Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gosh, I look like I am wearing a toupee in this photo or some sort of wicked comb-over. Luckily the chap sitting next to me isn't. Then we'd looked like Abbot and Costello.
Gilles shaved his head when I was on chemo. And he has appreciated the 'freedom' so much that he continues to do so. I, on the other hand, begged to differ. Although it may not be the colour I ordered, it's hair on top of my head and I'm claiming it.

This mugshot was taken last Wednesday at the Mandarin Restaurant in Toronto. We were on a bus trip on our way to the Canon Theatre to see The Color Purple stage show. It turned out to be quite a performance. What a story and the singing was incredible. We had super seats and all was well. We were the youngest on the bus I believe, and it took a little bit for us to shake off the notion that bus trips were for the elderly. We haven't quite made it there yet, but we had a super time despite this mindset. The trip was a gift from some of my students so I was bound and determined to have a wonderful time; and we did. That was until we were on the way home. We got a call on the cell phone from ConnectCare - the emergency call system that is in place for my Dad who lives in London. He had pressed his button and the ambulance had whisked him off to the emergency department with a suspected heart attack.

I almost had a heart attack myself when I heard the news. Talk about feeling helpless. Stuck in the middle of traffic in Toronto is not a good place to be at such a time. Thank goodness my sister was at Dad's side and she kept me posted.

It seemed an eternity until Gilles and I got home from Toronto, though. Prayers came fast and furious as I tried to be patient. I wasn't five minutes in our own house gathering up a few items of clothing and the like before I rushed off for another two hour drive to London. I didn't get there until about 11:30 pm. Dad was still in emerg but his tests were nearing completion, thank goodness. I searched out the doctor and she said that all was well and Dad had just had a bad angina attack. Thank you Jesus! By 1am we were back at Dad's home. We settled down for the night and I was being very thankful that Dad was home and out of trouble.

I can't say the same for me. 5am rolled around with a vengeance. I woke up and realized I was very, very sick. I knew this was not a good place to be. After numerous trips to the bathroom battling Montezuma's revenge, my only thought was to get out of my dad's house so he doesn't contract whatever wretched little viral monster was coursing through my body. I had a cup of tea and a few spoonfuls of yogurt to prepare me for the trip but I promptly decided the projectile production that followed did not warrant anything passing my lips for a while.

I made sure there were some safetly belts in place for my dad before I left and then I high-tailed it home plotting all the Tim Horton's washrooms on the way. I made it home without having to stop, thank goodness but I was out of sorts for the next day and a half. Sigh. What a lasting memory for our 31st wedding anniversary!

This Friday I am heading north for a delightful colonoscopy - more tests - so the delightful diet that I have to endure over the next few days is not thrilling yours truly, if you know what I mean!

What ever happened to those carefree days when my brain and body worked in sinc and my medicine cabinet was bare? Sigh. Life does have a funny way of going on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Your Turn Next!

One of the wonderful things about the blogsphere is the way networks and interconnections form spontaneously. To help us all to get to know one another, bloggers have been interviewing one another. My interview follows; then it is my turn to interview any other bloggers who would like to be interviewed by me :D

I was interviewed by two people, actually- a mother/daughter team who have some really neat photo blogs. Anja Noordam is 'Mom' http://anja-photojournal.blogspot.com/ and her delightful daughter is Olga http://o-photojournal.blogspot.com/

So here is my interview conducted by Anja and Olga (Pictured above, by the Sea of Galilee):

What was the first thing you wrote that was published, and what did you like best about the piece? The first thing I ever wrote that was published was an article in a contest that I entered through the Bruce County library. It was in 1984 and was titled, "Daisy, Daisy, Give me Your Answer Do..." It was a story about an elderly nursing home resident who was placed in a nursing home following her stroke. Daisy was aphasic (unable to speak) and paralyzed on her left side. I wrote this looking through the frustrated eyes of Daisy. I had a patient many years ago named Florence. I loved Florence, although many thought her crusty and a complainer. I wrote this in her honour and I tried to step inside her shoes and tell others her story. The story was eventually published in a local newspaper and I received some pretty good reviews. It was after this that I felt God nudge me and He whispered that He had given me a gift and I was to use it for His glory. I suppose I thought obeying God was a good plan - thus started my writing career.

