautiful to give to my sisters and I. For years, my mother wanted to teach me, the “crafty one” of the family, how to knit. I kept pushing it back telling her that I would one day. “Why would I waste my time?” is what I thought back then…well, with her passing, my time ran out. I became obsessed with learning how to knit while grieving the loss of my mother. Perhaps I just thought it was a way in keeping her alive, in feeling close to her and what she loved doing. By knitting, perhaps her spirit, the essence of what made her so special would never die. What I did not anticipate is how this art – knitting – would come to heal me.

The Canadian Cancer Society says that creative arts therapy can “be a way for people to express their unspoken or unconscious concerns about their illness and their lives, deal with emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, cope with cancer and reduce stress.”

When I read this description, it made sense to me. Not only did the arts help me calm my feelings of grief in the dark days following my mom’s death, but they allowed for both physical and emotional healing. For the first time in a while, with every new stitch, I began to smile, to feel inspired, and that my mother’s legacy would live on. I had underestimated the therapeutic value of acting through art.

Then, in 2013, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, at age 38. I’m one of the lucky ones; my cancer wasn’t terminal, and I was able to defeat it. Although the physical side of me was able to rid itself from cancer, my emotional side would be poisoned, damaged and battle for years following the diagnosis and remission and still to this day. Once again, ‘art therapy’ would be my road to healing.

One thing about being a cancer survivor or a caregiver is that you want to find a way to help others. This I find has been a common bond between those of us touched by cancer. When I started knitting, not only did it give me something to occupy my time and clear my mind of the negative thoughts, but sharing my pieces with friends and family raised awareness about cancer. It initiated discussions about why and how I learned to knit, and I would end up sharing my story with others, building awareness. I’ve always believed that awareness and education are priceless. The more we know about issues that affect the world around us, the more that people will want to find ways to help. The only thing missing for me now was how I could find a way to help raise funds for cancer research. Again, it was art.

For the last few years now, I have been selling handknit items and donating the proceeds to a range of related organizations, including Canadian Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer Canada and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. The inspiration behind my work comes from different stories of those affected by cancer. Whether I hear of a famous person just diagnosed or it’s someone I read about or meet online, I know I have to do something. So I am; I’m knitting.

If you wish you learn more about my knitting fundraising campaigns, you can find me under Louve de Laine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

How did cancer change the way you viewed at beauty or experienced creativity? Share in the comments below!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Going Grey for Gord


In honour of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip's final tour, 100% of proceeds from all grey Louve de Laine items will go to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research / Sunnybrook Hospital. Visit Louve de Laine on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or email me: adelecroteau@gmail.com or louvedelaine@gmail.com

If you're Canadian, you probably have much of The Tragically Hip's songbook somewhere on the soundtrack of your life. So you were probably deeply affected, as I was, by the recent news of Gord Downie's diagnosis of terminal brain cancer.

The band shared this sad news on their website on May 24, and then promptly announced an upcoming tour. In their words: "What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with the music and its magic; and during the shows, a connection with all of you, our incredible fans." I think I can speak for all Hip fans when I say that we feel the same - the same connection, the same magic from the music.

It's that sense of connection that compels me to dedicate all proceeds from my grey Louve de Laine wares as a tribute to Gord Downie, to a cause he and The Hip believe in. So that we - the fans - can continue to be connected to the band we all love.

Why I'm doing this

Cancer entered my life in 2007, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. One year later, sadly, she earned her angel wings. Then in 2013, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, at age 37. I'm one of the lucky ones; my cancer wasn't terminal, and I was able to defeat it.

So how is this related to knitting? My mom was a passionate knitter and always wanted to teach me the art. Thinking I would have more time with her, I kept pushing it off. When she passed away, I became obsessed with learning how to knit - and I did learn. I also wanted to do what I could to increase awareness and raise funds for cancer research, so I've been selling handknit items for the last few years, and donating the proceeds to a range of related organizations, including Canadian Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer Canada and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

After hearing the news about Gord, frontman extraordinaire for The Hip, I knew I had to do something. So I am; I'm Going Grey for Gord.

