Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

It has taken me awhile to calm down. This seems to be my normal state of mind these days. Not calm. When I get like this I always think it is best I wait until the calm returns. He-Who thinks this is wise also as he is fearful of my wrath when I am “not calm”.

We all have pet peeves. I probably have a few more than most. Recently one of mine got off its leash and became less a pet and a little more feral. I’m talking about that person who get’s in the express lane for “8 items or less” with a full cart of stuff.

First let me say, this was not Walmart. It was Fortino’s, one of the higher priced grocery stores in the GTA. I had picked up my cousin David from the airport and I stopped there for a quick bite to eat and to pick up some crackers. I love my cousin and there are few people in the world that I think more highly of. He’s a very active 70+ but was a bit peckish coming off the plane. I left him eating his sandwich at a table while I ran into the shopping part to pick up my crackers. When I got in line at the express checkout to pay there was a woman and a young boy in front of me. I couldn’t see what they already had on the belt as she was blocking the view while she continued to empty her cart. She leaned over, said something to the boy and then ran off for some forgotten item as the boy continued to stack items on the belt. I watched the boy and thought what a poor job she was doing in teaching him to count. She returned and sent the boy off to fetch something for himself. The cashier began to ring her up and bag her items. The boy returned and added to the pile. At this point I am beyond fatigued, my 4 boxes of crackers felt like they weighed 4 tons and I just wanted to go home to bed. The cashier looked at me and asked me if I would like any bags. I was a bit startled as I was still holding my crackers and the belt was still full. I explained that those items were “still” the same order that she had been ringing up and did not belong to me. The woman turned to me full faced, and spat out, “It is NOT STILL the same order. I am picking up some things for someone who has cancer.”  [In other words, she is a saint and because she was picking up something for someone who has cancer she could break the protocol and pay for her 27 things at the same time she paid for the cancer patient’s 16 things.]  It got very still. There was no air. I could feel the heat from my early morning treatment glowing off my face. I started vibrating. I looked her straight in the eyes and saw what she must have seen reflected there.

Purple hulk

Please note the purple hair. That’s me.

I said, “You picked the wrong person to play the cancer card with, Lady”.

She bowed her head, fumbled with her payment, grabbed the boy by the coat and backed a way in a rather expeditious manner…for someone her age. As I watched her go I saw out of the corner of my eye David standing there watching. I turned to the cashier and apologized to her for my behaviour as the tears started running down my face. I couldn’t stop shaking and I explained to her that in my heart of hearts I don’t believe that any cancer patient would want someone doing something on their behalf to make a fellow cancer patient uncomfortable. The poor cashier didn’t know what to say. I apologized again. She apologized. It was very Canadian.

I was so embarrassed to turn around and face my David. We walked to the car in silence. When I got behind the wheel I was still shaking and I apologized to him. David has always been there for me and helped me through my last bout with cancer 27 years ago, but has never mentioned it once, then or now. He just said, “I find it best to try to stay calm in these situations but quite honestly I don’t know how you cope as well as you do.” He wasn’t embarrassed or disappointed in me. He simply understood. I love that guy!

You see, cancer is pretty prevalent in my family. My Mom died at 42 from breast cancer when I was 12 years old. I had breast cancer when I was 35. My older sister had it about 10 years later and then again, 2 years ago.  We have aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and fathers who have had, currently have, or passed away, from cancer.  I honestly can’t ever remember any of us using the “cancer card” to hurt or inconvenience someone else. My niece, Hinda, said it best when a friend commented on how she was handling the news of her mother’s cancer. “We do cancer well in this family”.  Unless, of course you turn into a raging hulk.

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Things change. Sometimes rather abruptly. It may seem like I dropped off the face of the earth recently and it certainly feels like it.
The last six months have not been my favourite.
It all started the first week of July. I received a phone call from my sister. This particular sister and I share something that none of my other sisters do. We are both cancer survivors. Her news was not good. After 13 years her cancer had returned. Now, as my niece once put it, our family does cancer very well, but we all have our limits. We lost our mother to the same disease and quite frankly, this news hit us pretty square in the face. A few days later we returned home having spent the day getting “beat up” in a court case only to be presented with the news that we were losing our home. The owners of the house we leased were selling it. Immediately. Yes, it was their house, but it had been our home for four and a half-years and the timing could not have been worse. Rather sadly, I had actually spoken face to face with our landlord the previous weekend at length and she looked me straight in the face and gave me no indication that this was coming. Yes, I felt betrayed and a little dirty.