You've always seemed to have a flair for the dramatics. Tell us a bit about this artistic passion.
When I was a wee lass in Scotland I played Mary in the school play. I was smitten. I had other roles in school plays over the years, but the one I remember the most was when I got to play Miss Europe and had to wear a bag over my head (the nuclear explosion, you know.) I always gravitated towards drama in church and loved to help write or direct or perform, or a bit of all. When I first came to Drayton 24 years ago, there was a call out for actors for the Drayton Community Players. I signed up and got the lead role in “A Funny Kind of Day,” playing opposite Ron Fletcher! I think I got the part because of my British accent – it was a British farce. I loved it and many of us had a special bond. I stayed with the Community Players until they folded years later. Once I started attending Drayton Reformed Church, I got involved wherever I could with drama. In 1997 Yvonne Timmerman and I created the Master’s Voice Players (MVPs). Those days can never be replaced. In fact, Olga, the young lady who interviewed me for this, was a shy young lass when she first joined the MVPs. She blossomed into one of our sweetest and most faithful actors. She was the only one who was with us from the beginning and lasted right till the time we closed our MVP curtain. Ah, yes. The good old days.

What do you enjoy doing most when you get together with family? We love to have a meal together and then just play. We sometimes play board games, or card games or Guitar Hero (they love to take videos of me doing this) or sometimes we just enjoy chattering or going through photo albums. I adore my family and count my blessings every day.

You seem to enjoy gardening. When would you consider a plant to be a weed? I love dandelions. I get so upset with people who make it their springtime mission to zap all the yellow sunshines from a lawn. I am very forgiving of weeds, actually and as long as they don't strangle my other plants and try hard to be colourful then I will consider them a flower. I really don't like weeds in my vegetable garden, though. Everything in that area needs to be eaten, so if you interfere with my sustenance then you are a weed and need to be spanked.

What has God taught you most through your journey? Well here is my invitation to write a book. Where do I begin? I am assuming by the term 'my journey' you are referring to my cancer. It has been life changing, to say the least. If I had to summarize I would perhaps present my answer like this:
I have learned to trust God more and move beyond the trivial.
I have learned to value the love of family and friends and accept the things I cannot change.
I have learned to let go of my stubborn 'I can do it myself' attitude and realize that when others help, it is a heart gift.
I have learned to laugh more and grumble less.
I have learned the joy of communing with Jesus and letting Him soothe my soul when I am frightened.
I have learned that marriage vows are real and the 'in sickness and in health' part is not a joke
I have learned to dance when I feel like it; wearing pyjamas are okay during the day; and if the dishes don't get done, nobody dies.
I have learned that hair grows back and vanity is fleeting
I have learned that people love me for who I am inside, not what I look like on the outside.
I have learned that cancer cannot destroy my faith or ruin my marriage.
I have learned that family is a gift.
I have learned the important lesson of paying forward.
I have learned that God is perfectly in control and when I doubt that for even a moment, He sends an angel to remind me.
Here are the instructions if you wish to be interviewed by me:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me".
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (I get to pick the questions)
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.I will post a list of those who have agreed to an interview so everyone can follow along. Now it's my turn to interview any other bloggers who would like to be interviewed by me. :-) I'm going to keep a list up here of the names and blogs of every brave soul who volunteers, so we all can follow along. Please check out their blogs to see the wonderful things they have created!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Truth or Consequences?

This (photo) was my home away from home for six months. Today I made a return trip.

As I walked into the crowded area, I saw them - the elderly, the zoomers, the boomers and the bloomers. I could tell the expressions - the fear-filled new cancer patients clutching their little piece of appointment tell-tale paper and sporting the deer in the headlight look; the seasoned pros who knew exactly what to do and where to go because they have been coming for chemotherapy for two years; the pale ones with the hats and the bandanas and no eyelashes trying to be brave and make sense of cancer as they try to settle in to the routine of chemotherapy.

