A Chance To Be Brave

The plan had been for me to blog about my travels and experiences from my trip to SE Asia this winter. I had hoped to spend time elaborating on my stories and adding some fun photos. I did make one entry after my trip here, and of course my Sunday Specials. I had wanted to write more yet I did not. It was not due to lack of time or content that is certain. It’s that the last little while has been trying, scary and had me deep in thought. Five days after I returned to Vancouver I ended up in the Emergency department of the hospital. I had unexplained and severe abdominal pain for over two hours before I realized it was not going away. So I called a cab (yes a cab when an ambulance might have been smarter but…) and was admitted immediately. Ends up I had an orange-sized mass on my left ovary that had either ruptured or twisted thus causing the worst pain I have ever felt. After two days and numerous diagnostic imaging tests I was told that this endometrial mass contained a tumour. That meant it might be malignant. They were uncertain and a biopsy was not an option (due to a high risk of rupture). Yet it also meant that it might be benign. It was actually good that this happened as the mass may never have been found otherwise.  The plan was to have it removed surgically and should it be malignant then the next step would happen. So in the meantime I had to wait for the diagnosis until surgery day – six weeks from emergency admittance to surgery day. Why the wait? They did not know for certain and everything was contained within the mass so they hoped for the best and scheduled my surgery based on that. If it the doctors new for certain it was cancer my surgery would have been the next day.

That gave me time to work a bit, tell friends, visit my folks, and try to process the whole situation. Cancer is one of the scariest words. Ever. Evening thinking that I may have been victim to ovarian cancer was tear inducing. I like my ovaries. I wanted to keep them. Thoughts of chemo or radiation was debilitating. Also having to endure surgical menopause was an idea I could not entertain. So I did what I knew best – avoidance. I did that in the form of not talking about the possibility of cancer as much as possible. I aimed to focus on the positives I was told. I had to, especially when talking to others about it. I gave it my best to look at the best case scenario. I would cry if I didn’t. Naturally it was not all positive outlooks and I was sad at times, worried. Though I held my own okay. I even had some fun times with friends and family. I surprised myself. I was anxious as the date for my surgery grew near and concerned how it would go.  A few freak outs and some bad dreams. Oh the dreams were awful, simply awful.  Yet throughout this wait I was wanting more than anything to have it dealt with and a diagnosis, preferably a positive one.

Finally the morning of my surgery arrived. Doctors and nurses asking questions, reviewing my chart and my best friend standing by quietly supporting me. I remember cool air in the surgery room and seeing the stark light about me as I lay on the table, feeling rather nervous. Then the anesthesiologist placing an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. Then nothing until I awoke in the recovery room. My mouth was very dry, I asked for water and was given a small ice chip. The nurses doted on me. I was aware but still a bit groggy, anxious to hear the results. I slept some more. I was soon moved. I hear the news.

I cried a bit.


Simultaneously the most unflattering and best photo of myself. Just received the good news (and dopey).

Then I smiled and felt immense relief. The mass, the tumour was benign. BENIGN! The sweetest word I have ever heard! I am so freaking lucky! So lucky. I honestly am so fortunate to have had such great news. Even my oncologist wrote in her report “This is excellent news!!!”. Since that surgery 6 weeks ago I returned to work as of last week (thanks to my sis for her help in caring for me) and have been fully discharged from the BC Cancer Agency. And my surgical scar is my reminder that I am so very fortunate. For anyone who has or has had cancer, you are incredibly brave and strong. I have no idea how I would have dealt if I had had another diagnosis.

So now what? I certainly have had time to think about a number of things. Some I share, others are privy only to my mind. Changes may come about and still things will remain the same. I am thinking continually now of so many things in our world and my life. The constant (at least I hope) is gratitude and of course travel. 

