I found the new illness challenge overwhelming. It came as a long-term association with an organization related to my work was also concluding. I needed to create space to attend to myself and my healing. I chose to take a full medical leave. To heal on all fronts. I needed to focus on becoming well again - to participate in a process of eliminating the cancer and tolerating the treatments. I accepted that it was okay not to be working – that my time away would not hinder my professional capacity longer term.
My spouse, Angie, created a ‘room of my own’ – repurposing a sunny room as my sitting area.
This pleasant vision of quietly contemplating life was shattered when Angie fell on ice and seriously injured her shoulder in front of my eyes. She was in surgery in Hull Hospital as I was being hooked up for my first chemotherapy infusion at Gatineau Hospital across town. Angie's fall changed the nature of our year. That we both needed care from each other created a shared journey. It made us more open to being open to being cared for by others.
Based on a loving foundation of over 23 years together, we found the strength and steadfastness to rise together to the challenges that followed. Gentleness, kindness and laughter helped in the long spaces where it was just the two of us rattling around the house or improvising how to tackle tasks. and, giving each other space as needed. It was not always easy!
We were well-resourced as we undertook the challenges. We were both blessed by underlying good health. We had a wide and varied community of friends, neighbours, colleagues and family ("the village"). I had good health benefit coverage including long term medical leave. We lived in a naturally beautiful area in the Gatineau Hills. We had a cat. We had each other. And, most of all, we had an optimistic, inquiring, proactive, pragmatic and positive attitude. These resources kept us moving forward against the headwinds along the way.