The memories surged back and I wanted to jump on the banister and demand everyone's attention. I wanted to rally the troops and tell them all to trust God- that He is doing a great work in all of us and if only we could be united in our faith then the encouragement and love would carry us through.

But I chickened out. I didn't even go near the bannister. Instead I, too, clutched my appointment sheet, my binder with the questionairre and tried to gather my marbles as I sat down like a good little cancer patient.

Gilles and I were eventually paged to come to the examination room. This was supposed to be my three month check-up. The one where I leave with lifted spirits and a big checkmark by my name indicating that all is well. It didn't happen. We spent almost an hour with the doctor, but by the time we left we were still wondering what we would tell everyone. There was no bloodwork done. No CAT scan ordered. No encouraging words implying 'we think you're pretty well cured.' I had a physical examination which did not indicate anything was amiss. But the information we received said there is a '50/50' chance that my cancer can return. I have to stay tuned for any further symptoms, but for the most part it is a waiting game.

The magic 5 years, is the time for rejoicing, they say. If I have been symptom-free for five years, then I have beaten cancer. So wait, I will. I will attend my 3 month checkups and keep keen about my body and anything untoward. I suppose I wanted something tangible, though; something to share with friends and family, to tell them Yahoo! Sigh.
Even though there's no 'yahoo,' I'm thinking I can find six quick reasons to rejoice. Let's see. Yup. Here they are:

1) After my check-up I picked Cindy up at Thameswood Lodge to take her for her radiation treatment; then we went to Tim Horton's and I'm surprised we weren't kicked out for laughing so much. Cindy, who I met during my first chemo, is fast becoming a bit of a kindred spirit. And she doesn't even care that I'm a hundred years older than she is!

2) Gilles goes with me to the cancer clinic even though I know he hates doing it. He also has to be my sounding board when I get all menopausal and delusional. And he still brings me tea every morning (in bed).

3) Trevor and Janice are going to have a beautiful little healthy baby. Trevor felt his sweet one move for the first time yesterday. Apparently every time Janice eats ice-cream the little angel wriggles.

4) Jason and Amanda have the most gorgeous children and they always share them with me. I get unlimited spoiling privileges and everytime Trenton and Jocelyn come to visit grandma, I hardly ever remember I have been battling ovarian cancer.

5) Today when I whacked that guy's mirror with my car door, he was so sweet about it. He even thanked me for wiping it off. I told him I was wiping away the evidence.

6) God has blessed me with friends galore. That would be you!

See that wasn't difficult. And there's a thousand more reasons to rejoice. So what if I don't know any more now than when I went in to the examination room today. Nobody's gonna' stop me from rejoicing when I want to. Love you all. xx

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Big Faith?

Just a little over a year ago I had big hair. Check it out. That's me in the chair on the right, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Sarah, my lovely hairdresser, was putting the finishing hair spray touches on me - right before I hit the stage in Uncle Phil's diner. It was a great time - both the rehearsals and the performance. I miss those days.

It seems like life has taken twists and turns and my destination is markedly different than I had planned. But that's just how God works, isn't it? And that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Since my brush with mortality, I have learned much and have seen a snippet of something that has caused me to appreciate more and grumble less. I have watched God at work and witnessed what it means to be still and know that He is looking after things quite nicely.

On Thursday (12th) I'm returning to the Cancer Clinic in London. In one breath I am planning for the 'what-ifs' and writing down a million questions; then I exhale. And I remember what it means to have 'God with me.' I look at the year passed and how God has held me and lifted me and put incredible people in my path. My breathing becomes more relaxed and rhythmic.

My hair might not be big anymore. But that's okay. What I really and truly want to be big now, is my faith. I want to believe that God has healed me and that this year will be different again. I will wait and see what transpires on Thursday. Whatever it may be...I will be prepared.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dancing like No One is Taking Pictures

I have in my hot little hand right now a report thusly entitled - "Department of Nuclear Medicine." Gilles and I are breathing a double sigh of relief as we read the line at the bottom of the page - "There is no evidence to suggest bone metastases." Joy!