Grey is the colour of brain tumour awareness. From now until The Hip's Man Machine Poem tour wraps on August 20, I will donate 100% of the proceeds from all grey Louve de Laine scarves and neckwarmers to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research / Sunnybrook Hospital. I invite all you Hip fans to buy in: Show Gord how much Canada cares by purchasing one of Louve de Laine's grey wares. Because in the end, we all need something to wear, to cover up from the cold wind running....

Message to Gord

My most sincere congratulations to you on your positivity and strength during such a challenging time. Going on tour now is courageous and pretty freaking awesome, to say the least. You're inspiring many people, and that's an amazing thing. I know your upcoming tour will be epic, and moving beyond words. Know that all Canadians are behind you in this, and strongly rooting for you. Good luck in the coming days, months, years.....


Thank you for Michelle and her generosity for the beautiful photos. You are awesome. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

My Mother's Day Wish

On this Mother's Day: For all of you who still have their mothers, and who may not always understand why they do what they do, who may be frustrated by their constant questions and concerns, who may feel they are not accepting that you are no longer a child, I have one request: next time you see your mom, just hold her hand a tad longer than you normally would. Tell her that she means the world to you. Lay your head on her shoulder as you sit side-by-side a few moments. Give her a warm smile when you catch her staring at you from across the table. Know that your mom is that one person in the world that will love you more than any other being ever could remotely come close to. She does accept you as being an adult but she does the things she does because you are the last thing on her mind as she goes to bed every night and the first thing also when she wakes in the morning. Her heart skips a beat every time she sees you or simply thinks about you. There is nothing your mother wouldn't do to ensure your happiness and safety, no matter what age you are. A mother's love is like no other. 

And for those of us who have lost their mother's much too soon, may we hold onto those memories of her, of her love, of her stare from across the table with a constant smile, of her warm hand on ours, of feeling her heart beat in her every hug, of her beautiful face, her kind words, and her constant adoration for all that we are. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my mother. To say I miss her is an understatement. But I am pretty lucky to have the memories that I do have. To have felt a love like no other. To have felt loved no matter what heartache I brought upon her. To have been given my three sisters who are the biggest blessings I could ever have hoped for. To have my father to help keep her love alive. 

Maman, je t'aimais, , je t'aime, je t'aimerai

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Will I Ever Get Off This Cancer Roller Coaster?

I’ve often read different metaphors for life, one of them being ‘life is like a roller coaster ride’ full of peaks and valleys of joy and pain. Sure I guess, although most of my life, especially my youth, was more about consistency, calm, and comfort with only a few bumps in the roads that were easily overcome. My youth was more of a carousel ride, smoothly going around in circles, joyful music in the background, children and adults alike smiling and laughing. You’d get the occasional horse that would jolt you unexpectedly up in the air, taking your breath away but leaving you giggling on the way back down.

My cancer diagnosis could almost be seen as my first ride on this life-sized roller coaster. You sit down on the cold hard bench, pull the metal bar down and buckle yourself in, close your eyes, hold your breath and hope for the best. The ride starts going slowly up and up as you head to countless doctors offices, get scans, biopsies and blood work. Then you hit the momentary stop at the top, the peak of the ride where you are surrounded by silence, emptiness, loneliness, to suddenly dropping viciously down down down to that valley at the bottom of the ride known as Diagnosis Day, or what I refer to as D-Day.

The first year, although I remained on that roller coaster, I got to a place where those peaks and valleys were better handled. They became expected. I could regulate my breath so that the rise no longer seemed to reach as high as that first one, and the dips appeared to be slightly slower going down. I knew that with every appointment my heart would beat harder and faster, then drop back down and slowly get back to a place I would be able to handle and move forward.

Then came the end of the ride where I slowly pulled up to the gates, the security bar was released. I got off the roller coaster, legs weak and shaky, but I gladly accepted that it was over.I had survived the ride. I was told the glorious words “You are now cancer-free”.

For a while after, I walked around that ‘amusement park’, my life, just looking around at the beauty of it. The colors, the lights, the music. All those happy faces and I actually felt I also was one of those happy faces in the crowd. I blended in. I was at peace. I was healthy. I went back to my normal.

…or so I thought.

Little did I know, I would not be done with the rides so soon. Perhaps never.

