Running for the Cure

I am participating in the CIBC Run For the Cure this weekend. I am delighted every year at this time, not only to be fundraising for cancer research, but also to be well enough to walk.

This year, I’m extra excited to be donating my Thrive Cards for Women Experiencing Cancer, to other breast cancer survivors. They will be available in the survivors tent.

Hope to see many of you at the race!

To find the cards, you can shop right here on Facebook, or go to and my shop is called ThisThrivingLife.

I used to love NOT camping:

(Image by Anne Taintor,

This picture from Anne Taintor has always appealed to me, as I am more of a “camping” in a gorgeous hotel with room service kind of gal. Let me share with you how that has changed for me recently.

I was talking with my son the other day and he was telling me all his secrets: what he wants for his birthday; who he likes playing with; and about another child at daycare. I was reinforcing with him that I will always be here for him and that he can always tell me anything, when he looked up at me and said, “but what if you go back to the hospital? Then you won’t be here.”
Ouch. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. That is my biggest dread, that illness will take me away from him. I would hazard a guess that it’s the biggest fear of any mom who has been sick.

I reminded him that Dad is there for him too and he can always tell me things via face time, which we do when I’m in hospital. 
But I know that is a horribly inadequate substitute for the closeness that we experience when we are physically together, cuddling, laughing, and talking. What can I possibly say that can reassure him?
What I told him was that I am doing my very best every single day to be healthy and be there with him no matter what, and that that is where I always want to be.

One tangible way I know to reassure him and ease this pain is to make memories with him,  and for me to always do what I say I will do. Last summer we had plans to camp, just us two, and they were sidelined by our campsite being closed due to bears and wolves, and my son being sick. I was disappointed but not overly so, as I was never a great camper as I mentioned!

This weekend, after his comment about me not being there,  I suddenly felt an urgency to make this happen. So we camped in the backyard, cooked dinner and roasted marshmallows over the campfire, and had an amazing time. We have plans to take this show on the road in a couple of weeks and I could not be more excited. 

Now is all we have. The power is in the present moment, and I intend to take advantage of every single one that is given to me.

Bloom where you are.

I just had to share these beautiful lilacs. I nipped them off a bush that I walk past every so often. The smell is glorious and the beauty of them is so simple yet so profound.

Lilacs bloom for a short time, and only under favourable conditions, and have to wait a whole year to bloom again.

Humans are luckier. We can bloom any old time we want to. We can choose our thoughts and beliefs, and we can make choices that lift us up. 

I send you all the blessings of spring, some new adventures, wild leaps, and gorgeous blooms.

Scaring Myself and Having No Regrets.

Here is a screenshot of my video application to speak at a conference in Nice, France in 2018. It is a wonderful conference being put on by The Expansion Project ( which brings together people looking to elevate their life and passion for living. The extra beautiful part of their work is that there is always a charitable component, giving time and money to charities from their proceeds.

Some people may wonder why it was so important to me to apply. It came down to not wanting to have regrets of not at least trying. 
When I was about nine, I had just moved continents and was back at a school being the new girl again. We had moved lots during my childhood and of course that affected my confidence in a big way. 
Shortly after I arrived, there was an audition for a school play. I was desperate to audition but I also felt so intimidated by everyone in that school. We were the least wealthy in an elite private school,  I was in what can best be described as an “awkward” hair phase, and I didn’t have many friends.  Everyone else who was auditioning was prettier and smarter (or so I thought) and I let these things talk me out of trying.    

No one can say whether I was a better actress than others, but I never let myself try. The regret has stayed with me  all these years. I may not have gotten a part, and I would have been appropriately sad for a fleeting time, but what I truly regret is the not trying.

It’s always easy to see that there are people with more experience in speaking, people who have a better website or more money or poise, better hair or cuter glasses. But I also know that I have unique things to share and I have promised myself since the age of nine, that I will always try. 

So try I did. I hope I am selected. But even if I am not, I won’t have any regrets, and that feels like the biggest success of all.

Tempting Fate:

(Image courtesy of

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about redefining the notion of chronic illness into something more positive: perpetual wellness.

I guess the universe is taking me at my word and testing my commitment to this practice. Less than 24 hours after that post went up, I’m back in hospital unexpectedly with an infection.

So now I’m working on perpetual wellness, hospital style! 

The things within my control are what I’m going to focus on :
-free and bountiful supply of popsicles

– funny staff who go out of their way to make me feel better

– many other patients who are enduring much worse things than I am

-extra trashy cable tv channels that we no longer have at home

– a great coffee shop in the building

– fabulously supportive friends and family visiting and reaching out

– free, fabulous healthcare given in a caring and timely manner regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Happy Friday, all. What are you appreciating today?

Redefining Chronic Illness: Perpetual Wellness is the new mantra.

(Artwork by Emily Mc Dowell. Please see her amazing empathy cards at

I never, ever thought I’d be writing about chronic illness, let alone experiencing it at such a young age, but here I am.

