A Breast Cancer Year

In February 2016 I was diagnosed with locally advanced stage II breast cancer. As we gathered ourselves to meet that challenge, my spouse fell on an icy driveway, shattering her shoulder. She required major surgery on the same day as I began chemotherapy. Together - two abreast - we navigated a year of treatment and recovery. This blog collects my writing through our experience. As of June 2020, we are both recovered and thriving - grateful for each new day and the people and resources in our lives.  

Over the months of treatment, I have been writing regular emails to our extended community of friends, family and colleagues. These are collected in The Letters. I have also been writing about meeting and managing various breast cancer treatments. These reflections on treatment and my tactics/tips are gathered in On Treatment. In the Sustenance section, I share ideas for care of the self and soul, and give examples of how our community of friends, family and colleagues surrounded us in their care. I also include some Resources. The Index page lists all of the blog postings and provides an additional way of navigating the blog. To learn more about who we are, go to About Us.

"What a staggering tangle of self and mutual care the two of you have been through and come through."

"What a wonderful writer you are - sassy, funny, pragmatic, indomitable, ‎and wise."

"You are a most faithful and a most informative correspondent."

April 15, 2018

You've received a diagnosis of breast cancer (or a friend has): now what? Some information to help you navigate the early days.

February 21, 2017

The Decision

My treatment plan always anticipated radiation. The established threshold for radiation is “if there were four or more lymph nodes positive for cancer” on post-surgical pathology. A bright line. I knew from my initial ultrasound and biopsies that I had at l...

January 24, 2017

[Guest Post] As I move myself to the other side of cancer treatments, I find the following post on the theme of "do you always have cancer", both timely and relevant. Kerri Morris has kindly allowed me to include her reflection.

"Do you believe that once you have c...

January 15, 2017

What’s Old is New Again

Broth has been making a comeback recently (although, as one friend has said ‘it’s been trendy in the poor homes of New Brunswick for as long as I can remember’. Recently “a steaming cup of bone broth” was been identified as “New York City’s lates...

October 17, 2016

Surgery is mostly about what comes after. However, there are a few tips to share about preparing for surgery: 1) If the surgeon will  

be taking lymph nodes, request a single incision for both breast surgery and accessing the lymph nodes; 2) request a nerve blockin...

September 15, 2016

My saying here is that 'I may have finished chemo, but chemo hadn't finished with me'. Over the six-months, various after effects and side effects began to catch up with me, even with my good preparation. I think it would be a rare person who escapes chemotherapy unsca...

August 28, 2016

Chemotherapy, done. PICC line, out. Skin, healed over. Weather, hot and sunny. Delores, set aside. Finally able to answer the call of the Gatineau River and ease myself back into the water. Swimming, it is not. But, a magic moment when a dragonfly seeks a smooth landin...

August 7, 2016

Because I had at least one positive lymph node, I was given the choice to do chemotherapy first and did so. I believe this is becoming standard of care. In this post, I set out how I approached chemotherapy and the various strategies I used to mitigate (or at least min...

July 31, 2016

Although I took a very proactive approach to managing chemotherapy, I chose not to seek out formal complementary or integrative cancer care during chemotherapy (for example, as offered by the Ottawa Integrative Care Centre). Some friends have done so and found it helpf...

July 9, 2016

[A letter to a cousin.] Just sitting with my Saturday morning Java and reading the papers. A pleasure at the end of a week. I’ve been very conscious that it’s taken me a while to write to you about my thoughts on getting cancer and my choice concerning treatment. I kno...

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About Us

On January 22, 2016 I went for a mammogram, to confirm that a lump in my right breast was a cyst. It was. And it saved my life. Because I was overdue for my breast screening, imaging was also done on my left breast  The mammogram and ultrasound came back “highly suspicious” for breast cancer...

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