I recently rode a ferris wheel in downtown Montreal at night. There were lights and music, and I had my son and one of my sisters next to me. It was beautiful, lovely, even magical. But it also made me realize that my recent challenges were somewhat similar to this ferris wheel ride. There were the ups and downs, similar to the roller coaster, yet they were smoother, almost creeping up on you without warning. For every day that I felt great and at peace, I would have a few days with panic stricken moments that would hit me out of the blue in random moments.

I would be in the grocery store and suddenly feel like the floor would collapse under my feet as if I had just walked onto a trap door. The room would begin to spin uncontrollably, I felt I had forgotten how to take a breath. I dreaded night times the most when the kids would be snuggled warm in their beds, my beautiful husband sound asleep beside me, my dog curled up close to my legs. These were moments when I should be most at peace, but they would leave me in tears. I found my head spinning with uncertainty, anticipating what dreadful dreams I’d have. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Who was this person who feared the calm moments? Why was it that all I could think of was what could happen?

I started imagining the worst. Would I get sick again? Would cancer come full circle and chose me once again? It gave me the same feeling of walking through a house of mirrors, through a maze of mirrors where every turn has you face to face with those glass panes of a distorted reality. I would catch glimpses of myself that were unusual and confusing, some of them humorous and others frightening.

One of the biggest triggers of my anxiety recently has been waiting on the results of my genetic testing. Earlier today I had a call with my genetic counselor to go over those results. The main genes they were looking at were BRCA 1 and 2. I found out that I have negative results for both of those. What that means is I do not have a mutation in those genes, therefore I am not at a higher risk of ovarian or breast cancer. It does not mean that my mother, who passed away of cancer, did not have a mutation though. When a parent has the mutation, there is a 50/50 chance of it being passed down. The fact that I do not have the mutation also means that my kids will not. Gene mutations do not skip a generation. If you don't have it, you can't pass it down. All in all, this is good news and was such a huge relief for me.

Still, I’m not sure what is next for me. I don’t know what is around the corner. I can’t be certain I won’t hop onto yet another scary ride. What I do know is that I am not alone in this, in these feelings and in these constant fears. I am working hard on accepting this new me, this new reality. Life will continue to have me facing scary and uncomfortable moments, weird rides that I wish I had never gotten onto.

What I have also learned is that in accepting the fearful moments, it is OK to seek help and not want to face this alone. For me, that has meant admitting that I am struggling with depression and anxiety. It has meant accepting medication as prescribed by my family physician. It is reaching out to the professionals who can help me in sorting out my thoughts.

My recovery will continue to be these things and that is OK. It does not mean I am broken. It does not mean I am weak. It simply means I am human. It means I accept me.

It means I am a survivor.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

How sharing my cancer story changed my life.

Shortly after I was handed my 'cancer-free' membership card, I found myself in a very dark place. I might even dare say almost darker than when I was going through the many stages of being a cancer patient: from testing and biopsies, from the doomsday of my diagnosis to the hospital visits, treatments, surgeries, etc. Weird, I know. Then came that fateful day when the doctors told me those words I had been praying for: "You are cancer-free".

Yet, post-cancer, I found myself in a place so dark that it was hard to admit it--seeing as I was now 'a healthy and cancer-free human being'. I should have been thankful for that but I wasn't. I should have been celebrating, but I didn't. I felt lost, alone and unsure how to move forward. Since this was not something I could talk to anyone close about, I found myself surfing the internet to try and find out why I was feeling this way and how to get out of it.

Many of the results I found online were quite medical in nature and didn't give me what I was looking for. I wanted to find out why I could not feel happiness. I couldn't find something that addressed the 'life after' cancer and what to make of it. I began to feel as if I might as well just accept that I would feel this silent emotional struggle forever. Then I came across I Had Cancer.

I was intrigued immediately just by the name alone. Not only was it the 'past tense' of what I had just gone through, but I also felt I could relate to it. For one, it was not a site focused on just the medical technicalities of cancer. Within 20 minutes of searching and roaming the site, checking it out and reading some of their blogs, "THANK YOU" was what I said out loud. I immediately knew I wanted to be part of this, whatever it was. I registered, became a member and contacted them via email asking whether I could submit a blog entry. I met Emily, who worked for the site, and after many emails back and forth, I had submitted my entry for their blog and it was posted. It was called, "Are We Ever Really "Cancer-Free"? and it was the most honest I had ever been on such a public platform.