The report does, however, indicate degenerative changes and arthritis, likely connected to the chemo, from what I can read. That would account for the pain I feel in my shoulder and feet. I'll talk that over with my oncologist next Thursday at the cancer clinic. Meanwhile I'll do my happy dance - a little laboured and not very attractive - but it is a happy one! Thanks for all your prayers. They keep my head above water! xxx
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones..." Proverbs 15:31
(Now there's a great scripture for a 'good news' bone scan report!) x

Apple Pie and the Rapture

Last year my dear darling daughter-in-law called me up. "Do you want an aquarium filled with nine fish, complete with all the equipment? For free?" She'd said the magic word. A glass filled fishy tank to sit in my classroom and entertain, calm and intrigue me and anyone else who passed by - irresistible. And all for the low price of nothing. I took the bait. Bit the hook and was reeled in. The colourful array of aquatic little critters were beautiful - all except for the ugly brown sucker fish who, true to his name and job description, suctioned the algae off the sides of the tank 24/7.

Soon, I discovered caring for these aquatic creatures was not my forte. I thought, a quick toss in of food and the occasional clean out, was the approach. How hard could that be?

It turned out to be a little tougher than originally thought. All was well until I decided the cloudy water was indicative of a need for a scrubbing. I dutifully took each little glimmering gilled creature out of the tank and released them into their temporary bucket home. I scrubbed the aquarium clean. I released my little swimmers back into the sparkling clean water thinking they would be very thankful that I had cleaned up the muck and green stuff that was clinging to the sunken ship, the shells, the plastic flora. Instead, the next morning I was horrified to discover the first of what was to be a nasty repetition. Floating belly-up, there he was. Nemo. The biggest and the brightest fish - dead as driftwood. I felt awful. But I surmized that he must have been a bit sick when he arrived. But then the carnage continued. One royal flush after another, I would make the trip to the bathroom to give each lifeless gilled critter their send-off. I bid farewell to Nemo and friends. I tried desperately to do my part to put an end to the killer virus that was running rampant in my aquarium. I kept cleaning. The fish kept dying. I even had my dearly beloved, unimpressed happy hubby lug in a couple of jugs of distilled water. Maybe our water was poisoning them somehow. Two weeks passed and the only two fish that were left swimming were Raphael and Apple Pie.

By this time I had moved the aquarium to the bathroom so we could be closer to the place of commital, thinking it was inevitable that Raphael and Apple Pie would soon meet with the same fate. Meanwhile I had talked to a few fish aficianados and discovered that it is a no-no to remove all the water from the tank while cleaning. I stopped that practise and wouldn't you know it, these last two survived.

Five months later, I had relocated my fishy twosome to our bedroom, which was still reasonably close to the bathroom, just incase. But they were survivors. That was until Gilles and I left for Florida to celebrate the end of my chemo. Amanda was fishy sitting so she is likely to blame here. I did, however, forget to tell her that she needed to stick her finger in the aquarium daily and touch Raphael's back before she fed him (don't laugh - it's true.) He probably died of loneliness.
When we returned, I was saddened to hear about Raphael's royal flush but we still had little Apple Pie. Apple Pie was shifted out of the big aquarium and into a little bowl. But I broke that accidentally one day so he went into an old coffee pot. Then I got sick of looking at a coffee pot in the livingroom. So I moved him to my kitchen window and he seemed to like life in the measuring jug.

Okay, this next part is bizarre. Apple Pie was a minnow like creature - tiny and unsuspecting. But there was just something about Apple Pie that was a little different. Every time I cleaned his quarters, I would put him in a glass while I did my thing. Apple Pie started jumping out. Yes, pole vaulting sans the pole. This tiny little critter seemed to be wishing (or thinking) that God had created him with wings instead of gills. And his jumping got more intense. I had to make sure the water was not too full because he soon started jumping out of his delightful home on the windowsill. Once I caught him in the sink. I was about to fill the kettle then I saw this little...thing moving around on the bottom of the dry sink. Strange. Why would a fish jump out of a perfectly suited environment and onto dry land?