Thus began a whirlwind of preparing the house for pictures and viewing, packing up to move, finding a place to move to, trying to be there for my sister and continuing to work. HeWho has spent many years driving from the Durham Region down the 401 Highway to Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke. The 401 Highway is one of the worst highways known to mankind and it was killing him. He bitched and whined every day. You may think I am exaggerating but there is an actual TV show about it called “Heavy Rescue:401“. With the move forced upon us it was a no brainer that we had to move as close to the track as possible. That meant that we would be moving into a high rise. Something I never thought I would do. The first couple of places we saw were terrifying. Perhaps you think I am being overly dramatic…some would say it seems to be in my genetic makeup. Don’t judge. You did not see what I saw! We were, however, lucky to find out about a place: before it was advertised; in a nice building with a lot of amenities; and a really lovely couple renting a clean, renovated, two bedroom, two bath on the top floor.

While the move was going on, one of my clients asked me to post a job opening in their office. I told her I was moving closer to her location and asked if she would consider letting me have the position. She did and thus began a crash course in several new computer programs and duties, while continuing to service my existing clients evenings and weekends.

A lot of things have changed.

We live almost directly across from Woodbine Racetrack. Often it takes HeWho more time to get down the hall, down the elevator and out of the underground parking than it does for him to get to work.

Although I still work from home, I also drive 45 to 60 minutes to and from the new day job, depending on traffic. It has been 8-years since I worked outside the home.

We used to have 1,600 sq. ft. open plan area to make our home. We now have 800 (at a much higher price).

We had room for two cars in the driveway and a garage for storage. We now pay extra for a second parking spot and an extra storage unit.

Once a year, three fit young firemen would visit me to check my smoke alarms and make sure I knew what to do if there was a fire. Number one was to get out. We are now on the 30th floor, yes, I said the 30th floor. We know if there is a fire, we die. There is no way we would make it down 30 flights of stairs and no way the firemen could reach us.

Did I mention we are on the 30th floor? I thought it was my imagination when I could feel the building swaying in the wind. Apparently not. I have been informed by engineers that actually live here that the building has to sway or it would fall down!

Do your remember all the lovely pictures I use to post of the waterfront where I lived. I have yet to get a decent picture off my balcony because I can’t make my whole body actually go all the way out there and I am terrified of dropping my phone while taking a picture. But HeWho tells me there are at least four deer living in the conservation area below us. He worries about them getting enough to eat.


The weather is never the same on the 30th floor as it is on the ground floor. The temperature is different and quite often the visibility.

Now. I could not see a thing past the balcony. When I pulled out of the underground I had to switch to sunglasses and take off a layer of clothes.

If I bend over to take something out of the oven I get rammed in the butt by the cupboards. For those of you who know the actual size of my butt, that is not the problem. Well, maybe a little.

Food preparation is a challenge. My kitchen is now put together like a Jenga puzzle. I always have to move at least 3 things to get to what I need while risking the whole thing crashing down around me.

HeWho says you have to be a contortionist to use the toilet because it is in such a tight space. ‘Nuff said about that.

Feng Shui advocates would have a stroke if they came here. We have one love-seat and one chair. They do not fit in the living room area. We can only use three of our four chairs in the eating area. I think it’s adorable that HeWho still refers to it as a “dining room”.

The “office” area is so small that we have to do the dance of the computer chairs (use the music of “The Sugar Plum Fairy”) to both sit and work at the same time.

We can no longer fill the car with groceries and pull up to our front door and unload them quickly. Now we either have to borrow a bellman cart from the front desk or only buy what we can carry in two hands in one trip. Oh, our Costco days are over! There is no more bulk buying.