“When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.” Lupytha Hermin


On Loss and Life

Sunrise in Ko Samui, Thailalnd

Sunrise in Ko Samui, Thailalnd

It has taken me quite some time to compose this particular post.  I come back to it time and again, thinking I will know exactly what to say. To have my thoughts and feelings worded succinctly. Now I am not certain I can do that – I fear it will come out as some random blather. Yet, I want to get it out there, to vocalize the thoughts running through my head. So here goes…

Life goes on as it does and will always continue to. But sometimes your world gets whipped really hard – it knocks the wind out of you and in some cases you even fall over from the blow. Death is never easy. It is even harder when it comes along so unexpectedly. Like so many,  I have lost people I knew and cared about. People who were my friends, people I knew most of my life, my friend’s family (which in some cases their family is an extension of your own), co-workers and people I knew a lifetime ago that meant something to me at one point. Some of it was after leading a long and loving life. Other times illness or accidents stole them away. In one case they made choice to leave themselves. In the past ten months, three people I knew died, most recently a month ago.

So what is this post about then? I am not entirely certain – some disjointed thoughts that somehow end up making sense. I know that death sucks. That it is not easy. Yet I know I am reminded to be grateful. So grateful for the wonders in my life. To remember and to cherish. That kindness matters. Tell yourself and those in your life what they mean to you, that they are important.  And most importantly to LIVE. Live out loud, go after what you want and BE YOUR DREAM!

Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsLisa Tancsics

Gray Days

So dreary

I do not know if it the shortened days with less sunlight, SAD, hormones or that I am just ready to leave but things just seem so gray and dull. There is no sunshine. I need daylight. All I want to do is leave. Go. Go somewhere where it is not the same old same old. I get up for work and it is the same routine. Now do no get me wrong. I like my work – I just do not like going to work. I am happier on my days off. I am even tired of seeing people. Now that is a big one because I enjoy being around people. It seems to be the same thing over and over and over. Same activities, same conversations, same city. I want change. I want to go. Then there seems to be the influx of farewell parties. Stupid Couchsurfing – people show up, become your friend and then they leave. I want a farewell party. I want to be the one to leave. God I can’t wait to leave. 

These words to Vince Vaccaro’s song (as I posted the video here) “Costa Rica” spin endlessly in my head:

“I wanna leave this place yeah never to be found,
I wanna leave my old life far behind
Can I lose my name be someone new
And I’ll throw my trouble deep in the wild blue”

On Aging

Today is one month until my birthday. Yeah I know, I am a bit overzealous but I love my birthday. And when I say I love my birthday, I mean I LOVE my birthday. Planning events, hearing well wishes, fun festivities and the occasional gift is enough to make a girl giddy. And the attention. I relish the attention. The one day of the year I can claim as my own (despite the fact that I share that day with several people I know, including my oldest friend and her twin brother). According to my mom, even as a kid I looked forward to my day.  Yes, I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY. 

Many of you are the opposite – you dread your birthday and the idea of becoming yet another year older. That very idea boggles my mind. I do not understand it. A few times in my history I have dreaded a milestone birthday. Soon, however I realized it was for naught. For starters it does not change a thing. You can not get younger so why stress over it. Go have fun and celebrate yourself! I do so unabashedly – actually I tame it in sometimes because if I really showed how excited I was those around me would think I was nuts. Secondly, somewhere we started believing that all the great stuff happens when we are young. HA! Sure you have some great stuff happen when young but not everything. Many of the goals and desires we crave take time to come to fruition. Others, the joy is in the journey. Career advancement, paying off your mortgage, building your marriage, seeing children, grandchildren grow are things many desire and they are the journey. Why lament your youth when many wonders are in your future?  You could not pay me enough money to go back to my early – mid 20s, let alone my teen years. It was not until my late 20s that I started to come into my own. Before that things were a mess for me. No going back. Finally, the older you grow the more you learn, the more you experience. An interesting thing happens as you age – you begin to see. You learn what really matters. No, things do not become easy and without concern but you know yourself more and can see what is truly important. I can not really explain it but your mindset changes. It understand perhaps. I personally am intrigued as to what my future holds. I do know that big RTW trip is around the corner. After that? Who knows but just imagine the experiences I will have when I am old and gray, to have seen much and done so much more. A future worth looking forward to. 

On a side note, I do wish for my former young size 6 physique I once had…but that is it.