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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The Letters

During the year, I wrote letters sent by email to our community of friends, family and colleagues. They provide updates on our health and also a sense of how our lives have been lived during my cancer treatment.

Note: Postings start with the most recent. If you would like to more easily read the postings in chronological order, go to the Index page.

January 30, 2018

Still (just) in time to wish you a Happy New Year!

May 2018 be filled with love, good health, ample laughter and abundant happiness – and also all the resilience, patience, and kindness you need as the year unfolds with its unknown share of surprises and challenges. Winter has already brought days so cold that the outdoor ice rink on Parliament Hill had to close when the ice cracked. Canada - where it’s even too cold for ice! A...

February 26, 2017

A weekend of rain one day and cold, brilliant sun the next; of snow washing away one day and glistening the next. Heralding the (soon to be) end of winter. [1] Symbolic of our good, forward-looking week.

On Thursday, I saw my radio-oncologist for my post-radiation check-in. My radiation field is well-healed; everything is looking good. I’ve made an appointment to see her this time next year. I’m already back in the pool! [2] I...

January 31, 2017

[Guest post] We received the following note from a dear friend when I finished radiation. She sums up the dual nature of our year.

Dear Angie and Brettel,

Each one of you, individually and together, have completed a journey that, at the beginning a year ago, especially after your fall, Ange, promised to challenge your inner and outer resources to the hilt. You have both come through so very nobly and I rejoice with both of you a...

January 29, 2017

Radiation treatments have come (December 15th) and gone (January 23rd). At the outset of each of my 25 sessions, I’d spoken a mantra welcoming the beams into my body and inviting them to clean up any lingering or potentially persnickety cells. On the final day of radiation, I said “last one, goodbye!” after each turn of the gantry arm and each buzz of the radiation collimator. 

Done. Done. And, done: a year and a day after the...

December 14, 2016

My oblique subject line isn’t some obscure text code, but rather a summary of the themes of the last 6 weeks: sun, sea, sand and

saga together with rest, recovery, rehabilitation and, yes, pending radiation).

Another “s” might be snow – given that it is currently coming down with another 13cm to follow... add shoveling too then! And, of course the ‘Season’ - as to which we send best wishes. May it be filled with love, laughter,...

November 3, 2016

Today we had my post-op examination with the surgeon. Surgery was five weeks ago.

First, incision and range of motion: all good. Residual swelling will go down in due course. Rx: continued physio exercise; swimming now okay again. Golf a required part of ongoing rehabilitation in the Spring.

Second, the surgeon had just received the pathology report.  Good news. In fact, great news.

I responded very well to the chemo – with...

October 11, 2016

[A letter to a mentor, Sr Pauline O'Regan, in New Zealand] 

I was reading over the weekend about ‘unlocking meaning in life’. The key elements it seems are 1) belonging; 2) purpose; 3) storytelling; and 4) transcendence or a sense of awe. On storytelling, a professor who studies “narrative identity” found a trend in the stories that people with meaningful lives tell themselves. Their lives are a redemption story (aka findi...

October 2, 2016

Several days on the other side of my surgery. My first observation on it all is that surgery is certainly quicker than chemotherapy! I’m also feeling a tremendous sense of relief to have it done.

I’m pleased to let you know that I’m doing well. Buoyed by goodwill and good wishes. Thank you. Fletcher and Nellie, sainted godchildren, surprised and moved us by running for me (“Auntie B”) in the school’s Terry Fox Run while I was i...

September 30, 2016

Brettel is home and her surgery went very well! She is such a trooper, just amazing. After an early arrival (6:45 am at the hospital, and after being bumped for a bit from her 8:15 OR spot) she was finally given a 'nerve block' then went under a full general anesthetic and sailed through her 2 hour surgery without incident. Phew.
 

Recovery time was filled with her usual cleverness, kindness and humour.


We were settled at home...

September 19, 2016

Just a short update to let you know that my surgery has been rescheduled to September 29th – bumped from this coming Tuesday (September 20th) by ‘a more urgent case’.

I admit to mixed feelings about this change. I’m glad my surgery isn’t considered urgent, yet a bit miffed because expeditious surgery certainly matters to me. A little deflated as we’d had ourselves girded for this week, yet also glad to have longer to enjoy the...

August 24, 2016

Chemo is finally done! Last Taxol infusion today. Travelled to the hospital in style in "Bianca" the BMW. Celebrated in style upon our return home. Marked the day off with a flourish.

Hooray!

August 21, 2016

For the past few weeks, life has continued with its sedate, chemotherapy pace. Our various efforts have achieved the desired result of increasing my white blood count. Accordingly, my treatments have been able to continue on schedule. Full confidence that next Tuesday - finally, after six long months – will be my last treatment. It will be "Taxol 12 and done!" Hooray – and a sliver of some sweet dessert and tea to follow![1]

Th...

July 19, 2016

It’s a lovely summer afternoon – the birds are singing the frogs are sunning and an enterprising chipmunk and squirrel are busy stripping my tomato plants on the deck of their promising green fruit.

Six weeks, six Taxol treatments done. Six more to go…

The weeks have fallen into a pattern of sorts and has been pretty quiet overall.

Angie has Monday, Wednesday and Friday appointments. Monday: fitness kinesiology and pool. Wednesda...

June 23, 2016

First of all, I hope you were able to catch the beauty of solstice sunset with full moon last night.... The garden here was bathed in an ethereal light. What Gerard Manley Hopkins might have called 'gloaming'.

Taxol 3 (T3) done today. Check! No fuss and almost on schedule. Giving thanks for my PICC line which is making treatments seamless and painless. Nine more to go....

So far so good on side effects. Sticking to the manag...

June 6, 2016

This August will mark twenty years that we’ve lived in Chelsea among the woods and gardens of “Glenharris”. And the mosquitos of the twilight hours. This is also how long it’s taken us to get a screened gazebo for the back deck to allow us to linger outdoors over dinner in the lovely summer months. Decision made last week, it was astonishing that it took only one day for purchase, delivery and installation thanks to an entrepr...

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