You know how it is when you have been out all day, or on a long drive, and you can’t wait to get home so you can pee? You run in and relieve yourself and then come back to unload the car. That can’t happen here. We usually stop at the closest public washroom to home, even if we have to eat a Big Mac. You may make it to the building, and you may make it to the underground parking. You may even make it to the elevator. You might be lucky enough to make it inside the elevator, but let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how many prayers you say to the elevator gods, or how many deals you make with the condo demons, that elevator is going to stop at least 15 times before you get to the 30th floor. This is the real reason people who are of a certain age that have retired, downsized and moved to a condo are wearing depends. It has nothing to do with bladder control or a prostate issue. It’s the damn elevator ride! HeWho’s eyes light up because he has a stop watch and knows that with no stops we can make it from Parking level to the top floor in less than 30 seconds. He’d like to bet on whether we will be the only ones taking the ride.

Lest you are under the impression that I really don’t like where we live, I will neither confirm nor deny it. But here’s a couple of other things that have come out of this.

HeWho is healthier and happier than I have ever known him to be. The stress that he endured doing that suicidal drive had put years on him and they now seem to have melted away.

We have both lost weight. It’s not as easy to run to the corner store for a snack. If there’s no junk food here neither one of us wants to get dressed and begin the long haul to the car and then the big search for what we want because there is nothing handy. HeWho has yet to find a Chip Wagon. But…he has discovered several restaurants with great burgers or deep fried halibut and awesome fresh cut fries.

A remarkable women, someone I admire deeply, gave this 60-year-old lady an opportunity to prove that she was still capable of learning new things and be a productive member of the workforce. I can’t think of anyone else who would do that. Most would have hired someone much younger and quicker to learn. I am determined to not let her down.

We can’t buy a lot of stuff. There’s no room for stuff. There has to be a lot of deliberation for something new to come into this confined space and most likely something else will have to come out. Like how my new Nespresso machine relegated HeWho’s deep fryer to the storage room.

My sister is doing well. She went through surgery and some excruciatingly painful radiation and rang the gong at the other end. As far as we are concerned she is cancer-free again.

It is officially a New Year. A bright, shiny New Year. I’m counting on it staying that way.

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Here in Canada we truly know it’s fall when Timmy’s starts serving their Pumpkin Spice Muffin and the leaves start to change colour. I have promised several of my readers that do not get to witness this (because of their lack of seasons where they live) that I would post some pictures for them. Sunday was the first day I actually saw any myself. I was a little further north than where I live and spent the day in Barrie and on Base Borden with family. Without further ado I give you colour…


Barrie Boardwalk






BASE BORDENWhat do you think was the most prominent colour of the day? Think pink. It was everywhere. Of course, that is because Sunday was the CIBC Run For The Cure held right across Canada every year. My sisters and I participate together and make a day of it. It is great fun to see everyone gathered before the start to see who has out pinked who this year.

The turn out was excellent.


Some wore stripes …


… a wedding dress or a grass skirt.


For some a simple pink boa was enough.

SPOTTED DOG with boaThere were all kinds of hats …Pink Hats

… and various shades of pink hair.Pink Hair

This was my favourite team.


People like to warm up before they start to run or walk. Some do it like this.

Warming upPat warms up like this.

PAT WARMING UPThen it is time to begin.

START/Finish Line

We are all heroes this day — the organizers, the runners, the walkers, the survivors, the people we’ve lost to breast cancer and the people who support us every year as we try to find the cure.  We had raised over $304,000 by the time I left (the final total is still to come), just in this one town. Thank you to everyone who supported anyone in this cause. Most of all, I would like to thank everyone who supported me whether it was with a kind word or hard cash.

I hope you enjoyed the colours.


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I could have been rich, I tell you, I could have been rich! I knew it as soon as I saw it on Pinterest.

You see, several years ago I had a run in with breast cancer. I put in the obligatory year of treatment including the required surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. When the year was over there were a couple of things that stuck with me. One is that it became my reference for time. I now often refer to things as “BC.” Some people use this same time reference, but they mean “Before Children.” In my case, it is “Before Cancer.” Secondly, when the process began, I was a fairly well-endowed woman. But, when it was all said and done, I was left with one boob and one boobette™ (as I like to call it).