I had no idea that my moment of vulnerability, laying my heart out online and set free into the world wide web for all to see would get such positive feedback from other members. Thousands of people reacted, and agreed with everything I said. It brought me comfort and strength back in knowing that I was not alone and not going crazy for what I had been feeling. I did not expect that sharing my innermost thoughts, feelings and weaknesses would in turn bring my life some positivity, faith and strength back.

I also definitely never imagined that the blog post would lead me to a free trip to New York City.

Fast forward a year...and 16,000 likes, 20,000 views, 1,200 shares and 500 comments on the blog post later...came an email from the IHadCancer team inviting me to a celebration in New York City honoring all those who had been affected by cancer.

I was all the way in Canada - I didn't think it would be possible to really make the trip. But on my personal Facebook page, I wrote how honored I was to have received the invitation in the first place. What happened next still has me pinching my own arm, shaking my head and wondering "how the hell?". Two words: social media. Social media gave me an opportunity of a lifetime. After reading my post, my co-worker set up a 'Go Fund Me' page, sent it to all my friends, followers and supporters. Within a matter of 24 hours, it had raised all of the funds that were needed to send me and my husband to this event. I was, and still am, speechless. The kindness and generosity that I was offered, without ever even asking, was truly remarkable. My loved ones knew I needed this escape- more than I even thought.

It was a whirlwind and all happened so quickly – from raising the money, to us flying to NYC to attend, to my nervousness of actually getting to meet the IHadCancer team one-on-one a day before of the event.

You know when you have an idea in your head about someone you've never met? You think you know them but you don't. Well in my head, the team was amazing. We were friends and we had a connection I could not even explain as I had never "met" them. I was a member of their online community, probably just a number to them. I can't remember ever being this scared to meet a stranger. I imagine this is what people feel when heading into a blind date. Will we connect as much as we did online? Will we run out of things to say in less than 5 minutes? Will we even like each other? And then the elevator doors opened. I was greeted by a bear-hug from co-founder Anthony, mega-smiles from founder Mailet, and a solid embrace from Emily, whom I had been emailing back and forth with. We spent two hours together, before saying goodbye until the main event the following day. My online impressions had materialized and they were true. The kindred spirits I thought I had met online were just that- kindred spirits. What a fabulous group of people.

I instantly was brought back to the moment when I had found the IHadCancer.com site and felt I had found a family, because meeting them in person was exactly that, like meeting family. Reuniting with old friends. Not only did we have lots to talk about, shared some tears and some laughter, but I am sure I could have stayed hours longer talking, sharing, feeling inspired. Not only had they taken a few hours of their busy day to sit with my husband and me, but they made us feel like we mattered to them, we weren't just a number. This is the magic of the cancer community - we all are bound by a commonality that none of us really want. The best club nobody ever wants to be a part of.

So when someone says that there are silver linings with the diagnosis that is cancer, and you think to yourself "that person is crazy..." trust me, there are. It may come in the form of seeing a friend's true colors when he/she goes the distance with you during treatments, or a nurse squeezing your hand when you just feel so alone, or finding some inspirational quote online during your research, or coming to realize you are stronger than you thought, but those positive moments are out there.

You simply have to open yourself up to them being possible. My silver linings were multiple things,, but most recently, was my experience of meeting total strangers that greeted me in a way I never imagined possible. Had I not had cancer and had not been vulnerable enough to write that initial blog post, I would not have met Anthony, Mailet, Emily, to name a few, or flown to NYC with my husband for some much needed R&R, or met the many strong people who also had the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer at the wonderful IHadCancer "Celebration of Shared Experiences".

Never in my life could I have imagined being in a room full of people who at one point had been weaker than humanly possible, yet stronger than 100 warriors put into one. For this I will forever be thankful. For this, I will forever be inspired. For this, I will forever be proud to be a cancer survivor. And for this, I will forever be grateful to have come across IHadCancer.com.