Chronic illness is defined as an illness that lasts more than three months. When I had cancer, I naively thought that I’d be back at work within a few months and that would be that. Cancer would be in the rear view mirror and I’d be 100% healthy.

I was blessed that when my two years of treatment were over, I was totally cancer-free and have remained that way ever since. This is incredible, and I do not take this lightly. 

What I didn’t anticipate was that after returning to work for six months, that I would be off again for health reasons. Many of the side effects of cancer treatment have remained and I’m working to move beyond that back into health, and back to work. A doctor once told me that many cancer patients learn to live with chronic illness even after their cancer is gone, as they are left with sequelae from cancer and it’s treatment. The medical community sure knows how to be a downer! 

I’m “supposed” to be back at work but I am not. I feel guilty about this some days, but I also know I’m not well enough to work yet.

Someone I know who had cancer, didn’t end up with as many side effects as me, and didn’t have a problem returning to work. It’s really hard not to compare oneself to others and I have to practice not doing this on a daily basis.

What keeps sending my mind and thoughts scrambling these days is the concept of chronic illness that that doctor had spoken of. It sounded scary, lifelong, and utterly depressing.

I am researching ways to be healthier and “live with chronic illness.” The wording out there is miserable. Some of the phrasing includes: “managing chronic disease;” “suffering with ongoing side effects”; and my personal favourite, “coping with debilitating illness.” This may be a matter of just semantics to some, but to me, the way I think about the situation affects the way I can manage it, and trickles down to every aspect of daily life.

I realized as I read that it was time to redefine and reclaim the experience of chronic illness. This is not to say it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not serious and debilitating, and much worse for some than for others. However, I believe for me that instead of trying to overcome chronic illness, I’m officially seeking Perpetual Wellness instead.

When I think about illness, I tend to think limitations, a situation or symptoms just being thrust on me with no control of my own, fatigue (I would like to punch that word in the throat!), managing symptoms, and a life of ongoing problems to be solved. 

When I think of wellness, I think of having more control of the situation, having options, choosing how I want to handle things, and thriving, no matter what.

I am now searching for elements of Perpetual Wellness, choosing what treatments and practices work for me. I will seek medical attention when needed but will also consider other opinions. I will remind myself that although living with symptoms can present challenges, I do have a great deal of control as to how to cope with them and thrive simultaneously.

When you “should” be well but aren’t:

The experience of having cancer never ceases to surprise me. Now that my treatment is over and cancer is long gone, I assumed I would be well and would be able to resume a completely normal life. I am totally wrong about that.

I’m now almost three years since diagnosis and just over oa year after treatment ending. I know people think it should be a distant memory and that all is well now that cancer is gone. What I am learning, rather reluctantly, is that my body is probably going to take a fair bit of time to recover from all the treatments. I underestimated their impact on me.

I still have side effects from chemotherapy that go away in most people, but seem to be sticking with me. I have a level of fatigue that makes my body feel like I have a cold and can’t breathe every single day. I have always been a positive person and even when cancer was kicking me down, I managed to maintain my optimism. But I’m getting weary and I am constantly sick due to having poor or no immunity and living with a preschooler who is like a walking Petri dish. 

People expect me to be fine, to be back to my usual self, and to be bulletproof essentially. They exclaim “you look so great” when they see me because my hair has grown back and sometimes I manage some makeup, so that the chronic anemia doesn’t have me looking like a ghost. And they want this for me because they care about me, and I think it also makes them feel less worried about themselves if this ever happened to them.

What I find hard to tell people is that the treatment for cancer is actually the best part, because you know people are watching and cancer won’t sneak up on you. And if anything goes wrong, you have an emergency number to call, a way to get on a list for someone to help you. 

When treatment ends, you are on your own with your family doctor, and you hope like hell it is enough to keep everything at bay. But I’d love to know the answers to so many questions, like:

Is there a reason scar tissue can start hurting two years after surgery for no particular reason?

When should I worry if I have swollen lymph nodes in my neck?Right now I have a cold and a fever and so I’m chalking it up to that, but when do I need help? (As it turned out, I was brewing a serious infection which bought me a five-day stay in hospital, and two weeks of IV antibiotics at home.)

Why is there so little understanding and warning for patients to warn us about the need for extensive psychological recovery with cancer?

Why is the medical system still treating patients as if their minds and bodies are separate entities? 

What is the chance that something was missed in my most recent mammogram because of all the scar tissue?

How can I rid myself of the fear of recurrence?

I find myself feeling guilty because I’m unable to work currently, even though I know I’m not well enough. I know that my employers are likely experiencing some challenges without me in my position, I know that even though it shouldn’t legally be this way, I worry my job could be in jeopardy one day if someone decides I’m out of time. The worry affects my sleep and mood. 

So yes, I know it’s been a while, I know I “should” be all better, but cancer just doesn’t work like that.