Happy holidays!

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I hope you are celebrating and strong in the confidence that you are loved, deeply loved. We have seen many examples of kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, strength and resilience over the past two years as together we have weathered unexpected challenges. We did not know how we would make it through. We were not sure we would make it through. But, having come this far many of us have grown in hope that we can and we will, that we are stronger and more resilient than we had known, that we are up for the challenge.

I’ve gone through a difficult chemo cycle this round, and am very thankful to be feeling “normal” again and working on responding to messages. I started feeling better on the 24th, in time to enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner lovingly prepared by my beautiful daughter Abigale: turkey with all the trimmings. The teens/young adults and I spent much of Christmas Day together, chatting, opening presents, laughing and singing Christmas carols together. They went to their dad’s for dinner while I enjoyed a terrific plate of leftovers. I appreciated our time together very much and also enjoyed the quiet evening to reflect on Christmas and what a great day it had been.

On Sunday, after virtual Church and a quiet morning, I delivered Christmas cards to a few friends. It was lovely to be out driving, to see Christmas decorations and so many people out. I don’t drive much since COVID hit, and this felt like such a treat! I had a couple of brief chats with people who were standing on their porch while I was a good distance away, and a fun dance with a good friend who was in her living room while I was out on the street. Another delicious plate of leftovers tonight with teens/young adults for dinner.

So grateful for these good gifts and many more. There is no substitute for the good gift of time with people we care about.

COVID has struck good people we love, and obviously not just COVID. Threats are likely to be present in the New Year. Good gifts and opportunities will come in the New Year also. We resolve to hold our head high as we boldly stride forward, arms strongly linked together, working for the good, striving to control what we can control, taking risks and keeping our heart open to the new, to give and receive love and to extend welcome to strangers.

#Hope #HappyNewYear #HappyHolidays #HoldOntoHope #love #gifts #strengths #opportunities

Hoping and Cheering for Much More Research

Chemo number 19 down this afternoon! I’ve been getting chemo every three weeks since November 2020 and we are so very thankful I’m still going strong. Nineteen rounds, over a year … this is worth celebrating!

Some people are afraid of chemo and / or very reluctant to take it. Chemo is way easier than it used to be. Everyone is unique and chemo affects everyone uniquely so why not give it a try? I’m finding it’s doable, even after a year, even after eight years of cancer treatments. Every three weeks there are several days when I’m very tired, and there are a few other side effects. This is hard but not too hard with plans in place and a good support team. I started chemo with the hope that there would be a new treatment, a clinical trial ready for me maybe even as soon as last summer. I keep hanging on, hoping for research to come through for me and others like me. More research means more survivors and better survivorship.

So many of us are making the most of the gift of time we are being given, doing our best to live well with lung cancer and/or other kinds of cancer, reach more milestones, make more memories. I work hard at advocacy and supporting people diagnosed with lung cancer and other kinds of cancers because I know it really matters and it makes a difference.

Chemo can bring a mental and / or emotional battle as well as a physical battle. I remember well the very first time I had chemo, back in December 2013, five days after I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. I had worked so hard to take good care of my body by living an active life, eating healthy, and using only natural, toxin-free products, and here I was at the cancer centre to have a hole poked in my arm to inject toxic chemotherapy. I cried. I still find this process challenging, but I know it’s worth it because although it brings some harm to my body, it’s kicking cancer to the curb. Every scan this year has been good news that the cancer is stable or slightly smaller. So thankful! Definitely worth it!

After eight years of constant treatments (mostly targeted therapies which are generally much easier on people than chemotherapy is) like so many others I’ve suffered a long list of treatment-related side effects, many of which have lasted through these eight years. Like many other people I have experienced nerve damage, especially to the hands and feet, hearing loss, vision changes, skin problems, digestive issues, changes to nails and hair, and many other things. Survivorship is good and it can bring challenges.

I’m very thankful for over a year of chemotherapy which has helped bring my total up to eight years of stage four cancer survivorship. With so many others affected by lung cancer and other cancers, we hold onto hope for a clinical trial or other form of new treatment that will work for us and keep us going strong for years. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that things can change in the blink of an eye! Having lived in Ottawa Canada most of my life, I’ve seen Winter melt into Spring each year and this helps reinvigorate hope and faith! Yesterday I drove into the Cancer Centre for blood work through such ice and snow that had to use my memory and imagination to figure out where the street lanes were. Today it was mostly melted, the sun was shining and the temperature was a balmy 14 degrees Celcius (57 degrees Fahrenheit) with a beautiful breeze! Such a gorgeous and rare weather experience for December in Ottawa Canada!

I got back home in time to see a lovely friend from church who brought a five-day feast (from her and two other dear souls) for the kids and me, then a few calls and messages from caring, supportive friends. Grateful for many kind friends who make being on chemotherapy so much more doable. It takes a team. We all need support. So much to be thankful for!

Nineteen rounds down and hoping for much more research and many more treatment options for people facing cancer!


Today, December 12, marks eight years of survivorship.

Before I was diagnosed eight years ago today, I had no idea I could get lung cancer. My friends and I had no idea that anyone could get lung cancer and it was a complete shock.

When I was diagnosed eight years ago, I had no idea I would still be alive eight years later. I feared that the coming Christmas, Christmas of 2013, would be my last. Here I am in 2021 with some measure of incredulity, amazed that I’m still here eight years later.

You’ve heard me say many times before that I’m here because of biomarker testing, I’m here because of research, I’m here because of a clinical trial, I’m here because of great medical care, I’m here because of the support of my friends, I’m here because of the grace and mercy of God.

To everyone who has been walking with someone with a difficult diagnosis, thank you. We know it can be challenging and we are grateful. Caring can be scary, sad and very uncertain. It takes courage, strength and character.

Personally, I’m especially thankful for the gifts of: hours on the phone / zoom, homemade jams, cards, a very special birthday party, chocolates and other treats, flowers, drives, help with jobs, meals, a special pen.

Eight years of survivorship is really something to be celebrated! Today I raise my glass to celebrate you who have helped me walk this challenging path. Thank you!