Now don’t ask me exactly when it happened, but at some point I started stuffing things in the leftover space. Yeah. That’s right – in the left over space on the boobette’s™ side of my bra. At first I was discrete. I would sneak in my change purse, or my cell phone, or my keys ― just when it wasn’t convenient to carry a purse and I wasn’t wearing anything with pockets. But before long I was carrying all three in there … at the same time … on a regular basis! I can honestly tell you there are few things that did not find their way in there.

The first time I went public, I was in line with a friend in the cafeteria at work. We were in the middle of a conversation when the cashier told me how much I owed her. Without thinking, I reached into my bra, pulled out my wallet and took out my debit card. My side of the conversation did not stop until I noticed my friend blushing at the cashier. I realized what I had done by the look on her face. “Oh. Sorry. That’s just my boob pocket,” was my response to “the look” as I stuffed the wallet back where it came from.

After that, my boob pocket (and a few urban legends that started circulating about it) became public knowledge. I would often move around throughout the work day, from upstairs offices to downstairs studios, green rooms, cafeterias, board rooms, tape libraries and master control. Just as often, I would leave something behind in one of those spots and have to retrace my steps. There wasn’t a room in the place that I couldn’t enter and say, “I can’t find my keys, phone, or whatever … did I leave them here?” and be met with the response: “Did you check your boob pocket?” More often than not, that is exactly where the missing item would be.

The only person who was still uncomfortable with it was “He-Who.” He did not like to talk about it. I will tell you, however, that he is continually handing me stuff and asking me to put it in my purse for him. I could get away with a clutch if it wasn’t for all the stuff I carry in my purse for him. But … he has yet to ask, even once, for me to put something in my boob pocket.

But here is my point. While wasting time researching on Pinterest, I came across a picture that left me with my mouth agape. LuLuLemon has created the ultimate boob pocket bra. It has not 1, not 2, not 3, but 7 pockets for all your essentials.

Seriously, I could have been rich. I did it first!

You may know that walking is now a regular part of my regimen. Well, I had been walking 5K every day and once again was having problems figuring how to carry the stuff I wanted to carry. Have you noticed how hot it’s been this summer! Minimal clothing was the only way to go. No extras like a backpack or a fanny pack were acceptable. There were no pockets in my workout clothes. It was time to get creative again. As it happens, I have a plethora of T-shirts and I don’t wear T-shirts. They are hot, unflattering, and I find them uncomfortable around my neck.

In fact, every year I walk with a team in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run For The Cure.

Walking For The Cure

My Mom died from breast cancer when I was 12, I am a survivor and one of my sisters is as well. It was my sister who started our team. We participate every year and every year we get a t-shirt. But I have never worn any of these t-shirts. Until now.

First, I cut off the sleeves and snipped the neckline. Then I sewed the sleeves onto the front of the shirt creating pockets. Each pocket has lots of room for my phone, keys, ID, a change purse and my inhaler. Just remember, you saw it here first!

This idea may not make me rich but it sure saved me some money on buying special clothing to walk in. Go ahead and dig out those old t-shirts you aren’t wearing and make your own fashion statement while you work out. Oh, and if you want to share some of that money you save with this clever idea and support a good cause while you’re at it, feel free to check out my sponsor page and donate.

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Dad ended his battle with cancer on Wednesday March 30th, 2011. Surrounded by friends and loved ones.

William (Bill) Duncan Gillies

The following  arrangements have been made:


Date: Sunday April 3rd

Time: 2 – 4 pm & 7 – 9 pm

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614

Funeral Service:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: 11:00 am

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614



Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following the Funeral Service

Location: Fairview Cemetery

Address: Stanley Ave & Morrisnon St.,  Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8



Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following Burial

Location: St. Andrew’s United Church, Auditorium

Address: 5645 Morrison St., Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8

Phone: 905.356.1624


St. Andrew’s United Church

Please feel free to leave us a message here or to sign the guest book at

Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

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