And most importantly, I will forever be grateful to myself, that I chose to take the leap and open up about what life after cancer is really like. Although all strangers to me, I feel as though I have found a new family, new friends. The cancer community is my silver lining.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

It always seems impossible until it is done.

Most of you know that every year since mom's passing from ovarian cancer in 2008, I have walked in the Ovarian Cancer Canada's Walk of Hope. With your support and donations, I personally have raised $13,046 toward this charitable organization (woot woot). This walk is the single most powerful awareness and fundraising initiative in Canada dedicated to overcoming ovarian cancer. The funds raised are vital for ovarian cancer awareness, support for women and their families as well as for research. All this has been a cause very close to my heart. It is my deepest desire that we find a way to change the nasty world of cancer so that others do not have to suffer as much as I have watched my mother suffer.

That being said, although my heart mostly rests with eradicating ovarian cancer and finding ways for early detection as being a first step to this, I've sadly come to realize these past few years that so many other cancers exist, too many are affected by all these cancers and there is still a lot of work to be done to make 'cancer' a word of the past. I have heard of neighbors being affected by cancer, relatives of friends, co-workers, celebrities, the young and the old, some of my own family members as well as myself, where in early 2013 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I am one of the lucky ones to be able to say I am now a cancer survivor and after a grueling year of hospital visits, appointments, scans, biopsies and surgeries, was given my 'You are cancer-free' talk by a wonderful team of doctors.

With this in mind, this year not only will I be participating in the Ovarian Cancer Canada's Walk of Hope on September 13th, but will also be participating in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life on June 5th. The Relay for Life is a community fundraising event where Canadians across the country join together in the fight against cancer. The goal of this event is to raise funds to advance cancer research and support Canadians living with cancer. Through the Relay for Life, progress will be made against this disease by funding Canada's best and brightest researchers who are working tirelessly toward the next breakthrough. The donations will also help to lessen the burden of cancer by providing vital information services and compassionate support programs for people with cancer and their families.

If you wish to sponsor me toward either one of these events, below is the information on these walks as well as the link to my personal page. Just one click and you are there. If you cannot donate but wish to help, you are welcome to join my team [Earth Angels] on one or both of these walks. It would be my honour to have you walk by my side.

Thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart.

Event: Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life
Date: Friday, June 5th - 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. (yes you read that right - it's a 12 hour walk overnight)
Location: Nepean Sportsplex
Personal Page: http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_ON_odd_?px=6285511&pg=personal&fr_id=17757
Team Page: http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_ON_odd_?team_id=331386&pg=team&fr_id=17757

Event: Ovarian Cancer Canada's Walk of Hope
Date: Sunday, September 13, 2015
Location: Andrew Hayden Park
Personal Page: http://noca.convio.net/site/TR/2015WalkofHope/General?px=1016048&pg=personal&fr_id=1137
Team Page: http://noca.convio.net/site/TR/2015WalkofHope/General?pg=team&fr_id=1137&team_id=1550


So true!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Dear Cancer,

Dear Cancer, Although you disgust me, always and forever will, on most day I am able to be thankful to you. I am thankful for what I have learned about myself while being face to face with you. I have been able to see exactly what I am capable of enduring, what I am capable of accomplishing....which is kicking your damn butt! But for today, just this one day, please allow me to rant....and by rant I mean please allow me to express my utmost hatred and anger toward you. 

