The Village

I confess that I've always a little unsure how to reach out and offer (useful) support to friends and colleagues with cancer. How our community has responded has been a lesson in kindness and creativity. There was an ebb and flow of intensity over the year; sometimes life was quite 'normal'. Everyone's contribution - larger or small; frequent or infrequent - made a difference. I hope some of the examples given in these postings will help you give ideas to your friends, family and community when they ask "what can I do to help?" Give them the link to this page!  

January 25, 2017

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to do a crash course in getting comfortable with the fact of cancer in my life and figuring out how to be in relation to our friends, family and colleagues. I had always been deeply uncomfortable about cancer - and have always thought the worst when I heard that someone has cancer.

The question we faced was how open we wanted to be bout my cancer (and about Angie’s serious injury)....

November 22, 2016

As you may have noticed, we love our cat.

No secret. She even made onto ‘the cake’ at a work farewell.

She indicated what she’d liked to be called when we were lucky enough to see her in an Adopt-Me window over 19 years ago. She purred into my ear while nuzzling into my neck. Persey it was (short for Persephone, giving some grandeur to purring). It was immediate love for this being who has shown herself to be gentle, playful, a...

October 31, 2016

One friend in a distant city has faithfully, every week during all my treatments and between times, sent me a different card. Inside she has written just a few lines about what she was doing that week or a thought or two. Nothing too long or deep. It was a highlight of the week to go the mail box to get ‘this week’s card’.

At the At Home Gathering, four loved colleagues (yes, I do love a lot of my colleagues!) brought a basket...

September 10, 2016

Confronting mortality (and navigating a path to wellness) certainly provides an opportunity (spur) to think about the meaning of life and how to live it well.

We were blessed to receive (ecumenical) prayers and poems. Julian of Norwich and her encouragement, was often mentioned: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”    

We also received the gift of being in the pray...

August 1, 2016

The first experience upon diagnosis is shock followed by fog. Chemotherapy adds to the fog! I needed someone to be with me at appointments.

Angie doesn’t drive (an insignificant point given her multitude of other gifts and talents). I also wanted to shield her from the shock of the rush of medical information and felt she would likely be as emotionally upset as me in any case. Instead, I asked a friend to be with me in the earl...

July 21, 2016

We loved receiving flowers. Bright colours. Reminders of a verdant garden. Cheerful and cheering. Reaching out over the miles to say hello and thinking of you. From local friends too. Growing the side of the road in high summer or in the garden. Here is a sampling of some received. I'm trying out a 'gallery of images': click on an image to get the full picture!

June 20, 2016

There are times when it’s just too much to have to cook on top of everything else. Not all the time,  but sometimes. And, we had a small freezer. Several friends contributed to a ‘food tab’ at the Store run by our local, wonderful restaurant Les Fougeres. We were able to pick up frozen meals when we needed them.

Other friends came with food they’d made or picked up and shared a meal with us (and brought fresh energy and new con...

May 30, 2016

I have a large perennial garden. Too large for me to care for during treatments. And I had plans for it: I wanted to spread it all with compost in the Spring!

A friend kindly offered to pick up bags and bags of compost (36 actually) over several trips and returned with other friends to spread it in the early spring.

Others helped me weed or plant vegetables (actually, all I could do was watch as chemotherapy ground on over the s...

May 15, 2016

Feeling that I was still connected to my communities mattered to me even if my capacity was limited.  I volunteered to take photos of club events at the golf course.

A special golf treat though was when I was invited by my golf teacher be part of a very fun golf event when Brooke Henderson accepted an honorary membership at her club and put on a clinic. It was a fabulous tonic!

Being asked along on boat rides on the...

March 30, 2016

At our open house and later, through the mail, many people brought books that they thought would be helpful (on breast cancer experience; on pilgrimage during illness and transition) or which were special to them (or their favourite books).

One friend bought me the first book in Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series – consisting of 25 books! I found the pacing and style perfectly to my mood and capacity. Other friends suppli...

March 15, 2016

When I was first diagnosed, I received letters from a wide range of friends and colleagues – sharing their own experience.

One said “do everything the doctor tells you”; others said, “be your own advocate”. One note from a friend, a fellow breast cancer traveller conveyed a great gift: “my offering is to stay in close touch with Brettel, as often as she wishes, regarding treatment, side-effects, strategies of coping, the roller...

March 1, 2016

We have been remarkably blessed to have a friend who is a breast cancer pathologist in another province. He read my medical reports and guided us to a deeper understanding of what they meant and the various treatment options. And, he was always optimistic and encouraging!

Another physician friend, came to the hospital to sit with Angie when she fell in March and was alone in the Emergency Ward. I’d been ordered out by Angie as...

February 28, 2016

Feeling wrapped in love when putting on an item of clothing is very comforting. When my mother was dying of cancer in 1993, a couple of friends gave me a purple sweatshirt with an embroidered women’s symbol. After my own diagnosis, the same friends arrived with a jacket lined with fleece. A cousin brought a soft chemotherapy blanket as a gift to the At Home. I didn't use it for chemo, but I have used it constantly as I've sat...

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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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