Then one day it happened. I looked at the measuring jug fish home. To my surprise - there was no sign of life. Apple pie had vanished. I searched and searched. I took out every piece of decoration, flora and shell. No Apple Pie. I looked in the sink, on the counter, in the window, even on the floor. Still no Apple Pie. It remains a mystery to this day. The only thing I can think of is that Apple Pie was raptured, which creates another troubling thought - why am I still here? Gulp.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Zeal for Teal!

Most of you know that I have been battling Ovarian Cancer since last April (08). Things are looking hopeful and I return to the cancer clinic on February 12th to see if the chemo did what it was supposed to do. I've had a few little setbacks since my chemo finished at the end of last year, but for the most part I am getting back on my horse and am feeling good! :)

If there is one thing I have learned over the past year, it is that ovarian cancer is insidious. Because of this subtle invasion, many woment are diagnosed in later stages and then succumb to this silent killer. I, thank the blessed Lord, was caught early so my prognosis looks very hopeful. My prayer is that more women can become more aware of this silent killer and that they, too, can be caught early and appropriately treated.

Not only has my cancer affected me, but it is amazing how so many around me have been touched by my experience. I've had so much support. I thank you for caring. If you are reading this, then you have been part of my journey!

Amanda (#1 daughter) has been a particularly strong support system for me and she was instrumental in getting me motivated last year to participate in the Walk of Hope in Barrie. She organized our team - The Sunflower Seeds - to make the 5km trek to help raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Canada. Now she has another great plan in the making and she has our Sunflower Seeds team excited once more. Janice, my equally supportive daughter-in-law is also joining us again, along with our sweet friend, Darlene Hauser (our adopted Sunflower) as we organize ZEAL FOR TEAL!

Zeal for Teal is the phrase that Amanda coined to represent a wonderful fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer Canada. This special party day of scrapbooking and cardmaking will be held on Saturday, May 2nd, 2009. It will take place at Drayton Reformed Church and promises to be an entertaining time of fellowship and celebration as we participate in a day long crop. The day is not just for seasoned 'croppers' so don't toss this idea aside yet! Even if you just dabble (like me), come along and prepare for lots of fun. There will be great food, door prizes galore, goody bags, a gifted esthetician offering free mini-manicures, fit-breaks, make n' takes, onsite stores and more!

Here is the invitation below so you can see what is happening. Oh did I mention you can wear your comfy pjs? :) If you are interested in joining us, contact one of us as indicated below and ask us for a registration form. We do need an idea of numbers as soon as possible. All proceeds from the day are going to Ovarian Cancer Canada, and we have their blessing and endorsement for this undertaking.

Everytime I think about the work Amanda has put into getting this idea off the ground, I get all weepy because she says she is doing it for me. (Sniff) How blessed am I?

We sure hope you can make it on May 2nd. It just wouldn't be the same without you!

(This is the information from the poster without the pretty background from Ovarian Cancer Canada!)

Zeal for Teal!
Scrapbooking & Cardmaking
Pyjama Party

Put on your coziest pyjamas and spend a relaxing day at our first annual scrapbooking & cardmaking party.

What to Expect:
A great day to crop with friends
Snacks, a delicious lunch
Esthetician onsite to do mini-manicures
Fit breaks to keep us moving
Onsite stores (swap-shops; retail; purses and more!)
Door prizes


Date: May 2nd, 2009

Time: 9am to 5pm

Place: Drayton Reformed Church
Wellington Street, Drayton
(Opposite the school)

Cost: $40 (includes snacks, lunch, grab-bag, door prizes, optional mini-manicure, fit breaks and more!

TO REGISTER please contact:

Amanda Newton - amanda.newtn@gmail.com
(519) 638-0028
Glynis Belec - gbelec@everus.ca
(519) 638-3215
Janice Belec - tjbelec@sympatico.ca
(519) 846-8719

(Check out our own website at http://thesunflowerseeds.wordpress.com/)


Ovarian Cancer Canada

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Check out this video, below. (David A. singing "Imagine" on American Idol.)

I'm thinking that if we could imagine, and then turn that imagining into reality - what a wonderful world this would be! Just a minute...that's the kind of world that really is waiting for us when we leave this earthly abode, isn't it? I'm not in any big rush now, Jesus, but I am looking forward to that imagining becoming fulfillment. How about you?

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21