Today, above most days, I HATE YOU. I hate you for what you did to me. I hate that you took away my fertility. I hate that you took away my prime years before menopause. I hate that I am now at 39 in menopause and have to suffer some side effects of hormone replacement therapy. I hate that you have scarred me inside as well as out. I hate that my children (6 and 8) look at me and ask what happened to my belly to leave such a big mark. I hate that I have to tell them there is something out there so evil that it will permanently hurt their mommy. I hate that they know that this is something that we can't control and could attack anyone, anytime. But more than hating what you did to me, I hate you for what you did to my mother and to my family 7 years ago, when you first appeared your ugly head. I hate you for the suffering you caused her. The pain she went through, only to lose her beautiful life one year later. I hate that you took away what she wanted most of all, which was to be a grand-maman to my kids. I hate that she never got to meet my beautiful Sophie that was growing inside my belly. I hate you for taking my mom away. I hate that instead of feeling the magic of Christmas this time of year and looking forward to creating beautiful memories with my mom side-by-side, and celebrate with what my family used to be, I am now feeling the emptiness of her not being here. She is so close to my heart and always will be (and that you cannot take away from me) but yet she is so far and I struggle to find happiness this time of year. It becomes harder and harder to just close my eyes and think back on all those beautiful Christmases we did get to have together. HOW DARE YOU. How dare you come into our lives and take that away. She was a good person unlike any other. Her outlook on life was always positive and full of smiles, laughter and love. She lived for her family, her kids, her husband. She loved all those in her life. She also lived to make all those around her happy and comfortable and feel accepted. There was no better person and I truly believe the world is one shade darker without her light shining in it. I could try and try each day yet could never reach the level of goodness that woman had. You should be ashamed of yourself. Dear Cancer, you truly disgust me today above all other days. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

"You are cancer free". Am I really ever?

I am coming up on my one year anniversary of being cancer-free. Reason to CELEBRATE? You bet your A$$ it is. And I will celebrate. Trust me, I will. But...

“But what? There is no ‘but’”...says someone who has thankfully never had cancer. And they are right in a way but oh so wrong in another way, sadly.

The “but” for me is what happens to you —your mind, your heart, your fears, your dreams— once the cancer is gone. It's what you go through when the “doom and gloom” days of doctor appointments are long gone. Once you're done with tests, blood work, biopsies, consultations, scans, surgeries, etc., you walk into that follow-up appointment scared. You think of everything they could say, such as, "We didn't get it all", "You'll need treatment xyz" or "The cancer spread...". But alas, you hear those words you have dreamed of hearing since you were diagnosed, "YOU ARE CANCER-FREE".  You head home feeling as though you are floating instead of walking, in a state of shock. I thought that night would be the best sleep of my life, but it ended up being the start of many sleepless nights…

I have never been someone who thinks negatively but rather, I have always focused on the positives. I never had too many anxieties or worries growing up, and never held onto stresses for too long. I would always figure out what needed to be done and then did the best I could to move on, happy and worry-free. But now, not so much. I worry about my health, along with every ache and pain. I think about all the possibilities of what could attack my body. I think about my kids, my hubby, my family. I think about cancer finding its way back into my life. Although I am a strong person and live a healthy and active lifestyle, I feel physically vulnerable all the time. What if the cancer never left?. I sometimes fear that it will never be gone. Is anyone ever truly “cancer-free?”

Why is it that when I was going through cancer, I was so positive and optimistic? I was solid and focused and even though I was still scared, I had a purpose. I was on a mission to concur this beast. "No f'ing way you will take me down". I laughed a lot. I was virtually unchanged. I was ME. I went to appointments focused with my lists of questions. I did my research, I was informed, I laughed with the medical staff. I tried to turn as many of my daily interactions into a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit as possible. I made people around me smile. I remember most of it as a 'happy’ time. But the moment you are sent home with your “get out of jail free” card, you are alone, unsupported, and left to deal with the after effects no one really warns you about. No one tells you that you will come down from that adrenaline rush to a place where you don't know what you feel, think or how to move forward in your life.

How do you explain to your loved ones that it isn't as easy as it seems, when they say "Get over it", "Don't think that", or "It's gone, so focus on that". Yes, we try to do that, but without wanting it, we think of the negative and darker stuff and especially of all those ”what if’s.” Then we struggle with the guilt of thinking those negative thoughts, so we start to lie when asked “How are you doing?”

If you ask me how I’m doing, and I answer honestly and tell you that I’m worried, please accept my answer. You asked and I answered. It might not be all sunshine, rainbows or fluffy kittens but it is where I am at. Yes I am grateful for my life and my health but I want to be OK with this second stage of feeling scared, worried, and anxious. I can't quite explain why these thoughts are poisoning my mind but I want to be allowed to go through this part and hope I can continue to have the same support I had at the beginning. My support systems are what got me through it in the first place...I guess I just need them all a tad longer than expected.